Monday, March 08, 2021

It's Monday 3/8! What Are You Reading?

Late post today because my son is visiting from out of town, and I drove him to two out-of-state medical appointments today (in the same location). It's always a bit of a marathon for us: an hour's drive up there, back-to-back appointments while he gets an IV, and the drive back. The timing is not great for either of us--too early for him and too late for me! Today he ended up with a killer migraine while we were there. So, he's up in bed now and was resting all the way home, but at least we had a nice chat on the way there! I'm sorry he has to leave already this evening; we were hoping for more time with him this visit. His brother is coming over for dinner, though, so it'll be nice to have the Jackson 4 together again briefly.

It was a busy week for me, with lots of blog posts, two new videos up, and a busy weekend of cleaning, cooking, and tax preparation. Our big event this weekend was busting my 95-year-old father-in-law out of prison! ha ha Just kidding. He lives in Independent Living, and residents weren't allowed to leave the building (unless they quarantined in their apartment for two weeks after) for the past year. Now, all residents are fully vaccinated and they gave the OK for leaving the building. So, we were still masked and distanced, but my husband brought him over for dinner. He enjoyed getting out and being at our house again, though he's much weaker than he was a year ago, and it took a lot out of him. Worth it, though!

So, here is my very late update on what we've all been reading this past week:

I finished reading my neighborhood book group's next selection, The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne, and I loved it! I have been hearing great things about this novel for years, and I enjoyed 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. It begins when when his mother, a teen girl from a small town in County Cork, is publicly shamed by the local parish priest for her pregnancy and then thrown out of town and her family. 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. When Cyril is born, he is quickly adopted by a wealthy Dublin couple, where he is provided for materially but not emotionally. The novel follows Cyril through each stage of his life and focuses on his struggles with realizing he's gay, hiding his true self because of the time and place, and gradually coming to accept himself. It's a wonderful novel, both heartbreaking and heartwarming and, surprisingly, very funny! I cried twice and laughed a lot, too; you can listen to my description in last week's Friday Reads video.

Next, it was time to move onto my other book group's selection (I have two book group meetings on Zoom this week!), My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares. Ann is the author of the popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series (I think I only watched the movie adaptation), and this was her second novel for adults. I'm only at the beginning and don't fully understand what's happening yet, but it's about a man who has lived many lives over many centuries (2000 years) and remembers all of them. He keeps crossing paths with and falling in love with a woman he thinks of as Sophia, in life after life. As the novel begins, in Virginia in 2006, Sophia's current life is as a seventeen-year-old girl named Lucy, and he is a same-aged boy named Daniel. He manages to find her and enroll in her school, but she doesn't seem to remember him the way he remembers her. That's it so far! In the chapter I am reading now, he is remembering his early lives, all the way back to 250 AD. I'm intrigued by the premise, though I don't fully understand it yet!

On audio, I did something I very rarely do: I set aside a book unfinished (really, barely started). I was just not getting into Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty, so I stopped listening after chapter 5 and started something new. Heart Spring Mountain by Robin McArthur is providing the emotional complexity I was looking for. The main character is a woman named Vale who lives in New Orleans. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene devastates her home state of Vermont, and she gets a phone call that her mother, Bonnie, is missing. Though they've been estranged for many years, Vale gets on a bus and travels to Vermont to help search for Bonnie. Once up there, she is surrounded by old friends and family, memories, and her family's history, including some long-held secrets she uncovers. It delves into five generations of women in the family, with an intricate sense of place. I was a bit confused by all the female characters at first (and jumping around in time), but I think I've got the generations straight in my mind now! I'm enjoying it so far.

My husband, Ken, just finished reading The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz (my review at the link), which I enjoyed last month. It was published in 2007 and lingered on our TBR bookcase for over a decade! The Spellman family runs a P.I. business, with mom, dad, older sister, Izzy, and younger sister, Rae, all involved (brother David is a lawyer). The novel is written from Izzy's point of view, with a heaping dose of humor in among the cases and investigations. Izzy has a lot of issues, though she's no longer quite the mess she was when she was younger. Still, most of her relationships are very short-lived (for some reason, men don't like their girlfriends to stake them out and run credit checks on them), until she meets one guy she really likes. In fact, she likes him enough that she lies to him about what she does for a living. Of course, this approach will eventually blow up in Izzy's face, and at that point, she decides to leave Spellman Investigations, though her parents want her to work on one last case. Ken enjoyed this fast-paced, witty novel as much as I did!

He has now just barely started Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, which we are both looking forward to! I gave it to him for Christmas (the best kind of gift, the kind I can enjoy, too). He, I, and our son all loved Ready Player One when it came out (and we all enjoyed the movie, too), so we've been happily anticipating the sequel. According to the cover blurb, this book begins just after the events in the first book ended. Wade is now in charge of OASIS and the empire left by genius creator James Halliday (kind of a Willy Wonka-like set-up!) and discovers a new secret in his vaults, a brand-new technology that could changes OASIS and the real world dramatically. Apparently, there is a a new riddle, a new quest, and. ... a new evil villain ready to thwart Wade and his friends. Reviews say it is just as fun, nostalgic, and exciting as the first book!

Our son, 26, is back to reading a 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.When he went up to bed last night, he was planning to finish this, so I'm not sure what he will read next, but he still has plenty to choose from here at the house!

Blog posts last week:

Movie Monday: On the Rocks - warm, funny film about a father-daughter relationship, starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones

TV Tuesday: Lakefront Bargain Hunt - Our new stress relief! Watch families choose the lakefront home of their dreams, for a reasonable price!

Fiction Review: The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich - I loved this historical novel about a Native American community living, growing, and fighting for their existence in the 1950's

Teen/YA Review: Honestly Ben by Bill Konigsberg - a boy goes on a journey of self-discovery in this warm, funny novel

My Summary of Books Read in February - a great reading month for me! You can read my summary and see how I'm progressing with my reading challenges, then check out my February Wrap-Up video for a bit more information on the books I read.

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. How lovely your father was able to ‘escape’ and you could all be together. I’m sure there are many similar reunions happening all over the US

    Wishing you a great reading week

    1. Thanks! I'm sure you're right :)

      Hope you enjoy your books this week, too!


  2. That must have been so wonderful to have your FIL actually in your house for the first time in a year. I am so looking forward to seeing people in person. I don't need "back to normal," but a little bit in that direction would be wondeful.

    1. He's doing much better this week, cognitively and emotionally, so I think the visit was good for him!

  3. I'm glad you got to visit with your father-in-law—that's awesome! I'm sorry your son's appointments were so chaotic. These books all sound great, especially My Name Is Memory! I also took a look at your review of Honestly Ben, and it sounds great as well. Thanks for the great post!

    1. Thanks!

      I wasn't sure about My Name is Memory at first, but I am enjoying it very much!

  4. Wow you really were busy this week! I remember when my mother-in-law went into a home after a stroke. We used to travel to where she lived and bring her out so she could be in her own home for a while. Eventually it just got to be too hard on her. It sure is challenging watching our elders age.
    I stopped listening to a book this week too. Life is too short and there are already too many books to read to continue on with something that isn't working for you.

    1. Yes, you are right! I rarely set a book aside, but I was relieved after I did it last week!

  5. I've enjoyed watching your vlogs, Sue! I'm just so impressed with those of you who've expanded your book blogs to videos. I wish I was ready for that jump and I've dreamed of starting it and involving the kiddos, since we read together so much. But since I struggle just to get my #imwayr posts done while mothering and home schooling, I should probably put the video goal on hold and keep learning from those of you who are currently mastering it. I would love to know what video editing program you use, though. Maybe I can start tinkering around over the summer.

    I wish I could allow myself to set aside a book. There have been just a few that I was SOOOOO thankful to finally finish. And, in hindsight, it would have been better if I could just let it go when I wasn't enjoying it so that I don't get into a reading slump.

    I really liked what you shared about The Heart's Invisible Furies and I'm adding it to my list. Would love to squeeze it in over the next few months. My husband, my oldest daughter, my oldest son, and I all LOVED Ready Player One. We all read it before the movie came out and had a blast talking through the details and then comparing the book to the movie. So I've been excited about Ready Player Two ever since I heard it was coming out. We bought a copy and gave it to my son, first (hoping he'd hurry up so the rest of us could pass it around). But when I started seeing a number of the reviews coming through on Goodreads, I got a little depressed over the comments. Fingers-crossed! Hope you and your family have a fantastic week!

    1. Aw, thanks, Shaye, for all the kind words! Don't be too impressed - so far it IS a bit overwhelming, and I;m not getting much else done - lol! But, I am getting better (and faster) with editing. I'm just using iMovie which comes with all Macs. It took me awhile, lots of how-to videos, and some frustration to figure it out, but I think I have it now :)

      Yeah, I rarely set books aside, but I was glad to with this one! Some reviewers on Amazon loved it, but it just wasn't clicking with me.

      Oh, never read the reviews of a book you are excited about! ha ha Just jump in cold and allow yourself to enjoy it :) Love that your family all passed Ready Player One around, too!