Monday, April 05, 2021

It's Monday 4/5! What Are You Reading?

Of course, the highlight of our week was the Easter holiday! Our older son came home on Friday and enjoyed a very relaxing weekend with us. We three caught up on NCIS, Star Trek Discovery, and The Good Place, three favorite shows we watched together when he lived here. His younger brother came for dinner Easter Sunday with his girlfriend, and my 95-year-old father-in-law was able to once again join us at the holiday table. We had a great time together and also enjoyed a Zoom catch-up with some extended family on Saturday.

All here and ready for our Easter feast!

I cooked a lot this weekend, too. My family has always enjoyed all of the traditional Ukrainian foods for Easter, based on recipes that my great-grandparents brought with them from Ukraine in the 1910's. We found some locally-made pierogies (missed the curbside pick-up at the Ukrainian church this year), and I cooked holubtsi (cabbage rolls) and hren (a beet and horseradish relish that is delicious), along with ham, Polish sausage, and green beans. It was a feast that brings back lots of great memories for me of my childhood, with my whole extended family together, from my great-grandfather down to me. And we have plenty of left-overs for dinner tonight!

All of our Ukrainian favorites!

As always, everyone got an Easter basket (even the 95-year-old!), and my husband, son, and I all got books in our baskets: Breakfast at Tiffany's by Truman Capote for me (yay!), Camino Winds by John Grisham for my husband, and Charmcaster by Sebastien de Castell (book 3 of the Spellslinger series) for our son.

Easter baskets - with books, of course!

I was thrilled to be Bookshop's Social Media Affiliate Shout-Out on April 1! Bookshop is an awesome website that provides the convenience of buying books online, while supporting independent bookstores! My Bookshop page has a bunch of fun book lists that I created, and on April 1, Bookshop featured my Celebrate Spring with Books list, with my picks for books that focus on nature, renewal, and fresh starts. Check it out! Do you have any favorite books that are good springtime reads?

I had fun making this spring book list!

Finally, I posted two new bookish videos to my YouTube channel last week. My usual Friday Reads update went up on Friday (just a quickie overview of what I am reading). My favorite, though, was a tag called Hindsight is 20-20 Reader, all about the books I loved to read as a child and how I became an avid reader - my favorite topics! Since I still have many of my favorite books from my childhood, I did lots of show-and-tell with this one and had so much fun with it! Check it out, and let me know which books you loved as a child.

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

I have been reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles for one of my book groups. I said to my husband one night, "When everyone I know says a book is amazing, I should listen!" Why did I wait so long to read this one? It's about Count Alexander Rostov, a 33-year-old poet in 1922 Russia who is put before a Bolshevik tribunal, where they determine he is "an unrepentant aristocrat." He is sentenced to house arrest in the grand hotel, Metropol. He's been living in a luxury suite there for years, but now he is moved to a tiny room in the attic. He can move freely around the hotel but can not leave the premises. He struggles at first, but a precocious nine-year-old girl named Nina, who also lives at the hotel, introduces him to an entire world behind the scenes of the familiar hotel. Rostov is also naturally resilient and upbeat. I'm about halfway through now and absolutely loving it. The novel is warm, funny, and engrossing and is all about living in the present and finding small joys in every-day life--all very uplifting.

On audio, I am now listening to a YA novel, One Way or Another by Kara McDowell. I love novels that play with time, and this one is about alternate timelines. Seventeen-year-old Paige struggles with anxiety and is in love with her best friend, Fitz, but he's always dating someone else. Now, as much as she hates even trivial decisions, she has a big one to make: go with Fitz to his family's mountain cabin for a Christmas worthy of a Hallmark holiday movie (and Fitz just broke up with his latest girlfriend) or go to NYC with her mother for her dream trip of a lifetime. As she's agonizing over the choice with her friend in a store, Paige slips and hits her head. From then on, the novel splits into two different storylines: on one path, Paige goes to the cabin with Fitz and his family and on the other path, she goes to New York with her mom. I like that this novel is fun, with the alternate timelines and rom-com feel, but it also tackles the serious issue of Paige's crippling anxiety and self-doubt. I'm enjoying it so far.

My husband, Ken, is still reading The Night Fire by Michael Connelly. This is book three in the Renee Ballard series, and the second one that teams up Ballard with classic Connelly character Harry Bosch. My husband and I both love Connelly's books and the Harry Bosch series. Ballard has been an excellent addition to Connelly's thrillers, as a younger, female lead character. We both enjoyed her debut in The Late Show, and my husband also read book two, Dark Sacred Night (I have some catching up to do). In this book, Bosch and Ballard team up again to tackle a cold case that was important to Bosch's mentor who just died. Apparently, the two of them begin to really come together as a team in this novel, so that sounds great to us! Ken's already enjoying it. Thrillers are his favorite kind of book, and it's so much fun to just get sucked right into a gripping story.

Our son, 26, is re-reading Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, book three in the Stormlight Archive series, in preparation for book four, which his girlfriend just got for him (released in November). I love how she understands his love of reading and of favorite book series, even though she's not a big book lover herself. This is one of his favorite authors, and he loves this series! He lugged this 1248-page hardcover book home with him this weekend (this is the guy who, when he was about twelve years old, carried a giant hardcover collection of all the Sherlock Holmes stories/novels in his backpack on a long travel day through multiple airports!). He's almost finished with Oathbringer and is looking forward to book four, which is just as long.


Just some light reading for a travel weekend!

Blog posts from last week:

Movie Monday: Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand in this quiet, uplifting story based on real life

Fiction Review: Heart Spring Mountain by Robin MacArthur - family drama spanning five generations of women in the backwoods of Vermont

Middle-Grade Reviews: Two Graphic Novels for Middle-Graders - I enjoyed both of these realistic middle-grade graphic novels

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. Yay for being with family and have a bookish Easter.

  2. Ooh that One Way or Another book does sound interesting! I'll have to add it to my own reading list.

    1. It is good! Hope you enjoy it, too!

  3. That looks like a fabulous family gathering, I bet it did you all good. How interesting about your Ukranian heritage and food. It looks very tasty. Great idea to have Easter books as gifts.

  4. Anonymous10:11 PM

    Your Easter sounds amazing! Oathbringer looks like a monster big book to read.

    Tanya Patrice

    1. Thanks, Tanya! Oathbringer is pretty typical for him - ha ha He thinks my Big Book Summer Challenge is funny! lol

  5. I skipped Easter this year -- no one was home. But I bought myself some books.

    I also loved A Gentleman in Moscow -- I hope you like the second half as much as the first.

    1. Glad you could at least celebrate Easter with books!

  6. It's so nice to see your family all together at one table unmasked! I am sure you were delighted to have everyone together, especially your FIL. I hope that his presence means he is feeling a little better.

    We didn't do anything for Easter, but did have a nice walk and a yummy dinner.

    1. Thanks, Helen! My younger son and his GF were still at a little table in the next room, and we did wear masks but took them off for dinner and the pic :) My FIL is about the same - thankfully, Easter was an OK day for him!!

  7. I woke up Easter morning feeling forlorn and missing the huge dinners we used to have with my father's grandparents. They were originally ethnically German from around Odessa. Holubtsi, ham, turkey, brussel sprouts, mashed turnip, and all kinds of other side dishes were part of the feast. I especially loved the dill pickles.
    I was pretty much gobsmacked by A Gentleman in Moscow when I read it. I have his second book around here somewhere and will get to it eventually.

    1. I understand, Cheriee. So much of my family is gone now :( I was the youngest (until my sister was born), and those days of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and even my great-grandfather all around the table for holidays were SO special.

      I am loving A Gentleman in Moscow, too!

  8. I hear such great things about A Gentleman in Moscow! I bought it for Kindle but haven't read it yet. I had never read Michael Connelly before, but I got really into the Renee Ballard series at the beginning of this year. The third book is on my list to read in the next few months.

    Happy Easter!

  9. I'm so glad you had a big family Easter celebration—that's really fun! Also, every time you share photos of food, I get hungry, even if I'm reading the post hours after dinner! A Gentleman in Moscow looks excellent, and One Way or Another sounds like a really fun YA story. I cannot believe how long Oathbringer is—that is crazy! Thanks for the great post!

  10. I'm angry with myself. I read but never reviewed A Gentleman in Moscow. Dang, I can't look back on what I liked about the book.