Monday, June 21, 2021

It's Monday 6/21! What Are You Reading?

Happy First Day of Summer and Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there--hope that everyone enjoyed the weekend!

We had a nice family-focused weekend. Our older son came home for a short visit Friday and Saturday, and we enjoyed two dinners with all four of us together, which was a great treat! We had a special crab dinner Saturday night for an early Father's Day celebration, since our son had to head home afterward. My husband is a wonderful father and loved getting to spend time with his grown sons this weekend.

Crabs for dinner! All 4 of us around the table.

Sunday, we enjoyed a Father's Day lunch with my father-in-law. He's 96 and struggling with some dementia, but he was lucid and really seemed to enjoy our takeout BBQ lunch, with his favorites: ribs, corn on the cob, and watermelon. He also enjoyed the big stack of gifts we gave him and was especially delighted by the portable CD player with a stack of his old favorite albums on CD (mostly brass bands from the early 60's). He was back in rough shape by dinnertime and again this morning (my husband had to go over there both times), but I'm glad we could give him that celebration and fun. The Father's Day fun continues today, as my husband and younger son head out golfing this morning.

Grandad enjoyed opening his gifts!

And, just a quick word in memory of my own dad, whom I miss every single day, though I have especially felt his absence this weekend. He was an amazing father and grandfather--kind, loving, affectionate, generous, lots of fun, and he had a great sense of humor! 

Dad and I on the beach in Canada

He was also an avid reader, and I miss sharing that passion with him. From passing the latest Stephen King books back and forth when I was a teen in the 70's and 80's to picking out books for him on the holidays to listening to him tell us excitedly about his latest read, he and I connected over books my whole life. My husband and I now have his collection of Stephen King (always his favorite) and Dean Koontz books in our bedroom.

Our collection of books from my Dad

One final bit of news: I got my second COVID vaccine last week! I was worried because of my immune disorder and went through extensive immune testing, doctor consultations, and new treatments the past six months before I took the plunge. I was surprised and delighted to have no reaction at all to my first shot, though this second one hit me harder. I had about 24 hours of being totally bed-ridden, with pain everywhere. I've been doing better since then, though still very low-energy and exhausted by afternoon (even with my daily nap), so I am hoping this week will bring further improvement. I am relieved to have gotten through it without a major relapse. Some with my illness are still in terrible shape and unable to function many months after their shot(s) and some are unable to get it at all, so I feel fortunate.

Here's what we've been reading this past busy week:

I am still reading one of my #BigBookSummer books, The Lost Time Accidents by John Wray. I heard about this through a podcast called The Readers (I don't think it's still on), which was hosted by Simon and Gavin way back when. Gavin loved time travel novels (just like me) and recommended this as one of his all-time favorite books. So, I kept it on my TBR list all these years and added it to my Books Gift List for my family! My husband gave it to me for Christmas, and I saved it for Big Book Summer. It's an odd book so far, not what I expected, but I am enjoying it. A man named Waldemar Tolliver is "stuck outside of time" at the start of the book. As he narrates his present predicament, he goes back to tell his unusual family history, beginning with a strange discovery about time that his great-great grandfather made in 1903, and how his namesake, his great-uncle, further investigated it. It can get kind of dark (his great-uncle became a high-ranking Nazi), but it's also funny at times. While there is not yet any time travel, it is very much about the nature of time, with a dose of physics throughout (many of the early Tollivers were physicists), and I like the way it weaves real history into the family narrative.

On audio, I am listening to another Big Book! (Yes, audios count for the challenge, too, based on the page count in the print book.) I am listening to The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames, a novel published in 2019. It's the story of a woman named Stella, who encounters many life-threatening incidents during her childhood in rural Italy and youth and adult life in the United States. She protects her younger sister, Tina, but life changes dramatically when the family immigrates to America just before WWII. The story is told from the perspective of a family member in Connecticut in the present day, to explain why the two now-elderly sisters don't get along. I'm finally getting close to the end, and I am looking forward to that! It's a well-written novel and engrossing, with a vivid sense of time and place in its different settings. However, it is also very dark. You might think I should have expected that from the title, but some aspects of this story are really disturbing (like scenes of abuse). So, while I've been engaged in the story, it's a long book, and the darkness is getting to me.

My husband, Ken, finished his first Big Book Summer pick (yes, he joins the challenge, too!), For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway. Like me, he likes to read classics once in a while, and this one has been on our shelves for a bit. It's about the Spanish Civil War and is based on Hemingway's own travels to Spain as a journalist in 1937 to cover the war for the North American Newspaper Alliance. I think this is the third Hemingway novel my husband has read, but I have never read anything by Hemingway! I know, isn't that crazy? I never even read any Hemingway in school. Ken was struggling with this one at first. He said the language was very different from other Hemingway novels, and it was hard to understand. But, it got better, and he became immersed in the story and ended up enjoying it, though he was ready for something lighter and fast-paced afterward!

Ken got a nice stack of books for Father's Day yesterday (holidays at our house always include stacks of books), so he picked one of those last night to read next. He did get a couple more Big Books, but after Hemingway, he wanted something fast and shorter, so he's reading Dead of Winter by Stephen Mack Jones. This is an author I met at Booktopia, an annual event in Vermont I've been missing the past two years! My husband and I both love his series of thrillers set in Detroit about a half-Mexican, half-Black, ex-cop. We both enjoyed the first book, August Snow, and liked the second one, Lives Laid Away, even more, so we've been looking forward to this third installment. Jones writes fast-paced, action-packed, twisty thrillers, but he also has a great sense of humor. This one will definitely go on my own TBR shelves when Ken's finished!

Our 26-year-old son finally finished the 1232-page chunkster Rhythm of War, book four of one of his favorite series, Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson. He really enjoyed it. He read another book next (that I didn't get the title of this weekend) and is now reading Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo, which is book one of a trilogy. He and his girlfriend want to watch the new Netflix adaptation of the series, and, like any avid reader, he wants to read the book first! He said it's not a series he probably would normally read (he prefers fantasy worlds without guns), but all the hype and rave reviews surrounding the trilogy (and now the TV series) convinced him to give it a try. He's enjoying it so far.


Blog posts from last week:

New E-Mail List Provider - yes, another change for those who read this on e-mail--but this is it!

Summary of Books Read in May - an excellent reading month for me!

Fiction Review: End of Watch by Stephen King - my first Big Book of the Summer!

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. I'm so glad you all enjoyed Father's Day—it sounds like you did quite a bit to celebrate! Your own father sounds like a wonderful person, and I am sorry he has passed. I'm so glad you got your second dose of the vaccine, though I hope the side effects ease up soon! The books you all have been reading sound excellent, especially Shadow and Bone! And I got your first batch of emails through—I'm glad that system is working for you! Thanks so much for the great post!

  2. It sounds like father's day weekend was a success in your house. I think it must be so difficult for those whose parents are no longer here. We don't make a big deal of it, but I did buy my dad sunflowers.

    And I am so pleased for you that you got the second vaccine and are doing mostly okay with it! What a relief.

  3. Sounds like a really good Father's Day. We have ours in September. I love that photo of you and your Dad when you were young. And all about his books. Good that you got the Covid vaccination and the second one. Hope this week will be even better in terms of picking up after it. Haven't had mine yet, our roll out is mostly talk and not a lot of action!

  4. Sounds like it’s been a wonderful weekend.
    I love that you have your dads Stephen King collection, I wonder what my kids will do with my books when I’m gone.
    Hemingway is not to my taste but the thriller series sounds interesting,

    Wishing you a great reading week

  5. A wonderful wrap-up post! We had a family weekend, too -- our daughters repainted the shed in our backyard as a Father's Day gift and our son gave a new grill, so we had a vegetarian, gluten-free cookout on Saturday, and steak on Sunday night, when it was back to just my husband and me -- looking at our freshly painted shed as we ate!
    I'm planning to start Big Book Summer. Why am I always behind???

  6. Sounds like a great Fathers Day, honoring Fathers up and down the generations. I had hoped to start my Big Book (Invisible Lives of Addie LaRue) but somehow I failed to pick up the library ebook and now it's gone poof! So I have to go back on the waiting list...

  7. I loved Shadow & Bone and the Six of Crows duology, but I have yet to jump into the show--I'm nervous!!

    Happy reading this week :)