Monday, December 13, 2021

It's Monday 12/13! What Are You Reading?

How can it possibly be December 13 already? How can it even be December? As usual, I am way behind with ... well, everything! This time of year tends to be really overwhelming for me, but I am making progress, bit by bit, in getting ready for the holidays. I finished and submitted my article last week - yay! So, now I can focus on holiday prep.

We're still struggling with my father-in-law's dementia, but we did have some good times last week, too. I managed a short walk at our local nature center last Tuesday (which now seems like weeks ago!) on a gorgeous fall day. 

Our iconic local covered bridge on a lovely fall day

And last night, we decorated our Christmas tree, which is one of our favorite holiday traditions! Our ornaments all represent memories--of the kids as they grew up, many family vacations, places we visited, etc--so it's always fun to get them out and reminisce while we put them on the tree, with holiday music playing. We may be getting to the point where we have too many ornaments to fit on the tree! But many of them belong to our sons and will go with them when they permanently move out. Each year, on Christmas Eve, they each open one gift, a new ornament, with the idea being that their first own Christmas tree won't be bare like mine was! One son wasn't able to be home last night, and we missed him very much, but the other son was here and his girlfriend (and my father-in-law, too).

My husband, son, and I next to our finished tree!

This week, the big event is my book signing on Sunday (9-11 am) at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach! We love this awesome indie bookstore that is a couple of hours from our home in Delaware. So, this also means a quick road trip! We'll be going down Saturday and spending the night; my husband and I can both use a little getaway. So, if you live in the area, stop by to say hello!

I didn't have much time last week, so I just got one new video up, my usual Friday Reads update, where you can watch me gush about how much I love the books I am currently reading/listening to!

Speaking of books, here's what we have all been reading this past week:

I finished reading Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce and discussed it with my neighborhood book group. We absolutely loved Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and its companion novel, The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, so when this latest novel was suggested, it was a shoe-in! Margery Benson is a large woman in her 40’s in England in 1950 who feels at loose ends, having lost all of her family and working in an unsatisfying job as a Home Ec teacher. On impulse, she does something reckless and then decides to embark on an expedition to a remote island in the Pacific to look for a never-before-seen (perhaps mythical?) golden beetle. Accompanying her, by some strange twists of fate, is Enid Pretty, a wild young woman in a bright pink suit who is Margery’s complete opposite. It has the same sense of warmth, absurdity, and humor as her other novels, as Margery and Enid find themselves while searching for the beetle. I loved the combination of moving moments and laugh-out-loud moments, and most of my book group agreed.

Now, I am back to the book I had to set aside to get ready for book group, All Clear by Connie Willis, which is book two of the two-book series that started with Blackout. I read that first one for #BigBookSummer this year and was disappointed to find that it ended in a cliff-hanger! But now I am fully immersed back into this world and so enjoying it. Both books are part of Willis' Oxford Time Travel series, about a group of historians (grad students at Oxford) in 2060 who travel back in time in order to witness historical events firsthand. In this one, many historians have all been sent back to World War II in England, each with his or her own assignment in different parts of England and at different times. But the time travel technology starts to glitch, and some of them are unable to return home. All of her books feature amazing historical detail and the mind-bending fun of time travel, but this one is also super suspenseful, as the 2060 historians are not only in personal danger, being stuck in WWII, but are also worried about unintentionally changing history, given their long stays in the past. It's compelling and engrossing and is keeping me reading too late each night!

On audio, I am still listening to Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune. I’ve been hearing a lot of great reviews of both this novel and Klune’s first one, The House in the Cerulean Sea, so I wanted to find out for myself. This is an unusual novel about the afterlife, described by one reviewer as “A Man Called Ove meets The Good Place”—sold! Wallace is a buttoned-up lawyer with no compassion who suddenly dies of a heart attack. He is sitting in the church, watching his own funeral—dressed embarrassingly in flip-flops, sweat pants, and an old Rolling Stones t-shirt—when a young woman joins him and explains that she is a reaper, there to guide him after his death. It takes Wallace a while to even believe he is dead, but meeting Hugo, the ferryman, begins to convince him. It’s great so far, with a mix of emotional depth and humor that I’m enjoying.

My husband, Ken, is still reading Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson, book one of The Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Our son picked this out for him; it is one of his favorite fantasy novels, and he wanted his dad to try it. The description says, “Vast legions of gods, mages, humans, dragons and all manner of creatures play out the fate of the Malazan Empire in this first book in a major epic fantasy series.” Ken isn’t nearly as big a fan of epic fantasy as our son is, but he’s always willing to try a book our son thinks he’ll enjoy. He says it's complicated so far, as he's trying to keep straight not only the characters but the types of magic and other characteristics of this world, but our son assures him it will all come together!

Our son, 27, finished reading Shadowcaster, book one of the Shattered Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, one of his favorite authors. This is a spin-off of her acclaimed Seven Realms series, which he loved, set in the same world. Now, he is reading Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak, which was a finalist for both the Nebula and Hugo awards and on many Top Ten lists. I don't know if it is technically a sequel, but it is set in the same fairy tale world as Uprooted, another book he enjoyed reading.



My blog posts last week:

 TV Tuesday: Maid - I loved this moving, uplifting real-life story!

Nonfiction Review: I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara - this stunning story is part true crime and part memoir

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. Under the Whispering Door sounds different and interesting. Good you got your article completed. Love the Christmas ornament tradition. Hope book signing has gone well. Wasn't sure which Sunday but I take it the one that has just been!

  2. Congrats on getting your article submitted, Sue! And that's really fun that you visited the nature center for a walk, and decorated the Christmas tree with your family (that sounds like a really fun tradition)! And I hope you have a wonderful book signing this Sunday! Miss Benson's Beetle sounds like a really fun read, and I'm glad you got to start the next Connie Willis book and are enjoying it so far. Thanks so much for the wonderful post!

  3. I SO know what you mean about it already being December. This week I was looking at due dates for my library books and I was like, "December 13th? Cool. I have a while before I need to worry." Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. IT'S DECEMBER 13th!! I'm having to carefully plan out all my days and sometimes work late into the night just to get the essentials done. Whew!

    We love Christmas tree decorating. We've had a number of decorations that were handed down from my childhood tree and some that were handmade or purchased. But I love that you purchase ornaments from all your travels. We don't do a lot of traveling, however every year I purchase a special metal photo decoration that includes our latest photo that we used in that year's Christmas card. I usually purchase six so that all five kiddos can take one with them when they move out. There were a few years that I only got 3 or 4, but since all the grandparents received one, I figured they would pass them down, eventually. Anyway, it's nice when kiddos don't have to start off with a bare tree as they begin their own Christmas traditions!

    On books, I'm just working my way through my #MustReadin2021 list and thumbing through piles of picture books that I'm playing catch-up on. I am adding Under the Whispering Door to my list and so I was able to put it on hold tonight. Thanks for reminding me of it and for another great post, Sue!

  4. What a lovely tradition, your tree looks very festive!
    I’d thought, given the covers, that Klune’s books were MG & hadn’t given them a second look. I’m curious now.
    I hope the signing went well and you enjoyed your overnight getaway.

    Wishing you a great reading week.

  5. Ah, yes! I remember reading Blackout and coming to the end and having to wait until the next book came out. We will have our kids home for Christmas at various points and have a lot of visiting to do -- being extra careful in the lead-up to the holidays and hoping for the best re. COVID!
    I'm sorry to say I haven't read your book yet, but hope to start it soon! Congratulations on having a book signing!

  6. Have a wonderful time at your book signing; that sounds like fun, especially since it includes a road trip!

    I loved Miss Benson's Beetle and thought it was a fun read.