Monday, December 27, 2021

It's Monday 12/27! What Are You Reading?

We had a lovely Christmas Day with a few family members here at our house, but unfortunately, our holiday week was a bit too eventful. 

On Thursday, my 96-year-old father-in-law fell and broke his hip. They did surgery on Christmas Eve. He has severe spinal stenosis and ever-worsening dementia, so the broken bone is just the tip of the iceberg. It's tough to heal at that age under any circumstances, but he wasn't moving too well before the fall and surgery. Now, he's so confused in the hospital that he's not eating or taking his meds, and they haven't been able to get him out of bed to stand or walk yet. My husband is there now, hoping to coax him to at least eat and take the pills. Due to COVID, he is only allowed one visitor per DAY, so it was a pretty rotten holiday for him (though he's barely even aware of the holiday). And now we need to find a rehab facility for him.

Then, the day after Christmas, with our son and his girlfriend and my mom and her husband still visiting, we were enjoying a lovely, relaxing day together when we got the news that someone else, who spent Christmas Eve with two of our group, had a positive COVID test. In less than an hour, the two couples packed, loaded their cars, and left for home. It was an abrupt and worrying end to our time together! Several tests from our group have come back negative so far, but it is still pretty early after potential exposure. Our planned annual Cookie Decorating/Grinch party tonight with our oldest friends is now virtual (again).

So, things began and ended with too many upsetting surprises, but we did enjoy a nice Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Christmas Eve was very quiet (which we needed after a full day of cooking and wrapping!), with just my husband, son, and I. We had a great seafood meal (takeout) and watched some favorite Christmas specials. 

Christmas morning was again quiet, with just the three of us, but with loads of gifts! We were laughing that none of us really ever buys anything for ourselves during the year, but we all tend to go overboard for Christmas and birthdays. 

By 4 pm, our older son and his girlfriend arrived and my mom and her husband (all from out of town), so we opened more gifts and had a wonderful Christmas dinner together. You can see the books we gave and received in my A Very Bookish Christmas post.

Just a note that I decided to make a slight adjustment to my Monday posts (starting today). They've gotten longer and longer, and that takes a lot of time for me to write ... and I suspect too much time for most people to read! So, my book update (and personal update, too, after this week) will be a bit more brief. This is the first step in trying to adjust things a bit for 2022 so that I don't constantly feel stressed and overloaded. Though I know my personal update this week was long!

I uploaded two new book videos last week:

So, here's what we've all been reading this past week:

I finished All Clear by Connie Willis, which is book two of the two-book series that started with Blackout, both historical time travel with loads of suspense. OUTSTANDING!!! It won both the Hugo and Nebula prizes. Like her novel Doomsday Book (read for Big Book Summer 2020), this is now in my top 10 of all time (which is getting crowded).


Christmas Day, I started A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet, the last of my Mother's Day gifts (trying to catch up!). It's a short novel and unusual but very good so far, about twelve kids and teens left on their own when an apocalypse hits.


I finished reading the middle-grade/teen graphic memoir, Friends Forever by Shannon Hale, with illustrations by LeUyen Pham. This is the third book in their trilogy of graphic memoirs that started with Real Friends and Best Friends. This one was excellent!


I started a new audiobook, Zara Hossain Is Here by Sabina Khan. With just one week left to the month (and year), I am trying to squeeze one last audio in. This YA novel is about racial prejudice, immigration, and a teen girl just trying to live like any other American teen. It's great so far.


My husband is still reading Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson, book one of The Malazan Book of the Fallen series, a fantasy novel recommended by our son. He didn't have much reading time this week!


Our 27-year-old son is still 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. He has lots of new books to choose from now!

Blog posts last week:

Fiction Review: Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson - twisty book-related thriller!

Nonfiction Review: The Sisters of Auschwitz by Roxane van Iperen - visceral, fascinating story of two unsung heroes.

A Very Bookish Christmas - see which books we gave and received this year!

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. Oh my gosh, I am so sorry about all the awful things that have happened this past week! I am so sorry that your father-in-law fell, and I hope you all can find a good rehab facility (and get him to eat/take his meds)—I can't even imagine how stressful that must be for y'all. And I am so sorry you might have been exposed to COVID—that is utterly terrifying, and I seriously hope y'all don't have it!

    Also, I really like your new post format! Blogging can definitely take up an enormous amount of time, and I can understand that your older format was just a little bit too much work to get done every week. Honestly, it makes me think a little about my own reviews—I've been drafting upcoming posts during my little blogging break, and I really do enjoy writing long posts, but it can also be a bit exhausting, and I suspect they've gotten maybe a little too long for the audience as well! I tried my hand at a slightly shorter format in an upcoming review, and it was much easier to write, so I might try it again and see if it works better!

    Blah, blah, blah—sorry for this massive comment! As for books, the ones you all got for Christmas look fantastic, and these ones you've been reading look great as well! Zara Hossain Is Here and A Children's Bible sound great, and it's wonderful that All Clear ended up being so enjoyable! Thanks so much for the wonderful post, Sue!

    1. Thank you for your kindness and concern. It means a lot!

      As for the post length, I always enjoy your posts! The difference is that my Monday post is supposed to be a quick (ha ha) summary and THEN I write separate review posts for each book later. You and Shaye both integrate your reviews into your Monday posts (which I enjoy!). So, whichever way you decide to go, I'll be there for it!

  2. Your Christmas day sounds great and personally I love buying gifts, I don't care about receiving them! But I guess it's good to be a good receiver too! So sorry about your FIL. That happened to my Dad when he was about 93 I think, and while he didn't have dementia he just couldn't get out of bed. It was his end, short and sharp with a lung clot some days later. On a happier note, loved your sharing of Happier in Hollywood on my blog. Aren't those women great! I am only up to the fourth one as we only just had it dropped her on free to air TV. Yes, I love seeing their names on the screen. They are such open, honest women. Love their podcast. Take care, hopefully some reading to be had! And yes, 2022, cut back the stress for sure in whatever way you can.

    1. Yes, me, too, Kathryn! I love to pick out gifts for people! I don't care much about receiving either, but my family is always so kind and generous that it's fun! :)

      Thanks for sharing your FIL's story. Honestly, he is ready to go - has been for years, since his wife died. We've tried hard to make his life enjoyable since we moved him here, but his overall quality of life now is pretty poor, as the dementia has worsened. It would be a blessing now - hard for us but probably better for him.

      Happy New Year!

  3. I really enjoyed Zara Hossain is Here and hope it's a good last book of the year for you.

    The troubles with your father in law are sad and scary and, I am sure, exhausting for all involved. And COVID scares. Keep testing to day 6 to be sure and I'll keep my fingers crossed. This latest variant is just so contagious.

    1. Thanks for the good thoughts, Helen. It is scary! They're moving him to rehab tomorrow, though he's still in terrible shape. Luckily, the facility is VERY close to our house - like, a mile away! So we'll be able to visit often and hopefully keep him more alert.

  4. Oh my! I'm sorry to hear about the COVID exposure! I pray that all tests come back negative! I've just prayed for your dear father-in-law. Nice to see you all are a bookish family who enjoy receiving books for Christmas! Prayers and healing for your family!

    1. Thank you so much for your kindness and concern. All negative tests so far in my own family, so fingers crossed that we escaped!

  5. Sorry to hear of the unwelcome excitement and unfortunate events in your family and family circle. Broken hips at your father-in-law's age are definitely very serious, especially with his other conditions. Very tough for him.

    Take care.

    1. Thank you, Jane. The hospital was supposed to transfer him to a rehab facility today (that is thankfully about a mile from our house!), but my husband's been there all day and they still haven't transferred him. Will be so much easier for us when he is closer. He's still not doing well :(

  6. Hi Sue. What a crazy, eventful holiday week you've had. I'm reading this a week late, so I imagine much of it has resolved, but I'm still sorry you had to experience all that! I really like your new blog format. I've been trying out some new options in recent weeks because I was also feeling as though mine had gotten longer than necessary for my #imwayr posts. My hope is to start doing my ARC reviews separately and linking to them when I have more to share. But yes, it was taking a long time and I was finding myself frustrated with the weekly time commitment. Some may still be longer than others when I'm super excited, but hopefully I'll find that less is more as I adjust! #latecommenter