Monday, March 25, 2024

It's Monday 3/25! What Are You Reading?

Hosted by The Book Date


I had another very busy week without enough writing time and three appointments, so I was out almost every day--making up for lost time, I guess! I'm still feeling good, but if I could just get rid of that necessary, pesky afternoon nap, I could get a lot more done! I did enjoy a few short walks last week, though we had some cold, rainy days. I'm planning to get back out to the garden for more clean-up today.

A sure sign of spring: skunk cabbage in the low areas!

Saturday's heavy rains cleared out, leaving pastel skies & a full moon

The big news at our house is that a crew arrived this morning to paint our entryway, after only 29 years in this house! It's long overdue. We needed a professional team because it's a huge area, with a cathedral ceiling, so it's almost 3 stories up. It's an open floor-plan, so the entryway leads up the stairs and along the second-floor hallway--a big area. Since it's the entryway, we didn't have much furniture to move, except for this bookcase:

I'm sure you can see our problem--clearly, we need a bigger bookcase! Here's where all the books are for now:


Piles of books on the floor

Extra bookcase moved into our room

Lots of our "keeper" books stored in a laundry basket!

My bigger plan is to take advantage of this to do some book reorganizing (and weeding): clearing off our big living room bookcase (that I record in front of for my book videos) to make room for some of the books we just moved out of the hallway (that was our "Keepers" bookcase, with our favorite books). And I want to move some of what was in the living room--like cookbooks--into the office. So, yesterday, we took the first step and cleared off two shelves in our home office. One (with the blue binders) was from my old professional (pre-illness) life: lots of training courses that I designed, taught to our instructors, and instructed myself. I loved my training & consulting work, so this was bittersweet! I always thought I'd get back to it. But many of those binders were full of transparencies, so ... yeah, a little out of date! The second shelf was full of software--from the 1990's and early 2000's. A lot went out into the trash and recycling yesterday. Feels good to see those almost-empty shelves! This is another outcome of feeling better--finally being able to tackle some decluttering and home projects.

20+ year-old stuff!

Clear bookshelves! (the red binder is actually recipes)


On the Blog

Fiction Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane - a moving multi-generational family drama about life: love and loss, trauma and healing. Really outstanding novel!


On Video

I'm So Annoyed Booktube Tag - I wasn't sure about doing this one, but it ended up being a lot of fun! It's about the (big and little) annoyances in the book world. What are your bookish pet peeves?

Friday Reads 3-22-24 - my brief weekly update of what I am reading & listening to


 What We're Reading

I finished the middle-grade graphic novel, Parachute Kids by Betty C. Tang for Middle-Grade March. It's about a family from Taiwan that visits California on a vacation, but the parents' plan is for their kids to remain in the U.S. to escape the perilous situation at home and to get a better education. Dad returns home to work, and Mom is supposed to stay with the kids, but the U.S. won't extend her visa. The three kids (two teens and 10-year-old Feng Li) are left on their own. The oldest daughter knows English fairly well, but the 10-year-old knows none and is suddenly in school with American kids. I had never even heard of this term before this book came out, but apparently it is a growing trend for Chinese parents to send their kids to the U.S. for a better education. I wanted to know more and read this fascinating NY Times article. The graphic novel was excellent and both entertaining and informative.


Next, I moved onto my second book for Booktopia (tickets available; my recap/vlog from Booktopia 2023), The Audacity by Ryan Chapman. This novel is a satire that loosely mirrors the Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos case. Guy, a middling piano composer, is married to Victoria, a hard-driving, high-intensity woman who started PrevYou, a medical company whose simple aim was to cure cancer. Guy comes home from yet another charity gala (he runs the company's philanthropic arm) to an emergency board meeting on Zoom where he hears that Victoria is missing. She went kayaking in San Francisco Bay and her kayak came back without her. Guy quickly figures out that this was her way of disappearing since news of her company's failure was about to break (and we hear from Victoria, in a secluded cabin, in chapter 2). The beginning was a bit confusing, but at about 50% now, there is a lot more humor, and the satire is more apparent.


For Middle-Grade March and Fierce Women Reads, I finished listening to Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy, my first novel from this very popular YA author (this is her first middle-grade novel). Twelve-year-old Sweet Pea feels torn apart by her parents' divorce, despite their efforts to keep everything "normal." She splits her time between her mom's house and her dad's, which are identical homes two doors down from each other! She's also still grieving the loss of her first-ever best friend, Kiera, who's found prettier, thinner, more popular girls to hang out with. Luckily, Sweet Pea has Oscar, her new best (only) friend and her cat, Cheese. It was very good, focusing on several common adolescent issues between Sweet Pea, Kiera, and Oscar with warmth and humor.


My last audiobook for Middle-Grade March and Fierce Women Reads is Home Away from Home by Cynthia Lord. Mia and her mom always visit her grandma in Maine every summer, but this year, Mia's there alone. Her mom and her boyfriend are working to sell their old house and find a new one, for "a fresh start." Mia wishes everything would stay the same, but she loves visiting her grandma in the small, seaside town. Things are different there this year, though, too. Mia meets grandma's neighbor, Cayman, who's her age and seems to have made himself at home at grandma's house! The two kids spot an unusual white bird of prey when they go to check on the baby eaglets the town is known for. It's great so far, with a hefty dose of nature, which I love.


My husband, Ken, is still reading a nonfiction book I loved last November, The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman, about a Polish couple who saved over a hundred Jews in WWII Warsaw (my review at the link). Oddly, he swears he's read it before and knows the whole story. This is odd because I just brought it into the house in summer 2022, and we both agree he didn't read it recently. Besides, I document what he's reading each week here, and it's only mentioned on my blog when I read it last fall. It's a mystery! But it's a wonderful book, so he's still reading it (again?).


Our son, 29, is still very busy with job interviews, but he's enjoying a book I gave him for his birthday last year, Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie, one of his all-time favorite fantasy authors (and he has many favorites). This is book 1 in World of the First Law, a spin-off of his hugely popular First Law trilogy.


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. Ms. Yingling2:16 PM

    Decluttering is always hard; I'm sure I have some transparencies at work! Parachute Kids has done well with my readers; Sweet Pea less so. I think the cover on that one looks too young, and my students don't know about the author's Dumpling. Hope the painting goes well!

  2. I also recently (finally) go rid of my classroom teaching stuff. And, yes, it contained transparencies. As you say, it is a bittersweet moment, but also feels good to move on and create space.

    Getting the painting done will feel soooooo good! And if it is spurring you on to reorganize, all the better.

  3. I love Cynthia Lord's books. They have such great middle grade characters in them.

  4. Parachute Kids is a book that I've been meaning to read for so long--I need to get on that!

    Happy reading this week :)

  5. Painting, whether inside or outside, is always a big project, even when you hire painters. Good luck--I ran out of book shelves years ago and so really have to be judicious about what I keep and what I recycle.

  6. Nice to have that hallway painted, it sounds kinda huge! Ah and being able to cull some things while bittersweet will give you shelf space, that may or may not get filled. Parachute Kids sounds good, must see if our library has it.

  7. Decluttering is the hardest! When we moved, I swore that was the end of the clutter, but it starts creeping back!