Book By Book
Whew, what a difference a week makes! I just re-read last week’s Monday post, and we had no idea how things would change. We went into major crisis mode this past week. My father-in-law (who is 95) has been going downhill during the pandemic, with the isolation, both physically and mentally, but last week, he could no longer manage self-care or even getting out of bed for meals. My husband’s been running over there twice a day to help him, and I spent my week first calling in-home care services and then starting the search for an assisted living facility. Our doctor suggested testing for a UTI or other medical problems … but, of course, the office was closed for the holiday weekend (just got the lab slip this morning). Somewhere around Thursday, we realized it would be impossible for us to leave him in this state (and impossible to find care services without more advance notice), so we cancelled our vacation with our sons this week. We should be packing up right now for a camping trip up into the cool mountains.
Bottom line is that stress and anxiety have been sky-high. I got so upset on Thursday (he barely knew who I was on the phone) that I spent much of the day crying–just couldn’t stop once I started! Luckily, we had a very quiet, relaxed weekend because we were both totally wiped out, both exhausted and stressed. Our sons were away, and we mostly stayed home (as is the norm now) all weekend, catching up around the house, watching TV, etc. The highlight of our weekend was when our oldest friends invited us to a local brewery that had a food truck and an outdoor band on the 4th of July. We spent a very relaxing evening on the lawn (each in our own 6-foot circle!), listening to the music, eating cheesesteaks (big treat for me, as I am normally dairy- and gluten-free), having a beer (even me!), and enjoying our friends’ company.
And, of course, we are all still enjoying our books and Big Book Summer here–there’s still plenty of time to join the fun! You only need to read one book of 400 or more pages by September (and, of course, you can read more if you want).
Here’s what we have all been reading this past week:
I finished Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. This was a major departure for me, as I don’t normally read romance, but I did enjoy this novel. I’d heard all kinds of rave reviews but somehow didn’t know that the main character, Chloe, has a chronic illness! This is extremely rare in fiction, and–even more rare–the novel deals with Chloe’s condition and challenges (even in the midst of a hot romance) very openly and honestly. What a thrill to see my own experiences reflected in the pages of a delightful novel. Chloe has fibromyalgia and has a near-death experience as the novel opens. Normally a very structured, controlled person (in large part due to her illness), she makes a Get a Life list and begins to cross things off, starting with moving out of her parents’ home and into her own apartment. The new super in her building is also super hot, and the attraction between the two is instant (though of course, they don’t like each other at first). By the end, I was remembering why I don’t read much romance, but overall, I enjoyed it and was glad for the break from heavier subjects.
Now, I am back to my Big Books and have dived into one of the books we inherited from my dad, Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King. I’ve wanted to read this trilogy ever since I read The Outsider last fall because I loved the character of Holly Gibney. She hasn’t shown up yet in this novel, but it is already a gripping story. Retired Detective Bill Hodges gets an anonymous letter from one of “the ones who got away,” a man dubbed the Mercedes Killer who killed eight people when he drove into a crowd a few years ago. It’s one of the cases that has always bothered Bill and has never been solved. Now, the killer himself has written a Bill a letter, filled with tantalizing details, taunting his inability to catch him. Bored by retirement, Bill suddenly feels like his life has purpose and begins to investigate the case again, using some of the clues from the letter and digging into details that bothered him at the time. It’s great so far, just the kind of immersive suspense I needed to distract me last week!
I am still listening to the audiobook, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins (it’s a a Big Book and my audiobook time is limited with our house full most days). You’ve probably heard about this one, since it is getting a LOT of attention right now. It’s the prequel to The Hunger Games, and it begins at the start of the 10th annual Hunger Games, while the war is still a recent memory. The story focuses on Coriolanus Snow, a teen-aged boy, who readers of the trilogy know will eventually become President of Panem. Here, though, he is a self-conscious boy from a great family that has fallen on very hard times. He’s trying to hide the fact that the remaining members of his family–him, his cousin, Tigris, and their grandmother–are barely surviving, eating cabbage and lima beans and unable to keep their home if the rumored property tax is truly put into place. He feels like he has one chance to prove himself: as a mentor to one of the contestants from the districts. He is assigned to mentor a girl from District 12, a girl who creates quite a stir on Reaping Day with her colorful outfit and beautiful song. As Coriolanus gets to know her better, his role in her life becomes more and more complicated, causing him to question the Hunger Games and the Capitol’s role in it. I am loving this book, and as always, Collins has provided such thought-provoking, morally complex subject matter.
My husband, Ken, just finished his latest Big Book from the collection we inherited from my dad: Dark Rivers of the Heart by Dean Koontz. It is about a man named Spencer who is both physically and emotionally scarred. He’s usually a loner, but when he meets a woman named Valerie in a bar, they make a connection. When he goes to visit Valerie, she has disappeared, and then her house explodes while he is there. Spencer barely escapes and is now on the run, wondering what on earth he has stumbled onto and what happened to Valerie. Ken says that it is a gripping thriller (though he gets annoyed by the way Koontz throws around long and obscure words just for fun!), and it’s a straightforward suspense novel–with no signs of Koontz’s frequent paranormal twists. He enjoyed it.
Now, Ken is reading a book I put in his Easter basket, The A List by J.A. Jance. It’s a thriller about a woman named Ali Reynolds who used to be a broadcast journalist. The last story she did before her career ended was about a man who needed a kidney, which spiraled into a massive medical scandal. The doctor at the center of it went to prison for murder. He is now bent on revenge, even from prison, and Ali is on the list of those he blames for his demise. Ali and her cybersecurity team must race against time to stop the doctor’s continuing murder spree before Ali is next. Sounds like a fast-paced thriller–not too bad for picking out from the drugstore when everything else was closed!
Our son, 25, has been plowing through one book after another in Brock E. Deskins’ series, The Sorcerer’s Path. He read the first four books in the series a couple of weeks ago, and the week before last, moved onto books 5 through 8! Last I heard, he had finished book 8, The Sorcerer’s Destiny, but he was away visiting his girlfriend again this weekend, so I don’t know what he read next. Clearly, he loved this series, though! It’s about a young boy from a wealthy family who’s left on his own and must survive in the streets, among thieves, thugs, and murderers. He not only wants to survive but to avenge the wrongs done to him and his family. This series also revolves around some sort of mysterious magical power. He’s enjoying the series (obviously!) and says he and his college roommate discovered this author years ago, and he’s enjoyed reading his books ever since.
Blog posts from last week:
Movie Monday: The Lovebirds – action-packed, funny, romantic thriller
TV Tuesday: Quiz – intriguing & suspenseful short series based on real life
Fiction Review: Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty – loved this compelling modern drama!
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.
What are you and your family reading this week?
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