Book By Book
Beware the Ides of March! That famous Shakespeare quote seems relevant today, as we went from 70′s and sunny last week to bitter cold and windy today! I was back in my parka, hat, gloves, and hood for today’s walk. But St. Patrick’s Day is Wednesday, and the first day of spring is Saturday, so things are looking up. Spring is coming!
I had a very busy week last week, and it wore me out. Too much Zoom! My book group meetings were back-to-back on Wednesday and Thursday, I signed us up for a bookseller discussion on Zoom with Northshire Bookstore Tuesday (before I realized I had both book groups that week), and I had a 2-hour Zoom consultation with someone in the UK, which was a LOT at once for me! On the weekend, I was focused on trying to make sense of our 2020 insurance claims and pulling together documentation of all of our 2020 medical expenses to do all the tax preparation for our accountant. This process always takes longer than I think it will, and this time, the insurance claims were especially hard to match up to the EOBs, so I didn’t get very far on the rest of it.
Luckily, we planned a “day off” on Friday! My husband has to check in on his dad twice a day on the weekends, so we wanted to take advantage of his aide’s visit on Friday to get a little time off. We were hoping to drive to the beach for the day (about 2 hours away), but the weather looked iffy, so we had a staycation instead. We headed to a local trail we’d never walked before, along a beautiful, wide creek. My stamina is quite limited due to my chronic illness, so we just hiked a portion of the trail. But we walked for over an hour, which is huge for me! I did suffer a little payback on Saturday but not too much: well worth it! The rain and clouds cleared and it turned into a gorgeous day. We capped it off with take-out burgers and fries in the evening.
Of course, no matter how hectic things get, we always enjoy our books! Here’s what we’ve all been reading this past week:
This weekend, I finished my second book group’s selection, My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares (caught a few spoilers in our Thursday discussion, but that was OK). Ann is the author of the popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series (I think I only watched the movie adaptation), and this was her second novel for adults. It’s about a man named Daniel who has lived many lives over many centuries (1500+ years) and remembers all of them. He keeps crossing paths with and falling in love with a woman he thinks of as Sophia, in life after life. As the novel begins, in Virginia in 2006, Sophia’s current life is as a seventeen-year-old girl named Lucy, and Daniel is a same-aged boy. He manages to find her and enroll in her school, but she doesn’t remember him the way he remembers her. Chapters move back and forth between Daniel’s past lives and the present, where he and Lucy can’t seem to connect. This is a unique reincarnation/fantasy love story, and I enjoyed it very much. It ends unresolved, though, so I am looking forward to the sequel, which she’s working on now!
Next, I picked up a collection of short stories written by a friend of mine, Whisky for Breakfast by Christopher P. Mooney. This was just published at the end of 2020, and I have been looking forward to reading it because he’s an excellent writer. His topics tend to be pretty dark, and they focus on real life, especially the gritty underbelly: criminals, prostitutes, and more. The collection kicks off with the story of a hard-drinking PI who’s helping to investigate the disappearance of a teen girl. That story is sort of typical short-story length, but some of his stories are just a single page. Even with the shorter stories, though, Chris has a real talent for developing characters, and his writing–with lots of dialogue–paints a detailed picture of the setting and situation, even in a short amount of time. I’m enjoying the collection so far, though my personal tendency is to enjoy the longer stories best. I hate to leave a character just as I’m getting to know him or her!
On audio, I am still listening to Heart Spring Mountain by Robin McArthur, an emotionally complex family drama. The main character is a woman named Vale who lives in New Orleans. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene devastates her home state of Vermont, and she gets a phone call that her mother, Bonnie, is missing. Though they’ve been estranged for many years, Vale gets on a bus and travels to Vermont to help search for Bonnie. Once up there, she is surrounded by old friends and family, memories, and her family’s history, including some long-held secrets she uncovers. It delves into five generations of women in the family who all lived in this remote section of Vermont woods, with an intricate sense of place and a strong focus on nature. I was a bit confused by all the female characters at first (and jumping around in time), but I think I’ve got the generations straight in my mind now (a family tree I sketched on a Post-It helped)! I’m enjoying it so far.
My husband, Ken, is still reading Ready Player Two by Ernest Cline, which we have both been looking forward to! I gave it to him for Christmas (the best kind of gift, the kind I can enjoy, too). He, I, and our son all loved Ready Player One when it came out (and we all enjoyed the movie, too), so we’ve been happily anticipating the sequel. According to the cover blurb, this book begins just after the events in the first book ended. Wade is now in charge of OASIS and the empire left by genius creator James Halliday (kind of a Willy Wonka-like set-up!) and discovers a new secret in his vaults, a brand-new technology that could change OASIS and the real world dramatically. Apparently, there is a a new riddle, a new quest, and. … a new evil villain ready to thwart Wade and his friends. Ken says that so far it feels very much like the first book, and he’s enjoying it.
Our son, 26, is re-reading Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, book three in the Stormlight Archive series, in preparation for book four, which his girlfriend just got for him (released in November)! I love how she understands his love of reading and of favorite book series, even though she’s not a big book lover herself. This is one of his favorite authors, and he loves this series!
Blog posts last week:
TV Tuesday: Veronica Mars – We enjoyed all four seasons and the movie!
Fiction Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne – a new one for my “best books ever” list!
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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