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It's Monday 4/15! What Are You Reading?

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Book By Book

Hosted by The Book Date


We just got home last night from a wonderful week-long camping vacation in Virginia! It was relaxing, fun, and a much-needed break. Our first stop with our pop-up camper was Holliday Lake State Park, which was almost empty mid-week, so we had the place to ourselves! We enjoyed a hike along the lake and some beautiful streams and got our kayaks out on the lake.

Beautiful streams on our hike

Campsite at Holliday Lake

So many redbuds in bloom in the park!

Kayaking on Holliday Lake

Dozens of turtles, covering every log!

A cormorant floats by


And, of course, we saw the eclipse! It wasn’t total in Virginia, and clouds began rolling in at about the exact moment it started, but it was still really cool. In fact, the cloud cover allowed us to take some photos.


See the little sliver of sun?

While there, we also visited Appomattox Court House, the famous site where Lee surrendered to Grant to end the Civil War. Just by chance, we were there on April 9, the 159th anniversary of that event! The National Historical Park includes the whole reconstructed town (which we learned is called Appomattox Court House) and the McLean house, a private home where the surrender actually took place. The details were pretty amazing: Lincoln was determined to rebuild the union and insisted on respect for the surrendering soldiers, allowing them to return home. He didn’t even allow the Union soldiers to celebrate in front of the Confederates. He insisted they be welcomed back into the nation. At no other time in history did a war end so civilly and respectfully. Unfortunately, of course, he was assassinated just a few days later. Makes you wonder what Reconstruction would have been like if he’d lived … and what a leader like that could do in our world today.

Part of the Appomattox Court House NHP

In front of the McLean House

“The room where it happened”!

Next, we drove to Fairy Stone State Park for another 3 days. While there, we got about 24 hours of rain, with huge thunderstorms Thursday evening that knocked out the power and water to the campground! We escaped the rain during the day with a trip into Martinsville to visit the Virginia Natural History Museum.

My husband in front of a giant sloth!

Me and the Allosaurus

By Friday, the storms had blown away, leaving behind colder temperatures and very high winds. We had a wonderful hike Friday morning on the Whiskey Run Trail, with stunning views. Unfortunately, it was far too windy to get our kayaks out on the lake.

Hiking in Fairy Stone State Park

Stunning views from the Whiskey Run Trail

We ended our trip with a weekend stay with my college suite-mate and her husband (another college friend) at their brand-now, gorgeous lake house. We enjoyed a boat ride on Smith Mountain Lake, some good meals, lots of catching up on the last seven years, reminiscing, and laughter!

Nothing like old friends!

Beautiful lake views from the house


On the Blog

A couple of posts before I left:

TV Tuesday: Tracker – we’re both loving this new CBS show starring Justin Hartley (of This Is Us) as a loner who finds missing people. It’s suspenseful but also a road trip show so right up our alley!

 Nonfiction Review: Why We Read by Shannon Reed – I enjoyed this highly entertaining exploration of books and reading from an avid reader and English teacher/literature professor, with a great sense of humor! I can’t wait to meet her at Booktopia.


On Video

Friday Reads 4-5-24 – my brief weekly update of what I am reading, including 3 books for Booktopia

March Reading Wrap-Up – It was a great reading month, with lots of books read for Middle-Grade March, Fierce Reads Readathon, and Booktopia, including nonfiction, fiction, audios, graphic memoir, YA, and middle-grade.


 What We’re Reading

I finished Sipsworth by Simon Van Booy, who is the best-selling author of about a dozen books (though he’s new to me) for Booktopia (tickets available; my recap/vlog from Booktopia 2023). This was a very quiet, tender story about a woman named Helen. She is 83 and living in a retirement cottage (in the UK) in the small village where she grew up. She’s lived all over the world but decided to come home after losing her son and her husband. Helen is very lonely and lives each day in a quiet routine, until she has a surprise encounter with a mouse that leads to all kinds of adventures and new connections. It reminded me somewhat of A Man Called Ove, and I really enjoyed it.

Now, I am reading another book for Booktopia, The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane, the author of Ask Again, Yes, which I just read in February as a Buddy Read (and loved!). Malcolm is the owner of the Half Moon, a longtime bar in his hometown of Gillam (same setting as Ask Again, Yes). He’s married to Jess, a lawyer who recently left Malcolm, saying she needed some time apart. The novel flashes back to the past, to show how Malcolm and Jess first met and the horrible infertility struggles they faced, as well as Malcolm’s history with the bar and how he came to buy it. Besides Jess leaving, Malcolm is also having financial problems. As the novel opens, a series of huge snowstorms hits the town, cutting off power and shutting things down for a week. As with her previous novel, this one is all about relationships, with lots of emotional depth, though there are some plot twists, too. I’m almost finished with it now and have really been enjoying it.

On audio, I finished another novel for Booktopia, You Are Here by Karin Lin Greenberg. This was kind of a slice of life novel, about a cross-section of very different people in a town who meet because they all work in or frequent the local mall, which is rumored to be closing soon. Tina is a hair stylist who works in the mall’s salon. She’s the single mother to Jackson, a nine-year-old boy. Ro is an elderly woman who comes to the salon to get her hair done each week. Kevin works at the bookstore in the mall and lives next-door to Ro, in a tiny house (with his wife and twin kids!) in his in-law’s backyard. And Maria is a teen girl who dreams of becoming an actress and works, wearing a chicken suit, in the food court. Each of these people has their own chapters, is dealing with their own issues, and interacting with the others. I really enjoyed this novel. It’s got a good sense of humor, though it tackles some tough topics, and I loved the way it wrapped up.

During our road trip, my husband and I listened to Almost Midnight by Paul Doiron, book 10 in his mystery/thriller series about Maine Game Warden Mike Bowditch. My husband read the first book in the series a few years back. There are two mysteries in this one, one dealing with a half-wolf that Mike has encountered in the past who’s been shot with a cross-bow. The other mystery surrounds an old friend of Mike’s who’s serving time in prison when violence breaks out. Throughout the novel, Mike is supposed to be on vacation but gets pulled into these two cases for personal reasons. This was a good one for a long car ride, and we both enjoyed it. We had one minute left as we arrived back home last night, so the timing was perfect!

My husband, Ken, finished Red Knife by William Kent Krueger (a favorite author for both of us), book 8 in his Cork O’Connor series. Ken finally activated his library card and got this one from the library – clearly, he’s enjoying retirement! Now, Ken is reading Righteous by Joe Ide, book 2 in his IQ series. I put this one in his Easter basket!

Our son, 29, finished 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. Now, he is reading Raven Caller by David Daglish, book 2 in his The Keepers series. We gave him that one for Easter!


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?


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