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It's Monday 5/20! What Are You Reading?

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Book By Book

Hosted by The Book Date


First things first: Big Book Summer 2024 starts on Friday, May 24!

I’m not sure how it’s the end of May already or how I will get everything done and set up by Friday, but I’m excited to host the reading challenge again, in its 11th year!  

Here at home, our week was very busy, helping our older son and his girlfriend get ready for their big month-long road trip. They’ve been planning it for years and left our house early Saturday morning. We’re so excited for them!! Their first stop was a (rainy) hike in Shenandoah National Park, which used to be our first stop each summer on our annual road trip. I love seeing my son share his favorite spots with his girlfriend and the two of them exploring and discovering new places together, too. They spent the past two nights in Nashville and are on their way to New Orleans now! We used to live in New Orleans and have taken our sons there several times, so that’s another favorite place.

Ready for the big trip!!

Hiking Blackrock Summit at Shenandoah NP

While they’re away, we are guinea pig sitting for the next month! Queso is a very sweet little guy who loves to be cuddled. He’s an old man (yes, that’s a cataract in one eye), so we’re taking good care of him and sending plenty of updates.

My husband holding Queso

Queso enjoying his artwork while he munches on a snack

This week is another very busy one. I have stuff scheduled every single day (sometimes twice a day), which is way more than I usually do. And somehow, I need to get Big Book Summer up and running by Friday morning!


On the Blog

Fiction Review: My Beloved Life by Amitava Kumar – this beautiful story of one man’s life set against a fascinating historical backdrop begins in 1935 India. This was another Booktopia favorite this year, and as I put my review together, I realized that the author (who has a wonderful voice) narrated the audio himself. Definitely worth checking out (my review & audio samples at the link).


Be sure to stop by the blog on Friday to sign up for Big Book Summer! It’s a very easy-going reading challenge. A Big Book is any book–any genre, any format–of 400 or more pages (for audios and e-books, check the page count of the print edition online). You only have to read one Big Book to participate (though of course you can read more), and you have all summer, until Monday, September 2! Plus, you get to enjoy chatting books with other readers all summer in the Big Book Summer Goodreads group, and there’s a giveaway at the end.

Join the fun!


On Video

Friday Reads 5/17/24 – my brief weekly video update of what we are currently reading, including an outstanding novel I loved and a fabulous middle-grade novel on audio, plus my Mother’s Day book haul!


 What We’re Reading

I finished Honey by Victor Lodato, with tears in my eyes, and hugged it to my chest. That’s all you need to know! I met Victor at Booktopia 2017, and my mom and I both loved his novel Edgar and Lucy (my review at the link). He sent me an advanced reader copy of Honey, which was just released on April 16. It’s the story of 80-something Honey Fasinga who escaped from her family and her father, a notorious mobster, as a young adult, and enjoyed a wonderful life in NY and LA. But after her closest friends died, Honey moved back to her hometown in New Jersey, and she’s now trying to reckon with the violent past she left behind. I’ve always loved Victor’s writing, and he’s created another wonderful character in Honey (with an Easter egg for those who read Edgar and Lucy). It’s about life, loss, and love, as well as aging, forgiveness, and second chances. And the ending is perfect.

I am now trying to squeeze in one more short novel before Big Book Summer begins this weekend. I’m reading The East Indian by Brinda Charry, coincidentally a Booktopia book/author from 2023! I chose it because it was the shortest novel on my shelf but also because it was my mom’s favorite last year at Booktopia. It’s historical fiction about the first native of India to come to colonial America, in the 1600′s, and it’s based on a real historical figure. Twelve-year-old Tony (obviously not his original name!) sails from his home on the eastern Indian coast to London on a British East India Company ship, after his mother dies and he’s left alone. He’s settling in at London, with a job and a home with a fellow Indian immigrant when he is kidnapped along with a bunch of other kids and taken across the Atlantic to Virginia. His dream is to become a medicine man or physician’s assistant. It’s excellent so far–he’s just been kidnapped and is on his way to the New World.

On audio, I finished The Sky at Our Feet by Nadia Hashidi, a middle-grade novel that I chose for the Spoonie Readathon on Booktube (FYI – a spoonie is someone living with chronic illness or disability, so right up my alley!). Twelve-year-old Jason was born in the US, and he’s just found out that his mother is in the country illegally. His dad worked as a translator for the US military in Afghanistan and, amid death threats, was promised he and his family could move to the US. Jason’s mom got a student visa when she was pregnant with him and moved to the US early to start college. Before he could join them, her husband was killed in the war. When her temporary visa ran out, Jason’s mom became illegal, but the US was the only home Jason had ever known, and Afghanistan was still a dangerous war zone. One day, Jason sees his mom picked up by INS while working, and he’s left all alone. He gets on a train to NYC to go find his aunt. Still in Penn Station, Jason passes out, hits his head, and wakes up in the hospital. While there, he meets a girl his age named Max, who has electrodes all over her head. Since the police are trying to find out who Jason is, the two kids hatch an escape plan! It was a wonderful story–heartfelt, funny, and full of suspense and adventure.


Now, I am trying to cram in another audio by Thursday when my book group meets! Our selection for this month is A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum. It was on every Top Books list of 2019 and a Read with Jenna (Today Show) pick. It’s about three generations of Palestinian-American women, beginning with seventeen-year-old Isra in 1990 Palestine, who is married off to Adam, who brings her back to his home in Brooklyn, NY. In 2008 Brooklyn, Isra’s eldest daughter, Deya, is also being forced to get married by her very traditional grandmother, though Deya’s dream is to go to college. It’s wonderful so far, and I’m glad I’m listening to the audio. We thought it was especially important for us to understand some of the perspectives of Palestinian-Americans right now, and it should be a great discussion.


My husband, Ken, finished one of his dad’s old books he found while we were reorganizing, The Trail to Seven Pines by Louis L’Amour. He says it’s about what you’d expect: classic cowboy tale with good guys and bad guys. It’s about Hopalong Cassidy, a fictional cowboy created in 1904 by author Clarence E. Mulford, so it’s interesting that L’Amour was commissioned by Doubleday in 1950 to write four novels about the character. It was my husband’s first Louis L’Amour novel, and he enjoyed it. I’m not sure what he will pick next because, like me, he already has a huge stack of huge books set aside for Big Book Summer!

Our son, 29, is probably still reading book 2 of the Licanius Trilogy by James Islington, An Echo of Things to Come since he was pretty busy this past week! I’m not going to interrupt his vacation for an update, but I’m sure he plans to read during some of those long hours in the car (when he was a kid, he’d bring an entire duffle bag stuffed full of books on our 3-week summer road trip!).


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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