Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 198-204

Wow, what a year this week has been! I’m still angry about what happened in DC on Wednesday, but I’m not going to vent about it here (trust me, I’ve been doing that enough on other platforms!). I should, however, note that we passed the 200 day mark or this crazy quarantine this week. Our part of the world has been appropriately careful and our family has been very careful. The four of us have remained healthy and I don’t know of anyone in our extended family who has had Covid-19 after the first wave. I do, however, have a number of friends who have been hit with it–many of whom who have been very careful and have no idea where they contracted it.

The other big thing this week is the beginning of Girl Scout Cookie Season! It will be different this year–the girls, at least in our council, can’t do door to door in-person sales or cookie booths, so we have to do everything online. We did spend some time this week putting up fliers on people’s doors, hoping that will take the place of door-to-door sales.

Other than that, we are just waiting for news from the school district about school reopenings. The last we heard is that we will hear more on the 13th. Honestly, I doubt that the kids will be going back in-person any time soon. We’re a large district and the Covid-19 numbers in our area are still high. While I would like the kids to have at least some time in the classroom this year, I think it is more important that they are safe.

And now, onto reading! As usual, I am linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.

Last week, I finished:

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
(Goodreads Review; 3.5 stars)

I’m finding it very difficult to articulate my feelings about this book.

One on hand, it is a sublime work of literature. Brit Bennett is one of the most impressive new voices in American literature. There is not a single technical element of this novel that is not top notch. Most importantly to my opinion, is her skill at building characters. Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey jump off the page as flesh and bone humans. As a reader, you crawl into their skin and get to know them better than they know themselves.

That may be why this book is so difficult for me. Without going into plot points, I found myself what I initially thought was “disappointed” by these characters and some of their choices. Now that a little time has past, I think devastated is the better word. These characters broke my heart. I had previously read THE VANISHING HALF, so I was aware at the power that Bennett holds. However, she yields the power in a different way in this book that I took more personally.

Is this a good book? It is a great book. Is it enjoyable? Probably not? At least not for me. However, I would recommend it as long as you prepare yourself beforehand.

A Conspiracy in Belgravia (Lady Sherlock #2) by Sherry Thomas
(No Goodreads review; 3.75 stars)

Because this series is set up in a way that so much of the characters and the story weaves through many books, I’ve decided not to do a review of any of the Lady Sherlock books in Goodreads. It’s just too hard to review just what happens in one book.

That being said, I do love this series so far. This second book really gets the series going. While the first book was mostly setting up the characters, this one starts moving things forward. Obviously, you need to read this series in order!

The actual mystery in this book is pretty complicated, but I think that is pretty typical of Sherlock Holmes (disclaimer: I’ve never read Sherlock Holmes. I have seen the Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman series, so that’s my experience…). The joy of these books is not actually the mystery, but Charlotte Holmes herself. She is, in a word, awesome. I appreciate that Thomas didn’t take the easy road of using the DSM-V (or whatever number they are on) to define her character. While Charlotte defies diagnosis, she is still fascinating and believable.

I’m waiting for the 3rd book to come in from the library and I can’t wait to dig into it.

Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson
(Goodreads review; 3 stars)

It is a vast understatement to say there are a lot of books about World War II. The shelves are flooded with them. So, for one to stand out, it has be unique or spectacular. This one was neither.

I don’t want to dump completely on this book. I read an earlier book of hers and I was impressed at the improvement in her writing. And, honestly, this book kept my attention and I never felt tempted to DNF it.

But, honestly, this is just one more World War II novel. I think that the basic idea was good and probably could have been better than it was. Nico and Nina’s relationship never develops, it just sort of “is” in this book. If Robson had invested the time in showing the evolution of their relationship instead of relying on “instalove,” the book would have been much better for it.

As for the plot beyond that…it’s all pretty predictable for your run of the mill World War II novel. I pretty much knew from the beginning exactly where the book would go–and I was right. The road this book travels is a well-trod one.

It isn’t the worst World War II novel I’ve read, but it is lost smack dab in the middle of the pack. And that is the best I can say about it.

I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book through the Goodreads Giveaway program.

What I started this week:

The Eighth Detective by Alex Pavesi

As you can tell from my reading, I’m on a mystery kick at the moment. This is a genre I’ve sort of casually read in the past and now it seems to be what I crave. Go figure. Anyway, I was recommended this one by myTbr.co and one of the booktubers I watch highly recommended it. I’m quite enjoying it so far. In some ways, it reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale, which is my favorite novel.

The one problem is that I tend to read this one before bed (I have an e-book loan from the library) and I feel like I need a fresher mind for this one. There is, of course, an easy solution to this–I should just read it earlier in the day. This, however, would mess with my schedule! The horror! So, I guess I will just make a point to go to bed earlier so I can spend more time with this one.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner

This book has been on my TBR shelf for five years! I am making a point this year in making a dent in my TBR, with a priority for print books. I have also heard a number of people favorably mention it lately, which is notable because the book has been out for so long. So, why not give it a try right now?

So far, I’m finding it interesting, but not especially notable. There are a number of things that have been mentioned that probably should be dealt with later in the book, but I doubt it will be. I don’t know if the author was told to fatten up her book, but it does seem like there is a lot of extra fluff in here. But, we’ll see. I could be wrong and it will all make sense in the end.

Still reading:

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan (Audiobook)
Monument by Natasha Trethewey
Middlemarch by George Eliot

11 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 198-204

  1. Some great thoughts on these books, I don’t think The Mothers is for me. Yes so many WW2 books, it seems a time that fascinates writers. May you continue to stay Covid free, I have even stopped ordering anything now from the USA or Britain for now incase it travels via that way. Unlikely but I am being more cautious since the fast travelling strain has started.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We’re in a hybrid model right now so some kids are back to in person and some are doing online learning. We fall in that last category. I hope whatever your district does that it remains safe there and cases don’t get bad. And yes what happened last week- utterly shocking. No words…

    Girl scout cookies though! Yum, love Thin Mints lol.

    Hope your reading is good this week!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think I’m getting burned out on WWII fiction, so much has been published recently.
    It baffles me that despite the prolonged quarantine that so little difference has been made in the US.
    I’m sure the cookies will be snapped up,

    Wishing you a great reading week, stay well x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I did enjoy The Mothers, but now I am looking forward to The Vanishing Half, which is resting on my TBR print volume shelves.

    Have a great week, and thanks for visiting my blog. May we have calm and peace in the weeks ahead!!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You have some great books to keep your mind off all the troubles around at the moment. School kids have been back in UK schools since September, though currently it’s only children of key workers as our Covid figures are out of control and we are meant to be in a lockdown – not that you would know from the amount of people out and about.
    I hope you and yours continue to stay safe and well!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was a Girl Scout leader for many years and was wondering what cookie sales might look like this year. There was talk of a drive-through booths, but I’m not sure that will happen.

    Lots of interesting books here, but I think I enjoyed The Mothers a little more than you did.

    It’s been a tough week for our country. Glad we have books to think about, too…

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw your post on Facebook about cookies. I think pre-sales start here today. My daughter has a meeting on Friday so I’m sure we’ll find out more. I know our council is doing contactless cookie sales this season too. My biggest concern was whether the girl delivery option would accept credit cards at time of order so we wouldn’t have to worry about money exchanges. It looks like that is we can opt into, so we’ll see. I should probably see what my daughter did with her cookie magazine to find out if she needs to do anything before their meeting! Her troop had put off doing their bridging ceremony in the fall hoping to do it in-person, but now I hear they will be doing it via Zoom the end of this month.

    The news coming out surrounding the siege last week is shocking, even if not entirely surprising. I’m nervous about what will happen next.

    I am glad you and your family have been okay throughout this pandemic. I hope it stays that way! It’s been making its way through my office. Fortunately, we rotate in and out and there are never a lot of staff working in the office at any one given time, but it’s still a bit scary. I have to go in the end of this week.

    I really want to read The Vanishing Half. Mothers is on my radar and I appreciate your thoughts on it! Sounds like it’s well worth reading. I’ve enjoyed Jennifer Robson’s books in the past–they tend to be on the lighter side of the WWII fiction I’ve read, which sometimes is just what I am looking for. I’m sure I’ll likely read Our Darkest Night, just not probably anytime soon. Sherry Thomas’s series is one I would really like to try.

    I hope you have a great week, Melinda! May it not be a year long like this last week. Happy Reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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