Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 212-218

I have had the strangest feeling waking up the past few mornings. I finally realized what it was–it was the lack of the existential dread that hit me in the face every morning I woke up the last 4 years! I’ve been feeling so light that I’ve actually started cleaning my house! Amazing!

Before I give any further, here is my update on the Christmas decorations–Pat is putting them away AS I TYPE! The tree has been down for about a week, and I’ve packed everything up, but it just needed to be put away. Pat asked what I wanted to do today, and I told him I wanted my living room back to normal. So there you go.

I’m also typing this as the Packers are playing. I’m not watching it–I just got out of 4 years of stress, I don’t need another afternoon of it. Honestly, if they were playing any other team I’d be watching. But they lost so embarrassingly when they played Tom Brady and the Buccaneers earlier this year, that I can’t bear to watch now. I just comfort myself with the fact that, even if the Pack goes down today, they still went far further than the Seahawks.

I can’t say that I have much to report on this week–our life has just been such a rut of the same thing every day. The question of whether or not the kids will be back in the classroom this year is still up in the air. While I would love the kids to be back, I want it to be safe first and I feel like they are rushing it.

In GOOD Covid related news, my dad called to tell me that he is getting his “Fauci Ouchie” this week (tomorrow, I think). I was worried it would take a while for him to get it as Arizona is in a very bad state with getting the vaccines out. Fortunately, my dad was able to go through the VA hospital and they actually have a functioning system for vaccinations. He also already has an appointment for his second dose, so he I’m feeling a little less worried about him. As for me and my house, we are waaaaaaaay down on the list for the vaccines, so who knows when we’ll get our shots.

Now, onto the books! As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date for her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? hop.

What I finished this week:

In the Bleak Midwinter (The Rev, Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #1) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
(Goodreads review; 3.75 stars)

I started this book with equal parts excitement and trepidation. As an Episcopalian, the thought of a mystery with a Episcopal priest as one-half of the duo was right up my alley. However, I also strongly dislike mysteries where someone who has no business solving crimes is the one solving the crime. Was this going to be that kind of book?

The answer is…mostly not. Most of was Clare does during this book falls into congregational care and such and it is mostly Russ, the police chief, who does the police-type stuff. Mostly.

There are a couple of scenes in the book where this sort of went out the window and where Clare oversteps her pastoral boundaries (and where, honestly, she should have just called the police). Yes, I did find this annoying, but fortunately the other strengths of the book outweighed that.

As far as mysteries go, this is a well-crafted on. I had numerous incorrect theories about who the culprit was up until the moment that Spencer-Fleming makes it clear who the real villain is. That is something that doesn’t happen nearly enough in my mystery reading. I also felt that Clare and Russ’s relationship was interesting and Spencer-Fleming made it incredibly human. I am wary and curious of where it will go in future books.

And I will read on in this series. This was an enjoyable (and appropriately tense) reading experience and is the exact sort of stuff I want from my mysteries!

Just One Damned Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary #1) by Jodi Taylor
(Goodreads review; 3.75 stars)

Science Fiction is the genre I’m least at home in and I normally stay away from it. But I do like time travel (and, honestly, I think time travel is more historical fiction than science fictions!). I had not heard anything about these books until two friends, both of whom have tastes very similar to my own, both told me I had to read this series.

Folks, this book is just fun! I mean, it’s the kind of book you shouldn’t think too hard about (because it falls apart pretty quickly if you do), but it is also the book that will take your mind off of whatever ails you.

Don’t get me wrong, it is not high literature. However, I’m not going to go into authorial voice or story structure, because that would ruin it. Basically, if it were a movie, it’s the kind of movie you’d watch after putting back a few drinks.

But, hey! Don’t we all need that sometimes?

Last week I DNF’d:

The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian

I have had great luck with Chris Bohjalian in the past. I don’t think I’ve rated any of his books that I’ve read below 3.5 stars. When a podcast I found (A Killer Read podcast) said it would be their next book to discuss, I decided to pick it up.

I ended up DNF’ing this at 12%. As a thriller, it was strange because the killer is revealed very early on (I believe in the 2nd chapter). The main character, a flight attendant named Cassie, is just a royal mess. She’s a promiscuous drunk who continually puts herself in bad situations. Worse, she doesn’t seem to have any motivation to improve her life. I quickly lost patience with her and, since there was no suspense due to the fact I already knew who the culprit was, I just couldn’t waste another minute on this book.

Last week I started reading:

Find Me in Havana by Serena Burdick

I’m always here for a historical novel (that is not set during WWII. Really, authors? There are thousands and thousands of years outside of 1939-1945!) and this one caught my eye when I was perusing…something. I actually can’t quite remember where I first saw this book. Anyway, I ended up winning a copy in a Goodreads Giveaway and it happened to arrive just as I was finishing Just One Damned Thing After Another, so I decided to dig into it. Unfortunately, things have been a little crazy around here so I haven’t been able to read too far into it this weekend. However, I expect it to be a fairly quick read so I should be able to share my thoughts next week.

Still reading:

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox (audiobook)
Middlemarch by George Eliot
Monument by Natasha Tretheway

11 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 212-218

  1. My mother got her first Covid shot (I love Fauci Ouchi). I’m not eligible yet. Hopefully within the next few months.

    In the Bleak Midwinter looks really good. I’ll have to check that one out. I hope you have a great week!


  2. I had the same feeling. I’ve been like- where’s the crisis?- for days now. De- platforming a certain someone from Twitter seems to have helped! I’ve struggled with back to school issues as well, and have been reading studies and stuff all over- so much info. It’s hard. I hope whichever way things go for your family, it goes well.

    I’m glad Midwinter is good. Honestly, that cover draws me every time.


  3. Love the term ‘Fauci Ouchie’!
    My kids have another week before the new school year starts but we are lucky in that Covid isn’t an issue in the community here so there are only minor modifications in place

    Wishing you a great reading week


  4. I LOVE Fauci Ouchie! I also love waking up without the weight of #45 hovering overhead, ready to create more chaos.

    Of course, the jabs from the far right are still there, annoying me, but I can ignore most of them.

    I had my first shot, since I’m in a senior residential facility, and I’m told we have enough for the second one. We shall see.

    Enjoy your books and your week. I remember liking The Flight Attendant, but I know there were issues about the main character that annoyed me, too.

    Have a great week, and thanks for visiting my blog.


  5. I’m still waiting for my vaccination. Minnesota is still working on the first group who qualify. I think I’m in the 2nd group but I’m not really sure. I’ve been told I’ll be notified by my healthcare provider when my turn happens. I do enjoy those mysteries by Spencer-Fleming. I’ve read all that exist so far and hoping for another. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  6. Sadly, our tree is still up. The decoration bins are put away as are all the lights. So that’s something, right? I am so glad your dad is getting the vaccine finally. I wish my mom would. She keeps saying how healthy she is and others need it more. I understand it, but I worry about her. Especially since she is alone and not exactly keeping her distance from her friends.

    Thank you for your thoughts on Julia Spencer-Fleming mystery. I have had that book on my TBR for awhile, but for some reason have never gotten around to reading it. Find Me In Havana sounds good.

    I hope you have a great week!


  7. I’ve listened to all of Chris Bohjalian’s books on audio, including The Flight Attendant. Most of them I find very memorable, but that one not so much, so I guess it wasn’t one of my favorite books either, although I did finish it. Red Lotus was very good, but it is another suspense novel where the reader knows who the killer is before the protagonist does.


  8. So pleased that life is starting to feel more positive for you! UK schools went back at the start of our school year (September) but are closed again. Well I say closed, they are open for children of “key workers” and vulnerable students, so some have almost half their students in. We really don’t have any control on the virus at the moment – too much asking people to follow the rules and not enough making them.

    I’ve read books where you know who the “bad guy” is fairly quickly, but somehow the authors still retains enough suspense of “but what exactly will happen” that I can go with it. However with an unlikeable main character on top of that I’m not surprised you DNF’d it. At least a couple of your books were good and some of this weeks look great.


  9. I’m so glad to hear that your dad has gotten his vaccine. My dad (94!) got his yesterday. I am 64 and in excellent health, and that puts me way down on the list, too. I’m trying hard to simply wait my turn.

    Just One D* Thing After Another sounds like a delight. I love time travel stories.


  10. My husband, sister, and brother-in-law have gotten both their vaccine shots already (all healthcare workers). My grandmother got her first and is scheduled for her second. My parents are on a wait list, so I’m feeling pretty good about where my immediate family stands in regards to vaccines. I’ll probably be one of the last people to get one (unemployed healthy 40-something), but at least my family is taken care of.

    I’ve generally enjoyed Bohjalian’s books as well. I haven’t read The Flight Attendant yet but my least favorite so far is Before You Know Kindness. It wasn’t *bad*, it was just completely forgettable. I remember the initial incident but nothing other than that.

    I’ll have to look for Find Me in Havana. My father-in-law is Cuban so I’m drawn to stories set in that country.

    Enjoy your week!


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About Melinda