Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 226-232

Super Bowl Sunday! I’m still smarting from the fact that the Packers aren’t there (but….AARON RODGERS MVP!), and my feelings about a certain quarterback apparently don’t change depending on what team he is playing on, so GO CHIEFS!

Of course, the important part of the Super Bowl is the food…and we’ve got over an a hour to go before kick off and Chris has already eaten a Costco-sized bag of Doritos. Oh vey! We also have some experimental chicken coming up today, so we’ll see how that goes. I made wings (by “made” I mean I stuck a bunch of frozen wings in a bag with barbecue sauce and will bake them) and Pat is trying recipes….so I hope the wings turn out!

Honestly, I’m not worrying about what I eat today. I can behave on Thanksgiving, but all bets are off on Super Bowl Sunday. Not a big deal, though, because….

Okay, now that I’ve alienated all my readers in the Northeast (and Florida), let me pivot to books. First off, I’m starting this now, but I have 15 minutes before I take the TV over from the kids. I’ll finish after the game, but I foresee at least some alcohol in the mean time. So, if I make no sense…

As usual, I’m linking up with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.

What I finished this week:

Still Life (Inspector Armand Gamache #1) by Louise Penny
(4.25 Stars; Goodreads Review)

I feel like I’m the last person to jump on the Louise Penny train, but I am so glad that I did.

I loved this book–I loved the town of Three Pines, I loved Inspector Gamache, and I loved that I did not figure this mystery out! I mean, I thought I had. However, my guess came late in the book and I was blindsided when the reveal was made. That will make nearly any book a winner for me.

I have read a number of comments that this book was slow. That was not my experience. Granted, it may be because I was so taken by the world that Penny creates. However, the fact that Penny took the time to walk through all the steps and bits of this mystery. The necessary clues are there, but you probably won’t see them without some hindsight.

Anyway, count me in as a Penny fan. I’m off the read all of her other books now.

Joe Biden: The Life, the Run, and What Matters Now by Evan Osnos (Audiobook)
(3.75 stars, no Goodreads review)

This is an interesting book. When I first downloaded, I noticed the running time (about 4 hours) and thought I had gotten an abridged book…but no! It’s not long and the print book checks in at 172 pages.

I first heard about this book after hearing Evan Osnos on the podcast Stay Tuned with Preet. He’s a journalist and, well, it shows. This is not a biography, but a really long profile of Joe Biden. There is nothing wrong with that–I think everyone knows Joe Biden’s biography at this point. Osnos interviewed Biden himself and pretty much everyone who has ever met Joe Biden. As a result, Osnos paints a detailed portrait of our current President. He’s both everything you would expect and incredibly surprising. He’s someone who has spent almost his entire life in Washington, but oddly remains a Washington outsider. He’s a man who has known great pain, but still embodies hope. Osnos doesn’t shy away from the less than ideal parts of Joe Biden’s life. He covers Biden’s gaffes and when he rubs people the wrong way and shows the reader/listener that the Obama/Biden bromance was not a case of instalove.

If you want to know more about why Joe Biden is the way he is and what makes him tick, this is a good (and easy) book to pick up.

Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden
(4.25 stars; Goodreads review)

I’ve been wanting to dig into this book for a while, but I felt that I had to wait until it was time to discuss it in one of my book clubs. Trust me, it was worth the wait!

I know this is a mystery–and there is a mystery (which I sort of figured out rather early in the book)– but, for me, the mystery was secondary to the rest of the story. This is a tale of a noble culture that is struggling to survive after a tragic history and malevolent modern influences. I am quite interested in Native American literature and this is the second book this year that I’ve read that embraced the historical memory of Native Americans.

It was also a page turner–I kept finding time to pick this book up over and over. And there were points where my heart was racing. I will admit that there were parts that were a too graphically violent for my tastes, but others may have a different tolerance for that.

I don’t know if we’ll be seeing Virgil Wounded Horse in future books, but I will definitely be there if we do! This is definitely a book that I’ll be recommending to others.

Boundary Waters (Cork O’Connor #2) by William Kent Kruger
(3.75 Stars, No Goodreads Review)

I find it hard, once I get going on a series, to review subsequent books in that series–which is why I opted not to do a Goodreads Review for this one. I did enjoy it, although it was sort of bad luck that the library and my reading timelines made it so that I read this book at the same time as Winter Counts, as there are some similarities. But, on the upside, I probably wasn’t as affected by the violence here after the violence in Winter Counts.

This was a fun book in that it was non stop action–the whole story takes place over two or three days and things are happening nearly every minute of that time. I did also really enjoy the Native American influence through this story (if you haven’t been able to tell, I really enjoy Native American literature. While Kruger is not Native American himself, he does portray the culture respectfully).

I won’t go too much into the story other than to say that several parties are searching for a young woman and it isn’t clear who means to help and who means to harm. There are deaths (and, well, murders) in this book, but I wouldn’t call this a murder mystery as much as I would a race against evil.

What I started this week:

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking

I’ve seen this book on a lot of the blogs and I finally decided to give it a try. I’m about halfway through and there are things I like about it. Most of all, it proves that me camping out in my chair with my fuzzy blanket and my cat on my lap is a good thing. There are some ideas I want to incorporate, but I also wonder if the author is actually serious about some of this stuff. The tone seems a little tongue in cheek and the suggestions are a bit over the top. But, I’m still reading it…and I’m looking into some new lighting for my house.

The Paragon Hotel by Lindsay Faye

This is the next book for one of my in person book clubs. I was quite looking forward to it as it is set, at least in part, in Portland. There are things about it I like–mostly the fair and realistic portrayal of Oregon’s dirty little secret–our racist past. At the same time, however, I’m having a hard time getting invested into it and I really don’t know why. I can usually put my finger on what exactly it is that isn’t working for me in a book but, with this one, it is just sort of a general thing. I’m guessing that it is more the narrative style than anything else. Still, I’ll finish it as it is a book club book and , who knows, it might turn around!

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

Have you ever found yourself reading book after book on a certain subject and not really knowing why? That has been me and witches lately. I’m not a witch craft sort of person, but I keep being attracted to books about witches. I blame Alice Hoffman (and I still need to read Rules of Magic and Practical Magic!)

Anyway, this one sounded fun. A perpetually losing girls field hockey team makes a pact with the devil, or becomes witches, or something like that (I’m only 7% in so far) so that they can win. And they make their oath to the devil in an Emilio Estevez notebook. Did I mention this was set in the late 80s?

I can’t say much about it yet except that it seems fun and I’m loving the 80’s references. I figured out the characters in this book are all one year older than I am so there is that extra layer of relatability.

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay (Audiobook)

WHAT DID I TELL YOU!!!! Yes, another witch book. However, this one came to me a bit by chance. I’m trying to work through my Audible backlock (now that I’m on Libro) and I decided to start with the longest books first and this was the longest one I had.

It’s fun and atmospheric. I can’t say there is anything especially original with the witch side of things, but I think the historical fiction side of it is incredibly well done. It’s more charming than scary, although I have run across one creepy scene and I’m hoping there will be more. But, so far it has been pretty pedestrian.

Hey, I finished this all before the big game and have saved you from reading through some drunk blogging!

One more thing before I go…I have had some questions about my reading life and such and have decided to just put them all up there for anyone who is interested. So, if you want to know where I get my books or how I read as much as I do or if you can send me your book to review (spoiler: no), you can check it out by going to the Bookish Things page (click on the menu in the top left corner)…or you can just click here.

12 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 226-232

  1. Oh that is so interesting about the first Louise Penny book, I too have heard it is slow, but you inspire me to put it on my perhaps list now. Chuckling at your super bowl food plans, hope it all went off really well. Sport like that is such fun. I listened to a Joe Biden book back a couple of years ago. He wrote it and read it, he hasn’t got the best voice for audio, but I learned lots about him. Oh boy, I am listening to Obama at the moment, he is a great orator, but I’ll be listening to it for ever its so long!


  2. I have read and enjoyed the first three Louise Penny “Gamache” books. I am also eager to start reading some Joe Biden books. I currently have one biography about Kamala Harris.

    Glad you are having a good Super Bowl Sunday!


  3. When we were out and about earlier today I noticed our neighbors were having a Super Bowl party in their garage. They had the big screen TV hooked up and folding chairs and tables with drinks and food set up. We didn’t watch the game, but enjoyed a quiet day of movie watching and spending time together.

    If it makes you feel better, I still haven’t read Still Life. I read another of the series books years ago and loved it. I keep meaning to go back and start from the beginning. I am glad to hear you liked it! I hope The Paragon Hotel gets better for you. That’s one I have on my TBR shelf that I hope to read. The Witches of New York is another one on my shelf waiting to be read. We Ride Upon Sticks is new to me–bit witches you say? I love books about witches.

    I hope you have a great week, Melinda. I’m sorry about the Super Bowl results, but I hope you enjoyed the game anyway.


  4. I’m not a football fan but was hoping Tampa would win because of some friends who live there and are fans.
    You have some very nice looking books.

    Have a great week of reading!


  5. Personally, I love your thoughts on Tom, lol. Oh boy, that was a tough game to watch! At least there were good snacks!

    Winter Counts – Read it. Liked it a lot! I would love to see more Virgil books. Like you, I’m interested in reading more from the indigenous perspective. I’m so happy to see more native authors’ books getting buzz these days.

    Cork O’Connor series – This is at the top of my list to start this year! I bought the first 5 books on a whim. I loved This Tender Land so much, and I’d heard great things about Cork. Can’t wait!

    Have a great week!


  6. Nice variety of books. I didn’t really care who won the Super Bowl but hoped it would be a good game. I was disappointed that it was so lopsided. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  7. I’m not a football fan so I have no allegiance to any team. In cases like this, I always root for the home team. I live in Florida but it’s only been a year. Before that I was in NY and I still feel like a NYer. Had a NY team been playing, I would have rooted for them. I’m definitely no Tom Brady fan. Now, if this was baseball…forget the Florida team, I’m always a Yankee girl 🙂

    The Louise Penny book has been on my Kindle for awhile. It looks good. The Joe Biden book looks good, too, but I’m surprised it’s so short. I’ll have to check it out.

    Have a great week!


  8. Well, you are going to be busy reading. Still Life sounds good. The Witches of New York is one I might try, too.

    No hate from me. When Brady left New England, he was dead to me. 🙂

    Thanks for visiting my blog last week. Just catching up.


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