Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 340-346

I’m writing this at just after 5:30 pm and it is still light out, which seems like a miracle right now! I’m the sort of person who is ready for spring on January 2nd, so this last part of winter (which is all of winter after the first two weeks), is always tough for me. One year, we switched our Arizona vacation from Spring Break to Presidents Day weekend due to my mother’s health and it was just the break my SAD needed. Of course, it was surprisingly crowded while we were down there, so I know we were not the only ones trying to escape the gray.

This weekend has been all about the Girl Scout cookies. They were supposed to come in last week, but our delivery was postponed due to our winter storm. So, when we got them yesterday, we quickly sorted everything out and started delivering. About half of our deliveries were in our neighborhood, so we did those on Saturday. Lillie has a friend in her class that lives on our street that she has never really spent time with. Last year, they were in different classes and didn’t really know each other and this year, well, COVID. This friend ordered some cookies, so Lillie was able to pay a very socially distanced visit to her and now she actually knows which house belongs to her friend’s family.

We did the rest of the local deliveries today–Pat was nice enough to be our chauffeur as we went from the West Hills out to Cornelius. I did get my wits about me enough to plot a route that was a large circle, which was smart. Pat would never have let me live it down if we zigzagged through the deliveries. It was nice to get out of the house and see (from afar) people that we’ve only seen on screens in the past year.

We still have a few deliveries to make down in Salem, but we are hoping to do that next week. Crossing fingers, the weather will hold and we can meet outside, otherwise we’ll have to do door drops. It will be nice when Pat and I can finally get our vaccines–I know that we’ll still have to wear masks and observe precautions, but it will feel good knowing that we are one step closer to being done with all this.

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

Last week, I finished:

A Fountain Filled with Blood (Rev Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne Mysteries #2) by Julia-Spencer Flemming
(3.5 Stars, no Goodreads review)

This book was a good example of why it is sometimes hard to review books in a series. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as the first one. The mystery was fine–there was some dated language regarding the LGBTQ community which was a little cringeworthy, but I think it was the typical language of the time the book was written. I felt the story around the crime was a little overly convoluted and, ultimately, it didn’t have quite the closure it needed. However, my biggest problem was that there is a lot of page real estate devoted….to helicopters. Folks, I don’t care about helicopters. There, I said it.

But, at the same time, I liked what will keep me going in the series. Both Clare and Russ are interesting characters and their relationship, or whatever it is, is handled very well. While there isn’t enough of the “town folk” to make this a “small town mystery,” there were some regulars and they were used well.

My ultimate feeling is that maybe this wasn’t as good as the first, but it doesn’t lead me to think that I won’t like the other books and Clare and Russ already have me for the rest of the series. Hopefully.

We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
(4.5 Stars, Goodreads review)

This book was the book I didn’t know I needed. On the surface, it is a fun romp through the 80s with a group of young people with whom we can all relate. Deeper, it is an examination of the limits society puts on its next generation, how to break free of it, and how it has been the same story for centuries.

We get to know the 1989/1990 Danvers Falcons Field Hockey team, a perennial loser that decides to take its destiny into it’s own hands–with the help of the Dark Prince, a raging hair style, a skin condition, and (of course) Emilio Estevez.

The fact that this tale takes place in Danvers is not accidental. It is the hometown of the author (write what you know), but it is also the site of the Salem Witch Trials (which, yeah, didn’t actually take place in Salem). The book doesn’t go deep into the history of the trials, but gives just enough information to tie the trials and the field hockey season together and show that, for some in society, nothing really changes unless you change.

This book was just a pure delight and one that I would happily recommend.

Middlemarch by George Eliot
(3 stars–because, whatever; no Goodreads review)

You all, I did it! I conquered my Everest! I FINISHED Middlemarch! And now I can say I read it!

I know, I should say whether or not I enjoyed it. I did not. At least not at this point in my life. When I was in college, this book would have been my catnip, but not anymore. I think my biggest problem with it is that there were just too many stories going on. And it wasn’t like they were intertwined–100 pages would be devoted to one group of characters and then they would disappear for 200 pages and then just pop in again. It was incredibly frustrating. I almost wish that Eliot had just written a series of books focusing on each of these stories instead of putting them all together in one book.

But it is now done. Praise the Lord! I’m not sure if I will read any more Eliot (I did love The Mill on the Floss) but, if I do, it will be quite a while down the road.

Last week, I started:

The Hollow of Fear (Lady Sherlock #3) by Sherry Thomas

This is a series that has gotten strong as it has gone along and I’m suspecting that this one will be my favorite (so far). I’m only about halfway through, so it could bite it in the end, but so far so good. This one seems to have the most straight forward mystery, which is nice, and it just seems more focused than the previous two books. Charlotte is also becoming less of stereotype, which I appreciate, and Livia is actually starting to grow as a character.

The bummer here is that there seems to be a problem with my library’s e-Book, so I had to get it in print. That’s not a huge thing, but I’ve read the previous two books before bed and I find that I’m exhausted when I finish reading this one for the day (I’ve been reading it after lunch while my son does his SSR for school). I think Pavlov may have been onto something with all that conditioning mumbo jumbo!

In Like Flynn (Molly Murphy Mysteries #4) by Rhys Bowen

This is another series that I’m really enjoying. It is much lighter than the Lady Sherlock or Rev. Clare Fergusson series, but Molly really is delightful. I also think that Bowen does an amazing job of recreating the New York of the early 1900s. And I am reading this one before bed, which is perfect for bedtime! This one also talks about the spiritualism movement, which I think will be interesting. I’m not far yet, but these books are usually pretty quick reads.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

Lately I’ve been itching to read more graphic novels. I’m not sure if it is because my mind needs to move in different ways or if my kids’ love of graphic novels has rubbed off on me. I haven’t read many in the past, so I decided to finally try this one, which is kind of the gold standard. I’m really enjoying it, but it is incredibly heartbreaking. Now I really want to see the stage production because I really can’t picture how they made this one into a musical. Perhaps once the world re-opens, a touring production will come through. Or maybe there is a tapes production just sitting around, waiting for the Hamilton treatment!

The Awakening by Kate Chopin

This is my next book to read in the Serial app and I’m sure that it will be more enjoyable than Middlemarch. I had never heard about this book until well into my college career when someone who did a summer abroad program with me at Cambridge said it was her favorite novel. From then, I have wanted to read it but just got to it now.

I knew nothing about this book beyond my college classmate loved it. In fact, I thought it was a British novel but it takes place on the Gulf Coast? That was a shock! So far, it’s wonderful. It’s also fairly short, so I’m supposed to be done with it in early March.

I’m still reading:

The Witches of New York (audiobook) by Ami McKay
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

13 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 340-346

  1. It is hard not being able to get out. Glad you were able to, at least a little, and Girl Scout cookies! Yum thin mints lol. It is hard too this time of year missing the sun, I agree!

    Your books look good, I especially like the sound of the Sherry Thomas series.

    have a good week!

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  2. That sounds like a very organised cookie delivery! Well done. I am so impressed by your reading Middlemarch. I do have a copy, pretentiously hoping I’ll read it!! I would like to read the Sherry Thomas series.

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    1. I’ve learned the hard way to be as organized as possible with cookies. It’s so easy to mess things up! This year is a bit different, but I’m glad the hard work is finally over (for this year).

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, Girl Scout cookies are a REALLY big thing here! I usually end up buying a lot from my daughter to hold the kids through for the year (although last year, the early days of COVID led to too much cookie eating…and then we found out that we had some mice in the garage who were having their own cookie fest!)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your cookie delivery sounds like so much fun, especially for those of us who are still locked down! We haven’t been able to leave this senior community since last March (except once to the doctor in October!).

    I am sorry you were disappointed in Middlemarch, but now I won’t even have to try! It doesn’t sound like my cup of tea.

    I do want to read more books by Rhys Bowen.

    Enjoy your week, and stay safe. Here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

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    1. I so feel for you and not being able to leave your community! Are you able to have visitors yet?

      Yeah, Middlemarch was not a hit, but I knew that pretty early on and it just became an endurance exercise to finish it!

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  4. Interesting assortment of books. I have read both the ones by Spencer-Fleming and Sherry Thomas. I’ll have to look for the ones by Bowen since I enjoy historical mysteries. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Rhys Bowen has A LOT of mysteries! I’ve decided to only read one of her series at a time. So, once I read all the Molly Murphy mysteries, I’ll move on to another one!

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  5. I’m a leader whose daughters are done with GS, but who liked it too much to quit. I’ve been involved in the cookie sale in one way or another for 18 years now. This year will be interesting. I was going to pass on booth sales this year but since the virus numbers are down, I’ll do that too. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to do all sorts of fun stuff to spend this money.

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    1. I am impressed at your dedication to the Girl Scouts!

      Our Council isn’t allowing booth sales this year and the girls aren’t allowed to do any face-to-face sales, so it has pretty much been digital only for us.

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  6. Middlemarch wasn’t for me either. I don’t mind chunksters and I’m fine with classics but Middlemarch… just felt like it didn’t go anywhere for long periods of time? That was my first Eliot and will probably be my last.

    I did prefer The Awakening but I wouldn’t call it a favorite. I hope you like it! It definitely gave me food for thought.

    Enjoy your week!

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About Melinda