Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 347-353

I’m feeling a bit discombobulated at the moment because we had a gorgeous day, weather-wise, and I can’t remember the last time that happened! We spent a bulk of it in the car–we had to deliver our last Girl Scout cookies to family down in Salem. We didn’t visit long–thank you COVID–but it was nice to at least relatives in the flesh for once! Afterwards, we had planned to take a walk in a park that I practically grew up in. However, because of the nice weather, the place was more crowded than I ever remember it being. It was also still recovering from an ice storm a couple of weeks ago (when we had snow, they had ice), followed by a lot of rain. So we shelved that idea, stopped at Dairy Queen, and headed home.

We’re still trying to decide if we will send the kids back to hybrid school in April. I think that they, especially my son, really need to be around other kids. He’s pretty much forgotten how to cope with people who don’t live with him at this point. But, on the other hand, we’re still not comfortable sending them back unless Pat and I are vaccinated. The news of a 3rd vaccine makes things more likely…hopefully.

So, have you all been watching WandaVision? I know I talk about it every week, but it is the one thing the kids look forward to. The final episode is this coming Friday and we’re all on pins and needles to see how it turns out! It’s such a smart television show, which is a change from most shows. It also has the production value of an actual MCU movie, so you don’t feel like this is the poor cousin of the MCU. I think Falcon and the Winter Soldier starts the week after WandaVision finishes (or is it 2 weeks) and we’re almost as excited about that one.

Now, onto the books. First off, my apologies that I didn’t get a chance to visit many blogs in last week’s hop. It just ended up a being a busy week and I didn’t find the time. I’m hoping to do better this week.

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:

Fun Home by Alison Bechdel
(4 stars, no Goodreads review)

Within the past couple of weeks, I got a hankering to read graphic novels. I don’t know if it is because my brain needs to work in different ways or if my kids’ love of them has started to rub off on me, but there you go. I’ve read some in the past, but it has definitely not been my go-to genre. Because this desire was for a genre and not a specific book, I wasn’t sure where to start.

Fun Home is a book I’ve been hearing about from years and I know there is a musical made from it (and I love me some musicals!), so I thought it would be a good place to start. And it was. This book is beautiful and painful. For anyone who thinks that the writing in graphic novels is simplistic, I invite them to read this one. The language is beautiful and the illustrations bring the story to life.

This story will cut you to your core and I’m very curious as to how it was transformed to a musical. Maybe, in the post-COVID days, a touring production will come to town or a local company will put it on and I can see for myself. My only complaint about this book is that I felt that it sometimes kept going over the same period in time, which was a little frustrating.

The Hollow of Fear (Lady Sherlock #3) by Sherry Thomas
(4 stars, Goodreads review)

While I enjoyed the first two books of this series, I feel like this is the book where Charlotte Holmes’s story really comes into her own.

Charlotte is such an interesting character. Time again, you feel like you understand her and then she confounds you (and everyone around her). In this book, she just seems like she is finally flying with her own wings and being in charge of her investigation, instead of being at the beck and call of others.

This also felt like the strongest mystery (so far). Every element of it was expertly paced and executed. Plus, as is the gold standard of a mystery for me, I never saw the end coming.

Because this is a mystery, I don’t want to go into the details of the story so as to not spoil anything. I do believe that this series needs to be read in order, starting with the first book. This one, however, is the one where the fun really begins.

Infinite Country by Patricia Engel
(4 stars, Goodreads review)

I’m sure that, in the years to come, there will be many novels examining the immigrant experience in Trump’s America. I’m sure that there are countless stories to be told, but this one is a good one to start with.

Mauro and Elena and their family are probably not that unusual. However, I don’t think we need to be looking for unique circumstances in books such as these, but rather the emotional depth the author achieves and, on this front, Engel succeeds. My heart broke for Mauro and Elena and their children and everything they went through and the trials they have yet to face.

Engel effectively creates vivid worlds in both the United States and Colombia. She also weaves in Colombian mythology, which adds an interesting and beautiful facet to the story. We also see this family from various angles–mostly from Mauro, Elena, and their youngest daughter, Talia. In the second half of the book, we also hear from their two older children and this is my only complaint about the book. Karina and Nando’s narratives aren’t as integrated and it was a bit jarring when we finally turned to them.

This is a quick read, but it is not an easy on. Engel does not back off from some of the horrors this family faces. Even still, this is a worthy read that I would readily recommend.

In Life Flynn (Molly Murphy #4) by Rhys Bowen
(3.75 stars, no Goodreads review)

I finished this one at about 1 am this morning. I had been kind of puttering along with it all week and, once I started getting nearer to the resolution, I couldn’t put it down. I really enjoy this series–Molly is a fun character and Bowen brings early 20th century New York City to life. Most of this book is set in upstate New York, but Bowen paints this scene just as well.

There were a few things that made this book stand out to me–Molly is working on a mystery on several fronts, which kept me guessing where things were going. Her would-be love interest, Daniel Sullivan, is absent for most of this book (although he does make his presence known when he is there). I don’t dislike Daniel’s character, but his will they/won’t they relationship with Molly has gone on long enough. I’m hoping that there will be some movement on this front in the next book because, right now, it is a distraction from the story.

This was also the least predictable of the books so far. I figured part of it out, but the rest all came as a surprise to me. The Molly Murphy mysteries tend to be more predictable than some of the other series that I’m reading, so it is nice when it can pull one over on me.

This week, I started reading:

The Mysterious Affair at Styles by Agatha Christie

I’ve decided that I’m going to read all of Agatha Christie’s books. I’m not going to do it in a year, but I’m going to do it. Now, seeing as I hadn’t yet read any of her books when I made this decision, I decided to start with her first novel.

This is also the first Hercule Poirot, who I know from the TV series (which my husband loves). I think he is even more entertaining in this book! I’ve already told my husband that I can’t watch the show unless I’ve read the book, so I’ll have to see if this one is included in the series. So far, though, I’m enjoying this one and surprised at how readable it is.

Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

This is the next in my graphic novel reading and, again, I went with a well-known title. This one comes to my attention every year during banned book week, although I know it isn’t the only banned graphic novel. I’m working through it now and I’m enjoying it. However, I’m finding it a denser read than Fun Home, so I’m going a bit slower. I’m not far enough to make a good judgment about the content, but I may decide to have my daughter read it once I’m finished.

I know there is a follow up book, so I’m sure I’ll add that to the list once I’m done with this. Also, a friend has expressed interest in having one of our book clubs read this, so this may not be my first time with this Persepolis.

I’m still reading:

Monument by Natasha Trethewey
The Witches of New York by Ami McKay
The Awakening by Kate Chopin

8 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 347-353

  1. My daughter’s private school went to in-person classes at the beginning of September. It has worked out well so far, but they have very strict protocols–mandatory testing twice a week if you are on campus, masks all the time (except in a few designated areas where social distancing is very easy), and they took all the seats from the chapel and made it into an extra dining hall.

    Fun Home looks really good. In Like Flynn also sounds like a neat read. Hope you enjoy what you’re reading this week.

    http://thebookconnectionccm.blogspot.com/2021/03/its-monday-what-are-you-reading-and.html

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  2. We only had remote learning for two weeks back in March last year, but as long as no one in the family is high risk, infection rates are dropping, take up of the vaccine is high in the area, and the kids still practice good hygiene where possible I’d send mine back to school.
    We’ve also been enjoying WandaVision, and are pleased by the high production values too.

    Wishing you a great reading week

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  3. I haven’t seen WandaVision but with so many people talking about it I feel like I should get started lol!
    I hope you enjoy the Agatha Christie – she’s such a fantastic author!
    And I love the cover on The Hollow of Fear! Gorgeous!
    Have a great week!

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  4. I like the sound of Infinite Country. Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your week. I am glad to hear that you are all taking it slow with the return to socializing.

    It is hard, but in some ways, I am grateful for the time to read books, watch movies, and just hang out in my apartment!

    Thanks for visiting my blog.

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  5. You read an interesting variety of books this week. Whether or not to send your kids back to school must be a hard decision. Here in Minnesota school’s are gradually reopening. Many of my friends are teachers who have now been vaccinated which makes me feel better for them. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  6. I hope you’ll be able to get vaccinated soon. I’m waiting to hear when I can get the shot too.

    Your books look interesting. Enjoy them and have a great week!

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  7. It’s hard to know what to do about school sometimes, there are so many variables. We’ve been back in person for a while and there are cases but it’s not TOO bad? I actually thought it would be worse, given lots of kids in an enclosed environment plus highly transmissible virus. I was expecting worse. But there are lots of different opinions out there, it’s so hard to know. I wish you luck whichever way you go.

    I love that cover of the Christie book! And I am looking forward to Falcn/ winter Soldier!

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  8. It’s difficult to know what to do about school. Finally, teachers have been put on the list to receive vaccinations, and that’s a great first step. I hope you and your husband are able to get your shots soon.

    I thought Infinite Country was well done. The author did a great job of expressing the complexity of immigration.

    I’ve never, in the past, been a big fan of graphic novels (even though I love picture books…go figure!) but I have lately found several that were excellent.

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About Melinda