Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 410-416

Happy May, everyone! May is normally a stressful month for me. Most of this is due to the fact that we are nearing the end of the school year and, at least at the school the kids used to attend, all the events tended to be in May. Under normal circumstances, it is slightly less busy in the public school system, but there are still a fair amount of end-of-year activities. This year, however, is not normal. I think we’re just trying to get to make it to June 17th (the last day of school).

The big event was Pat’s birthday, and it was a big one! He’s reached half a century. Of course, our celebrations were pretty low key. The NFL draft was going on, so he was able to enjoy that. I offered up every one of meals I thought might qualify as his favorite, but he wanted to cook his own meal so he made us Swedish Meatballs. We did end up buying a Tres Leches cake and the kids loved it. I’ll have to figure out a recipe because the kids have already requested it for their birthdays. (Or, I guess, I could just buy one again).

This coming Thursday I’ll be 2 weeks past my 2nd dose and “fully immune.” I doubt that will change my life much at this point, but it is another level of reassurance. I am hoping that kids, at least 12 an up, will be able to be vaccinated soon. Once Lillie is fully vaccinated, I’ll probably take her down to Arizona to see my Dad (in the middle of summer, when it is oh-so-pleasant in Tucson. Oh well, maybe we’ll get to see a monsoon).

Now, onto the 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 reading:

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner
(3 stars, Goodreads Review)

I’ve been a fan of Jennifer Weiner’s since I read her first book right after it was released and I’ve read all of her books since then. While she calls herself a chick lit writer, I’ve always felt that she sells herself short and that her books are deeper than that term would apply.

That being said, I can’t say that I’ve loved all of her books–I may have liked them all, but not loved them all. Unfortunately, this one definitely falls more into the “like” category. It’s noticeably fluffier than most of her other books, which I suppose is fine if that is what you are looking for. This is clearly meant to be a beach read and I would say it falls into that category. However, as a Weiner fan, I was expecting more.

My other issue here was the mystery element. I love a good mystery novel–in fact, it is probably my preferred genre right now. Because of that, I may have had set my expectations too high here. Weiner isn’t a mystery writer, but rather a writer who is writing a mystery. I just didn’t feel like the mystery plot worked here and it ultimately left me feeling unsatisfied.

Would I still recommend Jennifer Weiner? Of course! I didn’t hate this book–I just felt it fell short of her usual work. I just don’t know if I would recommend this particular title.

Oh Danny Boy (Molly Murphy #5) by Rhys Bowen
(3.5 stars, no Goodreads review)

I’ve been enjoying the Molly Murphy series, although I have to admit that it is among my lighter reading. This book is very much along the lines of the previous books and a good addition to the series.

That being said, there were a few things that bothered me. There is, um, a certain plot point that just seems weirdly unnecessary, especially in how it stands at the end of the book (if you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about). I truly don’t know why this feature was even in this book other than, maybe, to lengthen the story. I also found the set up of the book, Molly’s sometime love interest, in jail just a bit too eye-rolly.

I didn’t NOT enjoy this book, but I do think I’m going to give Molly Murphy a little rest. I completely intend to go back to this series, but I’d like to finish up a couple of the other series I’m reading at the moment first. Unfortunately, Molly stands tall on her own, but she’s a little dwarfed by the likes of Armand Gamache and Cork O’Connor.

This week, I started:

Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt

This is for one of my in-person (or, more accurately, on-zoom) book clubs. That particular book club has some very interesting selections for the year and this one is no exception. It tells the story of Wyatt and Jonas, born identical twin boys. However, almost from infancy, it was apparent that Wyatt’s gender didn’t match his body.

There is a lot with this book and I’m really interesting in reading how the family dynamics play out as Nicole (formerly Wyatt) comes into her own. The book is written in a very journalistic style, which doesn’t actually suit my interest in it well, but at least it is readable.

Amari and the Night Brothers (Supernatural Investigations #1) by B.B. Alston (audiobook, narrated by Imani Parks)

I’m not even sure I should add this here. My daughter recently read this book in her class book club and absolutely loved it. Then I heard it being praised on a number of book podcasts, so I decided to get the audiobook with my next Libro credit.

As soon as I got it, my daughter wanted me to play it (even though I’m still working through Caste). So I started it…and then she walked out of the room. I thought she wanted to listen to it with me, but apparently not! So, I started it…but I probably won’t go back to it until I finish Caste.

A Rule Against Murder (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #4) by Louise Penny

Ah, back to Three Pines. At least I assume so–I only started this book last night and Armand and Reine-Marie Gamache are at some lodge, hoping for a relaxing holiday but surrounded by spoiled rich people.

I do really love this series and I’ve heard that this is the book where the series gets good (according to the people who, unlike me, didn’t like the earlier books). As I said, I’m barely into it so I have no opinions yet, but I am so glad to be reading another Louise Penny. I also need to catch up to a friend who really needs to talk about the 10th book with someone!

I’m still reading:

Caste: The Origin of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (audio)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home by Nora Krug
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

10 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 410-416

  1. I hear what you are saying about May. This time of year is hectic because of work, but there were so many year end activities added onto that schedule that I couldn’t balance everything. This year, our daughter is getting out of school mid-May, which is two weeks earlier than usual.

    Love your books this week. I haven’t read anything by Bowen in a long time. A Rule Against Murder sounds really good.

    Hope you have a nice week.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. You’ve got a lot of reading going on. I hate the term chick lit, and while I haven’t read much of Jennifer W I wouldn’t put her in that category. A cozy like Rhys Bowen’s books have their place for lighter reading and I enjoy them, but still reading her Royal Spyness books. The cake sounds great, so buy I say!!


  3. Happy birthday to your husband 🎈 May is a busy celebration month for us in that both my eldest children have birthdays and it’s Mother’s Day as well. That all results in a surfeit of cake since I make a cake on their birthday for sharing with family, and another fancier one for whatever celebration they have with friends, Plus I usually make a cake to take to my parents for dessert on Mother’s Day.
    Becoming Nicole sounds interesting.

    Wishing you a great reading week


  4. My daughter is Lillie too- same spelling 🙂 I agree – liked but didn’t love Big Summer. I am excited to read her new one though!


  5. I have read the first three Gamache books…and now I simply must continue the series! This fourth one sounds really good.

    I am sorry Big Summer disappointed you, although there were parts of it that were not my favorite, either. I hope you love the newest one!

    I have enjoyed the increased freedom of being fully vaccinated…but I am still pretty cautious. The place where I live has become so controlling, thanks to fear of disease, that I really hate it here. Despite understanding why they are running things that way. So, as a rebel child, I tend to push the limits and take my freedoms further than I might normally do…So I have gone out to restaurants five times now, but always felt the protocols were being observed, so that’s good. Before the Pandemic, I went out to restaurants at least once a week, so that was my normal behavior.

    Enjoy your week!


  6. Nice looking assortment of books. I know about giving a series a rest. I’m currently resting the Stephanie Plum series since I’ve hit my threshold for silly for a while. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  7. I hadn’t thought of that, but you are right! May always is so busy with school wrapping up and all the activities crammed in before that happens. Not this year. At least it isn’t a big transition year for my daughter. It sounds like Pat had a nice birthday–happy belated birthday to him! My husband will be getting his second vaccine dose next week. He’s excited. My daughter keeps asking when it will be her turn. I am sure they are testing for her age group, but I haven’t heard anything. It’ll be a while, I imagine.

    I’ve read one Penny book–a much later book in the series and keep meaning to go back and start at the beginning. It’s good to know the earlier ones are not the best. I loved the one I did read. I hope you enjoy your reading and have a great week, Melinda!


  8. I think sometimes series authors just get lazy. After about so many go arounds with the background characters I’m kind of like “do you have to bring out everybody in town?”


  9. Congratulations on being almost fully vaccinated! I’ll hit that milestone on Friday.

    I chose Amari and the Night Brothers as my free libro.fm book for Independent Bookstore Day but I haven’t even downloaded it yet. I’m almost finished with my current audio so maybe I’ll choose it next.

    We saw some pictures of the monsoon rains when we were in Tucson earlier this year. It looks like a sight to behold.

    Enjoy your week!


  10. I hit the fully vaccinated mark last Friday. It’s a great feeling, although I don’t really think much will be changing for me anyway.

    I’ve listened to a few Jennifer Weiner books on audio. I liked them. I’ll try this one too.

    Hope you have a great week!


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About Melinda