Weekly Reads – 16 May 2021

Notice that my longer than we could ever imagine “Dispatches from the Distancing” series has end. As I said in my last post, I had defined an ending point and, well, it happened. Clearly, we are not out of the woods yet but at least I can stop counting days for my posts!

The good news is that Pat got his 2nd shot and Lillie got her first shot on Friday. Lillie has had no side effects and Pat’s have been very mild, much more mild than mine were (and mine were mild!). We figured out that Lillie will be fully vaccinated–2 weeks after her second shot–on the first day of her summer vacation, so that will be a great way to start things off!

We have been chatting about what to do this summer. So far, Lillie has 1 day camp (that I have to drive her to each day–thank you Covid) and we’re going to do Girl Scout family camp in lieu of Lillie’s normal Girl Scout camp. I’m not sure how that will go–ideally it is supposed to be girl led so Lillie and her friend (we’re going with our mother/daughter friends) are supposed to be in charge of everything. Pat is not good at being led, so who knows how this will turn out!

Pat is due for an 8 week sabbatical, but it sounds like he can divide it up into 2 4-week chunks and take one this summer and one next. Next summer we’re going to try (again) to go to Alaska, but I’m not sure what we’ll do this summer if that is what the plan is. There was some chatter about driving down to Arizona to see my Dad, but I’m not sure July/August is the best time to do a road trip to the Southwest.

This evening we’re going to try something new–we’re going to a nearby wetlands to do some birdwatching. I have no idea if the kids will like this, although I do think they’ll get a kick out of using the binoculars. I’m just trying to find something more interesting for them than “going for a walk” and hopefully the whining won’t scare the birds away.

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:

Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin
(4 stars, no Goodreads review)

I really loved Jalaluddin’s first book, Ayesha at Last, which meant I approached her second book with trepidation. Would it live up to her first work or would she fall victim to the sophomore slump?

Happily, not only did she rise to the occasion, but I actually liked this book better! It’s based on The Shop Around the Corner (which is also the basis for the musical She Loves Me and the film You’ve Got Mail), which I’ve always found to be a delightful enemies to lovers story.

The setting here is that Hana, an aspiring broadcaster, works at her mother’s biryani restaurant, which is struggling. Then she learns that there is a new restaurant opening up down the street and the proprietor is someone who sparks more than business interest. Throw in an exuberant young cousin, a mysterious aunt, and star-crossed lovers among her friends and voila!

I truly enjoyed this one. Jalaluddin tackles some tougher topic here, including anti-immigrant hostility and Islamophobia. Hana is a fun character and Jalaluddin doesn’t shy away from showing her flaws. The antagonists were still a bit moustache-twirly, but not as much as they were in her previous book.

This was definitely a fun read that made me just happy once I was done!

Belonging: A German Reckons with History and Home by Nora Krug
(4 stars, no Goodreads review)

I normally fly through graphic books–it is not unusual for me to read one in one sitting. This one, however, took me about 6 weeks. It is wordier than most graphic novels and the illustrations sometimes make reading more logistically difficult, but the truth is that this is just an emotionally hard book.

Nora Krug was born in Germany to parents who were born right after WWII. Growing up in Germany, the sins of her homeland were pounded into her. She talks about how, in school, all of their field trips were to concentration camps. However, she knew very little about what her grandparents were doing during the war. As an adult, now living in the US, she decides to make a personal journey to find our her family’s history.

This book was just heartbreaking, but also thought provoking. I couldn’t help but compare her experience growing up in Germany to how the dark parts of US history are now actually celebrated in many parts of the United States. I always talk about how I’m sick of WWII books, but that’s because WWII novels tend to romanticize the war. This book takes a hard look at Germany during the war.

This is a book that I would very much like my children to read when they study WWII in school. Not only does it add another layer to history, but it teaches the reader to look critically at their own history.

This week, I started reading:

The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #5) by Louise Penny

I don’t normally read Louise Penny books back to back, only because the holds lists are so long. However, I’ve learned how to game it a bit and this one came in just as I was finishing the 4th book. I’m about 40% of the way through now and I’m quite enjoying this. I think I know who the culprit is, but I also expect to be wrong. We shall see! Also, this book is set back in Three Pines. It was nice to be somewhere else in the previous book, but now it’s nice to “come home” to this little village and the people who live here.

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan

My daughter started reading these books in the 3rd grade and how now read them all in all the series. She’s a nut for Rick Riordan! My son, however, is more of a graphic novel reader. My daughter really wanted him to read this but I think he was intimidated by the size of the book, so he and I are reading it together.

I have seen the move, which was…dumb. My daughter assured me that the book is much, much better and even after just the first chapter I can see that is true! And, yes, my son is enjoying it too!

I’m still reading:

Caste: The Origin of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (audiobook)
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

19 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – 16 May 2021

  1. Sounds like your summer plans are coming together, I dislike camping but that is loved by many. So happy to hear the Uzma Jalaluddin book is one that lived up to the first which i liked very much too.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I must get into more of the Gamache series! I have read and loved the first three.

    I have never read The Shop Around the Corner, but I have the movie You’ve Got Mail and periodically watch it again.

    Congrats on moving past the distancing! I hope the kids love the bird watching…or the binoculars. LOL.

    Enjoy your week, and here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the kids enjoyed the birdwatching, but they won’t admit it. They did get Dairy Queen afterwards, so they can’t complain too much!


    1. Yes, I’m definitely looking forward to do as much as we can this summer. Ha ha–the kids will be happy to go back to school in September to get a rest!


  3. Hope you enjoy the rest of the Percy Jackson series, I loved them! I actually just bought them for my daughter’s 12th birthday. Hoping she likes them too *fingers crossed*!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is nice that things are opening up, but I’m still a little nervous about some things. I think I’ll feel better once my daughter is fully vaccinated and MUCH better once my son is vaccinated!


  4. It is nice to have hope for the future now, with hopefully things continuing to get better. Congrats on the vaccinations, and I hope your vacation planning goes well too.

    I hope the wetlands visit went well. “hopefully the whining wonโ€™t scare the birds away.” lol. ๐Ÿ™‚


  5. I am glad Pat’s reaction to the second shot was mild. My husband’s was too–really just arm pain for him. So, he enjoyed his extra day off which he’d taken off work just in case. And yay for Lillie getting her first shot! The Girl Scout family camp sounds like a fun idea. You’ll have to keep us posted how that goes. Your wetlands visit sounds like fun too. I hope you all had a good time!

    I can’t believe school for Mouse is going to be out in just another week. Next Wednesday is her last day.

    I am glad to hear you liked Hana Khan Carries On. I am looking forward to that one. My daughter hasn’t gotten into Rick Riordan’s books but perhaps someday. She just discovered my copy of Neil Patrick Harris’s The Magic Misfits and has been reading it on her own. She says it is one of her favorite books. I’m kind of sad she got to it before me. LOL Seriously though, it’s good to see her reading more on her own. She and I are reading Just Add Magic by Cindy Callahan together (don’t tell her, but I’d rather be reading the Harris book with her).

    I hope you are having a great week, Melinda!


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