Weekly Reads – 23 May 2021

I have to apologize that I wasn’t able to visit everyone’s blogs last week….and I had every intention to do more posting this week, which also didn’t happen. I’ve been whining that I had a very busy week. What did I have? Well, on one day I had 2 appointments and then I met a friend for breakfast one morning. Apparently that is more than I can handle. The quarantine has apparently turned me into a hermit!

But, I have been doing good things. Today was day 25 of getting up and doing yoga first thing in the morning. We also had our first in-person Girl Scout event in over 15 months yesterday. It involved the girls walking around the park and then screaming and running the other way when they saw my co-leader and I. Exciting stuff.

We’re slowly inching out of quarantine here. Lillie is no longer required to wear a mask to volleyball practice, which I’m sure is quite a relief for her. Pat and I still wear our masks in stores and many stores are still requiring them. However, it was strange to be in Costco and see a few people without them. The biggest news is that it looks like our church is going to start having in person services next month! This has probably been the thing that I’ve been missing the most, so I’m quite excited about that. We’ll still be wearing masks, but I’m more than happy to do that as long as I can worship in a church and not in our bonus room with the kids fighting with each other (I recognize the fact that the fighting kids may continue when we are back IN the church. Re-entry may be challenging for them!) I think the one who will have the biggest struggle with us going back to church is Alice the Cat. She is so used to us all being in one room once a week and she always makes a point to join us.

We’re coming up to Summer Reading season. The library always has a program, and the kids will do it again, but I am also going to do one for them. When quarantine started, I downloaded a “Tower of Books” file from TeachersPayTeachers. We’ve done it before–Lillie had to read 40 books and Chris 20, and they’ll start it again for the summer (although I’m upping Chris to 30 books!). Once they finish their tower, they get to do a $50 shopping spree at a local toy store, or something like that. I don’t know if they are looking forward to it or not, but anything to keep them reading.

Speaking of which, 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.

What I Finished Last Week:

Caste: The Origins of our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson (audiobook)
(4 stars, Goodreads review)

This book was powerful. Wilkerson has done something very smart by putting the US’s race woes into a system that transcends US History. I think it is a fair to make the assumption that most people have a general idea of the Indian Caste system but have probably never gone further than that. The other smart move Wilkerson makes is to rope in the caste system of Nazi Germany (and including the inconvenient truth that the Nazis based their system on the US’s Jim Crow system) to show both the inherent evilness of institutionalized racism, but also prove that it can be overcome.

This book is very accessible. I listened to it and the language was very conversational with lots of interesting anecdotes. For those who are easily intimidated by big non-fiction. audio is probably the way to go here.

I did have 2 complaints about this book, one general and one nitpicky. My general complaint is that I think that it could have been better organized. There were many times when I felt like Wilkerson was circling back to things she had previously covered, which made it seem like her argument was plateauing. With a more efficient organization, I think her argument would have been even more convincing. My more nitpicky complaint was her inclusion of Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. She describes this as a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, which it isn’t, that revealed Atticus Finch as a racist, which he isn’t. (If you don’t know the story around Go Set a Watchman, I would recommend you spend 15 minutes on Google to find out what it really is). This myth of it being a sequel was a marketing tool and Wilkerson should have known better than to continue that lie.

But, other than that, this is an important book that I feel anyone and everyone should read…or at least listen to.

The Brutal Telling (Chief Inspector Gamache #5) by Louise Penny
(4.5 stars, no Goodreads review)

I’ve heard a lot of people say that book 5 is where this series gets good. I’ll disagree in that I’ve really enjoyed it from book 1, but I will agree that book is where this series really comes into its own. This one was just amazing–I had no clue how it would end up (and I’m still unsettled by the way it does) and Penny uses this book to really dig deep into the people of Three Pines. It was like we were introduced to them in the first book, but it is this book where we really get to know them.

This book also seems to have more comedy that the earlier books. I’m not saying that this is a funny book, but there are elements of humor right where it is needed. This book could easily have become too heavy, but these moments of levity remind the reader how special this series is.

I also have the feeling that this book may be the beginning of a multi-book story arc, which I am looking forward to. My one complaint of this series is that the multi-book arc that started in the first book just sort of ended abruptly in the 3rd, so it is nice to see the momentum build up again.

Murder on Cold Street (Lady Sherlock #5) by Sherry Thomas
(3.5 stars, no Goodreads review)

While book 5 of the Gamache series may be the best yet, I felt like book 5 in this series was the weakest. It was still a good book, but it was definitely a step below the 4 books that precede it. There were a couple of things that bugged me about this one.

First of all, the mystery itself was one that should have been straightforward, but just seemed too convoluted for what it was. I also felt that it was one of those where the mystery is solved without the reader receiving all the clues. As a mystery reader, this feels like a cop out to me.

Secondly, this one veers into romancelandia in a way that doesn’t fit with the overall series. It was clear from the previous books where Charlotte and Ingram were headed, so it isn’t a surprise that their relationship intensifies. However, it does so in a way that is just…annoying. Charlotte becomes a simpering maiden and Ingram is just too good to be true.

I still enjoy this series and I’ll still continue on, but I hope that Sherry Thomas sets things back to rights. I believe that it is completely possible for Charlotte to have a relationship without sacrificing her own character.

What I started last week:

Purgatory Ridge (Cork O’Connor #3) by William Kent Krueger

Of all the series I’m reading, this one is the most heart-pumping. It has the perfect balance of action and plot and I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks that. The holds for books in this series are even longer than for Louise Penny books!

I also really like how Krueger keeps the overarching plot of the series going through all the books. You do really need to read this one from the beginning, but so far that larger plot has not stalled out.

I’m about 25% into this so far so I can’t comment too much on the book, other to say that it is really drawing me in. I have a friend who has read further on this series and assures me that it doesn’t plateau with later books, so I’m looking forward to it!

I’m still reading:

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

9 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – 23 May 2021

  1. That’s great that you are able to do yoga every day. I really want to try that.

    I’ve been wanting to read the Louise Penny series. Eventually I will get to it. It looks good.

    Have a great week!

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  2. I’ve heard the yoga with Adrienne is good, and its great that you can get to it every morning. Interesting about the Sherry Thomas series, hope she does have a little realisation in the next book (Charlotte that is!! Yes being able to get out is great, I remember going back to Church last year after we were let out of lockdown. It was strange.

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  3. I feel like a hermit too thanks to the pandemic. And it is nice to be able to get out again, although yes seeing so many people going maskless does seem a little… premature. I don’t know. It is nice to be able to have in person church again though.

    Purgatory Ridge looks like a lot of fun!

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  4. I have also had difficulty dealing with appointments that seem to take me away from my comfort zone: Hermit Land! LOL

    I have only read the first three Gamache series books…but enjoyed them, and now I am determined to read on!

    I hope you enjoy your week, and here are my WEEKLY UPDATES

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  5. I’ve only read the first Louise Penny book. I didn’t like it enough to go on with the series. I do like the Lady Sherlock series though I’ll agree that #5 wasn’t the strongest. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  6. I read one of Krueger’s books years ago, not my usual but I enjoyed it. Will have to try him again one day. So many books, so little time….
    Glad things are returning to normal. We’ve been pretty much maskless in our church for the last two weeks. The Archbishop dispensed everyone’s weekly Mass obligation back in March, 2020 and as of June 6, the obligation to attend Mass returns (Catholic teaching is that it is a serious sin to miss Mass without good reason).

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  7. I have become a hermit too! You’re not alone lol
    I’m glad to hear things are getting back to semi-normal. It’s the same here, but we’re all wearing our masks still as well. Not quite comfortable without them yet.
    That Lady Sherlock series looks great! I’m adding it to my TBR list 🙂

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  8. I agree that Caste is a profound read. I listened to it as well. Good narration makes all the difference. I am also a hard core fan of Louise Penny. I also was hooked from the first book. I love that each book has a mystery that is solved, but there is so much simmering in the background. I didn’t know about the Lady Sherlock series so thanks for the heads up about this.

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About Melinda