Weekly Reads – 20 June 2021

Wow, a lot has happened in the two weeks since I last posted.

First, I went to Arizona to see my dad. It was a nice long weekend. Yes, it was hot, but the air conditioning was working. Thanks to the pandemic, he hadn’t seen any relatives other than his brother in a year and a half. This, of course, is another reason for him to move back up to Oregon, but that is a conversation in progress.

Then, the kids finished school for the year. It feels so strange because it seems like this school year never actually started! My kids only started going back to hybrid 2 days a week in April. Lillie is now a middle schooler and I can’t believe it! She had a very quick drive-by promotion at her school and I will admit that I teared up a bit. I’m going to be a total mess when she graduates from high school

Finally, yesterday ended up being huge for us. In the morning my daughter and I participated in our town’s first Pride 5K to support our friends in the LGBTQ community. It was very well-run and they limited the number of people due to Covid (Oregon hasn’t quite hit the magic number to lift our restrictions), although I would have been okay with it being slightly cooler.

Then, that afternoon, we had a quickly-planned Juneteenth celebration. Even though, I have a degree in history I still had not heard of this holiday until I was working and the African American Employee group put on a celebration. I’m so glad that this is finally a holiday, although I did have to look up how to celebrate it. We had some friends over, explained what it was to the kids, and then had a cookout–with some red things to eat and drink. Apparently, the red part is important as it commemorates those who lost their lives while they were enslaved. I also have been reading a very apt book (which I will talk about in a moment) and made a point to watch 12 Years a Slave last night. I had never seen it before and I was profoundly affected by it. I highly recommend checking it out if you have the chance.

I also listed to a podcast about Juneteenth where this point was made: Independence Day is a sort of simple holiday in that it doesn’t recognize the problematic parts of our history. Juneteenth, however, is about the freedom we have and the work we still have to do.

Okay, so now onto the books for the past two weeks!

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

In the past 2 weeks, I’ve finished:

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz
(4.25 Stars)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this book, but I loved where it took me! This book was recommended to me by a couple different sources, so I decided to go into it as blind as possible. What I found was the kind of book I absolutely adore…a book within a book.

I don’t know why I love that trope so much, but I do. And I think it works especially well as a mystery, as this book shows. I started this thinking that it was a quality, but standard Poirot-style English village murder. Once I was convinced I had figured out that mystery, I realized I was…in totally the wrong place.

This is a very smart mystery and it is a mystery for mystery readers. I’m not saying that someone who hasn’t read mysteries in the past won’t enjoy this, but a mystery reader will truly appreciate it.

This is a book that was exactly what I needed at the time (most of this was read on an airplane and it distracted me from the fact that was in a metal tube, thousands of feet above the earth), I’m looking forward to reading more of Horowitz’s work.

Bury Your Dead (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #6) by Louise Penny
(3.5 stars)

To my friend Shauna….I’m catching up!

I do love this series for so many reasons. The characters are excellent, the mysteries are well-crafted, the writing is beautiful, and I really want to move to Three Pines. I’m saying all this because…this was probably my least favorite so far.

I gave it 3.5 stars but, honestly, it would probably be a 4 star book if it were the first book in the series or a standalone. It isn’t so much that this book is not good, but that the other books are just so much better. The set up with this book is that there are actually 2 unrelated mysteries being investigated at the same time. The secondary one, being investigated by Beauvoir, is continuation of the mystery from the previous book and takes place in Three Pines. The primary mystery, investigated by Gamache, is set in Quebec City and, honestly, is a little thin. I was also distracted by the bouncing between these two story lines that aren’t actually related. Finally, it just seemed strange for Gamache to be doing his thing completely independently of anyone from Three Pines. In an earlier book, there was a mystery that just involved a couple of Three Pines residents and that worked, but not this one.

Again, if this were not in the Gamache series, it would have been excellent. It is good and you definitely should read it if you are reading the series, but it was just my sixth favorite of the ones I’ve read so far.

This week I’ve started reading:

Jubilee by Margaret Walker

This is the book I referred to above as being perfect for Juneteenth. I’ve heard it described as the African-American Gone With the Wind, which is both misleading and accurate. There is a book out there that is a retelling of Gone With the Wind from Mammy’s point of view, but it is not this one. This is a story of the author’s family’s own oral histories, but it is a good counterpart to Gone With the Wind as it is set in Georgia (and then, I guess, in Alabama…I’m not there yet) at roughly the same time that Gone With the Wind takes place and paints a much more realistic picture of that world. Where Gone With the Wind was about a dream forgotten, Jubilee is about a nightmare remembered.

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle

This is a lighter book than most I’ve been reading, but I’ve been reading it before I go to bed so it is working well for that. It’s an interesting premise…a woman gets a glimpse of her life five years in the future and it isn’t what she expects. As I’m reading this, I’m not sure what I want out of this book…which is probably a good thing. I can’t be disappointed if I don’t know what I want. Anyway, I should be done with it in a few days (nights?) so I can share my thoughts next week.

I’m still working on:

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

11 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – 20 June 2021

  1. The Magpie Murders sounds quite good! I love a good mystery and or thrillers. I wouldn’t mind reading some Poirot either…

    Hope your new week is a good one.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate to wish Happy Juneteenth or not, the internet seems divided, and not being American Im a little lost, but I like that you honoured it.
    Congrats too on your participation in the Pride 5K.
    All your books from the past week interest me.

    Wishing you a great reading week

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like great things happening. Juneteenth sounds like a very good celebration to have. I am aware of Pride month because been listening to a podcast that had the author of The Guncle on it – Stephen Rowling I think. I want to read it!


  4. It has been too long since I read a Penny Vincenzi book! I must find one now.

    I have only read the first three Gamache book, but now I am inspired to read more.

    I loved 12 Years a Slave.

    Magpie Murders is now going on my list. Thanks for sharing.

    I am glad you are enjoying your celebrations and activities. Thanks for sharing, and for visiting my blog.


  5. I’ve had The Magpie Murders on my Kindle since 2017. I have so many books on my TBR pile that it is hard to know where to start when looking for something to read. I’ve been concentrating on print books lately when looking for books I’ve had for a while. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  6. I love that you’re supporting Pride Month and celebrating Juneteenth! I think that’s so great that your kids are involved. You sound like a wonderful mom 🙂

    I’m so intrigued by the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series! I may have to check those out!


  7. Yay for visiting your dad! It’s so nice to finally be seeing our loved ones, isn’t it?

    We accidentally visited a museum that had free admission on Juneteenth because of the holiday. I knew very basically that it was something about the end of slavery but I had to come home and read more about it. I read and enjoyed Gone with the Wind a few years ago, which I feel guilty about. I know it’s an idealized version of events that completely overlooks the all-too-real horrors of slavery. I’ll have to look up Jubilee as a counterbalance. Thanks for the rec! I hadn’t heard of it before.

    Good for you for taking part in the Pride 5K and making your kids aware of such important issues!

    I’m trying to think of books-within-books that I’ve read and the only one that comes to mind is The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood. It wasn’t my favorite but if you’re a fan of that trope, you might like it more than I did.

    I loved Amari and the Night Brothers and the Lightning Thief. I hope you like them!

    Enjoy your week!


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About Melinda