Weekly Reads – 27 June 2021

Lordy, lordy! It is HOT out there. As I write this (at 3:50 pm on Sunday) it is 110 degrees out! If I were in Arizona, this would be normal, but I’m in Oregon! This is not the deal Oregonians made when we all decided to live here. Tomorrow is supposed to be even hotter, and then things cool down–to the 90s–for a bit. Thank goodness we have air conditioning.

I’m also having my daughter’s Girl Scout troop over for a “water party” in a little over an hour. No swimming, but there will be water balloons and water guns and ice cream. At this point, the girls just want to get together to do something since we were only recently allowed by our council. Originally, we were to go hiking this weekend but obviously that turned out to be no-go.

In addition to the scorching weather, we are in full summer in other ways. This week, my son begins swim lessons and he has a 4 day online art camp. Honestly, he needs to do something to get him off the screens (although his art camp is one a screen). My daughter could also do with some activities, but she has day camp in July which is at least something! We are definitely fighting the battle of the screens here. Sigh!

Anyway, I should get to the books so I can get this post written before the water balloon warriors arrive!

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:

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
(4.25 stars)

I was tempted not to write a review of this one because I really think the less you know about this going in, the better. But, I must say, I enjoyed this more than I expected…probably because I expected it to be something it wasn’t.

The setup, which is as far as I’ll go into a book, is that Dannie is transported (in a dream) to five years in the future, but she’s not in the future she expects. It’s pretty straightforward and admittedly intriguing.

This book is compulsively readable. While I read it over several nights, I could easily see myself reading this in one sitting (if I started earlier in the day). I never knew what to expect from this book, but I also never felt lost in it. Admittedly, it is a lighter read, but there is nothing wrong with that. Also, it is a great book to read at night, thanks to the shorter chapters. And, if you are a New York City fan, this book has a wonderful sense of place.

It’s rare that I am as surprised by a book as I was by this one. That in itself is enough for me to recommend it without reservation.

Jubilee by Margaret Walker
(4.25 stars)

After reading this book, I had one question: why had I never heard of this before?

I first heard of this book on a podcast where it was referred to as an African-American Gone with the Wind. That is both misleading and strangely accurate. My first thought was that this was the African-American retelling of GWTW from Mammy’s point of view, but it isn’t. This story is in no way related to Margaret Mitchell’s work. It does, however, have roughly the same setting as that more famous novel (Georgia) and takes place at roughly the same time.

Instead, this is the story of a woman who is born into slavery, survives her enslavement, and struggles to start a new life after the Civil War. Vyry is a fascinating character–as this is a “slice of life” book, in that it follows someone’s life instead of having a strong plot–the whole thing rests on her shoulders and she’s strong enough to handle it. Her life is, obviously, full of struggles and she does suffer through them, but she is a survivor.

Another aspect of this book that I appreciated is the 360 view Walker gives of Vyry’s world. Not only is she enslaved, but she also is the daughter of the plantation owner. She is light-skinned to the point that not only can she “pass,” but she is also mistaken as her half-sister’s twin. Not only does this complicate Vyry’s life, but also forces her father’s wife to oversee Vyry’s day-to-day life.

This isn’t the most eloquent book and it is definitely more character-study than plot. But I still don’t understand why this isn’t a classic that is well known in America. I do hope that those who consider themselves fans of that other book will at least give this one a try as a counterbalance.

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

My daughter recommended this book to me. And when I say “recommended to me,” I mean “would not shut up about it until I read it.” I opted for the audiobook, thinking we would listen to it together. While that didn’t exactly happen (she listened to parts of it, but I listened to most of it on my own), I’m glad that I did get it from Libro as I can see myself listening to it with both kids on a road trip.

The best description of this book came from the Currently Reading podcast–it’s Harry Potter, but with Black Girl Magic and without the icky feelings about the author. That’s a pretty apt description, even if I do tend to cringe when books are compared to other books.

This was a fun ride! I never quite knew where it was going and I was surprised a couple of times. Amari is from the projects in Atlanta and the magical school (which is actually a summer camp) is also in Atlanta. While Harry Potter was almost a fairy tale character, Amari spoke and acted like any modern girl and, because of that, this book was much more relatable.

It’s usually great on audio. I don’t know much about the narrator, but she sounds young, which makes Amari seem more realistic. My one complaint is that there is one character who is supposed to have a Scottish accent. One thing I can’t stand is when a narrator tries to do an accent that is not in their wheelhouse–which is not what happens here. That would be perfect, except the character’s dialogue is written in dialect (lot’s of “ye”s), which actually sounds even worse without a failed accent. It was distracting, but not so much that I couldn’t listen to it.

There are at least 2 more Amari books to come and I can’t wait to see where this tale leads us and I’m thrilled to be able to share it with my kids.

Last week, I started reading:

The Thursday Murder Club (Thursday Murder Club #1) by Richard Osman

I am *so close* to being done with this one! I really wanted to finish it before I started this post, but that just didn’t happen. Anyway, the premise to this is that a quartet of residents at an English retirement home have formed a little club to solve cold cases. Then, one day, they see the opportunity to try to solve a real murder…with the reluctant help of two local police officers.

This book is just absolutely adorable. All of the characters are jewels and I love how their previous lives play into their current life as a club member. I don’t think I’ve figured out the mystery yet, so I’m withholding final judgment of the book until I finish.

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich

I adore Louise Erdrich, but she publishes so much for the type of writer she is that I frequently fall behind with her books. I’ve had this one sitting on my TBR bookshelf for a while–I got my copy from Book of the Month when it was released so…since then.

This one is very different from her other books. It is very much in the vein of The Handmaid’s Tale, but this feels like it has more life in it. I consider Dystopia to be its own genre, not a subgenre of science fiction, but this one does have sci-fi and fantasy elements to it. It is a bit stressful and I don’t think I would have been able to read it at any point in the last 4 years, but I can handle it now. I’m looking forward to seeing how this one turns out.

Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson (audiobook, read by the author)

I picked this book off of a library booklist of YA Award Winners so that I could cross that box off of my summer reading bingo card. YA is not currently a genre that I’m reading a lot of, so I opted for audiobook.

Anyway, I went in blind and didn’t realize that this book is set in Portland! (I also have a square for Books Set in the Pacific Northwest. I wonder if I can double dip with this one?) I’m less than 20% in so far, so I can’t say much about it yet other than I’m enjoying it so far. There is a strong (and accurate!) sense of place with it, which is fun for a local reader. I’m not sure about Watson’s narration yet, but we’ll see….

I’m still reading:

No Angel by Penny Vincenzi
Poirot Investigates by Agatha Christie
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

7 thoughts on “Weekly Reads – 27 June 2021

  1. You have so many tempting books on your list! I am especially curious about In Five Years and The Thursday Murder Club. Thanks for sharing.

    So sorry about your heat wave! Even though 110 is not unusual in these parts, I am still not happy when it gets that hot. Especially now that I live in a place with inadequate AC! In fact, inadequate everything, lol.

    Enjoy the upcoming cool down, and thanks for visiting my blog.

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  2. I hope the water party was fun. I’ve been hearing about the excessive heat in the Pacific Northwest while we enjoy our cooler summer temperatures here. I’ll have to add The Thursday Murder Clue and Amari and the Night Brothers to my wishlist. I just need to read some of my TBR pile first. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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  3. I hope you all had fun! I read about all of your heat! It is sort of disgusting hot and humid here today as well. Not 110 though. That is hot!

    You have so many great looking books on your list. I am especially interested in Amari and the Night Brothers and The Thursday Murder Club!

    Like

  4. That sounds like crazy high temps. I would definitely be sitting by the a/c.

    I’ve been wanting read the Richard Osman book. It looks great.

    Have a great week!

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  5. Battle of the screens! I feel you! My daughter has the same issue. Her twice-a-week swim classes and the little schoolwork I’m assigning her during the summer only help so much. I’ve been trying to get creative with ways to keep her entertained. We go to the movies and have been having board game tournaments, but that’s about it so far. I need to think of something else!

    Like

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About Melinda