Well…long time, no see! I didn’t mean to take such a long break, it just sort of happened. Last week, we were out of town (more on that below) and the weeks before that were just instances when time got out of hand.
It’s hard to believe we are already in August. Of course, it also feels like we’re in our 17th month of summer. The kids are supposed to go back to full time, 5 day a week school in September, but Pat is going to be working from home for, well, it appears indefinitely, so that will all be an adjustment for all of us. Lillie is looking forward to starting middle school and she flew through her accelerated summer class, so she’ll be in advanced 8th grade Algebra in the fall as a 7th grader. I think she inherited her Grandma Ott’s math skills. I think Chris might be a little nervous to be at elementary school by himself, but he does know a few kids in his class. I’m hoping he will have the same 5th grade teacher Lillie had, but I heard that a lot of the teachers are switching grades this year so I have no clue.
And, an obligatory COVID update–the numbers are not great, thanks to the Delta virus. As Chris still can’t be vaccinated, we are back to being incredibly careful. We wear our masks in public, social distance, etc. I also got some NK95 masks for Chris to wear until he can be vaccinated. As I said, the plan is still to have full time school (completely masked–Oregon is smart that way!), but I’m sure that systems are in place to quickly shift to online if necessary.
So, last weekend…. Lillie and her friend had hoped to go to Girl Scout Camp down in Florence this summer. Of course, COVID did its thing and all traditional camps were canceled. They were, however, offering family camps. So Lillie’s friend and their mom and the 4 of us headed down for a long weekend at camp.
I said before this that I thought the only two possibilities for this would be it would be a hit or a disaster. Gladly, it turned out to be a hit. We were able to do archery, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, swimming, hiking, and a load of camp cooking. Everyone had fun, although I would have preferred slightly more comfortable bunks and significantly fewer mosquitos! What was interesting is that the Camp is on Lake Cleawox (hence the name…Camp Cleawox) and, when I got home, I saw Facebook posts from about 3 of my friends saying that they had been camping across the lake at the state park, so I guess it was a popular time to hit Florence.
Okay, 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.
I’m starting something different with this post. In the past, I’ve either pasted my Goodreads reviews or written a whole other review. The thing is, that is either redundant or creates a lot of work. Plus, when I’m reading posts, I like to get to the nitty gritty of what people thought of books. So, here is my plan:
I’ll give you my star ratings and, if I have a Goodreads review, I’ll link to that. Then I’ll list the 3 things I want you to know about each book. Please let me know if you like this format!
Since my last post, I finished:
It’s been a while since my last post, so this part is going to take a while. Sorry!
To Darkness and to Death (Rev. Clare Fergusson and Russ Van Alstyne #4) by Julia Spencer-Fleming
1. I love this series, but this was not my favorite
2. This is not a mystery…we always know who did it and why. Also, all the non-central characters are true idiots.
3. The end of this did not work for me.
The Windsor Knot (Her Majesty the Queen Investigates #1) by S. J. Bennett
1. I hate to dump on debut authors, but my rating should tell you what I thought of this book.
2. The queen does not actually investigate. She has others do it for her and this book makes no freaking sense.
3. The only good part of this book is that the author (smartly) puts it in 2016 which not only makes the visit from the US President that much more pleasant but also gives us some nice Prince Philip/Queen Elizabeth scenes.
Poirot Investigates (Hercule Poirot #3) by Agatha Christie
- These are the earlier Poirot stories and they are fun, but some are definitely better than others.
- Hastings is still an idiot.
- Most of the stories are only a few pages long, so this made me want to hurry up and dig into Christie’s novels.
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
4.75 Stars (Goodreads Review)
- This was a book club selection and I’m so glad because there was so much to talk about here!
- Yes, this has a school shooting, but it is actually about a Palestinian-American young woman and the challenges she finds in a world that is hostile towards her.
- This would be a a 5 star book if it were not how one plot point ends up being resolved.
A Peculiar Combination (Electra McDonnell #1) by Ashley Weaver
4 stars (Goodreads Review)
- Yes, this is WWII fiction, but it worked for me far better than WWII fiction tends to.
- I adored the main character!
- There is the start of a love triangle, which I don’t really like.
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir (audiobook)
- Get a copy of this book…better yet, get the Audiobook! I can’t tell you why (because it would be a spoiler) but there is a reason why this is better in audio.
- I enjoyed The Martian, but I felt this book was 100 times better and it stayed with me long after I read it.
- Yes, there is a lot of science here. However, I am not a science person and I had no problem with it…so don’t let it scare you away!
Atomic Habits by James Clear (audiobook)
- I don’t read (or listen to) a lot of self-help, but this one had a lot of helpful tips.
- This isn’t very woo-woo and can be applied to a lot of different fields.
- The narration is fine but can easily be sped up.
The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey
3.75 stars (Goodreads Review)
- This book has a lot of technical flaws, but it stuck with me after I read it–otherwise I would have given it a lower rating.
- Prepare to be unsettled with this one!
- Also, you can’t think about it too hard. One of its problems is that it has a lot of weird little “details” that seem thrown in just to make the plot work, but don’t actually make sense.
Almost American Girl by Robin Ha
4.5 stars (Goodreads Review)
- This was supposed to be my Graphic Novel for my Summer Reading Bingo, but it ended up being my Immigrant Memoir. It is definitely worthy in both categories.
- I read this in one sitting, which freaked my daughter out for some reason. Although, to be fair, she might have been freaked out because I was reading HER book!
- This is definitely a good graphic novel/memoir for someone who doesn’t normally read in that format. It’s very readable!
Eat a Peach by David Chang
- This was interesting on one level, but it was more like watching a train wreck. I don’t think Change was emotionally/psychologically ready to write a memoir.
- There is a bit in here, regarding a fast food restaurant, that was just painful to read.
- I don’t have a desire to eat at any of Chang’s restuarants.
The Beautiful Mystery (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #8) by Louise Penny
- Armand Gamache is my book boyfriend and I will read any book that features him. This one is really a character-development vehicle for him and Beauvoir, and I am here for that.
- The setting–a monastery–was wonderful and I found the mystery fascinating.
- But it wasn’t in Three Pines and I missed the town and its people!
I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown (audiobook)
5 stars (Goodreads Review)
- Of all the anti-racist books I’ve read, this has become my favorite
- This will challenge you
- There is a strong Christian component to this, which may not resonate with everyone.
I recently started reading:
Finlay Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano
This is a book that has been everywhere! I put it on hold ages ago at the library and it only came in last weekend and, since then, it has been my bedtime reading. This is definitely entertaining! I heard that it is being developed as a television series (or is it a movie?) and I think it is well-suited for that. It is wacky and twisty–I plan to finish it tonight and, right now, I have no clue how it is all going to end up. I’m not sure if this is actually my genre of book, but I’m enjoying this reading of it. I think if you are a fan of the Janet Evanovich/Stephanie Plum series, this one would be right up your alley.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry (audiobook)
This is another book that I’ve been waiting on for a while. I got it a few months ago from Libro, but had other audiobooks to listen to first. I listened to Beach Read last year and enjoyed it, but it didn’t blow me away. Honestly, I expected the same from this one. However, I’m finding that I’m enjoying it more than I expected. This has a definite When Harry Met Sally vibe, and that is one of my favorite movies. There is also a lot of travel, and it’s really the only place in my life right now that has a lot of travel…so there is that.
White We Were Dating (The Wedding Date #6) by Jasmine Guillory
I wrote a few weeks ago about how I’m not really reading romance these days. Let it be known that I will make an exception for Jasmine Guillory! I’ve read this entire series as it has been erased and have enjoyed all of them. I’m not quite halfway into this one and, no surprise, enjoying it. While People We Meet on Vacation reminded me of When Harry Met Sally, this one reminds me of Notting Hill, which is another movie I love. I don’t know if this will surpass her most recent (before this one) book, but I’m sure it will be up there.
Travels with Charley in Search of America by John Steinbeck (audiobook)
This is a re-listen for me. I needed to find an “armchair travel” book for my Summer Reading bingo and I wasn’t having any luck finding anything that interested me. Then, as I was going through the library on my now inactive Audible account, I saw that I had this. Perfect! I really enjoyed this when I listened to it before, so it seemed like a good choice. Now, instead of some nameless person intone a walk through a meadow putting me to sleep, I can listen to the dulcet tones of Gary Sinise reading Steinbeck at 1.1 speed!
Okay, I think that’s all for this week! Please let me know if you like my new format for this update.!