Weekly Update – 7 November 2021 AND October Wrap-Up

Phew! It has been a couple of weeks since I had the chance to post! Let’s just say that October got very busy, very quickly! I’d forgotten, over the past 19 months, how busy school schedules can be. I can take a little relief from the fact that the kids’ schools are close enough that they can walk and don’t need a ride to every little thing. Of course, with the time change, I am going to start picking Lillie up after her play practice because I’m not super fond of her walking home in the dark.

Pat has expanded his new hobbies from wine and cider making to include sauerkraut. He hasn’t started making anything yet, but he’s been researching. I did have to explain to him that, like so many things in the world, ginger does not belong in sauerkraut (I haven’t broached the topic of kimchee yet). I have no clue why he wants to put ginger in *everything.* Trust me, there is nothing like marinara with ginger and I hope none of you ever have to experience it.

Lillie has been busy between play practice and volleyball. I think she is realizing that the two together might be a bit much. At least she is doing sets this time around so she has time to work on her homework at play practice. I will actually get to go to one of her games for the first time this season on Tuesday and I’m quite looking forward to it. Pat says she “moves around a lot.”

Chris has finished up swim lessons for the year. They still have one more term of swim lessons, but I forgot to register him the moment registration opens, so we’re waiting until January to start up again. I’ve been prodding him to see what kind of activities he’d like to do and I haven’t gotten much from him. He doesn’t need to be super involved now, but I would like him to find something to do by the time he goes to middle school. Oh well, maybe he’s going to be a swimming star?

Between my chauffeuring duties, I’ve been busy with a few other things–most notably our church’s search committee. Girl Scouts is also keeping my fairly busy. After last year when the girls could do basically nothing, I’ve been trying to give them as many opportunities as possible this year. But, then, their schedules get busier as they get older, so finding time for these opportunities is hard. Oh well, such is the life of a Girl Scout leader.

I can’t head into the books portion of this post without sharing a Halloween picture! The kids did go Trick or Treating this year (and my husband, as you can tell from the picture, also got into the spirit). Chris was a ninja–and thrilled that he could wear a mask with his costume–and Lillie was Nezuko, who I am told is an anime zombie girl.

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 have two books (well, one and then starting one today) that fall squarely in my comfort zone. I went through a string of reading more emotionally difficult books for various book clubs, so this is probably exactly what I am reading. I also have anther classic on the serial app, and this one is a little “lighter” than some I’ve read.

First off, I’m reading the second in the Thursday Murder Club series – The Man Who Died Twice. While I do enjoy this series, it seems more like brain candy than a mystery to me. I wouldn’t say it is cozy exactly, but it is a very entertaining read. Don’t get me wrong, there is a mystery here! It’s just that the characters, their interactions, and the inherent humor of this book is what draws me in. I guess this is turning into a TV series, and I think it will work well in this format.

Shortly after I finish writing up this post, I’ll be starting the 12th book in the Three Pines series by Louise Penny, A Great Reckoning. I really love this series–I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but it is mine. As I say below, I’m now buying the print copies of these books (instead of checking out the ebooks) so that they can stay on my keeper shelf. These are definitely books that I will return to a reread again in the future as they feel like curling up in cozy blanket. A cozy blanket of murder, but a CANADIAN cozy blanket of murder and that’s nicer. Right?

Finally, I’m starting The Picture of Dorian Gray on the serial app. This is really a great app for reading classics as it makes them not so overwhelming. And this particular book is an easier read than, say, Middlemarch. The language is a little flowery, but I think that is just how Oscar Wilde was. I know the basics of this story, but I’m looking forward to really seeing what happens in it.

October Wrap-Up

In October, I read 16 books, none of which were re-reads. Of these:

  • 10 were backlist and 6 were front list
  • 4 were mystery, 3 were fantasy, 3 were short stories or short story collections, 2 were literary fiction, 1 was general nonfiction, 1 was a thriller, 1 was horror, and 1 was a classic
  • My average rating for this month was 4.16

Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May
Date finished – 10/1/2021, Goodreads Review
4.5 Stars

  1. This is more of a “you’ll get through this” than a “self-help” book, which is probably something that we all need more of.
  2. I honestly think everyone can benefit from this book.
  3. Even though this is an “emotional winter” book, I think it would be weird to read it in Spring or Summer. Autumn was the perfect time to read it.

Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James
Date finished – 10/1/2021, Goodreads Review
3.5 stars

  1. If you have read any of Simone St. James’s more recent books, know that she is an author who improves with each book.
  2. There is definitely some trigger warnings for domestic violence and mental health, but nothing overly graphic
  3. I thought this was an interesting story and it definitely kept me interested, but it just wasn’t as spooky as her later books.

Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
Date Finished – October 3, 2021
4 stars

  1. I did like this book. I feel like I have to say this first as all my comments make it sound like I didn’t like this book.
  2. This is very clearly the 2nd book in a trilogy–which is weird, because it was a standalone for over 20 years. I don’t think I would have liked this book as much if I hadn’t read The Rules of Magic first and knew that The Book of Magic was yet to come.
  3. All that being said, I did like this book–but I probably liked it the least of this series.

Mercy Falls (Cork O’Connor #5) by William Kent Krueger
Date Finished – October 5, 2021
4 stars

  1. This is a strong series, so I think I sometimes like books in it better than they would individually deserve. This might be one of those cases, as there were some “idiot moments” here.
  2. But, also, the stakes in this one were pretty high and that added to the excitement.
  3. This is very much NOT a standalone.

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum
Date Finished – October 7, 2021, Goodreads Review
4.25 Stars

  1. This book is not an upper, but not without hope. I think it is important to know that going into it, otherwise some readers may just find it too bleak.
  2. It is also an excellent book club book. We discussed it in one of my clubs and it was one of the most substantive conversations we’ve had.
  3. There were parts of this book that weirdly (and darkly) reminded me of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, even though that movie is complete joy and this book is…not.

Under the Whispering Door by T.J. Klune
Date Finished – October 9, 2021
4 stars

  1. This book is all about grief and I think that you need to be in the right headspace to read it.
  2. While I enjoyed this, I still think The House in the Cerulean Sea is better.
  3. This book put The Good Place in my mind. I love The Good Place, but it was almost distracting to have it bumping around in my head while reading this. I kept trying to fit this book into that world.

Long Bright River by Liz Moore
Date Finished: October 11, 2021, Goodreads Review
4.5 Stars

  1. This was another book club book (for another club) and not everyone liked it.
  2. This is a strong literary mystery, although there were a few detail holes that sort of niggled at me.
  3. Don’t expect to know where this book is going.

State of Terror by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Louise Penny
Date Finished: October 15, 2021, Full Blog Review
4.5 Stars

  1. You can read all my thought on my full blog review. The fact that I actually wrote a full blog review for this one should tell you something.
  2. If you can’t get past your personal politics, this probably isn’t the book for you.
  3. For Louise Penny fans – she understands the difference between a mystery and thriller and, yes, she can write them both.

The Long Call (Two Rivers #1) by Ann Cleeves
Date Finished: October 19, 2021
4 Stars

  1. I came to this book after seeing Louise Penny write about this series. If you like Louise Penny, you’ll like this book.
  2. I did feel this started a bit slow, but it comes together at the end.
  3. I’m in the midst of watching the adaptation of this on BritBox and there are significant differences from the book.

The Book of Magic (Practical Magic #4) by Alice Hoffman
Date Finished: October 23, 2021
4.75 Stars

`1. If you’ve read all of the previous Practical Magic books, you have to read this one. However, you have to have read all of the previous Practical Magic books to fully appreciate it.
2. This is one of the best series finales I’ve ever read.
3. The only reason this isn’t a 5 star book is that I liked Magic Lessons just a teensy weensy bit more.

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
Date Finished: October 25, 2021
4.5 Stars

  1. This is one of those short story + novella collections and the novella sharing the title of the book is simply excellent.
  2. All the stories (and the novella) are unsettling, but worth it.
  3. I think this would be an excellent book club selection–short story collections can be hard for book clubs, but you could choose just to focus on the novella.

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Date Finished: October 27, 2021
4 stars

  1. There’s no way around it, this was an emotionally difficult read. However, it was also an emotionally fulfilling read.
  2. Again, this is an excellent book club book. In fact, I discussed it with one of my book clubs just this weekend!
  3. Ocean Vuong is an incredibly skilled writer, I think I’m going to try his poetry in the very near future.

The Nature of the Beast (Chief Inspector Armand Gamache #11) by Louise Penny
Date Finished: October 30, 2021
4.25 stars

  1. This was an interesting book to read shortly after State of Terror as it had more of a thriller-element than the previous books in this series.
  2. I am liking this “second phase” of Gamache more than I thought I would.
  3. Not specific to this book, but I’ve moved from checking these out of the library to buying print copies. This entire series has a home on my keeper shelf.

Zikora by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Date Finished: October 30, 2021
4 stars

  1. I have a number of these kindle singles sitting on my paperwhite and this one was up next on the list. I know that the author has some TERF-ish views, with which I vehemently don’t agree, but I figured I would read this as I had already purchased this.
  2. This was an interesting story as you think it is about one thing but ends up as something completely different.
  3. I believe there is also an audible original version of this story.

Off Season by Jennifer Weiner
Date Finished: October 31, 2021
3.75 stars

  1. This is another short story, but it jumped the queue because I love Jennifer Weiner.
  2. That being said, I was apprehensive because I really hated her last short story. This one was markedly better (phew!)
  3. This is being called Stephen King-ish and, while I wouldn’t go that far, it still was a bit creepy. But Weiner probably shouldn’t switch genres full time.

Frankenstein by Mary Woilstonecraft Shelley
Date Finished: October 31, 2021
4 stars

  1. My goal was to finish this by Halloween and I JUST made it! It was a great read for the season (look out, Dracula, I’m coming for you next year!)
  2. After watching film adaptations of Frankenstein, I have to admit that my expectations were off.
  3. This book put me in mind of two other books I’ve read (relatively) recently, both of which would be good pairings: The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey and The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

5 thoughts on “Weekly Update – 7 November 2021 AND October Wrap-Up

  1. I am curious about the Jennifer Weiner story, although I’m not a fan of short stories. I don’t know why! LOL

    I hope to read State of Terror soon. The hardcover book is sitting on my nightstand. I also want to read more from Louise Penny’s series.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. And I shudder as I think of ginger in lots of things, lol.


  2. Nice costumes. I’m sure the kids were excited to be able to go out trick-or-treating. You read a nice assortment of books in October too. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  3. Sauerkraut sounds interesting. I haven’t that in a while…

    “A cozy blanket of murder, but a CANADIAN cozy blanket of murder ” Honestly? These sound really good.

    I need to get the Echo Wife, have heard great things. and don’t laugh but Abbott and Costello meet frankenstein is one my favorite movies. silly fun. 🙂


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About Melinda