Let me start out by saying that this post is up a little later than usual because today was an exceptionally good football day. Both playoff games were exciting and ended up being nail-biters and, best of all, Tom Brady’s season is over! Those of you who read my blog last year around Super Bowl time, you know my feelings about him.
Other than that, this was a week where things just were sort of blah. Both Pat and I were feeling it and I decided it was just a case of the Januarys (which, if you live in the southern hemisphere, I guess would be the Julys). You know, the time when days just sort of bleed into each other without anything really pressing going on. The next thing on our calendar is Lillie’s birthday, which coincides with Super Bowl Sunday. She has decided we are going to celebrate by watching football and eating Pringles. I offered to figure out something she could do with her friends, but I think she’s more into celebrating Super Bowl…which is a holiday in our house (a holiday that involves Pringles).
Wow, I didn’t mean for this to turn into such a football-centric post but, as I said, not much is really going on here. We are being blessed with a stretch of nice weather so I’m really yearning for spring right now! I’m the sort of person who loves winter–until January 2nd. Then I want spring!
I did, however, get a good amount of reading done this week. So, 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.
Last week, I finished:
The Probable Future by Alice Hoffman
Date Finished: January 18, 2022
Rating: 4 stars
I have become quite a fan of Alice Hoffman’s but I am actually not that far into her body of work. I picked this one up at a library book sale and decided to try it without really knowing anything about it.
To cut to the chase, if you like Practical Magic books, you will like this one as it has much in common with that series. There is a family of women with unique “powers” who live in and have deep roots in a New England town. While the Sparrow women are never referred to as witches, they certainly share some qualities with the Owens women. Unlike the Practical Magic books, this one has more of a focus on the town instead of just on the women, which was a nice element. The world in this book seemed well-rounded and believable.
Of course, this book is graced with Hoffman’s trademark and breathtaking prose. Few writers can paint a picture as she can. This book also takes place in Spring, and Hoffman brings the season to the reader in a way that can warm a dreary winter day (but would also make a good mood-read in actual spring!)
I did have a few complaints about this book. A couple of the major secondary characters were a bit too cliched. There were also some plot strings that were tied up looser than I would have liked. But, overall, I quite enjoyed this one.
Red Knife (Cork O’Connor #8) by William Kent Krueger
Date Finished: January 20, 2022
Rating: 3.5 Stars
I really enjoy the Cork O’Connor series. I feel like I need to say that upfront because this was not my favorite book in the series. Is it a good thriller? Yes. Was it propulsive? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was it perfect? No.
The book starts out balancing the action between the Iron Lake reservation and the nearby town of Alouette. The fact that Krueger continues to balance these two worlds so well is a testament to his writing. There are issues of gang violence on the reservation, which was interesting. We meet a couple in crisis (for a change, not Cork and Jo), which was incredibly well done. All this is fine and good. Then, when the story should be over, it makes an unexpected swerve into new territory that I should have seen coming.
I don’t say “should have seen coming” in that I missed the signs. I say it in that there should have been more signs. Given what it was (no spoilers) it really needed to be developed more in the body of the book and better entwined with the other storylines. To top it off, this development is capped off by a weird little look ahead into one of the character’s life which I would have rather have seen develop over subsequent books.
As I said, this is a strong book. It is only against the other books in the series that the drawbacks are clear. I can’t expect every book in a series to be a home run and this series is strong enough to handle a book now and then that has some problems.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry (Audiobook, narrated by Isabel Keating)
Date Finished: January 22, 2022
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I’ve now read (read and then listened to) this twice and it is even better the second time.
I think we all remember high school and some of us, depending on our age, remember high school in 1989. It’s a tough time, no matter when you experience it, but this book is about a group of high school seniors who decide to take control of their own destinies. This uses the framework of the 1692/1693 Salem Witch trials and does so in a way that I think Quan Barry understands that episode in history better than any historian. Perhaps some things never change.
My second reading of this is for a book club and, as I come up with questions for our meeting, I think it will be excellent fodder for conversation.
The Stationary Shop by Marjan Kamali
Date Finished: January 22, 2022
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Some sweet love stories are great in every way, but just don’t seem to fall into place for me. If you are looking for a bittersweet love story, you may love this one, even though I didn’t.
This book starts in 1953 Iran and goes to 2013 Massachusetts, following Roya who meets a charming young man, falls in love, is separated from him, only to be reunited with him in her 70s. I enjoyed reading about Roya’s life in Iran and this book left me salivating for some good Persian food. I also found Roya’s adjustment to life in the United States interesting and one of my few real complaints about this is that I wish there was more of that.
But here was my issue: I didn’t “ship” Roya and Bahman, as the kids say. I saw a lot of red flags in their relationship, as idealized as it was, and I honestly felt it was for the best that they were separated. Moreover, I really adored Walter, the American man Roya marries, and I won’t lie and say my nose wasn’t a little bit out of joint over the fact that Walter is sort of treated as a consolation prize.
Not every book works for every reader and there was a lot about this book to recommend it. I am glad I read it, but ultimately, I’m probably just not the right reader for it.
Last week, I started:
- The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
- In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom by Yeonmi Park and Maryanne Vollers
- Call Us What We Carry by Amanda Gorman
- The Lighthouse Witches by C.J. Cooke