Sunday Lowdown #79

PANDEMIC GRATITUDE

This week, I tried to maintain a list as I went along, so as not to forget anything lovely:

  • My new downstairs neighbor changed her summer wreath to a fall wreath on Tuesday, as soon as the weather got colder for a couple of days. It has pumpkins with glitter.
  • This six-year-old girl training as a bad-ass boxer with her father was on the news Tuesday and gave me goosebumps! I hope she uses her powers for good.
  • I’ve noticed a trend: whenever my husband and I sit down to have a family meeting, the cat joins us. Kitty, why you do?
  • My library book club had 11 people show up Monday to the first night of our newest read, Notes from a Young, Black Chef by Kwame Onwuachi. One new woman invited her friend who lives in Georgia to join us, and that lady was a hoot.
  • A man who came to the library said he just moved to the area and was going to get a library card. I said, “Welcome to the library! It’s the coolest place in town!” I’ve never said anything so dorky at work, but this man seemed to think I was a delight.
  • New on Netflix is a reality show called Love on the Spectrum, which I started watching. I cannot stop smiling as I watch these Aussies talk about what love means to them, and my eyes eat up their dating skills. Even their dates that don’t work out are excellent dates. I told my spouse he needs to travel back in time and teach himself dating manners, lol.
  • This 35-second video of a young man who strikes out his best friend on the opposing baseball team to win the state championship and what he did next made my whole Thursday.
  • I created the August “Beach Reads” display at my library. This morning I found out it was pretty barren, which is a good thing! Then my co-worker admitted they all were eyeballing my weird choices. I know what a beach read is, but I can’t seem to do things “normally.” I added books like Meg: Nightstalkers and Firefighter’s Doorstep Baby. (If you click the links, you’ll notice these are now checked out, lol).
  • I video chatted with Hannah @ Books and Bakes on Saturday, and to prepare I went through my “Pandemic Photo Album” on Google Photos to screen share some pics with here. I am so grateful that I started a pandemic photo album. It’s so weird to look back at everything we’ve been through. There a lot of amazing making-it-work photos in there, images you folks sent me when I asked, and memes that captured how we felt at the time.
  • I’m reading The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson to the spouse, and so far it’s going well. It’s a bit slower than I remember from when I read it circa 2005, but once Luke enters the picture, things are rather funny and sassy.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

Fat Girl Finishing School by Rachel Wiley is not quite as savvy or polished as her later collection, Nothing is Okay, but it’s definitely an excellent addition to my list of poetry books about fat women. Button Poetry press releases smart poems that are accessible to the average person, which is a good thing indeed.

Readers are all over the place about Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, so I tried to write a review that matched my reading experience more than one that directly addresses fiction criteria. For those of you on the fence about reading Mexican Gothic, I hope I’ve give you reason to start and hang in there.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

For me, good science fiction finds a beautiful balance between realistic characters, no matter their physical form, and made-up sciencey stuff in order to say something human. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers certainly delivers.

#ReadingValdemar is all about novels, but this time Oathblood gives Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and me a different treat: short stories and a novella. Sometimes I feel like I’m repeating myself when I review Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books, but this time I have some interesting, new things to say. I hope you’ll check it out.

It’s time to meet another writer: Tara Isabel Zambrano is a transplant from India who grew roots in Texas. Her new book is about to launch, so I’m giving her a warm welcome by poking her with thought-provoking questions.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

I fell down a poetry hole after reading Rachel Wiley.

39 comments

  1. I’ve always found the concept of a beach read really odd, as if I am at the beach I almost certainly want to be swimming and not reading! I do increasingly find there are books I save to read in autumn/winter, like big Victorian doorstoppers or Gothic novels. I just started Jamaica Inn but stopped after a chapter, as that is so clearly a novel for reading during an autumn thunderstorm. I don’t think there’s anything that I particularly save for summer in the same way, though.

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    • Oooooh, I love Jamaica Inn, but you’re right; it’s definitely a fall book. I also thought that “beach books” and “bathing suit bodies” were the same: if you’re reading at the beach, it’s a beach book. If you’re wearing a bathing suit, it’s a bathing suit body.

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  2. Love on the Spectrum is a delight isn’t it. There is also a series called Undateables (which you can find on Dailymotion or via VPN at ABC iview) which is similar, except the participants have a wide variety of physical and intellectual limitations.
    Haben is still on my WTR list

    Wishing you a great reading week

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    • I’m rooting SO HARD for Mark and Michael. I really connected with them. My favorite aspect of the show was how everyone had these amazing manners and often asked their date if the other person was comfortable. I feel like the majority of my dating experiences were trying to politely communicate that we weren’t going to have sex on the first date. Each date on Love on the Spectrum ended with a handshake and a “nice meeting you” or someone asking “how do you feel this date went?” and then responding that they wanted to see each other again or just be friends.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Australian seasons change on the first of the month – Spring starts 1 Sept. I gather from some book I was reading that your seasons start on the 20th, I presume at equinox and solstice, but somehow today we in southern Australia are in mid winter and you are already in Fall. (I’m sorry I haven’t got to your Mexican Gothic review yet. Maybe today when I finish unloading).

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    • I have no idea when the seasons technically start here except when the calendar says so, or the weather person mentions it. I just know it dropped about 15 degrees F and was a bit nippy, which was weird.

      No worries about Mexican Gothic. I know you’ll get there when you’re good and ready.

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  4. Your pandemic gratitude list is delightful – especially your library anecdotes! I have Notes From a Young Black Chef on my TBR, and I’ll be curious to see your thoughts on it. Also, I love the number of books you added to your TBR this week!!

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  5. I loved reading through your pandemic gratitude list! And the titles you chose as “beach reads” are completely wacky, I love it. I am not sure what a beach read actually is—I used to think it was only romances, but sometimes I see thrillers and heavier women’s fiction too. What I do notice is that fiction by men marketed as beach reads. I suppose the term is pretty flexible—as long as you’re reading it on a beach, then it counts!

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    • Thank you! I was hoping the gratitude list wasn’t too long, but I was REALLY trying to pay attention this week!

      I think beach reads oftentimes take place at a beach town, beach resort, cabin on the water — that sort of thing. It often has summer and fun and maybe a dose of romance or murder, or both. There’s typically a water element, though. I wanted to pull that idea apart: just water (shark fiction), just romance (sexy, squishy books), just a house away from it all (westerns).

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  6. It is too soon for fall! I feel like we didn’t have summer at all, probably because we’ve all been in lockdown. Oh well. I did enjoy the story about your “beach reads” display, though. I guess your coworkers didn’t have to eyeball your odd choices once they were all checked out!

    I don’t know why you’re so surprised a library patron found you delightful. I’m sure all your readers could attest to your being a delight! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I forgot about your pandemic album!! I’m so glad you kept with it- it will be amazing to look back on later! And thanks for sharing those feel good pieces. I’ll admit I teared up a little (okay a lot) at the pitcher who struck out his friend.

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    • OMG, wasn’t that just amazing? He runs right past his teammates and hugs his buddy. That is EXACTLY how A League of Their Own should have ended. Ugh. Such a perfect movie with such a petty ending.

      Yes, I have THE BEST pic of you and your kid in my pandemic album. It makes me happy. 😂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. The library IS the best place in town! 🙂 I also really like that you mix up the beach reads so they’re not all “cute summer contemporaries.” A beach read is literally… any read you take to the beach! Not all beach readers have the same taste. I remember starting Stephen King’s 1400-page The Stand on a beach, which is probably the opposite of a typical beach read, but I remember both the beach and those first 200 pages clearly (eight years later)- for me, it was a good fit. And I hope you and your spouse will enjoy your Haunting of Hill House reread!

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    • I like to do deconstructed displays. If a beach read typically has water, romance, a house in the middle of nowhere, I’ll choose a shark horror novel (water), cheesy straight-up hard-core love story (romance), and a house-on-the-prairie book (western).

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s a brilliant idea! I have a feeling I’d enjoy book displays more if they followed methods like that more often! Usually I’m tempted to skip over beach read displays/lists entirely because they tend to be a little too fluffy for my taste, but anything that includes horror will get proper attention from me. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What does a summer wreath have on it?? I did not realize that was a thing.

    I clicked to find out more about the Firefighter’s Doorstep Baby but there was no summary! Does the baby belong to the Firefighter? Does the Firefighter find the baby? Is baby a euphemism here? Now I almost want to read it to find out…

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    • Her summer wreath were all these purple and blue flowers.

      The alternative cover for Firefighter Doorstep Baby is funny. It’s got a guy who looks like he’s never worked in his life, grinning, holding a baby. The description from Google Books says, “When firefighter Cristiano Casali is injured on duty, there is only one place he can think of to recover—Monta Correnti, his home…
      Estranged from his feuding family and still wounded, Cristiano finds it difficult to start living again—until he meets pretty, warmhearted Mariella and the adorable baby she cares for, Dante….

      As Mariella helps Cristiano recuperate and reunite with his family she realizes that she wants a family, too—with Cristiano!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • Why is going back to your small town home always a thing? Why are these characters always from small towns? Whose baby is Dante? Why would Cristiano return to be with his family when he’s estranged from them? So many questions!

        I was going to say I felt underrepresented as a person who is from a large city but then I realized that I fell in love with a small-town fellow and left the big city behind and that is also a plot of a romance book!

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  10. I love the sparkly pumpkins, and for some reason the idea of people changing out their holiday decor just fills me with all the fees!!! Although I’m not quite ready for fall, I know lots of people get very excited about the season changes so I don’t blame them. Also, looking forward to your review on The Haunting of HIll House!

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    • I’m not sure I’ll review Hill House simply because there is often a lot of time that passes between when I start reading the book to my husband and when we finish, but it is odd how all three guests at the house sort of fall into this weird thing where they’re playacting, but without saying they should or will.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Um. The Library *is* the coolest place in town. And in August, that is often both literally and figuratively correct. Just sayin’. 😉

    Oooh. How did you decide what books to add to your display? And I think you get all the points for a display that was practically empty rull fast. I mean, isn’t that the success criteria here? You WANT people to check out these books! oooh, now that they are checked out, do you need to add more? Fun!

    I love that cover for Fat Girl Finishing School. Amped to read that review. ❤

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