Sunday Lowdown #81


This week has been full of struggles. Mainly, it’s the struggles of people I care for — coworkers, my family, my community. I’m starting to feel very side-eye Chloe at this weekend:

Okay, WTF, coronavirus.

So, I’m kinda digging here to feel grateful. A dude almost crashed into me on Thursday, but at the next red light stopped right next to me so he could do an apology wave. I’ve received both an air hug and air high-five from patrons at work this week. Because I’m kinda miserable, not fully miserable, you know, more like 2% cheese miserable, this four-pane comic made me laugh.

Friday night, though, was the feather in the cap: I video chatted with Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and got to see her baby belly, talk about Mercedes Lackey books, learn about Jewish holidays, and give her the lowdown on the University of Notre Dame situation here. After that, I made popcorn and Kitty and I watched The Exorcist, which, wow, is still one of the most horrifying movies I’ve ever seen, and it’s 1973 special effects really hold up!

So . . .

. . . because I didn’t feel a ton of gratitude this week, I decided to create my own happiness after teasing Bill @ The Australian Legend about forcing everyone to do a painfully joyful read along. I claimed all of my book blog friends are reading seriously gloomy books right now, me included, and we need to do something lighter.

Recently, Gil @ Gill Reads Books shared her TBR, which included, Paradise Cove by Jenny Holiday. A doctor heads to a small town and runs into the local hermit, who apparently is described as a “beefy sea god.” The doctor sounds like a do-gooder, wearing sensible shoes and giving vaccines. But the clash is sure to be fun.

So, I’m asking you to join me in a read along of Paradise Cove. We’re going to be silly. We’re going to roll our eyes. We’re going to smile. Anyone can join in, blog or no blog. On September 6th, my entire “Pandemic Gratitude” section of my Sunday Lowdown will be dedicated to Paradise Cove and my reactions (not a review), and I’ll hope you’ll leave your reactions in the comments. WE ARE DOING THIS, PEOPLE. WE ARE GOING TO FIGHT THE PANDEMIC WITH A BEEFY SEA GOD.


Both books were dark, depressing, and pretty much “everyone’s gonna die” in theme (see — happy read along required). In Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler we learn that she envisioned the future as a place with no public schools, mega corrupt police whom you have to pay, thieves, murderers, rapists, arsonists high on drugs, poverty, dead bodies in the streets getting eaten by feral dogs.

The follow-up novel, Parable of the Talents, gets even darker when a Christian fanatic becomes president of the United States and separates children from non-Christian parents, which I didn’t connect with the separation of Native parents from their children (thanks to Karissa for reminding me!). Slavery, sexual assault, hypocrisy, poverty, arson, murder. Happy read along = necessary. I’m also starting to feel like I need Hannah @ Books & Bakes to chef up some comfort desserts.


A silly photo shoot with comedian Nicole Byer, of Netflix’s Nailed It! fame, takes on fatphobia in her new book, VERYFAT #VERYBRAVE: The Fat Girl’s Guide to Being #Brave and Not a Dejected, Melancholy, Down-in-the-Dumps Weeping Fat Girl in a Bikini. Yes, there are some essays in there that sound so Byer, and I’m happy to review her writing and the photo collection. Coming Tuesday!

And then I kick off my reviews of the Winternight trilogy by Katherine Arden. On Thursday I’ll share my thoughts on her first book, The Bear and The Nightingale, which I know many bloggers read when it first came out. I’ll continue through all three books, but just one at a time so my review doesn’t become homework-length.


Thanks to Gil for bringing Paradise Cove to my attention and Michele Feltman Strider for making Homeless free on Kindle.


  1. I think my next read is going to be a Canadian humour novel called Molly of the Mall and I’m hoping it will be a bit more fun than some of what I’ve been reading lately! Though actually, this week Peter and I got away for two (kid-free!) nights to celebrate our tenth anniversary. So I’m probably the most relaxed I’ve yet been in 2020!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on The Bear and the Nightingale. It’s a Kindle 99p deal in the UK at the moment so I have my eye on it!


  3. I’ve been interspersing light reads with more serious ones and, as I shared in my post on Friday about my new books, when I buy a serious BLM book list themed book I try to buy a lighter one, but still written by a POC. I have quite a few good light ones to read and want to chip away at the TBR so won’t be joining you as I see that is book 2 in a series and I’m congenitally unable to read book 2 without reading book 1 first!


  4. I’ve been looking for some light books as well – the book I’ve just been listening to is non-fiction about the lives of the five women murdered by Jack the Ripper, and while it’s interesting and important, I do *not* know why I chose to listen to it during a pandemic. I’ll see if my library has Paradise Cove, which sounds much more suited to the situation!


  5. Oh man, if I had easier access to that book I’d totally read along. It is an estimated 6 month wait for Paradise Cove, but the first book in the series, Mermaid Inn is available! I’ll try to get one read by the date. It’s better than nothing. 🙂 I, too, have been trying to find ways to lighten my COVID-times. It seems like everyone is suddenly struggling a LOT again. It feels like late March for me and many of my friends. No good. Jaclyn and I had a long chat today about finding small-V value things to do and look forward to as we head into Fall. We both fear being trapped inside and not being able to socialize come Wisconsin Winter…

    Definitely looking forward to both your reviews next week! I hope you’re including some of the photos from Byer’s book… I desperately want to see some.


    • Oh, yes! Doy, I now get what you’re saying. Totally read the first book and join in! That would be great ❤

      In an article about Notre Dame, a graduate who became a mental health specialist said that classes in person is important, and that ND students can still do activities that are tradition at the school and outside, such as pumpkin painting and [insert other outdoor activities they do yearly that I've forgotten]. I think we can do loads of things, but we can't do the things we used to do. For some people, that's really hard. They are in a comfy place and maybe don't know how to image doing something else. I applaud you brainstorming with Jaclyn. Is your farm doing pumpkins? If so, you could do the pick-you-own pumpkin or even pumpkin panting or carving with friends!

      Come winter, surely you and Jaclyn can build a snowman or get together and watch Hallmark Christmas movies and drink cocoa. That sort of thing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We want to start a tradition of planting a big pumpkin patch, inviting people over, and having a Fall celebration with a pumpkin carving contest, apple bobbing, and apple cider donuts. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective?), our pumpkins didn’t germinate well in the greenhouse so we only had a handful. Not enough for a celebration this year. And, with me being pregnant, I don’t know how comfortable I am with hosting something like that. Perhaps we’ll do something small? A bonfire with BYO-dinner and drinks?

        I have yet to socialize with people indoors sine COVID started. I think that’s the real place the rubber meets the road. Do we want to compromise on that? Is it okay to hang out indoors with others? What does that look like? Do we require masks? Does this mean no food? etc. etc. etc. Because we typically get our first snow before Halloween…


        • Yeah, it’s probably a good thing that you didn’t plant something that turned into a hassle when you will be hugely pregnant (yay!). The indoors thing, Nick and I are still not doing. We haven’t even seen my family in person since March because to visit we would all be indoors for the majority of it, and are we going to sit there with masks on for a whole weekend? What about sharing meals, bathrooms, etc.? It’s just too much right now. So, no, Nick and I are not doing indoor things. I love your social events outdoors, and I have to say, I’m getting used to doing video parties. My nephew’s 3rd birthday was is tomorrow, but we had a video party Sunday. Basically, my mom sets up her laptop so we can see everyone, and it’s sort of like Nick and I are people. If someone wants to come over and talk to us, they can. We can hear everyone in general and watch them run around and visit. It was nice; I felt warmly.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Hey! I’m back from my vacay, I know I missed some of your review so i’m sorry about that! I’m excited about your Paradise Cove readalong. My reading schedule is too packed at the moment to add it, but I am always here for any beefy sea god mentions


  7. I’m so glad you’re okay and that the dude didn’t hit you!! Paradise Cove sounds amazing and I’m so in! A light-hearted beefy sea-god beach read sounds pretty perfect right now. Also, I didn’t realize Nicole Byer had a book out! I love her in Nailed It! and her podcast Why Won’t You Date Me! Looking forward to your review.

    Btw – I did do a bit more baking this month! Maybe we can video chat again and I can share some google photos with you? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Sorry to hear you’ve had a bit of a rough week; on the other hand, the Paradise Cove group read sounds like a fun response to it! My reading has been all over the place this week and I’m getting to this late so I don’t know if I’ll be able to read in time, but it sounds like a fun book and I’ll look forward to that post- perhaps I’ll be able to read the book a little later, if the beefy sea god lives up to expectations for everyone! I’m also looking forward to your Winternight reviews, I’ve long been meaning to read those books. I hope you’re having a better week!


    • I’m doing much better this week. My mom and I talked about how we frequently have to reset, remembering that we can only control ourselves. The moment we start trying to fix anyone else, all Hell breaks loose. Paradise Cove came in at the library, and I see it’s the size of a mass market paperback. I’m hoping to read most of it in a lazy afternoon this weekend so I’m ready for next weekend’s chat.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s great to hear, on all counts! It definitely helps to remember we’re all only one person and do best when we focus only on what we can handle. And when the world gets overwhelming, what better way to cope than with a lazy day of beefy sea god reading?? Enjoy! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Yay for beefy sea god! I was pretty swamped last week but I spent the entire weekend getting my schedule under control, so I have time for reading again. (Google calendar is a godsend—I just discovered that you can create separate calendars, so now I can see all my project deadlines at a glance! Amazing.) I’m very much looking forward to Paradise Cove.


    • I love doing the separate calendars. For a while, I had one that just listed all the free work out times available in my community. You can easily hide those calendars if you don’t need them, too. Paradise Cove was so great, and I read it over two days. I hope you get a chance to read it before this weekend.


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