Sunday Lowdown #95

PANDEMIC GRATITUDE

Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku and I had a Zoom date last Sunday. We talked the incoming baby and how we were navigating COVID-19. Since then, we’ve followed up with emails about our plans for #ReadingValdemar 2021. That will be three years of Valdemar! We’re pretty excited. All the books for 2021 are Lackey’s newer works; one came out in 2020. Because it’s a fresh set of books, I hope you’ll read our reviews.

Several years ago I visited Eatonville, Florida, home of the Zora Neale Hurston. We went to her museum and visited some unusual restaurants with a mix of cultural amazingness in their food. While I was at the museum, I signed up for the Zora newsletter, which just today alerted me that there is a book club to raise money for the town. I’ll be joining the “Gathering and Gabbing” book club meetings for Mules and Men and Moses, Man of the Mountain in 2021.

For my Canadian friends: I found this super brief article about a couple who brought home “a little, crappy half-dead plant from Maxi” that is now almost the size of a Christmas tree because it won’t die. What the owners say just makes me so happy. Please read this!

And lastly: Thanksgiving news, of course. Nick and I made from scratch: cheesy biscuits, sauteed green beans, roasted harvest vegetables with quinoa, and an apple-gingersnap crisp. The only thing we outright bought were turkey burgers, and mother of god, were they salty. Later, I watched a movie with my mom in the next state, but because of copyright protection, we had to use four different devices (2 laptops, 1 TV, and a tablet) to make this work. There were moments like, “How many stars from the Paramount Logo are on your TV? Okay, let me get the same number. Okay, I’ll count to three and we’ll both hit play!” It was great, though! We watched A Simple Plan after finishing the book together.

THIS WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

Another one in the bucket for Brona’s AusReading Month! I finished Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko and enjoyed it. There’s a lot of rage in this book, but interesting characters, too. Also, if you like a tiny touch of magical realism, stealing back what’s yours, and a wee bit of romance, this book is for you.

On Thursday I shared my introduction to Kathy Reichs’s famous Dr. Temperance Brennan “bones” series. Many of you commented that you’d read her stuff before. I jumped in with Swamp Bones first (book #16.5) because I was searching for a novella on audio and liked the synopsis. Setting the scene and delivering on the science, I enjoyed Reichs’s book.

NEXT WEEK’S BLOG POSTS

I’ve got another AusReading Month book coming at you even though it will technically be December. The newly published novel The Silence by Susan Allott appears to be a book about a woman who’s been missing from Sydney for thirty years, but covers a variety of topics: expatriation, the stolen generation, domestic violence, policing, gender norms in the 1960s, and parental loyalty. Review on Tuesday.

On Thursday I have an audiobook review: Bones on Ice, another novella by Kathy Reichs. Well, I had to see if the first novella was a fluke, right? I’m not doing a series dive, though. I also listened to the first full-length novel, Déjà Dead, and got distracted any time Dr. Brennan mentioned family, friends, and police. I just want the bones!

On Thursday, I’m sharing Australian author Jessica White’s Meet the Writer feature. Just recently, I reviewed her memoir/biography, Hearing Maud.

BOOKS ADDED TO THE TBR PILE

39 comments

  1. I’m glad you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving, you seem to have the distance aspect of your relationship with your mum pretty well sorted. Luckily, with Melbourne out of lockdown (no Covid for 30 days) I am back to visiting mine the old fashioned way.
    I’ll be home by the end of the week and I’ll try and work out for you what Bones novels I’ve read.
    Looking forward to your review of the Allott which I have not read and of Beloved which I have.

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    • I hope you get to see that new grandbaby again! What a time to be born. I looked up a map of Melbourne and saw that French Island. I wonder if they’re a bunch of happy clams, carefree and COVID free. Every zombie movie I’ve ever seen that includes “let’s find an island somewhere!” tells me that no, they also have COVID on French Island.

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      • Victoria, including French Island, is entirely Covid free. The neigbouring state of South Australia (Bingo’s home state) through which I pass to get home, however, is not, so I still have to isolate. However, I am now going to squeeze in one more quick trip before 10 Dec, isolate for 14 days and then it’s party time/grandfather time.

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  2. Happy Thanksgiving! It sounds like you had a good time. The distance-watching of films can be tricky – I’ve been using a Chrome extention called Teleparty to watch the new series of Star Trek Discovery with a friend in Scotland, and that has been working well, but it only has a chat function, not video or audio calling.

    I love that huge poinsettia and the accompanying article – very impressive. Though I would probably be pretty alarmed if I had a houseplant that grew that big – I’m struggling to contain the ones I already have!

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    • Thanks, Lou! Over the weekend, I started our book. There are a lot of characters introduced all at once in chapter 3, and I was wondering what you think about that. Usually, I hold my comments and questions for my buddy until I’m done with the book, but I was wondering what you thought about so many characters.

      What my mom and I ended up doing was calling each other on Google Hangouts, like you and I do, and then we each rented the movie and played it at the same time on a different device. It worked well because whenever we talked, it didn’t interrupt the sound on the video, which happens when we tried this thing with Zoom.

      That plant article made me SO happy, but I kept thinking you couldn’t have any pets or children; the leaves are apparently poisonous.

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  3. Oh man, I can’t imagine trying to coordinate watching a movie with someone in a different household lol. We virtually cooked Thanksgiving dinner with my sister-in-law via FaceTime which was actually pretty fun. 😛

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  4. I will go read your review of Too much lip.

    Have you not read Beloved before? It’s one of the few non-Jane Austen novels I’ve read twice. I look forward to seeing what think of it (one day).

    Love hearing abour your Thanksgiving meal. Love the sound of the crisp in particular.

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  5. Your thanksgiving dinner looks yummy! and speaking of pointsetta plants that won’t die, I have one from last winter that I’ve managed to keep alive, but it’s no longer red, the leaves just stay green and nothing red is coming up anymore. I read somewhere online that limiting the amount of daylight the pointsetta receives will help it turn red again, so I’ve put it in my basement where it only gets a bit of light….we will see if this works!

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  6. Oh goodness. I’m jelly of your Thankgiving meal. Cheesy biscuits?! That sounds amazing.

    It was so great to talk to you! I love that we typically have an agenda and then completely forget about it until the last second. XD But I’m amped for #ReadingValdemar. I was looking up these books at the library and my library has a large print copy of the Collegium Chronicles series with the STRANGEST covers. They have these odd computer-generated covers that have the soft-blur filter happening. Super strange.

    Yay! I’m excited for a new Meet the Writer. I’m glad you’ve updated your posting schedule for this week to include it. 🙂

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    • LOL! I was hoping someone would see my update! I have some readers who are always about five days behind from when I posted, so I was thinking of them. I love how there is a rhythm to blog readers. You guys are like a river in my life.

      All the Valdemar books for 2021 are fairly new, so I was hoping your library would have them!

      What did you guys do for Thanksgiving? Did I even ask??

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      • Oh, I’m totally a once-a-week-at-best blog hopper. It’s because I get sucked into all the posts I haven’t yet read. I don’t know how it started, but I cannot stop. So I’ll spend an hour on your blog reading all the posts I hadn’t read yet and commenting and suddenly I’m out of time for blog hopping that day. XD I’m glad I caught the update. ❤

        We made a gigantic meal for the two of us, hoping that we wouldn't have to cook again until Baby Skullface Mercenary comes. Well. We still have a little bit of turkey, mashed potatoes, and gravy. But we ate everything else already. XD It was mostly a chill day. We watched a lot of TV. Parade. Dog Show. 30 Rock. And ate delicious foods. Super low key.

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  7. That poinsettia is bananas. But I’m hoping the same thing will happen with my geranium plant over-winter. (I get too attached to seasonal plants. But there are worse problems to have, so I’m letting that one sit.) You must be excited about your next year of Valdemar books. I’ve had some pretty sprawling reading projects, too, and watching them unfold is part of the fun. Do you listen to podcasts or only audiobooks? I have one in my feed right now about Eatonville and thought of you, and now you’ve mentioned it again! (Maybe Throughline? Something on NPR, I bet. I’m glad Anne has already commented on here because she was just teasing me about NPR the other day and now I’m mentioning it again. It’s my news source to keep up with American stuff…I mean, other than the late-night comics!)

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    • It’s a very American thing to get together with your liberal friends and say, “So, I heard this piece on NPR the other day …..” and then you describe it. And, of course, every one of your liberal friends has already heard it.

      Eatonville is such an amazing little town. The places I visited a few years ago are not there anymore, but I’m sure interesting businesses have sprung up in their stead. I went to Mom’z Kitchen and the Gordon’s Be Back Fish House. Aren’t those names fantastic?

      I never buy poinsettias because I’m worried my cat will eat the leaves and die, but I’m big on cacti and African violets. I have a green thumb for both.

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      • It’s a bit like that here with us and the ABC (our national broadcaster.)

        BTW I assume you are aware that “liberal” is a tricky term for us here because the “Liberal” party is our conservative party. It draws from the political ideology of “liberalism” which is about individual rights, civil liberties, democracy, and free enterprise. It’s about autonomy and smaller government. By this definition your Republicans are more “liberal” I think?

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        • Oh! I did not know that. Here, “liberal” means social justice advocates and pro-choice and pro civil rights for minorities, LGBTQ, etc. In the U.S., Democrats are more liberal. Republicans are conservative. Thanks for pointing this out! I wouldn’t have thought.

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          • Yes, I know how you use it, as I’ve lived in the USA twice so am somewhat up on our linguistic differences!! I thought I’d better explain that there are different understandings of the term. In Australia, we often use small-l liberal versus Liberal. the latter refers to our conservatives, while the latter refers more to ”social” liberals, those who still value fundamentals of liberalism, particularly re markets, but who believe that that includes being inclusive of and responsible for all, rather than the traditional philosophical focus on individualism as part of the belief system, of course I’m simplifying.

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      • I don’t think there’s a corollary in Canada; Content-wise, I know the CBC is comparable, but I don’t know very many people who listen loyally. Maybe that says more about my circles than it does about CBC though. LOL The podcast series is “The Black Wall Street” (I’ve not listened to the Eatonville episode though, they’re long and I’m behind.) Poinsettias, same.;Cacti and African Violets, opposite. But maybe I’ve always bought them when they were too “young”…

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  8. Your Thanksgiving dinner looks (and sounds) great! I also had some excellent green beans (these have become a surprise favorite in adulthood despite a rocky relationship early on), and ham instead of turkey but it was also salty, so perhaps not so different in the end. I’m glad you were able to connect with your mom too and share a bit of entertainment together, even from a distance! 🙂

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    • I’m always looking for ham that hasn’t been seasoned to death. I hate when it’s salty, I hate when it’s sugary. I just want pig meat, you know?! I’m going to do a turkey for Christmas and then lots of turkey-type dinners.

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