Sunday Lowdown #100

weekly highlights

This section used to be titled “pandemic gratitude,” but my tendency is to want to talk about weekly highlights, which sometimes don’t sound grateful. Plus, this pandemic has to come to an end. As Lou @ Lou Lou Reads says, “I’m personally looking forward to enough people having been vaccinated for hugs to be legal again.” Right there with you, sister. However, you lovely readers seem to enjoy hearing a bit of non-bookishness about me, so I’m keeping this section that’s about my life.

Nick and I had a four-day weekend thanks to the new year. We’re not big “Happy New Year!” people, oftentimes missing the stroke of midnight. Plus, freezing rain and then snow kept us holed up much of the weekend:

Photo from out my back door.

For those of you who have never romped in the snow or have summer during Christmas, this is the perfect snowman/snow ball fight kind of snow. It’s just wet enough that it packs well. When it’s really, really freezing outside, snow doesn’t stick and is more like instant potato flakes. Indoors, we’ve been working through one of my Christmas presents: the complete Tales from the Crypt TV series. I used to love this show when I was younger, and it holds up!


I compiled a sum-up of my 2020 reading and a few goals for 2021 — nothing truly overwhelming, though I do wonder how many physical books I own that I will be able to get through. That went off the rails in 2020 due to reading along with others. Worth it, but I have this rule: the large plastic tote in my closet is where I keep my physical TBR, and the lid must clasp on. I’m pushing that.

Mira Grant’s mermaid books, the novella Rolling in the Deep and the novel Into the Drowning Deep, were the last reviews of 2020. If you like horror and science fiction mixed, this the perfect duo for you. Just be aware that the novella isn’t crafted as well, but sets you up for the novel.


For the first review in 2021: Moose: A Memoir of Fat Camp by Stephanie Klein. It’s not what I thought it would be, but Klein is straight-up about that in her introduction. Thought it was a tough read, the honesty and humor elevated it above drudgery to empathy.

On Thursday I’ll share the announcement posts for #ReadingValdemar 2021. It’s the third and last year of this reading challenge, and I’m thankful I’ve had Jackie @ Death by Tsundoku partner up with me. Also, thanks to Nick for creating the graphics for this read-along. I can’t wait to share what he created for 2021. If you haven’t been following along with #ReadingValdemar, rest assured that you can jump in now.


Thanks to Emily @ Literary Elephant for bringing Murphy’s newest novel to my attention and to Sue @ Whispering Gums for her recommendation!


  1. Thanks for the link Melanie. Interesting cover for your US edition.

    Love the graphic under your rule about your TBR tote. that made me laugh. (I wish my TBR fit in one plastic box not multiple shelves!)

    We are doing a bit of hugging here in my territory with no COVID but it’s interesting to see who is comfortable and who is not. Canberra has not had any community transmission I believe – all our 100 or so were international travel related- so not hugging seems a bit unnecessary. However, we still have social distancing rules in public venues, mandatory check in in public venues etc, because it could all change in a moment. And I would definitely not hug then!

    Liked by 1 person

    • After realizing just how dusty physical books can get, and how they start breaking down over time, and how much space they take up, I started really getting into a combo of e-books, which I love because I can highlight and add notes, and library books, which I believe in more than independent bookstores because the library is a public resource.

      It’s just so wild to hear about how different things are in other countries, especially when I hear how Australia is doing (though Bill never fails to mention that there are thousands of Australians stuck away from their homes due to the lock down). I haven’t seen my family in over 9 months.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you had perfect snow. All I know about snow I get from Calvin and Hobbes. Have you built a snowman? How’s the feral cat getting on? Good luck with the Weekend, which wasn’t my cup of tea. I’ll be interested if you and the other half of your reading group, being of different generations, come to different conclusions.


    • I didn’t build a snowman this weekend because the snow is doing this annoying trick of existing and then melting, freezing then snowing, etc. I’d have to run out there, make a snow man super fast, then watch it melt all evening.

      The feral cats always do well in the winter. You see their little feetie prints all over the snow, and they are still laying around. I haven’t seen Agent Orange in a few days; he’s probably staked out at the new lady’s bird feeder behind our place.

      We’ll be reading The Weekend in a couple of weeks. I’m exciting to get to it because in my head this is the second Bill vs. Sue book I’ll be reading 😂


  3. I’ve had Moose on my TBR for years, I’ll be interested in your opinion.
    We don’t get snow at Christmas, usually it’s blazing hot but it’s been raining for about 3 weeks now, I’d prefer the snow I think.

    Wishing you a great reading week


  4. LOVE Tales From the Crypt! That was an excellent present.
    At least the snow looks beautiful. That’s what I’m telling myself as it’s snowing here too. :3
    (To be honest though, I’d rather just have snow than this freezing rain crap we’ve had for the last week.)


  5. That snow looks beautiful! We have to visit the mountains to see snow right now and it’s lovely but not the snowball/build a snowman type. Good for snow angels!

    I am steadily making a list of things I want to do once the vaccine is distributed widely enough and hugging friends is right up there!


      • Hahaha! It’s so weird and taboo now! Do you feel like you need to immediately wash your hands? In the summer, we were at the beach and were introduced to a friend of a friend (who happened to be there too) and I watched in horror as Peter SHOOK HIS HAND! He told me afterward that it was so instinctual he didn’t think about what he was doing until it was too late.


        • I do sanitize right afterward just as a safety precaution, but in the moment, to be honest, it feels nice. I noticed last summer that it was important for Nick and me to sit RIGHT next to each other way more often than we did before COVID, and I couldn’t figure out why. Was I being needy and weird? Then it hit me that I’m literally not touching anyone else. I remember in high school psychology reading about a study in which they discovered that babies that are not held can die. I have no source to cite (this was 20 years ago) and have to wonder who let babies die, but it something I’ve kept in mind.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I have heard about this study…though I don’t remember it going as far as death. Being “touched out” is also a thing for some parents of young kids, especially nursing moms, because little kids rely so much on touch that they are constantly reaching for and holding on to you. I have wondered a few times this year how quickly we’ll all adjust to being in crowds again and casually touching strangers. But I think you’re right that it’s such a primal need.


            • I went to a writer’s retreat at which I met a nice woman who had four children. I friended her on Facebook. I learned later that she had a breakdown and was institutionalized because she felt like her children were crawling on her (there were also twins she had breastfed in recent years).

              Liked by 1 person

              • That’s heartbreaking. I hope she was able to get help. Every twin mom I know has had to switch to formula at some point, whether it’s due to supply or simply that they couldn’t handle how non-stop nursing two was. A friend of mine co-nursed two of her kids (not twins but close in age) and had to stop because she would get so angry every time she had to nurse.


                • Although I’m not a mom, I can really, really imagine. I have incredibly sensitive skin, so even if my husband nicely rubs my hand while we’re holding hands, I almost just lose it. Now to have that feeling about something related to motherhood, children, and breasts has to be about 100x stronger.

                  Liked by 1 person

                  • It’s something no one really warns you about either. At least, I was not prepared for the fact that sometimes what I really needed was to be in a room by myself where no one could touch me!

                    Liked by 1 person

  6. We had a lovely Christmas Eve/Christmas Day snow here in TN, which is pretty rare. My son loved it! I enjoyed being cozy with just the three of us inside on Christmas Day. (We did visit with my in-laws and bro-in-law for lunch on Christmas Eve before it started snowing. They’re in our bubble. – actually the ARE our bubble – everyone else we see outside.)

    Liked by 1 person

  7. OMG Tales from the Crypt! I don’t think I was ever allowed to watch that show when I was a kid, plus we lived in the country and only got about 5 channels so it was never on where I could watch it. Sigh, I feel like I’m missing out, and I love that you are revisiting this as an adult.

    We got a big dump of snow here in Calgary a few days before Xmas too, it was lovely 🙂


  8. I have never been much of a hugger, but as soon as they’re legal again I just might start, lol. I always enjoy the section of your weekly post where you give life updates, so I’m glad you’ll keep that. And wow, that’s some impressive snow!!


  9. Lovely snow picture! We’ve had some light snow here (unusually – it tends to be either November or February/early March if we get it at all), but it didn’t really lay as it wasn’t heavy enough. It’s colder than usual for the time of year, though, so I’m hoping for a proper cold snap as snow and cold, bright days are my two favourite types of weather.


  10. We’re due for some more snow like that on this coming Sunday (two days); right now, we’re caught in that ugly and depressing too-cold-to-be-anything-but-gloomy-and-moist stage, hovering around zero. (I LOVE snow. But I do worry about those who don’t have access to the kind of shelter I have.) So if you have to shut the lid on your tote, are you going to prioritize the biggest and bulkiest books first so that you can just flip the latches and sink into readalongs for the rest of the year again? 🙂


    • Ha! No, I didn’t choose the biggest books, but that would have been a good strategy! No, I chose the books that I’ve owned the longest. Biscuit also agreed that we could read books I own for our book club, so she’s a trooper.


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