Sunday Lowdown #114


The biggest news is that Nick and I got our first (Pfizer) vaccine on Wednesday. Instead of signing up with a pharmacy, we chose a streamlined medical center, so it was in and out and done. This is not to say there is anything wrong with your local pharmacy (hi, Cupcakes & Machetes!) but the ones around me are oftentimes in sketchy grocery stores.

Biscuit was already counting down the weeks until Nick and I and she and my dad are all fully vaccinated so they can visit, so I started making a list of things we could safely do together while they are here. You won’t be surprised to know her hotel is already booked. It’s been since March 6, 2020.

Speaking of Cupcakes & Machetes, we’ve introduced ourselves via email and are chatting back and forth. Since we’re only about three hours apart, we’re thinking of meeting half way at a brewery that has an outdoor seating area once all four of us (her, me, the spouses) are fully vaccinated.

Nick and I started a new book that I read aloud to him. The Shootist (1975) by Glendon Swarthout was recommended to me after I finished True Grit (1968) by Charles Portis. Both books were made into films that starred John Wayne. At one point, I got to a new character in The Shootist and realized I couldn’t say what he said, because there were so many apostrophes for dropped letters, without really getting into it (try reading something a pirate says without doing “a voice” and you’ll know what I mean). Nick laughed at me when I said, “Oh, boy! I guess I’m doing a voice!”


It’s not often that I have two reviews of books by the same author within a month, but I’m glad I did because I enjoyed I Almost Forgot About You by Terry McMillan so much more than her newest novel (It Not All Downhill from Here). Thus, readers could see how the author is hit and miss and find the right book for them.

I’m always pleased to have a classic novel appear on Grab the Lapels, and The Street by Ann Petry would be a great choice for the folks in the Classics Club. Petry’s writing is smooth and strong, and her characterization is consistent in a reliable way. That ending is intense, too!


After Roshni (a former book blogger) and I finished The Street we decided to check out The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah and compare what “street life” even means. Graphic, unflinching, and even educational, Souljah’s novel deserves the accolades for demonstrating what hip hop fiction/urban fiction can do. Review Thursday.

And since I seem incapable of reading alone these days, you won’t be surprised to know that I read Lab Girl by Hope Jahren with Biscuit and Lou @ Lou Lou Reads. We had a delightful video chat, and I’m always interested when Lou shares her medical knowledge and applies to books, such as when Jahren describes filling IV bags, something that Lou skipped over on her re-read because it’s too cringe-worthy. Review of this nonfiction work on Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 227

Thanks to Anne @ I’ve Read This for her recommendation! Other than Anne’s selection, The StoryGraph has ruined by TBR in the best way possible.


    • It’s also nervy to meet up with people because we haven’t done so in so long — more than a year! I’m trying to baby step it.

      I will say my new books DO look interesting! I can’t believe The StoryGraph has delivered so wonderfully.


  1. Haha, hello! I don’t blame you for not wanting to go to a grocery store pharmacy as that’s where everyone is congregating on the regular. As you probably know, being a Michigan native, they did a large vaccination event at Ford Field. While it’s great getting so many people vaccinated quickly, MAN, I would be crazy nervous of being around that many people right now. But getting the vaccine is important no matter how you get it!
    I look forward to your Lab Girl review. That was a DNF for me. I thought the author too dry and bland despite writing about an interesting topic.


  2. I be truly in awe of how ye manage to connect with bloggers in real life via video and in person. I kinda wish I could but video chatting makes me anxious and y’all live too far away to meet in person!
    x The Captain


    • I think you’ll find that all book bloggers are just a titch weird. Some are talkative, some take a few beats to think about what they want to say, some are shy and so I know I’m carrying the conversation but it’s worth it. I think you’ll find if you do video chat with someone that they will be just as kind there as they are on video. The biggest difference to me is some folks who write eloquent reviews take much longer in real life to put together their sentences because they’re careful thinkers, careful with their words. That’s okay!


  3. Chickens, Mules looks good as we’re thinking seriously about buying a property in Spain! And I look forward to your upcoming reviews. Mr Liz saw his parents this last weekend, they have had both vaccinations and we have had our first (plus we isolated ourselves totally before he went).


    • The Chickens, Mules book is actually the first in a series, and I’m glad to see my library has them in audio. They’ll be up next after I finish The Thursday Murder Club, which is one I think all you folks in the U.K. would enjoy, if you haven’t read it already.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh pretty well everybody here around me has read Thursday Murder Club. I didn’t want to pay full price for the hardback so I’m waiting for it to inevitably appear in all the charity shops as soon as they’ve sorted out their donations (they reopened yesterday) and will grab a copy then for a readalong with my husband.


        • I got the audio from the library and am enjoying the reader. Any book set in another country that has a reader from the same place benefits me and puts me in the setting more. The only problem is I’m near the end and losing track of how they are solving the crimes. Still, there’s two hours left. This is a common issue with me and mysteries.


    • Based on what you’ve written on your blog, I’m surprised to hear that Canada isn’t getting the vaccines as fast as the U.S. is. You guys are so organized. Then again, you don’t have raging hot spots that I’ve heard of, either.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s a little bit organization but a lot of it is simply due to lack of supply. Because we don’t manufacture any of the vaccines we’re reliant on supply from other countries. We were quite affected when Pfizer moved their manufacturing earlier this year and it’s only been in recent weeks that we’ve really stepped up the vaccination rate. They’ve prioritized some hot spots but it’s mostly been according to age. Peter’s job was supposed to qualify him for his shot this month but then they pulled approval for AstraZeneca for those under age 55. And they aren’t even doing 2nd shots in my province yet – they’ve extended the gap between the doses to 4 months. It’s all kind of a mess.


        • Good gravy, that does sound like a mess and makes me sad….and surprised. I’m always surprised when the U.S. is able to be organized about something. There are so many small-minded, egotistical people making a lot of noise in Washington that sometimes that’s all I can hear. Perhaps I should be a bit kinder to my people.

          Liked by 1 person

          • The US definitely is doing better at vaccine rollout right now. My province’s premier recently came under fire for telling people age 20-39 that they need to “do better”. But very few of us are vaccinated yet or know when we will be and in the meantime we are largely the ones working public jobs and/or with young children in school and none of those areas are being prioritized for vaccinations. It’s been very frustrating.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. To be honest I’m a little afraid of looking for recommendations on Storygraph because everyone talks about how great that site is at matching you up with books you might actually be interested in (something Goodreads could use lessons at) and my TBR is already kind of insane. Someday I will not be able to resist any longer though, haha. I get major fomo.

    And again, yay for your vaccines! 🙂 It’s so nice to hear about you and Nick making plans with family and friends for after you’re vaccinated. What a nice dose of normality that is to hear.


    • I also do this thing where I go through and delete any book I added to my TBR that I do not own that I haven’t decided to read in the 3 years since I added it. Otherwise, that pile gets out of control and I start to forget why I added certain books.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I do try to comb through a few times a year and delete books I’m no longer interested in or can’t remember why I added, but (dauntingly) there are too many titles I’m still too curious about to let go of, even in cases where I don’t know how on earth I’m going to get ahold of the book. But I’m definitely guilty of using my GR TBR as a way of keeping books on my radar, even beyond what I have any intention of reading any time soon, so my high ‘want to read’ count is definitely my own fault, for the way I use that feature! Culling the list more ruthlessly actually seems like a very healthy habit.

        Liked by 1 person

      • OH, and just in case, I found you on Storygraph this afternoon and followed, but I think on SG you can’t see your followers to follow back so just in case you want it, my username is literaryelephant over there!


        • Another blogger pointed out that we don’t know who follows us because the creator wanted to take away the competitive aspect of Goodreads. Think about how people who get the most likes on a review, even if that “review” is just them writing that they’re excited the book will be published in 6 months, always appear at the top and are ranked. I’m looking you up now.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. So far Australia has resisted the grocery companies’ efforts to take over pharmacies. And anyway our government has botched the vaccine rollout so what little vaccine we have is being administered by doctors. Luckily, the individual states imposed strict controls and so we have no Covid here except incoming travellers – who go straight into quarantine. You know I had a couple of big family parties in March, but even so, because of restrictions on interstate travel, not everyone could attend.

    I’m afraid I switch off when John Wayne is mentioned, even though he was in the film version of Shane which is an interesting, and anti-gun, novel.


    • John Wayne was definitely a big blowhard, but I mentioned him because he was in two famous Western movies made from books that came out around the same time. I tend to like the books more than the movie. Plus, True Grit was remade with Jeff Bridges and has a better version of Maddie.

      There’s no way the U.S. could have the vaccine for free if you had to see a doctor first. There would be the cost of the appointment, plus a lot of people don’t even have a doctor. In fact, my co-worker, who is a full-time librarian, told me she has never had a regular doctor and heads to ready care (like a light version of the emergency room) when she needs something.


  6. Hooray for the vaccines and visits!

    I’m curious about StoryGraph but I’m hesitant because I feel like I already devote too much of my time to looking at various things on screens! And despite the clunkiness of Goodreads I find it useful for what I need – a virtual place to catalog my reading. I don’t care about recommendations because I’m already full up on those, ha ha!


  7. Wow. That TBR list… My TBR on Goodreads is over 1200 books, but a lot of them have been recommended to me. I feel like I’d want to start over completely with The Storygraph, you know? I’m TERRIBLE at culling books just like I’m terrible at purging, sorting, and decluttering. Yeah. Yikes.

    It sounds like you’ve been buddy reading up a storm! Text me when you start Redoubt and I’ll make certain we’re more closely chatting this time. I’ve gotten out of that habit with my buddy reads and I definitely want to resume connecting with you while we read. ❤


    • Those are just the books I own. I have others that are available in the library. Part of the reason I started deleting all books off my Goodreads/StoryGraph that are more than three years old is chances are they’ve already been culled from the library. If I haven’t read them in that amount of time, when will I?

      The StoryGraph is so great, and I’m loving it. It does take some getting used to that it’s not social at all. Even if someone follows you, you don’t know that. However, they can see what you’re reading in case you have similar reading tastes and they’re looking for reviews or recommendations they can trust. The creator of the site removed anything that can be construed as competition (likes, follows) like Goodreads has.

      I’d love to text more about Redoubt, or we could do a video chat (baby can come if she wants!) if you’re up to it. I know you get worn out on the video calls at work. I’m going to start Redoubt on Monday, April 19th.


  8. Woo! Congrats on getting that first dose of the vaccine! 😀 It feels like such a huge relief, doesn’t it? Most of my loved ones have finally been able to get at least their first doses now (some, even their second doses!) and it just feels like such a weight being lifted every time. I know we’re a long way from being out of the woods yet, but at least we’re all moving in the right direction. 🙂


    • My library is planning to reopen as normal June 2nd because by then anyone who wanted a vaccine in Indiana should be fully vaccinated. I gotta say, it’s like crate training a dog. We’ve all learned to love and trust our crate, but now the owner is leaving the crate door open and telling us to come out.

      Liked by 1 person

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