Sunday Lowdown #142


I’d like to start with an apology to all Australians. On behalf of regular Americans: we do not agree with the people who think you are locked down under tyrannical rule and that we should invade your country to rescue you. Okiedokie.

This week was unusual as Monday – Wednesday was fall break at my college, so after Nick and I left Biscuit’s house, we headed to a cabin in the woods for some camping. The first night, the heater did not work at all and I wondered if we would die there. Things got better. We lit things on fire. We tromped around in nature. We watched a horror movie outside on the picnic table with a laptop and blue tooth speaker. Also, we stopped briefly at a nearby brewery that had a waitress who did not understand what a flight of beer is.

Thursday and Friday it was back to school, and on Saturday I attended a professional development workshop at which we discussed ASL grammar and interpreting ethics. I thought ethics would be easier thanks to my life experience and background working in fields that require confidentiality, but there was more to think about than I had considered. For instance, imagine you are a public school teacher who knows ASL. A new hearing student arrives at the school whose parents are both deaf. You tell your supervisor you’re also a trained interpreter, but they say keep your mouth shut on that, the budget is tight. What do you do?


I had not realized that The Woman in Black by Susan Hill was turned into a play that many of you have seen (or avoided seeing!), especially my U.K. friends. On Friday I watched the film starring Daniel Radcliffe, and although I remembered being terrified of it in theater, this time I wasn’t so much. Back when the movie came out in 2012, we were finally leaving the “torture porn” genre and moving into haunted house/demon movies, which I appreciated. The director relies heavily on jump scares, which are intensified in a cinema surround-sound experience. At home, I was more focused on tropes, like the bird that flaps loudly and scares you, the woman in the window in the empty house that scares you, some faulty plumbing that scares you, etc., so I was left wanting more in our current era of smarter horror.

Although no one else has read The Country of Ice Cream Star by Sandra Newman, it does seem there is interest in it. The plot synopsis likely would catch the attention of those who enjoyed Station Eleven, and if you relish made up languages (Lord of the Rings, anyone?) then you’re a good candidate for Newman’s ambitious, inventive novel.


I got on my Libby app, which is what libraries across the globe use for digital books, to find my next audiobook. Currently, they have ten works by Canadian authors as part of something called the Bespeak Audio Editions. The books are free to libraries, and any number of people can have them checked out at the same time (typically, Libby’s borrowing works like a physical book: one person at a time). I picked Little Fish by Casey Plett, a transwoman who writes about the lives of trans characters. Review Tuesday.

It’s time for #ReadingValdemar in October! Eye Spy by Mercedes Lackey is the second book about Herald Mags’s children. The first novel, The Hills Have Spies, did not disappoint thanks to Lackey using more of her past world building as fodder for new plot and character. Review Thursday.


Owned Books on TBR at Beginning of Year: 242
Owned Books on TBR Today: 206

Thanks to Cupcakes & Machetes for sending me a spooky care package that included two new books!


  1. Thanks for the apology, trust me we have plenty of freedom. USA might be a nice place to visit (though not now) but I sure wouldn’t want to live there.
    Watching horror in a cabin in the woods? Hard pass on that!

    Wishing you a great reading week


  2. Ugh. America. Just shut up already.
    I don’t work at a brewery, I don’t even drink beer and I know what a beer flight is……. I don’t understand. Margarita flights are even a thing now. I highly approve of those. 🙂
    Can’t wait to see what you think of the books whenever you get around to them!


  3. I don’t know what a beer flight is! However, I’m in the UK, am not acquainted with beer culture and don’t really drink now, so I’m not particularly surprised by that!


    • A flight is usually 6 or 7 tiny beers, each about 3-6 ounce in these small little glasses that get nestled into a board that has holes for those glasses, making it easier for the waitress to pick up. This lady did a tiny splash in each cup and charged us $2 for the whole thing. It’s usually $2 per small glass.


    • Ack! Tessa, we have to be friends for a long time so I can pick your brain about ethics in the future. And also because you write great book reviews that make me keep picking up library books instead of my personal TBR!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha, love the apology. We watch some American TV – including Stephen Colbert – and saw some of this live. What an absolute hoot. Of course there are Australians who disagree with the approach we’ve taken, but overall Australians support our handling. I write weekly to my Californian friend, and COVID is a major topic of conversation. We’ve been writing weekly since early 1994, but now I wonder what we’ll talk about after all this. Haha.

    Shelleyrae might think watching horror in the woods is cool, but you can have it.

    Haha re beer flights. I don’t like beer, and much prefer a couple of full glasses of wine to lots of tiddly bits, but Mr Gums and I have gone to a restaurant in Melbourne called Milk the Cow that does Cheese and Wine Flights.

    I love ethical discussions like that. I had a little period at work, where I’d pose ethical questions to my team. It was one of the best things I did in team meetings I think. Anyhow, how did the discussion go?


    • The instructor talked about how there are a few moving parts, of course. 1) The Deaf parents did not ask for an interpreter, and that’s even assuming they know sign language. 2) It is not the job of faculty to tell every parent of their legal rights. They are a teacher, not an advocate. And 3) The teacher’s loyalty needs to be with the school unless they are willing to quit and become an advocate. Then you fight like crazy.


      • That’s really interesting, and a good starting point BUT No. 3, for example, I’d say the teacher’s loyalty should be the students and what’s best for them, and that No. 2, teachers, like nurses ARE advocates for their students/patients. No. 2 also smacks of all those excuses of “I was just doing my job” when people let egregious things happen. BUT easy for me to say all this as an intellectual exercise!


          • Yes, but I see the parents are critical to the student’s success. To be loyal to the student you have to engage with the parents. And you could argue, in your ethical discussion!, probably even more so when your student has the extra challenge of parents who are “different”.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. I missed this…are there people who want America to…free Australia?? Australia seems like they’re doing ok on their own. Kind of reminds me of hearing Americans complain about same-sex marriage or universal healthcare and then say they’ll move to Canada to escape those things!


    • Australia has COVID protocols and lock downs that are saving their citizens, but wild Republics think that’s tyranny and want to invade in order to save the Australians so they can run around and make each other sick and die, just like we have the freedom to do in the U.S.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ah, I see…Somehow I think this is one of America’s most crazy and most charming attributes, thinking that the rest of the world wants America to rescue them!


        • It’s such a small number of people who stir the pot like this, and it gets loads of attention, which of course make the pot stirring people valuable in terms of advertising money, etc. I can’t help but think it’s just an utter ploy.

          Liked by 1 person

  6. haha how did she not know what a flight of beer is? I’m so intrigued by this. I’m also glad you didn’t die out in the woods 🙂

    I hope you like Casey Plett’s book, I actually haven’t read it myself but she’s a bit of a canlit darling, she was a book publicist who used to send me books for review and then her books won a bunch of awards so she doesn’t have to work in publishing anymore lol


      • Um you know I’m not sure about that. Maybe she’s just made enough money that she can make writing her job b/c she regularly gets book contracts from publishers? She’s certainly no millionaire though, like, I’m sure she’s not making much, just enough that she doesn’t need a second job


        • In the U.S., pretty much no writer with the exception of the Stephen King types, can just write. They always, always have a second job. Cheryl Strayed writes about how she spent so much money supporting herself while she wrote Wild that when she got paid, all she did was pay off her debts.

          Liked by 1 person

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