Fostering curiosity in kids (and their parents) since 2011

More of what I’ve been reading while we #stayathome

Today marks 11 (!) weeks since we began sheltering-in-place. The local public health commissioners in Santa Clara continue to open things a bit more slowly than the state overall, and wait two weeks in-between loosening to see what effect, if any, the easing up had on COVID-19 spread. Masks are becoming a more frequent sight on the streets as well, so I’m continuing my mask training. Until I build a mask tolerance high enough to wander about in public, I’ve continued to spend most of my time tucked away at home, writing, baking, cleaning, knitting, and of course, reading.

Here are two of the books that have kept me company these past few weeks.

Dance of Thieves by Mary Pearson

Genre: Young Adult FantasyPublisher: Henry Holt & Company
Year Published: 2018Format: Hardback
Source: LibraryPGR: ☕️☕️☕️☕️

Book Summary: Dance of Thieves

“A formidable outlaw family that claims to be the first among nations.

“A son destined to lead, thrust suddenly into power.

“Three fierce young women of the Rahtan, the queen’s premier guard.

“A legendary street thief leading a mission, determined to prove herself.

“A dark secret that is a threat to the entire continent.

“When outlaw leader meets reformed thief, a cat-and-mouse game of false moves ensues, bringing them intimately together in a battle that may cost them their lives―and their hearts.”

From the book description on Goodreads

Pandemic Guest Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕️

This book turns out to be the first of a planned second trilogy set in the world of Mary E. Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles. I haven’t yet read the first trilogy set in Remnant, but that wasn’t a problem. There were plenty of references to past history, but the book itself works as a stand-alone entry point to Remnant.

So far, the characters in this series have rich emotional lives that keep me invested, while the stakes of the story itself feel delightfully heist-like. I do love a good heist story. I look forward to reading more in this series.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Genre: Adult MysteryPublisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Year Published: 2018Format: Print
Source: PurchasePGR: ☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️

Book Summary: The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle

“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” by way of Agatha Christie – the most inventive story you’ll read this year.

“Tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again.

“It is meant to be a celebration but it ends in tragedy. As fireworks explode overhead, Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed.

“But Evelyn will not die just once. Until Aiden – one of the guests summoned to Blackheath for the party – can solve her murder, the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot.

“The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. But each time the day begins again, Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest. And someone is determined to prevent him ever escaping Blackheath…”

From the book description on Goodreads

Pandemic Guest Rating: ☕️☕️☕️☕☕️️

I picked this book up on a whim on a trip to Target in the Before Times. The premise was intriguing (“Gosford Park” meets “Groundhog Day” meets Agatha Christie = a book absolutely tailored to my interests). Although I started reading it before I even left the store, I stopped reading after only a few pages. I could tell it was one of those books I would need to pay close attention to, and in the Before Times, I had places to go that were very good at distracting me.

In the end, I’m glad I saved it for quarantine, because while the book is technically a murder mystery, it’s leavened with time-travel, and spiced with a dash of Knives Out-style gamesmanship and a healthy dollop of psychological thriller.

The plotting is extremely intricate, as you might expect from that description. The main character is tossed into seven different bodies over the course of seven days, but those seven days don’t happen sequentially in the narrative.

I suspect I missed a ton of clues while I was figuring out the mechanics of the plot, and that as a result, I’d probably enjoy this book even more on a second read-through. Hence the five-coffee cup rating. This book is excellent company in a pandemic, and I will definitely be reading it again.

Reminder: My Pandemic Guest Rating Scale

☕️☕️☕️☕️☕️: Great Guest! I would absolutely read more books by this author during the pandemic. I might even reread this one.

☕️☕️☕️☕️: Good Guest. I enjoyed our time together and would look for more books from this writer, even if I don’t read this particular one again.

☕️☕️☕️: Meh. The book was fine, and I don’t regret reading it, but I may not look for more from this author right now. Maybe after the pandemic.

☕️☕️: Would Not Invite Again. The book itself was good enough to finish, but I wouldn’t read more from this author.

☕️: So Many Regrets. If I am doing this right, I’ll never use this ranking, because it basically means I forced myself to power through a book I didn’t enjoy.

As a reminder, you can see everything I’ve read so far (and its preliminary Pandemic Guest Rating), on my Read in quarantine Twitter thread or my Goodreads page.

Number of books remaining on my Currently Reading list: 42, up from 39.

I’ve been struggling with finishing things again, and am slipping back into the habit of starting more books than I can finish in a week. We started watching a classic spy movie a few weeks ago (The Spy Who Came In From the Cold), which reminded me that I’ve been meaning to read John Le Carre for a while, so I started reading Call for the Dead.

Then my current audiobook ran out, and I needed a replacement. I started listening to What’s Bred in the Bone by Robinson Davies because its audiobook was readily available from my local library, only to discover that while I liked the story, I hated the narrator. Fortunately, we had a copy of What’s Bred in the Bone on our shelves at home already, so I returned the audiobook and started reading it in print. That left me without an audiobook to keep me company while walking, cleaning, and knitting, so I started listening to The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu (translated by Ken Liu).

Just like that, my Currently Reading list had swelled to 42.

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