Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Sunday Post #365

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

The Sunday Post is a chance to recap the past week, talk about next week, tell you what I’m reading, and share news. It’s hosted by The Caffeinated Book ReviewerReaderbuzz, and Book Date.

The Sunday Post #365

On The Blog Recently

In My Reading Life

I finished three books recently. They were all . . . fine.

I read Touch by Alexi Zentner, and it was fine. Mostly, it reminded me that I love magical realism and need to find more of it. I spent a year working for a literary journal that published magical realism. I read so many terrible stories in the slush pile that I burnt out and forgot that magical realism can be good.

Anyway, Touch is about a guy named Stephen who grew up in a tiny Canadian logging town in the early 1900s. (Or late 1800s? I didn't do the math.) Stephen leaves town to attend seminary school, but he comes home to sit by his mother's bedside as she's dying. While attempting to write her eulogy, he reminisces about how his grandfather founded the town and made a fortune in the logging industry.

This book is awesome because it's part family saga, part tall-tale, and part horror novel. There are dogs that can smell gold, nightmare creatures from Canadian legends, bodies frozen under ice, and snowstorms that force the townspeople to become cannibals. You're never sure if Stephen's stories are true, or if he's exaggerating. His tales capture the danger of the wilderness. One tiny mistake can cause instant death, and you always have to be looking over your shoulder for mythical beasts.

It's not just a book about scary things. It's also about love, family, and the power of a good story.

Compared to most family sagas, this book is very short, and the plot bounces around a lot. I understand that the author is trying to capture the spontaneous style of oral storytelling, but I sometimes got confused about how people are related and where I was in the timeline.

This novel was a fun and creepy time. I recommend it if you like atmospheric family sagas.

Then I read The September House by Carissa Orlando, which was fine.

I loved the beginning and expected it to become a new favorite. It's about Margaret and Hal, an empty-nester couple who have finally moved into their dream home. There's only one problem: The house is extremely haunted. Hal wants to move out. Margaret tolerates the ghosts. She cleans up the blood and ooze and learns to avoid the basement and the monsters who bite. Then Hal goes missing. Cops and family members descend on the house. Can Margaret tame the ghosts, or will she be forced to give up her dream home?

I loved the beginning because it's funny and shows that humans can adapt to any situation, even if adapting is a bad idea. The haunted house is a metaphor for abuse. The house hurts Margaret. She covers up the bruises and bite wounds and convinces herself that everything is fine. It's clever writing.

I liked the book less as it went on. Margaret's daughter, Katherine, got on my nerves. I know she's stressed about her father's disappearance, but she spends the whole book screaming at everybody and speeding around in her car. Her nonstop rudeness was tedious to read.

I also thought the ending was predictable. Maybe I've read too much horror. I was expecting more of a twist.

I guess this book fell a bit flat for me. It started so strong! But it became a pretty typical horror book by the end.

Then I read Crossing The Sea: With Syrians On The Exodus To Europe by Wolfgang Bauer and Stanislav Krupar. It reads like a newspaper article, if articles were 150 pages long. It was . . . fine.

The authors are undercover reporters who write about the Syrian war. They decide to join a group of Syrian refugees who paid smugglers to get them to Italy. This book chronicles the danger, frustration, arrests, and kidnappings that happen on the journey to Europe.

Mostly, this book pissed me off. Escaping from a war zone is ridiculously difficult! All the countries in the world are like, "We don't want refugees," but refugees exist. They have to go somewhere. Desperate refugees are riding in rickety boats and giving their life savings to smugglers who may steal the money and not help. It seems like the world should have a better plan for refugees. Literally anybody could become one. Wars and natural disasters can happen anywhere. Why aren't we prepared for it?

The book is basically an extended newspaper article. You don't get to learn much about individual people in the story. The writing style keeps the reader at a distance. It's very, "This happened, then this happened, then this happened." The information is interesting, but the writing style isn't exactly gripping.

I'm glad I read the book because it's educational, but I should probably look for a memoir about the same topic. A memoir might feel more personal.

In The Rest Of My Life

OMG, I've been back at full-time park ranger-ing for two weeks, and I already want to walk out of that park and never return. Is it October yet? Can I go back to part time?

Five things that made me happy recently:

1. Going for walks on my lunch break. Here's how the park looks in Spring. It's cold, crunchy, windy, and full of aggressive nesting birds.

2. Kayakers who wear drysuits and life jackets make me happy. Busy season hasn't started at the park yet, and there was already a drowning. There's no ice on the lake anymore, but the water is 40℉ / 4℃.

3. Electricity makes me happy. There was a storm with 100 mph wind. Of course I was at work during the storm. Parts of Colorado (including my part) lost power for four days. I'm too squishy for that! I need hot burritos and space heaters. I'm not used to being cold for so long.

4. People who carry cash make me happy. The park has battery-powered credit card machines that we use when the electricity goes out, but they eventually died because we couldn't recharge them for several days. Variations of this conversation kept happening:

Visitor: "Why is it dark and cold in this building?"

Me: "The power is out."

Visitor: "Oh. Can I buy a fishing license?"

Me: "Yes, but you'll have to buy it from the website with your phone. Our computers and printers aren't working."

Visitor: 👁👄👁

Me: "I need electricity to print a fishing license."

Visitor: "Oh. Can I buy this thing?"

Me: "Yes. Do you have cash by any chance?"

Visitor: "No. Why?"

Me: "The credit card machine needs electricity."

Visitor: 👁👄👁

5. Here's the weekly Skunkumentary! This one features a sleeping fox and baby rabbits. So much cuteness.

Follow My Misadventures

Take care of yourselves and be kind to each other. See you around the blogosphere!


  1. Touch made me think of a book I recently finished - Big Fish. Also, a deathbed tale told by the son with lots of tall tales and a touch of magic. There must be a beacon in the backyard for all the animals to come (or the skunks erected a billboard). Four days without power is a long gime (four hours is a long time).

  2. A drowning? Hell AJ!! Also I would hate being cold so long too!

  3. Oh no! I'm sorry The September House fell flat for you. I thought it was brilliant and really loved it! You've only been back park-rangering full time for two weeks and already you've got funny stories for us. I love it! You should write a book about your encounters in the wild - with humans!

  4. I love your perspective on things. The power outage had to really suck.

    Anne - Books of My Heart This is my Sunday Post

  5. Crazy that people don't understand that things work with electricity. Love the Skunkumentary! I have cameras in my back yard specifically to watch wildlife, but I don't see as much ever since they cut down trees behind my house (to restore it back to a wetland, but it still makes me sad that I don't get to see as many cute animals - I especially miss the foxes).

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  6. The baby bunnies are so cute! The fox is too. We have a fox that visits regularly. We put out cat food for the neighborhood stray cats and the fox has been coming to eat, as well. That was not the plan, but I don't think they're as much of a nuisance as racoons.!!!

    You've already had a drowning?! That's awful. It sounds like your office needs a generator and a wood stove. We have power outages, but they're not bad because of those two things.

    I enjoyed September House even if it went a little crazy by the end.

  7. The skunks really are offering a plethora of entertainment for you and all of us! Your electricity-challenged visitor is like me when I lose power. I can't watch TV, I think I'll do laundry. Oh. I guess I'll cook. Oh (I have an electric/induction stove). I guess I'll read. Oh yeah, the lights won't go on. Sigh.

  8. Your opening quote! LOL I may not assume I'm fired, but I always worry I'm in trouble for something when my boss wants to talk to me. I don't do well without electricity either. I hope work is less stressful this week. Sounds like you've had to deal with a lot recently, including difficult people.

  9. Sounds like a tiring rather than triumphant return to work :/

    Wishing you a happy reading week

  10. Yikes, you have so much to contend with at work!

  11. We visited four parks in the last two weeks, and I really tried to be exceptionally nice to those working in the park. I asked one ranger if my 21-month-old g-granddaughter could work on her junior ranger badge, and she was delighted to let her do so. When we turned in Lucy's completed work, the ranger told a story about how getting her own junior ranger badge as a child led to her becoming a ranger. It was a sweet moment.

    You read a lot of books last week!

  12. I don't do well with cold or lack of electricity. I can't imagine it lasting four days. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

  13. What park do you work at? We just got back from visiting the five National Parks in Utah. People were geared up and hiking to make the narrows slog through the river in Zion even though the water was swift and cold. People!

  14. Park is beautiful but people, well, I'll refrain from further comments. Touch sounds good, but I would skip the other two. Hope your week at the park goes better. Just plot out your revenge on paper. You won't get arrested for that. :)

  15. It must be brain bulgingly tedious to have to keep repeating the same thing to the challenged and bewildered regarding the power outage:((. And thank you for the footage - I had no idea that rabbits also rolled in dust baths while watching their ridiculously cute offspring...

  16. So sorry to hear about the drowning. May the weather and the people cooperate for the rest of the season. I hope your week goes smoothly.

  17. I am so sorry to hear about the drowning. :(

    Touch sounds like a good book! I love magical realism as well.

    And bunnies!!!

  18. I'm so sorry to hear about the drowning. How awful.

    That's too bad that The September House ended up not working for you. It sounded like it had great potential.

    Hope you have a great week!

  19. It's too bad about the refuge book. What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad is a fictional account that is the brilliant story of a refugee whose boat crashes on the shore of an island.

  20. Okay the top thing made me laugh! I don't think that feeling ever goes away. That's awful about the drowning. It's always so nice to see people who have researched and prepared for what they're about to do - especially if it's a potentially hazardous activity. I hope you're having a great week!