Sunday, February 14, 2021

A Valentine's Day Sunday Salon: February 14,2021


Happy Valentine's Day! Are you doing anything special to celebrate this long holiday weekend?  Burgers on the grill and some kind of special chocolate dessert will probably be the extent of our festivities.

We had GOOD NEWS on the vaccine front last week. My husband was finally able get his first dose! He booked an appointment online, but the closest location still available was in Tampa. So Friday we made the three-plus hour drive (traffic!), he received his first dose, we turned around, and drove back home. A day well spent! Luckily, his side effects were minimal. Next month we get to do it all again. Not sure when I'll be eligible... 

It was also a good week on the reading front.


Finished last week//


 Everything Beautiful in it's Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager

Regardless of your politics, it's easy to appreciate the graciousness and decency of the Bush family, especially the late George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush. Over the course of a difficult year, Jenna Bush Hager lost her three remaining grandparents. Here, in a collection of apolitical essays, stories, and letters, is her tribute to them... her tribute to family. Filled with loved and sometimes tinged with sadness, her memories allow the reader (or listener, in this case) to catch a glimpse of the private lives of these public figures. Listening to the author's voice furthers the impact of this truly beautiful memoir. Keep your tissues handy! 




***This was an impulse purchase from audible's current "Listens to Love" sale. Hundreds of titles are still available for $5 through Monday, but it might be dangerous for you to click over!




Yea Gyasi is an extremely talented young writer. Her debut novel, Homegoing, was a favorite a few years ago. I finished her follow-up this morning and it was good. I liked it, but I didn't love it... and I was fully expecting to love it. It took me nearly a third of the book to become fully engaged, but then I was all in with Gifty, her family, and her work. Wonderful writing, heartbreakingly real characters, and big ideas (faith, science, family, mental illness)... this should have been a 5-star read for me. I need to spend some more time thinking about why it wasn't.



Up next//

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida

I'll likely start my February Shelf Subscription next. It's a coming of age story set in mid-80s San Francisco that sounds very promising.


I also need to choose my next audiobook today. Nonfiction? Maybe a classic?

I'll keep you posted.



In the kitchen//


Once again, I wasn't particularly inspired last week. We tried one new recipe for Lemon Rosemary Halibut. The marinade, simple and flavorful, includes white balsamic vinegar which I purchased specifically for this recipe. It's likely more for aesthetics than flavor, so regular balsamic probably works just as well. I used local hogfish instead of halibut... delicious.

We had Slow Cooker Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli again... my new favorite soup. I also made Ina Garten's Blueberry Bran Muffins.


How was your week? What are you reading?



The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It's Monday... What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

50 comments:

  1. Greta news about the vaccine but having to drive to Tampa? Yikes! It's worth it though, I can't wait until we can get a vaccine.

    That book by Jenna Bush was good, I recently picked it up and you are so right, regardless of politics this is a nice family. I admired Barbara.

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    1. Tina - Yes, definitely worth the drive to Tampa. Always an adventure. Glad you enjoyed Jenna Bush's book, too.

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  2. Glad that your husband was able to get his first dose! Hope the second one is easier to schedule and hopefully closer?

    I've been seeing We Run the Tides around but haven't heard a lot about it. Hope it's a good one.

    For my next read, I'm debating between The Prophets, Black Buck, and Transcendent Kingdom. The first two will be due back at the library soon so I may pick one of those two first.

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    1. Athira - They scheduled the second dose along with the first, so we'll be making that drive again next month. A long way, but so worth it! Seems like library books always get priority when I'm picking my next read, too.

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  3. JoAnn, so happy your husband was able to get the vaccine despite it being an all day project. My husband was lucky enough to get his 1st dose of the Moderna vaccine on 2/3, right across the street practically at my doctor's office by appt. - no wait and already has an appt. for 3/3 (part 2). Unfortunately, I'm not eligible yet, but think March may be my month.

    Sorry you didn't love Transcendent Kingdom as much as I did. I loved the narrator and the story. Hope you enjoy We Run the Tides - not perfect but, I liked it. Have a good week.

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    1. Diane - My husband got the Moderna vaccine, too, and did well other than being tired. I'm not sure when FL will open it to those under 65, but hopefully it won't be too much longer.

      I read almost half of We Run the Tides today and am enjoying it a lot. My expectations may have been too high for Transcendent Kingdom.

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  4. I'm glad your husband got his vax. My mom (who is 89) had her first dose scheduled for Feb 5 but it was cancelled as the hospital did not have supplies, and hasn't been rescheduled. She's in Connecticut, but Massachusetts has also stopped supplying hospitals (and their associated clinics) for now in favor of mass vaccination sites. I'm in Phase 2 but it looks like I will be lining up at Fenway Park sometime after baseball starts. :P We were already getting low grades for our vaccine response and somehow I don't think this will make things better. We'll see. That soup looks SO good. I have a few winter soup recipes that I make again and again (including today) but I've been thinking that I need some new ones!

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    1. Audrey - I hope your mom gets her appointment rescheduled soon. My father has one coming up on Friday and my mom's is the following week. Not sure who will be in phase 2 here or when I may be eligible. Glad you will be eligible soon.

      That soup is really delicious... let me know if you try it.

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  5. Everything Beautiful in Its Time will be my next listen, when I'm finished with The Narrowboat Summer.

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    1. Vicki - I'm pretty sure you will enjoy Everything Beautiful in its Time, too... just keep you tissues close!

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  6. I'm so terrified of needles that I would talk myself out of it during the 3-hour drive. LOL

    The Jenna Bush book sounds good.

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    1. Jinjer - You're definitely not alone in the fear of needles, and I can see where a 3 hour drive would never work when that's the case! I might have to increase my rating for Jenna Bush's book as I keep thinking about it.

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  7. Another pretty picture! You're lucky to see some blue sky. We've had rain for weeks, but at least it's not cold. My friends in NE are suffering today with a current temp of -9!

    Hooray for your husband! I'm glad he was able to get his first shot, in spite of the long travel day. My mom got her first one (Moderna) last week and will get her second in three weeks. It looks like Rod won't get his until early March. Like you, I'm not sure when I'll be eligible.

    I'll bet Jenna Bush's book is very moving. The Bush family seems to be very close-knit and loving.

    I didn't care for Homegoing nearly as much as you and I hadn't planned to read Transcendent Kingdom. You've convinced me even more so now.

    We Run the Tides does sound promising, doesn't it? I need to add it to my TBR list.

    I'm listening to The Underground Railroad, which hasn't grabbed me yet, but it's early. I just finished Stars of Alabama. I have no idea where I heard about it, but the author does an outstanding job with the narration for the audio. You might want to check it out. Sean Dietrich is the author.

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    1. Les - The weather has been so awful for much of the country lately... I *almost* feel guilty posting pictures!

      My husband also got the Moderna vaccine and his second dose was scheduled along with the first. His side effects were minimal, but they say the second dose may be worse.

      I read nearly half of We Run the Tides this afternoon and had a hard time putting it down to make dinner. Transcendent Kingdom was really good, but my expectations may have been too high. I hate when that happens!

      The Underground Railroad is a book I feel like I should read (loved The Nickel Boys) but the magical elements keep putting me off. I'll be curious to see if you get hooked.

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  8. I've always been especially taken with the women of the Bush family---first Barbara, then Laura, and now the twins.

    I am very curious why Transcendent Kingdom wasn't a five-star read for you. Let us know when you figure it out.

    I just finished an audiobook of Main Street. Not sure where I'm going next either.

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    1. Deb - I've long admired the Bush family and this book was wonderful. I might read the biography of Barbara Bush one of these days.

      The more I think about it, I'm wondering if Transcendent Kingdom was a victim of unrealistic expectations. I really did like the book, but wasn't wowed...

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  9. Everything Beautiful In Its Time was one of my favorites from last year - glad to hear you enjoyed it!

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    1. ANgela - The more I think about Everything Beautiful in Its Time, the more I like it. May need to adjust my rating.

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  10. I felt the exact same way about Transcendent Kingdom. I thought it was okay (and I loved Homegoing!)

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    1. Helen - Glad to know I'm not alone. I remember thinking that I would have read an entire novel about every character/generation in Homegoing...

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  11. I am so glad your husband got his first shot...and hopefully you will get yours before long.

    After the four years we have had, especially the past year, I have come to appreciate the Bush family, too.

    Enjoy your week and your books, and thanks for visiting my blog.

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - It's such a relief that at least my husband is on the road toward immunity. That will make things a lot easier for us, even if it's a while before I can get vaccinated.

      I've long admired the Bush family... and it was so moving to ready about their family bonds.

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  12. I loved Homegoing so I think I'll add Transcendent Kingdom to my TBR. Sounds wonderful. I am glad you liked the Bush family book. After Trump they sound like wonderful people. Not sure I would have said that four years ago. Biden is doing a great job so far. Whew. My Sunday Salon Post

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    1. Anne - Transcendent Kingdom is very different from Homegoing, but definitely worth reading!

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  13. I am pleased to hear your husband was able to get his first dose of the vaccine and I hope you enjoyed a quiet long-weekend together. No long-weekend in the UK but it is now the school half-term break, so looking forward to relaxing and recharging my batteries. Take care and happy reading, JoAnn ­čÖé

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    1. Jessica - Thanks. Beginning the vaccination process has been such a relief. We won't change our activities all that much, but still... Enjoy your break!

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  14. I've always appreciated that the Bush women loved books and encouraged reading. Enjoy your week!

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    1. Diana - Me, too! I really enjoyed that book.

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  15. Very glad your husband got the vaccine, wonderful! The Bushes sure lived long good lives it seems (privileged too right, but they chose public service). George Sr. was still skydiving late in life?! Last year I did try the audio of the Gyasi book but the beginning of the book seemed scattered and wasn't gripping me so I put it down. Perhaps I need the print? Or to try it again. Enjoy your week.

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    1. Susan - I'm so happy he got the vaccine. More good news yesterday as both of my parents received their first dose! The Bush's public service was admirable and, yes, George Sr. was skydiving very late in his life.

      I almost set aside Gyasi's book just past 30%. It did pick up and I'm glad to have read it, but much prefer Homegoing.

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  16. I'm glad to hear that your husband got his first dose but it is kind of crazy that you have to drive 3 hours for it! I think there are places in my town where I could get it (when I'm eligible), but I'm hoping the doctor's office will have it by the time my turn rolls around. Have a great week! - Melinda @ A Web of Stories

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    1. Melinda - Yes, the 3 hour drive was a bit much, but it was well worth it. More good news yesterday as both pf my parents received their first dose, too. We'll see what happens when my turn comes.

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  17. Glad your husband could get the vaccine. Too bad it was such a long drive though. Thanks for pointing me to the Audible sale. I added a few to my collection. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - That was a great sale at audible... glad you were able to take advantage of it! Happy listening :)

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  18. The vaccine. Yay!! The drive was worth it. I mean, my family drove an hour on Saturday night just to get Krispy Kreme donuts because they were bored, and had a craving.

    I would totally read that book by Bush.

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    1. Ti - Yes, so worth the drive... and I'd drive an hour for a donut craving, too! The more I think about Bush's book, the more I like it.

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  19. So glad your husband got the vaccine! My mom is still on the waitlist and I'm wondering when my husband and I will be able to get ours but we're ready! I hope you're enjoying We Run the Tides. I'm really liking it! And, I don't typically read memoirs but I have to say I've been impressed with Jenna Bush Hager's love for reading and sharing that with her audience. It's always great when we can get more people on the reading bandwagon. Hope you have a great week!

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    1. Iliana - I'm hoping to finish We Run the Tides today... so good!! Jenna Bush Hager's memoir is well worth the read, even if you're not into memoirs.

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  20. Never thought I'd see the day when people were clamoring for shots--but I'll sure be glad when it is my turn!

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    1. RAnn - I know! BTW, sorry it took so long to approve your comment. For some reason, google didn't email me the prompt to approved.

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  21. I don't think I'll read the Jenna Bush book, not because of politics, but just because it would never get to the top of the list. I really liked the audiobook of American Wife based on the life of Laura Bush by Curtis Sittenfeld, though. So much so that I might listen to Rodham, too; I'm not a huge Hillary Clinton fan, but the novel sounds so good it might change my mind. Too bad about Transcendent Kingdom!

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    1. Laurie - I've had American Wife on my list for years! I should make more if an effort to read it. My daughter enjoyed Rodham last spring, but I'm not sure I'd read it right away.

      My comment didn't make it through to your blog (maybe it's my WP account) but I was going to tell you that Passing is well worth the read. I picked it up shortly after The Vanishing Half... what an ending!

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  22. Yay on the vaccine for your husband! The things we go through to get it, OMG. I await your full review of Transcendent Kingdom and your analysis of why you did not love it. I am happy to be reminded of halibut. Today is shopping day and we were just talking about finding a different fish besides salmon or shrimp for a dinner this week. I used to cook it often so we will see if our store has it today.

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    1. Judy - I'm wondering if Transcendent Kingdom suffered from overblown expectations. Had a hard time connecting to the audio for first 30% and considered setting it aside. It seemed to click once I added in a hard copy.

      I love halibut, but rarely see it here. Hogfish (sometimes called hog snapper)is a Florida favorite!

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  23. Thanks for the beautiful picture, it made me sigh with envy. I'm so glad for you your husband was finally vaccinated, even if it was a really long trip. You're not the only one who expected better things from Transcendent kingdom, I heard other echoes of reader in the same situation. Enjoy the coming week-end !

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    1. IzaBzh - I must have missed the less enthusiastic reviews of Transcendent Kingdom. My inability to connect for the first third of the book came as a complete surprise... it was a good read once I settled in though.

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  24. Thinking of you this week down in Gulfside. Hope you're safe and warm in the craziest of weather. That lemon rosemary halibut looks good and simple enough. Will try it some time. Take care! - Arti

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    1. Arti - It got a little cool here, but I think we were one of the only places to escape the frigid temperatures! Hope you like the halibut recipe.

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  25. I also loved Homegoing and have been meaning to get a copy of Transcendent Kingdom. I might go audio with this one as I find it easier to stick with a book that is slow to grab me when I'm listening rather than reading.

    My husband got his first vaccine shot two weeks ago and will get his second next week. I am still waiting for my first, but still counting on being vaccinated by end of spring. Fingers crossed for all of us!

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    1. JaneGS - The audio of Transcendent Kingdom did help keep me engaged. I often have an easier time settling into a book when I listen. Glad your husband is on track with his vaccine... our turn should come before too much longer.

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