The Monday Check-In ~ 7/6/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend! No (official) fireworks, but at least the skies here were blue and I was able to enjoy being outdoors in the sun.

What did I read during the last week?

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: SO good. My review is here. And I LOVE that the publisher has paper dolls to go with it! Check out how amazing there are, here.

Here’s a peek at page 1 of the paper dolls:

Okay, what else did I read?

Alice by Christina Henry. I’ll be honest — I just did not enjoy this book. I’ve loved the two other Christina Henry books that I read (The Girl in Red and The Mermaid), but this one just didn’t appeal to me at all. Violent and dark, but no characters to really care about. So far, I’ve yet to encounter an Alice in Wonderland retelling that I’ve actually liked, so maybe I should stop trying! Unfortunately, I bought the sequel to this book at the same time that I picked up this one, and now I have little interest in reading it.

Well Met by Mary Jen DeLuca: Fun, sweet audiobook set at a RenFaire. My review is here.

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton: Why, oh why, did it take me so long to get around to reading this book? It was AMAZING. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I’m STILL watching Jane the Virgin, but should be done this week and ready for something new to binge. Meanwhile, my son and I have been working our way through the Fast & Furious movies, which are ridiculous and yet so much fun. This week’s pick:

Yup, there’s a submarine in the middle of a car chase. It’s wacky.

Puzzle of the week:

Since I seem to be doing these weekly, I thought I’d make it part of my Monday routine to share my most recent:

Cute, right? This one was a lot of fun. My problem is that I’m a wee bit obsessive when it comes to puzzles, so once I start, I basically don’t do anything else until I finish. So, I’m allowing myself one per week for now. After all, puzzle time takes away from reading time, and we can’t have that.

Fresh Catch:

Why yes, I did get some new books this week!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

European Travel for the Monstrous Gentlewoman by Theodora Goss: I read the first book in this trilogy, The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter, about a year ago, and thought it was delightful. And now that the 3rd has arrived, it’s time to continue the series. Picking back up with book #2.

Now playing via audiobook:

Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski: And back to The Witcher I go! These audiobooks are so much fun.

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club’s re-read of Outlander is underway. We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. This week: Chapter 4, “I Come To the Castle”. Anyone who’s interested is welcome to participate, so just ask me how.

I took Don Quixote off my reading list a few weeks ago, and then regretted it, so I’m diving back in. My book group is reading and discussing two chapters per week, and I was about 10 chapters behind… but after a big sprint of reading this weekend, I managed to catch up to the group!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/29/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Another busy work week, but what else is new? I did get a little bit more time to relax and get outside this week, so things are improving.

And I did another puzzle!

Maybe you can’t tell from looking at it, but this one was hard! So many pieces of the same color… my poor eyes! And then there was the saga of the missing piece, which took three of us (and some daring lifting of the couch) to find. But I finished! I guess it’s a sign of these crazy times that a little thing like finishing a jigsaw puzzle can be my big accomplishment of the week.

What did I read during the last week?

Hella by David Gerrold: Exciting sci-fi that’s a little longer than it needs to be — but still a good read. My review is here.

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal: I loved this audiobook! It was a re-read for me, and so worth it. My review is here.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory: Sweet and sexy romance. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

I finished Jane the Virgin! LOVED it. But since I started my binge with season 2 (since I watched season 1 back when it first aired), I decided to wrap things up by rewatching season 1. Such an amazing, clever, touching show. I’ll write up some thoughts once I finish season 1.

Fresh Catch:

No new books! I didn’t even buy any e-books this week, and I’m always on the lookout for good price drops on Kindle books.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Ooh. I’m just about done, and I’m loving it. This is my first time reading a book by this author, but I have a feeling I’m going to want to read more!

Now playing via audiobook:

Well Met by Mary Jen DeLuca: Cute! I’ve been in the mood for light, breezy audiobooks lately, and this fits the bill! And hurray for my friend who told me to check Axis360 — I’d only borrowed from my library via OverDrive up to now, but Axis360 has a good selection too!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club’s re-read of Outlander is underway. We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. Coming this week: Chapter 3. Loving it.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/22/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Well, it’s been rough. This was one of the worst workweeks I’ve ever gone through. My “day job” is in human resources, and this week, my organization laid off 150 employees. While I feel fortunate to still have a job, it was awful being on the back-end of all these layoffs, especially since it also meant saying good-bye to people I’ve worked with for many, many years.

Anyway, I don’t come to my blog to dwell on real-life bummers… but between the mood and the sheer amount of work that needed to get done, my reading time this week has been pretty limited and sporadic.

But hey, I did a cute puzzle, so there’s that.

(Sorry, my lighting sucks, but the puzzle really is adorable.)

What did I read during the last week?

How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior: Just a perfect read for me this week — sweet and uplifting! You know those books that you just want to hug? This is one of those. My review is here.

And that’s it! I didn’t manage to finish anything else this week.

Pop culture & TV:

Even more Jane the Virgin! I’m THIS CLOSE to finishing the final season. I’m loving it, and also getting super sad that I’m almost done.

Fresh Catch:

No new books!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Hella by David Gerrold: Sci-fi set on a planet called Hella, because everything there is HELLA huge. (I have to wonder if the author is from the Bay Area… ) It’s entertaining, but I just haven’t made as much progress as I’d hoped to.

Now playing via audiobook:

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal: Getting close to the end! I’m enjoying the audiobook so much. Can’t wait for the next book in the series!

Ongoing reads:

Outlander Book Club’s re-read of Outlander started this past week. We’re reading and discussing one chapter per week. Woo hoo! It’s so much fun. And yes, I’ve read this book multiple times already, but it’s always a pleasure to go back to where it all began. Chapter 2 is coming up this week! If you’d like to join in, let me know and I’ll give you the links and info.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/15/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Although school already ended and my son got his diploma the previous week, this past week we had the virtual graduation. So now it’s doubly official — my baby is a high school graduate!

What did I read during the last week?

Devolution by Max Brooks: Terrific horror from the author of World War Z. My review is here.

The Ghosts of Sherwood by Carrie Vaughn: A fun, entertaining novella about Robin Hood and Marian’s children. A terrific read! Part 2 of the story will be released in August.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Just finished this lovely audiobook, right in time for my book group’s discussion this week. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

More Jane the Virgin! I’ve just started season 5 — the final season — and I’m already getting a little weepy at the idea of the story coming to an end.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week. But I did treat myself to a few new jigsaw puzzles! And hey, here’s a tip for my fellow puzzlers out there: While prices are very jacked up on Amazon right now, Barnes & Noble has a good selection at normal, pre-pandemic prices. Score!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

How the Penguins Saved Veronica by Hazel Prior: I adored this author’s debut novel, Ellie and the Harpmaker, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her new book, which releases this week! I’ve read about half. It’s adorable!

Now playing via audiobook:

The Fated Sky (Lady Astronaut, #2) by Mary Robinette Kowal: This is a re-read for me, although my first time on audio. The author narrates these books, and is wonderful. (She narrates many of Seanan McGuire’s audiobooks too — very talented!). Book #3 in the Lady Astronaut series (The Relentless Moon) comes out next month, and I needed a refresher.

Ongoing reads:

Who’s ready for a re-read? Starting this week, Outlander Book Club is doing a group read of Outlander, reading and discussing one chapter per week. Interested in joining in? Let me know, and I’ll share the details.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Audiobook Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing
Author: Delia Owens
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: Viking
Publication date: August 14, 2018
Print length: 384 pages
Audio length: 12 hours, 12 minutes
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

Where the Crawdads Sing has been on bestseller lists for at least a year now, as far as I can tell. And the fact that this was a Reese’s book club pick doesn’t hurt at all when it comes to creating buzz. So is it worth all the hype?

Now that I’ve read it, I can give an answer: Definitely yes.

Where the Crawdads Sing is lovely, rich, sad, and powerful. It tells the story of Kya Clark, a girl who is abandoned at a very young age and yet manages to raise herself in the North Carolina marsh she calls home.

Kya’s family lives in a shack in the marsh, scrabbling for daily sustenance and terrorized by their abusive, unreliable father. Kya’s older siblings have already left, and as the story opens, Kya is six years old, watching her mother walk away, never to return. Kya is left behind with her father and older brother, but even her brother doesn’t stay long. Soon, it’s just Kya and her father, and he disappears for days on end, or shows up drunk or angry, and simply can’t or won’t care for his child.

And so, from the age of six, Kya raises herself. She loves her home and the marsh and the birds and wildlife that are her truest friends. She scrapes by on the pennies her father provides. Eventually, even he leaves, and she is completely alone, surviving by digging mussels and selling them to the local sundry store owner, a warm and caring man named Jumpin’ who comes to love Kya as a daughter.

Despite the love and support of Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel, Kya is alone. When a truant officer comes to take her to school, Kya only lasts one day, feeling embarassed and tormented by the town kids who call her “Marsh Girl” and make fun of her. From then on, it’s just Kya in the marsh.

She does have one friend, a boy named Tate who once upon a time was friends with her brother. Tate is fascinated by Kya and takes it upon himself to teach her to read, opening up the world of science and biology and learning to her. Kya embarks on her lifelong passion to know and understand the marsh, collecting specimens and documenting them through writing and painting, turning her old shack into a personal natural history museum of sorts.

The story alternates between chapters following Kya’s life from early childhood onward and chapters set later, in 1969, when a local young man is found dead under suspicious circumstances. Chase Andrews had a history with the Marsh Girl, and although there doesn’t seem to be any evidence, she becomes a person of interest in the case, fueled by years of the townspeople’s harsh opinions and suspicions and gossip about her.

While I was less interested in the murder plot for most of the book, by the last third, the two story elements come together as the plot centers around the court case and resolution.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a moving and lyrical reading experience. I loved the descriptions of the marsh and the way the natural world is so much a part of who Kya is and how she looks at life. Kya’s life is horribly sad, yet also beautiful in its own lonely way. It’s incredible to think that a child could survive like that on her own all those years, yet she does. Between her natural intelligence and her lifelong study of her natural surroundings, Kya adapts and manages to thrive, despite her loneliness and sorrow throughout the years.

The audiobook narrator does a very good job of breathing life into the characters, especially Kya, using her voice to show her maturing over the years yet maintaining the core of who she is.

My one issue with the audiobook is that I feel I missed out a bit on certain written passages. Kya is passionate about poetry, and the poems she recites throughout the book are worth spending time on and contemplating a bit, but because I listened to the audiobook, they passed by a little too quickly for actual reflection. I think I’ll need to borrow a print edition so I can page through and spend more time on certain passages.

I won’t get into spoilers, so I can’t say more about the ending than that I was mostly satisfied and that the ending worked out pretty much as I expected despite a few red herrings — although there was at least one loose thread that I would have liked an answer to.

Overall though, the murder/mystery elements are not the most essential part of this book, in my mind. Yes, it was interesting, and yes, I felt that the ending made sense. But the biggest impact for me was the emotional resonance of Kya’s life, her loves, her relationships, and her incredible personal and professional achievements.

Kya is a woman to admire, one who overcomes extreme adversity to carve out a life for herself that’s meaningful and joyful.

Where the Crawdads Sing is a powerful and beautiful book. Highly recommended.

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/8/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

In these disturbing times, it’s nice to find a ray of sunshine at home. Without ceremony of any sort, my son finished high school! There’s supposed to be a virtual graduation taking place later this week, although we don’t know any specifics yet. Meanwhile, the school year ended and he was able to pick up his diploma, so it’s official!

What did I read during the last week?

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: I ended up loving this new prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy. My review is here.

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire: An excellent short story collection from an author who always makes me happy. My review is here.

500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan: A sweet romance with a Scottish setting from one of my go-to authors! My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

Continuing my Jane the Virgin binge! I’m on season 4 now — still loving it.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week.

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Devolution by Max Brooks: The newest from the author of World War Z. I’m just getting started, but I’m already hooked.

Now playing via audiobook:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Amazing! I’m at 80% — hope to finish in the next couple of days.

Ongoing reads:

None at the moment. But next week, Outlander Book Club is starting a group re-read of the book that started it all! We’ll be reading and discussing one chapter of Outlander per week. Interested in joining in? Let me know, and I’ll share the details.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 6/1/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Like the Talking Heads put it — this week was…

Another week of working from home, attending Zoom meetings… sleep, wake, repeat!

What did I read during the last week?

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson: Romance and family ties at a Harlem knitting store. My review is here.

Recipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev: A Jane Austen retelling involving a celebrity cooking show (and lots of family baggage). My review is here.

In audiobooks:

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: I finally finished this book! My review is here.

And lastly — I think it’s time for me to admit that I need to hit pause on my book group’s classic read.

I’m now 7 or 8 chapters behind, and I don’t see myself having the time or attention span needed to even attempt to catch up any time soon. I’m not giving up entirely, because I do really want to read Don Quixote… eventually. It’s just not happening for me right now, unfortunately.

Pop culture & TV:

I’m still loving Jane the Virgin! I was going to take a break after season 2 — but then it ended on a cliffhanger, so I just couldn’t! I’m now halfway through season 3, and let’s face it, there’s no way I’m going to stop until I’ve binged the entire show.

Fresh Catch:

No new books this week! Unless you count all the Kindle deals I took advantage of? Sure, why not? Here are the new Kindle titles I’ve added to my library this week:

 

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins: I’m almost halfway through, and despite some uneasiness at the beginning, I’m now very absorbed by the story. Can’t wait to see how it all works out.

Now playing via audiobook:

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: My book group book for June — trying to get a head-start.

Ongoing reads:

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire: I’m sticking with my plan to read a few stories per week until I get through this whole collection. I only read two more this past week, but one was a really creepy story about AI dolls taking over the world. I don’t think I’ll ever sleep easily in a house with dolls in it again. Eeeeeeek.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 5/25/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

This is a first for me — I attended a Zoom wedding!

Sunday was the original wedding date, then the couple decided to cancel about a month ago in light of the health crisis, and then decided to go forward and include friends and family via Zoom! The bride and groom and their parents were present, the rabbi officiated via Zoom, and they had a few other close family members present, plus about 120 Zoom logins. It was actually so sweet!

What did I read during the last week?

Beach Read by Emily Henry: Really enjoyable love story with a light touch. My review is here.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner: Austen-inspired historical fiction set in post-war England. My review is here.

Pop culture & TV:

Netflix kept me busy every night! First, my son finally convinced me to jump on the Tiger King bandwagon…

So weird, So disturbing. But so hard to look away from!

On a lighter note, I decided that now would be the perfect time to go back and watch a show I see through to the end:

I watched season 1 of Jane the Virgin back when it aired, and really liked it… so why didn’t I keep up with it and continue watching? Probably just too much TV, too little time. Anyway, I’ve picked back up with season 2, and I’m loving it. It’s so over the top, and that what makes it so much fun.

Fresh Catch:

I had some Amazon credits, and naturally had to spend them all immediately:

Hurray for book mail! I’ve already read Chosen Ones, but really wanted my own copy, and can’t wait to read the rest!

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Real Men Knit by Kwana Jackson: This is fun! I probably wouldn’t have stumbled across this book on my own, but then I read Reading Tonic’s review, and just had to give it a try.

Now playing via audiobook:

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: The sequel to Akata Witch, which I really loved. Sadly, I was so slammed with work this week that I only managed to get outside for walks a couple of days, and that means I barely had chances to listen to my audiobook. I’m making progress, but sloooooooowly.

Ongoing reads:

Laughter at the Academy by Seanan McGuire: If I had a dollar for every time I’ve mentioned that I’m not a short story reader… well, I’d have a lot more dollars than I do now! Laughter at the Academy is a story collection from one of my favorite authors, so I can’t NOT read it. But knowing how I tune out if I read too many short stories in a row, I’ve decided to take a slow but steady approach, and I’m trying to read just one or two stories each day. And so far, these are excellent! Content warning, though — Seanan McGuire loves to write about world-ending diseases, so now is kind of a freaky time to be reading some of these. Still, I’m delighted to be reading this book finally (I bought it last fall), and I’m just a wee bit proud of myself for sticking with it!

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: Why is this still on my ongoing reads list? I’m now five chapters behind, and I don’t see myself getting any closer to catching up with my book group’s reading schedule any time soon. But… I’m just not ready to walk away completely!

So many books, so little time…

boy1

The Monday Check-In ~ 5/18/2020

cooltext1850356879 My Monday tradition, including a look back and a look ahead — what I read last week, what new books came my way, and what books are keeping me busy right now. Plus a smattering of other stuff too.

Life.

Work, work, work. Who said remote work was relaxing? Apart from getting to wear sweatpants all day, every day, I swear I’m more stressed working remotely than I ever was in my actual office.

But yeah, the sweatpants will be hard to give up when and if we finally return to on-site work.

And hey, here’s my puzzle for the week! Cute, right?

Sorry for the glare — it’s  super-detailed bookstore, with really adorable and funny book titles and all sorts of adorable little details. (I’d try to get a better picture, but I already took it apart.)

What did I read during the last week?

If It Bleeds by Stephen King: Fabulous collection of four novellas. My review is here.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane: My book group’s book for May (and yes, I finished on time!). My review is here.

Sword of Destiny by Andrzej Sapkowski: Terrific audiobook! A must for Witcher fans — my review is here.

Pop culture — Outlander, season 5:

Ha ha, made you look! Season 5 of Outlander ended last week, so this was my first week since February without a new episode to watch. I guess it’s time to say good-bye for now and settle in for the next long Droughtlander.

Other TV watching:

I had fun doing a binge-watch of Dead to Me, season 2. Maybe not quite as funny and surprising as the first season, but still really enjoyable, and it left me wanting more.

I wrote up my thoughts on the season finale of Survivor: Winners at War, here.

Fresh Catch:

Two exciting new books this week:

My awesome daughter sent me this book for Mother’s Day! It’s gorgeous.

And… after finishing If It Bleeds (as a library e-book loan), I really felt like I needed my own copy, and luckily, I had an unused Amazon giftcard sitting on my desk just begging for some attention! The book arrived on Friday. The cover image (above) looks kind of flat-orangey, but in person, it’s got a bit of a gold glittery-ness to it. Very cool. (Also, I hadn’t noticed until I had the book in my hand that the cat face actually has a rat instead of a nose, and now I wish I’d never seen it! Eek.)

What will I be reading during the coming week?

Currently in my hands:

Beach Read by Emily Henry: I’m LOVING this book. I tore through about half today, and stopped only because (big surprise) I needed to get some work done.

Now playing via audiobook:

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor: The sequel to Akata Witch, which I really loved. I’m just getting started, but it’s great so far!

Ongoing reads:

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes: I was within one chapter of being all caught up with my book group… and now I’m three chapters behind again. Boo.

So many books, so little time…

boy1

Book Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Title: Ask Again, Yes
Author: Mary Beth Keane
Publisher: Scribner
Publication date: May 28,2019
Length: 390 pages
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Source: Purchased
Rating:

Rating: 3 out of 5.

How much can a family forgive?

A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the bond between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, two rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis’s wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian’s wife, Anne—sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Ask Again, Yes is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Francis and Lena’s daughter, Kate, and Brian and Anne’s son, Peter. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while tested by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.

In Ask Again, Yes, we follow the trajectories of two families over the years, seeing how their connections follow them and affect their entire lives.

Kate and Peter, born within months of each other, grow up as next door neighbors and best friends. Their fathers served on the police force together, and the families’ background are entwined in shared history and parallel origins. For Kate and Peter, they have no memory of life without the other. But a tragic, violent incident when they’re fourteen shatters both families’ lives, and cuts short the romantic relationship just starting to bloom between Kate and Peter.

Ask Again, Yes traces the roots of the family dynamics at play, and then follows Kate and Peter as their lives diverge and then come back together.

There’s a lot to unpack here — themes of mental illness, alcoholism and addiction, infidelity, parenthood and abandonment, the ups and downs of a long marriage — and yet, the story for the most part left me cold.

This story of family and suburban drama covers a lot of years, but feels diffuse somehow. The POV shifts between characters, so we view events through Kate and Peter’s eyes, but also through the experiences of their parents and others. Perhaps as a result, we often don’t stick with one character long enough to see an event through, and there seem to be some odd choices in terms of which events we experience in detail and which only get referred to in passing or in summary.

There are certainly some tragic occurrences, and places where tragedy could possibly have been avoided if appropriate mental health resources had either been available or sought out. I never really bought into the central love story between Kate and Peter, and the troubles they experience later in their marriage felt sort of shoe-horned in for me.

I read Ask Again, Yes as a book group read, and I’m thinking that I probably wouldn’t have picked this one up on my own. That said, the relationships are complex and thought-provoking — it’s simply not my preferred subject matter, and the writing didn’t engage or move me.

Still, I look forward to the book group discussion later this week. Maybe I’ll find more to appreciate once I hear what my book friends have to say about it!