Good morning, everybody! I hope that you are having a wonderful weekend so far. After spending most of a rather chilly week wrapped up in hoodies, fuzzy socks, and multiple blankets because of a non-functioning heater in my house, I am delighted to announce that I have a working heater again! Of course, I no longer need to use it because the temperature is supposed to be in the 70s and low 80s this weekend…but the important thing is that it has been fixed.

As many of you already know from last week’s update, this has been a rough couple of weeks for my family. My grandmother is continuing to receive hospice care at the retirement home where she lives, and they are doing what they can to manage her pain. My family has had the opportunity to speak with her on the phone and using FaceTime, but it saddens all of us that the current health crisis has made it impossible to actually be with her during this time. If you could continue to keep my family in your thoughts and prayers over the coming week, we would greatly appreciate it.

While reading was not a priority for me last week, this week I dove back into reading so I could be distracted from…well, pretty much everything. While I did not go into the week specifically looking to finish books for the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, I actually ended up completing one of the remaining prompts purely by chance (bringing my total to 36 prompts out of 50).

A book featuring one of the seven deadly sins…

The book I completed for the Reading Challenge this week was Kerry Greenwood’s Murder on the Ballarat Train. This is the third novel in the Phryne Fisher Mystery series.

While on her way to Ballarat by railway, Miss Fisher finds herself frantically trying to save the passengers in her section of the train when they are poisoned by chloroform. One of the passengers, a young woman named Eunice Henderson, is badly burned by her exposure to the substance. Miss Henderson’s mother has also gone missing from the train and, as it turns out, has been murdered. Miss Henderson, of course, quickly hires Phryne to find out who killed her mother.

As Phryne investigates the murder, she is drawn in to a couple other mysteries as well. One involves slavery and magic, and the other is related to a girl who is found standing on the platform at the Ballarat train station with no memory of who she is.

Overall, I really enjoyed Murder on the Ballarat Train. It was a great mystery with a lot of exciting moments. Since I have watched the Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries television series, which includes an episode based on this book, I thought I knew exactly how the story was going to progress. Instead, I found myself surprised by a number of differences that kept me guessing as I read.

As always, I do think it is important to give you a heads-up when a book contains plot elements that might trigger emotional distress. The third book in this series does contain quite a few, including references to molestation and rape of minors, child abuse, and sexual slavery.

If you are interested in reading Murder on the Ballarat Train, I highly recommend that you start by reading the first two books in the series, Cocaine Blues and Flying Too High. While each book focuses on a different case, the books do build on each other, especially where Phryne’s personal life is concerned. If you do have the opportunity to read these books, I hope that you enjoy them as much as I have.

While I am going to refrain from setting a reading goal for this week (and possibly for the next few weeks), I am really glad that I had the opportunity to read this week. It definitely helped with my stress and anxiety levels, and I hope to do a significant amount of reading next week as well. I am currently very close to finishing another book for the POPSUGAR Reading Challenge, which I am looking forward to sharing with you as part of next Saturday’s update.

With the end of the school year coming up fast, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the importance of summer reading for students. If you are a parent of a school-age child, I hope you will check back frequently next week, as I will be publishing a series of articles about summer reading, including links to some great resources and popular summer reading programs, as well as suggestions for creating your own summer reading program at home. Please be sure to check back on Monday for the first part.

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend! Stay healthy!

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