This is a Good Book Thursday: Haul Out That Holly or the Symbol of Your Winter Solstice Celebration

Thanksgiving is over, it’s officially Christmas time.  Yes, I know not everybody is Christian, but if you think Christmas is a religious holiday, you haven’t been to a US mall lately.  Haul out that holly, damn it.  You get hot chocolate and sugar cookies with it.  Also, a good book; you get GIFTS at Christmas, let’s make them read-able.  There are things to be wary of: Mistletoe is poisonous, the Christmas tree used to be used for human sacrifices, and your relatives probably watch Fox News, so it’s the Australia of holidays, full of amazing beauty and exciting people and stuff that’ll kill you..  See here for a complete explanation of how our bastard holiday evolved.  I can see why the nudity fell out of favor in New Jersey, it’s cold here at Christmas, but at least it still involves a lot of liquor (“Get the egg nog, Marge”).  

So whatcha reading?

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43 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday: Haul Out That Holly or the Symbol of Your Winter Solstice Celebration

  1. User. It’s a graphic novel by Devin Grayson about a person who quickly gets addicted to an MMORPG in the late 1990s. Reminded me of my own addiction and how that kind of usage is totally normal now and it’s so weird to me.

    0

  2. I’m reading Born A Crime by Trevor Noah. As an aware and widely read South African born and raised, there are parts related to township life that I knew but didn’t *know*. I pay attention and ask questions of different groups and learn huge amounts but this book is still an education.

    While is is uproariously funny, it is bittersweet too. His mother is AMAZING.

    It is so so good that I’m refusing to devour it in one go. I’m reading a part at a time.

    7+

    1. I heard him discussing it on NPR and it sounded amazing. I don’t usually get books on tape but I would to hear his voice reading it. ; )

      2+

    2. I’ve got “Born a Crime” in my TBR box — really need to make time for it. I love Trevor Noah — I “discovered” him about six months before he showed up on The Daily Show, and I’ve been watching him on YouTube ever since he became the host.

      1+

  3. I finished all the Squirrel Girl collected editions/graphic novels and they were great. There is a lot to love in Squirrel Girl.

    3+

  4. I finished rereading Tribute and Obsession, both by Nora Roberts. They inspired me to go back to painting my son’s room. I need to touch up a bunch of spots on the blue walls (majority of his room) and completely redo the accent walls of red and green. It’s not quite Christmas red and green but it’s damn close. I’m a horrible painter but my husband is worse.

    He chose the colors. He’s 8 so I did make sure to tell him that he’s stuck with these colors for years. My daughter chose pink and a purple accent wall for her room. She’s 9. I figure when they’re teenagers, they can paint their own rooms and I’m off the hook other than buying supplies.

    1+

  5. I’m reading THE PARIS SECRET by Karen Swan–another story I thought was going to be related to the Paris apartment that was discovered in 2010 after being closed up for 70-odd years and it is…sorta. For some reason, I’m fascinated with that story. Several authors have fictionalized the account and they’ve all been pretty good. This one is a decent story, but not what I was expecting. I’ve got several Christmas romances to read after I finish this though, so I’ll get into the spirit. I need to, the book I’m working on right now for Tule Publishing is due to be a holiday romance next year.

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  6. I quit on yet another contemporary romance. I don’t like hashtags in my books. This book had an almost 5-star rating on Goodreads, so it’s probably just me, but I only read about 40 pages and quit.

    Now I’m back to Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy, and so far it’s great. I love her writing.

    2+

  7. I found something light and fluffy on project gutenberg which is more a novel of manners called The Social Secretary by David Graham Phillips. Written in 1905, not quite sure when it’s set – 1895 to 1904 is as close as I can get.

    A Washington socialite hires herself out as a social secretary to a rich man (new senator) and his wife who want to break into Washington political society. It’s written by a man who was a serious muckraker and one of the people responsible for direct election of senators. His exposes of senators buying their seats supposedly cost seven senators their jobs. But this is light and fluffy and full of funny lines.

    “And I’ve always noticed that whenever anybody that is a somebody hankers after that sort of thing it’s because he’s got a streak of nobody in him.”

    “There may be women idiots enough to marry a man who warns them in advance that he’s rabidly jealous, but I’m not one of them. Better a crust in quietness.”

    I’ve read another one of his books but the tone in this one feels much more like a woman talking – almost as if he was taking down dictation.

    I’ve got a weakness for novels about jobs and novels about DC so this fit right into my sweet spot. But it’s also free if you want to try it.

    2+

    1. This sounds like an interesting book for me. I’ve fallen in love with a handful of books written at the turn of the century, and this might make one more. Luckily, the university library where I work has a copy at one of the branches, so I’ve request them to send it to my location.

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  8. I’m reading The Royal Bastards of Medieval England by Chris Given-Wilson and Alice Curteis. My current fascination is with Geoffrey of Monmouth who lived from around 1100 until 1155 and is known for creating the first cohesive story of King Arthur. I’m trying to figure out the people and places Geoffrey came in contact with. The king reigning until Geoffrey was around 35 years old was Henry I who sired some twenty illegitimate children. Several of them affected Geoffrey’s life.

    So I’m having fun. Of course, understanding the positions of illegitimate kids in the first half of the 12th century is just one avenue I’m researching. Life is good.

    2+

    1. ARGH. My iPad is giving me fits and I waited till tonight to reread so it would be fresh.
      My day has not been going well. Grrrrrr.

      0

  9. I am reading Bone Season by Samantha Shannon. It seems very familiar so I must have read it before. But it has two more books and I am sure I haven’t read either of them. Has anyone read this series? What was your take on it?

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    1. I found The Bone Season interesting enough that I also read the second book, The Mime Order. I disliked that one and so didn’t bother to read the third book, and I’m usually one who is compulsive about reading entire series.

      The world building and characterization was good; it’s probably been 1 1/2 years since I read these and I still remember lots of details about both books. Trying to pinpoint why I stopped reading… hmm, maybe these books were just too dark for me.

      0

    2. I started it and quit out fast but it’s not in my favorite genres. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Then I made The Scone Season for an Edible Books festival and the author thought that was great but I still didn’t read the book. 😁

      0

  10. I am just about to re-read The Mummy by Anne Rice. It originally came out in 1989 and while a complete story was clearly meant to continue… so here we are decades later and there is finally a sequel by Anne and her son Christopher. I remember my sister and I loved this book and I think I remember the story pretty well but it will be interesting to re-read after so much time. Then I will dive right into Ramses the Damned: The Passion of Cleopatra. …I have nothing else planned for my weekend but losing myself in the story. Should be a glorious weekend!

    0

    1. I had problems with that book because they killed the antagonist halfway through and then brought in another. Same probably I had with Luke Cage.

      1+

  11. After Christmas discussions the other day, I found Hot Toy on Apple to download. I gotta say “Santa Baby” over and over on the sound systems in stores makes me nuts, too. Nice quick holiday read. I’m so glad to have it.

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  12. Just finished The Hanging Tree, which is #6, I think, in Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series. Enjoyed it very much, like all the rest.

    Also finished The Smiler With the Knife by Nicholas Blake (Cecil Day-Lewis). I’m on a classic crime kick at the moment, and this is the 5th in the series with detective Nigel Strangeways. One cool thing about this story is that instead of being about Nigel, it’s about his wife, Georgia. She’s an interesting character, and it was awesome to see her get her own book. It’s an achingly suspenseful story of counter-espionage just before WWII. Great stuff!

    Just started Rum Affair, a mystery by Dorothy Dunnett. So far it’s fab.

    1+

    1. I loved The Smiler with the Knife when I read it ages ago.
      (Spoiler: after the war, Blake gets rid of her which annoyed the hell out of me.)

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        1. No, no. Just don’t get attached to Georgia, who is wonderful. As I remember, there’s a second wife more in line with the fifties.

          That should have been “after the war.” Georgia has a bad war.

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      1. Reaper Man was a lot earlier than Hogfather, right?

        One of the many reasons I love this book is Susan, a truly great protagonist, which I will talk more about tonight. I ended up sick as a dog yesterday and I’m still recovering, but I should be just fine in a little more time.

        Sorry!

        0

  13. I just finished The Hogfather and Pachinko by Min Jin Lee which follows a Korean family living in Japan during and after the Second World War. I really enjoyed it. As a reader who is always interested in food, I want some kim chee now.

    Now I’m reading Turtles All the Way down by John Green. Very young adult. I like the wry voice of the anxious narrator but am not finding the mystery very compelling.

    1+

  14. It’s not a romance, although the hero does fall in love at first sight, and it’s not a mystery, but it’s a sweet, funny book that I’ve loved since my college days many years ago — PG Wodehouse’s Leave It to Psmith.

    Psmith (the P is silent, as in pthisis, psychic and ptarmigan, as the hero often explains to people) is an earnest young aesthete with an aristocratic background whose family has fallen on hard times — a fact that only exacerbates his sincere (if theoretical) sympathies for communism. Which he expresses by calling people “comrade” this or that, and treating the household help with respect and more dignity than you could shake a stick at.

    I never really liked the Jeeves books — they center too much for me around the bumbling heir, who reminds me of Rincewind. But Psmith is a treasure, and his unusual take on things, and gift of gab to describe that take, never fail to amuse me.

    This is a book you’ll only find in used book stores or old libraries, being published in 1923, but it’s a lovely read. With a romance, no less. 🙂

    4+

    1. Project Gutenberg has a lot of Wodehouse. So if you have an ereader or you don’t mind reading on the computer you can get them for free.

      2+

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  15. Lately, I’ve been binging on Lisa Kleypas. I know she has written tons of books, but I only discovered her a few months ago, and what a pleasant discovery! Now I have so many novels to look forward to, as I go through her backlist. I don’t like them all equally but I do like each one, both historical and contemporary. She is the perfect comfort read. I highly recommend her to every romance lover.

    4+

  16. I finally read First Frost, by Sarah Addison Allen. It’s a follow up to Garden Spells, but I found it really enjoyable on its own merits, not just in a “getting to revisit this story world” way.

    I’m also working my way through Holley Bishop’s Robbing The Bees, which is making me want to take up bee-keeping, or possibly get a bee tattoo. It’s also caused a dramatic increase in my honey usage, which is delicious but slightly worrying.

    2+

  17. I just finished a wonderful non-fiction book, The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars, by Dava Sobel. Sobel’s other books include Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, both of which are also worth reading.

    The Glass Universe depicts how women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries began working in the Harvard Observatory as calculators (as in the recent movie “Hidden Figures”) but eventually were tasked with reviewing the Observatory’s thousands of glass photographic plates looking for such phenomena as variable stars and novae. A few even went on to develop theories of their own.

    Some of the women are famous in astronomy, notably Annie Jump Cannon and Henrietta Swan Leavitt. The work of these women helped establish the size and composition of the universe in an era before space flight and orbiting telescopes had even been imagined.

    Letters and diaries make up some of the author’s sources, so she is able to describe what these women’s lives were like. The politics of the day, both gender and scientific, come through very clearly. In addition, the two male Directors (Pickering and Shapley) get a fair amount of page time. (I found them a refreshing antidote to current events, showing that not all men in positions of power are creeps.)

    Full disclosure: In the late 1970s I was an astronomy major who interned working with the same glass plates at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the modern incarnation of the world depicted in The Glass Universe. So probably I am biased. But I think Sobel’s writing is such that you don’t need any scientific background beyond the basics to enjoy this.

    4+

  18. I just finished A MURDER OF MAGPIES by Judith Flanders. I can’t remember if I got the recommendation from here. At any rate, it was a good mystery with a middle-aged protagonist whom I really enjoyed spending time with.

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  19. I just read Edmund Crispin’s “The Long Divorce,” which is the second of his I’ve read, and I liked it even more than “Buried for Pleasure.” Although BFP did have me giggling a bit more, there was something more emotionally satisfying about TLD.

    0

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