This is a Good Book Thursday

It’s cold here and I have a fireplace, so I’m reading in front of it with hot chocolate and a warm puppy.  Three puppies, actually, and the chair is not that big, but by god, we’re together.  What are you reading?

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122 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday

      1. I am not really in the loop, but from what I’ve heard, she was talking about more — maybe fit into the interstices of the current series — Novella 3B, that sort of thing. Or at least, she was saying that one of the nice things about doing ebooks is that it’s easier to do that sort of thing.

        Gosh, I hope there are more!

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  1. Dorothy Dunnet’s Johnson Johnson/Dolly mysteries – they are just as peculiar and twisty and sideways as I remembered, only now I can think about them better for some reason. I love her writing, but having read all of Lymond and Niccolo through once, I don’t think my heart can take either one of them again. Too much happens.

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    1. I was reading Rum Affair, when I got impatient and skimmed, and the end annoyed me so much that I’m not sure I’ll read another in the series. Ah, well. I may change my mind later.

      I tried the Niccolo series but couldn’t get through the first book. However, I loved the first Lymond and will get to the others if I live long enough. At some point in one’s life one has to acknowledge the reality of way too many books and way too little time. 🙂

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  2. I finally found the time to finish Godsgrave, book 2 in Jay Kristoff’s Nevernight Chronicles. It was fantastic.

    I’m also reading The Empty Grave, the last Lockwood and Co book by Jonathan Stroud and enjoying it immensely.

    Mostly, I’ve been reading dog body language.

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    1. I really liked the Lockwood books on the first read, I bought all of them, but I am weirdly unable to read them again. They should be the kind of books I like coming back to, the characters are wonderful, but I couldn’t get through the first one again on a re-read. That might have just been me, though, not in the right frame of mind.

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    1. That’s not a diversion. Those are iconic character slippers.
      And I really do not want to put my feet in Cthulhu’s mouth. Although I am making a Cthulhu neck pillow, so what do I know?

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      1. OMG, they have Cthulhu Monopoly.
        Do not pass Go,do not get sucked down into the unending terror of what lies beneath in R’lyeh.

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  3. Last night I finished re-reading THE MARTIAN. I first read it a couple of years ago while on a trip, and I think all the visiting distracted me from the book, although I remember enjoying it. But I absolutely adore the movie, which is a pretty faithful adaptation, and after watching it umpteen times I got more out of the book. Anyway, not at all my usual sort of read, but I love the theme of people working together to rescue themselves and others.

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    1. Love that book and the film, I love that he tried to fix things instead of letting despair crush him. It also showed the best side of humanity, heart warming and funny

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        1. And I loved how the female technician on earth noticed a bolder or rock or something had been moved and because of her eagle eyes, they realized he was still alive. Or something like that.

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          1. Book is self published and picked up to be a motion picture with Matt Damon. I loved the movie and haven’t read the book yet but if I had to choose one – I think I’d go with the book. Because how amazing does it have to be to get picked out of everything that’s out there?

            OTOH, I have a base animal nature and I can watch Matt Damon do almost anything without complaining.

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          2. Book first. The movie condenses, as movies must. It’s a great adaptation but the book has more. The audiobook is good too.

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          3. I read the book first and then couldn’t wait to see the movie. Which I liked a whole lot too, but the book went straight into my Top Ten for that year.

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  4. I spent the last week reading Samantha Shannon’s The Bone Season, The Mime Order, and The Song Rising. I must have read The Bone Season before and started The Mime Order and abandoned it because I remember the Bone Season as I started to read it and I remembered the beginning parts of the Mime Season. It was enjoyable but incredibly violent. It was difficult to read much of the Song Rising at one time. They are not books I will ever reread, unless I forget them again of course. But still I could recommend them. Romance is in there but it is a subplot not the main course.

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  5. Just finished reading JD Robb’s Secrets in Death. I still love the series. It is funny because I don’t particularly like most of the books she writes as Nora Roberts. I really enjoy the relationship of Eve Dallas and Roarke. I like all the other characters – the community she has created – Peabody & McNab, Feeney, Summerset, Mavis & Leonardo with Bella, Nadine, Dr & Mr Mira; a lot of lovable characters! The world she has created is fun, too, with it’s AutoChefs. Wouldn’t we all love to push a button and have a hot bowl of stew appear like magic. And, of course, the coffee.

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      1. I used to love the series but she eventually went extreme on her victims: either novel after novel of mass murders or really nasty ones involving children. Also I got tired of the never ending angst from childhood. She also has a rote storyline and well as the rote childhood traumas. I was ok for the first 20 books or so but I think she is on number 41 and the formula has gone on too long for me. I wish she’d start building a new world of characters. One that didn’t involve the gruesome murder of children. I’ll still read them from the library but I won’t pay money anymore. I know I’m in the minority about this.

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    1. I also prefer the Robb books. Secrets was a good time. Ah, the Auto Chef – a dream come true. Who cares about the flying cars; it’s the food that really matters.

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  6. I just finished Duke of Desire by Elizabeth Hoyt. I always enjoy her books and it hit me, after our discussion about heros last week, that her books are usually more centered around the male protagonist, with the female supporting him through hardship. Interesting.

    Anyway, I liked it.

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    1. As women we may need the female protagonist to be someone with whom we can identify. So for reasons of our own psyche we either reject or like her. But the male protagonist is someone we just have to find not too bad.

      And a book centered around a male protagonist seems like a lot of married life: the guy you do his laundry, cook his meals, run his errands, make his phone calls. Even if he does a lot, most women are doing a lot of support work so a book centered around the guy is just life.

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      1. I’m not sure about this. In romance especially, I need to really like the hero in order to really love the book. For instance, in some of Nalini Singh’s books, I have liked the hero more than the heroine (Judd for instance in psy-changeling. Can’t remember which book) and still enjoyed the book.

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        1. Part of what I was saying is that it is easier to like the hero because the bar is lower for guys.

          To like the heroine she has to be someone we can relate to. We have to like her motivation and how she treats her family and if her relationship with the hero is something that we see as reasonable. She has to be competent or at least someone we would want to be like.

          Does she have a dog she loves, or a cat? Is she basically indifferent to children but there is a kid around she mentors regardless? Is she there for her friend or friends. Answer no to any of this and most of us won’t like her. Answer yes and may be we like her, maybe not. Depends on a bunch of other stuff too.

          Now ask the the same questions about the hero. Answer yes to any of the above and most women will instantly think he is a keeper and melt, especially if he is good looking and smolders and is competent. Answer no and if he is good looking, smolders at them and is competent and we will still think he is a hero.

          Women have a higher bar. The old saying was that women have to be twice as smart and work twice as hard to make half the pay as men.

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          1. Interesting. That reminds me of somewhat similar thoughts I’ve had from a different perspective.

            I like less defined heroes because I can imagine them my own way. Particularly in earlier novels, heroes like Darcy and Captain Wentworth float in my imagination, taking on the characteristics that I am attracted to. That’s one reason I don’t like to watch movies — the hero is never as alluring as the man I have in my mind.

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          2. I think it depends on the reader. We all have different things we judge characters on. I can’t abide a or dishonest ditzy character as a lead, male or female. Just watched a movie last week with charming actors playing a woman so stupid and dishonest she should have been slapped and a man so feckless he walked around his apartment building naked;at the end the woman stole a bicycle and a car to dp a rom com run to interrupt the man at his job so she could . . . arg, she was awful and so was he. I like flawed characters, but not stupid or venal characters. I don’t think if the genders had been reversed that I’d have changed my mind about either of them.

            But I may also be faster to write off male characters than you. I started a book awhile back in which the hero was a goofy kind of party guy/friend to the heroine, and I got to the line where he’d sent her a dick pic and the heroine thought it was funny and that was it for me for both of them, the book hit the wall. I’m sure they were lovely people, really, but nobody I wanted to read about. If she’d said, “Nobody wants to see your junk, Marvin” and moved on to a new hero, I’d been fine with her, but he would still have been a big No.

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          3. This is very interesting. But I suspect part of it is that in a romance, the guy doesn’t really matter that much. He’s a trophy for the heroine to win. And some writers will give him depths, but other writers just aim for basically decent and hot-as-hell. His being a bit “hard to get” (usually childhood problems or The First Love From Hell) makes him a more desirable challenge.

            In a lot of literature that’s aimed at men, the female characters fall on the same spectrum. Sometimes given depths, sometimes just given boobs and a deep respect and admiration for the hero. Trophy girls. Manic Pixie Dream Girls.

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          4. I have to say Alan Richman ruined Sense & Sensibility for me. Because I kept looking at him and then at Hugh Grant and I thought, Elinor, if you had any sense you’d dump Edward and go for the Colonel.

            I still think that. Let Marianne take Edward as part of her redemption.

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        2. I’m playing around in my head about Micki’s comment that a hero is a trophy to win. Could be true. Intriguing. But I like my image of Darcy, and Colin Firth gets about a B+ in how close he gets. The guy who plays Captain Wentworth in the movie version of Persuasion gets a B-, but that’s a high grade considering the circumstances: Wentworth is barely described and the actor had an embouchere (?? the skin between the upper lip and the nose) that detracted from his l0oks in a major way.

          Have you read Evelina? The guy is barely described and I loved him.

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          1. I’ve read Evelina, but I can’t remember the romance for the life of me. There was some evil people who were trying to drag her down in coarseness, and I seem to remember the aunt having to walk through the rain because some inlaw was a cross old guy who made people walk instead of using the carriage?

            My impression (and I’d have to re-read it to see if I remembered rightly) is that Evelina was a story of a girl overcoming her coarse relatives and the temptations of the world in order to find a safe and secure place in society (which was found via the love interest, but honestly, I can’t remember him at all — except some lingering tickle that he judged her actions, and found her worthy despite the circumstances?).

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          2. Now that I’ve checked Wikipedia I don’t remember the plot or characters of Evelina at all. Wonder why I have that whiff of memory about the hero?

            Back to the trophy concept — if I understand it, in guy-centered stories the protagonist hero wins a heroine as a trophy and in gal-centered stories the protagonist heroine wins a hero as a trophy. Such a scenario is common; after all, each Jennifer Crusie’s story is especially satisfying because each tale goes beyond the trophy: instead of leaving her readers with a male trophy, Crusie’s plot and characterization make the guy a fully developed sexy man who has his own challenges and growth.

            Even given the generic great looks of a trophy romantic match, I think my preference for heroes/sexy guys whose looks aren’t defined in detail is different. Davy might be my favorite Crusie hero because he purposely fades into the background, yet he can look like Clark Kent when he wants to. Sure, any woman would jump for Simon, but Davy’s far more intriguing.

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          3. I think of the trophy partner in a little bit broader terms — it’s not necessarily a gorgeous or rich partner. In really good romance, it can be someone intelligent, or kind. The more fully developed s/he is, the better prize s/he makes, too, so you can actually have a very satsifying reading experience where the hero/ine had a great growth arc, has a conflict box with someone NOT the romantic partner, and winds up getting the boy/girl in the end. I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that the trophy or prize doesn’t always participate actively in the plot (though they might drive the plot because they provide motivation).

            (-: I’m still thinking this through.

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          4. Just for the books I write, not as a comment on romance as a whole:

            I’m not going for a trophy. The woman doesn’t win anybody. They build a partnership. The trophy is the relationship they both get. I do that very deliberately, and I also deliberately choose guys who aren’t billionaire hunks unless I have a specific reason. (Okay, I’ve never written a billionaire, but I might some day, so I’m not burning any bridges.) Cal was gorgeous because he was the prince in the fairy tale and because Min was not; then Cal was dyslexic and Min was not; I was trying to give them each the big not-a-hero(ine) trope from standard romance. (Please note: I didn’t say Cal was dumb, he wasn’t, he was just dyslexic.) Nick is gorgeous and perfect in the beginning, but as he becomes human again, he gets shorter, his ears stick out, etc. I’m pretty sure the rest of my heroes are Just Guys in the looks department, but I can’t be sure. I was writing to romance tropes in the beginning until I realized I hated those romance tropes.

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          5. (-: Which is a great reason to love your books, Jenny.

            But I think Darcy is a big fat trophy that comes with prize money (and Pemberley!).

            No, that’s not fair. They work together to come to an understanding. Actually, Darcy does a lot of the heavy lifting to get the plot to move. So, strike that. Darcy isn’t a trophy. He just looks kind of like one on one of the levels that the novel moves in.

            How Stella Got Her Groove Back is more of a trophy kind of boy, if I remember the book right. I enjoyed that book a lot.

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          6. Darcy is a great example of competence porn. He sees a problem, fixes it quietly, makes sure there are no repercussions, and then just as quietly goes back to Elizabeth and proposes again, promising to go away and never darken her doorway again if she says no. He does everything right after doing everything wrong, so character arc, too. Darcy deserves his status as a great romance hero.

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          7. It took me a long, long time to warm up to Darcy. I have to say, Colin Firth helped tremendously. I really like what you are saying — I think the subtext here is that Darcy is a hero for our times, too. Flawed, but works to put it right, and also, not a big pushy That Guy.

            Austen was really good at writing characters that you might meet in real life.

            In my romances, I like guys who are more verbal and full of banter and cleverness. But 95 percent of the real-life men I’ve met who are like that are not interested in women.

            For me, the big draw in P&P is Elizabeth who is flawed in all the right ways, and charming, and also learns to temper her judgements. (And the side characters. Oh man, they are just great, great characters!)

            I’m afraid I didn’t take the lessons of P&P to heart; as characters go, I like Bingley better than Darcy. But Darcy is a solid rock. Good thing to have in a partner.

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  7. I rejected several lots of sample pages and a couple of library books, then got hooked on Emily Foster’s ‘How Not to Let Go’, which was recommended here. It’s a great romance, but I was pretty annoyed by the fact that it stopped in the middle, and nearly didn’t buy the sequel. That was good, too, but I’m not happy at paying £11 for both, especially since I found the first book, in particular, got bogged down – there was far too much sex, which got repetitive. There’s a brilliant story in there, though, and I hope she’ll handle structure better as she goes on – these are her first two novels, I think.

    Read something else which left me cold, and then stumbled on the new Loretta Chase, ‘A Duke in Shining Armour’, which has been frustratingly unavailable in the UK though it came out in the States last month – it’s been changing form and dematerializing in a baffling way on Amazon UK, so it was a nice surprise to suddenly come across it. Fun so far.

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  8. I felt the urge to read a romance, so I bought Alyssa Alexander’s The Lady and Mr. Jones. Really enjoyed it. I had a hard time putting it down (although I did skim some of the sex scenes).

    Just bought Loretta Chase’s latest, A Duke in Shining Armor, after seeing a very favorable review. I loved her early books but haven’t read some of the more recent ones.

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  9. I’m rereading fast women. After my last weekend I was just hit with a burning need to read about angry women who have had enough reshaping their worlds. it is hitting the spot perfectly.

    8+

  10. I am up to my eyeballs in work, so of course reading Heyer until 2am. Damn. This time, Venetia – which I enjoyed in the end, but nearly put town in the first chapters when he kissed her against her will. I wonder if a few subtle re-writes (a la Famous Five) is not inappropriate? Maybe it’s completely inappropriate? Interesting question.

    In quick reading, I may have shared this link before, but read the article again today as I was discussing with someone the idea that being a geek is just giving yourself permission to be excited about what you love – and this is harder for non-mainstream loves. It’s very good. https://thespinoff.co.nz/society/26-07-2017/what-we-love-matters-a-unifying-cultural-theory-to-fix-techs-diversity-problem/

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    1. One thing to remember in a lot of these non-consent romances is that the power balance shifts. Sometimes the characters arc and that changes the balance. But I think in the case of Venetia, it’s a case of mistaken power balance. The “hero” soon learns his place in the universe.

      I think a little nonconsensual kissing or even groping may be allowable as long as the heroine is strong enough to put the hero in his place.

      (-: But arguing about what’s allowable vs. what people actually read and like is a whole other argument. I didn’t like the hero of Venetia in the first chapters of my first read, either. But, the book turned out to be rewarding.

      On the other hand, I will forgive some heroes of far worse behaviors if I think it’s an important part of the story.

      I will admit, I haven’t read Venetia since the recent revelations and uproar. It might squick me out more now. Maybe.

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      1. I think this is going to changed everything. I was skeptical at first, but harassers are dropping like flies in a DDT storm here. Time Magazine made the women who spoke out the Persons of the Year. Trump is being sued because he called his accusers liars. Congress is losing members faster than the Knight in Monty Python, and Franken at least is going to be replaced by a woman.

        I think the key is the fantasy. A lot of things I found borderline or even acceptable I’m now more sensitive to, so it shifts the fantasy on the page. I don’t think I ever crossed the line, my guys are usually more clueless than demanding, but I deliberately went close to it in Crazy for You to parallel a scene with Nick and then as scene with Bill, trying to show that consent makes the different between harassment and assault and a woman saying no as a come-on. Jen made me dial back the scene with Nick, which I am very grateful for now because I think what I’d originally written, trying push boundaries, would be squick-territory today.

        It’s amazing how fast the perception of sexual harassment has shifted in just weeks.

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        1. I was really disturbed by the hero’s behavior in the newest Eloisa James. He won’t stop touching her when she asks and he shows up at her bedroom door in the middle of the night.

          I hope I would have been equally bothered a year ago but there is no way to go back and tell now.

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        2. I’m furious that Franken has been forced out of the Senate based on allegations. I believe that the accusations should have been investigated according to Senate rules and that consequences should have been meted out according to standards that all senators have to follow. Instead, we have rule by the loudest and most incessant screamers. That alone terrifies me. But further — Democrats and lefties like me need Senators. The final tax bill vote is coming up — talk about an evil plan that will impoverish women (probably more than men). And Ryan plans to attack Medicare and Social Security next year. I would put up with Franken in order to get his votes on key issues.

          Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. I’m another screamer myself.

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          1. He will be replaced by a Democrat. If that were not the case I bet the Senators wouldn’t have pushed him out. That isn’t actually a good thing but it’s really

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          2. Debbie’s point is well taken. In addition, Conyers is being replaced by his son, presumably a Democrat.

            Sorry to rant at everyone. I fear that Nikke Haley is being prepared by the Republicans for President. I guess I live in fear these days.

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          3. Well founded fear. I think if Moore wasn’t on the ballot, the Senate would have waited to make him resign.

            When it was just one woman btw, with an agenda, I agreed with you. The more women who came forward, the more I thought he’s going to have to go. I still think we should have waited for an actual investigation but given that the House Ethics just gave Nunes a clean bill of health, I’m not sure anyone thinks that would be the final word.

            The good news is I just saw an article from a conservative calling on Clarence Thomas to resign.

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          4. I’m on the other side. I’m furious with Franken who is accused of groping eight women, many of them Democrat fans who were posing for pictures with him. WTF, Al? Eight women just misunderstood that your hand on their butts on your tongue in their mouths was just friendship? Eight women got it wrong and now you’re being persecuted? Yeah, we needed Franken the way the Republicans need Roy Moore. If we say, “Well, he does good work,” which is true, then “good work” is a license to fondle, which appears to be the status quo among powerful men. I know Moore is ten times worse, but this isn’t something you grade on the curve.

            You know what the deciding factor for me was? That picture with his hands hovering over the flak jacket of that sleeping woman. I also tend to believe eight different women, but that picture was proof for me that Al does not understand boundaries.

            I read today that there are as many as forty men serving in Congress right now who have settled sexual harassment suits. You know that swamp that Trump made swampier? This could be a start on actually cleaning it.

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          5. I think Franken has been an intelligent and capable legislator, and I hate to lose an intelligent and capable progressive. However, I think it was necessary for the Democrats to lose him. If we don’t have the high ground on this kind of issue, it hardly matters about the votes. The end does not justify the means.

            That said, I respect Franken for owning up and stepping aside. He said he couldn’t do both: cooperate with the investigations, and serve his constituents. That is righteous. And I think he’s learned something, unlike the “they asked for it” harassers on the right.

            A lot of Franken’s behavior may well be chalked up to what’s been seen as acceptable in the showbiz context. But the recent public conversation on sexual harassment, assault, or general impropriety is making people see (finally) that just because a woman does not immediately protest a behavior, that DOES NOT MEAN that she thought it was okay. It certainly doesn’t meant that she invited it or wanted it.

            If I were taking a picture with a celebrity and he put his hand on my ass, I might well say nothing. I would be shocked and alarmed and embarrassed, and I would just want to get out of there. The times I’ve been harassed IRL that’s how I’ve reacted. I was not brought up to slap first, as – I suspect – most of us were not. So yeah, with regret, I come down on the side of the accusers.

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          6. I think that anybody intelligent should know not to put hands on anybody’s ass unless they’re in a relationship where it has previously been established that the ass-grabbing is acceptable. And Franken is clearly intelligent. And also clearly arrogant as hell if he thinks he can do that and get away with “I don’t remember it that way.” Eight women do, Al.
            To be taking a picture with someone and reach down and grab a buttock is not a case of “I didn’t realize that was wrong” unless the grabber is a moron. It’s not a mistake. It’s sexual assault.
            God I hope Moore loses in Alabama Tuesday. I don’t think he will, but I’m still hoping.

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        3. We are going to have to be extremely careful though. Because the first time one of these guys (and it will only have to be one) is accused and it’s disproved, the backlash will be extreme.

          I’m happy to have it come out (okay ecstatic) and I think it’s a long time past due. But especially for the men we don’t like, we need to ask for evidence.

          No, it’s not fair. Yes, this has been going on for years. But I see guys bringing up the Scottsboro boys, the Duke lacrosse team, Emmett Till and if they get a fresh face, the hundreds of thousands of women who have legitimate complaints will be lost as everyone suddenly starts screaming it’s a witch hunt and McCarthyism and a lot of other bunk usually perpetrated by rich white men.

          So as happy as I am, I want to be very very cautious moving forward.

          For fiction, movies, music – this however may be a game changer.

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          1. No no no. We do not want Thomas to resign because if he does Trump will appoint someone even worse and much younger who will last for decades. The goal now with our voodoo dolls is to keep all the justices alive until Jan 21 2020

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          2. I don’t think Thomas will resign. It’s not like he does anything up there but pick his nose and vote for evil.

            And I don’t think the backlash will stop this. There are too damn many angry women out there. Out HERE actually. Also I’m hoping that governors appoint women to all the seats.

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          3. I understand what you’re saying but I want Thomas to resign if at all possible. It’s been 20 years but if we got justice for Anita Hill?

            That would be epic. Because before anyone – Anita Hill stood up and said this is not right.

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        4. I’m watching it from afar; here, the behavior really is so engrained in the culture, and I don’t think the men in charge of media don’t know how to report what is going on in the US. I wonder if it was like this when other cultural mores changed? If suddenly, overnight, the tipping point was achieved and it was OK to show ankles and even knees?

          It’s interesting, though. Women have been complaining about these things for ages and ages. I think it was Jeanne who brought up how Anita Hill’s bravery really changed things as a first step. And one can also see how the exuberance of women’s freedom in the 1920s was presaged as early as the 1890s.

          Overnight success often takes years to accomplish, as some famous person said.

          I have very, very complicated feelings about the whole thing. Mostly, I’m glad the whole issue is getting blown open, and things are being discussed.

          And let’s face it. Great art is going to be great art. If it doesn’t speak to the times of the reader, well, hardly anything lasts more than a thousand years. The new art is going to have greatness, too.

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          1. I think it’s chaos theory again. That idea that one grain of sand drops and then another and nothing changes and then another grain drops and you have an avalanche.

            There are evidently twenty to forty more people in Congress who have settled sexual harassment claims that people in the media know about.

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          2. But it’s very, very frustrating. We ALL know what goes on in Congress. I mean, when I was a girl and thinking about summer internships, being an intern in Washington was on my wish list. The sexual harassment didn’t knock it off my list (buying the clothes and getting together the elan was more the problem for me), but I was definitely aware that staffers got molested (and maybe worse). Journalism was also known for being very well aware of human foibles (bullying behavior that resulted in sexual harassment — and I’m not sure, but I think around the 1980s, there were reports surfacing of women abusing their power and sexually harassing men, too).

            There’s always been a bit of a pendulum swing between believing in one’s merit and doing anything it takes. But current circumstances? OMG. Big pendulum swing with Trump, and there will be a big correction swing before everything settles down again — and nobody knows what the new “business as usual” is going to be. I do hope it winds up a bit more on the meritocracy side.

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          3. I just saw a quote from Myrna Loy. In the mid 1920s she did a movie role in blackface. In the 1950s when she was writing her autobiography, she basically said, I’m sorry and I don’t know what we were thinking to think that was right.

            Let’s hope this is like performing in blackface – something that none of us know how to explain to small children because in retrospect it just seems godawful.

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      2. I think the point of Venetia is that the hero is a sleeping beauty, encapsulated in his own definition of being a failure and a rake. She doesn’t recognize him for what he thinks he is, starting with the kiss. He expects to awaken her passion; instead, she kind of analyzes the experience. With Venetia over time, he (I’ve forgotten his name) can awaken into the thoughtful, kind man he really is.

        Then the cool part is that Venetia goes to London and does what she needs to do to diminish her social standing so that the hero will be forced to marry her. And she has a marvelous time doing it, for all that her mother infuriates Venetia.

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    2. That was flipping fantastic. Our motto around here is “The first rule of being cool is never let anyone else tell you what you like” and this fits right in. Thank you for sharing it.

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    3. That was great. And it’s something I love about this community: my love of romantic comedy has attracted astonishment and condescension all my life. If you read English at Oxford and work in publishing, you’re not supposed to enjoy that stuff.

      3+

    4. I am rereading Heyer’s Venetia, one of my favorites, and after following it up with a read of Lisa Kleypas’s Devil in Spring realized that the two books share something not always present in many romances – unsentimental tenderness.

      I prefer Venetia to Devil for a few reasons (thus, the re-read) but also because Venetia is the one who expresses tenderness, without it dis-empowering her in the least – she’s a lot like Heyer’s Sophy, but different :). (I ignore that first one-sided kiss, which was totally less creepy than the Ayn Rand rapes – I’m re-reading Atlas Shrugged, too. Very different from what I remember as a teenager (thank goodness).)

      The tenderness in the Kleypas’s Devil was embedded in the the more common “Hero falls for Wild Child Heroine” story line, but Kleypas can write that relationship and the hero’s tenderness with no small skill. Her Wild Child/Woman characters are not totally annoying.

      1+

      1. I’m re-reading it, too. And I’m not sure what I make of it this time. I have an uneasy feeling of *grooming* — preparing young women to put up with a life of philandering men in order to enjoy a nice life, children and the affections of said husband when expressed. Birth control has done away with a lot of this goose/gander dichotomy. I think these days, sex falls into two categories: a sort of athleticism done by good healthy bodies, and pushed as far as the consenting couple wants (thanks, Atlantic, for shaping my ideas on that one), and sex as an expression of love. Oh, and there’s power sex, which can be sexy, but also fraught.

        We’ll see how it goes; I’m about half-way through Venetia. I can’t exactly remember how she employs her agency — but it’s clear throughout the first part that she does have agency in her limited sphere.

        0

  11. I’m rereading some of my lighter favorites, including British romcoms by Trisha Ashley (Wish Upon a Star) and Katie Fforde. My brain and spirit aren’t up to anything heavier. Next up, my newly ordered Jenny Crusie hardcovers. (Yes, of course I’ve read the books before, but they’re HARDCOVERS.)

    1+

        1. Have you tried Kate Fenton? I tend to think of her as a bit of a British Jenny Crusie. Lions & Liquorice (Vanity & Vexation in the US) is my favourite Pride & Prejudice re-hash but I love all her books.

          1+

  12. I’m rereading all my Christmas favorites: Andrews’ SIX GEESE A-SLAYING, DUCK THE HALLS, and THE NIGHTINGALE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (Andrews’ books read as if they’ve been marinated in Christmas spirit), along with Peters’ TROJAN GOLD, Pope’s THE SHERWOOD RING (not technically a Christmas book, but my favorite best chapter involves a Christmas feast), Evanovich’s VISIONS OF SUGAR PLUMS, and I’m sure I’m forgetting a few titles . . . but I’ll remember and reread them before the 25th.

    3+

      1. A couple of times in recent years I’ve found myself waiting days for surgery, and to keep my nerves in check I’ve begun with MURDER WITH PEACOCKS and proceeded as far as I can get through the series before it’s time for the hospital. The books have really helped.

        1+

  13. Finished the newest by a highly sucessful HEA/thriller writer. Pah. Left with a sour taste, and realize she’s up to her old formula of serviceable plot with characters in peril who *explain* to each other with a topple-weight of ‘splainin’ at the wrap-up. Stayed with this book because it is set in the Golden Age of a SoCal town I know well, and the ambience and physicality is well-handled.

    Sadly, if the hotel were real, the place today would be a char, prevailing winds being what they are.

    1+

  14. I’m about to start a book I heard about on NPR while the anchors were talking about their annual Book Concierge service. 📚 Actually, they talked about the sequel, but I’m starting with the first one, “A Gentleman’s Game,” by Theresa Romain.

    Assuming end-of-semester grading load doesn’t kill me first, that is!

    0

  15. It was the children’s end-of-year on Wednesday. It is the teacher’s end-of-year today. We have calendar school years starting in January and ending in December.

    I had 41 and then a transfer in May took the total to 42. I’ve compiled my new register. I have 42 children in 2018. I’m teaching grade 3 again. I will be doing lots of meditation over this holiday in an effort to handle the anxiety that comes from noise and disruption. It is ridiculously difficult without management support. This year was AWFUL.

    At least our Summer holiday is over the festive season. And we still get about four weeks through winter. Tiny mercies

    5+

    1. You don’t get paid enough. I did 2 field trips this week with my kids and I’ve come to the conclusion that I would need a minimum of 6 figures and a highly recommended home cleaning service to even consider being a teacher.

      2+

    2. In the US, the mantra is “you can’t just throw money at it” (education) or some similar version. And I always think “why yes you can”. I’m sorry you are not getting the support you and the children deserve.

      1+

  16. You can find a clever retelling of the Shakespeare play in Much Ado in Montana by M. M. Justus. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JCZLUOE/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

    In this version a Seattle doctor returns to his small home town because of his aging father and reconnects with his old love while celebrating his best friend’s engagement. But a problem arises — a complication that replaces Don Juan of Shakespeare with a completely relatable human situation.

    I’m especially recommending this book because I knew the author, Meg Justus, through the Bujold mailing list. I just found out that she died last month. I like her stories and Much Ado in Montana is my favorite. Her work wasn’t professionally edited, and she cared more about getting her writing out on her website than spending the time and cost of producing a perfected book. Considering how things ended up, she made the right decision.

    2+

  17. I am re-reading “Lost Among the Living” by Simone St. James. Her novels are romance with a bit of supernatural and take place in England just after WWI. Her supernatural elements are ghosts, hauntings, mediums, seances etc.

    Next up after that is a re-read of “The Goblin Emperor” by Katherine Addison. My favorite book of the last few years. A hidden heir coming of age story that is extraordinary. http://www.katherineaddison.com/. Hope the link works.

    2+

  18. I am reading Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Enjoying it, but undecided as to whether I will continue with the series. It’s kinda dark and I am still in a phase of needing lightness.

    1+

    1. There’s only the two, but yes, they are dark. My kids described it as ‘angsty teens do Leverage-level sting, with MAGIC” so I was pretty much all in from the beginning. Also I was reading Bardugo’s webcomic years ago, and I like the way she tells a story.

      0

  19. Jenny —writing here because the blog won’t let me reply where you wrote—if the dick pic book is Good Boy I know exactly how you felt. Yet I stuck with it and was really impressed with how the authors made us like a shallow crude guy. It does help to know that the heroine has already had a significant sexual episode with the guy so it wasn’t quite as inappropriate as it seems if you don’t know that

    0

    1. I’m not sure what the title was, but even if I’ve slept with the guy, I don’t want a Weiner pic on my phone.
      I think he was a hockey player? And she was relentlessly cheerful and busy. I think about a wedding. The dick pic news came very early on, so I probably missed a lot.
      And I am probably a grinch, so ignore me.

      0

      1. It’s one of those things I don’t get. Do men think a Weiner picture will send women mad with lust? I have looked at a lot of penises (art school, life drawing classes remember) and neither Janice who drew next to me or myself ever went mad with lust. Of course, we were the oldest students in the room and would whisper to each other things like – Huh he has a bent dick. How do you suppose that works? Then laugh hysterically. (We tried not to let the model hear us. Models get treated like inanimate things too much).

        Its like these guys harassing women by French kissing or putting their hands on women’s butt’s. Unless you are having hot sex, I don’t think somebody caressing your butt does much for a woman. Why would a guy think that’s hot? And some strange guy putting his tongue in my mouth. Ick. Who know where it has been.

        0

        1. I don’t think they think things through. “This is what I like looking at/doing,” they think. “So obviously she will like it, too.” No.
          I must have read three different articles this week on when to send dick pics and they’re always the same answer: Never.

          1+

          1. I’m with you all the way on dick pics . But he is the guy who then gets one of the groom’sMom to the wedding when no one else could. Basically she makes him shallow and crude but also caring and sweet (despite the dick pic). It’s impressive given that I really don’t like crude or dick pics.

            0

          2. It’s funny what will trip a reader up (in this case, me). Sometimes something small is a real dealbreaker.
            I screwed up big time once. I did a throwaway line in Bet Me about “every woman with a working ovary” swooning when they say Cal. Then I got a letter from a woman who was infertile and she very nicely pointed out how hurtful that was. That’s a line I’d kill with fire now.

            0

  20. I reread Thief of Time. I love Susan Sto-Helit. I’m a very angry woman, so I really identify with her instant angry and determined reaction — especially to something scary.

    Thief of Time seems more straight forward after Hogfather, but that’s probably because I haven’t had argh’s insight on the depths Pratchett is exploring. Susan comes over stronger perhaps because the plot is easier to follow. Also, the events of Soul Music and Hogfather have given her a lot of experience picking up after her grandfather. I am trying to figure out if she develops as a character; she seems to, but I can’t grasp exactly what changes.

    I love that when she comes to her perfect moment, her mouth is full of chocolate nougat.

    She seems very Jennifer Crusie to me.

    0

    1. Susan Sto Helit is my favorite fictional character, so it’s probably that I became more Pratchetty after reading her. Or it’s just the anger thing. All my heroines are mad as hell.

      I think Thief of Time is more complex, but it’s more focused on Susan’s and Lobsang’s journeys. Susan changes enough that she falls in love, and yes, I love it that her mouth is full of chocolate when the stars start to fall (and what a lovely metaphor for that rush when it hits you). That may be my favorite Pratchett, but the ideas about time are really complex. You know, thinking about it now, it may be that the antagonists are just better. Horrible, horrible beings and yet vulnerable with character arcs. They’re not standing around in the background going, “Heh, heh, heh” like Teatime. And then there’s Lady Lejean who becomes vulnerable and transforms. It’s just a fabulous book.

      0

      1. Two things I just found on the Thief of Time page in the Pratchett Wiki:

        “Thief of Time features the neologism ‘substition’ (first used by Pratchett in Jingo), a term denoting the opposite of superstition.
        ‘No, they’re a ‘substition’, said Susan. ‘I mean they’re real, but hardly anyone really believes in them. Mostly everyone believes in things that aren’t real.'”

        and

        “A number of the oddities noted by Susan as evidence that the timeline was fractured had previously been commented on by fans. These include the variable dating of Koom Valley; the fact that an Elizabethan theatre was “a new type of building” in Wyrd Sisters, but there was a venerable Victorian Opera House by Maskerade and the uncertainty as to the setting of Small Gods.”

        I love the idea that Pratchett looked back at all his time mistakes and wrote a book that made them not mistakes.

        2+

      2. Yes, you began the Hogfather discussion with a comment that Teatime wasn’t an adequate antagonist. Wouldn’t he hate to know that?

        0

          1. I haven’t done justice to Hogfather yet. But Thief is my fave, so maybe. I just have to plan better so it’s not in the holiday rush and I don’t spend the week before throwing up. (Not a comment on Pratchett.)

            1+

          2. I’d like to second Elizabeth with a Thief of Time book club (maybe in January or February). (-: It just so happens that I found it recently, and so I know exactly where it is.

            The thing about Hogfather is that it can be discussed cumulatively. Every year, a new layer of discovery can be found. It’s got a great timing hook — oh, it’s December 1st. Time for a Hogfather discussion. (Although, Hogfather in July — well, I mean June, but Christmas sales always happen in July — might also be refreshing. It’d give the southern hemi folks a chance to experience the dark, and also give the northern hemi folks a perspective on the problem when there aren’t so many shadows to be dispersed.)

            1+

  21. Thanks to Deborah and others seconding the recommendation of Jeanne Ray. So far I’ve enjoyed “Eat Cake” (predictable but deeper than you expect for a book with cartoon cakes on the cover)…and really enjoyed “Calling Invisible Women.” Not a romance, and if it’s a movie they’ll change the end, but fun all the way through. Now on to “Julie and Romeo.”

    0

  22. Shoot, Micki wrote about Venetia and I’ve lost it. Was that on a different Thursday? Anyway, I tried to reread the story after commenting about it, but it just doesn’t grab me when I’m in the midst of Pratchett. Slow going.

    1+

    1. Elizabeth, I think we might be close to breaking the blog; the “comment link” sends me all over the place. What worked for me is doing a CTRL F (find on page) and entering “Venetia” — and at that point, we’d talked about Venetia 12 times I think (-:. So it wasn’t too tedious to find.

      0

      1. The blog doesn’t start to go wonky until we pass 200 comments, usually closer to 300, and then I put up a new con’t post. It’s just that it’s really hard to find anything in over a hundred comments.

        1+

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