This Is A Good Book Thursday, July 12, 2018

I’ve been reading old mysteries–Allingham, Christie, Francis, etc.–and taking many naps.  I did try one new book and really didn’t like it (name withheld to protect living author) because I wanted to slap the protagonist, always a bad sign.   New mantra: Please let me never write a slappable protagonist.  Of course, some people will find damn near anybody slappable.  Sigh.  

So what did you read this week?  Any unslappable protagonists?

90 thoughts on “This Is A Good Book Thursday, July 12, 2018

  1. I’ve just been to a Naked Girls Reading. They read an anti-prison manifesto, which was brilliant, and a piece of john-and-sherlock fanfic, which was awful and hilarious. And a bunch of other funny and thought-provoking things. It was a great night.

  2. Naomi Novik’s new book, Spinning Silver is out and my pre-order has not yet shipped, so I probably won’t have it for a week or so *weeps*. I am rapidly losing the argument with myself about whether or not I should just buy the ebook version already.

    Also just read Sarina Bowen’s new YA (though the heroine is 18 so maybe NA, not sure what the line is there? She’s doing senior year at a prep school, anyway) which was good. I really like her stuff (both NA and contemps).

    1. I have just finished Uprooted, and absolutely adored it. It’s not often these days that I find a book I want to finish in one sitting. I now need to go order Spinning Silver.

      1. Haven’t read Spinning Silver yet, but the novella which was the original genesis was AMAZING. It’s in The Starlit Wood anthology. Great anthology in general.

    2. I’m reading a series (Accidental series) and want to slap a couple of the protagonist just to get them to shut up!

      I’m listening to Tell Me Lies and I want to slap the antagonist. I never read Bill quite as creepy as the audiobook.

      1. Not Tell Me Lies, Crazy for you. Sorry Tell Me Lies is the next audio on my list to buy.

  3. I pre-ordered the Kindle version of Ben Aaronovitch’s new Rivers of London book, due out in Nov. There’s also 4-5 short story/novellas set in that world out too. I found a few of them floating in the wilds of the Internet. They were originally bonus material for particular editions sold in the UK. I’m hoping for an anthology at some point.

    1. I am repeat binge-listening to the Rivers of London series now. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is a wonderful reader/voice actor. Eagerly awaiting the audio version of the new one. I am resisting the graphic novels as I have a clear idea of what the characters look like in my head, and the comic book versions don’t match up.

      1. Kobna Holdbrook-Smith is extraordinary. His women sound like *women.* I had to return my copy of the audiobook of Sylvester because Richard Armitage could not do a woman’s voice — there’s more to it that just going high. He sounded like a man imitating a woman, not like an actor being a woman (which is what K H-S does).

        1. I’m coming late to the Thursday page on this, but I’m fascinated by the question of audio book narration. I’ve never listened to an audio book. Occasionally I’ll read a reference to the fact that such-and-such a book is narrated by XYZ famous person (e.g. Stephen Fry, Nicole Kidman), but that always seems to involve a prior connection between an actor and a role in the book.

          The few times I’ve clicked on the wrong option while looking up a book on Amazon (the new Wikipedia of books one can obtain with money, evidently) and arrived at an audiobook version of the thing, I’ve vaguely checked to see who the reader/narrator is, and always have found it impossible to find a reference to the reader’s name.

          When you own the actual audio book, do you have a way to find out who narrates it? Is it just in some cases but not all? And what’s the process by which authors/publishers search out and find potential narrators or vice versa?

          If it’s one way for celebrity voices and another for ordinary working narrators, I am just disgusted with our paparazzo culture in general.

  4. Reading this great book about a haunted house, some ghosts, an ex-husband, Maybe This Time. No desire to slap the protagonist, and it’s always a good time to read a Crusie, especially if you want to ignore the news and go to a better world for a while.

    Next up, Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver is out, and if it’s half as good as Uprooted it’s going to be amazing.

          1. Best news ever! I am loving Nita, Nick, Button, Max, Rab, and can’t wait to see how it all plays out. That said, I keep re-reading the excerpt about Alice. Jenny, you create characters and worlds that I want to live in. I live on a cul-de-sac and if I could populate all the houses with people from your books, it would be my idea of heaven. I feel as if they are real people I know and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the story. Thank you so much!

          2. Thank you. Although some of the people in my books I would actively move away from.

  5. I just read the Innkeeper series by Ilona Andrews, it’s about an innkeeper with a magical inn that serves aliens. I really liked it, particularly books 2 and 3. The authors write the books in chapters and put them online until they’re ready to publish them, so you can read book 4 in progress on their website too.

    I have bought a shit ton of ebooks within the last week. Of the ones I’ve finished, I also read Ilona Andrews’s “Iron and Magic,” which is a spinoff from the Kate Daniels series featuring two rather arrogant characters getting into an arranged marriage and slowly growing into liking each other. It’s pretty good so far.

  6. I managed to get e-book bundles of The Steerswomen books by Rosemary Kirstein. I’m really enjoying reading book 1 considering I first got book 3 or 4. I’m on book 1 and I I can see that even though they’re stand-alones, there is a plot arc going through the books.

    Yay for no IV, Jenny.

  7. What interests me is what the balance between a slappable character and a garbage baby character is. It’s fairly popular to have characters that are just complete disasters, even more than usual.
    What seems to the be the key is if the story takes the characters’ dumpster fire beliefs or actions seriously, even laud them. The other is if they are the central protagonist vs. a foil character vs. part of an ensemble where there are other garbage children.

    Being slappable also seems to often be derived from the audience not getting the satisfaction of the character getting their comeuppance within the story.

    So Oliver and Barry get slappable because they brood and whine and the support cast bends over backwards to justify their behavior. The Legends suffer consequences from their silly behavior, and acknowledge that they screw up their missions, so it because fun shenanigans instead of slappable.

    1. Good examples. I think the Legends embrace their fucked-up-ed-ness because that’s what sets them apart and then is ironically one of the reasons they succeed. They expect failure, so when it happens, they just move on to Plan D.

      The character I was reading was supposedly the very best lawyer in her firm and in the city, but when she made a mistake, she panicked and ran. I thought, “Nope.” If you’re the best in your profession, you lost your panic response a long time ago because you’ve had to be save-everybody’s-ass mode so many times. Then halfway through the book, she thinks, “Wait, maybe I didn’t make that mistake. Maybe SOMEBODY SET ME UP.” Combined with a lot of lying and unbelievably rapid acquistion of a new skill set . . . nope. Won’t read that author again.

      OTOH, the plot of “A Scandal in Belgravia” was ridiculously convoluted, and the ending flat out unbelievable, and I don’t care, I love that freaking story and those characters and especially the end that would never happen in real life. I want to believe.

      1. Ok, it’s not a mystery, at least I don’t think it is, but that synopsis is remarkably similar to “The Undomestic Goddess,” by Sophie Kinsella, and I’m hoping that’s not the book we’re discussing (I’m ruining the ‘save living author’ thing, aren’t I?), cause I LIKE that book.

        1. Me too: but it’s so individual how you digest a story; and can vary depending what space you’re in. Lying usually throws me out of a story, but I identified with that heroine regardless: I too was naive and overly trusting in my twenties. Book-smart, good at my job, but easily manipulated and bullied by people with an eye to the main chance.

      1. Oliver = Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow, in this case the TV show on the CW. It was once fascinating, then went through a very very bad period and I dropped out. The lead is charming but the writing less so; they lost me when he told his Girl Friday that they could never be a couple because it was too dangerous for her, and that was after she’d been kidnapped several times. Yet somehow, she continued as his Girl Friday. Crying a lot, which was a real sin against her character. I think they’re married now. Early shows are great. His mother was a blast; talk about a destroying mother. “I had you kidnapped and beat up because I love you.”
        Barry = Barry Allen, the Flash, again TV show on the CW. Early stuff was great, powered by the charm of the lead, then Barry became an idiot. “Whatever you do, don’t change the timeline, Barry.” Barry changes the timeline. Again.
        Legends: Legends of Tomorrow, again CW TV. The first season was awful, broken up by brilliant moments that I still go back to. Then they killed off the best character and rebooted the series in the second season and it’s my favorite TV. I’m behind on this season, but I understand it’s still great. Basically, it’s a bunch of oddballs on a time ship who were supposed to be fixing problems in time, usually caused by other time travelers and often by themselves when they screw up. Then they got kicked out of the time cops and decided to keep working anyway. Somewhere between the first and second seasons, somebody must have hung a big sign in the writers’ room that said, ‘Why not?” because they consistently have the most batshit plots on TV, amiably carried out by their team of misfits and screw-ups. That their captain is a tough bi-sexual woman is just a plus.
        If you search for any of those in the Argh archives, I did blog posts on some of them, many of them rants (“Vandal Savage, Worst Antagonist in the history of TV”).

  8. No slappable protagonists where I am, i.e. still Discworlding.
    (I’ve never met a slappable Crusie-protagonist. I doubt they even exist. Not even theoretically.)

    Finished The Fifth Elephant. Yes, I still love Vimes. <3

    Re-read The Truth. It's always a bit strange to connect to random protagonist after having spent so much time with well-known once, but I rather like William de Worde. Not my favourite lad, but he's all right to spend some hours with, even if he is an annoying journalist ;).

    Currently re-reading Thief of Time.

    1. Oh, Thief of Time. I think that might be my favorite Pratchett. All the stars in the closet.

    2. Moist and William DeWorde are on occasion slappable…fortunately in those moments they are generally verbally slapped by someone in their vicinity.

      1. That’s a good point. If they get slapped, then the slappability becomes realistic. Hadn’t thought of that.

        1. I mean given DeWorde’s background, him having slappable moments is completely understandable (and very much a part of his character arc).

          Also if it was only Sacharissa slapping him down then it would get tiresome (in that woman as emotional labour kind of way), but it’s not, it’s the Dwarves, Otto, Piss Harry and sometimes the entirety of his readership.

    3. The Truth is my first Pratchett, so I didn’t know who anyone was. I did learn, but it’s still one of my favorites.

  9. I really enjoyed my reread of ‘Trade Me’ by Courtney Milan, but found (again) that its sequel, ‘Hold Me’ dragged. I think the main problem is I’m not convinced by the transgender heroine. Hope she publishes the rest of the series soon.

    I’m just finishing ‘Miss Wonderful’ by Loretta Chase, which is another favourite. Will follow it with the rest of the series, which are all lots of fun.

    1. See, I loved “Hold Me” and didn’t like “Trade Me.” I think that’s the minority view though (shrug). I liked the heroine and her relationship with her mom in “Trade Me”, but I didn’t like the hero’s “big secret” and how it was handled. I don’t want to get into spoilers, so I’ll just leave it there.
      I’m glad it didn’t dissuade me from reading the rest of the series and yes, I agree, I’m impatiently waiting for more. 😉

    2. I also preferred “Trade Me.” With “Hold Me,” the hero was a little too much of an ass for me at times, and the reason for it was…not good enough for me. Don’t want to give spoilers. It was easy to get invested in his issues with his parents; that felt more justified than his initial problems with Maria. On the other hand, people falling in love through messages without meeting is catnip for me. So it was still worth reading. But yes, it should probably have a big “Your Mileage May Vary” sticker on it.

      Ah, the Carsingtons. “Mr. Impossible” is excellent. Rupert and Daphne are both awesome. So is Marigold the mongoose. That is what Rupert named the mongoose, right?

  10. Managed to borrow remaining Maiden Lane Series by Elizabeth Hoyt except the 2nd one. She is really good at interconnecting characters for a series. Light historical romances so relaxing, not up to deep this week.

  11. I read The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, which I think someone here recommended. And I loved it. It started out as a romp, with a disgraceful hero, but turned into something a little deeper along the way.

    Now I’m reading James Oswald’s The Book of Souls – detective novel set in Edinburgh with a bit of magic thrown in. I loved the first book in the series and am really enjoying this one too. Good writing, great protagonist.

    1. I also read The Gentlemen’s Guide to Vice and Virtue. It is a period novel about an 18 year old rich boy who has disgraced himself at Eaton with a homosexual encounter. It also has a young man of the same age who is of mixed race and a younger sister who is doomed to attend a finishing school. Their parents send them on a grand tour of the continent and they run headlong into adventure and danger. Very enjoyable coming of age book about 3 young adults who must make life decisions. I am eager to read the next novel-A Ladies Guide To Petticoats and Piracy!!

  12. Reading Julia Quinn. Flew from LAX to Jacksonville via Dallas on Sunday and returned home yesterday via the same route. Lotsa travel in a short amount of time. Quinn’s Bridgerton series made the long hours in the airports and on the planes go by quickly. Love her characters and the plots. I think she’s a pretty good writer.

    1. Love her. Read almost everything by her, except that duo of the brothers who switch being duke…”The Lost Duke of Wyndham” and “Mr Cavendish I Presume.” I just can’t get through the first one, no idea why. I’ve tried like three times now.

  13. Still on comfort reads. Currently reading this woman named “Jenny Crusie.” Heard of her? =p First did “Faking It,” then “Welcome to Temptation,” (still don’t really see the temptation of Phin), then “Wild Ride,” and then “Don’t Look Down.” Not sure if I want to go “Bet Me” (am I in the mood to eat chicken marsala, cause that always happens), or “The Cinderella Story.” Choices, choices…

  14. I’m having a good time with the first book of The Expanse series, I haven’t read a space opera in a long time. Also, it’s a show on Amazon, so I’m kind of going along with both. I meant to check in on the first episode, and tore myself away after the 3rd.

  15. I read The Cinderella Deal for the first time. Somehow I missed it when I started reading Crusies. Fun but probably not as frequent a re-read as Welcome to Temptation or Agnes and the Hitman.

    The Crocodile on the Sandbank became available, so I finally got the meet Amelia Peabody. I admire her ruthlessness.

    1. Years ago, when I first heard of the Amelia Peabody series, I had to order them from the system as our library had NONE of the books. I love and admire the character of Amelia- smart, strong minded, living life on her own terms and happily- very wealthy. The following year, I gave a donation to our library with the stipulation that they buy the first Amelia Peabody book for others to enjoy!

    2. I loved the first Amelia Peabody mystery, but got bored as the series dragged on. If she wanted to write more sequels, why not to Legend In Green Velvet? Yeah, I know that Peters/Michaels/ Mertz had degree(s) in Egyptology, but the central romance got really repetitive.

      1. The immediate sequels to ‘Crocodile on the Sandbank’ don’t work for me. They’re too farcical and melodramatic. My keeper pile starts again at ‘The Hippopotamus Pool’, and continues almost to the end (her last one or two were thin and unconvincing, I thought). The keepers are real favourites, though.

  16. Currently reading: Mary Stewart’s The Moonspinners, which I’m really enjoying so far, in spite of a couple of oddnesses due to its age (copyright 1962). First, apparently “caique” is a common word for some sort of boat (news to me); second, and even more disconcerting, around 80 pages in, the heroine (who’s been clambering up and down steep Greek hillsides) mentions her petticoat, and now I can’t at all imagine what she’s been wearing all this time!

    1. She’s been wearing a slip under her dress or skirt. Slips were nice. Half slips were from hell, because they would bunch at the waist.

      1. Slips were great, especially if you didn’t put anything over them. Which is why I wear spaghetti strap sundresses as often as a possible. All slippery and slidey and loose and flowing. Slips should make a comeback.

          1. I have a beautiful slip which was my mother’s. The bodice was pleated and the hem was pleated, about 3 inches, in a lovely rose colour. It is about 50 years old and in mint condition. Doesn’t fit but beautiful to take out and look at.

      2. The Brits call any slip a petticoat while when I was growing up (in the Midwest) a petticoat referred to a lacy wide liner worn under a full skirt (aka a crinoline.)

    2. I could never, ever, ever could wear a dress or skirt without a slip. Even in the days of petticoats I wore a half slip underneath because of the itch factor of starchy lace. Even when culottes were the rage I wore pettipants. I don’t understand why most women don’t wear a slip anymore. Also included in the itch factor are labels that scratch, I cut them off and I’m grateful there are now being designed without them. I think I must have sensitive skin because from years ago I could not wear any fabric made with ramie/cotton blend.

      The Moonspinners would now be considered a historical novel. I think in that era dresses were considered frocks and the leather walking shoes for tromping about are now athletic sneakers. Times they are a changin’.

    3. Every woman wore dresses or skirts back when this book was published. Have you seen the movie starring Haley Mills? It is worth finding and watching.

  17. I loved The Moonspinners. My first Mary Stewart so will always be my favorite. I never noticed about the petticoat. I probably just put it from my mind. The protagonist in my head didn’t wear skirts!

    I’m afraid quite a few people want to slap my protagonists. Two in particular. And they’d probably want to slap me too, if they met me. My friends just shake their heads at me, and if they want to slap my hero(ine)s they don’t tell. That’s what friends are for.

    But you know, some of us are a particular kind of damaged, and reading about other damaged people makes us happy, especially when that person succeeds in the end. I think everyone is – if not damaged then shopworn. So I don’t mind that I have some slappable characters, I’m just coming out of my slappable stage myself. We all have our own kind of crazy!

    I’m just now realizing that’s it’s okay with me that certain protags of mine aren’t universally liked. Because if they were they wouldn’t reach the people I wrote them for. I may never be a best seller, but I’m beginning to understand who I write for, other than myself. I think that’s a good thing.

    Just to be clear, I’m not putting down anyone else’s non-slappable characters! I love many of the Argh people books. You lot are a group of very talented writers. I eat that stuff up. I’m waking up to the fact that some of my characters are they way they are because I needed to write them that way. In a weird way, my stories are giving me hope.

    I know, I’m a wack job. It’s okay.

    1. I’m good with damaged characters, they just have to be believable.
      This character is a top financial litigation lawyer in her twenties. She’s about to be made partner in her firm. Okay, I’ll buy that, although the youth is a problem, but she’s supposed to be a genius, so I’ll give the story that.
      She has an incredibly messy desk and she gets rattled when people point it out. Not if she’s a top litigation lawyer; even if she was disorganized, she’d find a secretary to fix that for her.
      She discovers a memo on her desk that she should have handled weeks ago. She doesn’t think, “How the hell did this get here?” she thinks “Oh, hell, I missed this because I’m so disorganized.” No. You can be a genius litigation lawyer or you can be a ditz. Pick one, I don’t care which.
      When she realizes she’s going to be the reason a company loses fifty million dollars, she runs away. Top litigation lawyer, faces down top lawyers in court constantly? She does not run away, she kicks ass. Or she’s a ditz and not a top lawyer. Pick one, I don’t care which.
      She ends up through a series of contrived circumstances in the stately home of some rich people who think she’s applying for the job of a housekeeper. So she plays along. Why? If she’s a genius litigation lawyer, absolutely no reason. If she’s a ditz, she lies because she doesn’t want to leave yet because she’s freaked out by one mistake. Pick one, I don’t care which, but don’t try to tell me the lying ditz who swears she can cook and clean is a genius lawyer. Because there’s nothing about this that is not dumb.
      That’s when I bailed and turned to the end of the book where she figures out she’s been set up and fights back and then has to choose between her new life with a great guy and her old life with a bunch of cheating swine. She picks the old life at least twice before she does a rom com run back to the new love and better life.
      Oh, and she discovered who was sabotaging her by googling mostly, which means any due diligence by a top law firm would have discovered the swindle before it could be completed. And her big fight back scene is telling people what happened and letting them pursue the bad guy.
      There’s more, but if you are a top lawyer, famous in your twenties for your skills, you are not a ditz. If you are a ditz, that’s fine, too, but you’re not a top lawyer unless you’re some kind of idiot savant. Try to convince me you’re both, you’re a slappable heroine.
      I think this stuff makes me crazy because it’s what women’s fiction gets slammed for all the time: gorgeous women in their twenties at the top of their careers acting like idiots, often because a guy shows up. I’m good with characters being flawed, making mistakes, that’s what makes them human, I am not good with supposedly brilliant women acting like idiots because . . . cute plot.

      1. One small point: she’s a solicitor, not a barrister. She’s a genius at a narrowly specialist type of contract law; she wouldn’t appear in court. The British legal system isn’t the same as the US one.

        So I read her as someone who’s focused on detail and hasn’t seen the big picture – which a young man could equally be (but her mother definitely never would). I do agree that the story rather loses its way halfway through; and the repetitious toing and froing at the end is weak.

        1. I knew I’d get the law stuff wrong; I was looking at it through American eyes. But if she’s focused on detail, would she have a desk so messy she’d believe she’d missed an important memo for weeks? If she gets every detail right, would her first instinct be to panic or to say, “What did I miss?”
          So much happened in that plot because the plot needed it to, not because the character as described would do that.

          1. I just really enjoy the farce when she arrives in the country. I’m happy to suspend my disbelief for the rest. But I can easily see how I could have jumped the same way as you – I do it for loads of other, similar books.

          2. I think it was the “she’s young and gorgeous and wildly successful but also a sloppy, lying ditz” that got me. And it didn’t read as farce to me; it read as comedy. Idiots in farce I’m good with (see P.G. Wodehouse) because they’re supposed to be idiots. Although my favorite Wodehouse character is Psmith, who is anything but an idiot. Lies like a rug, but he’s cheerful about it and it works.

          3. I never believe it when a fictional lawyer is supposedly “the best” but can’t find anything in their office. I’ve worked with lawyers since 1989. If they don’t know what every piece of paper on their desk is, they aren’t the best. They might be successful, but that is not the same thing.

          4. @chachal I knew a tax attorney who had stacks of paper all around the walls of his office and piles of paper on his desk and credenza. It looked like the world’s worst mess, a tableau of chaos. But if you asked him where a some obscure memo was, he could tell you exactly where it was — which pile and how far down. It was amazing.

          5. @Katy You could have been describing my dad’s office. He was a top tax attorney and used to joke that he would never change offices because he’d have to deal with all the piles of paper. When he passed, his admin assistant was super careful going through stuff (and my mother helped) because there would be personal things in with the work stuff. We found a signed old baseball card in the middle of a bunch of client files. Had he been alive though, he would have known exactly where everything was.

      2. Indeed, THERE you have a slappable protagonist. I also know another protagonist from another unnamed book (with ghosts and dancing in it) of unnamed author that I wanted to slap approx 78 times per chapter. I still read the book and ejoyed it, but the slapfactor was very high.

        Now when thinking about it I can come up with a whole bunch of slap-chars, but let’s not go there…

  18. This weekend I read Tales of the City by Armistad Maupin and liked the characters so much I immediately read More Tales of the City. I’m currently worried about the two characters who ended the book in Guyana. I fear nothing good can come of it. The books are so evocative of a time and place.

    I also read The Parker Inheritance, a children’s book reminiscent of The Westing Game which I loved as a kid. Highly recommend.

    Now I’m reading Welcome to Temptation to celebrate the beginning of actual warm weather. Summer doesn’t really start until July 5th here.

    1. I seem to remember there’s a follow-up that involves the characters who went to Guyana. Because yes, they were involved in the whole Jim Jones business. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what those books were called. More More Tales of the City?

      1. Looking at my library website, there appear to be many more books. I’m looking forward to working my way through them.

  19. Read an Agatha Christie, a bit mediocre. Read Barbara Delinsky’s Flirting with Pete, hadn’t read it before now. I think part of the story is a precursor to The Coast Road which is one of my favourites.

    May re-read a Loretta Chase series.

    1. I read or rather skipped most of a book last night. The author usually holds me interest and draws me in, not this one. That’s a delete from the e-reader.

  20. I haven’t read that book, but I agree with the Smart Woman wouldn’t make that mistake sentiment. My real life twenty-something daughter who just finished her first year as a product design engineer is quite clear – she wants love, but on her terms. And giving up the job she spent all those years in school to get isn’t going to happen – even for the love of her life.

    Of course, she hasn’t met the love of her life, so maybe she would be like the lawyer in the unnamed book who gives up everything. But I’d like to think not. Because she knows five minutes after she gave everything up she’d be bored and resenting said love.

    I like a good romance as much as the next woman, but I like them best when the people in them get to keep being who they are and doing the things they love. I don’t think I’d like the unnamed book either, but I doubt I’d pick it up anyway. My ex went to Law school. It was a hellish time for me. I stay away from books about lawyers, law school, and also bankers – which is what he bacame.

  21. I have been reading tiny bits of “Here is Where” on the nights I don’t stay up too late writing. Brain = hamster wheel + too hot = can’t sleep anyway, so might as well write. A week or two ago I read “Man Hands” (Sarina Bowen & Tanya Eby) and it was filthy & hilarious. Downloaded the sequel for this weekend.

  22. Right now, I’m re-reading Katherine Addison’s “The Goblin Emperor.” The protagonist, Maia, is above all a kind person, and he succeeds in very difficult circumstances in part because of his kindness. In times like this, a book that values kindness is a great gift.

    On the other end of the spectrum, I just started listening to Neil Sheehan’s “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam.” I started watching Ken Burns’s “Vietnam” again this week, and that got me curious, partly because Neil Sheehan, who was a reported during the war, is one of the people interviewed.

    I say “again” because the first time made me so angry, I had to stop…and the documentary was still covering the late 40s/early 50s, particularly Ho Chi Minh’s attempts to get the US to help his people. We were so wigged that he called himself a Communist (even though he was far more a Vietnamese patriot who wanted his country to be free) that we supported the French. If we had had a better understanding of Vietnamese history, the war would never have happened. A lot of terrible things would never have happened.

    1. I recommend The Goblin Emperor to everyone who asks for a good book to read and also give it as a gift. wonderful book!

  23. I’m reading The World As It Is by Ben Rhodes, the speechwriter for Obama. It’s fantastic — thoughtful and measured and poignant. *Le sigh*

  24. Never stopped wearing slips. Addictive and collectible lingerie. Giant t-shirts worn in the house, nada else. In the garden pants and long-sleeved shirt and hat. When I advance into public, hey, I’m layered and liking it that way.

  25. I’m currently enjoying Whispers of Warning by Jessica Estevao. It’s a follow up to Whispers Beyond the Veil which followed a young woman on the run from a snake oil act her dad had badgered her into. She ends up at her aunt’s hotel for spiritualists in Maine and involved in a murder mystery. Absolutely loving it and highly recommend it.

  26. I am currently listening to The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (with a new narrator). I love this series but I do not like the new narrator as much as I did the former.

    I’m currently reading The Letters of Dorothy Sayers (years 1899-1936). It gives an idea of the person she was before she became a successful writer. I’m only up to 1909 so far but am finding it interesting.

    I once read, rather tried to read, a book where the heroine was so stupid I threw the book across the room (as a book lover, I would never do this except under extreme duress). Several months later I picked it up and told myself it couldn’t have been that bad and started to read it again, with the same result…she really WAS that stupid!

      1. Jenny, if you mean The Thief, yes I still love the book, in fact I love the whole series. (And book 6 is coming out March 2019!) What I meant was that I am not a fan of the current narrator of the audiobook. The audiobooks were recently re-issued with a new narrator. To be fair, if I hadn’t listened to them with the former narrator, this guy would have been fine but I have the voices of the characters from the former narrator in my head.

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