This is a Good Book Thursday, October 10, 2019

This week I read Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Somebody. I was thinking that Alice would talk to a therapist, and while I have plenty of experience of therapy, I thought this might be good for looking at therapy from the outside, or in this case, both sides. Excellent book; it lived up to all the hype around it.

What did you read this week, wonderful or otherwise?

62 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 10, 2019

  1. I read The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. It is the first in a series and seems to be going interesting places, but the ending really threw me. I actually turned back a couple of pages to see if I had somehow missed something.

    I also saw Guys and Dolls at a local theater, so then I had to read Bet Me again.

    7+
  2. I just finished Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart. I usually like her stuff; she’s a very evocative writer. But I really ran up hard against the antiquated attitudes towards women and women’s roles and expectations and didn’t enjoy this book at all. I was never that attracted to historicals for this sort of reason (with exceptions – Heyer, for example) but I’m also starting to have real trouble tolerating relatively recent stuff as well. The Time’s Up movement just added to the disgust that I was already feeling. Is it just me??? I own a lot of older books that I used to really enjoy but I’m thinking many of them won’t stand up to re-reading. Urk! Existential crisis coming!

    On a more positive note, I just finished Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. I thought it was quite interesting, if somewhat sad. It’s about a female PI with no magical powers investigating a murder at a private school for magical teenagers. Among other complications, the PI’s fully magical, and estranged, sister is on staff at the school…

    15+
    1. You are not alone. There are books I probably would have enjoyed before Time’s Up that I can’t stomach now.

      Something I see in historicals and contemporaries that I don’t like –

      Anything where the hero meets a heroine and starts immediately fantasizing about how he’s going to back her into a metaphorical (or literal) corner or somehow manipulate the situation (often her work/living situation yikes!) so he can aggressively pursue her. It’s never just “hey she’s seems cute, I should ask her out and then take it gracefully if she says no.” I’m talking about where the guy sounds like a stalker and I’m trapped in his POV. It’s meant to show how “passionate” or “alpha” he is, but it always makes me think “Ruuuuunnn!!” I get that fiction is a safe place and some people want to explore that fantasy, but it’s never been mine and after Time’s Up it leaves a really sour taste in my mouth.

      I don’t mind if the hero (or heroine) notices right off the bat that their love interest is attractive, but I want to feel like that’s just the start and there’s more to come. I really like a more slow burn where attraction builds on getting to know each other, laugh to together. Grow to respect each other. It’s easy to be attracted to a good-looking person. Show me there is more than that. “Bet Me” is an excellent example of how to do that well. 😉

      I’m not sure if that’s related at all, but also Wildfire at Midnight and The Ivy Tree are the two Mary Stewarts I really didn’t care for and I’m not sure if it was related to social change or the books themselves, or where I was in my life. I read them long ago, so it’s kind of hazy in my mind. I know I had doled them out sparingly (I was reading them in the last 15 years or so, so I knew there were not more “classic” Mary Stewarts to come) and felt a bit deflated both times.

      Glad you found something else that worked out for you!

      11+
    2. When I was a pre-teen and teen seriously into SF, I loved Robert Heinlein. When I went back to reread something of his later, I discovered that he was a serious misogynist. It was so disappointing.

      12+
      1. He was also dealing with his editors, who were aiming at a heavily-teenage boy nerd market. He lost me right after THE MOON IS A HARSH MISTRESS, which is about the time 1) he felt really free to write steamy sex, and 2) he was so prominent that no one was willing to really edit him, even when they should have.

        5+
      2. I still love him. I love his teen books. My favorite adult ones are Beyond This Horizon, Door into Summer, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Stranger in A Strange Land. I have them all. But I don’t reread them all.

        2+
  3. I also liked Lori’s book, though I didn’t read it recently.

    I just finished reading Becoming by Michelle Obama, which I generally enjoyed. Mostly reading it for the “how they met” angle 🙂

    3+
  4. I read Bet Me because… Bet Me. I don’t think that one even needs an explanation, or a reason. So it’ Bet Me because Bet Me. Second time this year.

    I am almost finished with “Blue Dahlia” by Nora roberts, first in her In The Garden-series. I’ve read it once before, around 2009 I think, and I needed something easy and comforting to read. Except for the first chapter where I cried rivers, I found it as cosy as I remembered it.

    Not yet sure what to read next. Could go further to the 2nd In The Garden, or…something else. Haven’t figured out what I need yet. I just know it has to be something I can wrap around myself like a fluffy and warm blanket. Someting as warm and comforting as marshmallow dragons in hot chocolate. Can I have marshmallow dragons, please?

    10+
    1. I re-read Nora Roberts’ work regularly. I especially like the bride quartet novels, anything with MacGregors, and the Boonesboro trilogy. I don’t know if they’re warm and comforting as marshmallow dragons, but I love Alexander McCall Smith’s books set in Botswana, because Precious Ramotswe is gentle and wise.

      8+
      1. I loved the Bridal Quartet books until about 5 years ago. When I found myself actively wanting a sequel where all 4 of them fall apart at parenting and working full time. I wanted non-sleeping babies; I wanted their exercise routines to fall apart; their hair to be messy. I wanted meetings with baby messes on their clothes. I wanted unexpected pregnancies and health insurance concerns since they’re all small business owners.

        Yeah, I was a bit of a mess myself then…

        29+
        1. My mum used to watch old tragedy movies about for example, a lady with a happy family becoming widowed, destitute and forced to give the children away and work in domestic servitude, in conditions of unbearable cruelty, till one day she encounters one of her children, who is now successful and takes her home with them.

          I never made it past the husband’s funeral, so always wondered why these tragedies were so popular. My mother said, when they were made times were tough and they made people feel better that they weren’t as badly off as the heroine. The audience only felt they got their money’s worth if they had a good cry.

          8+
    2. Marshmallow dragons are a tall order, I want some too. My comfort reads used to be Howl’s Moving Castle by Dianne Wynne Jones and the sequel Castle in the Air. They were my favourite Dianne Wynne Jones, apart from Year of the Griffin (about a magic school)

      4+
        1. I still love them, I just haven’t read them for a while. I accumulated piles of TBR books and now I can’t find my copies, may have to borrow them from library

          1+
          1. Oh yes, very recognisable. It’s a luxury problem, but annoying nevertheless: having so many books that you don’t know where you’ve put them.

            0
  5. A friend loaned me Waiting for Aphrodite by Sue Hubbell, which I was happy about because I loved several of her previous books. This one felt more personal, and I’ve really been loving it, but when I stopped to look up the state of Maine to see what town or area she was talking about, I found that she died in 2018, about a year ago, of complications from dementia. So now I’m reading the book (subtitled ‘Journeys Into the Time Before Bones’) more sadly, and vowing to read all the rest of her books that I’ve missed. She was an amazing character and wrote lyrically about an astounding range of scientific topics in the most approachable ways.

    7+
  6. I finally read a Meg Cabot, No Judgments, which was okay. Also, for work, read Front Desk by Kelly Yang, a YA novel that is being touted as a good read to help understand the immigrant experience for children. I think I enjoyed it more than the Meg Cabot book, though hurricanes in the Florida Keys can’t be beat for excitement.

    4+
  7. Today we are a minute away from a coastal Nor’easter. We’ve been warned for the last couple of days. So I am prepared with a reread of Maybe This Time. Another one of those books I thought I had in the bookcase and had to order from the library, but in this case in large print just because.

    7+
  8. My recommended read for the week is The Last Collection by Jeanne Mackin which was very good. I am starting to reread it now. It may have been recommended here. The heroine becomes enmeshed in the Paris couture scene because she taught Elsa Schieparelli’s daughter Gogo. It is all about the Schiaparelli and Coco Channel and the last collection produced before the outbreak of WWII. It is a romance although, not just a romance. Very good read.

    6+
  9. Still chugging through How to Invent Everything. Made it through all of the survival technologies, now onto the more luxurious sciences.

    Otherwise, been getting caught up in fanfiction.

    4+
  10. My reading pleasure this week was Once a Spy by Mart Jo Putney. It really hit the spot. I wasn’t as happy with The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Feldman. My Library’s website gave it glowing reviews, but I really couldn’t bring myself to care. Maybe I’ve got enough drama in my own extended Jewish family to care about another family’s mishigas.

    4+
  11. I finished rereading K. J. Charles’ Society of Gentlemen series, and enjoyed it again. Segued to her ‘Band Sinister’, and then to rereading two novels by Jude Morgan, which I always feel ambivalent about. He writes in the style of Jane Austen, but I find both stories take some getting into: ‘Indiscretion’ I nearly gave up on (again), but after the first hundred pages or so it becomes much warmer and hilariously funny in places – he can be very witty. I’m a third of the way through ‘An Accomplished Woman’, and not swept away yet, although I know it does come good in the end.

    I think my problem is with his omniscient voice and the rather self-conscious, clever style. But there are some great characters and historical atmosphere (they’re Regencies). I haven’t tried his novels about real historical figures, because I don’t like fictionalized biography. And the one or two more recent novels I’ve tried haven’t worked for me at all. But these two are keepers, I think. And they may well suit others here – I do think they’re interesting, if you’re into Regencies.

    6+
  12. The only things I can read right now are game recaps and twitter feeds about the Washington Nationals victory last night. It’s going to make a great sports movie if they go all the way! And as a fan who has lived through many disappointments, this experience feels a little like fiction. Grand slam in the 10th inning by a player who has screwed up throughout the playoffs? Yeah, sure.

    5+
    1. Oh, yes!!!! I’m glad, too, that they’ll be playing the Cards, since there won’t be as much time difference. Too much staying up way past my bedtime. 🙂

      2+
  13. I am in the middle of five ebooks and three paper books from the library, and have not finished any of them in the past week, although I did return one book a few days ago after giving up about 25% in and saying “Meh.” Not to mention the three books I own that have bookmarks in them; only one of those bookmarks has moved at all in a week. Surely I will finish something soon.

    6+
  14. Finished up my Pratchett kick (although it’s probably only a break) with ‘Where’s My Cow?’ I’m now reading george Lakey’s ‘How We Win’ . Maybe second Murderbot after that…

    5+
    1. I got so excited finding a Pratchet in the French section at my used bookstore, then discovered it was a misplaced other language, maybe German? :/

      3+
  15. I read the new Kate Atkinson novel, ‘Big Sky’ and loved it, despite its difficult subject matter. Hard to find anything to follow it, so now I’m rereading Joanna Bourne’s Rogue Spy, which is reminding me how terrific this series is. I think I’ll reread the rest of them as well.

    4+
    1. I love her books. I started (by accident) with the last in the series, so I had to go back and discover how this happened, and why X doing Y was so significant. She made me want to know and hang out with all these coppers and pirates and spies. And often in France no less. Not a series I expected to love, but I do.

      4+
  16. I just finished Barbara O’Neal’s newest one, When We Believed in Mermaids. Not an easy book, and trigger warnings for some folks, but it was absolutely wonderful. Like, the kind of wonderful where I put it down, sighed happily, and immediately shot an email to the author telling her how amazing she was.

    7+
  17. I have a couple of non fiction books going and want something light to break up the heavier reading. I read a revise of Ellis Peter’s. A Morbid Taste for Bones and it made me feel like re-reading the Brother Cadfael series. I absolutely love Brother Cadfael and his herb gardens and remedies, as well as the HEA’s.

    5+
  18. I totally agree about some things I read and liked years ago, and just can’t read now. Some because 50’s mentality about women, some because I am not as tolerant of bad writing as was. Partly J. Crusie’s fault for making me a more educated reader.

    I read some unmemorable books while on vacation, so now re-reading Sayers.

    9+
  19. I have been going through a reading slump but the buzz around Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muirgot prompted me to pick it up and it turned out to be exactly what I needed. It’s fresh, funny and irreverent (also gross and morbid).

    Not sure why lesbian necromancers in space is so appealing but there we are. It’s also by a kiwi which means that there are certain linguistic tics which make me smile (first time I’ve heard “yeah…nah” in a sci fi novel)

    7+
  20. As I recall, I didn’t really like Wildfire at Midnight, the heroine was almost completely passive, but pretty, and was very nice to the men. Even when the bad guy was about to knife her, she couldn’t stand to smack him with a rock. Fortunately, the hero arrived just in time. So that’s not something I would read again.

    5+
    1. Also, the part where the heroine withholds evidence from the police incriminating her ex-husband despite her suspicion that he is a serial killer responsible for killing multiple people, a serial killer who might be about to kill some more people, and she’s doing it because she still loves him? Ugggh! No!

      5+
  21. I read Adobe help files. They didn’t help.

    Much more enthusiastically, I kept binge reading the Campion books, till I got stopped by someone else having the next one out from the library. I’m still enjoying most of them but I found the sexism in The Fashion In Shrouds awful. Mostly I can ignore that in old books but not when it’s that bad.

    While I wait, I moved onto The Grand Sophy and now I’m reading my way through other Georgette Heyers. The Grand Sophy’s great, as always, and I’m enjoying Death in the Stocks, but in between I read a collection of her short stories and got a little sick of the “bad-tempered man meets stubborn infuriating girl and is charmed into being a decent human being” trope. So maybe I’ll have to stop with those for a while. Sigh.

    And I agree about Heinlein. Loved him as a teenager, find him sickening now. More sigh.

    8+
    1. Yeah, when his sister gave up her hugely successful international career for her man because he said he wanted a wife who stayed home, I gagged a little. Well, a lot.
      But Amanda is still a hugely successful aeronautics (?) engineer, and Albert never even blinks about her having a career; I don’t think he’d even think of it. And the mystery is good. I loved the actress, too; she was so honestly selfish and oblivious to other people’s feelings that after awhile I just did what all the characters in the book did: shrug and think “Well, that’s Georgia.” It’s a good mystery still. Sigh.

      I adore The Grand Sophy but it’s anti-Semitic as all hell. I just close my eyes past that part so I can get to the part here Charles tells her he detests her and then kisses her. FINALLY.

      9+
      1. I like Amanda too. What really annoyed me about his sister’s romance is that the guy was so clueless about the anguish he caused her and then expected her to just fall in his arms like nothing ever happened. I wanted her to tell him to f…. off in the worst way.

        6+
        1. It’s not actually clear the sister gives up her career—Meg in a subsequent book works for her. But certainly she agrees to be a traditional wife. Which Amanda isn’t remotely.

          0
  22. This week I finished ‘The Woman in White’ by Wilkie Collins and ‘A Most Dangerous Woman’ by Brenda Clough, which is the highly satisfying new-ish sequel to WIW and gives Marian 1) her due 2) a romance 3) lots of perilous shenanigans before all ends well.

    4+
  23. I really enjoyed Kristine Katherine Rusch’s new sci- fi novel, The Renegat. Complex and interesting. It is a stand alone novel set in the diving universe. Some other reviewers complained that it is all new characters, and the timeline shifts from the present to 100 years ago. I liked having new characters, and the timeline shifts made total sense in light of the overall plot.

    I am also reading Braiding Sweetgrass, non- fiction essays by Robin Wall Kimmerer for my book club. It is a slower read for me, but very well written. The author blends her native American heritage and folklore with her scientific background regarding plants and the environment. I also enjoyed her writing about teaching young people.

    3+
  24. After all the praise here in recent weeks, I read my first Talia Hibbert, Work For It, and enjoyed it enormously. Two damaged men trying hard to be kind to themselves and each other and mostly getting it wrong, until they get it right.

    I also read Hacker Hoaxer Whistleblower Spy, which is about how Anonymous morphed from a bunch of internet trolls into an activist movement. A fascinating and surprisingly fast read, that I had trouble putting down at times. It was written by an anthropologist who spent years observing and interacting with the community so it manages to feel like an insiders account while staying objective.

    4+
  25. I’ve been rereading Pat McIntosh’s Gil Cunningham mysteries in order (they’re pretty chronological) with great pleasure. They’re set in Glasgow in the 1490’s; Gil’s family was on the wrong side of the last battle, so he’s almost ready to take vows, since the family lands were lost when his father and brother were posthumously attainted. And then, “at the May Day dancing at Glasgow Cross, Gilbert Cunningham saw not only the woman who was going to be murdered, but her murderer as well. Strictly speaking, he should not have been there.” The first book is THE HARPER’S QUINE, and one thing I especially love about them is that all have unusually fine opening sentences.

    3+
  26. I finished rereading Tamora Pierce’s Trickster series. I still love it.
    Now I am reading two books.
    Pets in Space – a collection of SciFi Authors put together this collection. Since I had it on my blog – https://susanbjames.blogspot.com/2019/10/pets-in-space-anthology-4-with-veronica.html
    I bought it and started reading it. 10% of all pre-orders and the first month’s royalties of Pets in Space® 4 will again go to Hero-Dogs.org. Here’s a link to the buy links. All Buy Links: https://www.petsinspaceantho.com/books/pets-in-space-4/
    The other book I am reading is called Change Is The Only Constant: The Wisdom of Calculus in this Madcap World by Ben Orlin. It’s funny and interesting. I didn’t think anything about math could be interesting, but the writing is so good and the drawings so bad and I am loving it.

    3+
  27. I read Bright Young Witches and The Restless Dead by Beth Byers. A new series about a family of orphaned witches in the 1920’s who have to leave their home when the community finds out they’re witches, so they travel to England to try and find their ancestral home and possibly any long lost relatives. Hijinks and curses ensue.

    I also read Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia. About an introverted researcher for a hospital charity fundraising department who gets involved in a deceased flamboyant eccentric billionaire’s public treasure hunt. There are several other mysteries swirling about her at the same time. I really enjoyed this one.

    2+
  28. The high tomorrow is supposed to be 41. I want to be reincarnated as a bear and sleep all winter. I’m in a mashed potatoes for the mind mood, and rereading books I love. I talked my friend into reading Agnes and the Hitman. She is loving it. You know when to
    you love something so much that you are almost afraid to share it? And they love it too?
    And you get to talk about it.? So I get to settle in and add some gravy to my metaphorical mashed potatoes and reread Alice. Although that analogy might work better with Manhunting. I loved it when the heroine was eating the mashed potatoes and stabbed her date with a fork. You do awesome food porn.

    10+
    1. I understand food better than sex. Stick to the kind of porn you know, I always say.

      And thanks for pushing Agnes, too!

      8+
  29. I really liked Alice Hoffman’s new one, The World That We Knew. Jewish young women fleeing holocaust with the help of a golem. I usually steer clear of historicals (except Regencies) but I faithfully read all Hoffman. And it was so good. She always is.

    0

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