This is a Good Book Thursday, January 9, 2020

Looking back over my Kindle list for the past couple of weeks, it’s been all crochet and murder. I must branch out. Probably into cooking and art theft; I do love a good heist.

What did you read in this fine new year?

ETA: I just read a really good new book: One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus. Alternating first person PoVs, solid characterization, and a nice twisty plot.

45 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 9, 2020

  1. I’m down to one book this week, I preferred being on holiday (instead of this mad work-from-home while the kids are on holiday ‘holiday’). Except, I’m kinda enjoying my kids? Today we did baking, and played tennis (badly) and read books, and mooched around the house, it was great.

    The one book was Seeds of Power – thanks for all the recs, I enjoyed it, especially the strong central character, and those who supported her in her strength.

    In other books I did not read this week, I couldn’t get past this caveat at the start of a book: “Chapter 11 features a few scenes that deal with grief and bereavement. If that is going to upset you, it’s possible to skip that chapter and not miss a major plot development’. I mean, yay for the warning, but I’ve clearly been reading about Jenny’s editing process for too long, because I’m all like, if you can skip it, why is it there?!? Perhaps I’m missing out on a Good Book, and I should be more open-minded. 🙂

    14+
    1. Yup, yup, I think the same thing with her editing! XD It helps me understand why I stop liking certain books and authors, too.

      6+
    2. It also strikes me as absurdly patronising. If a reader doesn’t like what she’s reading, it’s not hard to stop. And if you’re really grieving, all kinds of things can be upsetting.

      11+
      1. I just watched the Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist pilot. My dad’s been dead of a similar neurological disease for nearly thirteen years and this STILL messed me up watching it. You never know what’s going to kick in on you. The showrunner has clearly been there and done that and I know it. Owwwww.

        I don’t know what I’d make of that disclaimer if I was reading it on chapter 11 though.

        8+
  2. PS Re Food, I recommend (although it was a long time ago I read it) Nigel Slater’s Eating for England. It’s not a cookbook, but it is a fun read.
    https://www.nigelslater.com/eating-for-england_bk_10.

    Excerpt:
    Do I tell them about the meltingly tender lamb from North Ronaldsay, the famous apple hat pudding with its tender sute crust or the northern teacake known as the fat rascal? Do I have the time to enthuse about medlar jelly, damson gin and the undpasteurised cheeses…(and more I edited out)
    Or do I tell them the truth? That for every Brit eating our legendary roast beef and jam roly poly there are a million more tucking into Thai Green Curry or pizza. That more people probably eat Chocolate Brownies than apple crumble and that it is now easier to find decent sushi than really good roast beef. Should I mention too, that despite our love for all that is local and ‘real’ we also love a list of edible icons more eccentric than anyone could ever imagine? ‘

    10+
  3. I read “Carrie Fisher: A Life On The Edge” and really enjoyed it. I don’t know what the hell happened with regards to the family (they say they never heard of her, she said she tried to contact them), but it is really good and fills out a lot I never heard before about her life.

    Also read “Dreaming the Beatles” by Rob Sheffield and that’s a very good/interesting take on the band.

    7+
  4. Reading The Quality of Life Report, a novel by Meghan Daum. The protagonist is really, really naive beyond belief, but the send-up on stereotypical New Yorkers in publishing and entertainment is funny. Being a Midwesterner, it’s hard to believe city folks don’t know what a grain elevator is, but I’m sure that many of them have never seen one.

    7+
  5. Still reading Immortals After Dark by Kresley Cole though I did start a fantasy romance (which apparently is also YA?) that I put down immediately cause the hero kidnaps the heroine, holds her against her will, but somehow they fall in love anyway. A little too light on the consent, too heavy on the Stockholm syndrome for me (also horrified that this is the romance example we’re putting in front of YA?). I even skimmed ahead and read reviews on Goodreads to see if there is a point where the hero sees the light, is horrified by his actions, sets her free (and then, cause it’s a romance, she comes back anyway), but nope. And apparently he gets pretty abusive in the second book? So, yeah, DNF…

    7+
  6. Thanks to Gin, I’m reading the (20) Danger Cove mystery anthologies. Thanks to oops, I’m reading out of order. I did, however, go to the Google Chrome App Store, and now I can read Kindle on my Chromebook. I know there’s an app for my phone, too, but let’s not get ridiculous.

    What exciting new food did I try recently? Arby’s roast beef. Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not new, but it was new to me. As long as they’ve been around, I don’t remember ever eating their R.B. sandwich, and OMG I just figured out where their name comes from.

    No, I Googled. Wikipedia says Instead, they chose the name “Arby’s,” based on R. B., the initials of Raffel Brothers; although often mistaken for Roast Beef. Scratch one epiphany. The sandwich was okay, though. I might get another.

    7+
    1. The Arby Sauce is what makes the sandwich. I like the horsey sauce too. And the potato cakes vs. curly fries.

      I must be hungry. 🙂

      4+
      1. Yeah, the sauces are the best part. After a few years, though, the chopped and pressed meat turned me off. My friend’s husband, however, went into mourning when they closed the last one north of downtown.
        I hear they have real chicken now, but since I am now avoiding bread, it didn’t seem worth the effort to go check it out.

        I finished Running With Scissors by Augusten Burroughs this week. It explains a lot about why he became so compulsive about his surroundings in later life. If you can’t control what happens inside a house it is easy to see why thinking that finding the “perfect” place to live will change everything.

        5+
        1. I got another one on the way to work this evening, with one of each of their sauces. It was not as good as last night, no matter the sauce, and it wasn’t “amazing” then. They just happen to be the fast food component of an all night truck stop (Love’s Plaza) on my way to and from work. If the dotter hadn’t left me an empty gas tank, I’d have passed them by.

          3+
          1. Yet that’s a way to discover new goodies. We usually seek out diners in towns when we drive across the US, but nowadays many diners have closed (owners retired; town is dying) and the waitresses and cooks migrate to the highway truck stops.

            Flying J and other truck stop diners sometimes have fantastic food and servers.

            2+
  7. SOMEBODY mentioned Catherine Lloyd’s Kurland St. Mary’s series, so I looked it up. I’m starting #3. Also old Nora-Homeport – New Jayne Ann Krentz-The Vanishing-And a RaeAnne Thayne- Coming Home for Christmas.

    Re: Jenny’s education on book structure and editing-we spent New Years Eve at a friend’s B&B, and one of the other guests was a writer. I got one of his books, and while it’s a really cool premise, and I like the book for the most part, I so want to edit it for him!! There’s a LOT of info dump/history lesson, and I kinda zone out there. Plus, one more strong pass through to correct things like quiet for quite. There’s a bunch of those…

    2+
    1. typos that are actual words means that you need a real editor / proofer to look at it, rather than just relying on spell check.

      4+
  8. Despite the mound of library books waiting for me, I am listening to The Fellowship of the Ring as I follow along with the Prancing Pony Podcast which I discovered a month ago or so. Two guys who love all things Tolkien started a podcast a few years ago. They are working on FotR right now. I fins them both amusing and interesting.

    5+
  9. I’m reading The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and to my pleasant surprise am really (really) enjoying it. Not just her (fictional) versions of Trotsky, Diego R and Frida K but also the narrator’s voice: subversive, sweet. DS recently spent a month in Mexico City. What with his photos and accounts and now this book, I’ve put the city on my must-visit list. Some day.

    6+
  10. Oh my goodness. Just started “The Rise of Kyoshi” a couple of hours ago, written by F.C. Yee, the author of The Epic Crush of Genie Lo. It’s a prequel to the Avatar: The Last Airbender cartoon series, but all you need to know is that it’s a fantasy-Asia story where people have elemental superpowers.

    So good. Yee writes extremely likable and distinct personalities, compelling relationships, and intriguing world-building that fits quite well with the cartoon’s themes. “Fantasy geopolitics for YA” at its finest.

    7+
    1. I’m counting down the seconds to the release of The Iron Will of Genie Lo, and really hoping it lives up to the first one.

      1+
      1. I am, too! But I also want even more of this Kyoshi series. I’m already going to finish this book today (that’s how much I gobbled it down), and it seems like there’s so much more story to tell. Just, more from F.C. Yee, in general.

        1+
  11. I reread Niccolo Rising by Dorothy Dunnett for an online discussion group. Amazing writing, very dense, one of those books where you can’t afford to skip a single sentence because it’s going to count at some stage. And some wonderful descriptions. ‘Claes, who was eighteen and built like an oak tree with dimples.’

    And for total contrast I read a middle-grade novel, Malamander, by Thomas Taylor. Very funny, very engaging.

    8+
  12. Last night I ripped through the 26th Stephanie Plum (by Janet Evanovich) and was pleasantly surprised: Stephanie knows she’s in a rut, and between internal and external factors gets out of the rut by the end. It’s not a cliffhanger ending, but it definitely leads you to want the next one soonish. Worth reading even if you’ve missed the last few (they are skippable).

    6+
  13. The only book I finished this week was by a Famous Author who must be famous because she can keep me reading even when I’m saying “meh” with every page. Have enjoyed her for many years. Hope to enjoy her in the future.

    What I’m enjoying that I’m in the middle of is William Ritter’s Changling. Right up my alley with goblins and normal boys and portals.

    5+
  14. I reread Pride & Prejudice, soaking up the details and nuances I seem to have missed in the mere 50 times I’ve probably already read the book.

    Great stuff.

    8+
  15. Read Mary Jo Putney’s No Longer a Gentleman and liked it a lot. I seem to be drawn to the mature authors who started publishing in the last quarter of the 20th century. New writers, who started in the past decade, are a much harder sell for me. I guess, I’m getting old.

    6+
  16. I put this up in the post, too, but since it’s late I just finished a great YA (high school) called One of Us Is Lying by Karen McManus. Multiple first person PoVs, done very well.

    6+
    1. I love that book. I was listening to an audio copy and I actually couldn’t get through it fast enough b/c the suspense was killing me, so I sucked it up and bought a Kindle copy and finished it off in one sitting.

      3+
    2. OK this is the 2nd time recently I’ve almost pulled the trigger on something in Bookbub and then you recommend it. Bought! I’m currently reading the sequel to Trail of Lightning (Storm of Locusts) and will need to read something when it ends.

      0
  17. I’m reading Bad Blood by John Carreyrou which is a continuation of his Wall Street Journal expose on a medical device company called Theranos and its founder, Elizabeth Holmes, and how she bilked people out of what amounted to billions of dollars by promising a device that could run dozens if not hundreds of tests on the tiniest drop of blood.

    It’s astonishing the number of very smart people she managed to get money out of (it made me want to pull all our retirement savings out of the financial realm and bury the cash in coffee cans in the back yard) while promising increasingly more and delivering nothing and firing everyone who so much as disagreed with her. The lies and deception and manipulation are frightening.

    It’s an extremely compelling read. I really hope she doesn’t go into politics.

    5+
  18. *potential trigger warning for those feeling anxiety over the current state of the US*

    I almost hesitate to mention the book I read and thereby risk introducing the topic it covers into an otherwise safe space – but over the weekend, my library hold on the audio version of the book “A Warning” by Anonymous came in… and I listened to it while doing all my errands and found it alternately infuriating/enlightening.

    None of the information regarding the President’s actions/personality was particularly revelatory or surprising – so it’s unlikely to change anyone’s opinions about the man himself or who he is – but I found what the author(s?) had to say about why s/he thinks the country needs to get him out of office and the best ways to do so interesting and interestingly framed. (in addition to some of it feeling truly terrifying)

    This book takes a lot of the partisan-ship out of the calculous of whether or not he’s a good leader. (And now based on some of the analysis in the book, I find myself really hoping we get a third party candidate in the race, frankly, as our best hope to ensure the electoral math will hold to elect someone else.)

    It probably made me feel even more horrified by/anxious about the ramifications of the actions the President has taken on Iran…so if you need self-care on that front, this may not be the right time to read this. If on the other hand, you want a way to talk to people you think AREN’T horrified enough – (or who you sense are horrified, but somehow still feel the need to remain party loyal?) – with additional information and reasoned arguments that might make sense to them, then it might be the best time to read it.

    An interesting point the book made is the observation that the closer we get to the actual election, the more emotional the decision is likely to become, and the more likely we may be to just default to tribal party lines, especially if we are unsatisfied by our options …so by taking a reasoned look sooner before it gets so emotional gives more space for logic in the decision making process to help underscore why he shouldn’t be an option – particularly for people who may like some of the policies/short term results, without necessarily liking the man/how they’ve been rolled out. And the book makes the other important point – it’s not just all about who you vote on the line for President. Elect people you believe will insist on executive accountability all the way down the ballot – you can vote for people of principle who share whatever policy visions are your preferences, but who also have the strength of character to hold whoever’s elected to higher standards. Vote down ballot for someone who you believe will work with whoever’s elected – while also holding them to account – to shape policy/hold the line on existing policies align with your political beliefs so that it doesn’t all have to come down to just the top line…and so that if the top line stays the same, there can at least be more guardrails and accountability.

    But as I said, my net take away was the hope that the book and the President’s recent actions gives some reasonable Independent/Republican the cover and the desire to jump into the race as a viable third option…particularly if the Democrat’s primary race yields a super progressive candidate.

    5+
    1. Given the volatile state of American politics in general–it’s ALWAYS volatile–and the speed at which news breaks these days, I don’t think we’ll have a clue about the next election until October, and even then there’s the October surprise that always pops up, so I’m ignoring all the pundits and advice about the election and just concentrating on staying up to date on what’s happening in the rest of the world.

      With the exception of RWA. That I’m ignoring.

      4+
  19. Apparently there is going to be a Bridgerton TV series so I’m re-reading some Julia Quinn. Inane but entertaining. It’ll be interesting to see what Shonda Rhimes makes out of this.

    4+
  20. Pulled out my old paperback of Thirtysomething Stories (circa early ’90s) and the more recent book Thirtysomething at Thirty because I heard that the Thirtysomething series is coming back to TV!

    Very curious to see it. The show was interesting, and I learned a lot about writing from the Stories book (put together by writers of the show and which includes screenplays) and from dvd commentaries by the show producers.

    Am hoping the show doesn’t just look at the next generation but picks up with the original cast in a kind of thirtysomething x2 way. But both as a viewer and a writer, I’m interested to see how they handle the updated version, especially because at the end the characters kind of scattered in different places so fun to see how the plot pulls them back together:)

    3+
  21. My thanks to the person who recommended Every Woman For Herself which has been keeping me amused for the last two days! It feels more like a friend talking than someone writing; elliptical, alluding to things that are shared knowledge, and some very idiosyncratic vocabulary, but it also feels like people I’d like to hang out with.

    2+
  22. I read “Prairie Fires: The American Dream of Laura Ingalls Wilder” in three days. It was SO good and as a huge fan of Mrs. Wilder’s work, it illuminated a lot of things I knew about her but never thought about in context. Like, I knew the Ingalls family didn’t have much money, but I never really thought of them as ‘poor’. And yet poor is exactly what they were. And as much as she venerated her Pa, he really made some astoundingly bad choices.

    3+
  23. One of Us Is Lying is a book in my classroom library that is consistently checked out or just stolen. I’ve bought three copies already. The sequel isn’t bad.

    1+

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