This is a Good Book Thursday, November 12, 2020

So I’ve been rereading Murderbot because I’m still imploding over the election and the aftermath, but I did get one new hit of narrative, not a book, a movie I had heard a lot of great things about and was still dumbfounded by when I saw it: Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. Freaking amazing. I read some other things, but my brain is full of exploding dimensions and spider heroes, so really, if you haven’t, you should watch this.

76 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, November 12, 2020

  1. That’s such a great movie! I need to watch it again. I’ve been editing this week so not much reading. I liked The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

  2. After all the talk here about Connie Willis’ time travel books, I re-read Blackout and All Clear, which were just what I needed. I also read Nothing Lost, the fanfiction that someone here recommended about Colin’s story while events were happening in All Clear.

    I’ve just about finished Dokkaebi: Vicious Spirits by Kat Cho, which I’m enjoying.

    And I’m about halfway through The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn Moriarty, which is, so far, an absolute delight.

    It’s been a good reading week this week.

  3. We just watched Into the Spiderverse again and yes, it was still excellent. Really looking forward to the second one in…gulp…2022.

  4. I don’t like superhero films (well, not since the original Superman), but that trailer looks fun – and it’s on Netflix!

    I’m back to Olivia Dade: just started ‘40-Love’, which is fun so far, and light enough to work well as a counterbalance to the Deeply Significant Symbolism of the day job novel.

  5. I read Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade and I really enjoyed it, but I have to issue the caveat that it’s a little “inside baseball.” It’s set in a world with a very clearly fictionalized version of Game of Thrones and then within the fanfic world of that world (especially Jaime/Brienne). I guess you could enjoy it if you aren’t steeped in that world, but I feel like you would miss a lot. It really helps if you have crush on Nickolaj Coster-Waldau (which I do ;-)), although I think the hero is more physically based on him than based on his personality.
    I’m also reading a biography of Richard Avedon that I’m finding fascinating, but I’m not done with it yet.
    Mostly just trying to get my concentration back to normal again. It’s going to take a while.

    1. I am reading Spoiler Alert now, and I am probably missing a lot because I did not watch Game of Thrones. I do know who Jaime and Brienne are though from reading articles about the series, so thank you. This gives me some insight into the main characters.

  6. I read one of Jackie Lau’s newer ones – Pregnant by the Playboy. This is NOT a trope I like but damn if she doesn’t sell it!!!
    Standalone, HEA.

    It is first-person alternative pov but I don’t know what it is about how Jackie writes, it’s easy and comfortable to read. I don’t feel like it’s stilted or rigid.

    I also have to recommend her Mr Hotshot CEO again. Because it’s where we meet the hero of PWTP. Just for fun. No need to read it.

    I love Into The Spider Verse. Really great writing.

    I watched the series Warrior Nun. Sadly their lighting reminds me of the visually dark DC movies. It was hard to see the good bits. Meh.

  7. I really need to watch that movie.

    I just finished up the Holidays with the Wongs novellas that I was talking about last week, and I can now recommend them unreservedly. (Not that I was expecting otherwise, mind you. Jackie Lau is really good, and Beautiful Wife is suggesting that I branch out into some of her other series. This will happen sooner or later.)

    I also finished The Nightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall, which is a sort of coming-of-age fantasy adventure; there were a couple of points where I was a bit worried about whether it was going to get where it seemed to be going, but it actually all came together as a satisfying read, and I’ll be picking up the rest of the series once I get paid. (No romance elements in this one, but it’s gentle with its characters and there are hints that we’ll see some developments in the upcoming books.)

    I’m currently working on In The Black by Patrick S. Tomlinson, which is a sort of Hunt For Red October In Space; it’s rotating between three POVs and doing a good job of it so far. I’d classify it as a light sci-fi adventure/suspense, which happens to be exactly what I was in the mood for.

    I’m honestly kind of amazed that I’m finishing new books; an awful lot of people I know are having real trouble finding the emotional bandwidth for reading right now.

  8. Isn’t it an amazing movie?! Just remarkable, always something new to see.

    Yep, back to Murderbot, and also listening to Brene Brown’s podcast, Unlocking Us. Serious, thoughtful, and often full of laughter at the same time.

  9. Yeah, I returned to Murderbot last night after I tried to get my story fix from a tv series that seemed like a cross between 800 Words and The Heart Doctor, but all the characters were just annoying and unpleasant instead of quirky and redeemably flawed. Blech.

    A better source of story — Slings and Arrows, a Canadian series from about ten years ago, about a contemporary Shakespeare troupe. Really, really good, but only three short seasons.

      1. I hope you enjoy it. A friend recommended it years ago, and I started to watch it then and the first half of the first episode didn’t really click, so I stopped, but when I went back to it, I was immediately hooked, so it might have been me in the wrong mood at the time, or maybe it really does start slow. The main lead is barely in the first episode, and he’s fabulous.

  10. I’m finding reading really slow, partly because I come home from work too tired to concentrate (a whole twelve weeks now since I went back to work after the mystery virus with the negative Covid test) but also because I’m reading more news than usual. I’m in the middle of several books, but the one I’m having trouble finishing–I’ve renewed it three times!–yet enjoying a lot is Red, White, and Royal Blue. I keep putting it down because I Do Not Want to THINK about the White House Right Now, thankyouverymuch. Even in a fictional universe.
    And all the references to the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month made me stop reading library books and go read some Anthony Price because: Colonel Butler.
    So although I haven’t finished any books this week, I’m enjoying myself.

  11. I am seeking recommendations for cookbooks. The pretty ones I got at the library seem to be full of ingredients that I will never find. And we definitely need more staple meals to switch up the routine.

    Please and thank you!

    1. I would think almost any book by America’s Test Kitchen. I have their Complete Vegetarian Cookbook and is is well written for accessibility. They *want* you to cook, not be stumped by obscure ingredients. If the say peppers, they give 3 different types that could be used.

      I’ve also found Fast Cook Italian by Gennaro Contaldo to have pretty easy to find ingredients. In my case, in neck of the woods dried porcini mushrooms are obscure, but other dried mushrooms are not. YMMV.

      1. Marc Bitmann’s “How to Cook Everything” and “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” are also good, with techniques, illustrations, basic recipes that you can build on later. It’s also an app, I have it on my tablet.

    2. I don’t know that it’s the kind of cookbook you’re looking for but Jaccques Pepin New Complete Techniques is a really cool, really visually oriented, book which illustrates stuff step by step with photos. It’s so interesting to leaf through…

    3. Jamie Oliver’s cookbooks are good and many have recipes with conventional ingredients. Try one from the library and see if his tastes align with yours.

      1. Thanks for this suggestion, Heather – I discovered my library’s got the ebook of his ‘Veg’, which is perfect, since I’ve been wanting to find some simple and delicious vegetarian recipes to help me cut my meat consumption.

    4. Any of Nigella Lawson’s cookbooks are an autobuy for me. She’s never let me down with anything of hers I’ve tried cooking, and her attitude to cooking gels with mine – sometimes you want to enjoy the process and sometimes you just want to shortcut to the end result. And I love just reading her books too.

    5. This cookbook’s old, but I love the anecdotes that lead each chapter, and you can get it used for cheap: The zucchini muffins recipe is one I use all the time.

      He also wrote one on Grains that is equally fun to read, and the recipe for beef barley soup is something else I make all the time.

    6. It is now out of print, but if you can find it at the library, I adore Cooking with Craig Claiborne and Pierre Franey. They were both based in NYC, so their access to ingredients was greater than mine, but almost all of the ingredients are easily available.

      I’m also very partial to Sunset cookbooks. My all time favorite is their Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (1993) If you like spicy food, you may have to scale up some of the chili pepper and garlic, but otherwise tasty and easy to understand. I haven’t tried everything (or even close to it) because a couple of recipes keep demanding repetition (like Pumpkin Cheesecake Tart or Asian Guacamole with Pot Sticker Crisps or Baked Brie). Actually, I have one or two favorite recipes from a variety of their cookbooks that I wish I could scan into one place and jettison the also-rans. It would save so much space.

      1. Love the Sunset cookbooks, especially French Country Cooking, Bread, and Picnics. The parmagian chicken recipe the Picnic cookbook is the recipe guests keep asking fo, and my family never tires of it.

    7. All of the other cookbook recommendations are great. But the one I cook from most frequently is Glorious One Pot Meals, by Elizabeth Yarnell. Healthy, fast, easy, and portioned for 2 generous servings

    8. I know it’s not a book, but I really like the website Budget Bytes. I do sometimes splurge a little more than she does on her recipes, but b/c of her budget focus the ingredients never get too fancy or esoteric. She also has book by the same title (Beth Moncel is the author name).

    9. Taste of Home cookbooks.

      If you have an Instant Pot or similar modern pressure cooker, the ROOTITOOT cookbooks, volumes 1 and 2. Available for certain devices in Kindle and in print from the Rootitoot website, shipped from Vancouver, Canada. I’m in the FaceBook group and usually see at least four posts a day saying “I made this, husband normally doesn’t like this, he had seconds, he asked me to put it into the rotation.”

      If you can find them, cookbooks by Elsie Lee (yep, author of Gothics fifty years ago).

      I don’t have anything by Martha Stewart, but when I see her recipes, they look reasonable.

  12. I joined Bad Decisions Book Club and stayed up way too late finishing Take A Hint, Dani Brown by Talia Hibbert. I enjoyed it well enough from the beginning, but I LOVED it after chapter five or so. It felt like a light book about heavy things (the emotional baggage of the characters). I can’t quite put my finger on it, except to say that the characters felt memorable and real and perfect together.

  13. I’m re-reading A Holmes for the Czar and The Alexander Inheritance because I’m reading the snippets of their sequels. New snippets come out Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. If I wasn’t clear, snippets are partial chapters, but lined up sequentially, they are contiguous. You get whole chapters, just not the same day.

    Also read Masquerade at Lodi again, because Bujold.

  14. So the new Ben Aaronovitch book I mentioned yesterday is a novella called What Abigail Did That Summer. It’s not about Peter (or the twins, as someone was hoping) but still sounds good! I’m not sure of release date yet.

    I’ve been reading Murder at Queen’s Landing by Anna Lee Huber and it’s pretty good so far. Also halfway through Captain Moxley and the Embers of Empire, ditto. Thanks to whoever recommended Captain Moxley.

    FYI, Target is running another buy two, get one free sale on media (books, DVD/Blu-ray, video games) this week. Sale even applies to preorders. My TBR pile just got a LOT larger!

    1. I want another Peter Grant novel, if only to see the twins, but I feel a little hypocritical yelling, “Will you just write a freaking Grant novel?” since I am currently staring into the void of Nina/Lily/Anna/Nadine/Alice/Liz/Zoe/Cat/Courtney/Zelda . . .

      1. He’s working on the Peter Grant & twins book, based on his Twitter research questions. About a month ago (?), he asked about birthing options (e.g., hospital, pool, river, etc.).

        1. Here’s the blurb for Abigail’s book courtesy of Subterranean Press. I considered getting the hardcover but 40 bucks for a novella is a little steep and I usually only buy special editions when the artwork makes the cost worth it. I’ll definitely enjoy her story on kindle though!

          Ghost hunter, fox whisperer, troublemaker.

          It is the summer of 2013 and Abigail Kamara has been left to her own devices. This might, by those who know her, be considered a mistake. While her cousin, police constable and apprentice wizard Peter Grant, is off in the sticks chasing unicorns Abigail is chasing her own mystery. Teenagers around Hampstead Heath have been going missing but before the police can get fully engaged the teens return home – unharmed but vague about where they’ve been.

          Aided only by her new friend Simon, her knowledge that magic is real and a posse of talking foxes that think they’re spies, Abigail must venture into the wilds of Hampstead to discover who is luring the teenagers and more importantly – why?

  15. Major oops, that should be Andrea Penrose not Anna Lee Huber. I just got a new Huber in the mail, hence the confusion.

  16. I’ve been stressed out at work again, so reading a lot once I log off.

    ‘Bodyguard’ by Dassy Bernhard – M/M romance novella, loved it. If K-pop boy band BTS were a novella, they would be this novella. Fast-paced, funny, sweet, and non-explicit.

    ‘The Little Things,’ Jay Northcote. ‘Served Hot,’ Annabeth Albert (novella). ‘No Brief Affair’ and its sequel ‘Legally Bound’ by Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. ‘Cask Strength’ and trilogy finisher ‘Barrel Proof’ by Layla Reyne. All solid entertainment though the Northcote is very high on the angst-o-meter, so be advised.

    ‘Accidentally in Love’ by Belinda Missen. English romance about a London gallery curator who quits her job after being passed up once more for a promotion, moves back home, opens a gallery, and falls in love with local artist. Enemies-to-lovers M/F with no glossing over how hard it is to open a business. The Black Moment I thought was unnecessary (there was already plenty of conflict), but the rest of the thing was so good that I forgave it.

    ‘The Replacement Husband’ by Eliot Grayson, a clever M/M twist on a classic Regency trope. ‘Taking Stock’ by A.L. Lester, early-1970s story about a guy who leaves his London brokerage job after being wrongfully accused of insider trading, and the farmer he meets in his new country village. Farmer is recovering from a stroke. They both have Issues, it’s a slow burn and nicely done.

    ‘Kitty Raises Hell’ by Carrie Vaughn. Because Kitty. Then, ‘Dark Divide,’ also Carrie Vaughn, a novella about Kitty’s ex-assassin friend Cormac and his resident ghost.

    Finally, ‘Gifts for the Season,’ a collection of M/M holiday short stories. A bit uneven as collections always are, but one highlight from Joanna Chambers (a favorite of mine) and several others that will have me looking for more work by the authors.

  17. I just got Ruth Ware’s new book “One by One” from the library.

    Also I am so Proud to be a Pennsylvanian.

  18. Jennifer, Thank you for recommending You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle last week. I read it in one sitting.

    It was funny but also had an emotional punch. It reminded me a little of Liane Moriarty’s What Alice Forgot, where the characters find their way back to loving each other but the resultant love is more mature. I thought the prologue set up the story perfectly–how we present our best selves on dates with a potential partner, but it’s only a mask. We hide our vulnerabilities, insane parents, screw ups, etc., and a real love has to deal with these.

  19. The drama with the Donald and the transition has been doing a number on my concentration lately so I haven’t been reading much this week. The one thing that really kept my concentration was The Royal Runaway by Lindsay Emory. A contemporary princess with a history of running away is left at the alter by her chosen by committee fiance. Her family sends her off to a small island in the North Sea until the scandal dies down where she obsesses about what she’ll do to the jilter when she finds him. Four months later, things have died down enough for the palace to allow her return.
    But, of course, she’s not the only one looking for him and she finds out about several other issues both in her family and in her country that she had been too busy running away to notice. There is also a romance which causes her to consider how much of her life she will be able to dictate and how much she owes to her position and the populace of her country.
    Although this is primarily an escapist fantasy, it has enough reference to the real world to make it hold your attention. And I liked the main characters.

  20. Elle Katharine White’s Heartstone was a charming blend of Pride and Prejudice with a traditional fantasy. Plus dragons. Quite delightful.

    Jayne Davis’s Playing with Fire was another in the author’s series of historical novels with a romantic subplot. A bit too long, it deals with the French revolution and its effects, as the heroes try to get from France to England while ducking the zealous French revolutionaries in every village. Interesting, but not super enjoyable, at least not for me.

  21. I can recommend “Dying With Her Cheer Pants On: Stories of the Fighting Pumpkins” (ebook) by Seanan McGuire, a collection of short stories about a cheerleading squad that deals with anything weird/supernatural that happens around the high school.

  22. Last week I read The Bookshop On The Corner by Jenny Colgan and I enjoyed it. It’s about a displaced Librarian (Nina) and her very timid pursuit of her dream job: to own a little bookshop (in this case, a mobile one). She makes a lot of mistakes along the way, and blossoms in fits and starts, and it was lovely in a quiet, sweet way that was just the antidote I needed last week.

    I have tried to read The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab and I recognize the writing is well done and characters well-drawn and it was just too bleak for me to keep going. [I will confess here that I got about a quarter of the way through, jumped to the end just to get it over with and saw that I was right in my suppositions.] Still, I think that may just be my flaw, because the concept is lush and wonderful and the writing should have had me from the beginning.

    I enjoyed Beach Read about dueling authors whose way forward is complicated by their own negative history and her learning that her recently deceased father had a whole other life. Author Emily Henry did a good job digging into the emotional depths there.

    I’ve started and stopped reading at least a dozen others. I have now circled back to favorites (Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy series through the fifth one, sixth to come out some time late next year I think/hope; their Inkeeper series [which is brilliant]; Patricia Briggs’ Alpha and Omega series and I may circle all the way back to the beginning of Mercy just because.)

    1. Ohhh, Jenny Colgan super fan (Stan?) but can’t recommend the next bookshop books. Little Beach Street Bakery and subsequent novels are some of my very favorites. Her Rosie Hopkins and Endless Beach novels are also a delight.

    1. The best place to start is where you are. Second best is where the grandson is. I may have those backwards.

      Which book? Going Postal.

    2. Mort. It’s about a teenage boy who gets apprenticed to Death.
      Or the Watch series; that’s mysteries, and there’s a young man (teenager?) named Carrot who joins the cops, I think in the first one (Guards! Guards!). I really like Pyramids, which is about a high school (?) graduate who becomes a god-king when his father dies, but that’s not as popular as the others.

    3. My eleven year old son started with Eric, and loved it so much we went on to The Last Continent (we’re Aussie, and he’s been learning Pratchett’s version of Once a Jolly Swagman to inflict on anyone who stands still for long enough – I’m expecting a call from his teacher any day now). He loves Rincewind and the Luggage.

      My now fifteen year old son started with Good Omens, which was right up his philosophical alley.

      We all watched and loved the Good Omens miniseries.

        1. I think for a 15-year-old, Going Postal would be a good book to start with, although for me, it’s near the top of the Pratchett canon. Picking up something like, say, The Colour of Magic right afterwards might sour him on the whole thing.

          Proceeding from Going Postal right to Guards Guards would be ideal, I think. Carrot and his discoveries constitute a great way to figure out what’s going on in the discworld, and cops and dragons constitute a good combination for just about any teenager. The only problem might be a bit of slow going while the conspiratorial brothers keep getting the secret passwords down, but he could probably skip ahead to better things pretty easily, without missing that much.

          1. Yeah, I went back and read Pyramids, and while the opening is fantastic as Teppic tries to pass his assassination final, once he’s back with the Pyramids, it’s a lot of politics.

            Mort, however, is still great. Going Postal is always good.

  23. I haven’t been reading anything that captivates me, attention basically gone. Abandoned the YA through no fault of it, and am just stuck. Once into a book, I’m fine. Picking a book, that’s where I’m stuck. And it’s not like I lack choices!

    In other news, I finally went through a single shelf of nonfiction and got rid of books that have been sitting there a decade. I bought them bc I’m vaguely interested in the topics, and felt I should be the kind of person who reads them, but I struggle with nonfiction (I get SO sleepy). I want to be the person who reads these history books and political books, but I’ve never picked a single one up. Clearly the urge isn’t there, so I just decided to release myself from the expectation and let them go. Half a shelf+ later and I feel good about it. Having unread books for so long just feels like a burden. The joy of possibilities and choices are just gone. :/ Now, there is space for new ones I’m actually interested in!

  24. I’ve ben reading LONG LIVE THE QUEEN, by Bryan Kozlowski, 23 rules for living as exemplified by Queen Elizabeth. It’s a non-trivial book analyzing the hows and wherefores of someone reaching the age of 94 while working long hours, spending a lot of time on her feet, not over-eating, maintaining a sense of humor, and so on. With a head of state in my country who is currently behaving like an out-of-control buffoon, it’s very restful!

    GOODBYE, ASSHAT, 101 Farewell Letters to Donald Trump, by Aldous J. Pennyfarthing, whose doctor told him medical ethics proscribed four-year-long induced comas. I have enjoyed the writer’s previous several books.

    FORGOTTEN PEOPLES OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, by Philip Matyszak: We’ve all heard a lot about the ancient Egyptians, Israelites, and perhaps Canaanites and Hyksos, but what about Amorites, Elamites, Dorians, Arameans, Sicels, Epirots, Alans, and — last but not least — Hephthalites? The WHO?

    I’ve also acquired in Kindle format, SINGLED OUT by Tricia Ashley and in paperback, what I think may be her first title, THE URGE TO JUMP. Escape from politics!

    Tomorrow I get to dress as a Pilgrim to run a Zoom meeting split between 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing and 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage. Since it’s Zoom, I have a 17th century cap from Plimoth Plantation and a Puritan collar, cuffs, and apron from Amazon which I’ll pop on over a plain sweatshirt. I also have a 1919 hat which I may pop on for the suffrage presentation . . . . and a Zoom background of Plymouth (I nobly refrained from using the Zoom background of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping establishment).

  25. If you haven’t seen the Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, I highly recommend it. A wonderful story with a good ending. Seven episodes I love the cast. I worked with two of them, Harry Melling and Moses Ingram on Macbeth. Everybody in it is a truly wonderful actor actually I was surprised to see that the mother also directed it’s a beautiful dayIn the neighborhood.

  26. I read the new Phryne Fisher, which I was really looking forward to, and was bitterly disappointed. I didn’t find the plots (plural) persuasive, there was no character growth, and worst was that the prose was over-egged. She lost me well and truly with “youthful dancers footing it featly”.

    So I went back to the first in the series to see if they’d always been like that and I was just now noticing, and, nope, I’m enjoying the first ones much more. Phew!

  27. I’ve just finished Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. This has been talked up so much – lesbian necromancers in space! – and I was really looking forward to it. But I struggled with it for quite a while. Felt as if maybe I was the wrong generation for it. But I ended up loving it. It’s a book that requires work – very complex, and lots of stuff unsaid or merely hinted at. But it was worth staying to the end.

  28. I liked the Ghostwriter by Allessandre Torre. And I’m reading This Side of Paradise- F Scott Fitzgerald’s first novel. The protagonist is a conceited good looking student at Princeton and his buddy just recommended that he read The Portrait Of Dorian Gray – made my laugh.

  29. I’m reading Artistic License which is by Lucy Parker (of London Celebrities) but under the name Elle Pierson. Art student, security guy, hijinks ensue. It looks fun and I need a break from all the nonfic I’ve been reading.

  30. Just watched Spiderverse with the family. Nic Cage! John Mulaney! Liev Schrieber! I had to go back to hear the voices I missed. I was so wrapped up in the story I hadn’t noticed who was speaking.

    1. Lily Tomlin as Aunt May. Jake Johnson as mentor Spiderman. I think Natalie Morales was Doc Ock. Wonderful voices. (I miss The Middleman. Morales was so good in that.)

  31. I’ve read Texas Splendour by Lorraine Heath, didn’t like it and will stay away from her other books.The premise was fine but the execution not so much. Which was a pity because I so love one of her very early ones and the Texas trilogy reminded me a bit of it. Grrr.
    But I’m tempted to read literature for a change – usually a no-go when it comes to books in my own language since with German literature fun can’t be included between the covers of a respectable book … It seems different with English titles and the first pages of Now We Shall Be Entirely Free were intriguing. And the audio-book is read by one of my favourite readers (Joe Jameson of Boyfriend Material fame), so I might listen to it instead instead of reading it as e-book.
    I haven’t read a “proper” book – the oldfashioned one with paper 😉 in far too long and reading on the smartphone just doesn’t give me the same sensual joy. This device is far too addictive…

    Spiderverse we watched some time ago and the whole family liked it a lot. Tonight we might watch a movie together on netflix or Kino on Demand. Watching it via the latter platform would have our neighbourhood cinema profit (a fee is given to the cinema of your choice), so if dear son is opting out in order to play Civilization with his pals, I might persuade dear hubby to watch “A couch in Tunis” with me, a Tunesian comedy around a female psychiatrist setting up her practice illegally on the roof of her house.

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