This is a Good Book Thursday, March 4, 2021

I’ve been reading everything I can my hands on, old favorites, new choices, cookbooks, art books, the instructions for putting together my bathroom storage, it’s been wonderful. Right now I’m on Ina Garten’s Modern Comfort Food, and it’s a comfort just to read it.

What did you read this week?

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97 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 4, 2021

  1. I read T Kingfisher’s Paladin’s Strength. It was a good read but I didn’t like it as much as Paladin’s Grace. I just found the repeated references to the heroine’s breasts and physique a big offputting after a while. I like that she is not your usual tiny heroine makes huge mountain man fall for her and wraps him around her finger but I don’t need it to be pointed out every five minutes.
    Georgette Heyer does it very well in the Toll-Gate with a few hints only.

  2. Although I’m not normally a reader of SF/F (here for the romance!), I succumbed to peer pressure on here and started Murderbot. And kept going. I lost whole days of productivity, reading (and rereading) my way though the novellas, the novel, and even the short stories. Can’t wait for the next one. So good!

    On the conference thread, someone mentioned a book with an RWA-like convention. Might it have been “The Boyfriend School” by Sarah Bird? She is an extremely underrated writer IMO, and that is my favorite book of hers. A photographer for a local weekly in Austen, TX is assigned (by her drugged-up editor/cheating boyfriend) to cover a romance writer convention. Full of stereotypes and misconceptions about the genre and the writers, she meets some writers who befriend her and set her straight. Although she claims she doesn’t believe in romances herself, she decides to write one herself. It’s hilarious and sweet. Highly recommend.

    1. I loved that book so much that I bought the library’s copy when they culled it. I read her later stuff as it came out, but the non treacly sweetness of this one made it stand out. I also enjoyed the setting a lot because it showed some of the reasons Austin is so different from other parts of Texas.

    2. I loved that one, mainly because it had a line in which one of the novelists said (to somebody), “Don’t tell me you’re elevating the genre.” As, “I’m writing a romance, but a classy one.” Leave the genre alone, it’s doing fine.

    3. I never know what to tell people who say they don’t read sf/f after I recommend Murderbot. Like, I want to respect their preferences, but I’ve also seen how wide an audience has fallen for the murderbot books, even among non-sf/f readers.

      I don’t read lit-fic, and I resent it when someone tells me that, “oh, but you’ll like this one.” No. I won’t. It’s just not a genre that works for me. Or when they tell me I’ll like eggplant the way they cook it. No. I won’t. I can taste a shred of eggplant and it makes me gag, no matter how it’s hidden, and I will hate it.

      So I don’t want to do that to other people. But it’s Murderbot, and it’s so good. Hence, my dilemma.

      1. I think a lot of people who don’t read sf/f have a misconception of what it is and think it’s just really weird alien stuff. (grin) I know I thought that when my friend Tamar shoved something s/f/f in my hands a couple of decades ago and made me read it. (I think it was Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog, which I absolutely loved.)

        So I don’t lead with genre; I lead with “Cool story, main character is an awkward, socially inept robot with commitment issues…” and then I tell them if they like fun stories, they might want to give it a chance, it will surprise them.

        1. I started in SF as a kid, so it was my first genre. Just loved it.
          Then I found mysteries and read all I could find, did my master’s thesis on it.
          Then I started reading romance seriously for my PhD thesis and wrote romance novels instead of thesis.
          Conclusion: I love popular fiction (as opposed to unpopular fiction).

        2. Same here. Neber was much for SciFi, so when a book pen pal wanted me to read her favourite series, I wasn’t thrilled.
          She more or less forced me to read volume 1.
          It was Shards of Honor, the first Vorkosigan.
          Needless to say I didn’t resist any longer.
          DH had no chsnce but to try, too. Cordelia is still one of his fav heroines…

          1. Usually I don’t like to be urged to do anything, btw. But this pen pal had excellent taste. Gifted my Lord of Scoundrels for my birthday once.
            Met her throught the old Dunnett forum, sigh. Sadly we lost contact when our lifes took over.

      2. I tend not to urge books on people. Krissie and I recommended books to each other, she gave me a romance and I said, “Murderbot.” Neither of us read the books (I assume she didn’t like it, I didn’t like the first chapter or the characters, so I bailed on the romance) but I think it’s because we have such different story needs: She likes dark and redemption and I like light and triumph, both perfectly fine, just not for each other.

        When I recommend Murderbot, I generally go with, “Great character arc, great world, amazing protagonist voice, often very funny.”

      3. I don’t think that Murderbot really is sci-fi in the truest sense. I can struggle with the genre, because traditionally it is very action based and was written by men. I don’t care who shoots what with what. I care how they felt about it afterwards. It’s all about character for me. So Murderbot is like catnip, with all the internal narration. But it is really hard to describe and get people to read. I have tried and tried. I have succeeded with a few.

        People get very turned off by genre, myself included, which is sad because excellent writing conquers all.

        1. There is a lot of sf written by women, including from the earliest days. And there a lot of women sf fans. If you don’t like SF, cool. Personal preference. But don’t justify it by ignoring all the women that are in sf.

    4. This was the book that got me started reading romance. I’d never read one. Bird was so interesting and the romance community was portrayed so generously, I had to see what the books themselves were really like. Been reading romance ever since.

  3. OMG Arghers, I started Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift. Before bed, or rather in bed, so perhaps before sleep is a better word. Or actually, before nightmare-riddled not much sleep.

    I’ll tell you what it’s about and you’ll think I’m insane to have picked it up. It’s 2024, London, we’re way over Covid and a new pandemic hits, wipes out the world in a very short time (no real spoilers here, it’s in the first few pages), and our protag is the last gal standing. Anywhere. My alarm went off after my unrestful night, and my first thought was ‘why am I bothering to get the kids ready for school when we’re all going to die anyway’. It took two snoozes to cop on to myself (I’m not sure why it took two snoozes – if I really thought the world was ending, surely I’d jump out of bed to make the most of every minute?). And this is in New Zealand, where really, we have it sweet, and I’m not typically anxious, so yeah, weird reaction.

    And I’m still going to read the rest of it, because despite the above, it’s actually funny, and compelling, and I think it will be good. I just won’t read it at bedtime.

    Has anyone read it?

  4. PS Here is the review which made me pick it up – even the review is a good read. https://thespinoff.co.nz/books/10-02-2021/the-pandemic-novel-thats-about-to-be-a-phenomenon/

    And here is the opening scene, since we were talking about first sentences:

    ‘Fuck you’. Those are the very last words I spoke to another living person. If I had known they would be my last, I would have chosen them a bit more carefully. Something erudite, with a bit more wit. ‘Fuck you’ is coarse and rude and far from the sparkling repartee I have always hoped I was capable of. But unfortunately there is no changing it.

    1. Based on your rec, Allanah, I had to buy this last night and was up past 1am to finish it. You warned me! You are right that it was both horrifying and compulsively readable. My tired brain thanks you! 😉

  5. I found a good new book/author via an Amazon recc: ‘Division Bells’ by Iona Datt Sharma. It’s a novella, a m/m romance, set in Westminster – a civil servant and a special adviser working for a minister who sits in the Lords. Didn’t think I’d like the world, but she/he makes it convincing and fun. Great characters and romance, too. I’m pretty sure that there’s enough explanation of the arcane world of British government for anyone unfamiliar with it – a lot of it was new to me, too. I think this is their first book; hope there’ll be more.

    1. I really liked this book – pushed lots of my buttons. Climate change! Politics! Romance!

  6. I was working on a book that was a treasure hunt, but the writing was clunky, and a little off, but I was managing to skip most of it, and follow the plot, until they went to dig up a treasure in Texas at 97 degrees north latitude and 27 degrees west longitude, and then I just had to stop because that place does not exist on any globe anywhere – it is 7 degrees north of the north pole, aside from being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it doesn’t even make sense if you swap lat and long …. ARGH. But then The Flatmate hold came through and I read that and then I read one of the Bromance books (group of men who read romances as a kind of user’s manual for relationships? Lyssa Kay Adams) which is kind of funny and deeply genre savvy and the women are EXCELLENT. the dudes are… kinda too perfect but I guess they’re allowed to be.

  7. I read and enjoyed The Flatmate and last night started The Switch by the same author. Otherwise, rereads and more rereads.

  8. Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts: 12 Journeys into the Medieval World by Christopher De Hamel discusses each journey as a discovery of a medieval book. I mean, each chapter is about a different manuscript (The Book of Kells is one) which De Hamel physically visits, so the book as it is now in 2020/2021 opens the door to its creation and its subsequent history.

    All the books are incredible pieces of art, and Meetings . . . is lavishly filled with illustrations.

    Three of us are meeting weekly to discuss one chapter at a time. Our conversations are great because De Hamel writes as if we’re with him at Trinity College, Dublin, or the National Library in Copenhagen.

    My favorite aspect is De Hamel’s descriptions of the people — royal, ecclesiastical, scribe, book dealer, collector — who have been involved in nurturing books for many centuries.

    1. Atlas Obscura just did a post on the curses they’d put in the front of old books to keep people from stealing them. Some of them were inventive, to say the least.

  9. Right now I’m listening to Lisa Kleypas’ Cold Hearted Rake, and it’s really fun. I should know better than to judge a romance book by its cover, but the fluffy backless ball gowns and the hair streaming down the back look bothers me in so many ways. But, I’m really enjoying it, I like the characters and the dialogue and the humor.

    I listened to The Keeper of Lost Things, which I found very moving. I re-listened to The Goblin Emperor, because I enjoyed it so much the first time.

    1. The ridiculous illustrations on some romance book covers makes it hard for me to even give them a chance.

  10. Ina is the Jam. Her spring minestrone soup, especially now, is on point.

    I’ve been reading Ann Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage. Her essays from over the years, which are still relevant and so sharp, whatever the timeframe in which they were originally written. Perfect for when you have small windows or time to read, or before bed.

    Last week I read Roan Parrish’s Best Laid Plans, 2nd in the series set in a small town in Wyoming. 2 brother MC, also animal lover, finds his person. So enjoyable.

    Also re-reading the Agatha Christie canon, one a month. Finished Murder on the Links, which I found much better than Mysterious Affair at Styles. Read all of them as a kid, and, of course, now trying to reconcile the problematic bits along with the great plots and characters. Anyone have a favorite Christie?

    1. Anything with Miss Marple.
      The Third Girl was nicely twisty.
      The ABC Murders is good solid Golden Age stuff.
      Sparkling Cyanide.
      Pocket Full of Rye.
      Oh, and the Lord Edgeware one (Lord Edgeware Dies? Something like that) is excellent.

      And then there’s Margery Allingham and Georgette Heyer’s mysteries when you run out of Christie. I love Golden Age mysteries.

      I did my first master’s thesis on mystery fiction, so I am primed for this (g).

    2. Kenneth Brannagh’s (did I spell that right?) narrations of Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile are excellent. My library had them through the Hoopla app. They were so good though that now I don’t want to listen to any other Poirot books unless he’s narrating them.

  11. I finished Calculated Risks by Seanan McGuire. Overall I enjoyed it, but it’s not very romantic, unless you count the part where she psychically makes friends with a giant alien spider. Swear to god, that relationship is soooooo cute. I was not sure what to make of the ending, which I totally can’t spell out my issues with without spoiling, though. Sigh. Like…I guess that’s technically a happy ending, but the repercussions of what happened….????

  12. I read The Bachelor Establishment by Jodi Taylor, based on last week’s Argh recommendation and enjoyed the sparkling dialogue thoroughly – Jenny, I didn’t find it went on too long and I don’t find yours does either! Then I read The Nothing Girl (for some reason, magical horse books follow me around) and also loved it. Couldn’t help but compare it to The Convenient Marriage, one of my favourite Georgette Heyer novels that still makes me laugh out loud, where the heroine has a stammer rather than a stutter. Am reading The Something Girl now.

    I also read KJ Charles’ Jackdaw and Rag & Bone and Queer Trade. I’ve almost, sadly, drained her lake. By the way, for anyone who is a fan of her Society of Gentlemen series, she has a short follow-up story available on her website, most especially focussed on Silas and Dominic – delicious.

    1. Yes, KJ has great short stories on her website which provide glimpses into the future of her heroes.

      1. Apparently both stutter and stammer are used by speech professionals to describe the same type of dysfluency.

        My dad stuttered – in his case, there were sounds at the beginnings of some words that he got stuck on, and repeated the sounds until he was able to say the whole word.

        I’ve heard other people who repeat whole words at the beginning of sentences before they are able to complete the whole sentence. I’ve thought of this as a stammer.

        So while there might not be an official distinction between the two words, I’ve always thought that the difference referred to difficulty completing words versus completing sentences. I could be completely mistaken about this, though.

        1. I think of a stammer as what Bob Newhart does – a slight repetition of sounds, maybe words – and a stutter as what King George VI had – sometimes a complete inability to get words out. This may of course be more of an artistic distinction, rather than a clinical one, I readily admit.

        2. This matches my intuitive sense of the difference too. I read them as: “T-t-t-tommy at-t-t-tacked me” would be stuttering (often but not necessarily the same letter), while “Well, um, we-we-we were going to, um, go-go to the, um, store” would be stammering.

      2. Wikipedia: “Stuttering, also known as stammering and dysphemia . . .” Same thing.

        1. My son had a speech disfluency when he was small. Speech therapists don’t like either the word stutter or stammer, because the bad connotations are stigmatizing for the people that suffer from it. The severity of the disfluency is inversely proportional to how much of a word the person could get out before getting stuck. He was only 4 years old, and watching him look frightened or ashamed when he tried to talk was heart breaking. Fortunately, speech therapy is the bomb with kids that little. No trace of it now!

  13. After much hemming and hawing, I started The Sugared Game by K. J. Charles. I’m not very far in, but the writing is lovely and engaging, and refreshing after a lot of mediocre false starts.

    Got an air fryer for my birthday and am enjoying it. Can anyone recommend a good cookbook?

    1. I think you will like the Sugared Game – not as strong as Slippery Creatures but still….you’ll want to see what happens with Kim and Will.

    2. AIR FRYER PERFECTION by America’s Test Kitchen
      TASTE OF HOME EVERYDAY AIR FRYER by Taste of Home

      America’s Test Kitchen and Taste of Home are two of my go-to’s. I looked for, but didn’t see, similar books by Betty Crocker or Better Homes & Gardens.

      If you add an Instant Pot or similar appliance to your kitchen, the Rootitoot cookbooks are the very best.

  14. Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder.

    Please get it, please tell me that I am not mad for thinking that it is insanely well written for something carrying a primary and secondary romance?

    And the characters, Omigoddess the characters are authentic in a way that I love in Talia Hibbert’s Ravenswood Books.

    I’m giving myself time before the re-read to see if it really was that good or if my mind is blowing it up.

      1. Gritty, yes. Urban shifter series.

        Dark, somewhat.

        But think of it as emotionally dark in a DC Vs Marvel films way. Not going full from DC, it holds is Marvel lightness and has humour and these moments of warmth that just feel good.

    1. I picked it up at the bookstore last week on a whim. Just got that thrill of “This is going to be good.” Which happens to me sometimes. And I hardly every pay full price for a physical book anymore. Looking forward to it now!

  15. I am re-reading Lord Of Scoundrels. I remembered it as an excellent book but I forgot quite how excellent it is. There is an extensive prologue and I don’t mind it at all, that’s how good it is.

  16. Modern comfort Food is in transit from three library networks. I can only hope there is one for me.

    This week I read Lidia Bastianich memoir of her journey to America. I knew that her family was sponsored by Catholic Charities because she’s mentioned it on her cooking show. What I didn’t know was the catalyst that started the journey. Of her father being arrested for being a capitalist for owning two trucks for his delivery business. The other was her mother who was a teacher and was being coerced into teaching communism to her students. Of how they spent two years in a relocation camp waiting on a lottery and when they finally get here not understanding a word of English and navigating the system inch by inch. No wonder she has so much drive.

  17. My library app told me I should read Love Lettering, by Kate Clayborn, and I was dubious, but I adored it. She’s obsessed with letters and he’s obsessed with numbers and they click in a way that just totally did it for me. I started reading first thing in the morning, which was supposed to be a half hour of reading at breakfast, but it turned into an entire day of complete book immersion.

    1. I liked that one, too. I love romances where the H & H connect through interactions that have nothing to do with how good they look in tight pants (any gender).

  18. I read Deanna Raybourn’s latest Veronica Speedwell book ‘An Unexpected Peril’.

  19. I changed the “Website” link for posting here to my LiveJournal blog; clicking on my name should take one there. I mention this because my most recent LJ post is titled Books. I Read Them. It includes a screenshot of the Kindle Ap library I use to read Kindle books on my Chromebook laptop. “Most Recent” order, fourteen titles (19 books, some titles are bundles) representing the week’s reading. Except there were other books not on that ap at all. Last night and until 6 this morning I was rereading SEP’s Dream a Little Dream from a thumb drive.

  20. This week my rereading was Bet Me to see why it is the favorite Crusie for so many people here. Yes, it probably is as good as WTT, my first and favorite. I especially enjoyed the tenderness that Min and Cal showed not only to each other, but also to most of the people around them

    In new reads I finished “How to Catch a Queen” by Alyssa Cole. It was a enjoyable diversion with almost enough character development to get you to buy into the unbelievable premise. But it was hopeful and diverting and helped take the sting out of the return of cold weather.
    I also checked out “Switched On” by John Elder Robison, only to find that I had already read the applicable portions of it. After reading some of his earlier books, I was so invested in having his progress last that I convinced myself that this title must be a new chapter. If he managed to hold on to the progress he had detailed in previous books, there wouldn’t be enough to fill a book, but I’d really like to know how long the effects of his treatment lasted and how he adapted to their diminution if they didn’t.

    1. I read How to Catch a Queen, and found it very frustrating because I was more interested in the minor characters than the principals. Lumu, for instance, and the queen’s one and only guard (I can’t remember her name) were people I wanted to know much more about.

      Sometimes I think the reason Bet Me is my favorite is just the donuts.

  21. I’m re-reading the second Time Police novel and just got to the part where Jane thinks she’s very fond of Luke, but “there was no doubt he could be an unexpected item in the bagging area of life” and cracked up all over again. That will never not be funny, especially given Luke.

  22. This week I read nine things, mostly M/M again. Two very short things; one historical romance anthology (‘One Night in London’) that I liked a lot – it’s an alternate reality in which men marrying other men was no big deal; one of my own; four contemporary M/M romances of which one might fairly be called erotica. My favorite of those was ‘The Thomas Flair’ by E. J. Russell (competence porn: it’s about two Olympic gymnasts, and the level of detail on the sport was fascinating without getting in the way of the love story).

    The ninth thing was ‘Furbidden Fatality’ by our very own Deborah Blake. 🙂 I do like a make-things-better story and was delighted that certain lost things were found.

  23. Well, I obviously read Deborah Blake’s new novel “Furbidden Fatality” which was very entertaining. Somewhere around the middle I thought that I knew who the killer was but she managed to surprise me.

    Also, I keep reading Connie Willis’ “A Lot Like Christmas” stories, one after the other – a little out of season, but since we’re still in lockdown in Germany until the end of March, who cares what time of year it is?

    1. At least we’re allowed to go to the hairdresser’s again. I’d looked a bit like one of those flokati rugs just not in white LOL.

  24. There are a lot of M/M romances being written by women. l don’t really have a problem with this since men have written romances from a woman’s viewpoint for years. But if a person writes a book about a character who has a different race than the writer, this is a no-no, which I also have no problem with. What I don’t get is why in one case it is acceptable to assume a persona not your own and in another case it is not.

    1. Culture police. Some people just think there are (or should be) Rules about certain things. Some people, in the name of allyship or simply because they like to stir the pot, claim that only, e.g., Black or Asian people should write Black or Asian characters. All that would accomplish is fewer Black or Asian characters, which is the last thing our Almost All White world of fiction needs.

      I personally think it’s important to write about a community *as I see it.* I happen to live in a majority nonwhite neighborhood and work in a majority nonwhite department of a multinational firm. Should I not imagine my neighbors’ and co-workers’ stories, simply because I’m white?

      Obviously my answer is ‘I will write what I want, thanks.’ If someone objects to the fact that this straight white woman is writing books about gay Mexican-American men, geedon’tcare. 🙂

    2. God, I don’t know the answer to that. At this point the idea is “own voices” and that there’s not enough people of color writing about their own experiences, so why are white people doing it, or alternately, a white person can never understand the life of a PoC no matter what research they do or if they ask PoC’s, so…. Justine Larbalestier used to write PoC characters and now says she will only write white main characters from now on, for example.

      I admit it makes me less inclined to give it a try to write PoC if I am going to be slammed for trying (disclaimer: I don’t write fiction though so this doesn’t come up), but at the same time it’s also bad if you just write nothing but white people in a white world. HELL IF I KNOW. I’m glad I don’t write fiction. I have tried to write PoC in the past when I tried fiction, but everyone assumed they were white, so clearly I know nothing anyway.

      However, so far I’ve heard all of this about different races rather than gender/sexuality, which might be the difference. I think I heard that Russell T. Davies is now advocating that only gay people should play gay people–which is a bit hypocritical since he’s cast straight people in gay roles before. And there was some drama over why one character in The Prom (movie) was a gay guy played by James Corden and maybe that role should have been played by someone who is actually gay, but I suspect this is more of a case of “James Corden sucked” than anything else there. But other than these cases, so far “own voices” doesn’t seem to have happened on the gay vs. straight continuum compared to PoC. Maybe because sexuality is fluid and you never know who’s going to turn out to be bisexual these days?

      1. On the whole, if an actual PoC is reading a book written by a non-PoC which features PoC characters, and the PoC reader thinks ‘those PoC characters don’t feel like me,’ is it worse than if that PoC reader doesn’t see any PoC characters?

        I’d rather be represented in a way that doesn’t fully express me (and in the world of fiction *the majority* of straight white female characters are So Not Me) than not represented at all. I think it’s better to err on the side of ‘I want my characters to reflect the world I see’ than to create a fictional world in which, as you say, everyone is white.

        Honestly I’d be very curious if this is a thing anywhere but in America. There is a subset of people here who like to be outraged for the sake of being outraged, and this is such a gimme. They can pretend it’s because they care about social justice. The Venn diagram between that subset and the subset of people who actually work for social justice has a relatively small intersection.

    3. Nothing is taboo in fiction; the idea that non-Black writers can’t write Black characters comes smack up against the “Why aren’t there more Black protagonists in fiction?” The worst argument I ever heard was that white authors shouldn’t write protagonists of color because that shuts out writers-of-color, which presupposes that white authors are just better and therefore too much competition. I think a lot of the problem arises from the same thing that causes the problems some men have writing women: they’re writing projections or idealizations or working out their own gender issues, so Madame Bovary had great sex and has to die. Read Sanctuary if you want to read a man writing a female character so badly I’m sure he’s revising in Hell right now. On the other hand, Chaucer wrote one of the greatest women in literature, so saying “Men shouldn’t write female characters” is just wrong.

      From a writer’s point of view, this is my book and I’ll write anything and any character I damn well please. From a personal point of view, I’d screw up a Black character so totally that I’d deserve to go down in flames, which doesn’t stop people from asking why I don’t write more Black characters.

      1. Hi. I’m the old (70), white, heterosexual male with opinions Feel free to skip this.

        The idea that there aren’t enough PoC writing stories about PoC is an American problem/perception. What they really mean is that there should be more PoC being published by traditionally white publishing houses. Does anyone believe that there are no publishing houses south of Texas? South of Florida? On the continent of Africa? That of 1.4 billion Chinese, there are no romance writers of equal stature to Nora Roberts, Jennifer Crusie or Susan E. Philips? No Japanese or other Asian writers? Ethnic Europeans?

        The problem isn’t that the stories aren’t being written – it’s that they aren’t being translated and read over here. And part of that problem is some stories just don’t translate well. Les Mis is a great movie, IMO, but I’ve given up trying to read the book. Let’s face it – the publishing houses don’t want all that competition whose profits go somewhere else.

        I read and enjoy… what I enjoy and read. No apologies.

    4. I’ve been pondering this topic for a while. I’m still developing my thoughts, but I wanted to offer an alternate perspective to what’s already been voiced.

      As a (white) librarian who also identifies as a lesbian (a lesbrarian, if you will), I run a LGBTQ book club for our library system. We make a point of having only Own Voices selections, as it’s important to the attendees to have titles that accurately reflect our experiences, not just feature depictions of us.

      However, from speaking to members, friends, and romance readers of various sexual identities, the issue, as I see it, is less that straight white people are depicting people of colors and members of the LGBTQ community but more that there needs to be more opportunities for authors of these backgrounds to be published. Luckily this has been changing in the last few years, to the point that our library system has easily been able to triple the number of books by people of color and LQBTQ identities.

      IMO any neutral/positive depictions of LGBTQ individuals are beneficial, as they help people think and examine their own concepts of sexuality and develop empathy for those different from themselves (the magic of fiction!). That being said, there is a wide variety in the quality of depiction: some authors clearly have researched the demographics for their main characters while others offer stereotypes that frankly border on the offensive.

      I personally will stick to reading Own Voice authors when it comes to LGBTQ characters but wouldn’t rule out a well written novel by a straight identifying author.

      1. Jamie, I find your thoughts very interesting because — this is the easy part — unfortunately, I’m not surprised to learn that LGBT, black, and brown people, and everyone else who isn’t generally represented, have trouble getting books published, especially books about their kind of person. For the sake of my thoughts right now, I’ll call that “quantity.” Yes, we need more books by authors on the fringes.

        There is also “quality,” by which I mean how a particular book I read illuminates something for me. Jenny’s weekly book post illustrates how much authors and readers each have needs and goals — almost as if everyone is walking on her own tightrope. When the author/reader ropes intersect (the reader identifies with something in the author’s book), pleasure/knowedge/justification is gained. Given the complexity of humans, we thrive on experiencing many intersections. So we want many possibilities and keep seeking new varieties of stories in order to find new intersections. So, readers need books by and about people on the fringes to the extent that there will never be enough books.

  25. [Mind like a steel trap. Rusty and not used much.]

    I had to look at my LJ account when I’m not signed in to see that it hides the screenshot behind an “18+” warning. There is nothing 18+ on that account. My apologies to anyone who clicked on my name to see the screenshot.

    Verbal description, that’s the ticket. The two most recent books are Furbidden Fatality and Rhubarb Pie Before You Die. The next six are Bujold, Penric and Desdemona stories. There’s another cozy mystery, There’s a Cruzie Bundle of 4 novels , two shorts by Delta, an excellent Canadian author who prefers to remain anonymous. There’s the Wrede-Stevemeyer magical regency trilogy.

    The screenshot is strictly the Kindle Ap on my Chromebook. Not shown are another four books from the Ring of Fire alternate history series and two of the branch of the Honorverse (Weber and Flint), Crown of Slaves and Torch of Freedom. There were others, but see above r.e steel trap.

  26. I finished reading Hell’s Spells by Devon Monk. Fabulous urban fantasy set in a fabulous town called Ordinary that is anything but. I love Monk’s writing in general, but this series might be my favorite. Siblings and friends, competence porn, romance, and lots of cool gods (who go to Ordinary to vacation). Hell’s Spells ins the 6th book in the series. I recommend starting with the first one if you haven’t read them yet.

    Just started the second Murderbot book this morning. Already loving it.

    1. I like that series too. FYI, Monk has a new book (different series): Wayward Souls. Got it, haven’t read it yet.

  27. The best thing I read this week was not a book. It was my god-daughter’s Facebook post yesterday. She teaches writing at UPitt.

    She wrote: “I give up. A novel is any book students have to write a paper about.”

    Which led to the question are non-fiction novels a genre? and a short summary of the Communist Manifesto as an epistolary novel, and other things that made me laugh.

  28. Finished Jayne Ann Krentz’s new book, All the Colors of Night. It was OK, an engaging, fast-paced romantic thriller, but in terms of plot and characters, it was mostly recycling of her many previous books. I suppose with so many under her belt, it is hard to come up with anything new.

    Reading currently:
    Beth O’Leary’s The Switch (paper book) and T. Kingfisher’s Paladin’s Strength (kindle). Both go well so far, so I’m optimistic.

  29. PRINCESS MARY: THE FIRST MODERN PRINCESS, by Elisabeth Basford, a quality biography of the Queen’s aunt, only daughter of George V and Queen Mary. The author totally disagrees with the portrayals of her in various stage productions and THE CROWN, if anyone was watching that. A very interesting lady in her own right. Edward VIII thought she would have made a better sovereign than he would, and he wasn’t wrong.

    PRIDE & THE ITALIAN’S PROPOSAL by Kate Hewitt. This is a truly lightweight romance, and it won’t surprise you to learn that I read it and just started ticking off the P&P-homage boxes. The one thing about it that is interesting is that at the end, when the Hero solves the Heroine’s family problems with the Villain, is that while Darcy just seemed to be enabling Wickham so as to protect Lydia, in this work the Hero explains that he saw fit to make sure the Villain learned that it would be a Very Bad Idea to do anything similar again. There was just a flavor of someone else’s fantasy about how they’d deal with 45 if they could . . . .

    BAND OF SISTERS: A Novel, by Lauren Willig: she’s on an Egyptian-themed FaceBook group with me and mentioned the other night that this was about to be released . . . and quoted a bit where one character was a Lady Archeologist whose clothing bore a remarkable similarity to the much-photographed Amelia Peabody Emerson. This character, though, is the head of a group of Smith College graduates who travel to France as WWI volunteers. It’s based on the actual adventures of a real group of Smith girls who did exactly that, with three or four main characters being wholly fictional and the rest based on real people, including an actual Lady Archeologist. I enjoyed it, especially as my mother and her sister did their own WWII training at Smith College (where they said that the Smith girls attended classes in pajamas and curlers, while they had to be up, in uniform with every hair in place, and march to their own classes by squads).

    Other than that I am still transcribing depositions and when I’ve finished Right Booth’s I will share. Won’t surprise you that he disagrees with Sarah’s interpretation of events!

  30. I want to try Hissing Cousins. The lifelong rivalry of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Roosevelt longworth. I just love the title. And I actually read both their bios along time ago but Hissing Cousins, what a great title.

  31. I found a copy of “the First Wives Club”. I remembered the movie from years ago and borrowed the book. I really enjoyed it. I think I was in the mood to read about Women getting revenge on “powerful men” and wishing it could happen in fact not fiction.
    Don’t get me wrong I have a lovely husband, son, son in law And grandson. I guess I’ll have to stop reading the news!.

  32. I read Paladin’s Strength, and completely agree with the comments that LN made in the first comment on this thread. Paladin’s Grace was much better.

    I also read Calculated Risk, the latest InCryptid, by Seanan McGuire. It was okay, but it may be my least favorite in the series so far.

    And I read Murder in Unsound Mind, Anne Cleeland’s 13th Doyle & Acton mystery. It was pretty good, but also a bit more of the same.

  33. I have had the week from hell, with my beloved cat Harry diagnosed with a probable brain tumour, which is why he suddenly started tipping over when he tried to walk. We have both adapted, to some extent, and he’s still eating and drinking and grooming, so he clearly still thinks life is worth living, and is not in pain. Plus he’s figuring out strategies to not tip over so much.

    Meanwhile I am reading NOTHING but comfort books. Mostly Georgette Heyer, but I found a Patricia Wentworth mystery in the library today, and The Flatshare in the opshop, so I’m set for the weekend.

  34. Someone mentioned Kate Clayborn’s ‘Love Lettering’ so I looked at my Hoopla app & found her new book there ‘Love at First’.😊

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