Yet more books

I read a couple of books by Jasmine Guillory, The Wedding Date and The Proposal.  She does a fantastic job on the meet cute and has really adorable epilogues.  But the last 2/3-3/4 of these books are such painful if only they talked to each other … then they’d realize it was all a big misunderstanding.  Especially the they really like each other but are afraid to say anything after they’ve spent a good portion of the book having sex.  (Also:  with sex scenes she’s too detailed for PG-13, but also just cuts stuff out so it never actually gets steamy.  Pick a lane!  Cut out earlier or go through with the entire thing.)  So… I think she needs to figure out how to put conflict or substance in her books– maybe wacky hijinks (her intros would make fantastic movie material), or really cool projects that aren’t just about the relationship (see The Boyfriend Project) or just make them a ton shorter (see Jackie Lau).  Still, she’s selling well so who am I to tell her what to do.  It’s just… the intros are so GOOD I wish the entire novels could follow through on their promise instead of being boring and disappointing (with a little adorable bon-mot at the end that is as good as the beginning).

Read Red, Royal, and Blue also had a great start and dragged in parts, with a very wish fulfilling ending.  It’s set in a parallel universe with a slightly different royal family (Prince Charles is instead daughter Charlotte and next in line for the throne), and Trump did not get elected in 2016, and did not even run.

Then I’ve been rereading the entire Miss Marple series and the entire Hercule Poirot series (I get David Suchet talking in my head– such a perfect perfect Poirot).  Miss Marple has anti-semitism and racism I didn’t remember.  Many of the books have occasional use of the n-word (with respect to Indians, not African-Americans, who they call “Black slaves” . . . ), which I thought had been struck from the American editions of the book and replaced with the word Indians or n— or just replaced entirely (see:  And then there were none) back in the 1960s, but…apparently not all the current kindle versions.  Also the early books have so much with young women conniving to get doting older husbands instead of those age differences indicating power differentials and controlling husbands.  And Nemesis is really disgusting with the lengthy diatribes about how all rape accusations are false accusations (one wonders what rapist Christie was friends with…)–I’m pretty sure middle school me just put the book down at the first such diatribe, but middle-aged me is pushing through.  And the Miss Marples are a very interesting study of how Agatha Christie treats the subject of hired help and people of the lower classes over the decades she wrote the Marple stories.  She definitely becomes more egalitarian.  Of course, her mysteries also become much more sordid.  I haven’t gotten to my favorite Miss Marple yet, the last one, Sleeping Murder.  (“With hands… like monkey’s paws.”) [Update, still excellent, though some small anti-Semitism I didn’t remember and you might miss if you’re not reading closely]  And of course, she provides us modern folk with a reminder about how important the MMR vaccine is in an earlier Marple.  All those anti-vaxxers could use a read of… well, I can’t say which because it is a plot point, but the movie version is even more creepy and compelling.  There are a LOT of Agatha Christie books.

Read Cousin Cecilia by Joan Smith.  It was a pleasant old-fashioned regency romance about a matchmaking miss who ends up with the man she’s trying to thwart.  I will probably read more of her once I’ve finished the Christies.  I’ll probably do a run through of the Sayers again sometime as well– I think my last read through was in graduate school.  (#2 owns them and reads them much more frequently– I generally use the library, though I did at one point have a book of Sayers short stories, I think including the one with their kids.  Not sure what happened to that book.)

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall was tremendously funny.  Even if you don’t like romances, this was a hilariously funny novel.  I literally kept laughing out loud.  It was so hilarious I made my DH read it even though he almost never reads romances (unless I force him) and I caught him laughing out loud at least twice.  I mean, I have not laughed so hard so honestly since Summer of 2016.  I’d say it’s a B+ romance interwoven throughout an A+++++++++++++ British-style comedy.  The side characters are gut-bustingly funny.  The social commentary is droll.  The little repeated gags really do get funnier every time.  It is BRILLIANT.  I am scared to read any more Alexis Hall books because what if my expectations are too high, as regression to the mean would suggest?  But I’m going to try them anyway because even a fraction of funny would probably be great.  DH and I both want a second book in the universe set with one of the second hero’s friends (we’re not picky about which, we just want to see more of them in their natural environment, with the heroes of this book as minor characters who do cameos.

Tried Indexing by Seanen McGuire but just could not get into it.  Not light enough (not that brutal murders are fluffy, but Agatha Christie is rarely difficult even when you don’t figure out whodunit).  It would probably have been a decent read back in 2015, but not for me today.

DC2 has run through all the Rick Riordan presents and has loved them.  Now I’m going through the Newbery winners/honorees starting with the most recent year, basically checking another year’s out each time zie runs out.  Zie seems to like them as well, even though a lot of them are difficult books about difficult situations.  (“Why are all immigrants to the US girls?  Are there ever immigrants to the US written about in kids books about boys?”– I don’t know, DC2, I don’t know.  Similarly, DC1, I don’t know why white boys need a white boy or a dog to die to come of age, white girls need a horse to die or to fall in love to come of age, black girls need a black boy to die to come of age, and black boys need to be accused of killing a white woman or have some other jail sentence to come of age.  Tropes can really suck, DC1, they really can.)  I feel like a lot of the Newbery winners from my childhood didn’t really stand the test of time.  Like… I haven’t reopened The Indian in the Cupboard, but just looking at my old copy makes me cringe.  I mean maybe it’s not as bad as I’m imagining, but I suspect it is worse.

I reread Redshirts because some random comment somewhere made me think of it and feel like rereading it.  Still good!

The Rainbow Cat and other stories was so lovely.  I had dug this up on gutenberg (free) because of the short story of the princess who couldn’t cry, but the rest of the stories were lovely as well.  A soothing balm.

I know this is pretty soon after the last books post, but don’t we all need soothing books?  Don’t we all need something to keep our mind off things?  Well, maybe not everyone, but definitely this one does!

What is soothing you?

19 Responses to “Yet more books”

  1. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Indivisible is implementing strategic “protect the results” rallies here:

    Most places are promising to get all votes counted and to abide by the results, but for those who aren’t, check for rallies.

  3. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Definitely yes to more books. Need more books. I read one of the Jasmine Guillory books not that long ago and it was fun so I put the others on hold.

    Boyfriend Material is at my library! It says the wait is 24 weeks so sure, that’ll work.

    I need to find more soothing reads, I’m in the middle of Jeannette Ng’s Under the Pendulum Sun and it’s great but NOT AT ALL soothing.

  4. Debbie M Says:

    These reviews are so great!

    I thought I had no soothing recommendations. I mean, I am changing song meanings and adding swears to famous sayings in my head.

    Quote of the day: “I may not be able to fix the country, but I can do some of the dishes.” Then I remembered that when my best friend was killed, I decided that I would not also let her murderer (it was a murder-suicide) also make me sick, because I knew that stress can make people sick. Of course that’s a harder resolution during an uncontrolled pandemic.

    At work, we were pulling unused ballots out of unsent envelopes and sealing them for posterity or a ritual burning in the future or whatever, and so we all have hangnails (well, I do anyway) and/or papercuts, and today I brought band-aids for everyone! At least one person was glad to get them, and only one person looked at me like “get your plague band-aids away from me, you weirdo).”

    So part of me is all “people suck and I hate all of you” and part of me is “well, my little corner of the world is going to be better anyway.” And now Michigan is helping me with the calm.

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  6. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  7. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  8. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  9. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    Chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

  10. Alice Says:

    I’ve been reading a lot of Bujold via ebook. On Monday, I started with rereading the Penric novellas that I’d only read once before (last summer), kept that up into Tuesday, then read the new one. And then moved on to the last two Sharing Knife book/novellas, starting and finishing the last one this morning. I didn’t like the first two Sharing Knife books the first time I’d read them years ago and had been avoiding the series–they were nowhere near the level of the Chalion books, and I’d been hoping for something as substantial as them. BUT Bujold is usually a reliably good writer and I decided to deal with the flimsiness.

    I also read a Donna Andrews mystery yesterday that came up via library hold, which was lucky timing.

    I’m not sure what I’m going to read next. I’ve decided that for this week, I’m paying for ebooks, which is not something I normally do– I usually stick to the library’s offerings. But the library’s ebook “available now” list is not promising. I’ve read a lot of the good stuff.

    Books for me are a major refuge from fraught thinking. They don’t eliminate the awareness and stress of the times, but they give me enough of a break to make things feel more manageable.

  11. rose Says:

    I have a question and wonder if you know the answer. I am seeing pronouncements about how Black men voted, how the whole LGBTQetc population voted, how black women voted, how white women voted. And Since I vote privately, like the rest of this country, and since we now clearly know people being polled are NOT projecting accurate information, or the samples used are seriously erroneous, and votes are still being counted……… How can any meaningful numbers about populations be derived and why are they considered valid? Not an urgent question.
    THANK YOU as always for your posts and helpfulness. You two, and your readers, make a big positive difference in my world.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I honestly don’t think we can. Since we stopped having home phones this has become a worse and worse problem.

      Even the census numbers this year are going to be terrible because the Trump administration sabotaged them.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The irony of course being that Facebook knows everything there is to know about most of the US population because so many people are on Facebook/Instagram/etc and they have gotten much better at big data. But polls aren’t working.

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