American imports, non-fiction

Book of the Week: Bad Feminist

Another week gone and we’re nearly at Christmas and the end of the year. I’m way behind on Christmas this year: on present shopping, on decorating, on festive reading. I feel like I’ve dropped a few baubles this year. Hey ho. One thing I can do is a pick my favourite book of last week – Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist – although I can’t promise that this will be the longest post ever!

Cover of Bad Feminist

Bad Feminist is a series of essays that sets out Ms Gay’s views on gender and race and why it’s ok to have messy, complicated views on issues. It is broad ranging in topics – which include the way that women’s bodies are viewed through to 50 Shades of Grey via competitive Scrabble tournaments. First published in 2014, a few things have changed since Bad Feminist came out – it is pre #MeTop, from before Donald Trump was elected president and before Bill Cosby was jailed. But that’s ok because there’s a lot here for you to think about and even the bits that feel a bit dated* give you pause for thought. It can make you hoot with laughter and it will make you cry.

I had heard a lot about this book, and indeed it’s been on my list of books to read for a long time, but due to the size of the pile and my attempts not to spend too much money on books, it’s taken a while to get to this. I read Ms Gay’s short story collection first in fact, because a review copy came my way. I follow her on twitter and I knew going in that I don’t always agree with her, but that she always has something worth listening to and considering whether you need to adjust your opinions. And as expected, I didn’t agree with everything, but it gave me a lot of things to consider and insight on life experiences that are different from my own and that is always worth having.

My copy of Bad Feminist came from the library but it’s also available fairly easily from the shops and as an ebook in Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

* I know, how can something only four years old feel out of date? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the American political news cycle. I have recently had first hand experience of it and can testify that it’s really something and can chew a story up and spit it out in a remarkably rapid period.

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 3 – December 9

So jet lag was really kicking me around a bit this week, and on top of that I was trying to get my head around my “normal” job after nearly three months away.  So I’m quite pleased that the list looks as good as it does!

Read:

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay

The Proposal by Jasime Guillory

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver

Rivers of London: Action at a Distance 2 by Ben Aaronovitch et al

Simple Irresistible by Rachel Gibson

Started:

The Cinderella Deal by Jennifer Crusie

Still reading:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fear by Bob Woodward

No books bought.  Not restraint, just lack of opportunity!

 

 

American imports, Book of the Week, mystery, Young Adult

Book of the Week: A Study in Charlotte

And I just can’t help myself.  For the second time in three weeks, my BotW is a Sherlock Holmes-related novel: Brittany Cavalaro’s A Study in Charlotte.  But this time it’s Modern Sherlock descendants at a New England Boarding School so it is Completely Different from Sherry Thomas’s A Study in Scarlet Women. Even if the titles would lead you to think otherwise.  Honestly.  It really is.  Let me prove it to you…

Jamie Watson has won a rugby scholarship to a prep school in Connecticut.  He isn’t happy about it – not only doesn’t he want to leave London, he doesn’t really like rugby and the last thing he wants is to be closer to his dad and his step-family.  The only bright spot in this whole situation is that Charlotte Holmes also attends the school.  The Holmeses and the Watsons have been intertwined for generations – every since Sherlock solved mysteries and Watson wrote them down.  But Charlotte seems like more trouble than Jamie can (or should) handle:  she arrived at the school in mysterious circumstances, she runs a poker game at weekends and is rumoured to have a drug problem.  But the thing is, the two of them seem drawn to each other nonetheless.  Then a student is killed.  And not just any student – one who Watson had a very public fight with after he hassled Charlotte. And Holmes and Watson are being framed for the crime.  Charlotte may be the only person who can solve the case – but by investigating it may put them in the wrong place at the wrong time and make things even worse for them.

This is exactly my sort of YA.  There’s drama and peril and some angst here, but it’s not end-of-the-world or dystopian or bleak.  There’s school stuff and a mystery, but the issues are slightly more adult (drug addiction, sexual assault, stalkers) than you get in middle grade school stories and mysteries.  Jamie and Charlotte are incredibly engaging characters – and once again I had fun watching and seeing how Cavallaro had woven in the Sherlock-lore into her modern day characters.

I’ve actually had this on my reading wishlist for a while – Goodreads tells me I shelved this in November 2016 – but it’s not available in Kindle in the UK and it hadn’t come my way at the library or in the bookshops.  Or at least not at a point when I remembered to look for it anyway.  Luckily I found it in the library near my flat in the US and it was part of my marathon library book binge last week.  There are two more books in the series that have already come out and a fourth installment due in 2019.  I’m going to be be making proper efforts to get hold of them.  I might add the next one to my Christmas list…

You can get a copy of A Study in Charlotte in hardback or paperback from Amazon, but I’ve had trouble finding it for sale on any other UK-based vendors.  Which is a real shame because it is really very good.  But if you’re heading to the US anytime soon, put it on your to-buy list!

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 26 – December 2

Well, the reading was going ok until the jetlag got me and my brain stopped being able to concentrate on words on a page and although I started a few things over the weekend, all I actually finished was comics.  Hey ho, fingers crossed it doesn’t last for too long.  As you may have seen in yesterday’s Stats post, I did a good job of clearing the library book pile before I left the US, so at least I have that to be happy about.

Read:

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

A Conspiracy in Belgravia by Sherry Thomas

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallero

Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear

Star Trap by Simon Brett

An Amateur Corpse by Simon Brett

Rivers of London: Water Weed 4 by Ben Aaronovitch et al

Rivers of Londong: Action at a Distance by Ben Aaronovitch et al

Started:

The Essence of Malice by Ashley Weaver

Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear

Still reading:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fear by Bob Woodward

Simple Irresistible by Rachel Gibson

No books bought.  A miracle, achieved only because of lack of suitcase space and willpower not to visit a bookshop at the airport!

Bonus picture: part of Thomas Jefferson’s book collection at the Library of Congress

Some of Thomas Jefferson's books

books, stats

November Stats

New books read this month: 36*

Books from the to-read pile: 0 – too busy reading library books

Ebooks read: 20

Books from the Library book pile: 27 (including nine ebooks)

Non-fiction books: 0

#ReadHarder categories completed: 9

Pop Sugar categories completed: 13

Most read author: Cat Sebastian (four books)

Books read this year:  346

Books bought: 3 ebooks, 3 ebooks

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 566 (I don’t have copies of all of these!)

Three books bought, two ebooks pre-ordered as I burned a streak through the library book pile and panicked about whether I would have space in my suitcase for all the books I had bought (Hint: I didn’t, and nearly had to jettison a couple of unread ones at the airport)

This is a day late because I only landed back in the UK on the morning of the 1st and my brain couldn’t cope with counting.  Sorry.

Bonus picture: the Reading Room at the Library of Congress on Thursday.

The reading room at the Library of Congress

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics (4 this month)

American imports, romance

Book of the Week: Anyone But You

In case you didn’t notice, I read a lot last week.  I’m quite pleased with me.  Whether I remain pleased with me entirely depends on how far down the library book pile I get before I leave for the UK on Friday.  But despite the multitude of choices,  it was still hard to pick a BotW – not because there wasn’t anything good in the pile, but because there’s a few things on there that I want to write about elsewhere.  Luckily Jennifer Crusie’s Anyone But You was there to help me out – a standalone romance, with no series implications.  But hopefully you’ll be seeing a couple of other posts from the fruits of last week’s reading too.  Anyway, to the review.

Cover of Anyone But You

Nina Askew has just escaped her marriage.  She’s celebrating having freedom to do what she wants and not to try and be the perfect wife supporting her husband’s career any more by getting a rescue dog from the pound.  So what if she’s 40 and her family (and her ex) keep telling her that the divorce is a mistake.  She knows it’s the right thing to do, so she settles down in her new flat with her new dog.  Fred’s not exactly the dog she was expecting to get – he’s old, smelly and looks depressed – but he’s also the reason she meets her downstairs neighbour, Alex.  He’s a hotshot ER doctor, from a family of doctors who think he’s wasting his skills in the Emergency Room.  He’s also funny, smart and sexy and soon the sparks are flying between then.  But Nina can’t get past the fact that he’s ten years younger than she is – and he can’t get past the fact that he can’t give her the life he thinks she’s used to.  Can they sort out their differences for a happily ever after?

You know where this is going, it’s a romance, so obviously they can sort things out.  But this is funny, and sexy and has a great cast of supporting characters – from Nina’s unlucky in love best friend who’s writing a book about her failed relationships, to the septagenarian fitness lover on the top floor and her boyfriend.  Older woman/younger man is not usually a trope that I read, but somehow Jennifer Crusie made this one of my favourite romances that I’ve read recently.  The will-they-won’t-they in this is just so perfectly done – it never feels overplayed or dragged out, so you end up rooting for them all the more.  Some of their misunderstanding could be sorted out by serious discussion – but Crusie keeps it so that they’re not at a point where they can have that discussion – they’re just friends who watch movies together who don’t realise that they’re both feeling the same way.  And although it’s not specifically an autumn or winter-set book, some how with all the movie watching and the dog, it just felt like the perfect book to curl up on the sofa with at this time of year.

I got my copy from the library – it’s quite an old book so it looks like second hand is the way forward if you want a physical copy, but the ebook is quite reasonably priced on Kindle and Kobo.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 19 – November 25

I’m still blazing a trail through the library book pile.  I’m off back to the UK at the end of this week and I’m determined to read as many as I can.  But equally, there are still a few bits of sightseeing I haven’t done yet, so we’ll see how far I actually get!

Read:

Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian

Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance

What Angels Fear by CS Harris

Charlotte Holmes and the Locked Box by Sherry Thomas

Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James

Year of the Crocodile by Courtney Milan

Anyone but You by Jennifer Crusie

How to Party with an Infant by Kaui Hart Hemmings

Death in St Petersburg by Tasha Alexa

The Painted Queen by Elizabeth Peters and Joan Hess

Wilde in Love by Eloisa James

Started:

Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear

Simple Irresistable by Rachel Gibson

Still reading:

Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

Fear by Bob Woodward

One book bought – the third Charlotte Holmes book to take home with me!

Bonus Photo: a panda at the National Zoo yesterday.

A annoyed looking giant panda