American imports, Book of the Week

Book of the Week: Dear Girls

A long list of books last week – but actually when it came to picking a BotW it was looking quite tough until fairly late on. But then I finished Ali Wong’s Dear Girls and the choice became a lot easier.

Cover of Dear Girls

Ali Wong is a comedian and writer – in 2019 she cowrote and starred in the film Always Be My Maybe and Dear Girls is a series of letters written to Wong’s two daughters.  These daughters are the babies she is (heavily) pregnant with in her Netflix comedy specials.  Wong  starts the book by saying that her daughters really need to be over 21 before they read this and I would concur whole-heartedly.  It’s wise and moving, but it’s also incredibly honest and might tell them more than they want to know about their mum. I know I wouldn’t want to know quite as much about my mum’s sex life!

 

Even if you’re not related to Wong, this might still be a bit TMI for you – it covers everything from bad sex in New York, to what it’s really like after you’ve given birth and eating snakes. That said, this is funny and touching and a really interesting insight.  It’s very honest – probably the most warts and all book I’ve read since Viv Albertine’s first memoir. As well as the personal life stuff, Wong is fed up of being only asked about what it’s like to be an Asian-American female comedian – and she goes about answering the questions that she really would rather be asked as well as setting out her path to success on the stand up circuit and the pitfalls and problems on the way.

I haven’t seen all of Wong’s comedy specials, so I can’t speak as to what the overlap is – although there is some (even in the trailer above) but I think if you’re a fan, you’ll enjoy this.  If you’re not a fan (kinda like me) and are coming to it because you’ve heard a lot of good things about it, then I think it’ll work for you as well. It certainly did for me.  I need to finish watching those specials, just as soon as I’m done with Dancing Queen. And if you haven’t seen Always Be My Maybe – her romantic comedy movie from earlier this year then go watch that too, because it’s fun and funny and everything I like about rom coms but find so hard to find at the moment.

My copy of Dear Girls came from the library, but its available now on Kindle, Kobo and as a hardback (under £10 on Amazon at time of writing).

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: December 2 – December 8

We’re into the final stretch of the election campaign, and I had three glorious days off to recover from my weekend at work.  And of course I spent some of them reading.  I’m quite annoyed that I still haven’t managed to post my Christmas-themed book posts yet – why is that I hear you ask, because you’ve seen Christmas books on thes lists for weeks, nay months now. Well it’s because I haven’t liked enough of them so I’ve had to keep on going and finding more to read in the hopes of being able to recommend them.  It has undone all my good work of starting reading the festive stuff early.  But they are coming.  Soon.  I promise.

Read:

St Ann’s on the Anvil by Winifred Norling

Mormonism: A Very Short Introduction by Richard L Bushman

Christmas Calamity at the Vicarage by Emily Organ

All I Want for Christmas by Jennifer Gracen

War on Peace by Ronan Farrow

Love Lies Bleeding by Edmund Crispin

The Countess Conspiracy by Courtney Milan

Dear Girls by Ali Wong

Shirley Flight, Air Hostess in The Rajah’s Daughter

Started:

Christmas Secrets by the Sea by Jane Lovering

Death on a Quiet Day by Michael Innes

Still reading:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgerstern

Death Beside the Seaside by TE Kinsey

So I bought some stuff, but they mostly don’t count.  Let me explain: One for ebook for my sister’s book club (she has a kindle hooked up to my account), one ebook as part of her Christmas present from my parents (she’s in China, so posting a book isn’t really an option). And another girls own book (to add to the Shirley Flight’s from last week) but it’s the unabridged version of a Chalet School book I already own, so that doesn’t count either right? And a preorder of the paperback version of the latest Custard Protocol, so that sort of doesn’t count either right?!

And on a completely different note, you may remember how much I loved the Jim Henson biography back in September, so I wanted to mark the passing of Caroll Spinney, the puppeteer who was the original Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch who appeared in that book as a supporting role and who died over the weekend at the age of 85. And another loss on Sunday was the actor Rene Auberjonois – who played Odo in Star Trek: Deep Space 9. I don’t think I’ve talked much about my love of Star Trek as a child and teen, but I feel like I grew up watching the three Next Generation-era series and he was one of the best things about DS9.

Bonus photo: Quality winter comfort food (and my slipper) as the cold weather starts to make me want to eat nothing but casseroles.

 

Book of the Week

Book of the Week: The Bromance Book Club

Well where to start.  You saw the list yesterday. it was long. There was good stuff. You might have expected the pick today to be the Gail Carriger – and I do love her, but I’ve written a lot about her already and you really need to be reading those in order, so go back at least as far as Prudence first, maybe even Soulless. But this book, the very last one I read last week was my favourite. I had trouble stopping myself reading it when I had to go and do other things. Like eat. Or get off the train.

Cover of The Bromance Book Club

Gavin Scott has messed up. His baseball career is on a high, but his marriage has fallen apart. The night of his biggest career triumph was also the night his relationship came crashing down when he discovered his wife Thea had been faking it in bed. He reacted badly and now she wants a divorce. Gavin doesn’t though – he wants his wife back. Enter the Bromance Book Club – a group of really quite alpha guys who have fixed their own relationships with the help of a seemingly unlikely source: romance novels. With the help of the book that they’ve picked for him Gavin starts to try and rebuild his marriage. But will he manage to follow its instructions – and does Thea even want to try again?

“The point is to fit the lessons of it into your own marriage. Plus, that’s a Regency, so—” “What the hell is a Regency?” “That means it’s set in eighteenth-or early nineteenth-century England.” “Oh, great. That sounds relevant.” “It is, actually,” Malcolm said. “Modern romance novelists use the patriarchal society of old British aristocracy to explore the gender-based limitations placed on women today in both the professional and personal spheres. That shit is feminist as fuck.”

This was so much my jam. I mean really, really good. I mean if that quote doesn’t sell it to you, then I don’t know what will. Gavin is a great hero – he knows he’s messed up, he doesn’t know how to fix it and he hasn’t realised that more is wrong than just the bedroom issue.  His pro-sports career gives him a legitimate reason to have not noticed some of the stuff that’s been bothering Thea – and once he realises what’s happened, he pulls himself together and makes changes to do better and be better.  Thea is an attractive heroine – she’s a young mum who’s given up a lot because of her husband’s career but who still has goals and ambitions.  You understand why she reacts the way that she does and why she feels so strongly. She’s changed herself so much to fit in with Gavin’s life and the players’ wives and she wants to find her own identity again.  It’s wonderful to watch it all unfold.

The only thing that I didn’t like was the resolution to the bedroom side of the story.  Nothing really changes really in *what* they’re doing in the bedroom – so you don’t really understand orgasms weren’t happening during sex for Thea in the first place – or why she started being able to come again. Other reviewers have also spotted this – and I think it has bothered them more than it bothered me – but it is annoying and also troublesome. In a book which is mostly about Gavin learning to listen to his wife and to be a better partner, there’s no conversation about how to fix this at all – but hey presto, it’s fixed because the rest of their relationship is fixed.  That’s not how it works. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the book, but it is a shame and an opportunity missed.

I’m having a real moment with contemporary romance right now and struggling a bit with the historical stuff (apart from a few reliable authors) but this was such a great combination of the two.  It’s also got a great cast of supporting characters with the other guys from the book club – the Russian with the digestive problems, the playboy who flirts with every woman he sees.  Thea’s sister Liv was a bit of a tough sell for me at times, but as you lean more about the sisters’ childhood you understand why she is like she is.  I’m looking forward to her getting a book of her own – because this – praise be – is the start of a series.

My copy of the Bromance Book Club  by Lyssa Kay Adams came from NetGalley, but it’s out now in ebook – it’s a bargainous £1.99 on Kindle and Kobo at the moment.  The paperback comes out in the UK at the end of January.

Happy Reading!

 

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 25 – December 1

This year really just won’t quit. It keeps on being insanely busy even when it should be getting into Christmas mode.  And this week has been stressful too, so check out the result of a string of late night train journeys, a weekend at work and the need to destress through reading. Impressive no?

Read:

The Likeability Trap by Alicia Menendez

The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser

A Wedding in December by Sarah Morgan

Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz

Love, Parisienne by Florence Besson, Eva Amour and Claire Steinlen

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

Competence by Gail Carriger

A Kiss for Mid-winter by Courtney Milan

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams

Started:

The Starless Sea by Erin Morgerstern

Death Beside the Seaside by TE Kinsey

Still reading:

War on Peace by Ronan Farrow

A couple of books bought – but mostly as Christmas presents.  There may have been a few Girls Own in there too though..

Bonus photo: Will there ever be a satisfactory way to shelf my Gail Carriger books? Probably not.

Shelf of Gail Carriger books of varying sizes

books, stats

November Stats

New books read this month: 31*

Books from the to-read pile: 9

Ebooks read: 3

NetGalley books read: 4

Library books: (all ebooks): 15

Non-fiction books: 3

Most read author: Susan Mallery – 2 books and 1 novella

Books read in 2019: 364

Books bought:  1 ebook, 1 book.

Books on the Goodreads to-read shelf: 535

Nearly managed not to buy any books.  So nearly.

Bonus picture: I was at work this weekend, but here’s Hildegard my parent’s dachshund in the frost

Dachshund in the snow

*Includes some short stories/novellas/comics/graphic novels (5 this month)

 

Authors I love, Book of the Week, Christmas books

Book of the Week: Hither, Page

An embarrassment of riches on this week’s list, but I think this was my favourite.  Lots of stuff from it will be making appearances in other posts soon too – in fact the only thing against Hither, Page being this week’s pick is that I sort of wanted it for my Christmas reading post, which is taking longer to put together than I was expecting because I haven’t liked a lot of the stuff that I’ve been reading with an eye to including it.  But this wasn’t on the original list of potentials for the Christmas post, so I don’t feel too bad about it. Anyway, on to the book.

Cover of Hither, Page

Hither, Page is a murder mystery and romance set in Britain in the aftermath of World War Two. James Sommers has come back from the war to work as the doctor in the village that he lived in as a child.  After he catches his cleaning lady looking through his patient records and snooping in his flat he lets her go. But soon she’s found dead after a dinner party at the Big House and James feels like the peace of his post-war sanctuary has been shattered. Leo Page works for one of the shadowier (and possibly dodgier) bits of the British secret service and is surprised to be sent to a sleepy village to investigate a charlady’s death. Soon Leo and James are crossing paths – one as as he tries to solve the crime, the other he tries to get his village back to normal – or at least that’s what he thinks he’s doing.

I think you all know me well enough to know that this plot summary ticks quite a lot of my boxes – murder mystery, mid-twentieth century, secret services connection and it’s sort of enemies forced to work together.  It’s funny and snarky and has a great cast of supporting characters who – as it’s the first of a series – we should hear more from in books to come. What is not to love.

I’m always after a new historical mystery series, and Cat Sebastian was one of my 2018 Obsessions as I worked my way through her back catalogue so this is practically a Venn diagram all on its own. My only complaints were that it wasn’t long enough and as it’s the first in the series I now have to wait impatiently for the next installment which doesn’t even have a name yet it’s so long away.  However in writing this post I realised that there is another Cat Sebastian book due out soon (in December and I’ve got it pre-ordered already, well done PastVerity) which is good, but I think we’ve just ruled that out of BotW contention if I read it straightaway, which I think we all know I will.  Hey ho (ho, ho), you can’t win them all.

My copy of Hither, Page came from the library – but it’s available on Kindle and on Kobo now.

Happy Reading!

books, stats, The pile, week in books

The Week in Books: November 18 – November 24

I used my three days off to read books. Can you tell? And I needed the relaxation because my days at work were Very Busy. But then it’s still election season isn’t it. Only three weeks to go…

Read:

Shirley Flight, Air Hostess and the Congo Rescue by Judith Dale

Sweet Valley Confidential by Francine Pascal

Maid of the Abbey by Elsie J Oxenham

Bad to the Bone by Katy Munger

Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries and Mary-Jo Putney

It Happened on Christmas Eve by Kirsty Greenwood

Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian

The Banks by Roxane Gay and Ming Doyle

Meant to be Yours by Susan Mallery

A Very Merry Princess by Susan Mallery

Started:

Competence by Gail Carriger

The Likeability Trap by Alicia Menendez

War on Peace by Ronan Farrow

Still reading:

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue by Karina Yan Glaser

A couple of ebooks bought. And some Christmas presents. But they don’t count because they’re not for me.

Bonus photo: the winter soup cauldron. Now back out for the season and in heavy rotation.