Elizabeth: What Have You Been Reading?

Additions to my TBR pile, courtesy of the RWA Conference

Additions to my TBR pile, courtesy of the RWA Conference

Now that the writing push of November is over, I’m slowing things down a little and taking some time to get a little reading done, both to make a dent in the TBR pile and to recharge my creativity a bit. Well, I was before I got slammed by the flu. Now I’m just laying here like a slug, wishing for a magic bottle of 7-Up that would automatically refill itself.

Anyway, before I was laid low, here is what I’ve been reading recently:

A New Book by a Favorite Author

First up was The Rosie Effect, by Graeme Simsion. I had previously read The Rosie Project and enjoyed it, so I was looking forward to this sequel.  In the first book, Don (the main character) and Rosie get together. This second book follows them as they are expecting their first child. Unfortunately, the story did not work for me, in large part because of the Rosie character. This review from Amazon summed up my feelings about the story:

“I found this book somewhat depressing and distressing. I am currently expecting my first child and thought Rosie was being ridiculous.” ~ review by Mander.

A New Author

This month’s “new to me” author was Penny Reid.   Her book Neanderthal Seeks Human was free on Amazon (and a few other eBook sites), so I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve been reading it a little at a time while waiting in airports and such, so have not yet finished it. So far I am not actually sure I am the reader for this book. The story spends a lot of time in the main character’s head, rather than having things actually happen. The reviews I’ve read of the book seem to be fairly positive, so I’m hoping things pick up as the story progresses. Has anyone read this one? If so, what did you think of the story?

Something Thought Provoking

I rounded out this month’s reading with It’s Your World (Get Informed, Get Inspired & Get Going) by Chelsea Clinton. The book talks about various challenges that exist in our world today – housing, food, education – and provides suggestions for things that individuals can do to address them. I picked up the book at a local store because the topics are very relevant to a project I am working on for my day job. Though the book is aimed at teenagers/young adults, the information and interesting and presented in a very readable way.

So, what have you read (or started reading) recently? Anything you’d recommend?

18 thoughts on “Elizabeth: What Have You Been Reading?

  1. I am so fed up with the Hollywood trope of ‘woman gets pregnant, has a disagreement with partner, leaves partner, reunited at birth’. Can’t someone write something else?

    I love anything by Mark Lawrence; I don’t think I’ve ever read more thoroughly-developed characters. Start at Prince of Thorns 🙂

    One of my favourite reads this year was the companion to Life After Life – all about Teddy. I won’t ruin it – if you haven’t read either, you’re in for a treat.

    • Penny, I”m with you on that trope. I’d add the “wedding called off at the altar” trope to that list too.

      I’m not familiar with Mark Lawrence. Off to Amazon to look Prince of Thorns up.

      • Elizabeth, one warning: it is dark, violent – and at times absolutely hilarious. I couldn’t put them down – they’re probably also a masterclass in how to have a protagonist that should be completely unlikeable. The second trilogy in that universe has a very different protagonist – your classic wastrel forced to be a hero (it’s really, really good). I’m expecting both characters to meet in the last book of the second trilogy, due out sometime next year.

        • I looked up Prince of Thorns yesterday. I’m somewhat squeamish and was daunted by the description of the opening scene and the protagonist, but now you’ve got me thinking I have to read it. A dose of black humor – the perfect antidote to the all-pervasive seasonal saccharine.

        • Hmmm. ” . . at times absolutely hilarious” sounds great, but “dark, violent” is not, as Jilly would say, my catnip. Maybe I better stick with the recommended Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden book instead.

  2. After reading Bujold’s eARC in October (October?), I’ve had a terrible dry spell. My head is too full of story to enjoy stuff that I don’t think will help. I’ve been reading The Mysteries of Udolpho by Anne Radcliffe, mostly because it was something Jane Austen read, and in the introduction to Northanger Abbey, the writer recommended reading it in order to appreciate Northanger Abbey more deeply.

    Oh, lord, the things I do because some writer says I should try it.

    The first third was dreary and full of death and tears. It did pick up a bit, and was quite thrilling in sections, but (you knew there’d be a but, didn’t you?) ultimately, it let me down. There were red herrings that just stunk up the plot, and the day after I finished, I realized they never did anything with the dog. As far as I know, he’s still wandering the castle, waiting for his mistress.

    It was rather interesting in the ways it didn’t work, though, and I realized that readers’ expectations have changed quite a bit since the 18th century. I also thought it was fascinating to see the shift to secularism. There is a great deal of praise for God, but God manifests in natural regions (mostly with mountains), and not in Paris, apparently. It’s a rather pagan view of God in many ways.

    So, I don’t exactly recommend it, but I would like to have someone to discuss it with (-:.

    The Scarlet Letter is progressing slowly, but I’m enjoying it more. And Hogfather is my treat book, but I haven’t been a good girl early enough in the day to deserve a treat. That’s one of the more difficult Pratchetts anyway . . . .

    I am longing to read Pride and Prejudice again. I think there might be something in there that will help my story. Or maybe I’m just longing to spoil myself a little.

    It’s been a long time since I’ve had three open books in the house! I usually read them one at a time, but I do enjoy it if I read a few books and have them cross-fertilize. Not really happening this time around, which is also contributing to my reading dissatisfacion these days. (-: I’m happy to hear that Elizabeth and /anne are having good reading weeks, though!

    Get better soon! Oh, by the way, I can recommend a soda — Orangina or Lemongina. I don’t like them much on their on, but they are great with a savory meal, especially something that’s been marinated in lemon (like roast lemon chicken). Fluids are so important . . . .

    • Michaeline, I read The Mysteries of Udolpho a few years back as part of a class. I just remember thinking that people had different expectations about their books back then than we do now. I’d be happy to talk about it with you, but I better re-read it first.

      Sounds like you have a wide range of reading in progress. If you and Jilly are going to be talking about Hogfather , I may have to add that to my list as well.

      • LOL, I may take you up on that. Although, it is such a slog for much of the book, I hate to make you re-read it. I have a feeling that Mysteries of Udolpho was groundbreaking in a lot of ways — and as a groundbreaker, some of the tropes hadn’t been quite as smoothly polished as we expect them to be today. For example, the red herrings. (I don’t think this is spoiling anything, but our heroine, Emily, sees something nasty in a usually-locked room. AND OUR AUTHOR DOESN’T TELL US WHAT IT WAS!! Not until the last chapter. Reminded me very much of “something nasty in the woodshed” in Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm. — Cold Comfort Farm was barely forgivable because it was supposed to be a parody and supposed to be annoying. Grrrr.)

        We’re going to talk about Hogfather this weekend! Not one of the most accessible Pratchetts, but my goodness, it had me giggling last night. The Hogfather imposter in the Grotto of one of the big Ankh-Morpork department stores, for those of you who have read it. Multi-layered, extended scene.

  3. Sorry to hear about your flu, Elizabeth. Hope you’re feeling better soon.

    I read Storm Front, the first Jim Butcher/Harry Dresden book, thanks to a recommendation by Penny. It was a fun mixture of magic, mystery and snark – I really enjoyed it and will definitely read more of the series. As I was reading, I wondered if maybe it was the spark for Rivers of London, another supernatural police procedural that has the same fabulously smart, snarky feel.

    I’ve just finished Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather, because Micki and I decided we wanted to discuss it here on the blog. It’s the seasonal Pratchett but as she already said, it’s not the easiest one. If we hadn’t committed to it, I might have swapped it out for one of my favorites. Instead, it’s made me work a little harder and think more deeply about why I love Pratchett so much. So that’s a good thing!

    And this week I received an ARC of Magic Stars, a novella by Ilona Andrews starring two important secondary characters from her best-selling Kate Daniels urban fantasy series. I binged it immediately, super-fast, because I was dying to know what happened, and then read it thoroughly a couple of times because I’m going to review it here, and I’ve been mulling over what I want to say. More to follow 😉 .

    • Jim Butcher’s books and style continue to evolve and improve – it is fun to watch and experience. Dresden just keeps getting better. As I remember Jim sold the first 3 Dresden books together – they were all done – he wrote them as college writing projects. I had just read something my someone who knew him at the time and he was going to set Dresden in like Oklahoma or something, where he was at the time and his teacher broke out a map and pointed at five places, including Washington DC and Chicago and he picked Chicago. He’d never been there and didn’t know much about it and as the other author said – you can find some mistakes about it in the first few books, but location really does make a difference. I was at a chat and book signing for Butcher about 5 yrs ago – He already had in his head all of the long range things that have been going on in the series – I think last year’s was #13(?) and he had plans for 20-21 books total… He even said he had the end in mind – big finish – Stars and Stones / Hell’s Bells… We’ll see if he changes his mind. My friend has already read his new Aeronaut’s Lass novel and she practically inhaled it – she said it was pretty awesome.

    • Jilly, I’ve heard good things about Storm Front. Mystery and snark sounds right up my alley. Time to add that one to the queue. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say about Magic Stars.

  4. I recently read a new book by a favorite author – Brown-Eyed Girl by Lisa Kleypas. It is a part of her contemporary Travis series. I definitely prefer her historical romances to her contemporary women’s fiction (they could be considered cont. romance but they also have ‘issues’ in them which turn them into women’s fiction in my mind). Her contemporaries are all written in first person. I’m not generally a fan of that. It was okay but the main conflict for her was ‘I refuse to love anyone – marriage isn’t for me’ sort of conflict. Blah.

    I recently read a book by a new author – Christmas at Twilight by Lori Wilde. I was looking for a holiday story to help get me in the spirit. All I can say is that I’m not the reader of her writing style.

    As for something thought provoking – the new Uniform Grant Guidance is consuming me right now. Work has a tendency to get in the way of my reading (and writing) time. Maybe I’ll buy a lottery ticket on the way home.

    • Michille, I don’t think I’ve read any of Lisa Kleypas’ contemporary novels – to me she is firmly in the “historical author” category. The ‘I refuse to love anyone – marriage isn’t for me’ sort of conflict is not one of my favorites, though it is certainly one I have encountered in a number of books.

      Sympathies on “work interfering with reading/writing time” – hopefully things will lighten up for you soon.

  5. I’ve been working on upping my writing game and binging on the Craig Johnson Longmire book series. I got Netflix and binged the TV series, found out about the books and thought I’d try his new short story collection – Wait for Signs, to check out his style. I LOVE him. I have been binging on the novels ever since.

    My favorite new go-to-craft handbook is James Scott Bell’s Super Structure. I also highly recommend his Write Your Novel from the Middle. Other goodies have been: Chris Fox’s 5000 Words Per Day, KM Weiland’s Structuring Your Novel & Outlining Your Novel, and Nancy Cohen’s Writing the Cozy Mystery.

    I had previewed Anne Hillerman (daughter of Tony Hillerman) Spider Woman’s Daughter – she is following the further adventures and extensions of her dad’s characters – she seems every bit as awesome, I look forward to finishing it (it went on sale this week for a few $$$ off, so I got it.)

    I am an Amazon Prime member and I now get to pick one new release from a dozen selections of pre-releases each month for free. I’ve got a couple I’m looking to get into after I finish my current Longmire: Grave of Hummingbirds by Jennifer Skutelsky- murder mystery, The Short Drop by Matthew Fitzsimmons – Thriller. (I only had one that I couldn’t finish Still Waters by Viveca Sten – it had good promise, but that didn’t last past the opening chapter, and then it just got to unbearably horrible. I hate to say bad things about a book, we know how much effort goes into them, but it was a fabulous example of many what NEVERs to do.)

    I also just got some new releases I’d been waiting for: The Last Victim by Jordan Dane- killer thriller, Storming by KM Weiland – Dieselpunk (apparently the difference is, these are set between WW1 & WW2 vs Victorian).

    As much as I’ve been trying to get some plotting and writing done – I have consumed more books in the last 3 month’s than I have in the last 2 years, easily.

    I feel like I’m ready to burst. I only hope it translates back properly to my writing.

    • Wow Penny, you have been one busy reader. Hopefully all the reading has topped off your creativity tank.

      Lots of good suggestions on your list. I too am an Amazon Prime member. I was just looking at the list of free books for this month trying to decide which to try.

  6. I discovered that I hadn’t reread the early Terry Pratchett works for over a decade (Yes, I keep a list of what I’ve read, for just such checking. What of it?) and so I’ve been burning through all the Discworld novels — 9 this past month. I’ve been going through them on audiobook this time, which has resulted in me hearing puns I hadn’t gotten when I first read the books, as well as a renewed appreciation of the poetry of Pratchett’s prose. Highly recommended as examples of how to write characters who are simultaneously real people and symbols of various platonic ideals.

    I’m also rereading (in print) John Crowley’s “Little, Big”, which is slower going. The writing is as thick as treacle, but somehow it’s not frustrating. You just sink into his writing like into a hot bath and let it soak all traces of modernism away.

  7. Pingback: Michille: Reading Lists | Eight Ladies Writing

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