Kay: Whatcha Readin’?

The last time I checked in with how I was spending my time during our corona virus stay-at-home spring, I whined that I’d watched everything on TV, and did you all have any suggestions? And I was watching TV because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to read for more than, say, fifteen minutes.

Well, since then, my friends, I’ve subscribed to Netflix streaming and am busy checking out your suggestions. Also, I’m reading like a fiend. And what I’m discovering, to my amusement, is that in the books I’ve recently enjoyed the most, Our Heroine works in publishing, my former occupation.

In the truism that fiction has to be better than real life, these characters are enjoying fruits of their labors that I never saw. But in the book that I’m currently whizzing through (The Flatmate by Beth O’Leary), Tiffy, Our Girl, is an editor in a small magazine publishing company (ditto), whose authors are eccentric (ditto) but knowledgeable (double ditto), who are willing to do pretty much anything to show potential readers how cool their thing is (ditto). The fact that Tiffy works for a niche publishing company that publishes do-it-yourself craft magazines, and I worked for a publishing company that published niche computing titles (artificial intelligence, anyone? Okay, big now, but it was niche back then) doesn’t make the comparisons less relevant.

This book is so much fun. Tiffy earns next to nothing (sadly, ditto), so she shares a one-bedroom apartment with a guy she’s never met. He works nights, she works days. Months go by and they never meet, but they communicate with sticky notes (I did a lot of sticky noting in my day, too). Eventually they meet. Sparks fly. The Big Bad has just showed up, but I bet it works out in the end.

Tiffy’s job and her colleagues are a hoot, much like the people I worked with. In some ways, it’s like reading a funnier and sharper and more modern biography of every editor of a small publishing house I’ve ever met (specifically like, for example, me). So who doesn’t like that?

In a shorter gig from my working past, I was a typesetter at a fairly high-end shop, doing complicated work for fussy clients. I learned a lot about type there, so I really enjoyed the book I whizzed through two days ago, Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. In that one, Our Girl Meg does fancy hand-lettered custom journals for clients who can afford them. She inserts a warning message into the wedding invitations of one of her clients, because Meg knows when the handwriting’s on the wall. A year later, the groom-who-never-was comes to her shop to ask her how she knew. She’s in a creative slump, so they walk around New York, looking at and for signs. As in signage.

Well, my friends, what can I say? I swooned.

These days as despair and fury rage all around us, I need more than ever to find hope and happiness in the world. How about you? What are you reading? I’m looking for recommendations, publishing settings not required.



8 thoughts on “Kay: Whatcha Readin’?

  1. Glad you’re getting good value for your Netflix investment, Kay! And thank heavens for streaming entertainment, e-books and video calling software.

    I like the sound of both those books, but especially Love Lettering. I heard about it a while ago, meant to read it, and promptly forgot. Not this time. Bumping it to the top of my TBR list.

    I’d definitely recommend more T. Kingfisher. Especially Summer in Orcus. If you haven’t read it yet, I think you’d like it a lot. I just finished All Systems Red, the first Murderbot novella, because so many regulars on Jenny Crusie’s blog recommend it. Sci-fi isn’t often my thing, but I liked this a lot and I’ll definitely read the next one (there are, I think, five novellas). And something new from this side of the pond–The Garden Plot, an English Garden Romance. Full disclosure: this is the debut novel from Sara Sartagne, who’s a good friend of mine. It’s a feelgood romance set in a beautiful Derbyshire village, with an environmental campaigner/garden designer, a cranky-but-hot property developer, and a matchmaking teenager. That tells you all you need to know, right?

    • T. Kingfisher, yes! Thank you for reminding me. I polished off Paladin’s Grace a week ago or so, and I enjoyed that a lot. I believe she’s fairly prolific, so I’ll have plenty to chew on for a while. I’ll start with Summer in Orcus. And then I’ll check out The Garden Plot, too. Sounds like it’s got all the elements!

      And speaking of the murderbot books, I saw a while back on Jenny’s blog that someone reported they were going for free on Tor, one a day, but by the time I saw the announcement, I’d missed the window on the first two. I have to say, I’m balking at $10 for a novella, or whatever it is. Do you think I can pick up on the third and get anything from it? They’re just sitting here, staring at me from my Kindle.

      • Murderbot. I hear you about $10 for a novella and have read the many angry comments about $40 for one book broken up into pricy instalments. That’s pretty much why I didn’t try it until now (I missed the free ones, grrr). Yesterday the first (All Systems Red) was $1.99 on the Zon and I was very happy to dive in at that price. If it’s still the same today, maybe splurge two dollars and see what you think. Then skip to the third book if you like what you read 😉

        • Thanks for the heads up! I like your strategy idea, too, so I went to Amazon. The price was up to $3.99, but I bit anyway. That’s the price on my books, so I figure I can go with it, even if these are novellas. And then I’ll skip to book 3 if I’m happy with the first one.

  2. These both sound great!

    I’ve been obsessively reading Jeaniene Frost, who writes in my subgenre. When I’m done with her, I have a pile of recent releases by friends I owe reviews.

    And maybe one of these!

    • Jeaniene Frost isn’t normally in my go-to genre, and while I like a good comfort read, I can definitely try someone new, too. So many people have recommended her in places I follow that now is probably the time. It sounds like she’s prolific, too! So if we’re a decent match, I can go a long way with her, too. Thanks, Jeanne!

  3. Thanks for the reminder about Love Lettering, Kay. I thought it sounded great when I came across it months ago and put it my library queue, but then I completely forgot about it. I need to go bump it up to the top of the list.

  4. I did better in May as far as reading goes, but the only one I would recommend without reservation is Bujold’s novella, The Physicians of Vilnoc. It’s caring, compassionate, brainy and so in tune with 2020 for being a medieval fantasy. I’ll talk about the other ones on Saturday. Oh, wait, there was one non-plague related novel I read — book two of the Fred the Accountant Vampire series. These are collections of short stories that interconnect. I find them a lot of fun — there’s a certain zaniness. Maybe a little too much trust in the police and the Guardians of Society for June 2020, but still funny and comforting and good-hearted.

    Neither one are romances, really, though. I’m going to try to read at least one romance this month . . . possibly even try for the Summer Romance Bingo that’s going around on Twitter these days — sequel to the one that Elizabeth posted about last year. https://eightladieswriting.com/2019/06/05/elizabeth-summer-reading-bingo/

    No, wait. Here’s The Ripped Bodice’s summer reading bingo: https://www.therippedbodicela.com/ripped-bodice-summer-read-along-bingo

    The one I saw on Twitter this year involved “the hero looks handsome even though he once broke a nose.”

    OK, double-wait. Maybe they posted the first annual one on that post? Here’s the Ripped Bodice Bingo from Twitter for the Fourth Annual read-along.

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