Not Just Another Grouchy Grammarian

Musings about language, books, grammar, and writing in general

Happy 100th, Mr. Spillane!

Hard Case Crime is beginning the year-long celebration of what would have been Mickey Spillane’s 100th birthday by publishing (for the first time anywhere) his last completed novel, The Last Stand.

They were kind enough to provide me with an advance reading copy, so here are my thoughts on it. Neither of the stories in the book feature Mike Hammer, so if you are looking for a new “lost” Hammer novel, you will be disappointed. That will probably be your only disappointment with the book, however.

Additionally, the volume includes a never-before-published early Mickey Spillane novella, “A Bullet for Satisfaction.” This is the first story in the book. It’s a taut story, albeit a violent one. Rod Dexter is a police detective who, while investigating the murder of a local politician, stumbles into a conspiracy by the Syndicate to take over the mid-sized town he works and lives in. Fired for essentially being too close to exposing too many bigwigs, he refuses to let go of the case.It’s a lot grittier than most of the stuff I read, but it is definitely the work of someone who knows what he is doing. The prose is spare – not a single word that isn’t needed – and the tension is kept high. And while the violence seems excessive to me, it is my understanding that this was appropriate for the time was written, and takes place, in.

The title story, “The Last Stand” follows. When you read it, you will need to bear in mind that it was written way before political correctness existed. This may mean you find it offensive in terms of stereotyping. If you can put that aside (I found it hard to, until one of the Native Americans in the story started making fun of the stereotypes), it’s a good story. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say I hope that you can, becaause this is one of the best stories i’ve read in a long time. Funny, scary, tense, complicated, and with utterly memorable characters, this is one that will stay with e for a while. Mr. Spillane may have aged, but it’s clear he was still at the peak of his abilities when he penned this one.

During the year-long celebration, MWA Grandmaster Max Allan Collins’ completion of the first Mike Hammer novel (begun in 1945, but set aside for later work), Killing Town, will be published by Hard Case Crime. So will his the first paperback publication of the Spillane started/Collins finished The Will to Kill. Additionally, Hard Case Crime will publish a new Mike Hammer graphic novel/comic book called Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Night I Died.

So, if you are a Mickey Spillane fan, this will be an excellent year, with lots of things coming your way.


The Ship That Armed Herself

I recently received an advanced reading copy of Gareth L. Powell’s new book Embers of War, the first book of a new trilogy. The ship, Trouble Dog, whose brain has been created partly from human cells, has gotten disgusted with war and has resigned her commission and joined a rescue operation. Having been decommissioned, she has had the bulk of her weaponry removed, keeping only defensive weapons. While on a rescue mission, Trouble Dog acquires two passengers, also on a rescue mission. They are looking for a poet who vanished when the ship she was a passenger on was shot down.

There are complications. The two passengers Trouble Dog picks up are intelligence agents for opposite sides of a struggle that has been going on for years. The new medic barely has enough training to change a band-aid and suffers from homesickness. The ship’s mechanic, an alien, understands everything except people. The one actual crew member the captain has dislikes many of the decisions she makes. And those are just the handicaps Captain Sal Konstanz starts out with. Oh, yes, and she might be facing reprimand, demotion, or expulsion from the service for a decision she made while attempting a rescue prior to the current mission.

So, you can see there is plenty of dramatic tension here.

Powell is a powerful writer, His writing is spare, with no wasted words and little embellishment. He gives us the straight story, harsh as it may be. His war is not romantic; it’s ugly – the way real war is ugly. It has needless deaths, wasted potential, and exposes the legacies of war – and not just the war in the book. It makes you think about the legacies that we live with today from past wars and the possible legacies of wars that may be all too damned close to happening in the near future.

It’s a good book. It makes you think. The characters are well-drawn. The writing is transparent and does not get in the way of the story. Oh, and did I mention it makes you think? You should read this book even if military SF​ is not your thing. You may not love it; it may make you uncomfortable; still, you should read this book.

The press release that accompanied Embers of War likened it to “Firefly meets Ancillary Justice.” I would compare it to crossing Anne McCaffrey’s “The Ship Who…” books crossed with David Feintuch’s “Seafort Saga” series (which is one of the best examples of military sf that I have read).

An Interesting Challenge

I don’t normally do shout-outs of publishers, but I would like to call your attention​ to two publishers – one in the U.S., one in Britain – who have taken up a challenge.

First, the challenge: In 2015, a British Pakistani writer named Kamila Shamsie came up with a challenge for publishers: publish only books by women for a year. She wrote the following:

“I’m going to assume that the only people who really doubt that there is a gender bias going on are those who stick with the idea that men are better writers and better critics. Enough … Why not have a year of publishing women: 2018, the centenary of women over the age of 30 getting the vote in the UK, seems appropriate.”

It was taken up for 2018 by one British publishing house​: And Other Stories, based in Sheffield. The challenge has now also been taken up by Oregon’s Not A Pipe Publishing.

I think both publishers​ are doing something really good by taking up this challenge, and I am looking forward to reading the books they will put ut this year. I promise to review the books here ​and to keep folks up to date on how the publishers are doing while taking this challenge.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #6

So. I still have six books to read for the Book Riot Challenge. Reading has been going a bit more slowly this week, as I have been a bit under the weather.

Book #28 (Goodreads Challenge): Karen S. Bell’s Brooklyn Rhapsody is a quick, pleasant, easy read. It’s pretty much a vignette about a single woman living in Brooklyn, who is dealing with family who cannot see any of her accomplishments unless she manages to get married.

Book #29 (Both Challenges): I had Gabourey Sidibe’s This Is Just My Face: Try Not To Stare on my TBR queue for a while now, so when I needed a celebrity memoir it seemed like a good choice. It was. Ms. Sidibe has a very refreshing viewpoint, and she openly discusses things that shaped her, both for good and bad. The one thing I was not so pleased about is that she still seems to need to make the jokes about herself before others might do so. Then again, that is a skill that many of us who are different learn, and it’s a damned hard one to break.

Book #30 (Goodreads Challenge): Gareth L. Powell’s Embers of War is a solid, thought-provoking piece of military sf. It reads like a cross between Ann McCaffrey’s “The Ship Who…” books and David Feintuch’s “The Seafort Saga” books. IT makes you think; it does not sugar-coat its tale of war’s legacies, and it does not shrink from calling things what they are. You really want to read this book, even if military sf is not your normal beat.

Book #31 (Goodreads Challenge): Haldane Macfall’s Vigee Le Brun is an interesting short biography of painter Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun. I read this for a project I’m involved with, and it was interesting enough to keep me going, even though the language is a bit odd. Written in 1922, the language is more than a bit flowery, and I get the feeling that the writer was off by a hair when using certain words to describe things. Still, if you like artist biographies, this one is worth exploring. It was a quick read (less than a morning) and covered the life of a fascinating woman who spent twelve years after the French Revolution as an exile and an official enemy of the State. The book also has colored illustrations of some of her works, and those are a true delight.

I am in the process of rereading one of my favorite books – Steve Allen’s marvelous “Dumbth”: The Lost Art of Thinking With 101 Ways to Reason Better & Improve Your Mind, and will report on that next time. After that, I will get back to my other reading challenge.

Westlake Strikes Again!

One of the pleasures of reading is discovering gems one had not known about by writers one adores. Such is Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake. Those of you who know me know that Westlake’s Dancing Aztecs is one of my favorite books. Well, this one isn’t far behind it.

The book tells the story of Harry Künt, a practical joker who is imprisoned after one of his jokes goes horribly wrong, wrecking twenty cars, and injuring – among others – three children, and two Congressmen (who were sharing a car with some unmarried ladies). He mostly does well in prison, becoming accepted by one of the toughest groups there, after which he finds out that he is expected to help plan and execute the robbery of two banks — while in prison, which seems to be the ultimate in alibis. Like all of the best Westlake books, this one careens along like a cyclist on meth.

Complications arise. Of course, they do. It wouldn’t be a Westlake book otherwise. In this case, the main complication is that Künt is not the only practical joker in the prison. Someone keeps pulling jokes that it looks like Künt pulled, and he keeps getting in trouble with the warden. This also keeps him from having to actually take part in several failed or thwarted attempts at robbing the banks. Eventually, however, one of the robberies succeeds – at least mostly — after all, this is a Westlake book. Unfortunately, shortly after that, so does another prank that looks like Kunt was responsible. Künt needs to find the prankster before he ends up off all privileges and has to spend the rest of his sentence in solitary.

This is definitely a fun read and just the thing for a quiet evening. You may even find yourself laughing out loud, as you root for Künt and his friends to succeed. I know I was.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #5

And here we go again – another round of books for my two reading challenges.

Book #21 (Both Challenges): The task was to “read an assigned book you hated or never finished.” I had vague memories of Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome during the same term I had to read Willa Cather’s My Antonia. So I tossed a coin and Frome won out. While it is not a fun book, being about the inability to escape one’s responsibilities, it was a very well-written one. I was surprised at how easily it read, given the subject matter. I can’t say I would recommend it for light reading, but if you are interested in the classics, this is a good one to read. In fact, it was sufficiently good that I may very well give My Antonia another try!

Book #22 (Both Challenges): I wish I could say the same for the next book on my list. The task was to “read a book with a cover you hate.” I had wanted to try some Henry David Thoreau, specifically because I could not get into Walden back when I was in college, so I figured I would try a shorter work, Walking. I was underwhelmed. I thought I would enjoy this piece because I love walking – before I became disabled, I would walk three to five miles a day just for the hell of it. For Thoreau, however, walking seems less an enjoyment than a political statement. The bulk of the piece is spent eschewing civilization and its comforts. For me, a devout city walker (I do live in New York, one of the best walking cities in the world), this is so far outside my wheelhouse that I can’t wrap my brain around it. Oh, well, I suppose they can’t all be winners.

Book #23 (Goodreads Challenge): My ex and I were discussing this past month’s obituaries and – of course – Sue Grafton was included. He noted that he had come across an interesting bit of info in one of the obituaries about her: She said that she had gotten the idea for her Kinsey Millhone series by reading Edward Gorey’s The Ghastlycrumb Tinies. I had not read this, so he pointed me to a free PDF version. It’s a very quick read, and if you like Gorey’s twisted sense of humor you will enjoy it.

Book #24 (Goodreads Challenge): One thing I love to do is review books, as you may have noticed. Occasionally, a publisher will send me an advanced reading copy, such as Help I Am Being Held Prisoner, by Donald E. Westlake. This is a rerelease of an old Westlake book by Hard Case Crime, Like all the best Westlake books, it careens along at ludicrous speed (See Spaceballs). While a more in-depth review will follow on the publication date, the book involves a practical joker who ends up in prison as a result of one of his jokes going horribly wrong. He falls in with one of the “bad” groups of the prison and is compelled to assist in planning and executing the robbery of two banks — while still in prison. Definitely a fun read, and worth the time spent. If you like books with a cast of oddball characters, this is one you will love.

Book #25 (Goodreads Challenge): Got a lovely little surprise this morning while managing the books on my Kindle – a little gem of a story from one of my favorite writers – the absolutely charming Lawrence Block. It’s called Who Knows Where It Goes?, and has all the things I like about Block’s stories. It’s well-written and depicts how easily a plain, prosaic man can accept work that is inherently evil in order to maintain his lifestyle. Pretty much anything by Block is worth reading, and this is no exception.

Book #26 (Goodreads Challenge): I was going through the backlist on my Kindle, and found Nancy Nahra’s quick, little hagiographic book, Jacqueline Kennedy: First Lady in Courage. It was just okay, not noting anything new to me about its subject.

Book #27 (Both Challenges): The Woman in the Window, by A.J.Finn was another recommendation from the forums for the Book Riot Challenge. It actually was a page-turner of the best kind – twist upon twist, with elements of many of the old black and white movies the heroine loved so much. This is not to say that the protagonist is likable – she’s not really. However, the story has so many interesting turns that I don’t recommend starting this book before bedtime – I was up all night reading it.

And that is it for this entry, I think. I am six books away from finishing the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. We’ll see how long it will take me to accomplish that – possibly in the next entry or the one after that.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #4

I’m back with the next installment of my challenge reporting. Again, I’m sticking with the running draft because I like it. And I can’t believe that with the books reviewed here I’m fifteen books through the 24-book Book Riot READ HARDER Challenge!

Book #17 (Both Challenges): Someone in one of the forums recommended The Windfall, by Diksha Basu for Challenge #5, which is “A book set in or about one of the five BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China, or South Africa).” I’m glad I listened. The story careens along, with as endearing and frustrating a cast of characters as a reader could want. The story centers around the changes a family undergoes when the father sells a technology start-up for what – to them – is an extremely exorbitant amount of money. Ms. Basu has a good eye for people’s foibles and strengths, and how they are sometimes interchangeable. I will definitely be looking up her other work when this challenge is over.

Book #18 (Both Challenges): I’m not much on romance these days, and task #10 was to read “A romance novel by or about a person of color.” I looked in the forums, and a few people were recommending Someone in one of the forums recommended Forbidden, by Beverly Jenkins. This book is considered #1 in her Old West series and is one of those wonderful books where the characters are so memorable that you want more. Fortunately, Rhine Fontaine is so fascinating that he appears in at least one of Ms. Jenkins’ other books, which I am looking forward to reading after this challenge, and her protagonist, Miss Eddy Carmichael, is so fascinating that I hope she reappears in other books.

Book #19 (Both Challenges): Someone in one of the forums recommended Pashmina, by Nidhi Chanani for Challenge #19, which is to read a comic not published by DC, Marvel, or Image. Since I’ve been having pretty good luck with forum recommendations, I figured I’d try another one. I’m glad I did. The art is lovely, and the story is absorbing. You can add me to the folks that are recommending this book about a teenager’s coming of age and learning about making life choices.’

A Rare Fail: I tried to read Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin, but could not. I found it much more disjointed than I could deal with (and I don’t usually have problems with “disjointed” – I adored Laurence Sterne’s The Life & Opinions of Tristam Shandy, Gentleman immensely). (I note that my roommate says the only Atwood she ever read and liked was a book review in The New York Times.) It’s not often that I give up on a book but, honestly, there are some books that life is just too short to slog through. Still, I wanted it on record that I did try with this one.

Book #20 (Both Challenges): I read the first Aunty Lee book back in May 2015, about six months after it first came out. I fell in love with Aunty Lee, Nina, Salim, and Raja, and hoped there would be many more books in the series. Much to my delight, I found there are now three more books to read. For Book RIot’s task 23, I needed to read a book by a female writer with a protagonist who is both female and over 60 years of age.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #3

Hi all. I’m doing this as a running draft again, since I like the format.

Book #10 (Goodreads Challenge): I finally finished Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. I lived through the integration struggles of the 60’s and the Vietnam War (I know – it was technically a conflict) and Watergate, and I have never seen anything as scary as the goings-on described in this book. I note that GQ Magazine did an article on this book in which they noted that:

“As much as I wanna discredit Wolff, he got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.”

They further note that,

“If Trump refuses to abide by the standard (and now useless) “norms” of the presidency—shit, if he doesn’t even KNOW them—why should ANYONE in the press adhere to needless norms of their own? They shouldn’t, and it appears that Michael Wolff was one of the few people to instinctively grasp that, and I hope more White House insiders follow his lead. Sometimes you need a rat to catch a rat.”

What I kept thinking, while reading the book, was that I had never thought I would live to see a President who would make me miss Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes. Further, it took a lot longer to read than I had anticipated. The problem was not the book’s length, but that I kept getting so disgusted at the events depicted therein that I had to keep putting the book down.

I think it is a must-read, but only if you have the stomach for it.

Book #11 (Both Challenges): Courage is Contagious: And Other Reasons to be Grateful for Michelle Obama is a collection of essays from both famous and non-famous people about Michelle Obama and what they perceive her contributions to the country, The White House, and the role of First Lady were. It’s a very quick read and a very enjoyable one. I only wish the book had been longer.

Book #12 (Both Challenges): Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, by Sheri S. Tepper was definitely a page-turner. I read until I literally fell asleep way too late, with my Kindle still in my hand. I woke up this morning and had to finish it, even before my coffee and breakfast. It’s not a happy book; in fact, it is one of the scariest books I have ever rear, right up on a par with Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale or Eugene Wheeler and Harvey Burdick’s Fail-Safe. But it is beyond well-written, and well-worth the time it takes to read it.

Book #13 (Goodreads Challenge): “A City’s Favor,” by Racheline Maltese, with Joel Derfner, Tessa Gratton, and Karen Lord, which is the thirteenth chapter of Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Serial Box website. As I’ve noted before, I’ve been following this series from the beginning because it takes place in the same world as Ellen Kushner’s “Swords of Riverside” series. It’s a wonderful fantasy series, with several major female characters: Diane (Duchess Tremontaine), Ixkaab, Micah, and Tess the Hand all jump to mind immediately. Ellen has woven a complex society, with two very distinct classes – the nobility, and the Riversiders. You might want to read her trilogy, Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings before plunging into Tremontaine. Since it leaves us with something of a cliffhanger, I am sincerely hoping that there will be a Season 4. Whether there is another season ahead or not, I promise you, it’s well worth the time invested.

Book #14 (Both Challenges): The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin. The task was to read a children’s classic published before 1980. Several folks in the challenge forum suggested this book, originally published in 1978. When I looked it up, it sounded interesting, so I figured I’d give it a try. I am very glad I did. For one thing, it was not written “down” to some imagined kids’ level. It was written as if the author was writing for people with brains. Two, there were enough twista and turns that it held my interest all the way through, and had an ending that seemed both natural, inevitable, and totally satisfying. One thing I can tell you: Once this challenge is completed, I intend to look up Ms. Raskin’s other books and read them.

Book #15 (Both Challenges): Daytripper, by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá, Craig Thompson (Introduction), Dave Stewart (Colours), Sean Konot (Lettering) was much more than I expected it to be. I’ve been a fan of comics since I picked up my first Adventure Comic back when comics were $.12 each. And I am certainly no stranger to comics that ponder deeper questions. But this was one of the more unusual comics I have ever read. For one thing, it was not meant to be comfortable. Relatable, yes; thought-provoking, yes; well-written, yes; comfortable, not so much. It’s about the choices one makes in life, and when and how we discover the meaning of life for ourselves. I highly recommend this. NOTE for the Unwary: There are several depictions of death in the book – partly because the protagonist is an obituary writer, partly because death is the capstone of life, and partly because in some ways our deaths tell us about how we lived. As I said, this was not a comfortable book, but I found it to be very worth my time.

Book #16 (Goodreads Challenge): The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry, by Gabrielle Zevin. There are some books that not only resonate with you, they inflame your love for reading. Between the descriptions of books that Mr. Fikry writes for his daughter, Maya, and the books mentioned in the book itself, my reading list has grown. Many of the books this book has caused me to look up are books that I probably should have read long ago but didn’t. Others are totally new to me (kind of like the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge stuff). This book is really about the power both books and people have in our lives, and it should not be missed.

So I think I have rambled on long enough about books for now. Whatever you are reading this week, may you find joy in it as great as I have.

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #2

Okay, I’m going to do this post as a running draft until I have a number of books reviewed.

Book #6 (Goodreads Challenge): I came across Philip Gourevitch’s Cold Case through an article in The New Yorker recommending books/stories to read during the current cold snap. It’s a bit slow-moving but is a fascinating look at how a 27-year-old crime was solved. If you like crime stories (as opposed to mysteries), you will enjoy this one, especially as it can be read in one sitting.

Book 7 (Goodreads Challenge): “Dragon Rampant,” by Karen Lord, which is the eleventh chapter of Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Serial Box website. I’ve been following this series from the beginning because it takes place in the same world as Ellen Kushner’s “Swords of Riverside” series. It’s a wonderful fantasy series, with several major female characters: Diane (Duchess Tremontaine), Ixkaab, Micah, and Tess the Hand all jump to mind immediately. Ellen has woven a complex society, with two very distinct classes – the nobility, and the Riversiders. You might want to read her trilogy, Swordspoint, The Privilege of the Sword, and The Fall of the Kings before plunging into Tremontaine. I promise you, it’s well worth the time invested.

Book 8 (Goodreads Challenge): “Surrounded,” by Joel Derfner, which is the twelfth chapter of Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Serial Box website. Again, this is a wonderful serial, which I highly recommend to anyone who likes fantasy/adventure/dynasty/political books. In this installment, Duchess Tremontaine has a funeral for her husband, and the school Rafe Fenton has founded is attacked. As always, the writing is excellent, and the story compelling.

And a note – new chapters of Tremontaine are introduced on Wednesdays, although the next chapter will be the finale for the third season. OTOH, if you want to do some catching up before the fourth season (assuming there will be one), this will give you a good chance to do so.

Book 9 (Both Challenges): “I met Catheryyne M. Valente back when she was an NYU student, and I have been meaning to read some of her stuff ever since she sold her first story. Life intervened until now, but I finally got to read Tremontaine Season 3, over on the Six-Gun Snow White. It’s a version of Snow White set in the Old West, with a radically different scenario – instead of being poisoned with an apple, Snow takes off after years of being emotionally abused by her step-mother. One thing I like very much – this Snow is no-one’s patsy. She can, and does, take care of herself.

So, that’s it for this week. I’ve been slowly making my way through Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. It’s been slow going, not because of the writing, but because the subject matter is so appalling to me that I have to read it in short pieces. I’ll have a report when I’m done with it.

‘Til next time!

Book Riot’s READ HARDER Challenge and GOODREADS Reading Challenge Update #1

Okay, I’m six days into both challenges. I am not reading quite as fast as I’d like to be, but I have noticed that age and life have slowed me down a bit. Still, the Goodreads tracker says I am one book ahead of schedule, so I can’t be doing all that badly.

While I will not double-dip (use one book for multiple tasks) in the Read Harder Challenge, I will let books read count for both challenges where applicable.

Book 1 (Both Challenges): The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, by Allison Hoover Bartlett. Task #2 (a book of true crime) was easy to pick – I had just downloaded this book because it was not only true crime but about books – rare books – something I have been interested in since I first read 84, Charing Cross Road, by Hannah Hanff and its follow-ups.I was not disappointed. Not the fastest read, but one to savor, as the author learns more and more about the world of rare book dealing, independent bookshops, and about John Gilkey and how (and – to some degree – why) Gilkey acquired the books he was so obsessed with.

Book 2 Both Challenges: Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen. It’s a damned good thing I had been introduced to Austen back in high school. If this book had been my introduction to her, I’d probably never have picked up another book by her. Mostly, I wanted to slap the heroine all through the book. She is spectacularly naive – misses cues all over the place – some so broad that they should have been like getting hit with a two by four. Still, it solved the task for the Book Riot challenge handily (Task #1, a book published posthumously).

Book 3 (Both Challenges): Familiar Things, by Hwang Sok-yong translated by Sora Kim-Russell. I had already downloaded this because one of the writers I know had marveled about having read a Korean Sf/fantasy novel, and the idea intrigued me. It handily fulfilled Book Riot’s Task 19 (a book of genre fiction in translation). Again, while it was definitely not something in my comfort zone, it was well worth reading. I found it easy to empathize with Bugeye (the protagonist) and his friend Baldspot. I found it very realistic when it came to portraying how resilient kids can be, even under the most radical of changes. This was definitely worth the time spent.

Book 4 (Both Challenges): The Martian Chronicles, by Ray Bradbury. I am not sure how I managed to miss this one over the decades, but I have now made up for that lack. These stories are about how man kept trying to colonize Mars, and what happened to each expedition. Some of the stories feel complete in themselves, some feel like cliff-hangers, but all of them are good short reads. It was a wonderful choice for Book Riot’s Task 5 (a classic of genre fiction {i.e. mystery, sci-fi/fantasy, romance}).

Book 5 (Both Challenges): Relish: My Life in the Kitchen, by Lucy Knisley. This is not a book I would have picked up on my own. However, since I do not know much about graphic novels/comics, I looked for recommendations in the discussion group for this task (Task #4: a comic written and illustrated by the same person). I am so glad I did pick it, though. The writer brings to life what it’s like to be the child of two foodies with different outlooks on almost everything. This is not only a really fun comic, but it lovely and sweet. One of the best parts of it is that it isn’t about blowing things up or catching bad guys, or any of the tropes of action-type comics, which I got bored with decades ago.

So, those are what I’ve read so far this year. My next book, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, by Michael Wolff, will only work for the Goodreads challenge, but I want to read it now for several reasons. For one thing, any book that Trump tries to suppress should be very interesting to those of us who did not vote for him. For another, GQ Magazine noted:

“If Trump refuses to abide by the standard (and now useless) “norms” of the presidency—shit, if he doesn’t even KNOW them—why should ANYONE in the press adhere to needless norms of their own? They shouldn’t, and it appears that Michael Wolff was one of the few people to instinctively grasp that, and I hope more White House insiders follow his lead. Sometimes you need a rat to catch a rat.”

They further note that while his ways of obtaining information may border on sleazy, he “got receipts and, more important, he used them. Wolff got it all. Wolff nailed them.” To me, this sounds like the book is going to be just as fascinating as Woodward and Bernstein’s article about Watergate. I can’t wait to dig into this one.

So that’s my reading challenge update for the first six days of January. See you soon.

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