Kay: Hello, and welcome to the Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks, a cheerful and irreverent book club podcast all about genre fiction, fandom, and the things that make us happy.
[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]
Chelsea: Hello, everyone! And welcome back to episode seven of Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks. As always, today we’re going to talk about what we’re currently reading. Then we’re going to talk about our book of the fortnight, A Trifle Dead by Livia Day, before moving on to our next book and what we have ongoing in the future. My name is Chelsea.
Claire: I’m Claire.
Kay: And I’m Kay.
Chelsea: And to start off with what we are currently reading, I just finished up two things, one of which I really, really enjoyed and one of which I did not. Um, the one that I really enjoyed was Hillbilly Elegy, the audiobook. The subtitle is Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by JD Vance. And this essentially looks at culture of poor whites, um, mainly in places like rural Appalachia and along the Rust Belt, and how, um, some of the kind of, um, social and cultural and family institutions align with and clash with government regulations and government institutions to lead to, um, just a really kind of poor culture and a cultural poverty along with a fiscal poverty that is really interesting. My mother’s family largely hails from Ohio and from the Ohio and Virginia area, so there was a lot of stuff in there that I really recognized. I’ve read narratives similar to this, but always from racial backgrounds that are not white. So I just thought it was really interesting. And then the book that I really did not like [laughs] was The Trials of Apollo, the first book of The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan. So here’s my thing. I have, like, one quibble with this book, but it is a huge fucking quibble.
Chelsea: And it is that throughout the entire book, and the whole story is the, the story of Apollo pining for his one true love Daphne, who turned herself into a tree. For some reason. And hi. That’s not how that fucking myth went down. And so I understand it’s a middle grade book, but there’s a lot of stuff behind the Apollo and Daphne myth that gets into like consent and rape and sexuality.
Claire: Did she not turn into a tree to escape from him?
Chelsea: No, exactly. That’s the thing. In the book it’s glossed over, as Apollo just really wants to date her, but like, it’s just a bad set of circumstances ‘cause he pisses off Cupid and Cupid hits Daphne with this arrow and she doesn’t love him and she turns into a tree and he doesn’t know why. And he just really misses her and Daphne’s his one true love and it’s just like but that’s a very not okay way of putting that myth?
Kay: It’s not a particularly mindful way of adapting that myth, no. [laughs]
Chelsea: And especially for a middle grade audience, and I understand that discussing rape with a middle grade audience is not something that like you’re necessarily going to do as an author, nor do I think it’s something that you should do, but at the same time, maybe then don’t go into the Apollo and Daphne myth. Like, maybe just don’t go there. Because this is one of those Disney-ification moments where, if and when the kids ever learn the truth of this myth, that’s gonna be a real gutpunch to a lot of these kids.
Kay: And the Disney-ification is kind of literal here, right? ‘Cause aren’t these books published by Disney-Hyperion?
Chelsea: Mmhmm, yes. They are. Exactly. And it’s literally that. It’s the, instead of the racial oppression, it’s the sexual oppression version of Pocahontas and John Smith and how all of that played out in the Disney movie.
Claire: But you know that, like, somewhere Daphne is like high fiving Cupid and they’re having, like, drinks together and she’s like ‘thanks for telling Apollo that you cursed me.’
Claire: So I could escape him. Cheers, you got my back, friend.
Chelsea: Well, and it’s just, like, I guess my problem with the narrative is that it flips this story that is really about how awful Apollo is to not just leave Daphne the fuck alone so she doesn’t have to turn into a tree —
Chelsea: — and it turns it into a fridging of Daphne as a tree and how now we need to feel bad for Apollo.
Claire: But Chelsea.
Chelsea: Because now he’s really sad.
Claire: He’s such a nice guy.
[Chelsea groans, Kay and Claire laugh]
Chelsea: I’m like, don’t get me wrong.
Kay: I wish everyone could see the pained expression on our faces right now.
Chelsea: I’m like, I can’t. I can’t even look at my webcam and look these ladies in the face right now. Don’t get me wrong, because, like, Apollo is. I like this book because it introduces Apollo as a bisexual narrator and it very on the page names and addresses his bisexuality and the fact that he was in love with both Daphne and Hyacinthus. And I get that, and that is cool. Yeah for that. But we can yay for that while also being like why the fuck do we have to turn Daphne’s story of basically almost being raped by Apollo into a fridging narrative in which we now have to feel bad for him? I just. I just. [sighs] I feel cleansed, you guys. I feel like I got that out.
Chelsea: I feel better about my life. But! So that was [laughs] what I’ve been currently reading. Somebody else talk. Claire, you talk.
Claire: Let’s talk about tapeworms.
Chelsea: Oh my god!
Kay: Are you? [laughs] Are you, are you reading those for the first time?
Claire: I’m reading Parasite by Mira Grant!
Chelsea: Oh, god. Yay.
Kay: Is this your first time reading those?
Claire: Um, yes it is. I have the, I have the physical copy of Parasite and I started a while back and then put it down for no particular reason at all. I’m just terrible at finishing books that I start. And then I treated myself recently with the audiobook because I was just like, fast-paced, want a book. Whatever.
Chelsea: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Claire: I, I was telling a friend of mine about my Seanan McGuire tattoo that I want to maybe have at some point and I was describing to her how badass Seanan is by talking to her about her CDC adventures when researching the Feed series, which is great. Seanan McGuire gives great interviews.
Kay: She does.
Claire: And so if you’ve never heard her speak you should definitely listen to some of her, like, book tour appearances and interviews and panels and stuff. But when I listened to some of those to, like, show my friend, I was like suddenly remembering that I never actually finished those books. So I immediately needed to restart the series and so this is that, it’s Parasitology. The first book is Parasite. And it’s in a future where, um, the hygiene hypothesis that says that we’re basically too clean and we don’t interact with our world enough now so our immune systems are going into overdrive and hurting us instead. So that hypothesis, that’s a medical hypothesis that exists right now, in that universe has been proven true. And one company decided that obviously the best way to combat that was to give everybody medicalized tapeworms that are, you know, modified to be safe for the human body. And you take them in a pill form and they’re fine and safe and everything except, of course, because it is a Seanan McGuire book even though it’s under Mira Grant name, that ends up triggering some kind of weird apocalypse where the tapeworms take over the brains of their hosts and start, like, just sleepwalking. You have a company that develop this for profit, they’re obviously hiding something, and or a lot of things. And it’s just great. I’m enjoying it a lot at the moment.
Chelsea: Yeah. Seanan as Mira writes such good medical stuff.
Chelsea: Like, she writes such good medical science background to the worlds that she creates that it’s just really great.
Kay: Can I say a thing about this series real quick? Non-spoilery.
Chelsea: Of course.
Kay: I am 99% sure I’m remember this correctly. It was originally a two book contract.
Kay: That got extended to three.
Claire: Yeah, she said that.
Chelsea: Very cool.
Kay: And it reads like it.
Kay: It reads like it.
Chelsea: That’s unfortunate.
Kay: And that’s never been a problem for me with Seanan before, but it really felt like there was not enough material for three books. So I think that the second and third books drag. Which is unfortunate.
Chelsea: Yeah, that’s unfortunate.
Kay: Cause the worldbuilding’s really cool and obviously the prose is gorgeous. But. Yeah. Just a warning.
Claire: I mean, I’ve already bought the audiobooks for the second and third book, because I definitely clicked like buy three credits at once.
Kay: And the audio for those is good, yeah.
Claire: And I’m like meh. It’ll be good for the gym.
Chelsea: That’s always a good response. What’re you reading, Kay?
Kay: All the things. I’m reading all of the things.
Kay: Now, let’s see. Uhhhh, I read more Austen since last time we spoke. I finished Persuasion. Again. On audio. Again.
Kay: Read by Juliet Stevenson. Because she’s a boss. Um, I also accidentally, uh. This is a thing that happens in my life. I accidentally read things. I accidentally reread Deathly Hallows because I was on a road trip with my brother-in-law and my sister and my brother-in-law was listening to the audio in the car.
Claire: Oh, fair.
Kay: So. That was a thing that happened.
Chelsea: I mean, that’s a good book. There’s nothing wrong with Harry Potter on audio.
Kay: Watching his face while he was driving and listening to it was amazing.
Kay: He’s, like, the most Gryffindor person I know.
Kay: So, just, picture our relationship. I am this tiny evil Slytherin and he is this giant, like, bleeding heart Gryffindor.
Chelsea: Bear Gryffindor.
Kay: And we’re both listening to that book. So just, like, enjoy that mental image. And also —
Chelsea: Awww. that’s a hard book to listen to while you drive. That’d be a hard one to listen to and drive.
Kay: [laughs] It’s a hard book to listen to while you drive. Final Girls by Mira Grant.
Chelsea: Oh, okay.
Kay: Which, I really should’ve looked up the release date on that, I read my ARC and it was great and I can say almost nothing without being super spoilery, so just it was real great. Um, and then The Simplicity of Cider by. I’m so sorry, I should’ve looked up how to say her last name. Amy E. I think it’s Reichert? But I’m probably wrong.
Kay: R-e-i-c-h-e-r-t. It is her third book and I think. I would say that her first one, A Coincidence of Coconut Cake was romance I think the second two were probably more women’s fiction, just based on heat level.
Kay: But, I mean, it has a lovely romance. Um, and it’s about this girl who lives on, they’re like fifth-generation orchard owners in Wisconsin. And she and her dad are the only ones still running the orchard. And she is a cider maker. And a gentleman and his young son come to help them out for the summer. And there’s just a lot of feelings and lovely romance and there’s a reappearance of the couple from the first book in, like, the final act in a really fortuitous fashion and I love when authors do that.
Kay: And it was just really sweet. It was just fluffy and wonderful, you know?
Chelsea: Oh, that’s cute. And sometimes that’s just all you need from a book.
Chelsea: Speaking of, is that about it?
Kay: Yes. Yeah.
Chelsea: Is that all you’re reading?
Kay: I’ve been reading a lot of fanfiction. I’m trying to think if there was anything I needed to like, rec from that.
Chelsea: Anything of particular note?
Kay: I mean. Yes. Probably.
Kay: I don’t even remember what prompted me to read this because it’s been forever since I’ve watched White Collar or even been interested in reading White Collar.
Kay: Someone must’ve recced it somewhere. Um, but it’s copperbadge.
Kay: Who I just blanket recommend as a writer. He is wonderful.
Chelsea: That’s a good. Yeah.
Kay: I don’t think I’ve ever read a bad copperbadge story, which is insane, because he’s put, like, four million words of fanfiction on the internet.
Kay: This one’s called Jeffrey Nullier’s Man With Fedora.
Kay: And I. I think, I would call it case fic. Probably.
Kay: It’s about 20,000 words and it’s just a wonderful little Neal character piece, basically. And it’s just great.
Claire: I’m literally just looking up what White Collar is cause I’ve never heard of it.
Chelsea: I was gonna say, I have no basis or knowledge in the White Collar fandom. That was never a show that I, like, hopped on.
Kay: Okay, so White Collar I literally, I think I only watched the first season and then after that I was like, ‘That’s all I needed from this.’
Kay: Um, but, I think the White Collar pilot is possibly the best cable tv pilot I’ve ever seen.
Kay: It’s brilliantly done. Yeah. It’s so good.
Kay: And I think the cast on that show is excellent.
Kay: It’s why we have Matt Bomer in our lives. That’s what White Collar is.
Chelsea: Well, that’s always a blessing.
Chelsea: Always to be remembered as a blessing.
Kay: Other than that whole playing a trans person when you are not a trans person thing.
Kay: I’m real down on that.
Chelsea: I mean, you know. But who hasn’t done that. Eddie Redmayne.
Kay: I just kind of expect white gay men to let down the rest of the LGBT community and maybe that is unfair of me, but it’s just kind of historically held out as a thing that happens. So.
Chelsea: Yeahhh. No, I’m with you on that one.
[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]
Chelsea: Alright, well in that case, we will go ahead and switch gears a little bit to talk about our book of the podcast.
Chelsea: We are talking this time about A Trifle Dead by Livia Day. Livia Day is a pseudonym for Tansy Rayner Roberts, who we also love. And we really, really enjoyed this one. This one is a cozy mystery. Is that right? I dunno. I don’t know anything about mysteries. It says on Goodreads that it’s a cozy mystery.
Kay: So, mystery classifications are slightly different in Australia. So, like, this one doesn’t fall neatly into any of the subcategories in American mystery.
Chelsea: Okay. That’s fair.
Kay: It’s like borderline cozy and just, like, mainstream mystery.
Chelsea: It’s about Tabitha Darling who owns a coffee shop slash cafe. She is a pastry chef. And one day she is kind of hanging out at home and her upstairs apartment neighbors are a band and they find a dead body in some kind of weird rope trap, uh, in the closet of their apartment. This, of course, brings local police and local media personalities around. All of whom interact with Tabitha. Tabitha has lived her whole life in Hobart. Her dad was the police chief and basically she knows everybody. So it is just, as most mysteries are, the story of how she becomes more and more involved with the case. We get the big reveal and then a very nice little wrap up. There’s lots of really great stuff in this book. Like I said, it is set in Hobart, so it is definitely an Australian book. And it reads as one, at least to somebody who doesn’t read a lot of books set in Australia.
Chelsea: Which I thought was really nice.
Kay: In a good way.
Chelsea: Mmhmm. It also has, it’s incredibly funny. Tabitha, I thought, was a badass narrator. I just absolutely loved hanging out with her for, like, the entire time of this book.
Chelsea: And it’s about coffee and there’s just so much, so much going on here.
Kay: You will be so fucking hungry when you read this book.
Kay: You will be so hungry. Just, just as a warning.
Chelsea: 75% of my bookmarks are about food.
Claire: It actually made me want to bake!
Kay: And there’s recipes included. [laughs]
Chelsea: Yeah. I actually wrote those, cause I have a library digital loan, so it’s gonna go away eventually. So I actually wrote those recipes down for when they take my book away.
Kay: Good call.
Chelsea: Yeah, if you are in any way interested in, like, baked goods or sweets. Or especially if you’re a coffee person? Like 75% of my bookmarks in this book are just, like, that sounds delicious. I want one of those.
Kay: Food descriptions. Yep.
Chelsea: That sounds so good. Um, yeah. I thought this book was cute. I liked this book. I did not love this book.
Kay: I want to know what you didn’t like, first off. Just like.
Chelsea: Okay. Well, my first thing, and this is just a quibble that I have. I don’t like reading dialect.
Claire: Oh, yeah. That annoyed me.
Kay: Was the Scottish annoying?
Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah, it’s the Scottish thing. And like, like, granted, this is just me as a reader, but, like, I can be told that a character is Scottish and then read his lines as such, going forward in my mind. It, it visually bugs me and kind of takes me out of the story to see the dialect spelled out and written out. But.
Kay: So, that is actually a regional publishing thing.
Chelsea: Is it? Okay.
Kay: We tend to not get that in ours. A bunch of Australian stuff I’ve read they write out the dialect like that.
Chelsea: Interesting. That’s like, a. That’s interesting.
Kay: That might be a false assumption on my part, but like multiple awesome things I’ve read have had things like that.
Chelsea: And it could just be a lack of, because it’s not something that really ever happens when I’m reading American fiction, they will have characters with dialect, but they won’t actually write it out. Unless it’s for very specific, like, stylistic purposes, usually.
Kay: And, like, historically we had that in American publishing. But now it feels kind of dated.
Chelsea: Mmhmm. But just. Yeah. It feels, yeah.
Claire: And also word choices and there’s plenty of ways to indicate someone’s Scottish without just mentioning repeatedly that they’re Scottish. Which still happens. Because other people refer to him as, like, the Scotsman, or whatever. Um. Sort of, kind of —
Kay: His swoony accent.
Claire: But, you know. And, you know, she can refer to his swoony accent because I personally think Scottish accents are kinda swoony as well.
Chelsea: Oh, yeah, I have no problem with that part.
Claire: It just, it just feels weird to have it written out, because it’s a relatively everyday thing, you know, for me. So the fact that the Australian accent, the Australian, like, dialect and the way that they talk, which sounds very Australian and is, like, for me, very, very weird. That’s not what I hear every day.
Claire: That’s written out normally, but then you’ve got the Scottish accent being spelled out as more than just like here’s a word choice that he. Yeah. I dunno.
Claire: It was a bit jarring at first.
Chelsea: No, yeah.
Claire: I kind of managed to ignore it after a little while because I thought, like, once you’ve gotten into the story.
Chelsea: Yeah, and it didn’t bother me enough that I stopped reading. And that’s, like, a very line edit specific thing. I think, for me, the reason, like, for me it was just a very. It was a fine book. For me it was just a three star book. And I think it’s just because something about either the characterization or the pacing felt off, at times, for me. And it felt like this was, as opposed to the first book in a series, a second or third book in a series. And I just felt there were times where some relationships or plot points kind of hinged on their being some kind of, like, emotional weight or investment that hadn’t necessarily been built yet.
CHelsea: And I don’t know if that’s because, if it was a, again, a pacing thing, or characters.
Kay: How much mystery do you read?
Chelsea: Not a ton. That’s what I was gonna say second. Is that I don’t know if it’s —
Kay: I think it’s a genre thing.
Chelsea: — in the writing itself or if it’s just a, a function of mystery genres.
Chelsea: That I’m not familiar with just because I don’t. I read, like, true crime mysteries.
Chelsea: Like, I don’t read, like, cozy mysteries and, like, mystery fiction, like, hardly ever. So. It could just be a lack of familiarity with some of the tones and, like, way that things function in mystery.
Kay: Which that’s still a failing on the part of, like, the work and not on your reading of it.
Chelsea: No, no, no, yeah. I understand that.
Kay: But it is more of a genre convention, there.
Chelsea: But I can definitely cop to, like, that being something that would not necessarily bother you if, like Kay, you are more familiar with, like, how mysteries function.
Chelsea: Like, as a genre and as a bigger piece of work.
Claire: I definitely thought it read a little bit weird, but I wouldn’t be able to tell you what it was right now.
Claire: And if I. I think there are a lot of times in this book where I was reading it and I kind of, you know, they mention something and I was like oh! Oh, is that a thing? Okay, then. Kind of, um, at some point we find out that, um, her dad died. Like. I mean. Just, another character who hasn’t lived in Hobart his whole life says, ‘Oh, your dad passed away, didn’t he?’ or something.
Claire: And then she confirms and clearly everybody else knew it before. And there’s just not really been, like, a lot of reference to it even though she’s thought about her dad a lot.
Kay: Oh, okay.
Claire: And it’s like she’s in denial and that makes sense, but, like, I wasn’t sure whether it was intended to be jarring or whether it was just me missing things as a reader. Which, like, I do reasonably often.
Kay: I thought that was super telegraphed with the police guys showing up at her cafe and hanging out all the time trying to make sure she was okay. Like, to me that was clearly something going on with that and not just they’re coming by to check up on her.
Chelsea: Oh no, see, I didn’t even. That didn’t register for me. Maybe I’m just a bad person, maybe it was the way —
Chelsea: — that because he was never actually there in first person, I always assumed that he had passed away. And I understand that, like, textually she only ever says that he has moved to Queensland and we don’t actually find out that he’s actually dead until much later on in the book. But, like. Because the way that she talks about him is kind of, is mostly in memory and in the past tense.
Chelsea: And because he never appears as his own represented character in the book, I just kind of always assumed he was dead. [laughs]
Kay: Yeah. [laughs]
Chelsea: Maybe I’m just a bad person.
Chelsea: Um, so maybe because I’d already assumed that that particular scene didn’t feel like a, like a reveal, really. I was just like, oh, were we? Did we not? I thought it was a bigger reveal when we found out that, uh, what’s his name? Not Butler. What’s his name?
Chelsea: The cop? Bishop.
Claire: The cop?
Chelsea: Bishop and Xanthippe are related. Like, I thought that was more surprising to me than when we found out that her dad died.
Kay: [skeptical] Really?
Kay: All the things you guys were thinking were surprising I thought were really clearly telegraphed. So I think this might be a function of I am more of a mystery reader and I was just kind of picking up clues.
Chelsea: That is entirely possible.
Claire: I think the big twist at the end, which I don’t really want to say because I do want people to read this book, like.
Claire: Of whodunnit. Um. I think that worked really well.
Claire: In that way that reading the book something happens and you’re like ‘oh shit. Oh, that guy done it. Oh my god he did it, oh he totally did it!’
Claire: And she doesn’t know yet. And it takes her a couple of pages for her to be like ‘oh shit, he totally did it.’
Kay: I thought it was paced perfectly.
Claire: And you spend those pages going, like, ohmygod ohmygod. Like, I, I started reading this book in the morning when I was having my breakfast. And I was getting through, you know, 5-10% of it. Two to three days in a row, ya know, in the morning. And then I, and then I took the book to bed on Saturday night, on Friday night, to read some more. Um, and I was at about, you know, like 30% or something and then I just finished it.
Claire: So, you know. Clearly I was just, like, oh, well, I’m not, I’m not like falling asleep tired yet. I’ll just finish this ‘cause it’s good fun.
Chelsea: See. This is what is so weird to me. ‘Cause. It wasn’t. I didn’t ever have to force myself to pick it up, but I also at no point was racing through it. But, like, I don’t know why it is, but I just. ‘Cause, instead of. ‘Cause I’m impatient as a reader. I think part of the reason I don’t necessarily like mysteries is I’m just like I just wanna know who fucking did it. Like all the way. The suspense part works for me.
Kay: The journey is not the point for you with mysteries.
Chelsea: No. No, no, no. Like, the suspense part works for me. Like, it builds the suspense, but to the point where I’m frustrated that like I’m like I don’t even fucking care about all these other people and what they’re doing and this painting and I just wanna know who is killing these people? Like, why are we all talking and other normal shit is happening when we should all just be finding this murderer? Like. And I just. It’s so. And I don’t know why! Because I love procedurals.
Claire: I love them, too.
Chelsea: I love mystery and thriller-based television shows. But there’s something about it.
Kay: And I don’t!
Chelsea: I know! Which is, like. Like. And it’s just so.
Chelsea: And it’s just so close to the tension making me want to read faster to find out, I’m actually just mad at the book for not —
Chelsea: — just, like, getting the fuck on with it, already. But then every mystery page, every story would be, like, fifteen pages long. So. [laughs] Maybe I should just read mystery short stories.
Kay: Did you like that there were several smaller mysteries woven in?
Kay: Or that didn’t help at all for you?
Chelsea: I think the fact that one of the mysteries had to do with an electrified ping pong ball was just a little too much in the realm of, like, silly for me to really be, like, super invested.
Claire: That was so creepy!
Kay: I’m gonna put out there that that was part of the big mystery and I thought it was super clever, but that’s fine that you didn’t like that. I mean more, like, um, Stuart’s thing with Di. I don’t know how much we wanna spoil this.
Chelsea: I thought that was really cool.
Claire: I thought that was great.
Chelsea: I thought their relationship was great.
Kay: I thought all the reveals in this were great.
Chelsea: I thought that was brilliant.
Chelsea: I thought that the whole thing with Darrow and what he was doing and why Xanthippe was looking for him, I thought that worked.
Kay: I thought that subplot was great.
Chelsea: Really well. I really liked, I actually really liked Stuart except for the part where he kept, like, super violating her privacy by publishing things about her in the news. And then she would be like, ‘why did you do that?’ and he’d be like, ‘it’s okay, I’m Scottish and I’m cute! Give me coffee.’
Claire: Did. When did he do that apart from the, um. I thought it was just, like, the time that, like.
Chelsea: I mean. He published pictures of her and Bishop kissing. And lured her to that party.
Claire: But, like, he like, there’s literally a bit where he says, ‘That’s not my picture. The one that I took of you is more flattering.’
Chelsea: Well, yeah, but he’s still taking her picture to then eventually put it on. I dunno. He just felt, to me, like, several times he, like, violated. And even if it wasn’t necessarily a violation of privacy, it was a violation in a way that he knew she would not like.
Claire: I was annoyed with him when.
Chelsea: And then they were just, like, cute together.
Claire: I was annoyed with him whenever he, like, took interviews of people at her cafe and then published them and it was really obvious from the photo that he was in her cafe. Cause like, he knows she’s gonna get in trouble with those cops. And when she tells him Bishop’s gonna kill me, like, I’m gonna get in trouble with this guy. Who’s a very, you know, a friend of mine and maybe also I love him. Like, when she says that to him, he says, ‘Oh shit, I didn’t think of that.’ And apologizes. And it’s like, what? Okay fine, I. Like.
Kay: I feel like, in fairness, she’s going on the assumption he should know things.
Claire: If someone gives you the keys to a place so you can paint it, it’s not okay to bring strangers there.
Claire: Especially if that place happens to have a cash register. Just saying
Chelsea: And I dunno, I just felt like it was really sketchy of him to take her to that club knowing something is going to happen and not telling her. And just like, and I understand the point of it in the plot is that it’s a sketchy thing for him to do.
Chelsea: But we moved on from that really fast as opposed to that. For me, that would’ve been a bigger violation of like us and our relationship.
Claire: I thought she was more concerned about Xanthippe being involved in that bit than really him. I thought she was like, ‘Yeah, yeah, like, that was dick move for him to do, but also is my old bff a murderer?’
Chelsea: Yeah. I dunno.
Kay: Here’s my thing —
Claire: I dunno, also she listened in on him talking to someone on the phone when she’s in the bath, ‘cause she’s like, ‘I know that the acoustics in my bathroom are magical and because plot I can hear.’
Chelsea: Yeah, but she doesn’t have a blog that she’s gonna publish that shit on later. Taking advantage of their relationship for his own personal, like, employee gain. Whatever. He’s cute and he’s Scottish and we’ll just leave it on the level.
Kay: Here’s my thing with the Stuart relationship versus, um, my brain just died. What is the policeman guy’s name?
Chelsea: Oh, Bishop.
Kay: I thought so, but then I was like no, that can’t be right. So Stuart versus Bishop. I thought that, like, the way that she wrote them was, like, to clearly indicate different things about Tabby. Because she knows Stuart for, like, ten seconds before she’s letting him have a key to her place and literally she knows him for, like, a week by the end of the book.
Chelsea: Yeah. Something like that.
Kay: And you see how much more trust and, like, she’s willing to place in him. Rather than someone who she knows she can trust and rely on who she’s known for a decade. And I thought she was setting that up as a really interesting contrast. But I can totally understand why that wouldn’t work for you. And obviously he does various sketchy things for plot reasons.
Kay: But I was okay with that. As a plot device.
Claire: What I was okay with —
Chelsea: I did not hate this book. So none of these things are big enough quibbles for me —
Kay: No. I adore this book.
Chelsea: — to not read it anymore.
Kay: But yeah.
Chelsea: But there were a couple, there were just a couple points where, if it had been me, we would probably not, like, kissed and made up and moved on quite as quickly.
Kay: Yeah, yeah.
Chelsea: As Tabitha and Stuart did a couple of different times.
Claire: The way that I was bought in with this is that like she meets Stuart. She immediately likes him because he’s Scottish and is hot and his arse looks good, right?
Chelsea: Also, yes.
Claire: And she’s like, ‘Oh, well, Bishop. I’ve known him forever and if it wasn’t for, like, my dad and the fact that he was all that, you know, we would definitely have boned, but now it’s never gonna happen.’ So she sets it up in that way and then it becomes very quickly clear, to me, anyway, when I was reading it, that the fact that, like, she and Stuart have moved into, like, this is just gonna be an easygoing friendship. And it’s very clear to, like, Stuart that he’s stepping into a situation where she and Bishop have known each other for a really long time. They have a lot going on and he’s just not getting into that because, like, you know. That’s not. The fact that there was even a whiff of a love triangle at the beginning of the book? I was like oh god, no.
Kay: But you know I wouldn’t do that to you. [laughs]
Claire: And then, like, I thought the way that it was handled, you know, the transition between well, you know, Bishop and I could’ve got together ten years ago but now it’s never gonna happen, to like, uh, I kinda want to have his babies. That was fairly smooth to me. And the same with the Stuart relationship where she’s like I’ve just met him. He’s hot. To, like, this is actually like a good, dependable friend. And we’re gonna be friends. Like, she does snog him at some point later, but she’s just escaped a murderer, so that’s, like, you know. Whatever. Fine. That happens. Also if she wants to snog random people —
Kay: Feel free.
Claire: — I’m not gonna slut shame her about it. But I just thought that was generally really well handled.
Claire: Sometimes there are people you just know this is going to be a beautiful friendship. And it is possible for that to happen when you, like, both fancy each, when you both think the other person is attractive. And also when you both, like, are good friends. I dunno. It’s just a thing that’s possible that you never see.
Chelsea: Yeah, there’s nothing wrong with having friends and being like we would both be okay with kissing each other and also we’re okay with not doing it for the sake of this other, better thing.
Claire: Yeah. Because yeah. Because circumstances and context are things that exist.
Chelsea: I will say, and this is just, I am so used to love triangles that when this wasn’t that it was weird to me to read it.
Chelsea: Not bad-weird. Just you are so. I’m so predisposed to see that, two adult males and one female working out in that kind of conflicted way that to see this book not do that and not do that very early on was like actually super rad. Really unexpected and kind of surprising but also really, really cool. Any stuff we loved really, really hard?
Kay: I have two favorite things about this book.
Kay: And the first one is the way that Hobart is basically a character and how, like, richly drawn this world is. It’s just great. And it feels like such a real place even though I have obviously never been to Tasmania.
Chelsea: Also yes.
Kay: And my second thing is this book has, like, maybe my favorite ensemble in a mystery ever. I love, like, everyone in it. Everyone feels like a real, fulsomely drawn character in this. And all of their interpersonal relationships felt real and complicated and like they had rich history. Which you almost never get in mysteries with big casts. I love it so much.
Claire: I was less, I was less sold on the Xanthippe and Darrow subplot, where I, because I just didn’t have as much of the context and the backstory, you know?
Claire: I was less sold on that. It was a combination of things I thought worked super well and I was 100% onboard and things where I was like, okay, I can take it or leave it. It’s fine. You know. When you’re saying, Kay, that for you this is a solid three star book or eh.
Claire: That’s how I felt about the bits that I liked less about it.
Claire: I have to say, I really liked the reveal of the bad guy, which obviously I’m not gonna say.
Chelsea: No, yeah.
Claire: But I really liked both the moment that I already mentioned where you first realize that it’s him.
Claire: And you put everything in place and also, like, just the reasoning behind it and the kind of, like, explanation afterwards. And the, like, sometimes you get to the end and you’re like, there has been so much contortion in order to make it possible that we didn’t know immediately who it was and, like, that wasn’t a thing here at all. So, um, that was great.
Chelsea: I think, something that I really need to come across, in all the thrillers and mysteries I read, is kind of like Claire was saying, that oh shit feeling when all the puzzle pieces drop together and you realize your protagonist is in maybe not the best situation. And that, like, gut twist feeling, like that needs to be there. Like, I’ve read several mysteries where they get to that moment and it falls flat for various reasons and this one didn’t. So I really appreciate that that.
Kay: The banter with everyone in this book, like, I thought the dialogue was so good. Really sharp.
Chelsea: It’s A+. It’s A+.
Chelsea: They do that great thing that happens a lot with cop shows. Where they have that taciturn cop who’s just playing very straight man, but just has that one line that is hilarious and just plays very, flat and very kind of straight man, and it just cracks me up.
Kay: Like, did you just make a joke right now? Really? Did you just make a joke right now?
Chelsea: Exactly. Oh man, alright. So yeah. I guess, unless anybody has —
Claire: Wait! I’m I, was just like, I found mine. Sorry.
Chelsea: No, you’re fine. No, no, no, I wanna make sure we get everything.
Claire: Sorry. So, like, there’s a point that, like, fucking cracked me up cause I did not expect it. Um, but then when it happened I was like this makes total sense because it’s the kind of thing that happens to you if you’ve lived somewhere for a long time and it’s not even necessarily if you’ve lived in a small town, thing, right. But when you’ve lived somewhere for a long time, you run into people.
Chelsea: [laughs] Yeah.
Claire: And so, at some point, the bad guy, who shall remain unnamed, um, you know, has our heroine with him and they are, like, walking through a crowded area. And he clearly just, like, wants to have a clean getaway, but, like, she knows everybody.
Kay: Literally everybody.
Chelsea: Everyone, yeah.
Claire: And so, like, they’re just walking and he’s like be quiet, whatever. And someone’s like, ‘Oh, hey, Tabby! How you doing, Tabby?’ And she runs across fifteen people and, like, the line is, ‘By the time we reached the floral clock I had also been greeted by two regular cafe customers, my favorite bank clerk, and a couple of Ceeg’s gamer friends.’ And it’s just like, it felt very true to.
Claire: Not a lot of this book which is about growing up in a small town felt very true to my own experience, of like my life, because I’ve always lived in larger cities. But like, that particular bit of neighborhood thing, like, I got my phone stolen in the street, like, four weeks ago and literally five minutes later I ran into someone I knew whose phone I could borrow.
Claire: so, like, so it was just like. It felt so real and I was like yeah, that would totally happen. And it’s another one of these things that you never see anywhere in fiction, um, but yeah. [laughs] That was delightful.
Kay: There’s a really great line I bookmarked about that hold on. Let’s see. Where she talks about the freaky Mount Wellington Ley Lines. ‘Not real ley lines, just things connected to other things. Coincidence is a common thing around here. It’s a small city. Everyone is everyone else’s ex-boyfriend or -girlfriend or significant other of non-specific gender. We have about one and a half degrees of separation and we blame the mountain. Because it’s there.’
Kay: I was like, that’s yes. Yes.
Chelsea: Yes. Very much so. Yes.
Claire: Also, I finished reading this book and immediately used my Kindle to buy the second one. Which is not something I have done before.
Chelsea: Oh, yay! That’s great.
Claire: So, yeah.
Claire: I did not do that. But good for you.
Kay: I like the second one a lot, too.
Chelsea: I just don’t think cozy mysteries are my jam. I just don’t think there’s enough…
Kay: That’s fine.
Claire: I didn’t think they were. But.
Chelsea: There’s just not enough blood and guts up in there. Plus I, just, like, there was smooching, but there wasn’t enough smooching to be like…smooching smooching.
Chelsea: So I was just like, what’s happening here? Oh man. I guess I’m just too used to romance now, so if there aren’t at least, like nipples in it, I’m like why are we even bothering? With this.
Kay: Oh, no. Did me making you read romance ruin you for other genres that only have a slight sliver of romance?
Chelsea: Probably. No, not even a little bit. Whatever. Should we go ahead and talk about what our next book is gonna be? Because I’m actually really excited. I think this one sounds really, really awesome.
[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin MacLeod plays]
Chelsea: Tell us about it, Claire. Tell us about our next book.
Claire: So our next book is going to be The Graces by Laura Eve. And this is a book about witches. Or, at least, everyone said The Graces were witches. This is a YA novel about a girl who moves to a new town and, or, this is a girl about, this is a book about a girl who lives in a town where everybody is obsessed with this family, The Graces, and says that they are witches. They’re glamorous and apparently magical, but is this what’s really going on or is it something a bit more dangerous than, uh, than just, you know, a good old coven of witches? So I picked this because I’ve heard of it a bunch, I’ve met the author at a couple of events and it’s just been at my radar and I thought it would be great for our, you know, coven of the podcast to read about witches.
Claire: And I’m really excited.
Chelsea: It sounds really awesome. It’s giving me a lot of, um, The Witches of Eastwick vibes with the cover, and so I’m really excited.
Claire: Yeah, the American cover is, uh, I like the American cover a lot more than the UK cover, which, uh, doesn’t have —
Chelsea: Is that the red one? Or the pink one?
Claire: Yeah, the American one is red and the UK one is more blue with pink shells on it. It’s fine. But I like the red better, obviously, ‘cause I’m me.
Kay: No, we’re all surprised by that.
CHelsae: I know, shocked and amazed. Alright, well we will be back in a couple of weeks to talk about The Graces by Laura Eve. Until then, uh, what can they find us doing? What do we have on the go? Do you have anything, Claire?
Claire: Well, I’m still cranking out videos on the YouTube channel. I’m always trying to do more and do blog posts and things, like that, but I’m kind of terrible at it, so that tends not to happen. One things that I’m quite excited to record in the next, uh, week or so, um, is a video I was inspired to do after everybody was gushing about Buffy the Vampire Slayer when it was the 20th Anniversary and all the gifs and images and quotes that were coming up on twitter. I was just listening to the musical episode and having feels. So I found myself a, uh, Buffy the Vampire Slayer book tag that has, like, twelve questions related to characters from the series and I’m super excited to do that.
Chelsea: That’ll be fun. That sounds like a fun tag topic. What about you, Kay? Are we at a year, yet? Are we at a year of Star Trek, yet?
Kay: [sighs] For those new to the podcast. [laughs] Uh, I have a project on Twitter where I am posting a Star Trek fanfiction rec. Every day. Until the new show premieres and I have been doing that since this past August. And they keep pushing the premiere date of the show.
Kay: So it sounds like it’s gonna be premiering either late summer or early fall.
Claire: Oh, Kay.
Kay: And at this point, at this point I am planning to end it at 365 days. I have enough fics lined up that I can do this.
Kay: So, we’re just gonna keep on keeping on with that. And I have not been doing much nonfiction writing at the moment, so I don’t think I will have any new Book Riot pieces up, but I had a super productive fiction writing day the other day.
Chelsea: Yeah, ya did.
Kay: So I was pretty pleased about that.
Chelsea: What was it, 10k? 10k words? Something like that?
Kay: I wrote 10k in an afternoon slash evening and it was really bizarre. I’m very rarely that randomly productive. So that was nice. [laughs]
Chelsea: Well, I am just gonna be keeping on doing the normal stuff. I’m gonna keep having the Booktube videos coming out. Uh, a big one or a new one coming out is I am actually getting ready to start the last book in the Dark Tower series by Stephen King.
Kay: What what!
Chelsea: Which is a series I have been reading for, like, six years? Seven years, now?
Kay: Who’s ready for Idris? [laughs]
Chelsea: I was gonna say. That, that’s small potatoes of reading time for some people who’ve been reading this series. But that’s the longest series I’ve been reading in terms of longest periods of time. So I am excited to wrap that up and do a couple videos about that in anticipation of yeah. The movie that’s coming out this summer. With one, hey hey hey McConaughey and Idris Elba. So.
Kay: Happy sigh. [laughs]
Chelsea: I’m, I’m ecstatically interested to see how The Dark Tower is gonna come across with those two.
Kay: I have no idea how the fuck you film that, but I’m here for it.
Claire: I’m just gonna watch the thing. And that’ll be it. Because the books are too big.
Chelsea: Well, no. And here’s the thing. I always recommend the books, skipping the first one. Which is awful.
Claire: I can’t. I can’t.
Chelsea: I’ve had many conversations with Stephen King purists about this. But I don’t necessarily think you need the first one. The first one’s such a huge departure into this weird western setting and plot and just. It’s very weird.
Kay: Am I remembering wrong, is this the series he wrote himself into?
Chelsea: Yeah. He writes himself in as a character in the last couple of books. This is, to me, this and it sounds so poncy, but to me this is one of those keystone books for King because it is the series of books which make reference to almost all of the other books that he’s written and so it’s like.
Kay: He’s Stephen motherfucking King. So he can do what he wants as he sits on his giant pile of money.
Claire: There’s just too many books, right?
Chelsea: There are. There are.
Claire: Just too many books in general, in the world, that I want to put in my eyeballs, and I don’t read, like, super quickly.
Chelsea: And don’t get me wrong. This is not the first King I would recommend. If you like Stephen King, it’s definitely one you have to read. But I don’t think that’s one you have to read just in terms of like —
Claire: What would you recommend for someone who’s new to Stephen King?
Kay: Salem’s Lot.
Chelsea: Uhhhhh. See. It’s tough. Because I would always recommend for Stephen King that people start with The Stand. But that’s a really hard recommendation to make.
Kay: I don’t —
Chelsea: Because that book is a thousand pages long.
Kay: The Stand and It are my two favorites, and they’re both super long. Salem’s Lot is very, I think it —
Chelsea: I like Salem’s Lot.
Kay: — gives you a representative idea of his more horror stuff.
Claire: Because I’ve read his slightly fantasy-y one. The Eyes of the Dragon. And it was good, but I’m like just. I think that’s pretty unrepresentative.
Chelsea: I would actually probably —
Kay: He writes everything.
Chelsea: — of all his stuff, I would say probably Salem’s Lot. Yeah. Salem’s Lot or Pet Sematary. Just because, they’re not the shortest, but they’re a good sampling of his style and the kind of horror that he writes. My thing is like, so many —
Kay: His short fiction collections are good, too.
Chelsea: Yeah. Yeah.
Kay: If you want to give those a try.
Chelsea: I actually like some of the earlier stuff he wrote under Peter. Like, I think The Long Walk is really great. I think Apt Pupil is worth checking out. And those are, like, much shorter.
Kay: Shawshank Redemption. Green Mile.
Chelsea: yeah. The Green Mile’s great ‘cause you can read it episodically like it was originally published in, like, chap books that were short.
Chelsea: But my favorites are the long ones. I love It. I love The Stand. I love the big ones.
Kay: Which, those are both good on audio.
CHelsea: Yes, they are very good.
Kay: So you could have them be your traveling around book.
Claire: Yeah, working from home is cutting down from my audiobook time a lot. And I’m not complaining, cause I will never complain about that. It’s great. But, like. I have to rearrange my audiobook listening time if I want to maintain.
Kay: I had that problem, too.
Chelsea: Yeah, I always have to choose between audiobooks and podcasts it’s always a juggling game of what’s, what’s going on, so. Oh, too much stuff. Never enough time. And on that note, I guess. We should probably go ahead and say goodbye to everybody. We will see you guys in a couple of weeks to talk about The Graces. Until next time. Bye!
[Malt Shop Bop by Kevin Macleod plays]
Chelsea: You’ve been listening to Sisterhood of the Traveling Paperbacks, a podcast made by three online besties and all-around lady nerds. Channel art provided by Claire Rousseau. Music credits to ‘Malt Shop Bop’ by Kevin MacLeod. You can get in touch with the sisterhood at firstname.lastname@example.org, @PaperbacksPod on Twitter, or at our website paperbacksisters.wordpress.com. You can reach Kay @kaytaylorrea on Twitter, Claire @ClaireRousseau, and Chelsea @anoutlawlife. Additional credits, show notes, and transcripts will be available at our website. Thank you so much for listening. [Double speed] No paperbacks were harmed in the making of this program.
Chelsea: Guys. What is even the world? Like, what is even happening?