We had a houseguest this weekend, which I love. I really do love having visitors to Portland. I always try to give the Portland experience like V gives the LA experience. With good stories, history and great food. And no visitor darkens my door without a trip to Salt and Straw. Oh Salt and Straw! But that’s not the point of this post. The point is for me to pretend that I’ve had enough time to pick up a book over the past three days. I have not, but! But! I’ve been reading some good stuff prior to this weekend.

Gods and Beasts I love Denise Mina. I got hooked on her books thanks to her character Alex Morrow. Morrow is somewhat beaten down Scottish detective who’s streetwise and also compassionate. But I fell in love with Denise Mina thanks to her Paddy Meehan character — a young journalist. I love that Mina isn’t afraid to portray her female leads with all of their faults. There are no raven-haired beauties in these books. If you read male crime fiction writers, you know that every book has a raven-haired beauty. Gods and Beasts features Morrow, with a cameo from Meehan. Morrow is now a mom to twins and even by her own admission, she’s lost her edge. She smiles kindly at suspects and doesn’t have the sharpness that I’ve come to expect from Scottish police fiction. The book is good, but it’s not Mina’s best. But it was a pleasure for this Mina fan to see two of the leads cross paths in one book.

Side note to my fellow Scottish fiction lovers: Death of Bees was recommended to me. I’ve not started it yet, but it looks great. Also, KATE ATKINSON’S BOOK COMES OUT NEXT MONTH. Kate Atkinson is my favorite author of all time. Now you know why I needed to shout at you.

Lean In Sheryl Sandberg. This is a tough-talking woman and she’s is wicked smot. I’ve been reading this one slowly and I’ve been so impressed by her at every turn. She knew she needed to write a bulletproof book and she addresses her critics often. She collects anecdotes and studies of women in the workplace so that it’s all in one place: All of the times I’ve suspected that I’ve sold myself short and all of the ways in which the business world is stacked against women. It’s all there. She’s got facts, and is never afraid to share her own mistakes. It’s a tough book to read because there’s not good news. But I do wonder if she’ll address the idea of meaningful work. Perhaps all of these women drop out of the workforce or lean back instead of leaning in because the work isn’t more important than being at home. She’s got a tough job at Facebook, but I also can’t imagine that I’d want that job. How is Facebook helping people? Perhaps it doesn’t matter and I’m totally missing the point.

After Death of Bees, I don’t know what’s next. Maybe I’ll keep re-reading Kate Atkinson’s books. I finished Case Histories and One Good Turn and both are so very good. How does she do it? I do know that I’m either going to kick the dudes out of the house for a day or two so I can read the new Kate Atkinson in peace, or I’m going to let it sit on my shelf, staring at me until I’m ready for something really excellent. Much like I’ve done with Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.