69 thoughts on “This Is A Good Book Thursday

  1. A few months ago I read the Thursday recommendations, and someone or several someone’s recommended Kresley Cole and Illona Andrews. A huge thank you for those recommendations, as I loved Cole’s books, and I’m working my way through Andrews now, any other suggestions in that genre style of writing would be greatly appreciated. Although not quite the same genre, I would like to recommend Darynda Jones’ Grave series. Love her! Also I realized it’s a new year, so Anges and the Hitman is back to the top of the pile again. Certain books are must reads every year and that one is definitely on that list for me!

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      1. Huge Ilona Andrews fan, and I binge read Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series over the holiday. Am now reading Eileen Wilks World of the Lupi series and enjoying that, too.

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    1. Andrews’ The Edge and Innkeeper series are great, too, if you haven’t checked them out. Also, Sranan McGuire’s InCryptid series is a ton of fun. Not as Shifty, but lots of action.

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      1. I have read The Edge series, and Hidden Legacy series, and I’m working my way through the Kate Daniels books, I will have to track sown the Innkeeper series as well. Thanks for the recommendation!

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    2. Melissa F Olson writes in that urban fantasy genre ( I feel like her series take a while to get going but are worth it).

      Kelley Armstrong is worth a look if you haven’t already and Tanya Huff’s Blood series makes for smooth and interesting reading.

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    3. Thanks for all the great recommendations! So excited, its a 3 day weekend, so lots of time to read. Instead of putting away Christmas décor, like I should have already done the past two weekends. haha

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      1. Yikes! You just reminded me that Monday is a holiday MLK Day and the library will be closed. I’ve got four books and a dvd waiting on hold for me to pick up. The only one for me is The Red Coat by Dolley Carlson about a coat moving through the lives of several women from a Boston Brahmin (I haven’t heard that term in years) to a family of Irish Catholics living in Boston during the fifties. Well I did too and can’t wait to see if I recognize people and places.

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  2. How did it become Thursday?

    My daughter, who lives in London, has become obsessed with a British TV show called “Call the Midwife” and gave me a book by the same name, the autobiography on which the series is based. Its about a young midwife in the late 50s in the docklands area of London, very poor. It was interesting, if not quite as absorbing as my daughter seems to find it. There are several chapters on how, when black people moved into the area, several moms delivered (or in one case, thought she woudl deliver) a black baby, thereby proving they committed adultery. And a really really sad story about a 15 year old Irish immigrant girl whose family fell apart after the father got hurt and couldn’t earn money, who came to London, got pimped out, got pregnant, and ran away when her pimp was going to make her have an abortion. She has the baby in a program run by nuns who then give away her baby to a good home without even telling her they have done so and she had no idea what had happened to the baby.
    Its reasonably well written, although I wouldn’t necessarily call it a good book.

    1+

  3. I reread Georgette Heyer’s ‘No Wind of Blame’ and then ‘Behold Here’s Poison’, both of which were fun. Then bailed out on a library book, and have just started ‘Captives of the Night’ by Loretta Chase, which I haven’t read for a while.

    3+

        1. It’s very Edwardian: unthinking racism, etc. But definitely pacey. The Hitchcock version (made twenty years later) feels considerably more modern.

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          1. And then there exists the comic play which, cast with the right actors, is hilarious. Requires close attention.

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      1. A friend just gave me the complete works of John Buchan! This is a Sign from Argh that maybe I should start reading it next . . . . (Although, I’ve got A Passage from India in my purse, and I think John Buchan will have to wait. But maybe not so long.)

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    1. Ooooh, Captives of the Night is good. After seeing Francis Beaumont be horrible in previous books, the way Chase dealt with him was quite satisfying.

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      1. It was great seeing Francis getting his just desserts, but I still didn’t connect with this title as strongly as I always do to her other books.

        1+

  4. A Bachelor Establishment by Jodi Taylor writing as Isabella Barclay. Reminded me of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance without actually being anything like it. Except that you know that everything will be all right in the end.

    It’s historical and the female protagonist rides a horse that’s unsuitable for a woman. I liked her!

    3+

  5. When I’m not gorging myself on library finds, I binge on e-books on sale.

    I just finished Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You. I didn’t much like Gentleman in the Street by Alisha Rai but I loved this story from the Forbidden Hearts series.

    It had many things I tend to avoid – old flames/star-crossed/going back home. Olivia goes back home. Nicholas is still there.

    I can’t figure out why, but I loved everything on first read. So much so that after a reveal of a secret in the story, I had to stop reading. I wanted to savour the book and make it last as long as I could. I’m pretty sure I haven’t done that since Agnes and the Hitman. Which I first read in 2013, I think?!

    I’m worried that I’m raving and somebody else will read it and it’ll push all their negative buttons. The possibility of a toxic relationship exists but isn’t ignored, for *both* characters. There might be a mystery subplot but the main story and secondary characters were so good that I didn’t really care. If it’s dealt with in the rest of the series that’ll be nice, but I just don’t care too much.

    There’s mental health issues, awareness and treatment discussion. Which is a big positive. It’s a diverse book. Which is an even bigger positive.

    I need more books like this. It made me happy.

    6+

  6. I’m between books, waiting for one to come in from the library, which I’m expecting to be good so I’ll recommend it with the caveat that I haven’t actually read it yet: Jennifer Ashley’s DEATH BELOW STAIRS. She writes the self-pubbed Captain Lacy historical mysteries under the name Ashley Gardner, but this series is trade-pubbed.

    There’s actually a prequel to the new series in a free book (3 novellas in it, one connected to this series, the other connected to different series by the same author) here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073ZJRJKC/

    I love the Captain Lacey books, and while I wasn’t enthusiastic about the prequel to this series (it wasn’t BAD, just not as good as I’d been expecting), I think it may have been the author’s first stab at mystery, written before the Captain Lacey books, so she was still learning the ropes and tropes, so I’m expecting the new book to be better than the prequel.

    Actually, the other novella in the collection linked above that I hadn’t already read until recently is good too — set in Roman times with a retired gladiator as the hero.

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  7. Finished Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw which someone recommended here and was very good. Currently reading Gemini’s by Jay Kristoff and Amy Kauffman. YA/NA sci fi space opera quasi-graphic epistolary novel. I really enjoyed the first one, Illuminae.

    1+

  8. Finished Martin Walker’s Dark Vinyard in his Bruno series, police procedural set in a small French town. Slow-paced with lots of talk and eating of local foods and drinking of local Pomerol wine. Plot eases into development. All this “slow” “ease” is what I need at year’s beginning. As for that plot, best not fully focused on. A character who charmed me turned up dead. Of course, if he lived, he was going to prison, and he didn’t deserve that either. A thoroughly awful person was the doer of the murderous deed.
    Now I have the latest Evanovich which starts off with a reptile, so “yuck” right there, and Michael Connelly’s new Hieronymous Bosch procedural which gets first choice. Despite those two enticements, I can feel the heart of Black Diamond (truffles) beating away in the book bag, so Bruno’s next-in-series may be first picked up.

    1+

  9. I just finished “The Boys in the Boat,” by David James Brown, about the 8-oar rowing team from the University of Washington that won the gold. The book is organized around Joe Rantz, a guy who had no money, a seriously feckless father, and a stepmother who persuaded said father not to have Joe in the house. Twice. Once when Joe was 10 and again when Joe was in his late teens.

    The writing is clear, the story compelling. Even though I watched the American Experience episode, “The Boys of ’36” and knew how it all turned out, I still stayed up too late to finish the book.

    It’s not just about the team that went to Berlin, though. It’s about Nazi Germany and about the art and science of rowing — Brown does a great job of explaining shell technology and racing technique, giving the reader all the info s/he needs in given moment but nothing more, so you’re never drowning in info-dump. It also makes you understand what an extraordinary athleticism and intelligence is needed to compete successfully.

    The sad thing about finishing a book like that is it makes it hard for me to settle into something else…

    4+

  10. I’ve been waiting for a book to come in at the library (it arrived today!), so I reread J.D. Robb’s Delusion in Death, which was fun since I hadn’t read it since it came out. Then I read a Tessa Dare’s Do You Want to Start a Scandal, which was also fun. I haven’t read much Dare; I think this was only the second. I’m finding her books very relaxing. It was a good choice since I’m still kind of sick. The cold just won’t stop lingering, and I need it to go away since a friend will be in town this weekend.

    2+

  11. I am working on Envious Casca by Georgette Heyer. It’s a fun romp, but buyer beware, it was re-released under the title A Christmas Party.

    And I am almost finished with Alexis Hall’s How to Bang a Billionaire. It’s an lgbtq+ spoof on Fifty Shades of Grey and oh so good. It has all of the comfort of a billionaire book, but none of the whiny protagonist. In fact, I adore Arden. He is a fabulous protagonist: vulnerable but ultimately true to himself.

    This book is the first in a trilogy. Book two is out, but not third one yet.

    Oh, and Pet, A Captive Prince short story game out this week and it gave me ALL OF THE FEELS. I recommend.

    2+

  12. I’m listening to A Crown of Wishes by Roshani Chokshi which is a sort of companion to A Star-Touched Queen but not a sequel.

    Today I picked up Murderbot and Goblin Emperor from the library so I’m getting ready for the weekend.

    4+

  13. I just read Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches, by John Hodgman.

    It’s memoir structured around time spent in Massachusetts and Maine, but you don’t have to be from there to enjoy it. Mostly it’s about middle age, luck, and privilege.

    Oh, and I actually listened to it on Audible, which I also recommend, because his voice is distinctive and he’s a great performer.

    1+

  14. I’ve been down with some kind of bug this week, and haven’t been able to focus long enough to read anything. Fortunately, I have a nice library of audiobooks. I listened to a second Ngaio Marsh, Enter a Murderer; Neil Gamon’s A Study in Emerald ; and currently listening to Pratchett’s A Monstrous Regiment . It has been so long since I read this one, I’d forgotten whole passages.

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  15. Mostly I’ve been reading the Best Management Practices for Erosion Control, which I only recommend as a cure for insomnia.

    6+

  16. I’ve also been reading Thursday recommendations, love it!

    Read Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I enjoyed the originality, and not the To Be Continued. Good things come to those who wait. Thanks for the recommendation!

    I also read Nevermoor, the Adventures of Morrigan Crow, which my 9 year old got for Christmas. Very cool, and I’m selfishly excited that Niamh has found an entree to fantasy that she has enjoyed. The writing is also a stretch for her, and I enjoyed the way the story is crafted.

    2+

  17. I’m listening to (again) “Cotillion” by Georgette Heyer, read by Phyllida Nash. She’s a fabulous narrator.

    On the non-fiction front, I’m reading “Dark Days of Georgian Britain: Rethinking the Regency” by James Hobson. Fascinating book about the “real world” that Heyer, Austen, and most modern Regency romance authors skim over, or, quite honestly, ignore completely. It really was a horrible time in history, particularly 1816. Anyone who reads or writes Regency would find it interesting, I think.

    2+

  18. I’ve just finished a book I picked up because I liked the cover, and it exactly hit my romantic sweet spot, fun writing, and a female lead that I absolutely adored. I got it from the library, but I think I’ll have to get my own copy. It’s The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl by Melissa Neil, and it’s a YA story about a girl from a tiny town in country Victoria (Australia). She’s happy with life as it is – she draws comics, lives in a bakery, and has a kick-arse collection of vintage dresses, so what’s not to like? But now high school’s finished all her friends seem to be in a hurry to leave. Her childhood friend with the killer abs has returned to town, the boy she’s been friends with since the day she was born is acting weird. And all these outsiders are turning up in her town because a doomsday prophet has announced that the end of the world is coming and Eden Valley is going to be the last place standing. Loved it, and I’m already re-reading it.

    3+

  19. I’ve mostly been re-reading old favourites recently, mostly Pratchett and Greenwood, but a new to me book that I really enjoyed was Deadweather and Sunrise by Geoff Rodkey. There are pirates. And two more books which I must now track down and read.

    I also read and enjoyed The Darling Songbirds, by Rachael Herron, which doesn’t skate over how badly families can hurt each other and how hard you sometimes have to work to fix things. I don’t usually love the drama-heavy going home to make amends stories, but this one stayed on the right side of enjoyable for me.

    1+

  20. Finished Jayne Ann Krentz’s Promise Not to Tell and loved it. Started Robena Grant’s One Safe Place. The sense of place and characters are wonderful and so British. I’m loving it.

    1+

  21. I remember reading all of Georgette Heyer’s mysteries back in the sixties. (Because I’d finished all her Regency and Historicals and I couldn’t let go of Heyer. But I never liked them as well as the Regencies. So I never reread them. Maybe I should rethink that decision.

    1+

    1. They’re mysteries rather than romances: I still prefer her Regencies, but the detective novels are funny and full (for modern readers) of social history, which I always enjoy.

      1+

  22. Aww. Thank’s so much, Susan.

    I’m reading Barbara Freethy’s Can’t Let Go. I enjoy her story telling. It’s nicely paced for a romantic suspense and I sense the build to some big bad about to happen. Hope I’m not up reading all night. Got a lot to do tomorrow.

    1+

  23. Other Arghers have talked about Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime — I just finished it over vacation and loved it. It’s educational, funny (of course) and very sophisticated. Plus, it’s a sort of rags to riches story, which I’m a sucker for.

    I also read The Last Hellion by Loretta Chase. It was a lot of fun to see cameos (and even key roles) by characters from The Lord of Scoundrels. It is an example of how the whole Harvey Weinstein watershed has affected my reading. Before, I don’t think I’d overthink the hero and heroine’s relationship. Now? Well, I think it’s still OK, but I did spend a lot of non-book time thinking about it.

    IIRC, the book is set in the 1830s, so there’s a certain amount of “well, that’s the way things were back then” in my thinking. But on the other hand, the heroine is feisty and bucks the system in a lot of ways (but still without breaking the Time Setting, if you know what I mean). Yet, she settles for this very damaged rake who hasn’t done a lot of reforming until he meets The Virgin Who Will Save Me trope. Why does this story still work? (And it does, for me at least.) It’s clear that they both are damaged, and they seem to have a pretty even footing. I think another key point is that any past mistreatment of women is very much off-page, and not really described — it’s told, rather than shown, and only in broad strokes. The reader is left to imagine what horrors the hero has wreaked in the past.

    In the very good news column, it seems I have finally made peace with Lewis Carroll, and can read his work with pleasure again. My timing is probably horrible, compared to what’s going on in our society at large. But I’ve been struggling with this for at least five years, so it’s about time that I came to some sort of conclusion.

    1+

      1. Carroll probably was just the weird guy who liked little girls. Maybe he didn’t like-like them. He just entertained them with stories and cake. Yeah, that’s it. (The annotated version I read had a lot to say about his “child-friends” — but the annotator did think it was all innocent if a bit weird.)

        I have a HUGE problem with so-called “modern misinterpretations”. A lot of modern child abuse slides under the radar because, “oh, I’m probably just misinterpreting things — s/he really wouldn’t do something skeevy to a child, would s/he?”

        So, in Carroll’s case, we’re basically only looking at 1) a pattern of making friends with little girls, 2) taking photos of them, including art photos (but their moms were there in most of the cases, so any hanky-panky was in the braincase), and 3) some pages ripped from a diary that may have had something to do with the oldest Liddell girl (or not), who in any case was not prepubescent at the time. Plus, on the “he didn’t do it” side, many of his child-friends said not-bad things about him later in life (so they must not have been too skeeved out? But . . . survivors have complex feelings. I’m going to leave it at that.)

        I’ve finally made peace with the ambiguity of it because of several things. 1) It happened more than a century ago, and we’ll never dig out the truth at this point because 2) to a certain extent, it’s the responsibility of survivors to speak up if they want justice, and no one made a fuss. And 3) I really want to believe there are kind but odd old men in the world who would altruistically brighten up a child’s life with stories. Giving Carroll the benefit of the doubt does not betray anyone living now. If there are current dirty-old-storytellers who are using their powers to seduce children, we need to deal with THAT on its own terms, not by digging up old rumors. And 4) quite selfishly, I love the stories, and being an asshole doesn’t really prevent someone from creating brilliant art.

        It isn’t easy for me to talk about, and it took me years to be able to pick up the book again.

        And if we apply those lessons to the current Hollywood brou-ha-ha . . . well, things are different. There are survivors of sexual assault who want justice, and think their personal experience can prevent future assaults if only the new generation knows (and if the rats know they might be outed in the future). We CAN know at least some of the truth now.

        Separating the art from a living asshole is a bit harder. One position that I’ve been hearing a lot is that we can’t help the art that has been made. Particularly in films, when you punish an actor by boycotting his (and it’s mostly his at this point) films, you are also punishing everyone from the makeup artist to the director. But in the future, this position says, artists can refuse to work with the assaulter. This position skates perilously close to the position that Art is greater than One Person’s Suffering. And I don’t quite know how to reconcile all of that.

        At any rate, I’m enjoying the books again, and have come down on the side that Carroll may have been creepy, but if he did lust in his heart, that was his business.

        1+

        1. I think he was fixated but hands-off. I can deal with that. What we feel is out of our control, what we do is within our control, and from all the reports I’ve read, he wasn’t a toucher.

          And he gave us Alice in Wonderland, not to mention the Jabberwock and the Snark. Amazing mind.

          2+

          1. Yes! That’s the pith of it, but it took me a long time to dig through my baggage, and society’s baggage, and maybe even a tiny detour through 19th century baggage. One didn’t talk about such things then (even now, it’s damn hard to talk about such things), which made it even worse for me — imagination.

            The fixation was the wellspring of his art. I was going to couch that in weaselly “may have been” terms, but there’s no denying that if he didn’t adore little girls, there never would have been those books. His math and games fixations seemed to work out for him, too, but they weren’t timeless like the Alice books.

            A lot of these other guys also have their fixations, but they go beyond mental obsession into the physical realm, and they get caught, or their actions exposed. That’s another mess for another day.

            1+

        2. I can’t watch Woody Allen movies. That’s not even principle—I can’t enjoy them.
          There was a disturbing piece by someone who went systematically through his archives at Princeton about his fixation on teenagers recently.

          I think there is a second difference between current and dead artists. Woody Allen would benefit if I watch his movies. Lewis Carroll doesn’t benefit when I read his books.

          The argument about boycotting hurting everyone on the movie is harder—so many people can’t afford to turn down work.

          2+

          1. I really think Carroll is off the hook.
            Woody Allen is definitely on the hook.
            I read that article about the guy who went through his archives (assigned to do son on a different focus). Yikes.

            2+

          2. I like Woody Allen’s writing. I’m not so crazy about the movies. His personal life? I think the actions of those people who are very close to him speak loads. The people who have been wronged by him are the ones who get to decide how on the hook they want him.

            He and Louis C.K.’s humor seems to revolve so much around “I’m a rotten human being — look at me.” It’s not like they were lying with their art. It’s just not as funny when they are proven to be rotten human beings, maybe?

            At this point in time, I have no desire to buy anything from Woody Allen, and Louis C.K.’s humor always made me a little uneasy. I also won’t be recommending them in the near future. But if they turn out to be tapping into Archetypal Jerkdom, there’s a chance their art will survive. IDK. I’m sure glad I’m not the one who has to decide who gets to be remembered.

            1+

  24. Not a book but is everyone watching the Good Place? It’s got such amazing storytelling (and isn’t afraid to present a generally unlikeable female protagonist who the audience roots for anyway).

    2+

        1. I’ve already been spoiled; the first season finale must have been amazing to watch.
          Basically, if I’m not going to follow along with a program, it’s my own fault if I get spoiled.

          1+

          1. it really was, apparently, that thing was not something they told the cast members before their script reading…

            I’ve rewatched the first season a bunch of times and every time I get something new out of it

            1+

  25. I’m reading a collection of Brian Doyle’s essays. He writes stuff that is ostensibly about the tiniest things – rosaries, a mom giving a ride to her teenage son, a basketball team doing layups – but actually about some of the biggest things – symbols, love, grief, etc. Plus they always end on a note that believes in something good, which I need right now, because my boss just took a job elsewhere which means a lot more work and stress and uncertainty for my whole team until her replacement is found and fully trained. I need bite size optimism that reminds me to take a look and look at the big picture.

    1+

  26. I just finished Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap, the third in Julie Anne Long’s temporary series. She writes some amazing scenes; I’m not sure she creates a compelling momentum to her books but i will never forget her heroine walking in on her about to be ex lover cheating and giving him a score on the dismount. I’m pretty sure no one ever thinks that fast but I’m also pretty sure all of us would like to think we could.

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