This Is a Good Book Thursday, October 25, 2018

We’ve got a nor’easter headed our way so I have big book plans, possibly by flashlight if we lose power again.  (If you don’t hear from me for a while, assume loss of power, not loss of life.)  

So tell us about some good books, please . . .

72 thoughts on “This Is a Good Book Thursday, October 25, 2018

  1. I’m worried I might jinx myself by mentioning it before I’m finished, but I’m really enjoying “The Crow Trap” by Ann Cleves. It’s the first Vera Stanhope mystery, which I’ve been hearing about for years and finally am getting around to reading. I’m enjoying all the complex female characters and the beautiful descriptions of the English countryside.

    I do think it dragged a little bit in the beginning with too much description of how to do a bird count, etc. But that seems to have fallen away now that the story has gotten started.

    5+
    1. I haven’t read the books, but the tv shows based on them are fabulous. Highly recommend them (after you read the books). The first season is on Netflix and I think several seasons are on Acorn, and I think Britbox has all of the episodes, including the current one. Brenda Blethyn, who plays Vera, is amazing.

      3+
    2. Thanks for the comments about THE CROW TRAP, Jill. That’s been sitting in my TBR pile for the better part of the year now and I have yet to pick it up. Right now I’m at loose ends trying to figure out what to read, so I think I’ll try that next. A couple of years ago I watched a season or two of the VERA series, which was very well done, but after a while I quit. I love British mysteries—MIDSOMER MURDERS and LEWIS are my all-time favorites—but so many of them seem to feature deeply depressed protagonists, and that’s not what I need in my life right now.

      4+
      1. The Brokenwood Mysteries do not have depressed protagonists, set in NZ, I think. They’re along the line of Midsommer Mysteries and Inspector Lewis (which can get dark). I like the Brokenwood series because its detectives have problems but they cope. And there’s a woman on the team who gets things done and is not involved romantically with either of the men on the team. They all just work together and like each other, so it’s a non-angst series.

        9+
        1. Oh, yes, I second Brokenwood Mysteries. And for anyone looking for upbeat, also from NZ/Australia, check out 800 Words and The Heart Guy. The first episode of 800 Words is too … I don’t know, full of too stupid to live folks, and I quit after that for a long while, but in a moment of desperation, I went back, and it settles into a better rhythm after that. They’re not mysteries, but the scenery and the accents alone are worth watching them! Oh, and the Good Karma Hospital. Same sort of feel-good, well-written, well-acted, interesting setting stories. All of these are on Acorn. (No, they’re not paying me to advertise for them. I just really enjoy the shows they have.)

          2+
          1. I watched Good Karma Hospital and loved it. Was very disappointed to discover that it was (as far as I could tell) a limited 4-part series. But definitely worth watching.

            1+
        2. I do enjoy BROKENWOOD MYSTERIES. I wish there were more of them. I think a new season will be coming onto record before too long. Hope so, anyway.

          2+
        3. New series from either Britbox or Acorn set in New Zealand called Mystery Road. Just the one season so far but really good.

          0
      2. It’s hard to pick a favorite British series once one is finished it’s on to next favorite. Top pick is Vera a no nonsense detective who stays focused on the case and keeps everyone in line with her thinking whether they like it or not. Shetland is my next favorite. Jimmy Perez is also no nonsense (must be author’s Ann Cleaves mind set in writing detectives). Although it takes me at least two episodes to get into and understand the Scottish accent. There all so good. I’m looking forward to seeing the third season of The Heart Guy when it is released here. I have to check on that.

        2+
  2. Well I didn’t win the lottery so on that note I plan to read The Darlings by Cristina Alger about the rich and their many troubles. It has middling revues, but we also have a storm coming Saturday and I’ll need to get lost in a book. Also planning to make some apple cider donut/muffins as a snack.

    7+
  3. Yesterday I downloaded Stephanie Laurens 2 Lady Osbaldestone’s Christmas stories because I need a little Christmas and it’s nice to visit the past, it isn’t full of surprises. Didn’t start reading yet because Wednesday attacked me all day long but today there will be reading. Hope you keep power or at least have good batteries for reading in the dark!

    6+
  4. I haven’t been reading because I’ve been bingeing on Person of Interest. Well, watching that and reading your commentary on it as I go along. It is so well told – it feels like, when the funding people and the writing people are on the same schedule, TV can be amazing long-form storytelling. I’m just finishing Season 4. Don’t tell me anything!

    9+
    1. Dominic in S4 is even more amusing now that the actor is famous for his role in Black Panther. Really shows a great range.

      4+
      1. I am having a lot of “fun” for some value of obsession and devotion, thank you.

        Ok do tell me one thing – WHY DIDN’T ANYONE SHOOT GREER??? so many people pointed guns at him and could have got off a shot, admittedly in most cases a suicidal impulse, but still, improving the world… why???

        0
        1. I think it’s mostly because they don’t kill people except in self defense (and even then, they aim for the knees). That’s why Finch keeps telling Shaw not to shoot people. It’s the crux of an episode you probably haven’t seen yet: The Machine tells them to flat out execute somebody and they have to make a decision because the Machine is never wrong but they are not hit men/women any more.

          It’s a tough show, but the series finale is excellent, so it’s worth the trip.

          0
          1. I did get that far, and it was very tough. And all the follow on as well. But Control even had him in her sights, and she blinked (argh!). I’m part way through season 5, and it is SO hard to watch, and just as hard to not watch.

            One daughter said she watched it up to the point when they acquired Bear, and then stopped, because a gang of misfits with a dog following the directions of mysterious machine with the best of intentions was as far as she wanted to go in the series. As I’ve gone deeper into it, I almost wish I had followed her advice.

            0
          2. I finished it, and wept copiously, and thank you particularly for telling me Bear made it.

            Thank you again for your commentary too – it helped me think about the show in different terms, and to identify what made some episodes so much stronger than others.

            0
          3. I know, I weep buckets every time I see the finale. It really was beautifully done.
            I loved Fusco and Shaw at the end with Bear, back in a stable world. Actually, I just love that whole series, which is odd because I’m not a lover of grim stories (although I do like Grimm).

            0
  5. A friend gave me Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear about a female PI in London after WWI. Not quite done but I’ve really enjoyed it so far and I bought the next two books.

    5+
    1. I’ve read the first six or so of the Maisie Dobbs books and found them a bit uneven. When she solves part of the mystery using her mental powers/instinct/whatever, that just irritates me though there is some great writing in them.
      My favourite mystery series set in that period is France Brody’s Kate Shackleton books. They’re set in Yorkshire, a bit more down to earth and for my taste, better written. Seeing you post about Maisie reminded me to check if there were any new ones and Hallelujah! there are two! One of which came out today. Brilliant.
      That’s my weekend reading sorted.

      6+
  6. I am reading Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter. It’s pretty engaging so far, helped along by my sincere enthusiasm for the titular rodent. N.K. Jemisin’s The Obelisk Gate is waiting for me at the library, so that’s up next.

    Hope you stay cozy during your storm, Jenny!

    3+
  7. I just read “Lark, the Herald Angels Sing” by Donna Andrews and it has me singing Christmas carols when I walk around the neighborhood. I really enjoyed it along with the latest Murderbot novella, Exit Strategy, by Martha Wells. But if you are interested in Murderbot, the books really must be read in order.

    4+
    1. We must be living in parallel universes — just finished the Donna Andrews and then splurged on the second Murderbot (Artificial Condition), which I’d been saving for when I really, really, REALLY needed a pick-me-up, and it didn’t disappoint! I’m kinda’ spreading them out, so I can really savor them and not read them all in a single (long) night!

      2+
  8. I just finished Bruce Cameron’s mystery Midnight Plan of a Repo Man, which I really liked. If someone here recommended it, thank you. This is the first new to me author for several weeks. And he says it is totally based on himself except he is not over six feet tall, never worked as a bouncer, never did time, never had an offer from the NFL. Other than that, he once worked as a repo man.

    I am also working on The Chronicles of St. Mary’s by Jodi Taylor which was recommended here.

    2+
  9. Based on a recommendation from this site, I read A Study in Honor by Claire O’Dell (with Holmes/Watson recreated as non-white women) and mostly enjoyed it. I liked the world view and reflections of our current political/social upheaval more than I liked the actual mystery.

    I am currently reading A Winter’s Promise — start of a fantasy series by Christelle Dabos (bestseller in France), and it is very readable. She has created an interesting and original world, and great male and female lead characters. It is a four book series, so I worry I will be left hanging like the old Perils of Pauline movies. I hope there is some romance for the male/female lead characters by the end of the series!

    1+
  10. It was 30°C in the sun today. The minute it got windy it was an of, nippy cold. Ahhh, Spring in a sub-tropical zone!

    I read and devoured the Just For Him series by Talia Hibbert. Self-pubbed but mostly well done, and I’m picky over typo or homonym errors. The characters are diverse and INTERESTING. She writes in a way that Alisha Rai does – I see the characters going through difficult things but she doesn’t make it difficult to read.

    Some people do this when seeing a car accident – they don’t want to look but they keep doing it anyway. That’s how it feels to me to to read some SEP books. Does anybody have a good single term for this feeling? Any German terms like orhwurm or schadenfreude?

    Back on track – Talia Hibbert writes interesting, multiracial, varied characters in UK/Europe-based settings. 🌌

    3+
  11. I needed cheering up after depressing proofs, so am rereading Loretta Chase’s ‘Dukes Prefer Blondes’, which is working well.

    2+
  12. Thanks to our home Internet being super glitchy a couple nights ago (and thus not wanting to write because of Fear of Lost Changes) I just finally read something that’s been on my TBR for maybe years, “Midshipman’s Hope” by David Feintuch.

    Had a bit of sloggy info dump at the beginning but I soon got thoroughly involved with the protagonist. Some real suspense at several points during the story. The only thing I thought was undeveloped was a romance subplot … or maybe it was developed and I just didn’t much care for the love interest. 🙂

    Having since discovered that it is a long series, and the self-contained story being well resolved in this first volume of the saga, I likely won’t continue reading the series (as it seems to be going to First Contact/Alien Troubles land which is not where I want to be right now). But well-written, well-imagined, and well worth the read.

    2+
  13. I’m in the weeds grading midterm stuff so haven’t had much time to read new things, but I did really love Sandra Antonelli’s At Your Service. Older characters (late 40s-early 50s) who are not dead yet, thank you very much. Mae is a widow who works as butler/factotum to a British service major who is not James Bond but might be kinda James Bond. It’s just tremendous fun as Mae’s legacy from her husband lands her in a European spies and criminal masterminds farce. And the Major tags along. I loved that she is older than the major and very competent.

    I am doing a relisten of Welcome to Temptation during the commute and today I just got the scene where Phinn explains how to play the game of pool to a wide-eyed Sophie. So much funnier when you know how Sophie will play him towards the end! I do like the narrator for that book. She does Faking It as well and carries Davy’s voice forward to the second book.

    2+
  14. I’ve been reading more Sisters Grimm by Michael Buckley: Book 4-7. I still very much enjoy the series. World-building is good, versatile characters, the MC is NOT lovable at all times. Actually she can be a pain in the butt, but at least she’s aware of it. It’s kinda refreshing. 😉 There are elements in this series that really makes me enjoy the read. The complexity of the characters, several layers of truths or half-truths that give normally slightly bland fairytale-characters depth, makes me wanna read more. I could have lived without the cliffhanger endings, though.

    What bugged me with book 7 was inconsequences regarding names. Some characters met earlier in the series suddenly had other names or had switched names with other characters. That’s something that can annoy the living hell out of me. Shouldn’t an editor, or the author him/herself notice such things while writing/editing? Even if it’s just characters named in passing?

    I finished Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, too. Now moving on to book 3 as a between-books-book. Just in time for surgery Tuesday. Apparently HP3 is my surgery book, it’s the third time it’ll go with me to the hospital. Ultimate comfort read for that.

    Coaxed Fiancé to start reading The Great Ghost Rescue (Dutch translation) by Eva Ibbotson with me. Haven’t read it since I was 10-11. She has this grand way of describing ghosts/people very unflatteringly (not sure if that is even a word, but you probably get what I mean). It makes us laugh and it’s a very cosy read. I have only read a few of her books but I have always liked her inventiveness and writing style.

    4+
    1. Shass, I can’t remember what’s happened in the book I’m currently writing, I’m constantly having to check names, facts, etc. (including what characters have and haven’t said yet.) So I can totally see how a writer or editor could miss mistakes like that in a series.

      Not that’s it’s forgivable, facts should be correct – and one hopes ones beta readers will catch mistakes. I’m just saying I understand how it could happen.

      4+
      1. I suppose it’s much easier to make such errors than one would expect that only reads the book. I am in no way a proffessional writer, or editor either for that matter, I just think it’s such a pity that such small faults causes confusion or annoyance for the reader.
        Thanks for your reply!

        0
      1. Thank you! <3 I'm trying to convince myself I'll be brave and that it'll go well. On the upside: small incision. They just need to remove a loose bone-piece/splinter and some "gravel" out of my elbow.

        Let's just assume I'll transform into Wonderwoman on Tuesday morning and get out of there with all extremities still attached. Including my arm.

        3+
  15. Not a book, but I am waist-deep into Worm, a completed web serial (though the sequel is underway and still ongoing) that gets into the complexities of how a world with superpowers might go, centered on a teenage girl who gets caught up doing some questionable things with the best of intentions.

    Unfortunately, there aren’t any official ways to read it in one piece offline, but there are unofficial compilation ebooks floating around, or you can just pre-load or save each web-page (installment) individually to have available without internet.

    I should also try out 17776 one of these days.

    1+
  16. I have found so many good books from the past recommendations here. So this week I read Elizabeth Hoyt’s Duke of Desire – a hero-with-a-deep-dark-wound story, and very enjoyable – and TE Kinsey’s A Quiet Life in the Country, which I liked a lot, particularly because the author did backstory with such elegance and restraint.

    Then I re-read T Kingfisher’s Nine Goblins, which is utterly hilarious with wonderful characters, and which sent me looking for more of his/her books.

    Now I’m reading Califia’s Daughters by Leigh Richards, who is actually Laurie King writing under another name. It’s set in a post apocalyptic world where most of the men have been wiped out by a virus, and so far it’s very very good– as you would expect.

    5+
  17. Grin and Beard it by Penny Reid. Heroine is Latina and overweight and a geek and famous movie star. She also writes screenplays.
    I love the characters, love the series. I want to know how the other brothers turn out.

    3+
  18. I turn to comfort reads when in the midst of separation anxiety. Thus Street of the Five Moons, an Elizabeth Peters cozy suspense, one of her Vicky Bliss series. I appreciate the Bliss series because Barbara Michaels’ stand-alones seem to me retro and, yes, a tiny bit regressive, while our Vicky is out there on the ground kicking posterior. While still keeping it cozy. Not the easiest combination.

    Made an order of Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena, one for me and one as a thank you for the guy I interviewed yesterday. Magdalena took an unconventional route from toiling on his family’s farm in rural Spain to becoming a plant hunter for Kew Gardens, THE place from which to be a plant hunter.

    Leaving Tuesday for Australia – Brisbane, Perth, lots of miles and heritage rose gardens to Albany, back to Perth by other miles, other gardens, finally fly out from Melbourne. A bookstore WILL be entered. Suggestions? Have read all the Greenwoods, and I took note of the Brokenwood mysteries which I will sure encounter even though NZ. Thanking all you antipodes in advance.

    2+
  19. I turn to comfort reads when in the midst of separation anxiety. Thus Street of the Five Moons, an Elizabeth Peters cozy suspense, one of her Vicky Bliss series. I appreciate the Bliss series because Barbara Michaels’ stand-alones seem to me retro and, yes, a tiny bit regressive, while our Vicky is out there on the ground kicking posterior. While still keeping it cozy. Not the easiest combination.

    Made an order of Plant Messiah by Carlos Magdalena, one for me and one as a thank you for the guy I interviewed yesterday. Magdalena took an unconventional route from toiling on his family’s farm in rural Spain to becoming a plant hunter for Kew Gardens, THE place from which to be a plant hunter.

    Leaving Tuesday for Australia – Brisbane, Perth, lots of miles and heritage rose gardens to Albany, back to Perth by other miles, other gardens, finally flying out from Melbourne. A bookstore WILL be entered. Suggestions? Have read all the Greenwoods, and I took note of the Brokenwood mysteries which I will surely encounter even though NZ. Thanking all you antipodes in advance.

    0
  20. I am about a third of the way through Forthright’s Kimiko and the Accidental Proposal and it is every bit as wonderful as Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox. I love the writing style and I just want to curl up inside these stories. They are very gentle. That is the only way I can describe them, and carefully crafted with many layers based in Japanese mythology. I highly recommend them. 🙂

    4+
    1. Ooh! For some reason, I though that was delayed until mid-December. I should go back to Amazon and check out the new Forthright.

      1+
  21. I just finished The Coroner’s Lunch, the first in the Dr. Siri series by Colin Cotterill. It’s not the sort of book I would ordinarily pick up – it takes place in Laos in the 1970s – but two friends recommended it and one of them gave me her extra copy, and I’m glad she did. It was a great read and educational, too. Well-drawn characters, amusing commentary on a newly communist society, a complex mystery (actually two mysteries in one), and a paranormal element… I’m thankful for word-of-mouth.

    3+
    1. This is such a wonderful series – and it keeps getting better. I’m so glad you enjoyed the first one. So much gentle humour in them, as well as the mysteries.

      2+
  22. I just finished Tana French’s Witch Elm. I have mixed feelings. I’m always drawn in by her characters and the mysteries/crimes. But one of the tropes in this one was a protagonist with a head injury that causes amnesia, which gets around hiding things from the reader that the narrator knows because the narrator has forgotten those things. I don’t love that trope.

    My real story joy during the past few weeks has come from finally watching Sense8. The last few episodes of the second (last) season were a bit rushed and had some logic holes, and the very last episode did a little too much bow-tying, but overall, it was fabulous.

    3+
  23. I recently read Karin Slaughter’s The Kept Woman & just finished Lisa Unger’s Fragile. I’d never read either before and wow! I have been missing out.

    1+
  24. I just finished “Guns At Dawn” by Adrian Tchaikovsky. The main protagonist is a woman – think British upper class lady – who has been drafted into a war in an alternate earth which has wizards and gunpowder. There is romance, daring-do, underhanded schemes, bravery, and sorrow.

    I really liked it. If you like Brian McClellan books, I think you would like this story. I’m really getting into Adrian Tchaikovsky’s stories. I haven’t read a bad one yet, although I have yet to try his master opus, the Shadow of the Apt series.

    3+
  25. Someone here recommended KJ Charles, so I read Band Sinister, which I enjoyed immensely, then went back and read some of her back catalogue too, until work got in the way. So much fun. Yay escapism.

    I’m also reading Mansfield Park, which somehow I’ve never read before. And I really don’t love it at all. So much not fun. I’m only half way through (and the fact that I stopped to read KJ Charles is a bad sign in someone who reads til a book is finished, even if that is 4am), but man, all the characters suck. In the same way that I never really liked Othello.

    3+
    1. Glad you’re enjoying K. J. Charles. And I sympathise about ‘Mansfield Park’. I keep meaning to reread it, but it was a set text for A level, which meant we went through it at a snail’s pace. (We only read six texts in two years for A level English.) At least it wasn’t a favourite, like ‘Emma’, that was done to death. I have a faint hope that if I do reread it, forty-five years on, I’ll be able to enjoy it – but maybe not.

      3+
      1. I loathe Great Expectations for the same reason– we did it at school, which completely wrecked it for any future readings. Why on earth do they do these things to us?

        2+
        1. I had the same problem with Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening.” I think I read it as an undergrad and was bored to tears. Fast forward a decade or two and I read it again and was mesmerized. Although that may have been because I was older and wiser.

          4+
          1. I know but I was so furious at the ending. It’s one thing for male writers to SPOILERS kill off a woman who turned from the societal norms but for a woman to do it says that the price of being authentic is too great to pay and we should just conform anyway.

            0
          2. I think for me it was finally understanding the depth of her problem. Given the time period, she was never getting out of there alive, she was going to die either psychically or physically, and the fact that she chose meant a lot to me. Very Thelma and Louise.

            0
      2. For me, school couldn’t totally wreck a book for me if it really spoke to me. I loved A Tale of Two Cities, Wuthering Heights, and to a lesser degree, The Grapes of Wrath. But the other four Dickens books we read…ugh. And seriously, no Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, or Slyia Plath in my high school curriculum, but FIVE Dickens books?

        1+
        1. We had to do an essay on a major writer, student’s choice, when I was in a small rural high school fifty years ago, and I chose Virginia Woolf because I had just read “Whose Afraid of Virginia Woolf” and I had not heard of her and wasn’t sure what the allusion to her meant. Between the high school library and the public library, I found one short story and a couple of dictionary entries (NO internet, NO Amazon) and I put together a paper that can be best described as pathetic. For which I received an A+. I don’t think the teacher had heard of or read Virginia Woolf before I did my paper. That’s the only reason I can think that I did not get a B or C. And for some reason I then became known as an intellectual. as if.

          1+
  26. I have several books open, but I’m not actively reading any of them. I did finish a re-read of Ryk Spoor’s “Princess Holy Aura.” You don’t have to be a big anime fan to love that book, though at least a tiny familiarity with Sailor Moon might help. Not necessary, though, because it is explained in the book.

    Baen Books provides a free sample: https://www.baen.com/Chapters/9781481482820/9781481482820.htm
    Like any good book-crack dealer, they know how to hook you. (I think that sample is about 25% or more of the book.)

    2+
  27. Reread Georgette Heyer’s Faro’s Daughter and liked it better than ever. Ravenscar and Deb Grantham are wacky. They’re both willing to go to extremes to prove their points, and becoming a perfect matched pair is the result.

    7+
    1. I love both these characters. They both think they know what is right for every one else and soon find themselves in a battle of wits and power. It is so unbelievable when she has him thrown in the cellar and then when he has a chance to escape that he refuses to be released!! They are both so strong willed, witty and stubborn-a perfect match!

      5+

Comments are closed.