136 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday 4-6-17

  1. Last night I finished Flight, by Fran Dorf. (for blind and VI folks it’s in the BARD collection, DB37592) It’s a nice mystery that deals with Woodstock, crime, true love, secrets, and what seems to be a miracle. It has nice twists and curves too.

  2. The most memorable book I’ve read this year is Kristan Higgins, On Second Thought.
    It’s women’s fiction, has a romance within but really deals with the imperfection of relationships and family. It made me cry buckets.

    1. I was just going to recommend that one too. I couldn’t put it down. I liked the romance, but my favorite part was watching the characters develop. I cried a bit, but not as much as I cried with If You Only Knew, also by Kristan Higgins. I loved both books equally. If You Only Knew was harder to read, meaning I couldn’t put it down, but I had almost anxiety reading what one of the sisters was going through.

      1. I can recommend All I’ve Ever Wanted. It looks like most of Kristan Higgins’ work is worth a look

  3. Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. Yes, it’s sci-fi, but it’s amazing. If you have any 80’s nostalgia, love of John Hughes movies and/or video games, this book will float your boat.

    1. This book is really popular in my high school library. All our many copies are constantly checked out. The futuristic dystopia genre is really big right now in general in YA.

      1. Interestingly, neither of his books were marketed as YA, although .I think Armada absolutely should have been.

        1. The teenage protagonist helps tilt Ready Player One to YA, I think.

          I always wonder if my student readers recognize all the 80s references since they were born more than 20 years after all of that.

          1. Ready Player One also won the Alex Award, which is given to adult books that are great YA crossovers. There’s ten books that win every year, and they’re always super fun to check out!

  4. Just finished Simon Schama’s The Face of Britain, in which he connects portrait artists with the social climate of their times.

  5. Just asking because, I’m that person, should the book be something we’ve read recently or just LOVE it? Should it have been published recently or doesn’t matter? Of course we all love your books, so I think we don’t need to mention them.

    That said, the book that I’ll put out here is “Sleep Smarter” by Shawn Stevenson. I’m not willing to implement all that he has suggested, but the magnesium spray has helped, I believe.

  6. I love the idea of Good Book Thursday!

    I just started to re-read an old favorite: A Town Like Alice, by Neville Shute. It’s set during and after WWII in Malaya and Australia. During the war, the heroine is in Malaya and meets the hero, an Australian soldier, when they both are prisoners of the Japanese. After the war, the heroine goes looking for the hero in a very small, rural town in Australia, then dreams of turning it into a thriving town like Alice Springs.

    If there are any Australians here, I’d love to hear opinions on how realistic the book is.

  7. Pretty much anything written by Lindsay Buroker. I got sucked in by her Emperor’s Edge series (the first one reminded me, in a craft sense, of my take on the first Pratchett book, not in subject or voice or anything, but in the sense that it was fun, but the craft wasn’t quite where I wanted it to be, but I could see that it soon would be, so I kept reading and the books kept getting better). That first series is steampunk/adventure, with a light romantic subplot.

    I’m enjoying her Fallen Empire series even more. It’s space opera, again with a bit of a romantic subplot. She’s planning a spin-off series, with the first release in a couple of weeks. These are just on Amazon on the moment, but she has plans to release them in other formats eventually.

    For anyone who wants the romance at the forefront, she also writes science fiction romance as Ruby Lionsdrake.

    And she’s incredibly prolific. She has several other series in addition to the named ones above, although I’m not the audience for all of them.

    For another genre — there’s another self-published author I like: Ashley Gardner, historical mysteries with a little bit of a romantic thread to them. The Captain Lacey Mysteries. They’re sort of in the same genre as the CS Harris series, the Sebastian St. Cyr Mysteries, if you’re already reading them (and they’re excellent too).

    And Martha Wells has a novella up for pre-order, that I haven’t read other than the look inside, but it really hooked me, and I’ve enjoyed other books by her in a different genre. This one is science fiction: All Systems Red.

    1. I loved, loved Emperor’s Edge and the first Fallen Empire. But I felt like the Fallen Empire series as a whole was rushed and needed a good edit. The books were shorter, pushed out faster, and at least one seemed like an episode of a tv show. I love her characters, and can’t wait for the next book, though.
      Have you checked out Rachel Bach/Rachel Aaron (same person but Bach is sci fi and Aaron is dragons)? Fortune’s Pawn is definitely a good read.

  8. My book club at work just finished with The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I’d gotten out of the habit of reading fantasy novels, so it took me longer than usual to fit myself into the environment. The author has some serious world-building skills, and I really got attached to the protagonist. I was moved to tears near the end, in a good way, and there haven’t been many books that have done so lately, or least not for me,

    1. I love, love, love The Goblin Emperor! A good person trying to get along with the odds stacked against him and still remain good…it’s my favorite book of the last few years.

      1. The Goblin Emperor is amazing! Just re-read it a few weeks ago. Her Sarah Monette books are great as well. Darker and more messed up characters but her world building is brilliant.

    2. I really enjoyed The Goblin Emperor too; it is such an intelligent book; a young but bright goblin picking his way through a political minefield. It has heart and brains both.

  9. Just today I finished “Finding Your Way in a Wild New World,” by Martha Beck. I really liked it and it made a lot of sense to me, but I also have a really hard time describing this book without using terms that would usually turn me away from a book. Martha Beck is a life coach by trade, but takes a very unconventional approach. I found the book engaging and funny.

  10. I’m having fun rereading Dorothy Sayers after twenty or thirty years. Finished ‘Gaudy Night’ on Tuesday, and am halfway through ‘Busman’s Honeymoon’. But if you haven’t read Sayers, you need to start earlier – at least with the first two Harriet Vane books, ‘Strong Poison’ and ‘Have His Carcase’; and you can’t miss ‘Murder Must Advertise’.

    My only disappointment was with the number of literals in the Kindle edition of ‘Gaudy Night’; I thought the publishers had really let down a brilliant book.

    1. Especially irritating was the way they spelled Wimsey’s nephew Lord St George as Lord Saint George, which is clumsy and American (sorry), and makes me stumble every time, and pronounce him ‘saint’ instead of ‘snt’.

      1. Come to think of it, he’s probably pronounced ‘Sngeorge’ or even ‘SinGeorge’, ร  la ‘Sinjin’ for St John. I’m not posh enough to know.

  11. I can see Thursdays becoming one of my favourite days.

    I have just read A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab. Easy reading fantasy, cool world building, great characters. I was compelled to immediately start book two, and am grateful that I was introduced to this series now and not a few months ago, in the dark days before the final book in the trilogy was released. No waiting for me ๐Ÿ™‚

    But if we’re talking ‘books I’d recommend to everyone, all the time’, then one of my all time favourite books is A Suitable Boy, by Vikram Seth. About love, and family, and choice and freedom and partition in India.

  12. I was an English major, and a terrible book snob, but at some point I got suckered into trying a fantasy novel and ended up loving Terry Pratchett and a lot of other stuff in the field. Yesterday I stopped at a local used book store and found not just one but TWO of my favorite books — ones I buy to lend to people because they’re so good.

    The first one was Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones, which is funny and complex and includes a love story that is just sweet and funny. It’s told in alternating first person narratives that are really skillfully done, and it’s a book that makes me happy every time I re-read it.

    The second was one of the books in the All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness, which is a little dense but after I’d read fifty pages of the first volume, A Discovery of Witches, I was totally hooked. The author’s a tenured history professor who saw a slew of vampire novels at an airport bookstore and found herself wondering what on earth would all these vampires DO for a living if they actually existed? And then she proceeded to build a very complex saga that’s all reality-based except for the existence of three supernatural groups of people who live in our own world but keep it a secret. A lot of the action in this trilogy is set in places that I love visiting, like Oxford and New England and central France, and real historical figures and mysteries are mingled with the fictional ones. I adore these books.

    1. I jut finished a comfort reread of Deep Secret and The Merlin Conspiracy (in case you wondered what happened to Nick after Deep Secret!) and they make me SO happy!

    2. I love Diane Wynne Jones’ books! I actually didn’t love the Harkness book I read, which surprised me. It’s got witches, and she has such a good first name, too.

  13. I really like Grace Draven’s fantasy romance, Radiance. It’s the love story of two minor royals (human heroine, non-human hero) whose only worth to their families is in their marriageability. Each finds the other physically repulsive but approaches their politically forced marriage with integrity, honesty and humor. They grow ever closer as they overcome cultural differences, battle political machinations and face physical danger. The world-building is excellent, the writing intelligent and emotionally powerful, and the romance deeply satisfying.

  14. I’ve been working my way through Diana Wynn Jones’ back catalog, and I have to rave briefly about Howl’s Moving Castle – for all that it a coming of age book in many ways, our hero spends most of the book as an indomitable old lady as the result of a curse. Part of what I love most is the sort of double vision she has of her companions from her previous point of view and from her current, aged point of view, giving her some perspective that the young frequently don’t get.

    Also it is funny, and there is a riddle, and another world, and spectacular chapter headings that all start “In which… ” and in one of them Sophie expresses her feelings with weed killer. There are so many things to love.

      1. The anime is rather different to the book. I love both, but my heart belongs to the book.

        1. I like Howl’s Moving Castle the book very much, and ditto for the movie, but I do tend to think of them as two very, very different things. The book seems more romantic to me; maybe it’s the Japanese attitude towards romance, because the movie has some EXTREMELY romantic moments that make me swoon, but it’s done in the holding of the hands, an off-hand remark, a meeting of the eyes. That flying business (where Howl holds Sophie, and then takes off into the sky — at least twice) in the movie is just about the most romantic damn anime thing I’ve ever seen.

          The thing I adore most about the movie (amongst many adorable things) is the wind. The guy has an obsession with depicting wind, through fluttering clothes and airships and all sorts of things. Such detail, and the wind brings fresh breath to the movie.

          I loved getting Howl’s backstory in the book (-:.

    1. Have you read her quite-recent “The Pinhoe Egg”? Just about the greatest children’s book I’ve ever read, except for “The Mouse and His Child.”

      1. Diana Wynne Jones was a goddess. I think I’ve read everything she’s written, most multiple times. Fire and Hemlock is one of my all time favorite books. She’s a comfort read for me.

    2. I recently found out there’s a 3rd book. I’ve enjoyed both sequels but not as much as Howl’s Moving Castle.

    3. I love Howl’s Moving Castle my favourite and first book I ever read of Dianne Wynne Jones.

    4. Have you read her two follow up books? Castle in the Sky and House of Many Ways? They are just as lovable ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. I had lunch with Mollie yesterday and we talked about Callie’s passion for books. She’s in the third grade, but she’s reading at a ninth grade reading level so there are a lot of possibilities, but as Mollie pointed out, just because she can read at the level doesn’t mean she’s ready for the content in the books. So I ordered all the old books I’d loved as a kid, A Wrinkle in Time and The Wind in the Door to get her started there; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; and The Mixed Up Files book. Then I got her the first two Series of Unfortunate Events and the first two Tiffany Aching books. I thought about getting her The Borrowers, but I figured I’d see how she did with those first.

    Mollie takes them to the library every week, but the books that Callie reads over and over again, she likes to keep. I give them books like crazy, to the point where Callie’s little sister, Emmylou, came up to me last Christmas and whispered, very politely, “Grandma Jenny, we have enough books.” Meanwhile, Callie was curled up next to me on the couch reading her newest book. Mollie says Emmylou inherits Callie’s books though, and I’m planning on reading or rereading everything I gave her, so I think we’re good.

    Meanwhile the littlest one, Miller, just graduated from board books to Pokemon. Argh.

    1. Callie might like The Mysterious Children of Ashton Place by Maryrose Wood. It’s a series about a 15-year-old governess who is hired to look after 3 mysterious children and mysteries and hijinx ensue. Book 5 is out later on this year. Very younger-kid friendly in terms of content but the mystery plays out over the entire series.

      Also, maybe the Redwall books. There’s some swashbuckling violence and occasionally characters die but since the series takes place over generations that’s to be expected.

      Emmylou, honey, you can never have enough books.

    2. For favourite children’s book you can’t go wrong with Anne of Green Gables. Anne accidentally getting Diana drunk still makes me laugh.

    3. Also going to suggest Susan Cooper’s the Dark Is Rising series. Over Sea, Under Stone is the first book.

      Judy Blume’s “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing” is also grand.

    4. You can never have enough books!

      though you probably need to buy different presents for Emmylou, many children do not go “Yippee Book tokens” and rush off to buy the books she can’t borrow from the library. (nowadays it’s amazon vouchers)

      As a very young child I loved Milly Molly Mandy, Wilkes the Wizard, the classics Secret Garden, A Little Princess, What Katy Did, Carbonel (magic cat), Green Smoke by Rosemary Manning (excellent Talking Dragon) The Ordinary Princess. A necklace of raindrops by Joan Aiken with the Jan Pienkowski illustration, his silhouettes are so beautiful.

      Older read Laura Ingalls Wilder, Roger Lancelyn Green was excellent for greek myths, Noel Streatfield for dancing, Dick King Smith for animal stories, loved his Dragon boy and Queen’s nose, Tomb Travellers by Roy Pond good for egypt adventures, Nicholas Walker ice dancing series, A Swish of the Curtain, theatre acting adventures. Enough Enid Blyton to fill a bookcase, my favourite was Famous Five

      Must stop before this goes to a side of A4, so many happy childhood memories

    5. I loved the Mixed up Files!

      Callie might also like

      Playing Beattie Bow by Ruth Park
      The Muddle Headed Wombat by Ruth Park
      Storm Boy by Colin Thiele
      I can jump Puddles by Alan Marshall
      The Chronicles of Prydain (Book of Three, The Black Cauldron, etc) by Lloyd Alexander. Don’t look at the movie Disney made. It is awful.
      Trixie Belden series by Katherine Kenny
      Enchanted Forest Chronicles (Dealing with Dragons, Searching for Dragons, etc) by Patricia C. Wrede

      1. Oh, man, Trixie Belden. I still remember being scandalize when she decided not to brush her teeth one night.

    6. Oooh. I LOVED those you’ve mentioned. I haven’t finished reading this thread, but…

      I’d also add on Susan Coopers’ series, Over Sea and Under Stone
      or The Green Knowe series by L.M. Boston
      Robin McKinleys The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword.

      and the audio books for the Wee Free Men. Stephen Briggs is a brilliant reader and everyone who loves those books should hear him read.

  16. I recently discovered Timothy Hallinan. I’m reading my way through the Junior Bender series. Junior’s a professional thief for hire. He has rules, scruples, wit and a love of books and art. Lots of shady people surround him, usually cracking wise. Fun to read. Fortunately, Hallinan’s prolific, three series so far, and I have a lot of books ahead of me.
    In tone, Hallinan’s not so different from another favorite author, and they share a fierce feminism.

    1. I love a good thief. Must check these out – thanks! When Leverage ended, I mourned the loss of regular caper stories. There’s a romance series by Suzanne Enoch about a thief that I really enjoyed (Samantha Jellicoe books, for those who are interested) but it’s only a few books so it’s good to have a new recommendation.

      1. Have you read The Thief and its sequels by Megan Whalen Turner? Fantasy, but set in a Greek-inspired world instead of the usual.

        1. Oh, I love those too. Loving this whole thread–remembering great books and learning about new ones!

        2. I absolutely love that series! The latest one (Thick as Thieves) is coming out May 16th. I have already preordered the Kindle edition and will be buying the hardcover as well.

        3. Never read those. I gravitate more toward urban fantasy. Something to check into, thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

        4. These are among my favorites. I re-read these regularly. So smart. So clever. And sly.

  17. Lois McMaster Bujold – “Cordelia’s Honor”. It is sci-fi but it is wonderful. A love story with two middle-aged protagonists, with tons of humor and some serious issues that apply to our world as well to the author’s sci-fi universe. The heroine, Cordelia, is my favorite female character in all sci-fi fiction. I think she would love Jennifer Crusie’s books.

    1. I love everything about the Vorkosigan Saga and agree with you that Cordelia is wonderful. I also really like her World of the Five Gods series. I don’t think there are any of her books I haven’t read multiple times.

      1. Yes, she’s wonderful. I’ve been enjoying the novellas she’s been releasing set in the World of the Five Gods series in the last year or so.

    2. Bujold is one of my very favorites. The Vorkosigan series may be classified as science fiction, but it is about so much more. Politics, prejudices, causes and effects of war, relationships, and above all, the importance of honor in all things. The writing itself is so, well, elegant.

  18. Someone mentioned the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries by CS Harris already. My first and favorite historical mystery series. Thought I’d mention that the newest came out this week.

    Kelley Armstrong has started a new mystery series that I really like so far. First book is City of the Lost. A homicide detective and her friend move to an off the grid town in the Yukon built for people who need to disappear. There’s been a string of murders and the detective is needed to solve them. The premise of the town is one of my favorite things about the series – the idea of a place where everyone is running from something and hiding secrets. Endless possibilities for mysteries. And it gets at something that bothers me about small town cozy series, which is that I just find the sheer number of homicides in places that small totally unbelievable. In this town, most people are probably criminals. There’s also a strong romantic subplot involving the town sheriff. It’s Canadian by the way, which was a nice change from all the American and British I usually read. Armstrong is very prolific and excellent at short fiction, although her other stuff is mostly urban fantasy. This series has no paranormal elements if that’s not your thing.

    1. Katie, I just finished Kelley’s Darkness Absolute last week, and began re-reading it immediately. The first time I rushed through it for the absolute sheer joy of the story, and this second time I’m savouring every line. The forest is an amazing charactor, no?

      1. That was so good. I was gnashing my teeth waiting for the library to give me my copy last month. The forest is amazing. The time they spent in the caves in both books was fascinating, too, gruesome discoveries aside. I am not remotely a wilderness person, but I kind of want to visit the Yukon now. Enjoy the re-read ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. My daughter is reading it for English class and I think I’ll reread it when she’s done. It’s the story of a Chinese American boy in Seattle during WW II who is friends with a Japanese American girl who is interned. You can still visit some of the places in the book.

  20. Just finished the last book in Anne Bishop’s “Others” Series. It starts with “Written in Red” and finishes with “Etched in Bone”. Written in Red is one of the few books that I have re-started straight after finishing it, as it has a completely different starting point – being “What would happen if humans weren’t the dominant species”.

    It’s about a clairvoyant (Meg) who stumbles into a Courtyard of Werewolves, Crows, Vampires, Elements and about how she learns and grows and changes them. The Courtyard is the the midpoint between humans and the Others (the dominant species) and Meg’s interaction with the members of the Courtyard has far reaching consequences.

  21. I love Diana Wynne Jones. I highly recommend the audioversions of Howl’s Moving Castle, Enchanted Glass, Conrad’s Fate and House of Many Ways. She is a comfort read/listen for me.

    Also excited to see the love for Megan Whalen Turner. So excited to see Thick as Thieves will be coming out soon. You do need to read the series in order.

    For mystery fans, check out Sarah Caudwell. Thus was Adonis Murdered is a favorite of mine.

    For Sci Fi fans, Karen Lords The Best of All Possible Worlds is fantastic (especially if you love Vulcans).

    Elizabeth Marie Pope’s The Sherwood Ring is lovely.

  22. Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series is excellent. It is set in the Napoleonic era, focuses on an English naval officer, and reads like realistic historical fiction until the sudden addition to his life of a dragon egg. It turns out that in this alternate history Each country has a dragon air corps. Lots of adventure, travels in the various books to all parts of the globe, and some thought provoking ideas about what honor really means and the moral damage involved in the exploitation of others (in this case, intelligent dragons, but colonialism is in there too).

    1. Love that series but also her stand alone fantasy, Uprooted which came out either last year or 2015 was amazing. I’ve re-read it a few times. One of my favorite recent fantasy books. Kind of Robin McKinley-esque but also different.

    2. Her books are so good! I swear I was “sea-sick” when she described flying with the dragon.

  23. I recently read Tam Lin by Pamela Dean which is not new but is great urban-ish fantasy in the Charles De Lint/Diana Wynne Jones/Robin McKinley vein rather than the kickass vampire and werewolf vein. Set on a college campus in the seventies with a romance and some fairies. Thumbs up. I will be hunting down her other books.

    Other fave recent reads, The Raven Cycle books by Maggie Stiefvater (YA with fantasy elements), Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James, A Long Way to A Small Angry Planet (fun space opera which isn’t around a lot) by Becky Chambers, Tana French’s Dublin Murder squad series which is a very different crime series where secondary characters in previous books become the POV characters, Kristen Callihan’s Game Plan (NA football) and VIP (rockstar) series and I’ve been slowly reading the Shadow Unit books by various authors, edited by Emma Bull (originally done as an online serial, about a unit kind of like the Criminal Minds team only they fight a supernatural thing that infects people and gives them weird abilities while sending them nuts) done as shorter stories that are each sort of an episode with lots of good authors. Non fiction wise Deep Work by Cal Newport which is about regaining the ability to focus in the internet world and Unf*ck your habitat which is cleaning/decluttering for those less saintly than Kon Mari ๐Ÿ˜€ (also a website/tumblr where you can get the gist of her methods).

  24. Diana Wynne Jones is fabulous. Howls Moving Castle–I still remember my husband finding my daughter and me giggling hysterically while reading the scene when the hero comes downstairs in a magically overgrown gown. Mysteriously, he did not get the joke. Terry Pratchett–my son and I reread his books together and the Hogfather video is excellent. Lois McMaster Bujold. I’ve read all of her books over and over. Her space regency comedy A Civil Campaign wonderful. CS Harris and Megan Whalen Turner are also very good. And I like Sharon Shinn’s new series.
    Stand alone favorites include The Time Traveler’s Wife, Period Piece by Gwen Raverat, Darwin’s granddaughter’s memoir of her Cambridge childhood…and I reread essays by EB White and Anna Quindlen and Roger Angell for the pleasure of their writing.

    I know there are a bunch of stand alone novels I’m forgetting…

  25. I need some help. Over spring vacation, I read the first seven Kate Daniels books (by Ilona Andrews) over the course of five days. Great books, totally recommend. The romance is so lovely, and you know they are going to be together, so the book actually delves into the problems of keeping a romance alive (hah!). I have to say, though, that I was a little bit sick of all the slicing-and-dicing that went on by the time I reached the end of book seven — maybe I read them a little too fast. In general, the action scenes were fantastic. Don’t binge, and maybe all the action will be just fine if you stick to one book a week.

    Anyway, there are still a few novels left in this series. Book seven ends where Kate meets her father (this isn’t spoilery, just a placemarker). So, my question is: should I stop reading now? This would be a very good place to stop. Or does the series just keep getting better and better? Ilona Andrews stopped at a place where most of the loose ends are tied up, and they could either go into some wonderful new territory, or the husband-and-wife team could totally jump the shark and go someplace ridiculous.

    In other book news, I finally read Franny and Zooey (J.D. Salinger) which a friend lent me and I had to return. Why did I wait so long? I returned it; I’m very tempted to get it on Kindle and re-read it this weekend because it was so good and so very speaking to some of the creative issues I’m facing right now. I remember liking Catcher in the Rye very much, but not being in the mood for more teenage angst. Franny is older, and she’s a girl, and she’s angsty, but gosh. And Salinger is such a good writer. I think he called himself flamboyant, which is a pretty good word for what he’s done. It’s like he spins out spiderwebs, and I’m afraid he’s going to fall right off his syntax and plunge into a place of too many phrases, but he catches himself just in time, ties off his thread, and makes the next astonishing leap. Lovely. More please.

    1. I have read the series through twice now, and the short stories, and am eagerly awaiting the next installment.
      The Edge series by Ilona Andrews ranks right up there with Kate and crew for me, although it’s shorter.

    2. The Kate books keep getting better imho. One of my three fave UF series (the other two being Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson books and Seanan Mcguire’s October Daye series (Seanan is a great writer. Her zombie trilogy written as Mira Grant was also awesome (and I do not, as a rule, get on with zombie books) and I like her Indexing series too).

    3. I’m pretty hooked on Kate Daniels, so my opinion is biased for sure. Of course I didn’t binge them and had all the action spread out. Still, I often skim those parts because I don’t care who stabbed whom. The character development is the good stuff for me. Anyway, I trust Ilona and Gordon to never take their characters to a place where I can’t like them any more. They are pretty clear on what they expect from themselves and a story line ( I follow their blog). Kate Daniels is starting to wind down, with the end to the series in sight, I think and it does get darker. Sort of like the original Star Wars trilogy, where the first one is full, but lighter and more bantering than the ones that follow, if that makes sense? As the stakes get higher and the characters grow, the tone of the story changes. I very much liked the last book, and there is going to be a Hugh D’ Ambrey (spelling is probably not right) spin-off, which I am very excited for.

      If you are looking for something shorter, the first book in their Hidden Legacy trilogy is $0.99 on Amazon right now, with the second and third book coming out this year. ๐Ÿ™‚

    4. I’d vote for you to keep going. I don’t remember all the details, but none of the books have let me down. Also, make sure to read the Andrea book. I can’t remember the title, but it’s the only one where Kate isn’t the protagonist. It may be a novella, rather than a novel.

      Also agree with Mel about other UF faves if you’re looking for more authors to glom: Patty Briggs (I prefer the Mercy Thompson series to the Alpha and Omega series) and Seanan McGuire (although I’m sort of meh about her non-Toby-Daye series and actively dislike the ones she writes as Mira Grant).

    5. LIKE BUTTONS!!!! Hooray!

      Ahem. I came over to say thanks for the Kate Daniels data points. I really liked the first Mira Grant (I am also not a zombie person usually), but didn’t like something about the conflict of the second one. Not enough romance, maybe? I don’t remember; it’s been years since I read the first three (I think I read three).

  26. I’m in the middle of reading Tawna Fenske’s new book, This Time Around, and I’m loving it.

    Just finished the newest book by one of my two favorite Brit romance writers, Trisha Ashley. The Little Teashop of Lost and Found is charming and funny and the protagonist is an author, so you get these fun little snippets of the book she’s working on.

    As you can see, I’m going for lighter reading right now, to counter the darkness.

  27. The new Wonder Woman YA novel is really good! Also, Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway and the prequel, Down Among the Sticks & Bones. The latter comes out in June, Wondy is, uh, summer maybe?

    My book club just read We Have Always Lived in the Castle which was….wow.

    1. Oh, I loved that book. That and The Haunting of Hill House. You don’t really sleep well after you read them, but they’re so well written and they stay with you forever.

  28. That reminds me of I Capture the Castle where the first sentence is something like “I write this sitting in the sink.”

  29. This whole thread should be shown to all the people who (still!) say women don’t read science fiction and fantasy.

    1. I am a member of an SFF chat group, and one of the men was a little bit tetchy about a favorite list that represented a lot of women SFF writers. He felt that the men were being discriminated against. It turned out, according to another member, that Tetchy Man was right; the guy who wrote the list likes to skew his lists to women writers (for a variety of reasons, I assume, and the implication was that it wasn’t their sheer talent).

      But let’s face it, there’s a lot of very, very talented women writing SFF, and there always have been. Frankenstein, anyone?

      Another man on my list said some snarky thing about romance that I couldn’t quite parse, so I won’t repeat it here. However, it is true: the romance genre is mostly written by women for women. And my question is: what the heck is the matter with men? I thought they liked kissing and stuff! (Heck, I know at least some of them like kissing and stuff (-:.) Why aren’t they reading romance? As I said in my reply, Sturgeon’s Law applies to romance, too, but the very best 10 percent of romance is just as good and sometimes better than the very best 10 percent of any other genre.

      I should probably take a break from talking about girl/boy stuff for a little bit. I’m getting all het up about it.

      1. Now you’re getting into my dissertation territory.

        There are big differences among the genres that have nothing to do with subject matter. Men do like the kissing stuff, they don’t tend (gross generalization coming up) to want the relationship stuff. Sort of like in real life. Since many romance novels are short on explosions and car heists (many, not all) and long on two people negotiating a relationship, romance novels don’t tend to fall into traditional male sweet spots when it comes to storytelling. Male-centric fiction tends to be about getting to the physical goal. Female-centric fiction tends to be about emotional journeys. The best of all possible fiction is a perfect blending of the two, and there are many, many male and female readers who aren’t necessarily drawn to male-centric or female-centric fiction. There are a lot of men who read romance, a lot more who read books that are romances but that aren’t marketed as such.

        Or look at it another way: Romance is very often a subplot in the other genres, but in the male-centric genres, the romance is often the story about the how the guy gets the girl (or guy) as a reward for defeating the antagonist and saving the day. So the subplot isn’t about the relationship, it’s about the guy winning because romance is really difficult to write in the short form, and all subplots are basically short form fiction because the main plot gets all the story real estate.

        TL,DR: Men like kissing and sex; talking about the relationship, not so much.

      2. Jenny solved this problem by having a male co-author for 3 wonderful books. There is such a great blend of action, guns, violence, romance and kissing’ stuff’ to please any reader!!

      3. Micki, what does SFF stand for please? I’ve looked it up and Small Form Factor doesn’t seem right.

        1. Sorry, I should have spelled it out on first reference. SFF stands for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Also lumped together as speculative fiction by some.

          1. Ahh, thanks. I’ve usually seen it as Sci Fi/Fantasy but I should have been able to figure it out. I did not want to assume. Good to know.

            I’m doing the Popsugar Reading challenge and one of the categories is genre/sub-genre you’ve never heard of and I thought hurray(!) as I already know most of them. Poop.

      1. Google Sad Puppies.

        The resistence to women (and everybody else but white men) in SF is powered mostly by the alt-right people who screamed about an all-female ghostbusters. One of their arguments is that letting women writers in is bad for the genre because women don’t read that guy stuff so they’ll taint the genre with Girl Things like relationships, and while they’re at it, all these people of color are dragging all this diversity stuff in and just killing space opera. These people also voted for Trump.

        A lot of twentieth century women SF writers usually wrote under pseudonyms or used their initials because the perception was that women didn’t read the genre so nobody would read a woman writer. The reverse is true in romance; for a long while male writers wrote under female pseudonyms due to the same kind of bias. That’s publishing as gatekeeper, and it perpetuated the stereotype and the lack of diversity in both genres. Romance was just as horrible about PoC romances as SF was.

        I think the perception has shifted for SF, not so much for romance, but there’s still that bias there, especially with the extinction burst that’s going on everywhere right now. Those who are about to lose their domination (or have already lost it) are the most vocal about resisting change right before they give up and go under.

        1. Speaking of Sad Puppies — one of their favorite authors to pick on is Anne Leckie, who wrote an AMAZING science fiction (space opera, not hard science) trilogy that messes with gender expectations. It’s worth reading for a lot of reasons, only the least of which is that it makes Sad Puppies sadder. The first book is a little heavy on infodump, but keep going, and it picks up. The stories are both fun and thought-provoking. Must re-read soon.

          1. The Rabid Puppy leader just got a novella called Alien Stripper Boned From Behind By the T-Rex, by Stix Hiscock, nominated for a Hugo. Stix is a woman who’s appalled by the Puppies, and her self-published book just got a huge boost from the mostly good-natured hoo-ra about it. So he’s managed to promote a female author and make himself look just as stupid as he did last year.

          2. Teeny-tiny niggle: the alien stripper story nominated for a Hugo is a novelette.

            This strategy sounds like a Fake News strategy — let’s teach those liberals/conservatives a lesson by nominating/releasing something crazy. It backfired on the so-called liberal guy who started the Fake News thing, and it’ll backfire on this other guy, too, I bet.

            Tor’s got a list of the Hugo finalists in various categories, and it’s an interesting list. It looks a lot more . . . vibrant than last year’s list. http://www.tor.com/2017/04/04/2017-hugo-award-finalists-announced/ Lots of women, and I notice that Carrie Fisher is up there, too! She wrote a nominated “best-related work”. So . . . hoorah!

          3. Among many other great things in Leckie’s Ancillary series is a truly alien alien species. That’s rarer than you might think.

  30. I can highly recommend Emmie Mears’ Shrike series, particularly the first book The Masked Songbird. It’s a superhero origin story set in Edinburgh right before the referendum on independence, and my favourite thing about it is that nobody gets fridged to motivate Gwen to go out and fight crime. She just has an accident, gets superpowers, and has to figure out what to do next. Since she starts off as an accountant, hilarity ensues.

  31. One of my favorite books of late is The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. The idea of a book apothecary is so appealing to me. I want to walk into a bookstore and have someone like Jean Perdu speak wth me a few minutes and then hand me a book which is exactly what I need at that moment.

  32. Courtney Milan’s Cyclone series blew me away. It starts with Trade Me, which features a billionaire. That is so not my thing, so it was a hard sell, but wow. This was easily the most authentic, diverse portrayal of contemporary urban issues that I’ve ever read. All of the diversity stuff that we were talking about was just there on the page, and effortless, with truly compelling and flawed characters. I mean, a struggling Chinese immigrant protagonist and a billionaire with a hidden condition, not to mention the transgender best friend who gets her story in the next novel… amazing. Helped that it’s set in my backyard, but that also meant I knew that this stuff rang true.

    1. I was just coming down to recommend the sequel! I had some issues with how the hero’s big problem was handled in Trade Me (I won’t say more because of spoilers), but you want to talk about effortlessly building a modern diverse world, she nailed it. I also found the mother daughter relationship in the first one really touching.

      And I loved, loved the second one “Hold Me.” It had a “Little Shop Around the Corner” “You’ve Got Mail” feel, aka we fight in person, but we’re falling in love online. That’s just one of those tropes I love and I thought it unfolded beautifully. I was cackling with evil merriment at some points ๐Ÿ˜‰ I felt like the heroine being trans was handled in a wonderful way, acknowledged but not used to in a way to cause a lot of artificial drama. That’s in my total nonexpert opinion, of course. But I checked it out of the library, have read my favorite parts multiple times and now I’m reluctant to return it. I’m going to have to buy it, aren’t I?

    2. I haven’t read her Cyclone series yet, but I adore her Brothers Sinister Series (which starts with The Duchess War) — well-researched historical romance with scandalously frank and hilarious discussions of sex and politics, couples that discover that love alone is not enough and then figure out how to be together and happy anyway, and best of all, heroines that rescue themselves. ๐Ÿ˜€

  33. Double recommend Sarah Caudwell, who plays with ambiguity; and Eloisa James, who usually plays with Shakespeare.

  34. I can’t get enough M. O’Keefe, who also writes as Molly O’Keefe, Victoria Dahl and Kit Rocha (dystopian erotica).

    Side note: I was at an improv night and they asked for a suggestion of the last genre read and I said, dystopian erotica; well, you can imagine the improv that came out of that suggestion!

  35. So many excellent books! I just read The Society of Gentlemen series (m/m romance set in Regency England) and enjoyed it greatly. Also, I can suggest the Magpie Lord series by the same author (m/m romance set in a magical Victorian London).

      1. Do you mean Think of England? That’s personally one of my favorites, and I’m still hoping that she’ll find time for a sequel someday. ๐Ÿ˜€

        1. Sounds like the one. Can’t remember exactly what rubbed me up the wrong way, but I think it was that the world didn’t work for me; there was something off about the heroes’ values because of it. Too much like Biggles and other best-forgotten tales or Empire.

          I find the closer to my era historicals get, the less I like them.

          1. I think I know what you mean about the era mattering– I rarely read anything “historical” set from WWII on. And Edwardian’s kind of that weird era that gets shuffled into either late Victorian or whatever they call the WWI-and-beyond era (ToE in particular reminds me of various Laurie R. King novels set in the 1920s, probably due to the common theme of wounded soldiers investigating extravagant country house parties that try to ignore/resist/embrace a changing society… I imagine this similarity added to the appeal for me).

            I don’t know if I necessarily like or dislike the characters’ values, but something I find fascinating about KJ Charles’ books in general is the care she takes in researching and portraying the various viewpoints of a particular society/era that may be wildly different from our modern concepts (most notably sexuality, but also race/class/etc.)– not just “homosexuality is bad” but the completely different ideas of what constituted homosexuality before that was even a word.

            (And at this point I’m not even sure where I was going with this, I think I just hit babble mode! XD )

  36. I didn’t have time to read all the conmments, but has someone already mentioned “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion? It’s about an autistic university professor who tries to find the perfect wife. Just hilarious.

    1. Lovely lovely book. I agree with this recommendation. And liking the like button too

  37. Recent fantasy/romance I’d recommend is Sorceror to the Crown by Zen Cho – set in a sort of alternate Victorian world but not steampunk, where the hero is a gifted young man of African heritage who was freed and adopted by an aristocrat and trained in magic. And a young half-Indian woman with mysterious antecedents and incredible power. It is light-hearted, nicely written and I really enjoyed it especially after having read a book which has had rave reviews in some quarters but which I found pretty horrible.

    I’ve just finished a big fat serious German book recently translated into English, The Kingdom of Twilight, by Steven Uhly, which was not an easy read, as it looks at the end of WW2 and the playing out of consequences for three individuals and their families. Overall, a very interesting read, especially about the difficulties for displaced people after the war and particularly for the Jews trying to reach Palestine.

  38. So many good ones to see to my library. I am re reading the Corrina Chapman Series ….Earthly Delight, by Kerry Greenwood. And just gave my 10 year old niece The Secret Garden she likes reading so far and this is still a favorite.

    1. I was introduced to Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman last fall when the mystery book club at my local library read Earthly Delights. I was enthralled with Corinna as a character, she is larger than life but so Very Real. I checked the next five titles in the series out in rapid succession, and have been slowly buying them as a gift from me to me. I like the new U.S. covers better than the original ones. The first U.S. cover of Forbidden Fruit is very creepy!

      1. Yes Kim, I had been doing the same! But have resorted to the audio books as that they were easier to obtain for me when I first discovered her. But now I am intrigued by the different covers…I always find it interesting different interpretations of the books.

    2. I love Kerry Greenwood! She builds community wonderfully, both for Corinna Chapman and for Phryne Fisher. If you haven’t read the Phryne Fisher mysteries yet, they’re well worth it. My favourites are Away With The Fairies and Dead Man’s Chest.

      1. Seeing someone read a book you love is like a book recommending a person.

        Thanks to Jenny I’ve read ‘The Grand Sophy’ and loved it. A marathon read of Georgette Heyer’s books followed although I’ve not read them all yet. Jenny’s recommendations have also lead me to Lani’s and Anne’s books. I’m also leaving Susan Elizabeth Phillips books off this list as Jenny’s mentioned them before. I have yet to tackle Bob Mayer’s books. I love his collaborations with Jenny but not 100% sure I’d like his stand alone books.

        Delightful beyond Words
        *I love, love, love anything Sarah Addison Allen writes. Particularly ‘The Girl who chased the Moon’, ‘Garden Spells’, ‘Sugar Queen’ and, well all of them really. Read her, you’ll thank me.

        Very English Books
        *Trisha Ashley ‘A Winter’s Tale’ in which an impoverished housekeeper inherits a Stately Home. ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’
        *Catherine Alliott ‘Rosie Meadows Regrets’, ‘A Rural Affair’ and ‘Olivia’s Luck’.
        *Lucy Dillon (dogs are always included in her books) ‘The Secret of Happily Ever After’ a neglected book shop.
        *Anna Barrie ‘The Linden Tree’ Two damaged people are left a showpiece garden.
        *Hester Browne ‘Swept of her Feet’ Highland Dancing and cataloguing heirloom items.
        *Katie Fforde ‘Second Thyme Around, ‘The Rose Revived’, ‘Wild Designs’. Most of her books are great to excellent except for ‘Going Dutch’ which I did not enjoy at all.

        *Anne McCaffrey (everything) ‘Restoree’, ‘The Ship who sings’ and all the Pern books starting with ‘Dragonflight’ and especially ‘Dragonsinger’. Her collaborations are very good as well but avoid the continuation of the Pern books that are written solely by her son Todd McCaffrey – they’re skeevy.

        *David Eddings ‘The Belgariad’ series starting with ‘Pawn of Prophecy’. ‘Pawn of Prophecy’ was another book I didn’t like and gave up on the first time around back in high school. For some reason I read the second in the series ‘Queen of Sorcery’. Loved it, stopped half way though and went back to the first book. Fell in love. I re-read this series and ‘The Mallorean’ every year. NB – The prologues end up being very interesting after you’ve read the books, a bit like the bonus options on DVDs, but they put me off reading the books the first time around.
        *Robin McKinley ‘Beauty’, a retelling of Beauty and the Beast (she has written two different versions of this fairytale but I prefer ‘Beauty’). ‘Spindle’s End’ a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. ‘Chalice’ is excellent. Please note – ‘Deerskin’ is another of her fairytale retelling but I found part of it horrific and although it is well written, and has a happy ending I couldn’t get past the rape and incest section.
        *Margaret Mahy ‘The Changeover’. This award winning book about siblings, sorcery and a supernatural romance with a great sense of place is being made into a movie. I’m so pleased it is being made in its native New Zealand but I adore it so much I hope the movie doesn’t botch the story. In writing this I’ve just checked IMDB and the synopsis is awful and wrong but also misspelled so I’m crossing my fingers it all works out. The book is excellent.

        *The lesser know L.M.Montgomery books ‘The Blue Castle’ and ‘A Tangled Webb’.

        1920s style Detective/Mystery
        *It took me a while to get into Kerry Greenwood and Phryne Fisher. I think I was in the wrong sort of mindframe on my first attempt. I love her now though.
        *The Maisie Dobbs series by Jacqueline Winspear are very good.

        Books about children set in WWII
        *Michelle Magorian “Goodnight Mister Tom’ about an evacuee and a widower
        *Nina Bawden ‘Carrie’s War’

        Comedies with Dark Themes
        *Marian Keyes ‘Rachel’s Holiday’, ‘Sushi for Beginners’, Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married’.

        Travel Non Fiction
        *Bill Bryson ‘In a Sunburned Country’ also known as ‘Downunder’ and ‘Notes from a Small Island’. Everything he’s written really.
        *Tony Hawks ‘Round Ireland with a Fridge’ and ‘Playing the Moldovans at Tennis’
        *Frances Mayes ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’. The movie has only a whisper of a connection to the book but both are uplifting in their own ways
        *Brian Thacker ‘No Sex on the Bus’ relateable if you’ve ever taken a bus tour in your twenties although I never personally got up to most of the things divulged here I did witness a few.
        *Chris Stewart ‘Driving over Lemons’
        *Sarah Turnbull ‘Almost French’

        Foodie Type
        *Barbara O’Neal ‘The Lost Recipe for Happiness’
        *Sarah Addison Allen’s novels also fit into this category
        *Fannie Flagg ‘Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe’
        *Sarah-Kate Lynch “The Wedding Bees’
        *Nicole Mones ‘The Last Chinese Chef’
        *Christina Jones ‘Hubble Bubble’ and’Moonshine’. The books have a magical-realism element to them.

        *Marisa del los Santos ‘Love Walked In’. The love she finds is completely different to what I thought it would be when I first started the book.
        *Louise Bagshawe ‘Venus Envy’ and ‘Monday’s Child’ which is also called ‘The Go-to Girl’
        *Maggie Alderson ‘Mad about the Boy’
        *Janet Evanovich Stephanie Plum Series starting with ‘One for the Money’.
        LaVyrle Spencer ‘Morning Glory’. I re-read this every year.
        *Stephen King ‘The Stand’
        *Cathy Lamb ‘Julia’s Chocolates’

        I have other suggestions but I best stop here for now as I have clearly gotten carried away.

        1. Oooh. I *love* so many of these books you’re recommending, but hadn’t read at least half. (Running off to get a pencil and make a list now. THANKS!)

          (Had read Heyer, Phillips, Allen, McCaffrey, Eddings, Bryson, Winspear, Montgomery, Evanovich, Mayes, and McKinley)

  39. Thoughts for Callie – this may have already been mentioned, but The Secret Garden (Dickon was my first literary crush for sure) and A Little Princess by Frances Hogdson Burnett and basically anything LM Montgomery (although especially the Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon series) were favorites of mine when I was around that age.

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