101 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday 4-13-17

  1. I am waiting impatiently today as Elizabeth Moon’s latest book, Cold Welcome, is being delivered by Amazon. It’s in the Vatta’s War series. I also love her Serrano Legacy series and reread them at least once a year.

    I find it strange that I love her science fiction so much, but can’t get on with the Paks books at all.

      1. I meant to reply to Emily, not that I have anything against Elizabeth Moon.

    1. It was a wonderful read with a cliffhanger of an ending so expect more books in the series. I so enjoyed getting to see Ky, Grace, Rafe, Sergeants MacRobert and Pitt, and Stella. Since it’s been a while since the last book in the series, I re-read the last published one and then had to read the one before it and the one before it so be careful.

    2. I am waiting impatiently to work my way up the reserve list in the library. (I’ll buy it when it comes out in mass market, and not just for financial reasons. I find them more comfortable to hold.)

      Last night I finished Scalzi’s The Collapsing Empire, and went “I have to wait a year for the next volume to be published???” It’s not a cliffhanger ending, but it certainly leaves you wanting more.

      I, too, have never quite gotten into Paksworld. I read the original trilogy when it was new and went “OK. Done now.” Then her SF began to come out and I was all “pounce.”

    3. That’s good to know. I’m just starting to read the Paks books (on a shared kindle, acquired by the other person on my account, and we have overlapping but not identical tastes). I’m not hating it, but not entirely convinced yet either, so if it doesn’t work for me, I’ll check out a different series.

    4. I’m relieved to hear someone else with an affection for the space opera and not for Paks – and thank you for the heads up on the new Vatta book, I like them a lot!

    5. I was disappointed in the third books of both the Vatta & the Serrano series and found the Paks books worked better for me as a trilogy.

  2. Desperately waiting for JR Ward’s new book, The Chosen, in the Black Dagger Brotherhood series

    1. I just finished reading it on my Nook. It is wonderful-you will not be able to stop reading-especially after Quinn fires his weapon in the mansion!!

  3. Just re-reading Jonathan Stroud’s Lockwood and Co series. And waiting impatiently for book 5.

  4. I was going to talk about Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone series, which has excellent world building with some wonderful twists on common mythology and wonderful characters, but last week I read Carnival of Saints, by George Herman and it pushed itself up to the top of my recent read list. It’s 1502, and a group of vagabonds are traveling together for their own reasons, and somehow, through the twists of the political situation, they become the first Commedia del Arte troupe. The dialogue is fun and peppy, with things like, “Vain? You call me vain? Tehre’s not a single vain bone in my entire magnificent body.” All the expected names make their imprint on the book, with last names of Borgia, Da Vinci, and Machiavelli. It’s fun historical interpretation fiction with great characters and an engaging plot. And (referencing a recent Jenny post) it also handles chapter breaks in an intelligent and natural way, with old style chapter summaries at the break points, though of course the chapter has a lot of surprises that the reader might not expect from the short synopsis he or she read at the break.

  5. Tracy Ellen’s Adventures of Anabel Axelrod series are delightful. The couple are mature and don’t break up for stupid reasons. First book is usually free.

  6. 1943 Road Trip! Searching for Miss Betty on a 1943 Harley Davidson by Lane Casteix. It is about a retired widowed detective named Mac, who had purchased the Harley while his wife was still living but lost interest when she passed. His friend continued the restoration and found in the bike’s saddle bags a picture and a letter from WWII. The friend tells him to come and get the bike and talks him into searching for the people in the letter with really nothing to go by but the picture and first names of the couple. So he takes off with his late wife’s pug on the Harley meeting with characters along the way. The story is funny, sad and so enjoyable. I love a road trip book especially when it has “Road Trip” in the title.

  7. It’s Okay to Sparkle! by Avery Jackson. Picture book by the trans girl who was on the cover of National Geographic.

  8. I love the Armand Gamache mysteries by Louise Penny. They are not fast paced in the slightest – I think of them as the book equivalent of wrapping yourself in your favourite blanket and letting go of your cares – but they are gorgeously written and very entertaining. I want to move to Three Pines, even if people are murdered there with frequency.

    1. I agree – I love these books and count Louise Penny among my top five authors. I started with loans from the library and then bought every title in hardback over time.

    2. Louise Penny is going to be the Guest of Honor at Bouchercon in Toronto this fall, for anyone who’s interested in hearing her talk.

    3. Love this series! Suggested it to my daughter when she asked for an audio book series for road trips, and she’s gone through them all, too.

  9. I recently read Once Upon a Dream by Liz Braswell, part of the Disney Twisted Tale series. The premise is “What if Sleeping Beauty never woke up?” and has the princess exploring and fighting Maleficent within her own dreamscape. Sleeping Beauty has always been my favorite Disney classic, but let’s face it, it’s really about the fairies, not the royalty. So reading a version of the story that gives the princess actual agency and explores the consequences of things that were overlooked in the original is quite refreshing. It gets pretty serious in places, dealing with death, depression, and even suicide, but it treats these subjects realistically and respectfully, and it’s never dark for the sake of being dark, and it’s still ultimately a hopeful and satisfying story with plenty of delightful moments. 😀 And I just started the latest in the series, As Old As Time (“What if Belle’s mother was the one who cursed the Beast?”) which is promising to be just as fascinating.

  10. I like The Arcadia Project books by Mishell Baker. You may think the premise sounds hardcore (the heroine has BPD and is recovering from a suicide attempt), but seriously, the author makes it work. Plus there’s fairies in Hollywood!

    Have also been reading the (YA) Charlotte Holmes books by Brittany Cavallaro, which is what happens when the descendants of Holmes and Watson meet at an American boarding school. Surprisingly emotionally steamy to read, though I have to mention there’s a trigger warning for sexual assault there.

  11. I haven’t finished reading last Thursday’s comments of good book recommendations let alone read any books.

    I’ll offer up a favorite from my past, “Crocodile on the Sandbank” by Elizabeth Peters and the rest of the series.

    1. Ditto; except I jump from ‘Crocodile on the Sandbank’ to ‘The Hippopotamus Pool’ in my stack of keepers. I find the immediate sequels to the first story too farcical and melodramatic. But then she finds the right tone, and it becomes a really brilliant series.

    2. I l love Elizabeth Peters, but I like her other titles better. “Crocodile” was fun, but after a while I grew tired of the characters.
      My absolute favorite was “Legend in Green Velvet”

      1. I was never a particular consumer, but Peters (in all her forms) was my first “read everything I can get my hands on” author. I loved the Vicky Bliss books. Strangely, though, I think the parody in Die for Love is why I decided I wanted to be a romance author when I grew up. I know it isn’t her best work, but it worked for me. 🙂

    3. I love Amelia Peabody Emerson and her family. Although I like the entire series, Crocodile on the Sandbank is my favorite.

  12. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown.

    Also thanks for the recommendation of Period Pice by Gwen Raverat, Charles Darwin’s granddaughter. It was available at my library and is charming.

  13. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery. A wonderful non-fiction book about our cephalopod friends and neighbors. I really enjoyed this book!

  14. I’m re-reading Carl Hiaasen’s Skinny Dip. I read it quite a few years ago, when it was first mentioned here. It’s quirky, it’s fun, it’s exactly what I need to read right now.

    1. Shockingly, I’ve only read that once and you’ve reminded me I should read it again. I also have Skin Tight, his first book with Stranahan, which I haven’t read at all, so back to back Hiaasen books are in my near future. Something about the weather heating up always makes me want Carl Hiaasen anyway; now is a good time.

    2. I read a few of his books and enjoyed them a lot. My favorites are Skinny Dip and Nature Girl. With everything that’s going on right now, I really need to read something a bit light-hearted.

  15. Almost anything by Connie Willis, which is a lot like saying “Almost anything byJane Austen”. My favorites are “Doomsday Book”, “Lincoln’s Dream” and “To Say Nothing of the Dog”.

      1. I love Doomsday Book, and All Clear. The atmosphere in All Clear is fabulous (and Agatha Christie makes a cameo).

    1. My fave Connie Willis is Bellwether. I just find the structure amazing, and there’s a sweet romance in it to boot. 🙂

    2. To Say Nothing of the Dog is one of my favorite books of all time. Have you read her latest, Crosstalk?

      1. I liked Crosstalk but not as much as To Say Nothing of the Dog. It’s full of moments of breathless screwball banter and a few moments of still calm.

      2. I just finished Crosstalk, and thought it was fabulous! I adore Connie Willis!

  16. Not a book, but animated film Your Name is out in US theaters now, and it’s a wonderful love story, definitely worth all of the acclaim it’s been getting. And it’s really a treat to see on the big screen, the visuals are sometimes breathtaking.

  17. A friend just gave me Recipes for Love and Murder: A Tannie Maria Mystery by Sally Andrew, which was a fun read. Definitely have to try some of the recipes as well.

  18. I’m usually a strictly fiction kind of gal, but I happened to pick up “Upstairs at the White House: My Life with the First Ladies” and I am really enjoying reading about the life and experiences of the chief usher of the White House from his time there starting with Eleanor Roosevelt and running through to Pat Nixon.

    I mean I guess depending on your politics it could be boarder line depressing to read about the White Houses of the past contrasting against the current occupant – but I find it uplifting in that it talks about the changes from one first family to the next and how the institution endures and the loyalty of the staff is to the institution and the history, and that ultimately, there’s a longer term view here that I can take. Plus it’s just fascinating to learn more about the behind the scenes of history like that.

      1. Yes – Fascinating!! I had no idea how close the White House was to literally falling down on their heads.

        1. I’m currently reading THE HIDDEN WHITE HOUSE, by Robert Klara, about the Truman reconstruction. It’s a very lively book and just in time, since I ended up being the luncheon speaker for a ladies’ group next Saturday and the subject was announced — not by me — as “Secrets of the White House, Part 3.” [Part 1, last October, ended up being a last-minute slight change of topic to the 36 women who have made serious runs for POTUS, because of the timeliness, and Part 2, on WH china, silver, and glassware, was originally planned for Part 1.]

          Particularly enjoying some of the details — Truman wanted a second-floor balcony, which was done, but one of the expenses not calculated into its construction was that the Treasury Department had to do a re-engraving of a plate for the $20 bill to show that side of the White House with the new balcony!

  19. I’ve been reading Ben Aaronovitch’s Peter Grant mysteries. Paranormal, mostly in London, young police constable learning magic. So much fun.

    1. I finally managed to get my partner to sit down and listen to them 🙂

      I heart them so much.

      1. Yes! A thousand times yes! I’ve loaned my precious Books one and two in the series to my best friend, and had to run out and buy them again because I found myself wanting to re-read from the beginning again and couldn’t wait!

        And did you know there are some graphic novels in the series as well?

    2. I have also been enjoying the Peter Grant mysteries. His sense of humor is wonderful – it reminds me a little of Terry Pratchett. Sometimes I have to unravel the sentences, but when I do, I’m always glad I took the time. I just bought Foxglove Summer, so that’s next up on my reading list.

      1. I’m pretty sure Aaronovitch is a Pratchett fan. He mentions discworld books in one of the stories (some character is reading one, I think), and I believe there’s a shout-out to Sam Vimes as the patron saint of coppers. Can’t recall which book. Might be the most recent one, Hanging Tree.

  20. Starting to re-read Owen Wister’s fabulous 1902 book, “The Virginian”. It’s been called the first real western novel. It’s about a cowboy at a ranch in Wyoming in the late 19th century who ultimately becomes the foreman and falls for the local schoolteacher. The story unfolds over the course of a few years through the eyes of an easterner who becomes friends with the Virginian.

    You may remember the old TV series of the same name, starring James Drury and Doug McClure, which is based on the book. In both the book and the movie, we never learn the Virginian’s name, but he’s an unforgettable character.

    If you’re at all interested, you can check it out for free at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1298/1298-h/1298-h.htm

  21. I just finished Kylie Scott’s Twist, the latest in her Dive Bar series. We get a couple cameos from the Stage Dive series gang, too. I find her characters to be addictive in a can’t-eat-just-one kind of way.

    I’m currently reading two books, one fiction and one non:
    I’m about 30% of the way through Under Locke by Mariana Zapata. I’ve read 3 others of hers, and she does the slow, excruciatingly slow, burn like no one else. Loving this so far.
    And I’m reading Grunt: The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach. I’ve never read a book by Roach that I didn’t love, though some are better than others. I adore her quirky, sly sense of humor and her fascination with oddball rabbit holes of research. Being a career reference librarian, this is seriously my catnip.

  22. Shelley Laurenston’s Call of Crows series, just read book 2. Darker world than her Shapeshifters but still funny. Like all her GA Aiken stuff.

    1. I read the third one a couple of weeks ago. Stieg and Erin were a hoot, but it read more like a quest story than the previous books. Still liked it, but Ski is my fave of the heroes in the series.

    1. That one had such an enormous impact on me! I read it when I was starting to practice being an artist in a more serious way, and mostly it convinced me to start paring my work down, to simplify, and to put limits on myself…. really useful recommendation, and I think I’ll go back and read it again!

  23. There have already been so many great recs (and everything I’m reading this week is just so so) that I really had to struggle to come up with one but one from years ago —
    “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

    I’m sure a lot of people have read it already, but the movie is coming soon and I have to say as a non-science and generally non-fiction person, I still loved it. Skloot tackled the complexity in a beautiful, empathetic way.

  24. I read the Kelley Armstrong book recommended here last week, City of the Lost, and it wasn’t what I’d been imagining from the premise (town where people can disappear to) — I was thinking more fantasy and it was more gritty suspense — but I did read all 400 pages in one night, so I definitely enjoyed it!

    Saw this on sale, and liked the first few pages: Rachel Vincent’s Menagerie. Urban fantasy, with romantic subplot, I believe. Not sure how long it’s on sale for just two bucks.

    But what I really want to recommend is the Flavia DeLuce mystery series by Alan Bradley. They’re NOT young-adult, or kids books, despite the protagonist being a 12-year-old chemistry-obsessed (especially poisons! yum!) amateur sleuth. They’re also period pieces, set in England in the early 1950s.

    1. Can’t wait for Rituals to come out. August feels so far away. I was really grateful for that Gabriel novella to bridge the gap between Cainsville books.

  25. This being the week following the annual Library Book Sale, I’m reading books I snagged. I tried to buy a portfolio of Dr. Watson’s notes and letters to Sherlock Holmes until the volunteers pointed out it was not the $7.50 I thought but $750. So I’m not reading that.
    I *am* rereading 1993’s”Lee Bailey’s New Orleans, Good Food and Glorious Houses,” $3. As it’s on my home bookshelf, I’ve read it before. Recipes are terrific as you’d expect, but it’s the photos and history of the houses I enjoy being brought back to, and the restaurants. I have a Lee Bailey book collection, and I already had this title. But! The one I found at the book sale bears Ella Brennan’s autograph AND that of Chef Jamie Shannon. Somewhere in Coronado is a “Jackie” (or heirs, I suspect) who didn’t recognize treasure when they possessed it.
    For Easter, I’ll make “Supper in the Library” of the LaBlanche-DeSalvo-James House. Faulkner stayed there and wrote his first novel. So: Warm Grilled Mushroom Salad with Rice Vinaigrette, Wasabi Crust Baked Salmon Fillet with Orange Anaheim Pepper Sauce, Basic Broccoli, Buttered Potatoes and White Chocolate Brownie with Chocolate Sauce and Vanilla Ice Cream. People, you should see the make-you-salivate photos …

  26. I recently re-read Sarah Wynde’s Tassamara series: A Gift of Ghosts / Thought / Time. Love all of her work.
    I really enjoyed Cheryl Strayed’s book Wild. I am looking for other books of that nature. Anyone have any good memoir books that involve women travelling? I also liked Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert even though I am an atheist.
    Also, last week someone recommended A Ghost of Granny Apples Mysteries by Sue Ann Jaffarian. I read the first one Ghost A La Mode. Definitely a go to when I want light and breezy.
    Oh and I am looking forward to Erin McCarthy dipping into the cozy mystery genre. She has a new Murder By Design series coming out. The first one is Gone With the Ghost due out May 23rd 2017.
    All these ghosts…

    1. Two books that I have in my library about women travels:: Maiden Voyages, Writings of Women Travelers edited by Mary Morris and Unsuitable for Ladies selected by Jane Robinson

  27. I got the first Junior Bender mystery from the library on someone’s recommendation here last week, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. It’s up after the new CS Harris I picked up at the same time.

    I just finished the fourth book in Anna Lee Huber’s Lady Darby mystery series. I’m a bit behind on that since the fifth book came out late last year. The first one is The Anatomist’s Wife. I recommend it for people who like Deanna Raybourn and Tasha Alexander. Historical mystery series; romantic subplot; first person POV of female protagonist. This one is mostly set in Edinburgh and the Scottish border with England rather than in England. The heroine is a portrait artist who has some scandal attached to her due to her abusive (and thankfully dead) husband.

  28. I just finished reading The Hating Game by Sally Thorne. My agent recommended it to me as an example of the type of contemporary romance editors are asking for. Thorne is Australian and the book is about a small publishing company, although not about authors. I absolutely loved it, but I’m not sure why, since it broke all the rules. (Voice was 1st person present, the main character starts out seeming vaguely unlikable, there are really only two main characters, most of the action in the first half of the book takes place in one room…) And yet it drew me in and kept me reading, and now I am eagerly awaiting her next book this summer.

    1. It did have a very different feel, though I’ve noticed that 1st person present POV is becoming more prevalent. I’m not generally a fan, but if the story is well-written and the characters compelling, I can ignore it after the first couple of chapters. I found myself savoring The Hating Game, taking my time rather than rushing through it. I think it was because of how different it was.

      Have you read Act Like it by Lucy Parker? There was something about it that reminded me of The Hating Game, but I can’t quite put my finger on it without rereading them both. (Such a chore!) And Pretty Face is the follow-up to Act Like It, but I haven’t read it yet.

    2. I thought their romance was too obsessive, but what I liked about the hating game was the funny dialogue.

  29. I used to read and read and read, and then YouTube became easy to use on my phone, and now I’m lucky if I read one book a week.

    (-: But I read one book this week, and it was a pretty good one! Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger. The first two stories were a bit dreary and sad and almost pointless, but when I read all nine of them, there were interesting connections between all of the stories, and I could see why stories one and two were necessary. I can’t imagine reading them as stand-alones (although, most of them were originally published that way by the New Yorker).

    And as I mentioned in a different comment section, I couldn’t stop with just one story. In many cases, I raced ahead and read two or three in one luxurious sitting. This is definitely a book that needs re-reading. I’m very curious to see how Stories One and Two feel now that I’ve read the entire set.

    This weekend, I hope to read Raise High the Roofbeam, Carpenters (also by Salinger). A friend gave me all three, so I need to get them back to him. I’ve also borrowed Gone Girl for about a year, so I hope I get that one read this weekend as well. Then maybe I can start again on stories I’ve chosen myself, rather than stories that are gifts or loans.

  30. Donna Leon’s Brunetti series, about a Venetian detective. I want to eat at his house every day.

    Francine Mathews’ Merry Folger series, about a Nantucket detective (she recently rewrote and is reissuing the first 4 before the brand new 5th one comes out in June). Ditto for her Jane Austen mystery series, written as Stephanie Barron.

    Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie series, written from the POV of a PI’s dog. Funny and clever.

    OK, I just like mysteries.

    1. Do you know about the Brunetti cookbook? You *can* eat at his house every day (metaphorically).

    2. My husband loves the Brunetti series so I started to read it. After the fourth book, I said
      “these never end well, do they” and he said “Nope. Except for the ones with a really depressing end”.

      1. Like reading the Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood, amazing writer,

        Beautifully written story, but evokes so much despair I feel mildly suicidal after reading.

  31. I’m listening to “Lit” by Mary Karr, a memoir, I’ve read a bit of it before, and heard her interviewed. I love her voice, direct and poetic at once.

  32. Anything by Seanan McGuire. My favorite so far, Every Heart a Doorway. Children who’d gone missing for anywhere from days to months, even years, have simply been in another world. For whatever reason, they come back and don’t fit in at all here. Some get help and are sent to a special school run by a woman who had such experiences herself. This is the story of a few months at such a school and the several different worlds the children found themselves in, worlds that fit exactly their heart’s needs.

  33. Thanks for asking! I just read Word by Word: the secret life of dictionaries by Kory Stamper. Stamper illustrates her work as a lexicographer at Merriam Webster through stories about her experiences in discovering how words are used and then describing those uses in clear English. She adds many anecdotes from the history of English. She is definitely on the side of inclusivity — in the face of people who want the dictionary to avoid “bad” words and people who demand strict rules for usage. It’s all about words.

  34. All these recommendations are making me think back to what I was reading in middle school and I flashed on skulking through the adult section at the library trying to secretly read the pink section of Good Housekeeping. Abbreviated sex.

    Ah, the good ole days of romance reading. Sorry, it was a super small town and the librarians knew my mother.

    However, I did end up discovering Mrs. Pollifax while I was trying to hide the section I was browsing through. She was a lot of fun, as I recall. Great for middle school, (I think?) I read a lot of stuff I wasn’t supposed to be reading, and don’t know if she stands up to a current read anymore. Should go look. I think I jumped from her to LeCarre. I seem to recall reading Pollifax, then Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy and then spy stuff by Anne… somebody. McStewart or something. She had a huge backlist. Ah well.

    Skulking was so rewarding!

    1. I loved Mrs. Pollifax! Even in high school, I thought it might be fun to be like her when I reached her age.

    2. When I read Mrs Pollifax, I’d been struck by the similarities between her and Tanner by Lawrence Block

  35. My book club just read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, which I hadn’t read since high school. Oh, the nostalgia! Although oddly, all I remembered was the part when Francie was young, not the later stuff when she started working.

  36. Jenny. When I hit the like button, I get a broken heart which I guess means dislike, which is not so. What am I doing wrong?

    Anybody who has a broken heart on their likes, it is just me being incompetent and not able to make a like sign.

    1. I think the broken heart is the equivalent of Facebook’s “unlike” option after you’ve liked something, in case you want to undo it for some reason. If the number next to the heart went up after you clicked, it worked.

  37. Hi Jenny, a book I still remember from my childhood, Henrietta’s House by Elizabeth Goudge. I expect it is out of print now, as are most of her books,
    I am on a historical romance kick right now Loretta Chase and a Canadian author Kelly Bowen. I have been getting lots of authors to look for in the last couple of weeks, thanks everybody, and thank you, Jenny for starting this book thread.

      1. It was a shock to discover I couldn’t apply to Elizabeth Gouge’s Christchurch or any other of the famous old colleges, since it turned out I wasn’t a human being but a woman. (This changed the year after I left, when almost all the colleges went coeducational.)

  38. I love the Brother Cadfael mysteries by Ellis Peters. The first one is called A Morbid Taste for Bones. They combine mystery with a little romance and always include something to do with herbs, whether he is working in his herb garden, making salves and lotions, or is using his herbal products to heal a wounded or sick person ( or any combination of these!).

    Needless to say, I like to grow and use herbs which is why I also love Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. And I like the little bit of magical realism she puts in her books.

  39. I thought Women of the Orient Express was fascinating. And the author thoughtfully gave a list of followup books for those of us seeking more information on certain parts of it.

    I just finished The Grand Sophy by Heyer for the first time. I enjoyed it tremendously and realized much a favorite story owed to it (Peerless Theodosia) Now I have to dig up my paper copy since I couldn’t find it for Kindle.

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