46 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday 4-20-17

  1. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was an excellent Young Adult book about a young girl caught up in the police shooting of a friend and the Black Lives Matter movement. It made me uncomfortable about times, but that was part of the point.

    In a completely different vein, I’d love to recommend the Bryant and May series by Christopher Fowler, if they haven’t been recommended. It’s a contemporary mystery series set in London with two elderly police detectives solving mysterious crimes.
    I’m not a huge fan of the first in the series (Full Dark House), but the second one (The Water Room) is excellent and after that they all range from good to wonderful. Some of them verge into horror and suspense, they’re full of twists and turns, and they build on each other as you get to know the characters. The author writes with a deep love and affection for London and humanity. Lots of times he focuses on something “English” (the Tube, pubs, Punch and Judy shows, etc) and weaves in lots of history and trivia. The latest in the series had me in “good tears” and my husband (the pickiest reader in the world) read one in the series and enjoyed it. That’s a lot coming from him!

    1. I’ll second The Hate U Give. Not my usual reading material, but a really good read, and thought-provoking for someone like myself who hasn’t really had any exposure to that world.

  2. Okay, let’s see, what was this week’s reading? Well, I got through three non-fiction titles (one of which was a magazine) and two fiction, and now I’m getting into Sir Walter Scott’s book Quentin Derwood. The magazine was the latest issue of Rolling Stone, and besides a great retrospective on Chuck Berry it was nothing to jump up and down about. But the other two non-fiction titles were very interesting. First I got through Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America. It’s by Bruce Cannon Gibney, and for VI folks you can find it as DB87288 on BARD. (Visually Typical folks will want to grab it from Amazon) The other one is about a great enduring interest of mine, foxes. Running With the Fox (DB29271) by David MacDonald.
    On to the two fiction works. Miniatures by John Scalzi (DB87052) is short, snappy, and very funny in places. These are super short works, the kind where you present an idea, get in, get it dealt with, and get out, no frills or complex situations. There’s a delicious twist to his humor, and he finds the funny in the spaces between what most science fiction and fantasy writers tend to deal with. (A booking agent for superheroes, interviews with normal people who’ve had interesting encounters with alien animals, a meeting of AIs that *don’t* want to eliminate humanity, that kind of stuff) The last one was a book of a very different tone. I got interested in Susan Beth Pfeffer’s YA stuff with her The Dead and the Gone series, about life after the Moon takes a nasty impact from an asteroid. So I downloaded The Year Without Michael (DB29686) and gave it a listen. It’s *so* refreshing to read YA stuff without a love triangle and kids refusing to communicate when they know they should. (Yes, Cass Morgan’s The 100 series hasn’t blown me away at all) Ms. Pfeffer does this kind of stuff well, and she goes for the hard stuff a lot — The Year Without Michael is about a troubled family, with parents on the verge of divorce, when their second child, Michael, heads off to play softball with friends and disappears without a trace.
    And yes, I read a *lot* of books. I alternate between fiction and nonfiction, and listen at 150-200% of normal listening speed. So I get through a large amount of stuff each week. I’ve slowed down since I lost my sight, as I was going through a book a day most days back then.
    One more thing — for folks who aren’t fans of the Dresden Files yet, you owe it to yourself to start reading them. Read in order, including the collections, as they add important elements to the world. And for those of you who are already fans of Harry Dresden give Walt Longmire a read. There are some interesting parallels between the two, and Longmire has some interesting long form romance stuff going on too.

    1. I recently read all Craig Johnson’s Longmire mysteries. They were fabulous! Then I started watching Longmire on Netflix. Loved it!

    2. I’m already a Scalzi fan after reading his book “Redshirts” (a fun mocking of Star Trek and I loved that the audio book was read by Will Wheaton). Can you tell me if any of the characters from “Agent to the Stars” were in the story with the agent of the superhero? It would be nice to revisit them.

      1. Not sure, since I haven’t read it. That said, if you’re a fan of “Red Shirts”, then you’ll love the interview he wrote with the lawyer who’s suing the space fleet in a class action suit for all the crew members killed or maimed by unsafe workplace and away team procedures.

      2. Did you read (listen to) Scalzi’s audio-first book, The Dispatcher? I liked it a lot (and I’m more a fan of his blog than of his fiction generally). I believe it’s out in print now (or soon will be).

    3. I enjoy the Dresden Files series (and it’s a great example of a series that gets better and better), so I’ll check out Longmire!

  3. Not exactly a book rec, but last night I dreamed that I was reading an ARC of The Devil In Nita Dodd…. though of course my subconscious came up with a rather different story to fill in the blanks. 😉

    As for what I’m reading while I’m awake, I’m currently in the middle of Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh, a refreshing and insightful little book on mindfulness. He talks about, among other things, using mindfulness to accept and transform unpleasant feelings like anger and fear into peace and understanding, rather than just trying to suppress or reject them without understanding their source.

    I’m also making my way through A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit, which is actually thanks to someone here on the blog linking to an excerpt of it back in the fall, thank you! It’s an exploration of how, in a disaster, the most common reaction for survivors is to help each other, creating communities of “mutual altruism”; and how often the popular ideas portrayed by the media/government of riots, looting, and panic are not only largely false, but lead to worse violence done by those who believe they’re acting in self-defense. It is simultaneously heartening and heartbreaking, showing both the best and the worst of humanity, but ultimately I think it gives me more hope than anything else.

  4. I’m reading Deborah Brown’s In Paradise series. I’ve burned though the first 8 books already. Short, fast reads. There’s some small continuity/unanswered/smoking gun issues that are a little irksome to me. The books are consistently getting 4.5-5 starts on Amazon so maybe it’s just me.

    There’s also a fair amount of repetition from book to book, probably so each title can stand alone. But they’re available via Kindle Unlimited, which I recently joined.

  5. I read How Far Can You Go, by John Maclean. An autobiography, bought for research, and something I thought I would skim, but it pulled me right into his story immediately. The pacing was good, and I never had the feeling of self-pity, although he did struggle often but he never gave up. Whatever miniscule complaints of my own, whatever things I thought I couldn’t accomplish, evaporated during this read.

    John Maclean is a Paralympian and was the first wheelchair athlete to complete the Hawaii Ironman Triathlon World Championships and swim the English Channel. He is the founder of The John Maclean Foundation, assisting children in wheelchairs and their families. John lives in Australia with his wife, Amanda, and son, Jack.

  6. I just read Optimists Die First by Susin (yes that’s the correct spelling) Nielsen. It’s YA about a girl with many fears who is grieving the death of her younger sister. That sounds very after school special but it was funny and sucked me right in.

  7. I would like to recommend a non-fiction – Move Your DNA by Katy Bowman. She studies the mechanics of human movement and how our current lifestyles and lack of the movement have led to so many physical problems. Move Your DNA explains why movement is so critical to our health and is full of ways to regain range of motion we may have lost and tips on incorporating more movement into our lives.

    Her newest release, Dynamic Aging, is also very good. It focuses on regaining and maintaining the ability to move – without pain! – in your 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The Today Show did a segment on this book, with clips from a few of Katy’s students who are in their 80’s climbing trees and playing on jungle gyms. It gives me hope.

  8. I’m rereading Shakespeare’s Tempest to refine a set for it, and I had forgotten how much I loved this show. Partly at least, because in my head Prospero is Helen Mirren, and I can cast anyone I want in the rest of the roles.

  9. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman. It’s about a father explaining to his children why it took him so long to come back from the store with the milk for their cereal. Sounds boring when you put it like that, but…Neil Gaiman. Dinosaurs, pirates, and aliens, oh my!

  10. I have three books to recommend right now. The first is scifi; We Are Legion; We are Bob by Dennis E. Taylor. It is about a human man who is chosen to be the AI controlling a space ship to explore space for humans to be able to leave a destroyed earth. It is definitely a light read. I smiled a lot while reading it; the AI splits and creates new clones of itself as it explores. I don’t want to give to much away, but I found it amusing and fun to think about. Women are definitely peripheral to the story line but so were human men. The sequel just came out and I actually preordered it, which I rarely do these days, having been burned that way in the past.

    The second book is a travel memoir which I read years ago which just came out in audio form; Tales of a Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman. (I do mostly listen to books these days because of eye issues.) I really liked these stories; I love to read about far away places (or closer ones too) and I’ve never gotten to travel as much as I would like. Ms. Gelman leaves her ego behind and I really felt a good sense of place from her.

    The third book is a historical novel a bit in the vein of Georgette Heyer, but shorter and a quicker plot. Again, I listened to this as an audio book and it is incredibly well read, very well paced a with a real sense of comic timing. It is A Bachelor Establishment by Jodi Taylor (it was originally published under a pseudonym). She also writes a fun time travel series that is quite popular (and humorous). The interaction between heroine and hero in A Bachelor Establishment was the main pleasure for me; Jodi has an excellent sense of humor. The plot is not complex, but I need some easy and sweet reads in between my heavier duty political and social issue books and this one I’ve listened to more than once just to smile.

    I have never been certified as visually impaired so I don’t think (?) I have access to the audio books that are for those who have been. However our local library does have a good enough budget to buy audio books to loan or even sometimes stream. There are other ways to get audio books for less than list price, but I won’t go into that here unless someone asks.

    I love this book sharing. I hope people will share favorite books from the past as well.

    1. I’m on book 3 of Jodi Taylor’s Chronicles of St. Mary’s and I love them. She’s funny and original and the reader is good. I will get A Bachelor Establishment today. Thanks for the rec.

    2. Thank you for recommending A Bachelor Establishment–very fun! I enjoyed having middle aged protagonists, too.

  11. It’s school holidays. We’re reading teh Poems to Perform collection edited by Julia Donaldson – a classic collection of poems for children to read aloud. The kids are both enjoying it, esecially my nine year old. She reads them more than once, and is learning about reading rhythm in poetry.

    Julia Donaldson is the author of The Gruffalo and other great picture books. My favourite is Room on the Broom.

  12. Can I share a whole poem here? is that a copywrite issue? I thought you all might appreciate this from the above book (not a recommend then, but a whole read!)

    Boys’ game?

    “This is our side of the playground,
    What are you doing here?
    You want to play football?
    That’s a laugh!
    It’s a boys’ game. Got it clear?”

    “Actually, Kev, she’s pretty good,
    Especially in goal.
    I saw her down the rec last night:
    She was really in control.
    Saved a penalty early on,
    And from the corners…can’t she catch!
    Dived several times
    At their striker’s feet –
    Really kept us in the match.”

    “Well, in that case…
    Of course, it’s actually
    In goal where we’re really weak.
    I mean, anyone’s got ot be better
    Than Baggs –
    He couldn’t play hide and seek.
    Even a girl would be better than him.
    Look, we’ve got to decide.
    Let’s take her on.
    Hey, where’s she gone…?
    Oh, she’s gone back to their side.”

    Eric Finney

  13. I’m binging on Wen Spencer. I’m a fan of hers and I like anything she writes. I just finished Endless Blue – a scifi novel, a crazy romp really, about a world unlike any other in the scifi genre. It’s called Sargasso and it swallows space ships like the Sargasso Sea on Earth is said to have gobbled sailing ships. Now I’m reading another mad-cap story of hers, Eight Million Gods. This one is urban fantasy, set in Japan, with the protagonist suffering from hypergraphia. Of course, she is a writer. She has written herself into a weird escapade across Japan, with supernatural creatures, yakuza, murder, police, international agencies, and what not. It so fast-paced, it leaves me dizzy as it gallops past. I’m enjoying it.

  14. I want to add one more book I read recently; Stangers in Their Own Land; Anger and Mourning on the American Right by Arlie Russell Hochschild. I am not into self-flagelation, but I am definitely in a mode of exploring other people’s realities. (As opposed to other people’s fictions, I guess.) Arlie’s book comes from 5 years of social research in a few communities in Louisiana. Arlie is a sociologist, but this book has none of the turgidity that some sociology can have; it’s stories about a part of America that I know very little about and it does talk about conservatism but it doesn’t offer any palliatives. Rather it is an empathetic and revealing glimpse into the difficulties and challenges as well as coping mechanism of citizens who are either ignored or run over by the more powerful – people or corporations. I found it bitter-sweet but not a painful read.

  15. Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined–YA about a teen who is sent to a 21-day wilderness camp for “at-risk” youth even though she doesn’t quite fit the criteria.

  16. I just started The Not Quite States of America by Doug Mack. So far, I’m really enjoying learning about our territories.

    I also want to mention the short children’s chapter books Catwings and Catwings Return by Ursula Le Guin. I reread them every time I visit relatives and they are on my list of books nieces and nephews should have when they can read.

    1. M, I loved the Carwings books by Ursela Le Guin. I usually buy them for nieces and nephews on their birthdays. I really need to pick up copies for myself.

    2. Thanks for the reminder about the Not Quite States of America; I’ve been meaning to read it.

  17. As for favorite books to read, I am in the mood to re-read The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer. It is one of my favorites by her (others include Venetia, These Old Shades, The Talisman Ring to name a few).

    1. I started The Talisman Ring a couple of weeks ago and just couldn’t get into it. It’s one of the few books I’ve not finished after starting it.

      Can anyone explain why you think/feel it’s so good?

      1. I love the way she plays with romance tropes. You have the jaded wealthy older man and the beautiful spirited young girl he’s betrothed to which is Barbara Cartland, et. al., and instead of him being enchanted and saved by her spunkiness and charm, he just wants to strangle her because she won’t shut up at breakfast. So she runs away and ends up in the hands of a dashing rogue (trope 2) and when the exasperated older guy goes out to find her, he meets the older woman who thinks the whole thing is a riot and her brother, who just wants more smuggled brandy, and the innkeeper who smuggles it, and you have a team–you know me and team stories–with all of them fighting the dastardly bad guy and two great love stories, the best of which is the older couple.

        One of my fave books of all time.

        1. I loved the Talsiman Ring. I loved Sarah & her brother and even grew slightly fond of the idiot young lovers.

          And it was the first book where the hero fell for the sensible older woman and not the beautiful young girl that I had read.

          The difference I find between Heyer and current romances is that 1. Heyer is building a world- she invents for all practical purposes the Regency romance -which means she usually has a lot more description than modern novels 2. Heyer doesn’t think you need to know who the heroine is or who she’s going to end up with in the early books.

          Where did you stop?

      2. I think Talisman Ring was my first Heyer, and I found it extremely silly. I was about ready to swear off of Heyer forever, but I think I’d bought a couple of other Heyers at the same time, and I had to read them as well, and get my money’s worth.

        I think Heyer builds a world — both Jolly Early Modern England, as well as a place where certain madcap happenings happen more often than not. The effect may be cumulative. Or I may have been having an off day when I read TR the first time. After a few Heyers, I was hooked (I do think I needed three), and I enjoyed TR a lot more the second time I read it, for whatever reasons.

        Heyer can lead the reader into these insane situations, and you hardly notice you are there until you’re in a little cottage with a basket full of Restorative Pork Jelly and supervising squabbling teenagers. (Was that TR? It is Classic Heyer. I think this situation comes up more than once.) That’s really quite amazing. She also plots like a demon.

        1. I thought the Restorative Pork Jelly was the Grand Sophy but it may have showed up in the one with Gareth as well.

          1. Frederica – when he’s trying to work up his courage to propose. But then I haven’t read Talisman Ring yet, so it might be in there, too. The Grand Sophy has ducklings, a Spanish Lady, and an absentminded poet. Definitely a madcap world, but you can’t (or at least, I can’t) help but be sucked in.

  18. Thank you to everyone who recommended Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor. I really enjoyed it.

    I love Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate series. Steampunky, paranormal comedies of manners, chock-full of Victoriana, fabulous inventions and snappy dialogue.

    1. I left a “heart” for Gail Carriger but it”broke” I do like her also her School seriesI think it is YA Victorian girls go to school in a ballon to learn to be assasins. My family grandparents (me) children and grandchildren (now grown up)all enjoy Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey-Maturin books.

    1. I’m so happy you posted that, Sure Thing! I have only read The Buddha of Suburbia, and I really liked it. When I get a little more time, I want to read the rest of what Kureishi has written.

      Can you imagine having to write for TV? Oh my. I think with a novel or short story, you write first of all to please yourself, which can be hard enough. But writing for TV? Everyone with a name on the credits, and putting together things by committee?

      I imagine when it works, it’s very, very good. People working together, good ideas zinging across the room and sparking more and more good story like a wildfire.

      But when it doesn’t work, it must be absolutely miserable.

  19. A book that I read and loved was The Rook, by Daniel O’Malley. I came across it because author Deborah Harkness said she had liked it, and then I was intrigued by the idea that the author is a young Australian scifi writer who is a graduate of Michigan State University with a master’s degree in medieval history from Ohio State University. None of which quite computed.

    It starts out with a young woman who swims back to consciousness to find herself alone, at night, in a dark grassy area surrounded by what seem to be dead people all wearing gloves. She has no memory of who she is, and she’s obviously in some kind of trouble, but her only option seems to be solving the mystery of where she comes from, who she is, and how this all happened to her.

    I really enjoyed the slow process of trying to put the pieces of her former life together without being able to tell anyone exactly how helpless she actually is. Overall, kind of a paranormal sci-fi mystery novel, with some nice relationship stuff.

  20. I’m just finishing NK Jemisin’s first book The hundred thousand kingdoms. Not sure what is next, but I need a break from fantasy as I’ve read four in the last month and want something a little different now.

  21. Did you read the books she did with Patricia Wrede – fantasy regencies? Sorcery & Cecilia; The Grand Tour, The Mislaid Magician? They were hilarious I thought.

    1. Oooh! I’ve only read Cecelia and the Chocolate Pot (approx. title). I didn’t realize there were more! Hooray!

    2. I just went to look at those and you can get all three for the Kindle for $1.99 right now.

      1. I’m so glad you are a night owl. It’s lunch time here, so I can pop over and get them for my Kindle right now!


        1. Aw, shucks. I’m either not eligible for 1.99, or the sale is over. But still, 15.84 isn’t a bad price for three books. Got ’em!

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