52 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday 5-18-17

  1. Someone recommended “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell recently. I didn’t read that one, but I read “Attachments” by her and really enjoyed it.

    1. The difference between Fangirl and Attachments is that the characters in Fangirl are slightly younger, are not loathesome, and also you have to read a bunch of fan fiction.


      I enjoyed Attachments, but I didn’t like any of the characters. I prefer Landline. And Fangirl. And Carry On, the fake Harry Potter book the world never knew it needed.

      1. I liked the main characters, but I can get why you didn’t. It took a while for me to warm-up to them. They weren’t terribly mature and didn’t make the best decisions.

      2. I haven’t read Attachments or Landline, but I’ve read and really enjoyed Fangirl, Eleanor and Park, and Carry On.

  2. They’re not new, but I’d like to recommend the Sevenwaters trilogy by Juliet Marillier. I especially love the second, Son of the Shadows, but would not recommend reading them out of order. The first, Daughter of the Forest, is loosely based on a story I remember as a child, of a girl whose brothers were turned into swans, and in order to save them she had to make them shirts of stinging nettles while under a vow of silence. The second book is about the the next generation of the family, but what comes before is important.

    The stories are compelling, and the writing beautiful.

    PS my mum liked the first one best, and a close friend liked the third (Child of the Prophecy), so there’s no accounting for taste 🙂

    1. YA: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertelli

      Also, friends have finally gotten me hooked on Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series (first book: Still Life… great in audiobook, too, btw!)

      Finally, I’ve been giving Netflix’s “Anne with an E” a try and now I totally want to re-read the whole Anne of Green Gables series yet again.

      1. Each book in the Inspector Gamache series is better than the last. I can’t say that very often.

    2. I’ll second the Sevenwaters recommendation, and also recommend her stand alone novel Wildwood Dancing. It’s a beautiful fairytale about growing up, taking responsibility for your choices, and learning to trust your own instincts. I’m planning to give all my friends’ daughters copies when they’re old enough, along with Terry Pratchett’s Tiffany Aching books. Good role models.

  3. I’ve enjoyed something different with the Simha International Series by Sundari Venkatraman. The author has to navigate the many Indias in writing and it is interesting to see how she does it. The romances in the first two stories were solid. It is also interesting that Indian English usage pops up in places giving it an authentic tone.

  4. I just finished A Man Named Ove by Fredrik Backman. I laughed out loud but there were many poignant moments too.

    1. A man called Ove. Wow. Finally one my library has, and “there are 109 requests for this title.” Since it’s two years old, this probably means the copy is missing.

      My favorite Juliet Marillier books are the Blackthorne and Grim ones, but I liked Sevenwaters, too.

      1. A man called Ove. My library has 56 copies on order and 5 holds per copy. That is what – 280 holds? That decided me that I should try to find this. Also it sounds good. Oh, and these are Kindle holds so it is not stolen and the librarian has just not caught on yet.

        1. Also, has anybody read his book “My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry” ? This is such a great title. Is the the book good?

    1. Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey is also based on the true story. I’d consider Paris Time Capsule a solid 3 out of 5.

  5. I’m reading The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat for book club, I’m only about fifty pages in, but I’m enjoying it. It reminds me of a style of books I haven’t read in a really long time, with all my YA and sci fi: down-home, family stories. It’s funny, too.

  6. I was reminded of “As You Wish” by Cary Elwes. For anyone who loves the movie it’s a cover to cover treat, and for those who don’t yet love the film, go watch it and fall in love with it. It’s the best fairy tale ever filmed, and the cast is amazing.
    Also, check out Jordana Max Brodski’s two novels, “The Immortals” and “Winter of the Gods”. Great use of classical deities as characters, and a powerful romance from multiple angles. I’m hoping we get a third one, because the first two were fun reads.

    1. I listened to AS YOU WISH on audio, and really enjoyed it. (And it made a 7 hour mid-winter drive pass quickly, too.) One of the fun things about the audio is that all the different actors and producers Elwes interviewed for the book read their own recollections for the audio, so the recording includes much of the cast.

      1. That sounds great. I had a good time with the book and then passed it on to Krissie. I’ll have to tell her about the audio.

  7. I’m reading the Detective Lavender series by Karen Charlton. I’m enjoying them. They’re Regency mysteries, slightly grittier in tone than the romances I used to read.

  8. I’m making notes of your picks on my Amazon Wish List, so I can keep track of the names.
    I’m re-reading some of the Lois McMaster Bujold Vorkosigan novels, the later ones can be like sci-fi meets Jane Austen.

  9. Does anyone have any romance or fantasy novel recommendations featuring Latina heroines?

    1. More urban fantasy/mystery, Juliet Blackwell’s Witchcraft mystery series features Lily Ivory, vintage clothing shop owner and witch. Her grandmother is appears to be latina, but if my memory serves her background isn’t stated outright. The first book in the series deals with “La Llorna” so you might want to sample that one to see if it suits you.

    2. I’m probably not the best person to comment on this, but just in case no one else comes up with something better, these aren’t exactly Latina, but they’re definitely diverse:

      Anything by Martha Wells. She doesn’t get too specific, and it’s alternate world, so it wouldn’t be Latina technically, but check out Wheel of the Infinite in particular for a dark-skinned heroine. If you check out her blog Wells makes a point of recommending diverse books by other authors, so maybe you’ll find something there: http://marthawells.dreamwidth.org/ (or go to her livejournal for past recommendations: http://marthawells.livejournal.com/ I also like her Fall of Ile Rien series, although I have no recollection whatsoever of what the protagonist’s ethnicity is.

      And check out NK Jemison. I don’t pay much attention to diversity when I read, so I couldn’t say what her protagonist is, but Jemison is known for diversity (and is a frequent target for the right wing of the sff world). I really liked her Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (and related books), but wasn’t as interested in the subsequent series, which was too fractured storytelling structure for me, without a protagonist I could bond with. But other readers are huge fans.

    3. I’ve been racking my brains; what I came up with is a book that I love that is a more gritty romance. It is Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s one of her earliest books before she became very politically correct. (An honorable choice, but I think it definitely curbed her creativity a bit.)

      Barbara is a very talented author and Animal Dreams includes a very sweet love affair in a rather bittersweet book. The heroine is Latina but it isn’t the point of the story and I think that Barbara has no Spanish roots, although she lived in Tucson, Arizona for quite a while. I guess she could be accused of cultural appropriation; her more famous book The Bean Trees was criticized for misrepresenting Native American culture, although the book itself is very good. (And she wrote Pigs in Heaven to try to rectify her tone-deafness.)

      So I’m covering myself here, I guess. I now want to go back and read it.

      Also, I always thought of Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel as a romance, although also somewhat bittersweet.

      It does make me wonder whether there really aren’t romances or fantasies with Latina heroines or if they just don’t show up in the places I look for books to read. We are all being steered by algorithms that can be very subtle in showing us a world like the one we live in. Looking at Audible for ideas, there is not currently a way to search for books by Latinos/Latinas (there is for African Americans). This is bothering me enough to go look at goodreads to see if they had a list, and they do:


      Clearly a big gap in what we have access to. I don’t know that many books that are written in Spanish are translated into English unless they are considered capital-L literature. (As is true of most books not written in English.)

      1. I also love early Barbara Kingsolver much better! I had to stop reading her after “Prodigal Summer.” I felt like, okay Barbara, it’s your life and your work, but this makes more sense to write as an essay or op-ed than a story about fictional people.

        I feel kind of like a jerk for feeling that way, but I do.

    4. I have read them, so I don’t know if “recommend’ is the right word, but Zoraida Cordova writes YA fantasy and New Adult with Latina characters and she is Latina.

      Daniel Jose Older is another one.

      In my googling I also found the Latino Book Awards and it had a rather overwhelming list (kids’ books, adult books, fiction and nonfiction, English and Spanish), but that may be a good place to start!

      Good luck!

    5. Have you read The Best of All Possible Worlds by Karen Lord? It’s a useless title and the cover has drawings of caucasians, and it was touted as having a romance like Aral and Cordelia’s. Not one of those things serves the book. Instead, the pic of the author on the end flap made everything click for me. I think she is Caribbean; I just saw Senegalese out of the corner of my eye. Anyway, great story.

    6. I really really really recommend Charles De Lint’s The Mystery of Grace. It’s beautifully written, spooky and magic-y with a bit of romance, and the heroine is Latina. 🙂

    7. Courtney Milan’s Hold Me has a transgender Latina heroine. Following the thread!

  10. Not a very contemporary book, but I’m having withdrawal pangs and reading Dreams from My Father by a young fellow called Barack Obama. Because I miss him. And it was really self-aware and nicely written. *sigh

    1. I listened to the audio of that and also of THE AUDACITY OF HOPE a few years ago, while he was pres. He narrated both. I really enjoyed both, too.

      Some memorable moments in AUDACITY OF HOPE, such as when he’s dealing with elderly white Senators who opposed ending segregation.

  11. My thanks to whoever recommended Kate Parker, I got three out of the library and I am enjoying them.

  12. _The Decipherment of Linear B_, a short book on figuring out a pre-classical-Greek written language. It carries the reader through the decipherment work, and some of the startling history the artifacts laid bare; that story is an intellectual triumph. But emotionally it’s an elegy three times over: for the collapse of the Mycenaean civilization, for what was destroyed in World War II, for the author’s colleagues who died young. And Chadwick never stops and says anything about the sadness, he’s just utterly, transparently mourning. The combination knocks me out every time I read it.

  13. I’ve just finished reading Martha Wells’s All Systems Red and I really loved it. Summary: android murderbot hacks the governor that keeps it from going on an insane murder spree, goes on tv binge-watching spree instead. Then someone tries to kill the humans it’s supposed to be protecting, resulting in a lot of annoying fighting that causes it to have to pause shows at unfortunate moments. It’s a funny, well-written little novella and the tone is pitch-perfect.

    1. Completely agree about the pitch-perfect tone. I like Martha Wells a lot, so I was looking forward to All Systems Red. And I was still surprised by how much I liked it. I expected the characterization and worldbuilding, but I wasn’t expecting the degree of dry humor. I’m not really a giggler generally, but it had me giggling out loud at times.

  14. I am late to the party but I didn’t finish the book until last night and I was afraid it would go pear-shaped (some do) but I LOVED “The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet” by Becky Chambers. It is like everything good about Star Trek without the pontificating and redshirts.

    I loved it so much that I immediately downloaded the sequel at full price, which I never do. Ha, can’t say “never” anymore.

  15. I’m having a glom of the Mary Burchell Warrender series, they’re all on kindle unlimited and I’m loving that old skool vibe. A refreshing interlude between some heavy duty educational management books.

  16. Currently reading and enjoy THE FRY CHRONICLES, the second volume in Stephen Fry’s (so far) 3 volumes of autobiography.

    By his own admission, Fry is very (VERY) wordy, and because of that, I wind up skipping or skimming some parts (ex. about 3 paragraphs where he names just about every brand of candy bar that existed in his youth). But a lot of it is interesting and engaging, such as recounting how he met and became friends and frequent collaborators with Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, Rowan Atkinson, and other talents of his generation, as well as what it was like to be a student at Cambridge, with all its customs and traditions and structural oddities, what it’s like to participate in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as a young actor, etc.

    1. Emma Thompson appeared on QI with him, she’s great, check out on youtube. she also credits him for saving her script Sense & Sensibility, she had computer problems and almost lost everything, he spent hours recovering it.

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