71 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday 6-29-2017

  1. I just finished “Cotillon” but Georgette Heyer and really enjoyed it.
    I’ve been seeing all the Heyer love on here and been feeling jealous because the majority of her books have not worked for me. But someone here or elsewhere mentioned that “Cotillon” had a great beta hero and that is right up my alley.
    Freddy was adorable, not the brightest bulb, but he was kind with conmon sense and very good at taking care of everyone. He reminded me of Turnip from the Pink Carnation series by Lauren Willig.
    It also had a bit of a farcical ending with all the pieces coming together and I have a fondness for that.
    I may try to read one of her mysteries next. I love Golden Age mysteries.

  2. I’m just re-reading Fortune and Fate by Sharon Shinn. I love the way Wen and Jasper are both fascinated by each other but struggling to understand each other’s mindset – it makes for some lovely interactions.

    1. I loved Fortune and Fate and that whole series. I also enjoyed her Samaria series. Actually, there have been very few Sharon Shinn books I didn’t like on some level. My only complaint has been that occasionally there’s a little too much war for my tastes. But for anyone who likes fantasy with their romance, check her out.

      Speaking of Sharon Shinn, I just recently finished Unquiet Land, the latest in her series that starts with Troubled Waters. I generally liked Unquiet Land, although I wouldn’t recommend it if you haven’t read the prior books in the series, as it features many characters from earlier books. Unquiet Land’s main character, Leah, was a secondary character in the previous book, Jeweled Fire. She’s back in Welce but still spying for the regent.

  3. Do reviews for low VOC stain and varnish remover count? That’s about all I’ve read this week. Looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been reading.

    1. Sure – especially if you’ve come to some kind of conclusion! Let us know what we should be using?

      1. Harsh chemicals. The eco-friendly brand I would up buying, based on said reviews, didn’t even come close to removing the varnish after sitting for an hour covered in plastic so as to not dry out. Sigh.

        1. In my experience of removing 91 year old house paint build up from molding, stairs, windows etc, I have discovered that most eco friendly stuff only works on single layers. My method is not fast but it works well on difficult projects.

          First I use a heat gun and take off the worse gunk (don’t forget to wear a heavy duty face mask rated for fumes not just dust and heavy gloves). Then I hit it with heavy duty professional paint remover. Keep wearing a face mask. Change out the gloves for two layers of surgical gloves or a pair of surgical gloves topped by a pair of black nitrile gloves – Change the gloves out if the paint remover is eating through them.

          You may have to do a second scrapping off with the paint remover. Next I put paint remover on again and remove it with steel wool. Then I clean up the residue by washing the surface with mineral spirit or denatured alcohol. Generally the steel wool has left the surface smooth enough that I can put my finish on.

          For natural wood finish I first put on clear shellac as a sealer then I don’t have to worry about any unfortunate remnants like wax or oil. Even blond shellac leaves a slight yellow cast. And if you use orange or garnet, it leaves a definite orange color. Then I apply a coat of Behlen Rockhard Table Top Urethane Varnish Satin cut by 50 percent. Then I do one or two more coats of varnish at full strength, depending on how hard of usage it will be exposed to. This is not fast drying. On the other hand, it holds up to a lot of abuse.

          1. A good set of Xacto knives is essential for scrapping gunk out of corners and crevices. The rest of the time I use a 1-inch putty knife for scrapping. With a big flat surface I may go to 1-1/2 inch. Be careful not to gouge. And fir splinters like a son-of-a-gun. If it is possible to use a professional paint stripping company, it is generally worth it although you will probably have to sand everything which is a pain.

  4. I’ve been trying sample pages, and a couple of full-length mistakes, too. Have just started Margery Allingham’s ‘Look to the Lady’, and am enjoying London in 1930. Last weekend I read the latest Sophie Kinsella, ‘My Not So Perfect Life’: a few laugh-out-loud moments, but not nearly as good as ‘The Undomestic Goddess’ or ‘Finding Audrey’.

  5. I just finished Burn for Me and White Hot, the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. I found it to be very good stuff–the family stuff is done very well, Jenny would appreciate that. On the other hand, the hero comes off as crazy alphole in the first book (that appears to be authorial deliberate choice) but comes off as less so in the second, so I guess he grew on me. Anyway, I enjoy their Kate Daniels series and I’m surprised I like this one too since with most authors when I like one series of theirs I tend not to like the ones I read later, for whatever reason. But this was good.

    I am also reading a lot about Richard Feynman. I don’t know shit about physics, but he is Quite A Character, which is really fun.

      1. I love The Edge series as well, with big red hearts. There’s a crossover with the Clean Sweep series, which doesn’t quite work for me, and I’ll admit that’s taken the shine off of that series for me. So my rankings go, Kate, Edge, Burn, clean Sweep

    1. I’ll second the recommendation of the Clean Sweep series. Kate Daniels is still my favorite of Andrews’s work, but Clean Sweep probably comes in second.

    2. My favorite of their series is The Edge series (Book One: On the Edge) and was also my entry point in to their canon. It’s a clash of blue collar rural contemporary fantasy and full on high fantasy and I burned through the whole series as quickly as I could. Great characters, an uncommon-in-fiction view of life, and fascinating worldbuilding.

      I was very depressed when they ended the series, but I hold out hope that it might come back some day!

      1. Ah, see, replied too soon. They’ve said no plans to go back, which boo.

  6. I finished Come Sundown by Nora Roberts this week and I’m not going to give a good, bad or indifferent review because after reading what you, Jennifer, go through to produce a book for us, who am I to judge. (I thought you submitted a manuscript, first try, a publisher accepted or rejected or asked for a few rewrites then voila your on your way to millions.) Anyway back to Nora, yes she has a few stock characters, but this time she added a kidnapping victim who had been held for over 20 years. I really would have liked to know how she came back to a full life or even close after she was rescued. Although she did get into a snapping argument with her sister that was hit close to home with me and my sisters. Maybe that was it. Returning slowly. I think I’ll find a comedy to read.

    1. Most writers don’t use my process because they don’t need it. I’m not a natural storyteller, I was born to teach, not write. Krissie and Nora, on the other hand, were born to write. It’s not that they don’t work hard, they really do, they just don’t need to reinvent the wheel with every book.

      1. I like Nora’s books but she is using the same wheel each time . You aren’t reinventing the wheel–you are inventing a canal boat then a hover craft–your worlds are much more individual and distinct.

        1. Nora has a great deal of focus. I have the attention span of gnat. It shows in our work.
          I should make all my working titles “Something Shiny.”

      2. “I’m not a natural storyteller, I was born to teach, not write.” I don’t know if I was any good as a teacher but I loved it. I struggle at the basic level of storytelling. Thank you so so much for this statement. You give me hope.

  7. I read Bloodchild by Octavia Butler–the story and the collection. The last Butler I hadn’t read. Awww. But it was so good, soooo good.

  8. After watching “To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters” (TV Movie 2016), I was impelled to read one of Anne’s books. I had only ever read Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights.

    It had that grim Victorian feel to it that they all did, but I was glad to have read it. I did have to re-read a couple of Phryne Fishers as a chase though.

      1. I’ve begun to wonder about that. I keep finding typos in my posts and thinking, “Why did I type that?” It’s weird.

    1. I loved that movie! Then I tried to reread Wuthering Heights and remembered why I never finished it the first time. I promise I’ll finish it entirely.

      I loved Chloe Pirrie as Emily. I’d completely forgotten her as Wendy in The Game, which was dumb but fun.

    2. I enjoyed “Villette” and “The Professor” both by Charlotte. They read to me as if Bronte was exploring making the same character the female lead (Lucy) in one story and the male (William) in the other. (The stories seemed similar to me.)

      I haven’t read “Shirley,” but by “Jane Eyre” Charlotte no longer needed to have a nice protagonist. I love “Jane Eyre.”

  9. Sharon Shinn: that’s what I need in my life. I can’t believe I haven’t read Unquiet Land if it was published in 2016, but it’s not in my books read list.

    I’m still reading things mentioned here, although some of them (I just finished All Systems Red) were mentioned by lucky people who got hold of them before I did and were already on my reserve list.

    1. Elizabeth Moon’s “Remnant “Population” and Michael Chabon’s “Final Solution” are repeat rereads for me of late. Deft portraits of old people with integrity, of underestimated worth, who prove indispensible via plot which arises from character and external conflict. (Love that Plato.) Bujold’s Cazeril springs to mind, not old, but certainly seasoned.
      Mr. Rochester types translate, for me, into my college friends who flew away believing they were heroes and returned from Viet Nam hollow eyed and drug addicted, ridden by night mares. Minette Walters “Chameleon’s Shadow” sketches the shattered nature of their lives, with serendipitous splashes of starry, starry nights. Kinsale’s “Sieze the Fire” pays similar, equally skilled homage, but is laced with laugh out loud humor and Swiftian irony.
      Louisa May Alcott’s collected short stories, many reminiscent of Jo’s extravaganzas in “Little Women”, are a hoot. An intrepid scholar tracked them all down in magazines of the mid 1800’s, extrapolating from fragmentary data, a story in itself.
      I gotta admit, I go to sleep listening to the voices of Fawn and her Dag (Bujold, Sharing Knife series), kind people in a mean world, facing off with prejudice as caring teachers. As I nod off, I can trust that Homerian Bujold does not.
      Sorry if this is TLTR. Yup, I’m an aging Lit teacher. Y’all are a treat to read. Thanks.

    2. All Systems Red!! I loved the Murderbot and can’t wait for more of them! Have you read any others by Martha Wells? I seem to be on a one woman crusade to spread her books around.

      1. It’s been a while since I read them, but I really liked the Fall of Ile Rien series by Martha Wells. And she has a stand-alone, called something like Wheel of Time that I found totally engrossing. Her worldbuilding is so good that at one point, she’s describing something about the world, and I was thinking, “I didn’t know that,” as if she were describing something in the real world, and it took me a while to realize that she was making it up, because it was part of an imaginary world. But it felt so real, so right. Although, slight spoiler warning to romance readers — there’s no happy ending to the relationship that develops in the story, so if you need that Happy Ever After in a story, this probably isn’t for you. Or you could just not read the last chapter and make up your own HEA.

  10. Not in the mood this week for something new, so brought out my copies of Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest Chronicle and am now snickering again over the first volume, Dealing with Dragons. You just have to admire a princess who runs away from home and “chooses” to be a dragon’s (not-so) captive princess. The books are often found in the YA section, but so is a lot of other good fantasy work. So what if I was a (arguably) fully-grown adult when I found them, growing up seems dreadfully over-rated these days.

    1. My younger daughter imprinted on the full cast audio editions of the Enchanted Forest Chronicles, and was in training to be a dragon’s princess for YEARS! Fencing, Latin (for spells) archery and good sense – how is that not a recipe for a solid young woman?

    2. If you love Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest books, give Frogkisser by Garth Nix a try. I’m pretty sure that his Princess Anya and her Princess Cimorene would get along well if they ever met.

    3. Wrede in the air! I just finished Cecelia and the Enchanted Chocolate Pot (Well, really Sorcery and Cecelia) by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer — second re-read, I think. I do not remember buying it, but I must have done so, and done so recently. So happy I did, and I bought some sort of omnibus, so I have the two sequels on Kindle, as well. (-: Happy reading for me.

      I just adore the Regency flavor and the magic and these smart, feisty girls.

  11. I haven’t clicked with any books in the last couple of weeks. The last book I finished left me quite unsatisfied. This was a book I was re-reading, and I quite liked it the first time around, but I found a lot of it bothered me now. The first third of the book was still okay, but then the romance started, and it went downhill for me. Maybe I’m more of a feminist now, but the alpha males just don’t do it for me.

  12. I’m about 25 chapters (out of 181! but some are only 2 pages long) into Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (my favorite book of all time), and takes place mostly in Cincinnati so far. I’m picky, I’ll admit, but this is so well-reimagined while still keeping the tone of the original and core of who the characters are. Darcy is a Harvard-educated neurosurgeon–could she have found a better career match? Liz writes for a NY magazine, features and the occasional celebrity interview, primarily. Bingley is a reality show star from several seasons ago (the show’s name is Eligible, in line with The Bachelor, it seems) but is also an MD and recently hired for the Emergency Dept in Cincinnati.
    Anyway, it’s a fun, absorbing romp, and I wish I could just read it all day instead of working.

    1. I know what you mean, there’s a film called About Time, (this is not a recommendation) where this young man finds out he can time travel in his own lifetime and Bill Nighy, his father discourages from doing the obvious, making lots of money (his grandfather did that and he was a miserable person rich) living a life of leisure (his uncle did that and nothing ever happened to him) The Bill Nighy character had used his gift to read everything a man could want and all the greats multiple times. Was so envious, my TBR pile alone fills a small room, must make time.

  13. Violette Malan’s Dhulyn and Parno series is excellent fantasy world-building, very well-written. Each book can be read as a stand alone but they are better read in sequence. I have been really disappointed that her publisher cut the series loose because I always check to see if she has a new one out. May be she will start self publishing and I can get another hit.

    I am not sure how to read Dhulyn and Parno’s relationship since they are tightly bonded but not monogamous. Still I love the books and reread them.

  14. I’m continuing my Brit romcom reads, since I can’t deal with reality. Read and loved The Little Shop of Happily Ever After by Jenny Colgan. Read and loved The Country Escape by Fiona Walker. And one other author who I loved the first book by her I read and then was seriously disappointed by the two I ordered after that. Oh, well.

    By the way, for anyone else who liked to read Brit books, The Book Depository will ship free anywhere in the world.

  15. I am this… close… to finishing Patricia C. Wrede’s The Magician’s Apprentice. It is the sequel to Mairelon the Magician, which I reread recently. I liked the first one, but I love the second. Kim really comes into her own as a strong female lead, and is so much more active in the plot. Plus the romance has kicked up a bit. A tiny bit, which is fine. It reminds me of a Georgette Heyer, but with magic. Very fun.

  16. I’ll confess that I haven’t read anything this week, because I discovered the TV series Killjoys and have now binge watched the first two seasons. The next one starts tomorrow and I’m so excited! Bounty hunters in space!!

  17. I’ve been re-reading Loretta Chase’s book, Dukes Prefer Blondes and her short story, Lord Lovedon’s Duel. Love the dialogue between the main characters in both books. I like a good back and forth between the hero/heroine.

    Have read a few new contemporary books. Unfortunately, nothing to recommend so far. I’m bought two books by Nina George, The Little French Bistro and The Little Paris Bookshop, going to give them a shot. I’ve bought a few unknown to me authors for a few long plane trips. Hopefully there will be something to really get into if not it will be back to re-read old favourites.

    Maybe load a couple of Georgette Heyer books too.

  18. Off topic (again) but in reading an article about Virtual Reality, I realised that I’ve had it for years. It’s called BOOKS, people!

    I don’t need the full immersive experience to go worlds away from my reality. 🙂 And I suspect that it’s the same for everyone here.

    On topic – just finished the 12 (to date) books of Michelle Sagara’s Chronicles of Elantra – I’d bought the first two when they came out but then the series fell of my radar. It was very interesting to follow what is about 10 years of writing (the first one came out in 2006 I think) back to back.

    So thanks to the person who suggested it in an earlier Thursday – I can also recommend them if you’re good with fantasy – the series has kept me amused and interested for the last 3 ish weeks.

    Which also fits into my first point – it’s been very handy to “live” in Elantra over that time.

  19. 2007’s The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook, by Amelia Saltsman. Thrift shop find. Love seasonal eating, love farmers, now even more. Plus, I’ve been around for the evolution, and she lays it all out the way I remember.

    Then onto L.A.’s Legendary Restaurants by George Geary. We’ll be stopping at Musso and Frank’s in a couple weeks, and lots of writers ate there – Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, Keith Richards, Johnny Depp. Charlie Chaplin’s favorite item was grilled lamb kidneys, and he’s supposed to haunt Booth 1. The menu’s stayed much the same since the 1920s. My choice will be one of Manny Aguirre’s Gibsons in the bar with small carafe on the side, then in the dining room Filet of Sandabs, Meuniere. And now I’ve got to try Miceli’s for pizza. So happy I made a couple stops at Bullocks Wilshire Tea Room for Chicken Salad and Coconut Cream Pie. It closed after the first L.A. riots and the building’s now a law school. We’ve also hit the Formosa Café, and I remember several other SoCal spots that didn’t make the book. Photos are a hoot, and so are scandalous tales of back in the day. Not many recipes I’ll try making, though.

  20. I was listening to the Smart Bitches, Trashy Books podcast, and they recommended Shelly Laurenston’s Call of Crows series, so I’ve been reading those. I don’t think she’ll become one of my go-to authors, but I was in the mood for paranormal romance, so it worked for me. The world involves Norse mythology, which was pretty interesting, and the female characters were really fantastic. So if paranormal romance is you thing, give those a try.

    I’ve been thinking about getting Anita Loos’s Gentlemen Prefer Blondes from the library. I love the movie, but has anyone read the book? How is it?

    1. I read it 30 years ago. My probably completely wrong memory is that it was written in ditzy blond first person and has episodes rather than plot. My guess is you could skim the first five pages and decide whether it’s for you.

      1. Thanks. I’ll find an excerpt. I knew it was Lorelai’s POV; it occurs to me now that her diary entries might wander from topic to topic.

  21. Has anyone ever read a good book written in the second person? Aside I suppose from epistolary novels?

    1. I made it through a short story by Mary McCarthy in her collection The Company She Keeps, but the only reason I made it through was that you had to read it to understand the collection as a whole. I think there was one in The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, which was basically a rewrite of McCarthy’s structure and theme. I thought Company was brilliant, especially the last story which nailed the theme and gave me one of my watchwords: “Preserve me in disunity.”

      THe problem with second person is that it always sounds accusatory to me, so it’s wearing to read. It’s really just a gimmick (except in Company, where the six short stories are told in different PoVs until you gradually realize that the protagonist is the same woman, she just changes to fit whatever man she’s associated with. Even so, “You go to work and you sit down at your desk and you take out your pen and steno pad, and you answer the call . . .” is just EXHAUSTING to read.

    2. Meant to say, epistolary novels are written in first person. The narrator uses “I.”

    3. A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O’Nan is in second person POV. I stumbled across it many years ago when I was scanning library shelves for something that just jumped out at me – something I did before Amazon took over our lives. I really liked it, and I think it was the first novel I read in 2nd. As Jenny said, though, it does feel accusatory.

    4. Some chapters of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern are written in second person. The book shifts about a bit, both in POV and chronology. I enjoyed it very much, and have re-read it at least twice. I normally read VERY fast, but due to the oddities/complexities of construction of this book, I’ve taken more time making my way through it. I’d describe it as a sort of historical urban fantasy title.

      1. The audiobook for that is read by Jim Dale. He has voices for every character and there are a LOT of characters. It is impressive and a joy to listen to. The only thing is, it’s hard to go back if you come across something and think, wait, what did they say back in that earlier chapter? Which is something that I found myself doing often because the story is so many layered and jumps in time and place.

  22. Several weeks ago, someone(s) recommended the Amour et Chocolat series by Florand–THANKS! Read all of them except for the last one about the Corey dad. Fun read.

  23. Someone recommended the Alleyn series and it’s great – I plan to read my way through Marsh and then go on to Allingham.

  24. Best book I’ve read in a long, long time: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman. (Her debut novel.) I read the free sample and immediately sprung for the whopping $12.99 for the kindle version. I didn’t want this story to end. Told in first person, with wonderful internal monologues. It’s both funny and sad. A real roller-coaster of emotions. Reese Witherspoon has production rights. It will be interesting to see how she retells the story, because the very best bits are in Eleanor’s head.

  25. Off topic…I’m waiting to hear your take on the “Wonder Woman” movie. Impatiently. Because that’s how I roll. 😉

  26. Guys, does anyone have a recommendation for a good potty training book? ?? We’ve totally stalled out and I have no idea what to do.

    1. Salpy, is it for the young one (to inspire) or is it for you (ideas, tips, tricks)?
      We just got “The Potty Book ( for boys)” (yes, that is what it’s called) and read it ad naseum, especially while kid was in the bathtub. I’ve heard raves about the Elmo potty dvd and potty power dvd, but haven’t tried them.
      For the grownups, there are lots of good free tips on the internet, but my older one has special needs and I liked the toilet training book by Maria Wheeler and one that I want to say was called “The Potty Journey.”

      Mostly, I just want to say chin up and keep the faith. I know it’s not an easy time.

      1. Mostly for me. The daycare actually started training him forever ago but at home, if we don’t prompt/drag him, he doesn’t bother. I was one of the first to protest he’s too young (they started when he was 3ish), but now we’re past 3.5 and I feel like there should have been SOME progress. Or maybe this is normal. I just don’t know and that’s half of what’s driving me insane.

        1. I’m no expert, but I’d say within the realm of typical especially for boys, for better or worse. Just my two cents, of course. And I think a lot of kids do better at daycare school than home. Something about the routine and peer pressure.

          Best wishes and hang in there!

    2. Can I give you what worked for us? First, get some good potty books for kids — we had three, and one of them was the fabulous Everyone Poops (in English) — graphic but plain-speaking, and our girls liked it fine. These are only for on the potty.

      Second, try to figure out the timing of when he is going, and 15 minutes or so before (first thing in the morning), sit on the potty and read a book. Get a stool for yourself. He gets to choose the book. If he goes while you read the book, cool. If not, let him get up after the book is finished. No arguments.

      Third, you might change to cloth diapers or those thick training pants. I know they are a hassle to wash, but they get more uncomfortable, and if he gets used to being dry, he might pay more attention.

      Fourth, when he indicates it’s time to go to the potty, drop everything and go. Even if he’s playing you for book time (LOL). Catch him being good, and praise him for it.

      This phase only lasts for a short period of time. If he’s still having problems at 4.5 or 5, see a doctor (or see a doctor earlier, if you are worried it might be medically based — follow your instincts).

      I started my girls on the potty reading as soon as they could sit up without help. I didn’t care if they made messes, but I was so grateful that the first poop of the day meant one less diaper I had to clean/dispose of. I think they finally graduated to mostly dry sometime shortly after starting daycare (about 2, or by 28 months, anyway). Every kid is different, so you can’t compare. But with a no-pressure program, I would expect to see results within a year. Your son has a head start, so he probably will be faster!

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