89 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday

  1. Devdutt Pattanaik’s “Jaya, An Illustrated retelling of the Mahabharata.” It is an accessible account of a Hindu epic.

  2. “The Sun is Also a Star” by Nicola Join. YA (yes again ;-)) about a Jamaican girl who is about to get deported because of some awful mistakes her father has made.

    While she is making a last ditch effort to fight the deportation, she meets a Korean American boy who is doing his best to try to make his parents happy by getting into Yale.

    This book had a lot about destiny and “meant to be” with interesting little side digressions. I think for readers who enjoyed the “fate” aspect of “Bet Me”(one of my favorite Cruisies) might enjoy this. I don’t believe in fate in real life, but there’s something really satisfying when an author pulls it off in a book.

    Plus it’s two young people falling in love over one day in New York City. I love “one day” books. Also very satisfying but more common in movies than books.

  3. Just finished Lawrence Watt-Evans’s Trilogy, Out of this World, In the Empire of Shadow, And The Reign of the Brown Magician. I love his writing, and this trilogy is interesting because it both messes with the standard evil overlord trope and also has characters that are aware enough to compare what they’re going through with epic tales. It works in interesting ways, and when something that might be a cliché pops up the characters recognize it as such in dealing with it. It’s a nice variation to the hero’s arc, including different characters wondering if they’re the hero or heroine of the tale as things go on.

  4. I’m reading my new-to-me car’s manual. I have to figure out how to set the radio stations!

    1. I know what you mean. I had to pull into a parking lot of a CVS and get the manual to figure out how to shut off the windshield wipers off.

    2. Manual reading is also on my agenda this week. I have a new microwave/convection oven/broiler and it has this feature where you can cook something so it cooks fast in the microwave but also uses the convection (or broiler I guess) so it comes out with the right look and texture(?). I haven’t the slightest idea how it works but I have a friend with one of these who swears he uses it more than his conventional oven and loves it. Although the conventional oven I bought will deliver bursts of steam while baking so I will be spending time with the manual figuring that out too.

        1. Tell me you have one of these and they really do work. I am having severe doubts about the wisdom of changing technologies. At this point I remember my friend is 1. a guy and 2. his wife did most of the serious cooking. So why did I listen to him….

    3. Yeah. My new-to-me car manual seems to have been written by someone who never actually had to operate the car. It tells me in three different places about how the locks work, but refuses to admit that the tripometer resets itself every time I buy gas. (And how to override it??) I have to ask my passenger to pull it out and read it when something stymies me while on the road.

      Oh. Reading real books. Canadians will like this. I’m reading Garnet Rogers’ bio of his brother, Stan Rogers. Night Drive. Quite a trip, in many ways. (And playing their music too)

      1. My car has an alarm that goes off if there’s too much weight on the passenger seat, but not enough to tell the car it’s an adult. It’s there to protect kids, but it annoys the hell out of me. I keep meaning to find the place in manual where it tell me how to turn that off, but I keep forgetting.

        The car (Agnes) is eleven years old. Yes, I bought it new. It takes me awhile to get to things.

        1. A gallon of milk will do that in my car. I just connect the seat belt. It was binging at me this morning when I took the dogs for a ride to the grocery store.

          1. I figured the seat belt wouldn’t work since it would still be too-small-to-sit-in-the-front-seat weight, but if it’s just upset that my groceries aren’t belted in, I can do that.

        2. My handbag sets that alarm off when I put it on the passenger seat – which is seriously annoying. It’s an alert that there is someone (not necessarily a child) is sitting in the seat without a seatbelt. It’s a reminder for me that my handbag is too heavy if my car thinks it’s heavy enough to be a (little) person.

          I’ve tried to get it turned off by the manufacturer, but since it’s a “safety” feature they can’t/won’t. (also annoying)

          I tried pointing out that my handbag didn’t need to be kept safe, but they wouldn’t go with that idea :-/

        3. I thought that alarm was/is due to the airbag built into the dash for the passenger. If the passenger is too small, the airbag can hurt them.

        4. My dog set off the alarm, she’s been 80 to 70 pounds. But she won’t wear a seat belt, so in the back she goes.

        5. My car (2007) yells whenever I transport my dog as he is a golden retriever. Heavy enough ti set of 2 child alarms.

    4. Oh lordy! The car manual! My father was a big promoter of “read the manual BEFORE anything goes wrong” but it’s so hard to be disciplined. Especially since my car manual is in Japanese. I often resort to pushing on buttons and hoping for the best — which resulted one time in my GPS thinking I was in the next town over when I absolutely needed to know where I was lost right then. Sigh.

      Radio reception is spotty where I live. I spent a lot of time reading the section about how to record CDs and learning how to edit it when the data (genre, artist, title) didn’t come up automatically. (-: I need more gigas for my car system. I’ve only been able to fit 24 David Bowie albums and Hamilton on it, and it keeps cutting out through bits of Diamond Dogs. (That means it’s full, right? Or does it just mean I need to re-record?)

  5. JoJo Moyes book, One Plus One, a road trip story. This is about a struggling family that live along the south coast of England trying to get to Scotland in order for the heroine’s daughter to take a test in Math to get a scholarship. Dad is not in the picture. They do get a ride from the h’s boss who thinks it will be easy/peasy. What should be a quick journey turns out not to be with a series of side trips.

  6. I’m working on Rhys Ford”s Dim Sum Asylum. It’s a cop story set in a magical version of San Francisco. There is a bit of romance (M/M) and a whodunit, and magical creatures.

  7. Lucy M Boston’s Green Knowe books, for children’s/YA nostalgia – also her adult novel Yew Hall.

    1. Those are some of my favorite books from childhood!! I love them so much. (Also Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series.)

  8. I’m reading the workshop descriptions for RWA Nationals and trying to figure out how I’m going to spend my time when I’m not madly networking. Anyone else going to be there?

    I’m also reading Susan Mallery’s newest, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters (contemporary romance/women’s fiction) and really liking it.

  9. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but at the moment I am reading ‘Grunt: the curious science of humans at war’ by Mary Roach. It is hilarious and fascinating, and I’m going to hunt up more of her books.

    1. She’s wonderful. I’ve listened to all her books and loved them all.

    2. I really loved her Stiff and also enjoyed Bonk and Packing for Mars. I thought Spook was OK, something about it didn’t quite work as well for me. For some reason, I could not get into Gulp at all. I don’t think I got past chapter 1.

      1. I think the problem with Spook was that she was working through some issues with that one, and didn’t want to come down on one side or the other. Afterlife: a really tricky subject. I don’t personally believe in it, but I could be wrong, and what’s more, it’s very reassuring for some people, so I don’t want to take away their security blanket. Still, I got a lot of good stuff from Spook. How people deal with the afterlife is so varied and often entertaining. I’m a sucker for seance stuff.

        (-: You know where you are at with dead bodies. Packing for Mars was really quite interesting, too. I’ll never get rid of the image of astronauts with cotton tank tops rotting on their bodies because they can’t change them (for science — to see how long the things would really last).

    3. I love Mary Roach! She’s so funny, and she asks the embarrassing questions that I would be too shy to ask, or that I wouldn’t think of in the first place. I haven’t read Grunt, though. Want to put that on my wish list.

  10. History of the State of Georgia (I’m going for my B.A. late in life and this is a “legislatively required” course I am preparing to test out of).

    FYI — Georgia’s claim to being one of the original 13 colonies should come with an asterisk — they were the only state completely retaken by the British during the revolution.

    1. I do love the required courses a later student has to complete for graduation: a grandmother I worked with went back to complete a B.A. and had to take and complete Sex Education 101. Said the instructor was young enough to be her son . . . .

  11. I wasn’t going to, but I *just* realised that I had Peter Walsh’s ‘It’s all too much’ for 9 years, I has Miss Minimalist and tried that, I tried The Minimalists’ Mins Game last year.

    Nothing was as successful as I’ve been in two days with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I’m struggling with the hardest part for me now, but this is the first I’ve ever come this far. So it is Kondo for the rec today.

    1. I love the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up! I agree, that it is the most successful I have ever been with decluttering. I tried Peter Walsh as well and didn’t get very far.

      What I really like about Kondo is that she doesn’t make me feel guilty about what I want to keep. I don’t have to have a reason or a use. It makes me happy, and that is enough.

  12. I read Down Among the Sticks And Bones which is in Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children series and takes place before Every Heart A Doorway.

    I also loved Sy Montgomery’s (The Good Good Pig and Soul of an Octopus) Birdology. I love books where I learn weird facts and this one taught me about pigeon racing.

    I also liked Knife Creek, the latest Mike Bowditch mystery by Paul Dorion. This one is disturbing.

    The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton is a busy-woman-inherits-dilapidated-B&B book. It didn’t veer too much from the formula, it’s written in the present with the busy woman, Sara, and in the past with her grandmother, Mags, who owned the B&B. It was enjoyable and well written and fun.

    1. Which Wayward Children book did you like better? I liked the focus of the prequel; I felt a little lost with the first one but greatly enjoyed it.

      1. Me too. I felt like Doorway needed more fleshing out.

        One thing that I thought was interesting in Sticks and Bones was how the girls were raised in traditional boy/girl gender roles and how that came back to bite both of them, especially Jack. I loved the line about how she was raised to be smart not clever and how she hadn’t been taught to observe people so she didn’t know a predator when she saw one.

        1. There’s another coming next year; I’m super-sad it’s next year so I don’t get a copy to review for committee. However, this probably means more awards for Seanan McGuire.

  13. Story time! I was reading Seanan McGuire’s The Winter Long, the 8th book in the October Daye series that has come up a lot in the past few weeks. It’s set in San Francisco, and it features a bookstore on Valencia that actually exists, and it mentions its proprietor, Alan Beatts, by name.
    I know him, or rather I knew him, right before he opened the store 20 years ago. I was renting a room from his mom, who told me that her son had left all sorts of books downstairs in the converted garage, and to help myself. It was like having a freaking library to myself – hundreds of sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks all lined up on the shelves. I read George R.R. Martin’s first series, before GoT. I read the Hitchhiker books. I read so many of his novels over the few years I lived there, right up to the point where he packed them all up to go open his bookstore, Borderlands. I even donated a box of my old books to the cause.
    So I got a good smile out of it, and read on, until a few scenes later when there’s a car chase through the late night streets of San Francisco, and I get hit with another Alan memory. I was staying in town for a convention, and I’d met up with him for dinner. We hung out until late, and he offered me a ride home on his motorcycle. And it was one of those magical moments – the streets were pretty empty, moonlight and streetlight and a few window lamps, and I was holding on to a guy who was showing off on his bike. Up and down the San Francisco hills, swooping though the intersections, just this side of terrifying, arms around his waist, laughing like a fool. It wasn’t romantic, but damn if it wasn’t the coolest ride home I’ve ever had.
    We haven’t kept in touch, but I’d like to think he’d remember me in context. But coming across him in that book (which was artfully done, not clunky at all) was a real treat. It’s really not much of a story, but still not the kind of thing I wanted to share with my husband. I was pretty sure all of you would understand, though.
    That’s my good book for the week.

    1. As a husband who wife had a similar experience* back in her young unmarried days, this anecdote doesn’t bother me at all.

      *Except that my wife’s particular story ended with the cyclist taking a tight turn on a mountain road too fast, going off the shoulder and down the mountainside a short ways. In the impact after they both flew off the motorcycle, her chin broke his shoulderblade. That kinda put a kibosh on any romantic notions the ride had aroused.

      1. It’s not a jealousy thing as much as it is a girl thing. He’s much more likely to focus on the “you could have died!” than the “magical moment on the back of a motorbike” feeling. 😉

    2. I love the October Daye series – didn’t realize the bookstore was based on a real store/proprietor! What a fun memory.

  14. “The Bedside Book of Old-Fashioned Roses,” Keith Money, 1985, Degamo Productions (UK) Ltd., Carbrooke, Norfolk, England.
    I do believe this book is self-published, yes, back in the day, “Being an intensely personal discourse on some favorite roses and the associations they bring to mind, with photographs taken by the author from his own plants and gardens.” He writes beautifully. I’m captivated: “Is there any other flower that can make one wince the way a rose can? So quick, so absolutely certain of aim. And always so perfectly at the moment of ‘off-guard’. Why is it that the rose, of all beautiful flowers, is the most anti-social of our garden plants, stabbing and tearing at the most innocent intrusion into its domain. Yet we persist … snagging our pullovers, smarting at each new puncture, and (in my own case, certainly,) often becoming so hopelessly entangled in vicious tentacles that the old Grimms’ Fairy Tale images of mouldering knights trapped in their death-throes around the entanglement of Sleeping Beauty’s castle often leap to mind with a vividness that causes slight panic.”
    Money was born in New Zealand. When he wrote the book, he was young and established in Norfolk and pals with Peter Beales and he had Graham Stuart Thomas to tea (both rose luminaries). This is his sole rose book; he went on to publish photo books and biographies of the great ballet dancers of his age. When last I checked, he was fragile and still with us.
    “Each of us has, I suppose, a rose that is our ‘favorite’ less for the grace and colour than its association. I do not know much about the imprinting of formative minds but I do know that my pram was often parked in the dappled shade of a pergola during my first two or three summers, and above me lay a luxuriant tangle of stems, of leaves, and blooms. I can see the shell-like shapes now, very sweet and gentle, opening by the hour, with a colour I now associate with cochineal colouring in childhood birthday cakes, and a lemon blush that has something to do with jelly.”
    He dedicated the book to his “faithful spotted friend, Roussel,” the Dalmatian.

    1. Sounds wonderful – although, being greedy, I’m a David Austin fan, having started in the eighties with old roses and discovered their frailties in my tiny, shady London backyard.

    2. It sounds amazing. I can only grow very, very hardy roses here but I do live the looks of the old fashioned ones.

  15. Oh yes, I’ve used UFYH but not much because I never had a dirty or filthy hoard. I’d just clean around it. I learned how to clean growing up and if I didn’t, my folks would ensure I did!

  16. The book that I’ve loved the most recently was actually a non-fiction book about personal finance – which was a big surprise.

    (if this is something that you’re not interested in then don’t read any further 🙂 I suspect I’m a bit too enthusiastic about this book)

    I don’t normally go anywhere near self-help type books, but it was recommended by a friend as it had worked for him.

    Its called “Barefoot Investor” by Scott Pape.

    Written by an Australian, some of the financial advise is very Australian (Superannuation, what stockmarket funds are good, etc) but it’s an easy to read and the suggestions are easy to implement and it’s definitely not an “only have one bought coffee a week” type budget book.

    The basic premise is that all of your daily expenses (mortgage/ rent, food, petrol, etc) is preferably only 60% of your income, however regardless of the percentage, you split the remainder into:
    50% fire-hose (to get rid of your debts as fast as possible),
    25% splurge (coz we all need that sometimes) and,
    25% smile (longer term savings for a holiday or basically whatever makes you smile).
    You also have an amount in an “Emergency only” account and you don’t touch that unless you absolutely have to.

    It also gives great suggestions about how to future proof your finances.

    What really worked for me was to have an amount that I was allowed to spend without having to talk myself out of something I wanted. Once Splurge was gone for the month, it was gone. No taking any money out of Smile or Emergency. It removes the argument with myself about not being able to afford something.

    I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a simple, easy, aid to getting your finances under control – on the assumption that some here will be having the same issues that I do. 🙂

    Mine aren’t where I want them to be, but in the last couple of months I’ve had an out of the blue expense that normally I would struggle to meet, but after implementing Scott’s methods I was able to cover it easily.

    And actually, one of the tag lines of the book is being able to say “I’ve got this” when thinking about your financial future.

    1. I can absolutely second this recommendation – I first read it about a decade ago and it really helped me figure out the personal budget without undue pain thing. Coincidentally, a friend of my dad’s gave him a brand new copy a few weeks ago, insisting that he had to lend it to all of his children, so it’s now on my re-read pile.

  17. I just finished reading my way through the Georgette Heyer mysteries (9 of them so far) and loved them. I can’t believe I never read them before. No Wind of Blame is my favorite. The characters really make the story.

    Next up will be a bit of a change. I’ll be heading to Scotland in a few weeks and paying a visit to a writer’s museum there, so I’m brushing up on my Scottish writers. I think Waverly is up next, probably followed by some Robert Burns.

    1. John Buchanan, Robert Louis Stevenson, D. E. Stevenson (granddaughter of R. L. S.), Jane Duncan are the ones who spring to mind. Robert Burns you will need a Scottish/English dictionary for him. Young Lochnivar, Marmion, I hope you have enough time to read them all. Have a great time.

      1. Definitely read Buchan. He’s famous for The 39 Steps but he’s just wonderful.

        Project Gutenberg has a lot of his for free.

    2. I love doing that when I travel. I have collections of short stories from countries I’ve visited.

    3. If you like historical mystery, a Scottish writer of same is Pat McIntosh, whose series featuring Gil Cunningham of 1490’s Glasgow, is really good (and in addition, the first sentences are worth collecting all on their own). Series is best read in order, and the first book is The Harper’s Quine.

  18. I can’t remember if I read anything good this week because the book I read last was so tedious, I feel like I was reading it for a hundred years.

  19. River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey is an absolute delight. It’s a alternate universe historical novella about what would have happened if the idea to domestically breed hippos for meat had ever truly gotten off the ground. The characters are vivid and fascinating, the worldbuilding is immersive, and the whole story itself is quite fun. My only complaint is that it’s the only thing she currently has published and the sequel won’t be out until September.

    At the suggestion of many of you here I’m listening to the audiobook for Rivers of London/ Midnight Riot and I’m loving it. I appreciate that Peter is a flawed character who (so far) still manages to accomplish things, and Aaronovitch demonstrates that Peter is a slightly unreliable narrator through the way the other characters interact with him. Masterful writing!

    Last week I suggested someone else read Lois McMaster Bujold’s The Curse of Chalion and then promptly took my own advice. It’s a really interesting reread because I have a lot more miles on me than the first time I picked up the book, and I have an even deeper appreciation for the main character Cazaril. Caz has Seen Some Shit, is just looking for a quiet place to heal, and, well, unfortunately he IS the protagonist in a McMaster Bujold book.

  20. Just finished Quite Ugly One Morning, the first of Chris Brookmyre’s Parlabane books. Serviceable thriller, Parlabane is an intriguing kind of character, with some super-skills that really support his sleuthing.

    1. I love Brookmyre! If you’re reading them in order, Be My Enemy is definitely one to look forward to.

  21. For all the book writers out there –Miss Buncle’s Book by D. E. Stevenson. This book takes place in a small English village during the depression. Miss Buncle needs money and decides to write a book instead of’ keeping chickens’. She is a nobody in the village with sad clothes and shy ways. She writes about the people in the village and turns that place upside down. So cute and clever!

    1. Adore Miss Buncle! It’s a lovely romance with an endearingly wooly (sp?) but also smart and funny heroine – and a kind and cuddly hero. I found it unputdownable and totally re-readable. Pure and delightful escape in these trying times. One of DE Stevenson’s best. The two Miss Buncle sequels are good too but not quite as much bubbly mayhem as the first.

      If you like Miss Read and Neville Shute, you’ll like Miss Buncle. As funny as Miss Read’s books, as gentle as Shute’s.

  22. Devil Take the Hindmost – by Edward Chancellor.

    It’s a history of financial speculation written in the late 1990s. Takes each of the big ones, the South Sea Bubble, Dutch Tulipmania, British rail, US 1920s, US 1980s, Japan 1990s, in order and lays out what happened, why it happened and how easily it could happen again.

    If people had read this book seriously when it came out, they wouldn’t have been blindsided by 2008. I’m reading it for the first time now and when he’s talking about how derivatives are going to cause a world wide crash a decade before it happened, I’m getting goose bumps about how on the money he is.

    Very readable and entertaining.

  23. I just finished the Susan Mallery book, Secrets of the Tulip Sisters. Nice family dynamics and romance, deeper than her usual paperback books. Satisfying ending.

  24. In honour of the Austen bicentennial I re-read Pride and Prejudice. Enduringly wonderful work. Next up will be Sense and Sensibility, I think.

  25. I loved the Tulip Sisters as well. And I’m just about done with my next Georgette Heyer, False Colours. Why I didn’t know about those before you escapes me, but thank you for her. The new Daniel Silva is sitting on my table waiting for me, but as I came up for air after reading last summer’s book the news of the truck attack in Nice was all over the place. It fit in too well with the subject of the book, and it was just too creepy, so I’ve been eyeing the book and wondering if I’m brave enough to try it.

  26. I’ve been reading, but nothing in particular to recommend. Just wanted to say I loved the sun, the hot dog, and the fan that you’ve added to the illustration.

  27. Hey, anyone else getting double email notifications of messages from here? I’m getting them both on this thread and the unputdownable thread too, so I was wondering if it was just me.

    1. Maybe this is a result of the move? Perhaps if you closed the tabs and renavigated to each page from the Argh home page? But I’m guessing here.

    2. Let me know if this keeps up. It shouldn’t, the old site should be kaput by now, but if it’s still happening, I’ll alert Mollie.
      We were planning on a stealth switch so that nobody would know. Ha. Argh Always Knows.

  28. Does anyone have any good book recommendations on grief? Two weeks ago today, my vibrant, funny, amazing sister-in-law died very unexpectedly at 41 from complications from Lupus. I have my own grief, which is awful, but what makes it worse is when I remind myself that, if this is how I feel–what my brother and my nephews are going through is multiplied exponentially. Watching them go through this is the most heartbreaking thing I’ve ever seen. My main concern is helping them through this, especially my nephews, 15 and 20, although they are arguably doing somewhat better than my brother. He and my SIL had one of those marriages where you’d have thought it was too good to be true unless you saw it with your own eyes. It wasn’t “perfect,” but it was perfect for them, and they fought hard to make it so. My brother and the boys are seeing a therapist, and they are surrounded by amazing friends and family, but, after spending the last two weeks with them in Texas, I am back home in Indiana. All three of them are great communicators when you’re standing in front of them, but they’re not very good on the phone, unless you catch them just right. My SIL was always the one I would call when I really wanted to know what was going on in their lives.

    So, basically, I am looking for any good book recommendations to deal with any and all of the types of grief I just spilled all over this thread. Though, honestly, I’ll take advice in any way, shape or form at this point. Thank you.

  29. Just a brief comment. I got three double-messages today (sent the same minute), but the last message from here was a single message. The double-messages all came from “Unputdownable” though. Hope this helps you triangulate.

Comments are closed.