63 thoughts on “This is a Good Book for the last Thursday of Summer

  1. I’ve just finished reading the kids’ book The City of Secret Rivers by Jacob Sager Weinstein. It brought a smile to my face every time I picked it up. I loved the snarky heroine, Hyacinth. And the idea that 90 per cent of London’s history makes sense, while 10 per cent is absolutely bonkers. That 10 per cent is where you look for the magic. When Hyacinth re-plumbs the taps in her aunt’s flat (her aunts and grandmother taught her a whole lot of useful skills), a supercharged drop of magical water escapes, and she has to get it back before it destroys London. It appealed to the same funnybone that loves Monty Python, Blackadder and Horrible Histories.

  2. I don’t have any recommendations this week, but thank you to whomever recommended the podcast “The Black Tapes.” I’m binge listening while doing housework and cooking and loving it!

  3. It’s spring it’s spring it’s spring it’s spring yippee!!!

    “In winter say the snow-bound, “She shall come with the spring leaping upon the hills.”

    And in the summer heat the reapers say, “We have seen her dancing with the autumn leaves, and we saw a drift of snow
    in her hair.”

    All these things have you said of beauty. ” (Kahlil Gibran)

    I don’t have a good book to offer, but one to request…I met someone today called Casimir. I’ve read a book with a Casimir, but I can’t remember what it was and it’s driving me crazy. Anyone know what it might be?

    1. Probably not the same book, but “A City of Wood” by Kelly Faunce has a character named Kasimir Merriweather. It’s an alternate reality version of the Great Chicago Fire with ghosts thrown in. It’s a fun book and worth reading.

  4. I liked Long May She Reign by Rhiannon Thomas. 400+ royals/nobles get taken out when the king’s birthday cake is poisoned, the highest ranked surviving royal is 23rd in line and a teenage girl scientist who has to find out whodunit. I also read one called The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault, about a teenage girl who reads tea leaves who gets drawn into a missing persons case.

  5. I’m re-reading The Summer Tree by Guy Gavriel Kay, which is an old fave. Also read Resurrection Bay by Emma Visjic (good Aussie crime/mystery) and have started her next one And Fire Came Down. Female aimussie crime writers are doing well lately. I also like The Dry by Jane Harper earlier this year.

  6. It’s not a book but in the comments section of Captain Awkward there’s a fun piece of fan fiction involving insurance companies. there’s Flo, Mayhem and the State Farm teleportation jingle. It’s short but oh so fun.

    I’m reading Robin McKinley because I found some of her books in Kindle Unlimited. And one of them mentioned a child’s author whom I was trying to remember – Farjeon. So I’m off to find Farjeon’s version of Cinderella, which I remember reading as a kid.

    I also put McKinley’s Beauty on my 9 year old daughter’s Kindle because first read it about her age. She’s interested so we’ll see how that goes.

    1. That’s THE GLASS SLIPPER. Also don’t overlook MARTIN PIPPIN (first IN THE APPLE ORCHARD and second IN THE DAISY FIELD).

  7. Between today or tomorrow I have to go the library to pick up some books/dvds that I have on hold before they close for the Labor Day weekend. (1) Seeing Red by Sandra Brown, (2) Just the Sexiest Man Alive by Julie James, (3) book 2 Grim Shadows by Jenn Bennett (4) Sulpher Springs by Wm Kent Krueger for my husband and (5) Golden Years a British dvd comedy heist caper for us. The only actor I’m familiar with is Alun Armstrong from New Tricks. On my night stand is Wired By Julie Garwood, my kindle is charging with a new release from Kristen Ashley, The Time in Between the third in her Magdalene series. She writes the best epilogues. If that isn’t enough I’m currently reading what’s new to me, a paranormal romance, Bitter Spirits by Jenn Bennett that takes place during the Roaring Twenties in San Francisco, first in a 3 book series, about bootleggers, mediums, ghosts, the Tong etc. I think that’s just about enough for the end of summer.

    1. I just read the blurb for Bitter Spirits on Amazon, and I must read that book. Thank you for that.

  8. I am currently a little over halfway through The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin. It is a slow read because there is a lot to take in – she’s building a world which is totally foreign in structure and yet completely familiar in terms of peoples’ interactions with each other. It is intricate, well thought out and engaging. I am at the point where things are beginning to become clear a little at the time, so I have high hopes that it will finish well.

  9. I just finished a book called Equal of the Sun about princess Pari Khan Khanoon, daughter of the shah of Iran in the 1570’s. Princess Pari and her faithful eunuch Javaher work together to restore justice in the kingdom, despite the limitations placed on them by gender and status. It’s a factionalized history – Pari was real, Javaher was not. Interesting read. Somewhat limited because the person trying to influence change (Pari) is confined to the harem and can only speak to women, eunuchs, and male relatives, so her “action” isn’t very active. The POV character is Javaher, and he is able to move about a little more freely.

    PS – I keep seeing Hell, MI in the headlines and it made me think of Devil’s Island.



  10. Dirty Dancing at Devil’s Leap by Julie Anne Long was released on Tuesday, 8/29 and I recommend it as a 5 Star Read. The humor sparkled and the character development was also very good. I loved it

  11. Thank you to all who recommended Just One Damn Thing After Another. I have been working my way through the series with great enjoyment.

    Speaking of time travel, I listened to Kindred by Octavia Butler earlier this summer and I can’t get it out of my head. It’s a difficult book but rewarding.

    Now I’m reading and listening to a lot of Elizabeth Peters.

    1. That’s what I’m doing. Bookbub had one of her Amelia Peabody books and I’m now working my way back through the series.

  12. Not a book, but an article in The Guardian on Diana by Hilary Mantel. I don’ know how to post the link, but you can find it on the Guardian website. Not only is it spot on, but it’s beautifully written.

    1. I’ve got it saved for later: must read. There’s been quite a lot on the radio today as I was driving – had to keep switching stations to avoid. She’s not someone I admired or felt connected to.

  13. I am currently tapped out on new books that interest me, so I’ve started a re-read of the Harry Potter series. I am looking forward to the newest book in the October Day series by Seanan McGuire, The Brightest Fell, and the new “In Death” book from JD Robb AKA Nora Roberts, both of which drop on Tuesday (right after my long weekend is over, of course /sigh).

    1. I’m in a holding pattern, waiting for THE BRIGHTEST FELL. Nothing else (in terms of books, I mean) appeals right now, and I’ve got a whole long weekend to get through before it’s released!

  14. I’ve tried “Discovery of Witches ” for the third time, and I just can’t go forward….anyone else read this and does it get better or keep the same beat? I had some hope for it and there were good moments but I just can’t commit, its not holding me. On the other hand I’m reading Jim Butchers , “The Aeronauts Windlass” and am totally charmed.

      1. I’m so glad I’m not the only one! I really tried but I just couldn’t get beyond some of the TSTL moments.

    1. I read the whole book, but didn’t bother to read the next one. And I’m a witch who writes about witches 🙂 It just felt flat and long-winded to me.

      On the other hand, I mostly don’t read steampunk, and The Aeronauts Windlass was FABULOUS.

      1. I loved the Aeoronauts Windlass as well and steampunk is not often to my enjoyment either.

    2. I thought it was just me. I tried a few years ago, and again this year, just couldn’t make it very far.

      1. Yep. I got about a page in and thought, “Not my thing.” Which is weird because I love witch stories.

  15. I am rereading the Amelia Peabody books, Igot the Painted Queen out of the library and that started me off. I am enjoying them tremendously. Julie James is very enjoyable I like her heroines and her humor. These are the books I most enjoy now, I don’t like angsty books or movies any more. I really enjoy your recommendations and have found new authors from all of you. Thanks.

  16. I absolutely adored the last book I finished. The book is Hate To Want You by Alisha Rai and it is fabulous. Great characterization with a well-integrated backstory. Great anatagonist, great protagonists, great supporting cast, great plot, very romantic. Possibly too much sex for some people, but really great book!

  17. For sentiment’s sake, I read The Painted Queen and reaffirmed that for me the series coagulated somewhere around book three in same-old-same-old, nothing new on the ground is moving. For me, Peabody is not as amusing as she believes she is. Barbara Michaels at least changes settings. I live for those moments when the pent-up (if not downright constipated) male protag informs the independent female protag of his passion for her and that they’ll be getting married. She says, “of course,” he shrugs, and they continue untying ropes by which the villain has bound them. All very donchaknow and unpurple in declaration and acceptance.
    Went on to Martin Walker’s newest The Templars’ Last Secret, a police procedural set in St. Denis in the Dordogne. Lots of action for Bruno, chief of police, with appropriate time-outs to appreciate wine, food and regional beauty. History prehistoric, medieval and recent past features and the character cast is individualized and distinguishable. I shall return to the library shelves and read the series from its beginning.

    1. I always jump from the first Elizabeth Peters, ‘Crocodile on the Sandbank’ to I think the eighth, ‘The Hippopotamus Pool’, and then stop before the last few, since they didn’t work either. But I think the heart of the series is really strong: she just took quite a while to drop the farce and find a tone that worked; and then once the series arc was done, she wrote a few redundant epilogues. Just in case you gave up too soon . . .

    2. I didn’t realize The Painted Queen had been finished and released! I look forward to reading it! I thought the earliest books in the series were far and away the best (the first two are my favorites, followed by Deeds of the Disturber (I think that was #4?), but I would like to read the book that was her final project.

  18. Alan Cumming has written about his life in “Not My Father’s Son” and it is amazing that he survived such a brutal father. Your heart will hurt for him.
    “Keys To The Castle” tells of a newly wed whose European husband is killed and she is hit with surprise after surprise-he owns a castle, has a daughter and married her thinking she was rich.
    “The Mistress of Nothing” is based on a true story from the 1860’s. Lady Duff Cooper must go to Egypt for her health and leaves her husband and children at home. She takes a ladies maid and they soon learn the language and customs. When the ladies maid falls in love with an Egyptian, Lady Duff Cooper shows the terrifying power that the rich had over their servants.
    “A Rural Affair” takes place in modern day England. A stay at home mom with 2 small children has a strict husband who is always taking long rides on his bicycle. When he is killed in a freak accident, she finds out lots of bad things about him and starts trying to live again.
    Eva Ibbotson wrote these wonderful books-“A Countess Below Stairs” and “The Star of Kazan” about young women who must face difficult times. Every character is just so good.

  19. I’m working on another Sarina Bowen. Bittersweet. This is my first M/F book of hers. I can’t get over how she keeps pulling me in with her characters, right from the very beginning.

    1. The rest of that series is even better. My favorite was the last one, Steadfast. It’s not easy to write a contemporary with a believable male virgin, but she does it. And the conflict is solid. Enjoy!

  20. Oh, and I just finished Anne Stuart’s Lord Satan’s Bride. It’s great fun, with lots and lots of banter and misunderstandings 🙂

  21. I read Ready Set Rogue by Manda Collins. It is a romance but features women scholars as heroines. Series called Studies in Scandal.

    Good premise. Nice side of mystery.

  22. I’m reading Deeper by Robin York (aka Ruthie Knox), and it’s wonderful. I’m not always a fan of NA romance, but York does a fabulous job of digging into the characters’ inner lives, the shiny and tarnished, and making you care. I adore Ride with Me (written under Knox)–it’s a new favorite reread, not least of which because it has competence porn for both the hero and heroine who are bicycling across the US together. Nontraditional sports plus romance plus sexy times plus competence plus mature adults? Catnip, for sure!

  23. I enjoyed the first episode of ‘Strike: The Cuckoo’s Calling’ on BBC1, based on the book by Robert Galbraith/J. K. Rowling. Great characters, and a London I recognized.

    Caught three episodes of Robert Webb reading from his memoir ‘How Not to Be a Boy’ on the radio this week: really good; funny and touching and honest.

  24. I just finished reading Kristan Higgins’ ON SECOND THOUGHT and it was brutal and funny and heartbreaking and had one of the best, most satisfying endings ever. (Women’s Fiction) Highly recommended.

  25. I really liked An Extraordinary Union, about two Union spies (a black woman and a Scottish man) who meet while under cover in the South. The author did a really good job of not shying away from the horror of that time period, but also not letting it be what the story is about. It’s a really, really good historical adventure romance about fighting for what’s right, teamwork as romance, seeing people complexly and with compassion while not letting them off the hook, and treasuring joy when you find it. Plus some ship stealing, romancing, and sequel bait, cause why not?

    1. Every manuscript I’ve ever dumped would have been a horrible disappointment to my readers. (Hell, some of the ones I’ve published have been a horrible disappointment to my readers.)

      I’ll get the first draft of the first scene of Nita up today with the current draft and you can see why early drafts should NEVER see the light of day except as a teaching tool.

  26. I read an excerpt from a new Robert Webb book (a memoir), and cried. Can’t decide if I want to read more or not. So moved, but I hate crying.


    I’m pretty sure it’s got a happy-for-now ending . . . . Although, Peep Show (the TV show) ended on a sour note. Those guys weren’t writing rom coms for boys.

    I also fell into a book on the internet archive called “Japanese Girls and Women” written by an American woman who was an advisor to the Meiji government. (-: Her name was Alice Mabel Bacon, of all things. I think I might finish it. I will provide the link if anyone wants it, but I don’t want to get stuck in moderation.

  27. I read three contemporary romances in quick succession as I’m on a panel for the RNA (UK equivalent to RWA) Novel of the Year. The final one I read was by Milly Johnson, called The Queen of Wishful Thinking. One of the most readable romances I’ve come across in a while, and I suspect I’ll be reading more Milly Johnson book – I have quite a back catalogue to work through. It’s very much an English book – set in Yorkshire, antiques business background and I found the antagonist characters very convincing too. Absolutely no sagging middle, it’s the first time in a long while that I’ve read until 2am because I simply had to finish a book.

    Am now back to wrestling with The Occupation Trilogy by Patrick Modiano. He’s a French writer who won the Nobel prize back in 2014 and the book I’m reading is his first three novellas all set in WW2 France. It feels indigestible. As an antidote, I’ll be reading the third in the Cormoran Strike series, Career of Evil.

  28. I just devoured Sarah Rees Brennan’s new book In Other Lands within 24 hours of my sister lending me her copy. 🙂 It’s an epic YA fantasy that pulls no punches in exploring what it actually means to be brought into a magical land of mermaids and harpies and warrior elves, the choices you have to make about your life and so on. It’s also, of course, about growing up and trying to find love, learning that you do in fact deserve to be loved for who you are and there will be someone who will choose you first. I cried so much, but the ending is a happy one, I promise. (Oh, and the protag is bi, so if anyone’s looking for some great bi representation this is an excellent one.) Plus, the protag is fluent in no-filters snark, which is both hilarious and currently EXTREMELY cathartic to read someone else saying all the things I can’t say because it wouldn’t be Nice or Professional or somesuch nonsense. 😛 10/10, highly recommend, y’all.

    (Bonus fact: the way this book came to be is pretty interesting, too. It started as a short story in an anthology, then Brennan decided to write a free prequel short story and share it online for her fans, only it turned into a novel-length epic behemoth of gloriousness. Then she merged the original story and the prequel together, edited and streamlined and added a satisfying ending for the story and character arcs, and published it as one book so that we could all delight in our own complete copy.)

  29. I just finished Belgravia by Julian Fellowes (creator of Downton Abbey). It’s his 3rd novel. I loved his first one (Snobs) and highly recommend it. I liked his second one and recommend that. I thought this one was… okay. It’s well written and well constructed, but the story never grabbed me, and I thought most of the characters in this one seemed like stock players.

    Currently 2/3 of the way through The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie, which I am enjoying. It’s part of my years-long project to read all her books. I never got into Christie when I was younger, but I tried her again 4-5 years ago and really enjoy her writing now.

  30. I just read the latest Tessa Dare, “The Duchess Deal: Girl Meets Duke.” Thoroughly enjoyable, extemely light hearted, and the banter was a bit “if Crusie wrote romantic historical” (when I said that to my husband, he’s like, “why doesn’t she?” And I’m like “cause she doesn’t?”). It’s a Beauty and the Beast story, though not so Stockholm-y. My one quibble is with how he becomes a Beast: per every other historical romance novel (clearly I’ve done my research), dukes don’t get sent to the front lines during a war! ??‍♀️

    1. You have to research to do historicals. I actually started one once. It was more historical re-enactment, truly terrible. Also very derivative.

      That’s why the Zo stories are set in an alternate history. I still have to do some light research (like “When did they get electric lights?”) but I won’t trip over the details. In theory.

  31. I am reading the Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster and loving it. On Good book Thursday I went to The Troubador in West Los Angeles because my critique partners kids were headlining. The Fontaines were very good, but I fell in love with a group called Luci, and their harmonies. They had one song, Head Full of Venom the might make Nita’s Playlist. I went online to find a link to the song so I could share it with you. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3gcUVTTUsEI&list=RD5S3z0HJD820&index=2

  32. Anybody read the Ellie Haskell mysteries by Dorothy Cannell? They’re funny and witty and chockfull of characters reminiscent of Heyer’s but more modern-day and everyman. Start with The Thin Woman (the first one in the series). You’ve got your fiancé for hire who’s a bit claustrophobic so he ends up driving around in an open-top car in the cold British mist…Someday somewhere I hope to use Ellie’s line (as best as I can remember) after he apologizes for the ride: “Not at all–I feel rather crisped up, like lettuce.”

    The titles themselves are gems too: She Shoots to Conquer, Withering Heights.

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