101 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday 4-13-17

  1. I’m going to break with tradition a bit here. The kids are back at school which always puts me in a cozy mood. So, I’m mostly reading recipes 😉

    I have “Dorie’s Cookies” by Dorie Greenspan on reserve at the library and I have high hopes for it, but my favorite sweet recipes are from the website “Smitten Kitchen.”

    My other recommendation is the podcast “Jules and James.” It’s about a British director (Jules) in London who misdials an American artist (James) in Paris. They strike up a friendship on the phone, talking for half an hour once a week about their lives, their views on life, and art. And of course they’re both conveniently young, heterosexual, and of the opposite sex. . . You see where this is going.

    I’m going to issue a caveat. If words like “twee, ” “quirky”, or “Wes Andersoneque” make you run for the hills, don’t listen to this! But I’m finding it charming, even though I do find the characters pretentious at times. They’re artists in their twenties, falling in love (even if they don’t want to admit it), I forgive them. 😉

    If you like “Before Sunrise” or the “Griffin and Sabine” it might be for you. I love episotalry romances and this gives somewhat of that feel. The characters feel individualized and real, even though it’s only two actors speaking with sound effects, no narration. It captures that feeling when your first falling in love and learning about meeting someone new. And at least so far, the stories have managed to outline their building attraction and still make it plausible that they’re not meeting. Yet. 😉 I binged on all 17 available episodes in two days and I’m starting over again to catch the things I missed. I could go on and on, but I’ll stop.

    1. I’d forgotten about Griffin and Sabine. I have that book (two books?) somewhere. Must find.

      1. 3! I’d forgotten about them until I found them recently – I have the deluxe box. So I put them on a shelf where I’d see them and say, “Must reread.” I’ve had that conversation with myself a few times since.

      1. I actually find him scarier because he knows how government works and may actually accomplish things.

        1. Look on the bright side: The Republican Party is tearing itself apart because it fostered a socially conservative base that refuses to compromise. The Democrats are idiots but at least they’re quietly tearing themselves apart. And the bottom line is that voters gave the Republicans the Presidency and a congressional majority in both houses, and the country is going to hell. People are gonna remember that.

        2. I don’t agree with him but I still find him less scary because he’s sane and knows how govenment works.

          Although I’d rather have his wife, since he’s made her the grownup in charge.

          1. I’ll take any sane grownup in charge at this point. Although given how batshit Pence is about abortion and gay rights . . .

    1. Well, the good news is, he’s speeding toward impeachment. If he really does shut down the government or try to, I can see the Republicans finally saying that he’s got to go because he’ll make sure the Republican base thinks it’s their fault. And I can see the generals making his life miserable over the transgender ban; there’s a lousy idea that just got lousier. I figured he’d be out before midterms, but we’re watching political suicide. He’s an idiot.

      1. I was hoping for impeachment or resignation. Then I thought how little is getting done and if they were any good at this, a whole bunch more things that I don’t like would be happening. The Veep would be willing to work with the Republicans and is really, really conservative. While we would not have the strum und drang, we would have decimated what social services we have left.

        Right now I am to the point of shrugging and saying “That Jackass has diarrhia of the mouth again”. An interesting aside is that while his corporate advisory council found his comments after Charlottesville morally repugnant, most of his evangelical council hasn’t said a word. My Christian friends find this inexcusable so I know this isn’t a blanket Christian response.

        1. My Catholic and Christian friends aren’t saying anything publically. They’re holding the line. They’re sort of frenemies so it just confirms everything I already thought about them.

        2. He’s just gone back to that stupid trans ban for the military, too. Russia’s heating up so he needs something shiny for the base.
          For the only time in my life, I’m hoping the military stages a coup.

      2. Not an idiot. I think it’s far more likely we’re looking at someone with an underlying medical condition which is rapidly worsening due to stress.

        1. I don’t know about his physical health but he seems to have a personality disorder and there are no pills for that.

          1. I’m thinking dementia.

            There is evidence of sundowning. He’s walked away during the signing of two separate bills before actually signing them. The way he uses language is more basic than it was ten years ago. I haven’t seen it but supposedly he couldn’t find the door of the limousine when he was standing in front of it.

            He never released a real medical record.

            I think we need him to have a real medical examination at Bethesda Naval Hospital.

        2. Bridget, I wholeheartedly agree. My mom suffers from Alzheimer’s, and his behavior really makes me think of dementia. The way he repeats the same sentences (the Charlottesville press conference is a good example of this), his aggressive behavior, his obsession with specific events and people.

          1. I watched him during the campaign and thought, “He’s hypomanic” because he seemed to be caught up in the same mania that I get caught up in when I’m in crowds or speaking or teaching in public. But now I’m leaning toward dementia, too, with complications of narcissism and megalomania. He’s a nightmare. Fortunately, he’s an inept nightmare, alienating Congress, the press, the intelligence services, the military, and given what’s coming, probably his family. If he pardons his kids and associates, they won’t have the fifth amendment to hide behind and they’ll be forced to testify. And I’m pretty sure Mueller’s going to take him down. It’s exhausting, but I don’t think he’ll make it to 2020. I don’t think he’ll make it to 2018.

      3. I know someone in the armed forces who still strongly supports Trump AND supports the transgender ban and I asked why. He told me that hormones really cause problems and he also doesn’t believe that women should be in armed combat. I said men are guided by hormones too. He and I agreed to disagree…

        1. Oh, yeah, the old women-are-hormonal argument, usually followed by women-are-a-distratction-because-men-have-sex-drives” argument.
          Sometimes you just want to slap people.

  2. I finished the last 2 Inspector Gamache novels by Louise Penny, The Nature of the Beast and A Great Reckoning, and enjoyed both of them. The only thing I didn’t like was in Beast she references a real person, not a historical figure even though he is dead, and I think I would have been more comfortable had she made someone up. Having said that, I think most people would not know that this man was real so YMMV.

    Other than those 2 on audio, I haven’t finished a book in so long I’m not sure I know how anymore.

    1. Any chance that the formerly living person might have been in the book through a charity auction?

      1. No, he and his invention are sort of the crux the book revolves around. I don’t want to say too much because someone else here reads them and it’s all sort of a spoiler. I got to the part where The Thing happens and thought “that sounds like…”. I only know about him because I read a book about him just after he died. he died in the early 90s. She doesn’t say anything about him that goes contrary to public record as far as I know but I still wish she’d made someone up.

  3. I’ve been re-reading all of Cynthia Voight’s Tillerman cycle. I guess technically they are YA or even children’s books, but they still speak to me and I still love ALL the people in them and their internal and external struggles. The first book she wrote, Homecoming, and then Dicey’s Song won all the awards, which I find instructive but not compelling, and then she just … kept on writing about these people. They are set on the Maryland Eastern Shore, in the marshes and on the edges, and at roughly the time I was the age of the main characters. They make me cry, but I think they also make me a better human being.

    1. I love YA; not big into dystopia but a lot of YA is terrific. I loved the Lockwood novels.

      1. I don’t get the allure of dystopian fiction either. The Lockwood books are great, I love the skull.

    2. I read Dicey first, I think.

      I may love it best.

      The home ec scenes…

      And then later, the last book is so sad, especially because that’s probably you-know-who (spoileriffic)…

  4. I’m currently reading The Virgin’s Promise (Kim Hudson’s look at the Heroine’s Journey) and realizing that it’s an entire path/archetype that I don’t know as well as I should and virtually never use. I think I’ll be sitting with this one a while and seeing if it helps shake loose some of my thinking.

  5. I finished Beneath a Scarlet Sky, by Mark Sullivan. A WW II novel, set in Italy. Thoroughly enjoyed this edge of the seat adventure. It is soon to be a movie. Would highly recommend, although I did reach one point where I couldn’t read at night because it was too painful, and I feared where it was heading. Had to stop, read a few chapters of Bet Me. Next day, I resumed reading in daylight and I was fine from then on.

  6. I just finished a book that I discovered thanks to Dear Author. So Wild a Heart is by Geoffrey Trease. It’s male pov, about a young Oxford don called Tom Adam, who feels genuinely cheesed off by Oxford life, heads to Italy one long summer holidays and has all sorts of adventures in post-Napoleonic France and Italy. There is a romance and it does have an HEA, and it features two feisty young American beauties as well! I really enjoyed it and it was a terrific antidote to a book of short stories I read which I really disliked. The collection was called Emporium, it’s by a writer called Adam Johnson who is highly respected, but something about these didn’t work for me at all. The stories were all a bit ‘I have an MFA in Creative Writing and I am an aaaaarrrrrrrrtist’.

    Anyway, So Wild A Heart was a fast, fun read and I’d highly recommend it.

    1. I used to love Geoffrey Trease when I was a child – can’t remember details, though. It’ll be interesting to see how he strikes me now: thanks for the suggestion.

    2. If you can find it, Geoffrey Trease also wrote (among lots of YA historicals, which are good) a book called SNARED NIGHTINGALE, my favorite of his. It features Nicholas Bray, an English scholar in Renaissance Italy, who discovers that he’s the heir to an English earldom (intervening heirs having either died in Wars of the Roses battles, or in their beds, dying being their only achievement in that sphere). Beyond the edge of the civilized world as England appears to him, an earldom isn’t to be overlooked, so off he goes. Absolutely a fun read, with a romance ( he’d like to give her a picture or two. Probably she has never seen a picture which could be moved from one wall to another.)

  7. I am still binging on the Georgette Heyer mysteries. I am now the proud owner of all of them, even though I did not originally set out to buy them–Amazon loves me–but Heyer is the only Golden Age author who grabs me the way Christie and Sayers do. I’ve read several other highly regarded mysteries from the period, such as TRENT’S LAST CASE and SMALLBONE DECEASED, which I enjoyed, but to date the only one that really stands out for me is GREEN FOR DANGER. Loved loved loved that book! As for contemporary authors, I highly recommend Rhys Bowen’s “Her Royal Spyness” series, which are delightful comic mysteries set in the 1930s, featuring a heroine who copes with being penniless despite also being 35th in line to the English throne. There is a very engaging romance that threads through the series. Last week I literally filled up the tailgate of my car with books to give to the big annual library book sale, and when I returned home from dropping off my donations, in the mail was a package with three new books from Amazon. I’ll probably have another carload to donate by this time next year.

  8. I am alternating between A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer, and The Color of Magic by Terry Pratchett. I wonder how many pet turtles are named Little A’Tuin?

  9. I’m re-reading ‘Your Planet or Mine?’ by Susan Grant because I bought her Star series and devoured two of the books. It seemed familiar and I figured I’d read something akin before. Si here I am.

    I like the humour in all of these books. Highly recommend the Star series.

  10. Off-topic comment: I often turn to your writing/romance blog to refresh my understanding of structure, plot, etc., but recently I’ve got an error message when I try to access it. (The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity of the received data could not be verified.) I use Firefox and Mozilla says the website is not secure. Is this something you can fix? It would be a shame if that blog were no longer available.

        1. It’s not on the new server, still on WordPress, so it should open. Mollie wrote:

          “that particular blog is hosted through WordPress.com directly so we have no influence on anything at all server related. The site is safe and secure as all get out so the message is in error which means that it is somewhere on her side of things – possibly security settings within her own software . . . suggest that she google for some troubleshooting tips or maybe try another browser.”

          I’d try another browser, or the always helpful quit-your-browser-and-open-it-again or clear-cache or try-turning-the-Tcomputer-off-and-on.

          1. This opened for me fine, but WordPress blogs often show error messages for me (even our own 8LW WordPress blogs!). I’ve learned to keep calm and refresh, and usually it comes up after that. I often worry that it’s going to put off potential readers.

    1. Sometimes I am unable to pull up sites when they switch servers. You can try rebooting your router. That usually solves my issue.

  11. My most enjoyable reads this week have been Seanan McGuire’s Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day and Every Heart a Doorway. They are not part of her October Daye series. In Dusk or Dark … the heroine is a haunt, which is just weird, but I read it through in one sitting I was so engaged. She is a consistently excellent writer.

    1. I’ve been reading her Incryptid series, and trying to pace myself. I think I actually like it better than October Daye!

  12. I just finished A Cinderella Deal and Strange Bedpersons again 🙂

    And I am looking for more books with protagonists who are artists. Any recommendations? I know about Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and am not a fan of Nora Roberts descriptions of an artist’s process.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Dick Francis has two mysteries with protagonists who are artist: In The Frame and To The Hilt. It has been a while since I read either but he researched them carefully. In the Frame has to do with Fraud.

      There are a lot mysteries around that have to do with stolen art which isn’t quite the same thing.

        1. Reflex is exceptionally good. But then I love reading about photography, and since that’s an older book, it has darkroom stuff in it. I loved working in the darkroom. I probably take better pictures digitally, but the darkroom was magic.

      1. Ngaio Marsh has Agatha Troy in her Roderick Alleyn mysteries.

        It’s been a long time (although I loved the books enough to get most of them) but I remember A Clutch of Constables & Artists in Crime having lots of Troy and discussions about art.

        Sayers’ Five Red Herrings is about an artist colony.

        There’s a Christie with Poiret but although there are artists in it, I don’t believe there’s art in it.

        Have you read The Horse’s Mouth by Joyce Cary?

        (I know there’s another one that is bopping about in my brain but I can’t catch enough of it to figure it out. ; ) )

        1. It finally came to me. They’re old but Irving Stone did a book on Van Gogh called Lust for Life.

          I didn’t read it but it was one of those books that every house in the 1960s had a copy of it on the shelf.

        2. Ooh, the Agatha Christie with the artist is Five Little Pigs, which is one of my favourites. There’s art in it.

      2. I loved In the Frame; it’s not available on Kindle which makes me nuts. To the Hilt was good to read once.

          1. I like that one, too, and I think that’s his first. It’s High Stakes and it’s not on Kindle, either. Grrrrr.

            And I should have kept reading. Philby was already there with the title.

      3. The original Lovejoy books by Jonathan Gash. While he wasn’t technically an artist he knew a lot about techniques involved in forging. I never watched the television series but was always amazed by the various forging techniques. Of course, Lovejoy could produce this stuff in a few days or weeks which was highly unlikely but it was fiction.

        1. I loved them years ago, but when I tried to reread them, Lovejoy was such an ass that I couldn’t. I think he got much worse in the later ones.
          Ian McShane, however, is always good.

    2. The Golden Key by Melanie Rawn, Jennifer Roberson and Kate Elliot is a fantastic fantasy spanning generations of a clan of artists. Each author writes about a different point, and different characters, in the family’s history with the royal family of the mythical country.

    3. B.A. Shapiro’s The Art Forger. The protagonist is a painter that never quite recovered from a scandal involving her boyfriend over which of them actually painted a hugely famous piece, and she ends up involved in a scheme to forge a long-missing Degas that was stolen years ago from a Boston museum.

      1. Oh, just remembered something – The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson. I haven’t read it yet, but the reviews seemed good. The protagonist is a (literally) starving art student in Paris in the early 1900s, and she gets a job as a paid companion to make it through the winter. The blurb and the reviews on the cover suggest some sort of suspense plot, but I only read the first chapter to make sure it was interesting enough to buy, so I don’t know the specifics. Last I saw, it was in the bargain section at Barnes and Noble.

    4. I love Katie Fforde’s first novel, ‘Living Dangerously’, whose protagonist is a potter who’s got stuck making mugs that sell rather than the bold experimental pieces she’d love. Her second, ‘The Rose Revived’, has a painter as one of the three heroines, and again it’s about daring to follow your creative dream.

      Unfortunately, only her first three books are keepers. They’ve become really flimsy and unconvincing over the years.

        1. I wonder if nationality has something to do with our different views? I suspect I’m drawn to American romance because the setting’s exotic for me, and so it’s easier to suspend my disbelief. (Slightly disappointing when I go to the States to find it’s not wall-to-wall intelligent, witty, loving hunks.)

          1. That’s true for me — in reverse. My family was always into the history and genealogy of our American forebears; I reacted by being attracted to medieval stuff, especially British. For instance, I like Pope’s The Perilous Gard but I can’t get myself to read The Sherwood Ring. Similarly, Bujold’s Wide Green World, Wrede’s 13th Child, and Bull’s Territory seem too improbable to me to be interesting. Of course, my fascination with medieval times compels me to travel, just as you choose to visit the States. Works perfectly!

      1. Good to know. I have mixed feelings about her books. Glad to know someone else feels the same.

    5. Susan Vreeland has written several historical fiction books, based around the lives of artists. I particularly liked The Passion of Artemesia.

    6. Aaron Elkins is better known for his Gideon Oliver books, but he and his wife Charlotte Elkins have a couple of series that revolve around art and art forgery–the Alix London books (THE ART WHISPERER, etc.) and the Chris Norgren ones (A GLANCING LIGHT.) Some of the books are credited to the authors as a couple and others to them as individuals. (They also have several books in which the protagonist is a woman on the professional golf circuit.) All very readable.

    7. I just finished “To the Hilt” by Dick Francis. The lead/protagonist is an artist, Al or Alexander, who is helping his mother’s husband following a heart attack and theft. The usual connection to horses is through Al’s wife who is a trainer. A significant part of the story is about an 80 year old woman who inspires Al to paint a portrait of her showing her both as she is now and as she was. I really enjoyed re-reading it.

    8. by Charlotte Elkins and Aaron Elkins
      A Dangerous Talent (An Alix London Mystery Book 1)Mar 6, 2012
      A Cruise to Die For (An Alix London Mystery Book 2)Sep 3, 2013
      The Art Whisperer (An Alix London Mystery Book 3)Aug 19, 2014
      The Trouble with Mirrors (An Alix London Mystery Book 4)

  13. Traitor’s Knot by Cryssa Bazos. If you like history, romance, adventure, suspense… It takes place in England/Scotland during Cromwell’s time. I stayed up half of last night finishing it.

  14. So I’m not sure if I’m recommending this, but I am currently reading “The Family Fang” (now a motion picture!). I’m only 20% into it, and I hate the parents and pity the kids. Like, I really hate the parents. The more I think about it, the angrier I am about what I’m reading because they seem so goddamned self absorbed, putting their “art” before the welfare of their children and that is a good way to piss me off. I have no idea where the book is going, I don’t know how I feel about the fact that we’re hopping back and forth between the kids being adults and kids, so I really don’t know if I’m going to finish it. Has anyone else read it? Thoughts?

  15. I’m reading a bunch of women’s fiction (especially any with humor in them) since that’s what I’m writing now, gods help me.

    I just finished The Simplicity of Cider by Amy E. Reichert which was charming and quirky and full of heart (I immediately ordered her first two books, which supposedly had humor, which this one didn’t).

    And I read The Perfect Recipe for Love and Friendship by NYT Best seller Shirley Jump, which was technically well written, and I should have loved, but didn’t. For some reason it took me the first half of the book to get at all attached to the characters, although I studied the writing and in theory the author did all the right things. It did suck me in my the end of the book, but maybe it suffered from following the one I mentioned first, which was stellar.

    Now I’m reading the newest Kristan Higgans, On Second Thought. It’s really well done, but man, is she mean to her protagonists. I’m going to need to read some nice cheerful British romcoms when I’m done.

    1. I really like Sarah Addison Allen for women’s fiction. They are about women supporting each other, with just the faintest whiff of magic.

    2. Re Perfect Recipe: I’m with you. I tried really hard to like that one.

      The “perfect” and “recipe” that are on my bedside table in the re-read stack are Barbara O’Neal’s “How to Bake a Perfect Life” and “The Lost Recipe for Happiness.” Really fun, easy to get lost in her world, great characters (and always good dogs), and I’m usually starving by page 50 after they talk about all this fabulous food. All of her books are good. Of the ones that she wrote as Barbara Samuel that I’ve read, not as binge-worthy.

  16. I’m slowly (not slowly) making my way through the Julie Garwood FIB series. I read at home and listen in the car. I have never read a series that was so hit or miss. Some of the books I love! And some bore me to death. And they don’t have a consistent narrator for the audiobooks. There is one lady that is so good – great accents. Another that sounds like she’s shouting every sentence. Sigh.

  17. I just finished The Golem and the Jinni, a fascinating blend of magic, history, and reality set in 1899 NYC among Syrian and Jewish immigrants. It’s an epic fantasy with a slow-growing romance between two non-human beings at its core.

  18. I recently reread Cotillion by Georgette Heyer and had fun checking off things that Bujold adapted in Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. The plot (playing married), Freddy compared with Ivan (very good at what he does; not up to family’s expectations; inherently kind; succeeds by using his own good points mixed with circumstance) Kitty compared with Tej (pretty much the same list as the guys’). Fun stuff.

  19. Just finished Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw (cried over a scene on my lunch break, actually – little bit awkward) and am eager to read the next two books about Greta Helsing, doctor to the undead. Humor, a creeping menace, a delightfully monstrous cast, and a little bit of explanation of the similarities between magic and physics (there is an evil lightbulb. Just sayin’).

    Also, in the paranormal professionals vein (ba-dum-tssh), I have enjoyed Drew Hayes e-book-only series about Fred Fletcher, vampire accountant.

    1. LOL. Going to hunt Fred up. That’s good for the price of admission right there.

  20. Read some Sarah Maclean historical romance. Good sense of humour, reminded me of Julia Quinn a bit. Like Julia Quinn it features the occasional language error that should have been picked up by an editor (or indeed any real English person).

    Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell is good for the conversations, the college life and trying to find a life outside being consumed by a fandom and fanfic. However (like the character) Rowell can’t edit and struggles to pull the plot together in a sensible way. The characters just meander about. Would be great at about 70% of the length.

    Now I’m On The Road with Jack Kerouac. Surprisingly readable.

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