43 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday

  1. Mick Herron, Slow Horses. Spy thriller, first in a series based on a bunch of has-beans tucked away in a stray office in London. Am enjoying it, just the kind of thing I need as I contemplate packing etc.

  2. A couple of frustrating near-misses, plus ‘A Duke in Shining Armour’ by Loretta Chase, which I thought at first was going to be too farcical, but which she made into a wonderful romance as well as a comedy.

    And then there was work: if you like Sherlock Holmes and other Victorian/Edwardian adventure stories, then you’d probably enjoy ‘The Beetle’ by Richard Marsh – a sensation novel published in 1897 which sold better than ‘Dracula’, apparently. It’s told by four narrators, of which my favourite was the last, an aristocratic private detective. It would be a good read if you want to set fiction in late Victorian London: it ends with a high-speed chase (they must have got to 60 miles an hour) and there were telephonic messages galore.

    Penguin are reissuing it in a few months, which is why I was reading the proofs, but it’s bound to be available in print or ebook.

  3. I’m really enjoying The Harry Dresden stories in audio. Even though Harry can be an @sshat sometimes.
    I feel like I first saw it recced here, so thank you, person!

  4. I’m reading Arabella by Heyer, and Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach.
    I started reading Wild by Cheryl Strayed at my sister’s house while holding my newborn nephew and will pick it up again.

    Amazon prime reading has some travel books that are easy to read pieces of, so Lonely Planet’s Kyoto book was fun, and the Korea book has been interesting too.

    I finished Sprig Muslin a couple weeks ago. It was good but more of a character study than a romance. The caper elements were fun.

    1. I love Mary Roach so hard. I need to check and see if she’s got anything new out. I don’t think I got the military one yet.

        1. Grunt was really good. Packing for Mars is my favorite, but I have enjoyed everything of her’s I’ve read.

  5. I’m on the last 10% of The Haunting of Maddy Clare. I’m not sure if it was a recommendation from here, or if it was a review on AAR. I’m very glad I heard about it, because it’s the kind of book you can’t put down. I’ve been forcing myself to not gobble it up all at once.

    1. I have all of Simone St James’s books and eagerly wait for the next one.

      What is the right way add add possessive to a word that ends in s? I can never remember. I blame that on Terry Pratchett. He has a character who put an apostrophe before every final s. I want more Vimes stories dammit!

      1. If you want a rule, classical names don’t have an additional s; so Pegusus’ wings, for example. Other than that, I go by pronunciation, which of course can vary. So the Wordsworths’ passion for walking (meaning William and Dorothy), but the Davies’s love of bananas. Actually, no: should be Davieses’, I think. As for keeping up with the Joneses. Never become a copy-editor; it ruins the nerves. (Especially when you’re trying to be grammatical after a couple of glasses of wine.)

        Stick with singular names that end in S: James’s apple; Dickens’ novels or Dickens’s novels, depending on how you pronounce it. The Wordsworth example sticks in my mind because I had an author who spelled it Wordsworths’s, which I did not agree with.

  6. Yesterday, I finished Haruki Murakami’s Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche. It’s non-fiction and is less about reporting the event as a coherent narrative than it is presenting a mosaic of experience. He interviewed as many people as he could who were present on the trains, and he presents each person’s account with little or no commentary. He starts with a description of where the person grew up, where they work (if not for the subway), why they were on the train. The accounts are organized by which train was involved and he opens each section by describing the attack itself — who carried it out, what happened when they attempted to puncture the packets of sarin, something about who those people were.

    The middle section is a meditation on the attack. The third section, which was added later and is based on a series of stories in a paper, involves interviews with those members or former members of Aum Shinrikyo who were willing to talk. He challenges those people more than he did the victims, and in the preface to that section, he explains why.

    It was a fascinating read. The only downside is I’m having trouble settling on something else…

    1. I’ve only ever read his Memoir, What I talk about when I talk about running, enjoyable, left me quite thoughtful

  7. I just finished Magpie Murders, by Horowitz (can’t recall first name) anyway it was entertaining. A story within a story, along with murders to solve, can get confusing but I think in this author’s hands it was well done. And no, I did not guess this one correctly.

    1. Ooh, I’m saving that for when I have minor surgery and have to keep my feet up for a while. Well, really only one foot but I imagine I’ll keep them both up.

  8. I’ve been reading a collection of short stories by Georgette Heyer called “Snowdrift”. I bought it without noticing that it is basically “Pistols for Two”, but it does have three more previously unpublished stories. I don’t think it’s Heyer’s strength but I am liking it because it is Heyer and I haven’t read any of her short stories in a long time.

    Also, thank you to the person who recently recommended Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorne and Grim series. I’m on the third book, “Den of Wolves” and I’m still engaged. Really good, unusual and imperfect characters.

    I’ve also been listening to James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small. I guess this could go in comfort reads; happy animal stories.

  9. I’ve been on a horror/thriller tear reading Hunter Shea’s novels. He does a good job of taking old horror tropes and making them fun and engaging. About to start the newest Bryant & May novel.

  10. I’m currently reading a pretty good fantasy novel called Vagrant, but honestly I’m still busily recommending Martha Wells’ All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries) to anyone who gets in range. It’s science fiction, but it’s the protagonist/narrator that makes it such a treat. (Also, it’s basically a novella, so reading it isn’t a huge time commitment.)

    1. If you liked her Murderbot, you would probably like any or all of the other things Martha Wells wrote! She was some amazing shapeshifting flying lizardy things having adventures around a world of ruins (Cloud Roads and following books) a set of books about multiple worlds and wars across them (The Wizard Hunters – a top comfort read for me, I’m not sure why) and several stand alone books. Her characters are so solid and interesting, I like her work a lot.

    2. I fell madly for Murderbot and starting rereading it almost immediately. Wells’ other work is great, but not comfortable like (strangely) Murderbot is for me.

    3. I LOVE Martha Wells. Her Raksura (the flying shape shifters) novels are great stories and amazing fantasy world building.

      The first Murderbot book ‘All Systems Red’ is tremendous too. I can;t wait for #2.

  11. Nonfiction, “An Old-Fashioned Christmas, Sweet Traditions for Hearth and Home, Ellen Stimson.
    I don’t have much experience with happy families – except the ones who live/d next door – so I don’t relate much to the family part. I do try to create traditions, though, and I like to cook and eat, so RECIPES. Stimson offers several meat recipes with cocoa that don’t even approach a mole, a pulled pork in root beer stacked on a sandwich with tangy coleslaw and a Guinness beef stew. For movie night, bacon-maple syrup popcorn looks great. There’s buttermilk fried chicken, creamy tarragon eggs and baked eggs and cheddar chive buns. Also a chapter on treats for four-legged friends. My little heart was warmed by this book and the terrific photographs, and a heart-warming holiday read is one of my personal traditions. Stimson mentions her dear friend Julia Reed, who is another writer I admire. All about the win here, and heart-warming is not as easy to find as you would think.

  12. My first landlady was from Ireland and she made us a welcome to the building (50+ years ago) with a beef stew that was so good I could never duplicate it. I’ve tried over the years maybe the missing ingredient was the Guinness. Or maybe because she was Irish she used lamb. Just checked my Irish cookbook and that calls for stout as an ingredient, the Cape Breton cookbook uses lamb. Am I going to remember this come St Patricks Day, no. But Thea those recipes look so tempting and I am so hungry after a day of tree decorating it’s something to look forward to for now. In the meantime I’m still reading legal thrillers, I’m up to the 6th book in John Ellsworth’s, Michael Gresham series knowing that he’s going to kill of another favorite character.

  13. I’ve just finished The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden, a gorgeous retelling of the Russian Vasilisa story. It took me a bit to get into it, but I’m really glad I stuck with it.

  14. I’m re-reading Lindsay Buroker’s Dragon Blood series (in preparation for I think 5 additional books in the series coming out soon). It’s only the first re-read, not sure I’d be inclined to read it again in the future, since it doesn’t have the layers of a Pratchett or some other comfort reads, but it’s a rip-roaring adventure series, holding up well to a re-read and providing comfort in a stressful month.

  15. Wanted to recommend Silvia Moreno-Garcia — her third book (every one a different genre) is a romance set rather like an Ibbotson in a not-quite-ours middle Europe in the 1800s-ish. I personally didn’t like the hero, but that’s partly because he reminded me of my first boyfriend who left me. Beautiful writing and a cool heroine who likes science.

    I adore her second, a futuristic noir vampire tale about a young vamp trying to survive the war against her particular type of vamp by the other vamps. There’s a very cool dog and a boy (teenage) who is a good kid in a bad sitch. Set in Mexico City.

    Her first is also in Mexico City but the 1980s (mostly) and about music and magic and old friends.

  16. I am reading the second Scarlet Pimpernel novel, which I am actually enjoying more than the first, probably because when I recently re-read the first I was slapped upside the head with the gross historical inaccuracies. Also the whole husband-and-wife story was not a winner for me, and she is absent from this one, so yay.

  17. Now a Major Motion Picture. Drops in April. YA book about a teen whose grandmother wrote a fantasy series that people call “feminist Tolkien.” She’s reluctantly on the set of the film adaptation.

    1. Oh, Mary Wilkins Freeman is marvelous. There are two stories I’ve lost that I think were by her. One was about a maiden aunt who makes a quilt, and the other was about an incident in a cornfield (trying to avoid spoilers) and they were both marvelous. I liked “The Revolt of Mother,” too, especially that last line of the husband’s. “If I’d known . . . ”

      ETA: “The Bedquilt” is Dorothy Canfield Fisher and it’s lovely.
      And then you sent me down the rabbit hole of stories I read long ago and loved. There was a marvelous one about two black sisters and their grandmother’s quilts,and I thought it was by Toni Cade Bambara (WONDERFUL writer, most famous short story is “The Lesson,” but she was just marvelous all the time) and I can’t remember the title. It always made me cry at the end (good cry) and I must have read it dozens of times. Damn, I’m going to have to go looking through my old books after all.

      ETA AGAIN: The two-sisters story is Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use.” Brilliant, spare character work: http://xroads.virginia.edu/~ug97/quilt/walker.html.

    2. (-: I was going to mention “Cat Person”. It was quite realistic, yes. But while I can see a lot of women nodding and going, “Uh-huh,” I wonder how a lot of men read it? It took a lot of courage to write, because we are sooo invested in not making other people feel bad. And I think this could make a lot of sensitive men paranoid.

      I guess I should look online for responses, but to tell the truth, I’m a little scared about the anger I’m sure that’s going to be there. (Oh yes, that story spoke to me a lot. And it’s not quite my experience, but close in some ways, and very close to the stories I’ve heard other women tell.)

      1. That was interesting! When I just googled “Cat Person story” to find it again before writing the post above, I got results from BBC news and an Australian paper. I can’t remember a viral short story before.

  18. Another vote for Loretta Chase’s Duke in Shining Armor. Trying to avoid spoilers. … It starts with a comic road trio, during which we learn of the hero’s friends/family/community. And both his and her extended families, and the jilt trope, and the period’s overblown women’s fashions all play their parts, with a small side trip on the importance of headgear in men’s fashion. This is the first of three interconnected stories, and waiting will be hard. I thought about posting this on Comfort Tuesday, but I’d been up so late the night before binge reading to the end that I was already late for work.

    1. * road trip, not road trio. still a bit sleep-lagged after updating my solstice and Christmas playlists. Thank you as always, Jenny, for The Drifters

  19. I have been reading!! I just finished The Upside of Stress, and I think it’s going to change my life. The idea is that if we take stress as a positive, and something we need in order to grow? Revolutionary. I’m always taking the easy way out, so this may encourage me to try things that are stressful but ultimately beneficial. For me, it’s the right book at the right time.

    I want to read “Lost Girl” before the new year so I can return it to the friend who lent it to me.

  20. I finished a re-read of Terry Pratchett’s SNUFF this morning. I miss reading new tales of Vimes and Carrot and Cheery (a lot of etc) and am sad there will be no more.

  21. Reading all these thoughts finally reminded me that I haven’t reread the Isaac of Girona series, Caroline Roe, in much too long. Beginning with Cure for a Charlatan.


    I just read a wall-banger although I didn’t bang the wall until the end. It’s the second book in a series, and the thing that makes me crazy is that the author is a really good writer who’s done marvelous books, and I know this was only her second, but sweet baby Jesus, the female lead in this book is Too Dumb To Live, and it makes me crazy when women writers do that to women characters. This Heroine figures out who the murderer is and goes to see this person and explain that she knows everything and the murderer says, “Huh, you’re right. Want some tea?” And TDTL HEROINE SAYS YES. Even better, the murderer is a herbalist and knows a thousand ways to poison somebody, which TDTLH knows because she’s interviewed this person twice about herbalism. The big tension at the end is Will The Hero Arrive To Save The Heroine Before She Darwins Herself? Duh.

    Never again.

  23. That happened to me with a four part series about a detective/policeman on the Shetland Islands. The series was really enhanced by the gradual, enticing love interest. In book four the love interest gets murdered out of her own brashness, running out into the night to face the murderer. I gave all four books to the library book sale, worrying that I was just damning someone else into disappointment.

    But it is so hard to destroy a book.

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