This is a Good Book Thursday, April 19, 2018

I read Skinny Dip again since I’d recommended it.  Still love it.  My Heyer binge is over along with my Rex Stout binge, so I haven’t been obsessively reading.  I think I’m going to skip the Comey book; I read the Fire and Fury book and that was enough, especially since the ongoing story is hard to top: Michael Cohen’s mystery client is Sean Hannity?  Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.  Sorry.  (Not sorry.  Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.)  I do have several new books I got because of Bookbub including Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About because I loved the sample and Fluent Forever: How to Learn Any Language Fast and Never Forget It because it’s time I got the basics in something besides English (my Spanish needs a lot of help and my French and Italian are pretty much non-existant).  Also The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Composting.   I have plans, Big Plans.

So what are you reading?




86 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 19, 2018

  1. Kristan Higgins blog – I use Amazon to see if my favorite authors have anything new and came across her blog. I’m now up to June 2013 where she writes about being dumped by two boyfriends and has given up dating until she meets McIrish. I read it periodically to stretch it out and give my funny bone a jumpstart. Thanks to all you humorous authors sometimes we need a good tickle.

      1. She is a very smart woman. To get fired by Trump for standing up for herself on Russian sanctions? She may be the only one to come out of this admin unscathed. I don’t like her politics especially, but I have hella admiration for “I am never confused.”

  2. I’ve finally read something new! I just finished “My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry” by Fredrik Backman. A seven year old is sent on a quest by her late grandmother to right some wrongs. It sucked me right in. It is funny and sad at the same time.

    1. That was the first Backman I read! It swallowed me whole. He’s soooo good. If you liked this one, you will love the rest! And, if you haven’t read about Ove yet, do it. I went from laughing to crying to laughing to crying through the entire book. It was so good.

      (Can’t help wondering how the English translations work out, having read the Swedish originals myself. I really gotta try reading an English translation of something Swedish someday…)

      1. I really enjoyed Ove too (the English translation) and the Grandmother one. Glad you both liked that one.

        I can’t read his books back to back – they are too serious in some ways – but definitely worth the time.

  3. After finally finishing Wolf Hall, I read The Unknown Ajax by Heyer, and then my hold on Cotillion came through, so I’m going to start that in a bit.

    There are 3 little free libraries within walking distance of my sister’s house , so I visit them on walks with my nephews. I just borrowed a book with 2 Nero Wolfe mysteries. I’m reading Not Quite Dead Enough now. Booby Trap is the second story.

  4. I just read An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Roberson. It’s a world where fairies are literally unable to make anything (can’t write a note or cook a meal or they die) and rely on humans for getting stuff. Fascinating.

    I also loved John Scalzi’s Head On. I really like how he handles that world.

    1. I love Scalzi. I recently read The God Engines by him and wow was it dark. I wasn’t expecting that from Scalzi. I would even consider it horror, which is not my thing. But it was definitely creative. I loved Head On, too. He wrote an interesting essay about it on I hadn’t realized that in neither book does he give any indication of the main character’s gender. I just read Chris as female.

  5. I’m re-reading “Unf*ck Your Habitat” and “How to Break Up With Your Phone.” That describes the kind of week I’m having. 😉

    1. I love UFYH on tumblr – haven’t checked out the book yet, though! I had the app until I upgraded my phone and seeing this has reminded me to go re-download. Thanks!

      And good luck with the rest of the week…!

  6. I’m rereading Agatha Christie. There’s a fair amount of the Hercule ones that I haven’t read.

  7. Read Skinny Dip, truly heinous characters but the writing was great, kept me reading late/early morning. Although I cheered a few on hoping good things would happen. Fun read, not usual genre but loved it. Bought Skin Tight, Mick Stranahan before he moved to his island. Thanks.

    1. I think the thing about Skinny Dip is that even though the bad guys are beyond bad, there’s always a sunny undercurrent says that says, “Don’t worry, they’re going to get theirs,” so you can relax and watch it play out. And the husband is so inept at killing people that it becomes funny.

    2. If you’re looking for more relatable characters, I loved Skink and Nature Girl by Hiaasen. I actually love everything by Hiaasen (and read his op-ed column in the Miami Herald religiously).

  8. First, thank you to whoever mentioned the Junior Bender series, they’re hilarious and I’ve devoured the first one!

    I also just finished In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin and his descriptions and stories have been compared to snapshots and they really are. He captured moments in time in such a fun and succinct way, as well as explaining the history of the region. It also made me want to go travelling and read more history. I currently live in Wales and I find it incredible that there’s this tiny place across the world that speaks Welsh!

    1. I just read the first Junior Bender book too. It was great and I can’t wait to read the rest. I don’t remember who recommended it, but thanks from me too!

  9. I am between books at the moment. I am comfort listening to Nalini Singh’s newest contemporary, Cherish Hard. And I started a Meredith Duran book on someone from Good Book Thursday and it has grabbed me, but it is definitely not restful reading.

  10. Read The Rook, which features an uber-competent supernatural Brit spy agency administrator suffering amnesia, and Louis L’Amour’s Down the Long Hill. Problematic in some ways but shines in what L’Amour did best, bringing the western landscape with all of its wonders and dangers to life. In progress: The Chalk Man and Space Opera. The Chalk Man is scary thriller fun (who knew childish chalk figures could terrify?) and Space Opera is my favorite Catherine Valente yet. So many good books! Hooray for books!

    1. Louis Lamour ! I have most of his books and my daughters have forbidden me to dispose of them. – just waiting for me to cock my toes up ( or, from Heyer’s “A Civil Contract”, stick my spoon in the wall. – still puzzling over that one).

      1. I read most of his books when I was a teen and enjoyed them. I re-read the Sackett series recently and really enjoyed it. What a great, loyal family.

    2. I loved the Rook. Even though the less than believable friendship with an American gave me a little pause, I loved the depth with which the author endowed his amnesiac protagonist as she was trying to A) figure out wtf happened to her, and 2) identify her enemy and fix all the crap he had created in her world.

      1. The sequel is good, too. I love that she doesn’t know how to pronounce her own name.

  11. I just started “Ghost Fleet: A novel of the next world war” by August Cole and P. W. Singer, which promises to be fairly hair-raising. It opens with an American astronaut being locked out of the International Space Station by his Russian crewmates. It has FOOTNOTES. (I presume that is where the science is hidden, not really inclined to dig down but I appreciate the authors leaving lots of background exposition out of the narrative. From the narrative itself, I’m getting a clear enough idea about what is happening and why.)

  12. Giving myself a blast from the past (both my past and the author’s) because I am re-reading, for the nth time, Irishman Maurice Walsh’s “Trouble in the Glen”. If the name means nothing to you, Walsh wrote the short story “The Quiet Man” that led to the 1952 movie. He was a great favourite of mine as a teenager and young man. Writing over roughly the same period as Heyer, his “full blooded” romances were best sellers, appealing to both sexes (my daughter has ALL his books). Unlike many of the authors I enjoyed then, he is still very readable, with each book or short story set either in Ireland or Scotland and an easy, nattering style.

  13. I just finished listening to Bruce Springsteen read his autobiography. Even if you’re not a fan, the first third of the book is worth listening to for a gripping portrait of a working-class childhood in a specific time (50s) and place (Irish-Italian Catholic New Jersey). I love him, so 18+ hours of him talking in my ear was a delight.

    I’m about to start A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which three people raved about to me in separate conversations a few weeks ago. Making myself sit down and open an actual book is proving surprisingly difficult.

    1. Who doesn’t love Bruce Springsteen? I think I played “Thunder Road” about a thousand times while I was writing Tell Me Lies.

    2. My twenty six year old nephew hobby saves his frequent flyer miles and goes to every Bruce Springsteen concert he can. It seems bizarre to me that he should be such a fan of someone who is older than his father.

  14. After all the diversity discussions flying around RWA recently, I’m on a quest to read more books by and about African Americans, so I asked a black friend for recommendations. She suggested Octavia Butler’s Kindred. It’s older–1970’s vintage–but since most of it takes place in the early 1800’s, it stands the test of time effortlessly.

    It was riveting. It’s about a black woman who gets sucked back in time every time her not-so-great great(x) grandfather (and plantation owner) manages to get himself into a dangerous spot, which is often. She winds up ping-ponging between her world and Grandpa Rufe’s world, which is perhaps the most dangerous place she could possibly go.

    I finished it yesterday, but I’m still thinking about it obsessively. Highly recommend, but with a trigger warning. It’s one thing to know the stuff that happened under slavery. It’s a whole other thing to live inside a protagonist it’s happening to, and it’s so brilliantly written you do.

    1. I haven’t been following the RWA thing (not a romance writer/reader any longer), but if you’re looking for diverse books, check out Martha Wells’s blog. She routinely recommends diverse books. One of her books — Wheel of the Infinite, I think, is fabulous and diverse. (Others are about bird people, so they’re diverse all right, but probably not the way the term is meant.) Blog: You’ll need to scroll down a bit, because she’s been too busy to make recommendations recently.

    2. I teach Kindred. Like most lit teachers, I swap texts in and out of my lesson plans all the time, but this one is a keeper.

  15. Has anyone read Diana Quincy? She popped up on one of my bargain book sites and the description looks good, but is more than I want to pay on a maybe. And my library doesn’t have any of her books :/

  16. I found “Bet Me” in a thrift store last week and forgot how much I’d loved it, so I’m reading it again. It’s inspired a complete Crusie-a-thon. I need that kind of fun in my life. (I’m picturing John Krasinski as Cal, which only makes it that much more enjoyable.)

      1. Matthew Bromer’s name came up, as I recall. Jon K. is attractive enough, but Cal always seemed drop-dead to me.

  17. I am reading Barbara Neely’s Blanche White novel “Blanche Cleans Up”, which so far is very engrossing, which I need right now.

  18. I started reading Redwall by Brian Jacques last week but I put it on hold after 1/3. It’s a lovely book and the English narrator is SO good (bless the English talking book library for understanding the importance of good narration), but I just can’t take it in right now. It’s too much going on irl, I can’t handle new stuff.

    So I’m rereading Bet Me for the zillionth time.

  19. I gave up on the Serious Book from book club and switched to “A Princess in Theory,” by Alyssa Cole, which is really enjoyable so far!

    I’m also bouncing in and out of “Clutter-Free With Kids,” which is a high bar seeing as I wasn’t even close to clutter-free withOUT kids, and basically it all boils to “just get rid of most of your stuff, and then there’s less stuff to put away, voila!” So, ya know. Not exactly revolutionary. It’s one of this simple-isn’t-easy situations, I guess.

    But tomorrow my mother takes the next step in her move from a house two hours away to an apartment two blocks away, and I’ve been trying to stay ahead of her purge-and-pass-on-to-me by purging my own unnecessary things to make room, so at least that’s good motivation!

  20. I was rereading A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah for book club but was having a tough time committing to it because I really could use a comfort read this week. Then I opened my email and found that book club has been postponed for a week due to scheduling conflicts. Hooray! Now I have time to read both.

  21. Just finished Snuff by Terry Pratchett. Very good! It is not funny at all, like his earlier novels, but it is deep and insightful and compassionate. Fast-paced too. And of course, I love Sam Vimes. He is my favorite Pratchett’s character and he is in his element in this book.
    After Snuff, everything I tried to read felt blah. To cheer myself out of my reading funk, I picked up Welcome to Temptation and read it again (at least the 5th time by now). And it did the job, as ordered.

  22. I just finished Happiness for Beginners (first typed that as Jappiness for Beginners, which would be a completely different book) by Katherine Center. I read Center’s first book, The Bright Side of Disaster, when it first came out, and loved it with the passion of a thousand suns. Then something happened (maybe I read her second book and didn’t like it? I don’t remember) and I forgot all about her. Read this one. It’s amazing. Like, life-changing amazing. Just ordered another two by her.

  23. Oh Lord, Is it Thursday already?? I was relistening to A Treacherous Curse by Danna Rayborn on the plane to Arizona and back. Finished it while picking up my newest rescue (Oreo for those who know me) from surgery in Burlington. She is all fixed up, on limited movement for six weeks, and resting on the couch beside me. Growling at any of the other dogs who come close. It’s going to be a long six weeks.

    The wedding in Arizona was lovely. Got to see my many cousins! We were all there, except my two brothers. Idiots. We had a wonderful time. It had been a long time since I’d seen so many of them and we fell back into our zany relationships and had a marvelous time. My cousin Peter, who I hadn’t seen in 10 -15 years pointed at me and said “Look, it’s trouble.” To which I said, “I introduced you to trouble.”

    Maybe you had to be there. 🙂

    I love those people with a passion. It was truly wonderful to see them. Oh, and there was wedding cake. How can you beat that?

  24. I’m reading a history of the county I live in. It is as dry as dusty old dust in a five-pack of dustballs. I have more than half a mind to go back and start re-reading Vorkosigan novels that I whipped my way through in a frenzy of enjoyment. You always miss stuff in frenzies.

    1. I feel you on the dry history. Virtue of ploughing through is you’ll understand your county, your place in light of different eras. In the future, you’ll be saying “oh, yeah” a lot because knowing the past events and past characters allows for insight. So keep at it.

      Curious: why are you reading? What set you to the task?

      1. It’s a book only available in reference sections of my local library, but my best friend picked up a copy at a yard sale. I’d leafed through it briefly in years past, but now thought I’d borrow it from her and give it a shot. You’re right, though. It’s giving me a much better sense of what colonists were up against, what happens to soil after tobacco overplanting, what canals can’t conquer, and what a rich mine of scalliwaggery was available as a career choice in, say, the Andrew Jackson administration.

    2. Yes. Snuff and Raising Steam were more overtly serious, but then, he knew he was dying and, it seems to me, was trying hard to get the ideas in his head out there into books; including new departures like the Long Earth series and Dodger (with Dickens and Henry Mayhew as main characters). Sadly missed.

      1. I think a lot of the difference came from the writing style change–he couldn’t physically write, so he told the story to the computer instead. It changes the storytelling.

    3. Interesting you bring in the Vorsigan novels, since there is a deliberate link to Georgette Heyer with Bujold’s “A Civil Campaign”; since she (Bujold) set out to write a Regency romantic comedy and succeeded laugh-out-loud wonderfully.

    4. Dusty may depend on the author. Reading the Ron Chernow bio on Hamilton made me itch to get his book on Washington, and then the one on Grant came out. He has a style that makes history come alive right there in your hands. Had the same reaction to David McCullough when I read 1776. Chernow and McCullough should be in charge of writing all US history books from now ’til ever. I’d have paid attention better if they did.

  25. A lit fic recommendation: Son of A Trickster by Eden Robinson. Brilliant, funny and heartbreaking story of an indigenous teen who is an extraordinary caretaker in difficult circumstances.

    A Historical Romance: It takes Two to Tumble by Cat Sebastian. Sebastian’s writing is brilliant. Grumpy loner hero meets a an ultra involved in the community sunny hero. It gave me “all the feels.”

  26. My recommendation this week is Lori Lansens’ books. I read The Wife’s Tale first and quite enjoyed it. The Girls was next and was pretty enthralling/unique.

    (I read Rush Home Road and am glad I did but didn’t enjoy it as much.)

    Most recently I read The Mountain Story. I finished it about 6 months ago and it’s still haunting me at times. I can’t share why here without ruining some of the story but it was gripping from beginning to end. Definitely one to start on Friday night when you don’t have any weekend plans.

  27. It took me a while because I would put it down and not get back to it for several days but I just finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. I liked it a lot but I have to admit the end threw me a bit (No spoilers), it wasn’t quite what I expected.

  28. I’m reading Bone Polisher, a Simeon Grist Mystery, by Timothy Hallinan. Grist is an earlier version of Junior Bender operating in a like Los Angeles arena. Because I’m not so invested in Grist as in Bender, I have the distance to appreciate what Hallinan does with both characters, which is community building. Not so easy to bring off, making communities. Hallinan achieves this larger linkage of relationships, and I care about everyone in his circle and understand why they occupy that spot. Reminds me of a further two authors whose books I get lost in, Jennifer Crusie and Susan Elizabeth Phillips. All three authors slop on ladles of humor too.

  29. I seem to be in a book funk. I am trying to read two books, both of which I believe should be pulling me in but neither is doing it for me. I adore Ilona Andrews but am struggling to get through the third of the Edge books. I have read the first one many times both as a book and in audio, but realised that I had never read the others. I read the second and then got stuck in the third (don’t remember the name but it is Kaldar’s book). I have been trying to read it for a week but keep putting it down. This is despite the fact that it has George and Jack from Book 1. I can’t believe this but I think I’m going to DNF it.
    Then, on audio I am trying to listen to A Court of Thorns and Roses, and I find that I want to throw things. I can’t stand Fayre! What a whiny, passive aggressive, prejudiced bitch! But this book is highly recommended so I keep thinking that it must get better so I try to keep listening. I am about three hours in now and she continues to annoy me so I think it’s time to throw in the towel. Does it get better? Is it the audio version that makes her such an unpleasant character? Maybe it’s just me but books aren’t doing it for me this week.

    1. Maybe it’s just the books. I read a lot, but there are some I get into and think, “Why doesn’t somebody slap this character?” If it’s somebody like the husband in Skinny Dip, that works, but if it’s somebody I’m clearly supposed to like and sympathize with, if my perception of the character and the author’s intent are so clearly different, I”m never going to get into that book. There is no book that everyone likes. Move on (g).

    2. See, and I love Kaldar’s book. It has a Dave’s/Tilda thing going on (although I never really put that together until now.) I have a real soft spot for that series.

      1. I’ve kept going with the Edge book and am enjoying it more. I think I’m just in a bit of a funk. I gave up on the other one though; it’s clearly not for me. Time is too short to read something I’m not into.

  30. I read Radiance by Grace Draven, an utterly delightful romance /bodice ripper about an arranged marriage between a minor human princess and a minor prince of the Kai, a species that used to hunt humans for food.

    They are both quite open about finding the other incredibly ugly, but they’re also sensible people who know the marriage is politically necessary. And they like each other. And when there are misunderstandings, they TALK to each other instead of going off in a huff. So it’s a slow burning and unlikely romance between two really nice mature people. I’ve just bought the second book.

      1. No ripping of bodices, just people doing the right thing and finding happiness because they look for it.

        1. It’s the “bodice-ripper” bit that always makes me say no. Just not into rape romances. Rape anything.

          1. No, I’m not into rape romances either – horrible things. I think of bodice rippers as steamy romances – clothes being torn off in the heat of the moment. Quite probably a misuse of the term on my part.

          2. It tends to be fingernails-on-a-blackboard for romance writers, so I probably over-reacted. It’s usually said with a sneer by people who do not read romance.

    1. It’s a series. Is it with HEA? Or cliffhanger? Latter being a deal breaker for me.

      1. The Draven book? There was definitely a good solid ending to the story – then an epilogue that sets up the next one. So you know bad things are coming, but I wouldn’t call it a cliffhanger.

        1. And absolutely no sexual violence (at least between the romantic couple—there might have been some others.)

    2. I have to second the recommendation for these two books. (Actually all of her stuff is good.) But their relationship in particular is so sweet because the drama and bad stuff happens all around them while they pull together. Especially in the first one – as Lian said. They are set up for failure (so to speak) from the beginning but they address it with openness and honesty and their love develops over time and it’s very refreshing.

      There IS a horrible scene in the second one that was just so painful to read (where people sacrifice themselves to save others) that just made me sob when I read it. It is fairly early on in the book; it has a good ending though, for sure.

      1. Yes, that thing of the drama happening around them works so well, doesn’t it. And it means that they don’t need stupid misunderstandings to separate them, which happens far too often in the romance genre. Refreshing is the word. The first book reminded me just a little of The Goblin Emperor. It’s not as complex, but that sense of good people at the heart of it was similar.

          1. The Goblin Emperor is utterly wonderful. Yes, it’s a stand-alone, and yes, it has a good ending. It’s not really a romance, though there’s a romance of sorts in it. A young half-goblin who was supposed to be miles from the Elven throne becomes emperor when all the other heirs are assassinated, and has to deal with the political intrigues.

    3. It’s actually a very lovely romance between two people who are both being sacrificed into a marriage of convenience with another species, who never expected to like the person they were forced to marry, much less fall in love. Lots of political intrigue, too.

      1. Agreed. I loved it. They are such a cute couple. I love their honesty and integrity and sense of humour. (There is violence in the book, however, although not of the domestic variety.).

  31. I’m currently reading To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi. It’s the book that the kdrama Ten Miles of Peach Blossom was based on. It’s like reading a collection of myths told as anecdotes by someone who was there.

  32. Coming very late to the party this week – I recently found Sean Ashcroft’s novels on Amazon, and read three in a row. They’re very sweet m/m romances that don’t involve a lot of pointless drama. I will be reading more of them for sure.

    I also finally read Carry On, by Rainbow Rowell, and it’s freaking adorable. I did get annoyed waiting for Baz’s POV to show up at first (he was always going to be my favourite character) but there’s a solid plot reason why it doesn’t, so I got over that.

  33. I’m even later to the party… but I just finished listening to the audio book “Russian Roulette: The Inside Story of Putin’s War on America and the Election of Donald Trump.” and wow did it help contextualize and clarify some of the current news regarding Russia and the way they’re messing with our democracy through hacking and disinformation campaigns for me. I have to recommend it for anyone interested in knowing more about it.

    It was written by 2 investigative journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn and gives comprehensive background on all the pieces and players of what was happening when with regards to Russia and the 2016 election and how it’s all come together to bring us to where we are now.

    I would urge people on both sides of the political divide to read it – While it talks about Trump’s interest in doing business in Russia, it also talks about the actions/errors of Clinton while she was Secretary of State and as a candidate and mistakes the Obama administration/Comey & the intelligence community made that helped create the opportunity for Russia. It’s not a political hit job book so much as a chilling picture of the entire landscape with regards to Russia’s motivations and actions.

    I had heard about it when Terry Gross interviewed the authors on Fresh Air. you can listen to that /learn more here:

    1. Rachel interviewed them, too. I’m just not sure I’m ready to learn more about the hellscape that is 2018 America.

      1. I can understand the need to take a break from it, but for anyone wanting a deeper understanding of how this all came about, it’s fascinating and it was far less frustrating a read then “Fire and Fury” which was all about Trump incompetence and just made me irritated. (And I can’t even start with Comey’s book – I lose my cool just thinking about the way he’s sanctimoniously made a mess out of everything he touched with regards to the election. Even the “Higher Loyalty” title just smacks of self-righteousness for someone who’s continually managed to insert himself into the middle of the story in a way that is quite contrary to typical norms.)

        At any rate – Russian Roulette is more about showing how Russia is undermining democracy. It’s going into the motivations of the different players, so you understand more of why people are acting/did act the way they did and exposing the tactics that are being used in part with the hope that we can better identify and inoculate ourselves against that kind of interference in the future.

        What this book underscored for me is that the craziest thing is how little this is the current story and how little it’s been the story all along. The focus seems to be on the more salacious scandals – Stormy Daniels and the access hollywood tape – and even the stuff about Russia is skewed towards the “golden showers” rumor…but the real meat of what is going on and the extent of it seems woefully underreported.

        Conservatives and Liberals alike should be deeply concerned and interested in fixing this issue because it seems to go way beyond Trump/Clinton and possible campaign collusion (although that’s certainly bad enough!). But the thesis of the book in a way is that we’re essentially experiencing a new type of cold war attack on the American public, but one that is incredibly subtle and difficult to see without someone laying out the pieces. We should all be pulling together 9/11 style against this external force, and trying to understand who is messing with us, why and why they are pushing for particular outcomes over others.

        1. I agree with all of this. It’s not just the Russians doing this to undermine democracies everywhere, it’s North Korea and China, too. I’m just too damn tired of all of this. I read WaPo and Axios daily, listen to Rachel nightly. That’s about all I can face right now.

Comments are closed.