84 thoughts on “This Is A Good Book Thursday, the Spring Version, Damn It

  1. The damn weather forecast. Snow this weekend, 80 degrees Fahrenheit next weekend. Who dreamed this up, anyway?

  2. I think these must have been named already, but I just finished the latest in the Flavia De Luce series, “The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place.” I’ve found the last few in the series uneven, but I really liked this one. It focused on Flavia and the mystery without a lot of wild subplots.

    1. That’s good to know. I’ve been debating whether to read this one. I agree that some of the others were uneven, so I wasn’t in a huge rush to get this (at top price). Might see if library has it.

  3. I’m liking “Bad Girls Go Everywhere,” a biography of Helen Gurley Brown.

    1. Nora Ephron wrote a very interesting profile of HGB called “I’m a Little Mouseburger” which I feel summed up HGB quite well. It is in one of her earlier collections, perhaps Wallflower at the Orgy.

  4. In the past week the books that I’ve put in for at the library are coming in. I just could not finish Kristin Hannah’s the Great Alone. It was all about the father, his PTSD then undiagnosed, the mom’s always going along with his ideas and not standing up to his abuse that I just gave up. I’m now starting Danielle Steel’s Accidental Heroes so far so good. In her roster of a gazillion books I’ve only read two over the years and I might surprise myself and not read the end before its time.

  5. You started me on a Heyer kick, too, and I’m really liking it — not because all the books are good, but because some of them are good and some of them are terrible. And some of them are both at once! The Foundling — terrible romance. So much wrong with it, including the fact that the heroine is barely even seen until about 2/3rds of the way through the book. Never going to be on anyone’s top 10 list of Heyer books. But it was still a fun read and it didn’t tank Heyer’s career so that she never published anything again.

    It’s a great reminder to me that books don’t have to be perfect and not all books are meant for all people and that a successful career is built by producing, not by perfecting. I wrote my first book in a few months, my second book in six months, and my fifth book — the one I’m working on now — is at three years and counting. I think reading Heyer is going to help me finally finish this one. I hope so, anyway!

      1. I have speculated more than once that my problem started with Scrivener. When rewriting was hard and complicated, I didn’t trap myself in it the way I do know. Scrivener makes it easy to have 20 versions of the same scene.

    1. You sound like me.

      The big thing I’m learning from my Heyer reread is how important it is to keep the H&H together. I’m like you with The Foundling: It’s a good book but it’s not a romance, and I kept thinking, “Where is she?” It’s making me look at Nita again, realizing that part of the problem with the slump in the first act is that they spend so long apart. I just reread Arabella last night and realized I was skimming all the parts about the brother. I wanted Arabella, and the stuff about the brother went on for PAGES and didn’t do a thing to develop the story because it was the Same Old Story about the young kid ending up in debt; the key was the hero rescuing him. I read those parts.

      I do believe in strong subplots, but not at the cost of the main plot. So I am Learning.

    2. I think it’s worth remembering when reading some of these vintage books that the genres that are so familiar to us now didn’t exist then. So that books were published as romance for instance, that we wouldn’t think of as romance now. Which is just a lead up to saying that I agree that The Foundling is not a romance as we currently understand it. However it is one of my favourite Heyer novels. I personally consider it a top notch comic novel. Sometimes it is all down to expectations…

  6. I’ve just been stuck for three hours waiting for the AA – and then discovering, when I tried it yet again out of exasperation, that the car would start after all. So I drove it back to my garage, to be investigated. But I had my Kindle, and had bought the latest Annie Gracie yesterday, so was fairly happy. It’s started quite well, so fingers crossed.

    I was all set to enjoy a wonderfully sunny day – first a garden centre (where I broke down; and they didn’t have the baby pelargoniums I was after), then some photography at Powis, followed by a pancake party at a friend’s in Shrewsbury. Instead all I’ve done is look at plants I’ve no garden for, and drive 30 miles in the sun. I’m pretty fed up.

    1. I keep telling myself, “Nothing but good times ahead.” Fingers crossed for you and spring and the house.

      1. Thanks. I need to stay focused on that, too. And at least I was stuck at a garden centre, rather than on top of a remote hill (with no mobile phone signal, probably).

          1. I bought mine on Zulily, but it’s long gone now. You know how Zulily is, here today, gone today.

          2. I generally go with “this, too, shall pass” (or for teenagers, it’s only the now, later will be amazing!).

            Autumn here, preserving, snuggling, sniffing the breeze……

            On topic for a moment, Jasper Fforde, The Song of the Quarkbeast.

    2. What is a pancake party? Here pancakes are generally a breakfast food, served with syrup and butter and rasher of bacon or sausage or ham and I like a fried egg with mine also. And my mom would make pancakes for breakfast sometimes with a sausage gravy or meat gravy (similar to biscuits and gravy).

      1. My friend was making classic pancakes: very thin (you have to toss them and catch them in the pan), served with lemon juice and sugar. No idea why she was doing this today – it’s normally reserved for Shrove Tuesday. But she’d invited another friend, who was bringing her daughter and four-year-old grandson, so maybe it was something she’d promised him. I’m sorry I missed the get-together, but it would have been tricky finding space for pancakes at four o’clock.

  7. Well, thanks to you, I just finished The Grand Sophy. Historical romances aren’t normally my thing, but I really, really loved Sophy.

    Now I’m adrift. Should I buy another Heyer? Should I read a mystery in honor of Mystery and Thriller Week over at Goodreads?

    Spoiled girl, first world problems.

    1. The Talisman Ring is lovely. And Cotillion will always have my love because of Freddy. Such a good guy.

      Have you tried the Nero Wolfe mysteries? Some Buried Caesar is great, and there’s one about publishing called Plot It Yourself; in both books I couldn’t guess the murderer, plus Archie meets Lily in Caesar, and that relationship lasts decades. Dick Francis has Hot Money and a lot of other good mysteries. And Heyer has some brilliant mysteries like Envious Casca and A Blunt Instrument and No Wind of Blame, which has the dumbest murder in the history of mysteries (that would never have worked) but a terrific romance subplot with a nutso heroine I love.

      1. I don’t remember if I discovered Rex Stout here (probably), but I’ve read every single Nero Wolfe mystery. I’ve been reflecting on why I like books from the mid twentieth century. There’s generally racist and/or chauvinistic material, which is off-putting. But. The characters DO things. There’s more energy, and dashing about, and less navel gazing. I love them. And I couldn’t get through Girl on the Train.

        And now I’m buying a Dick Francis nook book. Thanks!

        P.S. Has anyone read Donald E. Westlake? The Dortmunder series?

        1. The Dortmunder books were like nothing I had ever read before… Try What’s the Worst That Could Happen, and if you like it, you’ll know, and if you don’t like it, you can just be done.

        2. I love Dortmunder. I re-read all of them just last year. I wish there were more books like that.

    2. I would put in a plug for “The Tollgate” as your next Heyer buy. The first two chapters introduce you to a mob of the hero’s relatives and can be skimmed. She later explained that she had intended to have one of them trying to bump him off, but she then went off on quite a different track. From the moment Captain Jack Staples loses his way and stops at a tollgate attended by a frightened boy, the pace is fast, the dialogue crackles and there is a real mystery to solve. The heroine is of Amazonian proportions, tough minded but worried. There’s a thriller of a climax in a deep cave and a very satisfying (and amusing)ending. One forgets that Heyer also wrote some good, 1930’s set detective stories and this novel is something of a crossover with her Regency books.

    3. If you’re after another Heyer I have to put my vote in for Frederica. It’s just wonderful.

    4. I liked Venetia. It is your standard reformed rake story, but anytime said rake addressed the heroine as his “dear delight”, it melted my heart. Also, the heroine is older, capable , interesting and overlooked. Who wouldn’t want her to have a happy ending?

  8. I’m on a Rick Riordan binge at the moment. I’d put aside the Trials of Apollo books the first time after the first chapter, because Apollo was annoying me, but I’ve just got into them after re-reading the Heroes of Olympus series (which I love. They’re the sequel series to the Percy Jackson series) and the Magnus Chase books (I love Alex Fierro, the child of Loki), and needing more Riordan to keep going on with.

    I’m particularly fond of the haiku at the start of each chapter.

    1. I rediscovered Riordan last summer, after being so NOT interested when I was 16 and the library tried to convine me it was good stuff and I went nah… I want the grownup fantasy!

      I felt much the same way as you about Apollo and was on the verge of ditching it, but I decided to keep it up and I’m happy I did. I don’t like it as much as I did Percy Jackson, Heroes of Olympus or Magnus Chase (and later the Kane Chronicles – have you read those, yet?), but it did grow on me at the end of the first book, and the 2nd was better, so I’m looking forward to the 3rd that will be released in May. 🙂 And indeed, the haikus! They ar terrible and awesome at the same time.

  9. I normally read two to three books a week, but after knee surgery have had no desire to read, or watch TV. Zero concentration. Maybe because of pain pills?
    My friend Lynne Marshall had a book release on Sunday, Soldier, Handyman, Family Man, and I think it’s a Harlequin Special Edition, can’t quite recall. Anyway, it’s the second in her series and a delight. The characters are immediately identifiable and colorful, and less than perfect, and the story is heartfelt.
    Really enjoying the unfolding of this story, and it is perfect for my needs.

    1. Maybe you’re tired: your body’s got a lot of healing to do. I find I can’t read anything the tiniest bit demanding if I’m low on energy. Hope you’re feeling better soon – and meanwhile, enjoy the comfort reads.

    2. I am glad you are recovering well. I think the pain pills have something to do with it. Can you do audio books or DVD’s . Letting someone else do all the work and just letting the story flow around you might be what you need.

    3. One of the great things about being a writer is that there’s always the book in your head.

      1. Oh, never thought of that. I’ve been creating lots of weird scenarios. Especially after today’s 5.3 earthquake, which I did feel. Had to think up creative ways to exit the building if electricity went out, and no elevator. 20 steps there. Two sets of three and a gate at emergency exit. Still on a walker until Tuesday, then cane for a few weeks. I practiced with the cane and could do it in a pinch.

        1. Oh fun. One of the lesser known joys of living on the West Coast – earthquakes.

    4. I like Looney Tunes when I’m sick or recovering from surgery. They are funny, bright and short. I once heard one of the writers of them refer to them as War and Peace in only six minutes.

  10. A fair bit of desultory picking up and putting down lately. Too distracted, perhaps.

    But after reading the Heyer post and all the wonderful comments, I went searching through my tucked-away Heyer collection (mostly from 1970s) for False Colours.

    Shocking! I don’t have a copy. Okay, now I’m on a mission.

  11. The first book of Kelley Armstrong’s Age of Legends trilogy is Sea of Shadows, which was my read while I had a cold. I gave it three out of five stars. It’s not a stand alone. Basically, it gets you 1/3 of the way through the story and the characters don’t seem to have the depth of some of her previous novels. While I generally like YA fiction, this one I kept thinking as I read it “YA fiction”. Everything seemed shallow and a little pat. Then the ending was a cliff hanger. So three stars: readable but not particularly engaging. Maybe if you have the whole trilogy and are planning to read it as one book it is better but I am not invested enough in the characters to want to bother.

    It is hard to believe this author is the same person who wrote “Bitten”, which is still an amazing read.

  12. Just finished Two Steps Forward by the author of The Rosie Project. A different read for me (which I would never have read if not for y’all) about two people walking the pilgrims route,The Chemin de St. Jacques. A voyage of self discovery. I enjoyed it..

    1. Oh oh oh, thank you for this! I’ve walked from Leon to Santiago and from Ferrol to Santiago, so this is right up my alley. Just bought it…

  13. In keeping with the theme, I recommend a gardening book by Louise Beebe Wilder “Color in my Garden” that was written about the time of the Great Depression. She talks very sensibly about various problems of maintaining a colorful garden all season long. She also had a large enough garden that she dealt with a plethora of problems that your average garden faces, such as the garden I had when I moved here 34 years ago had plenty of sunlight. Now it has a 35 foot star-magnolia and two 20 feet tall Mt. Fuji cherries on a lot that is only 100 feet wide and dappled shade is the best that most of my garden has. But it is a good read for a gardener.

  14. I’ve been reading Seraphina and Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman. My daughters recommended both, based entirely on this quote regarding someone sitting on a pile of books, surrounded by still more books: “Dragons no longer hoarded gold; reforms had outlawed it. For Orma and his generation, knowledge was treasure. As dragons through the ages had done, he gathered it, and then he sat on it.”

    They are more YA than I expected but there is a wide range of characters and ages present. I am liking them.

  15. I finished Don’t Look Down just after I posted my comment last week, and then started Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi. I liked it, gave it four stars on Goodreads, but it didn’t catch me the same way Riordans books does, unfortunately. I will definitely read the sequels, though. I like the idea, the characters are interesting, the plot is all right and the sphere is nice. Not convincing enough (for me) to give it a 5 though.

    After Aru Shah I started reading the Swedish translation of This Charming Man by Marian keyes (the talking book library didn’t have the English one, unfortunately) and I was approximately 40 % done with it…

    … when Kevin Hearne’s last Iron Druid Chronicles book, Scourged, was released on April 3rd, and I’d been waiting for that one for ages, so I put Keyes aside to dive straight into it. I love those books – they are easy reading, makes me laugh, cry sometimes and are generally a good time if you’re not too keen on everything being super serious all the time (also, the Druid’s wolfhound is awesome). I finished it this morning with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. It was a delightful read, but the series is over. Now hoping for a sequel-series!

    This means I’m picking up Keyes again. Somehow I’m not as fascinated and infatuated with her books as many others seem to be, but it’s not an unpleasant read. I just can’t seem to get attached to her characters, somehow.

    I did also get one of the Heyer books from the Heyer-post last week (False Colours, I think is the original title) from the library, but haven’t started it yet because I’m still in doubt whether I’ll be content with reading the translation or not or if I should turn to Audible to see what they’ve got. Translations makes me itchy and annoyed nowadays after discovering how much they 1. delete from the original story sometimes (not just untranslatable jokes, but just cut out scenes for no good reason at all sometimes [don’t get me started…]) and 2. how WRONG they translate some words and phrases sometimes, messing up entire parts of a paragraph. I know translating is no easy task and it’s often a question of personal interpretation of words and phrases, but sometimes it’s just downright BAD and done with no care, respect or love at all for the author and the original text and that makes the reading unpleasant.

    Ps. I have understood that the numbers under the comments are hearts! (I think someone mentioned it in the comments last week or so, I don’t even remember how I actually got to know it…) I just wanted to say I would definitely heart all your kind posts to me or good/funny/sweet comments to others, but my screenreading software apparently doesn’t agree with such adventures, so unfortunately, I can’t. So have some hearts! <3 <3 <3

    1. I read the first Iron Druid tale for another book club several years ago. I really enjoyed it, and meant to read the later titles, but life kinda got in the way, and I’d forgotten them until now. A special pleasure I (and the rest of the book club) found was the first book is set in my home town of Tempe, Arizona, and it was so great recognizing the locations he mentions. We even had the book club lunch at the pub Atticus likes to frequent!

      1. Wow, yeah must be special to read a story set in your home town. I would really like to visit Rulabula one day after reading all about their marvellous Fish&Chips – are they as good as the book makes you think?
        I’d definitely recommend you to continue the series – even better if you do it in audio form. Luke Daniel’s narration is a masterpiece. Hearne and Daniels are definitely a dreamteam match for author and narrator. So. Good! Also, read the novellas too, if you get the chance – they are not a MUST in any way but add facts to the big picture, which is nice. Happy reading, if you decide to read further!

  16. My copy of Untamed by Anna Cowan came in at the library. Someone here recommended it. I am at 49% and things are about to get dicey. I am almost afraid to keep going because of how emotionally involved I am with these characters. And now I must also buy a copy of this book to own, along with anything else by this author.

    Thanks for the recommendation!

    Side note: I enjoy historical romance, but this is something else entirely in my mind. Nothing cozy or familiar about this plot line, but it is very, very good.

    1. Yaaaay! It was me. And unfortunately she hasn’t written anything else – I think she had a baby (and life and other things) and the writing stopped for a bit. But I’m hoping it will take off again soon.

      And yes, it is something else entirely. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it.

  17. Once more I’m recommending this because Marie Kondo came to my rescue. I reread The Life Changing Magic of Tidying and I am pretty much complete with the clean out aspect. The worst of the hoard is gone. And now, I must get some sort of storage put in so everything that must stay has its own place.

    This is not to keep useless stuff but necessary because I gave away a giant wardrobe/armoire that took up too much space and blocked airflow. It is why getting rid of so much was vital. I only want storage for what I needed.

    I’ve watched shows, tried Flylady, Unf*ck Your Habitat, Zen Habits, Peter Walsh, and The Minimalists. They had some value but nothing stuck. Marie Kondo worked most.

    1. I agree. I reread this book periodically. I still backslide, but it has made getting rid of things easier.

    2. I’m glad to hear this. I started the minimalists for book club and found them so smug and unrelatable that I couldn’t finish the book. I guess I should try the Book that started it all.

  18. I’m reading the new Trisha Ashley (British romance), The House of Hopes and Dreams. Definitely comfort reading, with some neat stuff about stained glass windows too.

    1. Oh oh I love Trisha Ashley and didn’t realise this was out. Rushed and bought it. Now just a game of how long I can delay my gratification (cause I am already reading some other stuff…)

  19. Currently re-reading Ben Aaronovitch’s “Rivers of London”, the first in his six books series featuring the small Scotland Yard unit which deals with things that go bump in the night. (The rivers all have their own, very corporeal goddess). The unit’s task is to investigate crimes with the smell of magic about them plus keeping the peace between a whole host of unbeknownst supernatural beings living side by side with humans in modern London. The narrator is of mixed race and has a very dry wit. Completely original and well worth trying for yourself. I am impatiently waiting for the seventh book to come out in October.

    1. I didn’t know it was a series. Loved the first one! Thanks. I read it and forgot the name of the author.

  20. Love The Rivers of London. Well worth a read. It’s probably my favourite one of the series. I have just finished Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s Chronicles series and am eagerly awaiting Book 9 next week!

    1. Another vote for Rivers of London…
      I would be interested in how a person of color sees it. The hero and a number of other characters are POC and the author is not. It’s not played up—it’s just a given. To me it seems fine but I don’t consider myself qualified to judge.

      1. Although only his mom is a POC which skews the perceptions somewhat.

        My nieces and nephews are Alaskan natives and the few times I’ve heard them mention anything to my sister, it was along the lines of, it’s different if you’re half Mom. White people see you as natives, natives see you as having a foot in the white world. And a good friend who’s adopted daughter is black tells of when her daughter brought her boyfriend home to meet the parents, the daughter had told him that she came from a non-traditional family and she had a Mom and her Mom’s spouse (female) and an adopted father (who lived out of state so he wasn’t going to included). After she had introduced him to her Mom and her significant other and they were by themselves again, she said that he was stunned and kept saying “But you didn’t tell me your Mom was WHITE”.

        1. Really? I thought his dad was too. Which may show how much it’s part of the background not the foreground.

  21. Before my Easter trip, I hit our library’s used book sale shelves and was delighted to get a paperback of “Guards, Guards” for only a dollar. I loved it (and may even check out the Argh discussion).

    I shared it with my 16-y-o niece, who read it as we drove to our Montana lodgings. She also loved it and that night kept it handy next to her bed…where it was when she woke up and threw up. And then I was REALLY delighted I got it for only a dollar.

    1. My son loaned his physics prof copies of Hogfather and Guards Guards to read during a recovery from a medical treatment, and it took. I love the idea that their conversations apparently go from chaos theory to Vimes….

    2. I laughed. But I hope she got better quickly and didn’t have an awful Easter.

      1. Thanks, Sure Thing – I’m pretty sure the altitude got her, even though I kept “suggesting” she drink water. For the rest of the trip she took Pedialyte and drank more, and she was fine.

  22. Just finished @AvrilTremayne “Here Comes The Bridesmaid”
    Set in Australia – very, very funny. Crusie worthy. You know, the kind of book you pack in your suitcase on your visits home to leave with your Mom, your sisters…

  23. I am starting two books. I can’t make any recommendations about them yet.
    One is How to Build a Home without getting Nailed. I’ll probably figure out if it was any good only if I succeed in getting my house remodeled without losing mind or my shirt.

    The other is Refusal by Felix Francis. The return of Sid Halley. I’ve enjoyed most of Felix’s stuff, so we’ll see how this one goes.

  24. Love some of the boooks mentioned. I own all of Nero Wolfe. Love him. Some chauvinism doesn’t bother me.
    Have any of you read Emma Latham? Or R.B Dominick? They are the same person. Two very clever women writing together. I remember adoring The Attendant Physician which takes off on Medicare fraud . That’s a Dominick. Her Latham mysteries give gave me wonderful insight into economic mystery. They are very tongue in cheek.
    I missed the earthquake because I was enjoying snow in Michigan along with strenuous attempts to get carpet glue off my son’s floor.
    This week I finished rereading Heyer’s Regency Buck and Penny Reid’s #3 in her Knitting in the City series, Love Hacked. I love this series. I also have a first book from a new Rom Com writer on my blog this week. Madelaine Grant. I thought A Total Mismatch was good fun. I’m giving away a copy if anyone is in a rom com mood. https://susanbjames.blogspot.com/2018/04/meet-madelaine-grant-giveaway-romantic.html

    Thanks for all the recommendations.

    1. Have you tried the three mysteries Sarah Caudwell (Sarah Cockburn) wrote? I love them, funny and very intelligent. She was the daughter of Claud Cockburn a well-known socialist and her entire family seems to have been well-known activists so perhaps she felt she had to write them under an alias.

      1. She actually wrote four, so you still have one left to go. And they bear re-reading, a lot.

      2. Oh wow! This made me make the link. A quick search shows that Claud was Alexander Cockburn’s father. Alexander was a weekly correspondent on SA FM radio in SA. He’d have a short segment running through US political news. I remember thinking he was a liberal commentator. I think he informed many of my developing views.

    2. I loved Emma Lathen. Her digital editions are hinky, so I haven’t bought any, but I still have some paperbacks and hardcovers. And now I must go look for R.B.Dominick.

      ETA: Damn. Not on Amazon.

  25. Just discovered RJ Blain and her Magical Romantic Comedy with a Body Count Series. I’ve been gobbling them up. It’s a series of standalone, same world, but independent funny stories. Long ones, too, which is nice because I’m a fast reader. I’m also enjoying the fact that they are sexy without actual sex scenes, because at this point in time it turns out I am fine without the actual mechanics being described to me. “Hoo boy, my man is hot and I’ve finally got him alone”is plenty for me right now.
    I think my favorite is Hoofin’ It, because it’s written from the hero’s POV, so it was different, but all of them were good.

  26. This week I finally read Hold Me, by Courtney Milan, and it was just as good as everyone here said it would be. So thank you all for the recommendation. Thank you also for Hamilton’s Battalion, which I finished this week as well.

    I only meant to start reading The Daughter Of The Pirate King, by Tricia Levenseller, last night, but I got carried away and read the whole thing even though I had a morning shift. Two hours of sleep, but well worth it!

  27. More Heyer: I too dug up my “haven’t read in decades” Heyer collection. I’ve started with “Nonesuch.” It won’t become one of my favorites, like Talisman, Sophy, Frederica, or Toll-booth, but it’s not bad. I would recommend it for bedtime, assuming you want to fall asleep with restful dreams.

    I have Black Sheep, Lady of Quality, Powder and Patch, Regency Buck, and the Quiet Gentleman to read next. I’ve learned not to trust my memory from a long-ago reading. I had no good memory of Talisman but when I re-read it I was completely smitten and laughed throughout. Our adult heroine’s ability to pretend ditziness, her beloved brother the wine lush, and our young heroine’s hilarious grab life by the throat melodrama all combine, with the rest of the excellent cast, to turn Talisman into a can’t put down novel.

    1. I found Powder and Patch unreadable, but that could be just me. I liked Black Sheep and The Quiet Gentleman, although the last is really a mystery with a romance subplot.

  28. I’m reading The Trauma Cleaner by Sarah Krasnostein. It’s the true story of Sandra Pankhurst, who runs a business cleaning up after suicides, hoarders, murders etc. But it’s about her life too. She was born a boy, adopted into a family with an alcoholic father, and mistreated appallingly. At first, you think – Wow, she’s got past all that. Then you realise it’s all still with her but she’s determined to survive it. Huge respect for such a person. And well told too.

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