This Is A Good Book Thursday, June 14, 2018

I’m on a P. G. Wodehouse binge because I was getting too dark in my own novel and because it’s summer and in the summer, the best place to laugh is Blanding’s Castle.  Also you have to love an author who replies to his critics this way:

“A certain critic – for such men, I regret to say, do exist – made the nasty remark about my last novel that it contained `all the old Wodehouse characters under different names’. He has probably by now been eaten by bears, like the children who made mock of the prophet Elisha: but if he still survives he will not be able to make a similar charge against Summer Lightning. With my superior intelligence, I have outgeneralled the man this time by putting in all the old Wodehouse characters under the same names. Pretty silly it will make him feel, I rather fancy.”

That’s the way I feel about people who say, “Why is there always a dog?” or “Where was the dog?” or “Why dogs?”, I just never realized Bears Will Eat Them.  Also the people who say, “Well, it’s not Shakespeare . . .”  Did the cover say, “Another great piece of Renaissance drama from Jenny Crusie”?  No?  BEARS.

Also, when Millicent drops into her chair in Summer Lightning, he describes her like this:

“She looked like something that might have occurred to Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments.”

I think that says it all.  I also tried a New Adult romance because Krissie said they were interesting and this one was free, but I gave up a third of the way in.  I like plots in my novels.  Then I tried something about a housewife assassin and gave up a couple of pages in because the protagonist seemed unlikely to succeed at balancing her responsibilities to her children while posing as a prostitute to kill a Russian mob boss.  My suspension of disbelief was not willing.  I also circled back to another Miss Marple because those are soothing.  Mostly, though, I just worked on Act Two.  

So what did you read this week?  Any keepers?




109 thoughts on “This Is A Good Book Thursday, June 14, 2018

  1. Shelter In Place by Nora Roberts, not to keen on the plot there is enough real life tragedy out there anyway. Out of the three main characters, four if you want to include the psychopathic mastermind, I liked Reed the college student turned police officer the best. His character brought a little humor and humanity to his story especially after he rescues a dog towards the last part of the book and makes him a deputy along with the talks he has with him. The story revolves around a shooting at a mall in Maine and the years after, two of the survivors, Reed and Simone, who don’t meet up until almost 2/3rds of the way through. Reed’s decision to become a police officer after the funeral of the girl he was trying to date the night of the shooting, he meets a detective, Essie, who changes the course of his life. Simone, the first 911 caller, is a sculptor, is also like the odd man out in her family and seems to push them away and bond more with her grandmother, CiCi, a famous artist, toke smoking, former commune living, Woodstock attendee hippy. They all finally meet up after Reed is shot and is recuperating on the island where Simone lives with CiCi who has a home and talks him into becoming Police Chief, because after all she has influence. I just find it hard to believe the story line of psychopathic teenager and her intervening years with her agenda and were withal to get revenge. But it is Nora Roberts and just saying she also writes as J.D. Robb.

    1. I gave up and didn’t finish this one. It was just so violent and twisted. I go to my romances for romance. Not mass shootings and psycho killers. Romantic suspense is a thing, sure, but for me, this book was just too much violence. The romance couldn’t keep my interest enough to overcome the vast amount of sadistic murders that were happening. I got most of the way through, and then just decided it wasn’t worth the dip my mood was taking. Your mileage may vary, of course.

  2. Based on a recommendation from last week’s Good Book Thursday, I’m reading the Lord and Lady Hetheridge series by Emma Jameson. I’m on the third one now. The first book jumps pretty quickly from “Nice to meet you” to “Let’s get married,” but the main characters are very engaging and I’m enjoying them.

    1. I got the first one on sale (ebook) and bought all the others. While I’m not fond of books or tv shows that have an arch nemesis at lest the really bad guy got it in the end. I bought her new one Dr. Bones and while it was ok, it never really grabbed me.

  3. I read John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War on the plane home and loved it. That’s all I got, I’m still jet lagged.

  4. I’m slogging through the new Loretta Chase. It seems…different. I think her writing style has changed or evolved, which I get it’s going to do, but I’m not sure if I like this writing style. Also, the premise, guy falls in love with his best friend’s fiancée, is a really tough one. Lastly, I don’t really care for either protagonist. I’m wondering if I missed a step and this is a farce…as a romance…? I dunno. But I usually like her stuff, so I’m slogging through.

    I’ve never heard of P G Wodehouse, maybe I’ll try him.

    1. First of the 3 Dukes, yes? Been a few months, but I did enjoy it. This is one of those books that shine more brightly on 2nd read. I think it’s a case of, he could have been in love with her — a voice at a party, a just-missed-her memory — for years. The road trip antics aren’t Rupert or Benedict Carsington near slapstick, but to me the importance of the trip was all she, and we, learned of his history from the people and places encountered. Chase has always had this kind of backstory, she’s bringing it closer to the front.

  5. I read the 11th Flaxborough novel last night, and it had the same problem as the previous one: it sort of flailed around and then ended. It had a good portrait of a bad marriage, and the start of a twisty con plot and then suddenly one of the supporting characters started asking questions and threatened one of the bad guys and he went to the police and essentially told them who the murderer was and they arrested that person and that was the end of the book. Also there’s a reveal about animal abuse in the end with no indication that anybody’s going to do anything to stop it in the abrupt ending. I’ll read the last one in the series since I’ve read the first 11, but boy did this series slide downhill, starting about halfway through.

    On the upside, there’s the reason you write a series, right there. People will keep reading if the stories aren’t satisfying.

  6. I read Judith Rossell’s Withering by Sea and loved it (thanks, Jenny!). I’m starting Wormwood Mire as soon as I have a free minute.

    1. Ditto, except I’m already halfway through Wormwood Mire and if anything liking it even better.

  7. I started reading Nora Roberts’ “The Villa” mostly because it is about a winery, but I kind of can’t stand the protagonists and I’m only 10% in. I think I gotta DNF this one.

    1. I’m curious as to why, exactly.

      Because, oddly enough, it was a re-read for me repeatedly 10 years ago when I first got it even though I tend to dislike family sagas. Neither Sophia nor Ty are all that sympathetic but they’re a product of their families. I enjoyed most of the female power on display. Pilar was not great but Maddy was excellent. Eli may’ve been the best male there.

      The books struck me as post 1980’s “I’ll Take Manhattan” but moving into new century of female power. It was after her Honest Illusions and Hidden Riches books which I pretty much loathed.

      I haven’t read The Villa in years but I think I got most of the characters names right. Just goes to show how much I re-read it.

      1. I just immediately took a dislike to both Sophia (bitchy) and Ty (surly), I didn’t like the grandmother, all the daddy issues bore the f**k out of me, and I felt that the prologue foreshadowed what was probably going to be a suspense through-story that would annoy me with its sheer unnecessariness. 🙂 So I bailed. I like about 60% of Nora’s contemporary stuff, and about 90% of the J.D. Robb books.

        Agree with you re: Eli, btw. I felt he was likely to be the one character I really connected to, but he was a playing a bit part.

  8. I’m reading The Art Of Taking Action, Lessons From Japanese Psychology by Gregg Krech.

    I needed something to boost me and change the way I approach my issues. It is quite interesting and somewhat useful so far.

    1. Let us know what you think when you’ve finished it and if it actually evokes a change in you/or actions, please? It sounds like something I may benefit from as well.

  9. I’m liking The Four Tendencies so far, but man, I haaaate being an Obliger who needs someone else to help her do anything. Haaaaaaaaaaaaate it. I hate being dependent on others for help because then really nothing gets done 😛

  10. I love Miss Marple.

    Still hiding in Discworld. I think it’s 2 weeks since I wrote anything on Good Book Thursday so here’s the road I’ve travelled:

    – Re-read Reaper Man. Will never stop loving that book. Ever.

    – Re-read Pyramids. It was worth it. It was both shorter and approx. 100 times better than I remembered it. In this case: Yay for being 10 years older!

    – Re-read Equal Rites. I enjoyed it much more this time than the first 2 (that was the Swedish translation, back then), but I still can’t put it among my favourite Discworld novels. It’s hovering somewhere above Eric at least, but I can’t really give it a Goodreads 4 and a 3.8 or 9 doesn’t exist. Or even a 3.5. I just can’t appreciate it as much as many of the others, I think.

    – Re-read Witches Abroad. Love that book. It’s so full of…everything. Most of all laughter, of course.

    – Re-read Lords and Ladies. Another favourite. Granny Weatherwax would probably get on my nerves in no time in real life, but I very much enjoy reading about her. And Nanny Ogg, too.

    I skipped Small Gods, because… Well, I just did. Might pick it up later on. Sourcery, Moving Pictures and Pyramids did, after all, turn out to be much better than I remembered, and they were down there with Small Gods before. So I will definitely give it a re-read. But first some Sam Vimes (Men at Arms), because I’m worth it.

    1. I just bought Equal Rites for my ten-year-old granddaughter. She’s read the Tiffany books several times, and she’s reading above level so I think Equal Rites is a good segue into adult Pratchett since adult Pratchett is still rated G.

      I remember being blown away by Small Gods–it might have been my first Pratchett–but it’s been years.

      All-time faves: Thief of Time, Going Postal, Guards! Guards! oh, hell, too many to name. The man was a genius with a great soul.

      1. I love love love Small Gods. One of my favorite Pratchetts, but not funny at heart. But the honesty and earnestness of the young True Believer is just endearing, the vengeful god forced to deal with being a small, slow, edible tortoise can be hilarious, and the Trumplike manipulator who rules over the now deity-free religion is kind of horrifyingly familiar. And the plot is pretty amazing.

        Of course, there’s no Sam Vimes in it, so I see your point. 🙂

        1. Indeed. no Sam Vimes. 🙁

          I THINK(!) I actually liked Small Gods all right the first time I read it, but I probably wasn’t very into the religious stuff at that point. Perhaps it was more that than the story itself that has made me avoid re-reading it. I just didn’t have the patience for that kind of story then. I did listen to the BBC radio adaptation of it a couple of years ago, however, and liked it a lot, so I will most definitely re-read it. When I’m done with Sam. 😉

          Agreeing with Jenny: There are too many Discworld favourites to list them all. Pratchett was a true genius.

          1. I love Pratchett’s open-hearted takes on religion.
            Every time something gets stuck in one of my kitchen drawers, I rattle the drawer and say a fast prayer to Anoia, and bingo, it pops open.

            I googled to check to make sure I had her name right and got this:
            “The minor goddess of Things That Stick in Drawers, Anoia is praised by rattling a drawer and crying “How can it close on the damned thing but not open with it? Who bought this? Do we ever use it?” As she says, sooner or later every curse is a prayer. She also eats corkscrews and is responsible for Things Down The Backs of Sofas, and is considering moving into stuck zips.”
            She is also the Goddess of Lost Causes.

            My kind of religion.

          2. I’ve been rereading Discworld books. I hadn’t liked Soul Music the first time around. But last December’s Argh discussion on Hogfather and Thief of Time made me give Soul Music a second try. Really worth it. Of course I’d recognized the rock’n’roll characters the first time around. And I’d groaned appreciatively at all the puns. But I hadn’t accepted the combination of humor and loss which I now think is the crux of the story.

    2. Good Omens was my first Pratchett and still laugh out loud when I read it. Two wonderful authors in one wonderful book! Looking forward to seeing how David Tennant manages to be Crowley.

  11. I bought the new Tamera Pierce novel for Kindle, but haven’t opened it yet. I have mostly been reading blogs on my phone while nursing. I also have a big stack of real books from the library, most of which are unopened.

    I clearly need to get my act together before next Good Book Thursday!

      1. Hooray! That’s what I was hoping for. I have definitely loved her earlier Tortall works (Circle of Magic left me cold but I was an adult before I started trying them and I was in middle school when I stated Alanna, so…)

  12. I just finished rereading all of the Meg Langslow mysteries by Donna Andrews. Fiscal year end is coming early because they are replacing the old payment system with a new one effective July 1st, and I’m in serious need of comfort. I’ve started rereading my stash of Trisha Ashley’s again. Maybe I need more Wodehouse, to ease the strain/pain.

    1. Love Donna Andrews with a white-hot love. Trisha Ashley, ditto. They are both my happy place books, just like Jenny. If you like Trisha, you might want to read Katie Fforde, if you haven’t already.

      1. A big yes to Katie Fforde and Trisha Ashley. I also like Catherine Alliott. Will need to give Donna Andrews a go.

  13. I stopped reading NR when she brutally killed a dog. I won’t read anyone who kills, hurts or maims dogs. You, excluded because the bad guy had t show just want scum he was by kicking the dog in (I think), Crazy for You. And of course one of my favs is Dogs and Goddesses. I’ve listened to that 3 times and now think I’m ready for a 4th. Thank you for not killing an animal. 🙂

  14. I’m on a major re-reading binge of non-serious books. Like eyeballs falling out level binge. Reality is plenty serious enough and I’m avoiding it as much as possible! Right now I’m alternating between the Donna Andrews Meg Langslow series, the Rick Riordan Heroes of Olympus series (the newest volume in the Trials of Apollo is out and I’d forgotten some of the backstory) and the Rhymes with Love series from Elizabeth Boyle. Up soon are the Bedwyn series from Mary Balogh, the Mrs. Pollifax mysteries and all the other fabulous standalone Dorothy Gilman novels, the Bernie Rhodenbarr series from Lawrence Block, the Miss Melville series from Evelyn Smith (fabulous tales of an impoverished socialite turned hired assassin with delicious send-ups of 80s era NYC) and if things get really desperate I’ll have to go for the full Dick Francis read-a-thon. (Already re-read the complete Crusie oeuvre last month.)

    This reading binge made possible by a truly excellent county library system.

  15. As I’ve been battling a miserable summer cold, I found it easier to re-read this week. I revisited one of my favorites from the past few years: The Essex Serpent by Sarah Parry. It’s set in the Victorian era, and is not a romance but has a lovely and unusual love story in it. Parry’s writing is lyrical and lovely, and I often wish I could write that way, but alas, that’s not my voice. Still, I can enjoy reading it.

  16. I also read Shelter In Place by Nora Roberts. Right off, I don’t recommend it for anyone who wouldn’t be able to read a detailed description of a mass shooting, because that’s the opening of the book. This one wasn’t what I was expecting. Reed and Simone don’t meet until half way through the story, and I wouldn’t call this a romance. She starts with the shooting and follows Reed, Simone, and some of their friends and family for 13 years. Survivors of the shooting are being killed during that time, but Reed is the only one who sees that pattern, and since most of the characters are unaware of it, that doesn’t really affect them until later in the book. The suspense and romance plots are there, but the romance in particular didn’t feel very well developed. I think what Roberts was really trying to write about here was the way the horrific tragedy of a mass shooting affects the survivors and victim’s families for the rest of their lives, and the different forms that takes for different people. Because it’s Roberts, I really felt for these characters; she’s always good at that. I read this book in two days, and it was interesting, but probably not one I’ll go back to. Like I said, not really a romance (expectations were an issue for me here), and the subject isn’t something I want to revisit regularly.

    My favorite character was probably CiCi, the grandmother. I’d happily read a book about her adventures as a hippie in the Sixties all the way through to the present. She was fun.

    Shelter In Place is actually one of four books I’m aware of that involves a mass shooting. Roni Loren has written 2 books in a romance series about survivors of a high school shooting, and Kelley Armstrong’s YA release this year also involves a high school shooting. Those are just the ones I’ve come across. Only read the first Loren book. I wondered why I was seeing so many, then realized it must be because there have been so many actual mass shootings that this is a part of American culture, and it would naturally become part of pop culture too. That was a really depressing thought.

    On a happier note, I also read Kelley Armstrong’s new Cainsville novella, Rough Justice, and really liked it. I hope she does more short fiction in this world even though the series has ended. Olivia spends this one investigating whether a man is guilty of causing someone’s death before she leads the Wild Hunt that executes people responsible for killing those with fae blood. There was a little more detail added about the Wild Hunt part of the world here, and that was cool. Also an interesting short mystery for Liv and Gabriel to solve.

    P.S. I apologize for any spelling errors I’ve missed. Auto correct is trying to kill me today.

    1. We do not worry about spelling errors in comments. This is conversation, not English class.
      Also autocorrect comes for us all.

  17. The Clocks by Agatha Christie, I love Agatha Christie and currently re-reading the odd one that I don’t remember.

    It was okay, but a weaker Hercule Poirot, not seeing why the hero was in love with the heroine.

    The Red Notebook was better, French, charming, I really liked Antoin Laurain’s President’s hat, this wasn’t as good, but still pretty good.

    Trying to find something short to read & continuing the French theme I read Pietr the Latvian, my first Maigret, Maigret is different, he doesn’t try to be clever, he’s just solid, dogged and persistent

    1. I loved the Maigret miniseries with Rowan Atkinson even though most critics didn’t. But then it hit all the points it needed to for me.

  18. I finally got my hands on the library copy of Artificial Condition, the second of the Murderbot Diaries. I am ecstatic. I will be reading it at least twice more before I have to return it. I’ve enjoyed all of Martha Wells I’ve been able to find before, but Murderbot is just another level.

    Most of what I’ve been reading is from recommendations here, but after reading a review of something new that someone compared to Melissa Scott I’ve been going through all of hers that I or the library owns–not enough!–as fast as I can. All her SFF is so complex and twisty, and full of diverse characters.

    1. Mary Anne I loved Artificial Condition by Martha Wells! and I reread it twice. I just finished A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers, who wrote The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. It took me a while to get into the second book (Closed and Common Orbit), but I ended up really enjoying it. The author does a great job creating a diverse and interesting fictional universe.

  19. I just reread one of my all time favourite books that all Harry Potter fans should read, Charmed Life, by the late, great Diana Wynne Jones (and yes, her passing hurts. I’ve loved her and her books since I was 11).

    BUT! I did something dumb, Jenny and fab people. I listened to a pod today where a fabulous and funny comedian, Jessica Fostekew talked books and happened to say she read terrible books when she was a kid, but at least they weren’t romance novels.

    So I said to her on Twitter: not ALL romance novels are equal. Some are amazing with feminist underpinnings.

    She responded with she’d absolutely read one, a really brilliant one.

    SOOOOO…. Suggestions, please!!

    (I immediately went any of mine might not be what she wants…)

    But I want strong, smart women. And also, fave Jenny book. I’m definitely going to suggest one, I don’t know which one. I also am a huge Anne Stuart fan, and Catspaw is my ultimate favourite there. But… suggestions, please… Pretty please. I’ll send you a lovely cherry. Honest.

      1. Have you read The Lives of Christopher Chant?

        But yes, so so good. I read all the Potter books, but I think she did it all first and better and with more depth. A lot goes on in her books. And…Neil Gaiman loved her.

        So the first one I read was Charmed Life and I loved it even more now, and I am not ashamed to say I still have a crush on Chrestomanci (and his amazing outfits!), so that has a special place.

        But there’s also Archer’s Goon, Dogsbody (that one makes me cry), The Ogre Downstairs, and another huge favourite, Fire and Hemlock. The Homeward Bounders I remember being bored by and couldn’t get into the first time I tried to read it as a kid, and then a couple of month’s later, I tried again and pushed through and was so in love with that, too.

        but, young lady…I need some favourite romance novels with an awesomely strong heroine.

        1. Fire and Hemlock is definitely another of my favourites. And The Lives of Christopher Chant. But I also adore The Power of Three, which is not so well known. I had a few of hers that I didn’t like so much, but I’ve been rereading them and they come up well now I’m a bit older.

          *totally ignoring your request for romance novels*

          1. Fine. Ignore my request!

            I loved The Power of Three. Dark Lord of Derkholm is wonderful, too. I’ve read all of them (even the picture books), except the final one her sister finished, as she died part way through. I’m going to wait a while for that.

            Selfishly, I was hoping they would announce a plethora of unpublished, but finished books so I could have them coming in for years to come.

            Rereads are always so good with her books, I find.

    1. I suggest Maybe This Time as a Jenny book. Great strong female lead, and the secondary characters bring an underlying level of intelligent comedy that I think would surprise her. And it starts off right in the center of the story, which grabs you from the get go.

      1. Maybe This Time is more of a ghost story with a romantic subplot.
        Faking It or Bet Me, maybe. Or somebody else’s book.

        1. I love your books and love the way you write smart heroines that don’t fit the mould. Thank goodness. I am just having a bit of a panic attack about something that is so subjective. Not that it matters…but i’d also love to somehow have the pod Jessica regularly guests on (the guilty feminist) to do a show on romance. Because there are great ones out there. So I thought gather about three.

          Faking it was definitely on my list. And I was trying to think of the book with Min. Also, Jenny, I do have to apologise, but my cat threw up on it once, but he wasn’t well. He likes good lit.

          Anyway, yes to those. Damn it. It’s so hard suggesting something so personal.

        2. Which is the SEP book that starts with the headless beaver walking down the road? That’s my favorite of hers. I think it is called Heroes Are My Weakness?

          1. No – that’s not such a great one. The beaver book is ‘Natural Born Charmer’. My other favourite of hers is ‘Breathing Room’.

        3. After much thought and rereading both Bet Me and Fast Women (and other books). (Research, honest!) I decided to recommend Bet Me and Faking It.

          Hey you and your readers can’t be wrong, and while I’d have loved to throw Fast Women in, I think the other two are closer to ‘traditional’ romance, but show you can write a great love story within that field and have the woman strong, smart, educated, and not a size zero and twenty-two.

      2. I vote for Agnes and the Hitman. Love that book. Something for everyone. Even my dad (who is super picky and doesn’t read romances) really enjoyed it.

    2. Crazy For You and Agnes and The Hitman.

      That Rookery Rogues series that I adore, by Erica Monroe. Not a Duke in sight.

      Jeannie Lin’s The Sword Dancer.

      Beverly Jenkins books, but I don’t know which one to pick.

      Nalini Singh – Slave to Sensation.

      Trying to add in diverse books.

    3. My favourite book by Jenny is often the one I have just read, in my case, Faking It. Which is convenient, because I’m pretty sure that it’s almost my all-time fave (WTT, toss up). But on a girls-doing-it-for-themselves, Fast Women? Bet Me? I love Bet Me because it validates whatever choices you want to make for your life – feminism at its finest. 2.4 kids in the suburbs is absolutely a valid feminist choice, if it’s your choice. I cry every time when Bonnie asks Min to imagine the perfect future. I also really like Charlie All Night.

      I saw Catspaw and was confused, as it makes me think of the Joan D Vinge novel, which I LOVED as a teenager.

      1. I absolutely agree with whatever your choice is, is a valid feminist choice. And I love that book! I was thinking of Bet Me. It’s not a ‘diet’ romance (as in the heroine sheds pounds to win the man).

        Catspaw is an early Anne Stuart. I’ve read that book so many times.

        Thank you for your input!

    4. I’d suggest a few for her: Jenny’s Bet Me, Courtney Milan’s Hold Me (the billionaire contemporary,) Julia Quinn’s Because of Miss Bridgerton, Eloisa James’s Wilde in Love, can’t quite think of a paranormal standalone, maybe on of Maryjanuce Davidson’s Undead?

      1. I almost always enjoy E James, but was bored out of my mind and couldn’t even finish Wilde in Love. I did however thoroughly enjoy Too Wilde to Wed, the second one in the series, I think. Go figure.

    5. I would also suggest ‘Fast Women’ – fave Jenny book. Strong, smart women, learning through life and the experiences they have.

      1. The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory so your suggestions are a little more diverse. I second all the Jenny recommendations. Maybe also Courtney Milan’s The Governess Affair.

        1. Just got it after reading the sample on Amazon. Looks great. Thank you.

          Of course, I didn’t really think this through as it means I’m spending money. but…books! 🙂

    6. Besides Jenny (I’d go for ‘Bet Me’) and SEP reccs below, I’d go for Katie Fforde’s first, ‘Living Dangerously’, Jayne Ann Krentz, ‘Grand Passion’ or ‘Deep Waters’. Probably best to steer clear of historicals.

      1. I’ve also been re-reading JAK’s 90’s contemporaries and they really hold up. Such fun! Don’t forget Wildest Hearts and Hidden Talents.

        Katie Fforde’s 90’s books were also excellent. Her later ones are good, but not as good, although I enjoyed Summer at Sea (2017?). Sadly we can’t get a lot of her books in our US libraries.

        Each of Jenny’s books is unique. I usually recommend 3-4 of them to a new reader and encourage her (or him) to read the first couple of chapters of each to see if any or all entice. My first Crusie (Crazy for You) was not to my taste but after I found and thoroughly enjoyed the others I went back to it. I’ve had success with new Crusie readers with: Welcome to Temptation, Faking It, Fast Women, and Bet Me.

    7. I vote for “Bet Me” for your Jenny choice, because it has THREE (count ’em – 3) very strong women who are completely different.

      Somewhat dated now, but I would also strongly suggest a Kathleen Gilles Siedel – “Again” might be my suggestion for this application, but all of her romances are good. I have given them to four different men, all of whom really liked them, including re-reads.

      If you think historical is appropriate for your comedian, either “Cotillian” or “Venetia” by Georgette. If she likes science fiction, tell her Lois McMasters Bujold is a Georgette Heyer fan.

    8. I am fixating on the feminist slant in Jenny’s books. Crazy for You would be a good one and Charlie All Night. And Fast Women – three different women who have to learn to take control of their own life.

    9. Definitely Bet Me. But also Resistance is Futile by Jenny T Colgan which is a funny SF Romance with an ultra sharp heroine.

    10. There’s a discussion (I think it’s filed in the newcomers section) about this very subject at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. They talk about which romance books to give someone to start them off in the genre.

  20. “The Cuckoo’s Calling,” Robert Galbraith. I was a verbatim reporter for thirty years, listening to voices. I like and am good at listening to voices. The mystery and detecting here are good enough to keep me going on to the next two books in the series, but the deciding factor is how good she is at capturing a range of voices. Rowling gets class, education, personality in subtle measure. The wealthy, downtrodden, spoiled, poor, spiteful, addicted, sorrowful — they and more crowd in here, all arrayed for us to hear their voices.

    Other book of the week is “The Beach House Cookbook,” Mary Kay Andrews. I like her novels, they read easy breezy as the cover copy says this one does. These are my kind of recipes, the way I like to cook and eat these days. Plus, I adore the kind of food books arranged by menu. Think I’ll try Summer Solstice Dinner: James T’s Secret Ice Tea, Zucchini Vichyssoise, Beyond the Grave Chicken Salad, Tomato Pie, Ritualistic Pimento Cheese, Trailer Trash Dessert. This book was a library take-out I found necessary to buy.

  21. I just read The Witch’s Boy, by Kelly Barnhill. Middle grade fantasy with beautiful writing. She’s one of my favourites.

    I also read a crime novelist who is new to me, James Oswald. He’s one of the Scottish crime writers, but different from the others in that he includes a bit of otherworldly stuff. The first book in his Inspector MacLean series is terrific–Natural Causes. Apart from really liking it, I found it interesting because he puts in an afterword about how it started as a short story, and when he turned it into a novel, he added a really brutal first chapter. Then he took it out again, because it was too horrible. He includes that first chapter at the end– I couldn’t get past the first line, so I’m glad he took it out, because otherwise I wouldn’t have read a very fine book.

    One of my favourite crime series is Colin Cotterill’s Dr Siri Paiboun series, set in Laos in the 1970s. Dr Siri is a 72-year-old medical doctor who has been appointed (unwillingly) as the national coroner of the new socialist Laos. His lab is underfunded and his boss is incompetent. It’s brilliant series and very funny. No surprise to discover that Cotterill won the 2009 Crime Writers Association award for ‘the author of crime fiction whose work is currently giving the greatest enjoyment to library users.’ The first book in the series is The Coroner’s Lunch.

  22. I’ve just re-read a couple of Kathleen Gilles Seidel – ‘Again’ which is one of her older ones, and ‘An Uncommon Degree of Popularity’. She has a new one coming out and I can’t wait! ‘Again’ is set on a Regency day time soap opera with a romance between an actor and a writer, and it’s so much fun, and so well written. The latter isn’t really a romance, but deals with a mother coping with her daughter’s being ostracised from her friends at school. My daughter has just started school (in a wildly different demographic and society), so it’s especially relevant. I love her studies of the relationships between characters, mothers and daughters, friends, in-laws, etc. They’re so nuanced.

    1. I love Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s books – ‘Summer’s End’ is fantastic too and ‘Again’ is a favourite. It’s fair to say that I love ‘Again’ almost as much as ‘Fast Women’ – my favourite! Last year I tracked down paperback copies of her Harlequin American romance books (4 in total) just for the sheer pleasure of reading more works by her. I love the relationships between people, not just romance, but family interactions. I can’t wait for the new one.

  23. I just read Educated by Tara Westover. It is a memoir about growing up in rural Idaho and being homeschooled but actually neglected. It was so engrossing that I read it in a day. I don’t want to give away too much so won’t say more. I would recommend it to anyone who liked The Glass Castle.

    1. I’ve had a hold on this at the library for at least a couple months. Keep watching the number go down. I MIGHT be able to read it by the end of the year. It looks so interesting!

      Have you read Chiseled by Danuta Pfeiffer? I found that one quite interesting /enjoyable too.

        1. I hope you like it!

          Guess what? Stopped by to pick up some holds and Educated came in! Will be reading it in the next couple weeks. 🙂

  24. I just finished BRIEF CASES, the most recent Harry Dresden short story collection by Jim Butcher. It was definitely the best collection yet–every single story was a winner. Now I want to go back and read the Dresden books from the beginning.

    My only problem with reading these things is that Butcher is such a fabulous writer, he makes me despair for my own writing… I will never be that good. Still, highly recommended.

    1. See Jim Butcher never did it for me. I liked the Dresden books I read, but I stopped…I guess it is different things for different people.

      I say this because you should not despair about your writing. But definitely keep striving to improve and just write your stories. One day someone will say what you said about Butcher.

    2. Only you can write your books. Don’t wish you were somebody else, be glad you can write so that the stories only you can tell can go out into the world.

  25. I re-read Georgette Heyer’s Cotillion. Enjoyed it all over again.
    Oh, and to those of you who wanted the Tofu burger recipe it is in the comments from Wednesday’s post.

  26. I’m shocked to report that in my re-reading of the Twelve Houses series by Sharon Shinn, I am realizing that I never did read Book #3 in the series the first time around, which is a hugely fun surprise. And as before, I’m loving the characters. Well worth the re-read.

    1. I love that series. I think my favourite is Fortune and Fate, the one about Wen. And I absolutely adore the Elemental Blessings series by Sharon Shinn.

    2. I’m so grateful to the person who recommended these a few weeks ago. They are good enough that you become very attached to the characters. Oddly 1, 2 and 4 are available on Kindle but 3 is only available as a paperback so when it arrived on Monday I refused to speak to anyone till it was finished!

  27. I finished Austen’s Persuasion and confirmed that it is my favorite of her’s.

    My hold on The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz came through so I’m excited to start that. (I started out 17th on the hold list.) I read about the book here.

  28. I am reading a book by the wife of one of my best friends from university. Tom was always in love with Sue, but she married someone else first time round, and they only got together after we were all grown up, but now she is Professor Dame Sue Black, primo forensic anthropologist and All that Remains is her memoir/meditation on her career. It is amazing, brilliant, compelling, delightful and entrancing…I could go on, but I won’t. It is about death, as that has been her metier, but it is also about how we choose to live and grow. I am only in the early stages, and there are harrowing bits to come on her work in Kosovo and after the 2005 December tsunami in SE Asia, but I cannot recommend it highly enough.

  29. I’m reading The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking by Olivia Laing, which is a kind of meditation on place, drinking and a handful of male writers who drank quite a lot: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Cheever and Raymond Carver.

    The audiobook du jour is Anne Sebba’s That Woman: The Life of Wallis Simpson. I read it book form when it came out, and enjoyed it then, though maybe “enjoyed” isn’t the right word. Perhaps “found it fascinating and sad” is a better description. I tend to agree with Sebba’s take on the Duchess and the events that led up to the abdication of E8, mainly because there is a sense that there wasn’t a real plan, that events just got out of hand and before anyone really understood what was going on, there they were, listening to the “Woman I Love” speech, and Wallis was stuck with a man she didn’t love, trapped in a life she hadn’t wanted. Life is like that — you think you’re doing the right thing in the moment, and it turns out to have been a very wrong thing. It’s a sympathetic, but clear-eyed portrait, or so it seems to me.

  30. If someone who had never read a romance asked me to recommend one, I would instantly advise her to read Bet Me.

    Later, if she enjoyed Bet Me, I’d suggest titles from Jane Austen (although pre-Romance), Dorothy Sayers, Georgette Heyer, Mary Stewart, AS Byatt (Possession, specifically).

    I just haven’t liked any contemporary romances enough to want to reread them; instead, I read novels that have romance elements (such as, Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog and Bujold’s Chalion novels).

    An exception: a contemporary short story that’s all romance.

  31. I just read Connie Willis “I met a Traveler in an Antique Land”. I did not read an excerpt before I bought it because I love Connie Willis. It was short but inexpensive but also hard to be engaged. It opened well and then it dragged on forever. This is a novella and I felt like lifetimes past before I finished it. If someone has a different take, let me know – maybe it was me and not the story. Not exciting and barely interesting.

    I should mention that I abandoned Wild Ride half way through the first time I read it and just went back and reread it and loved it, so it not being the book at fault but me is a reasonable assumption.

    1. No, Wild Ride has some problems. The people writing it were having problems and it got into the book. It starts slow and accidentally makes a promise it doesn’t keep, and then I made a mistake even though my editor pointed it out (I MUST ALWAYS LISTEN TO HER). If I had another crack at that book, it would be different. I still like it, but it is Flawed.

      1. Any chance you’ll tell us what the failed promise and the mistake were? My guess is that the failed promise was the expectation that Mab and Ethan would pair up — it’s wonderful that they didn’t.

        I loved the joke about “Joe.”

        I can’t figure out what the mistake was.

        1. Switching love interests. I thought I’d made it clear that Joe was keeping back something big and that Oliver was always there for her, but I didn’t establish enough of Oliver’s character to create anticipation, so a lot of readers were betrayed when Joe turned out to be, uh, flawed. And then Oliver seemed kind of sudden. There’d be a lot more of Oliver if I could do it over again.

          1. Oh. I guess I didn’t have a problem because I was watching Mab mature into happiness by allowing herself pleasure. I enjoyed watching her slow progression which was punctuated by quick jolts (orgasms, but really each decision to go for sexual fulfillment). Also, I find it cool that she moves from a god to a man (instead of progressing from a drunk to a man). Good joke.

            The other “freeing” moment I remember in Crusie books is when Andi mistakenly feels freed from the ghosts; I find that moment sad. But, now, of course, a “freeing” moment occurs when Tilda reveals the forgeries to Davy. I know there are others.

          2. I think a lot of freedom comes from giving up something: preconceptions, fears, misconceptions, rules, etc. It’s a kind of housecleaning of the mind, getting rid of everything that isn’t useful and beautiful.

  32. Bet Me. Best contemporary romance ever.
    Also best matching dinner scenes anyway and arguably the best book ever for showing how hero and heroine will deal with each others families.

    For historical, for a really great exploration of feminist issues that is also a true romance, My Dearest Enemy by Connie Brockway.

    For just plain kickass heroines in a historical romance, anything by Joanna Bourne. Among other things she gets why there were two moral sides to the Napoleonic Wars which means her characters have a real conflict. Also, amazing writing.

    And as a bridge between Sci fi and romance, A Civil Campaign by Bujold.

  33. My son’s gateway drug um book to Pratchett at age 10 was Jingo. I have no idea why. But in this political environment it might be even better. Later he decided Small Gods was the best and loved the one about women in the army. But at 10 he insisted on reading bits of Jingo to the carpool on the 10 minute ride to school. He and classmates made an impassioned request for it to be the next classroom book for read aloud but I think failed.

    I always think Wyrd Sisters would be good for anyone who likes Shakespeare, and I always thing Guards Guards with its dragons should be good for kids who like fantasy. But I have no evidence.

  34. Warning: Spoiler in the paragraph below.

    Not a romance, but I read Something in the Water by Catherine Steadman. Her performance really caught me at first, but then it seemed to drag. I’m not sure why there was plenty going on… and then the end seemed rushed and then all the endy bits to tie up the story. Also, (SPOILER) the husband was a cad and I didn’t really see it until the end when suddenly this man who was crazy about her was suddenly a cad. Maybe I just didn’t see the hints? Why the heck did he marry her if he didn’t like her?

    I don’t know, it was unsatisfying. YMMV of course.

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