This is a Good Book Thursday, September 20, 2018

I’ve been reading Pratchett’s Watch series which has been interesting because although I’ve read the first three–Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, and Feet of Clay–a dozen times and loved them all, I barely remember the last four.  I remember Night Watch being exceptional, but I can’t remember details, and the others I only have vague recollections of which means it’s like reading new books.  Oh, and I’ve been reading my own book-in-progress and it’s fun, too (yes, I got rid of the godawful sex scene).  So I’ve been having a lovely time.  

What have you been reading?

90 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 20, 2018

  1. I’ve put aside the eyeball-skewering Kate Daniels series for some recuperation time, and I’m surprised to say I’m enjoying “Longbourn,” by Jo Baker. I guess I had thought it would be kind of an activist tirade of some sort, since it takes the world of Pride & Prejudice and follows the imagined parallel stories of the downstairs staff of the Bennett household. And – you know – given how histrionic and self-centered a mother Mrs. Bennett was, I could only cringe at the idea of her as the mistress of servants.

    But the author’s done a really skillful job of depicting the daily life of a small household staff around this time period, as well as weaving the story of what happens to them around the events of the original novel. In addition, she has them dealing with their own plot and story that is quite independent of the upstairs one.

    The thing that really struck me was how much information the upstairs family fails to inform the servants about. The central character, a young serving maid called Sarah, is asked to take an obviously important message over to a house in the neighborhood that she hasn’t visited for years. “Oh, hadn’t you heard?” says Mrs. Bennett, “Netherfield is let at last, to a young man of means, and I am inviting him to a family dinner!”

    I’m working in a sort of servant capacity in an office setting at the moment, and that slightly surprised “oh, didn’t you know about this?” remark rang bells for me immediately. So although there’s not a single person named Vorkosigan in the book, I’m quite enjoying it.

    1. I just love Longbourn. It really made me look at Pride and Prejudice differently – as you say, it isn’t a tirade at all, but makes you aware of everything else that is going on in the house, that isn’t mentioned.

  2. I just started a cookbook/food history by Tamar Adler called Something Old, Something New:Classic Recipes Revised. I am very interested in the updating of older recipes and want to try the honey flummery and frozen honey mousse.

    The Making of Home by Judith Flanders is still a fascinating read but not a fast one.

    Since I have felt like crocheting again I’ve been watching a lot of the tv show Justified, and have been re-watching the Little Dorrit miniseries from 2008.

  3. I read Karen White’s The Beach Trees and enjoyed it. I’ve been too busy being away to read anything else.

  4. I’ve been burning my way through Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. I started based on her speech at RWA, because everyone was talking about it on Twitter, and I want to see what all the fuss was about. I was really interested in reading the story where the publishers finally allowed her to have a gay love story, but it was number eight in the series, so I decided to start at the beginning. And now I am on number 14… LOL! I think it’s fair to say I am enjoying her work immensely, And also having fun mentioning to other people that I’m currently deeply invested in a series of Navy SEAL romance novels.

    (Since I teach English, I think people usually expect me to only enjoy classics or highbrow literary work. I actually prefer genre fiction almost all the time, although that does include classic genre fiction like Frankenstein, Which I am currently reading for the first time along with my AP literature class.)

    And my picture book recommendation for this week is a cute one called “DON’T EAT THE BABY!” by Amy Young, in which the big brother is made VERY nervous by adults saying things like “Oh,I could just eat you all up!” to his baby brother. My toddler assures me he wouldn’t let anybody eat HIS baby brother either!

    1. I’ve been moving my book heroes to firefighters. I do remember reading a few of Suzanne Brockman’s Seal series and heard of her speech at RWA conference. And yesterday I found out that Bert and Ernie are gay, sort of, after all these years I never gave them a thought. There just wonderful characters. Who knew!

    2. She has always been one of my faves. Her new Tall Dark and Dangerous book “Seal Camp” is a new addition to an even older series. But its also good and contemporary with the “Me too” movement. I also went to one of her book showings and she was gracious and lovely.

  5. I came to the end of my K. J. Charles revisit and have been rereading Sarah Wynde’s Tassamara series, which is good comfort stuff. I’ve just bought the latest one and am about to start it.

    The proofs I’ve just started look interesting, but it’s too soon to be sure (watch this space). I’ve only managed a couple of hours on them today; didn’t sleep well last night, and have been waiting all day to hear whether my offer of the asking price for the house I’m after is acceptable. The agent rang as I was typing this to say she hasn’t managed to speak to the vendor today, but will try again first thing tomorrow. Hope I sleep better tonight, regardless.

    At least I can ring my friends now: I didn’t want to tie up the line.

  6. I just finished the Lady Astronaut books by Mary Robinette Kowal and I highly recommend. They’re an alternate universe where a meteor hit Washington DC in 1952 and basically set off climate change/global warming/nuclear winter faster so they have to accelerate the space program to get people on the moon and Mars in the 1960’s. Great takes on sexism and racism and perservering.

  7. I’m reading a ghost story set in England. Probably not the best choice for bedtime reading, but what’s a little lost sleep when you’ve got a good read:) At least so far it’s good and well-paced with dashes of mystery and romance. Hoping it ends well.

  8. I’ve been obsessively writing and re-writing and editing, but did manage to re-read “Locked Rooms” by Laurie R. King. Huge fan of that series.

    1. Based on the due dates I scribble on the sheet pasted in the library books, I apparently reread the first four books every three years. I finally bought “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” as a gift – and kept it.

      1. I love that series. I picked up Beekeepers Apprentice thinking “This could be really good, or really hokey.” And now Mary Russell feels like part of Holmes’ canon to me.

        1. When they first came out I was a snob about it (having had a formative A.C. Doyle experience) and waited until the series was about three books in, then started reading and thought WHY DID I WASTE ALL THIS TIME.

  9. I’ve had some extremely trying family stuff, so have been binging the Crazy Rich Asians series by Kevin Kwan for pure escape. The books are quite fun, although the footnotes fairly shriek authorial intrusion!

  10. Thanks to my library card, I’ve been powering throug Judith Flanders “Sam Clair” mysteries, starting with A Murder of Magpies. I’m still not completely sure how I feel about them, but I did read 4 in a week, so I’m going to go ahead and say they certainly captured my interest.

  11. I’m reading The Dark Before Dawn by Jaima Fixsen. A friend recommended it, and I’m so glad I bought it. It’s a historical thriller and absolutely fabulous so far. I love it when I want to keep on reading despite having a thousand other things to do.

  12. I just raced through Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s new Diving Universe book, Searching for the Fleet. (Genre for this book is science fiction; she also writes light romance under another name). I think this series just gets better and better. Some Amazon reviewers complain that the main female protagonist from other books (Boss) is missing in action; but it’s a good book featuring other strong characters and I liked it.

    My nonfiction book club (through our local Sierra Club) is reading Our Native Bees by Paige Embry and I am finding it surprisingly entertaining. I just finished the short section on honeybee sex; book is also filled with many human characters and information about science and agriculture. And of course lots of info about life and death among bees.

  13. I’m reading The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen. I’m not even cooking anything yet. I just like how they detail the properties of herbs, spices, sauces, and vegetables.

    They actually explain which herbs are useful dried and why or better fresh and why!

    I have read many, many recipe books but this one really explains it well for first-timers. I say this as someone who learned to cook by high school. It’s the introductory book I wish I’d had then. And it’s the detailed book that I’m glad I have now.

      1. I’m in SA, I don’t think anything had made it here. We tend to get a lot of BBC shows and Food Network shows.

  14. Still happily making my way through The Expanse series. One thing I really like when reading from my tablet is that I can so easily look up terms I don’t know, or check out maps of the solar system to get a concrete picture of what and where, and how far away.

    1. I’m so glad you recommended the Expanse, I am really enjoying it. Interesting characters, complex interesting world, well written science fiction.

  15. After a number of average books, not worth mentioning, I went to Ilona Andrews’ website (on the recommendation from here, ladies, thank you) and started reading her latest free novella in the Innkeeper series, Sweep of the Blade. Gosh, it is so good. I’m only half-way through, but I’m loving it.
    The Innkeeper series is actually my favorite of all this author’s books. The others are too gritty for me. I’m not a fan of Kate Daniels or the Edge books, but these novellas are lighter and they work for me. When I finish what is on the website, I’m going to re-read all three other novellas of this series. I have them all on my Kindle. I’m already smiling in anticipation.

  16. Reading a thrift store fine find, Tyler Florence’s 2010 Family Meal. Gosh, he shares good recipes, new ones to me, classic favorites and a combo of both such as refried beans with ground Spanish chorizo. I like his stories too. But, boo hoo, pages are missing (just as in my Nero Wolf cookbook), so I’ll go on line and try to find both.

    We subscribe to Rancho Gordo – dried fresh beans! – and a tip in the newsletter intrigues. Sliced or chopped radishes placed in salt water for a few hours renders them “buttery in flavor.” Hmm. Similar to an ancient tip from James Beard, who adored open-face onion and mayonnaise sandwiches anytime and especially with drinks. He suggested dunking sliced onions for a few seconds in salted, celery-seeded boiling water to remove the hot edge of fresh-cut onions. That trick I attest to.

    And now to eat lunch – ratatouille and salami and cheese panini – in the company of dear Loretta Chase.

  17. I read the new JD Robb, Leverage in Death, and the new Nalini Singh, Rebel Hard. Both were good, which was what I expected (I’ve yet to be disappointed with In Death titles or Singh).

    This In Death book involves bombing for profit, so warning of a high and graphic body count; not for everyone. One of things I’ve enjoyed about the series as it has progressed is the way it switches between mystery and thriller; this one is closer to a mystery in that we don’t know who the killers (the plural is not a spoiler, it’s early in the book) are until Dallas finds them.

    The Singh book is part of her contemporary romance series set in New Zealand. The characters in this book were in the last one, Cherish Hard, and the glimpses of the story were a really fun part of that book, so it was great to get the whole thing. Read it in two days. It was the most relaxing part of a stressful 50-hour work week. And it made me curious about visiting New Zealand; apparently there are caves with glow worms in them and they sound really cool.

    1. New Zealand is GORGEOUS. I went there for the first time in April, which is ridiculous because I live in Tasmania and NZ is only a short flight away across the Tasman Sea. The landscape is stunning and the people are wonderfully friendly and kindhearted. And the glow worm caves are beautiful.

    2. Good warning, but the entire In Death is not for the faint of heart and includes a lot of violence and many a book with high body count so warning for the entire In Death series.

    3. I’m a New Zealander. For most of the world, it’s a long and expensive destination to fly to. NZ is beautiful of course, with vibrant, interesting cities, friendly small towns, beaches, mountains, vineyards and yes, glow worms, and a unique indigenous culture. I think (bias alert) it’s worth every minute of that plane ride.

      1. Having been to N.Z. twice I can tell you that it is WELL worth the interminable plane ride, especially if you can get there on frequent flyer miles. It is truly the trip of a lifetime.

      2. As one who has taken that plane ride – to look at heritage roses – well worth every moment staying awake to keep the wings flapping. Loved Dunedin. We stayed in student dorms, heard the bells bong, walked beside the stream and over the bridge, treated to dinner at Town Hall with organ concert and bagpipes. Took a steam train up the mountains for a town barbecue and to watch disciplined sheep dogs herd sheep. And that’s one small part of NZ! and just one island! Loveliest of all were our hosts.

    4. I have a hold on the JD Robb book. It will probably be another couple months until I can read it. I appreciate the warning. Some of them are definitely darker than others.

      I very much enjoy that series for the murder/mystery as you mentioned but she does such a great job with her character/world building too. Her characters are practically real people to me and watching them “grow up” over the years is nice. I appreciate her memory for the little details too. Plus, I love how well her team works together and solve mysteries and plays to their strengths.

    5. Also a New Zealander here and the Waitomo caves are near where I grew up (they’re not all that far from Hobbiton either if you’re a lord of the rings fan).

      Glow worms are amazing, once in a while I’ll take one of the hillside tracks home after dark and there’s just these walls of gorgeous light (the tracks are narrow and steep so I’m not all that worried about personal safety although I do have to keep an ear out for mountain bikers).

  18. I’m reading Anne Bishop’s The Others series. Just finished the second book, Murder of Crows, this morning, and starting the next one tomorrow. Already ordered book four, which will tell you how much I like them.

    Rereading one of my own books from a few years back, one that we were never able to sell, with an eye to self-publishing it or at least putting it up on my Patreon in installments. I’m as absorbed in it as I would be a book someone else wrote, which is probably a good sign.

  19. I’m still listening to The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin. It’s long, and I’ve been busy packing my daughter. Our road trip starts Saturday unless I can convince her to start on Friday evening. We could get as far as my Aunt’s house and take three hours off our Saturday.

    But we’ll see.

    I’ve discovered writing short outlines for hire gets me paid sooner, so I’ve been working on those, my two other clients, and wondering which of my books I should get started on.

    Also getting to know my grand-puppy, Darcy, who is a sweet one year old cross. Kelpi and Bull Terrier. Hardly ever barks – such a contrast to my noisy mutts. The hardest part of being away from home is missing my monsters.

  20. I’m stockpiling a few books to take on holidays with me, including the Cainsville series by Kelley Armstrong. I love her Otherworld series, but stalled a little the first time I picked up Omens, then recently I read a Cainsville novella and loved it, so I’m going back to the series.

    Until then, I’m re-reading Heyer’s detective books. I like Duplicate Death much more than I did the first time I read it years ago. I still don’t like Why Shoot a Butler? at all. I want to smack the hero and heroine upside the head – he’s a jerk, and she’s an idiot.

  21. I just finished Reckless by Selena Montgomery, who in real life is Stacy Abrams, and is running for Governor of Georgia.

    I liked it a lot. Strong characters, good plot, wonderful writing. The only thing that kept me from giving it an A+ was the head-hopping. She’s written others, but I’ll probably check to see if she ever chose the narrow path of close third before I buy/read any more.

    1. I read something by one of my favorite authors recently and the headhopping really threw me. I came *this* close to messaging her to let her know, because I’d want someone to tell me…but in the end, I chickened out.

  22. I read The Goblin Emperor on the recommendation of several people here. Thank you!! I loved it and am sorry the author hasn’t written anything else in that vein. I enjoyed the world building, the main character was a lovely young man, and, although there was trouble and conflict during the story, it wasn’t dark and ended on a hopeful note. I really can’t handle dark right now with the real world in such a mess, so this was a pleasure. This one will be on my re-read shelf.

    1. Hurray, I read it based on recommendations here (and shared with my brother who enjoyed it too). Glad you enjoyed it!

  23. I somehow slipped into another re-read of Marion G. Harmon’s “Small Town Heroes,” part of his Wearing The Cape series. I think it’s because my computer died and was only temporarily replaced by a ChromeBook laptop, and now I’m configuring the new computer, including my libraries. Yes, that’s a plural. I have one html library, since html is the earliest and most universal eBook format. I have a Kindle library, currently showing the 211 books in my Kindle Cloud. I have a mobipocket reader library with over a thousand titles, partially duplicating the Kindle library.

    I used to have a hardback/paperback library, but (nearly) all of it was given away or donated to real libraries. There are roughly a dozen books left.

    My audiobook library is just annoying. I can’t seem to download the Audible books, so it’s mostly MP3s from Downpour in my music directory. I have to play the Audible titles in a browser.

  24. I really love Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series, and this week discovered that I had somehow missed that it didn’t stop at three books. So I’ve read book 4, and book 5 is waiting for me.

    If you haven’t read these before, they are really really wonderful. Book 1, Daughter of the Forest, spins a whole story around the myth about the girl whose stepmother turned her brothers into swans and she had to save them by weaving jerseys from stinging nettle, while maintaining silence. Book 2, Son of the Shadows, is my favourite of the series, but they are all just WONDERFUL. Did I say that already?

  25. I have been willfully ignoring the “new book” thing this month. Too much IRL drama, so I’m knee deep in favorite series. I’m reading the October Daye series by Seanan Maguire right now. I’m so impressed by the layering and foreshadowing in the early books. I can’t imagine how far out she plots. I keep finding throwaway details and characterizations that I now know will be important later on. Thoroughly enjoying myself.

    1. You know, I thought I’d really become immune to the disaster of our government, but this thing with Kavanaugh is so outrageously wrong that I’m having flashbacks again. Let’s see, she took a poly and wants an investigation, he didn’t take a poly and doesn’t want an investigation, let’s put him on the Supreme Court. Pratchett isn’t even rescuing me this time.

      1. Oh, we get better.

        The new theory is maybe she was attacked by Kavanaugh’s doppleganger. And a conservative activist who has been working with Kavanaugh to handle this nomination, NAMED A CLASSMATE. Full name, home address et al.

        Took it down when someone smarter than him explained about defamation but that someone smarter doesn’t seem to have been Kavanaugh.

        And I’m wondering how if Kavanaugh doesn’t remember anything, how come he remembers a classmate who might have had a party….

        1. I don’t think that was his memory, I think that was Whelan’s Hail Mary pass. What’s fun now is watching everybody who said, “Ed Whelan is a very smart man, this should explain everything” back away in horror in when they saw what he’d posted. You know you’ve screwed up when both sides respond with “WHAT ARE YOU DOING????”

      2. Over on Twitter, there is currently a hashtag #WhyIDidn’tReport in response to our not-beloved president’s tweet that if she was really raped, she would have told her parents and they would have reported it. All the tweets are inspiring and heartbreaking and seriously triggering.

        I say we have a cute cat and dog pictures day. Hang in there, Argh People.

        1. I know they’re not admissible in court, but the fact that she took one and he hasn’t is still telling, for me anyway, especially when combined with his ducking and weaving during the confirmation hearings. He didn’t answer most of the questions after days of coaching by a team from the White House (which is supposed to stay out of this).

  26. I am almost finished with Linesman by S. K. Dunstall, which was recommended by someone here. It starts out a bit uneven – it repeats a lot and has a “first book” kind of feel to it – but it picks up sufficiently to keep me reading. I am likely to buy the second one once I’m done.

  27. Off topic: heard this morning that my offer on the new house has been accepted. Exciting. Now just have to negotiate the legal and survey stuff – so fingers will remain crossed. But the house is empty, and the sellers are happy with the idea of a quick sale, so that’s promising. I’ve posted three photos of the rather crunpled flier on Instagram, since the house won’t be going on RightMove. (Sorry I had to post them seperately.)

    1. It looks wonderful, truly. And it looks in great shape, too, which is huge.
      So American here: what’s the difference between a lounge and a sitting room? And why two front doors? Inquiring minds.
      But the light in there is wonderful, and the back yard is great.

      1. Lounge and sitting room are synonymous. I think the agents just wanted to emphasize that this used to be two rooms (the back one would have been the family sitting room, probably, while the front room was kept for best). The left-hand ‘front door’ leads into what was originally a covered passageway to the garden. It would normally have a wooden gate/door, maybe with a gap above. But when the kitchen extension was added they incorporated the rear part of the passage into that; so what remains is really a storage area now. I don’t like the plastic doors, but the glass panels do let lots of light in.

        1. The doors are an easy fix, too. The place looks like it’s in excellent condition, so that’s a savings right there.

        2. Congratulations!!!!! May all the time it has taken you to find this house be a short prelude to the many years of happiness you have living in it.

    2. That backyard! Interior rooms are very fine. Best of anything you’ve shown us by miles. Congratulations.

    3. So happy for you! I’m praying the next steps going smoothly & quickly so you can get in before winter!

  28. I reread Unseen Academicals this week. It’s one of my favorite Pratchetts. It was very much on my mind when Jenny posted about Sunshine and Reputation.

  29. I finished the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place this week. I felt that books 4 and 5 dragged a bit and the “bad guy gets away again” theme was a little stretched out. But the heroine is so plucky and optimistic, book 6 moved quickly and wrapped everything up nicely. And many more great quotes, clever word creation and bits of wisdom to enjoy.

    If you ever read teen books, I recommend this series.

  30. I read all four Judith Flanders detective novels in rapid succession. Lots of fun—she has a great line in snark. And the heroine is great —middle aged woman side of herself, can’t be bothered fussing about clothes and really competent. Unfortunately she has some TSTL moments and I absolutely can’t see the attraction between her and the boyfriend. He seems very nice but we never get a sense of why they are attracted to each other.

    1. I can’t remember what exactly I meant but I think it was something like middle aged woman comfortable with herself

  31. I read Lethal White by Robert Galbraith in two intense days. Very good although without the satirical bite of the previous books in the series. It’s really more focused on Strike and Robin than on the murder which is fine by me. I was rolling my eyes at Strike a bit though. Rowling certainly has male obliviousness down pat although to be fair Robin shows some of the female version of it too.

    I’m also working my way through the Samantha Jellicoe books and am currently on book 4 which appears to have two parallel stories: one in present day and one in Regency England.

    I just had Circe by Madeline Miller come off hold at the library so that will be next. Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker has a long waiting list at the library. I may need to buy it.

  32. I’m days late to the party, but I’m re-reading Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series cause I’ve had a super crap two weeks. I’m currently on “An Offer From A Gentleman.”

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