88 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 11, 2018

  1. “Good and Mad” by Rebecca Traister. Read it in a day. All about women feeling rage and using it to propel political movements. ‘Nuf said.

    Also just started “Eloquent Rage: A Black Feminist Discovers Her Superpower.” In a similar vein, but touches more deeply on the complexities of black womanhood in a world that marginalizes both those identities. It also gets a little bit more personal and she’s about my age, so that adds another layer of interest for me.

    1. Did you see Brittney Cooper (author of Eloquent Rage) interviewing Traister on C-Span, by chance? That inspired me to buy both the books on Kindle, and to order the hard copies for my daughter (she’s one of those millennials who eschew e-reading). It was a great interview – google it if you haven’t seen it!

  2. All of the Joanna Bourne books, except The Spymaster’s Lady, which I read last week, because someone said that it was their favorite book of all time. I was dubious, because I’m not really a big historical fan anymore, so it sat on my Libby shelf for days but when I finally read it, I gobbled it down, then started from the beginning and re-read it twice. Now I keep checking my Libby app, hoping the people who have the others are not being like me and letting them sit. I’m not going to say that it’s funny — it’s not! — but it did make me feel better about the state of the world somehow. At least we haven’t started with the guillotines (yet). And at least Robespierre and Marat died in the end, too.

    1. I just bought The Spymaster’s Lady I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers and mysteries. I’m in the mood for a change.

      1. I read her last book (“Beauty Like the Night”) by accident — it was on the Freecycle bookshelf at my office — and loved it. But my darn library doesn’t have any books by her, which bugs me big time. I think I will have to buy the others.

        After discovering her, I looked up Bourne’s website, where she talked about editing one’s own prose being like ‘ripping out the kudzu’ which I found a really delightful metaphor.

    2. I also read Thursday’s page with a library tab open, and I have been reduced to inventing my own flagging system for Libby because I have too many books out and too many more on reserve…

      And isn’t Joanna Bourne excellent? I think I read one in the middle first, and then worked my way toward the ends of the series. I found so many things to like about her writing, and her characters.

  3. Just read Rob Lowe’s Love Life–he’s a good storyteller. Read Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating and liked it except for a last minute plot complication I did not enjoy, but I am the only woman in the world who would hate it (sigh), so. Did I mention reading Exit Strategy as well? Murderbot reunion!

    1. Actually, I hated Josh and Hazel. Certainly in part because of that plot twist but if you gender swapped the characters in the scene that leads up to the plot twist, anyone who has watched the news recently would be accurately labeling it as something very much other than it was. And I’m being so vague to try to avoid spoilers, but honestly I found that book sad and horrifying. SPOILERS: Drunk sex is never romantic, drunk sex with consequences doesn’t lead to HEAs, drunk sex preceded by aggressive sexual assault is not funny.

  4. Thank you for the recommendations- I just bought both “Eloquent Rage” and “The Spymaster’s Lady”. It is finally fall here and I plan to curl up with both of these books this weekend.

  5. Did someone here — about a month ago — suggest Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day? I gave my husband and book and the DVD for his birthday. He is allowing himself to read only bits at a time because he enjoys the book so much.

    I’ve nearly finished rereading Arabella by Georgette Heyer. I stopped last night at the point when Mr. Beaumaris is complaining to Bernard about the injured boy and beaten dog who Arabella rescued then put into Beaumaris’s safe keeping. Beaumaris comes alive here as he finds a role for his future. Unfortunately, also at this point Heyer drops Arabella’s believability as a character when Arabella asks Mr. Beaumaris to marry her. So the resolution isn’t as evenly matched as it could be. But it was fun getting there.

        1. I want a boss who tells me to bring my knitting in to work because he never has anything for me to do until the afternoon.

      1. My husband and I got the DVD from the library and enjoyed the movie, especially the beginning. Can’t go wrong with Frances McDormand.

    1. I found a used DVD of Miss Pettigrew lives for a Day at a thrift shop and felt like I won a small lottery! It’s just one of the best stories.

  6. I’ve been in the mood for British WW I and post-war books lately. I re-read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, of course, and some Connie Willis, and discovered the lovely Miss Seeton series by Heron Carvic (a charming elderly woman keeps accidentally bumbling her way into mysteries and poking people with an umbrella). Anyone have anything else along those lines to recommend?

    1. Post WWI only? If post WWII is okay, check out “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” by Alan Bradley. Set in 1950. There’s a series, but I’ve only read the first one. Features Flavia de Luce, 11-year-old amateur chemist and sleuth.

    2. Have you tried the Daisy Dalrymple series by Carola Dunn? They’re mysteries with many lovable characters and lots of local (England after WWI) color.

    3. If WWII is good, I recommend The Montmaray Journals by Michelle Cooper. There are three books in the series and I found them fascinating. For some reason the first one has a lower rating than the others, which I find bizarre because I only read the next because I like the first one so much.

    4. T.E. Kinsey and the Lady Hardcastle books. Lady Hardcastle and her ladies maid solve mysteries in England after WWI. Great fun.

    5. Thanks for all of the recommendations, everyone! I’m very happy to have a nice, long list to go through now, and I had never heard of most of those before!

  7. I finished the new Charlaine Harris book (An Easy Death), and I’m not sure what to make of it or whether to recommend it. I read it straight through, so it was compelling, but the structure felt off somehow. Lots and lots of action, but it didn’t seem to rise all that much from chapter to chapter. Fascinating characters though, which is perhaps what she does best anyway. Or maybe it’s just me. I thought the most recent Seanan McGuire’s Toby Daye book’s structure was off too, with a climax that happened way before the ending of the book. So maybe it’s me, not the books.

    1. I too read it and at the end just sort of thought well that wasn’t what I was expecting. I had read the 2 chapter sample on her website and thought it be better.

  8. What’s on my TBR-list? Books enough to keep me busy the coming 20 years, if I keep this reading-pace up… And the damn thing only keeps on growing. Growl. Argh.

    Finished “Longbourn” and… I don’t know. I think the cover blurb promised more than it had to offer. My expectations were higher than what I think I got. Which is a pity, really. I appreciate the straight-forward reality of the servants’ lives however, and the story was all right. Just not…what I had expected. Maybe I should’ve tried harder to lay my hands on the English original. Perhaps that would’ve made the difference, I don’t know. I wasn’t even sure which rating I should give it on Goodreads.

    Finally, after 3 years of not daring to, I picked up “The Shepherd’s Crown” by Terry Pratchett. Like they wrot ein the afterword: Pratchett would’ve worked more on it, if he had only got the time. I think I can spot it. It doesn’t take it’s Pratchettiness away though, and I might have cried for a while when I reached the end of it. For the loss of a brilliant writer, the end of a brilliant series, for all unwritten wonders we won’t ever get the chance to dive headfirst into…

    Now rereading “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” for the milliontrillionbilliongazillionth time. Because it had to happen again. It’s happened at least once every year the last 18 years. (The entire series the last 10.)

    1. I’ve been afraid to read the last Tiffany Aching book too. I still cry at random reminders that he’s no longer with us. Like the publicity for the GOOD OMENS tv (or is it movie?).

    2. I’m not alone! I have it, and it sits there, waiting… I’m not sure what I’m waiting for anymore, really. But it makes a true end. Sigh.

      1. It’s sort of comforting that I wasn’t the only one who’s been hesitating to end the Discworld adventures! It IS heartbreaking. Read it when you’re ready for it.

        I suppose we should be thankful we can revisit that marvellous place as many times as we want. And still… 🙁 Pratchett, come back!

  9. I just read “Withering by Sea” by Judith Rossell, a young-readers novel, occasionally funny, in which a dastardly villain gets his comeuppance. Also: singing cats.

    Currently reading short stories by Naomi Novik.

    In the “good movies” category, went to see “A Star is Born” with my BFF last night and was honestly very impressed. Have not seen any of the previous incarnations of the story, which maybe helped; also I respect Lady Gaga as a musician, which surely helped. A well-made, well-structured, well-paced, and well-played movie.

  10. I have “Good & Mad” in my pile and I’m waiting to read it when I finish “Vox” by Christina Dalcher. Although the rage feels like it’s eating me up inside, I also feel the need to keep getting angrier.

    On the other hand, I’m reading “Howl’s Moving Castle” for the first time & am loving the book Sophie & Howl. The Studio Ghibli movie is one of my favorites.

    1. Maybe that’s the order to do it. I had already read the book several times when the film came out and I hated it. They turned Howl into a wimpy pretty boy, and totally misunderstood what Diana Wynne Jones meant by ‘witch of the waste’.

      I would recommend each and every book by Diana Wynne Jones. She was another writer who was taken from us too soon.

      1. I also love her books, especially the Chrestomanci series. Thoroughly, totally enjoyable on the first read, then gets better on every reread.

        1. I gave the Chrestomanci series to my 14 year old niece, who never read a book in her life except at knifepoint. She didn’t come out of her bedroom for three days, then said to her mothe “why didn’t you tell me there were books like this?”
          She eventually read History at university, so she got over her book aversion.

  11. I just finished all the Kelly Bowen’s to date. They’re historical romances with a lot of humor and women who take no prisoners. Really enjoyed them. I’m rereading Theresa Shavers Stranded series. Love the teen girls. After seeing Jodi Whittaker’s take on Dr. Who I’m feeling more energized and less like a dog kicked into a ditch. Which is how I found one of my dogs. Now mine anyone who mistreats animals isn’t human.

    1. I really enjoyed Kelly Bowen’s books. The women are sooo positive and active, good role models for my granddaughter. I have them all and hope she will like them when she visits me. (She lives in N. Z)

  12. Among other things, I read Reservoir 13, by Jon Macgregor. Judging by Goodreads, it’s one of those love it or hate it novels, and I’m firmly on the love it side. Which is odd, because I usually like a strong narrative, which this doesn’t have. What it DOES have is an entrancing rhythm and a long slow look at the life of a village and its surrounding countryside. It’s compassionate, intricate, sometimes tense and often beautiful. The title made me think there would be far more of a resolution than there was, but by the time I reached the end, I didn’t mind.

    I came away from it feeling as if I had been living with these people and these birds and animals for years. Centuries. It will repay a reread or two.

      1. Just so you and others know, dear Amy Stewart is a terrific *spirited* gardener, and gardening was the subject of her first books before delving into fiction. She’s a great speaker too, very friendly and down to earth.

  13. I finished The Making of Home by Judith Flanders finally. It’s pretty dense but really interesting. If you like Stephanie Coontz’s popular non-fiction, you will probably like it. I am going to read Christmas:A Biography sometime before Christmas.

    I am also halfway through The Way We Look by Mary Beard. It’s an easy and thought provoking book so far.

    Mary Balogh’s First Comes Marriage was on the shelf right in front of me at the library so I got it yesterday. I may have read her before but not recently enough to remember. Haven’t started it yet but it is next to me as I type.

    Tamar Adler’s Something Old, Something New: Classic Recipes Revisited, is still great bedtime reading and there’s a good chance will be on my Christmas list.

    1. Susan Wiggs (Between You and Me) is last and bottom of the library shelf for obvious reasons and every time I looked down onto the shelf I changed my mind about picking it up. This has gone on all summer until a couple of weeks ago when looked at the summary and realized I had read it at the beginning of summer. It must have been one that I put on reserve, read it, liked it and returned it.

  14. I am working my way through Sashia En Garde. I really love Sherwood Smith and am enjoying myself, especially the parts about Sashia’s mother, Sun. I find that I like her a lot.

  15. Mrs Hudson’s Diaries by Barry & Bob Cryer, (Sherlock Holmes Landlady) just a light easy read.

    Was not happy with the glaring mistake with the Maid’s timeline, if they’re going to do a diary they should get it right.

  16. I’m loving Circe by Madeleine Miller, a retelling of several of Greek myths from the point of view of Circe. And I just ordered Good and Mad, and Eloquent Rage based on Jill Q’s recommendation.

    I can’t wait to see Good Omens! And A Star is Born.

  17. I’ve taken up Stephanie Laurens’ casebooks of Barnaby Adair series, which I came upon by happenstance and quite like. Regency mystery with romance and, yes, formulaic, but characters, circumstances and locations are well done. Each book has a subtle different flavor.
    I generally enjoy Laurens a lot, although I’ve raised a brow at certain recent efforts. The casebooks are hitting just right. I think so far eight are out for our reading pleasure.

  18. I’ve been reading Anne Bishop’s The Others series and loving them, and I was in the middle of book four when I suddenly found myself heading out of town to fly to Bethany’s bedside. The book I was reading was great–but it was a large hardcover, so I needed something else to read on the plane and in the hotel.

    Thank all the gods, I’d gotten the newest Susan Mallery book, Why Not Tonight? Mallery’s books are my comfort food–good characters, good settings, people you’ve met in previous books, dependable happy endings. I would normally have read it right away if I hadn’t been in the middle of another series, but there it was, just waiting for the emergency. I’m almost at the end of it, and it seriously got me through this difficult time. Susan Mallery has a number of series (Fool’s Gold and Happily Inc, both contemporary romances) plus a number of new Women’s Fiction books which are equally good. Highly recommended, even if you’re not in a crisis situation.

    1. On the grounds that I also love The Others, I’m going to try Susan Mallery. Thanks for the recommendation.

      I’m dreadfully sad to have come to the end of the Others. I tried the first in Bishop’s Black Jewels series, but it just wasn’t to my taste.

      1. There will be another book in the Others series, out in early March, 2019 called the Wild Country. It is set in a different location but the same series. I loved the Black Jewels series so I was sad when it ended but learning the book she is writing now is set in that series with Daemon and Lucivar may only mean that the Others are on hiatus after Wild Country.

      2. Lian, they are completely different kinds of work, other than both being well written. I asked Anne Bishop (we were together at a convention a couple of weeks ago) if there were any of her other series that I would like as much as The Others, but she said that most of them were pretty dark, which I can’t handle right now.

        1. Yes, The Others seems quite different from what I’ve seen of her other books. And it’s not really a dark series. Some dreadful things happen, but always to the people who have behaved appallingly. I found them rather comforting.

  19. I seem to be bingeing on Suzanne Brockman’s SEAL Team 16 and Troubleshooters books, starting close to the beginning. I think I must have read them as they came out, and I remember noticing at the time how contemporary they felt. She wrote them during the first flush of the post 9/11 Gulf War, and the evolution of the attitudes towards the War on Terror is present and nuanced.

  20. One reason I like standalone novels rather than series is that the bad guys need to be permanently put out of action.

    I know that Pratchett wrote series, and that some guys on the bad side return in later books (like the head of the Assassins Guild and the vampire attorney), but the really evil ones are wiped out — the stories in which they first appear are the same stories in which they last appear.

    Sometimes the leopard can’t change his shorts.

  21. Not light hearted but I just found out that Upton Sinclair wrote a series of books about an American in Europe in the 20s & 30s – main character is named Lanny Budd.

    He’s the son of an artist’s model & a munitions manufacturer. His mother’s brother is a Communist artist – he’s got best friends who are German & English. World’s End -the first book – starts before WWI.

    I can’t say that the writing wows me but the story gets more and more engrossing. He writes in the 1940s so it’s very near to the period but before the denouement (1st book is published in 1940) but it’s very hard to put down. I’m on book 3 – Dragon’s Teeth – which was published in 1943, and set in the early 30s.

    I’m learning more about the various European crises which lead up to WWII in each of the various countries through Lanny’s eyes but then there are the social changes like birth control, abortion, radio, phonographs… I don’t think this is Sinclair’s own life but it feels like it. Lanny is a rich man’s son, born to wealth, and yet always aware of the depths of poverty which lie outside the bubble. But he also seems to accept nothing at face value, not capitalism or socialism or communism; not patriotism or pacifism.

    I don’t know if they are for everyone but so far the series has me captivated.

    The other reason I may be captivated is that a lot of what he’s writing about feels very current. So like It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis, these books may make you more depressed rather than less.

  22. Just blasted through the first three Robert Galbraith books. They’re very noir. I can see why the author wanted a pseudonym. The first talks about celebrity and paparazzi. I was stuck to the the second, The Silkworm, because it partly skewers the literary world. The third gets into Strike and Robin’s backgrounds and follows a serial killer.

    I do love Harry Potter more, but there are a few funny bits, and she also knows how to unfold a relationship to keep you reading!

  23. I read another one of Lucy Knisley’s comics/graphic novels. She is a really good writer and artist, and I get her books at the library.

  24. I was reading a book to figure out 82 pages in that it wasn’t published in the US and therefore can’t be considered for committee. I don’t wanna stop reading inbut I have so many to assess. It’s called I Was Born for This by Alice Oseman.

  25. I was stuck in traffic last night coming home from Boston. It took more than four hours because of Rain and City Traffic, so my friend and I were listening to a book she had on her phone.

    The grammar was awful and I was editing it in my head as I listened. I couldn’t enjoy it, and I think it might be a well-known author. Things like ‘I angrily said,’ or ‘he resentfully replied.’ I was cringing and red penning in my head the entire four hours home. And really I’m not that picky about writing, but this was making me crazy.

    1. It must have been worse as an audio book, because such clunky constructions are obviously wrong when spoken. It’s a useful way of checking whether writing flows.

      1. I always tell people to read what they write out loud before finalizing it. It’s also hard to read clunky stuff

  26. Would a movie recommendation of quirky humor and comeuppance count? I loved The Dressmaker, an Australian film with Kate Winslet. She’s a young woman sent away from her tiny home town when implicated in a murder she can’t remember. She returns as an accomplished couturier to figure it all out. This is set in the 1950’s and has stunning fashion, a ton of engrossing (relevant-even-today) characters, plus Judy Davis, Liam Hemsworth. Parts will make you gasp, guaranteed, and much of it will make you laugh.

    1. I can’t agree with you here. I didn’t find it funny at all, particularly not because of what happened to the Liam Hemsworth character. So disappointed. What do others think? I’d really like to know.

      1. I enjoyed the first half or so, as I remember, and then it completely lost me. I think I may have fast-forwarded to the end, and was glad I gave up on it.

      2. Major spoiler possibility coming up. Liam’s last scene was the biggest gasp of the movie. (That was not a funny part.) Naturally enough I’d been thinking he’s gorgeous, he’s fun, he’s just right for her. HEA just around the corner. Then… Kate is back where she started and the movie takes on a whole new life, where SHE’s responsible for her HEA or at least sense of justice served. Maybe that resonated with me because I’m twisted, that I feel that we’re living in cursed times. But Kate triumphed, and personally delivered comeuppance to say the least. I found the movie very engaging on a human level, and even inspiring.

        1. It’s fascinating how stories speak differently to each of us, isn’t it? I always used to enjoy my local cinema in London which played pre-release films on Sundays: so I’d watch with no preconceptions.

  27. New Murderbot (hurrah!) the third Lady Hardcastle mystery and now I’m about to start the latest Seanan McGuire.

  28. I started rereading Novik’s _Spinning Silver_ pretty much as soon as I had finished it — not only is it a Good People Win, sometimes by Helping Each Other Learn to be Better, which I like whenever it is no more didactic than Maria Edgeworth*, but it plays fairy-tale formality and rural realism against each other in a way I really liked. And there are so many first-person voices in it! And great set-pieces. And knitting.

    *Very didactic.

  29. I have been in short story mode lately. Reading wise, I am finishing the first anthology of the Unidentifed Funny Objects series, which is a mix of humorous sci-fi, fantasy, speculative fiction and paranormal. I also spent nearly 3 hours in the car yesterday, so I listened to some new-to-me episodes of Levar Burton Reads. Nnedi Okorafor is now on my TBR, as is Karen E. Bender.

  30. “Funny stories where dastardly villains get their comeuppance”

    This confuses me because I keep assuming that there are many stories that fit this, but I can’t remember any of them.

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