This Is a Good Book Thursday, October 4, 2018

Last week I read the news and screamed.  This week I’m reading the book I’m writing along with the book that the Girls are tugging me toward next.  Also a book on Disney’s Haunted Mansion since there’s a Haunted House in Nita’s book and it’s the setting for three important scenes.  Fortunately, Krissie is an expert on Disney, so I have a great source there, too.  And then I’m going through a stack of bartending books and drinking posts from the AV Club.  Did you know there’s a thing called Stout Muffins?  That you make with stout?  I did not.  Reading expands your world, people.

So how did you expand your world this week?

71 thoughts on “This Is a Good Book Thursday, October 4, 2018

  1. Delighted to hear you’ve got a follow-on calling to you (but there’ll be a riot here if we don’t get Nita first).

    I’m still in Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle comfort rereads. But I found a bargain book on my trip to Snowdonida: ‘Wonderland: A year of Britain’s wildlife day by day’, and am enjoying my daily dose – today it was the comma butterfly.

    Also enjoyed this recent blogpost from K. J. Charles in defence of reading and writing romcoms: And her new book looks promising.

    1. Finished JAK’s latest Amanda Quick. Dropped into a comfort read Phule’s Paradise fromRobert Asprin. I found it on the secondhand shelf at Bookends. A wonderful bookstore I Kailua, Hi. I’m giving away a copy of Robyn Carr’S Virgin River on my blog.
      Tonight I will find Penny Reid’s Grin and Beard it. I like it, but it’s not one of my favorites of hers. Next?

    2. Had a friend say, hey you read a lot? Got any recommendations? I’m looking for stuff to amaze and inspire me. And I said, LOL, no, I mostly read about badass women and werewolves. But then we got to talking, and she watches a ton of lightweight tv. I don’t. I’ve got two special needs kids, and I’m politically active. I can’t take anything more intense or emotionally dramatic than the Great British Baking Show right now. Right now, all of my reads are fluffy, and I like them that way.
      Thanks for this list -I bookmarked it for the diversity. (Although, hoo boy, I thought I was ambivalent about heterosexual sex scenes. It’s not a distasteful thing, it’s more, oh, I’m glad you two like each other, flip, scan, flip flip, scan, let’s get to the post coital bliss.)

  2. I have just demolished the Cainsville series in rapid succession. After stalling twice on the first chapter, I found and read her novella Rough Justice set after the series, and that convinced me to give the series another try. It was exactly what I needed.

    I also read the first book in Jacqueline Carey’s Agent of Hel series, which appealed to me in a very similar way to Kelley Armstrong’s books, and I’m itching to get my hands on the rest of them now.

    1. Cainsville is really good. There’s going to be another novella called Cruel Fate according to her Facebook posts, but there doesn’t seem to be any release date or synopsis information available yet. Still, something to look forward to.

  3. It’s been a busy week at work and I’ve been listening to a podcast with most of my spare time since it allows me to make meals and do chores at the same time – not much reading this week except news (it’s horrific but I can’t stop paying attention). Been re-reading the short stories in Shifting Shadows by Patricia Briggs, which I still love. There are a couple I don’t usually go back to because they remind me of parts of the world I don’t care to revisit, but the rest are always fun. Tonight I re-read “Gray,” which is about a vampire moving back to the home she lived in as a human; it’s haunted by the ghost of her husband. Next up will probably be “Seeing Eye” (a witch and a werewolf fight an evil coven) and “In Red With Pearls” (werewolf private eye tracks down the person that put a hit out on his boyfriend). One of the reasons I like the collection is that you get to spend more time with favorite supporting characters from the Mercy Thompson series, but some of the characters aren’t in the series at all or are pretty peripheral. People unfamiliar with it would probably enjoy them, too.

    I also read another short story, “Dumb Feast” by Mercedes Lackey. It’s about a man summoning the ghost of his dead wife, and she is enraged with him. It was cathartic given the events of the past couple of weeks, which makes sense since I found in the comments section of a Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast episode about female rage. This is a link for those who want to read it:

  4. I’ve read Marlee Matlin’s autobiography, Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, am reading Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani right now.

  5. Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). It’s good but not as good as the others.

    I am shattered by Bethany’s decline, and it’s bringing back all the memories of Heidi’s passing from cancer last year. It was bad enough when cancer took my mother and my aunt, but these women are young. Why is it we haven’t beaten cancer yet?

    It’s just not right.

  6. About halfway through the new Charlaine Harris book An Easy Death, set in an alternate historical America. Not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I keep reading.

    1. I liked An Easy Death a lot. It’s not the best thing she’s ever written, that would be Shakespeare’s Landlord, but I really liked the main character, Lizbeth.

  7. I have read three good books this week!

    “Hold me tight and tango me home,” a memoir about learning tango after the breakup of a marriage, by Maria Finn. Well written, very dance-centric, which works for me.

    “Green for Danger,” by Christianna Brand, which I think was recommended by somebody here. Reminded me of Ngaio Marsh, in a good way.

    “Checking Out,” by Nick Spalding, a very good, very funny, and very profane Brit novel about a young musician with a brain tumor. Not for everyone given the possible triggers, but I laughed till I cried, which NEVER happens.

    Currently reading “And Then We Danced,” by Henry Alford, which is also very funny and very dance-centric.

  8. I expanded my world and knowledge by finishing “The Storm Runner” by J. C. Cervantes. I didn’t know much about Mayan mythology before. I know a little bit more now, though it’s of course mixed in through a middle-grade story and the gods have “modernized” themselves. I liked the book, looking forward to the rest of the series.

    I went on to read “9 from the Nine Worlds” by Rick Riordan; a collection of short-stories connected to the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard-series. It made me laugh a lot. Laughing is healthy.

    Currently reading “Longbourn” by Jo Baker, as per recommendation from someone here…last week? Two weeks ago? I’ve read about 1/3 so far. What bugs me is that the library only had the Swedish translation, so boo for that. What made me happy was that the narrator is the same as for the Swedish translation of Bet Me, and I happen to like her, so yay. That’s at least some consolation.

    1. Yeah, she’s a wonderful reader, I can hear lots of the book in her voice if I read it.

  9. Not much for me this week, as I am moving. I finished the Christina Lauren book from last week, and it was cute, but the end was meh. I just lost steam, I guess, and the wrap up felt quick to me.

    I started Sashia en Guarde, by Sherwood Smith, and am really enjoying it, but it is a time commitment, so I will probably be there a while.

    Oh, and a couple of Alexa Riley books for comfort fun.

  10. I’ve mostly finished listening to “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. It’s an argument and process for creating a life plan. So, instead of drifting through life, you determine where you want to end. From there, you can then determine how to get there and where you should spend your energy. I would say that if you decide you’d like to give writing out a life plan a try, the physical book would be very beneficial. It’s old enough most libraries would have a copy.

    Also – if Lee takes a peek here, a few weeks back you asked if anyone would be in Grand Rapids on Saturday and would like to meet in real life. Are you still interested in doing so?

    1. Oh! I am so sorry I missed you – internet was spotty at best, and logging in was a pain. I had an excellent time at ArtPrize, and I’m kind of smitten with Grand Rapids – it is a solid little city, with a bunch of cool things happening and some truly amazing food! Drop me an email or something – my icon leads to my blog with all kinds of contact info.

  11. You know, I’ve been ghostwriting dystopian fiction for a year and a half now. It’s just come to me that maybe I should be writing my own anti-dystopian novel about what happens when the women of the world take over. Because reasons.

    1. Go for it, I remember reading an author, started out as a magazine editor, but found the material it was offered was not very good, and thought he could do better so he did.

    2. So ready for this! The first thought that came through my head was all the hopeful men back in the 30s who were writing science fiction. It was wild and crazy and yes, a bit misogynist. At this point, though, there’s probably a woman’s niche for wild and crazy, and yes, a bit misandrist — but our heroines clean up the mess and build utopias with wit and verve.

    3. I can recommend Ursula LeGuin’s Always Coming Home (older but amazing) and a new pair out from Sarah Vaughn starting with Bannerless for entries in the Egalitarian post-apocalypse, if not actually woman centered.

  12. I’m still listening to “Chaos”, though I think it’s almost done, since the section I’m listening to now seems to be summing up. I’m not sure what I’ll listen to next — a book needs to be a beautiful marriage between text and narrator, and it’s so disappointing when a text I want to listen to has a narrator I can’t bear.

    I’m re-reading Judith Tarr’s “Lord of the Two Lands.” I’ve read it so many times I can look forward to “the good parts,” but not so recently all the details are coming back.

  13. Still burning through the “Expanse” series, got to Book 6. Only one left, set 30 years after the most recent events. And this is one reason I stay the heck OUT of bookstores, because I have no brakes around books. Although I checked out as many as I could. Amazon, the great enabler.
    It’s been a long time since I gobbled up fiction like this, it’s been so fun.

  14. This week I read The Best Man by Kristan Higgans, but mostly I worked a lot (busy week at the office), fretted a lot (cause the news is not happy news lately), cooked a lot, ate too much, and did a bit of knitting.

  15. I read ‘The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue’ by Mackenzi Lee and I’m not sure what to say about it. I enjoyed it, for sure. I’m delighted that I live in a world where anachronistic Regency m/m YA romance is a thing (although I see the earlier Mercedes Lackey recommendation earlier – Vanyel seemed groundbreaking when I was a 14 yr old Catholic schoolgirl) And it was fun, with some lovely turns of phrase, excellent characters, beautifully romantic in a way that made me want to be 18 and falling in love, interesting character arcs, and some laugh out loud moments.

    Would I recommend it? Maybe. It got better as it progressed – almost felt like it didn’t start for me until about chapter 5. There are some inconsistences in it and a plot device I didn’t love. But I think yes, if you like YA and want entertained, go for it.

  16. I once had, and possibly lost, a recipe for Guiness Cupcakes. It might be in the remaining hoard somewhere, but it’s probably thrown away. I did want to try to bake them. Sigh.

    Halloween-flavoured book – “Mating the Huntress” by Talia Hibbert. Shifter meets Huntress interracial 30k novella, set somewhere in the UK. Pretty damn funny. This author is great.

    I’m tempted to dehydrate pumpkin to make an actual “pumpkin-spice”. But I need a jerky/biltong maker.

    I love the masquerade header, Jenny.

    1. Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey Cream Cheese Frosting

      1 box Devils Food cake mix
      1 1/4 cups stout beer
      1/2 cup vegetable oil
      3 eggs

      Combine ingredients together and beat at medium speed for 2 minutes
      scoop into cupcake lined baking pan no more than 3/4 full and bake at 350* 18-23 minutes

      Baileys Cream Cheese frosting

      4 cups powdered sugar
      1/2 cup unsalted butter softened
      8 oz. cream cheese softened
      4 tbsp. Baileys Irish Cream to taste

      1. Praise the trees! (Killjoys reference.)

        Thank you. I think this is the exact same recipe.

  17. I had not heard of stout muffins, but I do make a delicious stout chocolate cake.

    As for reading, I finished Judith Flanders Sam Clair mysteries – which I wasn’t really sure if I liked or not to begin with but have now decided I like quite a bit and will surely re-read.

    I also read the first two Louise Penny Inspector G books – on the fence about those – possibly not my catnip, but we’ll see. I have book 3 on reserve at the local library (I’m #73 on the waiting list, so apparently others aren’t so ambivalent).

    1. the series gets continually better, in my opinion. By about the sixth, I couldn’t wait to revisit Three Pines and its residents.

  18. I have been in the world that Laurie R. King has created with Sherlock Holmes and Mary Russell. We all know that Holmes is brilliant but King has created his equal in this wonderful girl. I plan on reading every book available!

  19. I’m going to need that stout cupcake recipe.

    I’m still reading Anne Bishop’s The Others series and it is completely absorbing, which is good, because it is going on a plane and to sit in ICU waiting rooms with me. I actually met Anne this last weekend and she is just lovely. I love it when I like the authors whose books I love.

    1. Anne Bishop just announced on her blog that her next book will be back in the Black Jewels universe.

  20. Recovering from a family wedding and battling an incipient cold, trying to keep my 6 year-old entertained on her school holidays – I am comfort re-reading Welcome to Temptation, the first Crusie I ever read and still my favourite, I think.

    1. I love, love, love the Dempseys. I think there should be another, long lost sibling turning up.

      1. There’s a cousin in a novella called “Cold Hearts.” And Dillie’s in her twenties now, I think.

          1. No, that was one of those WiPs I kept putting on the blog a couple of years ago. The one in the jewelry store where she gets robbed and ends up locked in a vault? That one.

  21. Books? I finished my re-re-re-re-re-read of the Wearing the Cape series, and I’ll not re-read it again this year. Maybe. I finished Cora Seton’s “The Navy Seal’s e-mail Order Bride” [meh] and started “Nobody Gets the Girl: A Superhero Novel” (Whoosh! Bam! Pow! Book 1) [I haven’t thrown the Kindle at the wall, so okay so far.]

    Cynthia Felice’s “Catseye” is still on my older Kindle – it’s the book I read on bathroom breaks. Technically, it’s a re-read, but the last time was a generation ago, at least.

    Stout Muffins? Before bread was banished from my diet, I owned a two-paddle bread machine, several cookbooks for bread, and bookmarks to some fabulous sources of pre-mix for machines. Many of those mixes and many of my recipes started as some kind of beer bread, and I always used stout or dark beer in those. I’d make them for fun and personal consumption, but I always made extra to take to work and share.

    One of my favorites was a Polish Rye Beer Bread with Jalapenos. (No actual jalapenos were slaughtered for that bread – the tiny green peppers for look and texture were just green bell pepper bits. The heat came from killer habanero powder.) Fabulous with chili!

    1. We’ve got Hatch chile powder. I’m hesitant to use the stuff because I don’t know potency, and even less potency plus cooking heat.

      1. put a smidgen (which is less than a pinch according to my grandmother’s cooking directions) into a glass of water and taste it.

        It doesn’t give you much idea of the taste in food but it’s pretty good for judging the actual heat.

  22. In the last week I finished Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows, and am now half-way through the next one, Crooked Kingdom. I love the complexity of the characters and the plots, and the deft world-building, and am glad this is a series. I also finished Yoon Ha Lee’s Revenant Gun, and yes, I need to start the trilogy over again and try to actually figure out what’s happening this time around.
    I’m in the middle of S.K. Dunstall’s Uncharted Stars, which is as good as their Linesman books, and am particularly enjoying the (I assume) romance between two principal characters, because they don’t seem to be noticing that they’re falling in love, but everybody else is. 😉

  23. I have just come back from two weeks of holiday (in the US, coincidentally) when I didn’t read the news at all, and instead read several books, all of which I would recommend.

    Moxie, by Jennifer Mathieu, is a YA set in a Texan high school where the football team can do no wrong, and the girls get fed up and fight back. Very timely with your current Supreme Court issues.

    I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou and Braving The Wilderness, by Brene Brown are both marvelous, but you all probably already know that.

    I’ve also started Fool, by Christopher Moore, and am really enjoying that so far, because I do love how hard he takes the piss even though the way he tends to write women annoys me.

    Then, of course, I came home, caught up on the news, and beat my head against a wall.

  24. Re-reading The Time Traveler’s Wife, because my husband is reading it and has questions.

    Expanded my world by attempting to sew something. Perhaps some of you heard the swearing.

  25. I read Exit Strategy by Martha Wells, fast easy fun read. I finished my book club read (Temperance Creek by Pam Royes, memoir about falling in love and living as a sheepherder/ranch wife in the Wallowa Mountains). And I am reading The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (space opera!) I like it so far — interesting strong female characters.

  26. Jenny, can you start a podcast recommendation thread? Kind of like the poetry one, only showing up once a month or whatever is good?

    1. Tell me more about what you want. Poetry I know something about (although not much). The only podcasts I listen to are 538’s political stuff.

      1. Maybe just a one-off? I’d like to recommend Mothers of Invention (women’s constructive action on climate change) and Reasons to Be Cheerful (ex Labour leader Ed Milliband and Geoff Lloyd, again focusing on new ideas about various pressing issues), plus The Worried Writer. Oh, and Only Artists (but that’s BBC, so may be UK only).

      2. Just a place where people can post recommendations, like this book thread. I’ve only just gotten my Kindle to work with headphones properly so now I can listen to podcasts at work but I don’t know where to start. I trust the folks here to provide a wide variety!

      3. I love Make Me Smart & Hidden Brain podcasts.

        The joy of the tablet is you can download multiple episodes and listen to them rather than the radio when driving.

  27. I’m listening to Ancillary Sword which I like but not as much as Ancillary Justice which really blew me away. Although the discussion of a rich person’s unthinking privilege is really resonating with all the Supreme Court stuff.

    Started the second murderbot book. And am working my way through all the Judith Flanders books about Sam Clair. The last one is waiting for me to pick up from the library.

    At Preschool I read the class Leonardo the Terrible Monster by the always wonderful Mo Willems and then put it in the class library. Every day this week someone has requested a reread. We are especially fond of saying, “Yes! I finally scared the tuna salad out of someone.”

  28. Don’t read the news, it’s bad for your heart. I am re-reading Lawrence Block’s Write For Your Life, the book version of his seminar. I had bought the ebook version when he first made it available about 15 years ago and the formatting was awful. When I saw he had a nice new ebook version out for Kindle I rebought it. It’s terrific. And as a bonus you have to do writing activities as you read, so if you’re stuck you will get unstuck.

  29. I just started “An Edible History of Humanity” by Tom Standage – is anyone familiar with it? Interesting so far and very entertaining. I consider it to be research for the first historical novel I’m thinking about writing.

    But I also liked “The Kiss Quotient” (Helen Hoang) when I started it, however, after a while the plot (autistic female hires male escort to teach her about relationships) just seemed like a pretense for an endless line of sex scenes with nothing much in between. So I didn’t finish it. Very disappointing – it was a NYT recommendation.

  30. I’ve finally discovered my way to make it through the Kate Daniels series without throwing each library book across the room, then the next morning dusting it off and feeling guilty.

    What I do is read the first half or so of the first chapter just to get the feel of where things are starting and what position the heroine is in at that point. Then I page through to the next chapter and read the last page before it, and the chapter first page. This gives me a sense of that cliffhanger, and coincidentally a glimpse of the last argument, eyeball impalement, or shocking disappearance so that when I page through to the next chapter end page/start page I havae a sense of where the book is going.

    When I get to the last chapter I read that one from beginning to end. Sometimes it’s the final battle with the bad guy(s) (and I think ‘hmmm….. so THAT’s the mystery villain from that early chapter’s debate on Who Could It Be’) and sometimes it’s a sad funeral, a hospital scene where [Insert Character Here] is recovering from dreadful injuries, or some type of huge transition in the heroine’s life. A lot of time parts of Atlanta have disappeared or been trashed, but that’s just par for the course.

    Then a few nights later I start reading the book again at Chapter Two and slowly make my way towards a climax that I already know the outline of. There’s probably something horribly wrong with me in that I just don’t relish the feeling of suspense that seems to be a selling point for lots of people. I’d rather see how things are done than Who Done It? and I am just NOT a fan of swords through eyeballs, actually.

    Still, I’m glad I gave New Books a try. The authors really DO create interesting secondary characters who are rounded out nicely as the series goes on. And now I know what people are talking about when they mention Urban Fantasy.

    Sort of hoped that might have meant Rapists won’t Serve on the Supreme Court, but alas, sometimes reality bites.

    1. You’re not the only one who doesn’t like suspense. In the days of print, I always used to check the ending of a book to decide if I wanted to read it. I definitely wouldn’t have your persistence with something that sounds really heavy on plot and violence!

  31. Travel week, so…not reading new books. Slowly reading a book on food “Not for Bread Alone Writers on Food, Wine and the Art of Eating” and “The Paleo Answer ” book. How is that for opposites. I’m in Nashville attending the Robert McKee seminar on Story. Three intensive days of lectures. Brain is needing comfort, re-reading Loretta Chase’s short stories: The Jilting of Lord Rothwick and Lord Lovedon’s Duel. Favourite short stories, good for a sigh and a smile. Tonight will be one of yours, Jenny. A few select passages before nodding off from brain fatigue.

  32. I’m reading The Picture of Dorian Grey again. Amazon Classics has a free Kindle edition

    Oscar Wilde is of course brilliant and witty and it’s interesting to read classics again when you have more life experience and perspective. I was an English major in college so I read a lot of classics with limited life experience.

    1. I read Lethal White by Robert Galbraith and really enjoyed it. It’s longer than the previous three books, less grisly and has a slightly different, less exuberant tone, but given what the characters have been through I was good with that.
      Also Exit Strategy by Martha Wells also great and a fitting end to the story arc. It’s going to be a hard two years wait for the novel!
      I’ve been on a suspense-novels-set-in-Greece-and-around mini-binge lately, kicked off by re-reads of books by Joan Aiken and her sister Jane Aiken Hodge, it’s also included The Moon-Spinners by Mary Stewart which is up there with her best and I’m now close to finishing Death in Cyprus by M M Kaye which I am enjoying as it’s SO dated it’s charming…

    2. I love Dorian Gray, but possibly my favorite Oscar Wilde reference is Dorothy Parker

      “If, with the literate, I am
      Impelled to try an epigram,
      I never seek to take the credit;
      We all assume that Oscar said it.

      [Life Magazine, June 2, 1927]
      Dorothy Parker

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