103 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 10, 2019

  1. I’m reading A Brief History of Everything by Bill Bryson, and Crazy Rich Asians. So far, the movie is much better.

    1. The movie is SO much better.

      Source: I read it with my book club and then we saw the movie after.

      The book reminds me of American Psycho (focused on trappings of wealth, little warmth or depth from characters) except American Psycho was doing that on purpose for effect and this one…wasn’t.

      The author also clearly didn’t do all of the structural and pacing wrriting that Jenny has demonstrated here. It comes off to me more like oral tradition and is WAY less focussed on Rachel–in the book, Rachel’s more of a way to introduce conflict and she lacks the backbone and good communication skills of Movie Rachel (minor SPOILERS: Book Rachel never even mentions the fish thing to Nick?!?!?!?!?).

      Anyway, I didn’t HATE the book, but I didn’t think it was well crafted. The movie undid a lot of the things I disliked about the book.

      So, uh, good luck? And the endings are WILDLY different.

      1. I haven’t seen the movie, but the movie is the reason I read the book. In fact, I bought the box set with all three. I made it through the first, but quit half way through the second. I like Rachel’s story, but it got so lost in all the name dropping and money spending. It’s the one time when I was reading a book that I thought “I bet the movie is better” because I was pretty sure I knew what the movie would leave out. Maybe I’ll give the movie a chance.

        1. I enjoyed the first book as a romp, but the second book brought out all the things that were wrong with the first, and add an almost total lack of plot. Didn’t finish it.

          1. The movie I’ve rewatched so many times lately that my boys know the soundtrack by heart. It was the Rincon I’ve been waiting a long time for. It was so much tighter as a story and more heartfelt than the book, and Michelle Yeoh is a goddess. And it really nails the romantic climax in the context of the heroine and hero’s community, which the book misses. I’m now reading the second book and it’s still leaving me a little flat. …time to watch the movie again.

    2. +1 on “Michelle Yeoh is a goddess.”

      never was interested in the book, but once I got a look at Henry Golding the movie went on the Must List. #Catnip #Rrrowr.

    1. I’m going to try to work “shadowy cabal of incompetent barmpots” into conversation somehow. Gotta love the Guardian! ::Off to look up “barmpots.”::

    2. I just got Rich People Problems from the library and there were 34 people waiting on it last time I checked, I think I reserved it in …summer? So yeah.

  2. My daughter gave me Mercedes Lackey’s The Mage Winds trilogy for Christmas, forcing me to read something new.

    I read the stories as being all about relationships. My daughter laughs at that — I guess she focuses on the ranges of magic and cleverness being used between the bad guys and the good guys. We both like the descriptions of fantastical beings and extraordinary places.

    These books were first published in the early 1990s, I think. I’m surprised to see how many ideas and terms — ley lines, for instance — reappear in fantasy stories I’ve read. Somehow individual fantasy tales that I’ve really thought were unique don’t seem so creative any more.

    1. I LOVED these books as a teenager. These, and the Last Herald Mage (which I find a bit teenage angsty now, but was my favourite for years). By the Sword was good too – I’ve just bought it for Christmas for my neice.

      So cool to hear someone is reading them for the first time.

  3. My lunch reading (4 or 5 pages a day) has been “Forbidden Rose” by Joanna Bourne. I’m zigzagging through her Spymaster series, having started with Book 6, an accidental find, and now close to the climax of this one (which is chronologically Book 2). Many things about Book 6 are clearer now, and I’m really enjoying the author’s ability to move the plot along by progressing right to the next thing that’s bringing up a question in my mind, to give me either an answer or a broadening of my question. I don’t own Book 1, so I think I’ll be moving along to another zig or zag once I finish this one. Or re-read this one, then on to the zig. Really good writer.

  4. I do not have any good books to recommend this week as I have an entire bookshelf of books I picked up on free tables for the last few years that I have been trying to dredge my way through so I can get rid of some. So far they have either been boring or wallbangers. I do not like romance novels where the heroine is getting yelled at and threatened and bruised by her boss, thanks. Not romantic and not cool.

    I attempted to read a romance novel yesterday where the supposed romantic hero (her boss, who sounds physically handicapped enough for this to have been a challenge at least) literally decided to grab the heroine by her ankles and hang her out a window, because Sid Caesar did it to Mel Brooks. WHAT THE FUCKING FUCK. It was published in 1999 but wasn’t that wildly inappropriate even then? Boss also gets away with sexual harassment because he’s “a cripple” and they’re all supposedly writing comedy and none of the jokes are funny and AAAAAAAARGH.

    I will hopefully have some better ones to recommend next week because I need to read something good and I got some new ones yesterday.

    1. The 80’s and early 90’s were a tough era for romance novels, in my experience (present company excluded). There is a lot of abusive behavior, if not physically, then emotionally and verbally. Some authors shine, but the overall feel leaves me cold.

  5. I’ve been trying new authors and have deleted quite a lot of samples. The two keepers were both favourites here that I’d got the wrong idea about. I thought the Murderbot series was a cosy mystery set in the 1930s (obviously, witha really inappropriate name). So I’ve now read ‘All Systems Red’, and agree it’s really good. I’m balking at buying the other three in the series, though, because they’re so expensive. The library doesn’t have them; I might request them anyway.

    The other keeper – which I mistakenly thought I’d tried and not liked – is ‘The Goblin Emperor’; as everyone said, the kindness of the hero is really endearing. I do wish, though, that the author had used English for all rather than some of the characters’ titles. I daresay her system’s very clever, but it was impossible to keep track of a huge cast list, all of whom are referred to by at least three different names.

    I’m back to deep comfort rereads of Loretta Chase at the moment. Though a bit of me’s still in the Goblin Emperor world.

        1. These are books many of us here loved and we like really diverse things. So I am thinking that your library might benefit from having books. Also these are books that are aimed at YA and I think having well-written books that appeal to that segment of the reading population is also a good thing.

        2. As a present library worker, I second the urge to request. Hardly anyone does, and then our purchaser just buys whatever is on a recommended book list from somewhere and we end up with books that no one reads…

    1. I held off on the Murderbot sequels because of price too. It’s what I’d pay for a favorite author’s novel, and these are novellas. I believe in supporting writers, but I thought the price was a publisher over-reach (never the author who sets the price, so I don’t blame her). But I eventually caved because a) it was the holidays and I wanted a gift for myself, b) I needed a pick-me-up, and I knew these books would do it, and c) I’d just gotten a $20 AMZ gift card from doing a survey, so it was like getting two of the books for free! Also, my library didn’t have the books, so it was either buy or not read.

      1. Yes. I added it up, and it was going to be about £25 for the full story, which really seems OTT, especially for ebooks, which don’t belong to you in the same way that physical books do.

    2. I read the first book in the Murderbot series last weekend, quickly followed by the rest of it. They are pretty pricey for short books. I justified the cost by telling myself that lots of people spend more money at the movies and I rarely go to movies, but I guess I’m glad that there aren’t anymore available, because I am like an addict needing a fix.

      Murderbot’s voice is so distinctive, I still have it in my head and hope that there will be more to the series. In the meantime, I’ve checked out the only Martha Well’s book in my library, Star Wars: Razor’s Edge. I don’t think I’ve ever read a media tie-in type book before and I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, so we’ll see how it goes.

    3. AND all the names are a mile long and all but unpronouncable! I recommended it to my cousin and bought her the paperback. The next time I saw her, she reported that she loved the book but had bought it in ebook format so she could enlarge the type!

      1. It made me wonder whether the audiobook would be easier – someone else doing the pronouncing. Because I was in too much of a hurry with the story to stop and read each name slowly to work out how to pronounce it.

        1. I didn’t bother trying to pronounce the names and titles, I just let myself recognize which group of letters meant which character. Made it easier.

  6. I’m reading The Letter for the King by Tonke Dragt. It was first published in Dutch in 1962 and was translated into English five years ago or so. It is a quest story set in a made up Middle Ages. I hesitate to call it fantasy because there is no magic. I’m really enjoying it.

  7. I’m re-reading the Cast In … series in preparation for “Cast In Oblivion” coming out January 29th.

    I love these books. Not much romance, but lots of angst, drama and feelings. In case you were not aware, these books feature a fantasy world with multiple races among which Private Kaylin Nera solves crimes, fights against Shadow and worst of all, has to take etiquette lessons from a Dragon.

  8. I read The Palace Job by Patrick Weekend. Fantasy caper plot with a few too many characters for me to keep track off sometimes. There are two other books in the series. They are TBR. This is a good ‘bad’ book. Not bad, not awful, just good.

  9. I am already rereading S. K. Dunstall’s Linesmen series. There are three books that need to be read in order. I just read it for the first time 3 weeks ago and found myself thinking I needed to reread it. It is just as good on the second read.

  10. I just finished The Witch Elm, Tana French’s latest. I generally hate suspense and thrillers, but her writing and characters are good enough to keep me reading her books even though they inevitably leave me completely creeped out.

  11. I just finished Cassandra Rose Clarke’s Star’s End. I read her YA novels before – they were charming, although I’m not sure I’d want to reread them. This novel is much darker, but still a good, solid sci-fi read. She is a fine writer.

  12. I’m reading “In a House of Lies,” the latest Rebus by Ian Rankin. I needed some grit in my diet.

    I need to thank JillQ for introducing me to the Fly Me to the Moon series. I haven’t enjoyed a book as much as I enjoyed “Earth Bound” in a long time!! SUCH a great romance, with hard-to-love hero and heroine absolutely meant for each other.

  13. I have a cold and needed some light, fun reading. I read through the five books in The Beginner’s Guide to Necromancy series by Hailey Edwards. It was easy reading and had a few twists that surprised me. There is some character growth and it didn’t fall into the romance triangle hole where I thought it was headed. I gobbled them up and now have nothing to read. TIme to knit!

  14. I read Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly; as usual it was a readable cop procedural. I liked the new female detective that was introduced. Not sure where Harry Bosch will end up — after the end of this novel he has made a mistake that damaged his career options.

    I also read Jayne Anne Krentz’s new romance, Untouchable. She copied several of her past plot points (this is not news to those who have read a lot of her books). But hey I read the whole thing; I was in the mood for light romance and I’m okay with paranormal skill sets.

    I liked the light romances by Jackie Lau that were recommended by someone on this forum (Grumpy Fake Boyfriend, and Mr Hotshot CEO). They were a fun short easy read.

    And I am reading Pachinko by Min Jin Lee for my book club; an epic family drama that was a National Book Award finalist. It is well written, but I am getting bogged down (multi-generation family sagas are not my normal genre). Yikes I feel like I have been reading it forever, and I am not even 25% through the book! (I raced through the other books. Maybe I can make it through Pachinko by alternately reading one chapter, and then reading another whole novel that is fun and easy to read)

  15. Someone here recommended the Violet Carlyle mysteries by Beth Byers, and I just finished the six that have been published so far and heartily second, or possibly third, that recommendation.

    I’m now reading Lindsay Buroker’s Agents of the Crown series and quite enjoying them, I’m on book three. Not quite as good as her Emperor’s Edge series but fun so far. Ooh, and The Emperor’s Edge collection of the first three books in the series appears to be free at the moment from Amazon. I highly recommend these fantasy world steampunk like books with lots of action/adventure/mysteries/espionage. https://www.amazon.com/Emperors-Edge-Collection-Books-ebook/dp/B007YU6EVI/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1547153997&sr=1-7&keywords=lindsay+buroker

    Also, set in the same world her Forgotten Ages trilogy is only .99 cents for the collection. More romance in this one, I highly recommend it. Here’s the blurb:

    “The greatest military leader of his time.
    The most talented code breaker her people have.
    Sworn enemies.

    When deadly secrets from the ancient past are unearthed, secrets capable of fracturing the world and destroying all life on the planet, these two enemies will have to work together. They are humanity’s only hope.

    The Forgotten Ages series is recommended for fans of epic fantasy, action-adventure, mystery, and romance.”


    1. I’m a big fan of Buroker’s work too. For some reason, I just didn’t connect with the Agents of the Crown series, and a couple others (usually the ones that are sort of YA/NA), but she has lots, so there’s something for everyone!

    2. Thanks. I have not tried Buroker before but with them offered for free on Amazon I will give them a try.

  16. I read the Fated Sky, By Mary Robinette Kowal – the second book in her Lady Astronaut series. I really liked the first book – this one I loved. The stakes are higher, the characters are more complex, and the relationships go in interesting and unexpected directions.

    Then I read Murder, Magic and What We Wore by Kelly Jones, a very enjoyable YA regency, with magic thrown in. Someone here recommended her with another book, But the library didn’t have the other one.

    Now I’m in the middle of Emergence, by CJ Cherryh, the latest in the long-running science fiction series that began with Foreigner. Cherryh is such an idiosyncratic writer – much of the time it seems as if very little is happening. Then you realise that so much is going on below the surface; huge political plots and skulduggery. I love this series so much, and I love her books, which are quite hard to get into, but enormously rewarding when you do.

    1. Oooh, that Kelly Jones book sounds interesting. And I wandered away from the CJ Cherryh series, but loved it. I’m afraid I’ve forgotten to much to pick up where I left off, though.

  17. I’m doing research for the third book in my series, so I just started “Black and British: A Forgotten History” by David Olussoga. Haven’t gotten very far, but the intro was compelling.

    I’m also picking through “The Sugar Barons” (more research about the Caribbean sugar trade) and am reading “Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage, and Manners.” Ew, gross is all I have to say.

    Last weekend, I finished “Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything.” Very highly entertaining! You’d be amazed at some of the stupid ways they tried to cure people.

  18. Incidentally, I’ve been using the alligator metaphor, and it works really nicely. ‘What’s my alligator for today? Okay, don’t need to worry about everything else, then. Just focus on keeping this one out of the boat.’

    So thanks, Jenny, for this.

      1. Please add mine as well 🙂 I’ve been using it, and passing it on.

        It’s a great metaphor.

      2. I’m using it, and so is my husband. Alligators all around us, separate and together. Banished a whole crew already this week.

    1. This week I read Trapped at the Altar by Jane Feather. I took my Mom to the emergency room because she had a rather nasty virus and while she was there they found 2 rather more serious, although manageable conditions. A nice escapist romance seemed just the thing.
      After they got a handle on the new conditions I started Famous Father Girl- A Memoir of Growing Up Bernstein by Jamie Bernstein. I’m only halfway through, but so far the characters who most interest me (other than the multi-talented friends who keep passing through) are Leonard Bernstein’s sister and brother. The closeness between the 3 siblings reminded me a lot of my own family.

  19. Once again not really reading, watching movies instead.

    1. Mary Poppins (with digital special feature on new stage musical)
    2. Saving Mr. Banks
    3. Mary Poppins Returns

    Quite a triple feature for the week, all three benefited from the binge-watch I think.

  20. On the strength of Sure Thing’s recommendation I read Grumpy Fake Boyfriend by Jackie Lau and Suleikha Snyder’s Tikka Chance On Me and really enjoyed both. So thank you Sure Thing!

    Next up is Jackie Lau’s Mr Hotshot CEO. I’m really eager to see how she handles a heroine with recurrent cyclical clinical depression.

  21. I’ve made comments on this site before, but never on Good Book Thursday.

    I just, a few minutes ago, finished reading a 99% really good book. But the one percent was infuriating. I think I won’t tell the title or author, so you can read it without bias.

    This is a science fiction “first contact” story, with a clever idea, good characterization, good dialogue, good action. It has a satisfactory conclusion. The kind of story I can’t put down.

    The protagonist is flawed, and points out her/his flaws in detail. Over and over we see him/her making the same wrong decisions. Eventually a person in authority says, “Do not take action on what you discover without consulting us first.” The protagonist knows they are right and agrees.

    Then, on page 302, the protagonist essentially decides to go alone to the abandoned warehouse in the middle of the night, hoping to beat the bad guys to a clue she/he already knows they can’t use.


    1. Oh yeah, the favorite ’60’s trope, the TDTL (Too Dumb To Live) heroine who meets the mysterious person in a deserted location, late at night without any backup.

  22. I read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis. It took me a while to get into it, and then I was hooked, and then I was so, so sad that it was over.

    There was a lovely bit of lagniappe in the form of some medieval English to decipher…sigh. My kind of book.

  23. To whomever it was who recommended Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer: Thank you! It was fantastic! I was on the edge of my seat. That’s all I’ve read this week but it as great.

  24. I read the latest installment of the San Andreas Shifter series by Gail Carriger, and reread some of her Parasol Protectorate short stories. Then, on her recommendation, I tried “Sorcery and Cecilia” by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer, who started out writing it as a game/exercise and decided to turn it into a novel ( hmm, lots of that going around) and then a series. I’m holding off on reading the third because the first two were so delicious.
    Highly recommend all 3 of those, although fair warning – the SAShifters is steamy LGBTQ stuff. Love the characters, love the world, the sex scenes make me feel faintly scandalized, as if I need some pearls to clutch or something. I seem to be far more straightlaced than I had imagined.

  25. I mentioned it last week, but after Thursday — Noel Streatfeild’s SHOES books are now available on Kindle (along with a number of her adult works as well), and SHOES reread very well.

  26. Hello all, I read a book years ago and have always thought it was a book by Jennifer. Can anyone help me? It’s about docile woman who kid with her mother and aunt. It starts with her waking in her birthday and getting a nightgown or pjs as a gift. So she decides to make a change and gets involved in a murder mystery. Anybody🙂?

      1. That’s the one she get seersucker pyjamas or something practical and realises she needs to change her life.

  27. There was a dialog box that appeared on my kindle-for-android app. I accidentally clicked yes. Now all my books scroll like a never-ending scroll. I’ve looked in settings to change it but I don’t know how.

    Please help me, fellow readers. I want my page settings back!

    1. I’ve just looked at my Kindle for iPad app. There the switch is at the bottom of the panel of reading options (font, size, etc) that you can access when you’re actually reading a book. (As opposed to the general settings available when you’re looking at your library.) Try tapping the Aa icon when you’re reading a book.

      Here’s hoping they made the app the same for Android!

  28. Last week I read Dying in the Wool. Meh. But to be fair I think it may have been the narrator that made it that way. She made the thirty-something protagonist sound like a teenager and did a posh English accent that made me crazy – mostly because it made said widowed in the war protag sound like a twit. YYMV. I was disappointed.

    Then I read a series out of order and now have to decide if it’s worth it to read the first one. The second A Strange Scottish Shore was good, but reminded me irritatingly of Outlander. Now that I think of it, it also reminded me of the Jodi Taylor St. Mary’s time traveler series. I really don’t want to be reminded of other people’s books when I’m reading.

    I guess I was a cranky reader this week.

    1. The Scottish book was number 2 in a short series. I liked number 1 quite a bit better: A Most Extraordinary Pursuit, but both books were pretty … I don’t know what to call them, really … maybe Victorian? Which was accurate to the period, but felt a little odd to me. The writer’s consciousness was modern, but the heroine was restrained and competent and upright, although she was serving in a position that in Victorian times would always have been occupied by a man. The first book did clarify a good deal of the time travel notion, though. Enjoyable but strange.

  29. I recently finished Helen Simonson’s wonderful “The Summer Before The War”, set in an Essex village just before WWI. This is not to be missed. Currently reading Kelley Armstrong’s “City Of The Lost”, a thriller set in the wilds of the Yukon that has been pretty goo so far.

  30. If Kate was a cranky reader, I was a scaredy cat.

    I picked up Bob Woodward’s “Fear” from the library–and then re-re-re-etc.-read “Bet Me.”

  31. I’m reading the latest Sherrilyn Kenyon. I want to know how the overarching plot ends, but the books have lately been disappointments. Does anyone else read these and want to discuss/rant?

    1. If it’s the series I’m thinking of, I got mad at her when she “killed” Nick. I read one more and then Ash’s story and I was done. So not much rant fodder. 🤷🏻‍♀️

      1. Sure Thing, yup, that’s the one. You got out at the right time.

        Lupe, yes, their backstories absolutely get exhausting. I just need to find another reader who is willing to update me on the overarching plot line so I know how it ends, but don’t need to read it myself 😆

    2. I really like her voice and humor, and usually her character, but the overwhelming amount of horribleness that they have to overcome just wears me out. I don’t read her any more.

  32. Larceny and Old Lace (fun title), Tamar Myers. First time with the author, and an early title, 1996. Narrative seems jittery, and the protag shows nasty energy. Unclear if the bitchy is meant as a character trait or if the writing lacks scrupulous control. Competent enough to make me want to look up a later title.

    Jeeves and the King of Clubs, Ben Schott. Characters, settings and language of a P.G. Woodhouse outing. Do we really need a Jeeves revealed to Bertie Wooster as spy? How much does that upend their relationship? The question is not pressed as Bertie himself is recruited as spy and the doings are on. Tone is necessarily tweaked, and Bertie possesses more energy and – dare one say – intelligence than he has hitherto shown. Further action seems foreshadowed, and I’ll be there.

  33. And the book is off to the first betas.
    It’s 132,000 words long.
    So I only have to cut about 80 pages.


    1. Yes, but you only cut if the betas agree it needs it. Please. Don’t get hung up on numbers. (And this is from a professional editor, who naturally hates padding.)

      1. 132,000 words means padding.
        On the other hand, there are no missing scenes. Except somebody’s probably going to point out I need a sex scene. Argh.
        133,000 words.

  34. Congratulations on getting that out the door! Hope you get some great feedback. I reread your December version of Nita again and enjoyed it even more the second time around. So I feel confident you will get good reviews.
    I write to deadlines myself. Sometimes I just have to stop working on whatever I’m writing and send it out as is instead of continuing to edit it down so it’s shorter and tighter. Someone once said “I don’t have time to be brief” and I always thought that was very apropos for my kind of writing.
    In any case, I’m with JaneB; this may be a good time to wait and see what your editor has to say, and also wait and see how you feel after several weeks away from the MS before cutting any more. Congrats again, what a great accomplishment!

  35. Just finished rereading Good Omens; am about a third of the way through The Quiet American.

    I also really want to find a copy of Golfing for Cats…

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