This is a Good Book Thursday, February 14, 2019

It’s Valentine’s Day! Take the day off and read a romance!

(Side Note: Last night, I was reading Going Postal by Terry Pratchett again (published in 2004) when I realized the bad guy–a lying, exploitive, money-grubbing son of a bitch named Reacher Gilt–lived in Tump Tower. I swear, I’ve read this book at least ten times and that joke never landed until now. Pratchett is just the best.)

99 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 14, 2019

  1. Terry Pratchett knew people. It makes him look like he can predict the future .

    My DH is in Amsterdam for work and I’m in Houston for work. So clearly reading a romance is the best way for me to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Looking for suggestions here…

  2. Happy Valentine’s Day, Jenny and everyone. I was lying in bed this morning thinking over what romance I would settle down with later today, once once I’ve finished clearing all the snow and ice out there. Hmm, maybe Welcome to Temptation?

  3. I absolutely devoured the audiobook of Tessa Bailey’s Getaway Girl this week. It’s a contemporary romance between two wonderful people who are shit at relationships, so they’re trying very hard not to be in one. Instead, they’re friends. Best friends. Who kind of want to sleep together. Whoops.

    I fell off the elliptical on three separate occasions listening to this book because it’s that freaking hilarious. The hero is a mayoral candidate in Charleston, SC who, in addition to being stalked by the press 24/7, has a parody Twitter account devoted to his thick and glorious ass. The heroine inherits a dick joke holiday ornament making business from her grandmother, whose ashes now reside in a Mrs. Claus urn because that’s what she would have wanted. And yet somehow it all works and it just adds to the richness and complexity of the version of Charleston Bailey has built.

    The book is totally off the wall and yet is entirely grounded by the emotional baggage Addison and The Captain are carrying around. He got left at the alter and has lived a life of carefully scripted privilege and duty, never actually asking himself what he honestly wanted until he met Addison. She was born to a mother notorious for having an affair with another of Charleston’s Golden Sons and who ultimately abandoned her. Their broken pieces don’t fit together AT ALL, and lend the book such a torturous narrative tension that I was a little worried at parts they’d never get their shit together and figure out a sustainable relationship.

    But the HEA, when we get it, is perfect and magical and so totally over the top you just pray Netflix makes it into a movie someday because OH MY GOD.

    For you audiobook fans, Lori Prince’s narration, is GOLDEN. She’s entered my very select pantheon of favorite narrators because she brings the character of Addison Potts to glorious, vivid, complicated life.


    1. I downloaded it on your approval. I am not a fan of first person POV, especially in romance, as most people use it as a way to shroud tell as show.

      However, I’m going to definitely give it a go.

    2. After reading your recommend yesterday I picked it up and started it last night. Not too far in yet, but so far I co-sign!

  4. When are you going to write another one of your awesome books? I’ve been going through withdrawals!

  5. My friend is having a baby, so I just bought her a slew of books, and had to make sure some of them worked (maybe some of the word fell out on the way…), so I read: Where’s My Teddy, Dr Dog, Princess Smartypants, Prince Cinders, The Wolves Are In the Walls, and The True Story of the Three Little Pigs.

    I also read The Changeover, by Margaret Mahy again. Also Them: Adventures with Extremists, by Jon Ronson, and am currently reading his book, The Psychopath Test.

  6. I am completely spattered with paint and reading how to replace a toilet. 5/10 very precise style, lags in the middle, solid ending.

  7. I finished The Greatest Risk by Kristen Ashley this week, during the snow day. I have to be in the right mood for her, but I keep coming back. This one features a broken heroine who also happens to be a bad-ass, which is very satisfying.

    As for Valentine’s Day, my roommate and I are going to see Isn’t it Romantic, Rebel Wilson’s new movie, tonight. We are dressing up too, which is fun. I have high hopes 🙂

    1. Saw it as second choice because they pulled Vice for Isn’t It Romantic. Upshot: I should see more rom-com. All the tropes, undermined. Fun.

  8. I read The Chronicles of Dasnaria by Jeffe Kennedy. Good books but not great. The plots sit on the cusp of diving into a deep story and it was slightly unsatisfying for me. I wanted more depth.

    They do meet the requirement for an undemanding read for when we just “can’t …” – fill in your own! 😉

  9. I just finished “Love in the Afternoon” by Lisa Kleypas and liked it even though the hero was a little too alpha and the heroine a little too naive/twee for my taste. I always say that about Lisa Kleypas though, so take my opinion with a grain of salt.

    I have been hankering for epistolary love stories *and this kind of fit the bill, so it had that going for it.

    *I’ve already read “Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society”, “84 Charing Cross Road” (not a real romance, but lovely), “Possession,” “Griffin and Sabine”, “When a Scot Ties the Knot”, “Attachments” “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before” and “Hold Me” (e-mail texting story). What I really crave are those stories where people fall in love over letters or somehow not in person. If anyone has suggestions, I’m all ears!

      1. One of my absolute favorite books! I’m usually not a fan of communication via texting in relationships (in fiction or real life), but this book does it so so well!

    1. Not quite up your alley, really, but the second half of Sherwood Smith’s YA novel Crown Duel involves a courtship by letters. I love that book with the passion reserved for something one falls in love with as a teenager. I still revisit though, and enjoy it 🙂

      1. Also, I really enjoy Love in the Afternoon in Audiobook form. I always took it as the heroine being more competent and in charge of her life, but allowing the ptsd hero what he needed to feel safe and secure. I really like Hello Stranger and the rest of her new saga. Helen and Dr. Gibson are both pretty assertive females 🙂

      2. NOT romance at all, but you should check out Letters From the Inside, by John Marsden. It’s YA, and told completely through letters of two girls who become penpals (yes, that dates it) and it is one of my very favourite books. So well written and… I don’t want to spoil anything, but it is not fluff.

        I hope, if you haven’t read it, you give it a go. He’s great.

    2. Feeling Sorry For Celia, by Jaclyn Moriarty. It’s primarily about friendship, not romance, and it’s YA, which may or may not be your thing, but it’s wonderful. Still about love, just the platonic kind. There was a follow up book called Finding Cassie Crazy, which was also great.

      Also, Meg Cabot wrote a bunch of epistolary romances years ago called The Boy Series.

    3. The Cecelia and Kate Novels:
      Sorcery & Cecelia,
      The Grand Tour, and
      The Mislaid Magician

      Just in case they haven’t come your way!

  10. Happy Valentine’s Day to all. Two days ago I bought myself a Valentine’s treat of Hagen Daz raspberry, lemon and white chocolate ice cream, but I’ve already eaten it. Guess I’d best browse Amazon for a book.

  11. I read The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan. This one is Norse mythology.

    My daughter and I bought his 5 book set of “The Trials of Apollo” and she’s working on book 1 and won’t let me read it until she’s done.

    1. My nine year old and I are reading Sword of Summer together at the moment (I’ve already read it several times, and love it). It’s fabulous when you read it out loud and do the voices.

  12. I’m about to finish reading Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo. So far it’s a well done tie-in and a fun read. Snagging a romance after that, not sure which one.

  13. Okay, Valentine’s Day? Bah. Humbug! I have old rants queued up, saved to my LiveJournal – years of them. But let me bow to an expert. Adam Ruins Everything includes Adam Ruins Valentine’s Day:
    Well, maybe he isn’t an expert at ruining VD (love those initials, don’t you?)

    I am 100% in favor of love and romance. But why should we be subjected to the cupidity (see what I did there?) of florists, chocolatiers, and diamond cartels? Other than the enrichment of that troika, what makes today special? Nothing! Bah! And again, Bah! Also, Humbug! (I think my curmudgeon vocabulary could stand an upgrade.)

    Enough of that. It is, after all, Good Book Thursday as well. This week I finished the first Murderbot book, and added the others to my wish list. Since Friday is payday, They Will Soon Be Mine. Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha.

    I’m 2/3 of the way through Good Omens, and will likely finish tonight.

    I’m 30 chapters into Dance of a Lifetime by Frank Downey.

    Somehow, I started re-reading Wearing the Cape. I swear I was just checking to see if I had a copy on that computer. Then I was just checking to see if it was the later release, better preefrooding and a half dozen illustrations. Really.

    Then I was just checking to see if the audiobook of Getaway Girl was on Downpour or Audible, and somehow it ended up in my Downpour Library. I forgot I had an unspent Credit there.

    One last thought. A poster shared a delightful image on Baen’s Bar, what looks like a closet overflowing with books. The caption reads, “A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… The man who never reads lives but one.” -George R, R, Martin

    1. Gary. Gary. Gary. You are not thinking outside the box for Valentine’s Day.

      Diamonds. Hah. Chocolates. Well, the more chocolate the better so I will give you that. Flowers. When we were first married, I asked for flowers. I came from a family that did not buy flowers or give them other than at funerals so I thought it might be nice to receive a bouquet the first time in my life. I received 24 gladiola bulbs. My husband did not quite get why I thought it was so hilarious because bulbs would last for years and a bouquet would only last for days. So no flowers.

      And this year, I received chocolates, because chocolate, and a silver Kit Carson Alice in Wonderland mad hatter pin because I collect the series and they are 30 years out of production and hard to find. And he got chocolates, because chocolate, and a teak shower stool because he is going to have to have foot surgery yet again, and a jig saw puzzle because he likes to do jig saw puzzles with me. And I received a fabulous card with a gorilla on the front holding a rose and the caption “Hey, Girl. You looking for a Prime Mate?”

      1. Jessie, Jessie, Jessie, when it comes to February 14th, labeling it puts it in the box I prefer to think outside of. I never needed a holiday to get flowers or chocolates for the late wife. I just did it when the spirit moved me (and my spirit was very pushy.)

        Confining acts of romance to a winter’s day and then commercializing it to the rafters doesn’t work for me.

        1. If it’s a holiday you despise, then you despise it. But it is not contemporary.

          It dates back to the Romans and was hardly romantic. And Chaucer may have referenced it in relation to romance in the 1300’s. And references to 14th century feasts exist. One of the oldest existent Valentines Day’s poems is in British Library and was composed in French in 1415 by Charles Duke of Orleans to his wife, which he sent while imprisoned in the Tower of London. Shakespeare has Ophelia mention it in Hamlet. Valentines Day greetings were exchanged by American colonist in the 1700’s. Commercially they became available during the 1800’s, which is when Christmas cards started.

          My MIL despised Thanksgiving as a poorly disguised excuse for eating excess. But she went along with it because her family loved it.

          1. Oh, very well. You win. Not because of your history lesson, though. “A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right. – Thomas Paine” I just don’t like being compared to anyone’s mother-in-law.

          2. Gary, you would have liked her. She was decisive, warm, thoughtful and uniquely avant-garde. I am not sure she would not have agreed with you on Valentines Day. She died in her own home a week short of 99. She was completing her Sunday New York Times crosswords right up to the end. So if I compare you to her, it is a complement of the highest order.

  14. Bet Me! A girl needs a fairy tale for Valentine’s Day. Cherry picked bits though, because I don’t have time to read this week.

    So I read Bonnie and Min telling each other their fairy tales, the family dinners, the kiss on the park bench, summer baseball, and the epilogue. Happy ever afters for everyone. Yay Valentine’s.

  15. Hi all, I’m an avid reader of Argh, but I think I’ve commented only once before. It’s been really fun to get to know everyone in this community, and keep up with one of my favorite authors in the world.

    To start commemorating V-Day early, I watched Pretty in Pink last night for the first time. For what it was, I thought it was quite beautifully done. Simple and straightforward exploration of various romantic themes. It was also trippy seeing Andrew McCarthy as teenage heartthrob after seeing him as big bad Vincent Adler in White Collar.

    Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I’m off to go find a romance novel now.

  16. In other mediums, I can’t tell you how much I love this video of Annie Lennox and David Bowie rehearsing Under Pressure. George Michael singing to himself in the background, Bowie’s smile when he sees Lennox has got this. In fact pretty much everything Bowie, I love that intensity. Love dares you to change our way of caring about ourselves.

    Happy Valentine’s Day.

  17. Finished Murder, Magic, and What We Wore. Re-read parts of Coast Road. Started The Prayer Box by Lisa Wingate, a real book with pages. Will crack open Bet me again for a Valentine’s Day read. Love Min and Cal.

  18. I’m in writing mode and already done the one book I allowed myself to read for now. But am thinking of watching a romantic movie later to commemorate the day. Considering the classic version of Ghost and Mrs. Muir but open to suggestions:)

    1. Have you ever seen “Desk Set” (1957) with Hepburn and Tracy and a screenplay by the older Ephrons (Phoebe and Henry). It’s a delightful romance, even if you’re not much of a H/T fan, with an excellent hero and heroine and a very fine supporting cast. It moves along at the speed of “His Girl Friday” and the office Christmas party scene, among others, are a hoot.

      1. Absolutely. Desk Set is fab. Have it on DVD and watch every Christmas. The scene on the roof is great. And the bits at her apartment. Pretty much everything:)

      1. Gotta love a heroine who when called obstinate says basically: “Thank you, Mr X., I’ve always wanted to be considered obstinate.” 🙂

  19. Half way through listening to Storm front by Jim Butcher,

    Loved the TV series, read the book (was okay), but James Marsters (Spike!!!) really works as the narrator

  20. I’ve been reading Mary Balogh’s “Someone to Trust.” I think I can recommend it, but it does contain a rather dull hero and equally dull heroine, although they are kind and likeable. But Balogh moves the story along very nicely without dragging out parts that could enter cringe territory so I’m not tossing it aside out of boredom.

    If you don’t mind characters who don’t actually do anything, which is the case in far too many historicals, please ignore my criticism. That’s a point of my personal taste or personal distaste for the deeply lazy leisure classes, which most women through history didn’t have the luxury of being part of. Women, even the rich ones, had their hands full of household management chores that would fell the frail, so to speak, especially when they had children and household staff and farms / estates and social responsibilities, not to mention marital tribulations to manage and endure. (We won’t even talk about no dental or medical care! Yikes.)

    I also came across a little book, delightfully illustrated, called “There is no right way to meditate and other lessons.” It’s by Yumi Sakugawa and I’m going to track down her other creations. So funny and wise, and possibly a lovely gift book. (Here’s her website:

    1. My friend’s grandmother was in service and she was taught to cook by the lady of the house. That was how it was done.

      The Lady of the House had to know how to do everything, so she could train up her staff to meet her needs, It was a mark of a well run house.

      1. Similarly, when I was in college I took a typing course offered by the the Business College as part of a BA program. And the first thing the instructor said was that we while none of us expected to be secretaries, we would need to know everything that we expected our secretaries to know because half the time we would get a secretary from the typing pool that we would have to train up. I am not sure that it took with me but we had to learn when to use can/may, then/than, effect/affect and other common grammatical errors. And the correct salutations: bishop, members of congress, governors and where to find them. But the instructor said that if we did not know the correct stuff, and our manager did, we were not going to be on the management fast track. I suspect currently, only CEOs and CFOs are the only ones with secretaries so most people need to know the rules for themselves.

        1. PS. She also said we should proofread everything before we send it out, which obviously did not take with me.

  21. Today I made Valentine muffins using leftover Xmas fruits, chopped cherries and pineapple. Makes me think of going this route instead of making a stolen for Christmas. If only I’ll remember come December. For reading I’m listening to Winter Cottage and up to 15 minutes on the treadmill. So that is all good. Returned to the library a series dvd titled No Offense a British procedural with a bit of a twist at the end. It also carries on to series #2. Closed captioning comes in handy because it’s hard to understand the dialect. It’s especially hard when there are produced in Scotland, but they are so good. In the meantime I have an audiobook coming with the title A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. It was recommended by my favorite librarian (my go to person for dvds) (she does go the extra mile) who also told me it is a series on an Amazon related network (extra charge). Paranormal is not a favorite but she insisted it was good. I’ll soon be running at my upstairs gym if this keeps up.

    1. I deeply love the No Offense series. The characters are so strongly developed, and so funny (mostly), and the twists are so twisty. Series 2 is also terrific.

    2. That’s so great Mary! You’ve already added half again to your endurance and it’s only been a couple of weeks. Go you!

      You’re inspiring me to get out and go for a run again. Well, a walk. Baby steps.

  22. Grace Burrowes is my historical romance writer of choice at the moment. I’ve only just discovered her, and so far she hasn’t put a foot wrong. Hooray for sensible heroines!

    This week I also read Louise Penny’s latest, Kingdom of the Blind, which she wrote after her husband died. There is a really moving Acknowledgements section at the back where she talks about how she didn’t think she would be able to keep writing this series after he died, because he was so much a part of it. But one day she wrote two words. And the next day she wrote six. And the next day she wrote eight.

    So I’m really glad she didn’t stop. The book’s good too.

    Then I read Alex Bledsoe’s Blood Groove, a vampire book. I’ve liked his more recent books, which are a sort of western/supernatural crossover, but this one didn’t have a single character I liked. So I stopped reading. Except I flicked to the last page and read that, which turned out to be a BIG mistake. I really don’t like horror.

    So then I had to read Peter Robinson’s In the Dark Places, which is a police procedural and therefore reassuring, despite the title.

    1. Huzzah for Grace Burrowes! I adore her work because she tends to focus on actual adults who try their best in often challenging circumstances. She’s written a few contemporaries as well that I also heartily endorse, if you’re ever tempted to try her modern stuff.

      1. That’s the thing, isn’t it, adults trying their best in challenging circumstances. It seems like a fairly small thing to ask, but it’s so often missing.

  23. I’m racing the Miss Violet Strange short stories by Anna Katherine Green. They are very much of their time (Edwardian) but it’s fun seeing an early, and maybe the early, version of the spunky girl detective.

    I have The Duchess War by Courtney Milan ready to go. And truffle kits to go the semi homemade route.

  24. Just read Michael Dirda’s 2/13/19 Washington Post review of Mary Cadogan’s “And Then Their Hearts Stood Still.” Wouldn’t surprise me if she (Cadogan) ends up being interviewed on Smart Bitches podcast 🙂


    From the review, “A look at the bad boys of 20th century romantic fiction,” Michael Dirda writes:

    ‘Mary Cadogan’s “And Then Their Hearts Stood Still” is, as she writes in her introduction, “an appreciative assessment of twentieth century romantic fiction from classics to comic-strips, from governess-gothic suspense fantasies to . . . single-sex love-stories ….’

    Link(s) to Washington Post article (in the Book section):

    TinyUrl link:

    Unshortened link:

    1. That’s a fun piece. While I’m not sure why he’s reviewing a 25 year old book, I can confirm that it’s a good book and an entertaining read. I bought it back in 1994 and it’s still the best history of the genre from a British perspective that I have come across. I’ve read it several times and if anyone knows of anything newer and better then I’d be glad of the recommendation.

  25. I really enjoyed ‘The Frame-up’ by Meghan Scott Molin. Wonderful characters and world (despite the fact a lot of the comic references went over my head). Structure wandered a bit: would have been even more brilliant as a stand-alone, I think; and I was disappointed to discover I have to wait until July for the sequel. But I’ve pre-ordered it.

    Thanks to whoever recommended it.

  26. Thanks to many of you recommending the Murderbot books I got the first one All Systems Red from my library. I had no idea what to expect, but was game for the unknown ride.

    So am now on the wait list for the second book Artificially Condition. THANKS !!

  27. Do newspaper articles count? Today’s NY Times FOOD section carries Tejal Rao’s introduction to beloved old-school eateries in his new city, Los Angeles. I’ve been to some, want to visit more. WANT, Arghers. I won’t complain if my last meal comes from Musso and Frank’s.

  28. To all the Arghers who recommended Rick Riordan – do you have any idea how much sleep I’ve missed lately? I’m partway through the second series, The Heroes of Olympus, and while it still keeps me up much too late at night, I find I don’t care for it as much as the first series. The first two books are told from the alternating viewpoints of three different characters and I find I don’t attach as well to any of them. The author does a good job with the alternating viewpoints but it still partly kicks me out of the story every time the viewpoint changes.

    On top of that, each of the ‘main’ characters in both books has amnesia (for plot reasons that make sense) but without that backstory, they seem a little less well developed. That may change as they regain their memories but it goes to show how easily an author can lose the reader.

    1. Sorry about the lack of sleep…

      My daughter finished up book 1 of the Trials of Apollo and was really surprised that I wasn’t starting it at 9:30pm. If I had, I’d have been up til 3am. So no, I stuck with the latest Beth Byers/Lady Violet book. I knew I’d be able to finish that and still get some sleep!

  29. I find that Georgette Heyer spoiled me for most historical romances, and I can barely stand to open a classic modern romance with one of those bare-chested weightlifting guys being twined around by some girl with a clothing malfunction. In the case of historicals, I get upset by reading dialogue that sounds like it was pulled straight from The View or a modern soap opera. Also, way WAY too many dukes in them, who don’t sound or act to me like dukes.

    In the case of what I hesitate to call the bodice rippers (regardless of era or setting) I just resent the marketing tropes of cover art and over-the-top blurbs, and if the lead characters don’t come across to me as good people, with an internal life of the mind and a hunger to find friendship and simpatico worldviews, with or without that ‘spark’ or that physical attraction thing that seem to be the be-all and end-all in too many of the romances I’ve tried, I just want to put the book down and go find a Crusie or a Heyer to re-read.

    I’ve been re-reading the one new author that I’ve found recently and really liked — Joanna Bourne. She’s writing Regency period-ish books, but with a lot of focus on working, independent, practical people, either in Britain or in France during the Terror or the post-Bonaparte years. The key is her characters, her writing skills, and her grasp of the period all put me in mind of really good Georgette Heyers. But without Almacks or grand balls, pretty much.

    1. I loved Joanna Bourne’s spies almost more than I could stand, and I think I might reread them. They caught my heart. Like you said – the focus on regular and working people rather than grand balls made them vastly more interesting to me.

      1. Joanna Bourne is an amazing writer–I also love reading her blog. Like Jennie, she writes really insightful stuff about how to write.

    2. Rats. Why did you bring up Joanna Bourne? Now I have to go and see if I can check it out of the library to go yet again. I should just buy my own copies of the series.

  30. I just finished a reread of The Kiss Quotient, which I love so hard. Now I’m about to comfort read Agnes and the Hitman again.

    My dog died, my job sucks and I have marital problems that happened rather suddenly. Also a small child, plus my mother has lived with us for the last five years.
    I need a comfort read.
    I don’t actually drink, so a girl’s gotta have something.

    1. Ugh, that sounds like you’re having a really heavy and rough time right now. Sending all the hugs, and hopes that things will improve soon!

  31. I’ve been reading a bit more cookbooks…a bit of Harry Potter again, and two romances. I suddenly felt like checking out the Bridal Quartet-series by Nora Roberts again, because I remembered I liked it and I didn’t know what to read.

    Unfortunately the library didn’t have them in English (though I found another of my Robert’s favs in English now: “High noon” [which I liked for its suspense rather than the romance, actually]), so I had to go for the Swedish ones. Read both “Vision in White” and “Bed of Roses” and enjoyed them both. “Vision in White” scores higher for me because the guy is so adorable. I know a lot of people don’t like the clumsy kind of hero, but I definitely do. I laughed a lot. It was relieving and I felt warm and cosy while reading it. “Bed of Roses” and the other two (as far as I remember) have a more serious tone and touch to them, which is a nice read but a tiny bit less entertaining. More drama before the happy ending, less laughter. Still good books, though. And not too much sex-scenes luckily, compared to some other of Roberts’ works. I’m 17 % into “Savor the moment” now.

    F and I don’t celebrate Valentines Day, have never done. And like he said the day before yesterday: “We don’t need to celebrate Valentine’s Day, we celebrate that we love each other every day.”
    He is weird but cute.

  32. I always get to read this stuff late (life gets in the way!) and I’m way behind on commenting, but I’ve always found the book “Anyone But You” to be a great romance book! 😉

    (I’m still waiting for the sequel… in which Max and Charity get together… hint hint!) 😛

    1. I was going to write it for HQ. It was called Jane Errs and it was about Charity on a book tour with Max. Then my HQ career blew up and I never got back to it.

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