67 thoughts on “This is A Good Book Thursday, April 4, 2019

  1. Finished Le Guin’s Left Hand of Darkness earlier this week and am now enjoying Joanna Russ, The Female Man, which is weird, but wonderful and somehow a much faster, snappier read than Le Guin.

    And it’s the holidays – which means officially, reading time.

  2. A few duds this week. Also Sophie Kinsella’s latest, from the library: ‘I Owe You One’, which was good but not a keeper. I don’t find her stories really pull me in, although there are good things in them. But I’ll always borrow them from the library.

    Couldn’t sleep last night (fretting about how to make the garden shed into a summerhouse and seed-raising space), but finally unwound when I pulled an old Jayne Ann Krentz off the shelf: ‘Shield’s Lady’. I haven’t read it for a while, and am enjoying it (light fantasy/romantic comedy).

    1. I have the same reaction to Sophie Kinsella. There are parts I like, but I also tend to rather dislike her protagonist as well…

      1. I second this. Confessions of a Shopaholic was one exasperating read for me – I couldn’t connect at all (which is why I never continued reading that series). I wanted to strangle the protagonist in “The Domestic Goddess” until I’d read about 4/5, then she turned a bit to the better and I ended up enjoying the book after all (but that might have something to do with all the food in it, too, because the protag was so smackable). Same with the protagonist in “Twenties’ Girl”. That one is my favourite of Kinsella’s so far, though, despite the smackability.

        Might read “I owe you one” if I get the chance 🙂

        1. I never made it past the first few pages of the shopaholic series, a protagonist irresponsible with money, nope not interested.

          Though I personally hate shopping, unless it is book shopping.

        2. Yeah, I liked Twenties Girl in the end too. Not enough to keep or read again, but it was enjoyable.

    1. That article was a real eye opener for me. I would have thought in my ignorance that authors would be “colour. blind”. When I enjoy a story I don’t care about the author’s colour, although now I think of it all my favorite authors are white. Is this because I did not have a choice?
      I hope that I would not be so biased.

      1. That’s what Kameron Hurley and other authors talked about in not writing colour-blind. The default is white, male, cisgender. It is important to write diverse characters so that people have more to identify with.

        1. That’s absolutely true. But if you are a white cis author and you write diverse characters, you’re also likely to get jumped on for appropriation. It’s tricky.

          1. Or tokenism. “You made them black, but they don’t have black lives, they’re just white people with good tans.”
            The lack of diversity in romance is a real problem, but trying to solve it is a minefield.

          2. Law of supply and demand–diverse authors will respond to demands of diverse reader audience with characters in a fictional world that reflects some version of reality?

            But then reality is tricky these days.

            So how about good writing about interesting characters with good stories, with dialogue not inside head exposition, and things will change over time?

            It’s all the writing–>reading, as far as I am concerned. Guess that’s why I read this blog.

          3. Almost 10 years ago my Bayou Gavotte series came out. I don’t know if anyone would publish something like it now — I’m a white woman writing about a half-Navajo rock star and his best friend/drummer who is black. There are white people, too, and interracial couples. (And vampires.) I never thought I was appropriating anything, but nowadays someone would probably say I was. I thought I was just writing about people, some of whom had fangs.

        2. A big part of the current discussion is how to get more more authors of color (and other diverse writers) published, get their books in front of readers, and have them treated fairly.

          This involves the publishing business, readers (I’m going to make an effort to seek out non white cis writers and stories), and authors. It is going to be an uphill slog, but we have to keep trying.

          1. My husband urged me to read this article yesterday. Thanks for pushing me to read it today!

            Has anyone here read any books by the authors mentioned in the article? I look to you guys for reading ideas.

            My heroine is black in a piece of Chalion fan fiction (Bujold) I posted on Archive of Our Own. She came to me as black, along with plenty of family history and personality. I haven’t received many comments; none has had a problem with race.

    2. Thank you so much for sharing this, Kelly! I’d have missed it otherwise; and it’s a fantastic read!

      Interestingly, I think one of the comments would have transformed my now-deceased mom’s understanding of race (she functioned under the “colorblind” assumption) – Alyssa Cole’s comment about nipple color, and Beverly Jenkins’ response.

      Seriously, anybody who hasn’t read the Guardian piece yet, do! It’s fab.

      1. I’m glad that many of you found it thoughtful reading. The Guardian always does a good job, but finding a well written piece about romance publishing in the main press is unusual.

  3. Since I’ve been prepping my new book for release, I reread it. A lot. Proofreading and fretting over last-minute changes.

    To which hubby said, “All you writers are alike. Always futzing with your work until time runs out.” Lol. His opinion comes largely from listening to round table chats with TV & screen writers but there may be some truth to it. At least for me;)

  4. I’m immersed in Becoming, and loving every word of it. Just got to the part where Michelle has started mentoring the new law student at the firm, and my reaction is, WOW! Who wouldn’t just love that guy?

    1. I listened to this book, and her emphasis as she read her own words was wonderful.

  5. I haven’t read anything new lately that I would recommend, and I don’t want to dis things that other people might like, so I have not been chiming in on Thursdays lately. Re-reading a Simon Brett mystery which is ok, but not as grabby as his Mrs. Pargeter ones, which I CAN recommend.

  6. Finished “The Waning Age,” by S.E. Grove, a YA where adolescence also causes emotions to fade.
    I really liked the world building in this, the things that would need to happen in order for a society full of sociopaths not to collapse, but also how much things would still be controlled by class hierarchies.
    A wonderful protagonist, too.

    Currently blazing through Scott Westerfeld’s latest entry in the “Uglies” world, “Impostors.”

  7. No book grabbed me this week. Will have to spend some time researching what’s out in eBook, or better still go to the bookstore. We shall see. It would mean taking a shower and getting dressed.

  8. I read Death by the Book by Beth Byers. A new series for her, not part of her Violet Carlyle mysteries (which I’m enjoying a lot).

    This one takes place in 1930’s England, and Miss Marsh is a genteel young lady (27), in a very small town whose dividends have dried up and she has to find some way to prevent herself, and her old nurse who won’t leave her no matter what, from starving. So with no skills, that anyone in town will hire her for anyway, she decides to write a book. But her imagination is limited, so she writes about what she knows, which are her neighbors, and their quirks. She changes the names, but when the book becomes an unexpected success everyone in town figures out the book is about them because the descriptions are so spot on, and some of the more unpleasant people in town are outraged. And then someone gets killed.

    I enjoyed it a lot.

    1. Except for the part about someone getting killed, it sounds exactly like D.E. Stevenson’s Miss Buncles’s Book. (Which was a fun read)

      1. I love Miss Buncle. The whole series. It was a good transition out of my prolonged thing for Angela Thirkell.

      2. I thought Miss Buncle’s book was a lot of fun! Glad it has been reissued on Kindle

  9. I read two more Vampire accountant books which I enjoy. And I have started reading The Time Travelers Guide to Medieval England. It mentioned that hospitals which dispensed charity, cared for the ill and provided some education. These were run by the monasteries which lead me to wonder what happened to the hospitals when Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries and acquired their property. Who was responsible for the hospitals then? Does anyone know? Were they abandoned or did Henry appoint someone to run them. And if the monks were turned out, who provided the care? And what happened to charity for the poor?

      1. Drew Hayes writes the series about Fred the Vampire Accountant, recommended here first by Gary Hayenga. Unusual and funny. Fred blames his aggrandized expectations of acquiring coolness and suave charm when becoming a vampire on contemporary media.

        1. There is some suprisingly thoughtful writing in the Fred series. I’m really digging on Drew Hayes character work.

    1. I’ve checked: there’s also a Time Traveller’s Guide to Elizabethan England. I think you need to read that, too! (I have a nasty feeling this was when the Poor Laws began.)

      1. The Wikipedia article on Henry VIII mentions that with the dissolution of the monasteries there was no institution that provided charity for the poor so may have been the start of the belief that if you are poor, it must be because you deserve it. And Henry just wanted the income from the monastaries, he wasn’t interested in assuming the charitable functions. And I don’t think the newly formed Protestant communities saw that as one of their functions either.

        My take is that in current times in the US, most Christians expect the poor to be cared for by government programs even though those programs have been curtailed over the last 20 – 25 years.

        1. The C16 was the start of the rise of capitalism, of course; so you may be right. People did still do charitable works – founding almshouses and schools – but the Reformation did unleash a social revolution, and the poor may well have lost out.

    2. If you’re interested, Margaret Frazer wrote, among other mysteries, A PLAY OF PIETY, which is set in a mid-fifteenth-century hospital. She gives sources for further reading about them.

    3. Haha, it sounded vaguely familiar, Fred the Vampire Accountant, and went off to Amazon to check it out.

      I bought it three years ago and it’s apparently lurking, unread, upon my Kindle.

      Now I know what to read next when I get done with the slightly rapey old Nora Roberts I’m reading on the daily commute, and when I finish writing my book.

  10. So many people raved about Martha Well’s Murderbot series I finally tried it. It’s not nearly as grim as it sounds and I enjoyed it enough I tried her Raksura series. Now that one will be a keeper for me. Rich worldbuilding, but it’s all in the background. The focus is firmly on the characters and their arcs. So far, I’ve only read the first three of the Raksura series (picking up the fourth and fifth tonight) but they are almost a textbook example of how to do fantasy right. Appealing characters (but not perfect Mary Sues) that arc and grow through the stories, smooth pacing that builds to a climax, unobstrusive worldbuilding.

    1. Be prepared to read Raksura 4 & 5 straight through as a single very long book. If I had come to the series before 5 was out I would’ve renounced not only the series but the author and the publisher as well – the cliffhanger is *that* significant and (IME) cruel to the reader.

    2. There are some Raksura short story collections which are worth reading.

      Also her Ille – Rien series is sometimes quite grim but I love some of the characters so much. Martha Wells seems really good at prickly protagonists who move from “you all annoy me” to “you are all utter idiots but I love you and desire to keep your idiotic selves safe”. It turns out this a trope I love…

  11. I finally picked up a physical book and binged last night. I haven’t done that in forever and it felt great. Today, maybe not so much.

    Anyway, it was a Mary Calmes book, paranormal m/m adventure. She isn’t my favorite, but her writing style is oddly satisfying to me. Her protagonist is always a good person to his bones who does right. And it was nice to just read something light for pleasure. It’s been a while 🙂

  12. A few weeks ago I read The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso and I really enjoyed it. It reminded me a bit of Tamora Pierce’s earlier work. I just wanted to hug the book to myself. It may still be cheap as a kindle book because 3rd book in the series was just released.

    I’m currently reading book 2, The Defiant Heir and I’m enjoying it so much that I’m reading it in the smallest doses possible. I go days without picking it up because I want to stretch the goodness out for as long as possible. It helps that I have a paperback edition. So much easier on my eyes and more physically restful.

  13. Burnout, by Emily and Amelia Nagoski. Everyone should get this book. Everyone.

    1. There was a great interview with these two on the Smart Bitches podcast. I listened to it and then bought the book, and ordered copies for both my daughters. I’ve yet to read it, but am looking forward to it.

  14. Just finished Carl Hiaasen’s old book, Lucky You. For those who enjoys satire, this book is a must, but for me, it didn’t quite work. Too much time spent in the heads of the bad guys, and not enough with the good ones.

  15. After having read Jenny’s A-Z writing prompt, I picked up and reread “Crazy For You”. I just couldn’t NOT do it, it had to be read again. I remember the first time I read it, I thought the stalking part was so damm creepy. It’s still creepy, but I’m much calmer now in general so I don’t feel any urgent needs to go and bolt the door with all locks and bolts available.

    Then I felt it was time for something else, so I’ve been rereading the first three books of the “Magic 2.0”-series by Scott Meyer: “Off to be the Wizard”, “Spell or High Water” and “An Unwelcome Quest” respectively. Not quite finished with the latter, but almost. I might read book 4 and 5 too, especially since I discovered that a 6th is coming this June.

    “Magic 2.0” is a silly, funny sci-fi/fantasy-series about a guy that discovers that reality IS in fact a computer program, and also discovers that he can alter reality to his advantage. Naturally he messes things up for himself in the here and now and gets the “brilliant” idea to take his newfound powers and time travel back to medieval England and pose as Wizard there. Only…that turns out to be a bit more difficult than he had expected.
    It’s weird and funny and has a lot of popculture references and it’s just one crazy ride. So it suits me perfectly right now.

    Other than that DF and I are sulking about the new series “The Children of D’Hara” by Terry Goodkind, of which the first book “The Scribbly Man” was released today, not being released as audiobook. I have googled my computer to madness since we got the news about this new adventure but nope, no audiobook news anywhere. Argh. ARGH! Extra annoying when it’s one of your favourite authors. Aaargh!

  16. I’m reading the new Anne Bishop, Wild Country. So far I am liking it a lot. We’ll see if I have the same reaction to the ending that a bunch of people here did.

  17. I’m in the middle of reading Early Riser, by Jasper Fforde. The NYT review describes it as brilliantly funny and slightly bonkers, which is pretty accurate. But it is very different than funny bonkers Terry Pratchett — more detached and cerebral.

    I also read and enjoyed the non-fiction Zoo, Nebraska by Carson Vaughn, about the slow decline and problems with a community zoo — founded with good intentions, gone horribly wrong, with lots of small town politics and maneuvering. Well-written book on a topic I would never have normally picked up — but it was free on Amazon Prime last month.

  18. A qualified recommendation for the nonfiction “Sixpence House” by Paul Collins. It’s presented as the story of his family’s move from San Francisco to Hay-on-Wye, a village in Wales known for its dozens of bookstores.

    The story is more like a visit to an overstuffed bookstore: atmospheric and meandering, with “oh, cool” moments throughout…and kind of tiring by the end. If you love books, it’s worth a look.

  19. I had such an awful week last week that I was suddenly struck by the desperate need for a holiday. So I’ve been away for the last three days, down the Huon Valley with no Internet, and lots of books. My favourites were Brittany Cavallaro’s A Study in Charlotte, which someone here recommended, and Leigh Bargudo’s Six of Crows. Both terrific books, though the latter got so tortured at one stage that I had to skip to the end to see if everyone survived.

    1. I loved Six of Crows! Not my usual type of book – I don’t read much YA – but this one really sucked me in (once I got past the first chapter or so which dragged a bit). At its heart it’s a well-drafted heist caper with some excellent characters to boot.

  20. Just got the third Murderbot book from the library – can’t wait to see what happens next.

  21. I read “Any Old Diamonds” by KJ Charles and LOVED IT. Painful and profound love story wrapped up in a turn-of-the-century heist story.

    1. I’ve been wondering whether to give that another go. The sample didn’t grab me, but maybe I was in a bad space. I love most of her stuff, and don’t like the odd one. Which I think shows how creative she is: she doesn’t just rewrite the same story.

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