This is a Good Book Thursday, May 16, 2019

I read my way through all the Ngaio Marsh books–thirty-two of them–and loved the characters; she’s so good at establishing a small group and saying, “Somewhere in this half dozen people is a murderer,” and then playing out the personalities.  I have no idea how good the mysteries actually were because I was so caught up by those mini-communities.  It’s people that make a story, not plot, for me.  

(“Flames . . . on the side of my face . . .”)

What made a story for you this week?

52 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 16, 2019

  1. I love Marsh – I reread her every few years and I have a lot of her books on Audible. “Artists in Crime” and “A Surfeit of Lampreys” are my favorites. I often reread “AiC” in the fall because she gives such a great sense of the season in the book.
    One thing I really like about her books is she’ll give a brief but vivid description of a room, which really gives a sense of place. I read a biography of her that suggests that was because of her work in the theater.
    “…charming little drawing room with pale grey walls and cerise-and-lemon-striped curtains.” (Artists, Marsh)
    I have fantasies of having a decorator use Marsh to decorate my home.
    Also, I don’t know if you noticed it, but someone writes using green ink in almost all her books. She wrote using green ink herself.

    8+
          1. Green says to me “I don’t want to conform but I don’t want to be an all out rebel. Red says to me “Pay attention to this RIGHT NOW”

            2+
      1. My husband and I use different colored felt tip pens. That’s so we can keep track of words we put into the New York Times Crossword – neither of us is good enough to finish the ones at the end of the week by ourselves. With a different color each, we know where the other’s latest addition is so we can see where to work next.

        4+
  2. Re-reading this week: Ruth Reichl’s first two bios, in anticipation of reading “Save Me the Plums,” about her 10 years as editor in chief at Gourmet.

    6+
    1. Oh, what a good idea. I read a Sue Grafton mystery that was good (the “S” one was on BookBub for $1.99) but it was depressing. I need something to read that will be life-affirming and Reichl on food would be that, right?

      4+
      1. Have you had a chance to watch Samin Nosrat ‘s Netflix 4-part series from her cookbook: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat? She has incredible joy in tasting and talking and I’m rewatching it because it reminds me that life can be great.

        3+
    2. I just finished “Save Me the Plums,” and I really enjoyed it. I particularly liked all the stuff about magazine publishing, since I used to be in that biz myself. My lord, the money those people had to throw around! It staggered the imagination.

      4+
  3. I read Who Slays the Wicked by C. S. Harris, #14 in the Sebastian St. Cyr series. #13 I barely started before I abandoned it so I was thinking that I had gone off the series but I really liked this one. And I am just starting The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami. My husband rarely reads fiction but he really likes Haruki Murakami, also Carl Hiaasen. Even though it is not my usual reading genre, I like it.

    3+
  4. I finished Death Prefers Blondes! Very vibrant characterization and prose. Would make a pretty fabulous mini-series.

    Currently reading “Firebrand” by A.J. Hartley, second book in the Steeplejack series. Doesn’t quite beat Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives series for my favorite YA historical fantasy that has a thematic focus on race, but it’s still a good time.

    Otherwise, my main focus has actually been on music. Lots of Aretha Franklin (I caught Amazing Grace in theaters, and wow. Just wow.), some K-pop (meh, not into what I call “Millenial Music Muck”), and a lovely compilation of carnival-house and Latin-lounge music. Very good for getting in the zone on coding.

    5+
    1. I was so glad to be able to see ‘Amazing Grace’ at the theater. I am not a gospel music aficionado and wow the producers really had a job trying to cobble together that devastated footage, but yeah. Just wow. What a fantastic piece of music history.

      2+
      1. I really enjoyed that movie, too. Do you remember the name of the reverend who was at the piano (when Aretha wasn’t)? He seemed to have a lot to do with why those concerts worked.

        2+
  5. I fell off the slow-reading wagon thanks to Ann Aguirre’s Ars Numina series. Great world building and better characters. Book two – The Demon Prince is set during military conflict but it made me laugh frequently. Now that’s good writing.

    There is an overarching plot line, think of it like a Whedonesque Big Bad but each book is a standalone. Not only that, she summarises previous books if you are reading a mid-series book! 😍 Be still my heart!! I know there are Argh authors, if any oof meets Ms Aguirre please let her know how much I appreciate this. Please and thank you. 🙏🏻🙌🏻 Social media isn’t enough to express the depth of my gratitude. I require an emissary.🤣

    10+
  6. Reading Prague Spring by Simon Mawer, which so far I’m enjoying, but it’s hard to find time at the moment to do proper reading. Late nights at school, mainly. Hoping to get properly stuck in this weekend.

    3+
  7. I reread Wedding Vows and Murder by Beth Byers. Also The Collector and Witness, both by Nora Roberts. This weekend is Good Omens.

    3+
  8. I’m reading “A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World” by Rachel Cantor.

    The blurb sounded fun and it is, but it was incomplete. There isn’t a good short description that I can think of. Cantor uses Jewish mysticism, philosophy, religion, romance and dystopian sci-fi tropes in a weird, delightful mix. I sped thru the first two parts and have no idea what will happen in the third. Except there is time travel now too.

    3+
  9. Recently discovered Liane Moriarty and have read 5 of her books in quick succession. On the waiting list at the library for the rest. Was afraid I might get burned out, but so far they’re all different enough that it hasn’t happened.

    I really liked them all. My favorite (so far) is What Alice Forgot, but closely followed by Big Little Lies, Nine Perfect Strangers, The Last Anniversary, and The Husband’s Secret. They are all set in Australia, which I was lucky enough to visit last year.

    3+
    1. I really enjoyed What Alice Forgot, too. It was so well done. I’ve enjoyed all the LM’s I’ve read, but I don’t think I could binge them. Not quite “romantic” enough for me to read back to back to back, although they do seem to have reasonably happy endings (at least the ones I’ve read).

      4+
  10. I’m rereading The Goblin Emperor, thanks to the many recommendations here. I finished it and immediately started it again, which I rarely do. (The first time through, I kind of gave up trying to keep many of the more difficult/similar names straight. I didn’t want to interrupt reading to go to the list at the beginning of the book. This time I read the guide at the beginning first.) But I’m mainly rereading for Maia and how he adjusted to his new life and role and the tighter community around him, which got me thinking about POV. The book isn’t written in first person, and I’m not sure it’s even deep POV. (Is it?) But he’s still a character I root for. I’m enjoying it just as much the second time.

    8+
  11. I’m reading Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper, an editor at Merriam-Webster. It’s got all the word-nerd stuff you could want, and is a surprisingly funny and warm memoir to boot. (I heard it described as dic-lit, lol.) Score one for the hubby, who’d heard an interview with author and immediately got the book for me for Mother’s Day.

    8+
  12. I’m reading Ben Aaronovitchs “Lies sleeping” in English. I’m feeling very sorry for the person who had to translate this into German, though – sometimes I just don’t get all the special terms and remarks, but it still is fun to read.

    5+
  13. I must give Ngaio Marsh a try.

    I read a lot of Lilian Jackson Braun’s the Cat Who… Mysteries, because I liked her depiction of the people of Pickax, though I never could remember any of the actual mystery.

    3+
  14. Sort of the opposite of escapist fiction, but the best book I’ve read in the past few weeks was Shane Bauer’s American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey Into the Business of Punishment. Terrific writing, interesting questions, excruciating reality. I have a few critiques, but overall the book is sitting near the top of my 2019 best reads. And it’s relevant, since I’m trying to do some community organizing around (hopefully stopping) a planned expansion of my local county jail. Community is my hook too.

    All my fiction reading lately has been disappointing, but I have a few good-looking books waiting on the library hold shelf, so we shall see. On the very-much-not disappointing list are my dogs, who are unrepentant hooligans and make me laugh every day.

    6+
  15. I read California Girls by Susan Mallery. The ending seemed rushed and felt like it was somehow a thing apart from the rest of the book. Odd because normally I enjoy her work.

    2+
  16. Since the 10th I’ve read ‘Uncivil Defense’ by M. Ruth Myers (really enjoy the Maggie Sullivan series, it is an unusual setting, I love her resourceful heroine and the cast of supporting characters) and two K.J. Charles things: ‘Wanted, a Gentleman’ and ‘Unfit to Print.’ Have yet to read anything by KJC that I did not love. Both of these – coincidence? – feature cats. The cat action in ‘Unfit to Print’ is LOL.

    7+
    1. I had a week of dodgy books where I read the first few pages then gave up in disgust. So I pulled out the third Magpie Lord book by KJ Charles, and it was terrific. I do love her writing, so if it was you who originally recommended her, thank you!

      2+
  17. I read Catherine Ryan Hyde‘s have you seen Louisville liz which made me feel better about my world. I also read the last Alyssa Cole Reluctant Royal novel, A Prince On Paper and both of the Novellas. (Once Ghosted Twice Shy – a gay female couple. And Can’t Escape Love -A sassy brilliant geeky handicapped heroine and brilliant autistic hero.)
    l I love this woman’s writing. there are three full length novels and two Novelas in the series. And she doesn’t leave anyone out
    Tragically if she doesn’t create none new characters in the Reluctant Royal Series there is no one left to star in a book. Well there is Lukas, heir apparent to the
    Throne who is seventeen and identifies as ‘they’ I am praying she continues this series.

    2+
  18. Just finished “Neanderthal Opens The Door to the Universe” by Preston Norton (teen fiction), which was recommended on this sire. I really enjoyed it. Also enjoyed “Dark Triumph” ( book 2 in the His Fair Assassin Trilogy) by Robin LeFevers. LeFevers was also recommended on this site. Book 1 was prett good but it dragged a little bit; book 2 rollicked right along at a good pace.

    2+
  19. I binge-read all the Bridges of London novels and was very pleased to see there’s another one coming soon. And I enjoyed one of Ian Rankin’s Rebus books, though there was a whiff of too-stupid-to-live heroine about it. Then she rescued herself and got the murderer, so I guess he only teetered on the edge of that cliff.

    I read the first Margery Allingham a few weeks ago and wasn’t a fan. I figured out the murderer very easily and the sexism was overwhelming, especially compared to Sayers. But I’m well through the second one now and I’m enjoying it much more.

    And I read the 3rd Murderbot and loved it! I reckon our library’s waiting list for the next one is about 2 months long, so I’m forced to spread them out.

    Most of my reading’s coming from Good Book Thursday. Please keep it up, everyone!

    4+
  20. I want to thank whoever recommended Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger. I had been slogging through Flappers: Six Women of a Dangerous Generation by Judith Mackrell for my book group and was totally unable to identify with the first woman. So I switched books and am already much happier. The premise is unusual, the tone is light (so far) and I am looking forward to a delightful romp. Since we are about to get torrential rainstorms, I think the timing is right.

    3+
  21. I’m excited for the Good Omens TV mini-series on May 31! My husband just got Amazon Prime, so I hope it is as easy as logging into his account, and hooking my computer up to the TV.

    In honor of that, I re-read the book, and it’s just as good as it was the last four times I read it. I’m tempted to read it again (I really can’t afford to go on a Terry Pratchett binge right now; I’ve got a garden that needs some tending).

    4+
  22. I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. Was it recommended here? I can’t remember why it ended up in my audible library. Interesting premise but depressing. I much prefer comedic stories or at least some spunk. Well written, but not to my taste – and I kept wondering why these people didn’t just run away.

    2+
    1. Kate: I much preferred An Artist of the Floating World (really liked) and Remains of the Day (adored)—even A Pale View of the Hills (liked). I was bored out of my skull by The Unconsoled (how could all these books have been written by the same author?), and like you depressed by Never Let Me Go. Most recently, I tread water through The Buried Giant. I read each one at vastly different times and have never gone back to reread them (except An Artist… which lived up to the first experience). I wonder how much of my reaction to Ishiguro is due to timing?

      2+
    1. Pretty much everything after that mentions her. He proposes in the next book, and then there are some she’s heavily involved in, usually because of painting portraits, and some where he just writes home to her or calls her. If you read the descriptions, it’ll usually say if she’s painting a portrait, or there’s one where she gets on a canal cruise with a murderer.

      1+
    2. Death in a White Tie is the next one to feature Troy fairly heavily. Their relationship progresses after the rocky start in Artists in Crime.

      1+

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