This is a Good Book Thursday

It’s also the Fourth of July, which is an insane holiday in the US when people injure themselves with fireworks. and grills and hold parades and yell “We won!” about an event that happened a couple of centuries ago.  The best thing to do on the Fourth?  Stay home with a cold drink and a good book.  In my case, it’s a blog–I’m still reading and revising. my way through 2000+ posts–but you do you.

Whatcha reading?

67 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday

  1. Dropped my kids at an activity day then did some essential shopping.
    I’ve now vowed to clean the bathrooms before I pick up a book so don’t be leading me astray with all your bookly temptations…
    Finished Good Omens last night. Loved it as I thought I would. Watched the new TV series the other week and it didn’t work for me (David Tennant and Michael Sheen were, however, perfect). It made me cringe at some points and, interestingly, those scenes were not in the book.
    Next actual book for me is either Wild Ride or a Mary Wesley from under the bed but while I clean the bathrooms, I’ll be listening to Fredrick Backman’s Us Against You. I often feel a lump in my throat listening to his books.
    Karen (Scotland)

  2. Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes. Having just been through a divorce some of the observations (particularly on her ex husband) are a little too on the nose. But so far I’m really enjoying it.

    Also this past week, I was able to review some ARCs and The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory and The Magnolia Sword: the Story of Mulan by Sherry Thomas were wonderful in different ways.

    1. Evvie Drake Starts Over is wonderful. The book was a birthday gift from a friend who said the writing is like French bread with Danish butter and British jam. I thought WTH? She was right, though. Evvie is delicious.

  3. I’m in a camper with 3 children so the odds of getting to read a whole book today are slim. But I picked up Before I Fall to see what I thought of it, how the writer pulls it off. (It’s a Groundhog Day sort of story with the heroine reliving the day of her death)

    And I saw the earlier health update about your heart, HUGE relief! Live long and write many more books! The world needs more Crusies.

      1. July 2 blog post. “In other news, I had a bitch of an MRI last week–90 damn minutes breathing on cue–but it was worth it: my heart function, the EF anyway, is back to normal. Went from 15% to 59% in a year (normal is 55 to 70%). So I can ease up on the death jokes. And get hit by a truck tomorrow, but that’s life for you.”

        1. I still can’t find the original post, on July 2nd or any other day last week. I must be losing my mind. So extra thanks for sharing.

          1. Deborah, there were two posts on July 2nd, so you probably saw the second one and missed the first. It’s titled, Argh Independence: A Whole Blog Clean-Up.

  4. I’ve three books open. On the Chromebook, there is Marion G. Harmon’s Small Town Heroes, a re-read in preparation for a new release “any day now” in the Wearing the Cape series, tentatively titled Consequences. On Joe, I have Brenda’s Gateway Crescent, and the little Kindle still has Bujold’s Proto Zoa.

  5. I’ve been up in my arm pits in macaroni salad this morning because our granddaughter called last night and asked if she could bring her girlfriends down to the beach today. Just like boy scouts are always prepared so are grandparents. It should go smoothly with burgers and dogs and cake, plenty of cake. But these are after all young teens, full of drama at the top of a hat. And social media (I hate that for them).

    I had planned to start a new author to me today, Tara Sivic’s, The Story of Us and will put it aside to watch what unfolds around me.

    I was trying for her Jed Had to Die a rom/com but it was not available in my library network, yet.

    For those of us have a happy and safe 4th, for a certain person in DC I hope it rains.

  6. I’ve just put the ribs in to bake along with the sweet potatoes. The asparagus will go in the oven at the end. I have been re-reading the Cassie Palmer series by Karen Chance. I am currently on Ride the Storm which is the latest published. Her new release, Brave the Tempest, is due out on July 30th and I can’t wait. The series also includes a spin-off featuring a dhampir and secondary characters from the Cassie series. Cassie is the Pythia totally untrained at the beginning of the series who is battling gods, demons, vampires, and war mages. Good fun. All the books are a wild ride with one impossible situation after another and I love them. Happy 4th!

    1. I love Ann Charles’ Deadwood Series, laugh out loud funny. I’m just about to start the Jackrabbit Junction series and see if they live up! Part mystery, some romance, great, quirky characters.

  7. I just finished the third book in a series, the first two were murder mysteries and this was more a romance. No mystery at all. I feel that the author broke his contract with me. It was “The Right Attitude to Rain” by Alexander McCall Smith. And there was not a thing wrong with the writing, I love his style. He writes the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series which I could read all day long. Such gentle writing.

    But hello! This book is not like the others. And now I don’t know if I want to continue on with the series. Is he going to go back to the mysteries, or is this women’s fiction? Or what? Poop. I really liked the protagonist as well.

    1. Isabel Dalhousie never quite returns to full mystery again. I still enjoy them (very much) and care about the characters but the stories definitely meander, sometimes without destination!
      I keep Prof McCall Smith’s books for when I’m feeling emotionally vulnerable – they gently cheer me. And I love how he brings in philosophy without patronising.
      As a Fifer who used to live in Glasgow, his mockery/reverence of the people of Edinburgh just cracks me up!

      1. You know, Karen (Scotland), I don’t mind so much the meandering, his style is so… what? He makes fun of people in such a light-hearted way. But I love my mysteries.

        I’m quite jealous that you live in Scotland, or used to. My family comes from Ayrshire a long, long time ago. I’ve visited but I’d love to spend more time just living there.

        1. My mum is from Ayrshire! They are the warmest, friendliest people through there. You come from good stock!

        2. My father’s family came from Ayrshire to Tasmania in the 1800s. Obviously they got on a different boat from the one your family caught.

  8. I read Alif the Unseen which was phenomenal and also had an unexpected, slow, very loving relationship happen. Now I have got The Bird King all queued up with happy anticipation.

    I also read The Labyrinth Index, which is part of the Laundry Files series, and I liked it but also realized that one of Stross’ gifts as an author is that the voices/identities of his narrators (he changes narrators through the series) are so strong and clear that I greatly prefer some of them to others and this is one of my not-preferred narrators but I’m still glad I read it. That makes no more sense outside my head than it did in. Oh well. This one also has a relationship flip from FwB/FBs to something markedly more substantial with big power dynamics that aren’t primarily sexual, which was (I thought) well and interestingly done. Over time, I trust Stross more and more with the humanity of his (decreasingly human) characters. It’s very nice because his sharpness is such a keen thing that it’s palpable, but the people aren’t lost in the mechanics.

    I am about half way through Gingerbread and just started The Capital. I am re-reading The Frenchman and The Lady (it got updated so it rose to first position and I started it by accident and I like it so…) and then also more Thurber, this time Let Your Mind Alone!, which the title gives me the giggles so that is all win!

    Happy Fourth, y’all. I have sent off two dishes of cobbler and some macaroni salad and am plotting how to keep the dog calm during this evening’s inevitable tumult!

    1. The romance in Alif the Unseen was amazing. One of the best examples of a protagonist’s coming of age coinciding with his becoming worthy of the lady.

      1. I feel like such a twit that I didn’t read it before. It’s just been sitting in my tbr and for why all queued up rather than delightfully read. No excuse! The romance is really beautiful which I do not say lightly.

  9. I swear, you guys are all living in the future! Electric books! Who would have thought it possible?

    Back here in the past, last night I finished a (paper) book — re-reading Book Two in Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series. I sort of expected that when I wasn’t reading them for plot (and exciting but irritating cliffhanger chapter endings) I would find them thin and superficial, because there’s a tendency of sword and sorcery tales to lean on those buzzing electrons of plot at the expense of slower, more cerebral things.

    There was some of that, and there was a morality challenge at the heart of this book that was a bit hard to get past, but I found it interesting that Shinn built up her what-if twists based on psychological questions, rather than strategic options or power contests.

    Both this volume and the previous one seemed to have very quick wrap-ups at the end, but at the same time, other elements of the plot and character development are progressing pretty slowly. I’m finding that interesting to watch unfold, and I’m looking forward to a re-read of Book 3, which I don’t remember a lot about.

    Slogging away at a series again, here in the past….

    1. How can you be in the past? Publishing books on paper is still the majority method, though ebooks got a big boost with the release of the Kindle. But even ebooks have been around for twenty tears, in various formats, and audiobooks first appeared on vinyl records, then on cassettes so you could listen on your Walkman.

      Were it not for limited storage space and high cost, I would still gather my stories in dead tree format. SF writer Robert Heinlein frequently had his characters, in the far off centuries, enjoying the feel and smell of ancient paper books, and I always thought I’d be the same way.

      The first time you adjust the display font to a more comfortable size, you get over it. Amusing anecdote: the dotter needed my car last Saturday, so delivered me to work and picked me up at midnight. She was no more than halfway out of the parking lot when I realized I was wearing my prescription sunglasses – my regular glasses went with her. Using a magnifying glass for readings out in the plant and that size adjustment in the offices, I got through the night. And I needed that because the polarization of the glasses made the polarization on the computer screens render everything nearly black.

    2. I found the 12 Houses series surprisingly engaging. It managed to hit all the right notes for me.

    3. FWIW, I read this way (multiple titles going concurrently) long before ebooks existed. I used to have 3 library cards as a kid, to keep up with the volume I read.

      Also, for the disabled, or at least for disabled me, ebooks and (certain) tablets made it possible to continue reading. I will spare you the nightmare details, but without lightweight e-ink devices I wouldn’t have had access to any form of book for almost 5 years. Since tv also wasn’t an option, I don’t know what I’d’ve done. Library setups are amazing and I will be eternally grateful to the librarians who have helped me get set up, city after city after city.

  10. Finished “Snow Fire Sword” by Sophie Masson. JF Southeast-Asia-based fantasy. An epic fantasy adventure still set in the modern day.

    Started on Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton, and damn, that is some good prose. Sucked me in immediately. YA dark fantasy, with a very refreshing combination of tropes themes. I don’t know where exactly the plot is going for once, and the tensions in all of the relationships crackle.

  11. I read this beautiful and melancholy story about a Japanese man and his cat: “The Travelling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa. Nana is a streetcat that, after an accident, graciously lets a human take care of him and eventually stays with said human because why not? Then one day, his human puts him in his silvery grey van and starts looking for someone to take care of him…but why, when he promised they would never part?
    If I cried? Yes. Very much. Absolutely beautiful story.

    I TRIED to read the second book in the “Tales of Pell”-series by Delilah S. Dawson and Kevin Hearne: “No Country for Old Gnomes”. I really did. But I think I will have to accept that this series isn’t for me. Much like with the first book (“Kill the Farm Boy”), I can’t seem to focus on the story. I keep on thinking of other things and watch youtube videos instead of reading. The jokes and slapstick humour is lost on me here. This feels awful because I love Hearne’s other books and I think Luke Daniels is an amazing narrator. But…this combo just doesn’t work out for me. 🙁

    Currently reading “Blossoms and Shadows” by Lian Hearn. It’s a novel about a young doctor’s daughter in 1800’s Japan that rather than accept the domestic role a woman is supposed to assume follows her husband into war to treat the wounded, and rather seeks love and happiness than follows the path she as a woman has been given. It’s rather slow-paced, but I like it. Lian Hearn writes beautifully and this book is less confusing than her Tales of the Otori-series was (at least the first time I read it). I still have half of the book to read and right now I really have no idea where this will lead, which is refreshing.

    My nonfiction reads have been a lot about animals lately: How they behave, what they feel, how they think etc. And I’m not talking cats and dogs and horses here, but cows, pigs, sheep and chickens. Interesting but not very surprising things to me – I’ve always been convinced those animals are smarter than people think and deserve more credit than they get.

    Lian Tanner mentioned Sam Vimes last week, so I think I’ll have to go reread some City Guard books soon. I need more Sam Vimes in my life.

    1. Traveling Cat Chronicles also made me cry, I thought it was great and it was an Argh suggestion, so!

    1. I’m a sucker for these. My fave is the accessible one with ramp and space for walker or wheelchair.

      Title of book, please?

      1. Both by Lloyd Kahn. “Tiny Homes, Simple Shelter” and “Tiny Homes on the Move.”

    2. Perfect cottage, but can I just say that Bryce Langston is beautiful? My gosh, I could listen to him talk all day – as long as I could watch him as well. OK. Back to the real world.

  12. Bah. Humbug!

    I’m reading non-fiction from my TBR pile. Nothing competed enough to recommend yet.

  13. I have two audiobooks going right now. On my CD player is Maybe This Time and on my MP3 player is Manhunting. (One is for when I am walking and the other is for when at home. )

    I have been in a book reading drought; nothing has caught my interest enough to finish it so I turned to a favorite author (vbg) to try to kickstart my enjoyment of books again. Thanks Jenny!

  14. I’m “reading” the Atlas Obscura and dreaming about places to travel.

    Well, I was, but now I’m watching coverage of today’s Southern California earthquakes. Scary when the big ones hit, even when you’ve grown up with them.

    Couldn’t help but think this was Mother Nature’s way of keeping attention away from the east coast.

  15. I am listening to Louise Erdich’s Future Home of the Living God, and so far it is excellent.

    Today is also “chicken rains from the sky day,” at least in my house. Every time a neighbor lets of a loud firework, chicken* magically rains from the sky. So the dogs learn that scary sounds are really just a prediction that something awesome is about to happen. They are getting pretty good at this game already — after a loud bang, they run to me with mouths agape in expectation. Eventually, there will be some tipping point tonight when the scariness will overwhelm even the best snacks, and I will just have to offer cuddles and the chance to sit on my head (obviously the safest place in the house, particularly for the 60 lb dog). But for now, chicken!

    *or any other treat I happen to have handy.

    1. I just love this way of keeping your dogs happy. Though first time I read it I had visions of real chickens that had somehow been blown out of the tree tops.

      1. Me too! I thought some neighbor’s startled chickens were flapping into your garden! 🤣

  16. I just finished Nan Reinhardt’s new one, Meant to Be (I got an early review copy–it’s out later this month). Highly recommended contemporary romance set at a vineyard. It’s part of a series that focuses on different brothers, but you can read it without having read any of the others. A major comfort read, plus well, vineyard.

    I just started another cozy mystery, A Whisker of Trouble by Sofie Ryan. I liked the first one in the series enough to go right out and get the second, so I guess that says something.

    Mostly I’m reading my current work in progress, a nonfiction book for St. Martin’s Press called The Witch’s Primer: Goddess Empowerment for the Kick-Ass Woman. I should say, rereading, since I am doing final polish edits on it before sending it out to my editor. I’m a little nervous, because this is my first book for SMP (all my previous nonfiction has been with Llewellyn). New editor, new audience that is somewhat different than my usual one–more mainstream, probably, and a different approach than I usually take. This one is all about how to use goddess worship to survive and thrive in a difficult world (i.e. NOW), and is aimed only at women and those who identify as female. So reading, rereading, and re-rereading in hopes of getting it right. Argh.

  17. I’ve got the same jitters as Deborah Blake, working on a new-to-me type of project (non-fiction instead of fiction) that I want to send to my agent next week. Writing fiction is scary in its own way, but doing a different type of writing adds another layer of anxiety. I know how to write a fiction proposal, but non-fiction, with its emphasis on marketing and credentials and platform — that’s scary.

    As to reading, I’m getting into the latest Lindsay Buroker series (Star Kingdom) more than I thought I would after the first book. Hadn’t really meant to get the second book, but nothing else appealed, and I desperately needed some distraction, so I got it and then the third book, and now I’m a little whiney that I need to wait more than a week for the fourth book.

    Also, in audio, listening to Three Men in a Boat, narrated by Hugh Laurie, which I should have mentioned last week (?) when the question of great narration came up. And anxiously counting the days (130-some) until the next Kobna Holdbrook-Smith rendition of a new Rivers of London book.

  18. Last week I read TIKKA CHANCE ON ME by Sukehlia Snyder and really enjoyed it (novella, “bad boy” tropes, biker) and look forward to more of her work.

    I’m currently reading Ally Carter’s NOT IF I SAVE YOU FIRST, a YA adventure/romance set in Alaska (“He’s got a killer on his tail. She’s got a bedazzled axe. What could go wrong?”) and ASSASSIN’S HOOD, the yet-unpublished sequel to THE JADE DRAGON, both historical suspense by one of the writers in my crit circle, Garrett B. Hutson.

    Yeah, I’m bragging a little–he’s self-publishing and asked me for feedback on the final MS and I’m trying to beat the deadline! (Thus, interrupting the YA book.) The setting is Shanghai in the 1930s, which I knew nothing about, and Garrett’s research is really thorough. He also makes sure to include LGBT rep in his books, which I like.

    In fact, my crit group is absolutely exploding with new releases–three other members self-published recently, so your summer novel releases for the group while I struggle to rough draft ten pages a week. Oy vey! But they give me good feedback and goals to aspire to, haha.

    Back to reading. Happy 4th, Arghers, and stay safe!

  19. Lots of reading last week, and most of it pretty good.
    Amanda Quick – Tightrope. A romantic suspense set in the 1930. Spies, guns, Hollywood, circus, glamor, robots, etc. A classical Krentz in a good way. Yummy.
    Helen Hoang – The Bride Test. I liked this book, but I liked the first one better. In this one, we have an autistic Vietnamese American man and an uneducated girl imported from Vietnam to be his bride. Emotionally, it works, but some of the plot logistics felt off. Nobody warned the girl about her intended’s autism, and she doesn’t have enough education to guess what it is and how to deal with it, which strikes me as monstrously unfair to them both. Both make assumptions about each other, and both are wrong, which complicates their unfolding relationship.
    Carola Dunn – Damsel in Distress. One of the best in the Daisy Dalrymple mystery series. It was a re-read, a charming and easy book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
    Patricia Briggs – Storm Cursed. Just what you would expect of this author and this urban fantasy series. It’s the latest Mercy Thompson with the awfully wicked witches for enemies. Not great but OK.
    Roni Loren – The Ones Who Got Away. The first in the series about the survivors of a high school shooting. It was one of the best contemporary romances I’ve read in a while.
    Roni Loren – The One You Fight For. This one is the third in the same series, and I didn’t like it as much as the first two. One aspect in particular rubbed me the wrong way. While the female protagonist is the survivor of the shooting, the male protagonist is one of the shooters’ brother. His life and his family were destroyed after the shooting, but unlike the survivors, who all invited compassion from everyone around, the hero was treated with hatred for years after the event, by people and media alike, as if he was responsible for his brother’s horrific crime.
    I wonder if anyone here read this book, and if yes, what do you think?

    1. That sounds really interesting about the shooter’s brother. I haven’t read the book, but I’ve often wondered about the families of these (usually) young men, and how on earth they survive the hatred that must come their way. People want someone to blame, and if the shooter is dead, the next best thing is their family. Mind you, when you look at some of the awful stuff that has been aimed at survivors (“hired actors”, “faked” etc), there’s no guarantee on either side.

  20. Last week I read Elizabeth Gilbert’s City of Girls. I loved it. The voice, the setting were both so compelling and real.

    Now I’m reading Joe Country by Mick Herron and so far it’s as good as all the others.

    I’m taking a break from Les Miserables. But it will still be waiting, both melodramatic and tedious, a strange combination.

    1. As a person who sat through the musical a few times, I can certainly understand. Of course, in the novel you don’t have the endlessly recurring musical motifs which, I hope, makes it less tedious.

    2. I admit to starting up with Les Miserables, got through about a quarter, Marius was just peeping over the transom (?), and then Hugo wrote something like, of course a forty year old woman might as well be fifty, and (having just turned forty) I lost patience and snapped the book shut. And that was that.

  21. I finally caught up on all the library books that had to be returned and started on the pile of stuff I bought. The first on the stack was The Duchess Deal by Tessa Dare. It is a beauty and the beast reworking that I am enjoying quite a bit. It was written with a light touch and just hits the spot on a muggy day like this.

  22. I’m on a bit of a biography kick at the moment, which is really unusual for me. I’m working my way through a couple of biographies of Henry VIII’s wives (I’m developing a theory that most of his problems with begetting heirs came down to creating a toxic, stress-filled environment for his wives), a round-up of romances in the royal houses of Europe (not sure about this one, the author is rather short on giving the source evidence for their interpretation of events), and I’m making my way through a number of documentaries on Netflix about the House of Windsor, the various ducal seats, and the history of the tsars. I’m not sure why, but this just seems to be the mood I’m in at the moment.

    1. I seem to remember that the Tudors had a problem in general. Arthur died young and then so did Edward. And his first two wives had multiple miscarriages.

  23. I have just discovered the delightful Marisa de los Santos. I read I’ll Be Your Blue Sky and loved it and then was thrilled to find Belong to Me which came before it and has some overlapping characters. Very excited to read the rest of her backlist.

  24. Yesterday morning I finished reading ‘The Merchant of Venice.’
    Then we watched two movies.
    Then there was 5 hours of fireworks and I still have tinnitus. Next year we will go and see movies at the actual theater so that we aren’t at home. It was hideous.

  25. I’m reading Paper Son, S.J. Rozan’s first new Lydia Chin/Bill Smith mystery in (I think) 10 years. It’s very good so far.

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