This is a Good Book Thursday, July 11, 2019

Haven’t been reading much except recipes and my own rewrite of Nita, but I’m sure you all have been ripping through your summer reading.  What’s new?  Or old worth rereading?  Share the wealth, people.

92 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 11, 2019

  1. Thanks to Lian Tanner, I’ve been reading about my secret crush, Sir Sam Vimes. <3 Went through "Guards! Guards!" and "Men at Arms" and I'm almost done with "Feet of Clay". The love!
    (All the above are written by Terry Pratchett, for those whom are not familiar with him and know his books from the titles alone.)

    Also reading a very interesting book about karate and it's masters, "The History of Karate and the Masters Who Made It: Development, Lineages, and Philosophies of Traditional Okinawan and Japanese Karate-do" by Mark I. Cramer. It's been some 8 years now since I stopped training karate due to too frequently getting injuries by hypermobility (and later because I moved to NL), but I miss it loads. Was looking for a new nonfiction book to read when I moderate the stream-chat (for when people are behaving, or when it's not very crowded/chatty there), and just randomly searched for karate and found this book. I've read half of it and am now right in the middle of the chapter about the founder of the style of karate that I practiced, so I'm definitely in the spirit of things! Can barely wait until Saturday or Sunday (whenever the lad's gonna stream next) so I can continue reading.

    Oh right, I also finished "Blossoms and Shadows" by Lian Hearn and very much enjoyed it. Like I said last week, it's not very fast-paced but it's a pleasant read. It's also interesting to see that the events Hearn describes in that novel are really taken from reality (not everything of course, but the historical events), because a bunch of them are mentioned in "The History of Karate". Feels like getting confirmation of the reality of reality. History was always one of my favourite subjects at school.

    9+
      1. It’s not easy for me to pick one Vimes-book and say “this is my favourite!”. However, I do tend to end up thinking of Night Watch whenever I think of Vimes, so I suppose that one scores high in my book. There is also a radio drama adaptation of that book which is very well made and makes the book justice as far as a drama can make a Pratchett book justice. I think BBC’s behind it.

        Speaking of dramas, there is also a Good Omens drama and it’s also very good, I think. Perfect actor picks for most of the grownups and Pratchett and Gaiman make a mini-cameo appearance as well. Glorious. I think it’s also BBC’s creation.

        2+
  2. Btw, I have a question that someone here might be able to answer.

    In the list of GoodReads Summer Reading Challenge-challenges, under the heading “Expert-Level Adiitions” you find the following:
    “Continental drift: Read a book set on every continent.”

    Perhaps it’s because English is not my mother tongue that I can’t really decipher this one. Do they mean I should read a book that visits all continents/where the protagonist or antagonist or whatever visits all continents, or one book for every continent there is? I would say the former, but…

    And if the former: Does anybody know a book that includes all continents? I suppose there must be at least one or they wouldn’t put that particular challenge in the list.

    Thanks in advance!

    8+
    1. Shass – I would interpret that as “read a book set in North America” and “read a book set in Europe”, etc. So if there are 7 continents, you would read 7 books, each book set on a different continent. One book per continent. Hope this helps.

      I’ve just finished Elizabeth Bear’s The Red-Stained Wings (follow-up to The Stone in the Skull, which is fantasy featuring rival cousins/kingdoms, and a sorcerer who is pitting them against one another). I’ve also just finished Mick Herron’s Joe Country, the most recent in his Slow Horses/Slough House/Jackson Lamb series, which is dark and snarky and features a group of Misfit Toys MI5 agents.

      9+
      1. How about “Around the World in Eighty Days” might come close but I don’t remember that he gets to Africa or South America and Antarctica. Naomi Novik’s series on the dragon Temeraire gets to most of them but it is also fantasy in an alternate Napoleonic universe.

        5+
        1. Good ideas; but I’m with Beverley in interpreting the challenge to mean one book per continent. Gives you a lot more to choose from, too.

          7+
        2. I read it as “one book per continent” too, since it’s a summer reading program, but it’s fun to find books that would cover the whole world! I think Eat, Pray, Love was North America, Europe, Asia, and I believe the boyfriend was South American (but I can’t remember if she actually went there during the book).

          Another “Round the World” book would be Nelly Bly’s book about her trip to beat the eighty days record (way back in 1889-90 — “Round the World in 72 Days”) and her rival, Elizabeth Bisland, started at almost the same time, and lost (76 1/2 days — “Seven Stages: A Flying Trip Around the World”). Note: both beat Phineas Fogg’s record only a few decades after the Verne book was published.

          2+
      2. I love Mick Herron’s books for their snarkiness, and for what usually turns out to be competence porn, though you don’t realise it when it’s happening.

        4+
    2. I also agree that the challenge wants you to read one book per continent. Though I recall reviewing a book back in the bad old days of newly “hot” romance writing where, I swear, the 19th-century heroine was Raped on every continent except Antarctica. Happily, the title and author are long gone from my memory.

      5+
      1. Ugh, yeah I would repress such a book/title/author as fast as I could, too. The only reason why I’d want to know which one it is is so I can avoid it.

        1+
    3. Thanks ladies! I was also interpreting it as one book per continent, but I thought the sentence was so wague that I had to ask. I definitely don’t mind reading a lot of books from different parts of the world, but if the challenge had said one book, it’d been one book and not 7.

      Also thanks for the book ideas! I’ll see which ones I can snag and read. A friend of mine also suggested Jules Verne, but she also said (like you) that it probably didn’t cover Africa so I suppose that one wouldn’t have worked IF you’d had to read one book covering them all.

      Is any of you taking the Summer challenge?

      Thanks again for the interpretation help! You’re the very best <3

      1+
      1. It’s probably not in the challenge, but I would choose to interpret it as one book WRITTEN by someone from each continent, as well as set there. So you don’t end up reading seven books written by the same person. Or similar people.

        1+
  3. As far as the goodreads challenge goes, my understanding is that it is intended to be one book per continent – so a book set in Africa, a book set in Australia, etc.

    FWIW, this was a matter of considerable debate among my former student employees who trundled off and lured an anthropology grad student into deciding what was intended, so I think it is more a matter of awkward sentence construction than language familiarity. You will probably be unsurprised to learn that there is now uproar about why (most) China Mieville and Andrea Höst titles do not count and unexpected consensus on NK Jemisin’s Broken Earth trilogy counting towards one continent of the reader’s choice but only if they have read the whole trilogy.

    7+
  4. Someone on this site recommended the Junior Bender series by Timothy Hallinan and I’ve just finished Book 4 and they’re fantastic! His dialogue is so crisp and clever, I spend most of the book grinning!

    I’ve just bought Chuck Wendig’s latest epic, Wanderers, and am looking forward to starting that this weekend.

    4+
  5. Purely as research, I read Ovid’s Ars Amatoria, a treatise on love written in the year 2 AD. It’s comprised of 3 books of advice: how a man can find and win a lover; how a man can keep a lover; and, how a woman can find and keep a lover. A fourth book (I read it even though I usually don’t like series), Remedia Amoris, covers how to get over being dumped.

    Ironic and sexy, most of Ovid’s advice remains useful. Don’t think of going to bed with your beloved if your underarms stink. Search for a possible lover at the theater. Sit as close to your chosen as possible. Agree with everything your intended says. The narrator describes himself as a poet.

    Ars Amatoria was used from Charlemagne’s time (800) through the early medieval period (1100s) to teach boys Latin grammar.

    It seems to me that Courtly Love could easily have risen from Ars Amatoria, especially as Ovid’s narrator is speaking to fairly high class people: ones who would correspond to knights and aristocrats, but not kings and queens on the most powerful end nor tradespeople on the less distinguiched end.

    If I’m wrong, it was still a titillating read. (I didn’t mention the positions for sex.)

    14+
  6. I’m reading Never Home Alone by Rob Dunn which someone here recommended. It is a book about all the things, small and smaller, that love in it homes. It is fascinating.

    7+
  7. I read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. An anxiety ridden, introverted, book loving, bookstore employee discovers the father she never knew existed has died and left her with a new extended and very messy family. I loved the premise and a lot of the parts. In some cases I felt they didn’t quite mesh, but I think Argh people would really like this book.

    I also read Spindle by W.R. Gingell, a sort of mish-mash reworking of Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel and Rumplestiltskin, that I found surprisingly charming. Sleeping Beauty is awakened not by Prince Charming, but by an absent minded, bad-tempered, enchanter. But that’s okay, because she wasn’t actually the Princess but merely one of her ladies-in-waiting.

    Next up is The Queen Con by Meghan Scott Molin, the sequel to The Frame-Up.

    6+
  8. I am re-reading Jane Smiley’s YA series that starts with “the Georges and the Jewels” Her adult things are usually too grim for me, but I like this series. For a non-horse person, I sure read a lot of horsey authors!

    4+
    1. I also love Jane Smiley’s horse books! Similar in tone and flavor are Monica Dickens’ stories. She wrote three about a house at World’s End; a family of plucky and idiosyncratic children looking after each other, while their parents are … sailing around the world? I think? I loved them so much, and her sympathy for the children and the ways they see their world makes the books magical. If you like YA about plucky children, you might also like Hilary McKay’s books about the Casson children, starting with Saffy’s Angel. There are no horses, but there are a lot of closely observed individuals and they are all important texts in our house.

      Yes, Monica Dickens is Charles Dickens’ grand-daughter.

      3+
      1. Ms. Dickens wrote four books in the World’s End-series. So you might have another one to read! 🙂

        I never read them as a kid, but my lad did and my mother too and both loved them, so I’ve been catching up on World’s End and Follyfoot this last year. Lovely books.

        0
      1. Horsey author: Dick Francis. He’s uneven but rewarding. Lots of good ones. Photo Finish is great. Competence porn with really bad Bad Guys.

        2+
    1. read aloud at our house! repeatedly!

      I thought, in the way that children do, that the Pushcart Prize had something to do with the Pushcart War, and I was horrendously disappointed when it did not.

      3+
      1. So my particular confusion related to the Pushcart War was the firm and unwavering (in the face of a great deal of reality) conviction that Pushcarts were named after Pushkin, the Russian poet, in a sneaky effort to honor him. I grew up in Manhattan in the 60s and 70s and we used to go down to the lower east side to shop and somehow I conflated a whole bunch of stuff and stuck to my confused guns regardless of the truth and reasonableness of many kindly and patient explainers. It took a pickle and seltzer guy declaiming some of Pushkin’s work in the original Russian and asking me very solemnly if that sounded like a guy who would waste his time with a peashooter for me to consider that I might perhaps be wrong.

        5+
  9. I just finished “Cherish Hard” by Nalini Singh – a book in her rugby men series. I really enjoyed it. A couple of comments:

    1. It is written after “Rock Hard” (which is a crossover book included in her Rockstars series) but deals with events that happen BEFORE that book, which I thought was interesting.
    2. There is no well-defined “black moment.” I kept waiting for it, and instead it all wrapped up neatly without a disaster. I think the main reason for that is it was strictly a “learning to compromise” kind of relationship. And while I still enjoyed the book, it did feel like it was missing something. Thoughts to ponder.

    5+
  10. After reading the above comments from people who are reading books they like, I’m not sure if I should post this…but here goes. I’m reading a novel that is apparently highly regarded, and not enjoying it. (book club selection) Haven’t figured out yet what it’s about, although the historical Jewish view of Christ, and Israel vs the Arab world seem to be figuring prominently. All surprisingly interesting stuff, but I do not DO NOT find any of the characters to be likeable. Aargh.

    Time to get back to work on my own Book From Hell. (BfH status usually means the book is almost done, thank the muse.)

    8+
      1. Same here. While it’s possible to care about unlikable characters, one can sympathize or empathize with them sometimes, it’s just not fun spending time with them.

        4+
        1. I read a great book by Michael Gilbert where the protagonist was a lying, sexist, verbally abusive drunk for the first twenty pages, and I thought, “Why am I still reading about this guy?” and then he took a friend home late to his girl friend and they had an unpleasant fight in front of the embarrassed friend, and I thought, “Why am I still reading about these people?” and shortly after that, I realized the guy and girl were too smart to act like that, and that Something Was Up, and he turned to be one of my favorite protagonists ever, as did she. I think my love for him was cemented forever when he came strolling in as the bad guy was threatening the exasperated heroine and said, “If you’re trying to frighten Susan, I assure you it’s almost impossible.”

          My point being: Characters don’t have to likable but they damm well better be fascinating.

          9+
          1. But did you like Susan? The protagonist doesn’t have to be likable, for me. But other people in the book have to be likable. Or at least one. Zero likable characters result in an abandoned book for me.

            2+
          2. David becomes more likeable when you realize his behavior is part of his job and you realize he is both courageous and committed. And Susan is not unlikeable but she is a bit cold. Neither is charming.
            Funnily enough part of what makes David likeable is when Susan kicks him out and he sleeps with someone else who says he only had half his mind on the job and she thinks he’s only doing it because his own girl let him down and he can forget about her for a bit.
            He is so good at pretending and being competent that he doesn’t let you see how vulnerable to Susan he is, and that girl lets the reader see it.

            It’s a fascinating book. The End Game by Michael Gilbert.

            0
          3. For me, it was competence porn. He really moved outside boundaries (it was his job to sneak into files and get fired) and was so comfortable doing that. He didn’t care that people were exasperated and disappointed in him, he was heading for one goal only, to bring down the bad guys. I thought Susan was just bitchy originally–although who wouldn’t be, stuck in a relationship with David–and then I realized they were in sync and cared about each other, doing this dangerous game and it was just catnip. I liked the Snakes and Ladders analogy, too, that David was deliberately taking a downward path while she rose so that both could end up close to the two people they needed to get their end game. I think that book is brilliant.

            But then I’m a huge Michael Gilbert fan.

            0
    1. I read this book taking place in China in the 1920’s some weeks ago where NONE of the characters were likeable. They were awful, cheating, jealous, greedy, despicable, horrible, nonlikeable bastards, the entire bunch. Nobody had any redeeming quality whatsoever. I read some of the comments on it on Goodreads after finishing it, and some people had pointed out that the brilliance of that book is that you keep on reading and reading in the hope of a redemption that never comes. Everyone is just as horrible at the end as at the beginning, no one sees the error of their ways and try to become better people. It’s a very believable depiction of a China where everyone just tries to do the best of their lives and their days with famine, powerty and war lurking around the corner. Cruel and brutal with no gentle pieces at all or signs of love, tenderness or compassion for others. Probably realistic as all hell for the time and place it depicts, but not an enjoyable read, really. Not for me, anyway. It’s the least romantic book I have ever read. I don’t know how I managed to get through that book.

      2+
  11. Good books, hmmm. I just finished Brenda’s book about a temptress and a candidate for priesthood. Good book. I set that Kindle aside for a time. I’m partway in to Night Watch because I, too, love Sam Vimes and Terry Pratchett. That’s on the laptop, mostly. But I was on the littlest Kindle reading Bujold’s Dreamweaver’s Dilemma (the very earliest set in the Vorkosigan Universe, way before there were any Vorkosigans in it), when the dotter knocked excitedly to announce that the Mom-mobile repairs were complete and the SUV ready for pickup. Yay!

    So the dotter and some grandchildren piled into My Fiesta and we wafted off to storied Samarkand… I mean, up I-95 to the VW dealership. She had checked and been assured that the repairs would be under $3,000, the limit on the card I would be using to pay the ransom. Naturally, it was closer to $3,500. She talked them down to under 31K, and I applied a second credit card.

    Three miles later, the passenger side window motor failed. The window was partially open.

    The driver side failed last fall, costing $175 – the dotter is near tears and is now performing therapy, which is to say, messing with her plants. That works for her. I’d be paraphrasing Miles: “Compost, my friends, is to be your fates.”

    I have offered to front the money, but it will mean no more Sunday Dinners and shopping on Sundays for the month. I don’t think I can convey the therapeutic value of those weekly dinners and even the shopping – this would be a sacrifice, and no mean sacrifice, for us both. Getting Social Security started has just become more important than ever.

    When fate gives you curds, life finds a whey.

    16+
    1. I can relate to car troubles! After putting more than $1000 into the car a couple of months ago the engine seized last week. I have a stopgap beater given by a friend, but it’s uninspectable and the check engine light is on permanently. I’m wondering if I can finagle a new car from the ex as part of the divorce settlement. (this is a pipe dream.)

      6+
  12. New/old:
    I read the last in Alisha Rai’s Forbidden Hearts series – Hurts to Love You. It was so good that I went and re-read the series. Man, that Alisha can write!!!

    New:
    I also read Olivia Waite’s The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics. It and F/F historical romance with some of the best characterization I’ve read. The characters are not caricatures, which is a particular peeve of mine.

    I’m still looking at which recipes to try from Fast Cook Italian. Going to try to get the best reasonably priced wine I can for cooking. A favourite author of mine once wrote to use good wine (or marsala) because the flavour get concentrated. 😉 😀

    5+
    1. As long as it is not corked and is the kind the recipe calls for (red/white, Marsala, sherry, etc), almost any wine works if the dish is cooked. Once wine is heated through, it loses all the more ephemeral scents and tastes. So it makes no sense to use an expensive wine. It is why the French, when they have a wine that is not bad, but also pretty boring, seal it off and save it to make Beef Bourguignon or Poulet Bonne Femme or some similar wine-based dish.

      My husband belonged to a club where they ordered pinot gris grapes and made their own wine. One year it was so boring it was unbelievable. It was thin. It also did not finish well in the mouth. I used it to make Beef Bourguignon and it was some of the best I ever made. I did not use all of the wine up that way (about 3 cases went down the drain) but for two years, it was my cooking wine and everything turned out just great.

      7+
    2. Ask for help at the liquor store — tell them what you want to use it in, and whether you want to drink some of it along with the dish. I always end up there with a weird request or two at holiday time, asking for something that it wouldn’t be a crime not to drink with reverence.

      2+
  13. “If I ever catch you with another cowboy or any other man, I’ll beat you so thoroughly you’ll think studying differential calculus was a treat by comparison.” Page 320, bookbook, authorauthor. Published 1985; new edition 2008. (Thrift store find this week.)

    The “I will beat you” wording was used at least one more time in this book aimed at the female, several more times at males.

    I remember reading the author in the ’80s, although not this book. In HEAs, the author specialized in uber alpha men and spunky women. I stopped reading because *yick.* I picked up books by the author a few years ago, and she’s moved on and evolved. Her books make the NYT bestseller list and they’re enjoyable, lighter and mainstream. I think her books in the ’80s were considered mainstream for her publisher, and she wrote aiming for the big time. But how is this book republished in 2008? I know, taking advantage of her new fame. She wrote the introduction!

    She’s evolved and I hope we’ve evolved.

    In more savory report, I ordered and read The Pepperidge Farms Cookbook. I remember reading the book on first pub, 1963. Dismissed it because so many canned soups involved, and I was cooking French. Now it’s a fascination look back at growing up in 1890’s New York City and 1920’s-1940’s country life. Margaret was ahead of her time. And now I leave you to go search for some of her whole wheat bread, which I hope is still made to the same recipe.

    7+
  14. Proof-read a new novel by Salley Vickers, who wrote ‘Miss Garnet’s Angel’. This one’s called ‘Grandmothers’, and I enjoyed it – had to keep hauling myself back, in order to read it slow enough to catch any mistakes. It’s due out at the beginning of November. It weaves the stories of three grandmothers, and is surprising and entertaining.

    I reread Helen Hoang’s ‘The Kiss Quotient’ because I’d got the next one, ‘The Bride Test’, and enjoyed them both. Am now rereading Meghan Scott Molin’s ‘The Frame-up’, because ‘The Queen Con’ arrived on my Kindle. So having a good time.

    5+
  15. I read a lot of my own stuff (therapy (“yes I have accomplished something in the past 3+ months even if I haven’t found a new job”), revising, or simply revisiting) and continued writing Novel #10.

    Also read “The Girl Who Knew Too Much” by Amanda Quick, which I quite enjoyed. If/when I am making a living again, will very likely acquire the next two in that series. If there are others out there who like the pre-WWII setting, may I recommend M. Ruth Myer’s Maggie Sullivan series?

    I will confess there are couple of ‘ways people utter’ that AQ uses frequently (or at least with noticeable frequency) that always make me think ‘really?’ because I for one do not chuckle or groan. Do people chuckle? Do people groan? I mean, in conversation, not when watching cat videos or reading about our dumpster fire of a national administration.

    5+
    1. Beware of “chuckled” or “groaned” as substitute for “said.” Have you heard anyone ever chuckle or groan and intelligible sentence? Can’t be done.

      4+
      1. On the other hand, it’s just not possible to describe the tiniest differences in nonverbal communication which can make a big difference in the way things are communicated. So as a writer, you have to give your reader a clue. Writing is not real life anyway, right? You need to abbreviate, to sometimes exaggerate, to make things fit the story arc. Plus, you can add demons and werewolves which you don’t expect in real life either, or do you? (She winks.)

        0
    2. “Ooooooohhhhh, nooooooo. Noooot this. Noooooot him.”

      I think tagging it with a groan would distinguish it from a whine.

      It’s harder to justify someone chuckling a line, but it’s an easy fix. “And that’s when the werewolves started chasing the Bentley.” He chuckled. “They didn’t have a CLUE about what to do with it when they caught it, but eventually sold it for parts. Except for the tires, of course; the tires were a complete loss.”

      5+
    3. I object to wink. Seriously, people do not wink in real life nearly as often as in books. Unless it’s a cultural thing. Are Americans big winkers? (No I don’t mean to offend, yes I did have a juvenile giggle at this sentence).

      The Duchess of Cornwa has on the other hand totally mastered the wink.

      7+
      1. Micki’s right. The chuckle or groan is a separate action but can occur in conjunction with what she says. I agree with Allanah that a successful wink would really make a character stand out. Usually I expect that a winking character is meant to be foolish (Mrs. Bennet in Pride & Prejudice). As to Americans — I try to look people in the eye, but I have to make an effort to do so, so I would probably miss a wink from a stranger or a casual acquaintance. Also, I focus on who is speaking to me, and I’m a bit embarrassed when I catch another person winking, lifting eyebrows, or rolling eyes.

        3+
  16. Finished “Strange Grace” by Tessa Gratton. Good, intense read, capturing that kind of “Wicker Man” sense of strange-small-village claustrophobia.

    Picking up more books from the library today that I’m fairly excited for.

    2+
  17. The last week, most of my reading have been rather mediocre and somewhat unsatisfying. The best of the lot was Diana Wynne Jones’ Deep Secret. It was a nice fantasy, but nothing to rave about. Traveling between worlds, centaurs, a science fiction convention, and a bunch of magicians could’ve made for a more exciting story. ☹
    To be fair, I think this book read better 20 years ago, when it was published. Now it feels outdated and tired. Does it make sense?

    4+
  18. I haven’t read this week.
    The rain stopped on Monday and it’s a maternal imperative in Scotland to “make the most of this weather while it lasts” so the children were dragged on a 10k coastal walk then a full day at the park.

    Rain forecast tomorrow so back to reading – yeay!

    9+
    1. I was in Scotland near Kirkcudbright about two weeks ago and was so thankful we had good weather. It was actually too hot on the day we went to Threave. Great garden. Beautiful country.

      5+
  19. Yep, some books that were the first of their kind and made an impact can feel like that several decades later, because times change and other people have written more modern books in the genre (that they sometimes created)

    I think the easiest way to explain would be like in movies when the first special effects were stop-motion model animation, which were amazing in their time and now a days CGI can just digitally add the monster.

    5+
  20. I read ‘Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe’ by Preston Norton, whose parents apparently wanted a son with two surnames. It’s one of the best YA novels I’ve read for ages – poignant, articulate, savage and hilariously funny. Someone here recommended it, and I pass on the recommendation. A wonderful book.

    Now I’m reading Simon Winder’s ‘Lotharingia’, which is about the part of Europe encompassed by Belgium, bits of the Netherlands, Luxembourg, and bits of France and Switzerland. It’s described as ‘an idiosyncratic, often funny fusion of history writing, travel writing and disrespect.’ And so it is. I’m still on the introduction, but I’m well entertained.

    I’m also reading some Mercedes Lackey – her Valdemar novels. They’re slowish, but in a good way.

    6+
  21. I finished Alan Bradley’s The Golden Tresses of the Dead. I enjoyed it and realized that it’s the first in this series that I actually read in print. The others in the series were enjoyed in audio running up and down the road; the reader/actress for this audio series is terrific.
    Also read Lori Foster’s Sisters of Summer’s End. I debated since I’ve tired of the uber-alpha male trope I think of when I think of her but hey, there’s a puppy on the cover! Yes, these marketing people do know what they are doing. It was a pleasant read, oddly lacking any tension but no chest beating was involved–yeah.

    3+
  22. A lovely person sent me an actual book in the mail and I’m starting it today. Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris is the title. I’ll let you know what I think.

    As of page three, it’s about a charwoman in an airplane on the way from England to Paris. That’s all I can tell you.

    2+
    1. It’s a classic, and one of Gallico’s best. Though I still fondly remember Mrs. “Arris in Moscow and her Russian fur coat.

      2+
    2. I loved reading Mrs. ‘arris (by Paul Gallico)! I hope it won’t spoil anything for you if I tell you that there was a sequel or perhaps 2. Prepare to enjoy yourself.

      1+
  23. Spent a few weeks reading most of the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. I’d held off because the length of the series intimidated me, but the library books dried up in June, so I finally did it. Loved it, but I’ve paused because I want to read them in order and I’m waiting for my copy of Iron and Magic. Stopped after a novella because it seemed like the best place. If I’d read book 9, I wouldn’t have been able to restrain myself and would have skipped to the final novel. I’m really curious about reading something from Hugh’s POV considering how much I hated him after Magic Rises, but I really enjoyed the excerpt and am super excited for it.

    Decided to switch to mysteries for a bit and read Heyer’s Behold, Here’s Poison and Death In The Stocks for the first time. Guessed the killer correctly in the second but she surprised me in Poison. Managed to figure out pieces (how the poison was given, who the mysterious John Hyde was) but not the killer. I’m running out of Heyer mysteries I haven’t read before and it’s a sad thing. But I have a stack of used Allingham and Tey books, plus the first Ngaio Marsh, because of recommendations here, so there’s that to look forward to.

    I think the next book will finally be Good Omens, though. I want to read it before I watch the show, so it’s time.

    5+
  24. I liked “Alex, Approximately” by Jenn Bennett. Has a”She Loves Me/The Shop Around The Corner” plot. Heroine meets guy online and moves to his town but since she’s been stalked in the past, decides not to tell him and decides she’ll find him IRL and then see if she wants to tell him who she is, then is derailed by annoying coworker…you get the drift. There’s also a wacky museum and a lot of surfing talk.

    2+
  25. I wanted something with a happy ending, so I went for Jennifer Ashley’s A Rogue Meets a Scandalous Lady. It’s the 11th in a series, and I hadn’t read any of the others, but her writing is always entertaining, and that’s exactly what I wanted. Money well spent.

    4+
  26. I just finished reading Mirian Toews’ Women Talking. It was absolutely superb, but also about a very intense, nightmarish set of real life events & circumstances. So I guess there’s a caution there (but also a great piece of writing).

    I’ve been working on a (nonfiction) personal writing project this week. It is kind of a boring summation of various bits of research & activism, but I am referring to it as my manifesto because “work on my manifesto” is just a great addition to my to-do list.

    5+
  27. I’m reading, piecemeal, HOW TO BECOME A FEDERAL CRIMINAL, by Mike Chase. You may be interested to know that today’s law doesn’t require weather modification activity to be successful to be a crime. The crime occurs when the offender fails to file the right paperwork first. The book begins with chapter and verse on the removal of tags from a mattress to rules around selling kidneys (interstate commerce).

    6+
  28. So I read Middlegame which is excellent and very unsettling and kind of haunting and finished the Furious Hours, which was very good and much more human and complex than I expected. I am still reading The Capital which is good and I like it. It’s somehow a very urban book. I also read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill. I do not actually have enough to do, is what I think.

    And then I kind of fell over sideways into a selection of mysteries – Vaseem Khan’s Inspector Chopra and the Million Dollar Motor Car, Last Victim of the Monsoon Express and Murder at the Grand Raj Palace; Sophie Henaff’s The Awkward Squad and Stick Together; and then Ovidia Yu’s latest Su Lin, the Paper Bark Tree Mystery. I really loved the Awkward Squad (and Stick Together which is the second) which manages to have both interesting mysteries and interesting character development of a fairly large cast, and I am hoping there will be still more. The Inspector Chopra books are an established series and I will probably stick with them – they are good solid fun. I am trying to figure out why the Su Lin books are so much more interesting to me than Ms Yu’s other series set in Singapore and I can’t, so I am just going with it.

    2+
    1. I haven’t read Ms. Yu’s other series, though I looked at the Amazon blurb for the first one, and I’ve only read the first Su Lin book, but I really liked her as a character and suspect she is the reason you enjoyed it so much more than the other series. Admittedly I’m just guessing.

      1+
  29. I discovered a book by author Jana Aston called Sure Thing and the follow up, Plan B. The books revolve around twin sisters. Sure Thing is pretty funny where a goody goody type decides her naughty twin sister has all the fun. She switches places with her and decided to pick up a guy for her first one night stand. Hilarity ensues when the guy is British and traveling with his grandma. Her sister’s book is her love story, Plan B. The sex is steamy. So I went back and she’s got other book series, Right, Wrong, Trust, Fling. I especially got s kick Out of Right. Think Clueless goes to U Penn. I think this author is only published in E books. Basically young adult. Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised.
    I also test drove a contemporary, Parental Guidance, by Avery Flynn. Naughty alpha ice hockey players and perfectly imperfect women. So I went back and read some of her previous books and overall, pretty good stories.
    I’m still tucking in some Jayne and Krentz backlist. Into her hardcovers. Read Lost and Found and Wildest Hearts. Still hold up to the test of time. Also, starting Overstory. I love trees so I hope it meets the hype.
    Yeah, I know. Not getting too many chores done!

    2+
  30. The fifth Freddy-Pilkington-Soames-Adventure by Clara Benson is available on Kindle now.

    I love her books but the pricing is very strange. How much could she possibly be earning?

    Her Facebook posts are excellent.

    2+
  31. I was feeling sorry for myself and my reading block. “I haven’t read anything this week,” I thought. And then I took a minute to remember.

    I re-read “Penric and the Shaman” (novella #2 in the Penric/Desdemona series), and I also read a short collection of Edwardian-flavored horror. The first three stories were quite good, but the fourth went a bit overboard for my tastes; a pregnant woman dies in a throw-away line. The fourth was a Mrs. Daffodil story . . . I sometimes take a look at Mrs. Daffodil’s blog, so now I’ll see her in an entirely different light!

    The book (novella?) was “A Spot of Bother”. Some nice little chills for a hot summer’s night, so I’ll go ahead and recommend it despite some misgivings. I know anyone interested will read other reviews to see if it is, indeed, their cup of tea.

    2+
  32. I read several new books this week in an attempt to get over my “Louise Penny” hangover – having just re-read all of her books *again* (I adore them).

    I read How Not to Die Alone – which was much more lighthearted than the title might suggest – and just finished Less – which I enjoyed more than I thought I might.

    I also read a few not-to-be-named ARCs, including one that I thought had to be the author’s first attempt at writing a whole book and it turned out she had dozens of published titles under her belt. I can’t tell if I’m appalled by that or more hopeful about my own publication chances.

    Now it’s time for a reading break and some crocheting. I’ve got some lovely Bernat velvet yarn and have been making afghans like crazy (it’s my calming device).

    4+
  33. I just finished Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs PI, The American Agent. Love her series. Very well done. This last set largely in London during the Blitz, very atmospheric.

    1+
  34. So, I get Bookbub emails every day – and then they sent me Chirp audio book emails. And there was the first Murderbot book. I listened to the sample and it said it was a RBDigital production. I get RBDigital thru my library and looked it up and all 4 books were there for free.

    There is a wait list, but I was number 5, and they really are novellas, so I should get it soon.

    Meanwhile I am listening to Daisy Jones & The Six. Really takes me back to the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

    4+

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