This is a Good Book Thursday, August 15, 2019

I’m reading Healthy Pasta and watching Leverage episodes to get back into team mode for Nita.  And also because I wanted to watch Leverage.  The writing in that show is so, so good.  Healthy Pasta isn’t quite as riveting but did inspire me to order odd pasta shapes from Amazon.  

So what inspiring reading did you do this week?

75 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 15, 2019

  1. Based on recommendations here, I read Minor Mage by T. Kingfisher. As promised, it was great.

    Then I moved on to The Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells. It is about a shape shifter whose family was killed when he was young, so he learned to live among people. As an adult, he is found by an elder of his race and travels to a community of other Raksura. I’m enjoying it, but I’m having a very tough week otherwise, so I haven’t really been able to really become immersed. I think it is me though, not the book.

    I’m also listening to Circling the Sun by Paula McClain. It is historical fiction about Beryl Markham – a contemporary of the people from Out of Africa – and the first woman to fly across the Atlantic from east to west. It is fascinating and the reader is excellent.

    1. I love the Raksura books, but I also have a big caveat, which is because I am cliffhanger intolerant – if you decide to read the last two, make sure you can get the fifth ASAP after finishing the fourth.

    2. I love the Raksura books, especially as Moon naturally fits into a niche that a lot of female heroines occupy (he is the scrappy hero who is self-sufficient and not like the other members of his gender).

      I love him slowly beginning to trust his new colony and them adapting to him.

    1. My sister is watching it for the first time, and emailing her very enthusiastic reactions.

      Especially satisfying because I also just watched a video extensively detailing how badly Game of Thrones screwed up their character writing. Lots of arteestic critic types say they prefer fiction that fails with ambition, but I think Leverage proves them wrong. A smaller piece that just nails the basics has more legs than a piece whose disastrous ending ruins everything that came before. Give me a story that delights with every scene, instead of hoping that a big climax will make up for no delight in the rest of it.

      I’m thinking of posting Leverage commentary track highlights on my blog. One highlight per episode, just to incentivize people getting the DVDs.

  2. I was in Hendersonville NC yesterday and felt like going to a movie so I checked what was playing and there was a screening of Big Trouble in Little China! I have always wanted to see it because the characters in Dogs and Goddesses loved it and the movies the characters like in the books are always my favorites. It was great fun and I loved getting to see it on the big screen. I don’t think it would translate as well to the small screen.

    1. I watch it every time it comes on TV. It’s one of my favorites. The biggest thing is that the main character isn’t really the hero – he’s more of a sidekick. And Kurt Russell doing his John Wayne impression is always fun to watch.

      1. And the dialogue. “Son of a bitch must pay,” is a fave, but the one we used most often was, “Sorry, just thrilled to be alive!” And then there’s “I’m feeling kind of invincible” and “You’re doing something seriously wrong here.”

    2. There is an actress in that movie that is the spitting image of my grandma. I mean her twin!! I keep wondering how footage of her got in that flick!

  3. I raced through G. Willow Wilson’s The Bird King. A magical cartographer, djinns, and a woman who comes to value herself and learn to stand on her own. It had everything but a romance.

  4. I’ve started the Dark Lord of Derkholme by Diana Wynne Jones. It’s very fun, and I look forward to reading it every night. I may need to put it in the re-read pile when I’m done. Thanks for the rec!

    Meanwhile, as part of my job, I often work with series titles. There are some titles that intrigue me, while others make me wonder what the author (or publisher) was thinking. In the latter category, the series is called “Hot and Hammered”. That just doesn’t sound like it will be my kind of romance.

    1. It’s amazing how many books I reject on basis of their title or cover, which is ridiculous because I know a lot of the time authors don’t have any control over title and especially cover. But if the title has “billionaire” or other alpha male role in it, or the blurb says “he claims her” or “can he protect her?”, I’m like that animal in the Nope GIF: Nope, nope, nope, nope, NOPE.

      1. Some of the titles are hilarious – though I’m not sure they’re meant to be. ‘The Billionaire’s Secret Baby’. ‘Lost in Lust to the Billionaire.’

        1. I’ve always hated the title “Manhunting” and “What the Lady Wants.” They didn’t give me any choice, so I do not blame the authors. And the titles do say, “This is the kind of plot this is,” so that’s something.

      2. Re covers: This is long and Not My Work, but had to share this snarky Goodreads review of Joanna Bourne’s The Spymaster’s Lady. via

        “My guess at how the publisher’s office works, based on the cover of this book:

        Publisher: So what’s this book about?
        Assistant: Hell if I know. Or care.
        Publisher: Ok. Put an ambiguous guy on the front. That should “cover” our bases.
        Assistant: Good one, boss. I’ll make sure to make him look like a tool.

        OR maybe something like this:

        Assistant: Spymaster’s Lady, huh? That’s a pretty intriguing title.
        Publisher: Yea. It’s too sophisticated. The cover has to balance that.
        A: Ok. I’ll use an effeminate male model dazedly looking at nothing.
        P: Perfect. Wait, how was the story?
        A: Inventive, fun, sly, and entertaining.
        P: Crap. Better make him shirtless to disguise that.
        A: Well, there was an epic-type romance with plenty of heat.
        P: Ok, he can be in the process of taking off the shirt. Make sure his chest is showing though.
        A: How many abs can I show? 2?
        P: Hmm… How was the dialogue?
        A: Direct, intelligent, often hilarious.
        P: The characters?
        A: Lovely. Best I’ve seen in a long time.
        P: Better make it an 6-pack then. We need to make sure people who aren’t used to romance novels are scared off.
        A: -nods- Genius, boss.
        P: I know. One last thing. If the book’s unique and witty, make sure the back cover hides that as well as possible in cliché and over the top descriptions.
        A: Please. That’s romance novel publishing 101. I just used my favorite template and inserted the names and occupations.
        P: Great work. Look like our job is done. Let me buy us a round of glue bottles to sniff.
        A: Sounds delightful.

    2. The sequel, Year of the Griffin, is a little bit messier, but just as fun in its sendup of fantasy tropes and cute relationships. Who doesn’t want a big ol’ griffin family? Definitely my favorite Wynne-Jones books, though the Crestomanci ones come close.

  5. It’s been one of those weeks, bookwise. It isn’t that I haven’t read anything, but that I’ve read nothing new. Crusie and Bujold, of course, and Wrede. Fast Women in the car, during the commute. Curse of Chalion on the PC. Thirteenth Child on a Kindle. Sharing Knife on the other Kindle. These are all books I’ve practically memorized.

  6. Still working on Into the Abyss, by Emily Skrutskie. The relationships are all so delightfully ambiguous and conflicted. I’m surprised by how low the page count is! So much is happening, but the prose is still breezy.

    Otherwise, I’m reading a lot of fanfiction for RWBY (specifically the Bumblebee ship).

  7. Geek alert: My book club is reading our way (for the second time) through the Dewey Decimal System, one of the ten divisions each month. We used to work in copy edit together and are all opinionated, so the “let’s read the same book” didn’t work for us. For September, we’re reading 400s, Language, so I’ve been trying to find the perfect book-fit. Do You Speak American? might be the one, on the Goldilocks theory: the first (about how technology is changing our brains) was too depressing; the second (an early Bill Bryson that made me feel just hammered with facts), and this one just right–I hope. Also reading a Regency romance, but it’s somewhat annoying, with a lot of melting glances.

  8. I’ve read two books that I wish I could unread and start my summer over again. Undercurrents and Life and other inconveniences. In Undercurrents the first part of the four part novel was great but chilling in that it involves abuse. If I had read part one only I would have been satisfied because the children were saved, but to get to part two and read two decades further where the heroine’s story begins starting her life over again in a new town as a landscaper. I have to remember she is a Nora Roberts character with super woman strength. She is who I read over and over in succeeding chapters that can redo eyesores into garden glory with just her and an employee by digging up yards, planting shrubs and trees, paint furniture, build retaining walls, operate heavy equipment buy a truck over the phone, buy a house and start removing wall paper all within a week. So I did some speed reading and skipped a few chapters to get to the end.

    In Life and other inconveniences I wonder what has happened to Kristan Higgins where one of her characters is planning her own suicide so I started skipping her chapters. Way too much grief involved although there is an uncontrollable three year old in the story that I would have liked to read about if there had been an epilogue. Well now that I’ve given you the gloom and doom report I think I’ll look up Leverage in dvds from the library and get my summer back on.

  9. I actually picked up a book this week! Kindle, Amazon, the Internet, has been pushing Sarah MacLean’s Brazen and the Beast at me quite strongly, so I instead went back to the beginning and read the first Bareknuckled Bastards book by MacLean, Wicked and the Wallflower. It was good. I liked both the hero and the heroine. There weren’t too many blocks to their happily ever after, just the hero’s head up his a**. A lot of the book is setting up the mystery of book 3. Either way, I enjoyed it enough that I plan on buying Brazen.

    1. I read A Scot In the Dark this week. Sarah is a very nice person but this book annoyed me. Not enamoured of the whole.not good enough for you thing.

    2. The Bareknuckle Bastards I’m reading just to find out the backstory, and the sister’s story (which of course is the final book of the four and coming out next year). They are .. okay. But I want to know more about the sister. (The characters aren’t quite believable for me, but I read them anyway.)

      Character matters.

  10. I read Annelisa Christensen’s trilogy (sort of) of The Popish Midwife; Ghost Midwife; and Midnight Midwife. Set in the late 1600s England. I couldn’t put the Popish Midwife down and stayed up until like 2am to finish it. The other 2 are shorter and easier reads.

    Beth Byer’s latest Poison Ink mystery Death Misconstrued. It was ok. She’s done better, she’s done worse. Also lots of Agatha Christie.

    1. In a re-reading phase- I just finished Welcome to Temptation, now I’m reading Faking It, and an old Nora, Sacred Sins.

      In TV mode, I’m watching Person of interest again. Love it!

      Wish list reading- the PoI posts here!! I’m waiting for you to re-post them, Jenny!

  11. I picked up Pathfinder’s Way by T. A. White after Ilona Andrews recommended it, and then read the next two in the trilogy. I didn’t like the Warlord in the first book, but became more invested in the story generally in Books 2 and 3. Lots of interesting secondary characters and great monsters. I am now floundering trying to figure out what to read next. I have been watching Leverage for the first time. I watch one episode a day, in order to stretch it out (also because I am quite incapable of bingeing for some reason). Am now in Season 4 and totally love this show. It has its ups and downs but the ups are great.

    1. When the writers are on their game, that show is the best there is. (The actors are always on their game.)

  12. I reread a book that my mum gave me on cassette when I was 10: “Children’s Island” by P.C. Jersild (I couldn’t believe it when I saw it had actually been translated…). It’s about an almost-11-year-old boy that’s supposed to go to a summer camp, but slips away to spend his time running around Stockholm the summer of 1975 while his mother is in another city, possibly working or…possibly not. He’s pondering over growing up, life and death, what the meaning of life is and so on, and runs into funeral wreath-ribbon painters, theatre-people from the extreme left, alcohol-smuggling youths and the apparent lover of his mother. I thought it was amazing when I was 10. Now I think there is a huuuge amount of cursing and swearing, foul language (four-letter-words and so on) and much mentioning of sex and of women as either pure as angels or being “no better than prostitutes”. I still think it’s a good book and it was an interesting experience to read it again now 20 years later. It’s like looking back in time – was Sweden really like that in 1975? Sheesh. But you have to be able to stand the language and the way people seem to have been thinking back then.

    Now reading Lucy Dillon’s “Where the light gets in”. Liking it. Her stuff is easy to handle. There are dogs in her books and things always end well. That’s what I need right now.

  13. Just finished: In the Heart of the Sea, Nathaniel Philbrick.
    (Subtitled The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex. One of Melville’s inspirations for Moby-Dick)

    Currently reading: Why Read Moby-Dick, Nathaniel Philbrick.

    Up next: Moby-Dick, Herman Melville

    After that: Ahab’s Wife, Sena Jeter Naslund

    Yeah, I kinda have a binge-theme going here.

    1. Sena Naslund was the thesis advisor for one of my friends. Consequently, I have that book, although I’ve never managed to read it, any more than I managed to read Moby Dick when we were assigned it in high school.

  14. Oooh before I forget it AGAIN! I’ve been meaning to ask your advice on this for 4 months or so, but I kept forgetting.

    I picked up Death and Honey by Kevin Hearne, Lilah Bowen (i.e. Delilah S. Dawson) and Chuck Wendig earlier this year (April, I think). It’s a book of three novellas, one for each author. I’ve only read Hearne’s books, none of the others’, and thus I only read his contribution to this anthology. (And loved it, I should add.)

    Thing is, I don’t know if I dare read the other two stories. Not because they are scary (perhaps they are, I wouldn’t know), but because I haven’t read any of the series they are connected to and thus I’m afraid of spoilers. I mean, if I decide to read the series, I don’t want to know what’s coming… But since I have only read one of the three, I don’t feel comfortable marking the book as read on Goodreads either, so it’s been hanging there as Currently Reading for ages.

    What would you guys do? Read the other stories and think nothing of the possible spoilers? Or put the book aside, read the other series (if they are good…) and THEN read the remaining two novellas? Or just mark the book as read and be done with it?

    Is anyone here familiar with Wendig or Bowen/Dawson? The only thing of Dawson’s I’ve read is her collaboration with Hearne on the Tales of Pell-series, and so far that’s…not my favourite. But perhaps she is good when she’s doing her thing alone?

    Very grateful for advice.

    1. I will not attempt to answer since I don’t mind spoilers in the slightest. (Can you spoil Romeo and Juliet, for instance? Even at the first performance the prologue gives away the ending!)

    2. I don’t mind spoilers, so I’d probably just go on and read. I don’t know anything about the series either but I did not love the Dawson I have read. It was inventive but not warm, which I found off-putting.

      I have enjoyed Chuck Wendig as a highly and openly opinionated person – he has a very specific voice. I read and enjoyed the first Miriam Black book. I just got given Wanderers, his latest, so we’ll see how that goes.

    3. Thanks, ladies. Then I’ll just go on and read it. What’s the worst thing that can happen, right? Besides, that will give me an insight in their writing styles so I get an idea of if giving the series a shot is worth it or not. And I’ve sometimes read not-book-one of a series by accident and that didn’t kill me, so yeah what am I actually worrying about…

      1. And then there are those of us who occasionally to the last chapter because we don’t want to read it if we don’t like the ending. Or we think the ending is going to be too obvious. Or we just feel like it.

  15. I just finished the third in the Murderbot series. My only complaint as usual is that it is too short! I’m going to wait a bit and then read them all back to back to back to get a bit more of a hit. 🙂

    I also read this week “The Rosie Result.” I loved the first, “The Rosie Project,” where Don sets out to find a partner in a very scientific way. The second is didn’t enjoy as much, probably because the relationship between Don and Rosie was so strained. But I really enjoyed this last one. Don sets out to help his son fit into high school (which, in Australia, starts in Grade 6) and it is a wonderful blend of humour and sorrow and joys and struggles. My husband was probably tired of me reading bits of it to him to explain why I was snort-laughing. Highly recommend.

    1. Do you have the fourth one, too?

      I’m rereading on eBook until they come out with an Omnibus edition of the first four. I’m hoping they’ll do it as a co-release with the novel next year.

      1. There was a snippety murderbot short story in wired some time last year – it predates the series (takes place at ganaka pit). If there are more I don’t know where to find them, but when I stumbled across I literally threw my phone with delight. And then the librarian brought it back and scolded me.

  16. Did you know they have pasta made of Garbanzo beans now? I’m going to try some next time I go to the store.

    Well, next time I go to the store and remember to look for garbanzo pasta.

    I am re-reading the Hanging Tree again. I was hoping that it would put me to sleep, but alas, my brain was just eating that stuff up, and it was 2 am before I knew it, and then it was 3 am. Had to get up at 7 am to go to a job interview. I’m having a day.

    The interview went well, I thought. But it’s nearly an hour in each direction and I think I’d rather work at the school – only 15 minutes away! I’m thinking of the positives. I hate commuting, such a waste of so many resources. Mostly my time.

    1. I bet you’ve been eating some of it already. 🙂 The “high-protein” pastas have bean flour in them.

    2. Chick pea pasta is great for certain sauces. Takes longer cooking time. Feta cheese enhances, ooh and capers, onion, garlic, a good olive oil. And olives. Have never made it beyond that sauce.

  17. I read Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh and very much enjoyed it.

    My before-bed book is so boring, some nights I don’t even remember to read it. Sigh.

    1. The alternative of having a great before bed book is not to be recommended either 🙂 Mine was Bet Me, I was only going to read a chapter then finished it at 3 am on a work night. So worth it.

  18. I’ve been comfort reading to get through the work situation. I have so much more insight than I did before and it has helped me to see the problems with some detachment but I think it’s time to commit to my non-fiction TBR pile. I bought those books because they have information and/or philosophy that I need, but I’ve barely touched them.

    I’ve been comfort reading the whole Innkeeper series.

    Btw, VERY interesting tweet thread about publishing and actual editing. Please read.

    Good vibes to all for activities of gardening, writing, renovating, and crafting. Spreading the love.

  19. I just finished reading Where the Forest meets the Stars. It is one of the best books I have read in a long time. I liked it because it was different than most romance novels I read. The characters were different and more interesting. the story line was fascinating and not predictable like so many other books I read. And I love that she did not dump a lot of backstory but dropped little hints here and there through out the story. It is free on Amazon if you have Kindle Unlimited. But be warned, there is one incident near the end of the book that I found very distressing and I was angry the author made this choice.

  20. I read Sarah McLean’s Brazen and the Beast. Very good but not great. With her heroes who I adore in all their growliness, it’s like no no no no then oh okay I will love you type progression. So the whole tortured damaged thing just sort of disappears like okay he’s over it even though it’s clouded his life for 20 years bla bla bla. So I the reader am like, wait what happened.

    Now I just finished Tessa Dare’s Wallflower Wager and hero’s got same tortured background and he’s all no no no but his GMC arc makes so much more sense when he finally takes a chance on love. I laughed aloud several times. Great menagerie of critters. Oh and a hilarious birthing scene. Overall, well done.

    I’m watching this new series on Epix – Pennyworth. It’s a Batman type prequel about Alfred the butler when he’s a young man just out of the British army SAS and how he meEts Bruce Wayne’s parents and all sorts of early sixties steampunkian Brit shenanigans. I really like the actor who plays Alfred. Looks like a young Michael Keaton. He’s got quite a range of emotions. Storylines are a bit dark. But I am intrigued.

    1. Reading Brazen right now and Dare’s Wallflower is next! Good to know what’s coming. 😁

  21. I read Claws of the Cat by Susan Spann. It takes place in 16th C Japan, and the main characters are a shinobi (ninja) and a Jesuit priest. Did I first hear about it here? Can’t remember, but anyway, the cultural differences between the two are fun, and it was a good mystery. I guessed the murderer, then thought, well, if that’s not right, it would be a great alternative solution, but it turned out I was correct. Well worth the read.

    Now I’m reading A Lady in Need of an Heir by Louise Allen. Very well-written historical romance which takes place partly in Portugal wine country after the Napoleonic wars. Always happy to learn something new when I read. 🙂

  22. Just finished rereading Courtney Milan’s Turner Brothers series, which begins with Unveiled. Really enjoyed them, and need something equally good to survive the day job (the author turns out to be a control freak who wants every change to every dot and comma tracked; but at the same time any he won’t be interested in must be hidden. Psychic services weren’t part of the brief. And I had to lose the Laurie Lee this morning when I learned I’d have a week less to finish the economics book, because the author’s going on holiday. Although later in the day, after much toing and froing, it looked like part of the job was going to be jettisoned. Voltaire was right: I should just cultivate my garden.)

  23. I read ‘The End of Your Life Book Club’, which someone here recommended, and really enjoyed it. That sent me to looking for an old copy of Somerset Maugham’s short stories that I’ve had for years and never read, so I’m now working my way through that. And also ‘The Venetian Affair’ by Helen MacInnes, which is wonderful so far.

    In between those I read KJ Charles’ ‘Think of England’, which turned out to be one of my favourites of hers so far, partly because it’s from-hate-to-love, which is a favourite trope, and also because there’s lots of he’s-not-who-he-seems-to-be, which I also really enjoy.

  24. Reading Dorothy L. Sayers. Finished Whose’s Body? Next up is Clouds of Witness and then Strong Poison, Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon.

        1. Nine Tailors is the one the made me crazy because at the timeI thought it was completely obvious that the sound was the weapon n

  25. Bad Blood, by John Carreyrou, details the whole Elizabeth Holmes/Theranos scandal.

    Living in Silicon Valley, I found this very compelling reading. But I think it would be of interest to anyone who enjoys reading about corporate shenanigans.

  26. I read Gods of Jade and Shadow, which I heard about here and was really enjoyable. I particularly liked the ending and how meticulous she was with/about language. Argh strikes (successfully!) again.

    Then I also read some David Sedaris – Calypso – which I had procrastinated for some reason. There is a bit in there about shopping with his sisters in Japan that is just fantastic. And then I also read Hollow Kingdom, by Kira Jane Buxton. Some of it was massively annoying, but also it was engaging and snappy and I’m a sucker for community, so…

    Rereads were Heyer’s The Devil’s Cub and Chaim Potok’s The Chosen. Both of which I love but Heyer is far far more comforting.

    I have been watching the detectorists and after life and shtisel. These are not exactly nippy suspenseful shows, but they turn out to be right up my current alley and I continue to marvel at Ricky Gervais’ comfort level with performing deeply flawed and uncomfortable roles.

  27. This week I read The One You Can’t Forget by Roni Lauren. It was very pleasant and I liked the hero quite a bit, but I liked the first book (The One You Can’t Forget) better. It was nice to see the also-ran from the first book get her happy ending, but the background began to feel a bit much by the end of the second book.

  28. I’d pulled out Pratchett’s Soul Music, Hogfather, and Thief of Time for my husband. When he didn’t read them, I reread them. Such great stuff!

    That’s why I’m thinking of different sorts of anthropomorphic personifications, particularly of generalizations. Like The Reader, the personification that writers seek when they’re preparing their work for publication. Or The Handyperson, who I believe in deeply: he or she will someday arrive to tighten the screws on all my cabinets so the doors will hang right.

    I am avoiding all political ones (The Voter) and anything nasty or competitive.

    The Scales makes sure that for every pound someone loses someone else gains a pound. The Back Memory saves away all those thoughts which I can’t quite retrieve in the front of my mind.


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