This is a Good Book Thursday, August 22, 2019

My head is full of my own books–another WiP just popped up in my brain and is demanding attention–so I haven’t had a chance to read this week.  Except my own stuff and Krissie’s, which is pretty damn good, even if we do have structure problems.  Well, I have structure problems.

What did you read this week, structure problems or not?

84 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 22, 2019

  1. The first two in Janet Neel’s 1980s mystery series (‘Death’sBright Angel’ and ‘Death on Site’). Which I enjoyed – they’re somewhere between ‘Yes, Minister’ and ‘Morse’, with an intriguing romance – but they’d have been even better with a tougher edit. Nearly there, but not quite. And I don’t want to spend more time in the 1980s establishment right now. Although if the library had them, I’d keep going.

    Gone for fun as a segue, and am rereading Jo Beverley’s ‘The Rogue’s Return’, to be followed by ‘To Rescue a Rogue’, which are the last two of the series I’ve kept – it went downhill. It’s excellent (mostly) earlier on, though. The very first (‘An Arranged Marriage’) doesn’t entirely work, but the second, ‘An Unwilling Bride’, is a real favourite, and there are others after that.

    9+
    1. You just reminded me about Janet Neel, so I dug out my three, I read a lot of them when I was in Scotland but couldn’t find any here (B. C.) I looked her up but I think I read the last one. Do you know when she stopped writing about Francesca and McLeish? We left Scotland 1990, if that’s any help.
      I really like the Thursday blog, so many good references!!

      5+
      1. DEATH’S BRIGHT ANGEL
        DEATH ON SITE
        DEATH OF A PARTNER
        DEATH AMONG THE DONS
        A TIMELY DEATH
        O GENTLE DEATH
        TO DIE FOR

        and THE HIGHEST BIDDER under the name Janet Cohen, a standalone.

        3+
      2. I found this chronology for that series (she also wrote a few others):

        Death’s Bright Angel (1988)
        Death on Site (1989)
        Death of a Partner (1991)
        Death among Dons (1993)
        A Timely Death (1996)
        To Die For (1999)
        O Gentle Death (2000)

        2+
        1. Thank you Ann and JaneB, I enjoyed most of the stories but not the last one I read, I think (spoiler) she was having an affair?

          2+
          1. Yes. I loved those books. But I couldn’t remember the author or titles until you just mentioned them. The relationship between Francesca and MacLeish was part of what made them so great, but (spoiler) when she started having an affair, in what was apparently the last one, for no damn reason that I could see, it kind of spoiled the previous ones for me.

            2+
          2. I had a feeling this might happen; it was a major reason for my hesitation. I think I’ll leave it at the first two, given this. It’s not just that the author’s values clash with mine; I found myself questioning the female lead, especially: she seems to flip between confident leader (most of the time) and whining wimp. Which is part of what I meant about the books needing a bit more editing.

            2+
  2. Ooooh, what work in progress? Do you typically wait until one work is done before starting another? Or do you get the bit that’s flipping around front and center on paper so you can finish the first?

    10+
    1. It’s a novella called Cold Hearts, about the sister from Hot Toy. I had characters I like and a premise that had promise (snark) but it wasn’t gelling, and then there was a book on Book Bub about working with bad bosses and I thought, “Oh, wait.” Plus there’s Liz (75,000 words already and a great idea for the sequel in a three-book series) and Paradise Park/Monday Street, so I’m good to hit the ground running as soon as Nita’s done.

      19+
      1. Do you remember the one of them locked in the bank?? Oh oh! and the Ethan/Nadine follow-up crossover!!! All your WIPs, really. XD

        7+
  3. Last week I read the first in Martha Well’s Raksura series, so this week I read the second. I was going to start a book which had become available from the library next, but realized I am engaged with the Raksura, so I’ve started the third.

    11+
  4. I read Philanderers Gone by Beth Byers and Bettie Jane. It’s first of a new series, set in 1922 I think. 2 women met at a party where their cheating husbands are hanging out together. The husbands die. There’s lots of emotion as Ro and Hettie start processing the deaths and solve the murders. I wouldn’t mind a miniseries with the characters. Not sure I’d want a full on TV series but 6-8 episodes would be fun.

    5+
  5. I have a copy of Outfox by Sandra Brown on its way to the library for me. I will still get my favorite authors even though maybe it is my tastes that are changing or they are going off into different directions and I’m not making the leap with them. I couldn’t find anything this week to keep my attention enough in order to finish, so I pulled up the New York Times from the library because I really like reading the comments section. Well one of the contributors reminded us that Denmark’s Hans Christian Andersen wrote The Emperor’s New (Clothes) Suit. It gave me a tickle. 2020 can’t come soon enough.

    9+
  6. Finished “Whose Body” and ”Cloud of Witness” and “Strong Poison.” Currently slogging through “The Five Red Herrings” which I put down for a bit. I think it is the Scottish dialogue. It is throwing me out of the story. I read somewhere that one should write a few lines of dialogue and carry on in English. True or not, I’m going to read the end and move on to another Sayer novel.

    7+
    1. I love Sayers, though some in the series do get tedious. The one about church bells was hard for me because of the technical language. But the whole series is brilliant, imho.

      5+
      1. I enjoyed the church bells one (The Nine Tailors) because although I didn’t understand much of the change ringing info, I found it fascinating. I reread the book lately and googled change ringing, and now I understand it much better (although I can’t imagine having the patience and fortitude for it). Knowing a bit about it was useful when reading Connie Willis’ Doomsday Book, too — it helped me understand what the American change ringer ladies were on about. 🙂

        3+
      1. I often wondered if Harriet met Mary Russell as they were at Oxford at the same time as I recall. (Mary Russell from The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King. Love the first two of that series, and like most of the later ones.)

        5+
        1. I still remember picking up Beekeeper’s Apprentice and thinking “This could be really good or really, really naff.” Fortunately, it was really good. I have to keep reminding myself that Mary Russell isn’t actually a part of the original Holmes stories – she’s such a vivid character.

          5+
        2. Another Mary Russell fan here! Also, in “A Letter of Mary,” Lord Peter makes a brief, uncredited appearance.

          4+
      1. She and Mary Stewart gave me glimpses of lots of writers – it was always thrilling to come across the quotes in context as I studied English literature at university. Although I still haven’t tackled ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’, which I seem to remember ran through ‘Gaudy Night’ particularly.

        3+
  7. My recommendation this week is “If I’m Being Honest” by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka. It’s a combination of Taming of the Shrew and My Name Is Earl, in which a “bitchy” girl decides to start making amends and taming herself after her crush thinks she’s a horrible person. It’s extremely well done.

    6+
  8. I blazed through Jacqueline Carey’s “Santa Olivia.” Currently working on its sequel, “Saints Astray.”

    5+
    1. I really enjoyed those and had completely forgotten about them until you mentioned them. Thank you.

      3+
  9. I’m rereading some older (1986) Nora Roberts novels, but have lost patience with the inner lives of the characters (and my own, this week!). I can see that she got better as a writer, which is encouraging.

    8+
    1. I was reading old Nora Roberts, and even going into it knowing that it was old and that certain things would sound off to my modern sensibilities, the male half of the main couple-to-be thought to himself something about how he wasn’t in for all the women’s lib stuff, and that if someone didn’t like getting catcalled by construction workers they should find a different route to walk.

      There are too many books in the world to keep reading one that gets on my nerves like that.

      1+
  10. Yesterday during my Metro Safari I finished reading “Remnants of Trust” by Elizabeth Bonesteel. I like her military SF world-building and there are a lot of interesting characters. This one ended in a way that bodes ill for one of them.

    3+
  11. The library finally turned loose “Palimpsest: A Memoir” by Gore Vidal, which I found really fascinating. He knew almost everybody since he was predominantly raised by his grandparents (grandfather was a U. S. Senator) and his mother was Hugh Auchincloss’s second wife (Jackie and Lee Bouvier’s mother was poorHughieD’s third wife, although Gore fortunately only talked about those with whom he socialized. And like Truman Capote he feuded with many so some of what he says may be less than factual.

    For the last month or so I have been reading steven Havill’s Posadas County mysteries. They can be read out of order without it significantly impacting how enjoyable they are. It messes up the time line but the time line is not essential to the mystery. Also in the mystery genre, I have read a few more of Martin Walker’s Bruno series. It takes place in the Perigord which is an area I have not travelled in although I have a good friend who lives there for six months out of the year (her significant other is French) so I love reading about it.

    8+
  12. I read Donna Andrew’s latest, Terns of Endearment, and then went on to re-reading her backlist. Meg Landslow and her wacky family are a great antidote to the current horrible state of the world.

    10+
    1. When I really need to destress—like once when I was nervously awaiting major surgery—I go back to MURDER WITH PEACOCKS and just start re-reading the whole series. The most recent books are still lots of fun, but I really really love the earliest ones.

      9+
      1. Thank you for a new to me recommendation. I have placed a hold on a couple at the Library. They are extremely popular. I particularly liked the title “We will always have Parrots”.

        10+
        1. My favorites in that series are the Christmas books. The characters and mystery are as delightful as the rest of the series, but these books read as if they’ve been marinated for 12 days in Christmas Spirit. The story moves along rapidly, and along the way the reader vicariously enjoys Christmas meals, Christmas parades, Christmas carols, and–my very favorite thing–fantastic Christmas decorations, in styles varying from glitteringly expensive to cozily handmade. Andrews clearly loves Christmastime; there are five Christmas titles so far, with OWL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS due out soon.

          8+
        2. I read “We’ll always have Parrots” just recently. It was a quick read, with the added bonus of not figuring out the killer till near the end. I think I probably might have done better to have read a few more, to get the family dynamics more situated. I read the first one 20 years ago, and don’t think that I’ve read any of the others.

          2+
    2. I love that series with all the love. Donna Andrews is a great antidote to just about anything. (And I’m not just saying that because she was kind enough to give me lots of mystery writing advice and brainstorm pun-ny titles with me. Although she really is a sweetheart.)

      11+
  13. I’m currently re-reading Coming Home by Rosamund Pilcher. I was in the mood for something non-demanding and it’s filling the bill. I started my vacation today with housework; I’m going away for the weekend as I mentioned in another post and I want to come home to a clean house. So while doing housework, I listened to The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. I still have some housework to do but it’s noisy(vacuuming) so I will wait until later to continue with it. I may have to wait until I get home to actually finish it.
    I will be listening to either The Queen of Attolia or The King of Attolia for the long drive. It’s a tradition now, started a number of years ago when I first began to attend this conference.

    5+
  14. All y’all who have fairly new cars – less than 10 years old? – have probably enjoyed some sort of media device, like hooking your Walkmen to the radio, or whatever. I now drive a 2019 model car. It has USB ports, auxiliary jacks, a CD player… at least three ways to play music or audio files.

    I have been listening to Manhunting on my commute. It’s also open on the Chromebook as an ebook and as an audiobook. It’s playing in the background, chapter ten now. The problem is that Manhunting is a single MP3 file, and although the car remembers about where it left off, if nothing interferes, it goes back to the beginning if something does. The player on the Chromebook lets me position the cursor, or play marker, or whatever. The car, doesn’t.

    There are audio books that permit me to download a book where each chapter is an individual MP3 file, or even a few audio books I bought years ago on CDs that came that way. I need to make up a thumb drive with those for the car. Restarting a chapter is better than restarting a whole book.

    These are definitely old privileged white male problems. Imagine my grin. Life is so hard. 🙂

    I’ve got Irish Magic on Joe. No problem.

    11+
    1. I read The Chain by Adrian McKinty. It’s about a child kidnapping ring called The Chain. Very riveting and scary.

      2+
    2. Welcome to usb ports! Love em! Hate that a lot of newer cars don’t even include CD players anymore. Bizarre to me. I usually do the aux Jack for the same reason, my phone of mp3 player won’t lose it’s place in the book. After so many scratches audio books from the library, the CD player was losing some luster. But the Libby app, on my phone, using the aux jack, has saved me! Then i can continue in the house, too!

      3+
      1. Hi, Nicole! I still haven’t explored all the features of my new cell phone (the one my dotter talked me into), but I’ve got the appropriate aux cord (double mail stereo) and can hook that or Joe into the car. It has much louder speakers than either device, which is nice. The dotter points out that she can do WiFi connections to the car, also. Bluetooth, or something.

        In the meantime, I’ve finished Manhunting (again) and Irish Magic calls.

        3+
        1. Ooooh, yes, bluetooth! I forgot about that! I don’t use mine because it handles texts like a dummy and I don’t need to worry about those while driving. I, too, like the louder speakers!! With your new phone, you must look in to Libby!! It’s fabulous! Just depends on whether libraries in your area connect to it, sadly.

          5+
  15. Working my way to the New York Times magazine’s ‘1619 Project’. Very good. All of the American history not taught in school.

    6+
  16. I’m reading Kristan Higgans’ newest, Life and Other Inconveniences. Women’s Fiction with a number of different POVs, which I normally don’t like, but she really pulls it off. Un-put-down-able. (Yes, that’s a word.)

    3+
  17. I read Kurt Vonnegut’s Bluebeard for the first time last week. Such a powerful book. Of all the themes he touched in this fake memoirs, the one closest to my heart was the theme of art and artists. What if you have the gift, but it is not ‘super-shmuper’? What if your gift is average? Not Homer or Jane Austen, but one of the thousands of self-published writers now? Do you still write? Publish?
    He doesn’t really give answers, just poses questions, and although he talks about painters, his philosophical musings easily translate to artistic souls in any creative field.

    4+
    1. That used to kneecap me. I think I’m a good writer but I’m not deep, and I used to think maybe I’d get deeper. Instead I’ve come to like the level I’m at. The worst thing a writer can do is compare herself to somebody else. Nobody else can write your books, so if you don’t, those stories will be lost forever while you become a second-rate somebody else.

      16+
      1. I love this. I’m currently playing with something and having to keep reminding myself that I’m not writing a Crusie, much as I wish I could – I can’t make the witty banter happen, my characters keep resisting me when I try.

        7+
    2. I like to think that I am a little bit above average. Not genius level above average, just enough that my books are better than a lot of the stuff out there, and not as good as some. That’s enough for me. (And thankfully, it seems to be enough for my readers, bless them.)

      9+
      1. Self assessment can be a tricky thing, especially if you’re a woman. Many years ago I studied drama as an undergraduate, and one of the lecturers decided that we should assess ourselves. There were six of us in the group – two men and four women. He set us a series of questions and we gave ourselves marks for each one, then added them up for our final score.
        Both men had given themselves high distinctions. All the women had given themselves either passes or credits.
        Our lecturer was appalled. He told us that in his book neither of the men had actually earned more than a pass, two of the women should have had high distinctions, and the other two either distinctions or credits.
        I don’t think he ever went the self assessment route again.

        4+
        1. When I was in the Navy, many years ago, we were evaluated annually. I forget the headings, now, but it was all on the 4.0 scale. One of the character building exercises every year was to be told to evaluate ourselves. A chief taught me (us) this: “Rank yourself high. If you don’t think you’re earning 4.0 marks, nobody else will.” One year, I remember writing, “I am not yet perfect. The soles of my shoes still get damp when I walk on water. But I’m working on it.”

          At my current job, they ask for input for those annual evals, and I am tempted to resurrect the input from the past.

          5+
          1. In middle school my daughter’s class was told to evaluate their own projects. She modestly gave herself a lower grade than the teacher had in mind. The teacher stuck with giving my daughter the grade my daughter had put down. It was supposed to be a sort of lesson. Gary’s comment reminds me of that episdode. Maybe the teacher had been in the Navy.

            3+
    3. I have stopped worrying about where I am on the scale of bad to good writers. I mean I hope I am in the middle somewhere, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I have something to convey and I just try my best to do that.

      With the Bree books, it’s all about making reality go away, if I can make someone laugh, then I’ve done my job. I’m thinking I might write another.

      Glimmer Girls is something else. I think it’s going to be about having the courage to be who you are. But who knows? I can never really tell until the darn thing is done.

      And now Oreo is telling me to stop taking myself so seriously and let her out. For such a small dog she sure is loud!

      5+
  18. I’m still in Sydney, so reading on my Kindle – a bunch of books that I’ve been keeping for when I was away. Kelley Armstrong’s This Fallen Prey, the third in the Rockton series. I do love this series, and wish I liked her other books as much, but I don’t. Also KJ Charles’ An Unsuitable Heir, which was as good as her others (and I really love her others). Now I’m in the middle of Caroline Stevermer’s Magic Below Stairs, which is delightful.

    I’m heading home late this afternoon, where Traitor’s Purse is waiting for me. I was halfway through it when I left, and didn’t want to bring the physical book with me – what a great story it is. It’s my favourite of Allingham’s so far.

    8+
  19. I have been busily making my way through Michelle Sagara West’s Chronicles of Elantra, which I thought I had read before but am now pretty sure I had not. Most of them (I am on the 7th of 14, I think) I have enjoyed and some I do not see the point of at all (other than wedging in a random factlet that is important but not crucial in a later title), although 7 books and a novella or so in, I couldn’t tell you which ones by title. They keep going forward, though, and usually this deep in a series authors have gotten bored their own selves and it makes continuing painful or else they have fallen into/adopted one of the LKH tics that gave me despair and make me quit a series and that is not happening, which is great.

    I accidentally reread Dhalgren, which is not at all a comfort read (at least for me) and feels like an accomplishment. Then I nearly reread Podkayne of Mars (my brain makes very strange choices when I am mostly asleep) but instead scooped up Jia Tolentino’s Trick Mirror, which was just great. It is not remotely comforting but it is very smart and well written and I am looking forward to reading it again. Her essays are worth second and third passes.

    4+
    1. Hi, Anne V! You mention Podkayne of Mars, a Heinlein juvenile… sort of. It is, in fact, one of the very, very few treebooks, a paperback, to be found on my shelves. I have the copy with three endings: the original Heinlein ending, the revised ending forced by his publisher, and the Jim Baen ending, plus essays. I may have to pick it up – I’ve not read it in years.

      4+
      1. Oh joy! I also have that copy, a gift from someone years ago, and many people have tried to convince me it doesn’t exist!

        I read it as a juvenile, but I don’t think of it as a kids or even YA book. Kids being in a book doesn’t mean it’s a book for kids.

        4+
    1. I read through it on a short flight. When I got off the plane, I went to the airport bookstore for book 2, which was consumed on the return flight. Enjoy!

      5+
  20. I’ve been reading Julia Spencer-Fleming’s Reverend Clare Ferguson / Russ Van Alstyne mysteries. After the first couple I lost interest in the mystery portion of the stories but wanting to see how the author works out the Clare/Russ storyline has kept me going. Theirs is a complicated relationship and I’m quite curious to see what she does with it.

    6+
      1. According to Amazon, book 9 in the series (Hid from Our Eyes) is scheduled to be released in hardcover and Kindle April 7, 2020

        3+
  21. Zipped through the sweet romance Red White and Royal Blue with enough present-day politics to keep in interesting, but not enough to overwhelm the story.

    3+
  22. I read Split Feather by Deborah A. Wolf. When I searched her name on Amazon to see when the sequel would be out and I kept getting books by Deb Blake!

    I quite liked that book but I also read one that was very cold and distant. It fit the story but I can’t see myself reading anything else in that series which is disappointing because it’s an intriguing premise.

    3+
  23. I started A Dangerous Collaboration by Deanna Raybourn. I like this series enough to keep going, but I hope the relationship between Veronica and Stoker develops, or at least twists. I’m ready for it to change a little.

    5+

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