This is a Good Book Thursday, September 26, 2019

That whooshing sound you heard was September rushing past. At least I did manage to read new books this month–the Raven Boys series–and a lot of recipes. I also started on the Unfuck Your Habitat Book which I get back to as soon as I get at least one proposal to New York and finish Nita. Which I have been saying for months. I haven’t watched TV in weeks, either. I’m going to have to take a break to get a story fix pretty soon. ARGH.

What are you reading, fellow Arghers?

94 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 26, 2019

  1. You might try escaping your habitat for a morning and heading off to a library to work on proposals. I went to one yesterday to return books, and just for the hell of it, went walking around the fiction stacks looking for accidental gold, which I didn’t find.

    Libraries are full of people walking around with a need for books they’d like, and I was certainly one of them. Didn’t find anything (– what search help did I have other than book spines, though?) Went home without any books. Tried to analyze what I’d want, and decided THAT is what they need in libraries. A catalog organized by book elements, so you could look for just the bones you could potentially like.

    I wanted: female protagonist (some psychic wounds preferred); interesting supportive friend/s; any genre; one or more connected animals; moral choices of some kind; smart dialogue; picturable surroundings; some humor; no creepy violence; no stoic suffering; happy ending or potential maybe; a series would be nice.

    Adversaries are optional for me. They can be nonhuman or just groups/structures the protagonist is up against. Gripping suspense or tension just don’t help my reading experience. And I don’t really like reading about large loving families in happy circumstances because if it’s all that good, why am I reading?

    All I need is a coding system.

    1. Some libraries include all kinds of stuff in the catalog – mine pulls tags and related books and recommendations from Librarything. Or you could go straight to

    2. Most of what you require is in a new historical fiction novel, The Last Collection, by Jeanne Mackin, set just before and during WWII, Paris. Widow for female protagonist, plenty of moral choices, with the Nazis threatening, happy ending. Lily has supportive friends of a sort, in Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, plus a German love interest, plus her brother. Not much humor or animals, though. Good luck!
      As a librarian, I see how your system could work–but it will never happen. Just have to rely on friends and GoodReads!

    3. Hmm. The book/series that your description brings to mind for me is/are Lila Payne’s Lowcountry Mysteries, specifically the first one, Not Quite Dead. Try it out and see if it fits you.

      If you weren’t requiring psychic wounds I would recommend Beth Kendrick’s In Dog We Trust.

    4. That’s what librarians and booksellers (as opposed to sales assistants who just happen to be dealing in books) are for. That’s what my job was – to talk to customers and work out what they were really looking for, to make the sometimes obscure connections, and hopefully put the right books in the right hands. These days, it’s writing reviews to help librarians and teachers and booksellers put the right books in the right hands. Catalogues can only go so far, no matter how sophisticated they are.

    5. I have been nursing a badly swollen ankle and doing some re-reads centred on light and fluffy. Am currently reading Jill Shalvis’ Animal Magnetism series and think that it might fit your bill. Smart Bitches just released a book search that allows you to type in a genre and two thematic elements and run a search through their data base. (My first eight combinations didn’t return any results, but maybe that’s just me.) As an example, I just put in ‘Historical: European’, ‘Class differences’, and ‘Character with a disability’ and it gave me three books that meets those criteria. It may be fun to play with.

  2. I started to read The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z Hossain, but even though it’s short, and fun, I’m taking a wee break because I NEED ROMANCE to counteract the news. I heard there’s a good romance coming out about the devil and a cop and some populist nutters who get what they deserve/are converted (I hope)? I’d like to get my hands on that 😉 So, I’ve been reading romance – Talia Hibbert has hit the spot.

    In other romance news, it’s my birthday and I got the best present. But there’s some background. 20 years ago, when we were in uni (and texting wasn’t really a thing), if my boyfriend or I spotted each other’s car, we’d leave a wee flower (stolen from a nearby plant) under the windscreen wiper, just to say hi. One day it was a sprig of kowhai (a NZ native, that he said was like me because it’s small and bright). I wouldn’t have remembered, except today I found out he’d kept it, pressed between the pages of a text book, and he gave it to me, framed, as a present. It blooms at this time of year, and this would have been my masters/his post-doc year, so it’s pretty much exactly 20 years old. ALL THE FEELS. I have a picture on twitter @allanahrobinson or insta

      1. You’re welcome! I think we all need a little more love and romance right now – in real life or books. It sure beats bickering about whose turn it is to (insert chore here)

        1. Happy Birthday! That story made my day, not only for the perfect romance, but also calling up memories of the wonderful times I had visiting my friends in New Zealand. Thank you.

  3. I read Uprooted by Naomi Novik and it was so good that I promptly turned round and read it again. Unfortunately it was the last of hers, so I’m back to binge reading Margery Allingham’s Campion books. I wasn’t totally enthralled by the first couple but I’m enjoying the rest much more, though the current one did rather put me off by talking about “the strident, sibilant chatter of female voices, which is perhaps the most unpleasant noise in the world”. That’s the problem with reading books written early last century.

    1. I loved Uprooted! Does that mean you’ve already read her Spinning Silver? Very different, but I liked it a lot as well.

  4. I have been looking at a lot of quilting patterns and quilting fabric online. I don’t actually quilt (I would have failed sewing class if a friend hadn’t taken pity on me and finished my pillow), I just find all the colors and shapes and artistry very soothing.

    But I don’t feel guilty like I usually do b/c I just read “How To Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy” by Jenny Odell. I didn’t agree with everything and I’ve got to be honest, I found parts of the books a little too pretentious/precious for me, but she does at least examine the privilege inherent in “doing nothing.” And it also made me think very deeply and really notice the world around me, so that’s a good thing.

    1. One that gave me permission to do nothing was Patricia Hampl’s The Art of the Wasted Day, her latest memoir. She’s a graceful writer and deep thinker, and the book cover is so pretty I haven’t put it in the bookcase!

  5. In an effort to get through the preparation for colonoscopy, I broke my moratorium on novel buying and reading and bought and read Lyndsay Buroker’s Dark Currents, which is Book 2 from her Emperor’s Edge series.

    Had third person narration. It stood alone relatively well. Much better structure than her Chains of Honor series because it has enough of a resolution of certain plot points that it is not cliff-hanger-y.

    Reminds me of Buffy TV series with a Big Bad that goes through the whole season but each episode has its own resolution. Recommended with caveat that it is part of a completed 9 book series and you may need to wait to buy all, budget dependent. 😉😏

  6. I’ve picked up a few new ones lately.

    I haven’t read Jude Deveraux for decades – I haven’t even seen any of her books & thought that she wasn’t writing anymore -but found that she is writing mysteries. They’re cosies, and quite enjoyable. Bought the first – A Willing Murder – then bought the second. It took a smidge of a while to get into the first, but once in, it’s great, There may be a bit of a Mary Sue element to my mind, an aged romance writer who hasn’t written in years is one of the characters, but I really enjoyed the smart arse comebacks from the female lead.

    I’ve also picked up Magic and the Shinigami Detective by Honor Raconteur (great last name for an author!) which has been recommended a couple of times here – excellent series. I highly recommend it. Competence porn and a slow build of a team with an interesting world setup.

    The last one arrived in my Kindle this morning – the latest from Nalini Singh Archangel’s War which I’ve been waiting for. Good thing it’s a long weekend for me this weekend otherwise I wouldn’t be at work tomorrow!

      1. She has a lot of different series. Her Artifactor series is a lot of fun, and her best known series is probably the Advent Mage Cycle, starting with Jaunten.

      2. Absolutely love the Artifactor series- the protagonist has Agnes level of crankiness. Deepwoods has tremendous community building. Honestly, haven’t read anything of hers I haven’t liked.

    1. Thanks. I must try Honor Raconteur.
      I finished my birthday book. Jude Deveraux’s Met Her Match. Light. Fun. Vintage Deveraux. I also liked the Murder one. I have to try the second.

  7. I’ve been rereading Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers books, so they’d be fresh in my mind when I read her latest – a short novel called ‘To Be Taught, if Fortunate’. I really enjoyed the rereads, but this new one isn’t as much fun so far (I’m a third of the way through), and isn’t set in the same time as the others. I’m afraid there may not be a happy ending.

  8. I just finished Reticence by Gail Carriger. It’s the end of the series so I dunno if I’d say to jump in there, but it has a very sweet nerd slow burn romance in it.

    I also read Well Met by Jen DeLuca and it’s a Renaissance faire romance. I liked that one a lot.

    Off topic: I got in another play! Basically as an extra, but at least it’s something and lord knows I didn’t fit any of the lead female roles in it anyway.

  9. I finished Rainbow Rowell’s new book, “Wayward Sons” which is #2 in her Simon Snow series. Be warned that it ends in a cliffhanger. The story deals how Simon’s loss of the Most Powerful Mage in the World status affects his relationship with Baz. I liked it. But, then I liked “Carry On”.

    I just finished “The Skeleton Stuffs a Christmas Stocking” – the latest in the Skeleton detective series from Leigh Perry. It’s amusing fluff, new relationships are started, and I really like Sid the Skeleton.

    I’m now re-reading “Witch Week” by Diane Wynne Jones because I’m on a British boarding school kick.

    1. I loved Simon Snow (structural issues be damned), and had no idea there were going to be more! Thank you!

  10. I just finished Emily Tesh’s Silver in the wood, which makes me hope she’s a fast writer, since it’s her first. I could feel the wood so vividly.

  11. Also I’m in the middle of The Lost for Words Bookshop, mentioned here earlier. I’m enjoying it, but I agree that it’s strangely slow. I’m loving all the detail, especially the bookiness, but I keep putting it down to read other things. I have not yet come to anything I would agree to add to Deleted Scenes, and yet it is convincing me that Jenny has a point about pacing.

    1. Reading this blog has made re-evaluate books and movies. I can see how little weight certain characters and scenes pull, and how a story would be tighter without them. Very neat perspective!

  12. I managed to read two actual new books by authors I didn’t know! One was the Warrior Mage, suggested here, so thanks.

    On vacation next week, and hope to catch up with some of the backlog of “I need an uninterrupted hour to get into that one” books.

  13. I finished re-reads of Moon’s Serrano series and Bujold’s Palladin of Souls. I re-read Penric’s Demon purely because Baen Books made it part of a sample (which fact I shared here.) I think Archer’s Vampires Don’t Sparkle may be open on a device I’m not holding, but I dowanna read vampire stuff right this minute/hour/day/week.

    I have a long TBR list. I don’t want to start anything on it.

    I’ve mentioned my collection of thumb drives. Last night, I took advantage of the computers at work to make sure I had one drive (32Gb) empty and renamed for my eldest grandson, for school. I was also looking on the other 15 drives for my “music collection” to transfer to my new MP3 player. It turns out the music is all on one of my portable hard drives, which I didn’t have with me.

    It’s not a great collection. Best of Queen, Best of Moody Blues, Simon and Garfunkel, Urban Tapestry, stuff like that. I went from vinyl records to tape, to 8-track, to cassette, all now gone. I might have a dozen CDs? And now those are phasing themselves out in favor of MP3 files. Urban Tapestry, Sex and Chocolate. The one that starts, “Great Auntie Moira was my favorite aunt/She painted her cheekbones bright blue/She’d sing and she’d dance and she ate raw eggplant/and played Beetle songs on her kazoo”

  14. I’ve been poking around on Archive of our Own again, searching by authors and/or characters as I think of them, to see what’s out there. There’s some interesting Dorothy Sayers stuff out there, much better than the Jill Patton Walsh stuff.

    1. I love Dorothy Sayers! Her writing on feminism (Are Women Human?) and on Christianity (essays collected in The Mind of the Maker) are witty and trenchant.

      1. I’m reading “The Gospel of Dorothy L Sayers, Selections from Her Novels, Plays, Letters, and Essays” and finished “Striding Folly” yesterday. “The Man Born to be King” is up next.

        Read a few chapters of Bet Me in the wee hours. Must read it again.

        Margery Allingham will be on the tba list. What should I read first?

        1. I like reading in order, but definitely made a mistake by starting at the beginning with Allingham: she doesn’t get good until the late 1930s. I should start with ‘Sweet Danger’, which is still a bit immature but introduces Amanda, who’s important in later stories. Then (following advice here) I skipped to ‘Dancers in Mourning’, then ‘The Fashion in Shrouds’, which is where they really come good. I’ve read as far as ‘More Work for the Undertaker’, and plan to read the later ones soon.

          1. I second what Jane says about Allingham. I think she was almost doing satire in the beginning, making her detective a kind of facetious ass, and then she matured him into Campion. Sweet Danger (which is the Fear Sign in the US, I think) still has a little bit of that, but it’s well worth reading anyway, and after that, it’s all good. Lovely characters and character-driven plots.

  15. I was still on a Mary Stewart binge. Just finished “Thunder on the Right” which I had read before. What I hadn’t noticed before (or had forgotten, which is more possible) is that it is written in the third person. All the others of her’s I’ve read are in the first person, and I have to say I prefer that POV in her writing.

    It made me think about POV in general. I’ve now realized I prefer first person in suspense and mystery stories, but not in romance. My favourite mystery authors are Dick Francis and Robert B Parker, both of which use first person. But my favourite romance authors all use third person (probably mostly because they provide both male and female POV’s). I enjoy Kristan Higgins quite a lot, but she uses first person and I always feel like I’m missing something in her stories that I would get if it were third person. And that would explain while I prefer Mary Stewart’s first person more – while there is always a romance in her stories, it is the mystery that is the main plot driver.

    Which also explains why, when I decided I was going to write a book, I started writing it in first person, because I thought I was writing a mystery. But when the romance took over that POV didn’t feel right, so I rewrote it in the third person.

    Which is only one of the reasons it took me 10 years to finished that one….

  16. Just finished a new historical fiction novel, The Last Collection, by Jeanne Mackin, set just before and during WWII, Paris. Told from 1st person POV of Lily, an American widow living in England, whose brother invites her to Paris in the late 1930s. She meets Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli, whose couture collections are described in detail. Also, Lily is an artist, so a lot about color, including the structure of the book, divided into three sections, each a primary color.

  17. Finished Kushiel’s Dart. My modern sensibilities tell me that they could have cut the first 3/7s of the book or so, as the protagonist basically isn’t an active player in the world until that point, so it was all just 500 pages of backstory.

    Started on “How to Invent Everything,” by Ryan North. Delightful.

  18. I am just starting W. S. Merwin’s The Mays of Ventadorn. It is very slow reading because his use of language is so precise, even beautiful. Skipping even a word seems not to be thought. And I am one of those people who have no trouble skipping sentences, paragraphs, chapters if what I am reading moves too slowly.

    But I did finish a Steven Havill Posadas County Mystery, which I am finding to be enjoyable reading. They can be read out of sequence even though there is a definite story line for each main character. There is not a lot of back story reiterated but it makes little difference. Each mystery stands alone.

  19. Enjoyed Lois McMaster Bujold’s Orphans of Raspay, more than I remember enjoying the previous novella in the series.

    Struggling a bit with Seanan McGuire’s latest, The Unkindest Tide, which feels like the first quarter was all backstory and reminding readers who the characters (admittedly a large cast) are and were. I’m a bit past the midpoint, and I’m still looking for the protagonist to have a goal other than “do whatever the sea witch tells me to do” and/or “react to problems.” There’s a mystery that starts at the midpoint, but solving that seems unlikely to be a whole-book goal. I may feel differently when I finish, but if it were a new author, not someone I know can tell a good story, I’d have given up by now.

  20. I read the second Murderbot book, Artificial Condition, which I didn’t like as much as the first, at least for awhile. The delight of those books is (for me) murderbot’s interactions with humans, and the first few chapters of this were its internal ruminations. But once it started talking to the ship things improved.

    Also Remnants of Trust, the second book in Elizabeth Bonesteel’s Central Corp series. Loved this just as much as the first one – I do enjoy the tortuous politics and the shadowy baddies.

  21. Except for rereading Kevin Hearne’s “Iron Druid Chronicles”-series again for comfort, I’ve actually managed to read a couple of books I really liked. My attention span is not the best at the moment, so it’s been slow going sometimes, but aaanyway, what I’ve read that was not rereads AND noteworthy is:

    “Aru Shah and the Song of Death”, 2nd in the Pandava Quartet by Roshani Chockshi. I gave this one 5 stars. I think I’ll have to reread and revaluate the first one, because I really loved this one and I can’t remember the first one hooked me as much. Middle-grade (although I think it’s more in the YA direction, but perhaps that’s just me) fantasy mixed with hindu mythology. Love the world and the characters. Part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint.

    “The Fire Keeper”, 2nd in the Storm Runner series by J. C. Cervantes. Again, middle-grade/ya(?) from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint. This one with Maya/aztekh mythology. Perhaps it’s my non-existing attention span, but this one took a bit more work from my side to follow. It’s a great series though, with turns you don’t always see coming.

    Currently reading “The Tyrant’s Tomb”, part 4 of the Trials of Apollo-series by Rick Riordan. Yes, apparently this is where I belong right now, in the MG/Ya-zone. Halfway through and really enjoying the ride. A bit worried about what might come though…

    Have also read a bunch of cookbooks. Just finished “Recipes from My Home Kitchen” by Christine Ha, the legally blind lady that won Master Chef America some years ago. It was nice to read 🙂 And(!) thanks to that book, I got it confirmed that talking meat/kitchen thermometers really do exist. I’d given up my search for such a thing because I simply couldn’t find any and all experts on assistive tech here said they’d never heard of such a thing and “what is a kitchen thermometer anyway?”, but I looked again after reading in Ha’s book that she uses one and found one! Unfortunately it turns out it’s not the kind that can stay in the oven while cooking…which I discovered a couple of days after placing the order, when it was too late to cancel it. so I’ll have to look further, but at least I have one to use for outside-oven-stuff until I find one*.

    * I haven’t received it yet. Amazon UK said sometime between Sept. 27 and Oct. 15. Patience…

    1. What are you looking for the talking thermometer to do? Tell you the oven/food temp or alert you when food has reached a certain temp?

      In the US, leave-in probes are pretty widely available, but most of them beep to alert when food has reached a given temp, which means you need to be able to program it. I use a thermoworks “alarm”, which is a programmable beeping probe, and find it very helpful. They also have some super noisy stack alarms where you can record what is being alarmed about, if that makes sense.

      We used to get a pretty fair number of assistive devices from a small business in Tennessee – assistive technology services. They have a pretty wide range of stuff that talks, and the OTs were pretty pleased with the quality.

      (Sorry to derail, but assistive technology = very dear to my heart!)

      1. No need for excuses! It only makes me happy that someone cares about assistive technology. 🙂

        Can I settle for both? I have learned that it’s not the best thing to open an oven when things are cooking in it, regardless of if it’s a steak/roast/thick piece of meat or bread, because opening the oven lowers the temperature again and it’ll make things either take longer to finish cooking, or (in the case of bread) might ruin things. So I’d definitely like one that can yell at me when something has finished cooking, which means it has to be able to withstand being left in the oven, or have connections to the outside?. I have understood t the ones you leave in the oven are a probe connected with a cord cord to the actual display-thingy(?) outside the oven(?) so if such a talking one exists, where you can dabble with the settings and all, I’d definitely want one of those.

        The one I have ordered now is not suitable for in-oven-use. I can still use it for exact tea water heat measures or things I cook on the stove (I presume), but if I want to make pulled pork or lamb or chicken or whatever in the oven and want to know it’s finished but not overcooked, or not undercooked, I need something more suitable for such cooking. I also recently read a bread-cookbook where the author said you could use such thermometers to know when you’re bread is done, which sounds perfect for me since I can’t see on the outside if it’s done or not, and I really really want to learn to bake my own bread.

        This is the one I ordered:

        Thanks for helping me sorting these things out! Sometimes I wish I lived in the U.S, were it only for the easier access to assistive stuff they don’t think we need in NL/Sweden/EU…

        1. There are two in-oven options listed below. If you want to try either or both of these, I can have them shipped to me and then send them on – it won’t be fast, but it’ll get done.

          So this is the best price I can find on this one – basically you stick a probe in the meat (it has many presets in F & C, and can also be customized) and put it in to cook and it alerts when the meat gets to a certain temperature – – it speaks 5 languages.

          I am very attached to this one (I have it), which is leave-in but not wireless. The noise it makes is SO LOUD.

          They also make stack alarms, which are basically ginormous timers with 4 timers and you can record what they will say when they go off (mine says: put yogurt in fridge, turn off sous vide, weight shift, weight shift again right now) – these are those –

          I’m not sure how one of the leave in probes would help with bread but I was scared of bread when I lived at sea level and now I am at altitude I intermittently make sourdough but am a nervous wreck the whole time, so I default to arepas mostly.

          I am wondering if you have considered using a sous vide. Especially for meat, it has really changed and greatly increased my ability to cook more complex stuff independently. Also, best and easiest lemon curd ever.

          1. A number of bread recipes say to cook until they sound hollow when you knock on them. Maybe start with that? I would ignore the advice about tapping on the bottom as I just tap on the top. Also you can probably use that new thermometer to test bread.
            By the time the loaf is nearly done opening the door briefly shouldn’t do too much harm.

          2. Thanks for all the links! They all sound very good, although I can only see that the first one is a talking one, which means the other two might not be an option. Theoretically I have apps that can read displays, but I’m not really enough friends with them to trust my use of them without loads of testing first.

            Anyway, thank you so much for the help and offer! I’d love to discuss this further with you. Is there any way I can get in touch with you off Argh? I’m unfortunately not on instagram of FB, but you can find me on twitter as @shassmusic or email me at . More personal contact details are not for the public web. 😉

            The chef that prepaired our lunches at the tea and food pairing course earlier this year was a sous vide-fan. I’d never heard about it before he gave us several speeches on the subject, but it did indeed sound like an interesting way to cook. And his sous vide-prepaired pork belly was delicious! However my kitchen is small with barely enough space to stack all pans in and on each other in one cupboard and all other things higgledy-piggledy in the other cupboards, sometimes foodstuff and cooking/baking ingredients in the same cupboard because ugh, no space. Fiancé keeps muttering that all our glasses smell like vanilla and/or chocolate or cinamon, and…that is true because I have my baking goods there. I’ve already not-bought a food processor and a slow cooker because I simply don’t know where to put them. There’s no cellar or attic either. (Nope, I am not friends with this place.)

            When I’m grown-up and rich and famous ( ha ha ha) I’ll make sure we move to a place with a real big cosy kitchen with enough storage space for great ingredients and cooking ware! And with a large kitchen table where all Arghers can gather to have tea and cookies and chat while dinner’s cooking. A girl can dream, right?

  22. I’m reading Thieftaker by D.B. Jackson (David C. Coe) which is a historical paranormal mystery (or something like that, definitely not romance) set in Boston before the American Revolution. I don’t usually like historicals, but it is really well written and there is magic, or conjure, as the character calls it, and I am very much enjoying it. I picked it up because he’s going to be the guest of honor at a convention I’m taking part in this weekend, and I didn’t want to be The Woman Who Hadn’t Read Anything He Wrote, but I’ll probably get the next one in the series as soon as I finish this one.

  23. I just ripped through The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvatter, and I’m halfway through the second book, so thank you! to whoever recommended that series in the last Good Book post.

  24. One of the things I hate the most about growing old is my memory more closely resembles swiss cheese rather than anything useful. I could swear I started a list of authors with continuing series that I wanted to read the next book, but of course, I can’t remember where I put it. Once again I have to beg help from my fellow Arghers.

    There was a fantasy book recommended by someone here about a girl who was born on a certain day considered unlucky so she was blamed for everything unlucky that happened within miles. She was going to die on her upcoming birthday, but was rescued by a man from another world who took her back with him and sponsored her to the magic school. The first book was about all the tests she had to pass to be accepted as a student there. Does anyone know the author or title?

    1. It’s Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, and the second book is Wundersmith. I LOVE that series.

      1. That’s it! Thank you so much. I have written in down in my planner notebook, with the other authors I don’t want to forget, so as long as I remember where it is I’ll be good.

  25. Many thanks to the library pundits for their book searching suggestions, and to the suggesters who chimed in. I will go give all those books a try! I wish my library system had a suggestion feature that good, but alas, it’s all up to good folks like you who actually help!

    This weekly topic, and you guys on it, are great! Really appreciate it. 🙂

      1. I have a folder named “Argh People Recs” and it is the first place I go when I need to not wonder if the book will be any good. It’s very comforting to have that stockpile.

    1. I have cards to several library networks with different catalogue systems. I’ve used Encore to find suggestions, and then just search for the book title in the library I plan to visit.

  26. I have bought a whole load of what look like very good books lately, and have absolutely no interest in reading any of them right now. Instead, I’ve been on an Australian fiction kick for no reason I can figure out, but at least these have also been good.

    Boy Swallows Universe, by Trent Dalton, is one of the best books I have read all year. A little magic, a little romance, a whole lot of crime, and a setting so well evoked I felt as though I were back in Brisbane in the early 90s the whole time I was reading it.

    Amelia Westlake, by Erin Gough, is a YA romance set in a posh private school with some serious social problems. Two girls who can’t stand each other join forces to battle the patriarchy and accidentally spawn a movement. If you liked Moxie, you’ll enjoy this one.

    The Spotted Dog, by Kerry Greenwood, is the latest Corinna Chapman mystery. It’s as delightful as the rest of the series, which was a relief. It’s been so long since the previous book came out that I was worried it would feel disjointed from the rest, but every book has managed to nod to current events without tying itself to a specific decade. It’s the same pacing as the rest of the series though (slow), so if you don’t enjoy the detours into random subject matter you may find that annoying.

  27. This week I read When Paris Went Dark by Ronald Rosbottom. It covered the 4 years when Paris was occupied by the Nazis (1940-1944), a period about which I knew very little. It never occurred to me to wonder why so many historic buildings in Paris survived the war when other parts of Europe were bombed to bits and this explained a lot about that and the tales of the French resistance. According to this book, it wasn’t nearly as organized or effective as I had imagined. I also learned a lot about DeGaulle’s rise to power.

    I want to thank whoever recommended Murder With Peacocks by Donna Andrews. I am only one third through it, but I am having such a good time! I can really identify with the depiction of living in an eccentric family and wondering if the guy you are attracted to is gay. And the murder victim was so unlikable that I am sure there will be lots of good suspects.

  28. I’m looking for audiobook recommendations. I’m a little late to this party, but they are helping me get through chores. But the voices have to be right. Couldn’t get through Bruce Springsteen’s memoir. Listened to Molly Harper’s Mystic Bayou series, and those were great. But now I’m listening to something I’ve read before, and man, I do not like the narrator’s artistic choices. She’s turned the badass, snarky protagonist I adore into a whiny drama queen.
    So I think I need to stay away from my old favorites and delve into new stories. Any suggestions?

    1. I love Wen Spencer’s Tinker series on audio (narrated by Tanya Eby). Also Ilona Andrews series are good on audio – especially the Hidden Legacy series and the Sweeper series (narrated by Renee Raudman). I love the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs, narrated by Lorelei King. The Martian by Andy Weir, narrated by R. C. Bray, is fantastic.

        1. It’s funny, after I wrote that reply I thought “I should have left out the Sweep series from Ilona Andrews because I hate the voice she uses for Dina”. Was that it? I otherwise like Renee Raudman but I don’t like what she does to Dina.

    2. How about anything narrated by Grover Gardner (especially the Penric series written by Lois McMaster Bujold)? And Kate Reading is a good narrator; I particularly liked how she read the Paladin of Souls (LMBujold) but she reads for Loretta Chase as well. Also Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad novels (different narrators, all good). And the first three books in the Doyle and Acton novels. I didn’t like the narrator for the later books.

      1. I have to admit that I dislike Grover Gardner’s narration. I think I am in a distinct minority in this. Too bad as I love the Vorkosigan books, and it would be good to listen to them.

    3. The Sharing Knife series, Secondhand Souls, the Flavia de Luce series – took a bit, but adore the narrator. 🙂

    4. The narrator for Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, is really great. He has gotten me through some real frustration with Aaronovitch.

      Stephen Fry is narrating his own stuff and the latest, Mythos, is pretty wonderful.

      There are two sets of audiobooks for the Wayfarers books, one with music and sound effects (?) and one that is plain and very good where the narrator is Rachel Dulude.

      James Saxon’s narrations of Ngaio Marsh are consistently engaging and neither pompous nor weirdly mannered as some of the other narrators have been.

      The narrators for the Elizabeth Cadell titles have been inconsistent, but some of them have been great.

      I like the Dawn Murphy narrations of Elizabeth Aston’s Mountjoy series but my best friend thinks they are too auto tuned.

      Jodi Taylor’s Frogmorton series is well done.

  29. After a visit to the library yesterday where I returned books, picked up a book for my husband (Wm. Kent Krueger’s This Tender Land) and nothing for me I came back home and downloaded The Speakeasy Duet by Melanie Harlow. Bootleggers, Gangsters, Model T’s and secret compartments, kidnapping and ransom. I’ll see how it turns out. Lately what I have been reading has fallen flat.

  30. For a treat, I read “The Wallflower Wager” by Tessa Dare. It’s the 3rd book in the series. Delightful! I like how she got even with the antagonist. Of course, the goat birthing scene was hilarious and so was reading it at 1:30 am next to my sleeping hubby so couldn’t burst out loud with laughter.

    We also took a trip to Traverse City for a night to celebrate my birthday. During the trip we listened to “When” by Daniel Pink. It’s a book on how our circadian rhythms affect us and ways to structure your day for best results. Also, if you ever need to get a colonoscopy, schedule it for the morning. Naps are good things if kept to under 20 minutes and drink some caffeine right before napping for a napiccino – you’ll be refreshed and raring to go.

    While I recommend both books, another, possibly more useful book on chronotypes, is by Dr. Michael Breus called “The Power of When.” Pink went with the classic, Lark and Owl types and threw in “third bird” (weak sauce in naming). Breus uses mammals and labels, lion (morning people), bear (go with the sun), wolf (night people), and dolphin (insomniacs). Anyway, rather interesting.

    1. You know, it’s fun and the author really knows how to move a narrative, but ARGH that heroine. Everybody else gets all the good lines and good action and she moves through the story wide-eyed and clueless as one person after another victimizes her. The whole my-helicopter-mother-over-protected-me thing annoyed me in Wonder Woman, too, but at least Diana came out swinging and owned her story.

      It’s so well done, too. Everything but the protagonist. Although I really think Hades is the protagonist in that one and she’s just his MacGuffin. Great concept, great art, great supporting characters . . . sigh.

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