Good Book Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Thank you very much to whoever recommended the Gil Cunningham medieval mystery series, I’m really enjoying it. Plus I can kind of justify it as research since the books take place about twenty years before Nick gets killed in that sword fight, so it’s a win all around.

What did you read this week?

102 thoughts on “Good Book Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

  1. I listened to “Now That You Mention It” by Kristan Higgins, and was really glued to the story and her writing. Her protagonist was a doctor, which I liked, and it took place in New England, mostly on an island off of Portland, Maine. And it had a great dog, always a plus. I’m happy to have found a new author, that has a backlog I can explore!

    6+
  2. Mostly fanfiction. Finished How to Invent Everything, picked up Kushiel’s Chosen, got waylaid by a big magazine rundown of Fall TV.

    6+
  3. I had an 11 hour flight on the weekend and was pretty much glued to Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalik. But now I’m stuck. I’m hoping to get some inspiration from the comments here.

    7+
  4. I read a couple of Stevermers, A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics., a couple of Harmon’s, Wearing the Cape – Special Edition (it has 3-4 illustrations) and Villains, Inc., and some ofThe Best of Jerry Pournelle plus (re)started The Prince by Pournelle and Sterling.

    I have some Wrede queued up, and some Ring of Fire Universe standing by, like 1636: Flight of the Nightingale. I read the first six or seven chapters, anyway. I haven’t figured out why she is flying/fleeing, only that she is doing it well.

    6+
  5. I finished Becky Chambers’ To be taught, if fortunate, and liked it, but it didn’t leave me effervescent and ready to turn to the first page and start right over like the Wayfarers books did. I will read it again (unlike Tolkien) but not right away.

    Also finished New Suns: original spec fic by people of color, edited by Nisi Shawl, which I enjoyed unevenly. I’m never as happy with story collections as with novels, and since the only unity was provided by the genre and the authors’ being POC, transitioning from one story to another was even jerkier than usual. Some I loved; some I barely finished; some were both interesting and annoyingly short and I wished they had been novels, or at least novellas. Well worth the reading.

    Still in the middle of four other books, trying not to start any more for at least a day.

    6+
  6. Aurora Blazing by Jessie Mihalki, it was not quite as good as the first in the series, but I really loved that the heroine was fighting her way back to herself after an abusive first marriage.

    5+
  7. Adventurers Gone by Beth Byers. I do not feel I can recommend it. I’m not finding myself liking the character interactions very much.

    6+
      1. Ugh. That was Philanderer’s Gone, the first book in the series, that I read and disliked the character interactions in. Adventurer’s Gone is the 2nd book, which I do not intend to read, and non writer Beth’s opinion of it only reinforces that intention.

        3+
        1. Yeah, I think I’m done with this series. I’m also skipping her new witches series – I just cannot find any interest in it. So I’m sticking with the Lady Vi stuff and the Poison Ink Mysteries.

          2+
    1. I loved that book too and wanted to read more in the series. I saw on her website that she suggests two different reading orders: the order she wrote them or the order they happen. I became paralyzed with indecision and have never read another. Any suggestions?

      2+
      1. I went entirely with the order I could get them from the library. I took a certain pleasure in mentally slotting them into order as I was reading.

        5+
      2. I read them out of order too, but then I often like that. I think, though, that it would be best to read them in the order they happen. That way you can see the development of the organization they’re mostly part of, and the history of the earlier characters, which really adds a dimension to the later books. Plus, my favorite of them all is the last one in order of occurrence, so it makes for a nice arc upwards too.

        2+
  8. This week I finished Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow. It is the story of how a young man went from being the rising star of the White Nationalist movement and giving seminars on what terminology to use to infiltrate the mainstream to writing an op-ed in the New York Times renouncing his previous beliefs. It was fascinating to see how his thinking evolved.
    One of the things that struck me was that 2 of the 3 people he met in college who had deliberately not shunned him at the small college where they met, gave up on ever reaching him a year or 2 before he made his public renunciation.
    It also was a good, if brief, look at how much he lost (family, finances, public support, etc.) by making the switch.

    9+
    1. Maybe it needs a sprinkling of “Romance Cooties”. Sorry I couldn’t resist. Thanks to Gary I’m trying out a new phrase.

      10+
  9. Oh, in my ongoing poking around on Archive of our Own (AO3), I found some Jenny Crusie fan fiction! I haven’t read any of it yet.

    6+
    1. I have to go see what it is. In fact, I think I need to explore that website, and maybe even post something of my own. I have 3 fan fiction stories, all based on Wen Spencer’s Elfhome universe, and I’d like them to find readers.

      8+
      1. You need an account in order to post things but reading is usually available to anyone. I have run across a few things that are restricted/private. And watch out for the ratings. It runs from G (general) to E (erotic).

        5+
      2. AO3 actually has some gems in its Original Works section, though you have to know how to trawl through the porn to get to it.

        Here’s one case! https://tinyurl.com/y45adtjl
        This author has written several short stories of ladies in fantasy Asian nations falling in love despite engaging in political relationships. They’re all so good. The subtextual pining!

        4+
        1. Because I might be influenced to use parts of it in my fiction?
          So they’d be objecting to me using parts of the fiction they wrote based on my fiction?
          That seems hypocritical.

          2+
          1. Never mind. I read the comments and they all said she writes like I do so there probably would be some leaching. The little bit I read didn’t feel like me to me, but I’m not my reader. It’s very cool to know people write fanfic on my stuff, though, so thank you!

            1+
          2. It’s more that someone might try and claim a share of profits, I think there was an exceedingly murky case which prompted a lot of authors to avoid any fanfiction of their own work.

            I don’t think anyone has ever been successfully sued for profits but I could be wrong.

            0
          3. Yeah, it was fun reading the comments on the stories, but I’m definitely not going in to read the fiction.

            0
          4. The Marion Zimmer Bradley case made a lot of authors wary of reading or even allowing fanfiction of their work. There’s quite a good analysis of the situation and the question of fanfiction at tvtropes.

            0
  10. I’m re-reading Friday Child by Heyer and enjoying it. It is so funny. Strange though: all the characters seem to be silly, but their conversations are hilarious anyway. I don’t usually like stupid characters, but I do like this book. Heyer was definitely a genius.

    10+
    1. I love that one, too. Everybody in it is immature and silly but they all have such good hearts (except for the bad guy) and they’re all doing their best. Farce isn’t usually my genre, either, but she does a good job with that one.

      7+
  11. That is a very good Heyer. I seem to remember reading that she got quite fond of the hero’s level-headed, socially adept friend (the one that Kitten runs to with the canary when she can’t take things any more). And after a few more novels, she decided to write a book with him as the hero, which is how Freddy in Cotillion was born. In both books, I loved how the heroes were faced with essentially moral dilemmas, and brought to them a kind of unexamined but very heartfelt sense of decency and fairness.

    I think quite a few Regency romances can very easily be dismissed as sugar-coated fluff, but Heyer’s aren’t at all. For nearly every wealthy, well-dressed pink of the Ton with an impressive title and impeccable boxing and curricle-driving skills, she created an inner life that mattered, and that connected with the heroine for a reason that meant something to both of them.

    Well, except for Regency Buck, but don’t get me started.

    13+
    1. George? George became Freddy? Oh, that’s lovely. I adore Freddy. Freddy is pure competence porn. He’s not deep and he’s not academic, but if you have a problem, Freddy’s your guy. When he shows up with that special license? Best Hero Ever.

      13+
      1. Gil, surely. Isn’t George the hot-headed romantic? It’s Gil who takes Kitten to his grandmother. (Tho’ could have misremembered.) I can see the connection with Freddy.

        6+
        1. You’re right. George is the handsome Byronic hero who gets the beautiful girl in the end. Wasn’t her name Isabella?

          2+
        2. Friday’s Child spoilers here.

          Yes, but he’s a farce character, too. Always flinging himself about, handsomely. You’re right, he can’t be Freddy. There were two others, but George was the one who was practical and pro-active, if anybody was. One of the others was really silly. Damn, can’t remember the third.

          I remember George for many reasons but mostly for the way he handled Sherry, including kissing Hero and then defying Sherry when he got jealous, basically by saying, “Well, then, get in here and kiss her yourself.”

          Of course I also loved the way Sherry handled the whole elopement thing when he found out it was a mistake and the guy tried to apologize; he said something like,”Don’t worry about it, I eloped with her, too; perfectly understandable.” They were always going to be dumb as rocks, but good-hearted.

          Was it maybe Sherry that was Freddy’s forerunner? Not deep, not smart, but just excellent at knowing what to do and getting Hero out of trouble. There’s a lot of Sherry and Hero in Freddy and Kitty. (Didn’t they call Hero Kitten? Must go look at that book again.)

          3+
          1. Spoilers !!! Sherry’s friends were George, Ferdy and Gil. George was the alpha hero type, hot headed and hot blooded. Ferdy was the silly, but loyal friend. Gil was the sensible one, he can see at least a few steps ahead, he is the level headed friend. Unlike Sherry he realises Sherry’s mother will bully Kitty and sends Kitty to his grandmother so she could learn to go about in society and he kept it from Sherry, because he wanted Sherry to actually think about his marriage.

            6+
          2. THAT’s it. Gil was who I was thinking of, although George is the one who kisses Hero. Such a fun book, even if they are all dumb as rocks.

            4+
  12. Where the Crawdads Sing. Requires a willingness to suspend disbelief and to enjoy nature writing, both of which I had.

    Learn to Paint in Acrylics with 50 Small Paintings. Except I’m using a 12×12 tablet and painting big!

    Ramona the Pest. Because it was exactly what I needed. NB: For all the humor, it’s a good reminder that being a kid can be as stressful as being a grownup.

    7+
    1. Where the Crawdads Sing. Does this take place in Isley, CA, USA? Perhaps during the annual Crawdad Festival? It sort of sounds like it was inspired by or inspired Seanan McGuire’s Velveteen vs the Isley Crawfish Festival. Velveteen vs. The Junior Super Patriots collects “Velveteen vs. The Isley Crawfish Festival” through “Velveteen vs. The Blind Date.” The link is directly to the first story.

      “You get a line and I’ll get a pole
      “An’ we’ll go fishin’ at the crawdad hole…”

      Crawdads

      4+
      1. No, Where the Crawdads Sing takes place in the marshes of North Carolina. But the crawdad festival sounds like a lot of fun!

        2+
  13. I’m midway through Murder on Black Swan Lane by Andrea Penrose. I’m enjoying it so far. Regency mystery series featuring an earl with an interest in chemistry and a widow who is secretly a satirical cartoonist. I was craving a historical mystery I hadn’t read yet and the new Deanna Raybourn is several months away. Unfortunately, both main characters have said “cut to the chase” already, which is the anachronistic expression most likely to throw me out of a historical story, but I’m moving past it. That’s a personal pet peeve; others may not mind it.

    I want to read The Uninvited by Dorothy Macardle this month because Halloween. It’s been like 10 years since I read that, so it will probably feel like a new book. Although I remember the movie, and I think it tracked the book pretty well.

    5+
    1. I’ve never seen the movie but I loved the book as a kid.
      Gearing up to write Alice, I should definitely dig out my copy.

      3+
      1. Ruth Hussey plays the sister and Gail Russell is Stella. I watched it again last night. It’s not the most convincing romantic subplot, but I still like the ghost story, and I have fond childhood memories. Worth finding if only to compare to the book.

        3+
  14. A while sine I posted (life far more hectic than I like it) but I have been reading books and some of the best I’ve read recently were…
    The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman – which was a huge step up from La Belle Sauvage and which itself needs to be re-appraised in light of the new book. But cliffhanger-haters need to know it has a huge one.
    City of Shadows by Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin Berlin between the wars thriller threaded with the story of an Anastasia claimant. Not her very best work but that’s from a very high standard – still found it very gripping and with (unfortunately) many echoes in the current political scene.
    The Vampire Knitting Club series by Nancy Warren – I read the first four and they were by far the best knitting/crochet related cozy crime books I have read and I will probably read the rest of the series at some point.
    Slow Horses by Mick Herron the first of the Slough House series. The author understandably seems uncomfortable with being compared to Le Carre but I can see why he has been and plan to read more.
    And right now I am reading Agent Running in the Field by Le carre and he has sucked me in as always…

    7+
    1. I love pretty much anything by Diana Norman/Ariana Franklin. She ranged so widely in what she wrote, and did it so beautifully. As for Mick Herron, this is a gorgeous and underrated series. And because our tastes seem to coincide, I’m going to try the Nancy Warren books.

      4+
      1. I hope you like them! My tastes are pretty wide and I’m not generally a huge fan of the cozies as they’re often far too sweet for my taste but Nancy Warren manages to keep these nicely balanced; sweet but not sickly.

        4+
  15. I read the third book in Elizabeth Bonesteel’s Central Corp series (space opera), ‘Breach of Containment’. I loved the first two books in this series, and loved this one even more. Perhaps it’s because I’m more invested in the characters after the two previous books, but it’s also because the stakes are so high in this one, and it’s such a powerful book emotionally. And although there were several plotlines, each of them was gripping, so I was never tempted to skip. Okay, maybe once, just to make sure an important character was still alive. But once I knew that (at a glance) I was happy to go back and see how it played out. I love this series unreservedly. A joy to immerse myself in.

    I also read John Marsden’s ‘The Art of Growing Up’, which is the outcome of his years of teaching and (fairly recently) establishing his own schools. He is scathing about parents who over-protect their children, or announce that their child is their best friend, or otherwise refuse to allow their kids to grow up. He makes some pretty sweeping statements at times, but I found myself generally in sympathy with him and his ideas.

    5+
  16. Reading all of Carol J Perry’s series Witch City Mysteries. Loved them all. She is still writing them so more to look forward to. Main character is Lee Barrett. Lovable and quirky. Lives with her Aunt Ibby who is adorable. There is a wise cat Orion and a handsome cop boyfriend Pete. It takes place in Salem. Carol lived there and knows it well. There is also a town full of quirky fun characters.

    5+
    1. The first five of them were very enjoyable. Lee returns to her hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, where witches are a big tourist industry. Even though she doesn’t believe in witchcraft, and there isn’t any evidence of it, she finds herself having what might be psychic visions that she catches glimpses of in inadvertent glances at reflective surfaces. Which lead to murder investigations. I have found my interest waning a bit with the last couple of books. But I recommend the first five or so.

      4+
  17. Finally found a copy of ‘Fashion in Shrouds’ for one of my ereaders, Kobo. Read an historical novel. Why is it that some authors keep writing the same thing over and over? Constantly muttering, “you told me that already.” Oh well. Back to Allingham.

    4+
  18. I found myself in need of something mindless to read this past week. So I turned to Amanda A. Allen and Auburn Seal’s Inept Witches series. I had bounced off of the first one a while back, because it was silly and mindless, though it lead me to a spin-off series that I greatly enjoyed. But apparently I was now in the mood for them, because I read four of them in a row.

    Basically they’re about a couple of best friends, Emily and Ingrid, who are hereditary witches living on an island of the coast of Washington state, Emily’s aunt is the leader of their coven, but they are too silly and lazy to learn to do any useful witchcraft, though they do occasionally accidentally set things, and people, on fire.

    Here’s the blurb for book one: “Ingrid and Emily are spoiled, incompetent witches who are attempting to begin a new life in the San Juan islands when someone they both despise dies in their book shop. To prevent themselves from getting arrested for a crime they both totally would have committed, they decide to solve the mystery themselves before going back to their rigid schedule of naps and pedicures.

    They probably shouldn’t have so much fun trying to prove their innocence even when their spells go awry. But they do!”

    The friendship between the two is really the best part of the books.

    I’m not sure I’m recommending these books, but if you’re in the right mood they can be fun.

    I would recommend the spin-off series, that’s not silly, that follows a minor character from this one. The Rue Hallow series, starting with Hallow Graves. Rue, short for Veruca, gets a college scholarship that her mean, cold mother forbids her to take, to a magical college 3000 miles away from her mother. However once she starts her freshman year students start to die and Rue becomes a suspect because apparently this was her mother’s hometown, and they don’t remember her fondly.

    4+
    1. In a similar vein, but possibly with more sex…I’m going to shamelessly self-promote my husband’s Incompetent Witch series (which I line-edited). I hesitate, because I don’t want to take advantage of Argh. Plus, he had written them as part of a Kindle World, and when that program ended, the Amazon listings got mixed up, so sometimes you end up at a dead-end page. But if you put “incompetent witch” in the Amazon search bar, the first hit is DC Thome’s The Incompetent Witch and the Very Big O, about a witch who has an orgasm so intense it comes to life and terrorizes the countryside. I actually like “The Incompetent Witch and the Missing Men” the best; reading them in order, however, does show the evolution of the characters.

      Just don’t ask me if we test the content at home.

      10+
      1. You are not taking advantage of Argh. You belong here. Promote away.
        Strangers dropping in to post one comment pushing a book are going to deleted. We’re xenophobic like that.

        7+
  19. You’re very welcome! For anyone who isn’t familiar with the series, the titles in order (and the series is pretty chronological, so reading them in order is a Good Thing, but the heavens won’t fall if you read the later ones as they fall into your hands):

    1. The Harper’s Quine
    2. The Nicholas Feast
    3. The Merchant’s Mark
    4. St. Mungo’s Robin
    5. The Rough Collier
    6. The Stolen Voice
    7. A Pig of Cold Poison
    8. The Counterfeit Madam
    9. The Fourth Crow
    10. The King’s Corrodian
    11. The Lanimer Bride

    3+
      1. Wow. I felt like I raced through the series by reading four Gil Cunningham books last week. And Jenny went through 7! I thought they were enjoyable easy reads. Lots of new (actually probably very old) Scottish words.

        3+
        1. As the survivor of several college degrees, I read like the wind.
          Also, I can read all day if I want to. That makes it easy.

          5+
      2. It IS available on Kindle in the UK, so I put in a request on the US page for it. If the file already exists, the odds may work out. I should email Pat to ask, too.

        0
  20. I’m feeling deeply irritated by the book I’m currently reading, where the protagonist’s boss writes inappropriately familiar things on her Facebook page. And AT NO POINT does anyone say, or even think, ‘Why don’t you unfriend him so he can’t write on your Facebook page?????’

    5+
    1. I feel the same way about all the “her professor is really hot and . . .” books. Okay, it’s a fantasy. Evidently by somebody who hasn’t spent a lot of time teaching in academe. Makes my skin crawl. Bosses would be the same way. And guys who get into elevators with women they don’t know and touch them.

      I could go on for days.

      11+
  21. I think somebody here suggested Roni Loren’s “The Ones That Got Away”, which I liked a lot, as well as the two following books. They are focussing on the survivors of a school shooting which took place over ten years ago, but the heroines (and partly the heroes, too) are still dealing with the fallout. The only criticism I have is that with every book, the sex scenes get more explicit (as if the editor had said ‘Go on, you haven’t done the oral version yet’). I don’t consider myself a prude, but I’ve learned from Jenny that sex scenes must serve a purpose as well as any other scene in the book, and these ones only make me skip pages and say ‘Yes, I’ve got it, they are very compatible in bed’.

    And now – as Monty Python would say – for something completely different … I tried to search for the word “quine” after looking for the Gil Cunningham mysteries Jenny is reading. No such luck – can anybody tell me what it means?

    And Jenny, you have certainly read the Brother Cadfael stories by Ellis Peters?

    7+
    1. I don’t know, but given the setting it may be Scots rather than English (i.e. the Lowland Scots variant of English that is pretty much a separate language).

      4+
      1. You’re not ruining sex scenes, you just make people understand why they are boring and skippable (is that a word?) sometimes!

        Thanks for the “quine”-explanation. I’m just obsessed with collecting useless knowledge, it seems.

        5+
        1. And now you’ll hear it everywhere. Maybe.

          Instead of Quine, how about a whine? I got flu and pneumonia vaccines today, one in each arm, and they HURT. Yes, I know they’ll be fine tomorrow, but I hurt NOW. Grrrr.

          5+
  22. I’m reading off the romance grid. Change is the only constant:The Wisdom of calculus in a madcap World. I can’t believe I’m enjoying a math book. But he’s funny. Good As A Girl by Ray Olderman (this was a gift from my niece and I’m not loving it. ). And The Whole Town’s Talking by Fanny Flagg. That one I loved so much I went and got the next one. My favorite Fanny Flagg is The All Girls Filling Station book. There was so much I. There I never knew about.

    4+
  23. I’m re-reading Judith Merkle Riley’s Vision of Light, then I will move on to the sequel In pursuit of the Green Dragon. The books are set in England and Europe from 1355 onwards. I have re-read them multiple times over the years so you can tell how much I enjoy them.

    6+
    1. I love those books too … in fact all of Judith Merkle Riley’s books. Have you read The Water Devil? It is a third instalment which came out some years later. I love this one just as much as the others
      .

      4+
      1. I’m having a can’t sleep night so checking the posts. I have Water Devil and it’s in my re-read pile. I must also get my copies Friday’s Child and Cotillion out and add to that pile.

        4+
        1. Cotillion is so lovely. It’s tied with The Grand Sophy and The Talisman Ring in my Best Georgette Heyer list. Freddy just melts my heart. When he shows up with that special license, it’s like “Freddy, you STAR!”

          7+
          1. And he turns up with the special license because he knows Kitty so well and noticed that she didn’t mention it in her letter. Now, that’s true hero material, right there.

            1+
          2. I love that kind of hero move. The last thing he wants is to leave the city and help with an elopement, but Kitty needs the license, so . . .
            Brad Paisley has a song called “Somebody Knows You Now” that I love. It’s an end-of-the-affair song, but it’s that same this-is-not-about-sex-or-how-beautiful-you-are subtext. I know the real you and I love the real you.

            3+
  24. “Young Adult Novel” by Daniel Pinkwater. I got a used copy. We used to read Pinkwater to our kids, starting with the book “Devil in the Drain.”

    He’s got such a fun, surreal style.

    “Young Adult Novel” is funny all through, and winds up with a hilarious punchline to the entire story. Short, sweet, always lifts my mood.

    6+
  25. I’m reading Strangers She Knows, the third and last in Christina Dodd’s Cape Charade series. The first two were enjoyable and were surprisingly quick reads. When this woman creates a villain, she is not kidding around.
    Waiting for my library hold of the third in Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series. Maybe it’s a character flaw but I just HAVE to read a series in order.

    2+
  26. I’m (re)reading the Stranje House series by Kathleen Baldwin. She just came out with book 4 but I wanted to remember what had happened so I just finished book 2 – Exile for Dreamers. Book 1 is A School for Unusual Girls.

    The story takes place in 1814 and imagines an alternate timeline with Napolean returning for Elba with France supporting him. There’s spies, mystery, a smidge of romance and strong heroines. They are considered young adult novels.

    I recommend them.

    2+
  27. This week I read ‘Amberlough,’ ‘Armistice,’ and ‘Amnesty’ by Lara Elena Donnelly. I cannot remember ever being in such an absolutely physical state of suspense over the fate of fictional characters. I don’t know why they hooked me quite that way, but her two antiheroes had me from their first scene. If they had not achieved at least the promise of a place of rest and safety together, I would have had a large rage.

    As it is, their scenes together are so few that when I re-read these (as I certainly will do) I may simply highlight all those scenes so that in future I can read my Condensed Romance Edition.

    1+

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