72 thoughts on “This is a Good Book, October 24, 2019

  1. KJ Charles has a new book out today, but I can’t read it because I’ll want to binge and I installed that app that blocks access to my reading apps after 11.30pm, which I know if good for me, because a) sleep and b) my work to-do list makes me hyperventilate when I think of it but boo hoo.

    It’s probably good, can I recommend a book I haven’t read?

    Anyway, it’s been short stories for me. Katherine Mansfield stands the test of time.

    1. That took some rummaging around on Amazon UK to find. Didn’t show when I asked it to list her titles by publication date; she hasn’t blogged about it. Eventually found it via her website. It’s called ‘The Gilded Cage’, and completes the Lilywhite Boys series. I’ve downloaded a sample rather than buying it straight away: I didn’t much like ‘the Ratcatcher’s Daughter’, and while I love 80% of her stories, the rest just don’t gel for me – too violent or too contrived; not my stories. But given I did enjoy the others in this series, I’ll almost certainly end up buying it.

      Thanks, Allanah.

  2. Almost done with the first dresden book on audio. Quite liking t he narration. I’ve read the book before, and never stuck with the series. I’m thinking I liked it more this time round.

    Also read Neil Gaimen’s Art Matters, which was good but extremely short.

    Reading Nevada Barr’s What Rose Forgot. Reserving judgement until past chapter two.

    Finished the second to last Temeraire book. I’m torn – last book I have, but I’ve done this entire journey on audio, and i think I want to finish it the same way. So, in 16ish weeks, I’ll be able to finish. Overall, the journey has been worth it. Couple books that were slow, but I absolutely love the world. 🙂

    Also checked out Rising Out Of Hatred on someone’s recommendation here. First chapter gives me the willies.

        1. He doesn’t sound like Spike though! Like, i hear the voice and recognize him, he just isn’t Spike reading lol

  3. Reading Murder in Kensington Palace by Andrea Penrose. The latest in the Wrexford and Sloan mystery series which are historicals about a woman who pens satirical cartoons and an earl who is of a scientific bent; they team up to solve mysteries in Regency (?) England. It’s pretty good so far.

    Just finished reading Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia (?) – a modern day treasure hunt/murder mystery set in Boston, with at least one ghost. I have some issues with the ending (the two major plot lines did not seem to dovetail that well) but I did enjoy the book and would definitely read a sequel.

    Also, The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins, a gentle tale/ romance about the inhabitants of a small town, Moon Cove, who are looking to save it from bankruptcy. Some small magics involved. Very reminiscent of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen. Quite good. Looks to be the first in a new series (the author left some threads dangling involving secondary characters) and I would, again, definitely read any sequel.

    The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. A modern day murder mystery set at Yale in New Haven. The secret societies of the university have dark purposes and often use nefarious magical means to achieve their goals. Imagine Hogwarts gone bad – over privileged poorly supervised teens running loose with magic. Follow our heroine as she delves deeper into the muck. Hints that a sequel is to follow – that means more for me to read!

    I also just finished reading Fool’s War, a SF space opera by Sarah Zettel set in space about 500 (?) years into the future. It’s about the problems that arise when a ship attempts to transport something from one planet to another and mayhem ensues. Among notable points, the ship is being captained by a very competent devout Muslim female who wears a hijab or niqab. There is also an exploration of the positives and negatives of AI (artificial intelligence). A willing suspension of disbelief is definitely necessary (is something set 500 years later still going to be that recognizable to us?), and the end seemed to peter out a bit but I still found it worth reading.

    1. The Ninth House did not work for me. I kept wishing it would but I just didn’t like any of the characters (no matter how delightfully they snarked) enough to keep going.

      I am waiting for the Tuesday Mooney book to come from the library so I’m glad to hear you liked it.

      1. Ninth House was not a warm and fuzzy book for sure. But I respected the main character ‘s determination to survive and to not let another woman fall by the wayside as happened to her.

    2. I just finished the first two books in the Wrexford and Sloane series, and I want the third one. Unfortunately the library copies have not arrived yet and I refuse to pay hardcover prices.

  4. Emerging from an electronic stack of experimental library reading, a gem came bursting, like Ishmael Reed’s ‘Jes Grew’ in his “Munbo Jumbo”, all grown up and having sustained her disruptive charisa expressed in formal prose. “My Sister the Serial Killer” by Oyinkan Braithwaite takes the trope of perfect, overachieving older child v. sloppy, self absorbed second child to its logical extreme. A commentary on destructive gender rigidity, rigid dysfunctional family caring, even the personal dangers of technological advances, this novel could be a routine by Lily Tomlin that would have you both horrified and hooting with laughter. Read by Adepero Oduye.

  5. Fiancé and I recently finished “The Firm” by John Grisham. That one kept us up until 3am or so at the end because suspense, yep. I can really enjoy a good thriller now and then. No horror though.

    I’ve finished rereading the In The Garden-series by Nora Roberts by reading “Black Rose” and “Red Lily”. Pleasant reading.

    I started reading “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel van der Kolk, but I’m taking it really, really slow. Not only because it’s a subject that might be a tough one to tackle, but also because reading new stuff is a pain at the moment.

    I picked up “Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky” by Kwame Mbalia last week and almost got halfway through when I just couldn’t read anymore. I kept rereading the same lines over and over and over, so I’ve put it aside until I feel I can follow the story again. It’s a really great read, so it’s not the book, it’s just me.

    So, since I keep losing track of the story if I try reading something new, I’ve read “Charlie All Night” (which was a genius idea for the Bookmusic playlist) and am now reading “Wild Ride”, because I need singing marshmallow dragons and also big demon-dragon-plushies in my life. I could by the way settle for a non-possessed large plush dragon too. Perhaps I should get myself one just because. Goooooooooogle, here I come!

    1. I have that dragon somewhere. I bought it on Amazon, but it’s not there any more. It’s name on Amazon was Olive, although that might also have been a description.

      1. Wait, that dragon exists in real life? Not possessed by a demon I suppose, but the one in the book is based on a real one?
        I definitely approve. I approve of all dragons.

  6. The best thing I’ve read all week was a real estate contract! We had some vacant land that we were going to build our retirement house on but have decided that if we do retire in the Maritimes we will buy an already-built house and we need the money now. Out timing was impeccable because the land sold almost instantaneously. I’m waiting on a call back from the lawyer and we can get this finalized!

    As far as things other people want to read, I read Curse of the Evil Librarian, the final book in the series by Michelle Knudsen which I really enjoyed and it did, actually, keep me up past my bedtime last night.

  7. I’ve started reading The Raven Cycle per your recommendation, Jenny. So far, really enjoying them, though proceeding at a much, much slower pace than usual because of life.

    And then I’m thinking of doing a re-read of The Windham Brides books by Grace Burrowes.

  8. I’m about halfway through The Dutch House, Ann Patchett’s latest novel, and forcing myself to put it down and go to bed. I usually don’t like dual time/events, but I’m managing this one, possibly becasue the two main characters are interesting at any point in their lives.
    I’m also slow-reading Margaret Renkl’s Late Migrations, which is put together in an interesting way–a page or two about the nature around her and a short entry about her growing up years. Her brother did illustrations that look almost woodcut.

  9. I absolutely BURNED through Kushiel’s Chosen. It’s amazing how much more compelling the pacing is when all of the backstory is out of the way and you can get straight to the action.
    Unfortunately, they wrapped up all of my favorite threads in that book, so my motivation for the 3rd book, Kushiel’s Avatar, is rather less. (Took a look at the synopses for the next few trilogies in the series, and yeah, I think I’m gonna check out Jacqueline Carey’s other series next, instead.)

  10. Rereading Melissa Caruso’s The Defiant Heir because I stopped midway to savour it and ended up keeping it for a special occasion. Decided that every day is a special occasion. I’m even living large and drinking out of my special Maxwell Williams tea cup more often!!!!

    1. My (honorary) aunt had a collection of tea cups that made every cup of tea at her house feel special and VERY grown up. I now have a collection of my own (some of which she gave me) and I think that a chill and blustery night like this is the perfect time to take one down. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Treecats kept me up this week. Not a single book, but several in part or in whole. David Weber’s Honorverse series contains anthologies that deal with the sentient race of small, mostly carnivorous omnivore six-limbed telepathic and telempathic furry people called treecats from the planet Sphynx. So I wasn’t reading the Honor Harrington “Hornblower in Space” books, I was reading the shorts and novelettes about historical characters in that universe who were “adopted” by treecats.

  12. I read several things that probably wouldn’t be of interest to the folks here, and couple that would. Lowcountry Boomerang by Susan M. Boyer, the eighth book in her series about private investigators Liz Talbot and Nate Andrews, starting with Lowcountry Boil. Usually, books seven or eight in a series start flagging, if they haven’t earlier, but these seem to be getting stronger and seven and eight were two of the best. Mild-paranormal elements in that Liz inherits her grandmothers house on her home island of Stella Maris, off the coast of Charleston, SC, and soon thereafter starts seeing the ghost of her childhood friend who died at 17.

    I also read Love and Other Perils – A Regency Novella Duet, with a novella by Emily Larking and one by Grace Burrowes. Emily Larkin takes the character of Lieutenant Mayhew from one of her earlier books and has him meet a most unusual young woman traveling via mail coach, and there’s a difficulty with kittens.

    The Grace Burrowes story has an aspiring librarian who meets an aspiring chemist, who’s trying to pawn off one, or more, stray cats upon her.

  13. I read the second Murderbot; thanks for the recommendation. And I started The Goblin Emporer; thanks for the recommendation.
    I also read Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers, Pervs, and Trolls by Carrie Goldberg. It’s a real page-turner. Lots of stories and case studies along with the statisics. It shows how unprotected and how little recourse an individual has if attacked using the internet. She also makes the point that justice and a good resolution are not the same for all people.

  14. I’m now on my third Gil Cunningham mystery by Pat McIntosh. The first book required a lot of concentration on my non Scots part and I deduced some words’ meanings from context. (I think I’ll make a list of words to Google.) Too bad I don’t have my own copy of the OED. Even with feeling a little in the dark as to terminology and structure of fifteen century church, college, and city I’m enjoying the books and looking forward to reading the whole series. Many thanks to whoever made the initial recommendation and to Jenny for her recommendation as well.

    1. Have you got an iPad or Mac? Mine have the Oxford Dictionary built in, or I can switch to the US version. So you might be able to switch to the UK dictionary (or, of course, the American one may include the Scots words).

      1. Thanks for the suggestion, but unfortunately I don’t have Apple products. Fortunately when I checked online, I found the Dictionary of the Scots Language with a quick search feature that I used successfully. So now I have to compile my list of words to verify my guesswork.

    2. I just loved the first book. There are way too many historical novels around where the author basically takes modern characters, puts a crinoline on them and throws in a few cobblestones. Not with this book! Wonderfully immersive, like watching the foreign country that is the past.

    3. I enjoyed those and now I’m deep into Brother Cadfael. I’d forgotten how good those were. And they’re free on Amazon Prime.

    4. I especially like the part religion plays in the series — everyone’s devout and observant, but not overwhelmingly superstitious, and the people in Gil’s social circle are well educated in a way that foreshadows Renaissance learning.

  15. I read Randall Garrett’s Lord Darcy – a collection of fantasy mystery stories written in the 1960s and 70s. It should’ve been great, but the writing was too emotionally distant, with too much church and priests and aristocracy. Meh.
    Also read Mary Balogh’s A Secret Affair. Not the best of her books, but still a nice regency.
    Both of the above were re-reads, but I first read them so many years ago, I didn’t remember a thing, so they felt like new. Afterwards, I needed to perk myself up, so I re-read Faking It. Also a re-read, of course, but it worked as it always does. It is one of my absolute favorites. A charming rogue and an art forger with too much consciousness – a romance of the best kind. Delightful!
    Also, there is the con formula in this book, you know those 5 infamous steps. At my first reading of this book, years ago, I wrote down those 5 steps and pinned the note on a small corkboard in my kitchen. It is still there. Unfortunately, I never really used those steps. I guess, I’m not much of a con.

  16. I was on vacation, mining my Kindle for stuff to read, and found Her Caprice by Keira Dominguez. I think I must have bought it because it was a good deal — I certainly didn’t remember doing so. Anyway, it’s a well-written romance with just a touch of magic in it. Very satisfying. I hope to see more from her.

    I also just finished one of Donna Leon’s Venice mysteries — Quietly in Their Sleep. Her books are always good. This one took quite a swipe at corruption in the Catholic church while not decrying religion as such. I was impressed.

    1. Just finished Leon’s Unto Them is Born a Son and liked it more than I expected to. Venice! She creates a world not much different from the one in which we exist, and yet is so sweepingly different. After I finish each of her books, thoughts of class issues hang over the next few days.

  17. I am trying to figure out the next vacation so am reading books that talk about various places. The latest is Duck Season: Eating, Drinking, and Other Misadventures in Gascony by David McAninch. It was similar in form to A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle. I liked it quite a lot and the food sounds just like the kind of stuff I like to eat and cook.

    1. Have you tried Martin Walker’s Bruno books? They’re mysteries, but Bruno likes to cook, and food is a regular feature.

    2. Try The Auberge of the Flowering Hearth, 1973 non-fiction book by food writer Roy Andries De Groot. Set in deepest Savoy – well, there are those high mountains – the book concerns using seasonal ingredients that work together to create a meal of great tastes that work together course by course. Just as fun to read as a novel because Characters. And, of course, the world the book relates is now vanished. I think you’ll get hooked. Roy Andries De Groot is a story himself.

      1. My library does not have it but it seems to be available used from several stores. Thanks for the recommendation.

  18. Tessa Bailey recommended Parallel by Elizabeth O’Roark and I DEVOURED it. Also, Jenny I was hoping I could interview you for the next issue of Blush – the digital magazine for romance readers? (pretty please). Jacqui x

      1. That turns out not to be the case. (I read in The Mote in God’s Eye ((and other places)) that this is the correct way to tell someone they are wrong!)

        1. It’s only been nine years since Maybe This Time was published, and Wild Ride was also a 2010 book.

        2. I may be inside of Argh now but I’m here because people with whom you are popular sent me. Don’t your royalty reports give you an idea of your continued popularity?!? We can’t all be buying from Second-hand Book Stores.

          1. I actually move a lot and before kindle I had bought many of your books multiple times! And then again in ebook form!

      2. I read a lot of websites and blogs relating to books and I have seen your name mentioned fondly and often in different places, and recently too. So, I’d respectfully have to differ…

          1. No, as in “For a good time, read Crusie!”

            I might have to start sending you links so you can see for yourself. Everyone deserves a nice ego boost every now and then…

        1. I bought them all in paperback, including the ones you tried to hide in anthologies, like Santa Baby and Sizzle. I bought them all in ebooks, starting with Microsoft Reader Format (.LIT) from Fictionwise and then .MOBI and Kindle from Amazon. Then I bought all the audiobooks, which are another form of ebook. Issue them as graphic novels and I’ll buy them again.

          You don’t get royalties?!?

          1. I get royalties on everything but Sizzle. It’s just that they’re pretty slim pickings these days since everything has been out for so long that everybody has all the copies they need. THIS IS NOT A REQUEST FOR ANYBODY TO BUY MORE BOOKS.

  19. What a timely question. Lake Silence, a re-re-re-read, kept me up late last night. I don’t really like getting through the day on six hours sleep, but I hope to resist letting it do that to me again tonight. Yesterday I was skipping around among the new books I’m reading when I thought “I know what I want!” I’m enjoying the new books, understand, and hope to report on them later, but I suddenly wanted some Others.

    1. I was flying home last night from Helsinki and the plane was grounded for quite some time. I opened up Lake Silence on my Kindle for a re-re-read and it kept me engaged enough to ignore being cooped up on a crowded plane after a long, busy day.

  20. I started and tossed out a lot of duds this week. But ‘Lost for Words’ by Stephanie Butland was good – set in a bookshop with a very damaged young woman and a good romance. I’m pretty sure someone here recommended it, so thank you.

    I also reread ‘An Unsuitable Job for a Woman’ by PD James. I was thoroughly put off her books by ‘Death Comes to Pemberly’, which seemed to me to be such a shocking lapse in any sort of writerly judgement that it coloured everything that had come before. So it was good to reread one of her earlier books and find that I still really liked it.

    1. Read Anna Quindlen’s Still Life With Bread Crumbs.

      Definitely enjoyed it. Reading the Paws & Claws Mystery series by Krista Davis. Loving it. She moves back to hometown of Wagtail to help her grandmother run her inn. Wagtail has become a resort town for people who want to travel with and indulge their pets. Love the town & characters & pets. Plots are clever.

  21. Read what Amazon Kindle had on the Fireless Cooker: THE FIRELESS COOK BOOK, HAYBOX COOKING, and THE DUPLEX COOK BOOK. My all time favorite reading cookbook, A THOUSAND WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND (with Bettina’s BEST recipes), 1917, had Bettina doing a lot of cooking in her fireless, and I hunted around for years to find out what on earth it was. Turns out they are making a comeback, with a following in Australia of the current version, Shuttle Chef, made by Thermos, and a very low-tech version, the wonder box, made with quilts and Styrofoam beads, in Africa, where they save poor women time, labor, fuel, and money.

  22. Due to a recommendation from last week, I read Young Adult Novel by Daniel Pinkwater. It was not my all time favorite Pinkwater, but even so, it had a few things that really tickled me.
    1) It was set at Himmler High School. What more do you need to know about the place? Pinkwater’s school names are always offbeat, but this one is particularly pointed.
    2) It finally made me understand what Dada is. A friend of my very close friend’s always said that her art was Dada. But all that I could tell by looking at her stuff was that I didn’t like it. But as an artist(he was a sculptor) and former art teacher, Pinkwater’s book made me understand it a lot better than my friend’s friend did.

  23. I’m reading the third Rosie Project book, which is great. It’s not as electric as the first one, but that also matches where the characters are in life. It’s all about his relationship with his son, and I’m loving it.

  24. I am reading Terry Tempest Williams new book, Erosion. It is a beautifully written series of related essays dealing with the topic of loss, erosion of our environment and laws, and survival.

    I also raced through rereading all Lois MacMaster Bujold’s Penric novellas, just because I needed something lighter to balance Erosion.

  25. I finished When We Believed in Mermaids, by Barbara O’Neal. Stellar and heartrending and uplifting.

    I’m almost done with the latest from Donna Andrews, Owl Be Home For Christmas. I absolutely adore this humorous mystery series, and it was the perfect antidote for a long tough week.

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