48 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, November 28, 2019

  1. I love good book Thursdays! Thanks to the people who recommended The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I’ve been waiting since the weekend to rave. So good!! Best thing I’ve read in ages.

    And I can’t even really describe why I love it (them) – found family, great, really great, characters, inventive, more than the sum of its parts, but I struggled to describe it to a friend in a way that works. I’m three books in and there’s a two week wait for the last one at the library. Too long, I’m buying.

    PS did you see the author trying to trade mark the words dark, leopard and (yes, Europe is a real place outside books) Carpathian? Ha ha ha.

    1. I used to read those books before the series got unwieldy. I don’t know Feehan beyond a name on the covers, so I don’t know if this action is true-to-form or a misguided publicity grab.

    2. The Raven Boys left me with the kind of feeling that I got the first time I read The Dark Is Rising series. Different books, different age audience, different countries even, but that sort of feeling.

    3. I didn’t see that but I’ve heard about people trying to trademark words and phrases used and heard by millions. It’s rumored that before he was President , and had his reality television show, The Apprentice, President Trump tried to trademark “”You’re Fired” because he said it in The Apprentice.

        1. Maggie Stiefvater, or the person who tried to trademark ‘dark’? I just checked out the former’s site, and I like it, so I’m guessing that one!

          1. Yeah, I think you’re right. Feehan is the author with lots and lots of books in her series involving things like ‘dark leopards’, and Stiefvater and her series is an entirely different kettle of fish. Trees. And so on.

    4. Just finished the Raven series last week and found it deeply satisfying (after getting used to cliffhanger endings).

      Book 2 was my favorite, although I told my daughter that my heart was breaking for one of the characters. She said, “Because you’re reading it like a parent.”

  2. After a short break, I’m deep in Georgette Heyer again. Need something familiar and fun while I’m laid low, so read ‘Arabella’ and have just started ‘No Wind of Blame’.

    Am also reading the occasional Guardian article, although things just get gloomier. Labour’s promise to recompense us 60-somethings for our missing pensions has me daydreaming, though. They say they’d give us the back pay (presumably on top of the actual pension) over three years, so my grand plan is to take a three-year sabbatical to write novels and market my photography, with the hope I’d never have to go back to the day job.

    Maybe my premium bonds will come up instead.

    1. Who is the protagonist in No Wind of Blame? The story seems to start as Mary’s thoughts and experiences, but she dwindles out by the end. I find this fascinating because it allows the rise of Vicky.

      Jane, Good luck with having political promises at election time becoming realities. Yet, for you to have a grand plan is seriously wonderful.

      1. I definitely thought Mary was supposed to be the heroine when I first read it as a teenager; I think the two of them are a bit confusing, in fact. But it makes for interesting rereads.

        I’m just daydreaming about the pension thing – although the campaigners are trying to take our case to appeal, and if the whole thing were found not to be strictly legal, whoever the government was, they’d have to pay up.

        1. PS. Re the Heyer: it’s written from multiple points of view, of course; plus is a mystery and not a romance, despite what I tend to read stories for. Also, very obviously, a comedy.

      2. I think it’s the Inspector. He’s the recurring detective character in the series, but since we’re romance incline, we look for that. If you look at the romance, it ends (they get engaged) before the murderer is discovered, so the romance is a subplot. She sets the murder up, it happens, and then the mystery starts. It’s an odd construction. I always wondered if Mary wasn’t supposed to be the subplot heroine but she was just dull, and then Vicki wandered in as comic relief and just took over the book. I’ve had similar things happen while writing. I definitely re-read for Vicki and Hugh.

        1. I bet you’re right. Mary is reminiscent of other sensible, intelligent Heyer leads, but maybe this time she wanted more fun.

        2. There’s one line Hugh’s mother has as she watches him drive away to pick up Vicki that pivots the romance subplot, and slays me each time with sheer Competence. I’m away from my books or I’d quote the line, to which I’ve referred previously here when Heyer is under discussion.

  3. Cookie recipes. All the cookie recipes. Ones I have made and want to make again. Ones I might make this year if I have time. Ones I will probably never make but like to fantasize about making.

    In related news, I think I’ve finally figured out how I would go about making a whiskey old-fashioned cookie. It’s similar to the satisfaction of solving a difficult crossword puzzle.

    I’m not sure I actually will because I suspect it will be a pain in the butt. Maybe after Christmas I’ll try it out. My husband’s birthday in February might be a good excuse. 😉

  4. Why when I click on Turkeys All the Way Down does it bring up Turtles?

    Anywho, this week I’m reading the supplemental booklet from my health plan and all the Exciting New Benefits for 2020. That would be improved dental insurance coverage and monthly payments are lowered. Maybe I’ll finally get on the stick and make an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. But that will lead to x-rays and definitely work to be done. I’m almost two months shy of the 3/4 century mark and still afraid of the dentist. Now I have to find something comforting and cozy to read.

    1. It’s a play on words. “Turtles all the way down” is a well-known (to me anyway) saying, so “Turkeys all the way down . . .”
      Never mind.

      1. It’s from Terry Pratchett, isn’t it? Because the Discworld is being carried on the back of a giant turtle, and it’s turtles all the way down?

        1. Wikipedia says: way down”.
          “Turtles all the way down” is an expression of the problem of infinite regress. The saying alludes to the mythological idea of a World Turtle that supports the earth on its back. It suggests that this turtle rests on the back of an even larger turtle, which itself is part of a column of increasingly large turtles that continues indefinitely (i.e., “turtles all the way down”).

          But I also know it from Terry Pratchett.

  5. I am visiting my sister for the Thanksgiving holiday and brought Detection Unlimited by Georgette Heyer with me to read on the plane. I also brought my MP3 player with an oldie-Tarzan of the Apes. While I loved the Tarzan books as a child, I see their flaws as an adult. However, I am persevering and will finish it, for old time’s sake.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all the Americans here!

  6. I found Brenda M’s post last week kind of intriguing, saying that she’d read Anne Bishop’s Lake Silence before reading the earlier five books of the Others series. I really wondered how the lack of all that back story and feeling of the first books would affect the experience, so I went back to rereading Lake Silence before starting my first re-read of the series, and it’s been fun. The humor underlying the relations with some of the Others was much more vivid, plus the dispersed nature of the found family was kind of reassuring.

    Overall, it made me curious to go back to the series to discover things I probably missed on my first read.

    1. I think it shows Anne Bishop’s skill that I didn’t need to have read the series before “Lake Silence.” All the world building was there – yes, from a different POV, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. But I am loving the series – finished Written in Red and have Murder of Crows on hold at the library. I have a feeling I should read these in order…

    2. Funny: I read this series in the same order. I started with Lake Silence, loved it, and went back to the first book of the series. Still love the entire series.

  7. Just bought Sonali Dev’s Pride & Prejudice book, which seems appropriate for Thanksgiving weekend since her food descriptions are always amazing. Will report back.

  8. A slim monograph on using hatching in drawings. I’m trying to learn how to draw better. Or at least how to have the image in my mind me resemble the scribbles on the paper.

    It’s amazing how typing all day long for work destroys my ability to write or draw. I’m trying to counter thks with way more drawing practices.

  9. Had a listen to One Day in December by Josie Silver. It’s a rom-com of sorts but also bit of a holiday read since it begins around Christmastime. In the audiobook, the male and female parts are read by different people which was interesting and made both parts easy to follow, but took me a while to get used to because when I read of course that doesn’t happen:)

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate!

  10. I read a book by self published author Marisa Delle Farfalle titled Grown Into It. I really enjoyed it.
    Likable, well-developed characters.
    Dialogue that drives the story along while sometimes being whimsical and funny.
    Plot that takes you in unpredictable places and keeps your interest.
    Genre is romance. Character arcs are chick lit adjacent without all the brand name references.
    She self published another book titled Becoming Joshua that I will read soon.
    If you are into podcast she has one on Stitchers called Marisa’s Wicked Word Nosh where she talks about writing. Worth a listen.

    Hope everyone in USA is enjoying a day off work and good food!

    1. PS she published Becoming Joshua under M. Francesca and I found it on amazon by searching the whole thing ‘m francesca becoming joshua ‘. It didn’t come up by searching one or the other.

  11. I’ve been travelling and not reading much, but I did pull out an old paperback to read on the plane – Linnea Sinclair’s Finders Keepers.

  12. Rereading Someone to Care, one of the Westcott series by Mary Balogh. It is one of the better ones in this series. Started a few chapters in at 4 in the morning yesterday. I keep hoping rereading a comfort read will get me back to sleep.

    Haven’t started the TBR pile.

  13. I’ve just finished reading The Magnolia Sword: a Ballad of Mulan by Sherry Thomas, and loved it. It’s got wuxia influences, and Han dynasty history, and sword-fighting competence porn, just enough romance, and a heroine who I found fascinating. I love, too, that the choices she makes are trying to balance pragmatism and bravery.

  14. I just read Nan Reinhardt’s Christmas With You and it was just lovely. A charming romance, great family and friend dynamics, and it left me feeling happy. Just what the doctor ordered. (Okay, the male protagonist is an actor, but you know what I mean.)

  15. I’m also reading crochet patterns as I want to try amigurumi – Japanese crochet small animals. Looks like fun! Also reading Trisha Ashley. Thanks to the Argh person who recommended her. Great fun particularly The Little Little Teashop of Lost and Found with the rudest waitresses in Yorkshire and the House of Hopes and Dreams although she puts her heroines through a bit to start them on their way. Also thanks to whoever recommended The Widow of Rose House a really lovely book.

  16. I started the past week’s reading by Wen Spencer’s Eight Million Gods – a madcap urban fantasy caper set in Japan. Loved it.
    Then I re-read Georgette Heyer’s Regency Buck – a romance and suspense story. Not my favorite of her books but nice nonetheless. I don’t like the protagonist though – he is too all-powerful and all-knowing and sharp-tongued. I’m not sure I understand why the heroine fell in love with him.
    I tried one of Heyer’s mysteries someone recommended here, but I couldn’t get into it. I’ve tried them several times over the years, but they never worked for me, despite my love for her romances. 🙁
    Carola Dunn’s Styx and Stones was as enjoyable as most of her other novels in the Daisy Dalrymple series. It starts with Poison Pen letters in a small village, but then escalates to murder. Of course, Daisy must investigate, right? You know, I think I’d like this series to be filmed, as a TV serial maybe. I’d watch it for sure.

  17. I wanted to ask a question. Not sure, it might have to go to some other category, but I don’t know where.
    The old writers’ dilemma of ‘show’ vs. ‘tell’. All the writing teachers and textbooks instruct us: “show, not tell,” but many successful writers use ‘tell’ a lot. Georgette Heyer is one of them. There is a lot of ‘tell’ in her novels. I’m not even talking about Jane Austen and other old-timers.
    Did this demand of ‘show not tell’ change with time. What was allowed 50 years ago isn’t recommended today? Or are there some universal guidelines? How do we know when ‘tell’ is okay? And how much of it?

    1. Good question. I don’t know the answer. I like stories that have a wholeness and consistency. For instance, Georgette Heyer fulsomely depicts a mannered society whose rigidity is reflected in its showy extravagant wealth. I think her characters need the “telling” in order to be understood by the reader. There’s a lot of “telling” in both Heyer’s style of writing and in her world and her characters.

      On the other hand, Jenny Crusie’s tales are honed to key personalities and actions. Ohio is a generalized place that can be localized to the sign for a gallery or a house set apart by 79 steps or a haunted pile imported rock by rock. The characters live in a recent past which is real enough to be, well, real. The brevity of the writing requires every word to be the right word.

      Both authors are terrific because their works are whole and consistent. I understand why teachers of writing push for “showing” over “telling” because it’s a good method for getting authors to pay attention to what they’re doing.

      All this is only my opinion. I hope someone chimes in who knows the answer to Olga’s question.

      1. To me, giving texture to a visual description of setting & scenery is a kind of ‘telling’ that’s very useful when it’s done skillfully (i.e. without too many words or evaluative amendments/adverbs). And background needs to be short & sweet. You need it in series to tell/summarize the details a person would have to know to follow the progression of things in this book, but you don’t want a rehash of all the last book’s plot details.

        But ‘showing’ seems to have a lot of options. It feels to me as if thrillers employ a lot of movement of the characters from place to place and scene to scene. And a lot of conflict/fights/weapon stuff to depict why the good guys are so good and the bad guys so bad. That’s ‘showing’ as opposed to all those boring words that would happen if the g.g.’s goodness was described by others and the actiony stuff summarized with even more words after the fact. When in doubt, blow up the airport seems to be ‘showing’ there.

        Showing in the good female-centric books seems to be done more via dialogue and small actions. A bad approach is having the author tell you that Betty is a beautiful babe and that the handsome guy she meets really loves her and finds her funny. A good approach is to show the interaction and dialogue that lets you figure that out yourself.

        That’s just MY opinion too, though. 🙂

  18. I read a YA novel, The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen. I really liked it but I didn’t like the dad. He used the phrase “those people” in regard to his wife’s family one too many times. The wife had been an addict but on one else in her family was so he was just being judge-y and blaming them because they were poor.

  19. It’s that day in November. Aye, tis a fowl day, indeed. Occupying a chair at work, I paused for lunch, catered by Stouffers – Turkey Tetrazini. And diet root beer to drink. I hope all y’all’s days were as fine as mine.

  20. I read Karin Slaughter’s newest, The Last Widow. Her books are often violent and brutal, but my word she can write.

    I also went on a road trip, so listened to audiobooks, which I don’t usually do. These were a BBC dramatisation of Peter Wimsey, so huge amounts of fun, especially with Strong Poison, which was just the right length to get from there to here. I chuckled a lot, especially at the scenes with Peter and Harriet. The current book, Five Red Herrings, is being listened to in very small dribs and drabs as I go into town and back.

  21. Best read all week is a long article in today’s L.A. Times Food section characterizing Tiki bars – which are having another moment and are big in San Diego – as cultural appropriation and Polynesian caricature. The author examines Tiki origins and concludes demeaning does not make for a fun time. Eye-opening article which gave me a new viewpoint. Author and I both agree we still like our Mai Tais.

  22. I want to thank whoever recommended Lust and Wonder by Augusten Burroughs. I enjoyed watching the author grow from pursuing what he thought he was supposed to want in a romantic partner to finding someone who knew him warts and all and still didn’t reject him or try to remake him. It was easy to see why, with his hugely dysfunctional upbringing, he would have trouble recognizing a healthy relationship, but after several partnerships that looked good only on paper, it was really rewarding to see him fall in love with the right person. I just wish it hadn’t taken him 10 years to realize it.

  23. “The Downstairs Girl,” by Stacey Lee – engaging and full of remarkable writing, including unexpected similes and metaphors. It’s a YA novel set in post-Civil War Atlanta and tackles issues of race, class and gender with an optimistic outlook.

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