This is a Good Book Thursday, November 7, 2019

After the fave author discussion, I went looking for Elswyth Thane, only to find out that her Kindle availability (and iTunes) is limited to the first two books in the Williamsburg series. You can Tryst as a second hand paperback, but only if you’re willing to shell out $22, which seems excessive for mass market paper that’s probably going to crumble in your hands. I remember devouring the Williamsburg series as it took that family from the Revolutionary War past WWII, and some of the scenes I read have stayed with me for decades, but I’m afraid to go back to the series since I remember those romances as being so great. And if they are that great and I can’t get the rest of them? Too awful.

Also I have to work after losing las week to reading the Gil Cunningham and Cadfael books in a burst of medieval murder glomming.

So what did you read this week?

76 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, November 7, 2019

  1. I just finished up The Forbidden Library, by Wexler. It’s a YA fantasy that has some very interesting world building, and a plucky young heroine. I liked the idea that the wizards are Readers, who really get into books.

  2. I’ve segued into Heyer’s detective novels, and am really enjoying ‘The Unfinished Clue’.

    I remember enjoying ‘Dawn’s Early Light’ as a teenager, although I can’t remember the story. I think she was an author I used to look for in secondhand bookshops, but I don’t think I found many more. It clued me in to the US national anthem, anyway. Unless that’s ‘A Duck Must Be Somebody’s Mother’?

    1. I reread DAWN’S EARLY LIGHT recently, and assure you that the scene where Tibby has an oral exam to qualify for Mrs. Hallam’s school reads just as delightfully now as it did fifty years ago.

      The “Duck” is actually a Sousa march — can’t remember which one. The US national anthem was, of course, new words set to a drinking song which celebrated a tavern with drinks on the ground floor and ladies of NO reputation on the upper floor. I always wondered why it was so difficult to sing, for a person with a normal vocal range, but on reading the lyrics “To Anacreon in Heav’n” concluded that it was because the composer expected the singers’ vocal cords to be relaxed with alcohol. When it was being considered as the official national anthem, one of the objections was the difficulty of the vocal range . . . so its supporters brought an opera singer to Congress to demonstrate how easy it was.

    1. I just finished it. I could swear I commented that this morning, but it’s not here. I so love Corinna Chapman.
      Now I’ve been sucked into Melissa Scott’s A Mighty Good Road which I have read many times and I really just picked it up to fit another book back into the shelf, but here I am, completely enthralled by a plot I know like the back of my hand, and ignoring the books I have from the library.

  3. as along time lurker I have all the Williamsburg series I found the last one at a library sale . I have found many new authors recommended by all of you.

  4. Recently on CBS This Morning I caught the tail end of an interview with Mo Rocca Author/Humorist/Producer. He was discussing his book Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving, the obits of famous and infamous people and things. It is so new it is either on hold or being logged in. Another book I put in for is Mike Rowe’s (Dirty Jobs fame) The Way I Heard It. This is to keep me from twiddling my thumbs while waiting for The Giver of Stars (281 on BPL’s e-book list). I have it on other networks lists (real books and e-books) so I’m keeping it on BPL for laughs. What is in transit is Nancy Thayer’s Let It Snow and Diana Biller’s The Widow of Rose House. I think that one was reviewed here. So as to not get caught in the quagmire of waiting for everything new I’m trying James Patterson’s Michael Bennett series.

  5. I’m all about Augusten Burroughs this week. I am reading Lust and Wonder, which is adorably romantic about how he eventually got together with his agent. I love the agent’s response to Augusten’s love confession after 10 years over email:

    “Well, that certainly qualifies as your most shocking piece of writing in my learned opinion. But as fascinating and flattering and strangely hallucinatory as I found it, it can’t possibly be true. I am a crusty old sack of disease with holes blown through it, like a horror movie character that can’t be killed. Which makes you, sir, crazy. So snap out of it. This is just a phase.”

    I laughed so hard and then they get together on the next page.

    And I just read Toil and Trouble, which is about him coming out of the broom closet about being a witch. I RELATE SO HARD. Look at the first chapter online (I don’t have time to find the link). It’s so THIS IS MY LIFE. I love that he’s talking about this.

    1. Oh man. I just read the first few pages on the Amazon site and immediately rushed to the library website to place a hold. His writing voice is AMAZING!

      Thanks so much for recommending it.

      1. I’m going to have to go buy Lust and Wonder since I got it from the library. I’m kind of reading his books in reverse (I own Running With Scissors and Dry but haven’t read them yet).

        I also HIGHLY recommend This Is How, which is amazing.

        1. Hah, after that I literally went out and bought both books at the indie bookstore at full price during lunch. Points to me.

  6. I read Kate Racculia’s new book, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts. Loved it, although some of that may have been because it was set in Boston, where I live, and mentioned a lot of areas that I’m very familiar with. It reminded me somewhat of the Westing Game — quirky fun spooky mystery, with lots of great characters.

    1. It’s actually in my library and available. It sounds a bit like the old movie Scavenger Hunt although that was a comedy.

  7. Still reading Courtney Milan’s “Brothers Sinister” series, though now down to just one novella. I thought I didn’t like the last full novel as well as the earlier ones, and then I stayed up WAY too late, TWO nights in a row reading it, so apparently I like it just fine!

  8. I read A Conspiracy of Witches by Ada Harper, a new-to-me author. It is a sci-fi romance that I very much enjoyed. It was recommended by Jessie Mihalik on her blog. I also read The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins, the second in her Blue Heron Series. I read the first some time ago so my recollections of it are not sharp, but I think that I enjoyed the first more than the second.

    1. This sent me round the houses: in case anyone else looks for it, it’s A Conspiracy of Whispers (for some reason, Amazon UK returned no hits for the author’s name, even though they do have the book).

    2. I could not find A Conspiracy of Witches but did find A Conspiracy of Whispers by Ada Harper. Are they different books or did autocorrect strike again?

  9. I am in serious need of some escapism. Can anyone recommend books that are funny or lighthearted? Lots of snark, maybe? I’m in the mood for fantasy or YA fantasy but I’m afraid to try anything new. Every time I get part way into a story just to discover it is grim dark and hopeless, I have nightmares for days. I’m having enough nightmares, thank you very much. I’ve re-read all my Jenny Crusie (not fantasy but still fabulous), Dianna Wynne Jones, Patricia Wrede – I need something new (lots and lots of something new) that will make me laugh or feel all warm and comforted.

    1. Lindsay Buroker! The Emperor’s Edge series. The first one is usually on sale or free somewhere. Also the Dragon series, forget the name. And if you like SF in addition to F, her space opera series are fun. Especially the first one, the Fallen Empire series. Not sure why, but I’m not as attached to the most recent one, Star Kingdom, but that may just be me. I haven’t bonded all that well with the main character as I have in the other series. Besides being fast-paced and snarky and very seldom dark (although in keeping with storytelling structure, there are appropriate black moments, but the good guys always win, so it’s ultimately optimistic), there are LOTS of them. The author is extremely prolific!

    2. Did you read Bujold? Penric’s Demon is a lighthearted fantasy. Also Wen Spencer, practically anything by her. Tinker is my favorite, but you could try Endless Blue or Alien Taste.

    3. I just read The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, which I loved. It’s YA fantasy, and the main character is beautifully strong and snarky. She tries to rescue a boy getting beaten up, then he keeps turning up at her school, claiming to be the Monkey King. It’s sort of The New Legends of Monkey King meets Buffy, and I’m really looking forward to the next book, which is coming out next year.

    4. It’s a bit old now, but how about Sing the Four Quarters by Tanya Huff? YA fantasy, no grimdark.

    5. With the stipulation that grim things happen in this series, Rachel Aaron’s Nice Dragon series might be worth a read (it’s exactly what it says on the tin, a nice dragon born in the middle of a species that tends towards the self-centred and selfish). It’s technically fantasy with a touch of sci fi (set 50ish years in the future).

      Molly Harper’s paranormal romances are generally cheerful and end happily.

      I mentioned her in the favourite authors thread but Margaret Mahy’s YA books are generally pretty darn hopeful (and a little similar to Wynne Jones).

      Neil Gaiman seems like an obvious choice if you like Patricia Wrede and DWJ, ditto Lois Mcmaster Bujold’s fantasy series.

      John Scalzi is sci fi but his books tend towards the hopeful (

    6. It’s not new, but I just re-read The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint. YA fantasy, fun read, female friendship and bonding

  10. Listening to The Library of Lost and Found by Phaedra Patrick. It’s about a woman discovering that things in her life aren’t as they first appeared. It takes a while for her to grow a backbone but after that the book got better.

    I’m reading Darkdawn by Jay Kristoff, the final book in his fantasy series about a young woman’s search for revenge against the man who killed her family. She also learns that things are not always as they appear. It’s graphic and violent and probably going to end with the main character dead but it’s compelling as hell and wonderfully written. He does footnotes almost as well as Pratchett.

    I’m also reading The Babysitter’s Coven by Kate Williams. It’s a YA fantasy about a 17-year-old girl who discovers, again with the theme that things aren’t what they appear, that she’s a witch in charge of protecting her little corner of the world. It’s not the best book I’ve read, the main character does some dumb things but she’s 17 and we all did dumb things at that age, but it’s entertaining and fun and not meant to be Serious Literature (something I try to avoid if at all possible).

  11. For anything on the Kindle, my recent history is easily viewed.
    The Chocolate Shark Shenanigans by JoAnna Carl is most recent.
    Next back from that is Treecat Wars and Fire Time by David Weber and Jane Lindskold.
    I read Harmon’s Repercussions twice, so far.

    Off the Kindle is harder.
    I finished Flight of the Nightingale and five snippets of The Trouble with Huguenots and three snippets of The Demons of Constantinople.
    I also snuck in chapters 13 and 14 from Ring of Fire IV anthology – “The Red-Headed League” and “Scarface,” respectively.

    Back on the Kindle, I have Harmon’s Team-ups & Crossovers open, now. I was checking something, and got hooked into reading it… again. Apparently, I am easily attracted. “Ooh, sparkly words!”

  12. Jenny, try your local library system for Tryst and the other Williamsburg novels. If they don’t have them, they should be able to interlibrary request them for you.

    I have had trouble settling down to read anything lately but am going to try to get into the Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow. I had started it before the flood but was only a few pages into it when everything went crazy here.

    1. Jenny, if you still have not joined your local library, in many places the libraries let you sign up on line. This would save you having to get out of your p.j.’s and drive someplace.

      1. I really have to do that. I owe libraries so much. The least I could do is get a card and tell them I’m a local author and I can do a program if they want one. And when they say, “Who are you again?” I’ll just say, “Never mind” and fade back into the stacks.

  13. I’ve only been (re)reading Crusie. And Crusie. And also Crusie. Finished “Dogs and Goddesses”, went on to “Maybe This Time”, and I’m currently reading “Don’t Look Down”. Then I will have read all of the Crusie I have (“Bet Me” and “Faking it” twice this year already) and I don’t know what to read next. I keep trying to pick up other things, but can’t keep track on what’s going on so I’m skipping back a couple of minutes, read, skipping back, read….nothing sticks.

    I hate it when my brain does this to me. Torture.
    I know it’s stress-brain-behaviour, but it’s still annoying. Knowing why doesn’t change it back to normal, unfortunately. Bleh.

    Worst case scenario would be running back to Harry Potter again. Perhaps it’s about time. I haven’t read all of them yet this year, after all.

    1. What I actually wanted to say was: Thank you, Jenny, for keeping on saving my sanity just by being such an amazing writer. Very very much looking forward to reading all your future releases (and hopefully also The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes someday when that one’s on audio). Thank you. <3

      1. I know this isn’t possible, but wouldn’t a Crusie audio that was a full cast rendering be fantastic? Just think of the dogs in The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes.

  14. Thanks for the Burroughs recommendation. A new author to me. I just toggled over to the library website and put Running with Scissors on hold. All these lovely recommendations–I need to take better care of myself so I live long enough to read as many of them as possible.
    This past week, I read Donna Andrew’s Terns of Endearment and am currently reading Sharon Shinn’s Dark Moon Defender.

  15. I just finished “Welcome to Temptation,” and I wonder if there is a sequel or plans for a sequel? I am not a romance reader, but I loved it! The characters were outstanding, and the mystery (my usual genre) was compelling. I am going to tell my friends!

    1. Thank you, Angela.
      There’s no sequel, but there’s a spin-off about Davy Dempsey called Faking It. And a possible future spin-off called Stealing Nadine, if I ever get out of Hell.

  16. I read a lot last week, mostly new to me writers.
    Anna Quindlen – Still Life with Bread Crumbs. My first one by her. It was a so-so novel, a women’s fiction, but I didn’t fall in love with the author.
    Susan Mallery – Sisters Like Us. I liked it. It was also my first one by Mallery, but I’ll definitely read more of this author. It’s charming and quiet women’s fiction.
    Must Love Hellhounds was a grim paranormal romance anthology. All is said.
    Diana Biller – The Widow of Rose House. That was a debut novel by a new writer. I think someone here recommended it. It was perfect in every way: a romantic ghost story, humorous and warmhearted. I’m in love. I want more of this writer.

    1. Yay! So glad you loved The Widow of Rose House! Apparently her next book will also involve Sam’s family; should be fun.

  17. I’ve just finished the first Sloane and Wrexford book, ‘Murder at Black Swan Lane’ by Andrea Penrose. It was terrific – except for the fact that every now and again the author used ‘quipped’ instead of ‘said’. And she usually used it incorrectly. A niggle that got under my skin, but didn’t stop me really enjoying the book.

    1. I once read a manuscript in which the junior collaborator (who rewrote the contributions of the more senior collaborators rather drastically) apparently had an inappropriate relationship with a thesaurus, because she described a desk as having “a stack of interdicts” on it. Manuscript was drastically RE-written. That wasn’t the only usage I flagged, but it’s the one I’ve never forgotten. That and the placing of the castle guard barracks on the seventeenth floor of the castle. By the time they ran downstairs, the enemy had won . . . .

      1. There’s a post we should do: bad rewrites.
        I remember one (thankfully not mine) where the editor changed “Ralph came” to “Ralph reached his release.”
        I’ll never get over that one.

  18. I am rereading Amanda Downum’s “The Dreaming City” which is part of her Necromancer Chronicles series (3 books). These are a little dark but I really like her writing. It has been long enough (5 years?) since I read this that all I remember about it is that I liked it and it was not a light-hearted read.

  19. I have to thank you Arghers for both my new reads this week.

    I finished “The Rough Collier,” a Gil Cunningham mystery, and have put two more on hold at the library.

    And I also just finished “Lake Silence” by Anne Bishop. There is a book where the cover do NOT do the book justice. It was quirky and fun and while paranormal was paranormal in the way I like it – where humans are the weaklings and the others are the ones we need to be careful about. But more on hold as well.

  20. I love Elswyth Thane and I only own a couple. I’m going to check the library. I agree that some of those scenes stayed are still in my mind. One of my favorite series. Another is Roberta Gellis’s Roselynde series. Set in the time of kings Richard, John and whoever was next. A family of wealthy intelligent women. Lots of history. I think it’s still available. I keep rebuying it because I tend to give some away.

    1. John’s son was Henry III. I liked most of the books very well (didn’t warm to DESIREE, which was written about twenty years after the others), and also — though this is just a personal quirk — the series she did with Mercedes Lackey, the Scepter’d Isle Series.

  21. Dumb question,but have you checked Amazon. There are tons of her , (Elswyth Thane) books between $1.99 to $80. Our house burned down Nov of 2015 , and our insurance consummated we had 10000 books. My husband has made it his purpose in life to replace all of them. There are a ton of used book stores on the internet and I’m pretty sure he has found most of them. A lot are large print that are removed from libraries, (which I thought I would hate but mind of love). I now have more hardcovers then I did before. With dustjackets.

  22. I finally finished Maybe You should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb. It is written by a therapist talking about her experiences as both a patient and a practitioner and has gotten a lot of buzz on my local library’s web site. The book is well written and provides a decent overview of why the practitioners of this kind of therapy think it is helpful. But what I appreciated most is that for years people have told me that certain things were never said or done in therapy. This book finally made me understand why. The fact that it was written by someone who was not permanently welded to the company line made it a lot easier to accept.
    After that I was ready for something more diverting, so I started The Austen Playbook by Lucy Parker. At the halfway point it is pleasant if a bit predictable. We’ll see if it takes any unexpected detours before the HEA.

  23. I’m nearly finished with Katherine Center’s Things You Save in a Fire, and OMG, such stellar writing. (Women’s Fiction, I think you’d call it, but it kind of defies typing.) So much heart.

  24. In the middle of My Sister the Serial Killer, great book about sibling rivalry in Lagos. Fast reading, but I’m interspersing it with Mythos by Stephen Fry.

  25. The library finally gave me Bloody Genius by John Sandford (latest Virgil Flowers book). I enjoy Virgil. He’s smart, he makes me laugh, and he might be the only cop protagonist I’ve ever encountered who leaves his gun locked in his truck most of the time and is a bad shot.

    Sandford’s Prey books are usually thrillers, but the Flowers books are usually mysteries; that’s what this one is. I liked that the solution wasn’t insanely complicated. It made sense that it was difficult to figure out who the killer was even though the murder itself wasn’t too convoluted. Sadly, there was no absurd subplot. Also no humorous small town dynamics (this murder was in the Twin Cities instead of the rural parts of Minnesota like a lot of the other books in the series).

  26. Re: Good books when your current life can’t stand scary stuff.
    Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ web site motto is, “Because life’s too short to read depressing books”. Superb stylist, plot controller, character builder, etc. Lots of absurdity and Bad Decisions and Pretending to be Someone Else, but she makes it not only acceptable, but essential to novel arc, as well. GHE, repeated cast of characters, any necessary grisly stuff happens offstage or in fast forward, and it all ends well.
    Remind you of another Fave Author in tone & results, hmmm?
    I was hooked from the moment the diamond bedecked chihuahua peed on the coffin of the nasty man.

    1. I am not a big fan of Anna Quindlens novels but I LOVE her essays. They range from funny to profound and they still work for me 20 years after she switched to fiction. There is one that starts something like “I can’t figure it. Another year of Nobel prizes and they still didn’t give one to the person who invented the snuggly and gave adults their arms back. “

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