27 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday on Friday

  1. I finished “The Weight of the Stars” by K. Ancrum. Lovely little YA romance with a very pro-science view in Carl Sagan sense.

    Attempted “Afterworlds” by Scott Westerfeld, but the “parallel storylines” schtick destroyed the pacing, so I couldn’t finish.

    In contrast, hoping to finish Kushiel’s Mercy today.

    5+
  2. These are not books, but the BBC’s productions of Shakespeare’s plays just showed up on Amazon Prime. They were mostly done in the late 70’s and early 80’s and with some later famous actors like Helen Mirren (As You Like It) and Patrick Stuart (one of the history plays-can’t remember which). I watched many of these on videotape in the university library when I was taking a Shakespeare class and then later as a study break/enjoyment. They are simply set and shot in video, not film, so they look dated but the acting is sublime.

    8+
    1. Ah! I have Amazon Prime – I may watch some of the plays.

      I have always/sometimes/often enjoyed Shakespeare’s plays. I remember seeing Taming of the Shrew at the Virginia Beach Amphitheater maybe 30 years ago. Rita Moreno as Katherine… she suffered a wardrobe malfunction, and she and the cast managed to cover and work it into the play without excessive display.

      Movies about Shakespeare are often good as well. Danny DeVito, Renaissance Man, Shakespeare in Love. Or adaptations of the plays like West Side Story or possibly The Lion King.

      4+
  3. After reading the story of Augusten Burroughs’ love life last week, I proceeded to his experiences with witchcraft, Toil and Trouble. I found it very interesting and plan to check out some of his earlier writings as well.

    5+
    1. I LOVE Michael Gilbert. Try The Empty House, too. And David and Susan’s book, the title of which escapes me now. And any Calder and Behrens story. Oh, and the Jonas Picket stories. And the Peter Petrellas . . . I really love Michael Gilbert. (Warning: Night of the Twelfth has child murders.). Oh, also, The Body of a Girl is a lovely twisty mystery. Smallbone Deceased is a classic . . .

      Basically, Michael Gilbert is prime Golden Age mystery writing.

      6+
          1. That’s it. Love that book, not just because it’s a great story, but because of what he does with the characters. You really despise David in the beginning–smartass layabout who harasses an older woman at work–but then you start to see a pattern in his behavior . . . . He’s still a smart-ass, but he’s a brave, resourceful, clever smart ass, and the plot twists and turns so beautifully.

            I need to go read that book again.

            1+
  4. This week I read The Giver of Stars by Jo Jo Moyes. The story is about a young English woman who marries the son of a Kentucky mine operator in 1937. The marriage goes quickly south after they move into her father in law’s home. Alice finds an outlet in joining a group of women who deliver books, magazines and comics to the people that have settled on the mountain. At times it is hard to connect with them because they are so isolated. Slowly gaining acceptance because of the mule and horseback library, they start a sort of community. It has been pretty well documented about the treatment of miners in that time period and is the same here. Moonshiners, miners, pestilence of the two footed variety, feuds, bigotry are all assembled in this novel. Could hardly put it down.

    7+
  5. It’s been a weird week, bookwise. I had this urge to revisit David Weber’s Honorverse to rediscover why I stopped reading him. There will be one last book in the side series (Torch or Crown or whatever – the one co-written by Eric Flint, whom I still enjoy) , so I wanted to… prepare?

    Mind, the main series is done. I’d say what happened, but that would be evil, evil spoilers (cough – the good guys win – cough). I have the final book open – Uncompromising Honor – and it follows a pattern anyone who reads Weber will recognize. You know that Show Don’t Tell guideline Jenny discussed recently? Weber never learned that. His method is called info-dumping and his book sizes are inflated thereby. There may be an action sequence where the results are important, but he’s going to remind you that the good guys have certain advantages. He’ll remind you every time there’s an action sequence.

    By halfway through the series, if you haven’t memorized that Honor Harrington is 6’2″ tall with brown hair, almond shaped eyes, moves like a ballerina, has a sweet soprano voice… you have a severe memory problem. If it were a movie, those details would be part of a drinking game.

    I’ve decided not to recommend the series.

    8+
    1. I stopped reading him because I couldn’t take the infodumps anymore. When I decided that about 30% of the book was plot movement, and the rest was conversations and infodumps, I gave up.

      0
  6. I’m binging on Anne Bishop – rereading her Others series. So-o-o good. Only one book left in the series, and I’m already in mourning.
    Also read Susan Mallery’s Barefoot Season – a nice summer read. Interesting characters, some emotional upheaval. A good low-key book.
    Also, if anyone is interested, I put 3 of my Wen Spencer’s fan fiction stories, all based on her Elfhome universe, on Archive of Our Own. I know some of you read the site. So here are the links:

    FIVE DAYS OF ELF: https://archiveofourown.org/works/21520489

    MAGIC SENEGALESE: https://archiveofourown.org/works/21601636/chapters/51507862

    DANCING TRUTH & LIES: https://archiveofourown.org/works/21687841/chapters/51727021

    6+
  7. The books I’ve read this week that I would recommend to others include Wen Spencer’s Eight Million Gods, an urban fantasy set in Japan, where a 20 year old girl who has escaped to Japan, fleeing her mother who is trying to have her committed because she has hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write), discovers that one of the murders in her unreleased manuscript bears an uncanny resemblance to an actual murder. Then it starts to get strange.

    Also Wyrde and Wayward by Charlotte E. English, a fantasy set in Regency England where some families are ‘Wyrded’, meaning the members develop supernatural abilities or become supernatural creatures (gorgons, necromancers, mermaids, etc.) on their third birthday. This book follows the adventures, well really her first adventure, of the only un-wyrded member of the Werth family, Augusta “Gussie” Werth. It’s a bit choppy but fun, and Gussie is very engaging

    7+
  8. I’m reading The Poisoner’s Handbook by Deborah Blum, subtitled ‘Murder and the birth of forensic medicine in Jazz Age New York’. Did you know that ten years after the introduction of Prohibition, deaths from alcoholism had written by 600%? Extraordinary stuff – I’ve never understood the prohibition thing, and now I understand it even less. But the book is well worth a read.

    I also read ‘Death Comes to the Village’ by Catherine Lloyd, which I was expecting to be a cosy, but turned out to be a Regency-era murder mystery, really nicely written with a great hero and heroine. It’s the first of a series, so I’m going on to the next one.

    Also The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler, about a young English woman who comes to New York to study art history and falls in love with a man who I can only describe as a total prick. She kind of knows he is, but then she gets pregnant and agrees to marry him, despite him being manipulative and controlling. I actually really enjoyed the book, though I hated Mitchell. The bookstore where she works is gorgeous, as are the various eccentric people who work there.

    5+
    1. There’s a PBS documentary based on Poisoner’s Handbook with the same title. It used to be included with Prime, but I think you have to pay to rent it now. Very good. The case of the accidental carbon monoxide poisoning followed by dismemberment and body dumping was amazing. I really recommend it. Haven’t read the book, so I don’t know what (if anything) got left out, though.

      3+
    2. I haven’t read The Poisoner’s Handbook, but my grandmother, who lived through the Prohibition era, told me that one of the Evils of Alcohol was that the husband might easily spend his wages at the saloon (and a good many saloons were carefully located near factories and places of mass employment), and bring next to nothing home, while there wasn’t much a wife could do to earn enough to pay the rent or keep the children fed. If you were lucky, the church might send an occasional basket to help out. And if you weren’t the wife of A Drunkard, you were probably making up those baskets to help out. [Grandmother married a civil engineer with a Quaker upbringing who never touched alcohol in his life, FWIW.]

      I haven’t checked on it, but by the time the 21st Amendment passed, ending Prohibition, I think there were some legal protections for married women.

      2+
      1. Yes, that makes a lot of sense. I seem to remember that my grandmother, in country South Australia, was strongly anti-alcohol for the same reasons. My mother as a young girl signed one of those ‘Lips that touch liquor shall never touch mine’ certificates.

        The trouble with prohibition was that it just made the problem worse.

        0
  9. Since finishing Catfishing on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer (not based on, but jumping off from, her wonderful short story “Cat Pictures Please” about an AI) on Tuesday, I have started several new books and put them down a few chapters in, saying “Meh.” Now I am rereading all of Murderbot and the Others.

    4+
  10. My hold from the library came through of Charlaine Harris’s An Easy Death, the first in her Gunnie Rose series. It was excellent. The next one comes out in January. I can hardly wait.

    I also read Jennifer Lynn Barnes Naturals series. It had a lot more violence than I usually tolerate but I stayed with it because I found the characters and their interaction so interesting.

    4+
  11. Thanks to whoever recommended Sharon Shinn’s “Echos” series, I read them all starting with Echos in Onyx.

    I’m currently reading The Library Book by Susan Orlean and really enjoying it. Non-fiction but highly entertaining. She focuses on the Los Angeles City Library, including the current issues such as being a refuge for the homeless, crime, and evolving expectations; the history of libraries; the unsolved mystery of the 1986 arson fire at the library (a gay unemployed actor was arrested, but found not guilty); and municipal infighting.

    4+

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