This is a Good Book Thursday, January 23, 2020

Loved Trisha Ashley’s A Good Heart is Hard to Find; it comes undone toward the end, but it’s so full of good cheer, I just plowed through to the (very drawn out) ending. Great characters and very funny. I read another book that shall be nameless because it confused me; parts of it repelled me and parts of it were really good and it did stay with me, but the repellent parts . . . argh. Also back to reading my own book. Parts are repellant . . . Never mind.

What did you read this week?

70 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 23, 2020

  1. Two books by Pete Hamill – Piecework (a collection of his essays & columns) and Tabloid City (a novel about NYC).
    The Sunday New York Times – I save the book reviews & magazine to savor in nuggets throughout the week.
    “To The Person Sitting in Darkness,” Mark Twain. This is my umpteenth time reading this essay. I read it again for two reasons: it’s fitting for current events; it pertains to the book I’m working on in a sideways sort of manner.
    Do recipes count? Probably not.

    Why can’t I italicize titles? Not important. Thanks for the respite. You and all those who comment here are water in a dry land.

    6+
    1. Recipes definitely count. I read them like affirmations.
      I can italicize because I answer on the dashboard. Not sure if the code will work if you type it in. It’s the “greater than” sign plus “em” plus the “less than” sign before the title and then the same thing with a slash mark before the “em” after the title. I would just show you, but then the comment italicizes.

      Tabloid City

      4+
      1. If I substitute square brackets for the angle brackets (aka ‘greater than’ and ‘less than’) for demonstration purposes, italicization looks like [em]Book Title[/em] OR [i]Book Title II[/i]. Other html tags known to work are boldface [b]boldface[/b] and the linker [a href=”https://arghink.com/” target=”blank”]Jennifer Crusie[/a].

        Did this help?

        3+
    2. Where I can’t easily italicize, I just use all caps for a title [definition of “title” — what would go on the spine of the hard copy]. I don’t think this triggers “you’re shouting”; at least no one has ever complained.

      Where I’d italicize for some emphasis, I have been known to capitalize words in the middle of the sentence — sort of 17th or 18th century, except that those writers seem to me to capitalize more randomly than I do . . . .

      And I’m now reading Tricia Ashley’s A LEAP OF FAITH, in which the heroine appears to be a writer of epic fantasy, and as a long-time science fiction fan, I have been enjoying how her everyday interactions translate to the genre.

      3+
  2. Good cheer. What an excellent summation of Trisha Ashley’s books in general.

    My favourite would have to be ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ but they’re all pretty good.

    5+
    1. I tend to prefer the earlier slightly wacky ones on the whole (I know I’m in the minority) and Every Woman for Herself is my favourite.

      8+
  3. Tuesday when Hubby was sitting with me in the hospital, he was watching Just for Laughs Gags, and there was one with a whole chicken that moved when shoppers went to grab it from the pile in the grocery store, so my brain thought of Vera Nazarian’s The Cobweb Bride series, which is wonderous and amazing (and she as a master at subtle romance–you don’t see it coming, and then you start to, and it’s as much a surprise to you as it is to the characters).
    And then my brain asked if the 4th installment of her Atlantis Grail books is out yet because we’ve been waiting FOREVER, and YES!
    So, I’m reading Survive.

    7+
  4. The person I share a Kindle account with just got the audio versions of Murderbot, and they’re quite well done.

    I was thinking the narrator sounded a bit young, not how I’d imagined the murderbot, so I got curious and looked up the narrator (Kevin R. Free) and he’s not young. Or white, as I’d imagined him (my implicit bias sadly coming into play — there’s really no reason from the text for the character to be any particular color/ethnicity). And I found a tiny interview the narrator did when the first book came out, and he said he approached the books as a coming-of-age arc for Murderbot. I really like that way of looking at them.

    You can see the mini interview here (only about a minute long; I’d have liked to hear him speak for longer): https://www.audiofilemagazine.com/blog/rogue-security-unit-activates-all-systems-red/

    Anyway, I recommend the audio versions for anyone who prefers that format.

    8+
    1. Apparently I wouldn’t be able to listen to those audio versions, since to my ear Murderbot sounds a lot like Tessa Thompson (Valkyrie in Thor:Ragnarok among others). I know Murderbot has no gender, but I’ve always read them as more female. (They care! I have a hard time imagining a male voice with that level of reluctant caring about their clients.)

      8+
    2. I get RBdigital thru my library (a big shout out to the Free Library of Philadelphia) and they have them all.

      1+
  5. “Fake Like Me” by Barbara Bourland. Had the same sensibility as Donna Tartt’s “The Secret History.” A bit of mystery, a lot of social commentary via satirizing the art world, occasional rhapsodies on making art. Over the top at the end, yet an enjoyable read.

    In nonfiction, “Studio Spaces: Projects, Inspiration and Ideas for Your Creative Place,” a 2011 release from Better Homes & Gardens. More aimed at quilters and scrappers, but still has interesting ideas. It’s like paging through a garden catalog or a cookbook.

    5+
    1. is it a brand new one? I haven’t read the last one because I’m worried it’ll be too grim. Maybe I need to just do it anyway.

      2+
  6. I finished The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff. It’s like if Agnes and the Hitman was urban fantasy. A great time.

    TEE also makes the case that it can be nice to bypass a “protagonist learns that the world is larger than they know” arc. Instead, everyone is already in the know and pretty savvy at navigating the magic world, which only highlights how the more things change, the more they stay the same. Having magic only lends a little absurd edge to the regular romcom foibles of human (well, and also non-humans, in this case) relationships. Getting straight to the good stuff, without having to find a novel way to do a denial act.

    It also showed how writing in a genre world changes the situation with regards to sequels. Because the world has to be constructed in depth, it’s a lot easier to come up with interesting plots and more things to explore for a genre sequel. For a non-genre book, you just have the character/relationship arc, resolved in the first book, so it’s harder to find the follow-up story hook.

    11+
    1. The Enchanted Emporium is one of my favorite books in the world. (It actually helped inspire one of my series, the Baba Yaga books, because of that “some people are in the know already” element.) Did you know there are two more books in the series?

      5+
      1. Deborah, I once lunched at a diner/restaurant/something called Baba Yaga in the woods in Poland. Witches were hung around and the small room with a couple of picnic tables was kind of attached to the smoke house. The food was fantastic. There was a friendly black and white dog. We’d been driving through woods where people were hunting — hazelnuts? mushrooms? — then selling them by the side of the road. I thought of you, of course. My Polish daughter-in-law is an unequivocal supporter of Baba Yagas.

        7+
  7. For book club: finished a serious read, An Illustrated History of Byzantium, or some such. It’s actually good, if you like that sort of sweeping history, and can forgive the Band W photos. Perversely, it gave me hope; our current political situation isn’t so bad, after all. They cut off Justinian II’s nose to depose him, b/c less-than-perfect can’t rule. He got revenge later, when he came back with a golden prosthetic nose. Okay–enough geeking.

    For work: am reading Natalie Babbitt and writing about Christine Feehan, who is absurdly prolific.

    7+
  8. I finished Maria V. Snyder’s YA fantasy, The Eyes of Tamburah. Her world building is so amazing. This one took me a little longer to get into than usual, but by the end I wanted the next book in the series to be out NOW.

    Also read the latest in one of my favorite cozy mystery series, The Dog Who Knew Too Much, by Krista Davis. Reading her previous series too, although I don’t enjoy it quite as much. The “Paws and Claws” series has a town full of cats and dogs. Can’t figure out why it’s my favorite. LOL

    5+
      1. Ah, I can probably explain that. It was put out by Harlequin Australia (for whatever reason, the US arm didn’t want to publish it). So it may not be out on USA Kindle. Not sure if it will be eventually or not.

        1+
  9. I finally got around to Naomi Novik’s Spinning Silver and loved it. It was totally not what I was expecting but was fabulous in ways I hadn’t thought of.

    I went to bed early one night just so I could read for a while and apparently that didn’t really fly with Fred the dog, who is the boss of bedtime in this house, and he was very annoyed that I wasn’t shutting off my light so he could go to sleep (he sleeps on my side of the bed). After I was done and was trying to go to sleep, he kept walking around the bedroom, whining like he had to go outside (spoiler alert: he did not) and I swear he did it on purpose because I disrupted his bedtime routine.

    11+
  10. Two romance winners this week; Shannon Stacey’s Here We Go, fake relationship to happy ending. Connected to the novelette Second Shot but stands alone nicely (and then I had to go read Second Shot). And Lucy Parker’s great London Celebrities series continues with Headliners which I loved, especially the scene where the heroine teaches the hero to knit.

    6+
    1. I also just read Headliners and also especially appreciated that scene. never seen that in a romance before!

      5+
  11. I had mentioned last week re-reading Bujold (Orphans of Raspay), for which reason I noted that Shaman and Fox were two novellas that I hadn’t ever re-read. So I did. Which resulted in re-reading the next three in that series and realizing (I can be a bit slow, you see) that together they constitute a romance arc. Penric’s Mission, Penric and Desdemona, the demoness that shares his body, meet Madame Nykis Khatai and her brother, disgraced General Adelis. He begins falling in love with Nykis and smuggles them out of their country. In Mira’s Last Dance, they continue fleeing the country while Penric courts Nykis, a complication being the demoness, whose skills as a high-priced and experienced hetaera are necessary to the escape. Having reached safety and achieving employment for General Adelis in a new country, Nykis finds out that her mother is being held Prisoner of Limnos and goes straight to Penric for help, which he and Desdemona provide. The courtship provides many laughs, and prospers not when Nykis talks to Penric, but to Desdemona. 🙂

    I also continued reading Danger Cove mysteries/romances. I love the mysteries – the romances have been entirely too love at first sight for me.

    Just this minute (hour) I’ve called in sick. Sore throat, sniffling, sneezing sort of thing. I’m selfish – don’t want to share.

    9+
  12. I have been reading and enjoying Mary Jo Putney’s earlier books – The Rake, The Wild Child, River of Fire. How did I miss this writer before? I’ve been reading regencies forever, but this is the first time I read these wonderful novels. So-o-o good.

    7+
  13. Library had new Jayne Ann Krentz, binged The Other Lady Vanishes, Tightrope and Promise not to Tell. Just uncomplicated and entertaining, what I need right now

    5+
      1. Me too, I’ve just been having trouble reading new books in the past year, then I found all her new books in the library, a happy new year

        1+
  14. I am currently reading The New Improved Sorceress, sequel to The Late Great Wizard, by Sara Hanover. Very good so far.

    I spent the weekend at a science fiction convention, and downloaded a bunch of samples of mostly fantasy novels, which I am now reading and trying to decide which ones to buy. I could save so much money with Kindle Unlimited but so far I can’t bring myself not to give the authors the money for their books.

    9+
  15. I read a very good organic gardening lawn maintenance book by Paul Tukey. Really interesting. And several other gardening and floral design books. My sister gave me a really neat ikebana design book. Fascinating. Ive also been flower seed shopping. But I haven’t read books lately. I’m still watching all these super plot interesting Asian TV and movies. I’m really starting to adore these actors. They are so good. One show, called The Great Show, is about a failed But very ambitious Korean politician who starts out using an abandoned family of four children to jumpstart his career and revive his tarnished reputation. His character arc was so well done by this actor (who is absolutely handsome in a Korean gangster type way (the other great movie I saw him in in which he’s a badass gangster turned legit billionaire). Anyway, The Great Show goes well into the ordinary lives of regular S. Korean people and their many social, domestic and moral problems. Anyhow, I have to read a lot of subtitling so does that count for reading??? It’s a lot more work for my eyes and brain, that’s for sure.

    7+
  16. Since last fall I’ve binge-read all of John Sandford’s Virgil Flowers series, and am in the middle of #16 of his Lucas Davenport “Prey” series. The mysteries are compelling and the Minnesota setting is intriguing. I enjoy watching Virgil and Lucas grow and change across the series.

    I also read Sandford’s sci-fi novel Saturn Run. It was an interesting take on how near-future Earth nations might react to evidence of alien life near Saturn. The various characters were well-drawn and the technology seemed plausible.

    5+
  17. I read Lucy Parker’s Headliners (as mentioned above) – loved it almost as much as the last one – The Austen Playhouse which was my favourite of the series to date.
    And The Girl with No Face by M H Boroson sequel to The Girl with Ghost Eyes from a couple of years ago. Loved it almost as much as the first one. I do love me a kick-ass heroine.
    I’ve also been dipping into Where the Wild Cooks Go by Cerys Matthews which was a Christmas present from my daughter and mixes up recipes and cocktails and music playlists tied to different areas around the world. Although I don’t do so much cooking any more I’m finding it interesting to browse and graphically quite enticing.

    7+
  18. I ended up loving Lois Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, but was dubious about trying one of her historical/fantasy series. Now, though, I’m in the middle of [i]The Sharing Knife[/i] series and really enjoying the hell out of it.

    She writes such real people that the world building and period details don’t get in the way. And in addition to the romance, there are a lot of mysteries going on that keep me reading until way later than I planned to every night. Another solid hit for one of my now favorite authors.

    8+
    1. I’m going to try i inside the less than/greater than symbols: JaneB

      (Have to say, even if this works it’s far too tedious to do on the iPad keyboard!)

      2+
  19. Still awake at home, sniffling and coughing. I logged into my “Payline” account and found that the W-2s have been posted. I downloaded mine and printed it, giving me everything I needed to log in with Free TurboTax. I still only qualify for the standard deduction.

    Middlin’ story short, I am electronically filed with state and federal, expecting middlin’ hefty returns. Now I can go back to reading.

    7+
  20. I had a good run of books this week. The first Jackaby novel by William Ritter, which was fun. The Blacksmith Queen by GA Aiken, which was a huge romp. I didn’t realise until I was a little way in that she had written the dragon shapeshifter romances I read a few years back. This is in a similar vein. Everyone is larger than life and there’s lots of violence, but it’s sort of good-humoured cartoon violence, rather than the sort of stuff that turns me off a book.

    And then I read the new Sara Donati Where the Light Enters, which is the latest in her extended Bonner family epic, set in New Amsterdam before it became New York.

    5+
    1. Well, I’ll be darned. It worked. I was getting to the point of abandoning the world of the Others series then Anne Bishop changed to different characters in the same world and I am back to liking it a lot.

      6+
      1. I’ve re-read this a couple of times. It seems as if this should have been published before Lake Silence. The story line overlaps with Etched in Bone.

        2+
        1. True. Lake Silenceis pretty much a stand alone so far in the series while this overlaps with Etched in Bone a lot.

          1+
      1. Especially as a nature photographer! All that evidence you might have accidently caught on film. Lucky, Jane, sounds like you’ve been very lucky.

        5+
  21. Reread Persuasion for the umpteenth time; I reread Pride & Prejudice around a week ago. This time around I was struck by how much the central couple can be silent together as well as talkative. I think it’s one of the indications that they’re in love even when they don’t know it; silence indicates comfort. Reading Persuasion this time I really thought about what makes someone sincere, thoughtful, quick to act, perceptive of others’ needs. And, Austen explores what makes someone the right match for someone else. Some of it is similarity; some is complementarity.

    2+

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