This is a Good Book Thursday, February 13, 2020

I’ve been reading Trisha Ashley and Jennifer Crusie. And crochet patterns and recipes. Lots of loose plotting in everything.

What have you read lately?

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86 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 13, 2020

  1. I finished “Amelia Westlake Was Never Here” by Erin Gough. Cute high school enemies-to-lovers.

    Currently very much enjoying the first Murderbot. Brilliant characterization. And isn’t that one of the greatest first paragraphs of all time? Talk about delivering the promise of the premise on the first page!

    1. She’s kind of like a cup of hot chocolate. Very soothing. She does great communities, and I like her heroines, although they are incredibly dense when it comes to the hero showing up, usually because the hero is snarling all the time. I may be reading too many of them at once, although I think what’s happening now as I read through is that I’m reading her early ones, and they’re . . . cosy romances, I guess. I may have overdosed.

      I loved Every Woman for Herself because it was funny but they do get a little “Everybody gets a car” in the end. And then I liked Leap of Faith. They’re beginning to wane on me, though. Probably shouldn’t have glommed her.

      1. I love Trisha Ashley. She is one of my comfort reads. But I agree, more than three or four in a row is probably too much. Like too much chocolate, even when it is good chocolate. It is best to spread it out a little.

        1. The one with Chocolate Wishes? I’m just finishing that. The first two are pleasant although I almost wandered off on the second one. The third one is the best of the three, I think. I started reading her with her later books, I think, because the heroines are smarter and nastier, and the characters are crazier. I think you grow into the writer you need to be; I like my early HQs but my later books are miles better, so I’m not about to trash her because her early books are nice, but her later books are sharper.

          ETA: I just finished the third book in the bundle. They’re very sweet romances, but I really miss the sharpness of (what I think are) her later ones. I miss the evil edge of her humor I these.

          1. Yes, that’s the one. OK so I’ll take these as softer versions of her later books and try one of those after. I’m okay with soft right now, I have the crud and have been watching watch videos for their soothing powers. (Little gears are so calming, who knew)

          2. She is also an absolute sweetheart. We’re friends on Twitter (we’ve never met in person because–ocean) and she is just lovely and supportive. And also progressively losing her vision, which makes me very sad.

          3. I will check out the later ones. I got that three-book bundle a while ago and found them very similar, to the point of being almost formulaic. For example, in each one, the heroine gets together (in the present) with the hero after getting very drunk. Then regrets it. When you all started talking about her again on here, I reread those three and thought, “nope, still repetitive”. But there was a lot to like otherwise, so thanks for the recommendation on where to try again.

  2. I’ve been quiet here lately. Headed off on a beach vacation in middle of January with plans to read a lot, but it was interrupted when my mother-in-law had a series of strokes and we returned early. She is improving but we are spending quite a bit of time in hospital with her. Reading is keeping me sane right now. Here’s some of what I’ve read over the last month or so.

    The Lacuna (Barbara Kingsolver) – Thanks to whoever recommended this. While a little heavy going for a beach read 🙂 I couldn’t put it down. The structure is so creative and amazing, and the time period fascinating.

    Say No to the Duke (Eloisa James) – I love her clever historicals. This one lacked a bit of suspense in the sense that both the characters were very reasonable and self-aware and the outside conflict was a little flimsy, but I recommend it anyway simply for the repartee.

    The Gabriel Hounds (Mary Stewart) – I adore Mary Stewart. But this one was just a little icky for me. The suspense was great as usual, but the hero/heroine were cousins WITH IDENTICAL TWIN FATHERS. I seem to recall she’s had cousins be love interests before, but identical twin parents makes them half-siblings, which is just wrong, even for a book written in 1967.

    1. Wishing your m-i-l a speedy recovery, Brenda. Strokes can be scary, but sounds like things are on the upswing so hoping she feels better soon and you’re all free to go home:)

      1. I was shocked (I was a kid and easily shocked then) when I read The Gabriel Hounds in 1967. Later, I had no trouble with Georgette Heyer’s cousin loves — though, now that I think of it, are there any? Oh, yes — the Ajax one. After all, she was writing about an earlier time when keeping family wealth and title going through generations mattered.

        Can’t say I have a least-favorite Mary Stewart. But My Brother Michael is my favorite.

        1. There’s actually no reasons first cousins couldn’t marry, although it’s illegal in a lot of states. The genetic risks are a lot lower than conventional wisdom thinks.

          1. I’ve read that the genetic risks for first cousins having a baby are similar to those for a woman having a baby after the age of 35. And no one is trying to legally prevent that from happening. I think they both double the risk of birth defects, but the overall risk is still incredibly low.

          2. I think the risk is when first cousins marry first cousins, and then the next generation does the same, and the next. That’s when you start getting serious problems.

  3. I’ve been re-reading Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series ( but after listening to two of them I’m thinking that binging all of them isn’t going to cut it. I like them a lot, but they are a bit much one after the other.

  4. I’m also a fan of Eloisa James, but I love Julia Quinn even more, and somehow found a novel I either haven’t read or read so long ago I’ve forgotten all of it–“Ten Things I Love About You.” I think Quinn is funnier than James, and unless I’m reading for work or for book club, I mostly want to be amused. Exception is Malcolm Gladwell’s latest, “Talking to Strangers,” which just makes me shake my head in wonder at our collective stupidity.

  5. For some reason I picked up Less bY Andrew Sean Greer (I don’t do very many significant novels and this one is a Pulitzer Prize winner) and it is a very good read. The hero Arthur Less seems to drift through life make or not/making choices that make you want to slap him a couple of times. But it was funny, the writing was excellent and the characters were interesting. Less is a writer who accepts every symposium invitation and award ceremony to avoid going to the wedding of his previous lover so he doesn’t have to go to the wedding and look like a loser. And somehow he begins to really resonate. It does have a HEA. If it had been written by a woman it would not have gotten a Pulitzer. It would have been categorized as chick lit: very high end chick lit. Anyway, I recommend it. Oh and the reviews were mixed between “Wow is this good” and “What was the Pulizer prize committee thinking of?”

    I have also been reading Dinner in an Instant by Melissa Clark, a cookbook for the Instant Pot. So far it is the best cookbook for using the Instant Pot I have found. Some of the recipes call for a lot of ingredients though and some seem a little complex but they all sound tasty. And she has brief instructions for doing the recipes on the stove top if you want. I am reading it on Kindle and if you go to the index, the recipe title takes you right to the recipe.

    1. I’m in the didn’t love it column for Less. I mean, it was all right, but really? A Pulitzer?

      A tiny part of me felt like this was a satirical version of Eat, Pray, Love without a lot of the Pray part.

      1. No telling what is going to resonate. When I readShipping News, I remember thinking that from then on I was going to avoid Pulitzer Prize winners because despite everyone else liking it, I did not.

  6. Me and Max (the dog) were sent to the back bedroom so dry walkers and painters had access to the living room, so, no TV, no entertainment, and I had no book with me. Found my daughter’s old yellowed copy of A Prayer For Owen Meany. It has kept me entertained all week.

  7. Fiction: Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg and it’s wonderful.

    Non Fiction: Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter- it really makes you look at what happens to your stuff after you are done with it. Throw away culture clothing and furniture. How economies move from being willing to buy secondhand to not. How poly fabrics like fleece are hard to reuse, if at all, and how much more is going to wind up in landfills. It’s depressing, but really interesting.

  8. I finished Came Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire and it was brillilant, as usual. That’s the latest in her Wayward Children series and finally wraps up the story of Jack and Jill.

    I’m currently reading The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter by Theodora Goss and really enjoying it.

    I also read my calendar this morning and was please to discover that I’d already done some home administration chores that I thought were still not done. Yay me! That was the best thing I’ve read all week.

  9. I just read Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher. Really, really good. Just as good if not better than SwordHeart. The author’s notes afterward says that she was supposed to be writing a sequel to SwordHeart but this story just sort of bubbled up while she was taking a long drive. She’s still going to write a sequel to SwordHeart (yay!).

    1. I’m saving Paladin’s Grace as my reward for finishing my current draft of my WIP, which I need to finish by the end of the weekend.

      1. I love her books. Just discovered her last year, though how I had missed her, I don’t know. Gulped down Paladin’s Grace Tuesday night.

  10. I’m reading Get a Life Chloe Brown and I love it. “while I do spend a lot of time indoors, the length of a murder sentence might be a touch too long, and prison beds would absolutely ruin my back” is my favorite murder threat now.

    When I run out of Chloe I have A Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane so I’m having the best sick day ever. Yay books.

    1. Just finished Blood and Ashes! It was great! Yvenne is the most steadfast heroine I have ever met and I adore her.

  11. I just finished Finder, the debut novel from Suzanne Palmer (winner of a 2018 Hugo Award for the novelette “The Secret Lives of Bots”) and LOVED it! Great story. I’m almost done with Michele Sagara’s newest Elantra book, Cast in Wisdom, which is keeping me up WAY late at night, she does such a great job with pacing, I’m racing towards the end of the book and cannot wait. I love this series of hers.

  12. Being a longtime LoTR fan, I have read the Hobbit and LoTR many times. Years ago, when it first came out, I attempted to read The Sillmarillion. Although I finished it, I did not enjoy it. I don’t remember who told me about it, but someone suggested listening to The Prancing Pony podcast (no funny stuff intended, it was named after the inn in Bree) and started where they were discussing The Hobbit and then went on to the first volume The Fellowship of the Ring. Now that I am caught up on all that, I went back to their discussion of The Sillmarillion and am going to give it another try. So far it is okay (but I’m only 35 pages in).

    For a lighter read I have Deerskin by Robin McKinley going as well.

      1. Deborah, not exactly sarcasm. lol. I didn’t think about it until after I hit enter. Deerskin isn’t exactly light reading, but compared to the Silmarillion it feels like it!

  13. I picked up Tiny Habits today, based on recommendations here. Haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

    Mostly I’ve been listening to a series of audiobooks by an author whose books are like 600 pages long and have maybe 150 pages of story in them, and she can’t ever just say the protagonist put on his shoes and left the house, without having the guy bend over, slip the shoes on, decide his socks are bunched up, slip the shoes off, straighten the socks, put the shoes back on, nod in approval, think for five pages about some other time when he didn’t straighten the socks and regretted it, and then tie the laces, and straighten and walk across the rug to the door, cognizant with each step of how comfortable the socks and shoes feel and another five pages later he finally meets up with another person and the story resumes.

    I think I’d really love these books at 200 pages, and even at 600 pages there’s good stuff there, and listening to them helps me fall asleep, because if I miss twenty pages or so by drifting off, I don’t really lose what’s going on. I listened to them when I was sick a couple weeks ago, and I probably missed half of the book by drifting off, waking up, continuing to listen, drifting off, etc.

  14. I just finished Heart of Blood and Ashes by Milla Vane, a nom de plume for Meljean Brook, a favorite of mine. It was a long, slow burn of a book with lots of world building and political nuance. The heroine was fabulous. The hero was solid. I like the wiley bad boy/ nare do well and Maddick is all good guy. Personal preference only. The writing is solid. I also enjoyed that Yvenne is a woman of color who uses her brain as a weapon because her body is unreliable. Very creative and I can’t wait for the next one!

  15. I need to find the post where Gin recommended the Danger Cove mysteries. I want to know how she managed to hook me, how I wound up buying four boxed sets (20 books). I am now into the fourteenth book, A Death in the Flower Garden. Because of the mix of authors/co-authors, the stories are sufficiently different in style to mix things up. I’ll have to buy the individual books that aren’t in the boxed sets, too.

    But I’m still not setting foot in that town. “‘Murder,’ They All Wrote.” *shudder*

    I had my littlest Kindle at work, and hadn’t delivered the cove to it, so needed a diversion. Nothing new, just re-reading the Wearing the Cape series on my breaks. Then back to Danger Cove when I get home.

      1. The series is about to end?!? Say it isn’t so!

        I guess I shouldn’t be surprised – by this point, the protagonists all have to take turns being murder victims, and unless you use tourists, they have to be the murderers, too. Running out of people in Danger Cove. (Just kidding. Mostly.)

        The post where you hooked me was Cherry Saturday, December 21, 2019. I just spent a pleasant several hours browsing all the posts between today and then (because I’m not bright enough to look at the date acquired in my Kindle manager.)

        Anyway, you hooked me with free samples. Short stories. Very effective.

        1. Thank you!

          But yes, the Danger Cove series is ending. The authors were wandering off to other projects, and it seemed like a good solid number of books at this point. I was definitely having trouble coming up with new murders for a single town, so I think it was time for it to end. I’d actually planned to stop before the last one (TWO SLEUTHS), but then the publisher said something about how fun it would be to have my two protagonists (separate subseries) join forces, and then I couldn’t stop thinking about how that would work.

  16. Going on holiday tomorrow. Packed Tristram Shandy, Pumpkin Heads (Rainbow Rowell), The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Modern Antiquarian (Julian Cope) because we are going to Stonehenge. The weather looks appalling so there will be plenty of time to read in front of the fire.

    1. If the gift shop at Stonehenge has those heavy duty jute/burlap reusable bags, get one because they are awesome. I’ve used the crap out of mine for, oh, 9 years now and it’s still in amazing shape.

      Also, I had the best cheddar and pickle sandwich I’ve ever had in my life there.

  17. I’m late to the party as usual, and only just now getting around to reading The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. (Katarina Bivald) This one was a huge best seller for a while, and I tend not to like best sellers.[My mom, grandmother, and I all read The Bridges of Madison County when it first came out and all went, “Meh?”]

    But this one lives up to its hype. It is, for lack of a better word, charming. It’s a slow and meandering kind of book that is more about people than action. And books. It is a slow savor kind of book, perfect for snowy winter days. I recommend it, even if I’m not from Broken Wheel.

  18. I’ve been proper poorly the last few weeks so treated myself to a re-read of the Vity Watch books: Guards Guards, Men-at-Arms, Feet of Clay, Jingo and The Fifth Elephant down so far and just about to start The Night Watch. There is nobody like Pratchett ti lift you when you are sorry for yourself.

  19. Only managed Origin’s in Death by JD Robb this week. after reading through a lot of new (for me) Jayne Ann Krentz last month. Was hoping to maintain pace.

    I love JD Robb books, but binging them is not recommended, same for Reacher (Lee Child)

  20. Just finished the anthology The Mythic Dream. SFF stories retelling myths. Seanan McGuire, Ann Leckie, Amal el Mokhtar, Kat Howard, etc. Amazing, mind-blowing, must-read-again.

    I’m almost finished with Alexis Hall’s The Affair of the Mysterious Letter. Was it recommended here? If not, I’m recommending it. It’s making me laugh a lot.

    1. “Sometimes the truth is arrived at by adding all the little lies together and deducting them from the totality of what is known.”

      I picked up my copy of Going Postal at the physical therapist’s today after accidentally leaving it there last week.

      In the meantime I watched the tv version of the book and criticized its changes from the original.

      Turns out, the tv version was true to the book. I’m amused at my bad memory and pleased that Sir Terry’s plot was followed.

  21. Read a really interesting YA duology by Erin Bow (Scorpion Rules and The Swan Riders). The blurbs position them in the same dystopian space as works like The Hunger Games and Divergent but while it’s adjacent, it’s exploring different territory.

    Telos the AI joins Shuos Jedao in the collection of “oddly appealing quippy semi-disembodied mass murderers”.

    1. I love the Erin Bow books. I’m not a dystopian fiction fan at all but between the Canadian setting and the originality of the story I was hooked.

  22. Reading Elton John’s autobiography. I am thoroughly enjoying it. He owns his crap, which is refreshing. I’ve woken my husband up from laughing. In February. I don’t find much to laugh at in February.

    1. Watched ‘Rocketman’ recently and enjoyed that, too. (Not that I’ve read the autobiography; just listened to the serialization on Radio 4.)

  23. I read Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Christ’s childhood pal, by Christopher Moore. I’ve not read any of his books before, but this was hilarious. Thanks to whoever recommended it.

  24. I run behind on most things. I am not socially immediate… at all…

    In your post “New Year, New Reboot” you mention having trouble finding a publisher for Nita. I recently read a book published by Glenfinnan Publishing. In the back they mention themselves.

    Suzanne Tisdale, an indie writer for years, recently (2019) started the company. They are trying to help new and established writers that, for whatever reasons, the traditional publishing houses are not interested in. The web site mentions shorter contracts and more money to the authors, as well as trying to help the writers create the best story they can.

    And while you create some of my very favorite stories, they might be able to help you get Nita, and anything else you feel compelled to create, to us your ever hopeful fans.

    I do not know how all this works. I know you have been short changed by the industry and Suzanne has experienced some problems with her side as well, so I am inclined to believe that they are sincere. This could be a waste of time, but I felt it was worth mentioning.

    See web site glenfinnnanpublishing.com for more details.

    Thank you and best of luck.

    1. Thank you! As of right now, only one publisher has turned it down, and I’m doing a massive rewrite, so it’ll go out again to other publishers shortly. Fingers crossed!

    2. I am such an idiot. Her name is Suzan Tisdale. I know Z in Suzan and S in Tisdale. I got that right and then tried to fancy up the spelling on her first name. Argh.

      1. Well, I appear to have stepped into a huge steaming pile of, uh, stuff.

        Deborah, thank you for the link to the information. Wow, it is lot to digest.

        Jenny, sorry for the apparently really bad suggestion.

        I will be taking my embarrassed, socially ignorant self back home to my dogs and old horses where I think I should probably stay.

        Again, thank you and sorry.

        1. Not at all. This is a place where we disagree politely. Mistakes are made, no problem. Absolutely do not leave, Deb’s a sweetheart and just wanted you to know you’d walked into a minefield (not here, but any place where the RWA argument is raging). You’re fine.

          I would disagree with Deb on one thing: She didn’t start the implosion, Courtney did when she called a book “racist trash.” It may have been racist trash, but if you throw a lighted match into a room full of gasoline fumes, you’re gonna get an explosion. Then Tizdale (?) and RWA added more gas. I will agree without hesitation that RWA has a major diversity problem, but not that one side of this mess isn’t as responsible as the other.

  25. Been rereading Robert Parker. The ones where someone has to undergo a long term physical change (Spenser gets shot, Hawk gets shot) I think it to inspire my new workout resolve.

      1. I agree, Jenny. Wonderful. I’d never heard of him until you mentioned him recently. My libraries don’t carry any of his books sadly, so I’m going to have to buy them. Which would you recommend to read next?

        1. The Calder and Behrens books are great if you like post WWII retired spies saving England quietly while being wry.

          Anything for the Quiet Life is short stories about the semi-retired solicitor that shows up in a lot of his books; again the older Englishman doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.

          End-Game is one of my favorites because of how it plays with protagonist expectations. David is such a bastard in the beginning, but you stick with it because he’s charming and funny, and then you begin to understand that there’s a method to his bastardness.

          The Quiet House is another favorite, this time with a young hero who’s an insurance investigator and who finds himself in the middle of a multi-nation undercover operation as investigates the death of a scientist.

          I love The Long Journey Home which is about a self-made rich man who gets off a plane before it takes off on a hunch and then finds out the plane crashed and he’s presumed dead. He decides to stay dead for awhile and . . . things happen. Another solidly good Englishman who does the right thing, except like most of Gilbert’s protagonists, stepping outside the law doesn’t worry him much.

          Smallbone Deceased is literally a classic murder mystery, on most Best Mysteries of All Time lists. It has a wonderful hero who’s beginning his career as a lawyer when a body is found and trouble ensues. And it’s $1.99 right now.

          Oh, and I love The Body of a Girl because the hero is again kind of a surly bastard but so smart. Really all of Gilbert’s heroes are quiet, smart, ruthless in a gentlemanly sort of way, and determined to do the right thing even if they have to do the wrong thing to get there.

          There’s another one that’s very good called Night of the Twelfth, but it has a child murder in it, and I know that’s where a lot of people draw the line.

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