This is a Good Book Thursday, February 27, 2020

Ben Aaronovitch’s new book in the Rivers of London series is out now: False Value. I am 37% of the way through it and enjoying it a lot, but the writer part of me wonders how people who haven’t read the first seven (?) books will like it. It’s lovely seeing all these people from Peter’s past, but ye gods there are a lot of them, and if you didn’t know who they were to start, I’d think it would be confusing as hell. I’ve read them all at least twice, and I still stick every now and then. (Who’s Foxglove? Oh, right the artist kind of vampire. Got it.)

You know how when you really love an author, you hold him or her to a higher standard? Yeah, that sucks, but there it is. I’m expecting brilliance but enjoying extreme competence in a literary world I love. Also Bev’s going to give birth to twins, and I’m looking forward to that. (A magician and a river goddess have twins . . . .)

What are you reading this week?

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62 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 27, 2020

  1. For some reason, I never got to grips with Rivers of London, which is odd because it’s one of those things I feel I should like, like Neil Gaiman, but it just slides off my brain. However, I did find a Pratchett that I hadn’t read, the short stories, and it was just like falling into a huge warm feather bed and snuggling up: massively, massively comforting.

    I’m also re-reading Karen Chance’s latest, Shatter the Earth, as I read it in a hurry and may have missed bits, and listening to Snuff by Pratchett as another comfort listen. It’s all good.

    1. I, too, read the first Rivers of London book expecting to love it, and went “OK?” at the end. Tried the second and quit after ten pages. I know I must be missing something but, meh.

        1. I’ve wondered if I could have loved the series as much as I do if I hadn’t been exposed to bits of working class London via EastEnders and Jane Tennison and the like. There are cultural flavors that I think I would have missed entirely.

          1. I loved all the references…but I couldn’t love the book. Appreciate the workmanship sure, but I had no desire to read any more. It’s hard to remember now but I think maybe I found the central character a bit of a Mary Sue? Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman was a similarly disappointing London book experience. I like the idea of Neil Gaiman a lot more than actually reading the books. I do love some of his comics though. “Marvel 1602” has the Marvel universe but set in Elizabethan times. It’s fascinating.

    2. I was meh on the printed version of the first two books but then stumbled across the audio version and was totally hooked. Now, I enjoy either print or audio, but still prefer the audio.

  2. I’m re-reading Bet Me as it is a comfort read in times of trouble.

    I lost my passport on the plane and did not discover the loss until repackaging for the cruise the next day. Needless to say – no cruise. But, we did stay at a great boutique hotel our daughter-in-law found. The Palihouse, the north end of south beach. We spent a lot of time with husband’s cousin and her partner. She was looking for her family and discovered a big one. They are wonderful women. Just love them. So, as husband said that if the loss of the passport meant more time with them, it was worth it. She said she was sorry I lost the passport but so glad I did.

    Spent the last day stressed out about the emergency travel document waiting for the okay from Canada. So stressful, my flight was the next day.

    At one point I was told I could fly to Buffalo, NY and walk across the border by a border agent. Like a refugee but with papers.

    So…thank you, Jenny, BetMe helped settle my stress levels as I didn’t get my document until the last moment on Monday. There may have been tears…finally got them calling.

  3. Reading The Elements of Eloquence and boy is it my jam to break down Shakespeare and see why those lines work. Listening to Armageddon on audio when we drive kids about (Expeditionary Force #8). And bouncing around between other fiction books trying to settle on something.

  4. I am 36 minutes from the end of False Value. I found I couldn’t keep track of all the NEW people. I will have to reread to get it all straight. There are THINGS I’m disappointed about, but that’s mostly my view of the world and AI conflicting with Ben Aaronovitch’s. Or at least the one he projects in the book. If anybody finished the book and wants to discuss – I’m around.

    I’ve read all the books multiple times so I’m less likely to keep the older characters straight. I must live 10 percent of my life in that word as I listen to Kobna Holdbrook Smith to go to sleep at night.

    1. I had trouble with the new characters, too. Specifically keeping Skinner and Johnson apart. I did think that anybody who hadn’t read the first seven was going to drown in character names.

      I really liked the book, but that was mostly because of the old characters all working together. Missed Abigail and definitely needed more Folly, but reading about Bev and Peter dealing with the twins pregnancy was new and fun. Basically, this felt like fan service. The plot was kind of all over the place, and Peter really didn’t have anything at stake (except the end of the world) but it was good being back in that world. I did wonder at the end of that was Cthulhu, but I’m thinking maybe just a cousin.

    2. I’m about 2 hours from the end and I am enjoying it so far (because of the Audiobook and the distinct character vocals I’m not having a problem with new character mix ups).

      I work on the periphery of that tech world and a lot of the descriptions of the Serious Cybernetics Company made me cringe with their accuracy (especially finding “cool” names for job titles…).

      What annoys me is that the Rivers of London short story “A Rare Book of Cunning Device” also had a tech/magic automaton and I would have expected Peter to bring it up.

        1. Yep about 20 minutes after I started listening again 🙂 10th century Baghdad and book that won’t stay put….

  5. “One of us is not like the others of us.” I’m reading biographies for reading group.
    Just finished River of Fire by Sr. Helen Prejean (best known for Dead Man Walking) and have begun Haben, about a young deafblind (that’s how she writes it) woman who goes to Harvard Law School. Haben is her name, not some German word, which is what it feels like to me.

  6. I have not finished a single new book this week. (Finished The Twisted Ones last week and failed to mention–yes, the dog lives. Told you.) I’m in the middle of five, most of them kind of blah. I’ve just reread The Watchmaker of Filigree Street to prepare for Natasha Pulley’s newest, for which I am number two of five on the reserve list. It was even richer and more delightful the second time.

  7. I started one that dated from my pre-sample reading “It’s cheap on my kindle!” days. It’s ok. Meh. Nothing revolting, just not enough pluses to keep me going.

    Then I had a stressful day at work (Wait, why does QB think we owe $7,000 in unemployment taxes?????) followed by a stressful drive home (you live in Michigan – learn to drive in snow, people). I turned my back on anything new and grabbed “The Unknown Ajax”. Georgette never disappoints.

  8. Found out this week that 3 of my dearly beloved have been diagnosed with cancer, one being my brother. We’re waiting to find out how serious.
    I’m spending my driving and chore time hiding in the comfort of some BBC Radio Dramas from the 70s, Jeeves and Wooster. The fabulous Richard Bryers as Bertie, and Michael Horden as Jeeves. Pretty funny.

  9. I read and really enjoyed “Love Lettering” by Kate Clayborn about a professional lettering artist who couldn’t help hiding a message in a wedding program and the pattern-guy groom who finds it and comes looking for answers. I loved their build-up, her interest in signs, the love letter to NYC, the other relationships, everything. Highly recommend.

  10. I read and recommend Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher, a fantasy romance set in the same world as Clocktaur Boys. Her writing is just so lovely, and her characters interesting people who you’d like to be friends with. This one is a romp, but still funny and kind with a lovely romance. And a high bodycount. I think I liked Swordheart more, but this is still great.

  11. In the waning days of winter I’ve been hunting up cozy mysteries. Don’t know why except maybe comfort reading. I’ve found a few and added them to my kindle. Some are box sets and I like when the price is right, say if they are under $10 for a set of four or more. I especially like if they are on KU, just my speed – free.

    Back to the cozies, one that I picked up is titled Carrots by Colleen Helme about a wife and mother of two who has run out of carrots and while she is heading to the store to purchase them is grazed by a bullet during a robbery and comes to with the ability to read minds. OK, that doesn’t sound funny but it is billed as laugh out loud humor and adventure. I’ll soon find out.

    1. If you don’t mind my saying, most of my cozy mysteries are going to be on sale (only digital versions and purchased through Smashwords) next week (along with all the other books from my publisher, Gemma Halliday Publishing, most of which are cozy mysteries) and they aren’t all that expensive to start with. I’m not sure if the boxed sets will be on sale or just the single titles.

  12. For the second week in a row, I’m not reading anything new. I’m taking a break from Danger Cove Mysteries. I’m once again re-reading the entire Wearing the Cape series. I’m up to Wearing the Cape: Ronin Games (series book 5, give or take 2). Somehow I squeezed in a re-read of Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, because Bujold.

    1. I found a series you might like The Superpower Chronicles by Arthur Mayor. The first book is Sidekicks. A bit darker than the Wearing the Cape series. Appears to be Kindle only.

  13. I finished Kill the Farm Boy (Dawson and Hearne) and while I loved the premise, it didn’t work for me. My great-nephew may go wild for snot/poo humor but he’s eight.
    My other completed reads this past week were Social Security for Dummies (have to start somewhere) and Death Doesn’t Bargain (Kenyon). The latter is the 2nd book in her Deadman’s Cross series and it cannot stand alone. You absolutely have to read the first one to know the characters and the ending just drops you; nothing is resolved.

    1. Has your great nephew read the Captain Underpants series? They are just terrific for the snot/poo set.

  14. I finished Murderbot, but the real big read this week has been making my way through a 531K+ wordcount unfinished fanfiction wherein General Leia, the day after Han gets murdered in The Force Awakens, wakes up in that cell on the Death Star, with all of her memories of the future.

    Peggy Sue Star Wars is quite a vibrant category of fanfiction, but even then, this is a standout entry in the genre.

    1. Gosh, I want to read that fanfiction! I don’t even read a lot of Star Wars fanfic, but I love Peggy Sue Got Married and anything with time travel.

  15. Reread a couple of Patricia Briggs’ books: Shifting Shadows (a short story collection) and then Silver Borne (because one of the short stories was about Samuel and Ariadne, and their line continues in this book).
    Also read an old romance by Carola Dunn, Ginnie Come Lately. It was an OK book, short and sweet and nonsensical, but I’m stuck with its title. I tried to parse it, but I can’t determine its meaning. It feels like grammar doesn’t apply at all, and that irritates me. I love grammar. I know that a book title is not a sentence and doesn’t have to comply with grammar rules, but still. In my experience, Carola Dunn is a wonderful grammarian. I always enjoy her writing. I wonder if there is some old saying or quote I don’t know that inspired this title. Something old English or Shakespearean?

    1. It’s a riff on Johnny-come-lately, meaning someone who’s recently appeared/acquired status. It suggests they’re not of real quality or status; it also suggests the speaker is a snob.

    2. It’s a play on “Johnny Come Lately,” I assume.
      It’s an expression about some who’s just showed up, and it has a vaguely bad connotation, like a carpetbagger.

      ETA: And Jane already got there. Sorry, reading on the dashboard.

  16. Started the Writers Apprentice cozy series by Julia Buckley. Read book 1 & 2. Book 1 was good. Book 2 was ok. Book 3 – we’ll see.

  17. Discovered at the bookstore Jasmine Guillory’s romances which are good even if there’s not Crusie levels of banter. Enjoyed Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas as well.

      1. I have bought probably 6 or 7 of her books but I have only read one novella. I start them, I admire the writing, I get stuck. I think they are not frivolous enough for me right now. I will go back to them when my big work project is done and I can invest more emotionally in them.

  18. Finished “A Memory Called Empire” by Arkady Martine which has yet another snarky semi-disembodied side character with potentially questionable motives (at least this one may only be guilty of a little light treason rather than genocide).

    Overall it was a really enjoyable book with interesting characters, fantastic banter and some interesting things to say about cultural imperialism. I think it’s liable to get a nod for the Hugos this year.

  19. I’ve been reading THE LEGITIMACY OF BASTARDS by Helen Matthews, nonfiction on the status of illegitimate children in the fourteenth, fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries in England. As a genealogist, which has been my hobby for decades, it’s fun to see how later generations rewrote pedigrees to bury ancestral peccadilloes!

    Also, if anyone is a Phryne Fisher fan, following the ongoing release of the new movie, MISS FISHER AND THE CRYPT OF TEARS, and possibly planning to attend a showing in Twenties clothing, I recommend DRESS AND LOOK SLENDER, by Mary Picken (1924), which has lots of contemporary information on fashion choices for those of ample proportions.

  20. A biography of Marlene Dietrich written by her daughter. An interesting life but a lot of work. It kinda makes me happy I’m not a beautiful and talented megastar, and happy I’m not the daughter of one.

  21. Today lasted about 20 minutes at work before I left it in the capable hands of my coworker. Got home and immediately took a nap. Needed it, although I’ve gotten a normal amount of sleep all week.

    Woke up and broke out my wok. Beef, spicy sausage, onion, red and yellow peppers, diced spiced tomatoes, diced tomatoes with chilis, tomato paste, mushrooms and MCT oil powder for thickener. The result resembles medium hot chili. I have the spices to heat it up, but not the need.

    I ate some on cheese bread, then some banana nut muffin for dessert. (They didn’t have the bread, ergo muffins.)

    When I talked about books, I forgot about the snippets I’ve been reading on Baen’s Bar. Demons of Constantinople, the sequel to Demons of Paris was one. The Shaman of Karres was another.

  22. This week I LOVED Paladin’s Grace.
    My jaw hit the floor several times reading Spam Tomorrow by Verily Anderson which is a WWII Homefront memoir; I often feel how different in many ways our grandparent’s generation were… but her family were fruitbats!
    I enjoyed. though not madly, a read of The Clock Strikes Twelve by Patricia Wentworth.
    And have started The Green Man’s Heir by Juliet McKenna which is a fantasy/murder mystery crossover and I’m liking it so far.

  23. I read Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas this week. Last week somebody here remarked with disappointment that it didn’t have the historical background of the earlier books in the series (pioneering female doctor, etc.). I did not mind at all. A straightforward romance can be a nice fantasy for an ordinary person like me. I like to be reminded that you don’t have to be the most exceptional person to find love.

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