This is a Good Book Thursday, April 16, 2020

Alisa Kwitney and I were texting and trading book recs the other day and I found out she’d never read Terry Pratchett, a particularly egregious dereliction considering she’s friends with Neil Gaiman. So I told her to read Thief of Time. Then I realized it had probably been a year since I’d read Thief of Time, so I’m going back to it, too, and now, I’m eyeing the Watch series again, possibly the greatest detective series ever written, especially if you like rough justice and hard laughter. I also told her about Ben Aaronovitch because the Rivers of London series is just damn good. She recommended Lucy Parker, and I said, “Definitely Mhairi McFarlane.” About ten minutes into our fast-and-furious texting exchange, the phone rang and she said, “Why are we TYPING?” and we settled in for a this-is-a-good-book swap chat session with frequent asides about dogs and mothers. So this is also This-Is-A-Good-Friend Thursday, featuring Alisa Kwitney, who is also a Good Author and you should read her. Which I am going to do again after I read about Susan Sto-Helit defeating those damn Auditors and finding True Love.

Because Terry Pratchett was a genius, and Thief of Time is proof.

What did you read this week?

77 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 16, 2020

  1. I’m in the middle of Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik, which I’ve seen recommended by a number of people here and over at Smart Bitches, and so far it’s a great read.

  2. Son has to read The absolutely true diary of a part-time Indian for school (and has to hand in his assignment in a few days time). He had trouble getting into the book (mind you, English is not his first language), so I tried it myself. I found the first two or three chapters to be slow – very different from what he reads usually, but was able to assure him that it picks up speed eventually.
    I grew to really like it a lot. Good message to young ones included.
    Son kind of trusts me when it comes to books (not like his mate who would not touch any book his mum recommends and nothing that is older than him anyway – missing out on sooooo many books) and by now has started to quote from the book to me, so that’s a good sign :-).

  3. I discovered that Sharon Shinn’ Elemental Blessings were about $4.60 each on Kindle and closed my ears to my practical side and both the lot. The exchange rate is *awful* right now.

    I’d only read Troubled Waters previously and now I’ve devoured 3 books in 3 days.

    Fantasy romance with first person pov. Standalone books with really great characters and character development.

    It’s funny how I didn’t enjoy her Mystic and Rider until I read second book of that series. There’s something about the way Shinn writes that feels pleasant and almost welcoming.

    Today I baked what we call biscuits and what ‘Mericans call cookies. So I’m going to take my post-British-colonial self off to have some tea and biscuits.

    1. I am re-reading the Mystic and Rider series right now. I’ve been looking at all my new library books, and reading a few pages and going “meh” and turning to something tried and true. Like Bet Me. I forget whether the discussion of doughnuts was here or somewhere else (food is a perennial topic on most of the blogs I follow) but it made me get out Bet Me, and start it, but then I had to read The Cinderella Deal first because I love the house So Much. Now back to Bet Me.

    2. I loved those except for the last one. Unquiet Earth left me vaguely dissatisfied at the end. Still, the others are fabulous.

  4. It’s not my reading but my daughter’s. She rec’d 10 books from the Easter Bunny aka Me and her Dad (well, mostly me) and she’s finished 2 or 3 of them already. The latest Aru Shah book and the Warriors series-es, about cats. She’s loving the Warriors stuff. Her b-day comes up in May and I’m going to tell her aunts to get her box sets of the rest of it. Thankfully, she picked a series with 20+ books in it to fall in love with. She also knows she’s not getting any new books until her b-day and she’s torn between burning though them (because BOOKS) and rationing them out to make it to early May.

    I keep trying to talk her into the Brian Jacques Redwall stuff which I have several of in my collection, but no go so far.

    1. Definitely Tamora Pierce. I never got into Brian Jacques. But I highly recommend Eoin Colfer for clever, funny writing. No talking animals but very interesting and twisty with magic and or sci-fi elements. Plus, I wrote to him once and he wrote back to me when I was a kid 🙂

      1. Oh, and Sherwood Smith has a more tween magical series that is fun. I think it begins with Wren’s Quest.

    2. If you haven’t already, I’d recommend looking at the Wings of Fire series, too. All the main characters are dragons; humans are a weird nuisance species. It starts simple but layers on more and more complexity as the series progresses and the characters learn more about their world, their history, and their shared prophecy. Firstborn talked me into read it, and I found it quite engaging.

  5. Finished Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff, went straight on to The Second Summoning and now am into The Long Hot Summoning. I laughed so hard I had tears in my eyes. These books are therapy.

    1. Anything by Tanya Huff is terrific, but I also highly recommend her short story collection of the most powerful witch in the world, Magdelene. It is combined with another collection in Stealing Magic. Magdelene is lazy and likes lying in the sun with a fruity drink with an umbrella as often as possible. Goals.

  6. Finished Nalini Singh’s latest book in the Psy/Changeling Trinity series called Wolf Rain. I like the world she’s built in these stories – they’re like a hug

  7. I’ve been reading things that I find cheery and uplifting lately (and recommending them to anyone who seems to need that), because that seems like something that might be surprisingly helpful.

    -The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. I re-read this every once in a while, because it’s both really well written with a fascinating world and a lot of courtly intrigue, but most because it’s… well… kindness porn. It’s about a young man who suddenly finds himself in the position of Emperor, and approaches the job with wits and compassion and loyal companions.

    -The Guild Codex: Spellbound series (starting with Three Mages and a Margarita) by Annette Marie. Cheery, fun urban fantasy adventures where the protagonist gets by on her wits, courage, and loyalty. It’s about a young woman who takes a bartending job, only to discover that the bar is actually a guild for people with magical powers. Word of warning on this one though: I tore straight through them from book one to book six, and book seven… isn’t out until July.

    -A Pale Light In The Black by K.B. Wagers, about a team of… outer-space coastguard is the best way to describe it… working together to solve a mystery . Well-developed, varied characters solving things with skill and teamwork.

    You know, I really ought to take this is a starting point and go turn it into a proper blog post…

    1. I love the Guild Codex series. And it starts out great too. She’s desperate to apply for a bartenders job, but the bar is owned by a magical guild and the door has a spell to repel mundanes (who have no idea magic exists), but she’s too damn stubborn to go away and eventually makes it through anyway. So they give her the job assuming she’s magical because otherwise she couldn’t have gotten through the doorway.

    2. I think The Goblin Emperor might be on the top list for Good Book Thursday. What else would be on this list? Georgeyte Heyer, Lois McMaster Bujold, Murderbot…

      I’ve never read Lois McMaster Bujold. Where should I start?

      And if you like The Goblin Emperor, I recommend Paladin’s Grace and Swordheart by T Kingfisher. I think they have a similar feeling of kindness.

      1. Lois McMaster Bujold: Curse of Chalion

        Take a chance. Instead of Bujold’s 23-odd books in the sci-fi Vorkosiverse, start instead with her fantasy World of the 5 Gods. The geography and time suggest an upside down Earth where Spain is above France, and the era is just prior to Ferdinand and Isabella, the end of Moorish kingdoms on the Spanish peninsula. But this is not historical fiction at all, nor is it about our Earth.

        Rather, in this world a tired, debilitated man trudges toward the castle where he was once a page, hoping to find menial work. He is passed by soldiers of the Daughter of Spring; he finds the body of a man killed by death magic. Before you finish the first chapter, you know the basics of the politics of the realm and the gods of this world, and you really want to know what will happen to Cazaril, the trudging ex-slave, ex-soldier, ex-courier, ex-commander, ex-page.

        This is my favorite fantasy world. And Bujold’s writing varies from taut phrases which state the crux of the matter to fluent descriptions and revelations. First view of a castle: “Rising up on its great rock jutting out above the angle where two streams met, dominating the rivers, the plains, the mountain passes, and the eyes of all beholders, the Zangre caught the light and blazed like molten gold against the dark, retreating cloud banks.” A revelation: “Prayer, he suspected as he hoisted himself up and turned for the door, was putting one foot in front of the other. Moving all the same.”

        1. Love Curse of Chalion. Caz is wonderful.
          Have reread it a few times, although not as many as I have Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison. It’s my current Life is Awful restorative.

        2. Since last Thursday, I finished Two Sleuths are Better Than One by Elizabeth Ashby and Gin Jones and Dark Rum Revenge by Nicole Lauren and Elizabeth Ashby. I reread (for a significant fraction of a hundred times) Welcome to Temptation by Herself. That would usually lead to Faking It, because Dempseys, but there was an advertisement and sample chapter for Maybe This Time, so I was diverted. Noy a huge diversion, as it leaves my hungry for Alice and Nadine. (Hint, hint!)

        3. While I love The Curse of Chalion, and recommend it highly, I don’t think there’s any problem with starting with the first book, chronologically, in the Vorkosiverse, Shards of Honor.

        4. Curse is one of my all time favourites. Much as I love Bujolds Miles, Cazaril ist the one I would very much love to meet in real life. Such a great personality. Such a great novel!!

        1. Mine too. Maybe because the first Bujold book I read was Beguilement, and your first loves tend to stick. What I like about this series is that the characters are all such grounded, down-to-earth people.
          The country is wonderfully described too. Bujold has said it is the vanished Ohio of her youth. That means nothing to me, never having been out of Europe, but I recognise the feeling. I expect nostalgia for the vanished country of your youth is a universal experience, once you have reached a certain age.
          Mind you, I like Bujold’s other series very much too. You really can’t go wrong.

      2. Lois has two and a half series, so:

        Chalion/Five Gods Universe: THE CURSE OF CHALION, then PALADIN OF SOULS, then THE HALLOWED HUNT.

        Vorkosigan Universe: SHARDS OF HONOR, then BARRAYAR, then WARRIOR’S APPRENTICE, then THE VOR GAME, then CETAGANDA (then ask me for more)

        Sharing Knife Universe: BEGUILEMENT, then LEGACY, then PASSAGE, then HORIZON, then KNIFE CHILDREN

        If you prefer science fiction, start with the Vorkosigan books, if you prefer high fantasy, the Chalion books. Sharing Knife is a sort of non-urban fantasy.

        1. Plus the Penric (5 Gods) series of novellas …. They’re also good bite-sized to get a feel for the world. They start with Penric’s Demon …

  8. A sadness of this time is that my library doesn’t have the Goblin Emperor in ebook, only paper. It’s on my list of books to buy when I have spare money, which I haven’t had for a long time now. Fortunately I re-read it not too many months ago.

  9. I read the graphic novel “Roadqueen: Eternal Roadtrip to Love” by Mira Ong Chua. Extremely cute.

  10. I zipped through Thief of Time–so wonderful–and it smacked right into Lily so I’m going to be citing it a lot in the next couple of days. Pratchett is amazing.

    1. I loved Thief of Time. It might have been the one that got me completely hooked on Pratchett. Susan gets my favorite line any book ever:
      “Some humans would do anything to see if it was possible to do it. If you put a large switch in some cave somewhere, with a sign on it saying ‘End-of-the-World Switch. PLEASE DO NOT TOUCH’, the paint wouldn’t even have time to dry.”
      ― Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time

      If we could put this next remark down to quarantine nerves, but I can’t help myself. With regards to Lily; has someone already told you that the kitty in the collage is almost certainly (like 99.some%) female? I may not have kept up properly, but I remember you referring to the cat as he…which remark totally derailed me. My geneticist brain saw the picture and thought, no, it can’t be, she’s a tortie, and torties are females. It’s the X-chromosome thing. Torties and calicos have the coloring because they have 2 X-chromosomes and fur color genes reside on the X. Males only have 1X. The rare tortie males are XXY genotype.

      But if you wanted a kitty ready for mischief and mayhem, a tortie is a very good choice. They were definitely over-represented on the 2019 Cat Shaming Page-A-Day Calendar.

      1. I did know that, and that male torties and calicos are usually sterile. That just makes Pangue more Special. Also, no kittens,

  11. Read two book samples, which I could see other people liking but……..
    Friend gave me “An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good” which was odd but entertaining. Read a new book by a favored author that was ok. About to go back to re-reading things for a bit – possibly a Phryne, because=dependable.

  12. Well, this is propitious, I’m still slogging through ‘A Very Stable Genius’ but must take breaks because he is a idiot. Anyway I was going to ask where to start in Pratchett world.

      1. This made me laugh out loud. It is interesting and well written, but the subject matter….ARGH !!!

    1. I want to know the best place to start, also!

      I’ve read (and watched) Good Omens, and thanks to a rec on here AGES ago, I’ve read Going Postal. Loved them both. But the sheer size of the the Discworld series leaves me all flustered. I want to read it, but I’ve heard there are better places to begin than Book #1.

      1. Definitely not Book One.

        Most of his books are set in Discworld, but within that world there are different communities. The Witch novels are about the witches, the Watch novels are about the cops, the Susan and Death novels are about the Sto Helit family, they’re all lovely. If you like mysteries, go with the Watch novels, starting with Guards Guards!. I think the witches start with Equal Rites, but I’m not sure.

        The first Death book is, I think, Mort. But you can read them in any order, really. But if you want to read all 40 in chronological order, you’re probably best starting with Mort (4). Small Gods is another one, and it’s a standalone. If you like mysteries, start with Guards Guards!

        There’s an excellent guide here:

        1. I’d start the Granny Series off with Wyrd Sisters, Equal rites is first in order, but I think Wyrd Sisters is best for newcomers to the series. My first Terry Pratchett was Mort, which is still one of my favourites

    2. I’ve just finished THE TODDLER IN CHIEF, which probably puts VERY STABLE GENIUS in context.

      1. Maybe I should try that, I’m having a lot of trouble with A Very Stable Genius.

        He didn’t know the significant of PEARL HARBOR !!!

  13. I’m listening to Hugh Laurie read JKJ’s Three Men in a Boat. The ridiculously satiric Oxbridge rhythms and straight-faced unselfconscious pomposity could have been written by Mark Twain’s cousin. A British Etonic Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.
    Thanks for the rec, Friends.
    Discovered Chilbury Ladies Choir by Ryan. A gentle WWII novel in the manner of Potato Peel Pie. GHE with melancholic descant.

    1. After you’ve finished Three Men in a Boat, you might like to try To Say Nothing of the Dog (or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump At Last) by Connie Willis.

      1. I’ve been listening again to Willis’ The Doomsday Book. The number of things she gets right about an epidemic in modern times is uncanny; denial, followed by blaming the “other”, followed by toilet paper shortages, followed by ordinary heroism, followed by grim determination and sadness. I would be interested to hear about her research sources.

        1. I read To Say Nothing of the Dog before Doomsday Book. So you can imagine my dismay when (spoiler, spoiler, spoiler)! (Yes, I’m aware this vagueness does in fact mean imagining might challenging here…)

  14. All last week, I couldn’t settle on any books. Tried old favorites. Tried new and recommended, here and elsewhere. Nothing worked, maybe because I had a surgery last Monday and am still recovering. Then I picked up The Reluctant Widow by Heyer, for an umpteenth time, and what do you know? It works. I’m laughing. I’m reading. I think Thief of Time will be next for me.

  15. All I want is brain candy, so am rereading Nora Roberts’ Bride Quartet series. They’re not really funny, and there’s no animals, but it’s the best I can do, having burned through all the Heyer/Quinn/James, and Crusie here.

    1. There are a few Nora Roberts I keep to reread, and the Bride Quartet is (four) of them. I also like the Daniel series even though in real life I’d have walked away from that paternalistic bs.

  16. If you want a mystery with lots of humor (the non-farcical kind) I highly recommend A Bad Day for Sunshine by Darynda Jones. One review that I liked said ‘It’s like the Gilmore Girls except Lorelei was a police officer who has just been elected sheriff of a small town in New Mexico, in an election she didn’t even know she was running in until after it was over!’ Which is sort of true if you focus on the single mother – fourteen year old daughter snarky banter, which is great. And so is the mystery.

    I also read The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer, which is *not* the sequel to The Paper Magician by Charlie N. Holmberg but another fantasy by the same name by the co-author of Sorcery and Cecelia, or my favorite of her books A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics. It was good, though not great. The first few chapters are a little confusing as it throws out a bunch of terms that it doesn’t explain and expects you to figure out through context later. Later for me was about a third to halfway through the book and then it turned into a decent early 1900’s New York urban fantasy.

    And then I went and re-read A College of Magics and A Scholar of Magics again, and they were just as good as I remembered.

    Someone here mentioned The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott, and that and it’s sequel were very good. I’m looking forward to the release of the third book in a couple of weeks.

  17. This week was a bit tricky. I had a Terrible Disappointment of an audiobook, made worse by all of the good reviews the book had gotten. It makes me worry about people and the world. Like, what did they read and what did I read and why are we so far apart? Anyway, that gave me a case of the Meh’s that are finally starting to lift.

    I started the Black Jewels trilogy by Anne Bishop on the recommendation of a friend, but she warned me that they get dark. In my opinion, they start dark so I am worried about where this is going and if I want to go there. Any advice? I don’t want to give up on something that I should read, at the same time I am not a fan of torture, blood and suffering.

    1. Anne Bishop is one of my all-time favorite authors. That said, yes, the first book of her Black Jewels trilogy can feel dark. You need to enjoy the writing, character development, world, and occasional snarky dialogue to get through. The second and third books are not as dark, IMO. I love the characters (ultimately, there is a HEA) and the dialogue. Persevere!

  18. Hello all. I just finished My Lady Jane by Hand/Ashton/Meadows. Light, funny and fast YA, that I think lovers of alternate Tudor history, the Princess Bride and Shakespeare would like. Authors moved on to alternate stories of Jane Eyre and then Calamity Jane and I want to move on to those eventually…As I Wish.

    Keeping in the lighter vein, starting Gail Carriger’s novella Meat Cute tonight then the Check, Please graphic novels this weekend. Love all the recs on this thread – thank you!

  19. I binged the Chronicles of St. Mary’s, and the new on is out today. And I’ve read LOTS of sewing/embroidery patterns. Does that count??

  20. I have been reading (skimming/editing) a lot of my own WIP in the past week, haven’t read anything by anyone else since finishing ‘The Masqueraders’ on the 11th. I think tonight I am shutting down right after work and Reading A Book. Probably one of the Stella Rileys because I’m feeling Georgian.

  21. I think I’ve got to cut back on the political reading for a bit. I’m thinking I’ll start with Pratchett’s ‘The Last Hero’. And “Where’s My Cow”.

    1. I read CS Harris latest book and now I’m rereading some of the older ones. The new Stevermer awaits. I can’t figure out why I can focus on Harris when I have so much trouble focusing on lighter book.

      My daughter who is in London wants to co read the Worms and the Cheese with me so I need to find my copy….

      1. How was the new C S Harris, I want to read it, but cannot justify the e-book cost.

        I miss my library !!!

        1. I liked it. It started me on a reread of some of the older ones.

          And it’s nice to see Hero a little more concerned about individuals as well as the abstract mass of humanity .

          1. Between the 2 library systems I have access to, I can read the whole back list via Overdrive.

  22. I liked Mhairi McFarlaine’s ‘If I never met you’ so much! And then I got ‘Who’s That Girl?’ by the same author from the library and literally could not get past the first page. On a phone. So it was a small page. You’d think 4 weeks safe at home would give one endless patience, but no. I’m safe at home with 2 kids and my mother in law (not alone, my partner is lovely and supportive, but we’re all still together 24/7). So yeah, patience. One page and I was done.

    Anyone else have a similar experience, or should I have persisted?

    1. Haven’t tried Who’s That Girl, but Here’s Looking at You is fun and satisfying. I didn’t think that I would like it after reading the blurb, but she made it work.

  23. I have overdosed on news ever since I went into quarantine, and the only things I have been able to finish are books I’ve read before. Mostly Terry Pratchett and Tamora Pierce. I have some lovely looking new books waiting for me, I just can’t right now. Sigh.

  24. I don’t know that everyone here would enjoy it, but I’ve read THE DAUGHTER’S RETURN, by Rebecca Winters. I like it because the hero is undercover in Salt Lake City disguised as a genealogist. In real life, he’d be a neon standout from a group of people who are heavily women or, if men, almost all retired,but the author does know her way around the research.

  25. I work in a quirky bookstore and just read the ARC of Katherine Applegate’s newest, The One and Only Bob. (It’s a sequel to The One and Only Ivan.) Five stars! It’s a mid grade novel but any dog person will love it.

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