This is a Good Book Thursday, April 30, 2020

My brains are dribbling out my ears, so I went back to familiar mysteries–mostly Rex Stout and Christie–just because I don’t want any challenges. It’s a good week to reread.

What was a good book for you to read this week?

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85 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 30, 2020

  1. I read Amy Rose Bennet’s “How To Catch A Wicked Viscount” which was a light historical; it was very fluffy, with fun characters. It’s the first in a series (four close friends are expelled from their finishing school for “conduct unbecoming” and reunite a few years later to find suitable husbands despite the scandal; they decide to target rakes who won’t mind their minor scandal). I’m in line for the sequel, which just came out.

    If you’re in the mood for some fluff that won’t tax you but gives you that sweet sweet HEA, go for it!

  2. Thank you Arghers! I started Lois McMaster Bujold with Curse of Chalion and I loved it. Perfect choice, I prefer fantasy to sci-fi, and it’s the best I’ve read in ages. My library only had the audiobook, and the narration was mostly excellent (very dry and funny, but not a great job of the female characters, they’re written as strong, but the voice characterisation didn’t really portray that). Caz is wonderful. Great characters, witty, clever, layered. Hooray!

    I have Paladin of Souls on hold, but I so disliked the way Ista was read that I’m actually a bit put off it. What do you all think?

    Also read the first Penric, which was good, but not Caz.

    And I skim-reread The Magpie Lord series by KJ Charles (again), just for the comfort of visiting old friends, and because now I feel like reading all the fantasy all the time.

    1. “Paladin of Souls” is a wonderful book! I do not enjoy audiobooks so I hope you can get it as an e-book or print to avoid the narrator issue. Ista’s portrayal in the first novel didn’t make me eager for her as a protagonist either but I was so wrong. This is a story of a woman in mid- life who seeks a new purpose and to find an authentic self. I love it so much. It is my favorite in the series.

    2. I didn’t like the narrator enough not to read more of the series. I need to try reading it, love her as an author.

      Her Sharing Knife audio is great, and that was after starting book and moving to audio book! Definitely listen, if you get a chance!

    3. I didn’t like Istanbul in the first book either, but I loved Paladin of Souls. It is about an unhappy woman who takes charge of her life, defies expectations, and totally transforms her life.

    4. Paladin of Souls is worth reading. She’s no Caz but she is more interesting in her own book than in Caz’s.

    5. I don’t do audiobooks, and never heard that version of any Bujold, but promise that PALADIN OF SOULS is another wonderful book. Perhaps you can just read it!

      1. There’s always The Hallowed Hunt, the third book Bujold wrote in the world of the 5 gods. The story takes place several hundred years earlier than The Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls.

        I don’t know anything about audiobooks, so I can’t advise you on the narrator for The Hallowed Hunt.

        I do suggest that you read The Hallowed Hunt slowly, and remember that Ingrey is 25-ish, not at all like the 35-year-old Cazaril. This story requires more attention from the reader but has become my favorite. Aw, that was a silly thing to say: any of them I’m currently reading is my favorite.

        1. Ista brings it in Paladin of Souls.
          I second Hallowed Hunt and, chronologically between then and Curse of Chalion, there are at least 7 novellas about Penric and Desdemona, if you enjoy the Bastard’s sorcerors. 😀

  3. I’m in the middle of a really good, but long book and I don’t want to jinx it. After having a streak of ferocious concentrated reading (picture almost sticking my fingers and going ‘la la la’) I’ve gone back to feeling more distractible and having a hard time finishing things, but that’s more related to every day life for the moment and not coronavirus anxiety. So that’s good? I guess?

    THE TWO LIVES OF LYDIA BIRD by Josie Silver was a women’s fiction book I read last week and really enjoyed. Women’s fiction about a young grieving woman who is able to go back and see her fiance in her dreams when she takes special pills. The fantasy is done with a light touch and the grief was leavened by humor, so it was enjoyable.

    One book that’s on my mind a lot these days (though I haven’t reread it recently) is HOW TO DO NOTHING: RESISTING THE ATTENTION ECONOMY by Jenny Odell. I thought it was going to be the usual book filled with self help tips from overdosing on technology, but it was really more of an exploration of the “why” there is this constant drive to make every moment productive. I thought it did veer a little bit into the pretentious category at times, but it did really help me slow down and be more contemplative (for a time, it’s not my natural state).

    I’ve been mentally returning to it a lot in these quarantine times and the one thing that has come back to me is how much she talked about watching birds. At the time, I thought it was a bit silly. Not that there is anything wrong with bird watching, but I have much, much less than 20/20 vision even with corrective lenses and live in the city. Most of my bird observation consisted of “is that a bird? Maybe? Oops, gone now.”

    But I’ve been making a concentrated effort to go out on my porch and drink a coffee (or if it’s late in the day, a glass of wine or cocktail) and just relax. And b/c I’m generally trying not to hurry onto the next thing, I’ve started observing the birds more. And I think b/c our street is much quieter, they’ve been out and about more and easier to hear and see.

    I’ve always been able to identify robins, crows, and redwinged blackbirds, and cardinals. But now I’ve figured out the sassy bird that often comes right up to the porch is definitely a sparrow (I thought he was before, but I just kind of assumed, now I know). And I had a funny moment the other day. I complained to my husband that I could always hear the mourning doves (the only bird call I know thanks to my dad) but not see them and then the next day I was coming home from an early morning run and a pair of them were sitting on the sidewalk right in front of our house. They glared at me, flew gracefully up to the top of my porch, and then flew away.

    I guess that showed me.

    1. Since we moved to our new house last year, I’ve been watching the birds in the backyard. There was one that would always sing the same line ending with the word “Shakespeare” (I found out it’s a chaffinch). Even my husband could hear it after I pointed it out to him.

      It was kind of an earworm for me so I wrote a short story about it which will appear in an anthology this fall.

    2. Birds are a huge source of joy in my life. Not only are they fun to spot and identify, but I like seeing them go through their daily and seasonal rhythms. Spring migration is well underway in my town, and it’s so fun to welcome back old friends, and see who gets straight down to nesting and who is just stopping in on their way to more northern zones.

      If you want something to help with identification, I like the Merlin bird ID app. But even just spending time with the birds you already know is a great thing, I find.

      Happy birding!

    3. For awhile I used a back page in our bird book to note the date and type of unusual sightings. Today DH and I saw an unfamiliar bird and finally decided it was a wood thrush. I got out the bird book and saw we’d added “wood thrush” to the list–on April 29, 2014.

  4. I read and enjoyed Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik. And now I’m re-reading The Talisman Ring, False Colours (I love Mama’s Knacky Notions) and Getting Rid of Bradley.

  5. I’m enjoying ‘T. Tembarom’ by Frances Hodgson Burnett, recommended here. It’s a lot of fun, if twice as long as it should be. I’m also enjoying the social history – life in late C19 New York and England (it seems to be set a bit earlier than it was written; it was published in 1913). Sentimental, funny romance – plus, of course, it’s free. I got it from Amazon, and it’s pretty clean apart from extra line breaks.

  6. The last of MJ Scott Four Arts books was released on the 28th – The Unbound Queen. Together with The Shattered Court and The Forbidden Heir it forms one single very good romantic fantasy novel.

    If there’s any more series in this universe I’ll probably enjoy them provided that I buy all at the same time. That way I read it without having to deal with cliffhangers.

    The contemporary that I enjoyed was Xeni:A Marriage of Inconvenience by Rebekah Weatherspoon. Good characters trying to make the best of a situation that they created by deceased loved one. It’s actually a pleasant read.

  7. I read “Not Forgetting The Whale” by John Ironmonger. It was first published in 2015, I think, but it’s exactly the book we need for this crisis. A young analyst creates a software that can foresee future trade developments, but when the system crashes, he bolts and is later found at the shore of a secluded fishing village in Cornwall. While the people there nurse him back to life, he realizes that there will be a massive flu pandemic for which he tries to prepare… There are some Biblical motifs (such as the whale), it’s kind of a love story, but not quite, it makes you smile, it makes you cry, and it has a very positive ending.

    All in all, a book I just have to recommend. Now I’m off to read “Thief of Time”. Which, I feel, does also fit these weird times in a strange way.

  8. I read Julia Quinn’s Bevelstoke series, then flailed about trying to find SOMETHING that would catch my interest. Finally landed on Intermediate Thermodynamics by Susannah Nix. It’s a cute romance about a woman rocket scientist and her annoying neighbor-who actually isn’t that annoying! Now I ‘m reading My Lady Jane, an alternate telling of Lady Jane Grey. It’s fun and irreverent. I like it. 😁

  9. I know… Sigh. I’ve picked up any number of new to me books (including the 6 library books that have moved in with me for the duration) and can’t seem to get into them at all. The only books I can get through are the old familiar re-rereads. D E Stevensons by the cartload. Listening to Audible’s free streaming of Jane Eyre, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Anne of Green Gables, on my morning walks.

    And my long-time fave, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Trees.

    1. Did you ever read the second Bean Trees book? Takes place a bit later, but focuses on the child as an adult, if memory is serving me right.

      1. Pigs in Heaven. The child, Turtle, is still a child, but older.

        In fact, I love everything Barbara Kingsolver has even written, except, I have to admit, I haven’t (yet) been able to get into her latest, Unsheltered. But I will. It took me three tries to get into The Lacuna, but once I did, it absorbed me.

        And–bonus–she narrates all her own audiobooks, and she’s superb at it.

  10. Last night I finished T Kingfisher’s Swordheart, which I highly recommend for both the romance and the adventure. It also made me laugh out loud at several points, which is a worthy achievement right now. I decided I’d stick with that world for a bit, so I started Clockwork Boys today (though I’m given to understand that it’s a rather different tone from Swordheart).

  11. Oh I agree with you, @Book Geek! Loved Paladin of Souls, ebook and audible (read by the inimitable Kate Reading)! Also the third book, The Hallowed Hunt (more of a prequel), better read than listened to for me since I didn’t like the narrator. And you’re right, Allanah, Penric is nothing like Caz (sigh) but he has his own charm and a character that deepens as the series progresses. I’m rather envious of his relationship with Desdemona. Plus I like Grover Gardner’s voice and his reading of Penric.

  12. I got SUPER sucked into a new book, which hasn’t happened for ages! Its set to be a trilogy, with the third one coming out in September. First is on sale on Kindle, I think.

    Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer. Dark story, which was refreshing for a YA. Felt a lot more realistic.

    “Nita doesn’t murder supernatural beings and sell their body parts on the internet—her mother does that. Nita just dissects the bodies after they’ve been “acquired.” But when her mom brings home a live specimen, Nita decides she wants out — dissecting living people is a step too far.”

    Highly recommend it for anyone that likes darker material. It had a satisfying ending – not solving for everything and setting up book 2, but giving you a conclusion to arc 1.

    Been trying to find anything as interesting to suck me in, but everything else has fallen short the mark, atm.

      1. Oh, I second the Raven Boys series. Reading it felt like the magic I got when I read The Dark is Rising series for the first time, although they are very different. I think it’s the Celtic elements, and something in the tone of the writing.

      2. You know, I’ve tried twice and haven’t gotten into it enough. It got returned to the library before I could finish, but that was because every time I put it down I wasn’t too invested in picking it back up. Will have to give it another go.

  13. I was reading a series of short English cozy mysteries and loving them. So very relaxing. And then in the sixth one, the author jumped the shark and the protagonist started behaving in ways that were just not in character. And then the ending was awful and unbelievable. Had it been a physical book I would have thrown it against the wall. but it was audible so nope.

    There isn’t a seventh but if there ever is, I don’t know if I can bring myself to read it. What if she’s gone off the rails again? Or rather not got back on. So sad me.

  14. I haven’t been re-reading this week. I got a subscription to the BritBox channel and have been re-watching the Jeremy Brett Sherlock Holmes series, and the David Suchet Hercule Poirot series.

  15. I finally read Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog. It was loads of fun. The offhand mentions of the Pandemic (as a time marker) caught my attention more than they would have otherwise, but it’s not at all part of the plot. Then I read Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhairi McFarlane, an author recommended here. I liked it–stayed up WAY too late reading it, but in so doing, I skipped parts. So I need to go back and reread. It reminded me of The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, probably because of a similar setting and found-friendship family. I’m rereading that now instead of Don’t You Forget and am enjoying it immensely.

    1. “To Say Nothing of the Dog” is an absolute joy from beginning to end. I laughed so hard at the effect of too much time travel on the overblown language of the traveler that I cried. I believe that a re-read right now might be the perfect thing for me. Thanks so much for the reminder of what a gem it is.

  16. This week marks the first time I haven’t put down a book unfinished. Since I read my newspaper and The New Yorker (or parts of them) first, I’ve usually been too discouraged to finish anything, even rereads. But this week I picked up Loretta Chase’s Last Night’s Scandal and I fully intend to finish it. It is fun seeing how 2 kids from a previous novel grew up and notice the influences of the earlier protagonists on the present generation.

  17. Nothing is catching my interest. Tried Georgette Heyer’s Friday’s Child, couldn’t hold my attention. Annoyed at the misogyny.

    As for birds, a big blue jay thought he could perch on the bird feeder. Ha, too big, too heavy. Tipped it, scattering seeds over the grass. Rethinking types of bird feeders.

    Love watching the hummingbirds feed and chase around. One hovers in front of me while I’m sitting on the deck. Noisy, scrappy, beautiful birds.

    Back to re-reading and music for awhile. B.C. has another fourteen isolation order. Chicken processing plants and a prison upped the numbers again. We were doing so well too. Maybe I should get a milkshake.

    1. I used to love Friday’s Child. Then I got out of my teens, read it again, and thought, “Dear god, this woman is dumb as a doorpost,” and stopped rereading it. Then a year or so ago, I tried it again and thought, “Dear god, these people are ALL dumb as doorposts,” read it as the farce it is, and laughed myself silly again. Such nice people (except for the bad guys, they’re dastardly) and while Hero is dumb as a doorpost, all the men who surround her fall all over themselves to get her what she wants, so she’s not exactly suffering for most of it. And the men who are patronizing her are dumber than she is, so that’s a help. They’re like little kids given too much money and freedom. I loved it all over again. You just can’t read it as serious romance. It’s the Airplane! of Heyer novels.

      1. Read two chapters in and two at the end. Hero was just so dumb and Sherry so arrogant. He seemed to change but…going to read Venetia again.

          1. I would say that they are all idiots except Hero, she is young and ignorant and gullible, in that she believes Sherry when he says idiotic things, but as one of the idiots observes she never makes the same mistake twice.

          2. She’s still an idiot at the end, she’s just a sweetheart, too.
            I have to admit I like books where everybody’s smart, but this kind of farce is like a piece of candy, just something to savor for a moment.

          3. I think Gil (the one who takes Hero to his grandmother) is supposed to be somewhat intelligent.
            They are sort of the 19th c of frat boys—I think we are supposed to believe that eventually they will grow up (except maybe Ferdy). They are not my favorite kind of heroes. I find myself wishing she ended up with the older man who sort of kidnaps her because she has told him it would be romantic .

            Someday I will take her bibliography and see whther her heroines gets steadily older. I have a vague impression they do.

          4. Isn’t he the one who keeps fighting duels? The one in love with the beauty who gets kidnapped?
            No, wait, that’s George.

  18. I finished ‘Thief of Time’ last night. I’m not sure what’s next. Probably another Pratchett, maybe one of the witch books.

    Mostly, I’ve been going with Argh recommendations (dribbling brains). I’m not in the mood for Heyer yet.

  19. I’m re-reading Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series, mostly in anticipation of the Netflix series coming this fall (Nicola Coughlan of Derry Girls will perfect as Penelope, I suspect). It’s an excellent comfort read, with some truly laugh-out-loud moments, which are helpful in these times.

    1. I remember liking a most of those (less so Gregory’s) but my favorite heroine is Penelope in Romancing Mr. Bridgerton — but I get more and more disgusted with the hero, Colin, every time I reread. He’s whiny, arrogant, and hypocritical, threatening to undermine Penelope’s personal pride with his jealousy.. which he could and does eventually address but I have ended up leaving myself increasingly irate notes in the margins and have rage-quit it twice.
      ::sigh::
      And he doesn’t bother me at all in any of the other books, so I think it’s just that Penelope deserved better. <:/

  20. I’ve given up on ‘A Very Stable Genius’, but have Pete Buttigieg’s autobiography ‘The Shortest Way Home’.

  21. This week I read the fourth, fifth, and sixth in Stella Riley’s excellent Rockliffe series of Georgian romances. Have not found many who specialize in this time period and who get it right; I like it. #6, ‘Cadenza,’ features a musician hero who is so perfectly written – all the parts about music and his relationship to it are so, so good – that the book must claim top place for me in the series, even though I would four-star them all. This series is one of those where connections between heroes are the links, but all the women are distinct, likable, and thoroughly-imagined. The dialogue is not anachronistically modern, but also not tiresomely 18th-century. Witty, at times lyrical, do recommend as a series.

    1. Love her! Love this series and love her older short regencies – definite re-reads for me – still trying to find a copy of the elusive Lucifer’s Champion

  22. I recently discovered the mysteries of Catherine Aird. Very droll, very complex but very comforting for all that. I’ve consumed three so far, and I’m showing no signs of slowing down. I doubt if I’ll finish all fifty. (Aird’s still writing!) But after three, I’m pretty sure I’ll enjoy every book I get my hands on. 🙂

    1. You will enjoy them. I am rereading them for the umpteenth time. The one I like best is A Most Contagious Game. It is not one of the Sloan and Crosby ones though. I’m up to Slight Mourning right now and it is good.

  23. My hold on Think of England came in and I am starting that, so yay. Also, I signed up for Audible Escape thanks to recommendations here and they have Anyone But You! So I get to listen to that while I work. Happy day. I love that book. It made age gap romance one of my favorite tropes, though it is harder to find…

    And I passed along some of my unwanted paperbacks to a friend. She is an older lady who just let me know that she adores the Maya Banks book she picked out from me. Not my favorite author, but I love that my friend is so open about enjoying the spicier romance she picked out from my rejects. I would have pegged her as the cozy mystery type 🙂

  24. This week, Six Cloves Under (thanks, Gin!), Pratchett’s Snuff, Faking It again, Arachne’s Web and The Rat Rebellion by Goodlett and Huff, Bujold’s Knife Children, and some stuff that’s not a book called Surprise Lily.

    Bad week for refrigerators. Excellent week for reading.

  25. I’m doing a reread of Crusie. Yesterday was the ghost story Maybe This Time which I had only read once and now I remember why: scary. But I liked it still. Today it’s Welcome to Temptation. When I first read it I transcribed the Five Steps process and have used it periodically. I shall be forever grateful!

    One: Make the mark smile
    Two: Get the mark to agree with you
    Three: Make the mark feel superior
    Four: Give the mark something
    Five: Get what you want and get out

  26. I’m watching the Expanse on Amazon. I’m downloading and listening to Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow mysteries. They are not exciting, but I like the characters, and there’s lots of them. I just wish they would get a better dog.

  27. I have been re-reading Heyer’s romances, one after another. The Foundling. Faro’s Daughter. Bath Tangle. The Quiet Gentleman. Some work better than others, but overall, nothing else I try could compare.

    1. She is the very best. I think The Talisman Ring and The Grand Sophy are both among the ten best romances ever written. And I’d make a strong argument for Cotillion, too.

        1. Ack. I don’t actually have a list. I would have to think, which I haven’t been doing a lot of lately.

  28. I actually just finished a reread of ‘welcome to temptation’ and ‘faking it’ and boy do I love Sophie and Davy! Any chance there is a Nadine Goodnight story, that I’ve missed??? Any other books have cameos from any of these wonderful characters?

    I really enjoy the way JC writes and I’m seeing some I haven’t read yet so that’s exciting! I’ll probably reread ‘Bet Me’ this weekend, as I was my first Crusie, and it’s a fun one too. 🙂

  29. Reread Heyer’s Cotillion as well as Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle. Husband read Sylvester, too, and enjoyed it particularly because Tom works so well as a balancing character.

  30. I finally have begun to read a little more. The Glass Magician by Caroline Stevermer, which was interesting but felt like a novella building the world for future book. I reread Crazy for you.
    I think I am going to reread A RIver Runs Through It. I’d like to also read the book thst was published posthumously but it sounds too grim for a pandemic.
    I read the new Madeline Hunter which worked better for me than a lot of her books.

    I also watched the first ballet of the New York City Ballets digital season and decided I am going to watch the whole thing. They are posting one ballet on Tuesdays and leaving it up for 72 hours and then another on Fridays. This week was Apollo.

  31. I’m rereading Doomsday Book by Connie Willis– because pandemics. She builds her stories so slowly but so beautifully, and is the master of dropping hints that don’t seem like hints. There’s also heaps of stuff that rings bells with regard to what we’re going through at the moment.

  32. Gail Simone’s Red Sonja omnibus. It’s not my usual thing because barbarian woman, but I love Gail Simone so I thought I would give it a shot. Ducked over here to rec it to you, Jenny. Found family! Fierce women! Funny! I loved it. Very violent for those who need the warning.

  33. I’ve nearly finished the last of Martha Wells Raksura series and I’m definitely going to miss the characters. We talked a while ago about why people like series. I’ve been reading more of them lately, and my answer’s basically that most novels are way too short. I basically treat series as a long novel as long as there’s a decent series arc, and it means I can spend so much longer in that world with those people.

    1. Yes, this is why I like them too. If I enjoy characters and a world I want to spend more time with them. It’s also why I like writing series/trilogies.

      1. I have been mainlining her books. Probably going to reread the Murderbot Diaries series before cracking open the new one, coming soooon..!

  34. I read Spring Muslin by Heyer and now I clearly need to go re-read Friday’s Child based on the conversation above. Also read Stephen Blackmoore’s Eric Carter #5, Ghost Money, and WOW that ending.

    Now just waiting for the next Murderbot…

    1. I really like Sprig Muslin because Hester isn’t a wimp, she’s simply been bullied her whole life. Also, no one realizes that Gareth loves kids even though he’s always supporting and encouraging them. People assume a whole lot in this story.

  35. Rereading the entire Nalini Singh Psy/Changeling Series – a very absorbing world with well developed characters. I like that each book stands alone, but continues a long arc. She’s a master of weaving romance and suspense/mystery together. And for something light, just finished The Bliss Factor by Penny McCall – bumbling bad guys, Renaissance Fairs, car chases – her books are always a mood lifter.

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