This is a Good Book Thursday, May 20, 2020

I’ve been reading ancient Argh posts (2005, 2006, 2007) which is turning my brain to tapioca. Also Nita Act Two. Also a magazine on secret societies. And a lot of old He Wrote She Wrote posts. Sigh.

What did you read this week?

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71 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 20, 2020

  1. When reading the 2006 posts, I saw that Sherry Thomas commented. I know the name can be common but she did mention writing a book. So on one of my early mornings I reloaded all the books on I have. The Hidden Blade, My Beautiful Enemy, and a few more. Wonderful writer.

    I also re-read Crazy People, The Crazy for you stories by one Jennifer Cruisie. I cannot begin to tell you how much I absolutely LOVE the realisation Debbie comes to about being older and single. It spoke to my soul, it did. 😀

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  2. Jenny, while you’re editing and rewriting, remember Meg said that you could do”Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.”

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  3. I read The Wizard’s Butler, Nathan Lowell, which was great. Compared to the some of the books that I’ve been reading lately, very little happens, but it’s engrossing nonetheless. I had trouble putting it down. Thanks to everyone who recommended it.

    I’ve been swapping between new books and re-reads. I’m currently in the middle of Paladin’s Grace, T Kingfisher – I’ve only realised the play on words in the title as I’ve typed this out – and I’m enjoying it again as I can only half remember the story.

    I did get stymied on something that’s been a long term frustration of mine this week. I found out that a series that I was enjoying (Jude Deveraux Medlar Mysteries) has a third book out. Yay. Only it’s not yet available in Australia, only the US.

    It used to drive me nuts, still does I suppose, that they don’t release books worldwide at the same time. It’s been this way for decades, (probable centuries!) and I know why it is that way, it’s just really frustrating. I used to pay lots of money to buy books direct from the US, just so that I could read something straight after it was released.

    It’s got a lot better, which I suppose is why I was so annoyed to discover that I couldn’t get my hands on this one. Grump. I should probably just be thankful that I’m not waiting on books to be released in a language other than English!

    9+
    1. I think this is absurdly anachronistic nowadays, especially given ebooks. It’s past time publishers got their act together and coordinated with each other. It’s such a waste of marketing energy not to publish simultaneously. (And I’m familiar with the background, too, of course.)

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      1. It’s legal stuff, rights are handled differently from country to country, and believe it or not there are different laws pertaining, there are taxes, it’s not a simple thing to just make it available everywhere. (We all wish it was)

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    2. I read The Wizard’s Butler too! Someone mentioned it last Thursday so I got it and I loved it. It was not full of fighting or adventure, and it was just what I needed!

      2+
    3. Also works in reverse! The first time my credit card crashed was when I ordered a Kerry Greenwood book directly from Australia, since I was too impatient to wait until it was released in the US. I had the bank add a note “she buys books worldwide” to my account. (The second and third times were when I first had a Kindle and bought this one and this other one and this third one and this, too — all about $3 US each — and the tenth transaction, the fraud software kicked in, and the Christmas shopping one night in my jammies where I put in one multiple Amazon order for all kinds of stuff, and the next morning all the individual purveyors’ transactions hit simultaneously.) These days a friend and I monitor eBay, where someone usually posts the new Greenwood pretty promptly. Andrea K. Höst books usually post within hours of each other, so it’s not a problem.

      5+
  4. I’ve just discovered Wattpad in the last week (because I live under a rock), and amid the sea of stories in desperate need of major editing I found this little gem of a novella called The Witch and the Dragon.

    The heroine is smart, capable, and salty as all Hell (also a witch). The hero is loyal, slightly lascivious, and thoroughly amused by the heroine’s smart mouth (he’s a shape-shifting dragon). Snappy patter and hilarity ensue while they attempt to save a princess and stop their kingdom from going to war. If anyone is looking for a fun, quick (and free!) read, I highly recommend it.

    https://www.wattpad.com/story/164707082-the-witch-and-the-dragon-beta

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      1. Glad you enjoyed it! I thought it would appeal to the Argh crew. The snark gave me some Crusie-esque vibes (high praise, indeed!).

        The author also has her website set up to email links to her next draft (of the same story) if anyone is interested in that. I read it the day after I read the Wattpad version. Just another layer of editing – a couple scene alterations, added details, and the romance/sexual tension is built up a bit more. Also free.

        https://mailchi.mp/6d58dbd7e3cb/freefantasynovella

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  5. The best thing I read this week was your blog post on writing sex scenes in Don’t Look Down. I loved it! Thank you for cheering up an otherwise dreary week!

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    1. The She Said reruns have been great! I was in tears reading the B&B one. I’m so bummed I missed the HS/SS blog when it was up.

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  6. I listened to False Value, the new Rivers of London, and very much enjoyed it. I got it from the library, listened as quickly as I could, and returned it promptly. I was really surprised that I was the only hold as there were still several on the paper copy but the libraries are still closed. I was expecting a run on holds for the audio and ebook copies.

    Now I’m listening to Six Cloves Under by our Gin Jones and really enjoying it.

    5+
  7. I still have not finished Because Internet: the new rules of language, by Gretchen McCulloch, but I’m enjoying it very much in between all the gardening books I haven’t finished either. I’m even reading little bits of fiction, but not much. Apparently the excessive rain is sending me to books to satisfy my gardening urge, since it’s too wet outdoors.

    5+
    1. I forgot about getting Diana Wynne Jones’ The Ogre Downstairs off the shelf and tearing through it in a few hours. Always worth a reread.

      6+
  8. I finished “The Last True Poets of the Sea” by Julia Drake. Excellent characterization, drawing me into a kind of story I don’t normally enjoy that much. The key, it seems, is to always underline how much people really do love each other, even as they make mistakes and bruise each others’ feelings. That self-awareness and determination to do better keeps the characters likable, instead of insufferable, turns their failings into sympathetic striving.

    4+
  9. I finally read The Physicians of Vilnoc. Penric and Desdemona are still great.

    A pretty good YA romance called Every Reason We Shouldn’t by Sara Fujimura. A 16 year old washed up pairs figure skater whose life is falling apart meets a 16 year old up and coming speed skater.

    6+
      1. You didn’t. Different story entirely. Although those movies are mentioned in the story as some of the figure skaters favorites

        3+
  10. This book gets my almost-5-years-old nephew’s seal of approval. Gotta Go Buffalo by Meyers and Meyers. After our Zoom call on Sunday, where he and his little sister were cutting up with a good bye rhyme, I sent this to them. It apparently arrived yesterday, much to their delight. Their mom told me that she’s read it out loud at least 5 times already, and now the 5 yr old is reading it to his baby sister. It’s nice to know it is a hit!

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  11. My library re-opened this week!! They are trying a system where they take holds online, process them, and then you pick up your books curbside. I may have teared up a bit while placing my first set of holds.

    Thursday has turned into a watching day for me, as I look forward to the new episodes of What We Do in the Shadows (Hulu) and Taskmaster (youtube). But one of these weeks, I might actually have good book suggestions again.

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    1. That’s wonderful that your library has reopened for curbside, Lynn. I’ve been grumbling here about the fact that gun stores and shooting ranges are open here, but not libraries.

      Curbside access for the library seems like a no-brainer. If it is safe for me to get curbside items from retailers, it seems like it should be safe to do so from libraries as well, but for our our state, libraries are categorized as “entertainment” and so are in one of the later phases of opening.

      2+
      1. You are so right about gun stores being open, and libraries closed!
        Our library will open in June, with curbside pick up of books. Returned books will be quarantined for 72 hours (guess they can’t dip them in bleach!)

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  12. Still with Pratchett’s witches but I think I’ll be ready for the new Murderbot soon. And maybe bake some brownies.

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  13. Reading and listening to the new Murderbot. There’s so much information/situational awareness in each paragraph that i have to go back and re-read, which I don’t mind. I just enjoy the reader’s performance so much I couldn’t resist the audio.

    Not a book, but on Tuesday went to a friend’s garden, which features a huge swath of rhubarb, and picked mightily. Mostly it’s chopped and ready for pie, but I’m experimenting with making rhubarb shrub potion. I made pesto from radish greens and parsley the other night, I’m told it is a nutritional powerhouse. Also tasty. Zowie!

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    1. You gave me a heart attack when I misread your pesto as being made from RHUBARB greens. (Which, of course, are highly toxic.)

      When I was researching my second garlic farm book, which features the addition of a rhubarb patch to the garlic farm, I read that during one of the world wars, some British clerk got it into his head to recommend eating steamed rhubarb greens when other green veg wasn’t available. Quickly retracted, but still …. Yikes!

      Anyway, I was kind of imagining someone taking that old advice to make rhubarb pesto, and that was when I had my little bit of panic.

      6+
  14. Just finished The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff. Such great historical fiction and definitely a page turner from the second chapter (Romans, and Angles and Saxons, oh my. With a side of Jutes.)

    Started, after hearing about it forever, A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert and am enjoying the cinnamon roll hero and the H/H dynamics. After much repeated recs from this group, I finally have Murderbot on the horizon hopefully for the long weekend. We still have long weekends, right?

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    1. I have tried Talia Hibbert several times and I can’t get into her work. I usually end up disliking her heroines. Hopefully your milage will vary.

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    2. I, too, loved Rosemary Sutcliff. I think my especial favorite was THE ARMOURER’S HOUSE, a children’s book set in 1530’s London, but also the dolphin ring mini-series, starting with THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH.

      3+
    3. I love Talia Hibbert. Her heroines often have set boundaries or are creating new ones and it just feels validating. Reminds me of Quinn from Crazy For You.

      TH is careful to put in content/trigger warnings as she does write about difficult or traumatic experiences.

      But, THEY ARE EASY TO READ. I don’t find them emotionally perturbing the way I find Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ characters’ situations. With SEP, I have to put the book down and create some distance. Talia Hibbert doesn’t elicit that, even though her characters are often not neurotypical – dealing with anxiety, autism, trauma, etc. I find that I can empathize with them without feeling any secondary humiliation the way I feel when I read SEP.

      4+
  15. I’m listening to the Bess Crawford series by Charles Todd. The book I just finished and the one I’m listening to now are set during the Spanish Flu pandemic, which is a bit too close to home right now. Between the description of the physical symptoms and flu’s deadly second wave, I am even less interested in gathering in groups in the near future.

    9+
    1. I was comfort-watching some Leverage episodes and was startled to find a reference to the Spanish flu in one of the later episodes! Made me wonder what the team would make of the current pandemic.

      2+
  16. Finished read The Toll Gate by Heyer, and am now finishing the 3rd book in the Consortium Rebellion series, Chaos Reigning. Also have In the Shadow of Spindrift House because we’re fixing up this project house and a haunted house story fits right in. (It’s probably only haunted by the stupidity and neglect of owners past but you never know, oooooo)

    7+
  17. I happily just discovered Peter Grainger’s D.C. Smith novels (recommended by Deborah Crombie) and am thrilled by the audio of the first two. I joined Kindle Unlimited for the month in order to read his others for the cost of one! Since I had reached the last of Irish writer Jane Casey’s marvellous police procedurals with Maeve Kerrigan and Derwent (The Cutting Place), I was desperately on the look out for more well-written British crime series with a strong sympathetic voices. So relieved to have found one.
    Also, along with many readers here, in the last two weeks I have enjoyed the newest Murderbot, the most recent (last?) adventure of Penric and Desdemona, and Paladin’s Grace. How can you tell I live in a small town under lockdown?

    7+
  18. I’ve been reading Eloisa James’ Wildes of Lindow Castle series. She had a new one this week, so I’ve been reading the previous releases. After 3, I’m refreshing my brain before the next 2 by reading Don’t Look Down. After reading the HWSW posts you posted, I needed to go there. 😁🥰

    4+
  19. Still on Georgette Heyer audiobooks narrated by Eve Matheson she is awesome, Friday’s Child and The Corinthian

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  20. After several Heyer’s rereads – The Tall Gate, The Grand Sophy, and The Corinthian – which always work, I finally read a couple decent new books.
    Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie was not bad, a light and entertaining urban fantasy.
    Susannah Nix’s Remedial Rocket Science was great, a charming and sweet chic-lit novel. I especially loved the heroine, a smart nerdy girl. She is an MIT graduate, working as an IT specialist. To tell you the truth, it feels like whenever I picked up a new book recently, the female leads are either bartenders or own small business (a bakery or a bookshop). I’m sort-of tired of fictional bartenders. It was a relief to read a fluffy and delightful story with a brainy, professional female protagonist. I’ll read more of this author. I already bought the second book in the series.

    7+
  21. Found K. J. Charles’ latest, ‘Slippery Creatures’, a bit slow, so am now rereading ‘The Magpie Lord’: not slow at all.

    4+
  22. I have Heyer’s Greatest Hits (or whatever the trilogy is called) open on one device, but I’m finding it a slog. Regency is not the problem – I like the way Wrede writes it, f’rinstance and I liked A Civil Contract – but…

    I just finished Into the Dark, Alexis Carew Book 1, bay JASutherland. I might need to buy the others at some point.

    Also re-reading A Christmas Carol by Marion George Harmon. Because I need a little Christmas, right now.

    Other new books will wait until I’ve read the murderbot books. They’ve been in the TBR pile forever (or over a month, whichever contains less hyperbole.)

    5+
    1. If you liked A CIVIL CONTRACT, I suggest SYLVESTER, FREDERICA, THE TALISMAN RING, THE TOLL GATE, AN INFAMOUS ARMY, THE UNKNOWN AJAX, THE QUIET GENTLEMAN, and THE NONESUCH. Possibly COUSIN KATE.

      Heyer’s earlier books are closer to category romances, so if A CIVIL CONTRACT is your cup of tea, they may not be so much. THE GRAND SOPHY, COTILLION, THE RELUCTANT WIDOW, THESE OLD SHADES, DEVIL’S CUB have lighter plots.

      Her mysteries are all Golden Age, though the least liked is PENHALLOW, which I understand she wrote as a contract breaker — she didn’t like it much either.

      2+
      1. It was The Grand Sophy that started so slothfully, but then I reached Sophy’s arrival at her aunt’s home with Stallion and Monkey and Dog and the pace picked up marvelously. I wonder if that was deliberate, the plodding pacing conveying the staid and boring household before lightning strikes?

        Or it might have just been my mood when I started.

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        1. I think that’s just the way books were structured back then, slow starts.

          The problem is that everything in that beginning is necessary, but we skim through it to get too Sophy. Always start with your protagonist . . .

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  23. Hadn’t read anything new except JAK’s Close Up which I loved. Then I picked up The Confectioner’s Guild by Claire Luana a mystery set in a fascinating fantasy world. Love it. Want to read the rest of the series.

    4+
  24. I am back at work, so not reading as much. Sherwood Smith just came out with a new book so I bought the first in the series. It was light and fun.

    3+
  25. I read Network Effect and enjoyed it — but it took me a while to get into it, as it’s a good while since I read the novellas that precede it. I was sad when it ended and moved on immediately to False Value, the latest by Ben Aaronovitch. Another exciting story which I will finish far too quickly.

    After that I may return to Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman series, which has great characters, setting, and social commentary.

    5+
  26. This blog has been my favorite reading of the week. I’ve really been enjoying the views from the past.

    Other than that, I’ve been reading mysteries. I finished A Clubable Woman, which I think someone here recommended once upon a time. It was okay, but I think I’d have enjoyed it far more if I understood the ins and outs of cricket. As it was, I’m sure I missed many references.

    I also read Sayers’ Clouds of Witness but thought it only okay. I knew I was in trouble when I found my self mentally editing the text as I was reading.

    I re-listened to Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher during my recent walks around the neighborhood, and enjoyed it as much the second time as I did the first. I still love how the author managed to tell a story via letters of recommendation written by the main character. The letters felt unrelated, but they built to an excellent ending.

    Next up I’m either reading Gair Carriger’s Defy or Defend or Julia London’s The Princess Plan; both showed up in my library eReader this morning.

    6+
  27. Rereading Loretta Chase’s Lord Lovedon’s Duel. It’s what I think as a perfect short story. Read it many times. Rereading bits and pieces of books.

    Yes, writing sex scenes blog post was great. Cheered me up too as well as some older blog posts. Will get out Don’t Look Down, as in a real book with pages.

    3+
  28. I read Terminal Alliance (Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Book 1), which someone here recommended ages ago. And it’s hilarious. Took a little while to get enthusiastic about it, but once it really got started it was unstoppable. Much like the janitors. A strange mix of competence porn and wonderful incompetence that turned out better than expected. Laugh out loud funny.

    6+
  29. Yesterday a historical blog noted a newly-released biography of Thomas Howard, THE MAN BEHIND THE TUDORS, by Kirsten Claiden-Yardley. Thomas was the son of John Howard, first Duke of Norfolk, and the grandfather of Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, wives 2 and 5 of Henry VIII.

    I’m up to 1483, and favorably impressed with the research (NOT sloppy) and the way the author has handled speculations, which there definitely are because we just do not have ample reliable primary sources for anyone living in the 15th century.

    The bio goes back to Thomas’ grandfather, Robert Howard, a younger son by a second wife and therefore someone who needed to earn his own living, and the likely way he met his future wife — probably not what one would expect! Thomas’ wife was the great-aunt of Jane Seymour, wife 3 of Henry, though if the bio covers that, it will be in the part I haven’t read yet. Genealogy.

    4+
  30. I just got the newest Murderbot book (Network Effect) so I’ve been re-reading all the previous ones before I start it. Also, Midnight Riot by Aaronovitch, the first Peter Grant book, is on sale for $1.99.

    3+
  31. One of the funniest He Wrote She Wrote posts involved a squirrel, but I don’t remember much more than that about it, just something about Bob using teeny tools to save it. I am fuzzy on the details but remember laughing and laughing.

    3+
    1. I think that was from the first year. I remember him getting a box of tiny tools as a gift at the St. Louis signing after he posted that, and I remember him loving them, but I don’t think it’s in my saved posts from the second year.

      1+

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