This is a Good Book Thursday, June 11, 2020


This week I read Maria Rivans’ Extraordinary Things To Cut Out and Collage.

There were a lot of pictures, which helped.

I also read all five Murderbots for the fifth time. I have no idea (well, I have a little idea) why I find that series so comforting, but it’s practically my digital teddy bear at this point.

And I read a new book that made me think about comfort reads in a different way. I’d tell you the title, but I think I’m going to write a post tomorrow criticizing it, so no on that.

What did you read this week?

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71 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 11, 2020

  1. I just got my copy of Alone in the Wild by Kelley Armstrong, so I’m itching to get into that. It’s the most recent in her Rockton series – a series of suspense thrillers set in an off-the-grid town isolated in the middle of the Yukon as a haven for people needing to drop out of sight for a while. Casey is the detective who ended up there, working for and with the sheriff who runs Rockton, and the mysteries they come up against are suitably twisty, but I love the character conflicts and interactions even more.

    And if anyone else enjoys Kelley Armstrong’s works, I found out the other day that she’s posting an ongoing serial that she’s writing – Cursed Luck – on her website. I just binged the 25 chapters she’s got up so far, and the next one should be up Friday.

    And I’ve been re-reading No Wind of Blame. I love Vicky’s dramatics.

  2. I have lined up old favourites in children’s books, especially boarding school stories.

    The Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge, Enid Blyton, Just William by Richmal Crompton, Eva Ibbotson, Nancy Drew, The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy, everything by Diana Wynne Jones, and Wodehouse’s Pothunter and St Austin’s short stories.

    I am also reading Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer, the Rumpole books and Henry Cecil.

    Now, if only I could get rid of the pesky intrusion of work.

  3. I’m in one of those moods where pondering sociology type books are easier to read than fiction, but
    “How to Do Nothing” by Jenny Odell. Yes, I still find parts of this book pretentious, but it has stuck with me and reading it now was really helpful. She talks about people need quiet thoughtful time to plan, to dream, to find empathy. Much like the Nap Ministry (thank you Sure Thing for that link). Plus, birding!
    “White Fragility” by Robin DiAngelo. Yes, a bit on the nose, but helpful. Expands on some things I already knew in a helpful way.
    “Thick” by Tressie McMillan Cottom. I’ve loved her on twitter for so long, the least I could do is read her book. Very good.

    But I definitely hear you on digital teddy bears. I do that sometimes with certain fanfiction and now “Well Met” by Jen Deluca (before I was listening, now I’m re-reading). I call it “my binky.” “Okay, I’m going to read a little bit of my binky and then go to bed.” I’m just glaring at the calendar, willing it to be September for the next book to come out.
    I just started another light read that I think might be promising, but I don’t like to mention something

    1. Ha, submitted too soon. I don’t like to mention a title until I’ve finished b/c I can turn on a dime and decide to quit on a book at very little provocation.

  4. Read The Physicians of Vilnoc by Bujold which came out in May and I missed it because of general confusion (schools changed how we were supposed to do things remotely for the 3rd time, there were AP tests for 2 kids, blah blah). Now reading why is Nothing Ever Simple? from the Chronicles of St. Mary’s which are always fun.

  5. I’ve just started rereading Jayne Ann Krentz’s ‘The Golden Chance’; really need my comfort reads, what with the news and having to read Thomas Hardy’s ‘The Withered Arm’. Do not go there. Definitely something nasty in the woodshed.

    Just had a lovely surprise present of a couple of cotton lawn masks made by my goddaughter – which is great, since I keep not getting round to making any. Plus she and her mother want to buy me a plant for my garden, which will spur me to finish sorting and skim-reading all my saved plant features. Also a good corrective to anything else depressing I have to read for work. (Why does depressing and clever-clever always get all the admiration? Well, I know why: I just wish it didn’t.)

          1. I think for me they’re all keepers until ‘Deep Waters’ or ‘Sharp Edges’; she rather lost me after that – I usually just borrow them from the library. But there are a dozen or so mostly written in the 1990s that are real favourites.

          2. I’ve read all of her books, probably. The one problem I have with her earlier books (pre-late 90s/early 00s) is that the men are overbearing. Yes, they were in most of the romances, but it drives me nuts. I just want to knock them off a cliff or whatever is nearby. I build my own version of the stories in my head and the mc essentially tells the guy where to get lost. 🙂

    1. JAK was a comfort read for me but I’ve kinda’ drifted away from reading romance, and I donated my collection. I still pick one up occasionally from the library, but I just odn’t have the collector personality.

    2. I think it’s supposed to be third limited in present, but it’s been awhile since I read it, so the PoV may slip in places. It may also be third omniscient since the view is so distant in the beginning.

  6. I read Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X Kendi. It is an adaptation for young people of Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X Kendi, which was perfect for me because my attention span is pretty short right now. It is an overview of African American history and it is very much worth reading. It is not just a record of events that happened, but an analysis of how perception of black people allowed white people to carry out and accept those events.

    Next I started on the recommendations you all made for books by black authors. My reading list is huge now, thank you (Seriously, not ironically.
    I love a good reading list). I started with A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole. It is a straight up romance and really fun. It is the first in a series and I was tempted to get the second as soon as I finished it, but I want to move on to other authors on my reading list first. I’ll definitely come back for the second though. I loved this line, “He’d been a thorn in her side the entire night and she had given him cupcakes and a gonorrhea anecdote and support.”

    I’ve now started Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. I’ve only read the first 15% (thanks digital reader), so I don’t have an opinion yet.

    I have a question about Red, White and Royal Blue. What is the point of view? Is it third person, limited in the present tense? As I was reading it, I would occasionally get pulled out the story by something related to the point of view or tense or combination thereof. Is the combination used in this book common? I’m trying to figure out why it threw me.

    1. I kept get thrown out of the story by my lack of understanding of the US political system, and some of the way the UK was written that made me roll my eyes, but the romance is so lovely, it’s irresistible.

  7. Right now, I’m really struggling to read. I plodded through a very old mystery. I’ve been trying to read more in a series that I used to love but I’d not kept up with which is light hearted and familiar, but I’m having a hard time getting back into the world. Not sure why – it may be that I”m trying to read too late at night. With 5 people at home, I have a hard time sitting down with a book though. Also, several family members are at the same point in Westworld, so I think I’m going to be watching that tonight. I also think I’m worried about reading because I’m going to be back in school as of next week and I’m in a panic about trying to keep up with this very dry reading pile next to my computer.

    I think it might be time for a re-read of some things. I have so many TBR’s I haven’t re-read anything in ages, but I think it might be time.

  8. I’ve really been struggling to get into a book for weeks now (so unlike me). I have tried to re-read some old friends and to start new books that came highly recommended, but I haven’t been able to stick with anything. Until this week: I finally managed to read and finish something new – Crashed, the first Junior Bender book by Timothy Hallinan. I first heard of these here, so a big thanks to whoever recommended them. I’ve just started the second one, Little Elvises.

  9. Holly Jacobs’ HOMECOMING, the 3rd book in her Hometown Hearts series. Like the two before it, it’s a gentle romance, with love and kindness for differently abled people throughout its pages. I like her work any time, but especially now. Now, I think I need it.

  10. I ordered a couple of major comfort reads. I have them in paperback, but they are in storage. In Oregon. Or Dallas. Yes, I know have storage in *two* states.

    The books are A Matter of Magic by Patricia C. Wrede — t’s two books: Mairleon the Magician and the sequel, The Magician’s Ward — and Spindle’s End by Robin McKinley, a wonderful take on Sleeping Beauty.

    Also reread Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series.

    Lovely, lovely, lovely.

    1. That reminds me, I don’t think I ever picked up the latest in the Innkeeper series. Thanks for the reminder! I may have to do a reread from the beginning of the series.

    2. Yay Innkeeper and Patricia Wrede. Love them both.

      The latest innkeeper is short, something they turned out as a gift because life seemed grim and it’s so comforting, especially after the heart-rending in the one before. Loved it. May need to reread.

  11. Also comfort reads for me, Juliet Marillier, Daughter of the Forest again, and just started Son of the Shadows which I like even more.

    If you’ve never read them, I strongly recommend. They’re fantasy with romance set in ancient Ireland. The women characters are amazing – quiet strength and I also like the writer’s voice.

    The first one, Daughter of the Forest, had as it’s premise the legend of the girl whose evil stepmother turned her 6 brothers into swans, and to save them she had to weave them nettle jerseys, while herself remaining mute, and then wraps are a while story around that.

    1. Its (I know, it doesn’t matter, but I’m currently grading and it’s a pet hate, along with of in should of/could of. Actually written like that).
      Also the Kleenex toilet paper wrapper when ‘less roll changes’ printed on the front. It’s almost enough to stop me buying it.
      And language evolves and I should let it all go, I know! (What’s that about when the stakes are lowest?)

      1. You’ll have to join me in Tunbridge Wells (archetypal home of old fogies who write letters to The Times or the Telegraph complaining about declining standards of grammar/punctuation, etc.).

      2. The “less/fewer” thing makes me nuts. “It’s/its” I get because it’s deeper in the weeds, but less/fewer?

        1. I was reading an ebook edition of Normal People by Sally Rooney and was surprised that there weren’t quotation marks when characters spoke. I got used to it but it seemed unusual at first. Are quotation marks optional now?

          1. Not to my knowledge, but then I’m so out of the loop, I wouldn’t know anyway.

            ETA: I googled:

            Question: On the topic of dialogue, it seems like you made a conscious decision not to use quotation marks — why was that? Were there other “rules” you purposely avoided following?

            Rooney: In my first draft I used em-dashes to introduce dialogue, but then in later drafts I began to notice how much dialogue was contained inside longer paragraphs, undifferentiated from the narrative. I decided it didn’t really make sense to introduce some dialogue with dashes and some without, so I used Cmd+F and deleted every em-dash in the manuscript. That was one of the last changes I made before sending it away. I can’t remember ever really using quotation marks – I don’t see any need for them, and I don’t understand the function they perform in a novel, marking off some particular pieces of the text as quotations. I mean, it’s a novel written in the first person, isn’t it all a quotation?

            Back to Me:
            I think there’s a good reason for quotation marks in first person, but I also think it’s her book and she gets to do what she wants. I’m thinking it’s like e.e.cummings and capital letters. You do you.

        2. That one bugs me as well. It sounds so wrong, and I don’t understand how people can’t hear that. I have had autocorrect change the correct it’s to the wrong its.

          The ESL docs I listen to get a pass but the mother-tongue English speakers drive me to swearing at my computer. This is all elementary school level grammar! Things like referring to a person who use he/she pronouns as they. Using that instead of who to refer to a person.

          The one that really makes me want to bang heads together is a/an. Seriously. I spend so much of my time correcting that one.

          Some days it feels like it’s all: Mrs. Jones that came yesterday for a operation is ready to be discharged. They are going home today.

          1. We’re going to have to accept “they.” We need a singular non-gender binary pronoun, and English doesn’t have one. I’ve started using it on purpose, and it hurts, but “him or her” leaves out part of the population, so it’s gotta be “they.”

            Fewer or less, though, I’m taking that one to my grave. Fewer if you can count what it is (berries), less if you can’t count what it is (jam).

    2. Such a good series! Coincidentally, I am about to start Marillier’s Dreamer’s Pool tonight, even though I think this is a series that was not completed. Is anyone familiar with this series?

      1. I’ve read them. They’re darker than Sevenwaters, but they have the same quiet style and strong central female character with men who respect them. I listened to them on audiobook and I think I works have preferred to read them – there was a strange emotional distance sort of, but I think it might have been the narration. Keen to know what you think too 🙂

  12. I must have started and stopped six different books this week; I tend to buy off Bookbub (or get for free with Kindle Unlimited), and I’ve found some good stuff there, but a lot of iffie. And right now, life is too short to read anything iffie, so I just stop and delete.

    So I went to a comfort read, which is The Others series by Anne Bishop. Just fun to read!

    Oh, last week I did read a short series (4 books now, with two more planned) by Lyndsay Buroker. Death Before Dragons. Urban fantasy, kick-ass female protagonist with a telepathic tiger helper, and a tight-a** male dragon who cannot understand why the female cannot behave “appropriately.” The dialogue reminds me of Ilona Andrews writing – snarky and on point. No Sex. That’s right, No Sex. One kiss in the whole series. I suspect they will get there, but it is so nice to be able to read through something without the obligatory hot scene. I mean, I enjoy them (although I got really tired of Hamilton’s continual sex scenes with no plot, so I no longer read Hamilton), but it’s nice to get a break and simply have a story line and action? Does this make me old??:

    1. Nope. I haven’t hit 30 yet and am tired of pointless sex scenes. It’s all about the sexual tension and relationship building for me 😉

  13. I’m reading and enjoying Gin Jones’ book – Six Cloves Under and looking forward to Rhubarb Pie Before You Die. I’m enjoying a protagonist who is not a sweet little miss too good to be true who has some skills besides flirting and making baked goods. Thanks, Gin.

    1. Oh, thank you so much! I’ve been seeing some reviews calling my protagonist “different” in unflattering ways, and I totally get that she’s not everyone’s cuppa’, but it’s extra nice to hear that her being different is appreciated!

  14. Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell – I loved this book. This isn’t the captain, it’s the bus boy on the space ship. And he doesn’t miraculously save the ship, instead he makes the ship a better place for everyone to live. I needed it. I’m working my way through this series now, it’s a completed set of 6.

    1. I enjoyed The Wizard’s Butler by the same author. Similar theme, from the sound of it – making other people’s loves better. I’ll give this one a try.

  15. Read “A Gentleman from Moscow” because my sister is crazy about it. Quirky and different, I enjoyed it. And was proud of reading a NEW BOOK!!!! now backsliding and reading a Mauve Binchey.

  16. I finally got Red, White and Royal blue from the library. It’s cute and sweet and well written, but maybe hits too close to home for me right now.

    And I am slowly reworking my way through murderbot, which is definitely my comfort food of choice at the moment. I think that the moments that humans are good are keeping me afloat. My co-workers don’t believe in masks and think that vaccines are stoopid. It’s wrecking my faith in humanity.

    Just got Well Met from the library queue. High hopes!

    1. I was just talking with a professional woman I have a great deal of respect for, and she turned out to be an anti-vaxxer convinced there are chips in the vaccines that report to Bill Gates. Or something like that. I was just dumbfounded.

        1. I had a goggle moment when I found that my brother’s partner is an anti vaxxer – she’s a nurse! I’m a bit baffled by that. I would have thought that she’d be the opposite.

          It is actually a worry as they have a 9 month old.

  17. Finished Anne Mcaffrey’s Pegasus in Space. Now I know why I never reread this one before. Moved on to Robert a Heinlein The Rolling Stones then to a children’s book Kitsy’s Mischief and Horses. It a true story told to Emma Glover about three kids bounced around in 1943. I loved it. Moved on to Sep’s Breathing Room. Probably my 5th or 6th reread of this. Her new book came in the mail today. That’s next. Happy week everyone.

  18. Looked through the TBR pile on the nook. Reading a new story The Fifth A ensue Story Society by Rachel Hauck.

  19. I’ve just finished RIFLING THROUGH MY DRAWERS by Clarissa Dickson Wright. She was one of the Two Fat Ladies–a delightful British cooking showing in the late 1990s, which ended when the other lady, Jennifer Paterson, suddenly died of cancer. After that, which ended the show, CDW went on to host more TV for years and write quite a few books. She died a few years ago.

    RIFLING THROUGH MY DRAWERS is light an anecdotal, recounting a year in the author’s life, filled with bits of history, food, country sports, agriculture, interesting characters, etc. A soothing antidote to daily life in 2020.

    Having finish it, I’ve started another of her books, A HISTORY OF ENGLISH FOOD, which is charming and densely-packed with history, fun facts, and interesting anecdotes.

    I can also recommend her CLARISSA’S ENGLAND, which recounts stories and facts about every county in England.

  20. I’ve been re-listening to John Scalzi’s Lock In and Head On books which are weirdly comforting despite featuring the aftermath of debilitating global pandemic (the accompanying novella about the progress of the epidemic is not something I could take at the moment). I know Amber Benson does an amazing job but I started out listening to Wil Wheaton so I am stuck on him for narration.

    After that I’m planning on a re-listen of Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera (the opposite of fascism is theatre), Heath Miller does a wonderful job narrating and it’s so much like a slightly a more optimistic version of Douglas Adams.

  21. I read Girl Gone Viral by Alisha Rai. The heroine is a woman who really takes satisfaction from feeding the people she cares about. Not that I do well with 3 meals a day, 365 days a year, but using food as an expression of love for the people around you sounded a great deal like my Mother’s kitchen (and my sister’s and, in the past, mine.) It made it very easy to identify with a heroine with whom I otherwise have nothing in common.

  22. I finished The Honor of the Queen (Weber). The next in the series is The Short Victorious War, and I am not up for that right now. I’m a third of the way through Arabella. I finished all the Murderbot on hand, waiting for my preorder to get published.

    Rereading Doing it All Over by Al Steiner. His description of a heart attack in a middle chapter is what got me to call 911 back in 2004.

  23. Only re-reads for me last week, but I do have a book-related story. You know how satisfying it is when someone you love enjoys the same books you do.
    I had a surgery last week, and my son stayed with me afterwards for the first couple days, in case I needed help. He didn’t have much to do, so he asked me to recommend him something to read. We don’t usually share the same taste in book, but sometimes (rarely), we like the same authors. So I told him to try Anne Bishop’s The Others series.
    He started book one, and he can’t stop. By now, he finished 3 books and keeps reading them. He blames me for being unable to do anything else. And I keep smiling.

  24. I binge-read three Cat Sebastian historical romances in a row. Two M/M and one M/F though the F in that one is nonbinary. Interesting treatment. Today started reading #8 in the Rivers of London series, which needs more romance but is otherwise nearly perfect. 🙂

    1. Well, Peter and his river have pretty much settled down, so the romance is going to be low-key, but it’s still great.

      Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are adapting the first one as an eight? part series, I think for BBC. That should be fun.

      1. Wouldn’t it be great if Kobna Holdbrook-Smith played Peter? His reading is so amazing in the audiobooks.

        1. I don’t care, I just want it to be wonderful. That first book is such a great complex story.
          Yes, I’ve read it several times (g).

  25. I just finished “Burn” by Patrick Ness. It was fantastic. Fantasy–it’s 1957 and dragons exist–but so much more. Every time I thought I knew where the story was going, it would turn into something else. I’ve never read him before, and I bought this based on reviews and desperation after finishing the last Murderbot and not having anything good that I wanted to read. It was worth it.

  26. I’ve been reading ELIZABETH WIDVILLE, LADY GREY, by John Ashdown-Hill, and am just up to the secret marriage with Edward IV and Who Knew What When. Serious biography. Also in the throes of THE IDEOLOGICAL ORIGINS OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, which came under my eye because it was cited in an amicus brief in the Michael Flynn case in the composition of which I participated along with a bunch of other people (in my case, my participation was grammar, vocabulary, spelling, punctuation, and usage).

    Also THE UNKNOWNS, THE UNTOLD STORY OF AMERICA’S UNKNOWN SOLDIER, since next year is the 100th anniversary of the original erection of the Tomb at Arlington. And, as a time sink, 1811 DICTIONARY OF THE VULGAR TONGUE.

  27. I read the new Deanna Raybourn, those are always fun. Then re-read the Goblin Emperor for the umpteenth time. That one is definitely a comfort read for me. And started the Murderbot novellas from the start.

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