This is a Good Book Thursday, June 18, 2020


I got sucked back into the Rivers of London series when I realized I’d reread Murderbot too many times. Also a fairy tale novel called Thorn, by Intisar Khanani, which was interesting, distant and cool with a great plot adapted from the Goose Girl. It has that epic distance feeling which is usually not my thing, but it was so well-written that I was drawn in anyway.

What story were you drawn into this week?

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65 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 18, 2020

  1. I’ve just read The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, and it was beautiful. It’s a YA fantasy (stand alone) that draws on the story of Tam Lin, about a girl who challenges the Witch Queen to get back the boy she loves and finds herself fascinated and attracted by the Witch Queen herself. The language is beautiful and vivid and I loved the setting, and the main character is bi.

  2. I loved Beach Read by Emily Henry. Not a book without flaws, but I loved the bantery rom com energy and the Michigan beach setting.

    I’m having a hard time reading books lately (even the dark moment in a light romance novel feels stressful), so I’m reading lots of Never Have I Ever fanfiction. The characters are teenagers and I’m very much not, so not all of it is to my taste, but there’s always some undiscovered gems to find.

  3. Started Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race because I really need to learn more than I think I know.

    Bought and devoured All Things Burn by Jodie Slaughter. A really satisfying romance/thriller about a lawyer who seeks out an assassin. Conflict ensues. And a HEA.

    1. I like that our library’s overdrive page put Ijeoma Oluo’s So You Want To Talk About Race and Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me on the front page as Always Available.

      I am nearly finished with Ijeoma Oluo’s book. She does a good job of explaining and giving concrete examples of complicated issues like cultural appropriation. But I have to start and stop when some of the examples from her life want to make me cry. Like her son explains why he doesn’t want to say the Pledge of Allegiance. Other parts make me laugh. Like when she talks to her white mom about race. (“I would rather talk about sex.”)

  4. I’ve started rereading the Judith Merkel Riley trilogy about Margaret of Ashbury starting with Vision of Light. I love the interaction between Margaret and Gilbert/Gregory and the complexity of the world they live in.

  5. Like Sure Thing, I have a lot of catching up to do, so am beginning serious stuff with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me. Devoured and loved The Sun is Also a Star, with thanks to the person who mentioned it on this site. Re-reading Crazy for You to gain some joy, despite the tension and the craziness. Public libraries around here open next week, so I’m very excited–it will be so nice to get back into the stacks!

  6. I keep rereading bits of Red, White, and Royal Blue. So much of the plot is preposterous, but the central romance is well done, so I suspend disbelief. I think I need to switch to my Murderbot reread though.

    I can’t focus on anything hard or depressing or complicated right now. And I need to know that the ending of whatever I read is going to be happy. The real world is hard and complicated–I don’t want it in my reading.

    Also, completely random, but in the word cloud to the right –> “Surpise Lily” is in huge type and I can’t stop looking at the typo.

    1. Yeah, that’s about where my head is now. ARGH. Thank you for noticing.’

      ETA: Fixed. And thank you again.

  7. I read Sorry I Missed You, by Suzy Krause. I’d not read her before, but really enjoyed this book. Fabulous characters, really well drawn, and just my style of humor. Some of her descriptions were laugh out loud for me. Also loved the twists and turns and the surprise ending. This one left me with a smile.

  8. I started Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner’s “Fly Me to the Moon” series of romance novels about the 60s space race. They’re mostly light and fluffy, and there’s something optimistic about publicly funding space flight when it’s never been done before. Plus, scientists and astronauts as heroes/ heroines. They also (to me) do a good balance of touching on the sexism and racism of that time in history without that becoming the whole story, although they do a better job acknowledging the sexism than the racism.

    So far I’d recommend it for people who used to like the fluffiness of Regency romance, but are now at the point where they will pluck out their eyes if they have to read about another ballroom.

    1. I love this series! And I say that as someone who doesn’t usually have any interest in space exploration. “Earth Bound” is my favorite (smart woman who doesn’t take an *bleep* and tightly wound smart guy are two of my favorite character types) but they’re all good and I’m anxiously waiting for the next one.

      1. I just read Earth Bound! It started slower than the first two (if you don’t count the prologue), but once you got to know the characters it was so lovely.

        Also, when I say it starts slower, I still read in a day. So, like, not that slow.

  9. I turned to Elizabeth Moon midweek to begin the Heris Serrano/Familias Regnant series. So far, I finished Hunting Party. I finished Heyer’s Arabella. Excellent. I’m still reading Al Steiner’s Doing It All Over. I hid it from myself and needed the proper computer to find it.

    I finally investigated the simple means by which you add Mobipocket books to Kindle libraries. It seems you simply attach the mobi files to an email to your private Kindle address and “mail them to yourself.” So I’m doing that. According to Baen Books, I have 1328 entries in “My Library” there. It isn’t that many – many are duplicates. I also purchased a round half-dozen books from Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press, and a few others from other publishers. Having all my books available on Kindle would be… nice.

      1. And he named it Ulysses!

        When one speaks of Our Hostess, there is much made of the dogs in the books, although I always liked Elvis in Bet Me. I am always reminded of a favorite line from Shakespeare In Love. Henslowe: “You see – comedy. Love, and a bit with a dog. That’s what they want.”

    1. I loved the early books in the Serrano/etc. series. Unfortunately, at some point she chose a character to keep messing with, the “Victim” character whose life in book to book goes from hero to pariah and back again. The writing is great, but the later books annoyed me greatly. Moon is a great writer, even tho’.

  10. I am book 3 of Charlie Adhara’s Wolf at the Door series. Although I think the shapeshifter and law enforcement politics are done well as background, the real appeal for me is the MC’s POV and the relationship development over time.

    The MC is prickly, smart, anxious and funny. Bonus that he drops in quick sharp literary references as one-liners for the situations he finds himself in. Definitely a series were I liked the first one and think the writing gets better as it the series progresses.

  11. I tried to read a new to me book, and just bailed. I think it is meant to be YA, based on the age of the heroine and the style, but I have read plenty of good YA, so it’s not just that. The heroine has a passion for an activity and starts hanging out with other people with the same passion, and no one actually does anything with the activity for 23% of the book. There are other plot happenings, but in a quarter of the book, no one does or thinks about, or misses this thing we are passionate about.

    I am now re-reading a nice British murder mystery written by Janet Neel, thank you very much.

    1. I love the Neels! Especially the Messiah scenes in DEATH’S BRIGHT ANGEL, and all the departmental cut-and-thrust bits, but all of them are pageturners for me.

      1. She writes very well but I really had problems with the heroine’s infidelity. It’s one thing to have an open marriage. It’s another to agree at the start of the relationship you won’t have affairs and then keep doing it. I realize that is true to many people’s lives. But it really bothered me.

        1. Yes. I really liked that character, as well as her husband. But when it got to the part where she was cheating on him and thought nothing of it a series that I had really enjoyed was suddenly impossible to reread for me.

    2. I’m rereading Martha Wells Raksura books. I really love the first two books. I thought the final book was the weakest.

      1. I picked up the Raksura books too after reading the Murderbot series! I love it when an author has a deep backlist. It’s like watching a painter go through changing artistic styles. I got through book 2, and thought, wow! my reading tastes have changed. 20 year old me would have loved these books so much, and 50 year old me is (still voraciously) reading it, but would have to say it’s not as compelling a reread for me as it would have been, once upon a time. Can’t say I’m evolving to being a better reader, but aging into a different one, certainly.

        1. I read the first one in an earlier series, I think it was Raksura, flying people at war and the hero is supposed to be a consort? but it wasn’t my thing. Well-written, just not for me. I just read the first Murderbot for, I think, the seventh time. No exaggeration. And that’s a lot considering I just found them about six weeks ago.

  12. I finished a cozy mystery, A Midwinter’s Tail, in Sofie Kelly’s Magical Cats series. Very nice and an easy read.

    And inspired by the resurgence of the blog with Bob, I’ve started my umpteenth reread of Agnes and the Hitman, which is one of my favorite books of all times. Humor, har. MAN, I love that book.

  13. I’ve been enjoying the fun gems between the dreary literary stories in the anthology I’m proof-reading. Read an M. R. James story (‘The Abbot’s Treasure’) earlier, and have started one by G. K. Chesterton, whose paradoxes and humour I loved as a teenager: this one’s daft so far – ‘The Awful Reason of the Vicar’s Visit’.

  14. The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz. I love her writing, so I was anxious to read her first novel. Although it was achingly painful to read in some places, I think every character in the book was someone I’ve known. I’m so glad to have read it.

  15. Yesterday was the first porch pickup at the library for me in over two months. One was Kate White’s – Have You Seen Me and for my husband a copy of John Sandford’s – Masked Prey. I’m going to be busy over the next couple of weeks because holds are coming in on the e-book side too. Kristan Higgins, Nancy Thayer are in the lineup and I know I’m close to getting Nora Roberts and SEP. Plus it is getting nice enough to read outside.

  16. I read “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert and I must say, it was the right book at the right time for me as I am dealing with a lot of questions about being a writer right now. It’s interesting that after not wanting to read non-fiction for quite some time, I seem to be on a roll with them – after reading that book about the Spanish Flu of 1918 and Gilbert’s, I’m now deep into a German book about the tradition of German Protestant parsonages (I picked it up as research for my next novel but now I can’t put it down at all).

    Before all that, however, I read ‘In For A Penny’ by Kelsey Browning and Nancy Naigle. It’s a cozy mystery about an elderly Southern widow trying to keep her inherited family mansion after finding out that her husband squandered all their money. I don’t want to post any spoilers but I must say it was really refreshing to read a mystery where nobody’s getting killed – there are other crimes to keep the local sheriff busy but no murder at all.

  17. I just finished the 8th Rivers of London book, and eagerly anticipate the 9th (because come ON, False Value was totally a set up book for the next one). I also read The Honey-Don’t List by Christina Laurens and started Her Royal Highness by Rachel Hawkins.

    1. Is there at ETA for that one yet? I can’t even find a title.
      I’m reading False Values for the second time now.

  18. I read a romance by a new to me author and hated it. So now I’m back to murderbot, again. Got to the point where it meets ART, definitely one of my favorite scenes.

    I was thinking about murderbot’s gender and realized it really matters to me that it’s an ‘it’. That emphasizes that you can be a person without being male or female. I’m not totally sure about my gender these days and that affirmation matters to me.

    1. My favorite is in the fourth book when Murderbot’s mad at Art and Art’s fighting back, and the humans are just sitting there, trying to mediate.

  19. Rereading Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper series … again. I’m so deep in the throes of needing absolute comfy reads that I have to keep letting my library ebooks go back to the library because I find I cannot read them after all. So I’m looking up the books that make me happy so I can read something other than what I keep reading over and over.

    Reread Beauty by Robin McKinley. So good! In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz.

    Have any of you ever read Good Early Hunting by Suzanne Enoch? It’s a short story, Regency. So sweet and cute and I reread it a lot. Do try it.

    I’ve stopped part way through a couple of books because I can see the hard part coming up and I can’t handle that right now. I’ll probably cry. I hate that.

  20. I’ve been having a hard time finding anything I want to read. At the moment I’m in the middle of a suspense story by a well-known author. The writing is excellent but there’s so much conflict (it’s a lawyer story, so duh) that I find it painful to read. I’m also in the middle of a boring story with two time frames, one historical, one present day. I find it quite blah but it puts me to sleep, which is good. And there is the occasional interesting historical tidbit.

    However, I did read a good historical mystery last week — Death and the Harlot by Georgina Clarke. I guessed who the murderer was — a wild guess which happened to be correct — but I didn’t know the whys and wherefores. Which probably means the author foreshadowed so subtly that my subconscious picked up on it. I like that kind of thing.

    Other than that, I’m rereading Barrayar, perhaps not the best choice for such troubled times, but I love Bujold’s writing and want to reread the whole Vorkosigan saga bit by bit.

  21. Oh — and a while back I read the first story in Ashley Gardner’s new mystery series, Blood of a Gladiator. An excellent read. There’s also a novella in the same series. Great characters, and I love reading about Ancient Rome.

  22. I finished Well Met, which popped up here. It was cute. I am not sure if I like the resolution to the final problem, but it did give me a deep seated urge to go back to the Ren Faire. I don’t know if ours is even running this year. So I want more books set at a Ren Faire. Any suggestions?

    I also started A Christmas Cracker by Trisha Ashley. I was expecting something gentle and comforting like the last one of hers that I read, and instead it begins with the main character going to prison. It’s so interesting, how her life goes once she is released. It’s making me think, which is a good thing.

      1. Murder at the War isn’t actually about a Ren Faire, it’s about the big annual Society for Creative Anachronism get together, but it has a similar feel.

        The whole Peter Brichter mystery series is great. One of my favorites. Murder at the War is listed as book 1, and it was published first, but book 2, The Unforgiving Minutes, is actually a prequel to it, and about how the two main characters met.

        I need to go read those again. But that means I have to dig out my paper copies or rebuy them as ebooks 🙁

  23. This week I finished First Comes Scandal by Julia Quinn. I really enjoyed both the romance and the way they dealt with the (thankfully) outmoded theories of medicine. I also got a kick out of how much the cover illustration resembled the author’s picture.

    1. Julia Quinn is perfect reading at the moment. Everything is small-scale, slightly funny and works out fine. I think I burned through all the Bridgertons in the first few weeks of lockdown.

  24. I read Red Head By the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler. So very disappointing. I love her and I can always count on her not to bruise me. It was going along as usual and then suddenly it just ended. And the end was completely unsatisfying. When I have time to dwell I’m going to rewrite the ending in my head. I refuse to leave the character in that situation.

    1. CORRECTION ok I took time to dwell and reread the ending. I read it wrong the first time. Endeavouring not to spoiler; I thought hero went to one woman- the wrong one – but he did not. In fact he went the exact right place and the end was perfect. Sorry Anne Tyler. Second read and I am comforted.

  25. I went for a favorite comfort read, PLAYING BY THE GREEK’S RULES, by Sarah Morgan. I have it in my Kindle category “Screwball Romantic Comedy,” because the hero and heroine actually meet when she has been attacked and left for dead by his shower. After she broke up his relationship, he needed a replacement to accompany him to a museum opening and she’s the only person around (and, handily, an archeologist).

    Also, many thanks to the person who recommended A HISTORY OF ENGLISH FOOD; I’m up to “Orange Carrots and White Bread.” Love the details! I have a well-worn copy of Dorothy Hartley’s FOOD IN ENGLAND, and Hilary Spurling’s ELINOR FETTIPLACE’S RECEIPT BOOK, and a lot of Peter Brears — I’m working through JELLIES AND THEIR MOULDS.

  26. Read Dance Away with me by SEP. I am starting A Delicate Affair by Lindsey Evans tonight. New author for me. Trying to decide what to read on the plane ride home Monday.

  27. Hooray !!! Just got notified that ‘Network Effect’ is available on Overdrive from my library.

  28. Also, someone left a copy of ‘Evvie Drake Starts Over’ as a freebie in my building.

    Has anyone read this?

  29. Reading “Confessions from an arranged marriage” by Miranda Neville. Excellent Regency romance series about book collectors/books. It has that thing I love of taking a seemingly awful character from the other books and working out what makes them tick. Hits the Loretta Chase/Tessa Dare demographic. Looking forward to reading the rest of her books.

  30. So I haven’t read it yet, but I’m going to at least check it out, someone wrote a book as a result of being inspired by a Meme! The meme was : This book and series was born because of a viral meme requesting it be written.
    @yabroodingauthor: “It’s amazing how many prophecies involve teens. You’d think they’d pick more emotionally stable people, with more free time. Like Grandmas.” This meme went viral – which I would totally have shared it too, LOL and then this:
    To which @Dinurial replied, “I would read the hell out of a series of a chosen 85yo woman who goes on epic journeys throughout a dangerous and magical land armed only with a cane and her stab-tastic knitting needles accompanied by her six cats and her skittish-yet-devoted orderly who makes sure she takes her pills on time.”
    If anyone has read it, let me know how it is, but it is totally on my next to read on this alone.

    1. Ha! Well, I don’t know of a series like that, but there is an awesome SF novel where the MC is an old women … I mean, senior citizen. They don’t bother telling her age. It’s Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon (referred to earlier in the comments for a series; this is a standalone book). It’s excellent! What do you do when you are old enough to be considered “baggage” by your community and family and realize you can do whatever the hell you want, even remain behind when everyone else is pulled off the planet?

  31. I read Melissa Lukashenko’s ‘Too Much Lip’. I really struggled with it at first, mainly because it promised so much pain for all the characters, and I’ve been reading nothing but brain candy since the pandemic started. To get around that, I read the last chapter, then went back and forth from the end to the beginning a few times, until the story had such a hold on me that I couldn’t stop reading.

    It’s unrelenting in the way it looks at the legacy of trauma and dispossession in one Australian Indigenous family, but it’s also full of strength and humour and resilience. In the end it reminded me of Tim Winton’s ‘Cloud Street’, in the fierce love of its characterisation, and the sweeping breadth of its story. Plus a wonderful ending. The sort of book where you sit back and say ‘Wow’ when you finish it.

    It’s an amazing book that fully deserves its prize-winning streak. Now I need to reread it. And read all her other books.

    P.S. LOTS of swearing, for those who don’t like such things.

  32. My library system is still closed ‘until further notice’ but I discovered a stack of what I’d thought were Harry Potter paperbacks were actually unread “maybes” from a booksale. I started thumbing through Nancy Mitford’s “The Pursuit of Love” and was so hooked, so fast. A roman a clef from the 1940s, written about several young women’s lives in the 1920s, the narrator’s voice is so liquid, and amusing, and intelligent, that I couldn’t put it down. I finally realized I’d been standing, reading it, for almost an hour and was almost halfway through. If you can find a copy, I recommend it.

  33. I actually bought THORN from the author at a local book fair! Seeing the cover here gave me a thrill, like running into an old friend when you’re on vacation.

    I’m reading Joanna Bourne based on a recommendation from someone here last week (sorry to have forgotten whose 😅 but THANK YOU!). I downloaded the newest one first, but decided to go in order instead, so I’m reading The Spymaster’s Lady. I like it so far.

    I’m also a few chapters into a memoir called Agorafabulous! by Sara Benincasa that’s awfully funny (both words intended–it’s about her pretty severe mental health issues but it’s also hilarious).

  34. This week I read 2.5 of the titles in the ‘Early Georgette Heyer’ collection that went on sale recently.

    ‘The Transformation of Philip Jettan’ is a book I first read under the title ‘Powder and Patch.’ It gets off to a slower start than I remembered, but things happen fast once it gets rolling.

    Then there was ‘The Black Moth,’ which seems to be a case of Georgette wanting to write a redemption story about the HEINOUS title character, rapidly giving up, and focusing on the much more rewarding highwayman Earl. I truly loved the Sir Miles and Molly O’Hara characters in that. What a great marriage.

    Now halfway through ‘The Great Roxhythe,’ which if written today by KJ Charles would definitely be a M/M swashbuckler with Christopher Dart as the virginal seducee.

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