This is a Good Book Thursday

I am reading Beyond Tidy: Declutter Your Mind.

Unfortunately, it turns out I’m a mental hoarder, and there are only narrow pathways through my brain. At any moment now, a pile of miscellaneous thoughts is going to cascade down and bury me. Otherwise, I’m good.

How’s by you? Especially what did you read this week?

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80 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday

  1. I’m in a bit of a blank with books at the moment. I’ve run out of Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses books (again) and after staring blankly at the shelves, I’m re-reading Cotillion because I need comfort reading. Fortunately, two of my favourite fanfic authors have both produced new chapters this week, so I’ve been reading them too.

  2. I wasn’t blow away, but I enjoyed “10 Things I Hate About Pinky” by Sandhya Menon. I wouldn’t say it was her best, but it was low conflict, fluffy YA which is about what I could handle this week. It’s also the 3rd in the series and not the best place to start. But the first “When Dimple Met Rishi” is adorable and worth reading.
    I made a point of sitting down and reading it in one day, just to prove to myself I could read and finish a book.
    For whatever reason, since the pandemic started I find I have a hard time putting down a book and coming back to it, even a day later. Maybe something about suspension of disbelief? I have to work harder to imagine a pandemic free world so it’s harder to get into the story? I don’t know, but it’s annoying.

    1. I’m having the same problem, Jill. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve started and then can’t pick up again over the past months. It just seems like work to try to get back into them. It’s the same for new books and for re-reads. Incidentally, I’m having similar problems with knitting projects. Perhaps its a bad case of ennui mapped onto a persistent state of anxiety?

    2. I’ve been that way with book ideas — I was supposed to gather some ideas to send to my agent to discuss what to write next, and I’d spend a day thinking about one idea, and the next I’d try to think about it some more, but just couldn’t, and moved on to something else. Rinse, repeat. I’m working on a new idea now that’s sticking, but it took some outside intervention — approaching it differently — to break the cycle.

      1. Six Cloves Under has been sitting between UPS and USPS in New Jersey since 7/9. I’ll read it when I get it. I’m thinking another week or so. I’ve had stuff hung up for 3 weeks before.

      2. Gin, I’ve been finding the same thing with book ideas. I’ve had three false starts so far this year, which I find distressing. Nothing seems to catch and hold. I’ve started something new now, and also just joined a crit group with three other people whose writing I admire, and that seems to be helping.

  3. I enjoyed Alexis Hall’s ‘Boyfriend Material’ a lot, and after several Kindle samples I didn’t take to, am now rereading his Spires series – also m/m romance but with more sex and angst. My favourite is the (ungraphic) novella ‘Waiting for the Flood’.

    I’ve also just read KJ Charles’ latest blog post, which describes writing romance as being like making bread. Same ideas as Jenny, more or less, but I particularly like her emphasis that conflict can consist in everyday stuff rather than big external dramas: http://kjcharleswriter.com/2020/07/23/bread-and-roses-developing-romance-and-the-third-act-test/

    1. Jane, thank you for that link. I definitely enjoy “quiet” romances and this gave me something to think about.

      1. Jane, I agree that Charles has a good point.

        Jenny Crusie stories, if I’m reading them right, often have a big test to the romance after the romance has been cemented. So, the characters know perfectly well that they are in love with each other and mostly need a break before coming back together in affirmation. I’m not sure that Charles’ and Crusie’s Acts correspond because the Crusie not-true-break-up happens late, often along with the other plot’s climax. I suspect that Crusie uses this model in order to show that the hero and heroine each can stand alone apart from the other but choose acknowledging their love to have much happier lives together.

        Whichever way it is, I agree that the climax doesn’t have to involve saving the universe from annihilation.

    2. I am almost through this as well. It was such a relief to finally grab something that has held my focus. It’s enjoyable and really sweet. The secondary characters remind me a bit of Heyer’s eccentric families. Arden from the billionaire series is still my favorite, but I get three books to attach to him…

  4. Read A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking which I didn’t know until the afterword was written by Ursula Vernon under a pen name, so know wonder it was amazeballs. If you want an adventure with sentient sourdough and a smart cookie (literally), grab this. Also reading Milla Vane’s new fantasy barbarian romance which is all the melodrama and twice the fun, A Touch of Stone and Snow. Good week in reading!

    1. I need to get that! If you haven’t read the other T. Kingfisher books (Swordheart, Clocktaur Wars, etc.), I recommend them.

      1. Also reading Defensive Baking and enjoying it. It is a little strange that she started it in 2007 and here it is really timely with baking as solace for hard times and with police brutality….

        Kind of like Lois McMaster Bujold writing a novella last fall about a pandemic. I haven’t been able to read it yet.

    2. The title is cute and people seem to like the book, so I looked for it in my online library. Not there. Sigh. A few others of her books, but not much. So I looked at what was in Amazon, to sample, see if anything is on a good sale (I often find new authors that way — I’m cheap/broke). Then I ran into Bryony and Roses. I am a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast story; my favorite fairy tale, I think. After reading the extensive ‘Look Inside,’ I bought it. I might actually be able to read a new book for once in a long while!

      1. Thank you! I borrowed Bryony and Roses from my library after reading your comment, because I, too, am a sucker for a good Beauty and the Beast. Do you have a favorite retelling? (Or is that too much like asking someone to choose a favorite child?)

        1. If you haven’t read Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Rose Daughter books you definitely should! They’re both Beauty and the Beast retellings, not a series; she’s said she just really loved the story and story years after the first felt like she had another one to write. As a kid I loved Beauty but I like Rose Daughter a lot more now.

          1. Definite favorites for me, and the same kid versus adult reaction. I also like her Sunshine, which I find to be a very Beauty and the Beast-like story.

          2. I didn’t like Rose Daughter that much. Beauty is one of my favorite books of all time. I’ll have to rummage through my memories for other versions.

          3. Oh yes! Sunshine! That’s an awesome book. I hadn’t looked at it as a Beauty and the Beast, but it totally is. She’s such a great writer.

    3. Uggh, ordered it a while ago but it’s not arriving until the 30th. [Drumming fingers impatiently]

    4. Didn’t know she had another book out (insert girlish squeeee!). I started with Seventh Bride and I’ve been hooked ever since. Thanks for mentioning this, which will go on top of my TBR pile, right after the new Harry Dresden.

  5. Last week – when Jenny was talking about Sarina Bowen, whose Ivy Years novels I have therefore started to re-read – someone recommended “The Deal” by Elle Kennedy which I downloaded spontaneously since it was for free. Yes, it’s also an entertaining college love story but in my opinion, she can’t hold a candle to Bowen.

    SPOILER

    I do not have any expertise concerning rape, but it seemed somehow a little unlikely to me that just getting in bed with the right guy would make everything all right for the girl. People, let me tell you that Good Sex does not conquer all, and once again, this plot focused too much on sex for my taste. Also, the story about the abusive father seemed a little contrived, too, and I had to shake my wise old head at his girlfriend’s leaving him after the son talks to her for five minutes. Even if it’s not the main plot, she should handle these characters with more care.

    END OF SPOILER

    Other than that, I started a book on whale hunters in the 17th century for some further research. It was like Monty Python’s line “And now for something completely different!”, but very interesting nevertheless.

    1. I think that Elle Kennedy got stuck in that wheelhouse and doesn’t know how to get out of it. I read Easy years ago and was impressed by how she showed victim shaming and other social consequences of sexual assault. Haven’t read anything else by her though, and I agree with you, she doesn’t have the same depth or craft as Bowen.

      I follow Sarina Bowen on Facebook and one of her readers was asking for recommendations of similar authors. I was surprised by the responses, as they were not the same at all in my mind, besides being NA romance.

      But to be honest, I am very picky and am more interested in writing style and character building than genre.

  6. All rereading, of course. Gunmetal Magic, some novellas, and bits from various novels in the Kate Daniels world of Ilona Andrews. Dylan’s Redemption by Jennifer Ryan — something about the issues in that one and how they handle them just gets to me. I started Inner Simplicity by Elaine St. James (I love her other simplicity books), but it just didn’t work for me this time. Browsing some crochet books. Downloaded previous editions of Interweave Crochet magazine from my online library. The coolest thing about “checking out” magazines is that I can keep them! I just download them onto my iPad and read them in a compatible app; I use Adobe Digital Editions for that on my Mac and sometimes use iBooks on my iPad. It’s my very favorite crochet magazine.

    Not sure if it counts, but I wandered through a couple of crochet publications websites and looked through some patterns. I’m going to buy a couple of patterns for gorgeous afghans. I also searched for free patterns online for crochet baskets because I so need some more organization. Living all in a not-so-big bedroom and bathroom is a challenge for me.

      1. I know! The cleverness of the authors and the character and just imagining the sheer amount of work and detail it took! Plus, purple.

  7. I’ve been enjoying Sarah Wynde’s series that starts with A Gift of Ghosts.
    It was recommended by someone here IIRC, and after reading the first I just had to get the rest of the series right away.
    So thanks a lot for the recommendation!

  8. Reread Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series. New read was Boyfriend Material which was good. Plus a whole lot of articles, books and blogs about art journaling. I’m looking for a creative hobby. Also read YA book, Tanakata Wish which I really enjoyed.

  9. Started The Bookman’s Tale by Charlie Lovett. Antiquarian Book restorer goes on an adventure of the heart…time periods shift between the current time when he is widowed, the time when he met his wife, and Elizabethan England. Early days, but so far liking it and wondering where it will go.

    Before bed reading had been the short story anthology Shadowed Souls. Edited by Jim Butcher. Paranormal. Best story so far Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover. YMMV.

    1. I really enjoyed that Lovett book. Have read two others of his – they are so smart, and literary, without being OMG academic; and there is always a garnish of romance.

      1. You guys might like Jennifer Carroll if you like Charlie Lovett. Similar literary treasure hunt. Only 3 books though. So sad!

  10. I actually read and finished two books this week! I haven’t done that in months.

    * Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab. This is a very sweet story about a potential Olympic swimmer getting involved with a bipolar fellow. I was hoping for a happier ending but it’s more of a hopeful one.

    * Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan. I started this before the pandemic and got bored of it (the middle is sloowwww and mostly involves transcribing ancient tablets), but the action really picked up about 70% of the way in. It’s the sixth book in a series (and a change from the first five), so I can’t exactly say “go get it now,” but it ended up being better than I thought.

    1. See, I didn’t find the middle slow because my inner archivist looooves transcribing ancient tablets!

  11. I read Australian writer Andrea K. Höst’s Touchstone trilogy. She was recommended here I think. Thank you! I enjoyed the Australian viewpoint, also the slang and alternate terms for things. First two were pretty good, third one dragged a bit but I still finished it. (I no longer have any reservations about dnfing a book if I feel like it.) It’s written as a journal and Höst managed to show how the main character matured in the course of the narrative. Avoid the fourth volume (appropriately named Gratuitous Epilogue), unless saccharine is your taste of choice.

  12. Late last week I finished Susan Phillips’ Dance Away with Me, after bogging down in the middle because I have about filled my angst quota for the year already, but I cared about the characters so I did finish it. Since then I’ve been reading four or five books and not finishing them (yet) because I have a new Scrabble-clone game. I have All the Words! It’s addictive, and eating into my reading time.

    1. I also finished SEP’s “Dance Away With Me” this week and thought, “I liked it, but it won’t go on the greatest hits list.” But I then went back and reread my favorite parts repeatedly instead of starting anything new. I really bonded with the 2 main characters and was invested in their getting together. I could also identify with Ian looking for an inspiration for his work since I have been trying to find a new focus for my life once the quarantine is over.

      I have a poster with a quote from Marcel Proust on it that says, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” A novel that shows how a set of characters pursue that goal seems a very good fit for these unsettled times.

      1. Yes. I was as much invested in seeing how Ian overcame his artist’s block as I was in seeing how they got together.

      2. Funny, I also read SEP’s “Dance Away With Me” this week, and I thought – ooh! There’s a new “Forever” (Judy Blume) on the block! Woot! Woot! Instant classic.

        I remember one of my classmates reading “Forever” (in 7th grade? 8th grade, err, circa 1980-ish) – actually I should say, sneaking it home, and her mom and dad finding it and tossing it in the fire. They were PISSED. Everyone on the playground had a lot to talk about on Monday! It was a big deal. Yikes! And yet, you know a lot of parents still refuse to educate their kids about sex and every school doesn’t teach it the same way. I know my parents were horrible about talking about sex. I’m pretty sure I was supposed to reach my 30’s without knowing anything about my plumbing.

        Romance novels were my favorite way to discover interesting things about sex that NOBODY was talking about. Teens need books like this. Information embedded in a story. I’m really glad SEP wrote it. It’s necessary. I applaud her.

        1. I had never heard of Judy Blume’s “Forever” (I was a little too old to read Judy Blume as her books came out) and when I did an Amazon search for it, the book was listed as a “Richard Jackson book.”

          So I assumed at first that Richard Jackson might have been a husband, or a colleague who completed unfinished manuscripts after an author’s death, but found that neither were true — he was an editor who was pretty astonishing.

          Found this article:

          https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/childrens/childrens-authors/article/81494-dick-jackson-remembered.html

          And I was just really touched by what a wonderful guy he must have been.

          1. What a remarkable tribute. He was clearly something special. Thanks for sharing that article.

  13. I have a folder on my kindle entitled “samples not decided” It had gotten up to 51, so I am trying to weed them out. Got rid of 10 and ended up buying a lighthearted romance. It had way more sex than necessary for my post menopausal ‘lets talk about the food” stage of life, but was quite entertaining in spots and ended satisfactorily. Well worth the $4 and I stayed up until 1am to finish it.

    40 more samples from who-knows-when to decide about………hopefully there will be some more winners in there.

    1. So what’s title of the lighthearted romance? Well worth the $4 sounds interesting and this postmenopausal reader may have a different threshold for how much sex is too much.

  14. I’m not mentioning re-reads (except for 1635: The Dreeson Incident, in progress). The only new reads are snippets. M.G.Harmon just turned loose a snippet of book 9 of the Wearing the Cape series. It left me wanting more, the purpose of snippeting. On Baen’s Bar, Drak is snippeting two Ring of Fire series novels. Same effect.

  15. Rereading is all I can do–two Crusies and an Eloisa James; I’d forgotten most of the latter, since time has elapsed. Need sweetness and light–nightmares for two nights, which is unusual, but it’s hardly a usual time.
    College has sent us home and wants a weekly log accounting for our time; we staffers suspect the ax will fall for some of us, given state budget cuts.
    Grateful the governor has extended mask order, but Ohio seems to be full of antinomians right now.

  16. Finished up a 3-in-1 Mhairi McFarlane book collection, “Things You Save in a Fire (Katherine Center) and “Hideaway” (Nora Roberts). Now revisiting the Maiden Lane series (Elizabeth Hoyt). Listening to “The Drowned Girls” (Loreth Anne White, narrator, Julie McKay).

  17. I know Working Wednesday was on Tuesday this week but this is a yard work update. https://www.instagram.com/p/CC_4sHcFOjv/

    We dug the trenches yesterday and filled them this morning.

    I’m reading The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher and still listening to Peace Talks by Jim Butcher, both are good.

    1. Forgive me, but digging trenches and then filling them in sounds like a military intelligence project, something recruits in boot camp did to keep them occupied and tired. Make-work for moronic oxen. Were you at least burying wiring or pipes? Or enemies while listening to the lamentations of their women?

      1. Lol. It does sound like that. The trenches are in the area right along the new sidewalk/old path and the grass has been completely destroyed by the dogs (we have 3) and the winter snow pack so it was just ugly, packed dirt and some random tufts of grass that looked sickly. Now instead of that, we will have nice wide boarders of gravel with solar lights stuck in for said dogs to knock over.

        1. Ah! That makes more scents, which the dogs will leave behind. Also more sense. You should add a layer of calcium rocks. They result in an interesting effect when the dogs… mark them. 🙂

  18. I am most of the way through Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall, which has been lovely and a real comfort this week. Light on sex and heavy on interpersonal relationships and personal growth without hitting you over the head with it.

    I am giving up on So You Want to Talk About Race at about 80 percent finished. Any recommendations out there for books with a similar theme? This one is not what I was hoping for.

    1. Autobiography of Malcolm X, which shows the wide scope for understanding and personal change available to all us humans. A great read and reread.

  19. I have NEVER spent more than 8 or 9 dollars on an ebook, but I coughed up the 15 dollar (Canadian) for “Network Effect” last week. It’s been sitting on my ereader like an unwrapped present while I finished “The Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal (which I thoroughly enjoyed, despite the fact I didn’t realize it was part of a long series and doesn’t really end) and a re-read of “Lord of Scoundrels” by Loretta Chase.

    Now I am going to try and savour Murderbot. What will probably happen as I’ll read it so fast my eyes blur. But then I can re-read it. 🙂

    1. I felt the same, so I found out that I could trade in Capitalone points for an Amazon gift card.

  20. I’m reading one of Roger Ebert’s books of reviews of bad films “I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie”. Bite-sized chunks of delightfully smart and entertaining writing. I don’t even know half these films and it’s still funny. Might do a re-read of Clive James TV criticism after this, starting with “Visions Before Midnight”. I’m too young to remember most of the programmes but that’s not really the point.

    1. I used to read his I HATED review books commuting, and every so often a nearby stranger would ask me what was so funny! I’m not much for movies and don’t think I’d ever seen any of the ones he hated!

  21. I read three of the Lady Fan mysteries by Elizabeth Bailey in the last week or two. They’re well-written historicals, perfect if you like feisty, take-charge heroines.

    I’ve also been reading Mungo’s Dream by J.I.M. Stewart, aka Michael Innes. I had read many of the Innes mysteries years and years ago, but didn’t realize he had written under his real name as well. It has a lovely pace and lots of it takes place in Oxford, England where Mungo is a student… Oxford almost always works for me. Some of it takes place in Scotland, too, another plus.

    Now I’m reading Raisins and Almonds, one of the Phyrne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. She’s one of my go-to authors for an easy, entertaining read.

    1. I’ve been listening to the PHRYNE FISHER PHILES podcast, with some interesting insights — I hadn’t appreciated how many of the books and the show episodes were about marginalized communities! And Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman series, set in modern Melbourne, is all about the Insula community (and intersects with other communities as well).

  22. This week I took a short break from binge-reading Alexis Hall to read ‘Six Wakes’ by Mur Lafferty. It has, for starters, a great cover (reminiscent of ‘The Martian’). Then there is the interesting setup: six clones, the crew of a multicentury deep-space ship on which every other passenger is in cryo, wake up in fresh bodies to find their old ones have been murdered.

    It is a classic locked-room whodunit, with six variously-unreliable narrators, three of whom are women – plus the ship’s AI. I would truly love to know how the author plotted it out so that she could salt the clues into the various narratives. Very satisfying book!

  23. I know I’ve said this before but I really like road trip books. This week I started a three book road trip series by Samantha Chase. It must be that I like the journey rather than the destination because once they get to where they are headed I skip the remaining chapters and read the epilogue. I’m such a dreamer.

    1. Nope, nope and nope started on the second book, Wrong Turn and might as well be reading about preteens. As a preteen or even an adult I would curb my comments about a friend or a friend’s friend. I know I would not knowingly insult someone.

  24. Finished Ilona Andrews fantasy reread/binge – so fun. Now rereading/binging Charlotte MacLeod mysteries. Like all her series except The Grub-and-Stakers. MacLeod is an acquired taste (puns galore) which I have acquired!

    1. I had a Charlotte MacLeod binge recently, too! I only like the Sarah and Max books, and they are still as off the wall as ever, but definitely a little dated. Max would totally have had the best cell phone on the market. :). It’s a little like reading the alphabet books by Sue Grafton: Kinsey was in the 70s, right? The books just didn’t cover a long enough time period to keep her current. I don’t think Sue expected the series to go as long as it did. (I loved it.)

  25. On an Anne McCaffrey kick. Rereading the YA.
    I finished A Slight Case of Death (The Tony Mandolin Mysteries Book 1) Smart mouthed. Irreverent. An old-school hard-boiled detective – like the thirties but it’s now. There aren’t any reviews except mine. I came across it by accident. The author is illustrating my next picture book, Sunday Cat and I was researching him. I liked the sound of the book.

  26. I’ve progressed further into CHERISH HARD. At this point the heroine’s diary is chronicling her blind dates . . . the closest thing I’ve read to Kate’s dating trials in MANHUNTING! My cousin assures me it gets funnier in a scene with the heroine, her divorced parents, her father’s fiancee (future fifth wife) who is a little younger than the heroine, and her parents sniping at each other in Icelandic! Can’t wait.

    Trisha Ashley’s newest, THE GARDEN OF FORGOTTEN WISHES, is just out, and the kindle edition had some problem so Amazon posted an update. Apparently this means that whatever I started to read yesterday became worthless (and I spent today at the Honda dealer’s while they serviced my car, immersed in the kindle but unable to access the update).

    However, I was able to read ALL THE WRONG MOVES, by Merlina Lovelace. Thanks for the recommendation! I found a couple of homonym errors, but
    a) loved the book and
    b) as a military brat myself, was especially tickled that she is such a fan of the insurance company USAA. My parents had it and couldn’t have agreed more! (Military and veterans only, alas.) Bought several more books of hers.

    About to start THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK, by Kim Michele Richardson, as my ladies’ organization has formed a book club and this is the August choice. Looks promising.

    Also about to start THE ARCHITECT’S APPRENTICE, by Elif Shafak, set in 1574 Istanbul. Escapism? will report when I know more . . . .

  27. I read All Systems Red. I remember checking it out of the library when people here were first recommending it but I didn’t read it then. The cover looked grim and at that point I had all the grim I could deal with. Silly me. Great read.
    Also based on a recommendation here, I read The Happy Ever Playlist. I’m a sucker for banter so I enjoyed it.
    Read Amanda Quick’s Close Up.
    Rummaged through boxes of my late mother’s books looking for something to read and found Margot Dalton’s First Impression, first in a series of 3 (and thanks Mom–the other two are in the box). Excellent book.
    I jotted down several titles while reading the comments. Thanks ya’ll.

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