This is a Good Book Thursday, July 2, 2020

I’ve been reading a mix of new books and old books and they’re both failing me at this point. I’m thinking about just stretching out in the side yard and reading the tree tops and blue sky for awhile. Summer should not be wasted.

On the other hand, neither should books. It’s a conundrum.

What did you read this week?

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69 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 2, 2020

  1. So I did it, I read Murderbot and it is way, way, way too short for me. Am definitely NOT getting the rest at those prices. No way, no how.

    I started and finished So You Want To Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo.

    I’m pleased to report that I’m quite well developed in terms of understanding and behaviour.

    So next is either complete Anton Treurer’s Everything You Wanted To Know About Indians OR Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.

    I’ve found doing the work of racial understanding really valuable for my emotional growth. I’m able to think a bit more globally and am more resilient in certain personal situations that I wouldn’t have been before.

    I started The Wolf of Oren-Yaro by KS Villoso. Will report on it next week.

    Have a big digital TBR pile. And about 7 physical TBRs. Must work through them. That is all.

    Skye – I saw you joined Instagram. Please follow Jasmine Hemsley, Katie Brindle, FoodAndPsych, and Lillian_getMyLifeBack. They’ve helped me to improve more in a month than I have in a year.

  2. Between the pandemic, the Horror in the White House and weird work (THREE videoconferences today!!) and preparing to be a virtual session chair for a virtual conference next week, and lots and lots of heavy research reading, all I can handle is fluff, a.k.a., beach books, a.k.a., no redeeming value except light entertainment. No way at the moment that I can keep track of alternate sci-fi, fantasy worlds (so right now I am enjoying Surprise Lily snippets far, far more than Nita…).

    Anyhoo.

    Years ago I picked up a book by Hester Browne called “The Little Lady Agency”, which is just fun — great dialogue, some really fun and memorable characters (mostly British, a lot of upper class twits and P.G.Wodehouse-type women), just a hot fudge sundae of a book. Have re-read a number of times and is up there with the Collected Works of Crusie for “take me away to somewhere fun.”

    So I remembered a few days ago there were some other books by the same author, a couple of which are follow-ons to the Little Lady Agency book and ordered them. In the middle of the second book of the sequence. Just fun. Just what I needed.

  3. I’m not reading a lot either. I find right now I can either read something in one sitting or not at all. There is no “picking it up and putting it down.” That being said two excellent (very different from each other) books I’ve read recently –

    “Do Nothing: How to Break Away from Overworking, Overdoing, and Underliving” by Celeste Headlee.
    “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

  4. I couldn’t not buy ‘Network Effect’ . I used Capitalone points for an Amazon gift card, so it was basically free !!!!

    Also I get Chirp emails ( like Bookbub for audio books) and got Anne Bishops ‘Written in Red’ for $4.99 the first Others book.

  5. After a depressing end to ‘The Golden Age of British Short Stories’ (for work) and a couple of duds on Kindle, I retreated into ‘Mystique’ and ‘Desire’, Amanda Quick/JAK’s two medieval romcoms. Started an Elizabeth Peters reread this morning with ‘The Last Camel Died at Noon’, but fear Amelia Peabody’s imperialist attitudes are going to clash with George Orwell’s ‘Burmese Days’, also started this morning, for work.

  6. I was inspired by the cover release of the Japanese-language edition of KJ Charles’s ‘Think of England’ to re-read it again. It’s one of those books that gets better on re-reads, but if you’ve never read her, it’s not one of the ones I’d start with.

    I deserved the re-read I think, because I also finished ‘Enduring Love’ by Ian McEwan. Again, what was I thinking? Did I not learn from ‘On Chesnil Beach’? Except, I guess I did learn. Like On Chesnil Beach, It’s not comfortable, but so good. I do thoroughly recommend it, on the off-chance that anyone wants to read a book about, well, the human condition I suppose – love, fear, communication. There’s this scene where he’s been waiting for her to come home, to tell her something important. He launches into it when she walks in the door, as one does, but she’s had a bad day and actually wanted to vent to him, and so neither of them listen to each other, even though they love each other. And it’s not a Big Misunderstanding. It’s life, it exactly captures what that moment of ‘I want support, but now I’m the one giving it and I’m a bit resentful’ feels like. It’s all like that. It’s not really dark, or negative, it just is. So yeah, I’m off to read something uplifting now, a bright mirror to offset his pitiless one.

    PS I read an interview with him, he was quoted:
    “Reading a novel is much like life in that you forget most of it. Often we carry around not the memory of a book itself but our opinion of it. So rereading is crucial”.
    He’d fit right in around here.

    PPS I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this before, but I watched it again today, and I still love it (don’t freak at the 18 mins, the speech stops at 12). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yoEezZD71sc It’s Tim Minchin’s speech to graduates.

    PPPS Patrick Stewart’s #ASonnetADay today is No 65, he reads it under a blue sky, it’s great.

    (Why yes, I do have so much work to do I’ve practically given up on hitting any deadlines, why do you ask?)

        1. Tim Minchin also wrote the music for a musical version of Dahl’s Matilda, which was a huge hit in our family. Having two small serious reading children, Mathilda was a very important text in our family, and the movie version is also well loved. So when the musical came to NYC we gathered ourselves and went to see it, and it was just delightful. The music is grand, and if you can find any videos of the staging it was pretty spectacular.

        2. I really love his Christmas song (white wine in the sun), he captures that antipodean summer christmas feeling perfextly (down to the acknowledgement that some of your relatives are likely to be on the other side of the planet).

      1. Tim Minchin is wonderful. But a warning before you fall down a YouTube rabbit hole, not everyone will support his views (see The Pope Song, or don’t). White Wine in the Sun is less potentially offensive and is lovely, about an antipodean in London missing Christmas at home. And Storm is super clever (again, nervous a little about sharing, it’s stridently opinionated).

        1. Well I had to go look at the lyrics for The Pope Song after that. It lives up to the billing!

          1. and it’s a really catchy tune, so you find yourself walking round humming it after. As long as it’s only humming and not muttering, it’s probably fine. ha

          2. For the record though, and without wanting to start debate in this kind, caring community that I love to pieces, I don’t disagree with him.

      2. I had seen that address before, but it always started after he was introduced so I had no idea who he was. I laughed and laughed at it.

  7. I just finished The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang and am about to stay The Bride Test, the next book in the series. I liked Kiss Quotient but felt like it dragged a little toward the end; it had a Big Misunderstanding but one that was actually believable due to the characters (still frustrating, though!).

    The day newbie yesterday I finished The Right Swype by Alisha Rai, which I LOVED, although it too had a Big Misunderstanding (what’s up with those?) but it too was understandable and didn’t last more than a few days of story time. Great characters and some very emotionally satisfying scenes. I’m eager for the next one in the series to be available!

    I also picked up some nonfiction but couldn’t handle the heaviness (The Body Keeps the Score, which Jenny has recommended, is intriguing but mixes badly with reading in the three-minute increments when my kids are getting along and not destroying things, lol). On deck in my physical TBR I have Hood Feminism by Mikki Kendall, Cleaning Sucks by Rachel Hoffman of UFYH, and the Autobiography of Malcolm X (I’ve read excerpts but never the whole thing).

    Can you tell I’m a teacher on summer break? 😂 I have about two weeks before I start trying to figure out what school looks like this year (I’ll be on a “hybrid schedule,” with alternating 50% capacity plus e-learning……… I’m trying to see it as an exciting puzzle instead of an impossible mess, but feel free to pray for me anyway, lol). So I gotta read some good books before then!!!

    1. Alisha Rai’s latest, Girl Gone Viral is out , at least in the States. The trouble was, for me, finding a copy. I think I ended up ordering it from Book Depository in the UK because everywhere I used to buy cheaper paperbacks has stopped carrying anything new. They can’t believe that some of us still buy the paper copies. Either that, or the jobber that sold to Target and Walmart is no longer in business.

        1. I’ve been waiting for an earlier one of her titles, of which they own only one copy in the whole system, since March so I wasn’t very confident that they would order this one any time soon. This librarian doesn’t think much of romances.

  8. I read a contemporary romance on Saturday, and I thought it was quite good. A day later, all I could recall about it was the title. Anyway, I searched all of the Regency titles of Georgette Heyer and found two that I’d never read and instantly bought those. I finished The Foundling on Monday. Still walking around smiling about those characters.

  9. I read Cotillion and am now in the middle of Behold, Here’s Poison. Randall is just asking to be kicked in the seat of his exquisite trousers.

    My reading pace has become glacial. Can’t really settle down to either old or new. Keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    1. Yes, but if your reading pace is currently glacial, those two Heyers are excellent places to linger with pleasure. I wish I were reading the Amiable Snake passage for the first time . . . .

  10. Jenny, read the sky. Books wait, weather doesn’t.

    I finished Yoon Ha Lee’s Phoenix Extravagant, which I was reading last week, which I loved. Why can’t my favorite writers write faster than I can read? Publishers can certainly publish faster than I can read. But.

    I read Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water, which is a world in which mermaids and sirens and gargoyles are real, and dangerous, and sirens are all black women, so race and gender are full of tension. The two protagonists are high school girls. I wanted to like it, and in certain respects I did, but present tense often grates on me (Charles Stross can do it so well I don’t even notice) and the teenagers were too teenager-ish. I wasn’t like that as a teenager and neither were my friends, so I had trouble relating to a set up where all the teenagers fit into teenager tropes. It’s very well written.

  11. I’d love to report a plethora of stories read and re-read, but this week is mostly Playing With Toys. Two tiny confusers and peripherals and the laptop, cell phone, Kindles…

    And work projects. I include spending a few bucks out of pocket to buy a four foot long barrel sounding stick, so we can determine how many gallons are left in the opaque biocide 55 gallon conundrum. The steam line treatment and the boiler treatment come in translucent conundrums, so we can see the level, but the biocide is light-reactive. Its conundrum (I don’ thing that word means what I thing it means) is blue. 🙂

  12. I read (most of) a book that was loaned to me. It was ok.
    I re-read a Charlene Harris, and the violence bothered me more this time than originally, but still thought it was good.
    DH is re-reading “A Quiet Gentleman” and keeps reading me snippets he particularly likes. I am therefore going to have to re-read it when he is done, but have to find something else for the interim. Can’t think of anything that appeals, but will scroll through the kindle and see if something grabs me, finger crossed

  13. I read a romance I disliked intensely – it was all shortcuts and stupid misunderstandings and ended with undeserved magic (also utterly out of the blue?) and a happy ending. I was so irked I went back to Joan Aiken’s old children’s books, starting with Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and roared through those.

    I’ve also been watching the BBC show Taskmaster on youtube – the judge is a jerk but the five comics competing are terrific, in every season, and the answers they come up with to weird challenges are great!

  14. Lots of new books for me this week.
    Finally read the two latest Bujold’s novellas – The Orphans of Raspay and The Physicians of Vilnoc. Both are strong stories, worth reading, but I liked the second one much better than the first. The Physicians of Vilnoc is very powerful, and its parallels with the current real-life pandemic are uncanny. I wonder when did she write it? Was she aware of the COVID? The novella was published in May of this year.
    Also read Julia Quinn’s latest – First Comes Scandal. A nice, quiet regency. A pure escapism book.
    Susannah Nix’s Applied Electromagnetism is her 4th book in the series of modern romances about nerdy, educated girls and their chosen boys. So far, all 4 have been delightful reads (some better than others) with humor and sympathetic characters. And the writing was superb. I’m going to buy the next one.

    1. I loved them both. Lois wrote in her blog:

      The writing of this story got off to a later start than I’d initially planned, when it and the pirates tale (which became “The Orphans of Raspay”) were both competing for my attention last year. But the pirates tale was ready, firmly signaled by its first scenes boiling up in my brain, and this one was still missing some key plot bits. I’d thought to start it in the early fall, when the key bits finally reported for duty, in which case it would have been completed and published around December, making me look remarkably prescient about now.

      But the start was delayed by some minor medical and medication issues of my own, resolved in due course. I didn’t get rolling on actual writing till about the time I’d originally thought to be done.

      So, due to its change of context, my tight little medical mystery may seem rather more fraught for some readers than I’d intended. If some would rather not read a plague story, no matter how miniaturized, medievalized, and fictional, right now, I perfectly sympathize. The story will wait for you, although, once started, it wouldn’t wait for me. “The story demands its own completion” is how I’ve described that effect. (Otherwise, I’ve been home getting through by watching gonzo Japanese cartoons and old Great Courses, plus far too much spider solitaire, which proves to be an addictive thought-blocker.)

  15. I reread Putting the Fun in Funeral by Diana Pharaoh Francis. I have no idea why I find it to be a comfort book — there is definitely tension and dark stuff that happened in the past, but I love it. I reread From Kiss to Queen by Janet Chapman. I had read Call It Magic before that (I read those two out of order on accident) and found out that she had died, so no more of her books. Sad both because she died and because there will be no more books from her.

    I reread a Jayne Castle book; her Harmony books are ridiculously light and her world-building is amusing. She entertains herself with these. I reread All Night Long by Jayne Ann Krentz: I like all of her incarnations. I reread Hotshot and Shadow Dance by Julie Garwood. I reread many books, it appears, because I have reread all of these many times and they demand nothing more than time from me. Plus, I haven’t been reading all of the books and I’ve been jumping around in them, because that’s all I am able to do right now. Except for All Night Long; that one I read cover to cover in order.

    I started rereading The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Naht Hahn. I used to read parts of it and two other books before bed; they are wonderful for clearing and focusing my mind. Apparently I packed only that one when I moved from Seattle to Dallas, because I was going to come here and find an apartment and find work quickly. That was in September. Since I’m living in a roommate situation, I have no room for my stuff and all my stuff is in a UHaul pod sort of thing so I can’t just walk in whenever and I want and cruise through my stuff. I could buy the other two books for my iPad, but electronics are not good for late-night reading (like that stops me) and the physical books are comforting. The other two are It’s Easier Than You Think by Sylvia Boorstein, a simple book on Zen Buddhism, and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, a book of his journals (?) based on Stoicism. He would have preferred to be a Stoic philospher, but was compelled by circumstance to be first a general and then an emperor.

    An author some of you might like is Jillian Easton. Regency romances, some lighter and some more emotional. Very good stuff.

  16. Managed to read Mycroft & Sherlock (new book) by forcing myself to read a chapter a day this week until my curiosity finally kicked in and I finished the book on day 3. About the characters when younger, found it entertaining, it may grow on me.

    This is to prevent my plunge back into comfort reading my Phryne Fisher mysteries, always worth it, but my library books must take precedence

  17. I generally believe that any time is book time, but it has to be said that good weather is fleeting and should be savored while it is here, and reading the sky and treetops is very good for the spirit. You can do both with an audiobook, but trees deserve some undivided attention.

    Currently reading the new Laurie R. King, Riviera Gold.

  18. The two books I read this week that I can recommend are a cozy mystery called Die Buying by Laura Disilverio, about a woman who was an Air Force MP and got injured by an IED in Afghanistan and medically retired and now has to work as a mall cop because she can’t pass the physical for any police department due to her damaged knee. But then someone gets murdered and put on display in one of the department stores front windows.

    The other is A Spell to Die for by Gretchen Galway, the third in a series of urban fantasy mysteries, starting with Dead Witch on a Bridge, where Alma’s master thief father surprises her with a wedding invitation. She’s about to get a new step-mother, or is she?

  19. Read a new author this week, the first of Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series, enjoyed it quite a bit. From recommendations here, I read L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle, so two new author’s this week.

  20. I read My Grandmother Told Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman (who also wrote A Man Called Ove). It had whimsy and a fairytale woven in to reality. Amazon recommended it to me, which is unnerving, because their algorithm has me pegged. Anyway, only issues I had with it were the 8-year-old protag read more like a 30-year-old, and the ending was a bit prologue-y. Other than that, it was a lovely book.

      1. I haven’t read it for years, but someone here mentioned it and reminded me how much I liked it.

  21. I’m just finishing Lucy March’s second book in her Nodaway Falls series. On to the third, For Love or Magic. This is one of my favorite series.

  22. I listened to a middle grade mystery, The Secret of White Stone Gate by Julia Nobel, it’s the second in a series about an American girl who is sent to an English boarding school and discovers her father, who deserted her and her mom when she was 3, is the enemy of a secret society.

    I am now listening to The Night Country, the sequel to The Hazel Wood, by Melissa Albert.

    While I was waiting for my MRI, I started reading Gwendy’s Magic Feather by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, the sequel to Gwendy’s Buttom Box. I’m only a few pages in so I have yet to find out what kind of trouble Gwendy is in this time.

  23. When I had my knee replaced last week, I took Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day into the hospital. Rereading Gwenever’s adventures helped get through that night. Once home, I splurged on The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes—a new-to-me book who had traveled hither, thither, and yon, then disappeared from all tracking for 8 days before landing in my Post Office box. I’m positive that Captain Vorpatril’s microborer was involved.

    I’ve just finished rereading Heyer’s Black Sheep twice. Decades ago it had been one of my faves, but over time I misremembered it. Not sure how that happened, yet rediscovering Abby and Miles was great.

    Books all wonderful. Knee replacement — ouch. I’m not in it for the means, but the end.

  24. I pulled “the five people you meet in heaven” by Mitch Albom from my bookcase and read it. Not sure how it got there, really. Maybe one of my kids?

    Here’s the thing, I liked it but I cried. Heavy sobbing over the fifth person. I hate to cry. I like books that make me laugh. So I’m conflicted. Well written- yes. compelling – yes. Heartbreaking – yes.

    If you can handle being heartbroken then give it a read. If not, then don’t.

  25. So far this week I’ve read two M/M contemporary romances by Jay Hogan – enjoyed the New Zealand setting and the serious issues treated seriously, in amongst funny dialogue and sexytimes.

    Also re-read an Aaron Elkins mystery; also read Simon Doonan’s lavishly-illustrated ‘Drag.’ Educational and kind of thrilling.

  26. I have been re-reading old favorites. Right now I am just finishing The Nabob’s Widow by Elsie Lee. It’s not as good as Georgette Heyer’s books but amusing nonetheless.

    1. As I recall it, there was an historical error or two, but I’ve always thought that Elsie Lee’s Regencies were genuine comedies of manners without being Heyer imitations.

  27. I am deep, deep into Jade City by Fonda Lee, and I think my life will never be the same. It’s absolutely nothing I EVER would have picked up on my own. But someone I admire recommended it, and I am shattered by this series. I just started book 2, Jade War. All I can say is I lost A LOT of sleep.

  28. I went to my local library hoping for another Suzanne Enoch Scottish romance only to find that they don’t own any. It is so frustrating to read the list of titles inside the one you’ve just finished and not have access to any of them. It is hot and humid here and I could use a lush green fantasy.
    They did, however have a series set in a gaming club that is owned and completely staffed by (with the exception of 2 bouncers) women. I am just finishing A Beginner’s Guide to Rakes, the first in the series. It is a little formulaic, but it still managed to distract me from all my unfinished todo list and my neighbors’ all too audible fights.

    1. I love that series! Drama, emotions — something I cannot do right now, but it’s an excellent series.

  29. This week’s book acquisitions have mostly been cookbooks, so when I went looking for fiction, I opened the kindle and clicked through the various sections. On the 28th, on page 28 of my “Keepers” section, was something called I HATE CHRISTMAS, an omnibus. Just the thing for June – July. So I read a couple of the stories, and in one, I was tickled to find the heroine in a tight spot looking to get her mind safely off something She grabbed her Kindle, and opened “something, anything” Oh, it was some fiendish plan of Miles Vorkosigan’s. Good. I was VERY tickled.

  30. About the same for reading here, too. Bought a few non-fiction books The Left Brian Speaks The Right Brian Laughs by Ransom Stephens, All That Remains by Sue Black, Incurable Me by Kenneth Stoller and Dani Shapiro’s Inheritance. Something should grab, I hope.

    The Little Lady Agency is pricey, $15.99 US on the Nook. Then add the Canadian exchange when I pay the US visa, but, I bought anyway. Sounds like fun.

    Bought one of the Murderbot books, between $9.99 to $13.99 US for the rest. Loved the short story that was available. Oh for the days our currency was at par.

  31. I’m reading ‘I Temporarily Do’. I wasn’t sure of it at first – nearly put it down again, but then it became engaging and funny and I’m enjoying it a lot.

    1. I was going to download a sample, but the only option on Amazon UK was to ‘buy’ the whole book for free. So I did that. Thanks.

  32. Libraries are open again, so was able to get Illona Andrews ‘Iron and Magic’.
    Shattered, it’s the first book of theirs I haven’t enjoyed.
    So, since I’ve been running out of authors to read, have been re-reading my favs.
    ‘Getting rid of Bradley’. I’m now able to read it over an afternoon.

    Question: What happened to Tina and Anthony’s story?

  33. I read Meg & Jo, a modern version of Little Women, the first of two books by Virginia Kantra. I really enjoyed it, though some of the changes were jarring–Laurie, renamed Trey, as head of his grandfather’s car dealership? Bhaer as a renowned chef?

  34. Late to the party, but I recently finished the new Laurie R King, Riviera Gokd , and currently reading The Legendary Inge by Kate Stradling. I couldn’t possibly do a description justice, so I’ll just advise you to check it out.

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