This is a Good Book Thursday, August 20, 2020

This week I tried a lot of new books and read several that I won’t read again. They were good enough to read once, not to revisit; the worlds and characters just didn’t draw me back. Still not sure why some books do that (I have many theories, of course) since the genres are so different. Must just be good writing and great world building (Rivers of London, Murderbot, the Ivy Years, Kissing Ezra Holtz, Red White and Royal Blue, the Campion mysteries, etc.).

What did you read this week?

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49 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 20, 2020

  1. I really liked “Honey Don’t List” by Christina Lauren. She’s one of those authors I’m glad I didn’t give up on b/c it took me at least 3 books to find one I liked, but the ones I have liked, I really really like.

  2. I read Katherine Addison’s ‘The Angel of the Crows’. It began well, but I was disappointed by the end. Promising characters, especially Crow, but although she writes well, it’s really Sherlock Holmes fan fiction in a steampunk/supernatural London, with lots of elements/aspects of characters that appear to be just ornamental rather than essential to the story. There’s no really satisfying emotional pay-off. Not a patch on ‘The Goblin Emperor’, I think.

    So I’m rereading Nora Roberts’ Chesapeake Bay series, and have just started ‘Inner Harbour’. Just looked up Chrisfield, which I assume is what ‘St Chris’ is based on, on Google and (better for this) Apple maps. Because I’m a nerd who loves maps and landscapes.

    1. I do the same thing when books are very location-specific and I want to get a sense of the landscape. When I’m listening to the Rivers of London series, I’m constantly on Google maps.* This week’s book is set in Nottingham, and as I lived there for a year, I’m spending quite a bit of time looking things up. It’s been a while though.

      It’s been a while since I read the Chesapeake series, but St. Chris could also be St. Michael’s. Or an amalgam of the two.

      *And I’m such a geek that I went to Russell Square to see the Folly in person. And said hello to Beverly Brook when I came across it in a park.

      1. St Michaels would make sense of a reference to the residential streets running west; but all the other geography (near St Anne’s, sailing to Tangier Island, etc.) seems to relate to Chrisfield. And of course, as you say, she’s probably done a mash-up. She does seem to base her settings quite closely on real places often: I remember looking up Antietam and around for other stories. Before the internet I had a Rand McNally road atlas I got from a remainder merchant to look up American settings, since most of the stories I read are set there.

        1. I think you’re probably right. I happen to have a copy of the first book in the series, so I started skimming it to see what I could figure out. Now I’ve been sucked in again. I was just on the Eastern Shore last weekend eating crabs, but we didn’t make it down that far.

    2. Jane, I was just writing a long explanation of why I agreed with you when I realised I was thinking about another book entirely, and hadn’t yet actually read Angel of the Crows! Oops!

        1. I was thinking that I really liked it, but I looked back and I read it the first week of July, and I can barely remember anything about it, to the point that I was wondering whether I’d actually read it or only excerpts. So unlike my memory of Goblin Emperor at the same time span!

  3. I finished up two books this week – The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher and Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon. So, same author, different intended audiences and very different vibes. I enjoyed both, but I probably won’t need to read either again. Dragonbreath is a fun juvenile story of a young dragon. This one I’ll probably give to a likely child. The Seventh Bride was more intense and potentially scary. The heroine was definitely plucky, and has a great moral center – and I loved her familiar – but I finished it to get it over with so it wouldn’t haunt my dreams. I probably shouldn’t read any other scary things right now.

  4. I’ve read first two of the Aunt Dimity books. Probably won’t read more, well maybe the new (?) one with the characters of book two. Written in the nineties, it was a different time; more prose. Looking through the TBR pile. Or just read my favourite rereads.

  5. I picked up two books by Seanan McGuire, whose Velveteen vs. series is previously the only stories of hers that I’ve read. I’ll start them as soon as I finish Harry Harrison’s Stars and Stripes Forever.

    1. Seanan McGuire’s Incryptid series is SO MUCH FUN. I really like it. Wayward Children series is good, but not as much fun.

      1. I have books 1 and 2 of the Wayward Children series, $2.99 each. I have meant to get the Incryptid books, but they’ve always been pricey.

      2. I loved them, until they went to ‘Australia’. Please – if your entire knowledge of a place is from watching Crocodile Dundee, don’t write about Australia or Australians!

    2. I was a huge Harry Harrison fan in the 80s and early 90s. I tried reading some of his things just lately when they showed up in my library’s online catalog and they just don’t have the same pull for me as they did then.

      1. Me too! But I’m afraid the Slippery Jim books were what Heinlein called “funny once” when Manny was teaching Mycroft about humor.

        There are things I’m noticing about Stars and Stripes that previously went over my head. Like, a Union General comes to the aid of a rebel general by not only granting a truce, but leading a regiment alongside the southern troops against the British in Biloxi. This makes that general the ONLY damnyankee acceptable to command the blue AND the gray. What general did he pick for his story, the one the rebels can all cheer? William T. Sherman. 🙂

  6. Thank you to whomever recommended “Deal with the Devil” by Kit Rocha. It was excellent. All the info on teambuilding here helped me appreciate all the more.

    Not sure what I’ll read next.

  7. Just started reading Sisters by Choice by Susan Mallery, and it’s good. Really enjoyed Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, even if it wasn’t as wonderful as Crazy Rich Asians.

  8. I’ve continued to peruse 50 SHADES OF CHICKEN — should really insert a “suitable” quote from one of the recipes for your delectation — and ordered, by a different author, 50 SHADES OF GRAVY.

    Also rereading THE TALISMAN RING, ‘if the Beau has the ring I know where to look for it.’ and CAPTAIN VORPATRIL’S ALLIANCE, “Unhand Lady Vorpatril!” and a Sarah Morgan book, NEW YORK, ACTUALLY, romance with Dogs. Lots of dogs — the heroine has a Dalmatian, the hero borrows a dog from his sisters, who run a dog-walking business and foster dogs and cats as well, to impress the girl. She’s not impressed . . . .

    Also have acquired all the Lapine SNEAKY CHEF eBooks, and am working my way through them — how to make food more nutritious, ideally without anyone noticing. And lastly, THE INWARD JOURNEY OF ISAAC PENINGTON. My Kindle died, and took with it the text of EXPERIENCES IN THE LIFE OF MARY PENINGTON, which I’ve been hunting around to attempt to replace. It looks as if the likely source is one of those Russian copy-infringement sites, and even though Mary Proud Springett Penington was William Penn’s mother-in-law and anything she wrote belongs solidly in the public domain, I am reluctant to use a Russian copy-infringement site for anything.

  9. My sister recommended James Nestor’s “Breath” (non-fiction) and I am enjoying it very much. It is fascinating and he is funny and personally and totally engrossed in his research (breathing), not unlike other journalist / writers who dive into their research personally, like Michael Pollan (the latest is wild, “How to Change Your Mind” and wonderful https://michaelpollan.com/books/how-to-change-your-mind/) and maybe A.J. Jacobs, e.g. his “Year of Living Biblically” that was hilarious: https://ajjacobs.com/books/the-year-of-living-biblically/

    Anyway, I’m only about 1/4 through the Nestor book and will never ever breath through my mouth again. Yikes! Lots of videos referenced in the book can be viewed free at his website: https://www.mrjamesnestor.com/breath

  10. I read The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abbi Waxman. I’m not her ideal reader (too old to catch a lot of the cultural references that a Gen X-er would get), but enjoyed it. Nina works in a bookstore and is on a trivia team, so there’s lots of trivia, which I liked, as well as a satisfactory romance. Now re-reading The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey, because I love it and am not interested in most of the books I’ve recently selected at the library. Also my brain is ossifying, so re-reads are definitely preferable.

    1. If you haven’t read it, John Ashdown-Hill wrote SECRET QUEEN: Eleanor Talbot, the Woman Who Put Richard III on the Throne, and a number of other books about the rest of the cast. Eleanor Talbot Butler was the Other Woman, of course. Josephine Tey would have been fascinated.

  11. I tried a couple new books for me. I wanted to like them both – they have wonderful reviews – but I had to DNF both. Sometimes I think I’m too picky.

    Now I’m re-reading Venetia. So much better.

    On the creative front, I have written a fan fiction novelette, ACTING FOR SHAPESHIFTERS, based on Anne Bishop’s The World of the Others series. All the characters are my own. If anyone is interested, you could read it at the Archive of Our Own site: https://archiveofourown.org/works/25960159/chapters/63105664 or on wattpad: https://www.wattpad.com/story/237158649-acting-for-shapeshifters

  12. Hmmm…. I have a reading conundrum…

    For Book Club we are reading A J Finn’s book ‘The Woman in the Window’

    But, I just got Susan Elizabeth Phillips new ebook ftom the Free Library of Philadelphia.

    However a friend just loaned me Mary Trump’s book.

    So what to read first……any suggestions?

    1. You may want to alternate the SEP and Mary Trump books. When the Trump family dysfunction gets too much to take, you can read some of a book that you know will have a HEA.

      1. I know what you mean – I was never able to finish ‘A Very Stable Genius’ without wanting to throw it against the wall – but I have too much respect for library books.

  13. I read Kelley Armstrong’s “City of the Lost.” Excellent book with a really interesting premise, set in the Yukon.

    Am part way through Talia Hibbert’s “A Girl Like Her” and loving it already.

  14. I happily joined the legions of fans of Red White and Royal Blue this week. The only reason I am not now rereading it again is to let the rest of the waiting list get a chance to read it. And I have another 3 books that are due in 5 days.

  15. I’m reading the new Trisha Ashley book, The Garden of Forgotten Wishes, and enjoying it. It is just the kind of escape I need.

    Also just got the new Susan Elizabeth Phillips out of the library.

  16. I finished the “Throne of Glass”-series by Sarah J. Maas by ploughing through “Tower of Dawn” and then “Kingdom of Ash”. All in all it was a good series. MC annoyed me a liiiittle less in the last book than in the rest, which I guess is a good thing. It kept making me cry, too. The last book, I mean. Perhaps some things were just a little too neatly solved for my taste, but heck, it’s YA and it has a happy ending and no dogs die, so things could definitely be worse. 🙂 And it has an awesome wyvern that I wanna steal for myself.

    Now reading “Vicious Spirits”, second in the Gumiho-series by Kat Cho. I enjoyed the first one a lot, this one… I don’t know, it doesn’t catch me the same way. Not bad, just different.

    I want a book that throws me off my feet and grabs me so much I can’t put it down, with characters I care about and a plot and world that feels enchanting and that I’d wanna return to. That is on my wishlist right now.

    1. Awesome wyvern? Clearly I gave up too soon. I read Court of Thorns and Roses and decided she was just too dreary for me.

  17. Ploughing my way thru Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series, so I can remember who all the characters are before reading his new August release followed by his September release. Nice thing about being my age (67) and reading as fast as I do (book a day) is that I no longer remember plot details. So these are all new to me; I’m on book 6, and loving this series. I take a break and read other books in between, but none worth mentioning here.

  18. I’ve had Network Effect on hold at the library pretty much since it came out and I finally got my copy!!!! I should have lingered over it, but I read it in a day and am now re-reading all my favorite parts, of which there are many. I’m also about halfway through Mindf*ck by Christopher Wylie, the Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, and it’s horrifying but worth the read. And Steve Bannon is all over the book, so today’s news comes as I’m fuming anew about this truly horrible person.

  19. I just watched “Last Christmas” (2019) and was disappointed, because it said it was a romantic-comedy. But it wasn’t.

    Major Spoilers are needed to explain, but in a romance both characters are supposed to be better off in the end. They are not in this story.

  20. I read and loved “The Two Lives of Lydia Bird” by Josie Silver (author of “One Day in December”). It also got me listening to “The Long and Winding Road” on repeat. However, I thought the ending, like the ending of her previous book, was too abrupt. I don’t need a prologue to see what they’re up to in five years, but I prefer not to check out the minute they finally get together.

  21. I read Trevor Noah’s Born a Crime. It was very good, but I had to take few breaks to read something happy.

    I also read a cozy detective that was okay but the leading lady was a bit too damsel in distress for me.

  22. I read P. Djeli Clark’s The Haunting of Tram Car 015, which is very funny, and is only a novella. I want more! He doesn’t write fast enough or long-form enough for me.

    Now I am reading Network Effect yet again. Luckily the library has five e-copies so it was available just when I wanted it.

  23. I’m still reading Caste by the amazing Isabel Wilkerson, but it’s tough emotionally to think about lynchings, and torture, and such for more than a short burst of time, so I started re-reading the wonderful Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones. After I finished it, I had to do some scrounging around to figure out what I’d done with the sequel (The Merlin Conspiracy), which I hadn’t read in a long while

    Her understanding of the heart of people is so excellent that the characters seem terribly real, which is what I love about her books, but this sequel kind of bowled me over with how it just rocketed along, and I ended up reading through half the night to finish it.

    Both books alternate sections from each of the protagonists viewpoint. Usually I find that kind of awkward and stilted, but when Jones does it, it just deepens your sense of each in a fascinating way. Great characters, interesting worlds, and a real antidote to the jarring horrors of pandemic and politics around us at the moment.

  24. Re-read Beach Read. It’s beautifully written, the heroine and hero are great, etc. But it leaves me feeling sad, when I don’t think it’s supposed to. Everyone in my bookclub loved it. It’s been interesting trying to hone in on why exactly it’s hitting me this way.

  25. Oh, meant to say for the mystery fans here I got reminded of Sharyn McCrumb this week (because she wrote If I’d killed Him When I Met Him ) and I am behind on her mysteries, need to catch up. She writes really amazing characters, settings, history, mystery, romance, there are layers and depth, and also sometimes she’s just so damn funny. If you need a mystery fix and haven’t read her, try her books. And now I see there’s a new Anne Stuart book so wheeee.

    1. I haven’t read her in years; I’d wandered off to other things and other writers. Yes, complex and hilarious. One of them was a mystery involving a bunch of SF con attendees.

  26. Re-read the Umbrella Academy books this week. Great example of a dysfunctional team. They all have their specialist roles and they’re pretty terrible at them, but interesting people who are also pretty terrible at being people. It helps if you overlay the characters from the TV series on the books.

  27. I’ve just finished the latest Rivers of London book, and despite the fact that I may get crushed under the enormous tower of library books (we’re in Level 4 lockdown here in Melbourne, and the library has stopped charging overdue fines, and ships any holds you may have through the post just in case you run out of reading material. Ha!) – I have just downloaded the new Anne Stuart book onto my tablet, as I needed something with a guaranteed HEA.

    If you haven’t read them, Mary Pearson’s Remnant Chronicles series is wonderful (the first is The Kiss of Deception), great worldbuilding, complex characters, and quite a lot of ‘I didn’t expect THAT’ moments. She’s partway through a second series in the same world, where there are appearances of some of the main characters from the first series.

    Rereading is hard to justify while I have a pile of 40 library books, as well as quite a few that I’ve bought 🙁

    1. Alas, ‘The Kiss of Deception is only available as an ebook in Portuguese, or a hardcover at £28. Someone should tell her about Kindle.

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