73 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 1, 2020

  1. I’m really enjoying Judith Flanders Sam Claire series. I’ve read the first 3 books twice in a short time and have ordered book 4 in paperback because it’s not available in Oz on Kindle. I’m enjoying the thought process of Sam and the almost unstated romance between Sam and her man – it is very understated, just a couple of sentences here and there. I think that I keep re-reading to glean more subtlities of the romance. But also because Sam thoughts go sideways in the same way mine do – nice to know I’m not the only one, even if the other person is fictional! The mysteries are nicely complicated as well.

    I also enjoyed reading Katherine Addison’s The Angel of the Crows. There is no explanation of the world, you’re just dropped into it at the start and you figure it out as you go. Very different and makes for some big surprises as the penny drops. I want to give more explanation, but any explanation almost ruins it. But, murder mysteries in 1888 London, with werewolves, vampires and Angels, gives an idea – it doesn’t fit the werewolf/ vampire genre in the same way that The Goblin Emperor doesn’t fit the goblin/ elven genre. Awesome book (both of them).

    I think that both “The Angel” and Sam Claire have been mentioned here, so thanks!

    I also read a few times the discovery draft of Anna.
    Jenny, I love how you write, that sequence had me chuckling right the way through it. It reminded me of the first time that I came across your books (pretty sure that it was the Manhunting when it was first published) and just laughing as I read.

    1. I am thrilled that you read the Sam Claire mysteries. I loved them and recommended them here but my recommendation was not as well written as yours.

  2. I’m still struggling with reading new stuff (except lots of fanfiction). I’m re-reading the Mairelon books by Patricia Wrede, and The Magnolia Sword by Sherry Thomas. I’ve got a few things on order, including the first Enola Holmes book, the third book in the Trials of Morrigan Crow and a new Garth Nix (The Left-Handed Booksellers of London – I’d buy it for that title alone, let alone a Garth Nix book). I’m hoping that those might break my drought a little.

  3. I bought, and tried to read, JoJo Moyes new one, I think it’s The Giver of Stars, but couldn’t get into it. Maybe next week.
    I was spoiled after reading the draft of Anna. Found the Jenny Crusie collection on my Kindle and am currently enjoying revisiting Welcome to Temptation.

  4. I am reading, and loving, Helen Macdonald’s Vesper Flights. I’ve been so anxious that reading is actually a challenge…words soak into my brain about as well as rain soaks into concrete. But her writing is absolutely gorgeous, and since the book is just a series of short essays, I can go back and re-read as I need to. For those who missed it, her first book, H is for Hawk is absolutely extraordinary.

    For YA fantasy readers, I recently finished Tehlor Kay Mejia’s duology, We Set the Dark on Fire and We Unleash the Merciless Storm and enjoyed both.

  5. I read Ilona Andrews’ Emerald Blaze, and enjoyed it more than the last Catalina book because I just can’t stand very much angst. This time they were too busy to angst much.
    Thanks to a mention here I read Gary Paulsen’s Guts, and am now poking through the ebooks at the library wondering what of his to try next. I know I started one of his books once, a while back, and couldn’t get into it, and now I’m thinking I’ll stick with his non-fiction for a while, because: Interesting Life!
    I’ve just started (before falling asleep last night) K.J. Parker’s How to Rule an Empire and Get Away with It, after picking it up at curb-side pickup on my lunch hour. I think I will try not to do that if I can avoid it. I chose to reserve the paper copy because the wait time for the ebook was much longer, but every single time you schedule a pickup you have to do it by phone, during the hours of 9 to 5 on Monday through Friday, which means I have to wait days before I can even make the call, and that’s the only way to do it, which since I purely hate phones is just incredibly annoying when email exists, people!

  6. Last week I was on vacation and finally got to read ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce which I loved – read it in one day, more or less. So I recommended it to my husband and he, however, is having a hard time with it.

  7. I am galloping through Carl Hiaasen’s Squeeze Me. Nearly finished, but I had to actually stop reading this morning to do some online work.

    Hiaasen is in excellent form in this cautionary tale set in post-pandemic Florida, but (chilllingly) 45 is still president. I hope he’s just playing with the calendar here. Eager to learn how all the characters will end up. Just deserts all round, I hope.

    And yes, Skink makes an appearance.

    1. I finished Squeeze Me this week and loved it, but then I pretty much love everything Carl Hiassen writes. I was a little bit sad that Skink and Jim Tile have aged since the last one, and it made me wonder if Hiassen is planning to kill them off.

      1. I don’t think he’ll kill Skink off. I met him and he said he had a childhood friend who became schizophrenic and subsequently killed himself. He thinks if he lived he would have become Skink and Skink is his homage to his friend.

  8. Last week I was reading (and not enjoying) the new one from Courtney Milan – The Duke Who Didn’t. But it was just the repetition and lack of world building in the first 30% I had a problem with and it improved massively after that. Only problem is, it will make you hungry for decent chinese food.

    1. I thought the back half was stellar. Up to the midpoint I was having trouble with the heroine’s extreme perfectionism – it was making me anxious how anxious she was.

  9. I am generally way behind on finding series to read, but I just finished Jason Fforde’s The Eyre Affair, and loved it. Clever, with all sorts of allusions not just to the plot of Jane Eyre, but to other things, such as a character named Braxton Hicks. I hied off to the library for the next book in the Thursday Next series, Lost in a Good Book. But there was a Katie Fforde I hadn’t read, so started that last night instead.

  10. Hey just a heads up to Aarghers in the US, in case you didn’t already know, a new season of The Great British Baking Show just started on Netflix last Friday.

    Also, to the people who recommended the Lowcountry mystery series, thanks! I spent the last week reading all of them I could get, and am poised to preorder the latest : Lowcoungry Boughs of Holly by Susan M. Boyer being released Nov 17.

    Preordered Morrigan Crow 3, also due in Nov. Thanks Emily!

  11. Just finished Naomi Novik’s new one, A Deadly Education which was great. Sort of what if Hogwarts was a lot more dangerous and cutthroat idea. The only thing wrong with it was that it’s Book 1 (I think) and I’m assuming it will be a year or so until the next one.

    1. I really enjoyed A Deadly Education.

      I also read Jim Butcher’s Battle Ground and did not like it.

      1. Oh, no. I’d been saving up (time and money) to get both of the new Jim Butcher books in audio. I’ll probably like them anyway, since I’m happy to listen to James Marsters, no matter what. But sorry to hear you didn’t like it. I can’t remember if you posted about Peace Talks ealier — did you like it at least? (No spoilers, b/c I haven’t read either one yet.)

        1. Oh yes, please elaborate about the new Butchers, please.
          It’s been a dreadfully long wait. Since I’ve read somewhere that Peace Talks ended on a cliff hanger, I decided to wait for Battle Ground. But after such a long wait I’m not quite sure if I’m willing to spend a lot if the reviews are so very mixed (e.g. on amazon).

          1. Peace Talks and Battle Ground are really two halves of one novel, which I assume is why they were published only a month or so apart.

            Peace Talks is mostly setup, politicking and such. I can’t say too much without spoiling things. There isn’t so much a cliff hanger so much as a dramatic plot twist at the end of Peace Talks. A plot twist that left me going huh?

            I didn’t really enjoy it that much, there were a couple of developments that I thought were somewhat over the top. But I was giving it some slack since it was obviously only half the story.

            Battle Ground was the second half of the story. Lots of fights, and more plot twists, none of which I enjoyed.

            I have read all of Jim Butcher’s stories, Dresden Files, Codex Alera, The Cinder Spires and even his Spider-Man novel. Peace Talks/Battle Ground is the one I enjoyed the least.

      2. Thanks, Gary. I’m thinking about waiting and getting them from the library now. I saw some reviews that said pretty much the same thing, so it’s not just you feeling they weren’t satisfying.

      1. There is! Just came out Tuesday. Very good. Very different than anything else she’s written. As someone said, like someone was saying, like Hogwart’s, except 1000 14 year old wizards go in and more than half of them survive to graduate 4 years later, because they’re are things that like to eat young tender wizards, and only some of them are other students.

  12. I’m a good way into All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. There are two distinct time periods in the novel – early WWII and we follow intricate plotting that will (eventually I think) link a young German boy/soldier, a young blind French girl, and the relentless pursuit of treasure by a seasoned German soldier. Each character has so far had their own narrative, in individual chapters, but so far none of the chapters is very long – a few pages at most – so you find yourself racing through. (It’s almost the opposite of Pratchett who never broke his narrative into chapters. I never know where a good stopping point is – so you don’t stop.)

    There has been some poignant moments, and some downright horrible ones. I’ve come to learn which characters have true nobility of spirit, and which have been beaten down by life and circumstances. I’m half afraid to find out what happens, and yet I also want to know.

    So, potentially not a book for everyone, particularly those who want a warm, comforting read right now. But so far, it’s compelling, at least to me.

  13. I read the first third of a light romance, skipped to the last 10 pages, and felt entirely satisfied. Reading samples may have ruined me.

    Then tried to read an SF sample that came highly recommended. Wanted to like it but just no. First chapter seemed to be entirely made up of two people talking. Re-reading Kerry Greenwood instead.

  14. No books this week but finally got to see episodes of L’Art du Crime (thanks Jenny & Ruth).

    And since I got that MHz app mentioned here to see it, I also came across a show called Speakerine. It’s billed as a Mad Men meets Agatha Christie and has such a fab retro opening sequence, I just had to watch it. Was immediately drawn into the story of a female announcer in the early ’60s with career aspirations who is married to a traditional husband and trying to balance work and home life amid politically difficult times in Paris. The scenery, costumes, and sets are fun and there’s a mystery.

    At its core, it’s a great concept and I wish it had pared down some storylines and simply seeded them for future seasons because it has so much promise and a great main cast. In the end, it had a bit too much going on and melodrama it didn’t need, yet I still found myself thinking about it after and reworking bits in my mind because the premise is so good and it could easily focus on the feminist stuff and changes to family life even without a mystery and be fab.

    But now that I’m done distracting myself with that, I’m back to reading my own WIP and wondering how I could work in a field trip to France for my characters:)

  15. I finally found a book I could read (a little; still hard to focus): the new Toby Daye adventure by Seanan McGuire, KILLING FROST. Yay! Reading!

    Somehow I missed the release in all the chaos of the country being on fire. It’s starting a little slowly, but a lot of her books do (and then become a mad race to the end), so if I can concentrate at least a few pages at a time on the beginning, I should be even more hooked as the story picks up.

    As an aside, if anyone’s interested, there’s a giveaway at GoodReads for digital copies of the second Garlic Farm Mystery, RHUBARB PIE BEFORE YOU DIE: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/312496-rhubarb-pie-before-you-die
    Enter by October 13! Actual release date is right before Christmas (sigh). I tried to make it stand alone, so you don’t need to have read the first book.

        1. I’m at work. It wanted passwords that I let Google remember on the home computer. Too much trouble, since I don’t remember them. I really need to pick new ones, but you need the old one to change.

          Besides, I believe in Supporting The Artist. If I don’t buy the book, you get no royalties. I want to throw money at you!

          1. It also helps to have high numbers in the giveaway requests, because it makes my publisher happy. Just for anyone else who might worry that getting a free copy is somehow not supporting the author: As best I can tell, the publisher likes seeing a lot of early demand. The book also gets added to the requesters GoodReads account as … I forget the terminology, something about wanting to read it. And those numbers, in turn, can add to visibility of the book and possibly tempt others into checking it out, at which point the book itself has to do the hard work of getting them to want to read it.

          2. Okay, okay, I’ll sign up! 🙂

            “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

          3. “Your entry has been submitted. After the giveaway ends, you will be notified by email if you win.”

            “Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

  16. Read Amanda Quick’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much. It’s a reread, but still an excellent story, a romantic thriller that is more thriller than romance. Loved it. It’s the first book of Quick’s latest series, set in California in the 1930s (unlike her previous historical romances, all set in England in the 19th century). The latest book in the series finally arrived at my library, so I can read it soon.

    Jayne Davis’s A Suitable Match was not as good as her other two books I’ve read, but still a decent historical romance, and so was Mimi Matthews’s The Winter Companion.

    Martha Wells’s Network Effect disappointed me. I was on hold for this book for months at my library. So much anticipation built up. Finally got it, and it was an OK story, but I’m not rushing to buy it. I liked the novellas much better.

    1. I did like Network Effect, but I also think Martha Wells is really a master of the shorter length, so I can see why some might prefer the novellas.

      Fortunately for you, the next book, out next spring, is another novella! And I’m happy either way.

      1. I loved Network Effect, but then I love all the Murderbot books. I particularly liked what it did with the Murderbot/ART relationship.

    2. The first time I read The Network Effect I liked it but not as much as the novellas. But I was going through a depressed patch about current affairs and could only read things I was familiar with so I read the whole series again. And that second reading really took. This seems to be true of all the Murderbot books for me. The first one good, the second and subsequent ones, they are better and better. The first time I read for action, then after that I read for nuance. I do this with Pratchett too.

  17. Currently reading KJ Charles second Will Darling adventure, “The Sugared Game.” Read the first a couple weeks ago and really enjoyed it. Unique characters, just enough angst and a good twist on the 1920’s style spy novel.

    Also read “Out of Bounds,” a Karen Pirie police procedural set in Scotland by Val McDermid. I really enjoyed it, but didn’t realize it was the 4th in a series until I was done. There is a plot line in this one that, if it’s catalyst was in the 3rd book, might have made me stop reading the series (if I had started at Book 1) so I am going to read the blurbs of the others very closely before I try another.

  18. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. Wow, what a beautiful book. It’s the story of two teenage boys, Mexican Americans, trying to work out who they are and where they fit into the world. So sensitively written. Someone here recommended it a while back, so thank you thank you thank you.

  19. I just bought and read The Legions of Pestilence by Virginia DeMarce. I loved the stories, but there were problems with editing. It still needed some.

    It did make me re-read other DeMarce books, like 1634: The Ram Rebellion, The Trouble with Huguenots, and 1634: The Bavarian Crisis. Before that, Patricia C. Wrede’s A Matter of Magic, and the Far Frontier series. Parts of other books slipped in, but weren’t finished, so they don’t count.

  20. I’m reading cozy mysteries as research. I’m a first time author and have written about 10 chapters. I’m new to all of this. Just discovered the official name of the genre I’ve been enjoying for years. Ha.

    I’ve been reading Angie Fox, Jana DeLeon, Camilla Blythe, Clare Chase and H.Y. Hanna. These guys are amazing. I’ve learned so much and I am still as I research and figure out what I’m doing.

  21. Currently reading Chuck Palahnuik’s Consider This, which is his how to write book. All the tips he’d give anyone who’d ask. I’ve never read anything of his before, only seen Fight Club, but his style of writing and personality shine through. I love is advice – def. Not genre specific! Highly recommend so far!

  22. This week I started reading ‘The Players’ Boy is Dead’ by Leonard Tourney and got about 25% in before I thought “I am not having any fun here” and bailed out.

    Then I read ‘The Affair of the Mysterious Letter’ by Alexis Hall, which was fun. Followed by ‘The Duke Who Didn’t’ by Courtney Milan, which took some getting into but there is a lot good about it. And I loved the personal & historical notes.

    Last night I stayed up much too late to read ‘Off Balance’ by Jay Hogan, a New Zealand-set MM contemporary. Got very invested in it. I like Hogan’s blend of career challenges, family dysfunction, humor, and sexy men.

  23. I’ve been rereading murderbot. Before that I read Love Lettering, recommended here so thank you for that.

    And also Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park which looks like a romance from the cover and there is a (small) romance but really it’s a book about being a woman in the gaming industry something I know nothing about but found extremely compelling. My only quibble was it was set in Seattle and it didn’t feel like Seattle. Every time it rained, it poured. Where was the drizzle? The low looming clouds that don’t clear for days, maybe weeks? The fog rolling in from the water?

    1. Climate is a long term outlook. Weather is what you actually get. The Navy sent me to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA in July ’72 (with my new bride). We were told, “It rains some small amount every day, until the wet season, but at least it never snows.” It snowed. It snowed off and on for well over a month with no rain nor drizzle. They lied to us. Worse, the bride was a native Floridian. Her only complaint? “I’m from Jacksonville. You can set your watch by the afternoon thundershower most of the year. Rain, I could have dealt with.” (Our next duty station was to be Connecticut. It definitely snows there.)

      1. Gary. My husband worked at Bremerton part-time during that time period. Well, he terminated in 71(?) – he started work there in ’66. He worked for a summer since he was going to grad school at the UW. He was a sub-test engineer. Were you assigned to that area?

        1. I was attached to the USS George C. Marshall, SSBN 654 (Blue). The Marshall was undergoing a nuclear refueling overhaul at the time. The day I reported, she was in dry-dock. It was the dry-dock built for the USS Enterprise, and the Marshall looked… tiny.

          The Marshall left the shipyard in July ’73, transited through the Panama Canal, and sailed to her home port of Groton, CT.

          If your husband left PSNSY in ’71, he may have done stuff to the Marshall before I reported aboard. It was a long overhaul. But we didn’t overlap.

          1. I asked and he said that once he started graduate school, he did not work on any of the submarines. The summer of ’71 or ’72 we spent in Honolulu because he was working on the decontamination of the Swordfish and in ’73 he spent the summer working in the office at Bremerton. I don’t know any of the other subs he worked on because “I did not have a need to know”. Those guys were very security conscious.

  24. I’m reading a lovely British romantic comedy by Annie Darling called The Little Bookshop of Lonely Hearts. Romance, bookshop, quirky characters…I’m in.

    On the Kindle, I’m reading (because of a recommendation here) A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking and really enjoying it.

  25. I’m on vacation again, this time in Rehoboth Beach.

    Still waiting for a decent beach day, but have books to read regardless

    Am reading Elly Griffith newest “The Lantern Men”.

  26. I’m reading the new Donna Andrews, THE FALCON ALWAYS WINGS TWICE, and enjoying it — no surprise there! Rereading CHAMPION OF THE ROSE, an Andrea K Höst book featuring a rosebush with NO moral standards, following a rereading of her HUNTING, a standalone I like very much.

    I’ve started — though the print is small and it is dense and will be slow going — THE ART OF LAMINATION. In this context, lamination is the art of adding a LOT of butter to dough to produce . . . croissants, or Danishes, or puff pastry, or variations of same. So while the book is short on plot and characters, I can go through it in short bursts.

    I’m also well into EGYPTOMANIACS, How We Became Obsessed with Ancient Egypt, by Nicky Nielsen. When a taxi driver asked him what he did for a living, he admitted he was an Egyptologist . . . and the floodgates opened: “You’re an Egyptologist?” he said: “Then you know about the aliens, right?” . . . his Egypt had aliens. And mystic lines of power . . . . we covered the Great Pyramid as an alien beacon (or a starship); we covered the topic of electricity in ancient Egypt and Egyptian temples as power stations; we touched on aliens meddling with human DNA in order to create outstanding individuals like Leonardo da Vinci. At the journey’s end I was uncertain whether to simply pay the fare or whether to break into applause.

    And I visited a lady today who is reading LEONARDO DA VINCI by Walter Isaacson, which she recommends as dense, but fascinating — much more so than the other book she was reading, John Bolton’s THE ROOM WHERE IT HAPPENED, which she described as “a strung-together extract from his Day-Timer.” Knew you’d want to know!

  27. If I’m not rereading old comfort read I’m having fun with Blythe Baker’s Victoria Carlyle books, Victoria has a twin Victor and they write books together. It takes place in the 20s in England with spouses friends etc. they are candy fluff murder mysteries and just what I need right now. She has several series with different characters.

    1. Beth Byers, not Blythe Baker, is the author of the Violet Carlyle, not Victoria, mysteries. They are indeed excellent candy fluff murder mysteries set in the 1920’s.

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