This is a Good Book Thursday, October 22, 2020

I have a book on Russian icons that arrived today, and I started Alan Cummings bio, which is terrific so far, but I haven’t finished reading anything this week except a lot of works in progress (Bob’s and mine).

So what did you read this week?

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65 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 22, 2020

  1. I’ve been re-reading Sprig Muslin, and The Ship Who Sings by Anne McCaffrey. And I found an Anne McCaffrey short story I’d been previously unaware of – The Ship Who Returned.

  2. I could do with a Cruisie hit. Went to Works-in-Progress to read Paradise Park and I couldn’t find a link. 🤷🏻‍♀️

    I have huge amounts of non-fiction to read, some bought back in 2017. But I’m re-reading Mercedes Lackey’s Bardic Voices 1 Fiddler Fair. Argh.

    School breaks up tomorrow for the end of term 3. So grateful. Hopefully I put a serious dent in the non-fiction reading.

  3. I read “Boyfriend Material” because I’ve read “Red, White, and Royal Blue” so many times that MM is now a genre they suggest. I quite enjoyed it.

    Other than that, I’ve been working.

    1. I really enjoyed it but then read 2 others of his and didn’t enjoy them anywhere near as much. Was most put out; thought I’d found another favorite author.

      1. I liked Boyfriend Material, too, a lot. Listened to it and loved the narrator. After that I sampled some of his (?) other titles, but wasn’t captivated, so didn’t read any of the others. Anything with “Billionaire” sends me running very quickly and I never got the BDSM thingy.
        But I’ll give it a go whenever something bx AH comes ot and the sample seems promising.
        One thing though – the MM genre seems dominated by female authors. I wonder how well male gay readers find the experience captured in some of the titles where it seems rather over the top to me but hiw would I know? I can’t imagine my gay co-workers asking this…

        1. I think there’s quite a lot of controversy over this. Gay men on both sides of the fence, some of them liking the way the romance is written, others disliking women writing it.

  4. I have read Boyfriend material too and also the Arden St Ives books also by Alexis Hall. The titles of the books are pretty ridiculous and I kept thinking that if these had a been an m/f romance I would have found the plot cringey but I really liked Arden. He was very sweet, not so sure about Caspian.
    Now, I am reading Freya Barker’s Northern lights series which I am enjoying. The books are not connected but they all feature mature characters which is nice and I like the Canadian setting. One of my brothers lives in Québec and for me, a French woman living in the UK it is nicely exotic.

    1. I think that the titles are purposefully cringy because the books are in part a spoof on the genre. I’m hoping for one more for closure, but I really adore Arden.

      1. Yes, I thought that too. I also loved the literary references, especially when he compares himself to a Jane Austen heroine!

    2. I also enjoyed the Northern Lights series. I live in Northern Ontario, so I might be a bit biased. Ive read a few of her other books, but those were my favorite.

      1. I wondered whether she got the details right because I couldn’t work out from her very short bio whether she is Canadian or not. As far as I can see her other books are set in the US.

        1. Doda asked about gay men reading m/m romance written by women. Anecdotally (as in, I asked the bisexual I know best), there are all sorts of genres and audiences floating around, so that m/m for woman isn’t usually the m/m read by men and so on. There are lots of flavors to m/m relationships — mostly, I’ve heard about bears (big, bear-like gay guys) who hang out in bear dens (bars that welcome them). But the overall point, I think, is that there are all sorts of sub-romance categories and often a sub-romance category has a specific audience. I’d love to understand this better.

  5. I forgot the other thing I read–Dogs and Goddesses, which is maybe my favorite Crusie collaboration. Dogs, bakeries, archaeology… what’s not to love?

    1. Oh dear. I read that this week. Tried the sample, urged by a friend, at the start of lockdown, and didn’t fancy it. Thought I’d give it another go, this time borrowing it from the library. And ended up reading it until after four in the morning, trying to get to the more positive part she promised me. It was a reminder of why I avoid literature and stick to fun stories: for my mental health.

      1. I haven’t started it yet – but 2 of our members have finished it & liked it.

        Should be an interesting conversation at our book club meeting.

  6. This week I’m re-reading “To say nothing of the dog” by Connie Willis and enjoying it immensely. It starts out with someone time travelling to avoid their annoying boss, which is exactly the sort of thing I’d do if I were a character in a sci-fi novel. Talk about escapist literature.

    1. I love this book as well. My favorite part is the purple prose a character begins to use when time lagged. Just such a contrast with some of her other time travel titles. The jumble sales for orphans of the pandemic are somewhat creepy now though.

    2. I love To Say Nothing of the Dog, and each time I reread it, I find myself surprised be details I forgot about. Time for another read, I think.

  7. Gulped down the new Bujold Penric novella. And a new Kylie Scott novella. And Jane Harper’s latest mystery. I’ve enjoined all her books a lot. She’s very good at using setting to underscore the tension in the mystery as well as the mystery itself being good.

  8. Someone recommended Katherine Center, so I read Everyone is Beautiful, even though I’m not the demographic Center wrote for. But it got me through some evenings, and it’s got a really wonderful final paragraph.

    Now I’m reading Patricia Wentworth’s Grey Mask, which might also have been a recommendation from this site, and I can’t figure it out at all, halfway through.

    Also giving a final read/gloss to a friend’s fiction ms., which IS written for my demographic. She’s almost ready to send it out; I’ll let you know when it’s in print. : )

    Eager to read Ch. 4 of Anna!

  9. While tidying up a TBR book pile, realized that I have a Martha Wells paperback that I have no memory of: “The Wizard Hunters” which is book 1 of a trilogy that seems to follow an earlier 2-part series. Whatever, I’ve really enjoyed it and am now on Book 2 from the library. It’s very sci-fi-ish fantasy, but Martha Wells is so good at depicting complexity of characters that it’s gripping.

    Meanwhile, I loaned Murderbook Diaries #1 to a friend who was really doubtful about reading anything with that title, but she emailed me last night that it was so addictive she had trouble putting it down again to go to sleep.

    Score one for converting a doubter!

    1. I love those most, of all her works. Something about the quartet of leads, and the worlds, and I think reading it at low time for me and getting that spark of recognition from the book – I love them a lot. A friend really loves all the Raksura books, and rereads them for reliable escapist charm, so you might like those as well.

      1. The Raksura books are my go to for escapism. I love the world and the characters. If you join her patreon you get 50 ish more short stories too, and at the moment she isn’t charging patrons.

  10. I read The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison this week. I loved this book! My advice – don’t read anything about it before you start. Come to it without any expectations. Therefore, I won’t say anything about it, except that it totally kept my attention – in 2020 that’s saying a lot!

  11. October is Good Book Month for me. I just finished the last in the Lindsay Buroker Star Kingdom series, “Layers of Force”; am working on the new Jodi Taylor “Hard Time,” second book in her Time Police series; have the latest in the Jim Butcher Dresden series, “Battle Ground,” fired up and ready to read; and have received an advanced copy of “Dangerous Deception,” by Evelyn M. Hill, whom I highly recommend. And because there’s a new John Grisham, I decided to reread Sycamore Row.

  12. I read Kitty’s Mixtape by Carrie Vaughn, a collection of short stories in Kitty Norville’s world, not all of them featuring Kitty herself. Interesting interludes if you’ve read the rest of the series.

    Silent Bite by David Rosenfelt, Andy Carpenter gets pulled out of retirement to defend Willie’s old cell mate after he claims to be framed for the murder of the fellow gang members who testified against him at his trial.

    Masquerade in Lodi by Lois McMaster Bujold. Thanks to the Argher who pointed this one out last week. It takes place in the middle of the series, right after Penric’s Fox, and is about tracking down a sailor who may or may not be demon-ridden during a festival. Complications ensue.

  13. Started a new (to me) British police procedural (Mitchell and Markby) series by Ann Grant. I was so happy with the Peter Grainger police procedurals read earlier this summer (spring?), that I thought I’d give Grant a try. So far so good. MCs are a late-thirties diplomat who is the female lead opposite a divorced chief inspector. The plots are fairly engaging but not riveting; left enough space in my mind to reread Queen of Attolia and My Family and Other Animals, and begin the Virgil Flowers (John Sandford) series, which is surprisingly good. @Mel: I too gulped the new Penric novella, thanks to having heard it was just published by someone on this site (sorry, I can’t remember who). And due to my revisiting Corfu with the youngest Durrell, I thought I might reread (or listen to) the Alexandria quartet, one of my favourite quartets after the Raj quartet… Other worlds, other times.

  14. I re-read some Crusie, some Bujold, some Flint (plus co-authors), some DeMarce, and of course, some Murderbot Diaries. No need to get more specific – they’re all good.

  15. I re-read a couple of Jay Hogan things, re-read four of my own things (reminding myself of series timeline details for WIP), and two new things.

    Enemies Like You by Annika Martin & Joanna Chambers; M/M romantic suspense in which one MC is an ex-military CIA contractor out to get an evil oligarch, and the other is an MI5 operative masquerading as the oligarch’s bodyguard. Both have tough back-stories that play into the resolution of the present-day challenge and I was totally invested in them.

    The Devil’s Due by Bonnie MacBird, latest in a Holmes/Watson series, this one featuring a very sketchy new head of Scotland Yard who turns out to be a) an impostor and b) SPOILER. I got this because it was on sale and not to be snotty but that was the right way to get it. There is a lot of semi-parenthetical narrative commentary on social justice which does kind of fit the story, and is not even truly anachronistic, but doesn’t fit the Holmes/Watson I grew up with (i.e. the originals).

  16. I listened to 10 hours of a 12 hour book and if it had been a paperback I would have thrown it against the wall. Talk about jumping the shark. So pissed off. I will never read that author again.

    So now I’m starting another Flavia Deluce. Or however that’s spelled. At least I can rely on a cohesive story there.

  17. I am re-reading Nevermoor and Wundersmith by Jessica Townsend in anticipation of the third book, Hollowpox, coming out next week. I am enjoying this series very much. There is enough serious conflict to be gripping, yet enough absurdities – like the Brolly rail – to make it feel lighthearted. Perfect for losing myself in another world when the real one is such a train wreck.

  18. I finished Spellbound by Alli Therin. Loved it! Immediately bought the next one and preordered the third.
    https://allietherin.com/
    “Magical mayhem in 1925 New York! You need this book in your life!”
    – Jordan L. Hawk, best-selling author of the Whyborne & Griffin series, on SPELLBOUND

    Be swept into the against-the-odds romance of
    relic hunter Arthur and psychometric Rory as they race to save
    Prohibition-era Manhattan from the supernatural.

  19. I actually read a bunch of new stuff the last 2 weeks (not working full time is so helpful). The only one I recommend whole heartedly is Joan Aiken’s book about Jane Fairfax from “Emma”. Mind you, it didn’t make me like Emma any better as a character, but I have always found her somewhat annoying, so not a deal breaker for me. Otherwise, a book by a familiar author that seemed to same-y to the last one I read by her, a novella I am trying to get through that my sister liked, but I don’t like anyone in it etc……… yep, read about Jane, that’s my advice.

      1. She would have plenty of growing to do. I’d like to think that her annoying character was the result of immaturity, but I have my doubts.

        1. I’ve always thought that Mary’s character must have been built up from her closeness in age to the two youngest flibbertigibbets in the family. If I’d had to share a room with either Kitty or Lydia, I’d have started frowning a lot, reading Great Sermon collections, practicing my sonatinas like a maniac, and developing my skills around ignoring giggling and avoiding interruptions. I think she just got good at closing doors around herself.

  20. It wasn’t this week, but I read THE DEADLY HOURS last week. It’s an anthology by Susanna Kearsley, Anna Lee Huber, Christine Trent, and C.S. Harris. The four novellas are all historical mysteries set in different time periods and connected by a cursed pocket watch. I really liked it. I’ve read Harris and Huber before, but not the other two authors. The protagonist of the Trent story is a Victorian undertaker, a job I never really thought about before, but now find extremely interesting. Thinking about reading the Kearsley book featuring the novella characters from this anthology because I liked that story so much. The Harris story is set during WWII, and I loved that she touched things like how Britain treated “resident aliens” during that period (which seems to be similar to how we treated Japanese-Americans then). Most of the WWII stories I have consumed in the past have a very good vs. evil perspective that doesn’t examine the non-admirable things done by the Allied governments during that time. The story isn’t set in London, and it also has a great sense of what it was like in the countryside at that time with evacuations of people from cities, the way German bombings happened beyond the London Blitz, manor houses being commandeered for war effort uses, etc.

  21. I read ‘Rainy Day Sisters’ by Kate Hewitt, on Jenny’s recommendation, and enjoyed it – though it was a little slow. The library only has books by her other pseudonym, Katharine Swartz, so I’ve borrowed one of those; have a feeling it’s going to be more serious, though.

  22. I read this interview with Sarah Moss, and about 3/4 of the way down she starts describing this crazy book she was thinking about and working on, and she has a metaphor about how when you’re diving and your car starts making a weird noise, there are those who stop and call AAA and others who turn up the radio, and she builds a writing metaphor around cars breaking down and after I finished laughing I thought it might resonate here: https://longreads.com/2019/01/09/interview-with-sarah-moss/

  23. I’ve been rereading, too, for the most part: several Gil Cunningham mysteries, always a pleasure; Andrea K Höst’s MEDAIR, which I am very fond of; several more Emma Lathen mysteries — I do love Miss Corsa!

    On the recommendation of my cousin, I’ve started Charles Stross’ THE FAMILY TRADE.

    And on the non-fiction side, Ruth Goodman’s new book arrived yesterday; THE DOMESTIC REVOLUTION: How the Introduction of Coal into Victorian Homes Changed Everything, dedicated “to all those who ever swept ashes from a hearth.” Ruth Goodman is a cultural reënactor and you can find her on YouTube reënacting historical periods from castle building to WWII, and she has written several books as well. Though it’s not a book, I am now happily immersed in the current issue of THE REGISTER, a publication of the New England Historical & Genealogical Society. Besides the expected 400th anniversary of the Mayflower landing, there’s a discussion of one Agnes Spencer (my suffragette grandmother’s maiden name was Spencer) and Elizabeth Smith (lots of Smiths in the family, so we’ll see).

    1. I’m reading ‘The Domestic Revolution’ at the moment. Sped through the beginning but then it slowed up a bit, plus the day job wore out my brain cells. She’s great, though; must get back to it.

    2. I’ve read some of ‘The Laundry Files’, which I loved. Dark with humor and lots of Lovecraftian-style monsters. I haven’t tried any of his other books.

  24. Reading Meditations with Cows by Shreve Stockton of the Daily Coyote and it is a beautiful book. Also read Machine by Elizabeth Bear (White Space #2), the Family Plot by Cherie Priest (killer ghost story) and most of A Stitch in Time by Kelly Armstrong, more haunted houses and murder. Because it’s that time of year.

    1. How was Machine? I am deciding whether to spend $20 on a hardcover copy. And did you like A Stitch in Time? I was disappointed by it althoughI I usually love all things Kelley Armstrong.

      1. Machine was good, yay for more Mantis Cop. A different mystery/adventure type than White Space #1 but still good. I’m 75% through Stitch in Time so I can’t say if I’ll be happy with the ending.

  25. I finished Mikoto and the Reavers Village by Forthright. It was really lovely and comforting, as always. I had trouble starting something new after, so picked up her first, Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox. I want to live inside that book. If you are going to try her, it must be in order. Lots of long story arcs and intersecting plots throughout the books.

    And Faking It. My absolute favorite. I want to live there too. I am relating more to Gwen than I usually do. Maybe it’s the pandemic.

    Up next is a newish Barbara Kingsolver.

  26. I can’t remember anything I read this week. Which i guess says something. But I am eagerly awaiting the next Donna Andrews which is being delivered soon! Meanwhile, I’ll be rereading The Goblin Emperor.

  27. I roared thru five books in a row, the Jeremy Logan series by Lincoln Child. Complex mysteries with a slight paranormal twist; loved them!

    I also just attended a Zoom meeting with a representative of our local indie book store, in which she described and recommended a number of excellent books to read. She is sending out the email list of books that she described. I can hardly wait to start my way through them, she was so enthusiastic! (I am tired of selecting books on my own, from Book Bub, then getting 50 pages in and giving up. And deleting from my eReader.) I’ll report back on any goodies I finish this week.

  28. I read Let’s Do It, the authorised autobiography of high-level UK comedienne Victoria Wood. Quite melancholy, especially seeing as she died aged 62.

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