This is a Good Book Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020

This week I re-read a lot because I’m looking for stability and safety. Tried some samples, but they all had the hero smirking and I just cannot. Went back and read A Deadly Education because I wanted to see if it was as good as I remembered. It was, it’s brilliant. Remembered a book I’d read awhile ago that started out great–members of a small high school’s senior class are dying mysteriously–until it ended with the heroine alone left to tell the tale, sitting on her porch watching the sun go down (come up?) and waiting for her own inevitable death, never understanding WTF was happening. Or maybe she did and I just missed it. One of those books you need brain bleach for, not because it’s gross or horrifying but just because it’s so damn depressing. That’s fine, just give me a head’s up in the blurb so I don’t read it, although now that I come to think about it, “This book is confusing and depressing as hell” is probably not a good blurb.

You’re safe with A Deadly Education, though. Some people die, but it’s in a good cause, you know what’s going on, and Good Wins. Also, Good is bitchy and funny and angry as hell, my kind of protagonist.

What did you read this week?

63 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020

  1. Still chugging along with my English mysteries (and cookie recipes!), but I thought some Arghers might enjoy this article –
    It’s a meditation on (or maybe love letter to?) the Connie Willis Oxford time travel universe and how well her books capture the terror of “living through history” and what that could mean to us now while we’re living through a pandemic. It’s long, but well-written and thoughtful, in my opinion.
    Maybe not the right article to convert someone into a fan, but interesting for someone who already likes her work. It captures what makes Connie Willis so compelling.

    1. Thank you for the article. I should really get on and read the Connie Willis I have not read yet (Blackout and All Clear) once some of the details from the article have faded.

  2. I have been reading Nathan Lowell’s solar clipper tales. Thank you to the person who recommended them here.
    I really enjoyed the first six. As people have said in reviews, these are not space operas with heroic feats and bloody battles but somehow they have been absolutely gripping. The next 3 books have a bit more of an adventure plot but there is still a lot of cleaning involved and food mentions to keep me happy.
    I have come to the conclusion that I really enjoy reading about people cleaning things even if doing it in reality is not really my cup of tea.
    Another satisfying « cleaning » book is Trisha Ashley’s A Winter’s tale which I mentioned last week. I think I might start a cleaning collection on my kindle for whenever I feel the urge. A good side effect is that it motivates me to clean my house!

  3. I started and finished one from the TBR pile: The Science of Food: An Exploration of What We Eat and How We Cook by Marty Jopson. Highly recommended. I learned some of the scientific details behind what I do when cooking.

    But I think the dopamine hit of finishing a non-fiction TBR was bigger.

    I stopped with the TBRseand started comfort reading the Innkeeper Chronicles because my sinuses flared up and I was still in the incubation window for Covid due to people at work taking ill. Doc said I’d better test because some people are asymptomatic. No rapid tests for us. Tested on Tuesday, it came back negative on Wednesday. Yay! But now I’m going to be ruthless about boundary setting. Mask AND medical-grade face shield. Gloves. And yeah, 2 m or more away from me. Or else!

    I posted this up on twitter and Beverly Jenkins herself retweeted. What academia can learn from Romancelandia.

    Blessings for Christmas to all those celebrating.

  4. “Perestroika in Paris” by Jane Smiley. Charming and funny. Just right for dark days.

    “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle “ by Barbara Kingsolver. Comfort re-read.

  5. My library (Free Library of Philadelphia) has this as an ebook thru Overdrive – so have placed a hold on it.

  6. I’m still not getting much reading done. Just too much work Bout the flat still to be done. But the kids are having fun decorating the tree with hubby and we’re slowly, very slowly getting there. Still not in the spirit – I very much miss church and the services to deepen the spirit and avert us from the consumerism. But it’s depressing, too: there’s just too much defeatism and empty benches. Plus I don’t want to take ANY risks before visiting my parents tomorrow.
    Reading: finished Dine eith me last night. Realized I’m no foodie at all. Can you get an overdose by just reading about it? Not badly written, but too technicolor for me in everything – the style of writing, the beauty of the protagonists, the wealth of the love interest/’s family, the sensorial overlode of the story. Give me a slice of plain Bavarian bread and some find cheese and a nice glass if beer/wine/fruit juice and it’s bliss.
    But it’s been interesting to notice this about my tastes.
    Also listening to “Get real” by Alexis Hall. Mainly to broaden my horizon and because one of the readers has a very nice voice.
    Another realization: I’m just too vanilla to get some people’s kinks. The book is well written and the protagonists are well rounded, but I just don’t get the appeal of S/M. At all.
    What i do get is Ruth Goodman’s joy for history and though I’m too impatient to do the footwork of the Social historian, I’m very much admiring and loving the outcome. How to be a Tudor won’t be the last book by her for me. Listening to the book (I’ve switched readers, the younger one read dreadfully boringly, and audible offered the chance to switch to another edition) was and is fantastic when doing boring chores or handiwork!
    Also: looking forward to borrowing hubby’s xmas present: a book by a young man working his way around the globe as house and animal sitter 😉
    Now back to the last chores …

  7. First, there are the two books by Virginia DeMarce, Designed to Fail and Things Could Be Worse. I described the former days ago (over-described. spoilers). The latter is one of those fix-ups where a bunch of previously published material is mixed in with new material to make a book. Good material, but still.

    I mentioned a Crusie Collection, seven books in a single Kindle file. The first story in the collection was Welcome to Temptation. I’m in the second story now, Tell Me Lies. This reread is going slowly because of Maddie’s pain at the beginning. I read a little, go read something else, come back. I don’t remember feeling it so much the last time I read it.

    The something else is Heinlein, The Rolling Stones, because I finished Between Planets.

    I don’t know what’s next. I have a very tall stack (figuratively speaking – ebooks don’t have physical dimensions) of Never Been Read Before books. Maybe I should work on that.

  8. Starting up the third Ancillary novel, hoping to have a quiet Christmas Day and read it then. I listened to the second book, and the way the (excellent) narrator used accents clarified the class differentiations that are part of the society.
    Finished the Loretta Chase “A Duke in Shining Armor” and enjoyed a lot of it, enough to look for the next one about those characters, which is apparently her newest, so I’m on a waiting list. That is a lot of dukes in one book that’s not about Richard III or Henry VIII.
    I could use a book with mature (as in, not 26) protagonists, with one or more dogs, maybe a cabin, a fireplace, a town, a lake, another dog or two, somebody’s an artist, somebody’s something else and very competent.

    1. I am doing a Leckie reread now, having started with Provenance (my favorite) and now I’m almost through Ancillary Justice, and will continue until I get to Raven Tower which I read in October but I think I want read it again this soon

  9. I am currently listening to The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyerdahl. My sister told me she had found it on you tube so I checked there and found quite a number of GH audiobooks there. The narrator does a decent job but I discovered that there are spots where a bit of the text is missing, not a lot but if I didn’t know the story so well, I wouldn’t have caught it.

        1. Having arranged it so the local dignitaries would be awaiting her with a sumptuous luau in Polynesia …

          1. Mentioning to the steersman that once, when she went sailing with some pirates off the coast of Portugal, she learned a very good way of navigating during a fog by listening carefully to the echolocation squeaks of sea bats and steering just 45 degrees to starboard of the closest one. And, smiling, commenting that it took them just a trifle less than 12 hours to sail to Tasmania and back to Lisbon using that little trick.

  10. I reread Jo Beverley’s ‘Winter Fire’, which is a favourite Christmas read, but really a dessert course following the end of the main Malloren series; I think you’d probably have to have at least read ‘Devilish’ in order not to drown in the large cast; but it’s a fun C18 aristocratic Christmas.

    I then made the mistake of rereading the next in that series, which I’ve now decided I’ve had enough of; plus a couple more of her other late stories, which alas don’t really work. But then I tried Loretta Chase’s ‘Viscount Vagabond’, recommended by someone here. I bought several of her early, shorter novels about five years ago, and somehow had the idea they weren’t great; but this one is great fun, and I’ve just started the next that makes a minor character its hero: ‘The Devil’s Delilah’ – good so far.

    1. I used to read a lot of those Fawcett Crest Regencies when they first came out and they all had a lot in common. But there were a few authors (Loretta Chase and Barbara Metzger) whose characters had a bit more spark and originality and I reread those many times. I think as book prices went up we all demanded more story for our buck, but there is still something to be said for a short, engaging romp with a guaranteed HEA.

  11. I started a fantasty-ish novel that was recommended, sample was good, liked the hero, and then first one and then two people I liked got killed off. It’s well enough written that I will probably go back to it, but between some extra life-stress and wanting a cheery holiday, I put it down for now. Dear sister is planning to re-read Murderbots, and I just may join her.

    Mostly checked in to say happy whatever you might be celebrating, and I need to hear more details about “THE christmas cake” so many of you keep referring to. (I baked this morning, which got me wondering again).

  12. During the last week before my vacation started, my bedtime reading choice was Dark Moon Defender — my second-to-least favorite of the five books in the Sharon Shinn “Twelve Houses” series. It’s the one about the gutter-boy-turned-fanatical-soldier and his unlikely romance, and it involves some extended sequences where people are in danger of being recognized, of being discovered in hiding places, and even of being burned at the stake, so I’d never re-read it since my first delighted read of the series.

    This time I could ignore the suspense and could focus on the changes that happened to the characters through the book, and I grew to really like the book, and the protagonists. Which made me decide to re-read the least favorite of the five, featuring a pretty young aristocrat who chooses to have an affair with a married man.

    That book too I came to like as I read it. I knew the unfolding plot and how things turned out, so I was able to really feel the characters and their dilemmas and lessons learned. It made me even fonder of their community and their journeys, so I went on to re-read the rest.

    It’s a Christmas without family or visits with live people; in this strange desert-island pandemic situation, people in books feel like friends, which is another element of re-reading that is so satisfying. As long as the characters feel real in the first place, going back to them makes your understanding deeper and in turn makes them feel more real.

    Only problem is that now I miss them, and I don’t know if it’s too soon to go back and start reading them again.

  13. I read a few regency romances all enjoyable but not fabulous. I remembered Anne Gracie and read The Perfect Rake. It may have been from the early 2000’s. Anyway it was fabulous! Loved the rake. Loved the subtle humor. Loved the heroine. For days afterward it made me smile.

    1. I’ve only read her blog posts, which I enjoyed, but have yet to read any of her books. This sounds like a good place to start.

  14. I’m listening to Gin’s new one, Rhubarb Pie Before You Die, and I know it’s going to be good so I’m mentioning it before I’m finished. I think the body is about to be discovered.

    I got a hard copy of Network Effect from the library the other day and so that’s on the pile for the next few days as is Kim Harrison’s American Demon.

  15. I read Slippery Creatures, which was just what I needed. Not too heavy, just enough mystery, just enough romance and good characters who grow. Looking forward to the next one.

    I usually reread a Christmas Carol every year, but I just couldn’t do it this time. Not enough faith in mankind left in me at the moment?

    Merry Christmas all.

  16. Finished Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. An outstanding novel! I don’t often like mainstream, but this one worked.
    Joanna Bourne’s Beauty Like the Night was a regency romantic suspense. With spies. An OK read but no more.
    Re-read Ilona Andrews’ Nevada Baylor series: Burn for Me, White Hot, and Whildfire. Such good books! I tore through all 3 books in 5 days. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the next books in the series , with Navada’s sister Catalina starring, nearly as much.

    Did you see this article:
    A comic take on writing romantic comedy. What do you think?

  17. I read This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens, which was recommended by someone here and it was very worthwhile.

    I also read the next two in Elly Griffiths Magic Men 1950’s mystery series that starts with The Zig-Zag Girl. Also very good. My wife is enjoying book two right now.

    1. I forgot all about Glory Road. I may have read it half a dozen times, but I doubt I’ve read it this century.

      Thanks for the link. For $1.99, I’m giving Pupcakes a try. 🙂

  18. Finished ‘The Boyfriend Project’. Looking forward to the next one.

    Now I’m reading ‘How the Dukes Stole Christmas” in the hope of getting into the holiday abit. As usual, so many good recommendations.

    Will proably dream of Sophie and her Pacific journey.

  19. Not so much reading this week because this is the one week hubby and I decided to watch holiday movies. We didn’t want to do a whole “lead in to the holidays” thing and limited ourselves this year. Which has worked out well.

    So far we’ve seen a few new ones and a “new-to-us” old one called The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant. Today is Christmas in Connecticut, also old, but a fave of ours. A few so-so bits, but overall a nice holiday movie. Plus fun to see for the writer aspects.

    We have yet to break out Desk Set or Holiday with Katharine Hepburn but may squeeze in those as well.

    Happy holidays, all:)

    1. I love Holiday with Katharine Hepburn, I always felt his couple friends the Potters especially were excellent in that movie

      1. I love Edward Everett Horton! I remember loving his voice from the Fractured Fairy Tales on Rocky and Bullwinkle and then when I saw him as Mr. Potter all I could think was, “No wonder he sounds so cool!” It was a real Eureka moment for me.

        1. I thought Hans Conreid was a voice in Fractured Fairy Tales. He also played Uncle Tonoose(?) on the Danny Thomas show.

  20. I missed reporting-in last week and have been averaging a book a day, so it’s way too many to go into. Continuing the holiday-themed, mostly-M/M trend.

    Favorites include ‘Humbug,’ a Christmas Carol homage by Joanna Chambers (novella); ‘Operation Fake Relationship,’ by Jay Northcote; ‘Winter Oranges’ by Marie Sexton; ‘The Christmas Deal,’ by Keira Andrews; ‘Mr. Right Now,’ by Annabeth Albert.

    In the not-exactly-a-romance category, finally read ‘Prosperity’ by Alexis Hall. I am now only two titles from finishing the Complete Read. (Would have finished yonks ago if I hadn’t already been re-reading.) I love Hall so much that I read things (steampunk, gaming) I avoid from other writers.

    Now going to read that Academia Meets Romance article. 🙂 Happy Holidays all!

  21. I finished The Grand Sophy ( and enjoyed all the comments about her trip across the ocean nd adventures too. Lol).

    I just can’t settle down to read anything else as it is raining out and the heavier rainfall isn’t expected until the early hours of the morning. With the warmer temps, the melting snow, and the additional rainfall, we are under a flood watch. I don’t think I can take another flood, especially after the Halloween flood of 2019. I am keeping an eye on the camera overlooking the local creek. The water has risen since this morning but it’s not near flood level yet. Keep your fingers crossed for my poor area, please!

  22. Although it’s been sitting on my Kindle for a while, I finally started in on HOW TO RAISE AN ELEPHANT, the newest in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series. A nice peaceful read for Christmas Eve.

    Also barely begun, THE VERY SECRET SEX LIVES OF MEDIEVAL WOMAN, by Rosalie Gilbert. So far it seems pretty lighthearted. TALES OF THE MARRIAGE BED FROM MEDIEVAL FRANCE, which sounds pretty exciting, is actually a sociological analysis of a lot of marriage contracts and has very dense content, so you never know what you’re getting.

    Rereading UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS, the last Ben Safford mystery by “R. B. Dominic,” actually the Emma Lathen ladies. Congress is hardly recognizable, in a good way!

    And I plan to reread A CHRISTMAS CAROL, just for the scene of Nephew Fred’s holiday party, which has become my favorite part in recent years.

    At this moment, a kitten is napping just above my keyboard.

  23. I’m back in the space where it is hard to concentrate on a book. I read TEN THINGS I HATE ABOUT THE DUKE earlier this month though, and it was so much fun that I felt the need for more Loretta Chase. So I re-read VIXEN IN VELVET this week. Now I will probably just pick another Loretta Chase since her books are generally delightful.

  24. This week I read One of Us is Lying, then One of Us is Next, and started on Two Can Keep a Secret. Because holidays are murder? Fantastic writing and the whodunnits are not obvious.

    1. I missed One of Us Is Next. Thanks for the heads up.
      I’ll read One of Us Is Lying again first, I think. It was so good.

      1. It’s one of those books that is so well constructed you can read it just to admire the technique. She has a 4th book out also, The Cousins, so I know what to read when I finish Two. : D

  25. I have decided the flip side to smirking is anyone pouting. Do. Not. Pout. You’re an adult – if you’re teasing, it can be a moue of disappointment or related, but a pout is what BABIES do. Stop it.

  26. Read Loretta Chase’s Scoundrel series this week, thoroughly enjoyed. I’m now reading the Fallen Women and Dressmakers series and the one Cat Sebastian I haven’t read – A Delicate Deception. It’s a little too delicate for me so I’m mixing it up with Chase’s Dressmakers series. PS – has anyone tried out the Netflix Bridgerton series yet? Love Julia Quinn and very happy for her.

    1. I tried the first episode. They kept saying they were in London when in fact it’s mostly filmed in Bath. I used to live in Bath. So every time they said they were in London, my kids and I were saying, no actually you are in Bath.
      More seriously, I found the dialogue terrible and some of the characters vile, especially the oldest brother. I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief and get invested in the characters.
      It’s a shame really as I remember quite liking the series when I read it many years ago, especially the second one I think.

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