This is a Good Book Thursday, January 7, 2020

I re-read a lot this week although I did start a new-to-me series, Novik’s Temeraire stories. The first story is a little military-ish for me but she’s such a lovely writer that I’m sticking with it. I also read the NYT, WaPo and 538 obsessively last night while the Capitol caught fire, metaphorically. Thirteen more days. I’ll just bury myself in a good book.

What did you read this week?

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66 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 7, 2020

  1. I’ve just finished Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim, which I really enjoyed. And I started Hot and Badgered by Shelly Laurenston last night, and realised round about 4am that I should probably put it down and go to bed. It’s a bit violent from time to time, but it put a big grin on my face and escalated rapidly to one of the three honey badger shifter sisters shooting down a military copter with a rocket launcher. I was in the kind of mood where a rocket launcher seemed like a perfectly reasonable way of dealing with problems, and I love the snark.

  2. This week has not been a great for reading, mostly b/c I have been writing fanfic (good!) and only a little bit b/c of certain *Someone* with a blocked Twitter account and way too many violent groupie fans (bad!). That’s all I’ll say about that.

    I have really been enjoying Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher, an author who I know has been mentioned here before. I don’t read a lot of fantasy romance, partially b/c it often veers a little bit too into the angsty and dark territory for me. Perfect escapism for the moment. And since I have to monitor my son’s online school performance most of the morning, I intend to keep my phone and laptop faraway from myself and read while he works.

  3. After watching Bridgerton I’m back on the Julia Quinn books. Very light and relaxing in these literally and metaphorically dark times.

    1. Loretta Chase re-reads have been helping me considerably. Mr. Impossible, Lord Perfect, and especially Last Night’s Scandal. And, always, Heyer.

  4. I was thinking earlier this morning of a book I read over fifty years ago Rabble In Arms by Kenneth Rogers. I had to look it up to refresh my memory of this then engrossing story. In my mind it is about a young man from Maine which was then part of Massachusetts and his involvement with the American Revolution. I pray we are not seeing this in reverse. Enough of my maudlin thoughts.

    I am reading the Ballad of Hettie Taylor by Susan Andersen. It is about an orphan who becomes the ward of her distantly related aunt after her parents die. It starts in 1899. We meet her at age eleven at the train station where her aunt’s son Jake comes to bring her home. The first words Jake hears her say as the porter tries to help her off the train are “keep your sonovabitchin’ hands of me mister”. There are some dark elements along with Hettie being ostracized because she is so brash and outspoken and only one real friend her age. I haven’t gotten too far into it but as usual I read the end just to be sure I wasn’t getting duped.

    1. Mary,
      “as usual I read the end just to be sure I wasn’t getting duped.” Love it. Often read the end myself just to be sure. Hard earned money not to be wasted especially now that I am officially unemployed, not ready to say retired, too much to do and more time to do it. Cheers.

  5. Finished up the Ancillary trilogy, now I’m listening to Jim C. Hines Janitors of the Galaxy series. Apparently outer space is where I want to be these days.

    1. I will say about Hines books, every now and then they make me laugh right out loud, which I am especially grateful for today, as i go about my yesterday’s chores listening to the audiobook.

    2. If you want a space romance, which would mesh two of your genres, try Local Customs by Sharon Lee and Steve Millar. They have written a bunch of novels in this universe and family. Some I like better than others.

        1. Never mind, the Liad series — if anyone isn’t familiar with it — is highly recommended. I would say that they’re comedies of manners like a good Regency! Start with the first books — CONFLICT OF HONORS , AGENT OF CHANGE, and CARPE DIEM, and then try SCOUT’S HONOR, PLAN B, I DARE.

          Then take on anything.

  6. At the end of last week, I finally read The Angel of the Crows by Katherine Addison. I had saved it until I had enough time and head space to appreciate it. I don’t want to say too much about it, because I don’t want to spoil it for others, so I will just say that I enjoyed it.

    It’s a new year, so I was looking for something new to read. I went to the books recommended by Martha Wells in the smartbitchestrashybooks interview and have started reading the Lotus Palace series by Jeannie Lin. I was expecting a world building fantasy/historical romance mashup, but so far it is historical romance/mystery. I think I must have confused authors or series – it’s been a while since I listened to the interview and my memory is pretty bad. Expectations aside, I am enjoying it very much. Even once I reset my expectations to historical romance, they are still surprising. Her characters are interesting. Their interactions are unexpected and yet completely believable. I have no idea what is going to happen next, which is rare and exciting.

    Hopefully the real world will not be as exciting for a while and I can finish reading without turning on the news every 10 minutes.

  7. I am rereading Murderbot. I couldn’t possibly focus on anything new right now. It’s interesting to compare it to the Ancillary series, which I just finished. I never really cared too much about any character in the Ancillary series, while I care a lot about Murderbot!

    1. Oh dear. The library fulfilled three hold requests today. Now I have some new books to read. All Argh favorites, so hopefully they will be all pleasure.

  8. I quit an audiobook part way through, it was horrible. Like how-did-this-get-published horrible. So bad I returned it to Audible and got my credit back.

    I already raved about Gin’s book on Tuesday.

  9. I didnt read much this week but I had a great time listening to David Tennant’s podcasts. I especially liked his ones with Judi Dench and Neil Gaiman.

  10. Courtney Milan’s Trial by Desire and Proof by Seduction. Both books stand alone beautifully.

    Courtney is a really empathetic writer, depicting her characters flaws without humiliating them.

  11. Thank you to everyone who recommended Alexis Hall! I read Glitterland, and it was so good. It’s about an erudite man who is bipolar and his love interest who is a model from Essex. The main character’s mental health issues make this book not as light-hearted as Boyfriend Material; however, I found it much funnier. The scene where the model is describing the painting by Paul Delvaux cracked me up. Glitterland is a reread for me.

  12. I’m finishing a Loretta Chase I’d abandoned. For fun, I re-re-re-reread Faking It, because I love those Goodnights and Dempseys so much!

  13. I’ve had a run of near-misses – some just not my stories, even though well written. I end up reading into the small hours because I can’t sleep and want to get shut of them. I think it’s time for more rereads.

    1. Oh, hugs. When this happens to me I set my alarm for about half an hour before sunrise. Then I aim to sleep early. The bad feeling against a book coupled with lack of sleep is not worth the effect on my day. So I aim to be enjoying my loose-leaf stove-top brewed breakfast cuppa by sunrise. Very soothing.

  14. I read The Little Paris Bookshop. Honestly, it was just okay. It was advertised to me as a “literary apothecary” who can recommend any book for your mood, but really it’s about a guy who finds out his true love died 20 years ago and dealing with the long-postponed aftermath of it all. It was Literary Fiction and well, I am not usually into that much. It was pleasant enough but I won’t remember it a year from now.

    I read Axiom’s End and ended up liking it. I totally agree that I do not think our species can handle interacting with aliens. That said, it’s interesting. Though there is a weirdly…sorta romantic…aspect going on between the main alien and his human translator that he implants things into so that they can talk, if that is an issue for you.

    Now I am onto To Have and To Hoax, which is fun.

  15. I read Crazy Stupid Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams. This is the third in the series and while I still think the underlying premise is amusing, some of the novelty has worn off. It was still cute with the guaranteed HEA that I want these days. What really stuck in my mind after all the discussion here about cliffhangers was the way the author set up the next book in the series. The book ends at the wedding reception for the couple featured in the second book. One of the minor characters is a Russian hockey player who is huge, not very comfortable in English, and famous for the lethal nature of his farts. It is hard to imagine him dating, let alone married. And the book ends with his wife, whose existence was heretofore unknown and who is drop dead gorgeous, walking in. It was a fine way to promote interest in the next book without leaving anything undone in the present one.

  16. I’ve been reading the same two books all week. DeMarce’s book and The Jennifer Crusie Collection. I’m at chapter five of the sixth book of the latter – Bet Me – and should be starting Maybe This Time tomorrow or Saturday. I may have slid some Huff and Goodlett in.

    I so love the idea of collections that take less room in the file directory of my computer or Kindle. Baen published (re-issued) most of Bujold’s Vorkosigan series as sets of three. I gathered all of the Sharing Knife books under a single umbrella. And there was an old hardback I once owned, Heinlein’s The Past Through Tomorrow that I searched for as Kindle… it doesn’t exist. Wanting it won’t make it so.

    Next week, new books only.

  17. I’m reading The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert and it is the fake relationship catnip I needed.

    Also I read Bob’s how to survive mob violence slideshow because *waves at current events*. Thanks Bob.

  18. This week I read three M/M contemporary romances, one of which (‘All the Way to Shore’ by CJane Elliott) I liked a lot. The others were not bad but might not get on the “re-read this someday” list. Also: ‘Skirting Danger’ by Kay Keppler (entertaining).

    Belatedly read ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ Started reading ‘Zero Sum Game’ by S.L. Huang and bailed out after chapter 1 because for some reason a preternaturally skilled young female mercenary did not appeal. Re-read Laurie R. King’s ‘Folly,’ which is a very good book.

    Watched all three High School Musical movies. The first one made us laugh a lot, the others were harmless and tuneful entertainment, plus Corbin Bleu.

  19. I love the Temeraire series so much! I hope you enjoy it. I read Rowan Speedwell’s Kindred Hearts this week and realized, weirdly, that the historical character I’ve most encountered in books (including the Temeraire series) is..the Duke of Wellington. And I’ve never read a single book focussed on him. He just pops up willy-nilly all over the place – starting with The Grand Sophy in my youth – and…here he is again. He’s like the literary six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

  20. PS – I asked my mother if she’d watched the news yesterday and she said no, why? I said because a mob had broken into the Capitol in Washington. And she asked (quite seriously) if they’d broken in to kill Trump. That’s how confused we all are up here in Canada.

  21. I’m still working my way slowly through All Clear by Connie Willis. The amount of research she must have done is astonishing. Reading about Britain in WWII reminds me that even with all the restrictions and upheavals going on, we really don’t have it bad, comparatively speaking. Strange that reading about the Blitz and other wartime horrors calms me, but so it is.

    1. I found the same thing reading The Doomsday Book. The fact that it happened so long ago enabled me to step back from the horror a bit. It’s still an immensely moving book, and also a reminder that these things have happened before and will happen again.

    2. I found rewatching Lord of the Rings incredibly cathartic for similar reasons. It was the repeated reminders that big bad things have happened before and that there was light afterwards, and that there will be light again.

  22. Just finished ‘Nothing to See Here’ by Kevin Wilson. It’s a quick read and a lot of fun about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she starts taking care of two children with an unusual ability. They burst into flames when upset or angry. I enjoyed it enough that I requested the audio book from the library. Looking forward to listening to it.

  23. Spending alot of time with the news, but I read Chase’s ‘The Mad Earl’s Bride’. Loved the wonderfully different and darkish and very ‘just leave me and my life alone’ hero.

    Now I’m reading Sophie Kelly’s ‘A Night’s Tail’ because magical cats and librarians and the news.

  24. I’ve been in a reading fog the whole long New Year weekend, reading “The hands of the emperor” by Victoria Goddard: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43525897-the-hands-of-the-emperor

    This is a book that is fantasy, not romance – there is no romance in it as a side-plot either – so I’m not sure how many people here will like it.
    I rarely post book reviews as I’m no good at it – whatever I say tends to turn people off. But this time I was so blown away that I posted one on Kobo.

    It’s a truly extraordinary book, full of interesting people, developing friendships and family dynamics, in an unusual world. The rich worldbuilding appears based on pacific islander culture rather than the usual vaguely medieval European fantasy setting, for the hero’s homeworld, while other cultures clash in the governmental capital. The unusual hero is a superbly competent (but sometimes underestimated) organiser and bureaucrat, trying to set the world to rights in the aftermath of a great cataclysm. No fighting and destruction, wars and mayhem – instead a gradual building up to a better world, both personally and for the world as a whole. Nothing bad happens!

    The primary group of characters are four men in late middle age, and one of the primary story-arcs is about working towards a responsible retirement and a peaceful transition of power.

    It may sound boring from this description, but it’s spellbinding storytelling which I can heartily recommend to anyone who enjoys long character-focused tales of personal growth with a positive taste.

    Here’s a link to Rachel Neumeier’s blog, who’s recommendation led me to buy and read the book: https://www.rachelneumeier.com/2021/01/01/recent-reading-the-hands-of-the-emperor/
    Maybe her and the Goodreads reviews can convince some of you to try it too; I’m so glad I did!

  25. I finished the first 9 books in Clare Kauter’s Charlie Davies Mysteries. These books take place before the Baxter & Co. mysteries that I read last week, but they became more important when I got to book 3 of the Baxter & Co. books because there became more crossover characters that were important in book 3.

    It turns out that the Charlie Davies Mysteries are also a lot of fun. Charlie is a walking disaster who gets a job as a receptionist in a large private detective agency and makes a bet with her worst enemy from high school that she can solve the mystery of who killed his rich uncle, and thus prove that he himself had not done it. Hijinks ensue, and they’re pretty entertaining hijinks. They take place in a medium size city in Australia.

    The first book is also free currently. Try it out. https://www.amazon.com/Losing-Your-Charlie-Davies-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B00TKIBO30/ref=sr_1_3?Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=0&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=0&dchild=1&qid=1610074174&refinements=p_27%3Aclare+kauter&s=books&sr=1-3&unfiltered=1

  26. I am reading Catch and Kill by Ronan Farrow. It’s a good book but with the news yesterday, it just seemed a little too much: small men with big egos who hurt people and deny responsibility. Might finish it after the inauguration.

  27. I haven’t read as much this week as other weeks. I am trying to slow down a bit. I read a book of short stories, The Deadly hours, by 4 historical (romance) novelists and I made a conscious effort to read it slower than I usually do. I read it for Susanna Kearsley’s story which opens up the book but I also enjoyed Anna Lee Huber’s story and especially C.S Harris’ which closed off the book. I think I am going to go and check out some of her books. There is one series of hers which I think may have been mentioned her but it has got 15 books already so it is a bit daunting.
    I enjoyed Naomi Novik’s temeraire stories very much so I must read A deadly Education at some point. So many books so little time!

  28. Big week for me, avoiding the imminent start of the new work year.

    A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine was excellent, as per reviews. Thought provoking, compelling and entertaining SF. It didn’t have Murderbot’s empathy, but I’d still recommended it.

    A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik, thanks for the recce. Loved it for the ragey, trying to be good heroine, and the twisting of the tropes (kids in magic school, heroes etc etc), and it’s entertainment factor. Brilliant.

    The Prince of Midnight by Laura Kinsale was pretty good, another nice ragey heroine and some people I was really happy to see offed. I also tried to read a histrom series I really wanted to like, because they’re getting lots of love and I wanted fluff, but I just didn’t. I thought maybe it was just the first one and they might get better, but it didn’t happen for me – I think the stories are there, but the writing drove me mad. Heroines trembling with rage and then waxing lyrical over the rage-inciters lips in the same paragraph (and we’re not talking angry list here). So I went and read about ART and the armed pathfinders.

    Lastly, I’m reading book 3 of Khurrum Rahman’s series, Ride or Die. The first two East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero are both excellent. MI5 spy thriller, where the spy, Jay, is a very reluctant, heart of gold small time drug dealer. Who is very funny. They are very very good, and were part of my intention to read own-voices books that broaden my viewpoints, and I thoroughly recommend them.

    Jay’s voice (while trying to drive away from a dodgy situation) “I executed a quick 5-point turn…”

    1. *Its
      *Lust
      To clarify, Jay’s a reluctant (and conflicted) spy, he’s perfectly happy dealing weed.

  29. Janet Evanovich’s Explosive Eighteen and Notorious Ninteen. I used to really love the Stephanie Plum series but stopped reading after Finger Lickin’ Fifteen. The character never seemed to grow and the endless flip flopping between Morelli and Ranger got old. I didn’t need her to end up with either of them but the constant dithering became old after fifteen books.

    I came across 18,19 and 20 at a book fair and decided that for $2 each they were worth a read. Stephanie still has the same bare bones apartment that people keep breaking into, no money, several rubbish cars that get blown up and the same two men. There is still no character growth for any of the characters but after not reading any of the series for almost 10 years it was enjoyable to revisit Stephanie again.

  30. “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, about her relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe. It reads like literary fiction, except for all the names as she describes the late-1960s New York art/poetry/music scene. This is about two peoples growth as they work fiercely to be Artists–pretentious until you realize Smith has lived that same passion for the last 50 years.

    1. Marc Maron interviewed her on his WTF podcast a few months ago. You might find it interesting. (I certainly did.)

  31. Ummm….. I’ve been re-reading (hello Murderbot) and C S Harris Sebastian St Cyr series.

  32. Oh !! Now I’m re-reading Nancy Martin’s Blackbird books (such a treat for this Philly gal).

      1. I’m lucky that I can access 2 Overdrive accounts – one thru my county system & in PA you can automatically get access to the Free Library of Philadelphia 😊

        1. It really bugs me when I see an ebook on sale (either a Kindle Daily Deal or thru Bookbub) and I don’t check my Overdrive accounts or Hoopla.

  33. Somewhere, either on my shelf or in my Kindle, there is a copy of The Postman. I can see the DVD of the movie. It isn’t exactly post apocalypse, it’s set after the fall of the United States. The antagonist says at one point that he was in DC when the Holnists took the capitol. The movie may be better than the book – the book got poor ratings – but then, so did the movie. Holnists are MAGAts. I’m not going to reread it. Too depressing.

    1. The book is better than the movie, Kevin Costner not withstanding. I actually thought it was mostly pretty good. It is depressing though.

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