This is a Good Book Thursday, April 15, 2021

I’ve been reading even more than usual–another Dick Francis (Wild Horses), a romance novel that annoyed me, the first two Murderbot novellas again, one of my WiPs to see if I still thought it was a worth finishing (yes, it is). I also have a stack of housecleaning books that I’ve gathered on the theory that “If I buy it, I will clean,” which turns out not to be true. Oh, well.

What did you read this week?

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85 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 15, 2021

  1. I finished “What Abigail did that Summer” (Ben Aaronovitch) last night and really liked it even if there are some things left that I didn’t quite understand. Could be that I just read too fast to pick up all the little details, could also be that I’m just not the ideal reader for supernatural stories. That said, I would still read any new book about Abigail, Peter, Nightingale and the Folly. And talking foxes, of course.

    I also read Sarina Bowen’s “Superfan” which left me a little underwhelmed. It’s the usual “He said, she said” structure, it’s the usual nice style of writing, but I just couldn’t connect as much with the main characters and the conflict they supposedly had. Too many very busy, very nice, very successful people plus one complete asshole to match. No surprises here – can’t tell you more without leaving spoilers.

    1. Isn’t it dreadfully boring having super successful people as characters?
      When reading the blurb I didn’t find it interesting in the least.

      1. I continue to complain that I like Sarina Bowen when she has more conflicts in a book, and these “sweet” romances with little conflict end up being ones I can’t even remember.

    2. I think she’s a good writer, but I think she writes too quickly to get the layering in, so after awhile, her books seem to be written to a pattern. One of the reasons I like The Year We Fell Down and The Year We Hid Away was that she had parallel problems for the lovers. In the first one the heroine has a spinal injury and the hero has a badly broken leg; they’re both coping with handicaps, but he’s going to get better and she’s not, and they handle that complication, too. In the second book, both the h & h have really big secrets for problems that are out of their control; there’s no Big Misunderstanding, they’re both trying to desperately to survive by keeping their secrets while things go to hell around them. They’re both good romances with honest-to-god problems that wouldn’t go away if they just talked about them. But a lot of the ones I’ve read are about beautiful people, many of them professional hockey players who make millions, and after awhile, they kind of blur together.

      1. I have the same issue with what seem like an endless series of billionaire heroes. They just run together.

        1. I have this feeling it might be what U.S. authors do because we don’t have dukes, earls or princes to designate power & wealth.

          1. I was wondering whether it was one of those economic indicators, like hem lengths or doughnut holes. I can certainly remember when romance heroes were more accessible — military, professional, modest businessmen.

      2. Her Accidentals also has real depth. The daughter is trying to come to terms with living with the father who literally ignored her until her mother died and the father is trying to figure out how to be a decent person when he has two new important people in his life.

        I also like Bountiful, where two people who had a (not so) casual affair and lost touch meet up again two years later and he learns he’s a father.

        I just read her most recent book, Bombshells, and it didn’t work for me at all, for the reasons Jenny describes and because the plot has a couple of big Misunderstandings. Or maybe three.

  2. The day job and the Yale course on the Science of Well Being keep me occupied (quite a lot of home work to be done for the latter, like connecting with friends or family which was/is quite nice if time consuming).
    I’m not quite the fast reader anyway.
    But I managed to finish two K.J. Charles titles Unfit to print and Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting. Two examples that I don’t need a lot of plot to be thoroughly entertained. I liked the characters as well as how they talk. A lot! Band Sinister might be up next.

    Also after last week’s Dick Francis re-discovery I’m listening to Reflex. A book pile is waiting to be re-read. However, I got used to e-books lately. I can read them at night in bed without disturbing the guy sleeping beside me. Big plus. Major minus: nothing stops me from getting too little sleep…

    Also: listening to Transformation by Carol Berg, an old favourite. Yet this time round I’m a bit bothered by the illogical bits far more than before. Might be that when listening I can’t skim over some bits and notice others. Well, it’s fantasy…

    As always, life and books leave me behind in my Ancient Greek homework as usual… almost no revising done in spite of the three weeks off for Easter holiday (well, I only had 2 days off from work, one of which I spent on binging on the Science of Well Being course and talking about the latter to poor dh).

  3. Surprised by the Argher who prefers Heyer’s mysteries to her romances, I read Footprints in the Dark and Why Shoot the Butler? They were fine and especially satisfying because I hadn’t read them before. Prescient of me to buy them decades ago and carry them from house to house, eh?

    1. Yep, I bought 2 of Heyer’s mysteries for the same reason (different ones), but haven’t gotten around to them yet.
      I read What Abigail did that summer, and the new Alpha and Omega book by Patricia Briggs so I reread that series, and then somehow got distracted onto Dick Francis… 🙂
      Good to hear that you liked them too, I’ll keep them at the top of the TBR pile.

      Also thanks to Dodo for the reminder about the Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting; last time people here talked about it I could not yet buy it on Kobo, but today I could – one more for the top of the TBR pile!

      These Good Book Thursdays are good for keeping that stack nice and tall, no risk of running out of good new books any time soon. Thank you all for your recommendations!
      I’m still learning who’se tastes align well with mine, but I’ve found several fine new-to-me authors through people here that I probably wouldn’t have come across on my own.

    2. You know, somebody said that was me, and I’m pretty sure I never said that. I think some of her mysteries are brilliant, but I like some of the romances better.

    3. I prefer her mysteries as well. Part of it might be setting? I like the time period. And some really great good/bad leading men.

  4. The new Sarina Bowen romance and I started the Rivers of London series. Read the first four. Lesley… 😢

    1. The thing about Lesley is, you know why she did it. I’m not sure I wouldn’t have done the same thing in those circumstances. And she always protects Peter, no matter what. She’s such a great character.
      I love those books.

      1. I absolutely understand why she took the path she did. It was all sad to me, from what happened to her in the first book and how she tried to keep going even so. Just sad overall. I’m only just done with book 4, and I hope she makes future appearances.

        1. I have just reread the first book. I tried it some years ago and didn’t like it much – but so many Aaghers recommend it that I thought I’d try it again. This time I enjoyed it a lot. Going to read the second one. But I don’t like the sound of what is coming for Lesley.

          1. I was going to say nothing bad happens to Leslie after the first book, but that may be too sunny an outlook. Leslie takes control of her own life and is never daunted, never a victim again. Leslie is fearsome.

      1. And at a conference session, I was delighted when one of the presenters referenced Welcome to Temptation and Jennifer Crusie as an example of an author who uses intimate scenes to reveal characters to each other and the reader, while keeping the humor going.

        Not that I needed another reason to reread WtT 🙂

  5. Currently in a reading flail but I started Practical Permaculture and it’s so soothing compared to, y’know. *waves at everything* I have a bunch of books pre-ordered that I am dying to read but they aren’t out yet. Also I have no attention span right now. But hey you should see me studying the seed catalogs.

      1. My neighbor has an 8-acre permaculture farm. There are pics in Jono Neiger’s book, Permaculture Promise, and the website is https://wildsidegardens.org. Owner Sue Bridge grows stuff that could feed many people — and everything she chooses to grow reflects the changing climate. I am frightened by the idea of the world shrinking/devolving to the size where we have to grow everything we eat.

        So I stick to nurturing native plants and planting pollinator gardens.

  6. I read True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling. A sweet and funny romance by a British author. The 2nd in a series of 4, but you don’t need to have read the first one to enjoy it. It was just what I was needing, and immediately ordered the 3rd and 4th. Naturally, one of them has gotten lost in the postal service and the other is running a day late. So I started a new Devon Monk book instead, Wayward Souls, which has been sitting on my TBR shelf for a while.

  7. I re-read Alisha Rai’s Hate to Want You. I remembered the fun, drama, and angst. I forgot how beautifully the emotional part of the storyline is handled. I think it’s my favorite book of Rai’s I’ve read.

    1. It is definitely my favorite in that series. Since I’m having trouble getting my hands on a lot of her previous titles, I’ll leave the door open for future favorites.

  8. I’ve been reading several fantasy books from the Jane Yellowrock series and the Soulwood series by Faith Hunter. They are reliably good. Unfortunately, I have now run out of those books. Looking forward to the next Jane book in the fall. Have now moved on to the Poppy Fields spy series by Julie Mulhern. I like Mulhern’s Country Club mystery series better but Poppy is great fun to follow around the world! Poppy and I are in Egypt now. Meanwhile, waiting with bated breath for the new Murderbot and the new Katharine Addison.

  9. I check out books on organizing rather than cleaning, but with the same results, Jenny!
    I read Regency novels, older pubs I’d missed by Grace Burrowes. Went back to Venetia,
    after recommendations here–thanks! Re-reading Welcome to Temptation. Dipped a toe
    in a nonfiction book about 1303 plot to steal the Crown Jewels for my book club’s assignment.
    Jury is out on whether I keep going.

    1. It’s a bit like cookbooks. I love reading them but I usually make one or two recipes per book, with very few exceptions.

  10. For the last two weeks, I have been reading a lot of Linda Howard, following some recommendations here.
    I found the quality very uneven and with two books I read there were some serious issues with consent which made me permanently delete them from my kindle (these were not among the recommendations made here) but I did enjoy very much the Blair Mallory books for Blair’s hilarious inner voice and «  The last woman standing » for the absolutely gruelling physical training the heroine goes through. I am the least athletic person you can think of but somehow I love reading about someone suffering terrible pains and blisters and becoming physically competent .
    That’s probably why I also have this weird fetish for reading hockey romances even though I have never seen a match in my life (a bit difficult for a French woman living in the UK). I also really like reading about people training for marathons even though in real life, running is my idea of torture.

    1. Blair is fun. I really like Kill and Tell as well. That heroine has a steadfast spine of steel.

      1. I am afraid that Kill and Tell is one of the ones I found problematic because the whole way the hero seduces her while she is reeling with grief does not sit well with me, especially the thing with the condom, on the day of her father’s funeral. And the way she rationalises it because she loves him, no, I am sorry but no.
        Same goes for the horrible horrible « seduction scene » in the next book in that series when the heroine keeps saying no and he continues nonetheless because, you know, he can’t help it.

  11. Okay Judy A. Johnson, I had to google that 1303 plot and the book is on sale (The Great Crown Jewels Robbery of 1303) so I got it because … plot to steal the crown jewels!

    GBT is SO BAD for my book budget. 🙂

    This week I read 11 things, one of which was my own book, and several of which were short pieces. DNFd a trad Regency, got to 15% and just didn’t care. The setup was so promising – young lady gets medical training on the sly and practices as a village doctor – but neither she nor the presumptive hero was at all engaging or likable. Eh well.

    M/M short things: Re-read ‘Wealth of Unsaid Words’ by R. Cooper, which someone here recommended, so suspenseful: will he get the words out?! Re-read ‘Body Guard’ by Dassy Bernhard, a sweet little frolic. Also read ‘Division Bells’ by Iona Datt Sharma, another recommendation here, which is SO GOOD.

    Finished ‘The Black Powder War’ by Naomi Novik, which confirmed me in leaving the Temeraire series for a while. Based on summaries the next six books slog through the Napoleonic wars via lots of frustration and politicking which, eh. The Temeraire/Laurence marriage (for lack of a better word) is so unique and interesting, but ultimately this is about an oppressed class of sentient beings fighting, with limited success, for their rights. Which: small doses.

    Read four M/M things by E.J. Russell (good chance I’ll be knocking out a complete read of this author in 2021), three in the ‘Royal Powers’ multi-author series. Mayhem, hijinks, and true love.

  12. I read “A Cousinly Connection” by Sheila Simonson. I own two of hers, one of which I quite like, one that was just ok, but just found this one on Amazon. It was predictable, but fun.

    Also read “I temporarily do” by Ellie Cahill. It was free, and has been sitting on my kindle for weeks because…. modern day marriage of convenience?????? But she really made it work, and I laughed out loud more than once. I believed the relationship progression, so I can recommend it, and thank whoever recommended this author here.

    So there – two new to me books in one week, AND I managed to remember that it is Thursday.

  13. I read The Leaf Reader by Emily Arsenault, recommended by several people here on Argh. I had read the sample earlier and not been that impressed, but continued positive mentions here led me to try it again and buy the whole thing. It turned out to be a pretty good mystery in the end.

    I read Storm Glass by Jeff Wheeler, free from Amazon Prime Reading. That’s the one where they essentially loan you a book and you can have up to 10 of the books on that list on your device at any one time, so you have to ‘return’ some other book before downloading it. Y/A Fantasy with parallel threads about two 12 year old girls, one who is the daughter of the Prince Regent, and the other who is from the slums but is rescued by a retired admiral who wants to adopt her but the rest of high society objects to this strenuously. Lots of politics and world building. The rich live in mansions that literally float up above the fetid slum ridden cities below. There is magic, but no one is allowed to talk about it, it’s just called part of The Mysteries. But the girl from the slums can see ghosts. All in all it was pretty good. I’ve bought the sequel already.

    And I read The Earth Concurrence by Julia Huni. Y/A science fiction about a teen girl who gets taken along on her fathers exploration mission back to old earth, which had been abandoned 500 years before due to unlivable conditions after war, pollution and global warming. It was fun, although it was the kind of Y/A where the adults act like idiots because they are not capable of questioning their own assumptions even in the face of evidence to the contrary.

  14. I don’t have any finished books as yet to report on–I have several in progress–but I would like to mention last night’s purchase of “It’s Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You’re Single” by Sara Eckel because right now I have the ol’ “you’re too picky” and “you have to be self-actualized!” stuff being trotted out at me again and ARGGGGGGGGGGGH.

    1. Write to the author and explain that there’s a difference between “too picky” and “not a CONVICTED serial killer.”

      1. There is a youtuber, nice sweet girl who said since she is single, people keep saying she is too picky. As she pointed out her bar is so low it’s almost underwater, so no she’s not going there.

    2. The fallacy of “you’re too picky” of course is that if you won’t be happy with the person then you won’t be happy with them.

      Marrying someone you then want to kill is neither a recipe for happiness nor a good way to stay out of jail….

  15. Lol. My housecleaning books were a Peter Walsh one and a few zen/ Buddhist text. Nothing about cleaning stuck until I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying.

    I’m grateful for the philosophy tho’. It learned a lot and I think it helped me vibrate at the right frequency to connect with my current philosophy teacher.

    I’m reading Midnight Jewel by Jayne Ann Krentz. It’s one of her older ones that were not in our libraries years ago when I was devouring all things Elizabeth Lowell and Jayne Ann Krentz.

    It’s actually slow going, because it’s not a reread, so I’m seeing all of her stylistic choices laid bare.

    Will let you know how it goes.

    1. Midnight Jewels was first JAK I ever read, I am due for a reread, I did enjoy her early books a lot, but later she wrote a lot of different series and I like some more then others.

  16. Started DF Break In, finished Love At First, Kate Clayborn. Liked Love Lettering much more than Love At First. Both character driven. Read & listened to cleaning, basically it is jusy make up my mind and do it.

    Started Waking The Tiger, Healing Trauma, Peter A Levine.

    But, the shed is taking up days; levelling one side and painting the inside white so I can seeee what’s in there. And making it pretty on the outside, of course!

  17. Rereading was scattered. I’ve mentioned branches of Weber’s Honorverse saga, but for any Weber newby, the first six books are great! After that, he needed an editor strong enough to make him delete about 50% of what he wrote. He is the master of infodumping.

    I’m done with Laid Out in Lavender, too.

    Other than that, I’m working on The Great Library and that means finding many, many titles I want to reread some day soon.

    1. De Camp and Pratt, THE INCOMPLETE ENCHANTER et seq. Alas, they aren’t all available in ebook form.
      Laumer, RETIEF and BOLO — there are a couple of mega-omnibus + short story collections on Amazon, but I’d have to look carefully to catch overlaps.
      Poul Anderson — my goodness, there’s a sequel to THREE HEARTS AND THREE LIONS! Nicholas Van Rijn and Flandry.
      Clarke, CHILDHOOD’S END and RAMA
      Niven, RINGWORLD and MOTE
      Anvil, PANDORA et al.
      Schmitz, TELZEY
      Ashwell, UNWILLINGLY TO EARTH

  18. Jayne Davis’s The Fourth Marchioness was a new historical romance from this author, #4 in the series. Nice but rather colorless. I liked it the least of the series.

    Linda Howard’s Mr. Perfect was a blend of contemporary romance and thriller. A bit grimmer than I usually read but a great book all the same, with lots of snark and the irresistible humor this author is known for. The only black spot: the author killed two of the three heroine’s best friends. I was very upset with her. One would’ve been more than enough.

    Deanna Raybourn’s Silent in the Sanctuary was a DNF. I read 150 pages before I stopped, and in all those pages, nothing really happened. The author is still setting the scene for the main event/crime/calamity, but I got heartily bored of all that dithering. I want whatever upheaval is going to happen in a story happening at least in the first 100 pages. At least.

    Finished Sharon Shinn’s Unquiet Land. It was a reread and a delightful one. It is #4 in its series, and I just started re-reading (probably for the 5th or 6th time) the #1 – Troubled Water, one of my favorite books of hers. And probably in the entire fantasy genre. I love the protagonist, Zoe. She is such an interesting character that whenever she appears in the later books, even briefly, she always steals the show.

    1. Zoe is great. She does that completely unexpected thing when she arrives in the capital which goes against anything that a « normal » heroine does in a fantasy book. It surprised me when I first read and now it just delights me every time I read it.

    2. Troubled Water is my favorite of that series too. Zoe is such a fun character; I agree that she steals the show whenever she appears.

  19. I finished Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews, read Cry Wolf by Patricia Briggs and have almost finished The Gift of the Magpie by Donna Andrews. Enjoyed them all. Work is getting in the way of my reading. Damn this need for pet & human kibble.

    1. Totally with you on Troubled Waters being the best of that series. Have re-read several times.

  20. I was thrilled to learn that there will be a new Murderbot book out soon!!

    Reading…hmm. I’m reading a Gothic historical romance by Elizabeth Bailey, which is fun. I like her Lady Fan mysteries, so moved on to her romances, which are also entertaining.

    Also reading Last Bus to Woodstock, the first in the Inspector Morse mysteries by Colin Dexter. I think I’m enjoying it partly because I have actually been to some of the places in it, although I was a kid at the time. It’s a good mystery, and Morse is very flawed and vulnerable and endearing in a weird way.

    Also reading Glencoe by John Prebble, which is mostly for research purposes re the history of Scotland (because one of the main characters in my Regency mysteries is Scottish, and I’m trying to work out his backstory). Anyway, it’s fascinating history, but really depressing. So much violence, so many machinations, not much different from what we see today all over the world. Why are people so greedy and mean?

    I guess I’ll go read some more romance. And wait for Murderbot!

    1. The book I’m proof-reading talks about the strange (I think) jump in Scotland from the conflict of the Jacobite rebellion in the mid C18 to the invention of the romantic Scot with his brand-new, supposedly historic clan tartan and romantic crumbling castle in the first 20 or 30 years of the C19. Quite a lot of it engineered by Walter Scott. (The book’s about the shift in the view and study of history in the Romantic period, 1789-1841, and covers Britain and northern France, so not specifically about Scotland.)

      1. That’s very interesting. To me, James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, published in 1824, is the key to 20th century Scottish crime fiction. I particularly like the importance of redemption in the novels of Ian Rankin.

        Walter Scott sure had a huge influence on taste in literature.

        1. On taste generally: the French went even more mad (or at least went there earlier) than the English for all things Scottish after reading the early Waverley novels, although the French translator ‘improved’ what he saw as Scott’s crudity.

          I haven’t read Hogg; nor any C20 crime fiction.

  21. I reread Welcome to Temptation and Faking It. The characters are so warm, interesting and funny. The dialogue is as punchy as the best rom-coms ever made and the murder / mystery just adds another layer. The dogs are good too. I had forgotten Australia getting a mention so that was a nice bonus, not may books make reference to my part of the world. I have decided to revisit the whole Crusie and collab’s back catalogue AGAIN, something to really look forward to during the Winter months. It feels like visiting old friends!

    1. I keep forgetting that you’re heading into winter while we’re wallowing in spring here.
      And thank you for re-reading, too.

    1. Lois McMaster Bujold has a new Penric finished that she describes as a novel length novella.

      Happy anticipation all!

  22. Has been a grim week with the client setting up a daily 12:45 call to yell at me. The beatings will continue until morale improves. So I’ve been mostly re-reading Cat Sebastian for comfort. I did read a new (to me) Joanna Chambers book, A Gathering Storm, not her best but still good.

  23. I finished Louise Aronson’s “Elderhood” which is a tome, but it was fascinating. It explained the viewpoint and partly the history of a woman who completed Harvard Medical School, went into geriatric medicine, and explained really clearly what she saw as wrong and right about how the U.S. healthcare system treats older people. It was deeply empathic and she was on fire with her wish to make things better, plus she writes well.

    But it was a kind of monumental read, so I went back and started re-reading Diana Wynne Jones’ “A Sudden Wild Magic,” with its older female heroine. It has younger people and romance going on too, but reading about the amazing Gladys was the best thing about it. A wonderful bit of escape.

  24. If you’re in the mood for a crazy western (based loosely on an actual bill that went before Congress) I can recommend “American Hippo” by Sarah Gailey. One reviewer called it “A gift of violent, unexpected glee.” Cowboys riding hippos, gender-fluid characters, snark and sly humor, revenge and general mayhem. I couldn’t put it down.

  25. A slow week — actually with other things to do — but I have read with interest the Sneak Peek into A WITNESS FOR THE DEAD. Without spoilers, I can say that it’s 83 pages long — probably the first chapter, though it isn’t identified specifically as such — written in first person so far, and I am now looking forward with considerable interest to the complete release on June 22.

    Comfort reread is Trisha Ashley, WRITTEN FROM THE HEART, with the Noveltina Critiquing pieces. My poor Polka Dot doesn’t know what’s so funny when I’m giggling and snorting over this sort of thing in bed when she’d like to settle down to sleep . . . .

  26. Just finished the last of my never-before-read Georgette Heyer mysteries: The Unfinished Clue. What entertained me most was how Dinah in Unfinished Clue could be the sister of Tess in Strange Bedfellows. (I suppose great-aunt would be more appropriate to the difference in publishing dates.)

  27. Working on the latest Jodi Taylor. I am addicted to her St Mary’s Chronicles, as well as the Time Police series set in that same world. The craziness and banter are very entertaining, and the history geek in me enjoys the adventures.

  28. I am irritated beyond belief by a book I just read. It was a good reminder that, just because I enjoyed a recent book by an author, going back to their older books is not necessarily a good idea.

    It was a romance with the Big Misunderstanding. Several times over. And not only did the heroine leap to the wrong conclusion about the hero, she refused to talk to him about it. She refused to let him explain what had actually happened. How is that not an enormous red flag?

    Plus it had lashings of guilt on both sides because the heroine used to be married to the hero’s cousin. The fact that her husband had been dead for several years didn’t seem to come into it. Ugh.

    Oh yes, and it had that the-romantic-hero-must-have-a-huge-dick thing going on, which I hate.

    I rolled my eyes a lot. And shouted. And skimmed most of it.

    1. Yes, I would have, too.
      It’s not like relationships aren’t hard enough without acting like idiots.

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