This is a Good Book Thursday, April 22, 2021

Just finished Crazy Rich Asians (yes, I am the last to read it) and the Murderbot short, and eh. Murderbot is always fun, but it read like some of Aaronovitch’s shorts, not really constructed as a story, more like outtakes. Still fun to read. Also some Michael Gilbert short stories that were well-constructed, and parts of Sh*t My Dad Says, which was funny, probably because I didn’t sit down and read it all the way through; it’s the kind of book you read a section in, laugh, and then go do something else.

What did you read this week?

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71 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 22, 2021

  1. I read Jeannie Lin’s short, Teacher of a Drunken Sword. A tightly woven piece that packed a punch. And it reminded me why I hated short stories for many years. I always feel like I want more!!!!!

    Ann Aguirre’s latest just dropped into my reader. Pre-orders shock me sometimes.

      1. If you like mystery then start with the Lotus Palace series. 3 books and a novella. The Hidden Moon is my favorite.

        If you want more of a historical romance then the series that starts with Butterfly Swords. Fave here is The Dragon and the Pearl.

        She’s also written a beautiful version of Mulan and a steampunk series that I haven’t read yet. But really it’s all good.

      2. Tang dynasty series, Butterfly Swords is good for more traditional historical or Gunpowder Chronicles series Gunpowder Alchemy for steampunk.

    1. LOVE the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, read all 3 books over winter holiday, definitely best when read in release order!

  2. I read the last two Loretta Chase’s that I hadn’t read, both earlier work which proved that she was always That Good. My favourite was Knave’s Wager – yes the bet trope, but so well done. I also read four Lisa Henry books, all M/M. Two of them, Tribute and He is Worthy were just so filled with rape I almost gave up on her, and then I read Anhaga, fantasy novel and so great! Phew.

  3. I bought and read the Murderbot series and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the recommendation! Short stories are often harder for me to enjoy. I did like that A-Z paragraph short story that you wrote, Jenny. Such a fun idea for structuring it and it was so vivid and funny.

  4. Every day life was too busy, so I just managed to read one book, Band Sinister by KJ Charles (yes, I’m still in a KJC-mood). I was nice 🙂

    I still continue with listening to the same books I listened to last week. It takes so much more time listening than it does reading…

    In between I’m very looking forward to Bujold’s next installment and HAVE to read the various Penric novellas that I haven’t read so far.

    Also: read a lot of Ancient Greek grammar.
    And a couple of samples. Nothing spectacular.

  5. I’m in work deadline mode, so most of what I read wasn’t all that much fun.

    I’ve been listening to the Chronicles of Narnia narrated by famous actors. I’m getting them in a random order from the library, but I’ve read them so often that it doesn’t really matter. They are great comfort listens.

    1. The Chronicles of Narnia were some of the first novels I loved as a kid. I read them right after I read the Little House on the Prairie Books, which is when I discovered I was more into magic and witches than plot-lines about churning butter.

  6. Does anybody else do the yearly reading challenge on goodreads? I’m not into it from a competitive sense but I feel better when I read regularly so it can be a useful reminder to sit down with a book. Currently I am a book behind! Time to finish off something short I’ve already started. Maybe The Outsiders by S E Hinton.

    1. I don’t anymore. The reminders and pacing were adding stress to my stress relief. But it’s nice that it works for you.

  7. I read quite a few things where I skimmed the middle and checked out the end and gave up. Some by authors I usually like. I’m plodding through something I expected to like a whole lot, but it’s so painful I can’t read much at a time.
    Luckily, I’m first in line for the new Murderbot at my library. Next week, I hope to have it in my hands.

  8. I read a series this week which was ok enough that I read all 6 books but not good enough to recommend here. I only want to talk about the really good stuff on Argh 🙂
    So, I’ll talk about a reread instead: «Breathe, Annie, Breathe » by Miranda Kenneally. I really like this book. It’s a beautiful story about grief and how to love again and also about running. I decided to reread it to motivate myself to do more exercise but it is the emotional journey that gets me every time. Annie is such a lovely character. It’s a New Adult book I suppose but I think it speaks to anybody who has experienced bereavement.

  9. Reading for book club: Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale by Adam Minter. very accessible–he reminds me of Malcolm Gladwell in style and tone. So I’m again feeling guilty about all I own, most of which no one will want when I’m gone.

  10. Ugh, I just haven’t read anything and finished it. Nothing appeals to me in my avalanche of ebooks. I feel like it’s all a bunch of eh. And one book I auto-bought after reading the first one I was already dragging through, and then I read Smart Bitches, Trashy Books this morning and it got a D review and it sounds like it gets even worse and…never bloody mind.

    Oh well, my birthday’s in a few days and hopefully my mom got me the books I asked for so I’ll actually want to read SOMETHING.

    1. Oh thank you for that! I just gobbled it up. It’s like an appetizer before the main entrée.

    2. My thanks as well. In my head canon, I’m calling it the preface to Network Effect. And that’s my book(s) for Good Book Thursday: The Murderbot Diaries (now including this short) up to chapter 12 of Network Effect. I was reading it on my littlest Kindle in the waiting-to-leave area after my second Covid vaccination. Yes, I’ve preordered Fugitive Telemetry, too.

      Official Weigh-in Day: 285.6, down 12.4 pounds since last Thursday. 🙂

        1. Thanks aunt snack. It already has. My fasting sugar is down 30 points all week and in the 100-121 range. Certain symptoms of Diabetes are mitigated as well. 😀

  11. I just read the Murderbot short piece on Tor.com. I also can’t call it a story, like Jenny said it feels like an outtake, but I did like it.

    I’m listening to the Murderbot novellas and enjoying them.

    I read SoulStar by CL Polk, the last book in her Kingston series and quite enjoyed it.

    I listened to Good Girl, Bad Blood the second in Holly Jackson’s Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series. I liked it but not as much as the first one. I figured out parts of the mystery early and I felt like it wasn’t a tightly controlled as the first one. Still, it was enjoyable.

    1. Now that I read the final book in C.L. Polk’s trilogy, I need to go back and reread them since I have the full context. Loved Soulstar! Her Midnight Bargain is good, too: a sort of Regency with mages.

      Been rereading Joanna Bourne’s spy Regencies (love the characters). Am also doing rereads of Patricia Briggs’s books (even the older fantasy novels), and probably will reread the Bloodhound mysteries by Virginia Lanier. Mysteries aren’t my thing unless the characters do more of the driving of the plot, but her main character is terrific.

      Otherwise I’ve been reading mostly nonfiction, researching for a story/world, so not much more recent to share.

  12. I’m listening to the Murderbot Diaries on audio, and kicking myself for waiting so long.

    I tried listening to the audiobook of Crazy, Rich Asians because I loved the movie, but I had to DNF it. I found I have a low tolerance for incessant descriptions of designer clothing and accessories, and it just made me scowl until I gave up.

  13. Read several uninspiring DNFs before stumbling on a book I could finish and enjoy: Jim C. Hines’s Terminal Alliance. It was a crazy sci-fi romp, perpetrated by a bunch of janitors. Quick and goofy. Also a good example of team building and the value of knowledge. I’m not usually a fan of such a zany writing style, but I already ordered book #2 from my library.

    Also watched several interviews with the duo Ilona Andrews on Youtube. Loved them. Afterwards, read a few free short stories on their website. I especially liked the one from Arabella’s POV, The Cool Aunt. It happens right after the disturbing ending of Emerald Blaze. If you’re unhappy about that ending, go read the story. Another story that made an impact was A Mere Formality. Lots of smut and humor, balancing each other. Porn as an intergalactic negotiation tool. A lovely story that kept me smiling long after it was over.

    Now I’m in the middle of re-reading (for the 4th time, I think) Royal Airs by Sharon Shinn. Lovely as always.

    1. I love everything Jim C. Hines writes, but the SF series is a riot (as one might expect from a series called Janitors of the Apocalypse). Terminal Alliance is a blast.

    2. The Cool Aunt was very satisfying. I didn’t care about Arabella much until that story. Now I really want to get to know her better.

  14. My book club is reading The Grace Year by Kim Liggett, and I finished it this week. I’d describe it as The Hunger Games smushed together with Mean Girls and Lord of the Flies. It’s definitely a page-turner, but I had quibbles with several bits.

  15. This week I read six things and DNFd one. Two things were short; one of those a Cat Sebastian re-read (‘Tommy Cabot Was Here’) which I loved again, and the other ‘Penhallow Amid Passing Things’ by Iona Datt Sharma, which is really unusual. Lovely writing, I wanted a bit more of it.

    Otherwise all M/M romance novels, of which one set in Australia was disappointing, two which are modern fantasy were mostly fun, and one was a modern English farce – not as great as the first by this author team but still entertaining.

    The thing I DNFd was a F/F historical set after WWI. Opening scene of MC1 returning home with her erstwhile commander’s horse was promising. Then there was a ton of speechifying internal monologue. Then MC2 was introduced and I was like gaaahh cannot read a whole book about this person. Next!

  16. I reread Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn after the comments here and read Moon Called by Patricia Briggs. Much more enjoyable but not as useful as the owner’s manuals for a recalcitrant lawn mower and trimmer.

  17. I read A Stranger in Town by Kelley Armstrong. It’s the sixth book in her Rockton series.

    I’d be interested to know what you thought about Crazy Rich Asians, Jenny, because it’s one of the very rare occasions where I felt the movie did it better.

        1. I decided, some time back, that if I saw the movie (and liked it), I wouldn’t bother with the book. And vice versa. There are exceptions, of course. Pride and Prejudice comes to mind, and the Harry Potter books. But there are eight “based on a novel by Nora Roberts” movies that I liked and haven’t tracked down the books and never will.

          1. My mother and aunt went to FRIED GREEN TOMATOES and came home with the comment, “It had the same title as the book.”

    1. It’s one of those books I enjoyed reading and don’t care to read again. I thought the ending came out of nowhere and some of the assumptions were pretty strained–knowing his family as he must, he didn’t realize his girlfriend would need a head’s up and then some defense but just threw her to the wolves?–and there were so many different story threads that keeping track of the characters wasn’t easy (yes, I know, glass houses), and I got tired of all the damn money, but I finished it without flipping to the end so it kept my interest.

      1. I felt like the book missed the significance of community and family in the resolution (much as Nick underestimated family) while the movie nailed it in a way that I found satisfying.

        1. It felt like the author was focused on how toxic family was instead of seeing both sides; Nick and Rachel’s friends were more supportive than family; family always lied, tormented, intervened because of reputation not to help, etc. I thought that was one angry author.

          So maybe I’ll watch the movie after all. Didn’t want to after the book, but it sounds like I got that backward.

          I still haven’t watched The Bridgertons, either. I’ve been off TV/Film for months, not sure why. Maybe because reading is more within my control? Interpretation? I dunno.

  18. Read DF Break In and Bolt. Enjoyed both very much. Onto Hot Money and Joan Didion, Slouching Towards Bethlehem essays. Bought a few more DF books. Glad to be over the listless reading hump.

  19. I’m reading The Wicked Lover by Julia Ross. It’s an old paperback I found while giving some books away. The writing is often quite poetic. There’s a lot of sexual tension, which I don’t usually care for as much as I used to, but it’s balanced so well with a meeting of minds re both fun and principles, that I’m really enjoying it.

  20. I started the Left-Handed Booksellers of London, and it seems promising, but I only had time for a few pages. Planning to finish it tomorrow in my day-after-second-Moderna time off.

    Other than that, it’s all Murderbot re-listens, all the time. (Why, yes, it’s been a bit stressful for me lately, why do you ask?)

    We’ll need a spoiler-allowed thread in another week or two to discuss Fugitive Telemetry. It’s going to be my reward for finishing my WIP (first draft only), which only needs four more scenes.

    1. PS I forgot to mention, it may be a while before the next Murderbot after next week’s. I hadn’t seen any announcements of a contract, so I went looking on the author’s website, and she says she’s working on something else, so, given publishing timelines, it will likely be more than a year, maybe two, before the next one.

  21. Read the Murderbot short because of course. Also read the first 2 Gallagher Girls books by Ally Carter and am now reading Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher which I’m told is as awesome as the Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.

    1. I really liked Paladin’s Grace. There’s another in the series that I haven’t read yet, Paladin’s Strength, I think. Hmm. May need to add that to my vax-shot-recovery-day list of things to do.

  22. I should be blushing as I write this but I pulled up a recommendation from SBTB on my library online section. So the two Gary’s can move on to the next post while I mention this book. It is The Vagina Bible by Jen Gunter. Pretty self explanatory in the title. It is all you ever wanted to know about the vagina but were afraid to ask. I’m just going by chapter headings as I browse through the book. Interesting indeed. If you feel this is inappropriate please delete.

    1. Lol. I once worked with a very sheltered young woman who was telling me about this play that her college put on that outraged everyone and lost the college donors. She wouldn’t even tell me the title because it was “dirty”. So I made her write it down. It was The Vagina Monologues. I was gobsmacked, and I am afraid that I laughed at her. I had no idea that in this day and age the proper anatomical name for a body part could be offensive…

      1. I did a production of The Vagina Monologs a fewyears ago with Alison Arngrim among other people. I loved it. I played Flood. It was a fabulous monolog. Alison log ago played Nellie on the Little House series. During the run we sawpped books .She bought my NF picture book Earthquake and I bought her bio Confessions of a Prairie Bitch and I definitely got the better of the deal. It’s a wonderful book. I recommend it highly, https://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Prairie-Bitch-Survived-Learned-ebook/dp/B003L77ZVQhttps://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Prairie-Bitch-Survived-Learned-ebook/dp/B003L77ZVQ
        I put up the PDF version of Earthquake! for free for Earth Day.
        I’m going to leave it for free until I can republish it. If any of you want a picture book with lost of factoids and a couple of experiments, please download it.
        https://www.dropbox.com/s/gsqd4onvwtx2zm0/Earthquake%21%202%20edition.pdf?dl=0
        The are more experiments on my website. And some good emergency lists. https://www.susanjberger.org/earthquake
        I had just getten the website up when my publisher went under.
        Happy Earth Day all. I am going back to reading False Colors. I had forgotten how much I loved that one.

      2. I was listening to a radio program about a man who used to work at the American Antarctic base, and who started up an anonymous newsletter about the over the top bureaucracy. Some of them wanted to produce The Vagina Monologues, but they were told they could only do it if their promotional material didn’t mention vaginas. At all.

  23. Comfort read: Trisha Ashley’s A LEAP OF FAITH. I had forgotten the heroine’s acquisition of a discarded dentist’s chair which, with a few accessories removed, could be adjusted to a perfectly comfortable position in which to dictate the next chapter of her WIP, DARK DESTINIES: DEATHLESS DELIGHTS. Did Ms. Ashley channel Barbara Cartland, who claimed to be vouchsafed her next work while ensconced on a chaise longue, in a pink marabou robe (according to Google, available locally for US$150 from Sears, Walmart, and Torrid)? I did especially enjoy, this reading, noting the odd choking noise the hero made when he noticed the chair . . . .

    Reread also: Elsie Lee was mentioned by someone other than me, so I happened to pick up her contemporary ROOMMATES, four girls in New York in the 1960’s. It’s a bit dated, especially as everyone ends up swathed in mink coats — REAL fur — and I noted a fair amount of brand name dropping. Not as much as other authors later, where the heroine is poor-but-honest and somehow no one drinks anything but Famous Name liquid, or wears any but Famous Name clothing or jewelry, all but descending into a Jane Austen parody. This read, however, I noticed the clever foreshadowing with cartomancy — the cards were predicting the future very briskly, but the heroines were misinterpreting them. Like all good foreshadowing, it misdirected nicely!

  24. Someone, or several someones, here on Argh recommended Zoe Rosenthal is Not Lawful Good by Nancy Werlin. An awkward high school senior with a social justice warrior boyfriend keeps her fandom for a cult science fiction show called Bleeders a secret from him, but ends up befriending a group of fellow fans at a convention she secretly attends and tries to prevent everyone from finding out she’s doing anything so frivolous as she and her new friends try to prevent their show from being cancelled. I enjoyed it more than I expected I would.

    I also read Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt. The second book the in The K Team series that he spun off from his Andy Carpenter dog themed mystery series. Corey, the ex-K9 officer, gets framed for murder and Andy ends up defending him. So much more like an Andy Carpenter mystery but seen from an outside perspective since Cory is the narrator.

    I also read Paranormal Nonsense by Steve Higgs, the first book in the Blue Moon Investigations series. An ex-British army officer opens a private investigation agency, but the typesetter for his newspaper ad makes a typo and lists him as a ‘paranormal’ investigator. Before he can get it corrected business suddenly floods in and he starts investigating curses and hauntings, inevitably proving them to have mundane causes. But then a vampire starts tearing the throats out of random people. I enjoyed the first one quite a lot and I’m hoping the sequel is as good.

  25. I purged my bookshelves last week of 4 grocery bags of books that I and the kids liked but didn’t love, and decided to put my favorites back with their next of kin since everything was shoved back in kind of mish mash. This prompted a reread of favorites, so I ended up reading Bet Me, which put me in the mood for Fast Women, which led to Faking it, and next up is Welcome To Temptation.

    Jenny, I love how timeless your stories feel. As a kid of a divorce, and as a woman who has spread, *grin*, I love the message that one may struggle, but overcome, one may get a lifetime of bad messaging from an insecure parent, and learn to love oneself, and above all, we are all worthy of love, respect, and self knowledge and can tackle it all.

    Two parents have passed in the last three months – age, and medical stuff. One was a romance writer from the 80’s and 90’s. Lots of ripping and ravishing and pirates and cowboys. Which I loved. Don’t get me wrong. There is and was a place for that in my love affair with reading.

    Just. Thank you for putting good work out there. Everyone has a place for their stories, and I really, really love yours. Your characters stick with me. Even if it is fiction, we can aim for that. We can and do find people who love us as we are.

    Keep working on your next few stories. I feel about your stories the way you feel about Murderbot. Can’t wait for the next one.

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