79 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 6, 2023

  1. I’m rereading Jo Beverley’s Mallorens series, set in the 1760s. She’s brilliant at weaving history in without any info dumps, and I do love the Mallorens – though not quite as much as when I first read her, twenty years ago. The series starts with My Lady Notorious, although I first encountered them, and the author, by finding the last one, Devilish, in a London bookshop and devouring it on the train home.

    There are five of them, plus one follow-up that’s a keeper – Winter Fire, a Christmas story. Unfortunately, her stories really went downhill after that – although most of her Regency series (The Company of Rogues) is also good.

    1. Oh, and listened to Lian’s interview on the So You Want To Be A Writer podcast (starts just before 8 minutes in), talking about her process, which I found interesting and helpful.

    2. I also liked her medievals, particularly “Dark Champion” and “Shattered Rose” but only if you are in the mood for angst!

  2. I listened to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun, a novel set during the Biafra civil war in Nigeria during the ’60’s. Beautifully written. A tough read given the topic, the genocide of the Igbo people. The narrator was beautiful to listen to, and she could pronounce all the names that were difficult for my Western eyes.

    Other than that – I DNF’d three books which is unusual for me, and did a lot of comfort rereading. Most notable reread was Linda Howard’s The Woman Left Behind, which I haven’t read in a while so I forgot how much I enjoyed this one about a drone operator who joins the quasi-military team led by an (of course) very alpha male. My favourite part is the female MC who is never quelled, and always has a snarky comeback.

    1. I am a big fan of The Woman left behind. I love the way she goes from being unable to climb into the hero’s truck to complete badass really, rescuing herself against all odds.

    2. I love We Should all be Feminists and Adichi’s other short stuff. I haven’t been brave enough to do a full novel yet.

    3. I loved Woman Left Behind. I passed it on to my sister, who also loved it. By the time she remembered to give it back, I’d forgotten about it, so I got to love it a second time!

  3. I’m rereading Sarah Addison Allen (magical realism).

    I’m also reading a new Lucy Gilmore (I discovered by accident that one of my new favorite authors, Tamara Berry, also has another name and some books I hadn’t read, huzzah!). The Lonely Hearts Book Club is a wonderful book–women’s fiction, maybe?–and I highly recommend it. As Tamara Berry, she writes fun mysteries. Also, I met her in person at Coastal Magic in February and she’s clever, funny, and nice.

    1. FYI Deborah, just heard that Amazon is shutting down Book Depository on April 26. They are the best provider of books I get from the UK for me (and the university I work for). As a fan of authors from the other side of the pond, thought you might want to know.

  4. I am still in Pine Harbour with Zoe York. For such a small town, it really has a ridiculous amount of hot men :).
    Otherwise, I read a nice book with a very understated romance and an unusual title: H.C. Helfand’s Fee simple conditional.

    1. Ooh, flashbacks to law school and fee simple absolute, which is more common than fee simple conditional (altho I don’t recall why the “simple” doesn’t preclude the “conditional”). And this comes after the week of “rule against perpetuities” in the news (for being used to pull the rug out from under DeSantis in FL’s attempt to control Disney).

  5. Still in funk land, as far as reading goes. I re-read Dorothy Gilman’s Thale’s Folly, which would qualify as YA, if written today, I think. The quotes from old herbal texts that begin each chapter add an interesting note. It’s a story about a group of people once on the edge of society who become a family because of their benefactor’s generosity. “…Miss Thale collected people the way others collect stray cats.” It’s a very interesting collection of strays, into which a traumatized young man enters, and soon becomes attached. There are at least three mysteries, gypsies, buried treasure, and several love stories. It’s a comfort read for me. I def’d several others, and put them back on the shelf. Sigh.

    1. I had never heard of this, but good found family stories without anything truly terrible happening are exactly what I have been craving lately. In hooes this is one of those stories, I went and was able to borrow it from the library. Thanks for the recommendation!

  6. What I love most about this thread is getting great leads on books/authors I’ve either not heard of or haven’t read in quite a while!

    Right now, I’m plowing through books that I placed on hold through my library. I’ve also been buying books left and right – either online or for my Kindle – as I’ll be having hip replacement at the end of the month and plan to have a huge stack in my reading pile.

    If you’re into mysteries, try Rachel Howzell Hall’s series about LAPD Homicide Detective Elouise “Lou” Norton.

  7. My library has been very good to me this week 🙂

    Two space-set murder mysteries: “Station Eternity” by Mur Lafferty, which was far less cosy and far weirder than the marketing led me to expect and quite interesting.

    “The Spare Man” by Mary Robinette Kowal as a more straight-forward murder. The central couple Tesla and Shal were engaging, and I liked how Tesla’s chronic pain was handled. I absolutely loved her lawyer Fantine.

    Best though was m/m fantasy romance “A Taste of Gold & Iron” by Alexandra Rowland, which I loved. I loved the fealty thing and that the plot was driven by the need for currency integrity and the MCs were adorable and it just worked for me on multiple levels. I could see the flaws but I just didn’t care. Definitely the best thing I’ve read by Rowland.

    1. I’m reading Spare Man right now and already read Station Eternity.

      This week I finished Conquer the Kingdom by Jennifer Estep, a series I normally love, but possibly my eternal case of “work hates me, I hate winter, everything is awful” kind of poisoned my interest in that one because I wasn’t feeling it like I did the last two.

      I also read “Traitor King” by Andrew Lownie on the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and it is the biggest THESE PEOPLE ARE THE WORST ASSHOLES EVER you ever read. Admittedly, the motivation for this book is to expose that they were Nazi sympathizers (however, there’s not enough material on that to fill a whole book), so most of it is just how they were the worst people ever to deal with. That sounds about right, but also it literally throws in every single scandalous, probably bullshit sex rumor he could find without much in the way of evidence (for example, an illegitimate son for a guy who wasn’t totally physically developed due to a case of the mumps made me go “yeah, right”), how both of them were super gay, “sex tricks Wallis learned in the Orient,” etc. It was so slanderous/ridiculous in parts that it made me doubt the scholarship of the book, or at least parts of it. I felt dirty after reading it.

        1. Also, it’s not like they were the only people who were Nazi sympathizers, there are plenty of prominent families who don’t want anyone looking too closely at what they were doing before their country joined the war against Germany. Or at least before May 8, 1945…

  8. I read “The Dry” by Jane Harper which is a murder set in Australia. The protagonist is an Australian Federal officer who specializes in Financial crimes going back to his home town to attend the funeral of an old friend. This old friend apparently committed a murder-suicide, but there are questions so the hero – Aaron Falk – sets out to investigate along with a local police man. The usual secrets are uncovered and justice is wrought.

    However, I don’t think I can read this author any more. One of the murders was the hunting and killing of a young boy and, although, I skipped over details during the initial description of the death, both the detectives and murderer tend to linger over how the boy died. Also, there is a LOT of head hopping in this story. There are thoughts from some of the victims, the murderer, the investigators, and bystanders.

    I also read “The Sinister Booksellers of Bath” which is the sequel to Garth Nix’s “The Left-Handed Booksellers of London”. This book had humor, pathos, mystery and action. I really liked it. But, then I do like Garth Nix.

    I am currently reading the “The Princess Who Flew With Dragons” by Stephanie Burgis – the third book in a series starting with “The Dragon With A Chocolate Heart”. This series is pretty YA, but, very cozy. It’s all about finding friends and yourself. In the first book, there are lots and lots of descriptions about chocolate, so be warned you may become hungry while reading it. The third book on the other hand contains descriptions of being travel sick, so do not read while eating.

  9. Had a good run of reading. I think I read fast but my attention span is diminishing. This year I’ve been averaging 3 books every 2 weeks and move from knitting to puzzling to crosswords to reading. I just can’t settle in my leisure time. Still post-pandemic weirdness? Who knows.

    Anyhow. Really delighted to have read Vivian Shaw’s series about Greta Helsing, medical practicioner to the supernatural. Strange Practice, Dreadful Company and Grave Importance. The MC encounters vampires, mummies, werewolves, and others, with references to classical horror literature throughout. Just a bit like the tv series Penny Dreadful but much more satire, dry wit and practicality. Liked it very much.

    Also finished the re-read of The Body in The Library. Great Christie, great plotting and I love Marple.

  10. I’m still reading Victoria Goddard’s At the Feet of the Sun. The ebook says it has 2900 pages. I’ll be here a while. It’s so nice to be back in Cliopher’s head.

    I DNFd the first book in a SFF series that sounded good, and had interesting characters and a well-developed setting and a consistent magic system, but…. I got almost a third of the way through before I sent it back to the library. If I had nothing more grabbing to read I’d still be reading it, but it just didn’t do it for me.

  11. I read quite a few internet pages about the U.S. Navy this week (research) which is prompting me to compose a Tell Me About It letter to my father, who was in the Navy and who has hardly ever spoken of his experience.

    Read four new-to-me M/M romances of various lengths, none of which were wholly pleasing, one of which was mostly annoying (to the point that I almost DNF). Re-read ‘Against the Grain’ by Jay Hogan, which has ALL the conflict but I like big chunks of stuff, and re-read my own ‘Be Mine’ because it’s been a while and I needed reminding.

    Also re-read ‘Anyone But You’ by J. Crusie, which is one of my all-time favorite F/M romances. 🙂 Would gobble a story about big brother Max!

    In non-fiction: ‘Secret Historian’ by Justin Spring. It’s a biography of a professor, tattoo artist, porn writer, Kinsey collaborator, hot mess named Samuel Steward (1909-1993). Not a quick or easy read, despite fluent writing and a light touch; Steward led a difficult life. As secondary source material for anyone writing about the experience of gay men in 20th-century America: essential. My sister gifted me the ebook for Christmas and I’m really glad she did because I might not have discovered it otherwise.

    1. A few years ago I googled my father’s ship from WWII. He was onboard for the duration of his time in service. That was from 1942 to 1946. They were in convoys back and forth across the Atlantic from here in the US to the North Sea down to Africa and then from June of 1945 to the Pacific, the Philippines and Japan. Until he finally came home in 1946. He rarely spoke of it, too. I recently bought the movie Greyhound with Tom Hanks and that features one crossing. My sister called last week asking if I had any information on our parents’ service, seems there is a query about our mother’s service. Was she a WAC or WAAC. I couldn’t see the difference but apparently an elderly aunt wants to set the record straight. I found the record and copied and sent it on to my sister. She can deal with the aunt. Which makes me think that I should make copies of other documents and send them on. I shouldn’t hold on to them.

      1. I loved Greyhound, thought it was really overlooked that year and Tom Hanks in particular should have got an Oscar nomination for that performance.

      2. My mother was a WAAC in the Philippines during the war. She met my father on a troop train during a snowstorm somewhere in the Rockies. True to form, she was mad at him during most of their conversation at a shared dining car table.

        When we went on vacation later on, they would do dueling fight songs in the front seat of the station wagon: “Oh, off we go, into the wild blue yonder, flying high into the …” “Over hill, over dale, we will hit the dusty trail, and the…” “sun!…” and so on.

        1. My mum was an army nurse in the Northern Territory, nursing soldiers who’d just returned from Timor, PNG and the Middle East. That’s how she met Dad, who was back from the Middle East. I now deeply regret that they didn’t have dueling fight songs.

      1. I had a proposal for that, and it was accepted at Harlequin, but then they changed their contracts and I had to walk away. The proposal was called “Jane Errs.” The other book on the contract was for a book about Newton from What the Lady Wants and it was called “Newton, the Rat with Women.” Both proposals are now long gone, but I still love both of those titles.

        1. Well not really I suppose as many excellent authors got started with Harlequin. But what wasted opportunities!

  12. I had to dnf a new book by an author I usually like, but I was deeply annoyed with both leads, and especially the male main character.

    But I did listen to Honeymoon for One by Keira Andrews and that was very sweet and low drama. Every time I thought the Bad Thing was going to happen the main character stepped up and diffused it. I was also really impressed with the amount of research the author did on the Deaf community.

    1. I’ll try Honeymoon for One – although I haven’t been a big fan of her books…but this sounds good.

      1. Sometimes she goes bad in the middle to the end for me, but sometimes I really like them. This one was fairly uncomplicated, which is always a nice surprise.

        1. Yes, that’s been my experience with her too! That I start nodding off in the middle, so definitely will try this. By the way, if this represents your reading mood at the moment, you might way to try One Giant Leap by Kay Simone – it’s about astronaut-comms cap guys who fall in love over audio without seeing each other; there’s some competence porn in there, and it’s unbearably sweet.

  13. K.M. Shea’s Crown of Moonlight and The Queen’s Crown were ## 2 and 3 in the series Court of Midnight and Deception. They were practically one story, as the book #2 ended on a cliffhanger, and the book #3 continued right after the other ended. Happily, I had them both on my kindle, so I read them back to back. And I liked them. I’m becoming addicted to this writer. Her stories are very light. They have some romantic flavor, but mostly they are urban fantasy adventures. I already bought her 3rd series, but maybe I should wait a bit to start it and read some library books first.
    Madeline Hunter’s Heiress in Red Silk was an OK historical romance. Readable.
    Mimi Matthews’s The Work of Art was meh. I did finish it but I didn’t enjoy it. In the author’s afterword, Matthews wrote that this was her first written novel, although it wasn’t her fist published one. Her lack of experience showed. It was the first book by this writer I actively disliked, and I’ve read several of her novels by now. I generally enjoy them. They are quiet and clean historical romances, right up my alley.

  14. I read three T. Kingfisher books this week: A House with Good Bones, Nettle & Bone and Illuminations. I DNF Illuminations because I found it boring but really enjoyed the other two. And I have been reading Daniel O’Malley Rook series, which was recommended here. I really enjoyed this and am looking forward to more.

    1. How was A House with Good Bones? One of the reviews I saw on Audible said that the book took a twist and not for the better. Now, I take reviews with a grain of salt the size of a small car but when people mention structural things I pay a little bit more attention. I once read a book that started out as magical realism and took a hard right turn into evangelical Christian fiction for the second half of the book.

      1. I am not a writer and tend not to notice structural problems. Anything I say about it will probably make it sound unappealing and I like it. It is one that does not have a strong romance component although there is a suggestion of romance. If you liked Nettle & Bones, you would probably like this. It has that same weirdly strange feel to it.

  15. I listened to Legends and Lattes. As mentioned here, it was sweet and mostly slow-paced character building. A nice found family theme.

  16. I can’t say it has been a good week for reading or listening. I want the next Murderbot diary. I want book six of the Vixen War Bride series. I want the remaining chapters of Variation on a Theme Book 4 (which will hit chapter 87 of at least another 30 or 40 tomorrow).

    What I did read was Tamer Enhancer 1 and 2, stories of hot alien sex and survival on alien worlds full of dinosaurs. Green women. Blue women. Teal women. Invisible women. Orange striped women. Six-armed women. And the hero is an Engineer who wants to Build Stuff.

    I’ve been listening to Lessons in Chemistry. It lost me somewhere, I may have to start over. I was distracted.

    While cleaning and rearranging, I found Jo where she had fallen behind the headboard and plugged her into a charger. Jo is my second Kindle Fire – the first was Joe – and is currently my only tablet computer.

  17. I’ve restarted “Maybe This Time” (which I have to read at least twice a year) because I can’t get my ghost fix anywhere else. I NEED another ghost story from you! Current, interactive, scary as hell. I NEED another one.

    1. Maybe This Time is one of my favorites of JC. Have you tried Sarah Wyndes Gift of Ghosts series? She comments on here sometimes. I love that series and that first title has my all time favorite sex scene (not graphic and not sex with ghosts lol).

      Also – Nora Roberts did a trilogy with a ghost haunting that was good. 1 Blue Dahlia 2 Black Rose 3 Red Lily

      1. I love the ghost in the garden series by Nora Roberts. Blue Dahlia is my favourite. It’s wonderful how the haunting escalates as they get closer to solving her mystery. She wants them to know her origins but not the whole truth.

  18. Reading The Lefthanded Booksellers of London finally, which I kept meaning to do and kept not doing and now I wish I hadn’t waited so long. On to the sequel!

    1. Same here. I just started it last night and I had totally the wrong idea of what it would be like. So far I am inclined to think it will go into the reread pile. Very good book.

  19. I reread The Widow of Rose House, which I really like. The read ‘The Truth According to Us’ by Annie Barrows. I think someone here recommended it, and I really enjoyed it. Though Felix – what a prick that man was.

    1. And now I don’t know what to read. I’ve got a shelf full of library books, three of which I’ve already discarded. I find there is a very fine line between amusing banter and irritating try-too-hard chatter, and one of the books fell into the latter category.

  20. Definitely been a comfort read week. Between the three days of migraines and the dirtbag who hacked my debit card and ran up $800 in fraudulent charges on my checking account, I’ve been feeling a little stressed.

    So I read all three of Patricia Wrede’s Sorcery and Cecelia books. And last week it was her Talking to Dragons series. I think I’m going to move on to Dorothy Gilman next. Thank you, Jan Kindwoman, for reminding me of Thale’s Folly. I’ll start there.

      1. In theory, yes, I do get the money back, but the dispute process can take weeks. The real problem is there is nothing I can do to prevent it from happening again. It was a computer generated attempt at a variety of online vendors until one of the numbers they tried worked. The only way to stop it from happening again is to cancel my debit cards and redo the way we handle our finances. Thus, stress.

        The migraine is over for the moment, thank you for asking.

  21. I’m reading garden catalogs and magazines and books. I find them simultaneously soothing and exciting. What ho, Spring!

    1. I’m reading lots of gardening magazines, too – my library’s emagazine service gives me a couple of good ones, and then there’s the RHS magazine. I’m bored with the pheasant grass I grew from seed, so looking for new ideas. Off to a plant sale in half an hour with a friend!

  22. I read book 3 in the Miss Fortune series and am halfway done with book 4. While it’s a light & fun series, it does not have the bingeworthy quality. The good thing is it surprises you with the crazy antics. The bad part is the supporting characters dont have much to do. Even Carter is in a very passive state so far, but he did something unexpected in book 4. Ill try till book 8.

    I read the first 2 books in the Grey witch series by Hailey Edwards. The female lead is a dangerous witch in hiding and the male lead is half fae half daemon. Her series alsways has unique supernatural creatures. I love the theme of found family in all her books. There’s a lot of warmth and compassion with cool magic systems.

  23. I started a reread of Kerry Greenwoods series featuring Corrina Chapman. Someone in critique essentially said my writing was flat. No indication of one thing being more significant than another. Thought if I reread KG looking for how she does that it might help.

    And it might.

    Bonus I immediately got back into the stories I love.

    Will move on to Maybe This Time reread when I finish Kerry.

    1. I’m rereading Michael Gilbert mysteries. I’m really glad I splurged and bought most of them. It looks like heirs switched publishers and the e books are no longer available from the old one and only three are available from the new one. Those three came out in spring 2019. I can’t imagine why they stopped with three.

      I’m also going back to reading about the World War 2 war crimes investigations and the Dachau war crimes trials of the people who actually ran the camps. My dad, who was a 20 y o German Jewish refugee and an American army sergeant, interpreted for the investigators and was forced to interpret for the defense team. Since he lost four close family members (3 grandparents and an uncle , all of whom he lived with at various times ) in the war, 3 in camps, being forced to interpret for the defense of those who might have been responsible for tbeir mistreatment and death must have been tough. I’m trying to learn more about what it was like but find I alternate between intensive reading and not being able to think about it.

      I started doing this shortly after he died in 2014 and was really struck by some of the pictures of him at the defense table —he looked very much like my son who was about the same age in 2014 as my dad was in 1945. It made me realize how young he was and how stressful this must have been.

      Every time I come back to researching it there are more books and more files on line .

  24. This week I read mainly Tube directions and city maps.
    Have started to reread Risk Taker by Lily Morton because the guys live not to far from where dd and I are staying in London.
    Slowly I get a feeling for this huge city.
    The folks here are so much friendlier than at home.
    And though some sights are REALLY expensive, eating eg is less costly than at home…
    Today is our last full day. Both if us (ddaughter & I) don’t want to leave.

    We’ve also been at Churchill’s War Rooms. Very sombre feelings there. Especially moving for dd as she realized that WW2 did not happen in the distant past but that her grandparents were small kids when all this happened.
    I’m rather glad they learn about this whole mess at school at an age when they do think about it more deeply and get the chance to discuss it in class. As they did after their school trip to Dachau.

  25. I keep dnf’ing (is that a word?) books, but finally I’m deep in the middle of a biography of E.B. White that has finally reached the moment when he begins ‘Charlotte’s Web,’ and I am hooked.

    Some books are central to your early reading history, and after Winnie-the-Pooh, that book is one of mine. My third-grade teacher read it out loud to our combined class in what had been the cafeteria. It would have been some 70-odd eight-year-olds, crammed into an echoing space, and the book, doled out in short segments with illustrations in the book itself raised above her head and slowly turned so that everyone could sort-of see them, was so fascinating that we were silent each time we were able to listen.

    I was very vague about White’s history of writing — I’d read his three children’s books fairly long ago, and a few of his shorter pieces in magazines. I hadn’t realized that the White in Strunk & White was him, nor that he was one of the most notable writers in the first years of the New Yorker. But now I want to read every book he wrote.

    He was a sweet little boy, a sensitive young man, and just a fascinating adult person. Before he loved the complex collection of animals on farms, he loved dogs, particularly dachshunds. He knew and raised pigs, cows, chickens, and collaterally, many spiders. He worked his way diffidently into wealth, married his editor, and lived into the 1980s, which amazed me.

    I am off to the library to reserve every book they have by or about him.

    1. I have read I think all his essays and letters. They are well worth it.
      Pretty much every letter has an amazing phrase —I remember one that said “ I can only imagine that you tripped over the First Amendment and thought it was the office cat”.

      1. Also I don’t think Katharine Angel White was his editor—they were both on staff at the New Yorker, after she recommended he be hired.

        Come to that I’ve read her biography and most of the published essays of his step son Roger Angell which were also excellent.

      2. That time and place must have been an amazing one. Harold Ross (who ran and started the New Yorker) sounds like a uniquely wacky but obsessed guy — apparently he played poker with the Marx Brothers, and worked hard to somehow get all the people around him to create not just another magazine, but one that would give the atmosphere and feeling of the city at the time as the best young minds were living it. And Katharine was apparently in charge of finding the people with the literary voices to do that. There’s a photo of her and White at some event the year after the magazine started — she looked like a kind of Renaissance madonna: dark hair pulled back from her face, quiet, contemplative, but so intelligent. And it sounds like they were made for each other.

        1. Yes. I hope your library has his letters and essays. I think you would really enjoy them .

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