This is a Good Book Thursday, May 18, 2023

This week, I sorted through books. Many, many, many books. Moving is the pits; it doesn’t give you any time to read.

What did you have time to read this week?

103 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 18, 2023

  1. I’m binge reading Laurie King’s Mary Russell series, which are about Sherlock Holmes and a young woman he takes as an apprentice after he semi-retired. I’m thoroughly enjoying them.

    1. That is such a good series. Some I like much better than others but they are all interesting and absorbing.

    2. I love that series. LRK is seriously good at making the reader feel they are really visiting exotic places.

  2. I am mostly rereading again, and finishing up things I started on my Kindle. Nothing bad, just not really recommendation worthy.

    I had bought Honey Phillips’ Cyborgs on Mars anthology on audio book when it was on sale and that was a good companion for my housework. Just fluffy and fun. Simple plots and a fair amount of sex, with a fun setting.

  3. Real life was extra stressfull lately and especially bad last week, so I only managed to finish “Merry Measure” which was nice but short with ultimately too little meat to chew on for it to be a keeper. But fun for sure.
    Since then I dipped into Shorg Stack, also by Loly Morton. We meet thr whole bunch of guys from her Mixed Messahes series, little vignettes for her readers or chapters cut because they didn’t fit into the book’s flow. Nice, too, but pointless for any reader who hasn’t read the series. And short enough to fit into the very sparse pockets of reading time inbetween work and preparing mentally for the Harry Styley concert I went to yesterday with my men (dh, ds). Dd was there, too, but in the pit, where the sound was so much better.
    Last year at the Ed Sheeran concert we had “cheaper” seats (not under the roof) but far better quality of sound yet less enthusiastic fans 😀
    Last night: Very few men around 😉
    Tonight I’ll pick up dd from the stadion = her second Harry Styles night. I’ll make sure to be on time to listen in again, as it’s open air and we’ll be surely able to get much of the experience outside. Am curious about the sound…

    1. Regarding the next book to read – there’re too many on my tbr mount everest. I ought to read some of my “real” books next, just to not always use my phone.
      I might run out of steam with my beloved hockey books, now that my favourite two teams lost in the playoffs (condolences to Tammy and the Leafs fans, too) and it doesn’t look good for my national team at the world championship (they played very well againt Sweden, Finland and USA but lost anyway). Big sigh.

      1. Yeah. Broken hearts again in Toronto. Torontonians are perpetual optimists though about their team – already talking about next year being different…

        1. Good for them!
          I liked the reactions from the Kraken’s side: respect for what they achieved while the oilers were just devastated.
          Now we’re watching the IHW championship – very interesting how different the European skating style is, how much bigger the rink is, how few of the players even those from the US and Canada I recognize…

          1. Now I’m curious, Dodo. I know nothing about ice hockey, but how is the European skating style different from the North American?

          2. Lian, the rink in Europe is ca. 5 meters wider. I guess that has an impact on the skating style. The nordic teams I’ve seen seem to have a more elegant way of skating, with hints of figure skating. The way the NHL teams I’ve watched skated seemed more stakkato to me, with sometimes mindblowing skill in the various “steps” (for lack of a better expression). My theory is that less of a space to skate favours this style. I may be mistaken and only imagine this. But I like the mind blowing variety 😉

          3. I wonder if European hockey players have also gotten more training from figure skating coaches on their edges, etc., something that really only started to happen recently and sporadically with North American players?

          4. Thanks, that’s so interesting. My impression of ice hockey has always been, ‘go in, try to kill your opponents, see how many of your team survive’.

          5. Lian, I never had an interest in ice hockey before I got addicted to hockey books this winter. My impression before was the same as yours. But sometime in the near past the rules seem to have been changed (Tammy surely knows better), so there’s less fighting and more playing. The sport is dangerous enough. And fighting is so not my thing…
            That it used to be different can be seen in the comments to e.g. insta clips where some guys bemoan the fact that players nowadays are too “weak”. Players wo get cut up by skates, patched up together with 75+ stitches snd are back on the ice 30 min later….

          6. I went to college near the Canadian border after suffering through Ohio high school football–killed the knees on both my dad and brother–and just fell in love with hockey. It’s a great sport, really fast, and takes a lot of skill. If I have a favorite sport–I don’t–it’s hockey.

          7. Football is so hard on the body. But it is also king in Central Pa. It’s a shame really, with all the studies on repetitive head trauma.

          8. Jenny, I agree totally. Hockey is so fast and needs so much skill, fast reflexes and strength, speed and endurance.
            In soccer when there are 40 seconds left on the clock, the game is more ore less over. In Thursdays game between Germany and Denmark two more goals were scored!
            The health risks due to e.g. head trauma are real, too.

  4. The best thing I read last week was Book 1 of a series by Jessie Mihalik: “Hunt the Stars.” It’s a kind of perfect mix between SciFi and romance — and when you mix that with tight plotting and a good balance between narrative and the explication of all the worldbuilding background, it’s really fun to read. Female captain of a small spaceship meets terse, handsome General of a planetary space army that once almost defeated her.

    After that, I was back to the library for volume 2: “Eclipse the Moon.” That one is huge fun too, starring the thin, rainbow-haired girl who’s the first heroine’s tech wizard, and her adventures off the ship trying to solve a mystery and at the same time avoid jumping her terse, telepathic bodyguard (who of course she has a crush on. Recommended. 🙂

    1. Darn it. Don’t you hate it when you fail to end a phrase with the closing parenthesis?

  5. I am slowly re-reading my e-copies of Illona Andrews Innkeeper Chronicles in anticipation of borrowing the Fate’s Edge books in paperback from a friend.

    I finally feel like I want to read fiction, and there’s a few series that I left incomplete so I’m re-starting with Melissa Caruso’s The Tethered Mage and The Defiant Heir before I get the third book.

    1. Fair warning, aside from On The Edge, the rest of that series is darker than IA’s usual fair. The first one is the only one that I reread, but it is fun to meet baby George, Jack and Gaston.

      1. I read them before in e-copy but homegurl has ACTUAL BOOKS!!! That’s the draw.

        That and bonding with her over these books once I refresh my memory. We’re a relatively newer adult friendship of ±6 years over whatsapp once she left her job that I’d met her at.

        I can’t handle Kate Daniels but Edge stories are ok.

  6. What a week!

    Books first, of course. The serial (Variations on a Theme) continues. I wanted to look something up, and ended up rereading Maybe This Time and Sizzle. Also Tamer: King of Dinasaurs by Michael Earl Vincent. There’s a lesson there about looking things up.

    I started Veiled Magic – looking good so far.

    Baen published another treecat book by Weber and Lindskold: A New Clan. I love treecats. They dragged me back into the Honorverse.

    Washington Post Seven. Not the quiz. It annoyed me that I needed clues.

    The dotter took me shopping. I bought gardening supplies for both of us. I increased the amount of horizontal surfaces for plants in the Garden Room. For the dotter, topsoil and dirt. We seem to have an abundance of clay.

    1. You were annoyed when the quiz was too easy and now you’re annoyed when you need clues?

      1. The best single link (to avoid moderation purdah) I can give is to click on my name to go to my blog and select category “gardening.” My blog posts have lots of links, including circular references back to Argh Ink. Also lots of pictures.

        I’ve noticed that when I search on Amazon for a specific company (iDOO Hydroponics, AeroGarden, Click & Grow) they will offer less expensive alternatives, of which there are many, as well as alternative methods.

        Enjoy! That’s the bottom line.

    2. I recommend your daughter start serious composting. Leaf bags and grass clipping bags, coffee grounds, and worms. Lots of worms. Dirt layers between each couple inches of green matter. And search out some stables nearby. Used, manure-rich sawdust stable bedding is a great way to heat up a compost pile, which improves the soil a few months later enormously.

    3. For clay soil, adding compost, and/or a sprinkling of chalk (once or twice) yearly before you mulch it will help to make it more workable and moisture-retaining.
      I’m on clay soil myself, and it has improved a lot over the years just by doing that.
      Even for the lawn, adding a sprinkling of chalk powder every spring has been useful.

  7. It’s been a week of contrasting romcoms. I’ve gone from a contractor whose catchphrase “I can fix that” is perhaps the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard, to a guy whose superpower is being really anxious (Which means he’s absolutely compelled to fix stuff. Actually maybe these are sort of the same book?). If you’re interested then they are “I Can Fix That” by Juliana Smith is on Kindle Unlimited (UK) and Secretly Yours by Tessa Bailey. Some of Tessa Bailey’s books go a bit far for me but the characters in her more standard romcoms have enough edge to be interesting.

  8. I read a novella called Secrets on a Train, I think (?) recommended by Chacha1 a long time ago, and enjoyed that. Finished three MCA Hogarth books in the Pelteverse series – Mindline from early on and Dragons’ Fealty and Scions’ Flight later – still immersed in this universe obviously. Onto the next two. I also re-read an Eliot Grayson re-release of Brought to Light, still not my favourite of hers.

    I finished listening to the first SK Dunstall in the Linesman series and am now in the second – ohmygosh I am loving this sci fi series so thank you, Lian and LN.

    1. You are welcome… but really you should thank Argh because I only read it because it was recommended here many times by many people!

      1. In that case, I thank the universe of Argh. Someday we really should put together a list of Books That Many/Most Arghers Like. Murderbot will of course be first on the list. Maybe Jenny can organize a special post for that on an off day some time?

      2. There should be an Argh Ink bookclub. If only to get all of the recommended books on one page 😍

    2. So glad you’re feeling the love for Linesman, Tammy. It’s one of my favourite rereads. Their second series – two books only unfortunately – is also wonderful.

  9. Oh no, Jenny! You’ve got to read at least a little… It’s like toothbrushing, an essential hygienic part of your daily routine.

    As for me, I am still engrossed in Dick Francis’ backlist. Since last Thursday, I have read:

    Banker
    Straight
    Reflex
    Flying finish
    To the hilt
    10-lb penalty
    The Danger

    I have enjoyed them all but if I had to pick a favourite among them it would be Straight for its tale of brotherly love delicately woven through the story.

    I really enjoy DF’s female characters. I came across an excellent article written by a Canadian academic, Rohan Maitzen on that subject, very readable and astute. Here is the link:

    https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/spinster-victim-soldier-spy-dick-francis-the-evolution-of-female-characters-in-crime-fiction/

    I also reread Jenny’s great post on him and the comments that followed and I really liked Lane’s comment on his writing:

    “Hooked me on competence porn, and what my mother always calls “transparent” writing. Where it’s just so smooth and clean that all there is in your head is the character and the story.”

    I like this idea of transparent writing but at the same time, I find myself stopped short sometimes both by what he says and how he says it and wanting to write it down and remember it.

    That’s it, I am now a diehard fan!

    1. I’ve resisted reading Francis for a long time, and I don’t know why. Suggestions for where to start, or does it not matter?

      1. I started with Hot Money but read Jenny’s post on him where she gives her top 5. It’ll help you decide!

        1. I too started with Hot Money, and it’s still one of my favorites. The ones I reread the most are Hot Money, Proof, Banker and To the Hilt.

      2. my most frequent DF re-reads are Hot Money, Straight, Proof, The Edge, and High Stakes but I’ve read every single one of them at least three times. 🙂

  10. When I was driving all over on Tuesday, I started listening to Stephen Fry’s Mythos, his take on the Greek myths. It’s easy to listen to.

  11. I finally finished The Book of Joy, a conversation between the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, and it was absolutely wonderful. Highly recommend. I’ve been reading some more webcomics (The Last Halloween https://www.last-halloween.com/posts/1 and Witchy https://www.witchycomic.com/comic/page-1), which are good but as yet incomplete. I read One Fell Sweep (book 3 in the Innkeeper Chronicles) and thought it was all right but a little too ambitious with what it tried to cover in the amount of time it had, leaving some bits feeling a bit shallow or empty. I saw the next book in the series suddenly shifts to being all about Maud and that it starts in a similar place to where this one starts, and I’m not sure I feel like reading that to be honest haha. I’m currently in the middle of The Lost Causes of Bleak Creek, a book by youtube internetainers Rhett Mclaughlin and Link Neal, which I never expected to be anything amazing, but which is surprisingly well-written, gripping, heartfelt, and funny. I guess this has been an unusually big reading week for me haha

  12. I’m not moving (I look around at everything and think I may never be able to move) but I am trying to seriously declutter and make more space in my house, while also reorganizing All the Things. I probably got rid of half my books. I still have SO many. I’m not sure how I stored the others, since there doesn’t seem to be any extra room on my shelves…

    Obviously, I didn’t get rid of any of my Jennifer Crusie books. That way lies madness.

    I finished Arsenic and Adobo, a cozy mystery with a Filipino-American protagonist and lots of exotic food, by Mia P. Manansala. I liked it enough to order the second one (Blackmail and Bibingka) from the library. I’d picked up the first one at Bouchercon last fall. Now I’m reading Kristen Painter’s The Accidental Queen, which she bills as a midlife fairy tale. It’s good, although not deep, which is how I’d categorize all her writing. Since that’s what I was in the mood for, I’m mostly enjoying it.

    1. Oh I just read Arsenic and Adobo too! I forgot to write about it in my post that’s awaiting moderation lolol. I wasn’t as into it, but I’m glad you enjoyed it! The food really did sound delicious

      1. Why do people keep having to wait on moderation? I guess I’ve been lucky.

        1. I assume it’s because I have a couple of links in my post, but I’m not positive

  13. I finished Jodi Taylor’s A Symphony of Echos. I enjoyed the different perspective on living in pre-electricity and plumbing Scotland, as compared to Grace Burrowes more detailed descriptions. Weeks ago, I had started Miss Wonderful, by Loretta Chase, but dnf’ it. It just did not capture my attention, and was about a man, not the woman. The following book, Mr. Impossible, recommended by many on Argh, was gripping from the beginning, and I am reading on. I have always loved hieroglyphics, which added to its appeal.

    I watched the latest Ted Lasso, and it just gets more complicated and messy. The reappearance of the worst villain angered me. He is a childish, stupid, revengeful egotist, much like an ex president in the US. Grrr! They have very little time to fix this. I hope it has a happy ending.

  14. I finished reading Some Of It Was Real, a book about a psychic, her unknown past, and the reporter who’s trying to expose her as a fraud. Really well done.

  15. I am just finishing Jolene, by Mercedes Lackey. I read a lot of her when I was younger and it is sort of comfort reading.
    I enjoyed her books but have always thought they would benefit from a little subtlety— she explains everything all the time. Good for young readers, I guess?
    In this particular novel, the characters are in the southern US in the thirties? or so, era of flour sack dresses. The dialogue is written throughout with y’all instead of you, and many phonetic contractions of words – eg: ‘intrestin’ ‘kinda’.
    I have a question- I had been used to thinking of y’all as plural, but here it is definitely singular, instead of you. Do people still use it that way in speech? 🤔

    1. I’ve been told by reliable sources that the plural of “y’all” is “all y’all”.

      1. I often write this plural as “all a’ y’all” but the neutral vowel ‘a’ exists at the end of the first all so I could omit it from now!

    2. From a Georgia and North Carolina usage perspective, “y’all” is plural, a contraction of “you all”. Similar to the plural “vous” in French.

      “All y’all” applies to multiple groups of people. For example, if you’re calling your children in from the front yard, you would say “y’all come in for supper”. If you’re inviting all the people in front of your house, you would say “all y’all come in for supper”.

      1. Ok, I’m from MO, so usage might be a little different. But I’m accustomed to “all y’all” being inclusive of the entire group, used when some people might not assume that they were included in the invitation- although they are, as inviting some but not all would be rude. But if some people were leaving a gathering to run home and get something, a person might say “y’all hurry back so you don’t miss…”. My grandmother said it was best used when names had been forgotten 😂

      2. Growing up in CT, I’d have said “Yous Guys talk funny.” My roommate from Indiana for several years would have out it, “You’ns [you ones] know you got an accent, doncha?” I’ve lived south of the Mason-Dixon line for more than half my life, so unless I’m talking to a damyankee (which causes my milk tongue to revert), it’s y’all and all y’all. Or if I’m talking to my niece (by marriage, a Yooper), we break out the fershers and donchaknows.

  16. I thoroughly enjoyed Curtis Sittenfeld’s new book, Romantic Comedy. It shines light on the behind-the-scenes machinations of a show that’s just like SNL and provides a thoughtful view of what it’s like to be a stratospherically rich celebrity.

    But it’s also one of the only books published recently that weaves in the deprivations we all experienced during the pandemic yet have already forgotten. Oh, and the love story is built around intelligent conversation with interesting characters.

    Highly recommended.

  17. Olivia Atwater’s Small Miracles was an unexpectedly charming story. Wacky and full of absurdities, it was heart-warming and tinged with subtle humor. I even came to appreciate its expansive footnotes. They just served as one more zany quirk among many characterizing this short novel. Of course, if you are a practicing Christian, you might get offended by this book’s irreverence towards religion. Otherwise, read it. It might lift your spirit at the times of troubles.
    Julia Whelan’s Thank You for Listening was a solid mainstream novel with a complicated heroine. I didn’t like the book very much but I liked it enough to finish it. Some other readers might like it more, if they are into tear-jerking situations and life-altering trauma of the characters. But for me, the protagonist’s insecurities were too severe and too deep-seated to enjoy reading about them. I know she went through horrible events a few years before the story started and she built a new life for herself despite all her past suffering, but I didn’t always understand her actions and reactions. And her pain turned the story from my favorite escapism fiction to something too close to life to appreciate fully.
    Ashley Poston’s The Dead Romantics was also mainstream. Or was it a women’s fiction. One of those anyway, a good distance from my usual genre fare. It was a decent book about a ghostwriter suffering from a writer’s block. It was also a bit weird, oscillating between a love story and a ghost story. Plus, of course, it is a soul-searching story, with the protagonist’s frequent discourses into the meanings of life and death. Add to that the fact that the heroine’s family owns a funeral home, and more than half the book takes place in it, and you have a recipe for a darn good yarn. Too slow for my taste and with too many descriptions, but that is on me, not the story.

  18. I had a good reading week. Started with Mhairi McFarlane’s Don’t You Forget About Me, which I really enjoyed. There was a Big Misunderstanding, but it happened back when they were teenagers so was excusable, and the story was about how they came back from that when they met again as adults. I really like her books.

    Then Legends and Lattes, which was kind of comfortable and enjoyable but also fairly forgettable. Though I did like Thimble, the ratkin.

    I reread Jodi Taylor’s A Second Chance, which had a couple of really glorious examples of foreshadowing.

    And the other good one was Ann Swinfen’s The Bookseller’s Tale, a crime novel set three years after the end of the Great Plague in Oxford. The story was intriguing, and the setting fascinating. The sense of devastation and shock still lingering after such a huge disaster. The empty villages, the breaking down of the old feudal system. The first book is free on Amazon.

    The only dud was a romance – one of those ‘heroine returns to her childhood town and falls in love’ plots. It started off fine, but everyone had such dreadful lack of boundaries that it drove me crazy and I couldn’t be bothered reading it.

  19. I’m still in comfort-reading mode, so I just finished “Miss Seeton Draws the Line” – the 2nd book in the Miss Seeton mystery series. The series features a retired teacher who used to teach drawing who solves crimes, unknowingly. She’s respectable, proper person, who of course would never, ever be involved in any crime. She tends to forget all the crimes she solved because they don’t suit her idea of herself. She also has psychic abilities which she uses and then forgets about them.

    These books are amusing and funny. Miss Seeton is a more funny and psychic version of Miss Marple.

    1. I adore Miss Seeton. Her naivety about what’s going on around her is so sweet, and at the same time she’s making things happen.

    2. I love Miss Seeton, but beware of the later books written by authors other than Carvic. They’re my example of how tricky it is for someone, however good their intentions, to try to continue someone else’s series. In this case, no one — including anyone juvenile — is allowed to mature any further, and the Nice Young Man actually regresses.

  20. Started the reading week with one of my own, then read ‘Onstage with Martha Graham,’ by Stuart Hodes. Fascinating man, I would’ve liked more about him and less about Martha. Compulsively readable, as if he sat down with a box of snapshots and journals and simply wrote down whatever each item prompted. Went from never-danced WWII bomber pilot to headliner, choreographer, arts-funding bureaucrat, journalist, still dancing in his 80s.

    Then more nonfiction, in the ‘if it weren’t true this would have been sued out of existence’ category: ‘Full Service: My Adventures in Hollywood and the Secret Sex Lives of the Stars’ by Scotty Bowers. Ex-Marine Scotty falls into a life of tricking and procuring (though never, he hastens to add, actual pimping) for just about everybody in 1950s-1970s Hollywood.

    Then a DNF at 25%, ‘The House Witch’ by pseudonym. I am just not the target audience for cozy fantasy + political intrigue + modern language in alt-medieval settings with many points of view.

    Then ‘Lady of Fortune’ by Mary Jo Putney, F/M 1790s trope-fest which was entertaining. On to ‘Sailor’s Delight’ by Rose Lerner, very well-written M/M 1809-ish featuring a Jewish naval agent and a ship’s master. Seriously good book but the POV character’s heart is breaking for 85% of it and it made me anxious/sad. Finally, ‘A Wolf in Duke’s Clothing’ by Susanna Allen, first in her F/M paranormal Regency series, also a trope-fest and entertaining.

    Vacation has officially begun and I predict with some confidence that I will read at least 8 books over the next 8 days.

      1. they hold me accountable for words written towards a novel – i hold them accountable for whatever they need

        i usually use my critique group but they can’t let me write outside the box and this story needs to be told outside the box

        accountability partner wouldn’t have to read it, though

        1. I’m usually pretty good as an accountability partner so feel free to connect with me on Tammy at hrtransformations dot com

  21. My good book for the week is an audio book, The Dragon Heist. Great story, great audible performance.

    Aside from that I discovered Naomi Kritzer (Cat Pictures Please) had 2 novels based on the helpful cat-loving AI so I read Catfishing on CatNet and Chaos on CatNet.

  22. I finished listening to Tom Hanks’ The Making of Another Motion Picture Masterpiece, but I didn’t want it to end even after 15+ hours. So satisfying, heartwarming, kind. The behind the scenes details of making movies and the importance of each person’s role in the whole was fascinating to me. As soon as the price drops for the written book, I will purchase a read as well. A keeper for sure.

    I’m now reading I Capture the Castle based on a number of recommendations from Arghers for which I appreciate so very much. What a charmer.

  23. I am once again laughing at the names that a woman named “Oceanna” has given to online jigsaw puzzles at the Jigsaw Planet site. In the last few days, I’ve encountered:

    He realized it was you riding that elephant

    More ruffled than the feelings of a romantic poet

    Attacked by a scurry of marauding squirrels

    The guy at the post office

    A warm glow radiated from the garage bay

    Dusting gunpowder residue from her chemise

    German children are always kinder

    I am posting these here partly because I know there are German speakers who will note the pun and enjoy it. And just because it doesn’t just have to be BOOKS that you read, right?

  24. I seem to be rereading Ngaio Marsh without intending to. We’ll see how long I keep it up.

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