91 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 15, 2023

  1. So looking forward to Lavender’s Blue and Rocky’s Start!
    Guilt reading – that would be a fun “punishment” after confession for a catholic like me… at least if the reading material is your books. And not e.g. what my kids have to read for school (anyone knows “Effie Briest” by Th. Fontane? Worth a couple of weeks in purgatory…).

    What I read guilt free this week: pre-surgery I finished Terribly Tristan by Lisa Henry.
    Post surgery I finished listening Superfan by Sarina Bowen.
    Both were fun and cute, light weights appropriate for the occasion.
    What bugged me with Tristan: how come the hero could be a gifted medical student but no telling books/material in his room for the love interest to pick up on it?
    Superfan: I wasn’t too keen on the male narrator which is a pity as I loved the character in earlier books. Also, too little actual hockey in the story 😉 I would have LOVED to get more of a goalie’s routine. Oh well.
    The Staley Cup final let me compensate.
    I’m very happy the Golden Knights as winners come across as such a sympathetic team.

  2. I crawled out of my rereading cave briefly to try some new things, but nothing clicked, so I crawled back in and shut the door. Will try again later. Right now I am finishing my Murderbot relisten and still rereading Four Kings. But I have new Forthright and Ilona Andrews to look forward to.

    We did watch the new Dungeons and Dragons movie and that was good fun. Some very funny jokes and beautiful costumes. I really want access to that wardrobe.

  3. I’m reading Wildwood Whispers by Willa Reece (Barbara J. Hancock). Very interesting magical realism. A little intense for my mood right now, but too good to stop reading.

  4. I read the new one from Ali Hazelwood, “Love, Theoretically”. Should properly say I devoured it. Similar to her previous stuff – it’s a modern romance set in academia with immensely satisfying physics-based plot shenanigans, great characters (a whole community) and it’s funny. Also includes fake dating with unexpected results. I’m going to spend the rest of the week reading her previous books again.

  5. I finished Confluence, the last in SK Dunstall’s Linesman series. So sorry it’s over! Science fiction set in a future with an alien technology called ‘lines’ which are semi-sentient and run things like engines on spaceships with the help of human repairpersons called linesmen. The MC has a unique way of singing to the lines instead of pushing them and when he’s let loose on a royal ship, it sets off a series of political/military machinations. Could have done without a final bit of tacked-on romance but it’s a small complaint. The best thing about the series is watching him discover new ways to use his abilities – it’s a very satisfying form of competence porn.

    I also read NJ Lysk’s Cracking Ice – M/M hockey romance set in an O/B/A ‘verse. It’s actually seven novellas sewn into one. It was too long and repetitive – needed an editor – there is the bones of a great book in there. Anyway, some interesting elements including is one of the MC’s become an activist.

    1. I love the linesman series – lots of room there for more books; I hope Dunstall writes some more in that universe.

      1. I hope so too! It’s such an interesting premise. On the other hand, they’ve written another series that Arghers assure me is great so I’m going to try that next.

      2. Yes, I’d happily read more in that series. It doesn’t sound as if it’s going to happen though. I think someone said they’re writing fantasy next.

  6. I read Magic Claims, hooray, loved it, now must wait for more. Also read The Kissing Booth because it was on bookbub and looked fun and then it kept making me ask questions like, why does this work despite problem a, b, c, d,? Because it does work! You really root for the romance and it’s believable and has that “this is what first love is really like” kind of feel.

  7. I’ve been reading Scalzi, Doris Ready (the Mrs. Entwhistle books), and Laken Cane’s Kait Silver books. All great good fun! Currently in the middle of the Book of Night by Holly Black, which I’ve heard mixed reviews on, but so far I quite like it. Mostly because Vince is interesting. Highly recommend all of the above.

  8. I read Romantic Lady, Sylvia Thorpe. First published in 1960. Entertaining enough, the plot was a bit over complicated and the secondary characters weren’t really drawn, but it was enjoyable.
    The version I read was a part of the Corgi Georgian Romance series. Found it and another in the series in a 2nd hand bookshop in Bilbao and squashed them into my panniers to take home by bike… along with 3 other books and some alcohol (it’s cheaper there)…. a refection of my priorities. I had barely any clothes with me.

    Just started Charlie All Night which I found when looking for Lavender!

    1. Somehow I have read this as you were biking around half naked. Not sure that’s accurate…?

  9. Two nights ago I started a library book that new Argher/former lurker Hannah had called a ‘great big hug of a book’ — “The Library” by Bella Osborne. She was right. I began reading right after going to bed early because, tiring day, too little sleep the night before…that kind of thing.

    I finished it with a sigh of contentment and looked up to see that it was after 2am on a work night. So I was a zombie at work the following day (Hi, Bob!) but I really did love that book — about an unusual friendship between a teenage boy and an old lady who noticed him pick up a romance novel at the town library, prompting her curiosity about him.

    To me the interesting thing about the plot was that the friendship had its foundation in both characters’ source of heartbreak/shame. Each one had a lot of sensitivity and loneliness based on that emotional wound, but each of them fit so well into the other’s life because of it. I’m looking for more books by this author.

    1. Oh, excellent! I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. (Sorry about the 2am thing though). I have another of her books out from the library – The Girls – which I’m hoping will be just as joyous.

  10. I’m still ploughing through the unsorted books on my Kindle – i.e. those I bought & read a while back, before there were Collections to sort them into, and which I don’t remember well enough to assign without rereading them. Almost all are rejects, though a few are good but just not my stories, so I don’t want to keep them. I’m down to the last few dozen, from nearly two hundred. Will be glad when I’ve finished and can get back to some old favourites. I’m hoping – probably optimistically – that there’ll be a way to permanently delete the contents of my Rejects collection in one fell swoop.

    1. Just had a narrow reading escape: was offered Japanese modern classics to proof-read, which sounded pretty depressing, but I agreed because I need to keep earning, and then before that editor got back to me, was offered a job that sounds much more fun (a cultural history of Britain’s islands), so agreed to that instead and apologized and reneged on the Japanese job. Yay! (This is all Penguin, which made it easier.)

        1. Jane, Are they the islands that comprise Great Britain? Or, are they the colonies that are islands? Just curious. Congrats on the way things worked out.

          1. It’s the archipelago of the British Isles, and at first glance looks to be a very feminist take – lots of goddesses, etc.

  11. I finished my rereading of Penric, as satisfying as usual even though the last one is pretty grim.

    I then read a Betty Neels romance. She has been mentionned here. It felt very 1950s until suddenly one of the characters got a mobile phone out of their pocket. I looked her up and apparently she started writing when she was 60 and continued until she was 90! She wrote 134 books in that time. With this kind of mammoth backlist, it is difficult to choose another one to read even though apparently she didn’t vary her plots very much :).

    I have just finished Ilona Andrews’ Magic Claims which was a solid read as usual for these authors. Not sure what to read next now. Thank god for this blog!

    1. I read Betty Neels years ago. I’m not tempted to revisit, but she did have some really fabulous author photos on the back, if I recall correctly.

      1. I enjoyed it enough to want to read another one once in a while but I am not burning to go through her backlist.

  12. My hold on Stephen Fry’s MYTHOS (read by the author) came in late last night, and I just couldn’t get into it (a me problem, not the book’s, I think) and returned it right away, because there are lots of people waiting for it. I might go back to it later when it’s not so much in demand, so I won’t feel guilty about taking my time with it.

  13. Everyone needs to read Burn It Down by Maureen Ryan. Literally everyone. It’s about shitty behavior in Hollywood and how to fix it. Look for excerpts online if you want a taste.

  14. After someone mentioned Jenny’s Strange Bedpersons, I picked it up again. It’s worth the read just for the dinner scene in the posh restaurant, where everything goes wrong, and there are conferences under the table a la What’s Up Doc. I’m not reading anything else, much, because it’s just too difficult. Both eyes are done, now, but not in full working order, yet. It just takes time. I’m soooo glad to have that behind me!

  15. I have read a few disappointing books in a row so have resorted to an old favourite – A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute. I skim over any of the slightly dated parts but I absolutely love Shute’s writing and A Town Like Alice is one of my top ten favourite books.

    1. I love A Town Like Alice as well! Picked up an old paperback of it in college with no idea what it was.

  16. Mercedes Lackey’s Passages was her 2020 Valdemar anthology. I think it is #14. Frankly, it is average for a Valdemar anthology, which all include stories by many different writers. Why do I keep reading these books? Maybe because of the covers. This one is simply gorgeous. And you know what? I ordered the next one from my library.
    Also, my library holds slowed to a thin trickle. Anxious to be left without anything to read, I embarked on the project of re-reading Amanda Quick’s old romances. I read many of them for the first time so long ago, GoodReads didn’t exist yet, and I didn’t write reviews. I do that now. So here are the two books I re-read in the last week.
    Amanda Quick’s Mystique was a nice medieval romance by the master of romances. I think this book was a captivating piece of light escapist fiction. I enjoyed it. Another of her novel I re-read and enjoyed was Affair. A classic Amanda Quick: a fast pace, a feisty heroine, a stoic, slightly gloomy hero with a heart of gold, and of course a HEA in the end. Satisfying for all my reading yens.

    1. Ooh I know that feeling. Both the covers (I have far too many P&P copies for that reason) and the keep-reading-ness – sometimes you keep reading because every now and then a story or an author hits it out of the park. I’m not convinced its the best use of my time, but I still keep doing it. Currently with Sarah Morgan categories for me – some of them are delightfully hilarious and some are thoroughly meh.

      I used to read and love everything Lackey wrote but I haven’t been that impressed the last 10-12 years – although I’ve liked some things, it’s been hit and miss and nothing has been a standout. Her older stuff stands up though – I re-read her “The Fairy Godmother” a few years ago and still enjoyed it a lot.

      1. I completely agree. I loved the first two Valdemar trilogies (Talia and Vanyel) and Vows and Honor (Tarma and Kethri) . I enjoyed the Diana Tregarde books and some of serrated edge books (elves and car) but later stuff has been very hit and miss for me and she stopped being an autobuy a long time ago. A shame really.
        She was pretty groundbreaking with her portrayal of same sex relationships in Valdemar, back in the late 80s/early 90s.

  17. I finished Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness (loved it), read The Bride Wore White by Amanda Quick (okay) and Magic Claims by Ilona Andrews (loved it). BTW, there’s a “snippet” on the Andrews website that’s a feelgood for those who’ve read Magic Claims.
    Thanks for the Ali Hazelwood recommendation. New to me author. I just placed a hold at the library for one of hers.

  18. Books since last week. Hmmm…

    The serial continues. At least another 25 chapters to go. Word Opera. 🙂

    Ima callit the Great Honorverse Reread. I listed [last week] a bunch of what were supposed to be the short stories and novellas and novels in chronological order, and then I read them all through The Honor of the Queen. Then I found another half dozen stories that should have been on the list. Worse, they aren’t rereads – they’re new reads. It is not fair.

    When I needed diversion from the Great Honorverse Reread, I went to “old stand-bys.” Rewind by Don Lockwood was never finished, or not yet. I have hopes. Our mutual editor says he’s sent some stuff to edit.

  19. Read Magic Claims by Ilona Andrews (also known as Magic Clams, lol), and enjoyed it as usual! Murder Off The Books by Tamara Berry (about a murder novelist turned detective) was also fun. Differently Morphous by Yahtzee Croshaw was an amusing book about a magical serial killer and some gelatinous aliens seeking asylum in the UK. Now reading The Poisoner’s Ring by Kelley Armstrong, the second in her time-travelling series about a female homicide detective transported back to Victorian times. I don’t like time travel books as a rule (No penicillin! No mod cons! Etc!) but Armstrong has sucked me in again.

    1. I really enjoyed the sneaky reference to clams at the end. Made me laugh.

      For those who don’t follow Ilona Andrews’s blog, this is in reference to several readers typing « Magic Clams » when trying to preorder the book and then being puzzled they couldn’t find « Magic Claims ». The authors ended up doing a mock cover of Magic Clams on their blog :).

  20. Rec of the week: ‘Spear’ by Nicola Griffith, an extremely satisfying riff on Arthurian legend starring a half-immortal female warrior.

    Two quite different YA M/M contemporaries mostly confirmed that YA is not really my bag … adolescent stress, miscommunications, anxieties about past present & future … this is not the frame of mind in which to have a successful relationship of basically any kind. ‘Golden Boys’ by Phil Stamper and ‘Kiss & Tell’ by Adib Khorram, both good books.

    Re-read one of my own novellas (‘Hush’), one of my own novels (‘Mistletango’), and another F/M Regency trope-fest by Mary Jo Putney, ‘Shattered Rainbows,’ which has many Gothic plot devices and in which the action-packed last 25% makes up for the mopey middle 50%.

    More fun resource-rich nonfiction: ‘A Visitor’s Guide to Jane Austen’s England’ by Sue Wilkes; then ‘A Sailor of King George,’ by Captain Frederick Hoffman, who served in the Royal Navy for 45 years (beginning at age 14) and saw action everywhere from the West Indies to West Africa to Trafalgar. Not great ebook formatting but the text itself is a Ripping Yarn.

    DNFd a non-fiction history allegedly concerning a catastrophic shipwreck during the reign of Henry I of England, abandoned because 25% in I had been treated to many small bio sketches of objectively horrible people doing horrible things I’d rather not read about, and not a clue when this epic naval disaster would take the stage. If I wanted a book about shitty people of the eleventh century, I would have said so.

    Second rec of the week, ‘Once Upon a Dance’ by Kim Fielding, a M/M novelette, SF retelling of Cinderella, in which the main character is an aging house droid. Beautifully written, full of pathos, the happy ending is a delight.

    1. LOL re the dnf book. Beautifully put.

      And “Once Upon a Dance” sounds lovely – will look for it 🙂

  21. Reading the gardener’s encyclopedia of plants and flowers. Annuals and a perennials books. Searching for the vegetable plants book. I believe I have to help the tomato plants along. Rereading Dick Francis.

        1. Thanks, lavender in the front and back and planted one for the balcony/deck on Tuesday. Lots of lavender, love it. Just heard it keeps mosquitoes away too.

  22. I binged on The Queen’s Thief series, by Megan Whalen Turner, which someone had mentioned here. It was not a guilt-free endeavour as a lot of time went by with me in a six-book trance, but I really enjoyed being in that world.

    1. Another Queen’s Thief fan here! Have you read Moira’s Pen? It’s a compilation of the QT short stories that appeared in various editions as well as a few new ones.

  23. I listened to Kristan Higgin’s newest, A Little Ray of Sunshine. It’s about adoption from multiple women’s points of view. Pretty good, enjoyed the Cape Cod location, and her usual family complications. Lots and lots of crying. On their part, not mine.

    Listened to the new Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. I really enjoy having a woman narrate their stories, even aside from the fact that she is so excellent.

    Found a sale Georgette Heyer audiobooks (on this site) and visited an old friend, The Talisman Ring. My first Heyer, at age 12. I’d never listed to it just read it: very satisfying.

    1. I love those books. We used to say that the three of us were Pratchett’s witches: I was Esme, Krissie was Nanny, and Lani was Magrat. We really did fit those characters. I love Esme so I was happy.

  24. Read Casey McQuiston’s “Red, White & Royal Blue” which I loved as much for the alternate world where a divorced Southern Democrat woman, a Texan, takes the Whitehouse in 2016, as for the seriously adorable m/m romance between her son and an English prince. Just far enough away from reality to avoid my RPF trigger. Thanks to everyone who recc’d it 🙂

    Also read “Lords & Ladies” by Terry Pratchett. Highly enjoyable, although I really feel I should have re-watched “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” first to get more of the jokes. One of my friends despises Granny Esme Weatherwax and loves Magrat and I just do not get it – I mentioned this book to her and got a ten minute rant and I still don’t get it. Different strokes etc, but generally I like to understand where people are coming from. Not sure I’d enjoy being around either of them but I love how solidly herself Esme is – and although there are times she’s mean, she also has moments of grace.

    1. Yes, she’s a cranky old lady, with no patience. In a way she knows too much to have patience, I think. Just reread that myself again recently, forgot the fun stuff when Nanny goes under the hill to wake up ‘Oberon.’

      1. But Granny is a person with a LOT of power, to the point where she more or less saves the world a couple of times. Magrat is kind of like a lower school student who doesn’t understand why the older students are so Serious sometimes, because she doesn’t realize how much they’ve been through, or how much more they know about the things she’s just been discovering a little bit about. She’s more than a little self-absorbed. But still lovable in the gawky way a teenager can be. I thought Pratchett’s treatment of a classic trio of witches, each at a different stage of a life of magic and each embodying the stages of life as maiden/mother/crone, was absolutely brilliant. And I loved the way he wrote them all so down to earth, each in her own way.

        1. Teenager is an interesting comparison, although I always picture Magrat in her twenties – maybe that’s why I’m impatient with her 🙂

          Magrat is interesting in her inconsistencies – she likes things to be evidence-based e.g. medicine, but at the same time craves all the romanticised rituals which have no basis and with which Esme is so impatient. She recognizes that headology is effective but resents rather than respects it (& Esme) because she doesn’t understand why that is so. She’s insecure but can be very determined when needed. Kudos to Pratchett for creating such a believably complex character.

          1. Yes! And I’m pretty darn far away in my life from the whole maiden thing, so more and more I’m appreciating the crones in this world. The ones who see through the hype and the pretense and just state the truth. (At least they do when they feel they’re talking to someone who seems to have the capacity to hear it.)

            And how do people feel about Nanny Ogg? She’s such a fun and funny character in so many ways, but I’m not sure I’d be that fond of her if I knew her in person. My favorite Nanny Ogg moment, though, was one in a book that I now can’t seem to find, in which she is hiding in the woods from someone, and another witch comes up to ask where she is and what she’s doing hidden in the bushes there, and she says something along the lines of “minding my own business, thank you very much, but you might make yourself useful by handing me a large leaf or two — burdock would do nicely….”

            It’s one memory that has led me to leave burdock growing all around my yard. The burrs are painful and irritating in the fall, but the leaves grow to the size of a collie or a Labrador, and their underside is very soft. 🙂

          2. I haven’t got up to that book yet!

            My favorite Nanny Ogg moment so far is the dinner with Casanunda. I like Nanny, I’d be happy to be her friend or child, but I’d never marry one of her sons!

  25. Ann Leslie’s latest, Translation State – ok, but not as absorbing as her Ancillary trilogy.
    A library book about the native horses and ponies of Britain, which is so informative I bought a second hand copy online.
    Also, I’m on a Josephine Tey/ Inspector Grant kick after I re-read Singing Sands. Finished A Shilling for Candles, currently reading A Daughter of Time and have the last in the series waiting downstairs.

    1. I started the Leckie and it got disturbing so I had to skip to the end to make sure it ended on an upbeat note. Because, like Chacha, I wasn’t in the mood for reading about horrible people doing horrible things. Now I’m trepidatiously working my way through the middle.

        1. It was brilliant wasn’t it? Did you see the movie about the discovery of Richard III’s body that came out last year? The Lost King. Totally recommend as a nice pairing to this book.

    2. I love Inspector Grant. So reserved, so very British. And yet can become passionate about a perceived injustice to a 15th century king. However I think I do prefer Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn, who can become passionate about a flesh and blood woman, even when smeared with oil paint.
      Another more obscure detective who is well-worth investigating is Inspector George Felse, and later his son Dominic Felse, by Ellis Peters of Brother Cadfael fame. There is a nice one in the (extensive) series that features just his wife Bunty, ‘The Grass Widow’s Tale’. In my opinion, Ellis Peters’ detective novels are just about up there with the Golden Age grandes dames in quality of writing.

  26. We have been visiting Edinburgh to decompress after the London commitment ceremony so Ive been rereading the Pat McIntosh medieval mysteries set in Glasgow —close enough and I didn’t want to read about either Mary Queen of Scots or Bonnie Prince Charlie (who seems to have been very unbonny really.)
    Would welcome books set in Edinburgh —am going to try an Alexander McCall Smith but need other ideas.

  27. We have been visiting Edinburgh to decompress after the London commitment ceremony so I’v been rereading the Pat McIntosh medieval mysteries set in Glasgow —close enough and I didn’t want to read about either Mary Queen of Scots or Bonnie Prince Charlie (who seems to have been very unbonny really.)
    Would welcome books set in Edinburgh —am going to try an Alexander McCall Smith but need other ideas.

    1. There’s “Trainspotting” by somebody Irving or Irvine? I think it’s all about junkies, though, so maybe not cheerful enough for a travel book. Also, quite awhile ago I read a book by Kate Atkinson called “One Good Turn” which was a sort of inverted detective story in which everyone who watches some mishap is a suspect, and they all have to figure things out themselves. Those are the only two I can think of.

      1. Joanna Chambers wrote an historical m/m romance series set in 1820s Edinburgh – Provoked / Beguiled / Enlightened, which was rather good. Continuing couple.

  28. I’ve been racing through the Ruth Galloway mysteries by Elly Griffiths, which I probably heard about here. Apparently someone else in my county is doing the same, because the next book is often out so I have to put it on hold. (It’s probably best that the next one isn’t available tonight—maybe I will get to sleep a bit earlier.)

    I also have the audiobook of Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, but I’m not sure how I feel about it. Dystopian fiction isn’t really my thing. I’m only 13% in and have 14 days…

    And in the meantime, there’s always Murderbot. Starting again from the beginning.

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