109 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 6, 2023

  1. I’ve been reading Nicky Pellegrino’s latest, PS: Come to Italy. It’s that rare thing, a novel with a middle aged protagonist. She’s dealing with loss and grief and finds her way to herself and to a new life.

  2. I have found a contemporary romance author I like, which is pretty unusual these days: Abby Jimenez.

    The first one I read, which is, I think, her last book, Truly Yours is definitely my favourite.
    I really like the hero who is an ER doctor who suffers from crippling social anxiety and the letters are very funny.
    Jimenez is also a baker and I like the sneaky references made to her cupcakes in all her books.

    I also finally read Lessons in Chemistry which I enjoyed despite the unbelievably sad backstory of Calvin and Elizabeth. I wish they could have had their happy ending. I like to think there is another book somewhere where Six Thirty never got leashed and they live happily after with their research, rowing, daughter and dog.

    Finally, I picked up in a charity shop, Shaun Bythell ‘s diary of a bookseller which is a very witty account of a year of his life as the owner of Scotland’s biggest secondhand bookshop. Now I want to go and visit his shop and make sure I buy at least one book and never mention within earshot that I buy 99.99% of my books on Kindle 🙂

    1. I’ll have to look for that book. I may have been to that bookstore and it was awesome. I don’t recall the name of the store.

    2. I had to look up that bookshop book. It’s called “Remainders of the day”. He also has “Seven kinds of people you find in bookshops” and “Confessions of a bookseller.”

  3. I read new things! My mental veg when not rereading is short, trashy smut, which is what I read. Nothing outstanding or really worth recommending, but I feel like I accomplished something.

    Oh, and I finished Lord Mettlebrights Man which was sweet and more risque than I was expecting from that author.

    And I realized that I was spelling Eliot Grayson incorrectly and that hoopla has an assortment of audio books by same. So I started one of those last night.

      1. Lost and Bound. I am really enjoying it so far, though I’m starting in the middle of the series with some backstory missing. What can I say, the premise drew me.

        The only problem is that I didn’t bring my headphones, so I can’t listen at lunch. I’m not sure my coworkers would enjoy it… They are not tentacle friends.

          1. Totally. I mean, it’s a big world. Can you say you have really lived if you haven’t dabbled in velociraptor smut?

          2. And it doesn’t even need to be that specific! We are very broad-minded in our definition of tentacle friends – people who enjoy alien romance, monsters smut, a little a/b/o universe, perhaps some light BDSM, shifters of course, or maybe simply alternate forms of …relations.

  4. I just reread all three of Juliet Marillier’s Blackthorn and Grim books back to back and then started Ann Leckie’s Translation State. I’m about halfway through already and loving it and expecting to reread it before I have to return it.

    1. I have finished Translation State with great delight and started again from the beginning.

  5. Finally starting the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy… After everyone in the world has finished. 🤓

  6. K. J. Charles posted her summer reading reccs: https://kjcharleswriter.com/2023/07/05/book-recs-for-summer-book-recs-forever/

    I enjoyed Alexandra Rowland’s A Taste of Gold and Iron, but am still feeling frustrated by the way she left the story incomplete. And her next book is an unrelated story set in the same world, so while it’s obvious that the loose ends are for a sequel, it’s not one she’s rushing to write. Her characters and their relationships are brilliant, but she could do with a structural edit (like her pal, Victoria Goddard). I wonder if this is to do with her fan fiction background?

    I’m rereading an old favourite at the moment – the last really good contemporary (in my opinion) by Jayne Ann Krentz: Deep Waters. And the library had all three books of Nora Roberts’ recent fantasy trilogy – I found the third one and asked if they had the one before (I read the first six months ago), and it turned out they’d shelved 1 & 2 in Fantasy/SF, whereas the one I’d found was in general fiction. They keep splitting Ben Aaranovitch between Crime and Fantasy, too.

    1. Now that you mention it, KJ Charles should probably be on the list of my top 182 authors from last week’s discussion.

      #1 KJ Charles.

      Waves at Tammy.

  7. Feeling overwhelmed with surgical stuff and work and trying to get the first edit on the book completed. so I decided that I really needed to spend the last two days completely immersing myself in AI-assisted schedule apps. The kind that (supposedly) reschedule stuff that you run out of time for, that learn how long things take you and then use that to build future schedules so they’re more feasible, etc.

    So far the most highly rated apps I’ve found don’t work at all. I did find one that might work, but it’s such a colossal pain to set up, that I really can’t tell yet. Not sure it’s really vegging, but it is allowing my brain to break from the other stuff for a bit. And it really would be amazing if I had an app that could plug in stuff that I run out of time for at an appropriate future time…sigh.

  8. I just finished a book that was recommended by one book character to another — “I Owe You One” by Sophie Kinsella. The original book I got it from was, of course, “The Library,” that wonderful book that I’ll be re-reading forever.

    I Owe You One starts with a British girl who is working in her family shop while her mum is on a trip to Spain with the mum’s sister. The girl has paused in a coffee shop for a latte, and accidentally ends up rescuing the laptop of a stranger at the next table when he leaves to take a phone call just outside. A ceiling collapse dumps water on the table but not before the girl sees the first drip and grabs the laptop just in time, which sets off a series of favors between the two. (Hence the title.)

    The book was pretty adorable. There are idiots aplenty around the MC, but she is just a basically hardworking and nice person. Once she finally twigs to the horribleness of the goodlooking pal of her brother she starts with a crush on, people around her begin to wake up as well. A book about goodness triumphing in the end makes for a nice read. 🙂

    1. I really enjoyed I Owe You One as well. I enjoyed the family, and the store, and her awakening to the fact that her crush was a wrong ‘un.

      1. Yes! I was tired of him by the end of his first speaking line, and he continued to get worse and worse. Couldn’t wait for her to see the light!

        Have Arghers read other books by Kinsella? And are they as good as this one?

        1. I got very bored by her Shopaholic series but still have a soft spot for the first one. I reread it this year and it has dated a bit though, so proceed with caution.

          My favourite Kinsella books are I’ve Got Your Number, My (Not-So) Perfect Life and Can You Keep A Secret?

          I’m excited to hear which you choose and your thoughts once you’ve read them!

          1. Thank you! Just put them on hold at the library. I will report back, good or less good. 🙂

  9. I read Moira’s Pen by Megan Whalen Turner, so my Thief/Attolia reading is now caught up. I also read the third in CS Poe’s Memento Mori series, Broadway Butchery, M/M cop/forensic artist pairing. I do enjoy the arc of this series – both the romance and the serial killer.

    Plus I (barely) read a mashup of a few of my favourite things: M/M hockey players who are shifter wolves in the Omega ‘verse. Since that checks several boxes should have been very satisfying but…was very silly instead. The thing about a silly premise is that the author has to totally make us believe that they believe it – the Harry Potter books, Scholmance, Book of Firsts, etc. – and build a believable world around it. This one, not so much.

    1. I’m sure you’ve recommended the Memento Mori series before, but for some reason I’ve never checked it out. Just read a preview of Madison Square Murder, and it looks really good, so thank you, Tammy!

      1. I will be interested to hear what you think. She is no Charlie Adhara but solid nonetheless.

  10. What did you veg with this week?

    With a question like that, I should be using BornAgainIndoorFarmer to post. I should be talking about the red sweet peppers and the red fire hot peppers and the jalapeños and cucumbers and three kinds of lettuce. All delicious!

    But no. Books and Netflix and YouTube are what I vegged with. Starting with That Serial* which is halfway through senior year prom night.

    Other books include Wild Ride**, A Matter of Security, Missions of Security, Security Threats***, and Part-Time Gods****.

    On Netflix I concluded the four short seasons of Carmen SanDiego, watched episodes of Gilmore Girls, Supergirl, Arrow, and Flash, and started a new cartoon series about teen-aged blue alien royalty hiding on earth, which appears to be part of a multi series thing with trolls and magic and stuff.
    ==========
    *Variation on a Theme Book 4, Grey Wolf, storiesonline.net/World Literature Corporation. Published Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
    **Wild Ride, Jennifer Crusie & Bob Mayer, St. Martins Paperbacks, 2011
    ***A Matter of Security, Missions of Security, Security Threats, Bjorn Hasseler, Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press (bankrupt)
    ****Part-Time Gods, Rachel Aaron, Audible Audiobooks. Part 2 of the Detroit Free Zone series.

      1. I’ve also been dabbling in Pratchett, though not an entire book. Sir Terry used a great many footnotes/endnotes*. I have favorites, especially one from The Fifth Elephant.

        ==========
        Endnote 18: He’d noticed that sex bore some resemblance to cookery: It fascinated people, they sometimes bought books full of complicated recipes and interesting pictures, and sometimes when they were really hungry they created vast banquets in their imagination—but at the end of the day they’d settle quite happily for egg and chips, if it was well done and maybe had a slice of tomato.

    1. Hey Gary, my AeroGarden has produced one mini jalapeño and one heirloom cherry tomato so far! I am optimistic!

      1. To clarify, is that one each mini jalapeño and one heirloom cherry tomato plant, or a mini jalapeño plant with one pepper and one heirloom cherry tomato plant with one tomato.

        I have never successfully grown a mini jalapeño plant. My purple super-hot has several unripe peppers and the crop from the red fires is more than I can use unless I make stuff and freeze it. I have no tomato plants in the AeroGardens or iDOOs, nor in the Smart Gardens. Growing heirloom cherry tomato plants in a mason jar is contraindicated, though you can start ’em there.

        Best of luck!

        1. A plant with one jalapeño (which I have joyfully eaten) and another plant with one heirloom cherry tomato which is not yet ripe. You had warned me so I wanted to report back.

          1. Bravo Zulu! All my jalapeños are belong to dotter. She grows them outside. I eat them inside, if she shares.

            Tomatoes come from Food Lion these days. 🙁

      2. My aero garden got snagged by my middle grandchild before it was out of the box. She’s inherited her grandpa’s green thumb, and my daughter said when Emmylou set it up, it illuminated her whole bedroom and all her other plants, too. That made me so happy. I kept telling Mollie to take anything she wanted so I wouldn’t have to move it, so I’ll order a new aero garden if I ever get to PA. In the meantime, Emmy loves it and I’m happy.

        1. I love my four AeroGarden Harvests, but I will admit to buying an extension piece (from Etsy) that lets me raise the lights another six inches. All of my pepper and tomato plants grow taller than a Harvest normally permits. When the time comes, enjoy your indoor garden.

  11. I had a great reading week starting with Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törsz. Magical books release their magic when read with the right herbs and blood. Only some people can feel the magic and even fewer can make the magic books. At the beginning of the book all of the characters are in separate places and they don’t all know each other but by the end they are a team working together. I was just swept away.
    Then I read Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finley Boylan. What a storyteller. I laughed out loud. Not all of it is funny but all of it was interesting.
    Now I’m reading Ann Leckie’s Translation State and it is absorbing.

  12. I’m still not reading, as it makes my head hurt, and is a nuisance with a magnifying glass. I watched All of Me- “Back in bowl!” It’s hilarious, and has Lily Tomlin and Steve Martin at their best, and a “Swami”, and a jazz musician who are idiosyncratic and fun. I also watched all three of the How to Train Your Dragon movies, which came to a fanciful, lovely conclusion. The Night and Light Furies are just adorable, and remind me of my black cat, and I understand that Toothless was modeled after a cat owned by one of the illustrator/originators.

    1. That makes so much sense re: Toothless. Our beloved black cat, Max, whom we lost in October, looked so much like Toothless, my daughter used that as his nickname.

      1. I really love Housesitter, too. Some of his first movies were a little blah, for me.

  13. I listened to the new Pratchett audiobook for Men at Arms, a different take on the earlier recording. I forget how much fun it is. Listened to Fugitive Telemetry for a dose of Murderbot. Tried Christopher Moore’s Fool, based on King Lear, but as he says in the opening, it’s bawdy to the point of grossness. So not for me, a DNF.

    Reading Between by L.L. Starling, I think it was recommended here. Pretty light, but I’m only in the first chapters, and well written. I’m listening to Hench, which Jenny raved about.

    I’ve messed up my right maybe sciatic nerve, so sitting down is remarkably uncomfortable, it’s either standing or laying out flat. Which is a chance to read, looking on the bright side.

  14. I finished “Race the Wind” by Lauren St. John, and it ended as expected, which was a good thing. I need predictable endings right now.

    Perhaps that is why Robin Hobb’s “Dragon Keeper” doesn’t work out for me right now. She’s an excellent storyteller, I love her books, but even though her plot-twists are less brutal and unpredictable than George R. R. Martin’s, her stories are still generally pretty dark and the endings are…bittersweet at best. I’ll pick it up again at a later time, when I can handle unpredictability better.

    Then I had a week of binge-watching Heartland and barely being able to read at all, until I read last week’s Good Book Thursday and promptly refused to write my top 5 books. 😉 But everyone’s recs made me realize that Crusie was what I needed, so I reread first Faking It and then Maybe This Time. Finally I could sleep at night again and my brain slowed down. Thank you, Jenny, for writing such excellent comfort-reads. <3 I'm eternally grateful.

    Not sure what to read next. The porridge in my head apparently needs to be treated with gentleness and kindness right now, or else it can't focus on the story or I can't sleep. I think it figures it's had enough of the painful stuff to deal with in real life this past year to also read about it, so it just shuts down. Time for it to be wrapped in safety, love, hugs and chocolate.

    1. I heartily join you in thanking Jenny for writing such great comfort reading with wonderful plots with great endings.

  15. I’m reading The Gentleman and the Thief, second in the Dread Penny Society series. I’m loving these books and hope the library has number three…

    I’m tempted to actually buy this series (as opposed to getting it from the library) so my daughter can borrow it on my Kindle.

  16. Lucy Gilmore’s The Lonely Hearts Book Club was a DNF for me. I stopped reading this book after only 4 chapters. It is written well, no complaints on that count, but one of the characters was a ‘grumpy old man’, and the heroine felt sorry and concerned about him, even though his only interactions with her had been to insult her. Apparently, insults are OK, if the man is retired or walks with a cane.
    I don’t feel that way. If the man is ‘grumpy’ when he is old, chances are he was rude and inconsiderate when he was young. ‘Grumpiness’ doesn’t grow without a solid foundation. Nice, kind people don’t become grumpy when they grow old. Only aggressive, confrontational folk are called ‘grumpy’ with the advent of years and wrinkles. I don’t like such people. I’ve always avoided rude and confrontational interactions, and I actively disliked that guy in the book. I don’t understand the heroine’s concern for him, so I didn’t want to read about it. Hence – DNF.
    Amanda Quick’s With This Ring was another reread, a continuation of my project to reread all Amanda Quick’s novels. This book seemed to tell me from the very beginning: don’t take me too seriously. Its hero and heroine were almost caricatures, in the best Quick’s style. He was too much of a brooding, arrogant alpha male, rich and eccentric to boot. She was too much of a perky, imaginative writer of ‘horrid’ novels. And the bunch of villains were almost too villainous for even a whiff of reality. But as a historical romantic thriller, with no pretense of being literary, it worked.

    1. So so far which Quick novel have you most enjoyed rereading?
      I have vague memories of enjoying some back in the day.

      1. For me, as with her JAK titles, she peaked in the 1990s – in fact, my AQ keepers start with her first under that name – Seduction (1990) and mostly stop with Mystique (1995), so just ten.

      2. Not sure. She is reliable, so I’d read anything by her, but her best books are probably those published from 1990 to 2005 or so.

    2. I loved The Lonely Hearts Book Club! It’s true that the events revolve around not just a grumpy, but actually mean old man, but the story is really about people facing their fears and weaknesses. I think the reason that she is concerned about him is that she has successfully hidden herself for years and he sees right through her.

  17. Perennials from a gardening series. Keeper book. Hellebore needs to be planted. Watching YT videos on carry on only to Europe – Barcelona and Med cruise. BFF and both neighbours on either side always do. All short trips I do. But…it is a challenge which H (Husband, first name starts with H), threw out as a splendid idea. First world problem. It’s the Ryan Air flight from Barcelona to Rome, in which I definitely don’t want lost luggage! I have a Bric carry of which is 2” shorter and “apparently European airline friendly. That’s valuable packing space. Anxiety is high. DH said, just buy everything you need. Right, on board a ship, although…the possibility of shopping in ports has some merit. Who wants to spend hours in dressing rooms, not me. Better reread a Crusie to remain calm.

  18. I am reading but nothing much to comment about. Nighttime viewing because it is summertime, and everything is on hiatus brings me to Netflix and Amazon Prime. I am watching two series shows which involve teen angst. I must have a masochist streak running rampant within me. Everwood with Treat Williams is one (never saw it before) and newer only ten episodes, Northern Rescue with William Baldwin. Sandwiched between is a cops and killers series from Australia Water Rats. That one is almost thirty years old. On an episode I saw last night the woman detective, Goldie, was reading a book and it looked familiar, I kept hoping the camera would angle in enough so I could see what she was reading. Sure enough didn’t catch the title but the author was Terry Pratchett. Anytime a bookcase is shown whether it is a show or a news cast from a journalist I always find myself glimpsing to see what is on the shelf.

  19. I’ve read mostly ‘wallpaper’ books this week – nothing I’ll remember and nothing I’d care to recommend.

    I think I might treat myself to a week or two of reading old favourites as a palate cleanser, then go back to trying to make a tiny dent in the TBR pile. I fancy re-reading The Sunne In Splendour for some Richard III excellence, but that will have to wait until my next week off in August. That’s definitely a book that I need to concentrate on when needing, and the 20-minute bursts of reading on the bus to and from work won’t cut it.

  20. I bought Deborah Blake’s Baba Yaga, short stories, and that started me reading baba Yaga. I’m on the first book of the series and enjoying it very much.

  21. I read The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness, the third in a “trilogy” (there’s a fourth). I’ve enjoyed it. Also read Instant Gratification by Jill Shalvis. I enjoy the banter between her characters. Snarky but not vicious.

    1. Book #4 isn’t exactly part of the initial trilogy — it gives the past (pre-vampire) life during the American Revolution of one of the characters. I kept expecting more of the connections with all the others, and not finding what I hoped for.

  22. read Connie Willis’ Road Trip to Roswell, loved it, and am catching up on Maisy Yates’ cowboys. One Night Rancher has a heroine who keeps her grandpa’s ashes in a whiskey jar and wants to buy a haunted hotel.

    1. I liked this Connie Willis book, but I thought the heroine (spoiler alert!) forgave the alien far too quickly and for not a good reason. If that had happened to me, I’d be holding a bigger grudge longer.

  23. We watched a couple episodes of The Diplomat on Netflix. A friend who’s a foreign service officer recommended it as very realistic feeling (though over the top), and we enjoyed it.

  24. I’ve been vegging with Steve Rogers / Sam Wilson fanfics by Astolat – complete escapist fantasies after having re-watched a bunch of Marvel films when I had a cold because I was not up to anything more demanding.

    Before that read and enjoyed Talia Hibbert’s “Undone by the Ex-Con”, which is an older book so missing the signature humor of her more recent work. But I still really liked the characters who were trying to do the right thing in difficult circumstance, and when they messed up, they confessed, apologized and tried to make it right. So nice.

    1. If you liked Undone, you might also like”Work For It” which features Olu’s romance and a brief look at the HEA of Lizzie and Isaac at the end.

      1. I actually read “Work for it” first, and then went back to read the introduction of Olu. Definitely worth it, even though he only has a small part.

  25. I just finished Rachel Neumeier’s first sci-fi book “No Foreign Sky”. She’s written fantasies before, but is now branching out. I liked it. It was fast-paced and had interesting alien interactions. It’s a story about how an alien-human society experiences first contact with a human-only society with an overpowering enemy to force them to work together.

    I also read “Magic Claims” by Ilona Andrews, the latest Kate Daniels novella. If you don’t know Kate Daniels, you really need to start at the beginning with “Magic Bites”.

    I’ve also been attempting to read “Spring’s Arcana” by Lilith Saintcrow for the past couple of months. I keep stalling out, probably because I’m dreading what may happen to the heroine. This novel is about gods living in America. It’s very much like Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”, but instead of focusing on Egyptian gods, this novel focuses on Slavic gods. The heroine is or will be the goddess of Spring incarnate. But, her mother deliberately kept her ignorant for some unknown reason, but probably not good since her ignorance leaves her vulnerable to being destroyed for her unrealized power.

    1. Well, Saintcrow’s book 2 is coming out shortly if I remember rightly. Does that help?

  26. Well, last week I mentioned two of the (many) books I’d been reading, so this week I’ll do the same instead of another long-ass essay.

    Not romance, but bromance: ‘The Red House Mystery’ by A.A. Milne, the rare Golden Age mystery that is not riddled with cringe-inducing racism! Thoroughly enjoyed! It’s charming. Post-Army (WWI) friends investigate a locked-room murder in the country house where one of them is a guest. Both men are witty, resourceful, clever, and willing to do dirty work as needed.

    Sort of romance, but also Girl Power: ‘The Lark’ by E. Nesbit, in which 2 best friends leave boarding school at 19-ish after WWI at behest of their mutual guardian, who delivers unto them a cottage (including title), and a sum of money that is not what it should be, then promptly vanishes. The book is mostly about various attempts to make a living, the help they receive from neighbors & new friends, and (eventually) a romantic connection between one of them and one of the neighbors. I would like a sequel in which the other friend gets her hinted-at HEA, but it doesn’t appear Nesbit wrote one. In any case, this is ideal for anyone in need of English village DIY, low angst, no sex or swearing, people being almost entirely nice to each other.

    1. Hey your faithful readers here are owes long-assed essays! What’s with the restraint??

      1. Another of your loyal readers would appreciate a re-emergence of the long-assed essays!!

        1. …so now I have to check out your blog. Sigh.
          Some more hours to look forward to…

    2. A million years ago I downloaded a complete collection of E. Nesbit’s works, but never got past all my childhood favorites. It’s time to read her adult novels.

  27. I read The Four Kings, which was fun. Then laughed my way through Hot Toy – I love your snarky dialogue so much, Jenny. Then Dick Francis’s Shattered, which I don’t think is one of his best, but was still enjoyable.

    Now I’m rereading The Book of Firsts, and remembering why I liked it so much. Mika is so very sane and grounded, and there’s so little teenage angst. And the development of the friendship between her and the three boys is just lovely. Plus sex as fun rather than high drama. That’s good too.

  28. I have been immersed in Ella Griffith’s Ruth Galloway series. The main character is a forensic archaeologist at a Norfolk university who gets caught up in various police investigations. It’s also a 15-part romance novel, though how it’s going to end when I finally get book 15 from the library is anyone’s guess. I’m sure someone here recommended it. I’ve been playing cat and mouse it’s another reader in my county who is also apparently binging, so we often trade holds.

    The last book came out in April 2023, so they waiting list is long and I am not at the top of either the ebook or hardback queue.

    I quite like them. The protagonist is a normal woman close to my age and honestly seems like someone I would be friends with in real life. And the descriptions of the Norfolk (UK) coast are wonderful.

    On the audio front I have Klara and the Sun playing, but it’s not grabbing me so far. Dystopian fiction isn’t my favorite. Though Murderbot could be described as dystopian, so maybe it will grow on me.

  29. Having been caught in a Regency time warp since Covid, contemporaries are usually DNF and that’s after paying $15. Made it through Bad Summer People and Susanna Hoff – This Bird Has Flown – was excellent. and Thank You Jenny for bringing up Loretta Chase Dukes series. First one made me laugh so hard. Pre-ordered Lavenders Blue! Did a little writing even though I’m on a break (getting ready for a month’s trip).

  30. Attention Jenny and/or Bob:

    Is there a buy link for One in Vermillion like the other two Buy Links in the July 3 post? I’d love to update my blog.

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