This is a Good Book for Thursday in the Fall

The seasons are changing.  Cuddle up with a good book (and some pumpkin custard).

[Advance notice: Trust Me On This will be $1.99 on Bookbub (and every place else) on Nov. 14.  Why anybody would want a decades old book, I have no idea, but hey, it’ll be two bucks.]

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51 thoughts on “This is a Good Book for Thursday in the Fall

  1. It is supposed to be spring. Snow is forecast today on our Drakensberg range. Direct translation Draken = Dragon and berg = mountain. So don’t say Drakensberg Mountains because you’re saying Dragon mountain mountains.

    I procrastinated my time away with Susan Grant’s Star series – The Champion of Baresh. Very nice because it skillfully redeems a villian of an earlier book. It is a standalone but it might ruin previous books in series if you read them after this one.

    Now I’m trying to pump out 40000 words of a paper without having done enough ground work. Send vibes and prayers. Hoping to not backslide with anxiety (more about that on Twitter). Muchos gracias.

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  2. Because the paper copies are tattered and falling apart, that’s why we buy decades old books.

    I’m busy with other stuff right now so my reading is very limited. My almost 8 year old son was reading to me last night. He’s in a foreign language immersion school and they teach reading in that language first, then in English. So he’s not a very good reader right now, in either language. That said, it was a Star Wars book. And he read “The Jedi goats” instead of “The Jedi got” and we laughed until I was crying. Because Jedi Goats would be really interesting. Do they use the Force to make better grass grow? To make even more astonishing leaps up the mountains (actually, this might explain things…) He followed up a few sentences later with “Palpatine was a mop” and I started crying again. Needless to say, his 15 minutes of reading time was actually about 3 minutes of reading and 12 minutes of laughter.

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  3. Just finished reading John le Carre’s A Legacy of Spies. Had to read it quickly before the library ebook expired. Have no idea what happened, just that it was a good book 🙂

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  4. After being told by people in all parts of my life that they were amazing, I finally got around to starting Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Boys and… Wow. Wow WOW wow. I’m still working my way through the first book because I’m trying to savor every line. There is something about the rhythms of this story, the tightness of the writing, and the compelling complexity of her characters that just leaves me in awe. Plus, the story she’s weaving is fascinating and feels really fresh and different in a way I haven’t experienced with urban fantasy in a long time. I can already tell I’m going to reread this series as soon as I finish it, just to try and figure out how she’s *doing* this.

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    1. I wish someone could explain the draw. I love Shiver and The Scorpio Races or whatever it’s called, but I do not get that series. To me, it’s oddly aimless and she only gets flowery about one character, who doesn’t deserve it.

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      1. I appreciate you bringing up Shiver, because I kind of had the opposite reaction. I absolutely could not enjoy Shiver, and had avoided The Raven Boys because I figured I’d have the same reaction. I think one of the things I’m enjoying about The Raven Boys is its circuitous way of getting toward the heart of the story, which reminds me of a lot of classic Gaelic and Celtic stuff I’ve read. It’s something I haven’t seen much of in contemporary genre fiction, and it’s interesting for me to see how she works the balance between this old roundabout style and a modern narrative’s need for constant forward motion.

        Also, deep dives into characters and characters who are huge chunks of the plot themselves are my total catnip!

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  5. Over the week end my son bought me a dozen pumpkin spice creamers which I’ve enjoyed in my one cup of coffee a day. Two creamers at the most to stretch them out. In the meantime while my kindle is resting and recharging I’m reading The Christmas Room by Catherine Anderson. I know Christmas is in the title and it’s not even Halloween yet, but the story is about a grandmother, son and grandson who relocate to Montana from California and buy property along the river opposite their neighbor a cantankerous rancher. The grandmother (Maddie) is a mystery writer who also has cancer and does not tell her son about her cancer telling him she is going to town for PT, but really chemo, due to a bad back. Her son(Cam) is 35 years old with a teenage son (Caleb) that he has custody of because it was a high school pregnancy and the boys mother did not want the baby. Cam meets the ranchers’s daughter (Kirsten) 26 and the story goes that her father ruins anyone’s career if try to get close to her. This is all in the first 2 chapters and Maddie has not met the rancher yet, but their supposed to get off to a rocky start. I’m winded already.

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  6. I have Envious Casca to start and am still reading the 2 non fiction books they seem to take longer.
    I bought tons of books at the used book sale at the library last Sunday. $5 bag FTW! I got some Bujold, a Pratchett, and some other SciFi that I can’t remember exactly. And cookbooks. And other stuff I’m forgetting.

    If patterns on Revelry count, I’m reading about crocheted dragons and blankets crocheted corner to corner. Lost a few hours there.

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  7. Trust me on this is a good book, Jenny, and I need a digital copy in case I lose power in a winter storm. I reserve candles for absolute necessity, and my Kindle lasts a good while.

    Totally off topic but if you start a writing class and you’re told prologues are a good idea, it’s time to drop it, yes?

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    1. Not necessarily. There are many roads to Oz.
      The problem with prologues is (among other things) that they’re a crutch for the writer, not something that’s great for the reader or the story. BUT lots of writers use them, so . . . maybe discuss it with the teacher? Or not?

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      1. Many roads to Oz. Some of us love prologues and epilogues as readers as well as writers.

        What does it add to the story?

        Sometimes it’s a cheap gimmick – sometimes it’s not.

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  8. I read Daughter of the Burning City, which is a murder mystery set in a carnival in a fantasy land where some people have magic.

    Not my usual, but I loved it. And the twists took me by surprise.

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  9. I’m reading a British humorous romance writer named Jenny Colgan (apparently all the good ones are named Jenny?), who I have fallen in love with. Her books are currently my happy place.

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  10. I read a sample that was catchy enough that I bought the book…… as I progressed, the plot got more and more junior high school to the point where I ditched it to read a rather violent murder mystery. And I am relaxing on vacation, so I should be more tolerant of fluff, but geez!!!!!!! I am not naming it, because I don’t want to be insulting to anyone here who liked (or possibly even wrote) this book. I used to love “Faro’s Daughter” by dear Georgette, and now I just want to sit the main characters down and lecture them about growing up and behaving like adults (sigh). I may be aging out of romance novels.

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  11. I took someone’s advice here and ordered a used copy of Red Adam’s Lady. Lots of fun! The details of 12th century northern England life are amazing — I hope they’re accurate.

    Grace Ingram wrote the tale in the 1970s. I’m intrigued that the main character Julitta is as strong as any contemporary heroine. The sense of the book being around 4 decades old comes from the dialects, Medieval-y sounding language, and the amount of action and violence (or perhaps I’ve been deliberately choosing tales with more selective deaths — like more bad dying and more good getting lucky).

    I’ve been chewing on the fact that heroines — and often heroes — tend to be young. One of the many reasons I love Jenny Crusie stories is that her heroines and heroes are adults in their thirties. Both Red Adam and Julitta have enough history in their backstories to be ten years older than they are (even though the amount they have isn’t implausable for medieval young folk). Yet, I would so love to read about characters who are given credit for being, well, grown up.

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    1. I really enjoy Georgette Heyer’s paired romance books for that reason — Sprig Muslin, the Nonesuch, and several others have a young lover pair as well as an older, more interesting older lover pair, but the whole is nicely woven together.

      I think, though, that the overwhelming “it’s so fluffy I’m gonna DIE” passions of love tend to happen to people when they are younger, and the emotion of love evolves into something different as people get older. Or at least that’s been my experience. Less likely to involve climbing up impregnable castle walls to kiss the sleeping princess or running off with pirates and so forth — the stuff of DRAAAMMMAAA.

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    2. A mature heroine in medieval times would either be childless or a grandmother or a nun. And there is the problem that if they have any possessions, some male is going to gift them to someone he wants to curry favor with or to keep them in the family. Fertility was more iffy and producing children was the prime reason for most marriages. It kept the property in the family and if a son was produced who loved his mother, she had a safe old age ahead of her.

      There weren’t too many Bess of Hardwick’s around in the 11th century. Although Queen Emma, 2nd wife of Aethelred and then wife to Cnut was another surviver. I believe Queen Emma was the only English queen who was coronated Queen twice, once for each of her husbands.

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    3. And when Jenny Crusie’s heroines have mothers who are in the story, said Moms aren’t Mrs. Claus, or little old lady, or dotty. They are us, normal, same people they were at 30. (Personal pet peeve, getting peevier (?) the older my son gets). 🙂

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      1. Actually, I’ve had a string of dysfunctional mothers. I thought Gwen was a good mother until people started to point out her flaws.
        But they’re all still people with identities aside from being mothers. I think that’s why some readers were annoyed with Gwen. “She’s not very maternal.” Why should she be, her kids are all adults. Let ’em go, she’s heading for Aruba.

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        1. Dysfunctional, sure. Many of us can relate. 🙂 But, what I’m talking about is: usually, in many a novel, the mothers of the heroine are Little Old Ladies without a clue. My Mom was never a Little Old Lady. I loved Gwen, she was a different type of maternal. She respected her kids. She didn’t try to run their lives. She was not a stereotype. She was just as much of the story as Eve or Nadine. And she got to have her own adventures, and she had a past! 🙂 And she would be an awesome mother in law.

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  12. Good points. I haven’t read a lot about Queen Emma, but she sounds a bit too much of a survivor for my 21st century taste. I say that because she became buddies with Earl Godwin and wrote to her son Arthur to come over to England — where Godwin’s guys promptly captured him and put his eyes out. (Arthur died of the mutilation — which one historian thought was rather odd, as destroying people’s sight was a common retaliation in those days, not usually leading to death.)

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  13. My history is a shaky for that period. Was Earl Godwin King Harold’s father? William the Conqueror was Emma’s nephew and that was part of his claim to the throne. So poor Arthur was avenged somewhat.

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    1. Yes, Godwin was Harold’s father; William the Conqueror was Emma’s great nephew. A correction is needed because I named the dead, sightless son incorrectly: he was Alfred.

      Four things bug me into researching as much as I can: (1) the royal and powerful elites of what are now the UK and Europe were already intermarrying well before the year 1000 — for the reasons Jessie lists. So, as you suggest, some scion of Arthur’s gained from his murder. (2) In a few instances, women of the time could stand as rulers. Furthermore (3), the Frenchification of England began before William the Conqueror impressed Norman Frenchness furiously and forcefully on the British. Finally (4), I’m trying to figure out the effects of all this on the end of Anglo-Saxon English and the resurrection later of Middle English.

      Everyone used wives to make treaties. The Godwin family (a major Anglo-Saxon earldom in England) intermarried with the Danes (who were Vikings living in the Denmark/Norway area). In Emma’s time there were intermarriages with Cnut’s family and Aethelred’s family. (Edward the Confessor married one of Godwin’s daughters.)

      Aethelred the Unready and the English Anglo-Saxon royal family was mostly from Wessex, but even they had a tie to France: Louis IV (d. 954) king of West Francia was son of Charles the Simple and Eadgifu of Wessex.

      Or, in the case of Viking Normans, a land grant was better than a wife. Emma’s Norman forebears had been Vikings (Danes, Norwegians, Swedes) only two generations earlier when Rollo had been given the Norman lands by Charles the Simple in a deal to stop Rollo’s pillaging and to get Rollo to agree to keep other Vikings out of Francia.

      So, when Emma first married Aethelred the Unready, then later King Cnut, the connections weren’t as surprising as the fact that a single woman made both.

      I won’t drag you anything else. There’s a huge problem of lack of historical material along with the fictionalization of many historical figures and events.

      Back to the age thing, I’m glad that Eleanor of Aquitaine was a 30-year-old divorcee with 2 kids when she teamed up with 19-year-old Henry FitzEmpress, soon to be Henry II of England. It was a political marriage with ups and downs, but at least she made her own choices.

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      1. Thanks for all the information. My deceased MIL and I could discuss the ramifications of early royal marriages by the hour. My husband said he never realized that history was just another form of gossip.

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        1. In my family, history was better than gossip because it was being snarky about strangers as versus cousins you’d see in the next week.

          I was surprised to discover in high school that people thought history was about memorizing dates – because my parents and grandparents talked about it (even the stuff that happened a couple of centuries before) as people.

          True story – my grandmother told us about Cromwell because she said when she was little, they were still threatening naughty children with Cromwell would come and carry them away to Jamaica. (1910s) One of my older cousins (about 30 years older) showed us different kinds of seaweed and told us what kind to eat if the Famine came again because his grandfather survived by eating seaweed. My mother thought most of European history was a soap opera and that’s exactly how she talked about it.

          My grandfather reminded us that the maternal side got here in the 1920s and most black people had already been Americans for 200 years by then.

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      2. Elizabeth, what do you mean by ‘the end of Anglo-Saxon English and the later resurrection of Middle English’? There isn’t a gap between them, just an evolution as English is influenced by French and Latin. ‘Old’ or ‘Anglo-Saxon’ and ‘Middle’ are just modern labels. Plus, of course, there are varying amounts of surviving written evidence, especially of regional variants.

        The thing I’m intrigued by is how English came to be spoken so widely, when obviously all the British didn’t flee to Cornwall, Wales and Cumbria (my father always reckoned our ancestors were the ancient Britons who couldn’t be bothered to flee). And then when the ruling elite changed again, to French speakers, the opposite happened, and the language of the common people won out.

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        1. JaneB, I was referring to the fact that the destruction wrought by William the Conqueror and the Normans stopped Old English in its tracks. After 1066 the chronicles (such as the Anglo-Saxon and Peterborough chronicles) slowly wore down. I think the last stopped at the end of The Anarchy (Stephen’s reign). The next wave of vernacular was Anglo-Norman (think Marie de France). Middle English started back up slowly, so there was a gap. That’s why Middle English has both Norman French words and Parisian French words. The Parisian French influence came in the 12th century (after King John lost Normandy).

          I recommend a podcast called historyofenglishpodcast.com. (It’s done by an American lawyer from North Carolina who isn’t an historian. But he isn’t too far off in his facts.)

          I also recommend books by Laura Ashe, an Oxford don: Early Fiction in England: from Geoffrey of Monmouth to Chaucer. Also, Fiction and History in England, 1066-1200. Ashe doesn’t write about the gap between Old English and Middle English. Rather, she writes about the many sources available to an aristocratic elite who can read several languages.

          Finally, Laura Ashe is on several episodes of the BBC Radio 4 podcast In Our Time (the 12th century Renaissance and Tristan & Iseult, for example).

          Like you, I’m very curious about how English won out.

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          1. You’re talking about the written language only. And who had the resources to write (and read) was dictated by who ruled the country. But the language itself would have evolved as languages do, by people speaking it. One reason I studied English at university was because I was really interested in social history – how people experienced their lives. But the further back you go, the patchier the record is, not only because few people (mostly monks) were literate, but because Latin became the language of the Church and the government.

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        2. The thing I’m intrigued by is how we got to Middle English. I love this community. Smart people who follow the line of most interest.

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  14. I put Trust Me on This on my calendar for November . Hooray!
    I just finished Robena Grant’s Corsica Gate. Loved it. May try Jenny Colgan, She sounds good. Laid up inn achair with a bad knee for the moment. I want to laugh.

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  15. Thank you to all who recommended Sarah Wynde’s Tassamara series. I read A Gift Of Ghosts and A Gift Of Thought on a long haul flight recently and they were just lovely. I also really enjoyed Deborah Blake’s Reinventing Ruby on the flight back. And then to get over the jet lag I read Sarah Mac Lean’s A Rogue By Any Other Name, and now I have to hunt down the rest of that quartet. It’s nice to be back.

    Side note: I miss a LOT when I go away. But hey, now I get to read the first act truck draft! Woot!

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  16. I’m getting involved in The Christmas Room to the point where I’m more interested in the parents of Cam and Kirstin. I find myself skip reading their story to back to Maddie and Sam both widowed. She is a mystery author and Sam’s favorite writer until he finds out who she is. One night Sam shows up at the camp where she lives and they have an insultithon with each other. Unfortunately she has just left the porta potty where she accidently lost her flashlight to the toilet and when she bent over to see if she could retrieve it the cell phone fell out of her shirt pocket. Sam goes back to his ranch and decides to burn all her books in a barrel. Its dark and he grabs the gas can instead of the diesel. Of course it explodes and his mustache and eyebrows go poof. These two are in their sixties but they are so much fun.

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  17. I read For the Roses, by Julie Garwood. A really great, rich story, historical western romance, with fabulous characters that stay in your thoughts long after the read. The other thing I particularly enjoyed about this one was the pacing. It wasn’t all hell for leather where you have to stay up all night to see what happens (and end up reading it too fast.) Nope, the pacing gave me time to catch my breath, sink into the story, and really get to know the characters. Even the most minor character was memorable. I always looked forward to picking up the book again, and I was so sad when it ended.

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  18. I enjoyed The Rule of Luck by Catherine Cerveny, a sci fi novel with an interesting premise and strong characters (set in a futuristic Earth). I read somewhere that it was similar to Linnea Sinclair’s sci fi romances so I gave it a try. It has a strong but not stupid heroine, who says what she means. That’s all I’ve managed to read in weeks, but I did get to see a Kaffe Fassett exhibit! (I posted photos on my blog for interested knitters: https://knitigatingcircumstances.com/2017/09/30/kaffe-fassett-at-mottisfont/). -Kelly

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  19. Just finished Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan, who is always a good author for a fun read. I always love his chapter headings.

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  20. “Why anybody would want a decades old book?”

    Because our previous (however many) copies of Faking It (which is my go-to book when I’ve had a bad week), are falling apart. I could scotch-tape the pages, but …. If it’s a favorite book, it’s irresistible…

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    1. Well, this is Trust Me On This which was an experiment that I never tried again because it makes my slightly chilly fiction even colder, so not one of the books people tend to mention.

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