This Is A Good Book Thursday, July 26, 2018


I’m currently re-reading the Rivers of London series by Aaronovitch because I mistakenly thought the next one was out in August.  Nope, November.  I’m still enjoying them after multiple re-reads, so it’s about time I started taking them apart to see why.  There are minor things that annoy me, but mostly they’re really solid stories about a great world full of great characters.  Can’t ask for much more than that.

So what have you been reading?

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77 thoughts on “This Is A Good Book Thursday, July 26, 2018

  1. I’m reading Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox. I can’t really describe the plot, but it’s a fantasy, I guess? Based in Japan with fantastical creatures. It kind of reminds me of a dreamily surreal anime one of my kids used to want me to watch with him. Very detailed world building and I’m enjoying it so far.

    4+
    1. I just started that too! Lol, someone else reads Ilona Andrews’ blog. I am really excited about it thus far as well. Easy to read, the world building is creative but doesn’t distract me from the plot at all, and I very much like all of the characters thus far. More as this develops…

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  2. I just read The Flame and The Flower for the first time. I’m unlikely to re-read ever but it sure was educational. I see how it influenced romance novels, and I’m glad we’re growing towards new understanding.

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  3. Anytime I have space left over on KU I check the magazine section and see what’s available. Today I’ll be thumbing through Real Simple and Country. I can always find something interesting and maybe useful.

    Last week I read By Invitation Only by D.B. Frank and I don’t think I cheated by going to the end and reading the last chapter, which is what I’m doing lately. It was fun, quirky and predictable, full of multifaceted characters, the oh so rich and the peach farmers. Characters like the air kissing smarmy friends of the wealthy and the groom’s family chicken which takes the journey to Chicago for the second engagement party.

    I’m off to the library to pick up Peg Bracken’s, I Hate to Cook cookbook (I think someone mentioned it here last week) and The Lost Kitchen by Erin French that was profiled in Weekends with Yankee a PBS show.

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    1. When I was a young bride in the 60s, I read Peg Bracken’s books until I practically had them memorized. I’m not sure I ever used too many of the recipes, but they were fun reads. Looking at them now, it’s a little shocking how much alcohol is used, especially for entertaining. Like diving into an episode of MAD MEN…

      Earlier this week I read Daniel Silva’s latest, THE OTHER WOMAN. He is my all-time favorite writer of spy thrillers.

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      1. I made a number of her recipies, and found them workable and pretty good. I still have the books and reread them recently.

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    2. I Hate to Cook is fun! I’ve been reading it bit by bit. Some of the recipes sound good and what is history by now, is interesting.

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    3. I was astounded when I mentioned the I Hate to Cook Book last week that so many other people were familiar with it. I still use it as the basis of Lamb Curry when I have left over roast although I believe there was a typo on the amount of curry powder and it should be tablespoon, not teaspoon.

      And you are right Linda these guys were very familiar with alcohol. I think it started with prohibition. But if you really want to be shocked by how much people used to drink, read M. F. K. Fisher. I think the entire Great Generation pickled their livers: two martinis before dinner, a couple of bottles of wine with dinner, brandy, cognac or port after dinner. May be it was the way to deal with WWII

      As an aside almost anything M. F. K. Fisher wrote is fabulous. She is probably the most able proponent of food pornography ever. And she makes you want to be where-ever she is writing about.

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  4. This morning I finished the first of the Witcher books, on the recommendation of Youngest Son. He’s now giving me the face which means “and you’ll buy the rest of them, right?” I’ll think about it. He says the most recent game is really really good.

    For lunchtime reading I picked up Elizabeth Moon’s Into the Fire for a reread.

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    1. My husband *loves* The Witcher. The books *and* the games. And it’s going to be a series on Netflix. Also, you can actually buy Gwent, but I think it may be pricey.

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  5. Just read your comment on the last Good Book Thursday about Green for Danger, so I’ll try that.

    Have you read Blackout and All Clear, by Connie Willis? I think it’s in the second book where there’s lots of action around one night in the Blitz, featuring one of the London hospitals, where Agatha Christie aka Mrs Mallowan gets a walk on part.

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      1. “Doomsday” and “Lincoln’s Dream” are really good. Although there are several scenes in Doomsday where I cried not only when I read them but when I thought of them later.

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        1. The Doomsday Book was great reading for me because it was powerful. I’m a medievalist and also live in the real world, so the novel was a double hit.

          To Say Nothing of the Dog is a book I return to because it’s so much fun.

          I’ve also really enjoyed The Winds of Marble Arch story collection. And my first Connie Willis book was Water Witch, which is a fantasy coming-of-age girl’s story that I associate with Dreamsnake.

          I haven’t found another Willis novel whose description made me want to read it.

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          1. Bellwether by Connie Willis is excellent. No timetravel — just funny character interactions, interesting tidbits about the history of fads, and a lovely unexpected ending. My favorite of her books.

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          2. When I reread the book is struck me how so much depends on the missed phone calls, and how strange that seems now…Great book, though.

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      2. Try her Doomsday Book – it’s time travellers doing field work in medieval England. Haven’t read in ages but I remember enjoying it!

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      3. Blackout and All Clear can be confusing with all the different time threads, but I love them.

        After my grandmother died I felt compelled to reread them – I spent most of both books thinking “why?”, then I got to the end and had a hugely helpful realisation about grief and remembering people at their best.

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  6. This morning I finished The Girls in the Garden by Lisa Jewell. I discovered this author back in April, and I’ve already read four books by her. All four books were solid reads. I could not put them down.

    The Girls in the Garden is about a private, communal park, and the people who share it. A horrific event takes place in the first chapter. And from there you are told the story leading up to it. This author is really good at telling a story. She’s also great at characterization. There is depth everywhere.

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  7. I just finished “The Importance of Being Wicked” by Victoria Alexander and kind of wish I had instead found the book by the same title that is Georgian (vs late-Victorian), but in any case it was … okay. First half I was questioning my desire to finish it. Second half picked up steam (literally, ha) and got to a resolution I could live with.

    2+
  8. I finished “We Are Never Meeting in Real Life” by Samantha Irby. I highly recommend this essay collection. Irby is warm and snarky.

    For some fluffy thunderstorm reading I read “Mrs. Jeffries and The One Who Got Away”. I’d read some others in the series and remembered them as light, Victorian-set brain candy which is what I want sometimes.

    ” To Say Nothing of the Dog” by Connie Willis just came through on my holds so I’m really looking forward to that!

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    1. I love “To Say Nothing of the Dog”! She is a great writer and some of her earlier time travel books are powerful but heartbreaking. “To Say Nothing of the Dog” was a joy all the way through. You have inspired me to re-read my copy.

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      1. Just finished listening to To Say Nothing of the Dog on Tuesday, I listened while doing many chores and errands. Always fun.

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      1. I too loved To Say Nothing of the Dog. And the Doomsday Book. Unfortunately, I got Passage at a bad time, when my college roommate was dying of cancer, which put me off Willis for a while. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have picked up a book on near-death experiences then.

        Meanwhile, I’ve been enjoying “Calculating Stars” by Mary Robinette Kowal. It’s an alternate history where a meteorite hits the Earth in the 1950s, and the ensuing catastrophe speeds up the race for space. The main character is a brilliant woman pilot. I’ve kept it at the office for lunch time reading, so it’s been parceled out over a couple of weeks, instead of being devoured in a day or two. I occasionally get irritated by things in the book, but mostly because I’m looking at it from my perspective of the present day, rather than keeping in mind that times have changed since 1955.

        4+
  9. I just read Elizabeth George’s The Punishment She Deserves. It was an amazing read, very layered and none of it was something I skimmed over to get to on with the story. She is in very top form here.

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  10. Based on the buzz surrounding her acceptance speech at this year’s RWA, I read Suzanne Brockmann’s The Unsung Hero, which I really loved! It was interesting because it’s set in the late 90s, and it’s easy to forget what seismic social changes have happened since then. (Cordless phones and webcams as exciting technology! Thong underwear is scandalous! Geeks are bad and comic books are frowned upon!) That made it sort of a historical artifact in addition to three different romances, and it has elements I would’ve derided as trope-y or weak (SEAL alpha hero! Rekindled childhood romance! Love triangle x2 ! 3rd person omniscient narrator! A prologue!) but worked really well for me because of how the characters were developed. It also had a terrorism subplot and a satisfying ending.

    I’m now working on the second book in the series! (The Defiant Hero)

    I’m also sitting in a back to school meeting right now, students come back Monday, so there’s a good chance I’ll only be reading memos, worksheets, student work, and school texts for the next nine months…

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    1. I enjoyed the Brockmann’s I’ve read. I appreciate her diverse populations. (Which shouldn’t be remarkable but still is.)

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  11. Someone last week mentioned that Susan Wolfe, the author of the Edgar Award winning The Last Billable Hour, which I loved, had finally written a second book, 25 years later, so I pounced on it. After first re-reading The Last Billable Hour, which to my relief still holds up, I read her new one, Escape Velocity, and enjoyed it just as much. It’s not related to The Last Billable Hour. About the only thing it has in common is in both books the main character is a new hire, to a law firm and a large software development company respectively, navigating some rather confusing company politics and working long hours. Very different, but still engaging, main characters otherwise.

    I highly recommend both books.

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  12. I finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles this week. I enjoyed it enough to order his first book from the library. I read it for book club and also because a friend recommended it. Jessie liked the way the author uses words and although I enjoyed that too, I would have liked a little less description and a little more direct interaction between characters.

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    1. I also read A Gentleman in Moscow and enjoyed it. Something about it reminded me of A Hundred Years of Solitude, though the settings could not be more different. Perhaps it was the sense of time suspended.

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  13. I have been rereading Diana Wynne Jones Dark Lord of Derkholme series and I love them so much. There are only two. Dark Lord Of Derkholm and The Year of the Griffin. it’s been a wonderful few days

    6+
  14. Finally it’s not just Discworld reporting on my part…

    Finished “Kill the Farm Boy” and mwa. I am sorry, but it wasn’t the book for me. Couldn’t connect with the characters at all, a bit too much poop and snot and goo-humour than I think is fun (especially 600 times per chapter) and… I’ll just leave it at that. Pity. I think I had too high expectations. Will focus on Hearne’s other series instead, whenever a new part is released.

    Aaand because I needed some Pratchett again I returned to Discworld. Reread “The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents”, and it was better than I remembered it. Upgraded it from a 3 to a 4 on Goodreads. Dark Tan gives me so much Sam Vimes-vibes! Love it. (It could possibly be because Stephen Briggs is narrating them similarily, but bah, who cares. It’s great.)

    Reread “Night Watch” and yes yes yes I love that book. I can’t really say exactly what’s causing all this love, but it’s been one of my Discworld favourites ever since I read it the first time and I’ve been looking forward to rereading it since I started on “The Colour of Magic” earlier this year. I was happy to find it was as good as I remembered it.

    Just finished rereading “The Wee Free Men”, which also got a rating upgrade. This was probably mostly because I discovered that the version of it I read before apparently was the abridged version…which had taken most of the fun out of it. It was more or less like reading it for the first time. I think that, on the topic of less likeable protagonists but still satisfying book-endings, Tiffany had such a position in my mind until I reread this. I liked her fine in the other books, but this first one… mwa. I just saw her as selfish and unable to show affection for others (her little brother in particular), which didn’t respond with me since I absolutely love my siblings…admittedly I was not happy about the idea when I was 12 and my mother told me she was pregnant, but from the first second I held my little brother I loved him with all I had, and still do. Tiffany seemed so…condescending and knowitall-ish to me, and I had problems identifying myself with that.
    I liked the whole story much, much more now. Tiffany still grows on me in the other stories, but the unabridged version of the book at least gave her more layers of personality. And I adore the Wee Free Men.

    Starting Monstrous Regiment… NOW!

    Fiancé and I also finished reading “De Delta Deceptie” (“Deception Point”) and wow. A thriller? Oh yes. Yes. It’s been ages since I read a contemporary thriller without fantasy elements and woooh it was a ride. Normally I’m not particularly interested in space or politics, but this book just grabbed me by the collar and dragged me along. And it had the right amount of thrilling without being creepy, violence without being too much and enough puzzle to keep me suspecting the major part of the characters of being the bad guy. I’ve probably read too much Agatha Christie to be fooled to the end, but it took a good while before I figured out who was behind it all. We just kept on reading and reading until late night because it was such a thrill. Well done, Mr Brown! I definitely recommend it.

    We’ve now moved on to “Het Juvenalis Dilemma” (“Digital Fortress”). 14 % in to the book and I’m not as thrilled yet as by “Deception Point”, probably because the pace is a bit slower, but I’m curious to see where this computer-geek story will lead. And Fiancé works with computers, so whenever a computer-related question pops up (and yes they do) we get lenghty discussions about how things like proxys and VPNs and cyber-crime and whatnot work. Feels good.

    2+
  15. Jenny you have jogged my memory about The Rivers of London as I haven’t reread them in the past couple of years so now on a mission to find my copies as I reorganised my shelves of books when my DH said my books were taking over, so now some are doubled stacked in a cupboard so we have a tidy room. So which shelf and which stack and ladders are needed to reach the top shelves. I have been trying to find Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox after Ilona recommended it but iBooks doesn’t seem to have it when I do a search.

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    1. I was almost afraid to go back, but they hold up really well. In fact, I think I liked them better on the reread.

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  16. Just to clarify: Both “Deception Point” and “Digital Fortress” are written by Dan Brown. I realized I half forgot to mention that. I know how frustrating it can be to only have a title and not an author, in case there are other books with similar titles and you end up wondering which one of them you were actually looking for.

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  17. I read Uprooted by Naomi Novik thanks to a recommendation here and I loved it. There were a couple of things that niggled (great unexplained leaps in ability, character interactions that didn’t always ring true) but I didn’t care when I was reading it, the writing is lovely and the story was a original and engaging. Best thing I’ve read in ages. It’s a stand-alone fantasy. Thank you, recommenders!

    4+
    1. I’ve got Uprooted on my TBR pile, because it was an autobuy after Novik’s Temeraire series, which I ADORED and have read multiple times. Napoleonic Wars + dragons??? Sentient, sassy, well-developed dragons??? I highly recommend!

      1+
      1. I went straight to the Temeraire series when I finished this and read the first two, but I think they are quite different. There are no dragons in Uprooted, but despite that sad lack, I liked Uprooted much much more. I found it to be warmer and maybe sweeter, and the story more compelling. But what appeals to one doesn’t always to another, so prepare perhaps for it to be maybe not quite what you’re expecting…

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  18. I checked “World War Z” out of the online library, pretty fascinating. Different stories from survivors of the great zombie apocalypse.

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  19. May I go off-topic just a bit? Since many here are writers, and all are readers… How do y’all feel about the Laura Ingalls Wilder issue?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/26/books/laura-ingalls-wilder-book-award.html

    I have such a difficult time with this, because people of history should be judged on the merits/morals/ethics of their own time, not of ours. (Seriously, how will people in 100 years judge *us*? Can we stand up to the passage of time?)

    I’m just curious over everyone’s thoughts over this. (Jenny, if this is out of line, please delete it).

    And, I didn’t even care for the books; I only started watching the tv show when Almanzo (Manny?) showed up. Even then, I was all about the romance. 🙂

    3+
    1. The “Little House” books were favorites of mine growing up (along with those of Louisa May Alcott.) I, too, think it’s ridiculous to condemn writers – and most other people, for that matter – for not being ahead of their time in their outlook and attitudes. Thank goodness for all those who WERE ahead of their time and helped bring society along, but to blame someone for NOT breaking away from the prevailing way of viewing the world seems patently unfair.

      I think renaming the award is a bit of a “so what,” but I think it WOULD be a shame if teachers, librarians, etc. tried to push Wilder’s work down a memory hole because they deem it politically incorrect. That’s the sort of pants-piddling that gets people trying to ban “Huckleberry Finn” (in my opinion, arguably the Great American Novel) because “Ermagerd! He used the ‘N-word!'” For all we know, generations from now, folks could get their knickers in a twist because “Ermagerd! That writer from the 21st century portrayed characters eating MEAT!”

      (Full disclosure: I never cared for the “Little House on the Prairie” TV series because anyone who’s ever read the books knows that Pa Ingalls had a BEARD, dag nab it!)

      6+
      1. I wondered if I missed a discussion of the ALA – Laura Ingalls Wilder issue. I agree with luvcubs and Linda from Dayton. I think there is much to learn from the points of view from the past. I didn’t come across the Wilder books until I met my husband (he’d taken a course in kid lit), but our children loved them. Linda from Dayton’s suggestion that future readers might object to characters who eat meat made me laugh. Remember Woody Allen’s movie Sleeper? I thought the future knowledge that chocolate cake was health food was a scream. And in those days I had no idea that I’d be refusing to watch any recent Woody Allen movies because I don’t approve of his private life. Times change. . .

        1+
      2. Of course, in Huck Finn it’s generally the unlikable characters who speak disrespectfully to and about Jim and other slaves, whereas when Pa Ingalls tells us “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” the text assumes we’re going to nod along…

        I agree that Wilder can’t be judged by 2018 standards, but if I were teaching either text I’d be sure to talk to the students about the context without excusing it.

        And I DEFINITELY agree that Huck Finn may very well be the Great American Novel–but in part because it’s all about (…spoilers?) Huck choosing his own morality (protect his friend Jim) over the law/what society demands (turn Jim in) and then rejecting civilization altogether in favor of an individualistic rejection of the established social order when he decides to “light out for the territories.”

        4+
        1. That’s Ma’s line, not Pa’s. Pa (and Laura) are surpringly progressive in many of their views. Ma, not so much. She’s pretty snarky about her Scandinavian neighbors in Minnesota, too.

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          1. Yeah, I remember Ma making a comment along the lines of “dirty Swedes” which since I’m of Swedish descent was jarring. But it got me thinking about prejudices, and how they change and evolve over time. For a 9-year-old that wasn’t a bad thing.

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        2. I think my favorite sentence in all of literature is “All right then, I’ll go to hell.” Gets me every time.

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      3. I read the books but never watched the TV series; however, one of my office mates did, and I loved the day that she told me she’d worked out how the plot of last nght’s episode would end . . . because it was six minutes before the end of the show! I’d been explaining plot structure as simply as possible, and have always been tickled that the principles were absorbed by a non-reader!

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    2. I think I find the renaming of the award acceptable, whereas condemning the books would have crossed a line. The world changes, awards are a thing that should keep up. I feel like, of what I read (not a lot, mind you), they tried to make that distinction. They aren’t condemning her work, simply updating the award, politely and not very politically, not wanting to make it a thing. But I read one article and moved on, so I could have missed something.

      6+
    3. Huge LIW fan here, huge. They were *the* book series in this bookworm’s childhood, and as I read them to my girls, I realized how many values I had absorbed over the years. But I also talked to my girls, a lot, about Ma and her attitudes, specifically around Little House on the Prairie. I mean, I get why Ma hates the Indians; they are a terrifying threat to her small family. But she and Pa also chose to settle in their lands, just because they could, so, hello, what did they expect? And why did they expect that? Why was it ok for them to take over? There’s a lot to chew on there.
      I don’t think she’ll go away. Ma is racist, absolutely, but Laura is not. It remains a vibrant memoir of an important chunk of our history. The award – we’ll, I can’t argue too much with that, everyone should feel represented.

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    4. It’s not out of line, it’s a discussion.

      It’s also a tough call. I’ve been re-reading Agatha Christie, and her characters make racist remarks as a matter of course and are anti-Semitic. So are Georgette Heyer’s. And Gilbert’s characters are dismissive of gay men. I still love those authors, but that stuff is jarring. If you can separate the prejudices of the times from the stories, they’re still good, but those things still have an affect, throwing me out of the story. Oddly enough, I can roll with authors from the past writing women as emotionally driven idiots (Rex Stout comes to mind) easier than I can deal with the casual homophobia, racism, and anti-Semitism.

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      1. The part I have a problem with, in the whole LIW debate, is that her text has been altered by some publishers to soften or erase some of the racist passages. That’s not helping anyone – it’s erasing a painful part of history rather than facing it, understanding it, and hopefully learning to do better. Also, don’t tinker with the author’s text! Foreword it, yes, but don’t change it.

        2+
        1. I agree. I had one fleeting thought that it would be so easy to change a couple of words, and then I had a much longer thought about what I’d done when some editor had changed some of my words, and nope. Nope, nope, nope. Do not mess with the text.

          2+
  20. Kathleen Gilles Seidel’s book hit my Kindle this week. Been holding out to start it, but the heck with it. I am going to ditch what I am currently reading and dive in!

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  21. Finished “Wild Ride” on Tuesday, and I would swear it had more laugh-out-loud lines than any other single Crusie I’ve read so far. (The just-hit-40-years-sober hubby loved the line about Mab trying to drown her sorrows.)

    Fun Facts related to “Wild Ride” that will have no significance to anyone but me:

    1.) I wasn’t familiar with the prominently-mentioned John Hiatt song “What Love Can Do,” but the passing reference to “Child of the Wild Blue Yonder” got my attention – Before we met, Current Hubby heard that song and decided that the “she” described therein was the woman he was looking for, and when we met, he decided that was me! Twenty-two years later, here we are.

    B.) I recognized the Theodore Parker quote about the arc of the universe bending toward justice – “Bend Toward Justice” was the theme of a continental church General Assembly I attended with Previous Hubby, the minister, back in the late ’80s. (Fun Fact B.1 – Previous Hubby the minister officiated at my marriage to Current Hubby. To his everlasting credit, at no point in the ceremony did Previous Hubby turn to Current Hubby and say, “Are you SURE???”)

    I’ll probably dive into “Unfortunate Miss Fortunes” next, but I have to wait until after work tomorrow or I won’t get anything done at the office. So far I still have my boss snowed, thinking I’m a dedicated, hard worker, and after eighteen years, I am loathe to disabuse him of that notion.

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  22. So I finished my lunch reading book about the civil rights movement on Tuesday, and had to go look at the Free Bookshelf at work to find something to read the rest of the week. Found and started the mystery “Beauty Like the Night” by Joanna Bourne, whom I’d never heard of before. Very well written, nice characterization, although the protagonists do Meet a little Cute. Set after the French Revolution, in London. And I like the sound of the author on Amazon’s Author profile. Have you guys ever read her books?

    3+
    1. Periodically there are a group of us who rave about her but it has been about 5 – 6 weeks. I love her. And have read and reread. And my first recommendation for her (about 5 or 6 months ago) was from this site.

      Lots of different books get covered here and there are a lot of discerning readers on this blog.

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      1. Thanks! I thought I’d heard the name SOMEwhere, but I probably noted it, then discovered my library system doesn’t have any of her books, so forgot all about it. She is quite cool.

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  23. I’ve been rereading VICTORIAN CAKES by Caroline King, along with her general cookbook (1918 or so, mentally comparing with A THOUSAND WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND). A fun book, and I mean to do a little genealogical exploring to see if I can find what happened to Caroline’s family.

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  24. I love Joanna Bourne. Her blog is also worth reading especially when she writes about writing. I’m not a writer but I find it fascinating.
    Also Adrian is a great romantic hero. If you are new to her books I strongly recommend reading them either in the order they were written or reading The Forbidden Rose and Spymaster’s Lady before you get to Black Hawk.

    2+
  25. I’m rereading Michael Gilbert. After End Game I went on to Smallbone Deceased and realized that many scenes from it are also tucked away in my memory.

    The amount of drinking during WWII may have been a response to stress; in Churchill’s War Room there was a notice that in the last six months of the war the drink ration was cut back to 2 large whiskies and 2 large gins a day.

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  26. I’m listening to the Charlie Parker series and reading The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz.

    Any Dresden fans here?

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  27. Got a Wow! book for my fellow fantasy readers: Trail of Lightning, by Rebecca Roanheart. Set in the Navajo Nation, post-climate change apocalypse. That got me, right there, but it is wonderful and evocative and what a great voice. Can’t wait for the next one, and to see what else this author comes up with.
    Having said that- it’s dark to the point of grim. Lots of violence, some of it involving children (including Our Girl.) I know that lots of folks here said that Iron and Magic was too dark, and this is darker than that. But it’s got great characters and action, and the take on the end of the world (or rebirth, as the Diné see it) is so cool.

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  28. I just finished “Goody Two Shoes” by Janet Elizabeth Henderson. I saw the ending coming from chapter one. I got this book from a “Fussy Librarian” email for free. So after “The End”, Janet lets me know that this is book two of the Invertary series and there are at least six more. :S (That’s a crooked grin emoji, right?)

    I just opened “I’ve Seen You Naked and Didn’t Laugh” by Eden Butler. The title hooked me.

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