This Is a Good Book Thursday, August 23, 2018

Okay, the next time I forget a Working Wednesday because I haven’t realized it’s Wednesday, somebody say, “Jenny, it’s Wednesday.”  Here, have a Good Book Thursday:

This week I read . . . I forget.  I read a lot of stuff, though, including web pages  on how to get married in Vegas.  Don’t get married in Vegas.  Currently reading Catherine Aird again.  So what did you glom this week?

103 thoughts on “This Is a Good Book Thursday, August 23, 2018

  1. I’m happy to skip working Wednesday, I’m doing enough work. Although creative it’s not.

    Still, there’s always time for reading. I am just about finished ‘Doomsday Book’ by Connie Willis. How could I never have read this before? Apart from the bodycount, I’m enjoying it a lot.

    It’s interesting, they play a lot of phone tag, but they’re using vid screens with their phones. It really confused me until I realised it was published in 1992 – so she imagined the vid screen, but not the cell phone which beat it by about 20 years.

    So, thanks to everyone who recommended ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ – I’ll get to that next, but wanted to read in order.

    1. I kind of have the same experience reading the Vorkosigan Saga–amazing body tech but everyone has vid screens and comconsoles and wristcoms. And no media!

    2. That was exactly the detail that hit me the last time I read it -so much could have been solved with voicemail.

  2. A couple of days ago, I finished Book #9, “An Argumentation of Historians,” the latest full-length installment in “The Chronicles of St. Mary’s.” I hurtled through all nine books in less than three weeks. As I mentioned on a previous Thursday, these books leave me spent after sending me through an emotional spin cycle. They’re alternately funny as hell and heartbreaking. I’m now hopelessly emotionally involved with these characters and both relieved and frustrated to learn that Jodi Taylor has submitted the first draft of #10 to the publisher and that it’s due out sometime next year. I plan to try to “cleanse my palate” with my last unread full-length Crusie, “Dogs and Goddesses,” but then I’ll probably go back for the collected St. Mary’s short stories.

    I believe this has come up before, but please refresh my alleged memory – how do Connie Willis’s time travel books compare with the St. Mary’s series?

    1. Like diamonds to rhinestones, in my opinion. But to me the two or three St Mary’s books I read from the library were rather poor, and you obviously loved them. So it may be the other way round for you.

    2. Well, for me, Connie Willis’s time travel books are brilliant and perpetually rereadable. Sadly, however, I could not even get halfway through Book 1.0 of the St. Mary’s series, so I guess it’s a Personal Thing.

      What I just read: Anne Fadiman’s memoir of her dad Clifton. The Wine-lover’s Daughter. Highly recommended.

        1. Oooh, boy. I”ve read just about everything Connie Willis has ever read.

          Do you like funny or sad or both?

          The three big time travel novels are only slightly related.

          “Doomsday Book” is about the plague and sad. But beautifully written about the past (weak on predicting the future).

          “To Say Nothing of the Dog” is hilariously funny, Victorian farce and romantic comedy, lots of gentle poking fun of English traditions.

          “Black Out” and “All Clear” are about the Blitz very good and very long. And both funny and sad. They’re really one book that she had to split into one and truthfully there is maybe a plot line and a half I would have edited out, but that maybe b/c I saw one plot twist coming.

          In the tragic vein, I also recommend “Passage.” It blew me away, left me in tears, and I started at the beginning and read it again, straight through.

          She also has lots and lots of short stories. They’re not easy to find, but they give you a good feel of the variety of her style. I particularly love the stories – “Spice Pogrom”, “Samaritan”, and “Even the Queen.”

          She does have some obsessions she comes back to again and again. She likes twisty plots. She likes to write about Christianity (in a expansive way, not in a way that is parochial or prescriptive) She likes to write about decent good people dealing with annoying difficult people, so not a lot of truly evil villains or big character arcs She likes to make fun of fads and technology, esp communication. I feel (IMHO) she’s an author who uses science fiction to explore these ideas and her other interests. She’s not into detailed futuristic world building, even when she writes about the future.

          I apologize if that’s more than you need, but my friends call me “The Book Pusher” for a reason.

          1. I really like almost all her work, but Bellwether is one of my bigger favorites. Light Raid, which she co-wrote with Cynthia Felice is also really good.

          2. Passages was an extremely emotional book for me. It makes me tear up just thinking about. I read it a number of years after my mother and father died. I think it helped me finish feeling some emotions that I hadn’t dealt with.
            All of Connie Willis’ books have a running theme of just missed connections. For a lighter book by her, I liked Bellwether.

          3. Her short stories are pure gold. Look for Impossible Things, a collection that includes Even the Queen

        2. I’d advise starting with Doomsday Book. I think it is both her best and her grimmest. loved it, but if you read the more lighthearted ones first, this one could be a shock.

          I also didn’t like the St Mary’s series, which was a huge disappointment to me, because I LOVED the other things she wrote. Too high a body count, didn’t like the twist at the end. Just not my thing.

        3. I tend to recommend that people start with Bellwether. It’s a quick read, has humor, but also a twisty plot. The structure mimics the subject matter, a detail that I love. It’s a great first step in her backlist.

    3. I love Doomsday book and To Say Nothing of the Dog. I didn’t like Blackout and All Clear (also by Willis) quite as well. I was even less enthralled by the St Mary’s books, but they were readable.

      1. Yes, I struggled with Blackout and All Clear because there was so much repetition. People did the same thing over and over again, particularly in Blackout, and I felt as if the two books should have been edited down to one. I did like the way it all sorted itself out in the second book, and what happened in the first book began to make sense, but there was an awful lot to wade through before that happened.

        I loved the Doomsday book and To Say Nothing of the Dog, so it was a disappointment.

        1. That’s how I felt. I got to the end of Blackout and was like WTF IT’S NOT OVER THIS THING SHOULD BE OVER and then had to read All Clear anyway and thought WTF WE DID THIS ALREADY. So much good stuff, but the repetition got to me.

    4. In addition “To Say Nothing of the Dog”, I highly recommend Connie Willis’s “Bellweather”, which has nothing to do with time-travel, but is set in a scientific think-tank. It too, is hilarious.

      Sheesh, now I’m going to have to go back and re-read all of the stuff I have of her’s. And they are all in hard-copy which makes reading in the middle of the night in bed (with husband beside me) really a challenge!

    5. Jodi Taylor basically riffed off Connie Willis time travel series. “To Say Nothing of the Dog” (1996?) posited the idea that if something was clearly going to die in its own time line then it might be possible to move it through time. ( And “To Say Nothing of the Dog” is a riff off “Three Men in a Boat”, which is also hugely entertaining).

      I have just read the first Jodi Taylor and it was enjoyable.

      This may be just me. I find that I largely skip sex scenes. Fifty years ago sex scenes were exciting and rarely found unless you read pornography. Currently, almost every romance has at least three sex scenes and they go on for pages. I don’t skip the scenes that are romantic. So if the story is interesting, I skip the sex to get on with the story. Sex is fun but basically it is just sex. And any time you start skipping part of a story, it throws you out of the story. So I don’t get as involved in Jodi Taylor’s story as I do in Connie Willis. And while Jodi Taylor is good, Connie Willis at her best (Doomsday Book, Lincoln’s Dream) is brilliant.

      1. Hah, I totally skim the sex scenes now. Kind of “nothing new under the sun” these days to me to read any.

        1. If you read a lot of books like I do, you do certainly notice a difference in how and when the author uses a sex scene. The weakest idea is “well, it’s time to put in the first time sex scene” but the reader can see little or no character bonding between the two people. There is also the lack of seduction present-just some sort of “attraction”.
          The best seduction scene I have ever read is in Agnes and the Hitman when Agnes is fixing breakfast. She is cooking and talking and he is asking questions about the dog and the kid who is dead. Every time she adds something to the pan he notices it but only comments on the smell in his mind. She is seducing him but does not even know it -hell, I don’t think he even knows it -and that is what is so good about the scene. When they do have sex its wonderful because you could see it was going to happen but they had no clue.

      2. I skim them, too, unless there’s something funny or worthwhile for the story about them. I finally read The Kiss Quotient after hearing about it so much and I swear I skimmed about 1/4 of the book. I’m in the minority who did not love the book and honestly felt like so much of it just didn’t make sense (weirdly, not the autistic parts, those made sense).

      3. I’m of the opinion that multiple sex scenes in a book disrupt the flow of the storyline and that’s where I start to skip read.

      4. I think the problem is when the scene isn’t a scene it’s just sex. Something has to happen to change the characters and the plot during those scenes, so they’re regular scenes that have sex in them, not descriptions of people boinking.

        So now I’ve got three sex scenes in Nita’s book, but even though she’s having sex with Nick in all three, he keeps changing, so he thinks it’s the first time. And he’s different each time because he keeps evolving. It’s interesting blocking the scenes out. The first time is not so good, the second time he’s kind of a bastard but the sex is good, and the third time he evolves and they connect. He also gets jealous of himself which is fun. “That other guy–” “THE OTHER GUY IS YOU.” This is a fun book to write.

        The one thing I have noticed is that as I get older, the sex scenes get shorter. I don’t know if that’s because I’m tired or bored with them, but I really have to figure out what’s going on in the scene that’s so important that I have to describe naked people instead of just writing “and then they had sex.”

        1. Honestly not being a fan girl here, but your scenes I don’t think I skim. There’s almost always plot and conversation and meaning to the scenes so that I don’t just feel like some odd voyeur who wishes for a discreet “and then they closed the bedroom door” because I’m an old lady at heart apparently…

          1. I realized that I’d started skipping sex scenes when I read, so I’m a lot more savage about making things happen during the sex that isn’t sex. My mantra on this (the McDaniel students will attest) is “Everybody over fifteen had either had sex or seen it on cable TV, so you don’t need to explain it . . .”

    6. I like St. Mary’s, but it’s more of a romp than Connie Willis. There’s still humor in her books, but it’s a lot drier. And her main characters are a bit more likable.

    7. I finished #7 and forced myself to take a break. Sometimes binging on a series makes any flaws more glaring to me, which obviously spoils things. I find them addictive, but I can also see that they might not have the same appeal for everyone. I’m not even sure they would have appealed to me at another point in my life.

  3. Last month, I read several disappointing books in a row, mostly by authors who have written works that I have enjoyed in the past. This month, I have tried many new authors, recommended by you all, and it has been great!

    I read 180 Seconds by Jessica Park, which I really enjoyed, although I could only convince one other person in my family to read it after they watched me sobbing my way through it.

    I also read Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which was wonderful. Overall, it was just so well done – I loved watching the unfolding of their relationship and was completely immersed in the story. I’ve ordered Spinning Silver, but haven’t started it yet.

    Another recommendation from here was Trisha Ashley. I started with a 3 book pack because it was only $4. As I was reading the first book, I was wondering where it was going and if it was ever going to get there. It’s really not my regular style at all – she meanders through the life of the main character in an excess of detail, the plot is very guessable and the endings are a bit abrupt. If I hadn’t bought three of them, I never would have picked up a second, but by the time I started the second, I knew what to expect and just kind of drifted along with her. I’ve now read 5, so obviously am enjoying them.

    This morning, I just finished The Ultimatum by Karen Robards. I had forgotten that I had read it and had requested it from the library along with The Moscow Deception. They happened to come in within a day of each other. As soon as I started the Ultimatum, I remembered it, but reread it anyway, which was good, because I’m pretty sure it is the precursor to The Moscow Deception. It was fun, and I’m looking forward to starting the next one.

    I started Fascism A Warning by Madeleine Albright, but haven’t gotten very far. Reality is not my strong point.

    1. I thought Spinning Silver was great! I wish she’d put PoV headings on the chapters, because she jumps POV a lot, so much so that it was often disorienting — not head-hopping, but starting a new section and having to wonder who was narrating for a few paragraphs really took me out of the story. And it was sometimes long and winding. But so satisfying in the end! I finished it and went straight back to the beginning and reread it all again.

        1. I could do that with her two main narrators, but every time she threw a new person into the mix, it took me more than a line. I was completely confused when we entered the prince’s head for the first time.

      1. I love it when I type something like ‘180 Seconds’ into my online library catalogue and it offers me the ‘Authorized map of the Second Byrd Antarctic Expedition’. And ‘Rawhide, the complete second season.’

  4. I’ve been reading “Helen and Troy’s Epic Road Quest” by A. Lee Martinez at home. So far, it’s a light-hearted tale of two people tagged by a god to go questing, each with their own baggage. Troy is a practically perfect boy, while Hel has her issues because she’s a minotaur. So far, they’ve defeated a cyclops (named Clyde), and have dealt with three fates (not The three fates). It’s been fun.

    1. Oh, hey, I just finished “The Last Adventure of Constance Verity” by the same author, and have quite enjoyed all of his other books thus far. He’s come the closest to filling the Pratchett hole for me, so far.
      Constance Verity is the greatest adventurer in the world. She’s saved the world and even the universe, across time and space, several times, continually getting involved thanks to a spell that sends intrigue her way. But now, she’s tired of it ruining her normal life, so surely she can find a way to break the spell, right? Also features a great best friend character, Tia, who’s been the damsel in distress in Constance’s adventures a few days, and now has decided to upgrade to plucky sidekick for this last hurrah.

      1. I loved Constance Verity, and A Nameless Witch. I’ve read a few others of his but those were my favorites.

  5. I’m not going to say the name of the book I’m struggling to get through, but I wanted to vent somewhere — if you’re going to write a heroine who is described within the story as incredibly brilliant, you’d better be able to pull off incredible brilliance. This heroine is seeming pretty close to TSTL to me and it’s really annoying. And it’s not about knowledge, it’s about… thinking. A problem hits and she doesn’t look for a solution, doesn’t consider her options, doesn’t strategize, she just reacts. Stupidly, mostly. And she’s supposed to be a scientist, too! I want my scientists to look at the evidence, develop a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, draw a conclusion, act on the conclusion. But I was told that the book was great and it’s the start of a series, so I’m trying to persist. I think I’m not going to make it, though…

    The other series I started was a werewolf series by Carrie Vaughn, the Kitty series. Read the first book and I’m not sure if I’m going to keep going. It was all right, but it was one of those books where almost all the threads were left hanging, and I always feel a little resentful at being treated that way.

    1. Yes, thank you. It’s like competence porn without the competence.
      I don’t think all protagonists have to be smart, but if you’re pitching a protagonist who is brilliant, at the top of her field, a real prodigy, and then she continually makes stupid decisions and leaps to unwarranted conclusions, she’s as bad as the character described as “really funny” who makes knock-knock jokes. (Actually, the one I hate in that one is when a character says something and other characters laugh and I think, “Why? That wasn’t funny.”) You’re better off not describing the person and letting the reader decided if she’s brilliant or funny.

      1. Yesterday I watched an interview with Aaron Sorkin who said you couldn’t tell a watcher (or reader) who someone is you have to show what they want and how they overcome obstacles to get it. Explains why I never finish anything I try to write.

      2. Hah, there is a series I read where every time someone tries to be funny, it comes off like that. I think I am getting bored of that series in general anyway, but it’s just kind of sad how the author can’t actually say anything funny, or at least the characters aren’t written that way.

      3. Like the heroine with qualifications from Harvard Law & Business needing the hero to explain the place gold has in the economy, was so glad I only borrowed that book.

    2. Been there. I read a short story from Eve’s POV in the Morganville Vampires series and loved her, but the actual books are all about Claire, a 16 year old SOOPER GENIUS WHO IS SO SMART SO SMART SO SMART and should have been killed about every 15 minutes from her own stupidity. I really liked her roommates, but you cannot ignore Claire and her stupidity because she is jumping in your face. I gave up after 2 books of that or so.

      I really like the Kitty books, though they really take off around books 3/4 for me. By book 4 it’s empowerment time, baby!

      1. I hated Claire, too. Made it through the first book and maybe the second, and got really stuck on why she was going around saving the lives of killers. There is no great moral virtue in saving the life of someone who’s going to turn around the next day and kill college students, and doing so doesn’t make you saintly. It makes you stupid.

    3. I didn’t care the first Kitty book either. Actually, I put the book down when she basically allowed herself to be raped by her alpha. It turned my stomach and I had a hard time reconciling that with how I thought her character was supposed to be perceived.

      But the first book of a series usually has some problems for me, so perhaps it gets better as it goes?

      1. Yes. Books 2 and 3 are away from Denver and by book 4 she goes home and kicks major ass. It’s very empowering as it goes on.

    4. Well, I just finished your book, A Gift of Grace. I kept trying not to finish it because I didn’t want it to end.
      The happy part is I can start at the beginning and reread the whole series.
      I also gave Faking It as a gift to an artist friend, knowing she would love it. She has MS and broke her good leg in two places this week and is not allowed to move for the next three weeks. Looking for more suggestions for fun books with art in them. I’m giving her Natural Born Charmer and This Heart of Mine next.

      1. Aw, thank you! I’m glad you liked it. It was such a hard book to finish. I don’t know how many times I went back to the beginning and started over, and then when it all finally fell into place (was dragged, kicking and screaming, into place?) I was much too close to see whether I’d actually gotten it right. But I’m glad I finally let go of it! (And glad I came back to find out if any new books had gotten mentioned — I’m really struggling to find something I want to read this week. I think I’m basically just waiting for Ilona Andrews’ new one and nothing is going to satisfy me until it releases.)

    5. Keep going with the Kitty Norville books, they get way better as the series goes on. I felt the same way about the first book but really enjoyed the series.

      1. I hit reply too soon. The Kitty in the first book is not the Kitty in the rest of the series. I actually put the first book down for a time because I didn’t like the pack dynamics (it really creeped me out and I was so disappointed because I wanted to like the book) and I was afraid that it was all going to be like that but it’s not. I’m not saying the series is perfect but it gets better.

  6. Can anybody recommend a good beginners guide on reversible double knitting. Youtube has a good video on how to do an invisible cast on but I can’t find any other video that is informative.

    I’m a carer and the working Wednesday blog inspired me to teach myself how to knit and crochet.

    I don’t have much time to read at the moment and so I am lucky if I can finish one book a week. The book I am currently reading is Tailspin by Sandra Brown.

    1. Reversible double knitting sounds interesting,

      I too am teaching myself how to knit from the internet.

      I am currently doing one of Universal Yarn old KALs to learn more

  7. We were all working on printing/saving our Argh cards, so everything work related was going to pale in comparison anyway?

    Just re-reading Kerry Greenwoods, but may do the new Kristin Higgins next.

  8. I just finished “A Duke by Default” by Alyssa Cole and loved it. I enjoyed the first one in the series , “A Princess in Theory,” but I liked this one a lot more. I felt like the chemistry, pace, and conflict, all were just right to keep the story flowing.

    1. Good to know! I liked “A Princess in Theory” but not enough to keep looking for any more by the same author. But I could use a romance for a change. I’ve been reading urban fantasy and mysteries and am starting to feel drowned in blood.

  9. I saw Crazy Rich Asians on Monday, and I enjoyed it, but boy it felt more like a regency romance than a movie rom-com. One of the reviews, post-mortem really, that I read mentioned the differences from the book so I decided to try out the book it was based on and see what they were like. The book is actually the first of a trilogy, so everything wasn’t as neatly wrapped up as in the movie, and the movie combined a couple of characters for plot purposes which worked pretty well, but also changed some of the family backgrounds a bit, which I also thought made it fit into a movie format better. I’m now reading the second book in the trilogy.

    1. I loved the movie but am waiting on the book to come in at the library. I’ve thought about reading it off and on for years but think it sounds 50/50 that I might like or hate it, so…library.

  10. I totally read the first few posts wrong and deduced that Connie Willis and Jodi Taylor were one and the same! I looked it up, saw that they weren’t, and then came back to re-read the comments. (I have just realised that I used the word ‘totally’ above – one of my pet peeves! Aargh! – pun intended.)

    Since I have spent the whole day under the illusion that it is Wednesday, I will pretend it is, and show you the rather unusual sweater which I knitted for my daughter, Emma. I don’t have instagram, so here is my blog post:

  11. Michael Gilbert. Lots and lots of Michael Gilbert. Apparently my library doesn’t have any (can this be true?) so I even ordered some on alibris that are not in print or online.

    Jenny have you read The Dust and the Heat? That one may be where even the main character’s competence can’t get me through it because he is so dislikeable.

    I keep recognizing bits from when I read them long ago. But one I hadn’t read and really liked was The Queen V Karl Muller.

    It really is about shades of grey in a legal setting. Not so much the prosecution against the defense as the people supporting the prosecution against the people supporting the defense.

    1. I don’t recall ever coming across The Dust and the Heat. Did it maybe have a different title in America/Britain?

      1. The title of the U.S. edition was Overdrive, according to Wikipedia. Issued first in the U.K. in 1967, in the U.S. 1968.

  12. I’ve read books this week. Several. But what is currently open is Miss Behave by Highland, Traci (2018-06-24). Miss Behave (The Anderson Family Series Book 1) (Kindle Location 7). Cheshire Lane Press. Kindle Edition.

    Any book that starts with a skinny-dipping scene can’t be all bad. (Man Hunting was fabulous!)

  13. I’m going to declare it Wednesday/Thursday because I actually got a shit ton done last night and I wanna brag. I got two newsletters written, some journal entries written, all of them for the last month finally got published, and I submitted two pieces to a show. HUZZAH!

    As for reading, I am reading Heroine Worship by Sarah Kuhn. It’s the second in a trilogy and so far I am liking book 2 better for the character development. The MC is a superhero/recovering diva who has issues between her Clark Kent/old identity and her fabulous new one.

  14. Based on a recommendation posted last week, I read First Lessons by Lina Potter; didn’t realize until I read it that it was translated from Russian. I enjoyed the main character’s story arc; the sub-plots and minor characters were less well-developed. (It’s a time travel into a Medieval style world). BTW I really enjoyed Uprooted and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novak, both very good books.

    My book club selected Circe by Madeline Miller, so that will be my next read.

    1. I read Circe this spring and really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think.

  15. I just finished re-watching Mindhunter on Netflix. And I was still just as hooked as the first time, so I’m reading the book. It’s very interesting. But I’m one of those people who love watching the Forensic Files.

  16. More votes for The Doomsday Book and To Say Nothing of the Dog and her short stories for anyone interested in reading things by Connie Willis.

    I read Water Witch, her debut novel (with another writer) from 1982. I’m pretty sure it won a Nebula Award. Very, very different from her more developed style, but an girl as the main character and an odd world.

  17. I am behind the curve, just finishing Jane Doe, which was very enjoyable. I really think young ladies starting college should read it, because awareness of other types of abuse besides physical is so rare. I can’t think of another fictional book that really delves into the topic of unhealthy relationships besides Crazy for You. Which I now need to reread 🙂

    I am also listening to the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning and it is a hoot! The author has a gentle sense of humor that I adore, and the narrator is also great.

  18. I’ve got a cold with a nasty strep throat and am struggling to find anything that holds my attention. But after discarding about ten books that would usually grip me, Wild Ride seems to be doing the trick.

    Earlier in the week I went to Sydney and back, and needed something completely engrossing and not too deep for the plane trip. So I took Anne Bishop’s ‘Murder of Crows’, the second book in her Others series. Urban fantasy/shape changers/kind of dystopia/with a bit of romance thrown in. An excellent choice, though I finished it halfway through the flight home and had to start Wolfsbane, one of Patricia Briggs’ early fantasies. She wrote it before she got into her stride, and it’s not bad, but not as good as her later ones imo. In the intro, she says, ‘I still consider The Hob’s Bargain my first professional work. It was the first book I wrote that turned out exactly as I’d envisioned it, the first one that I wrote from craft rather than instinct.’

    I love The Hob’s Bargain.

  19. I am apparently not reading anything this month except a) all the crap I have to read at the day job and b) what I am writing. Hoping to get out of my own head a little next month, or even this weekend if I come to a natural stopping place aka “your obsession may rest now” place.

  20. Yesterday at the thrift store I bought the 2004 Essentially Lily all about the designer and evidently epic party-er Lily Pulitzer. The recipes are all of the era and from varied periods of La Lily’s life in Palm Beach. So I’m reading, and I come across – of course! – Mar-a-Lago which the fabulous Mr. Trump had just bought. The place is described in fabulous detail and it’s all just fabulous.

    I may have to keep this book.

  21. Just finished Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars. Interesting novel, especially for those who love alternative history. It touches on many relevant topics, like gender and racial equality, and it is exceptionally well written, but for some reason, it left me cold. I didn’t really care for the heroine and I feel sad about it. I wanted to. I loved Kowal’s Regency series very much.

    1. I really liked that and the sequel. I found the space race 1950s and early 60s fascinating.

  22. When I was about 10, my brain was permanently imprinted by a fantasy called *Merlin’s Ring” by H. Warner Munn. I must have read it five or six times, and then I lost it in a house fire. Well, a friend last month heard me reminiscing about it, and sent me a copy!

    There are several things that are deeply wrong with the book, including a heroine who is a One Dimensional Female Character Written by a Man (cf: SNL’s skits). She’s got two modes: feisty or moody.

    However, despite the problems, the Suck Fairy hasn’t visited; I really like the book because it reminds me of many of my favorite tropes in fantasy. We get A Love Through Time, courtesy of Bodily Possession and also an Immortal Elixir. We get Alternative History for several major events, including Joan of Arc. We get a Magic Ring. We get Merlin (but not nearly enough of him!). We get the Quest That Fails (kind of like Indy Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, where the hero is constantly failing at his job and landing into adventures). Munn really knows how to plot, even if his characters are cardboard on a few popsicle sticks.

    I think it was really something I needed. It turns out that Merlin’s Ring is the third in a trilogy! My friend was kind enough to send me the first two, as well, but I’m going to have to wait a little while before I tackle those. I’m reading an ARC of Jeanne’s story (The Demon Always Wins, which will be out in September), and enjoying that quite a lot! It’s very different word-wise from the previous versions, although it seems to stick to her vision overall (I’m only at chapter 5). I’m lost in the story, so I can’t quite reflect on *how* it is different at this point; I’ll have to re-read for that!

  23. I just finished Kristan Higgin’s Good Luck With That. I laughed out loud and the end brought me to tears. I know there was a bit of controversy because the book dealt with obesity and how fat women deal with society’s rejection. I highly recommend.

  24. I wanted to try the Michael Gilbert that Jennie mentioned a few weeks ago. So I checked with my library and they had a number of his books. The Enoch Pratt Libraries in Baltimore, MD. There was an interesting thing that a librarian at the Central branch told me last year when I went looking for a book I read as a kid (50 years ago) that they still had. They will always try to keep at least one copy of all the books no matter how old. Couldn’t get into End-Game. But I did enjoy the books with the Mr. Calder & Mr. Behrens characters, two British secret agents. I’m currently reading Donna Andrews latest.

  25. I think our current Librarian of Congress used to run it. And she kept it open during their riots after Freddie Gray was killed.

    I don’t think most libraries have that policy.

    1. I’m trying to figure that out. There’s a logical (not romantic) reason they would, but it takes them off the island and I don’t want that, I like closed settings, and I’m not sure it doesn’t take too much pressure off Nita in some ways. OTOH, if she’s married to him and then he starts cycling through different lifetimes, that adds pressure. If she doesn’t bring up a problem, he doesn’t have to suggest that as a solution, plus it does solve a problem she has, and she should have as many problems as possible to keep fueling the story. Right now, she brings up the problem to refute something he’s saying, not to ask for help, and he says, “Oh, I can fix that, I’ll marry you.” And that would fix her problem. OTOH . . .

      It’s a plot thing. I just have to figure out how to negotiate it. I should look at Kentucky, too. At one time, you could elope to Kentucky and not have a waiting period (which my college roommate did and I was her maid of honor so I know that one for sure), but I have no idea if that’s still true. The problem with Las Vegas is that I’d have to deal with Las Vegas, and that takes too much emphasis off Demon Island.

      I wonder if there’s a way I could establish a no-waiting period on Demon Island. They’re in New Jersey so they can’t contravene state law, right? That’s a three-day waiting period. Of course, if they had to apply for a license on Demon Island and then try to keep it a secret from her parents (impossible) that could ADD pressure. Hmmmmm.

      Meanwhile, I’m still staring down three sex scenes . . .

      1. I’m pretty sure MD didn’t use to have a waiting period, because my sister who lived in PA got married in MD for that reason. Now, however, there is a 48-hour waiting period. But only one person has to present at the courthouse to apply for and get the license, which gets handed over immediately. And MD’s not too far from NY. In case that’s in any way helpful.

      2. CO has no waiting period, and you don’t need an officiant or witnesses! You get the license from the county clerk, you can step out into the hallway and declare yourselves married, sign the license (you can’t do it in the office, for some reason…), and step back into the clerk’s office to file it! I’ve even heard anecdotes about individuals naming their dog as the officiant on the license – since it’s a purely optional field, it doesn’t matter what you put there!

  26. I’ve just started Standard Deviation by Katherine Heiny, first novel I’ve really enjoyed in ages. Really readable.

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