75 thoughts on “This Is a Good Book Thursday, December 6, 2018

  1. I really enjoyed P is for Pteradactyl – the worst alphabet book ever! It is structured like your usual child-centric alphabet books, with a page and illustrations for each letter. But it’s purpose is to illustrate the letters that don’t behave the way you might think. G is for gnat, M for mnemonic. It also includes a glossary at the back. I sent my copy to my nephew’s family. I think even the older child will intrigued by it.

  2. Darius the Great is Not Okay, a book about a Persian-American teen who goes to Iran to meet his dying grandfather. It’s so good.

  3. I wrote a really long comment that got eaten (spotty wifi) so i’ll just say I loved “The Other Miss Bridgerton” by Julia Quinn and “Well, That Was Awkward” by Rachel Vail.

  4. I have read Laura Kinsale’s books multiple times. If you like her romances, you will love her audiobooks, narrated by Nicholas Boulton. His voice is a delicious baritone and his enacting of the heroes matches how I heard them when I read them. He is a superb actor!

  5. I got a copy of Califia’s Daughters by Leigh Richards (who is also Laurie R King of Mary Russell/Sherlock fame) and it was so unexpected – a post apocalyptic vision of California that isn’t endless grimdark – I think I read it too fast.

    A lot of the interest for me was centered around a virus that overwhelmingly attacked people with male chromosomes, shifting the gender balance to something like 1 man achieving adulthood to 5 or more women. So men are cossetted, hidden, protected and also struggling against that. There is variable tech available, maintained from Before. There is a very diverse cast of people, and a couple of large dogs are characters as well – both as narrators and as plot devices.

    I enjoyed it a lot, and I think I have to reread it soon.

  6. I just bought and started reading Tempest and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce it seems long in the same way as Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen, which I loved. I always wanted more when I read Alanna’s books. Hope it lives up to expectations. I hope it doesn’t end like the Beka Cooper books.

    Next I plan to read Talia Hibbert’s new freebie for Christmas. It’s likely to be short and satisfying so I almost want to start it now. But I want to wait till I feel more Christmas-y.

    1. It sure made Emperor Mage a hilarious re-read. Daine did not have a good impression of Varice at all.

    2. I lost quite a bit of faith with the third Beka book. But i am still eager to read the new one! And then reread Emperor’s Mage!

        1. Spoiler-free answer for those who haven’t read it.

          The ending was an about-turn for the character leading the kidnapping. It felt like a betrayal to me as a reader because there was no foreshadowing of the character being capable of it.

          I felt that I was promised a fantasy novel but got a sort of mystery whodunnit with a giant gotcha and I hated it.

    1. I’m almost done and so far, so good! I don’t know how she does it but I’ve never wanted to be trapped by a blizzard so much as I want to be trapped in a blizzard in Three Pines. I’m from Alberta, I know my blizzards but she makes them look like a good time.

  7. I have a thing like an Instant Pot! It’s great as a rice cooker. Good as a soup/stew cooker. A bit small as a steamer, but I have nonetheless been satisfied with steaming results (plus you can multitask by steaming while you cook the thing below!

    I’ve also done some slow cooker projects in it, but in that I’ve never used a regular slow cooker, I don’t know if I’m doing it right or not. The pot roast and curries have turned out fine, but the slow cooker caramelized onions have never been like the real thing, so I think I’m doing that one wrong somehow.

    Wanna try some rice cooker cake/meatloaf type things in it next.

  8. My reading this week is catching up here because it turns out combining a reno with Christmas prep takes up a lot of time.

    Wish you luck, Jenny, in your health plans. I have family members with heart issues, so I know how many decisions there are in planning. Well worth it, though, and a gift really for the loved ones involved and all of us who want you around for a long time:)

    Also, found the chat here re English grammar interesting. As someone who grew up learning two languages that shared the same alphabet, it’s fun to read the tips mentioned by German Chocolate Betty. For me, proofreading my books is still tricky because a lot of it comes down to what “looks” right when you read. Only with English & French there are many words that are similar in meaning & spelling so both versions look “right” to me. One of my biggest bugaboos is the word “future” — makes me stop and think each time if it has an “e” at the end or not. And there are more like that that cause me to pause. My first reader book in school was not Dick & Jane but rather Bonjour Pipo about an adventurous dog. Around grade 4 or 5, English grammar was introduced and I found it a struggle so I worked hard at it. Then I started to love it and my French grammar slipped away, as the proofreader for the French bits in my books knows so well:) Still I’m grateful for growing up learning two languages and being exposed to even more. Certainly trains the ear and expands reading material:)

  9. “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple. Epistolary fiction (yes, I Googled).

    The description incorrectly says it’s about a girl finding her vanished mom. Most of the book peels back layers to help readers understand said mom – while satirizing the wealthy tech elite, “progressive” schools, self-help culture and Seattle eco-superiority. The end gets absurd and abrupt, but I still recommend for a fast, fun read.

  10. I’m reading “The Other End of the Leash,” by Patricia McConnell, which someone here recommended last week. (It’s excellent, so thank you!)

    I’ve also been watching YouTube videos on dealing with aggressive dogs and reading articles on dealing with his most recent behavior of humping my leg until I recognize that he’s boss. Or that not having his Chuck It! ball to play with in the house makes him all kinds of stressed. Not sure of the exact message, but I can’t say I’m fond of the mode of delivery.

    On the upside, he’s actually responding to some of the things I’ve learned. Knowledge really is power!

    1. try Ceasar 911 on Netflix! Ceasar Milan – he’s known as the dog whisperer. I think I’m going to write and ask if there is any way to make my Jack Russell cross come to her name!!

      1. No, please don’t watch Milan.

        American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior has released a position paper – it’s the last one on this page.


        What my vet says is punishment works on 75% of dogs roughly – on 25% it doesn’t work and in a small minority of that 25% not only doesn’t it work, it will make the dog more aggressive.

        Which dogs fall in the 25%? We don’t know and we won’t know until after the dog reacts to punishment.

        Usually, with humping I just say “Whoops – no more play time” and I either walk away or crate. You – your time & attention -are also a resource which can be used to reward good behavior.

    2. Glad you’re enjoying The Other End of the Leash! She’s such a great writer (plus a great dog scientist, of course).

      One decent website that presents a toolkit for reactive dog owners is the C.A.R.E. For Reactive Dogs site: http://careforreactivedogs.com/prepcare/. Personally, I think it’s a little heavy on the behavioral science terminology, which makes it rather dry reading to try to turn into actual action. The basic behavior modification program is rock-solid though. When I was just getting started, I found Dr. McConnell’s training booklets, like The Cautious Canine a lot easier and more practical, since it broke it down into steps I could follow without knowing all the background science. But the C.A.R.E. site is free, which I know is a plus! I think someone also recommended the Control Unleashed book, which is a recommendation I would second a thousand times over (maybe especially for a dog who is both bark-y and prone to anxiety/excitement behaviors like humping. Learning to self-regulate their emotions is a great skill for any dog though!).

      New dogs are just such a pain. I mean, I love my dogs more than anything, but I DO NOT love the settling in process! So much stress for everyone involved. But I also think that my closest relationships have actually been with my most challenging dogs, which turns out to be a pretty rewarding experience. Glad you are already seeing some progress!

    3. I like Victoria Stillwell.

      She’s MUCH more nuanced than the dominance narrative that a lot of supposed experts promote.

  11. I’m juggling four books, three that are holiday related, one that I know I’ve already read DB Frank’s The Christmas Pearl. I also have two to be downloaded from the library The Banker’s wife by Cristina Alger and Texas Ranger by James Patterson and whoever his co-author is this time. There is also one waiting for my husband at the library In the Galway Silence by Ken Bruen. We’re pretty much covered. Although I saw Mary Balogh’s name above and may just get a holiday book of hers, too. Decisions, decisions.

  12. My father had health problems over Thanksgiving (he’s better but still recovering), and that put me in comfort read mode when there was time for it. So I recently re-read Trust Me by Laura Florand because I spotted it on my Kindle while at my parents’ house and spent this past weekend re-reading Archangel’s Shadows by Nalini Singh. They did the job I needed them to do beautifully. Now I’m kind of stalled on what to read next. I have the most recent Ashley Weaver mystery and a contemporary political thriller from the library, but I’m not sure that’s where my mood is. May fall back on an In Death book since I recently picked one up for 50 cents. Library sales are a wonderful thing.

  13. I have been having trouble reading lately, too much going on I guess. So I treated myself to a Meljean Brook book that I hadn’t read yet. I am rationing them… And it’s wonderful. Even though I have to put it down for periods of time, I fall right back in when I pick it up.

  14. So many people have talked about Nora Roberts’ “Obsession” and that I thought I’d better give it a go. And I really enjoyed it. One of the things I found interesting was its focus on the family of a serial killer. We don’t usually see that–in both fiction and journalism, the focus is nearly always on the killer and their victims. Whereas the collateral damage is just as interesting, if not more so. In the past I’ve read quite a bit about the children of the top Nazis, and the struggle they had to make sense of their lives and their heritage. So this reminded me a bit of that.

    I’ve also been poring over “The Writer’s Map: an atlas of imaginary lands”, edited by Huw Lewis-Jones. It’s a gorgeous big book full of maps and how they came to be made. It was from the library, but I might have to buy it.

  15. Thank you SO MUCH to all those who recommended Murderbot. Read the first one, loved it. The second is on hold at the library. Now pondering what it means to be human.

  16. I have an instant pot. Brown rice is fast in it. But I mostly make things I’m not supposed to eat, like egg custard. Maybe I could make it with stevia??

    Finished Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered. I liked it. SPOILER:

    The one thing that bothered me was there was a baby and they were all surprised when the child finally stopped crying when month’s later someone thought to pick him up. That made me crazy, a woman who raised to adult children would know to pick up a baby. Right? Or am I just nuts.

    1. I liked the book too. But yes it bothered me that the lead character didn’t pick up the baby and cuddle him. (and that she didn’t figure out the impact that her son’t demeaning treatment toward his sister would have on her).

  17. I just finished Vita Brevis, which is several books into the Ancient Roman mysteries by Ruth Downie. This is a wonderful series if you are interested in that era, particularly Roman Britain.

    And now I’m reading another romance by Jaima Fixsen — The Reformer. Despite not being all that keen on romances right now, I fall right into her stories and love them.

  18. New reading: A Clean Fake Marriage Romance Collection – The Marriage Series by Victorine E. Lieske – Now on book 3 (of 4?) Still predictable, but not as bad as the first book. Rereading Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois Bujold on my old $69 Kindle. The original, the one without a touchscreen.

    I’d be reading my web comics – I’m caught up through last night – but my home computer died /again/! This time, it won’t even let me install a recovery image. It’s still under warranty, so Dell Will Hear About This!

    My backup is a Chromebook (laptop) which is on loan to the grandchildren. (I’m at work. Don’t tell anyone.) I’ll have to borrow it back so I can read Grrl Power, which publishes on Mondays and Thursdays, so I’m Jonesing right now. If I can find my Kindle Fire (Joe), it acts like a notebook computer. I can use that instead.

  19. I’ve found a lot of books lately that are neither available at the (talking book) library, nor on Audible. Which is frustrating. Patience and hope………..

    Anyway, I finished rereading the 4th “The Heroes of Olympus”-book by Rick Riordan and have read about 1/3 of the 5th: “The Blood of Olympus”. Still loving it.

    Rreactivated my Storytel account because they had a children’s book I wanted to read and it was only about a dollar for a month since it was more than a year since I stopped my subscription last time. I find Storytel too expensive for what I get out of it (and I don’t like reading on my phone), so I only go there if I get discount-offers and want to read Swedish books. Audible doesn’t offer those, unfortunately.

    Sooo I read the children’s book I mentioned and it was mwaaah… OK, I guess. I liked those books more as a kid. I always read the new ones by these co-authors, but I find I like them less for every new release. Alas.

    I also reread “Brother’s Lionheart” by Astrid Lindgren. Her narration of her own books is just. so. good. Makes me thankful for being Swedish. I think I was 10 or so last time I read this book, so it was great to revisit it. It’s an unusually dark one for being a children’s fantasy, dealing with death and betrayal and other less cheerful themes. But it’s beautiful as well.

    And I decided to read “Beartown” by Fredrik Backman, now that I get it with a good narrator. Everyone has been talking so much about it the last years and I was never drawn to it due to not being a ice-hockey person. Have read about 20 % and still not sure what to think. It didn’t catch me like “A man called Ove” and “My grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry” did. But on the other hand, “Britt-Marie was here” also needed some time to grow on me, even though I knew the main character from the Grandma story. So. I’ll give Beartown some more time.

    1. I started – and stopped – Beartown last week. I loved his other books, but this one didn’t appeal to me at all. The first couple of chapters felt a bit too removed, too much exposition maybe?

      1. Yes, perhaps. It’s a bit hard to get into the story, and I find it hard to attach to the characters. And I have this ominous feeling all the time that I can’t get rid of, possibly because the first thing he writes in that book is that someone’s gonna be shot and… I’m not sure I want to follow the path to that. That sinister feeling seeps through the entire book and it makes me a bit…uncomfortable. I don’t know whether to go on or not. 🙁

          1. Have you read “Her Fearful Symmetry” by Audry Niffenegger? It had (in my opinion) twice the ominous feel of Beartown and it’s one of few books I sometimes wish I had never finished. It got right under my skin and makes me feel all creepy when I think about it even now, ages after I read it. I don’t like to say it’s a bad book because it isn’t. It’s a complex story dealing with difficult themes (OCD, death, anxiety, the yearning for independence and the wish to be seen, heard and loved but getting the feeling you’re not) with some light and beautiful parts, some cute ones, and… others that don’t work for me (no spoilers here). Anyway, I think I’m oversensitive to creepy, ominous vibes after that one and “Let The Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist, so perhaps that’s what makes me have such mixed feelings about Beartown.

            I should probably just drop it.

  20. I routinely use the Instant Pot for risotto, beef burgundy, chili, chicken soup, corn beef and cabbage, and stew. I make large quantities then divide them into two person servings in freezer bags, then lay them on something flat in the freezer. Once they are frozen I can just pile them up in stacks. (I have only the freezer on my frig so I need to maximize storage). Someday I really am going to try making polenta in it. My nephew uses his Instant Pot to make cheesecake and bunches of other stuff.

    I also have a Sous Vide unit which I am storing for a friend – I suspect I have it for life since I keep offering it back and he keeps saying “If I need it, I know where it is”. I like my roasts rare to medium rare and can cook them with that over a long period of time. They are tenderized by the long cooking but are still rare. Then I sear them so they don’t look disgusting grey and that takes them to medium rare. This is absolutely perfect when you have company and do not know when exactly you will sit to dinner and you don’t want overcooked roast. It will cook the meat to the desired temperature in a few hours but will hold it at that temperature for many, many hours longer. The trick is that it continues to break down the collagen so if it is left too long (some people leave it 24 to 48 hours) it is rare but kind of mushy which would be good for people who like rare but can’t chew well. Some people call this extremely tender as opposed to mushy.

  21. I read a lot while traveling.
    Thanks to whoever recommended T Kingfisher. I read (and loved) The Clockwork Boys, The Wonder Engine, and Swordheart. Well written fantasy, with a sense of humor and good dialogue. WOO HOO! A new author for me to read; I am now purchasing her backlist!

    And thanks to those who recommended the Lady Astronaut books by Mary Robinette Kowal. Excellent alternate history! (A side note: our public library sponsors a community wide read, called A Novel Idea, where book clubs and individual readers are all encouraged to read the same book. They roll out the announcement at a big event (which I attended with my book club), and the staff all dresses up as hints to the book. Because this year the staff was dressed in 1950s era clothes, and some wore astronaut helmets, and the buffet was 50s classic food, I was so sure it was going to the Lady Astronaut books, either Calculating the Stars and/or The Fated Sky! Wrong. It was Rocket Men, by Robert Kurson. Nonfiction, and all male — the exact opposite of the Lady Astronaut)

    I liked Barbara Kingsolver’s new book, Unsheltered, and how she incorporates the shrinking status of the American middle class (and the volatile political climate we live in). Some of the dialogue was little preachy, but much of it sounded very real.

    I tried a romance novel that was highly recommended as funny and light (on an Amazon forum). The main female lead was flat out STUPID, and it drove me nuts. I skipped ahead to read the end (which featured her being saved from her stupidity by a man) and promptly deleted it from my Kindle. I’m tempted to ask for a refund of my $4.99!

    Jenny I love my InstantPot; which I purchased last month. So far my favorite recipes are Moroccan chicken tangine; summer vegetable chili; and red lentil coconut curry soup. (AND I’ve made a couple of disasters too: mushy chicken and rice; and a tangine where the pot kept turning off with the dreaded “burn” message)

  22. I read the recommended-here Written in Red (first novel in the Anne Bishop Others series) and man, I really enjoyed it. Despite the protagonist being vulnerable and in huge danger from page one, the building of friendships and community was just adorable. I started it over again as soon as I finished it so I could follow her Bildung evolution with a little more awareness and less ‘hurry up, turn that page’ urgency.

    Book 2 is waiting at the library for me, so I’m officially hooked. Particularly on the crows, and the ponies. 🙂

  23. I’m reading the newest Susan Mallery contemporary romance, Not Quite Over You. Her books are my comfort food reads, and I really need that right now.

  24. I am almost done with Fangirl and thanks to whomever(s) recommended that. I want to keep reading instead of going to work, which is always a good sign.

  25. Reading Kevin Kwan’s Rich People Problems to round out the trilogy, and eager to read Nora’s latest.

    Thumbs up to the Instsnt Pot—we are making a lot of Indian dishes.

    My partner got a ICD a year and a half ago after learning about complex heart issues. So far so good. It was overwhelming to think about, but has been doing its life-saving work. Sending you virtual hugs as you navigate this health issue, and wishing you well.

  26. I need help (in so many ways) but specifically in finding the name of a book by the late Sherry .Tepper. The book I’m thinking of had a group of newlyweds traveling to with their important parents to a different land. The heroine’s father is a senator. She discovers that their fathers have brought the women there to kill them. Their blood nourishes a plant that makes the older men live much longer. So what if their daughters die, they stay young – ish. Does this sound at all familiar to anyone?

    1. I tried looking at her list of publications on Fantasy Fiction UK, which has an incredible list of mystery, science fiction, fantasy and romance authors but none of them seemed to be what you describe. I did not read all the synopses of her books. Have you looked there? I also did not look at any written under a pseudonym.

      1. I have and I agree with you, it’s frustrating but I guess we all should have a goal. I thought I had it, but I don’t seem to. Thank you for taking the time to help, it was very kind.

  27. I read “The Other Miss Bridgeston” by Julia Quinn. I love the playfulness in her books, and the sibling relationships. Reading “Band Sinister” now, and enjoying it.

    Got a question for all of you. I’ve started listening to podcasts, and wondered which ones all of you like. I don’t want to do serial killers, but I’m willing to dig into some meaty stuff. Mostly looking for stuff to listen while I’m cleaning house.

    1. My favourites are probably too British: Reasons to be Cheerful by Ed Milliband & Geoff Lloyd (new ideas for tackling political/economic/social problems, mainly in the UK); the BBC’s Only Artists (a couple of artists in different media – writers, musicians, painters, etc – talking to each other about how they work); Mothers of Invention with Mary Robinson & Maeve somebody (they’re Irish, but talk about mainly women’s action to tackle climate change all over the world); and The Worried Writer by Sarah Paynter.

      I listened to The TED Radio Hour for quite a while, until it got repetitive.

      1. I listen to two podcasts: In Our Time from BBC radio 4 (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl) and historyofenglishpodcast.com.

        In Our Time is a weekly show with widely varying topics from history, the arts, science, religion, philosophy, and culture. Real academic experts participate. The host is Melvyn Bragg, who has been in British TV and radio so long that I remember him as a bit player in one of the Beatles’ movies.

        The history of English podcast begins the story of the English language with the Indo-Europeans back around 4,000 B.C. The presenter planned to cover the whole history in 100 episodes, but he is at episode 113 and is only up to the 1300s. A lot of his information would help answer the questions folks pose here about the anomalies in English. I giggle at the host’s North Carolinian pronunciations (my own accent is pure New England, making me so superior — joke).

    2. Radiotopia is a podcast group out of Oakland, CA – they produce my most favorite podcast ever (99 percent Invisible) and a host of others that jostle for second place (The Allusionist, Benjamin Walker’s Theory of Everything, and Lingthusiasm) (actually that last one might not be from Radiotopia).

      Try 99PI – I think you’ll enjoy it a lot.

    3. Most NPR shows are available as podcasts. I suspect This American Life would be good to listen to that way. I also like Snap Judgment and The Moth. I’ve listened to a few episodes of Reply All, but I’m not entirely sold on it. Ursula Vernon (T. Kingfisher) and her husband do some fun podcasts. I really enjoyed the productivity alchemy one, although I sort of stopped listening after a while. But I loved Ursula’s rants on some of the excesses of productivity culture, and they both are good at reminding people that there are many roads to Oz, and productivity isn’t the measure of a life.

  28. I have a book called The Frame-Up on my blog this week. It’s a debut novel for Claire Scott Molin and I fell in love with it at first paragraph. I love the voice and the content. It’s a tribute to comic book culture and to all things nerdy. The voice is sassy, sweet and vulnerable. And I “got” almost every reference which made me feel good about my nerdy knowledge. It’s also an excellent mystery and a charming romance.
    I know. That’s a lot of praise. But I really loved it. The book came out Dec 1st.
    The I finished Lynne Marshall’s a Christmas Miracle. Very sweet and I love the fact that she uses protagonists of color. The hero is one-quarter Indian and grew up on the Reservation. Tonight I want to comfort read. I’m starting with either Robert Asprin’s Phule’s Paradise. Or Anne McAffrey’s ESP series.

  29. I am re-reading K.B. Spangler’s Rachel Peng series (unlikely cyborg integrates into DC police force, becomes member of multiple teams, grapples with own humanity, talents/skills, responsibilities and ethics – sounds dry but I promise you it is not, not at all) and I am just perplexed. She has a webcomic – A Girl and Her Fed – which I really enjoy, and I really like the Peng series which is an offshoot of AGAHF, but I do not enjoy the series that is about the heroine of AGAHF at all, and I can’t figure out why not.

    The instant pot is wonderful. I am not an inventive user of the new kitchen tool and thus strongly recommend Melissa Clark and Urvashi Pitre’s cookbooks. There is a recipe for ribs with sticky tamarind sauce in the Melissa Clark book (and maybe on the NYT site as well) that is just great. I got a sous vide thing as a gift and I am afraid of it bc of the strong possibility of mushy. If anyone can suggest a good cookbook for that I would be so grateful and also elated.

    1. I haven’t found a cook book yet. I did some trial and error and discovered the first cook time given in a range of times (2 to 8 hours) will cook it done to your preferred done-ness and the longer times increase the tenderness. I cooked a tritip (1.5 to 4 hours) for 2 hours and it was just the doneness I liked then I seared it and it cooked it a little more (tritips aren’t thick so it is easy to cook it too much when you sear it, if you aren’t fast). It was just as I like it. There are more recipes on the internet all the time.

      Costco had Morton’s tritips for sale a while back and I bought one and just dropped the whole thing, still in its vacuum pack into the sous vide water and that worked great. I don’t have a vacuum seal so I do the business of lowering the meat in a ziplock freezer bag into the water while gradually sealing it. The water squeezes out the air in the bag and the little bubble that’s left rides above the water. I have heard that if you cook over eight hours you have to change the bag out because they aren’t designed to be immersed in hot water that long but I have-not cooked anything more than 4 to 6 hours so I do not know the truth of it. It seems like an ideal method for slow-cooking.

      1. Okay – just that information about the time ranges is so helpful. I have kind of been stalking recipes on serious eats bc I trust kenji who is an epic food nerd and I have a (hand-me-down) sealer and infinite plastic bags and thank you very much. In all seriousness, thank you.

      2. I have left meat overnight (because I’m like that) and it’s not fantastic, but still edible. It takes a good long while for it to go mushy. If you download the Anova app, they have a ton of recipes.
        Yesterday I put a bone in turkey breast with nothing but salt in for about 5 hours. It’s delicious. I love the sous vide. A piece of meat, some veg, and a microwaved potato, and I’ve got a meal.

    2. The books have a totally different tone than the webcomic. Both the Rachel Peng books and the Hope Blackwell books. Hope is the main character in the comic, the Girl of ‘A Girl and Her Fed’, so her books seem out of sync tonally with the web comic, but also seem like you need to have read the comic first, which I have so I could be wrong about that. Rachel is a minor character, and the Rachel Peng books don’t read like you needed to have read the comic at all, and indeed may be better if you haven’t. YMMV, etc.

  30. I want to thank the person who recommended Swordheart by K. Kingfisher. I am really enjoying this book-the widow who doesn’t want to marry her cousin because he has “clammy hands”, the knight who lives in the sword and vows to rescue and protect her, and the various fantasy creatures.
    This is from the book–“He had an intense urge to rush over and cover her breasts. Probably with his face.” It is a charming book!

  31. T. Kingfisher is the same person as Ursula Vernon, and wrote the very excellent Orcus in Summer and some great short story collections also.

  32. Some nonfiction items are more fun to read than others, that’s for sure. Good luck, Jenny!

    I myself have had VERY mixed results with using the Instant Pot. I can’t find a cookbook that seems to have recipes that either turn out right or taste good even if they do turn out right.

    Mostly I end up with unappealing, mushy dishes.

  33. I haven’t read a single book this week because a) work b) writing, but we went to see ‘Antony & Cleopatra’ last night, live-streamed from the National Theatre in London, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo. It’s not as good a play as ‘King Lear’ but still a treat to see it done the way it should be. An excellent production.

  34. So glad that people are enjoying T. Kingfisher. I wasn’t alone in recommending her books, but I’ll claim some of the credit!

    I just finished Swordheart, and while I enjoyed it, I preferred the Clocktaur duology. They’re all set in the same fantasy world, and the author made it clear this wasn’t a sequel, just set in the same world, and it’s not that Swordheart is inferior in any way — it’s just less to my personal taste. It’s romance with a fantasy setting, whereas my personal preference is fantasy with a romance subplot. So, just saying — for anyone who wants the romance more front and center, or wanted more romance than the two previous books had, this could be more your catnip than mine. Oh, and there are two sequels coming along, and I do think I’ll read them, so even with Swordheart not being entirely to my taste, I’ll be pre-ordering the next two stories as soon as they’re ready!

  35. I’ve been on an INTENSE fantasy kick, by which I mean female-protagonist-strong-female-friendships-plus-a-romance kick. My latest favorite is the Spiritwalker trilogy by Kate Elliott.

    It’s an alternative history (note: different than “alternative facts” *eye roll*) taking place in the 1830s during the industrial revolution. BUT. It’s a version of history in which the Roman Empire fell much much later (oh, plus there’s magic) and thus…

    There is no Christianity, no racism, and no colonialism.

    That alone is fascinating and amazing, but I also love the protagonist and the story.

  36. The Instant Pot is a game changer in the kitchen. I don’t use it for everything, but it’s seriously good. I make an amazing bone broth someone wanted to buy the recipe for (the amount was ludicrously low for just a one-off payment for his bone broth empire, so I’d rather give it out to those who want it than have it ruined by some cheap money hungry guy) his bone broth business.

    But you can make fabulous stock in an hour, bone broth in about 4-6 hours. And whatever else you need.

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