This Is a Good Book Thursday, January 17, 2019

I’m reading old drafts of You Again, searching desperately for big chunks of the book that I’ve lost. Damn it. This afternoon I do one more pass at Nita and send it to NYC. And then I think I’m going back to the Zo stories. I have a lot of those done. I’m suddenly getting into finishing things, which is a good thing, if I could just find all of the stuff I need to finish. ARGH.

So what did you read this week that was good? Or not?

89 thoughts on “This Is a Good Book Thursday, January 17, 2019

  1. First I read Denise Domning’s “Awaken the Sleeping Heart” – stupid title but great book. She’s a master of medieval stories, really giving you a feeling for the time her characters live in, the way they think,and the rules they were raised to follow. This one is a kind of spin-off to her “Seasons”-series which I also recommend.

    After finishing that, I found out that she has also published another book in her series of medieval whodunits called “Lost Inn0cents – a Servant of the Crown Mystery”. I haven’t quite finished it but I like it a lot, too.

  2. I read a bunch of books that I didn’t enjoy in a row. “Read” is probably a misnomer, though — at least a few of them were “start, start skimming, start skipping, stop” instead. Not DNFs that you recognize on the first chapter, but ones where you invest some time and then decide to stop investing. So yesterday I went back to Stray, by Andrea K. Host, and I’m probably going to reread the whole series before I’m done. They’re not plot books — I’m pretty sure she wrote the whole thing as a diary, never really sure where she was going next — but I like her world-building and her characters and living in that world for a while.

    1. Oh, good — I always like learning that someone else is a Host fan. She did write the Touchstone books as, I guess, a series of diary/posts, but I too like her world-building (and also her foreshadowing). Especially Medair.

  3. I think it’s already been recommended here, but I really enjoyed “Making Up” by Lucy Parker. An aerialist/acrobat and a make up artist who have a complicated history deal with being flatmates and working in the same show together. They go from sparking off each other to hooking up. You don’t have to read the rest of the series to enjoy it, but I’ve enjoyed reading them in order.

    Even though it has a little bit of glamorous feel with them being the acting/performance world, I liked that they were pretty down to earth characters. They weren’t wealthy. The references felt contemporary to me, which I feel like is one of those things that looks effortless if done well, but when it’s not it pulls me out of the story.

    1. I’m also on a Lucy Parker kick. I’m rereading her first one in that series, which feels like the most lighthearted of them.

  4. Over the last month, I read the Murderbot series by Martha Wells and To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis.

    I loved both of them and wanted to read more, but my book spending was getting pretty high, so this week I picked up the only Martha Wells and Connie Willis books my library had, which are Star Wars:Razor’s Edge by Martha Wells and Crosstalk by Connie Willis.

    I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, but I know the story and had no problem visualizing the characters. The book was well written, fast paced, engaging and I enjoyed it, but what I really want is more Murderbot. I’ll try some of her other series soon. What would you all recommend next?

    I also enjoyed Crosstalk. I want to get to more of the time travel series soon.

    I got notice from the library yesterday that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society is now available for me to read, but I haven’t started it yet. I’m going to try to save it for the weekend.

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your suggestions. In the past I would read books kind of at random and when I found an author that I liked, read all of their books. It was pretty hit or miss.

    With your recommendations, I just keep reading great book after great book. Thanks!

    1. I love Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. And The Wheel of the Infinite (also Ships of the Air and others in that series, The Fall of Il-Rien) by Martha Wells.

    2. It’s been a while since I read them, but I particularly liked Wells’s Wheel of the Infinite (the world-building is phenomenal) and the entire Ile-Rien series. I really think she’s under-appreciated, or was before the Murderbot series. I wasn’t as excited about the bird-creature series (forget the name), but I think that was just me, not a failing of the storytelling.

    3. I think my favorite Wells book is The Death of the Necromancer. I have a fondness for the Three Musketeers, and this had an atmosphere reminiscent of that era. She’s written a couple of YA books too, with a kick-ass heroine named Emily.

      For Willis, I’d recommend the Doomsday Book, which is similar to the one you’ve already read. Remake was also a fun read, with old films taking center stage.

    4. I really loved Martha Wells’ Raksura series. Just know that if you start the fourth book you have to read the fifth, there is a hugely not-okay cliffhanger. You can also safely stop after the third – there’s nothing unresolved.

      My two favorite Connie Willis books are Bellwether, which is so true to the experience of certain Colorado towns that I have a couple of friends who insist it is non-fiction & To Say Nothing of the Dog.

  5. I read Spellswept by Stephanie Burgis–it’s a prequel to her new series, the Harwood Spellbook, so that probably makes more sense if you read both of those. It’s an alternate Angland probably around our 1800’s or so that was originally ruled by Boudicca with the aid of her magician husband, so now in their society, women run politics and men run the magic (and get treated like women, basically). It’s a bit odd but I also enjoy the gender flippage. The main characters are (a) a woman who does magic even though it’s not socially acceptable, (b) her brother who has no interest in doing magic, and (c) his wife who is a rising politician who married him even though that pretty much hampered her career.

    I’m not making it sound very good, oh well.

    And on the “reading books to get them out of the house” theme from last week, I read Acts of Love by Judith Michael and it was actually very good and quality and very sweet. Handicapped actress heroine goes into hiding after a horrible accident (and she clearly looks older and can’t move as she wanted to any more), but when her actress mentor friend dies, the mentor’s grandson tracks her down to give her her inheritance. He also finds the letters they exchanged for years and falls in love with her via letters. And he still wants to be with her even after he sees how she’s changed, so the latter half of the book is about the actress taking up directing and trying to get back into the theater world again.

  6. I am still in the beginning of Elizabeth Hoyt’s newest, Not the Duke’s Darling, and it is very much fun so far. She has created a secret society of women who help each other and a heroine who is something of a spy. There are also a lot of supporting characters, including a lady assassin, who I hope get their own books eventually.

    But for now, Freya is tough, spunky and not prone to giving up without the pitfalls of being too impetuous to the point of silly or stupid. All good things. Plus a mysterious death, soon to be revealed as murder, I suspect.

  7. I have finished nothing this week either in reading or anything else! Everything is “in progress.” Nora Roberts’ Of Blood and Bone on CD is in the car and Anna Lee Huber’s This Side of Murder is in the dining room book holder.

  8. Currently reading Sujata Massey’s The Widows of Malabar Hill. It’s a departure from her Rei Shimura series, which I enjoyed immensely. This one’s set in 1921 Bombay, with some time shifts to 1915 so far. Liking what I’m reading.

    1. I’m reading that too! I’m near the beginning and enjoying it too.

      I also read Murder, Magic and What We Wore. Loved it. Thanks to whoever recommended it.

      1. I just started Murder, Magic, and What We Wore. I read her (author is Kelly Jones) other book Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer first, and loved it. Thanks to whoever recommended it!

        1. Just wanted to say that you two made my day. (Yeah, I’m that Kelly Jones.)

          Jenny looked at my first few pages of a different book at the Surrey writing conference around ten years ago, with one of the most supportive and thorough critiques I’ve ever had (I think I had two sentences left at the end of it?) I’ve been following her writing advice as well as her books ever since. Anything I’ve managed to learn about character motivations and plot comes from her. So, seeing things come full circle in the comments like this is really, really cool for me. (And thanks to whoever originally mentioned my Murder, Magic, and What We Wore too!)

  9. Other than rereads, I finished Cast in Deception by Michelle Sagara, part of her Cast in… series. As usual it was very good. Strange world, no romance but I find them satisfying. And it is one of the few series that are over three books that I read. And yesterday I finished The Perfect Royal Mistress by Diane Haeger about Nell Gwynne. It is neither a satisfying biography nor a particularly engaging popular treatment. It is okay. I finished it. I skipped over many paragraphs and pages. And based on previous reading about Charles II’s mistresses parts of it seem inaccurate in its efforts to make Nell the love of his life.

  10. I’ve been reading a new to me author I found on BookBub. First book had a good plot and interlocking plots of which it all wrapped up nicely. Characters from the first stand alone book get a trilogy. First of the three brothers trilogy started off well but by the end one lesser character runs away after killing the father of her baby. Okay still believable but once it is discovered she has run away and the heroine of the story doesn’t try to find her or attempt to find her which, in my opinion, would try to find her because it is part of her character to look after her people including freedom. She fights for her people. In the end she just thinks about helping young women who have “fallen” with child and never having the woman die in childbirth happen again if she can help. So..second book was a bit of scanning and skipping. Okay book. My curious nature was appeased. Third book already scanning and skipping. Now the young maid from the first book of the trilogy enters stage left about to have her baby. Of course things are bad, really bad. Author really sets the scene well. Great descriptive writing. Curiosity prevails. Maid will survive and the plot line from the first book will be wrapped up. Probably. Haven’t got that far yet.

  11. I read “The Red Pryamid” by Rick Riordan. I enjoyed it. Egyptian gods this time.

    I also reread Elizabeth Enright’s “Spiderweb for Two” on my Kindle. And I’m reading Gone Away Lake out loud to my son at bedtime. I’m not sure how much he’s actually listening but when I point out an illustration, he’s there. I think he’s going to be getting more Enright, then I’ll move on to Jim Kjelgaard’s dog stories. I think he’ll like those. It’s been brought to our attention that he needs work on his reading comprehension so I’m trying to ask him stuff about the books. He’s 9. I may have him read out loud to me some too.

  12. I’m reading my own WIP books, too. I have two in the works, one is a prequel and one is next in series, so they’re not sequential. Which means I’m spending loads of time on figuring timelines.

    Balancing two stories is tricky for me, though. Partly because I do better sticking to one at a time. But also because when I go back & forth reread bits to get back in flow and suddenly the story ends where I left off in a scene I still need to fix, I’m constantly surprised it doesn’t keep going. Which is ridiculous because I’m the one writing it and know it’s not finished, but still my surprise happens every single time. This is where my love of reading and writing blur I think because I don’t think you’re supposed to get so lost in your own story you forget it’s not polished yet.

    So with you on the finishing things thing. Here’s to books with “fin” on the last page:)

  13. Our power went out for four hours Monday night. My DH found a backup power thingy so I could read on my Kindle in the absence of TV, internet, and sufficient candlelight for an actual book. I re-read “The Beekeeper’s Apprentice” for maybe the 10th time. So good.

  14. Thank you to whoever suggested Sorcery & Cecelia, I enjoyed it.

    Also read Die A Stranger by Steve Hamilton. This series is set in the upper peninsula of Michigan, which is amusing since I live in MI, so I recognize locations. They are a little dark, but a friend lends them to me, so for free, I like them just fine.

    1. I don’t remember who it was, either, but I had mentioned reading all of Wrede’s other books when they made that recommendation, so THANK YOU, too.

      1. It was me, by way of Gail Carriger (shout out for her Parasol Protectorate series, which is in the same vein.) I loved all 3 books so much, I’ve moved onto Wrede’s Frontier Magic.

  15. Reading some of the Dortmunder series (Donald Westlake) as research into plotting capers, and they’re funny, but so distant in the telling — I don’t like ANYONE in the book, so it’s hard to really connect, and I need that connection. And since the premise is that the players are all losers, I miss the competence porn aspect of Leverage and Burn Notice (I’m also marathoning the latter as part of my plotting research, since I’ve seen Leverage enough times to recite chunks of it from memory!).

    1. That’s the same problem I have with the Dortmunder books! I love Donald Westlake, but I’ve never understood why people love the Dortmunder books (The Hot Rock, etc.) In almost all of his books he’s got a really likable protagonist, but not the Dortmunder books. None of them are likable.

      Ooh, now I’m looking at Donald Westlake books on Amazon and there are some (non-Dortmunder) I haven’t read before. Apparently published posthumously. I’m going to have to download some samples.

  16. I read an eARC for a friend and did a beta read for another. And now I’m reading one from another friend so I can give her a review.

    If I stop writing, can I go back to just reading for fun?

    1. No.
      Once you learn writing craft, you always read with one eye on that. A book has to be truly exceptional to so suck you in that you don’t notice character violations and head-hopping.

          1. I think the real problem with headhopping is when the reader gets confused about who is thinking/feeling what. In late 2018, I read a few books with headhopping in them, but the writers never let me down; I always knew where I was in the book. In fact, one writer used it quite effectively during love scenes to kind of twist the love around and around the reader, until it was panoramic fuzzy vibes of sensuality.

            Well, to be honest, I didn’t finish that book. Not yet. It wasn’t about the headhopping, though. I got bored with the hints about the Mystery in the Past, and the heroine kind of flipped between being the Smartest Person in the Room and the Dumbest Person in the Relationship. Maybe it was an emotional intelligence vs. academic intelligence conflict that wasn’t made clear.

    2. Agree with Jenny — you’re done for life now. I’m SUCH a picky reader now, even on those occasions (less frequent than they used to occur) when I swear off ever again writing fiction (which never lasts more than 24 hours these days).

      1. Should say, it also ruins (or at least changes) some other forms of storytelling fun too — once you know story structure, it’s hard to just sit back and let a movie or tv show happen without anticipating the turning points and twists. The Good Place usually manages to surprise me, but it’s rare.

  17. I just finished a Kindle book called Gypsy Blood by Kristy Cunning. It needed a good beta read/edit as grammar and dropped lines drive me nuts, but I liked it over all. I am a sucker for a storyline that involves a damsel in distress who isn’t all powerful and has deep secrets while refusing to let a man take over her life. I did HATE that it had a cliff hanger ending but the second book is already out and that book did not end on a cliff hanger so it made me feel better. Its billed as reverse harem but the first book had very little sex which I appreciated as the story definitely didn’t support it. The second book seemed a little rushed – again, a good edit would have done wonders for it, as some of the plot points were shaky. If I have to wonder why the heck did the MC do this while I’m reading as it makes no sense, it’s thrown me totally out of the story. I’m still analyzing why the first book really worked for me for the most part.

  18. I just finished the Ben Schott “novel in homage to P.G. Wodehouse,” called “Jeeves and the King of Clubs.”

    It took a couple chapters for me to get over my doubt, trepidation, and skepticism, but then it started moving along very nicely with lots of humor and adventure – a fitting tribute to Bertie and Jeeves. Kudos to Schott. It must have been rather nerve wracking for him and the Wodehouse family to take chance with this. But I must say I enjoyed it a lot and would re-read it if only to return to the many laugh out loud bits.

    I started the audio version that came in about the same time via my public library, but the narrator (James Lance) gets in the way of the story. I’ve managed to tune out most of his annoying tones or maybe he calmed down after the first couple of chapters, but if you’re sensitive to narrators, and need audio, cut him some slack. Some of the early audio versions of Wodehouse have even worse narrators, but later ones are terrific.

    I’ve had to learn not to judge a book by its narrator!

  19. I started to read Someone to Trust, a new novel by Mary Balogh, and it’s torturous. Not just slow, but standing still. I can only read it a few pages at a time before I have to switch to something else. I love the author. I read most of her previous books and enjoyed them all, until this one. It’s so boring, I would’ve DNF it long ago if it was any other author. Three chapters in, and still nothing happened.
    I thought it was me, so after a couple chapters, to test my theory, I picked up another author I enjoyed before and read Don’t Look Down. I think it is my third re-read, but it’s still as good and fresh as it ever was, still enjoyable and quick-paced. So no, it is not me. It is the book.
    Isn’t it upsetting when an author you love suddenly comes up with a book that turns you off. I truly hope Balogh’s next book will be better.

    1. I’ve found her series getting weaker and weaker, unfortunately – I’m a big fan of the books she wrote a few years ago, such as the Slightly and Simply series; but I don’t like most of her early work or the latest ones. I’m still buying them, but like you, find them plodding. Maybe she needs to switch genres or something!

      1. I liked the premise behind her series around war survivors. But I think she has lost the plot tension she used to have–pretty early in every book people start to solve every problem they face. I do think her earlier books were too melodramatic, but now she’s gone too far the other way.

      2. I’m in the middle of both the Slightly and the Simply books, (as the ebooks become available from the library) and I’m finding them very uneven. One will be just delightful and the next will be “Why am I reading this?” and then another one will be delightful again. I don’t get it.

  20. I finished A Suspicion of Silver, which is #9 in the Sir Robert Carey series by P.F. Chisholm aka Patricia Finney. Great book, as always, with an absolutely fabulous cliffhanger at the end. I wish she wrote faster, because it will be painful waiting to see what happens next.

    I may have mentioned reading The Tuscan Child by Rhys Bowen. It was quite good — reminded me somewhat of Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense. I also read Evans Above, the first in her Evan Evans series of mysteries that take place in Wales. Good mystery, pleasant read. Also The Wise Virgin by Jo Beverley, a Christmas novella. I’ve been reading of lot of less suspenseful stuff lately…it’s relaxing.

    I’m in the middle of Courting Scandal by Jaima Fixsen. Third in a series of romances, all of which are well-written, easy to read, good stuff.

    1. Love Rhys Bowen’s many series.
      I have had a nuisance virus(feel lousy, low grade temp., etc.) And reread your wonderful earlier book, “Getting Rid of Bradley”, which always makes me smile and laugh.
      Jennifer Crusie, I wouldn’t presume to tell you what to write, but I and I’m sure your fans, would love it, if you could write a story with the characters, Detective Anthony Taylor(partner of Set. Zachary Warren) and Tina Savage ( sister of Teacher Lucy Savage Porter). I love the humor and how your stories move right along. Think about it. As a disclaimer: I have no interest in claiming anything other than anticipating a great humorous story written by you, with characters from your earlier work, “Getting Rid of Bradley”, so funny. I think your agent, should propose it as a Made for TV movie on Cable, LIFETIME or HALLMARK, etc. If you have any control over who plays the parts, you could suggest actors & actresses, that you think fit the characters. Thanks for cheering me up, getting over this virus, and hours of smiles, with your writing. A Fan, Renae J.

      1. My last contract with HQ was going to be sequels to Manhunting and What the Lady Wants (HATE THAT TITLE) and one other book that I can’t remember, but then they asked me to sign a contract that was a violation of everything I believed in and I said, “Nope,” and went to Bantam. So no sequels, although I do still have the rights to the characters, so at least nobody else can do them.

        Thank you very much for liking them, though!

        1. I remember when you left your publisher, your books went from being something I kept an eye out for in my local high street book shop (W.H. Smith in UK) to having to go to a specialist independent book shop in London that imported American books. (In the days before Amazon of course)

          Murder One in Charing Cross, I loved that shop, they did American cosy crime, romance, sci-fi and fantasy and mysteries and had a specialist Sherlock holmes section. I nearly wept when it closed

          1. Yes, although Books, Etc up the road also had a good US romance section, and were often cheaper, as I remember. My first online purchase was from a library computer to Amazon in the States, for Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle’s fantasy trilogy, ‘Amaryllis’, ‘Orchid’ and ‘Zinnia’. A year or two before they launched in the UK and I got an internet connection (in 1997). But I was impressed that the trilogy cost less than I’d have paid in London, even with (seamail) postage.

            UK bookshops used to rip off customers for more expensive US titles – computer and photography books, for example.

  21. I liked those characters too, for what it’s worth.

    Was Manhunting the one with the crockpot on top of the refrigerator? My brain is mush, so I can’t be sure, but I’ve NEVER forgotten that scene.

    I need book recommendations. I’m feeling fragile and overwhelmed, so not reading anything too heavy. Mostly rereading my favorite Brit romance authors, Trisha Ashley and Katie Fforde. Light, clever, guaranteed happy ending. (Not Crusies, but as close as I can get.)

    I live in upstate NY and we’re supposed to get slammed by a major storm this weekend. I’d love to have something new to read. Give me your best light, happy, and clever, Argh-people!

    1. Nope, the crockpot was in Anyone But You.
      You know why that scene was so vivid? BECAUSE I DID THAT. Not with a crockpot, but something heavy dropping on a glass in hand. I still have the scar.

    2. Sharon Shinn’s Samaria series is good. Fantasy + plus adventure + romance + a guaranteed happy ending. Almost everything by her is good stuff.

  22. I finally finished The Thorn Birds. I took it to Australia but did not get much reading time. It’s a heck of a long book (somehow I’d forgotten that) but there is some exquisite writing.

  23. Ugh, Pippin just brought a dead vole in the house. Why, why, why do they think I need tribute? Terriers. Love them but often wonder why I keep adopting them. At least they don’t bay like the beagle-X. And Moose is so senile I wonder what thoughts are floating around in his brain. Sigh.

    I was also having a narrator problem. Listened to the second in a series by mistake, loved it, started the first and lo, it’s read by a narrator I detest. I’m powering through because I want to read the story, but yikes. A bad narrator can really wreck a good book.

    I am having such problems with winter. I was so cold I got into bed at 4 pm today put the heated mattress pad on and had a two-hour nap. I don’t know if I should castigate or congratulate myself. I did get warm again.

    1. Sounds wise to me. I find that cold creeps into my brain, slowing my thinking. It can take a while to realize there’s a problem, and what it is.

    2. I’m having problems with being cold too. And we haven’t gotten to the really bad cold weather here. I think we hit the 20s only two or three times. But colder weather is coming, dammit.

  24. The idea that I may get to read some of this new stuff as a BOOK in my HOUSE makes me so happy!

    I am working on a fun, silly group writing project and my own personal project. Plus I wrote a grant last week for work.

  25. I’ve been recovering from the flu this week (I’m so booorreeed) so I reread an old series I used to love, the Kate Fansler mysteries by Amanda Cross. I still enjoyed them, if for no other reason than her delightful way with words, but alas, I see flaws now that I never noticed then. Also, the first one was written in the 1960’s, so a bit dated, but still, well worth the reread.

    1. I loved her series and then went off them when she chose to commit suicide because of aging. I respect all the blood and tears she went through at Columbia and its misogyny but I felt as if a hero had let me down. I do understand depression but not wanting to go through the ravages of getting old ticks me off. I want to go down fighting.

  26. I was immediately captivated reading The Kiss Thief by L.J. Shen. It’s an arranged marriage – enemies to lovers story – with a badass Alpha. I want to read more by L.J. Shen now.

  27. I read Record of a Spaceborn Few, by Becky Chambers. This is the third in her trilogy, and the one I’m most ambivalent about. The writing is beautiful, the characters well-developed and intriguing. But I kept waiting for something to happen, and it never did. So for me it wasn’t as enjoyable to read as the first two in the series, which had more of a plot. But then at the end it came together, and suddenly I felt immensely satisfied by the whole thing.

    Then I read Eric Flint’s 1632. I really like timeslip stories and alternative histories, and I mostly enjoyed this one, despite its faults – large sections of history info dump (which I skipped), an almost complete lack of dramatic tension, and the rah rah rah American superiority stuff. The humour was good, though, and some of the characters were fun, including the cheerleader turned sniper assassin. The violence made me wince, but they were violent times, so it was understandable. Don’t reckon I’ll bother with any more series though.

    1. I really wanted to love Record of a Space Born Few but it meandered. It info-dumped. It didn’t go anywhere until suddenly it wrapped things up in a satisfying way. I liked the pieces but felt the whole suffered.

        1. I loved it. It had a clear overarching theme, so what if it only became clear in the end? Isn’t it more satisfying if it slowly unfolds itself? The funeral brought tears to my eyes.
          All the strands were interesting, giving us more opportunity to get acquainted with this universe. They also enforced the theme of community and human life essentially being the same wherever it it plays itself out. Toddlers are toddlers and teenagers are teenagers, wherever they are. I also loved the Harmagian remark that it’s much more sensible to spawn your young. Not everybody lives the way humans do, but different species should respect each other.
          Personally I don’t feel that plot is the most important thing in a novel. It should have one, but everything should not be sacrificed to it. I like getting acquainted with the characters and their world.

    2. I didn’t like that book at all. It felt not like an adventure sci-fi but as a small village story. Very mundane. Have you noticed that all the stories we enjoy start with a hero leaving his village?

      1. But that’s the point of the story. You can never leave because wherever you go, you take yourself along, and you’re a forest-dwelling ape who likes to feel she belongs to a group.

        1. In a way Record of a Spaceborn Few is the antithesis of The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet. Rosemary leaves Mars and finds a crew who become her friends; Sawyer leaves Mushtullo and falls in with a crew of thieves who get him killed. Both outcomes are possible when you leave home.

  28. I started listening to the Tufa books by Akex Bledsoe. I really liked the first one and the second is good so far.

      1. The first three or so in the Tufa series I liked a lot then I hit one that didn’t resound with me and I drifted off. The first one was the best for me. The characters varied from book to book and some I did not like very well.

        However, I really liked his Eddie LaCrosse series which I started reading because I could not resist the title of the first one “The Sword-Edged Blonde” and I read them all and check to see if he has done anymore. I don’t think they were as successful as the Tufa books.

  29. Flavia de Luce anyone? I just listened to the Dead in their Vaulted Arches, which comes later in the series. I thought it was a little weak on holding the plot and character together, which was unusual. But a ton of character growth,
    Which was done very well . I’m skipping around in the series, so listening to another earlier one now. Should probably read them in order. …

  30. I finished *China Rich Girlfriend* and *Rich People Problems* — the sequels to *Crazy Rich Asians* — and loved them! There’s something about a good soap opera that I just love, and also the books were full of food references. Really good food references! Some of the things I’ve had, and some of things I want. One of my college roommates was Malaysian, too, so the dialog was just a total trip down memory lane.

    I also binged the first season of *Riverdale* while I was home for winter vacation. Another great soap opera, with layers and layers of references, and it’s got a great soundtrack. (-: Got the second season waiting for me at home now, but my daughter is taking one of her big tests for university (the Center Test) this weekend, so I’m probably going to be mentally occupied with that stuff.

  31. Ah, also, I’m probably too late for many people to see this, but I think in this space, someone recommended a novel (maybe a series?) about a family of Malaysian vampires that were not your typical vampire series. Does anyone remember this, or have I been hallucinating?

    1. Oh, if anyone does remember please pipe up! All I’ve seen with penanggalan (sp??) was in a short story collection by zen cho and I would like so much to read more.

  32. I just finished Gilded Spurs by Grace Ingram. Last week I finished Mercedes Lackey’s Mage Winds Trilogy.

    Villains — Why are they so often obscenely awful? I would like a lot of stories more than I do if the villains weren’t 150% disgusting.

    I’ve found that creating a bad guy to conflict with my characters is incredibly difficult. I’m less interested in a bad guy’s character and motivation so I go with madness/revenge and such. But I’ve been thinking about the misinterpretations of psychological illness, and I need to find motivations that ring true.

      1. Gilded Spurs takes place in 1152, as the Anarchy begins to go in the direction of the future Henry II. (Red Adams’ Lady is a little further along, when Henry II’s son Henry is challenging his father.)

        I like Red Adams’ Lady better than Gilded Spurs because (1) of the prominence of the Julitta and (2) the conflict over Red Adams’ ability to take charge of his castle. Gilded Spurs depends on witchcraft as the source of conflict, and I think the period didn’t have that sort of witchcraft. That said, Gilded Spurs has all the details about life in mid-twelfth century England that keep me happy and involved. The historical accuracy of Grace Ingram’s writing is terrific.

  33. I have been re-reading the Animorphs series – a middle grade sci-fi series from the late 90s. And it’s not just nostalgia – it’s a really good story. Obviously, there’s some goofy stuff, and as the series goes on you get some ghostwriters with mixed success. But it’s a really cool premise that follows through with complex characters and actual consequences and character growth. The main characters are, for the most part, middle school kids, but they get involved fighting an alien invasion and deal with things like the stress of making life and death decisions and the morality seep that comes with having to do violence over and over again.

    I don’t know if the average adult reader would get into it if they didn’t have the nostalgia factor to help smooth over some of the rough edges, but I would say it’s worth a shot!

    1. I may try them with my 10 year old. She’s looking for new to her books. She’s managing fine after Harry Potter and Rick Riordan so the topics should be ok, as long as they’re not zombies.

      1. Look for Diana Wynne Jones (way back before Harry Potter, we had Diana Wynne Jones!) “Charmed Life” (from her Chrestomanci series) won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize, and was runner up for the Carnegie Medal. My favorite book of hers is “The Ogre Downstairs”, but “A Tale of Time City” is great also. And “Howl’s Moving Castle” was made into an animated movie by Hayao Miyazaki (he really took liberties with the book, though) with a great voice cast (Christian Bale, Billy Crystal, Lauren Bacall, Blythe Danner, etc.) Your daughter should LOVE these books (start with Charmed Life…) !!! 🙂

        1. My comment recommending Diana Wynne Jones was meant as a direct reply to “non writer Beth” (I’m still getting the hang of this blog/reply thing… I’m a bit of a Luddite!) 😛 Although I do also strongly recommend DWJ to all and sundry, of course!

          But in general, at the moment, I recommend (for the older folks, not so much Beth’s 10 year old,) the light little Regency froth of a book by Maggie MacKeever called “Lady Bliss” (was out of print for a while, has been reissued I think… also available as a Kindle edition.) One of those books they call a “romp”… (screwball comedy for the crinoline crowd.) 😉

      2. I would highly recommend Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, and I second the Diana Wynne Jones recommendation, if your daughter is looking for good reads to follow on from Rowling and Riordan.

  34. Thanks to whoever mentioned the Judith Flanders books. I had enjoyed one of her history books–was it the Victorian home one?–but missed her entry into fiction. On the third one now.

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