This is a Good Book Thursday, October 31, 2019

I was surfing Amazon and saw a thumbnail cover that said “How To Draw” with “Inky Wonderland” under that, and I thought, “Inky Wonderland. What a wonderful name!” Except that was part of the title. Now I want to name a character Inky Wonderland.

What book inspired or delighted you this week? Also character names, find any good ones?

109 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 31, 2019

  1. I’m still on my Heyer binge: about to finish ‘The Foundling’. I enjoy the fact that all her characters’ surnames are place names. So the highwayman in this one, for example, is called Shifnal, after a village in Shropshire; but of course it also echoes ‘shifty’, which is appropriate. I remember checking this theory in my atlas of Britain during a geography lesson when I was fifteen, and being delighted when all the names I could think of were in there.

    16+
      1. Not her best, so don’t be put off. I think ‘The Black Moth’ was her first – it’s C18 farce/melodrama – and ‘April Lady’ is one of her child-brides, although the end is fun.

        1+
        1. Yes, I definitely don’t think April Lady is one of her best. Basically nothing happens until very near the end – just Nell (the child bride) worrying herself sick and the sister-in-law behaving badly.

          2+
    1. The hero’s relationship with the dog and how his staff reacts to it may be my single favorite thing about Arabella.

      7+
  2. I have a Heyer question.

    Ermyntrude in No Wind of Blame is a wonderful character.

    Am I right that Heyer would not have put her in one of the Regency romances? It seems that the older women of lower rank in the Regency romances don’t have Ermyntrude’s full heartedness.

    I wonder if Heyer felt limited by the tight restrictions of the 19th century and earlier societies she wrote about (and, to a large extent, created).

    5+
    1. Can’t remember Ermyntrude at the moment, but isn’t there a vulgar grandmother in ‘Bath Tangle’ who the hero rather likes? Full of common sense.

      6+
      1. Ermyntrude was a figure who probably wouldn’t have existed in her particular niche in the Georgian period. She’d been a pretty working class girl in the theater who married well, inherited wealth, and was being courted for it by a good-looking cad. She was able to bring her daughter up as an upper-middle class girl who played tennis with the local gentry, and was accepted by her landed neighbors for her good heart. I don’t think any of that would have been likely in the world of — what was it, 400 families? — that Heyer focused on.

        Also, I’ve read that Heyer researched the period pretty extensively via written sources, including a lot of letters, contemporary plays, and so on, so she might not have had the documentation for a person like Ermyntrude, whereas with the vulgar widows of the 20’s and 30’s, she had personal experience to draw on.

        And, Jane — there were some middle-classish characters in Heyer historicals, but they were never really important characters, as far as I can recollect.

        The thing that always filled me with curiosity (as an American) was the fact that nearly every heroine had clear gray eyes. Not a common color over on this side of the Atlantic!

        5+
    2. I think a lot of them did, although most of them were smarter than Ermyntrude. The cousin’s mother in The Unknown Ajax, the grandmother and mother in Sylvester, the mother in The Grand Sophy, the grandmother in False Colors all spring to mind, and I’m sure there are more. Ermentrude is a drama queen (and god bless her for it, she’s wonderful) but she protects her daughter and her niece-by-marriage.

      Digression: I dearly love the scene where her equally drama queen daughter lets her know that the fortune hunter just tried to implicate her in the murder; it’s one of the best scenes I’ve ever read that has a large cast of characters, all of whom know what’s going on except for the characters casting themselves as protagonist and antagonist (Ermentrude and the Russian; actual protagonist is the daughter, Vicky, who owns the scene). The way the detective and the lawyer just watch in dumbfounded admiration while the daughter neatly destroys the Russian while weeping in her mother’s arms is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read while just nailing character all the way around. It’s really tough doing a cast-of-thousands scene (in this case six, I think) and to do it with that deftness is inspiring.

      Where was I? Right. Lots of powerful women who fight for their children–really Lady Whosis in The Unknown Ajax is such a champ at the climax that she should get her own book–and lots of not-really-grasping-what’s-going-on mothers like the aunt in The Grand Sophy, so I’d say no.

      The only thing wrong with No Wind of Blame is that the romance parts are too short. I want to see a lot more of Vicky and the lawyer. I love that scene where he’s trying to talk her into the car in front of his mother. Just such lovely writing.

      Now I have to go reread that book for the thousandth time. The mystery is ridiculous but the characters are so great. And I love the way she nails the relationship at the end when Hugh tells Vicky to go back to the house and she points out that she doesn’t take orders from him. He says, “That’s all right, you can play at being the child wife married to a drunken bully,” and Vicky cheers up and says, “Or a Roman slave!” and he agrees. These are people who understand each other, set boundaries, and have a really good time.

      Really have to reread that book.

      12+
      1. I read No Wind of Blame for the first time pretty recently while getting over a cold and I laughed out loud through pretty much that whole scene. I also like how the detective, while trying to stay out of Vicky’s drama, couldn’t restrain himself when the Prince lied and said he didn’t try to throw her under the bus.

        4+
  3. Not a particular book this time but a publisher. The Folio Society makes beautiful quality books with slipcovers. I’ve just been on a purchasing binge of second-hand copies with marbled covers, woodblock illustrations and rather esoteric topics. If you’re into Heyer there are ample reprints of books from the time. I’m looking forward to “Rides Round Britain” by John Byng from the late 18c.

    Review and picture here: https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/6297677

    6+
    1. I love Folio books. Purchased quite a few. Found a used book store which have several Folio books. The books are a work of art.

      3+
  4. I don’t normally read nonfiction, but I just read Bill Bryson’s At Home: A Short History of Private Life and it was fascinating and funny as hell. Lots of random interesting history bits. Definitely worth a read.

    11+
    1. That is one of the books I’ve “read” only in audio. I kept wanting to flip back and forth many pages, which really doesn’t work with audio, especially while driving. Loved the bits of history and bought a paperback for a reference book (which I haven’t opened since).

      1+
    1. I’m reading “The Rough Collier” right now. I have no idea where it fits into the series, but am really enjoying it. I often have trouble with mysteries set before the age of blood types and fingerprinting but this one is good.

      2+
      1. 1. The Harper’s Quine
        2. The Nicholas Feast
        3. The Merchant’s Mark
        4. St. Mungo’s Robin
        5. The Rough Collier
        6. The Stolen Voice
        7. A Pig of Cold Poison
        8. The Counterfeit Madam
        9. The Fourth Crow
        10. The King’s Corrodian
        11. The Lanimer Bride

        1+
  5. I’m in a reread mode this past week. SBTB did a promotion recently of Nora Roberts early nineties book Convincing Alex and I downloaded it from the library. It’s part of her Stanislaskis Series and full of fairytale goodness of her characters which I enjoyed and OK I’m enjoying it again. It’s one of those things I have to be in the mood for. The thought of anyone dressing as a streetwalker to get research for a TV soap in NYC boggles the mind. And having a dinner party inviting New York’s finest celebrities all dressed up for a Spaghetti and Meatball Buffet could be a bit much when you figure sitting with a plate of pasta loaded down with red sauce on your lap. But it is Nora and she draws me in.

    Last week I finished Maybe This Time and I’m so ready for a grown up Alice and her brother Carter (I’m kind of partial to Carter) to continue their story.

    Anyway I had a thought considering it is Halloween. Are we the only country (USA) obsessed with the day? I say that because so many TV programs have a Halloween theme this week which got me to wondering about other countries. We watch a lot of BBC and Australian programs and I’ve never seen a show that incorporated that theme into it’s programming.

    11+
    1. Hmm, I think my understanding of it has always been that Halloween is an American invention that is derived from a similar older tradition of “All Hallows’ Eve” from Irish immigrants. And if other countries celebrate Halloween, it is due to the influence of American TV, movies etc.
      They definitely didn’t celebrate Halloween in Italy when I was growing up and I saw an Australian author get quite spiky on the Internet a few years ago with her frustration with kids celebrating such an “American” thing. Just two examples.
      If I’m wrong, someone feel free to correct me!

      4+
    2. The Halloween stuff showed up in the #BritainHasExploded Twitter feed, which is one of the funniest things I’ve seen a country do since #LastNightInSweden.

      2+
    3. This evening I was trick-or-treated for the first time: I told them they’d have to trick me, since I wasn’t prepared, but they didn’t seem to have any tricks.

      Shops, especially supermarkets, have been pushing Halloween more and more over the past twenty years – it gives them an excuse to sell more stuff. When I was a child, in the sixties, we carved turnips, I remember. Much harder (literally) than pumpkins, which didn’t exist here. But of course the pagan tradition had been shifted in Britain to Bonfire Night on 5 November: fire, fireworks, gingerbread, treacle toffee and toffee apples. Plus ‘A penny for the guy’.

      5+
    4. Not Halloween, but Mexico and Peru have very impressive Day of The Dead celebrations. No trick or treat, but impressive costumes, decor, parades, and altars to dead relatives.

      6+
      1. Now that you mention it, yes Peru did have something. And lots of fireworks on New Years as well. That was back on the early 80s when we lived there for a year.

        3+
      2. That’s because November 1 celebrates all saints, and November 2 all souls [the day of the dead], both Catholic traditions which have turned into Big Events.

        2+
      3. Sadly in s most parts of Mexico they have been moving towards Halloween. But day of the dead in Oaxaca is wonderful and there are other areas too.

        We have a small collection of day of the dead skeleton figurines I love including a balloon salesman.

        The Hispanic caucus did a day of tbe dead alter for all immigrants that died in ICE facilities this year.

        1+
    5. Halloween is gaining importance here in Germany because, just like Valentine’s Day or Mothers’ Day (other days we acquired from America), it’s a question of marketing another range of products and making money. Also, kids like to dress up and collect sweets, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.

      On the other hand, October 31 is traditionally Reformation Day here, remembering Martin Luther, and on November 10, we have the tradition of St. Martin’s when children with lanterns come to your door and sing songs (for which they usually also receive sweets). So I tell the halloween kids to come back on St. Martin’s Day (if I am at home because I usually attend the evening service for Reformation Day which in most federal states of Germany is not an official holiday. Tonight, it was a very special service because it took place in the Catholic church, and their priest and one of the Protestant pastors did it together. I think it says something about of the excellent co-operation between churches in our town and it would probably please Luther because he had never intended to start a new church and bring about all the ensuing hostility.)

      12+
    6. It was never a thing in Australia until the last few years, when it has taken off due to American tv and a rather large nudge along by shops. I’ve been very bah humbug about it in previous years, because not only is it not our tradition, but people are celebrating it at completely the wrong time of year. It is NOT a spring festival. (But then we do Easter in autumn, with all those fertility symbols, which bugs me too.) Anyway, this year I choose to take part – the kids love it and are very polite – most only come to your door if you have some sort of decoration outside. And it was kind of fun. I’m still not a fan, but have accepted the inevitable.

      5+
      1. Ditto New Zealand in terms of it slowly taking off…I was reflexively anti it until about 5 years ago but I’m starting to get into it.

        This year my partner even carved up a pumpkin (kiwi and aussie pumpkins have much tougher skins than the American kind).

        Unfortunately we had very few trick or treaters (we have a terrible road for them)

        5+
      2. Here in my area of the U.S. (south Florida), if you want to welcome trick-or-treaters, you leave on your porch light. If the light is off, kids know there’s no candy being offered by that house.

        6+
        1. Exactly! I grew up in Michigan and the porch light was the key. Doesnt work as well here in northern California.

          1+
  6. I just finished Nora McInerny’s memoir No Happy Endings, which isn’t as bleak as it sounds, although she was widowed in her early 30s. [Spoiler: she does get a happy ending!] Now I’m reading the one she wrote and gave as a TED talk, Hot Young Widows Club. Also rereading some Heyer, because.
    And yes, Nora Roberts–the early series stuff–I also re-read.

    5+
  7. Thanks to whoever suggested Courtney Milan – I bought a “boxed set” on my kindle (snigger) and have been enjoying them. I am so proud of myself for reading a new author. I also read a Ngaio Marsh last week- there are millions of them, and I had only read one previously.

    Happy Halloween. Please send dry winds my way so my inflatable decoration will actually inflate tonight! (yes, Mary, I am one of the obsessed!)

    11+
  8. Read an older Barbara Delinsky novel , A Woman’s Place after reading snippets of The Coast Road which I loved and usually re-read every year. Back to Allingham’s Casebook. Or Hayer on the plane tomorrow. Or bits of everything on the reader.

    3+
  9. I have been reading Paula Wolfort’s The Cooking of South-West France which I checked out from the library. There were so many recipes that I thought sounded great. She had several for doing sous-vide. This book was published before sous-vide machines were widely available so she had this method with a water bath in an oven which sounds really cumbersome but I am reasonable sure I can convert them to a modern machine. I understand when it was first published it won a bunch of awards.

    After reading it, I remembered that I own one of her cookbooks (I have hundreds of cookbooks, located all over the house so I don’t always remember what I have unless it is one that I use a lot. Peg Bracken said that women who don’t like to cook buy cookbooks the way plain women buy hats). This is the cookbook on cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. It did not inspire me, probably because some of the ingredients would have to be purchased before I could cook anything.

    Oh. I forgot to post on Working Wednesday that I made a fresh pineapple upside down cake, recipe from the BBC (so I thought of Jane as I assembled ingredients). It really was work between cleaning the pineapple and cleaning the oven because the syrup forming as the cake cooked oozed out the bottom of the springform pan and totaled my oven. Smoke all over the house but my new kitchen fan worked like a Trojan. Delicious cake though and it was beautiful to look at.

    11+
    1. Whenever anything comes up BBC or Britain in general, I don’t think of a faceless country, I think of Jane and Stroppy Rachel. They’re Britain to me. I love Britain.

      12+
        1. I recently saw a meme on Facebook which goes “It’s 2089, and like every year, the British Prime Minister goes to Brussels and formally asks the EU for a prolongation of Brexit. Nobody knows exactly what this ritual is based on, but it always attracts a lot of tourists.”

          14+
        2. Have you seen our President? He makes Boris look pretty good, unless Boris has sold you out to the Russians.

          6+
        3. I’ve just finished ‘Real Tigers’, the third book in Mick Herron’s spy series. The Home Secretary in this book is Peter Judd: ‘blue suit, yellow tie, artfully tousled haystack of hair and a plummy grin you’d have to be a moron or a voter not to notice concealed a degree of self interest that would alienate a shark … Straddling the gap between media-whore and political beast … stealing the public affection with shows of buffoonery … A narcissistic sociopath with family money, power complex and a talent for bearing a grudge.’

          Hmm, now who does that remind me of?

          9+
        4. New Zealand had a prime minister who called a snap election drunk on tv…(and was horrible in a lot of other respects), every country has had rough patches, I’m sure things will come right some time.

          5+
    2. I love Peg Bracken!

      How did the recipe have you work with the pineapple? I ask because Cooks Illustrated recommends cutting the pineapple into small pieces, rather than fancy rings, and cook them down, so the pineapple juices don’t soak the cake to death.

      2+
  10. I’m still re-re-re-reading the Wearing the Cape series in anticipation of Repercussions, due out “any minute now*.” his last blog post on October 2 said, “Completion is just weeks away. Possibly as few as two.” Possibly not, evidently.

    I also downloaded and started Eric Flint’s Grantville Gazette Issue 86, the e-zine he started to publish sorta-fanfic by editing it to make it canon. That’s 86 issues so far in electronic format and eight issues in paper as “best of” anthologies.

    * Any Minute Now is a subset of Any Day Now, which is in turn a subset of Soon or Soonish. All of these fall under Someday, Maybe.

    4+
  11. I needed some lighter reading after a couple of heavy (albeit wonderful) Women’s Fiction books. I’m really enjoying Susan Mallery’s latest romance, Meant To Be Yours.

    3+
  12. I just bought “I Made 100 Comics in 100 Days: An Underpants and Overbites Collection” by Jackie E. Davis and like the first few.

    I’m cold so have Charity Girl by Heyer for lower concentration reading.

    4+
  13. The name “Malarkey Muldoon” popped into my head out of the blue the other day. I pictured as feisty freckle faced child that enjoyed telling tall tales. I think it would work for a boy or girl character. I suppose it would also be a great Irish mobster name. . .

    I really really loved “Unpregnant” by Jenni Hendricks and Ted Caplan. A YA book, very very much pro-choice, about a young woman who has to go on a road trip with an estranged friend to get an abortion without parental permission. I thought it was wonderful, honest, funny at times without being flippant. Parts of it take some suspension of disbelief, but it was not done in a way that bothered me. It’s really a story of two girls’ friendship and what it means to grow up. I grew up not far where the story starts and it made me think a lot about that age. How my life turned out. How other people’s lives I know turned out.

    Spoiler alert –

    There is no change of heart or last minute miscarriage. The actual abortion is not described in detail, but if that subject material bothers you, I would not read it.

    7+
  14. Magic Slays by Ilona Andrews. I’m reading this series out of order and randomly. This one was not bad, but the entire series is not my favorite.
    Crazy for You + Tell Me Lies – two novels in one volume. Both wonderful, as all of us here know.
    The Rosie Result by Graeme Simsion. I loved the first book about Don and Rosie, but didn’t like the second one. This is #3 and it was a rather nice, quiet book, a father and son story. Don is his usual self, and his eleven-year-old son Hudson is such a smart boy. I enjoyed their story.

    4+
  15. I’ve been bogged down in a review book – no issue with the book, it just wasn’t my thing so I had to work at reading it. I did take breaks from it with a YA book that I adored in my teenage years, and still enjoy – The Course of True Love Never Did Run Smooth by Marilyn Singer. It’s got love dramas and a production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and it was the first book I ever read with a gay romantic subplot. Also, bonus points for Star Trek references.

    2+
  16. Today I’ve read all your dinner- and cooking-ideas, tips and tricks. You’ve made me laugh sometimes and get all tearful the moment after. Again, thank you.

    I know this is a book-post. But I just…if someone has a healing vibe to spare, or a hug or 100, I really need that right now.
    I’m at the hospital right now. Yesternight Fiancé was struck by an acute myocardial infarction. A damn infarct. He is 33, dammit. 33.
    Things are stable now and 2 hours ago he was admitted to a more “normal” ward than the emergency post-infarct heart-ward. But I could have lost him last night. I didn’t so those thoughts are useless, but sometimes they pop up anyway. What if I hadn’t told him we needed to see the doctor when he told me he had pain in his chest and weird sensations in his left arm? What if I hadn’t managed to convince him and the infarct, that actually struck when we were at the hospital, had struck him at home? Maybe he hadn’t been here with me anymore then. . .

    I haven’t had the time, space or possibility to break down yet, I’ve forced everything down except for two 30-second tear-outbursts while he got stents placed in his coronary arteries and thus were someplace else than where I was. He got a one-person room tonight here at the ward with a sofa bed, so I can stay with him tonight. Last night was just adrenaline and scrambled brains for me, so I didn’t sleep much at all. For him too, alone at the emergency heart-check ward.

    He’s 33 dammit. This is so…unfair.

    I’m gonna go read more Dogs and Goddesses now. So I can get through this phase, too. Really can not use a breakdown right now.

    32+
    1. Your right it’s not fair. I’ve been through this several times with my husband. Doesn’t matter if he is 33 or was in his 50’s. It is still a shock to think that this can happen at all. You have my thoughts and hugs and know you are not alone. You have a whole army of Arghers with you.

      11+
    2. Oh, honey, that’s rough. But they have a great deal of research now on heart stuff and really great treatments. He might have to take it easy for awhile, but chances are, he’ll be okay, and possibly better than he was. I’m actually much healthier after my cardiac moment, not to mention I now have doctors watching me like hawks. It’s possible having this at 33 will mean he won’t have one in his fifties that will kill him when he’s older and not as able to recover well, and if things do start to look bad, the docs will catch it.

      Regardless, sending good vibes your way.

      17+
    3. Lots and lots of hugs to you and Fiance. I’ve waited in the cardiac ICU, it sucks big time. BUT this MI and the stents – and the cardiac awareness and monitoring that goes with them – might keep something nastier from happening in the future.

      Paul has had 2 open heart surgeries. The first one he was 33 (before we were married) and he had part of his ascending aorta replaced and several more inches of it wrapped and the second he was 39 (3 years married) and had his aortic valve replaced (and then the big jerk went into AFib when we were in the discharge clinic and was in the cardiac care unit for 11 more days; his AFib was so bad the nurses wouldn’t let him walk the 30 feet back to his room).

      The best thing you can do, for him and yourself, is to go scream into a pillow, have a good cry, let yourself feel and have all those what-if thoughts because if you don’t process them now you’ll find yourself sobbing over a Hallmark Christmas movie. I have to confess that I had my breakdown moment watching Ghost Whisperer, I am so ashamed.

      Also, don’t be afraid to tell him how scared you were. I made the mistake of not letting Paul know that I was terrified of losing him because I was trying to be strong for him (we had a long lead up to his second surgery) and he thought it was because I didn’t care. Learn from my mistakes.

      17+
    4. Oh Shass, how terrifying. And yes, awfully unfair. Lots of good thoughts coming your way from Tasmania, and I think those 30-second tear outbursts are a great idea – you’ve got to let the pressure off every now and again or you won’t be able to hold it.

      10+
      1. When my uncle had his first heart valve replacement (yes, Shass, he lived long enough to wear one out) my aunt bought a needlepoint kit and sat in the waiting room stabbing the canvas with all of her fear and terror. Once her husband had made it out of the woods, she threw the thing away because she couldn’t stand to look at it and remember the emotional trauma. But it helped a lot when she needed it.
        You might also want to contact the pastoral care office. At the hospital where my Mom volunteered, they had some people who specialized in helping the families of patients who had long waits and/or very complex procedures (e.g. heart transplants). Perhaps they could put you in contact with people who have been dealing with your husband’s condition and could share what they learned.
        In the mean time, I will add my hopes, prayers and positive energy to that of the rest of Argh Nation and hope they can help.

        8+
    5. Love you all 600 times around the moon and back again. <3 3 <3 The Argh-army is my favourite army, all categories. I hope all of you know I'm in it too when hell strucks anyone of you. <3 All hugs, vibes, prayers, blessings, good wishes, encouragement makes it easier to bare this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul. You really make me feel that I am not alone.

      Fiancé also sends his heartfelt thanks for all prayers, blessings, healing vibes, hugs and encouraging words. He says he's been in good hands and today he is feeling much better than even before we went to the hospital. So things are really looking up. He said earlier that he is avoiding the thoughts of "what if", so I said to him that he could better let those thoughts come and think them through, so he can let go of them and move on. I hope that was the right thing to say.

      And yes, I will have to do it too. Damn I miss the karate, that was the perfect outlet for all heavy things imaginable. Now either my Blacksong-playlist or my Fuck You-playlist will have to do the job. As soon as I have the space.

      I will tell him all the things, I promise. I don't ever want him to think I did not care.

      I posted this on Twitter on our anniversary last Monday.
      https://twitter.com/shassmusic/status/1188778454692614144
      No damn stupid rebellious heart is gonna destroy my infinity plans. I'll fight for that.

      Love you all. <3

      12+
      1. This is wonderful news. I’m so glad your fiance is doing well. I think that perhaps your fiance is like my husband – he does not dwell on what might have been since it never happened. I’m the worry wart in our family. We each process things in different ways. I guess we balance each other.

        Wishing a speedy recovery to your fiance and peace of mind to you.

        6+
  17. Ah, Shass, will be praying and sending hugs and vibes to both. Getting stents is a good thing. 33 is young. Glad he listened to you.

    9+
  18. Shass, my husband had quadruple bypass at 46. He would get pains and went to dr. They said he had a widow maker blockage. I had a ten year old and I was scared. We didn’t waste time and he had a bypass. As they were wheeling him into the operating room he looked up and on the big light was a sticker that said ‘return to Devon’. Our 10 yo’s name was Devon. Can’t tell us angels were close at that point. But my husband got his mandate. Anyway, science-wise, We are leaps and bounds ahead on heart health and it’s no longer the end of everything now. Good luck and God bless you both and love him hard. Hugs

    13+
  19. This seems trivial after the news from Shass, but my favorite character’s name is Noddy Boffin from Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens. There are several other amusing names in that novel, but even they can’t compare.

    I’m also amazed by the timing of this question since today I have been reading Author’s Day by Daniel Pinkwater. It is set at Melvinville Elementary School where the author in question is named Bramwell Wink-Porter. He is escorted around the school by Mr Carramba, the librarian and Mrs. Feenbogen, the principal. In the course of the day, they meet the teachers Mrs. Neatfeet, Mrs. Wheatbeet and Mrs. Heatseat and the kids think he is the author of books written by Abigail Finkdottir and Lemuel Crankstarter. It is a charming little story with a dynamite exit line.

    7+
  20. I really recommend The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller. Historical set in 1875 New York. A notorious widow buys a house to renovate so she can write a book on interior design and move on with her life after her abusive estranged husband dies (not really a spoiler, it’s clear early that he sucked). The house is haunted, and the hero is an inventor from a delightful family of scientists who also likes to study ghosts. He keeps trying to get her to let him study the house, and she agrees because she needs to get rid of the haunting in order to convince the crew to work on it.

    This is really more of a romance than anything else. I wouldn’t have minded a little more time spent on the ghost, but I didn’t feel like there wasn’t enough of it either, exactly. I think the marketing just made me expect more haunting and less romance. Not complaining because it’s a great romance. I love the characters. The heroine is working through her trauma in a believable way and she doesn’t let judgmental snobs push her around. The hero is adorable. He’s a puppy-dog like absentminded professor. I love his family too; parents and siblings are scientifically inclined as well and they tend to blow up hotel rooms.

    Picked it up because of the Deanna Raybourn quote on the cover, which is usually a good sign. It hooked me when the heroine counted down the seconds until someone tried to have her thrown out of the restaurant in the first paragraph and the hero’s POV started with his horror that his business dinner could possibly have lasted four hours.

    4+
  21. So I’m still making my way through The Raven Cycle (on the last one!) but I took a detour for “Red, White and Royal Blue” and OMG you guys, absolutely one of the best romances I’ve read this year (and yes, I know it keeps getting on Best Of lists, so I guess I agree?). It’s a m/m romance and it’s just So so good. I could not stop thinking about it after I finished it.

    2+
    1. I liked the characters and the romance in this, but my feeling was it’s definitely written for US audiences. I had only limited understanding of the politics that is assumed knowledge, and on the other hand the first quarter of the book I was thrown out of the story by frequent eye-rolling moments that made me wish they’d sent it to Jane-in-the-UK to edit. Then I got caught in the romance.

      Another gorgeous m/m romance is Talia Hibbett’s Work For It. 100% recommended.

      5+
  22. Just finished The Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo and it was great. It seems the secret societies at Yale all all practitioners of magic and our heroine is a member of Leith, which monitors activities. She can also see dead people. She learns what she’s made of , this streetwise California girl who is over her head at an Ivy. Can’t give away the plot but can’t wait for the sequel.

    4+
  23. I’ve just binged the last two Lucy Parker books (Making up and the Austen Playbook) and really enjoyed them, she’s got a gift for packing a lot of back story.

    Favourite character name as a kid would have to have been Slartibartfast from Hitchhikers

    5+
  24. This is totally off topic too but I could use a few hugs too. Yesterday, we got inundated with rain and last night I and all my neighbors were evacuated due to flooding. (4+ inches of rainfall in less than a day in an area already saturated) A former co-worker took the cats and me in for the night. I am home now, My sump pump is trying valiantly to pump the water out and I am on the wait list for the fire department to come and help. the gas has been shut off, but they decided the electric panel was high enough on the wall so I have electricity for now. This is the third (and deepest) flood here since I bought this house 8 years ago. I am thankful to still have a house and that my cats and I are safe. I know I will get through it like I did before but this time I just want to break down and sob like a child.

    21+
    1. Oh, god, I used to live in a flood plain on the Ohio River. I vividly remember watching the water rise so high it was frightening. We were fairly high up, but there were times it came up the side of the cliff and through the fence into the back yard. And there is not one damn thing you can do. Sending good thoughts and vibes.

      8+
    2. Catch a few hugs coming your way. We’ve lived along the coast for over fifty years and periodically during severe storms the sea will meet the bay and cut us off from the rest of town. When the tide receeds we tackle what’s left behind with a lot of cleanup to do. Mother Nature sure can be a bitch.

      6+
    3. Been there, done that. Entire house once two years ago and one room several months ago. It is hard to describe to someone who has not experienced it the helplessness you feel as the water rises. You have my hugs, good vibes and sympathy.

      6+
    4. My daughter had a ‘climate change’ Halloween costume. It was the scariest thing we could think of. But it was also a bit hard to explain, so she ditched it in favour of a bee (without which, we’d starve)

      5+
  25. Thank you all! I definitely feel the virtual hugs and good vibes. I know I will get through this; I have before, but this time it hit me really hard emotionally.

    6+
  26. I just read Sweeney Astray, an old Irish tale (prose and poem) translated by Seamus Heaney. Oversimplified, Sweeney is a warrior who, in his zest for fighting, assaults a saint and spears a monk. In answer to the saint’s curses, God punishes Sweeney by making him drop his gear in battle and become a naked but feathered Wild Man of the Woods; the saint prophesies that Sweeney is to suffer — as a mad man living close to freezing and starving for 7 years — before being killed by a spear.

    Sweeney’s laments have been dogging me all day. His poems describe being ripped by thorns but also tenderly tell about beauty in nature. He is blind to the callousness he showed the saint, yet I can see his mind working not only like the thug he is but as a close observer of the world outside himself. Stories that are ambiguous intrigue me. It will take time to figure out Sweeney Astray.

    3+
  27. I just finished The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and now I have to wait until next year for the sequel. Genie is fabulously snarky, and I just loved the whole premise. It’s sort of The New Legends Of Monkey meets Buffy.

    2+
  28. This week I read ‘Gilded Cage’ by KJ Charles. As usual, I wished the book were longer (can’t get enough and now I think I’ve consumed the entire backlist, argh).

    3+
  29. I have been enjoying the KJ Charles books, too. My favourite so far has been ‘Band Sinister’. But the best read recently for me has been the long-awaited Sara Donati ‘Where the Light Enters’, sequel to ‘The Gilded Hour’.

    0

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