This is a Good Book Thursday, April 29, 2021

I read the new Murderbot (see spoiler post for opinions, lots of opinions) and then I set fire to my kitchen, so you guys are going to have to carry Good Book Thursday this week. Wait, you always carry Good Book Thursday.

What did you read this week?

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121 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 29, 2021

  1. Now you’ve got me singing Set Fire to the Rain by Adele except I’m trying to substitute ‘kitchen’ and it’s …odd. I hope you and the furbabies are ok.

    I finished Midnight Jewels by Jayne Ann Krentz. It took me a long time.

    It’s a product of its time and since I hadn’t read it then, I see it more clearly. If it was one of the books I’d read repeatedly, I would gloss over those aspects.

    That said, it’s waaaay better than some of the very early contemporary romances. Still would recommend it as a pretty good adventure-romance yarn.

    I also read A Bride for the Prizefighter and A Substitute Wife for The Prizefighter by Alice Coldbreath and I like it. Any Lords ‘n Ladies are secondary characters so there isn’t a surfeit of Dukes all over.

    And finally, the end of Ann Aguirre’s Ars Numina series – The Jaguar Knight. Possibly triggering for certain traumas, as with the rest of the series, but what a VERY good ending for Slay. So MUCH character development. And in some ways redemption. Not gonna lie, LOVED it.

    My non-fiction TBR is the same as ever. Sigh. Why do I do this to myself.

    +11
      1. I’m like that with early Linda Howard. Some of those situations in her books are workplace harassment!

        +4
  2. I sure hope that it was a small fire with no injuries.

    I started a non fiction book called Unwinding Anxiety.

    +9
  3. I am working a lot right now so I am reading in small bursts. That’s why I have been rereading rather than trying something new.
    I am on book 3 of Kate Canterbary’s Walsh series. I like the way the books are woven together so in one book you’ll see a scene from one sibling’s perspective and then in the next book you’ll see it from another sibling’s.
    I like books about big families. I am one of 5 and while we are not sexy well groomed marathon running architects doing multi million pounds renovations with a tragic childhood, I do recognize the sibling dynamics 😀.

    +13
  4. Had enough of the housework, Jenny?

    I also read Murderbot. And my favourite bits of Faking It. And Poetry Pharmacy. I’m not sad, I just like it when I’ve been working too late and need to chill a bit before attempting to sleep.

    Have I talked about The Poetry Pharmacy before? It’s so good – poems collected, with commentary, for when you’re low. There are poems for glumness, compulsive behavior, lack of courage etc etc. It’s collected by William Seghert.

    Here is the poem for glumness:

    Celia Celia by Adrian Mitchell

    When I am sad and weary
    When I think all hope has gone
    When I walk along High Holborn
    I think of you with nothing on.

    (I love the reminder that sometimes we have the power to cheer ourselves up).

    +18
    1. And High Holburn’s a pretty boring stretch (between Holburn and Oxford Street, both more interesting – at least, back in the eighties when I worked just off High Holburn).

      +5
        1. Did you know that in Ohio, “Lima” is pronounced “LYE ma” and “Bellefontaine” is pronounced “Bell FOUNtain”?
          Just fixing those original pronunciation for ya’all.

          +13
          1. And in Texas, Burnett is pronounced BURN it, so there’s this catchy rhyme

            It’s Burnett, durn it
            Cain’t you learn it?

            +7
          2. In Kentucky, Athens is pronounced AYthens, unlike in Ohio, Georgia, Massachusetts, and a few other places.
            And Versailles is pronounce VerSALES. We just have to be different.

            +8
          3. Ohio and Kentucky are practically the same state. Same accent anyway. I think that explains a lot. Columbus has a Tibet street. Pronounced Tibbit.

            Athens, Ohio, is a college town (OU), so that might explain the correct pronunciation there. I can see the Classics department having a coronary until they corrected that.

            +7
          4. I visited my eldest brother in Watertown, NY, lo, these many years ago. Caught the local weather station mentioning the town of Chaumont, which they pronounce SHMO.

            +7
          5. Well, hey, two different states . . . no, I got nothin’.
            You’d think Beau as a fairly common name would that make that one easy.

            +5
          6. And, though it’s not a place name, I’ve always loved the couplet for the pronunciation of “err”:

            Would you like to sin
            With Elinor Glyn
            On a tiger skin?

            Or would you prefer
            To err with her
            On some other fur?

            The tiger skin is a reference to Elinor Glyn’s scandalous book THREE WEEKS, in which the H & h make mad, passionate love on a tiger skin, of course. The last place I actually SAW a copy of THREE WEEKS was in the Warwick Castle library, a room stuffed with bound sets of THE GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE and similar works, where a virtually untouched copy — looked brand new — of THREE WEEKS was on a shelf next to a VERY well-worn copy of a 1903 edition of DISEASES OF THE HORSE.

            Elinor was a personal friend of the Countess of Warwick of the day, the famous Daisy, so it was probably a presentation copy of THREE WEEKS, and perfectly possible that no one at the Castle ever actually read it.

            +8
          7. And Louisiana says, “here, hold my beer”…

            Thibodeaux — Tib uh doe (long o)
            Robert — Roe bear (long o)
            Beaudreaux — Boo droe (long o)
            Atchafalya — uh chaff’ uh lie’ uh (‘ = emphasis)

            I could do this for hours.

            Conjugating y’all:

            You all – y’all (can be singular, but implies anyone else that the verb may happen to apply to for convenience’s sake) (i.e. said to one child when the other one isn’t present, but action applies: Y’all clean up this living room. — which means–go find your damned brother and get it done)

            Everyone present — all y’all

            Everyone else included — all y’all ‘n ’em

            Possessive — y’all’s
            you all would have done something– y’all’d’ve

            +5
      1. Oh cool, I dip in and out of it fairly often, so I thought I might have mentioned it before. Do you like it?

        +5
    2. Adrian Mitchell gave a reading at my school back when I was in my teens and I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since. I don’t think he included that one – even in the 70s that might have been problematic to an audience of teenage girls – but I love it and happy to be reminded of it. Thank you.

      +10
  5. Re-reading What Abigail Did That Summer. I always read Aaronovitch books twice in a row because I pick up on more details the second time through.

    +9
  6. I have started rereading the Travis McGee books by John D McDonald. The first 2 books were written in 1964,, the stories are still excellent but parts of them have not aged well.. specifically his actions and thoughts about women .. so I still think I will read them all and gloss over the extremely annoying old school thoughts about women.. maybe .. I am hoping that becomes less of an issue as I read later books..

    +13
  7. I finished up the biography of my great uncle (Combat Engineer), and it made me want to pore over a map of the Ardennes and get the geography in my brain. (I also happened to watch a couple of the classic bicycle races in that region for what things look like now).

    Since then I’ve been reading Flat Share and really enjoying it – so much that I’m staying up much later than I intend each night. I love the interplay between the characters – and now that they’ve moved out of the “only notes” stage, I miss that part. -But they do continue to sporadically write notes to each other and I’m looking forward to the resolution.

    +15
    1. I got the audio version of Flat Share which is delightful. Great romance with two people I thought deserved each other.

      +2
  8. I read Laurie Colwin’s Happy All the Time, and I enjoyed it.

    Third time lucky, it seems. Thanks to people here who urged me to try her again.

    Wait–what? You set fire to your kitchen?

    +11
  9. I read that Diana Gabaldon’s, ninth novel in the Outlander series, Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone is to be released November 23, I went immediately to the library’s website to put a hold on it only to be turned back because it wasn’t my town’s library. I can see that I will be a frequent and annoying visitor until then.

    And just as annoying to remind you about smoke detectors.

    +13
  10. Everybody here is fine, dogs and cat included.. Yes, I have three smoke detectors. Unfortunately they’re still in the packages I bought them in last year. Yes, they’re going up very shortly.

    +27
        1. We removed the smoke detectors when they started chirping intermittently and didn’t replace them (even though I bought replacement batteries).

          Several months ago I heard about detectors with 10-year batteries in them. Bought and installed them. We’re now safer than we’ve ever been — and I don’t dread the chirps.

          +9
          1. My last one kept going off and I couldn’t turn it off. Drove me crazy, so I took it outside and it still would stop, so I beat it to death with a hammer. Then I bought new ones and wandered off . . .

            +9
          2. I got the ten-year ones when I moved in. So far there’ve been no maddening noises; but you’re supposed to test them once a month, and I’m afraid it’s more like once a year. For the kitchen, I got a heat detector – less likely to be set off by cooking.

            +1
  11. it’s definitely been an M/M historical romance week. I read Annabelle Greene’s The Soldier and the Spy, which is part of her Beast series, and the best one yet. And Cat Sebastian’s Tommy Cabot Was Here (thank you for the Arrgher who mentioned that was out becasue I’d missed it yikes!). And I encountered an author I’m not familiar with, Adella Harris – read the three After the Swan’s Nest series – romance/historical/M/M/mysteries – she has a lovely, sedate approach that I really appreciate.

    +7
  12. I read Victoria Goddard’s ‘Stargazy Pie’; it started out well, but fizzled into a complete mess. I’m afraid my bad experience with two of her books is going to spoil any rereads of ‘The Hands of the Emperor’, which I loved although it was far too long. I’m losing my trust in her. I do wish she’d edit her first drafts rather than publishing them – which is what I’m pretty sure she’s doing. She could be absolutely brilliant.

    I then read ‘The Gilded Shroud’ by Elizabeth Bailey. Can’t see the title has any connection to the story, but apart from that I thought it was very good: excellent unobtrusive world-building and engaging characters. It’s a Regency whodunnit with a romance. The start of a series, but I think the rest are likely to be more purely mysteries, which isn’t quite my thing.

    +9
    1. I like Elizabeth Bailey’s mysteries (and her romances, too). I’ve read four of the mysteries, I think, and I like the ongoing relationship between the heroine and her husband. I do love mysteries in general, but more so if there’s a bit of romance in them.

      I finished reading The Wicked Lover by Julia Ross. Very well written, a bit more sex and sexual tension than I like, but all in all a good read.

      I also read one of the cute little children’s mysteries that my daughter got from the library to read to her first grader. The series is The Mysteries of Maisie Hitchins by Holly Webb, and I’ve read 3.5 of them so far. They’re about a girl in Victorian London who lives with her grandmother and solves mysteries. The stories are fun and the illustrations by Marion Lindsay are adorable.

      Now I’m reading #13 in the Doyle and Acton police procedurals by Anne Cleeland. Doyle and Acton are a brilliant pair. I loved the first book so much that I read it 4.5 times before I moved on to something else. Cleeland has also written some good historical romantic adventure stories.

      +8
    2. I loved Stargazy Pie, and so did my wife. The next two Greenwing and Dart books (Beesting Cake and Whiskey Jack) are also excellent.

      +6
  13. Since we aren’t getting the details of the Great Kitchen Conflagration, I hope you’re saving them for one of the WIPs. Glad you’re all okay.

    I, too, read the Murderbot Diaries. Any observations were in the spoiler thread.

    My other reading preoccupation is Weber’s Uncompromising Honor, the culmination of the Honor Harrington series. It only has seven chapters. Each is the size of a novel.

    Official Weigh-in Day. 283.0 pounds, down 2.6 pounds from last Weigh-in Day. Huzzah and stuff.

    +26
  14. I started “The Women in Black” by Madeleine St.John. It’s about the salespeople in the dress department of a department store in Sydney and I’m not far enough in to voice an opinion.

    Also I read that there was a new collection with short stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald out, so I downloaded it. I love him ever since I went to see “The Great Gatsby” with Mia Farrow and Robert Redford in a NYC movie theatre (field trip with my English class), I picked him as my exam topic for English literature, and now I’m going to savor these stories one by one.

    +11
    1. I haven’t read the book, but the film adaptation “Ladies in Black” is delightful. Juliette Binoche!

      +9
  15. In the middle of Fugitive Telemetry, also have The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes McCoy, so keeping on the Irish authors run. Also have Crouching Buzzard, Leaping Loon in the hopper. My attention span is kind of shot.
    Trying to find a quiet place to finish up the new Murderbot with the proper attention.

    +10
  16. Sadly, due to an overload of work for the day job and lagging behind with the Yale course on the Science of Well Being, a outdoor meeting with an old friend (a long walk and a mighty blister on my foot), I didn’t manage to read a single book.
    I just dipped into a book about the Spanish flue (a bit too near to the pandemic to be an easy read) and “Resilient” by Rick Hanson (a rec from my “happiness” prof agt work).

    However, I had time a bit of time to listen to Reflex and I’m loving it. I’m nowhere near the middle nor end, but while I knew I love the story, I also like the reader.
    With audiobooks the right reader is soooo important, at least to me. Do other Arghers feel the same?

    And it’s such a subjective matter. E.g. I’m not tempted at all to listen to any of the Miles Vorkosigan books because for me, the reader (though the Bujold and many more seem to like him a lot) just “isn’t” Miles.
    Whereas with Boyfriend Material, the reader made the book even more fun because he made Lucian and Oliver come to life for me. Listening is two-dimensional for me while reading is three-dimensional – I “see” the story before my eyes. Hearing it needs some extra plus, so the perfect reader is this plus factor.

    With Tony Britton (Reflex) I wouldn’t say he “is” Philip Nore, but he’s got such a nice Britishness to him 😉 The understatement is spot on.

    I’m so looking forward to reading a lot of recommendations and hope to find something in them!

    +13
    1. I always try to listen to the sample of an audio book if available, one of the formats in my library system doesn’t give them which irritates me to no end. I have a list of books to read because I want the story but the narration is horrible. There’s a series of very light fluffy paranormals that I stopped 5 minutes into the first book because the narrator makes the main character sound like either a child or a grown woman trying to sound helpless like a little girl and both were not right for the character.

      You are right, the narrator of the Vorkosigan books isn’t Miles. James Marsters is Harry Dresden, Jayne Entwhistle is Flavia de Luce.

      I started one the other day that I had been looking forward to and was enjoying until she started reading the male lead in a voice that was horrible. She sounded like someone who was mimicking a man with a deep voice rather than just speaking in a deeper voice if that makes sense.

      A bad narrator can kill a book.

      +9
      1. One of the reasons I haven’t tried audio books is because I don’t want them to clash with the picture I’ve established in my mind when reading a book. I suppose it matters less for stand alone titles, but a whole series could be ruined by a voice that doesn’t fit your imagination.

        +7
        1. I’ve only tried one novel – a JAK/Amanda Quick (when I was waiting for cataract surgery); I gave up after five minutes because the narrator was American, voicing C19 British protagonists. Completely hopeless.

          +7
          1. Would have thrown me out of the listening in an heartbeat, too.

            Though pnce upon a time, when listening to Andrew Napier (iirc) on cassettes reading the Lymond series, I persevered (he’s got a very nice voice and very charming Scottish) in spite of him mangling any of the numerous French phrases/poems…
            I might have had to fast forward had it been phrases in my own tongue. It’s always more painful if it’s your own language/accent that’s been mangled…

            +2
        2. But sometimes the narrator makes the book better! I struggled with the Rivers of London books until I listened to Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrating them. And while I didn’t struggle with reading the Murderbot books, I much prefer them in audio, because Kevin R. Free is just so perfect.

          +10
      2. How could I forget to mention James Marsters. He IS Harry to my ears. Absolutely, absolutely love him.
        We’ve got an audible subscription because I’m so slow in listening that the libeary is no great option. So I can listen to samples. However, as Aunt Smack pointed out, one doesn’t always catch how the readers design major characters. Or if it’s two narrators one only gets to hear one in the samples.

        +6
      3. I check out the narrator on Audible, they always have a sample, so you can get a good idea of their style, timbre, timing. It has saved me some time and money.

        +7
        1. Yep, so do I.
          However, sometimes with narrator duos one narrator might be great, the other just not how you “hear” the other voice. The sample is no guarantee but a very good indication.

          +3
  17. If you have wearied of “meh” reads lately (as I have) then I recommend my friend Kim Echlin’s new novel, Speak, Silence.

    Short, elegant, powerful, it’s a beautiful fictionalized account of the international tribunal at the Hague in 2000 (aka the Foca case), when women testified about the thousands of rapes that occurred during the Bosnian war of the 1990s. In a landmark event, this international legal body declared that rape in war is a crime against humanity.

    +8
  18. Two rereads this week: Georgette Heyer’s Arabella and Susan Mallery’s Already Home. I kept thinking the latter seemed familiar but wasn’t absolutely certain I’d already read it until fairly close to the end.

    +10
  19. Our library finally added a featured books shelf for romance, so in support I make sure to grab a couple books every visit.

    I took Beth O’Leary’s The Switch and enjoyed it – solid 4 out of 5 stars – and only then realized she also wrote The Flatshare, which y’all have recommended several times. Went back and got it–that book is great! I’m rereading immediately just to see how particular threads were woven through.

    I’m glad I’ve read them in this order, moving from a really good book to a really terrific book.

    +15
    1. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed The Switch because I really enjoyed The Flatshare. I won’t be able to duplicate your experience with the escalating quality, but a really good book is always welcome.

      +7
  20. Read a lot this past week.
    Michelle Diener’s Dark Horse was a sci-fi romance. It was OK, but I don’t think sci-fi is Diener’s best genre. I like her historical and fantasy novels better.
    Patricia Briggs’s Wild Sign was a powerful book, although much darker than the other Alpha & Omega novels. So dark in fact, I’m not sure I want to read another novel of this series. And that makes me upset. I enjoyed the lightness of the previous novels, and its protagonists delighted me. But the hopeless darkness of this novel repulsed me.
    Annie Darling’s True Love at the Lonely Hearts Bookshop is advertised as a romcom, but I didn’t get whatever humor was supposed to be there. I hadn’t smiled once when I read this book. Obviously, British sense of humor doesn’t jibe with mine. I liked the heroine, Verity, but I was thoroughly disgusted with the male protagonist, Verity’s love interest Johnny. He was a humongous jerk. What did she see in him?
    Also re-read Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor in preparation for its sequel. I stand by my first-reading review – I’m torn in half. On one hand, it was an engaging story with a charismatic, multifaceted protagonist. I loved Maia.
    On the other hand, I was upset by the way the author treated the English language. The names, of both people and places, were often impossible to pronounce or differentiate from one another, and there were too many of them. Furthermore, the old-English forms in dialogues and inner monologues distracted from the flow of the story. I had to guess if a particular pronoun meant “we” or “you” or “them”. I had to guess if a name belonged to an old general or a young servant. The glossary of names and nouns in the end of the book consists of 17 pages. Reading a novel in English shouldn’t require such an extensive dictionary.
    Besides, why invent foreign sobriquets for the words English already has, like guards, or servants, or magicians? The entire naming convention seemed designed to confuse and irritate. It made the whole book sound pretentious, and that was a pity. I really liked the story.

    +11
    1. I wonder if increasing darkness is an occupational hazard for writers of supernatural fiction. I’ve noticed this with a few others, that they get to the point where I stop reading them because they have gotten too dark or too outrageous or just too impossible to suspend disbelief any more. I think it’s because they are always trying to raise the stakes from the previous book.

      +10
      1. I found the last two Mercy books very dark, particularly the penultimate (don’t recall the title offhand). I definitely won’t be re-reading those two. I thought the Kate Daniels books got progressively darker and Nalini Singh’s Psy-Changling books too (though there are a few titles in both series that buck that trend).

        +3
    2. I loved the final bit of Brigg’s Wild Sign. It’s less dark than the some of the Mercy tales. I adore Anna.

      I didn’t mind the names in Goblin Emperor, but then I read JRR Tolkien’s appendices and learned to write Tengwar back in high school, so I’m not normal. 😉

      +10
    3. I like Michelle Diener’s dark horse series. I just find the premise hilarious. Abducted Earth women are rescued by Human looking aliens who are entranced whenever they sing even the simplest children ditties because singing is rare and precious in their cultures. There are also persecuted AI and all the books follow more or less the same plot with minor variations but I just like the singing thing so I keep reading them.

      +7
  21. I finished the Left Handed Booksellers of London, but didn’t enjoy it as much as I remember reading other Garth Nix books. It seemed very superficial, no depth, just lots of name-dropping (books, libraries) and … I dunno. Just not my cuppa. I generally don’t read YA, and only made an exception for this because I did like the other books I’d read by him.

    And I’m all but done with my WIP (will be done by bedtime), so I can read Fugitive Telemetry tonight!

    +14
  22. I’m currently halfway through Jeannie Lin’s Sword Dancer, and I’m enjoying it very much. Also read lots of fanfiction lately. There’s been a surge from some of my favourite writers.

    +8
  23. I read nine things since last GBT; 8 were full-length books of which two were my own (always reviewing so I don’t lose track of things). The short thing was Joanna Chambers’ new novella ‘The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish,’ of which I wanted more. It went from ‘this will never work’ to happy ending a bit abruptly.

    Two good books by Roan Parrish this week: ‘In the Middle of Somewhere’ which is M/M featuring a young newly-minted Ph.D. from a big-city blue-collar family of homophobes and a resident of the small town where Ph.D. gets a job. Resident has no family at all and a traumatic past. All the academic stuff felt very lived-in. ‘Small Change’ is a M/F romance featuring a friend of the Ph.D. She runs a tattoo business in Philadelphia. Lots of intersectionality, found family, and dealing (not always well) with the rage that comes with trying to be a female business owner.

    ‘Cinnamon Roll’ by Anna Zabo was – I thought – an excellent treatment of a BDSM partnership that becomes a love affair. ‘Blind Tiger’ by Jordan L. Hawk is an entertaining series-starter featuring shifter-witch partnerships, found family, and Prohibition. ‘His Haven’ by Con Riley has a great denouement which makes up for some ‘oh my God will you just ask him to explain what you’re not understanding.’

    Finally, another M/F book that I really liked; ‘Pas de Deux’ by Lynn Turner. A long but absorbing contemporary about a former ballet star turned Broadway writer/director and the ballerina he recruits to star in his new musical based on ‘La Dame aux Camelias.’ Tons of backstage and putting-on-a-show stuff, which I always love. Believable inception and development of relationship. And, to my surprise/pleased relief, the gay best friend turns out *not* to have been killed. There was some weirdness about italics in this book (why always italicize Paris??) but it was not annoying, only a little distracting.

    +7
    1. This post made me want to respond with a very amusing reply where I annoyingly used italics every other word but…the website doesn’t allow for it. So you’ll have to imagine and I’ll have to imagine you laughed out loud.

      +11
  24. The Garden of Evening Mists is about a Chinese-Malaysian survivor of a Japanese prison camp during WWII who later on — after she is sacked from a job because she is overwhelmed by anger for the torture she’d experienced — learns about how to design a garden from a Japanese gardener. Ideas of nationalism, betrayal, family, guilt, and reprehensible behavior in war times are contrasted with mind-focusing traditions such as archery, Chinese lanterns, and creating gardens. The characters and plot are described in highly figurative language. Overall, I think I was supposed to be moved by the covert messages being sent by, for instance, a tattoo completely covering a woman’s back. Instead of being moved, I felt that the heightened language used by the author served to keep me from really knowing the characters: while sins are ultimately revealed, this is not a world that offers redemption, or hope. Two Arghers recently commenting that they don’t enjoy reading literature — I suspect they were reading books like this one.

    +9
  25. I read the City Between series by W R Gingell. Well, up to book 7 as the series hasn’t finished yet. And I really enjoyed them. For me, they were just fun escapism with a very K-Drama feel – straight away they reminded me of Goblin (or Guardian depending on how the title’s translated) The Great and Lonely God. As I love K-Drama that’s a plus not a minus. And, if you’ve never watched K-Drama, don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.

    +6
  26. Best book I read this week was Jodi Taylor’s Hard Time, the second book in the Time Police series. Very funny, and I love the three main characters and their interactions.

    I think I like this series better than the St Marys one – the books in that often seem a bit episodic. Whereas the Time Police books are much more coherent in terms of plot. But it’s a while since I read St Marys, so I’m going back to start again.

    +7
    1. I stopped reading the St Marys books at about Book Six, they just got too dark. But I loved both Time Police books, really looking forward to the third.

      +9
      1. I’m guessing that Matthew’s back story is part of what you’re referring to, Jenny. I don’t think I got that far with the St Marys books – I only know about it from the references in the Time Police – but it sounds horrifying.

        +5
        1. Yeah. Other awful stuff happened to the protagonist plus her childhood was vile, but there was no point in what the author did to Matthew except to torment the protagonist more. She loses friends to death on the time trips, but that was just misery porn.

          +4
    2. I just read the two books of her Elizabeth Cage series which I enjoyed and am looking forward to getting the third one. So far I liked the first one best and really can’t figure out where she is going to go with the third one.

      +7
  27. I read Fugitive Telemetry and loved loved loved more Murderbot, yay Murderbot.

    I also went on a T Kingfisher bender starting with Paladin’s Grace and Paladin’s Strength, moving on to Swordheart and I have the Clocktaur books to read after that. All in the world of The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, if you loved that as much as I did.

    Somewhere in there I read books 2 and 3 of Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girls series.

    Lounging around recovering from my 2nd vaccine shot gave me lots of quality reading time!

    +11
  28. Oh I hope the damage is minimal, Jenny. Time for new smoke detectors and some redecorating I guess.

    I read “Playing House” by Ruby Lang while completing my move across western Canada this week. I have put 12,000 km (about 7,400 miles) over the past couple of months moving stuff. I’m so tired and happy to stay home for 2 weeks and hopefully do some reading. Then hopefully a new job or jobs and time to enjoy summer weather.

    +11
  29. This week’s reads: ANTITRUST, by Amy Klobuchar, on monopoly. A serious but readable work for the economically concerned. So far my only criticism is that I’m not finding any mention of Great-uncle Alfred, who was an attorney for the Big Four and involved in anti-trust suits.

    Rereading JANE BOLEYN: a biography of Anne Boleyn’s sister-in-law, Lady Rochford, by Julia Fox. This is a few years old and I’ve seen a copy-cat biography by someone else appear in the Renaissance recommendations, but this is very well researched in the accounting records and the probate court, with citations to documents not previously widely available — one had to be read with ultra-violet light because of changes in the ink on the original document — fire damage in the 1750’s, I think — and I’m always partial to new information from original sources instead of a rehash of the same old soap-opera. I’m not perfectly certain of her take on Jane’s relationship to Kathryn Howard, especially as a more recent biography of Kathryn and another of Anne of Cleves also have input from other original source material, so reëvaluations all around are probably in order.

    Just out yesterday: THE HAUNTING OF THE DESKS: Sparks & Bainbridge, by Allison Montclair. This is a short story in this series which has two titles out, THE RIGHT SORT OF MAN and A ROYAL AFFAIR, set in post-WWII London. I like the series and enjoyed the short story, looking forward to the next installment, A ROGUE’S COMPANY, to be released June 21. A nice historical mystery series and pretty true to the period.

    Lastly, PANDORA’S LEGIONS, by Christopher Anvil; I read the first story, “Pandora’s Planet,” in the September 1956 issue of ASTOUNDING, and am very happy to find this collection of it and its sequels, short and medium-length stories that first appeared in ASTOUNDING or ANALOG or IF magazines. This is an ‘aliens invade and boy, are they surprised’ plot, which I’ve always been extremely partial to. I’ll have to look at TV Tropes to see whether there’s a trope name for this one.

    +6
    1. Thanks for the recommendation for Pandora’s Legions I’ve always been fond of this type of plot – Eric Frank Russell’s Wasp and Alan Dean Foster’s With Friends Like these spring to mind.

      +5
      1. It’s from the POV of the invading aliens (they have tails, so as a PR thing, they call the local humans “lop-tails”), and my favorite bit, all these decades, has always been this:

        “The females of the local species ran shrieking at the approach of a love-starved soldier. This had a bad effect on morale. Worse yet, the lop-tail authorities had been offering to help matters by showing the soldiers instructive moving pictures on the topic, these pictures being the very same ones used to instruct the lop-tail soldiers on how to act toward females. Since seeing these pictures, it was a question who was more afraid of whom, the soldiers or the women.”

        +6
  30. Roaring thru the Benedict Jacta “Alex Veras” series. Somehow, I bought the latest book, thinking it was the seventh in the series. Went back to start from the beginning, and discovered there are now ELEVEN out, with the next due in December. I’m on #9, and really enjoying them. The protagonist is a type of seer in London (alternate universe), surrounded by much stronger magic users, and follows him in his adventures and trials. I love series, guaranteed good writing!

    +9
    1. I too love Jacka’s Alex Verus series. The most recent release was good, looking forward to the next.

      +7
    2. Thank you for the recommendation. I will give this a try. I am trying to find things to distract me. I had an incisional hernia repair three weeks ago, which went well. But then I developed a really annoying, itchy rash all over my abdomen, followed this week by a painful lump in my ankle which the doctor thinks is either an infection or a superficial phlebitis and I have spent weeks now with an ice pack, my foot up and am bored out of my mind.

      +10
  31. I have packed up all my books for the move, so naturally I went out and bought another. Tweet Cute, by Emma Lord, is an utterly adorable YA that reminded me of Red, White, and Royal Blue in style. Exactly what I needed right now, an easy enough read for my current goldfish attention span but deep enough to satisfy. May have been recommended here before? If so, thank you!

    +7
  32. Murderbot, and The fourth Marchioness by Jayne Davis which just came out. I like that historical romance series, but it’s only available on Kindle.

    I do wonder a bit about how Murderbot stories get to charge “Dutch” prices.
    Apparently they are loved enough that people will pay those, and the publisher was willing to take that risk.

    The market for Dutch books is much smaller than for English-language books.
    The smaller market means that the production costs need to be spread over less units sold, so the minimum price for books (so a mid-range selling book would at least break even, or make a small profit) is higher than for an English-language book. This means the Murderbot novella prices do not look exorbitant to me, but they are higher than is usual for English-language ebooks.

    For a very long time the Dutch book market was regulated to allow publishers to set minimum prices for sales of new books. That way big chains like Amazon and supermarkets could not negotiate cheap deals and undercut small bookstore prices, just for those bestsellers; and the income from bestsellers could subsidize the production of less-well-selling books, increasing the total Dutch book market and making sure many more books were published than going purely for bestsellers would deliver.
    When that was declared illegal, the prices for books did not go down (except for some bestsellers added to the supermarket assortment), but the room to publish less lucrative books diminished, and smaller bookstores are struggling. The supposedly bad price-fixing regulation had helped to keep the competition fair and the Dutch book market healthy.

    So I’m not shocked by the Murderbot prices, and I do think that if English-language book prices could rise a little, publishers might be able to publish more books.

    +8
    1. As I understand the deal with Amazon for books, while a book is available only as hardback, the ebook price is pegged at USD11.99 or thereabouts. When the trade paperback comes out, the ebook drops to USD6.99, give or take. Other vendors tend to follow along because it’s to their advantage.

      Amazon has aggressive search bots that seek out any other price and will lower theirs to match, so if you give it away on your home site, they’ll give it away too… or stop offering it for sale.

      This was a topic at Baen’s Bar when Baen worked out a deal with Amazon, which forced them to raise prices.

      +7
      1. I’ve got books that were published as mass market paperbacks that the publisher has listed at $13.99 (I think, too lazy to check). The publisher sets the price on my stuff, not Amazon.

        +5
        1. Baen was already selling ebooks on their site (still are) and charging less than Amazon wanted to charge. They worked a deal.

          I looked at Amazon. Most of your books are $11.99. Two are $13.50. A bunch are $2.99 or $3.99. Obviously, your publishers are soaking the public. I hope you get fabulous royalty checks. 🙂

          +5
          1. It depends on which publisher.
            Bantam has two of mine; one is $13.99, the other is $7.99.
            SMP’s are all $11.99 except for “Hot Toy” which is a novella for $3.99.
            Harlequin’s are all over the place: $2.99 to $6.49.
            Since all of those are ten to twenty years old, I don’t understand the higher prices, especially since it’s been so long since I published a new book, nothing is driving that back list.
            Of course last year I went through Loretta Chase’s backlist without even glancing at how old they were, so the impact of pub date on buying is probably not heavy.
            Time to finish one of those WiPs. After I get the rest of the soot out. My white board comes on Tuesday. If I don’t get the soot out, the white board will not be white for long. That stuff is like the devil’s glitter.

            ETA: I don’t have a Kindle copy of The Cinderella Deal, but I refuse to pay $13.99 for it. And it’s my book. That tells you something right there, although I’m not sure whether it’s about book pricing or how cheap I am.

            +8
          2. “Since all of those are ten to twenty years old, I don’t understand the higher prices, especially since it’s been so long since I published a new book, nothing is driving that back list.”

            Nothing but skill and talent and word-of-mouth. Makes you wish all the lurkers at Argh would pop up and post just once to be counted, doesn’t it?

            +6
    2. I’d have no trouble paying what I paid for a Murderbot novel; Murderbot is worth it.
      And let’s face it, I’ll always pay that for Murderbot; Wells deserves it.
      But I have to admit that part of my exasperation is that I paid a premium price for a story I didn’t think was premium.
      Having said that, I think Bantam is selling my old Loveswepts for $14, which is highway robbery, so I’m in no position to talk.

      +6
      1. I’d love to have all your books on my kindle but unfortunately some of them are not available as ebooks on Amazon uk. I even had to buy Agnes and the Hitman as a used book as it is the only way I could get it. I don’t like buying used books. I want the author to get their money when I buy a book.

        +4
  33. I thought I saw a blog about your fire—did I dream it or did you take it down?

    Soot is a nightmare to clean. When I was on my honeymoon my grandmother managed to set fire to her apartment and spent 6 months in intensive care (so please do set up those smoke detectors!) and then lived another 20 years.

    I helped try to clean up her stuff. We ended up having the landlord repaint her walls, we repainted her bookcases, we got professionals to clean her rugs and artwork ( she was low income all her life but had friends in socialist and artistic circles in NY In the 30s and 40s and had pieces by Diego Rivera and others.) When I go on line I see instructions about using masks to protect your lungs and using specific cleaners. So please be careful Jennie!

    I read a bunch of books that I have had on my Nook but couldn’t bring myself to read during the worst of the pandemic when I just needed comfort reads. The two most recent Bujold novellas, Paladin’s Strength (which didn’t live up to Paladin’s Grace but was still fun,) What Abigail did that Summer, some Dick Francis that I somehow never read.

    And then I tried to find Emma Lathen on line and discovered really badly done ebooks and some on line news stories suggesting that the people producing them may be committing some kind of fraud against the surviving author so I don’t want to buy them. Anyone know any more about this? I’m probably going to have to resort to Alibris if the library doesn’t have them.

    Now I’m about to go garden. I did my usual massive annuals buy at the garden store and I bet i will end up going back for more.

    +5
    1. I wondered about that, too. Emma Lathen was two women writing as one; one of them died in ’97; the other is still alive at 92. The guy republishing these is from out of nowhere. The Lathen team were such good writers. I have some of them in paperback, now disintegrating, but I won’t buy the ones the guy is republishing. That just seems like theft, especially given his history in fraud.

      +4
    2. “The two most recent Bujold novellas, Paladin’s Strength (which didn’t live up to Paladin’s Grace but was still fun,)”

      My eyes crossed when I read this, interpreting Paladin’s Strength and Paladin’s Grace as new Bujold novellas. (They’re by T. Kingfisher, which does not appear to be a Bujold pseudonym.)

      +3
      1. I had the same reaction as you Gary, as a fellow diehard LMB fan. I think Debbie made the confusion because of Bujold’s excellent Paladin of Souls!
        Not that T. Kingfisher’s Paladin’s Grace isn’t a great book but they are very different books and different authors :).

        +2
      2. Sorry! I mean I read all four books! Bujolds Physicians in Vilnoc and Masquerade in Lodi as well as both Kingfishers.

        +5
    3. I ‘ve mentioned the Lathen Kindle stuff here, and I was so ticked off that I wrote the publisher about it. To top it off, this character has written one or two derivative works in the Thatcher universe.

      I wonder whether it would be worthwhile to mention it to my literary agent. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t represent the Lathen books, but he might be on good terms with whoever does and pass on our concern.

      Any thoughts?

      +2
      1. It’s certainly worth a try. I think sometimes stuff gets published and the people who should know about it don’t, until someone mentions it to them.

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