This is a Good Book Thursday, April 8, 2021

Last week, for the first time, I DNFed a book through rage. I’ve been reading romances between rereading mysteries, trying to see how things have changed in the genre (a lot, but that’s usual, romance reinvents itself constantly) and I tried a book that was turning out to be substandard from the beginning (gorgeous heroine, gorgeous hero, heroine needs rescued but is surprisingly sexually predatory for a wimpy girl) and then I got to the point where the hero had been falsely accused of rape. I HATE THIS TROPE.

The vast majority of rape accusations are not false, and yet this trope keeps showing up in romance novels, an anti-female patriarchal smirk of a defense in a feminist genre. This one makes me even madder than the hot professor trope (professors who sleep with their students are predators). But I soldiered on because I liked the hero until the turning point where the hero was under attack (verbally) and turned to the heroine for help, and all she had to do was say “No,” and she stayed silent. The premise was that she was Bambi, caught in the headlights, but at than point I was hoping the metaphorical car hit her so the hero could go find somebody with a spine and a working brain. I didn’t even flip to the end because I knew he’d forgive her.

The thing about a good romance is, the people in it have to deserve each other, stand up for each other, be there when times gets tough. No Big Misunderstandings, no “Because of my past, I couldn’t act/speak up/commit,” if they’re not pretty much all in by halfway through the book, there’s no time to build and test the relationship in the story space. But a character who abandons the person they supposedly love can’t . . .

I’m ranting, aren’t I? Okay forget that horrible book. Read Billy Crystal’s memoir, Still Foolin’ ‘Em: Where I’ve Been, Where I’m Going, and Where the Hell Are My Keys?. I had a bad week last week, but that was on Book Bub so I read the sample and laughed out loud three times. So I bought it and laughed out loud a lot more times. A lot of it is about getting older, and there’s a lot of name-dropping (well, it’s Billy Crystal, he’s met a lot of names) but it’s funny and warm, like a nice blanket that wraps around you. And makes you laugh out loud.

What did you read this week?

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107 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 8, 2021

  1. Lois McMaster Bujold posted a link to the panel she attended at the Heyer conference I mentioned here a while back.

    I wish she had talked a bit more but it is a nice discussion.

    The contributors all started off by saying which Heyer they like best and Lois said that Cotillion was her favourite. I liked that because if I have to have a favourite then that’s mine too … among a dozen others of course. It’s a bit like being asked who is your favourite child.

    Jenny, I think you said you preferred her mysteries but I’d love to know which of her regencies you like best too.

    Here is the link. I hope it works as I have never posted a link here before 🙂

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=3kqGB6dCRF0&feature=youtu.be

    Harriet Evans and Katie Fforde whose books I have enjoyed in the past, even though I haven’t read one of theirs for quite a while, were also on the panel and came across as lovely too.

    +10
          1. No, that first one was unfinished and unfocussed. I have a million of drafts just like that; somehow that one posted.

            +4
    1. The Grand Sophy first, then Cotillion and False Colours, I think.
      ETA: ACK, how could I forget The Talisman Ring. That’s right up there tied with Cotillion.

      +13
          1. Grand Sophy, The Talisman Ring and The Convenient Marriage, in about that order. I’m also a Cotillion fan.

            +3
    2. The Reluctant Widow, The Devil’s Cub, The Talisman Ring, Venetia hm…. I think I need to go re-read a bunch of Heyer novels!

      +5
      1. Sylvester, Venetia, Cotillion.

        By the way, I re-read The Unknown Ajax the other day and couldn’t figure out what was so strange until I realized the entire book (one of the new Sourcebooks Casablanca uniform edition paperbacks) use apostrophes instead of quotation marks around all spoken words. Have I gone insane? Has something banished quotation marks from publishing without my even noticing it?

        +3
        1. I found this:

          ” In British and Australian English, one typically uses single quotation marks. If you’re writing in North America, double quotation marks are typically used.”

          I’ve noticed it, but I just rolled with it. I looked at a Dick Francis novel on my iPad just now and it has double quotation marks, so maybe it just depends. Both styles are correct.

          +4
          1. Yes, it was something I had to learn when my (Australian) books were published in the US. Double quotation marks! I had no idea.

            +2
          2. I have also noticed in Heyer books particularly that “Mr” and “Mrs” typically are printed without a following period. My eye adjusted.

            +2
  2. I read What Abigail Did That Summer, thank you very much for the rec last week. What a gem. Also read Vol. 1 of Heartstopper, a graphic novel my teen was raving at me about and she was right, now must read Vol. 2. Teen gay romance and very sweet. Now reading Zoe Rosenthal Is Not Lawful Good, I have high hopes the heroine will ditch her boyfriend who doesn’t get her and meet somebody great in it.

    +8
  3. I was reading a review of Men in Kilts a Starz program with Sam Heughan and Graham McTavish when towards the end it read that Diana Gabaldon had just finished her ninth novel in the Outlander series. I think it has been at least five years since her last book. I couldn’t find a publishing date so to bide the time while waiting I saw a series by Diana Knightley, Kaitlin and the Highlander (of coarse). It’s a fourteen book series (so far) and thought I would give it a try. In the meantime just to keep thing interesting I also downloaded Kristin Hannah’s The Four Winds from the library. Now I think all my holds are starting to come in.

    +7
  4. I read Ricki Lee Jones “Last Chance Texaco.” Excellent, about how she became a songwriter. Jenny I love what you said about romance novels. I could read a book of all your writing advice. 😁 I know you’ve got one coming. Meanwhile I’ll read Billy Crystal’s book.

    +5
  5. Yes the falsely accused of rape trope is not a favourite of mine either. I guess it is a cut above the ’70’s trope of the hero who actually rapes the heroine – as a teenager I loathed that trope but it was damned hard to escape if you were reading romances. Even Kathleen Woodiwiss who singlehandedly created the historical romance genre was guilty of a weaker version of that trope.

    I’ve been on vacation this week so have read a passel of Loretta Chase’s earlier novels – she is so good even without a lot of steamy sex! I tried a few of Sally Malcolm’s M/M regency novels which I enjoyed and are also included on Kindle Unlimited. I read Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik – the sci fi was good and the romance arc was weak. Does anyone know if that improves in her next book?

    Also re-read the two Will Darling books by KJ Charles – can’t find anywhere when the third one, Subtle Blood, is coming out but I will pre-order as soon as it’s available.

    And I re-read Daphne DuMaurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. I was never a big Rebecca fan but I love Frenchman’s Creek and also The King’s General. They probably were never as big as Rebecca since (spoiler alert) the romances don’t end happily but dang that woman could write.

    +16
    1. The sequels to Polaris Rising seem uneven in the importance of the romance compared to the action. I didn’t care, so I’m not sure I’m remembering that right. The h/h don’t often have a lot of time to spare from the space opera. I love them, whichever way they tilt.

      +6
      1. To clarify, I love the books, AND I love the people, all interesting people in interesting trouble. The amount of focus on romance doesn’t change this, though it differs from book to book.

        +5
  6. I presume, the Good Book Thursday of today that I replied to was a glitch.

    A pity, because Dick Francis mysteries are definitely nicer than the rape trope.

    I hate rape tropes – it’s not a topic one should use ligthly. Even if an accusation were wrongly made, it’s like dirt that sticks forever.

    And I love Dick Francis’s books. My favourite is “Reflex” which might have been the second I’ve read. His mold of heroes is great- the calm and “stoic” type, silently competent in what they do.

    What did I read this week? Definitely nothing with rape in it!
    Well, in last week’s read, there was attempted rape (Jane Austen Society) in a me too situation: an actress gets in a very uncomfortable situation with a Weinstein-type of producer. The book is set in the 40s and I can remember that the “casting couch” was often mentioned for this era. The topic was handled rather well by the author and it wasn’t a gratuitous scene but made sense in the context of the book – no trope! Yet some reviewers on Goodreads were affronted by a book having such a scene in general. It wasn’t phrased as trigger warning but in a “Christian readers don’t want to read about such things”.

    I finished Masquerade in Lodi – lovely. I haven’t come across a Bujold hero I didn’t like so far, and Penric is one of my favourites.
    Also finished Widdershins by Jorden L. Hawk, enjoyable read though I would have been happy with fewer sex scenes.
    Back to reading Something Human.

    Watched an interesting series on youtube (Absolute History): I’m a sucker for this kind of re-enactment. German tv tried this a couple of years ago with live on a genteel farm in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t a success otherwise they’d have followed it up. But the British do this superbly:
    here, three families tried living as their ancestors would have lived in the 19th century (the 1910s, 20s, during the Blitz). Sadly I couldn’t find any uploads of the 1960s and 70s episodes. But I was more than impressed that even the kids participated. And the “spoilt” daughters of the well-to-do family living in dirt poor conditions in all three episodes were so great (not spoilt at all)!

    +10
      1. Well, that explains the really confusing message I got when I tried to reply to Dodo’s first comment. I got a bunch of what I assume was programming code and then was bounced off the website.

        +4
        1. Do reply here, Aunt Smack, I’ve repeated myself here in a condensed version when I realized I’d answered to the wrong blog.

          +2
          1. I thought Reflex marked a real turning point in the Francis books. The ones before it were all based at the racetrack and directly connected with horse racing. Reflex addresses what happens when you can no longer ride and how you adapt to making a life without racing professionally. Of course, Francis addresses it more directly in Whip Hand,where Sid Halley is injured and has to adapt to losing both a hand and his profession, but he is still a professional jockey at that point. Reflex is the first book where the protagonist is not employed in the racing industry.

            +10
          2. Re: Dick Francis, there are several pre-Reflex books where the hero is racing-adjacent but not actually on/at the track; a journalist (Forfeit), a pilot (Rat Race), an actor (Smokescreen), a painter (In the Frame). 🙂

            +1
          3. There were a lot of them. Proof is about a wine expert, I think. High Stakes is about a toy designer. The Danger is about a hostage negotiator. The Edge is about a security expert. Decider is about an architect. Part One of Twice Shy is about a physics teacher (Part Two is about his younger brother who’s a jockey and inherits his conflict by mistake, good book). Second Wind is about a meteorologist. Wild Horses is about a movie director, as I recall. Comeback is about a diplomat. Longshot is about a writer. To the Hilt is about a painter. Shattered is about a glassblower. Banker is about a guess what? 10 Pound Penalty is about a student who becomes an insurance investigator. There are always horses in there somewhere, but I’d say it’s about half jockey/trainer protagonists and half people in other occupations who are drawn in the horse-racing world.

            Yes, I have read a lot of Dick Francis.

            +5
        2. Oh, god, I’m sorry, I’ll go back and fix it and repost. Probably Saturday. April has been very weird for me.

          +3
          1. Philip IIRC in Reflex is still a jockey, though badly injured in a race and pondering the end of his career. So it feels like it’s already off the race tracks.
            I think I particularly liked this in-between state as I like all the horse and racing stuff.
            In this one DF also deals with the challenge for the jockey to stay light and thin which I found fascinating.

            +4
          2. That one has huge character arc. I don’t think it’s as much about him giving up racing as it is about him turning toward people. His childhood was so broken by his mother constantly shoving him onto one family after another, that his last two “take care of Phillip for me, I’ll be right back” with first photographers and then with stable owners determined his life because he’d learned to passively accept whatever happened. He doesn’t so much leave racing as he embraces what he really loves, photography and then Claire. It’s a terrific book. The only thing I didn’t like about it is how he deals with the Bad Guy at the end. I can see why he does it that way, but that guy was a bastard and I wanted more than “I own your ass from now on.” It’s a really good book because of the way Phillip comes into his own.

            +5
      2. Looking forward to the finished blog about Dick Francis though, whenever it’s ready to be posted 🙂

        +7
        1. I can’t remember where I read it but apparently every time he tackled a new profession his wife did the research and often ended up with a new skill.
          I think she learned to fly and formed a small air taxi service as a result of her research snd then wrote her own book about how to do that.

          +4
          1. She definitely learned to fly and started an air taxi service. She learned photography, too. She must have been amazing.
            Francis knew how to fly, too; he was an RAF pilot in WWII.

            +2
    1. I love watching those British series about life in previous ages – from watching gardening programmes (Geoff Hamilton’s Gardener’s World, at the time) I stepped into the Victorian kitchen garden and the Victorian kitchen, those were the start for me.
      This week I discovered the Horrible Histories on YouTube, and enjoyed watching a few of those, like this 3-in-1 on Shakespeare’s influence on the English language: https://youtu.be/PkNAY4wmEak

      And yes, I’m another big fan of Dick Francis, and stopped after the first one his son wrote. From what I remember, what the son wrote felt like an thriller to me (I don’t like thrillers), with much more gratuitous violence, where the violence and fear were the point, rather than the integrity and competence of the hero as in his father’s books.

      +11
      1. If you like the Horrible Histories, Hanneke, you might like this series of podcasts:
        Greg Jenner, the “nerd in chief” behind HH, is host of “You”re dead to me”, available via BBC sounds app. One expert and one comedian talk about a specific subject (lately, when I listened to it while doing chores, it just continued after one episode ended, so I listened to some topics that I wouldn’t have chosen easily, e.g. Nordic literature, which was really great).
        Afterwards they each get some minutes: for the experts to gush about something dear to their heart, for the comedian to take a quiz about what he/she just learnt. Some comedians are annoying, but they’re mainly stand-ins for us non-experts. It’s a very amusing way to get history across 🙂

        +7
      2. Thanks for the link!! I love Shakespeare’s scepticism about what we get as entertainment these days, lol. That’s what I wonder more often than not when I turn on the telly. Then I turn it off again…

        +5
    2. Yes, I love this sort of reenactment of past ways of living too. But wherever they go – on a farm in the 19th C or in a town in the 18th C, I’ve noticed that the men always seem to have a ball, throwing bales of hay around, or hunting and shooting, while the women are either desperately overworked with recurring daily tasks, or bored stupid with sitting around having cups of tea.

      +5
      1. I’d agree in general. Many men seem to approach such a reenactment as adventure. Also, life back then gave men more freedom – my grandfather used to meet up with friends after work in spite of my grandmother waiting for him at home. She definitely never had the time (with 5 kids and rather not well-off) to do so.

        In the series I’ve watched lately (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwkUW0mMkqE), the women definitely had the far more boring or especially hard life: for most women the day started earlier in the day and didn’t seem to end.
        But the three family men didn’t enjoy themselves much either – the upper class bloke was kind enough to not like it to have fun himself knowing his wife was bored stiff at home, the middle class guy didn’t like being the severe pater familias and the working class one really worried and worked hard in order to not let his family down.
        In another such series (with Ruth Goodman as expert) six celebrities agreed to live for a few days in the Victorian era, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZUdOXhYwrgU. All of them had to do quite horrible work most of the time, but two of them (one lady new to me and esp. Colin Jackson, former decathlon champion) did it with grace and without constantly complaining like the very annoying Ann Widdecombe, a Labour politician, did. The latter not only didn’t contribute to the group’s income, she cost them even…

        +3
        1. I’m confusing myself with Lian Tanner’s comment. (1) I dislike poorly researched historical novels in which, for example, an aristocrat throws bales of hay around. (2) Shooting and hunting have always been favorite pastimes of the British upper class (with a few Darwin moments thrown in, such as the death of King William Rufus). Aristocratic women hunted, too, during many eras. (3) Oops, Lian was referring to reenactments. I’ve mostly visited medieval ones or Early American ones where everyone works hard. In a story, when a character dislikes a normal undertaking — like kitchen chores (lower class) or drinking tea (upper class) — I anticipate that an interesting conflict lies ahead.

          +3
          1. Elizabeth, one of the ones I saw was an early American one, where both men and women worked hard. The difference was that the men were outside most of the time, and their tasks were seasonal, so they had a sense of achievement. ‘I’ve finished cutting the hay! Whoopee!’ Whereas the women were inside nearly all the time, doing the same tasks day after day after day, and being worn down by them. I don’t think either was working harder than the other; it was just the different type of task.

            +5
          2. Hey, Lian — This is a reply to your reply but your reply didn’t have a reply option. Got that?

            Anyway, now I see your point. That reminds me of how I hated secretarial and low level adminstrative jobs — they often consist of never-ending dumb work. Where I found part time jobs during school breaks, women did the mind-numbing stuff while men did the sales, marketing, production — the work that achieves something. I felt the same for awhile as a stay at home mom — until I added stimulating volunteer activities. Yes, you are right.

            +3
  7. I listened to the first book of Marian Keyes’ Walsh Sisters series, Watermelon, and then skipped over the middle three to the last one, The Mystery of Mercy Close, which is the one I hadn’t read before. This was about the youngest sister, Helen, who seemed to be more of a comic device in the earlier books, but here is dealing with serious depression. I think it could have been shorter, but still worth a read. And this author makes me snort with laughter, in all her books.

    +11
  8. And right below rape tropes for the man are the books where a past rape is the only motivation for the woman. I know women get raped and it is traumatic and I am therefore offended when writers take the easy way out and use it as an excuse for the man-woman conflict. It cheapens the impact of rape.

    Sometime back there were a lot of those books. There might still be but I’ve mostly taken to sci-fi, mystery and adventure books recently because it takes too much work to find a new romance which is worth reading. I wish for new books from you, and to find someone whose writing has the same warmth and humor as you. I’m still looking.

    +12
  9. I listened to the Billy Crystal book some time ago, and if I remember right some of the material was based on his play.

    I don’t remember too many specifics now, but overall felt it was lovely to read about a man so involved with his family who also, through all his success, stayed in the same home (albeit renovated at some point I think). I also remember wishing there was more in the book about the Harry & Sally movie, but that was because at the time I was particularly interested in hearing about craft. But agree, memoirs can be good reads, especially if they come from the heart.

    +11
    1. I was just grateful it was funny. I laughed out loud a lot.
      But yeah, the family stuff was great, very comforting.

      +8
  10. The one “false rape” book I ever read was Sarina Bowen, The Fifteenth Minute. It made sense in context–the girl was from a Christian family, the family found out she had sex, that’s what she came up with to get herself out of trouble, he eventually gets cleared. I mean, that’s not my favorite plotline of all time, but the book was otherwise good, and it did clash with “I’m now dating someone famous so this is likely to come out.”
    Man, I miss The Ivy Years. They had such juicy plots and character differences compared to her adult world books, which just don’t have that much drama/difference in them, sigh.

    Back to what I read this week: I read Jane Doe and Problem Child by Victoria Helen Stone. It features a “sociopath” (I don’t think she’s quite as bad as that, but she does have issues where she emotionally shut down due to an abusive/neglectful childhood) who in the first book gets into a romantic relationship with the guy who abused her best friend and led her friend to commit suicide. She does this in order to get revenge on him and take away what he loves most. I enjoyed this very much. Her voice is great. It’s refreshing to have a heroine who DOESN’T give a shit if a guy starts shaming her about her sexuality/weight (even if she’s pretending to). Also, the author NAILS the abusive dude playbook, to the point where I feel like all women dealing with a guy like that should read it so they can see it’s all a deliberate act when he Takes Offense as to whether or not she wants dessert or whatever.

    It looks like review-wise a lot of people didn’t like Problem Child as much. It’s not a revenge book so much as Jane finds out there’s another relative in the family who’s also a sociopath and thus she takes an interest in the girl. I actually liked that one very much as well, and thought it worked with everything else going on. So, I’d recommend both, if the subject matter doesn’t bother you. She’s not AS sociopathic as she thinks she is, so I wasn’t bothered.

    (Disclaimers: not much murder, sexual stuff does go on, teenage sexuality with much older dudes happens).

    +11
  11. Reading Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. Maybe a recommendation here, thanks, or I saw it on Book Pub. Am loving this book.

    Read a few Trisha Ashley books. Done for a while, find I skip a bit.

    +11
    1. I’m glad you liked it. Sometimes I am hesitant to recommend things very highly here since my tastes do not align with a lot of the other readers. But Love Lettering definitely
      charmed me.

      +7
    2. Love that book! You should absolutely read her “Love at First” next. Different city and different characters, but same vibe.

      +1
  12. I read. and re-read. I might have mentioned getting over the “Crusie Overload” that was keeping me from re-reading My Favorite Romance Author. I started with Manhunting, then picked up the Jennifer Crusie Bundle. I went through Getting Rid of Bradley, Strange Bedpersons, and What the Lady Wants. Charlie All Night is waiting until I finish Gin’s new garlic mystery (Laid Out In Lavender). On the SF side, I’ve been reading Weber’s Saganami Island branch of the Honorverse. Also re-read Bimbos of the Death Sun. A very little research revealed that McCrumb wrote another mystery with Jay Omega as protagonist, but it never made it to Kindle so I will live without it.

    I haven’t made it to Best Buy yet, so I don’t have that library computer to set up. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe next week. Today, all my Tuits are triangular.

    Why, yes – I did recycle yesterday’s post, you’re not experiencing deja vu again. I’m further along in the books I’m actively reading, nothing new to add. Maybe a Grrl Power web comic, they come on Mondays and Thursdays, and Dave Barrack has finally moved beyond an aliens versus superheroes in time square story arc.

    +13
  13. This week I read Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase. There’s a point where everything looks black and you think the author is going to exploit it for maximum angst…and then the protaganists solve it in a sensible manner which is strangely confounding and a more interesting story. It’s a real Indiana Jones shoots the swordsman moment and may be my favourite part of the book.

    +13
    1. I remember having that exact same thought in that book! I was about ready to be angry at them, and then they went ahead and were sensible and I breathed a sigh of relief, not disappointment.

      +7
  14. Read the latest Patricia Briggs and realised that her books just aren’t working for me anymore, it feels like all her female characters are influenced by either desire for a man, desire for a baby or a horrific sexual assault or some combination of all three.

    Rereading provenance by Ann Leckie and enjoying it much more on the reread

    Am just starting a desolation called peace by Arcady martine and really enjoying it.

    +7
    1. Provenance is my favorite Leckie.

      I am nearly finished with A desolation called peace and loving all the POVs.

      +3
    2. I’ve kind of drifted off from her too. I didn’t love Charles/Anna and I hear Wild Sign is…uck. And I just haven’t been as into the last few Mercy books I read, and I did NOT want to read whatever one was about Adam’s ex-wife.

      +3
  15. I am in here watching people talk about reading because I’ve got a bad case of ‘OMG this again DGAF’ about Day Job. Will get back to that after GBT. 🙂

    Read 8 things this week, all but one full-length, plus 10% of Theodore Sturgeon’s ‘More Than Human.’ 10% was more than enough.

    One thing was my own book (more editing), two were re-reads; an Elizabeth Peters mystery and ‘His Majesty’s Dragon’ by Naomi Novik. Then I read ‘Throne of Jade,’ Temeraire #2. There’s a lot I love about the concept and the execution, and I’m currently in the middle of book 3, but not sure I will read all 9. Checked the reviews to make sure Captain Laurence survives to series’ end; that may be enough for me. 🙂 Can always go back to the series later (the one set in Australia is tempting).

    Noteworthy M/M contemporary of the week, ‘Heartscape’ by Garrett Leigh. Another entry in the Vino & Veritas multi-author series. Well-paced, everything important is on the page, both MCs are well-developed and very sympathetic.

    Read another M/M contemporary which was kind of the opposite, plus an upsetting sub-plot about men brainwashed into suicide by a ‘conversion therapy’ outfit. Not a great introduction to that author. Found myself going ‘but wait’ and ‘but what about’ and ‘but why.’ Wanted to get after it with a red pen.

    +7
  16. Need more books! Just rereading some Amanda Quick Harmony books. I am so distracted right now. I’m hoping that will pass soon.

    +8
  17. In the ’70s at age 13 I read a romance in which the male love interest hit the woman and IT WAS PORTRAYED AS OK. I put the book down and didn’t read another romance novel until I was in my 30s. I pray the abuse is okay trope is dead and gone. But then again, I hear about bits and pieces of it in a few books.

    The antidote? Anything by Jennifer Cruise (no, I’m not a suck up, I just really like your stuff). And lately, I’ve been reading Talia Hibbert’s sister series. Now I’m reading Act Your Own Age, Evie Brown. Hibbert does a wonderful job creating very relatable characters in very human circumstances.

    +11
  18. Read a lot last week.
    A.J. Lancaster’s The Lord of Stariel was a charming, low-key fantasy. Fae and magic in a world that sounds and feels like England on the cusp of the 20th century, even though all the geographic names are different. I enjoyed reading it. Not perfect, but I already bought the next book in the series.
    Linda Howard’s Veil of Night was another engaging read from this author. Fast and enjoyable.
    Mercedes Lackey’s Crucible was a decent Valdemar anthology. I had a hankering for fantasy, and this book satisfied it.
    Elizabeth Vaughan’s Warprize was a nice fantasy romance set in an imaginary world. Not much fantasy though, as there is no magic in this world, at least not in this story. There is a hint that maybe magic would appear in some later stories. It was the first of this author for me, but I’m going to read more of her. Not everything, as her reviews are a pretty mixed bag, but a couple other novels, definitely.

    +7
  19. I accidentally read Welcome to Temptation again. I mean, I opened it on Kindle to skim a couple of favorite parts and suddenly there I was reading the whole thing. Now of course I need to reread Faking It. I can’t not read related books.

    I’m partway through listening to a Regency that I don’t remember buying from an author I don’t recognize. I haven’t finished, so no review, but the attitudes are pleasantly anachronistic, which is my favorite kind of historical romance. The reality for women was so miserable…

    Otherwise I’m busy with the job I get paid for, walking in the Spring weather, and trying hard not to binge the new season of the Great Pottery Throwdown. One episode a night only!

    +15
    1. Me too! I opened it because I wanted to read the bit where Phinn and his mum talk about how Sophie ruined his life, then accidentally scrolled back and read most of it.

      +2
  20. I absolutely loved Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering, so I picked up her latest, Love at First. It was just okay. The main characters were fine, the supporting characters were good, but the overall story somehow fell flat for me. I’ll be interested to hear what others think.

    I also reread The Gods Themselves by Isaac Asimov. It came out in 1972 and I probably last read it a few years after that. It made a real impression at the time, so I wondered why it took so many years to try it again. Now I know! Turns out it has three distinct parts that make up the story and I vividly remembered only the middle section. I hadn’t even remembered the beginning and ending sections existed. Those two sections weren’t bad, and all three parts make sense with each other eventually. But it reads like each section was a separate short story.

    +8
    1. See, I loved “Love at First.” But there were definitely some differences from Love Lettering. The inclusion of the Hero’s POV = I attached more strongly, but there were no real moments of surprise or suspense. I loved the strong sense of setting of the apartment building and its characters, but it’s a different scale from the strong sense of NYC as place in “Love Lettering.”

      +1
  21. Read Beverly Jenkins A Second Helping again and got curious about the July ancestors so read Wild Sweet Love. I planned to read a new book last night but my grandson forgot to put my iPad on the charger so I grabbed an old book off the shelf. Ivorstone Manor by Elsie Lee. Fun reread

    +8
    1. I like the sound of your bookshelves! IVORSTONE MANOR! Such a period piece — I remember the sister-in-law having been part of the “Margaret Set,” which said it all. And probably no one now would even relate to the description.

      +5
    2. Somewhere around here I have an entire box of Elsie Lee, including her regencies and one of her cookbooks. The contemporary romances were very good at capturing the “in” phrasing-
      it wasn’t quite slang. But, of course, it now sounds really dated. They were very readable. And the first time I heard of a food processor (or was it a blender?) was inRoommates.

      +6

      1. It was probably a blender; Cuisinart didn’t bring the first domestic food processor out until the early 1980’s — I had one in 1983 when they were very new, and fixed a dinner for fifty people easily. It featured homemade coleslaw — MUCH better than prepackaged, and grasshopper pie with chocolate crumb crust. All of it a snap to prepare in multiple batches with the food processor.

        Now blenders were around earlier — my grandmother visited my parents in NYC when I was about a year old, and my parents sent her home with a blender as a gift. After that my grandfather mentioned a time or two that he never knew exactly what was in the food . . . but, he’d add hastily, it was always delicious!

        Take care of your Elsies — have you seen the prices they’re asking for her secondhand paperbacks these days?

        +1
  22. I’ve got back into Elizabeth Peters, and read ‘The Falcon at the Portal’, ‘Thunder in the Sky’ (perhaps my favourite), and am three-quarters through ‘Lord of the Silent’. Also, miraculously, enjoying my new proof-reading job, about how people saw and studied history differently in the Romantic era. It makes such a difference when I like the book I’m working on.

    +17
  23. I’ve been bingeing KJ Charles. She’s the only M/M romances I’ve read, but she deals with love and passion and hurt so well.

    I think part of the reason the romance between the male characters is so powerful is that they are defying the law. Not only do they have to commit to each other, they have to TRUST each other implicitly.

    +11
  24. Read Death in Brittany, Jean-Luc Bannalec. Translated from the German. Evidently they don’t have chapters in German literature. Gives a great atmospheric feel for a part of wooded Brittany, as great as the second in the police procedural series set on the salt marshes. Our hero keeps trying to isolate from people so he can THINK, and darn if that ruminating solves the mystery. If I can find the third, I’ll keep going.

    Finished Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax last night. Liked it because she shows the protagonists actually engaged in the process of falling in love. Heyer so avoids that showing in her mysteries. I say that being fresh off her Christmas Party. YMMV.

    +7
    1. Short interjection: German literature does have chapters. But what I’ve noticed long ago, we don’t seem to have so very strict rules about how a book should be constructed. Or less thereof. So if Bannalec wants to structure the stories into days, then day one etc are his chapters.

      Side note: I always loved it when Lindsay Davies in her Falco novels included chapters consisting of one short phrase.

      +5
      1. I don’t think American lit has rules on how books should be constructed. I have rules, but they’re just for me.

        +4
  25. I enjoyed Evie Dunmore’s Bringing down the Duke. It’s a historical romance, but set a bit later than usual, with a suffragette who is one of the first women to study at Oxford as the protagonist.
    Thanks to whoever recommended it here! I’ll continue with her second book next.

    +8
  26. I’ve been going crazy doing prep for the release of the second in the Lady Rosamund mysteries on the 20th, and also for the release of a romance probably in June, so I’ve been mostly reading my own stuff for typos and weird errors, of which there were quite a few.

    Otherwise, I just finished Memento Mori, the eighth in the Ruso mysteries by Ruth Downie, which take place mostly in Britain in the 2nd century AD, but also in Gaul and Rome. I love these books and hope there will be more — it’s been a year or more since the last one came out.

    I also just bought the third in the Verity Kent mysteries by Anna Lee Huber. They take place just after WWI. Looking forward to it — I enjoyed the first two.

    +7
  27. I’m about 2/3 finished with Heather Sellers’ memoir You Don’t Look Like Anyone I Know,
    about her face blindness, family alcoholism and mental illness, and general misery, but written beautifully. I heard her speak about writing difficult stuff, and she said to make bright containers, which she has done in this book. I had a tough time as a kid, but her childhood makes mine look like a Sunday School picnic. Book club next month requires a book with a number in the title, so I’m exploring–found a volume of Neruda’s poems that looks good.

    +7
  28. I, too, have been reading Dick Francis! I just needed something I knew would be good that I hadn’t reread 100 times. I only picked up my first DF a couple of years ago, despite reading recommendations for him many times over the years. I thought they were mysteries about horses and it did not interest me, so when I finally read one and realized they were just fantastically well written mysteries that horses just happened to be in, I felt pretty dang stupid. And I read all of them as fast as I could. 🙂

    I also read The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix this past weekend and can’t recommend it highly enough. Urban fantasy that is not quite young adult–new adult?–i can’t remember the genre name. Anyway, it takes place in 1983 and there is a magical family of booksellers in London that sort of polices the magical world.
    I’m writing this on my phone and my finger is about to fall off, just look it up for more info. 🙂

    +10
  29. I stayed up too late two nights in a row binging Wild Sign by Patricia Briggs. It’s been a while since I did that and it felt great. I was hesitant to start because sometimes she can be a little dark for me, but it worked. I want more. Her voice is instantly engaging for me and since I have been dnfing and comfort rereading, something new was great.

    Also, my partner brought home the new Wonder Woman movie from the library. It was long and slow, but I really enjoyed it. Again, part of that is a break, finally from all the meh viewing lately (the new Secret Garden is terrible). But Diana is so steadfast and true. I am glad I saw it at this moment in my life.

    +9
  30. I’m mostly in to COURTLY LOVE UNDRESSED, by E. Jane Burns, which seems remarkably as if it began life as a thesis. Apparently the gender power / agency in this genre shifted, depending on whether the damsel was a body clothed in sumptuous garments or whether the sumptuous garments created her body. This may be a bit abstruse for me, or it may be clarified as I work my way through the book. The lure keeping me reading is the author’s insertions of Provençal lais and other poetry to illustrate her points, which I enjoy immensely. On checking Amazon, it looks as if she’s a textile expert.

    On a lighter note, the UNIVERSAL MILLWORK CATALOG, 1927, published by Dover, is how you’d order fittings for your Craftsman / Prairie / Arts & Crafts style house. I was indulging my fantasy of the totally built-in house — this catalog, besides showing doors, screen doors, window frames and sashes and shutters, also provides built-in consoles with mirrors, window seats, bookshelves, fireplace nooks, breakfast nooks, sideboards for table linen and china (I’m looking at my mother’s right now), wall-mounted display cases for china, built-in desks, closet fittings . . . you name it. I am particularly impressed by the built-in grandfather clock, guaranteed never to be knocked over. This is very important in earthquake country! Built-in broom closets and ironing board cupboards — my aunt’s home, two doors away, had one when we were growing up. These days, if still there at all, they have probably been remodeled into spice cupboards or, in the case of the broom closet, pantry cupboards.

    Comfort read was Kerry Greenwood’s THE SPOTTED DOG — I really enjoy the Insula extended family. Kerry’s Work in Progress is the next Cornelia Chapman, though I don’t know how far along on it she is.

    +7
    1. People still build in ironing boards and broom closets. When we added a small finished laundry room about 5 years ago I had this nifty folding ironing board in the top drawer of one of the cabinets. You pull it out, unfold it, then swivel it to the best position for your ironing job. For the last year or so it has not been used much because it really isn’t adequate for large things like sheets, and the full sized ironing board is right next door in the guest bedroom closet.

      +7
      1. My ironing board hasn’t been used in so long that I might as well give it to Goodwill. I can probably use the space where it’s hanging in the hall closet for other things.

        +3
  31. my DNF for this week was Lockdown by Laurie R King.. usually I like her
    books but this one was too weird and confusing. It starts with EIGHT different POV’s. No way can I keep them straight so i dumped it .. This might be the strangest beginning I have ever read..

    +3
  32. This week I read Jodi Taylor’s TheNothing Girl. This is the first one her books that I read which is not about time travel. It was really enjoyable.

    +9
  33. This mention of Elsie Lee reminded me of her polar opposite. When I was a preteen I read a bunch of Emily Loring’s wholesome (read no sex, impossibly nice heroine, and a handsome hero who might be conflicted but was definitely a good and noble gentleman, also Christian) romances. Her use of language was almost too reflective of the era. They were very easy to read and her plots could be engaging. These books were very popular in their day , or my Mother’s Day more precisely. I cannot put my finger why these books were readable but not ultimately better than average. And kindle has a lot of them so someone is still reading them. In her time I believe she sold as well as Georgette Heyer. Why do they not remain appealing?

    +5
    1. Emilie Baker Loring (September 5, 1866 – March 13, 1951) — the first time I looked at her bio, I was surprised at her birth and death dates. Someone else continued writing under her name and the supervision of her estate for a few years.

      She had a sister who wrote parlor plays specifically anti-suffragette. Who knew?

      This doesn’t answer the question, of course.

      +2

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