This is a Good Book Thursday, May 6, 2021

Most of my reading this week was “How To Get Soot Off Of Everything,” but I did reread some Chase, Novik, and Bowen.

What did you read this week?

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87 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 6, 2021

  1. I’m currently reading Hot Money by Dick Francis (thank you for that, by the way) and re-reading Rituals by Kelley Armstrong. I’m also looking forward to The Oulaws Scarlett and Browne by Jonathan Stroud, which I picked up the other day.

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    1. There is a new Kelley Armstrong out, Cursed Luck, which I really enjoyed. It was evidently a pandemic story so it is quite light-hearted for Armstrong. It is the start of a series on a family of curse weavers. Unusual paranormal world setting to me. There is a novella (out in July) and one more full length novel to come in series.

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      1. She posted it chapter by chapter as she was writing it last year, and it was one of the things I really looked forward to during the lockdown. I’m looking forward to reading the polished version.

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  2. Soot is terrible stuff. My husband loves to light a dozen candles in our living room in the winter, which obviously turned our wallpaint gray after only two years. Also, I had black streaks on the cloth that I used to wash the windows.

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  3. I’m still reading my way through the Rivers of London series. I’m in the middle of “Lies Sleeping.”

    I got the sense that the Abigail story wasn’t really part of the series order, and read it over the weekend. I loved it! The talking foxes are such vivid characters and Abigail is so smart and brave and funny.

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    1. I am hoping for more Abigail books. And the next Rivers book, of course. So glad you’re liking them!

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      1. It sure seemed like the author left the Abigail book on a good spot for more of her stories in future. 😊

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  4. Murderbot! I read the new one – put it off as long as I could so I could draw it out and savour it – and then of course gobbled it up greedily. Don’t worry, no spoilers, but I have to say Martha Wells makes the BEST use of parenthetical comments I’ve ever read. Just seeing a parenthesis in a paragraph would start to make me snicker.

    Also read two books in the Adella Harris Campion Square series (Lupe, take note – the After the Swan’s Nest series is better), and The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish by Joanna Chambers – another much anticipated book for me but didn’t fulfill on expectations quite as delightfully as the Murderbot.

    A good week. I’m sorry to hear about the soot. I hope there is some kind of silver lining there about all that cleaning although I suspect not.

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    1. Thanks for the heads up. I’d be interested in reading one of those.

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  5. I read Abigail and the new Murderbot over the weekend. I actually returned the Murderbot–I was annoyed that it was an out-of-sequence novella and it seemed a bit overpriced to me. That will not stop me from rereading the library copy when I come to the top of the list. I liked getting another glimpse into their initial time in Preservation. And probably it will go on sale at some point and I will buy it again anyway.

    I also read Perfect Proposal by Katie Fforde. I don’t think it’s a particularly good book, but I have a certain fondness for her heroines and the slice of life she portrays. (I don’t know that it actually exists, but I want to think so.) Also, she introduced me to the concept of narrowboating on the canals of the UK, and for that alone I would forgive her a lot. (Not that I have yet *gone* narrowboating, but it’s on the very short list for my next UK vacation. If I can combine narrowboating and visiting gardens somehow, that will be my perfect vacation. June 2022!

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    1. You might want to look at a trip that includes the Llangollen canal. Only a short dead-end, but two spectacular aqueducts built at the beginning of the C19. It goes past Chirk Castle, though that’s not a great garden. I think it would be pretty difficult to combine the two; most big landowners ensured canals and railways bypassed their properties. You really need a car to get to most good gardens. But you might spend a week on a narrowboat and the rest of the time touring?

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      1. It is really hard to decide which canal to visit! Though I like the idea of an aqueduct or two. I think you’re right about not being able to intertwine the trips, but back to back is fine too.

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    2. We were going to go narrow boating a years ago. I paid my deposit a year ahead. Then my husband had to have a major rebuild of his foot, that took two surgeries over 9 months and I had to cancel. This was over SIX months before the proposed trip. Not only did I lose my deposit but they informed me if they did not find another person to lease the boat I was liable for the full amount. This is typical of narrowboat rentals. It is not typical of sailboat rentals and canal boat rentals, both of which I have rented many, many times. Frequently with a cancelation that long before the trip, you might even get your deposit back. I was so steamed, I cancelled my credit card so they could not add any additional charges to it. I have never considered renting a narrowboat again.

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  6. Book club assignment for June is a novel published in 1800s, so yesterday I went to the library and got some Louisa May Alcott I’d not read. I’m nearly finished with The Inheritance, “found” in the archives at Harvard in 1988—a hand-written ms. in a red notebook—and only then published. It’s her first novel, written when she was 17. Traces of what would become Little Women are in it.

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    1. I read that when it was published, just out of interest (also, Louisa was a friend of my 3rd great-aunt, Abby Hopper Gibbons, and mentions her at the end of ROSE IN BLOOM). What title is your book club reading?

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  7. I read The Devil Comes Courting by Courtney Milan. The (sort of) latest entry in her Worth saga. It I only (very) tangentially related to the other Worth books. The main characters are Amelia, a girl who was adopted in Shanghai by missionaries when she was six years old, and Grayson, a black American man from Maine who is laying the cable for a transpacific telegraph line. He hires her to figure out how to telegraphically encode Chinese characters. It’s pretty good.

    I also read Grimoires and Where to Find Them by Honor Raconteur. The latest in the Casefiles of Henri Davenforth. They’re still good.

    Now working my way through Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. Science fiction by the author of the Martian, which I really liked. I’m enjoying this one as well.

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    1. Oh I didn’t know there was a new Raconteur book out (love the pseudonym). I am looking forward to reading that. I love the back and forth between Henry and Jamie!

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  8. I’ve started reading Lord Perfect by Chase. I hadn’t realized it was a prequel of sorts to Last Nights Scandal which I enjoyed. Knowing how the two characters end up allows me to concentrate on the main romance.

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    1. Actually there are four books in that series before Last Nights Scandal.
      The first is Miss Wonderful, the second is Mr Impossible, the third is Lord Perfect and the fourth is Not Quite a Lady. Enjoy!

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  9. I’m listening to “Goodbye, Things” by Fumio Sasaki. I think he has one of my fav books on minimalism, and the narrator does a really good job! He went all in on minimalism, and just has a lovely perspective!

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    1. Snap, I started that too. But only just so not in a position to say much.

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      1. He is one I keep coming back to. The book is quite comprehensive in it’s approach to the topic, and I find when I need a little extra decluttering motivation, this is a good one! Most other books talk about how to declutter, etc., but he digs in to the why we keep things. Probably listened 3 times or more now!

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  10. I picked up the complete works of Jane Austen for the kindle. Only $2:99. Some books I have never read, and I’m not too sure about, but at least there is Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Sense and Sensibility, so worth the few dollars spent.

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    1. Since my two favorites (besides P&P) are Persuasion and Emma, I think you got a great deal. 😊

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    2. Persuasion is my second favorite as well. And I wish she had finished Sanditon

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  11. I’m reading Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty.

    As a student of Buddhist and Hindu philosophy I’d say that this book is life-changing with the right reader’s attitude.

    It’s perfect for the times we live in.

    Highly recommended.

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    1. I am now number seven on hold for four copies of Think Like a Monk. Thank you.

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  12. I finished three books this last week! Amazing in pandemic. I won’t bother to review one of them because it was supposedly self-help and really just boiled down to this guy talking about his autism and getting therapy. Nice for you, but you said at the beginning of the book you had answers about X, Y and Z and you didn’t get into any of that at all?

    I read Chaos on CatNet and really liked it. Naomi Kritzer is my favorite short story writer–I am not that into short stories, but she is excellent at it. The CatNet series is an enlarged version of her famous “Cat Pictures Please” story featuring the same intelligent, benevolent AI. The first book was … kinda kiddish (duh, it’s a teen book), but the second book really was much better. It takes a lot of disparate elements–prank apps, religious cults, polyamory–and makes them all work together. Good job!

    I also read Battle of Brothers by Robert Lacey–yup, another Royal Scandal book. I had a lot of Thoughts about it. Some stuff was new to me, a lot of it seems to be rehashing the past so he can fill up a few hundred pages of book (and obviously we only know so much about the Wales boys’ feud in the first place), I’m not sure if he likes anyone involved but seems to hate Meghan but at the same time thinks it’s a mistake to get rid of the Sussexes, and he blames a lot of it on Charles and Andrew forcing the Queen to fire her competent private secretary and replace him with a boring incompetent one…. Huh. Not sure what to make of that.

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    1. I am still waiting for Chaos on Catnet to arrive at the library. I love everything of hers I’ve ever read.

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  13. I am still rereading Kate Canterbary’s books. I have 17 of her books and short stories on my kindle and I think I only got 3 or 4 left to read. I like to reread all of them, even the ones I am not so keen on just for the glimpses of my favourite characters (ie mainly the Walshes and their spouses).

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  14. My hold on Murderbot came in Monday night, to my surprise–I thought I had a hold on the paper copy and that the library didn’t have an ebook yet–and Tuesday was my day off so I read it then, and then read it again. Loved it, especially the parallels between Murderbot and Indah: so often they could convincingly speak each other’s lines. And the way Indah refuses to have an expression. <3

    Also finished Juliet Marillier's A Dance with Fate, which is the book I mentioned before that I kept having to put down because the tension was too much for me. Wondering what awful thing will happen next could not have been cured by reading the end, because everything works out in the end, it just has a long dreadful path to get there. Re-reading I will be able to enjoy it more.

    I'm having trouble finding things to re-read. I want to read some Becky Chambers, but so does everyone else in the Louisville Free Public Library system, apparently. Loooong hold lists. So, seeking something with a similar flavor, I'm re-reading S.K. Dunstall's Stars Beyond, which I like, and which is partly a first contact story with friendly aliens (and also evil corporate villains, a la Corporate Rim), but I want more than one species. I want lots and lots of aliens, which is why I'm in the mood for Chambers.

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    1. I highly recommend the “Chanur ” series by C.J. Cherryh if your looking for aliens! As you work through the series alliances change and a broader viewpoint becomes critical.

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  15. Catnet!! I think Catnet and Murderbot would get along well. Maybe it would take a book for them to find common ground, but CatNet and ART have some very strong similarities.

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  16. Tuesday am — the day of my tea party — my glasses broke when I got out of bed. I drove down to the optician — which sold out to myeyedr.com since I last went — and the clerk there said that my frames are no longer made and my lenses don’t match any of their frames. I’ve had the same frames for so long that I had no idea whether I even brought my old pair of glasses to this house when we moved.

    At the tea party, my friends explained parts of The Garden of Evening Mists to me so that I understand the book a bit better. I love discussing books. Later, one of my friends mentioned that medieval people used spices to cover up the flavor of rancid meat. Instead of correcting her, I sent everyone the first chapter of Out of the East: Spices and the Medieval Imagination. Author Paul Freedman explains that meat was available (to those wealthy enough) while spices were extremely expensive. No one would use spices to save bad meat. Besides, folks in those days had ways to preserve meat. They didn’t eat rancid meat. Anyway, I find it much easier to send people information out of books than to challenge what they say, particularly when I’m challenging a common assumption.

    That night I finished rereading (for the umpteenth time) Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day which let me drift into a comfortable sleep. During the night I remembered that I do have an old pair of glasses. In the morning I checked the place where they would most likely be — and they were there! I’m saved until I can see a new eye doctor and order new frames. By the way, in the meantime I found that my broken frames are available and popular — they just aren’t carried by myeyedr.com.

    Yay for books!

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    1. I read recently (and unfortunately I can’t remember where) that spices and herbs were particularly valued in the winter months because a lot of preserved meats and vegetables started to lose flavor. And as someone who grew up in the era before the sweetness gene was added to corn and carrots and peas and was forced to eat really bland, woody tasting vegetables, I can see why that would be so. My mom, along with most of her generation did not understand herbs and was only so-so on spices. But I think herbs were valued by even poor people because so many of them could be foraged and dried. What would life be like without onions and leeks.

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    2. I was wondering recently how many old recipes were influenced by the cost of spices. A friend has a birthday next week and I stole her box of recipes and am turning it into an ebook for her — which seemed like a really nice idea when I had it, but after hours of entering recipes that are not something anyone is ever going to cook again, feels much stupider. But so many of these really old recipes use teeny-tiny amounts of spaces — like maybe 1/8 tsp of cloves would work if the cloves are really fresh, but 1/8 tsp of cinnamon is going to be totally pointless, IMO. I wondered whether my modern tastes had just been corrupted by too much flavor or whether people were really sensitive to the value of spices fifty years ago?

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      1. Sarah Wynde and Jessie, I agree with you. My impression of American food from my mother’s era is that it was bland and highly processed. Remember all the recipes that used cream of mushroom soup? Or desserts that were based on jello? Nowadays I have the opposite reaction — foods have lots of fresh ingredients but they’re often too spicy for my taste. From the 1st half of the 20th century, as you say, my grandmother’s recipe for pumpkin pie has at least 8 spices, none of which is more than 1/4 teaspoon and there are 1/8 teaspoon measures as well as a pinch.

        Going back to the Medieval period — according to Paul Freedman, European foods from the period from 1000 to 1500 AD “were perfumed with a great variety of spices. The recipe collections of the era provide evidence of a fashion for spicier food than Europe has ever enjoyed since the Middle Ages ended. The fierce demand for spices, however, was caused by needs beyond simple gastronomic preferences. Spices were considered unusually effective as medicines and disease preventives; they were burned as incense in religious rituals and distilled into perfumes and cosmetics. Prized as consumer goods by the affluent, spices were symbols of material comfort and social prominence. The medieval infatuation with spices, encouraged by their mysterious origins and high prices, stimulated attempts to find the lands where they originated and to take over control of their trade. The need for spices fueled the expansion of Europe at the dawn of the modern era.”

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        1. Also, medieval cooking instructions — and right up to the 19th century — say some version of “season to taste.” It was, I think, Mrs. Lincoln or Miss Parloa who came up with the cookbook pioneering level measurements. “. . . the first standardized measuring spoon was invented in the year 1896. It was invented by Fannie Farmer, the then director of the Boston Cooking School.”

          I’ve always thought that one reason for plenty of seasoning might well have been that a spice harvested somewhere remote and carried across the desert on a hardworking camel had somewhat faded and staled by the time it made it to the western European big city kitchens. No shipping in insulated, vacuum-packed containers, no freezing.

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          1. I was told when I was learning to cook that spices held their flavor until they were ground and kept it for a long time after that but dried herbs started losing their flavor after about 6 months.

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  17. I read Patric Richardson’s book on laundry when it was first released and found many of his methods so effective that I will definitely continue.

    He has a lovely, sweet spirit and adds some charm to a chore.

    I cannot remember if he addresses soot specifically, though.
    I do know that almost 50 years ago after a fire, my mother used Spic and Span as a last resort to get the smoke smell out of washable fabrics, and it worked.

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    1. Persist, Jen. It’s ghastly to be an unrelenting adult. But no choice, sometimes. Slog on.
      My son gathers with friends around a bonfire once a week & returns reeking of whatever scrap wood they burned. He undresses down to his birthday suit in the laundry room, dumps his clothes and half a box of baking soda into the ancient little washer, turns it on with cold water (a must on soot), grabs a towel, and streaks for his flat. In the morning, no trace of smoke.
      My mother used Boraxo (detergent + borax) on oily and coal smoked clothes. Borax is often shelved now in the insecticide part of stores.
      I am reading Elaine Pagels’ work, several books exploring the discovery and suppression of Christian and additional spiritual paths, beginning with Dead Sea scroll material. She insists on adding the personal to scholarly analysis, bucking the modern era proper scientific voice which sought to deny point of view as it influences the purity of the scientific mind. She imperturbably keeps several saucers spinning on sticks; her balance, separation, and focussed attention is a marvel. And she spins a good yarn while she’s at it, speaking of the resistance of the ivory tower to admit women, sexual assault by mentors, the support of yet other mentors who recognize her worth and her struggle, the sisterhood of women formed from 1970 on which opened her mind to the power of music, dance, and ritual in her spiritual path to scholarly understanding. Not to mention her friendship with Jerry Garcia. Her work inspires and confirms my sense of self, having lived through those same frontiers of progress and discovery. And it feels transgressive, always a thrill.

      +12
  18. Yes, I read the entire Murderbot Diaries – the five novellas and the novel, and the two free short stories. Murderbot is addictive. SO:
    The Future of Work: Compulsory
    All Systems Red
    Artificial Condition
    Rogue Protocol
    Exit Strategy
    Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
    Fugitive Telemetry
    Network Effect

    I reread Repercussions by Harmon, starting when Hope encounters Archangel Michael in the Greek Orthodox Church and he *poink*s her cheek. That’s after she makes up with her ex-husband and before she proposes to him.

    I finished Bolos I: The Honor of the Regiment. I love Bolos.

    I know there were other books or stories in the week past. And I knew I should have noted them on my whiteboard (which is 8.5×11 and magnetically mounted to the fridge.) I might have, if I’d been able to find a dry erase marker. Oh, well.

    It’s also Official Weigh-in Day. 278.6, down 4.4 pounds from last week. I’m going to continue the induction phase for another week before going to phase two. 🙂

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    1. Congratulations, Gary! Your devotion to your diet is an inspiration!

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      1. More culinary experimentation. While Rogue Protocol is open on a machine, I broke out the scale and prepped.
        One yellow bell pepper, hollowed, 139 grams, 37 calories, 7 grams o’ carbs, 3 milligrams of sodium.
        One package of “Skinny Pasta Rice, 9 calories, no carbs, 20 milligrams of sodium.
        One Ball Park hamburger patty with cheese and bacon, 240 calories, 1 gram carbs, 530 milligrams of sodium.
        One serving of pizza sauce, 52 calories, 5 grams of carbs, 341 milligrams of sodium.
        Prepped the “rice,” beef and sauce, mixed ’em all together. Hollowed out the pepper, weighed it, stuffed it with the mix. Topped it with half a Cracker Barrel Cheddar Cheese Snack, 90 calories, no carbs, 130 mg Na. The other half got broke up over the mix that didn’t fit in the pepper. Nuked it for a minute.

        Simply mahvelous. But… 13 grams-o-carbs. Along with a six gram Atkins frozen meal, I’m at 19 grams. No more carbs today. (Well, one. I could eat an Atkins “Candy-coated peanut snack” looks like eminems.) Or I could eat a hamburger. Or a cheese snack. Or stuff. Gotta live up to being devoted to my diet, see.

        +3
  19. My reading last week was mostly speculative fiction. Elizabeth Vaughan’s White Star was a fantasy romance. It was OK. Then I read Jim C. Hines’s Terminal Uprising, and it was a blast, a fun sci-fi caper, as good as the first book of this series. After that, I read A.J. Lancaster’s The Prince of Secrets, which was a lovely fantasy romance. Belligerent fae and financial woes have never intertwined to a better effect. This is the second book of the series and it was as good, if not better, as the book #1. I’ve bought the next one too, although it might be a while till I read it. My TBR list is growing too fast, but this series seems strangely addictive. Maybe I’ll read the book #3 soon.

    Jayne Davis’s Saving Meg was a short regency romance novelette, quick and charming. It required only a couple of hours to read.

    Now, I’m reading Roni Loren’s new book, Yes & I Love You. Loren’s previous series, The Ones Who Got Away, swept me off my feet. I bought all the books of the series and re-read them all once already. I’ll re-read them again one day. I’m in the beginning of this new story of hers, and it’s so emotional and true, I’m loving it.
    Loren’s earlier writing was erotica – not my cup of tea at all. But her later books agree with me. They also include hot sex scenes, but overall, story and characters are much more important I’m glad she’s moving away from erotica. She is such a wonderful writer, I want to read more of her.

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    1. I adore Lancaster’s Stariel series, and I’m watching for the fourth one like a cat at a mouse hole.

      +7
  20. Not much time for reading this week as May is a horribly busy month at work. So I mainly read MS Teams for Dummies in preparation for a small conference I’m organizing only to discover that the things I wanted to get more in-depth about are not covered at all 🙁

    I did watch half the season of Bone and Shadow. I haven’t read the series, only some samples. I liked it, have to finish it of course, and hope that I continue to like it. It’s been strange to get shivers down my spine while watching it. Haven’t experienced such a sensation for a very long time.

    Still, I managed to finally finish Something Human by AJ Degas and am quite conflicted about it. I wanted to love it but some major things didn’t sit well with me. At long last a book that made me want to dig out my book journal to discuss to with myself. First entry was Me before you by Jojo Moyes, that also got my insides into turmoil though of course for different reasons.

    And then I dipped into Wanted, a Gentleman by KJ Charles. Bad idea to do so an an evening!! Very bad idea indeed.
    For my Yale Course about the Science of Well Being my homework is to get enough sleep (7+ hours each night). And this book definitely made me miss out of my goal. I had to stop at the ca. 75 % point. I somehow completely love the pathetic little weasel Theo Swann. Okay, he can’t help to come across as one. It’s so great to get a “hero” who doesn’t resemble a hero at all (small, not well built, not beautiful, not rich, is described as unremarkable and easily forgettable). But he’s a great writer. And he’s got a big heart. And a great imagination.

    Now back to the last 20 % (I managed to read some pages between work, Greek homework, dinner and my Ancient Greek lesson). It will make my head stop spinning after the mad Greek Grammar (Latin is a walk in the Parc in comparison), but it makes my little grey matter stay alive 😉

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  21. I want to thank whoever recommended the Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde. I’m on the third book now and will continue right through the series. I’ve laughed so hard at some of what Fforde wrote and the names make me giggle

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  22. Listened to the new Murderbot, Fugitive Telemetry, because my library only had the audio. The narrator was pretty good, and I enjoyed the story. But I look forward to eventually reading it in print, since I’m not a great listener and always feel like I’m missing something with audiobooks.

    I’ve been rereading the Miss Marple books by Agatha Christie. Good bedtime reading, since knowing how they turn out = low stress.

    I tried the new Veronica Speedwell book, An Unexpected Peril, but wasn’t in the right mood. I found Veronica more annoying than usual so decided to try it again some other day.

    I also read Mother May I by Joshilyn Jackson. Definitely not a bedtime story — lots of stress-inducing stuff happens! However, reading it during the day I did get engrossed in the mystery. But a warning to others: a 10-week old baby is kidnapped and the whole book is spent trying to get him back. The baby’s parents’ marriage has difficulties as a result, which wasn’t surprising. The main characters do some morally ambiguous stuff which I’m still cogitating on.

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  23. I’m reading a new book by a favorite author who hasn’t put one out for a while–always a good thing. The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert. Charming and quirky. If you haven’t read her previous books, I highly recommend them too.

    +10
  24. This morning I cleaned the upstairs bathroom and while I was up there I brought down the summer decorations from the attic for the kitchen. Replaced the red berry wreath for the seashell wreath. I know it is May already I had to get a move on. Checked the library to see how all my holds are doing for summer. They tend to go back and forth on the list (depending on where I am on the who’s who) but all say they are on order. In the meantime I’m reading Luck of the Draw about an attorney who wins the lottery and after she quits her job and enjoys herself for six months begins to have guilt for the way she handled her self for the company. Then tries to make amends.

    This morning I also started to go out outside to check the garden and almost walked into a turkey. I think she forgot how she got onto the property because she spent an hour patrolling the perimeter and gazing at the fence.

    +14
  25. I read the three Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells. I figured they would fill in the time before Fugitive Telemetry (which I haven’t read yet), and I don’t often read sci-fi, so I didn’t go in with any expectations. And I really enjoyed them. I do admit to skimming some description and narration to get back to Moon and the rest of the characters. But the first part of the last book, when Moon is forced to leave his new family (Is it a spoiler if it happens at the beginning of the book? If so, sorry!), really got to me. Heart wrenching. And so worth it for the happy ending. 🙂

    OK, I just checked, and it’s in the description of the book (from 2012), so no spoiler. Whew! Also, I managed to avoid the book covers when I read, which probably helped me enjoy it more, oddly enough.

    +9
    1. Just looked at the Raksura series on Kindle, and the first one’s really expensive, which is the opposite of a sensible marketing strategy!

      +4
      1. I had the opposite problem with her murderbot series. I haven’t been able to bring myself to pay $12 for 150 pages. I’m sure I will cave eventually as I have and love all her other books.

        +4
    2. I really enjoyed that series. You might want to also check out her “Fall of Ile-Rien” series.

      +3
  26. Good gracious, I had the idea I read a little less this week but … nope.
    1. M/M romance that shall be nameless, age-gap, showbiz, setup okay and characters had promise but either the writer doesn’t listen to his editor or his editor is shamelessly incompetent. If I were an editor I wouldn’t put my name on it.
    2. Mergers & Acquisitions by Jodi Payne in which an exotic dancer and a finance attorney fall in love. Low-conflict romance about two nice people who are good for each other.
    3. Up In Smoke by Annabeth Albert. Also low-conflict, a smoke jumper and a musician fall in love while taking care of a baby abandoned by the musician’s sister. A lot of attention paid to the logistics and legalities as well as character/romance development.
    4. Invitation to the Blues by Roan Parris, which was SO GOOD but all the angst; one MC is a pianist with depression, the other a tattoo artist/painter.
    6. Unforgivable by Joanna Chambers, M/F historical which was well-written but not truly satisfying because the hero really is a dick pretty much all the way through.
    7. Red Hot by Sean Ashcroft, novella, sweet & tropey.
    8. For Sam, Times Infinity by Suki Fleet. This is romantic suspense in the sense that it seemed so unlikely, most of the way through, that the two damaged young heroes could achieve a good outcome. Fortunately there was a happy ending. Such a poetic writer but I can only take her in small doses because her characters are so traumatized.
    9. Tall Order by Irene Preston, a second-chance M/M novella about a chef and an artist in Austin. Could have used a bit more length because these guys needed to talk more.
    10. Mystic Man by E.J. Russell, another novella, about an older guy on all kinds of rebound and the younger guy who gives him a safe place to land.
    11. Heartless by Mary Balogh, a Georgian M/F romance that is So. Much. Hero reminiscent of Philip Jettan, villainous villain, manipulative Other Woman, high-drama denouement.
    12. Conventionally Yours by Annabeth Albert, a road-trip rivals-to-lovers romance about two guys on their way to a gaming convention.

    Rec for the week is definitely the Roan Parrish, for those who like M/M with angst, music, tattoos, swearing, and hard-won happy endings.

    +8
    1. I don’t know if I’ll watch the real thing but the trailer itself was worth a box of popcorn! Thank you for sharing.

      +3
    2. I had, but I clicked anyway. Then I read the comments which, for a change, are all happy people thinking Leverage is great and who are excited for the reboot. Over three thousand likes and ten dislikes, who are probably people who would boo Mr. Rogers. Very happy making.

      +7
      1. The thing that makes me hopeful is I’ve been seeing photos of the filming, and our original four just look like they’re having so much fun together. I’m willing to give that a shot.

        +4
  27. Not a big reading week for me, but Alexis Hall published a new book. I am still debating buying it verses waiting for the library…

    +8
    1. Thanks a lot for the info!!
      I’ve read the blurb which wouldn’t stand out for me, but then it’s Alexis Hall!

      +5
    2. Thanks for the heads-up – it should land on my Kindle just in time for my birthday, in a fortnight.

      +7
  28. I just looked at my Nook for something else and found that the newest Courtney Milan, which I had preordered, had downloaded but somehow had not popped up in my recent buy section. So that’s what I will be reading.

    +6
  29. I’ve started THE WINDSOR DIARIES, by Alathea Howard. She was a lifelong diarist, but these are the Early Years and clearly the product of a young teen, so I’m whipping through them rather quickly.

    THE VINTAGE CHURCH COOKBOOK has many recipes that I might consider making, but “Jell-o Spinach Salad” is probably not one of them! Lemon Jell-o, frozen chopped spinach, cottage cheese, mayonnaise, and a ring mold.

    PLAYING THE ENEMY, by John Carlin, is the book about Nelson Mandela, François Pienaar, and the Springboks versus the All Blacks soccer game that became the movie INVICTUS. I loved the movie, but I prefer the book!

    Not much, but I was sidetracked by a connection who had an Ancestry DNA test and now wants to construct her family tree from it. I’ve asked her for the names of her parents, which is really where you have to begin — DNA does not normally offer this information.

    +6
  30. Division Bells, by Iona Datt Sharma. Love and drama in English politics. It took me a while to get into this, because of the politics – but I was glad I persisted. It was kind of sweet, and gentle, despite the cut throat world it was set in.

    Paladin’s Strength by T Kingfisher. The second book in her Saint of Steel series. I’ve seen several people say they didn’t like this one as much as the first, but I loved it.

    Arkady Martine’s A Memory Called Empire. Politics and confusion as an ambassador from one human world tries to figure out what’s going, and survive, in another human world. Again, this took me ages to get into – it’s very dense, and has one of the most difficult beginnings in terms of names and technical stuff I’ve come across for ages. Why do some authors think this is a good idea??? But again it was worth persisting.

    +7
    1. I’ve read and agree with all of Lian’s recces! Division Bells is my catnip – politics, climate change action, romance.

      I also liked A Memory Called Empire, but in a kind of detached way? I think because it’s plot first, character second? And it’s about big things? But like you, I’d recommend it, it’s well written and thought provoking.

      +8
  31. Has anyone read Catalysts by Kris Ripper? On the surface, really not me – so much sex, all BDSM flavoured (and I’ve never had any interest in reading those other Shady ones), not much else, but I really liked it, have just reread it, and I can’t work out why. Maybe because it’s so character driven? And the sex is necessary to the character arcs? And it’s still about love?

    Anyway, keen to know what others here who have read it think. And I recommend it, even though I don’t know why.

    +9
  32. I spent this week rereading Amanda Quick, and deciding that the two later ones I have as ebooks have been read quite enough. I’m afraid for me, JAK lost her way quite a while ago.

    I then went to the library, which reopened last month for 15-minute visits, and borrowed ‘Flatshare’ by Beth O’Leary, which I didn’t get into as a Kindle sample back in the winter, but really loved this time. I must have been in the wrong space for it, I guess.

    +11
    1. Congratulations on your reopened library! Mine has really improved my life since it reopened and I hope yours gives you great pleasure.

      I completely agree with you about JAK. I think she has been recycling plots for years and stopped buying her books a number of years ago. It made me sad at the time because she had been such a reliable source of pleasure for me, but I think that the pressure of publishing so often under all those pseudonyms really trumped the originality.

      +8
    2. I think those samples can be misleading, especially on books like The Flatshare that reveal their characters in a very gradual manner. I just picked up a copy of The Switch at the library and am hoping that it fills the bill this weekend.

      +6
      1. I’m usually caught the other way – the sample’s good enough that I buy the book, but it then goes downhill. I have a feeling I’d been caught out that way before I read the Flatshare sample, and so was doubly cautious. I now want to find a paperback copy though, since it was so much better in print!

        +8
        1. Same here. Some writers seem to put far more effort into perfecting the samples than in the whole body. Which is understandable, but then I feel met down as a reader when the book itself is so much less good.

          +4
  33. Just read a great cozy mystery: Furbidden Fatality by Deb Blake. The women and the cats and dogs were particularly well described and the story flows well. I wondered why the story appeared to be wrapping up about 2/3 of the way through — then it took a new curve. What a treat!

    The only downside is that I do not enjoy reading off a screen. But I will do so again — when Deb’s next shelter cozy comes out.

    +8

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