This is a Good Book Thursday, June 10, 2021

Thanks to Gary, I’ve started reading Zoe Sharp’s Dancing on the Grave and Bones in the River. Nothing like finding a new great writer.

Also I bowed to peer pressure in here and read Winter’s Orbit and had a marvelous time. And wow that was her first book. Highly recommended.

What did you read this week?

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124 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 10, 2021

  1. Well, I have been reading Celia Lake’s books and I now have a better understanding of the world she has created. I have liked some of the stories more than others but they have kept me engaged.
    There is only one thing which has annoyed me, the way all the characters whatever their social class keep saying « grand » for « great » and « ta » for « thanks ». I have decided to treat it as a quirk of langage within her parallel magic society as it doesn’t ring true otherwise.
    I have also read the Book of firsts following Jenny’s recommendation and enjoyed it. I kept trying however to work out which boy she preferred which detracted from the story. How square of me ! I will need to reread it at some point without that expectation.
    Otherwise, I have just preordered KJ Charles new Will Darling adventure « Subtle blood » which is coming out on 23 June and looking forward to it enormously.

    +9
    1. Incidentally, I have just read a long post on KJ Charles’ blog about how difficult she has found it to write this last instalment of Will Darling’ adventures. I get the feeling she has similar difficulties with plotting as you, Jenny.
      She is very funny about it but you can feel the pain…
      https://kjcharleswriter.com/

      +9
    2. I’ve enjoyed the two books by Celia Lake I’ve read since she was recommended here last week, Pastiche and The Fossil Door, and I intend to continue reading the series.

      +2
  2. I loved Winter’s Orbit. And was very disappointed to find that she hadn’t written anything else yet.

    I’m now on a Dick Francis kick, thanks to you, Jenny. Never read him before, but I can see the appeal. I’m currently reading the second Kit Fielding book, Bolt. I loved the first one. There is something hugely appealing about a protagonist who is so reliable and so competent.

    The other thing I read that I absolutely loved was Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. Probably the most original book I’ll read all year. (Original in a good way.) The library had it marked as horror, and I can see why, because it’s the story of an old hotel, the Bellweather, where there was a murder/suicide 15 years ago, and now a bunch of high school musicians are about to spend a long weekend there, snowed in by a blizzard on the anniversary of the murder/suicide. And one of the musicians disappears from the same room …

    So it’s got all the right ingredients for horror, but it doesn’t go in that direction. Instead it’s full of idiosyncratic characters and secrets and heartbreak and a psychotic mother and a very cute dog and amazing music and beautiful writing. I loved it to bits. I was trying to remember who had put me onto it, then I realised it was by the same author as Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts, which I also loved, and I had chased up her other books as a result.

    +14
  3. Winter’s Orbit it is! Bought it this morning based on your recommendation and will be looking forward to it this week. Last week I read three more in Martha Wells Raksura series – that series is a slow burn. It’s not the neck breaking pace of the Murderbot series; in fact, it’s the opposite. But she creates a world and characters and unfolds them petal by petal in a way that’s so satisfying. I really do not want the series to end.

    In other book news – calloo callay! O frabjous day! – Cat Sebastian’s latest came out – The Queer Principles of Kit Webb – am half way through – trying to draw it out deliciously.

    +12
    1. Same thing. Winter Orbit has been on my to-read list for a while thanks to the enthusiastic reviews here but now that Jenny has given it the seal of approval, it has moved to the top of the list!

      +9
    2. I’m into my immediate re-read of Winter’s Orbit, enjoying it immensely and finding the experience full of clarifying background that I rushed past in my first read.

      Since I’m taking my time, I actually read the seven review tidbits on the back of the book (all by other authors) and found one from Martha Wells which read “A captivating love story . . . Winter’s Orbit reminds me in the best way of the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold.”

      Of course, they tidbitized her review tidbit on the front cover by inserting just beneath a landscape fragment with a sunrise: “Captivating.” — Martha Wells

      The author bio/photo also looks about 12, and says she lives and works in Yorkshire. Somehow I wouldn’t have expected either thing. 🙂

      +12
      1. As well as Jenny’s recommendation, which I always take seriously because we seem to have similar tastes in books, I was immediately swayed by comparison to Lois McMaster Bujold.

        PS – I have not managed to hold off reading Cat Sebastian’s new one, The Queer Principles of Kit Webb, and finished it this morning. In my own defence I would like to point out: 1) I got up at 5:37 am with puppy, and 2) I did indeed savour it thoroughly. But now I have to wait until SUMMER OF 2021 FOR HER NEXT ONE. Sigh.

        +11
        1. Summer of 2021 seems manageable… it’s June already. Or should that read 2022?
          Alexis Hall annouced his next title Husband Material, due next year.
          Horribly ling wait in spite of his ling list and my high tbr pile….

          +2
  4. I re-read The Book of Firsts (again) and Goblin Emperor, and I’m in the middle of Angel of the Crows. I’ve also been re-reading Earthseed by Pamela Sargent.

    +8
  5. After finishing up Tiamat’s Wrath (turns out it is #8 of 9 in the Expanse series), I picked up Mhairi McFarlane’s “It’s not me, it’s you”. I’ve found that there is a slow build up to the conflicts with her books, but I do enjoy them.

    Yesterday, I took my girl kitty Maggie to the vet because it was obvious she wasn’t feeling well. She had pancreatitis two months ago, but this past month had been pretty good. But Tuesday it was like a flip of a switch, and by Wednesday afternoon when we got to the vet there was really nothing to be done except say goodbye. It doesn’t get any easier to do it, but I know in my heart it was the right decision. Thanks for letting me share my grief here.

    +37
    1. I’m so sorry, Nancy H. It must have been awful for you though perhaps not too drawn out for poor Maggie. I’ve seen pets kept alive for too long. You were there, caring for her to the end.

      +16
    2. That is the hardest thing about loving an animal friend. Cats and dogs should come with lifespans genetically matched to their humans, so that the visit to the Last Vet could be handled Together, which is how I always wished it could be.

      +17
      1. in my city there is a vet which will come to your house for the “euthanasia” it makes it more peaceful.. They are called Lap Of Love.. they might be just local but if you have the need try googling for this for your area.

        +12
        1. If you can bring the vet to you, it does make the process so much easier. Still heartbreaking but saying goodbye intimately. And then not having to get in a car and drove away. The loss of any companion, no matter who, is devastating.

          +13
    3. I feel for you. Yesterday at work we had three–three!–cat euthanasias, two planned, one not. None of them were cats I knew well (they didn’t board with us) but it was still a downer. The advantage of my job is getting to love so many more pets than will fit in my life, but the payment for that is grieving for them, too. It is worth it.

      +17
    4. I’m sorry. It’s never easy, whether it’s relatively fast like this or dawn-out. I’m glad you have the comfort of knowing it was the right decision. In my experience, it’s the not being sure that’s hardest thing to deal with.

      +13
    5. Oh, Nancy, I’m so sorry. I’ve been there and know how it hurts to lose a fur friend. Be good to yourself as you grieve.

      +12
    6. I’m so sorry for your loss. Even when you know it’s the right thing to do, your heart will break all the same. Sending you super-COVID-safe cyber hugs.

      +10
    7. Oh Nancy H, I’m so sorry. It’s the hardest thing to do, isn’t it. I lost my beloved Harry cat a few weeks ago, so I share your grief. Sending you hugs across the ocean.

      +10
    8. Oh, my dear. Dear Maggie. So sudden the goodbye.
      Grief shared, in-taken, understood, felt.
      You did right, and well.

      +5
  6. Read The Summer Seekers by Sarah Morgan. Starts off with 80 year old Kathleen decking an intruder with a heavy skillet and ends with a trip down Rt. 66. Loved all the characters and while it isn’t focused on romance there is definitely romance and an HEA but most of all who wouldn’t be down for a trip with Kathleen after a start like that?

    +12
    1. I just put a hold in three different libraries for The Summer Seekers with a bit of a wait, no problem, along with a similar wait for The Road Trip. I’m also on the list for JoJo Moyes, Night Music. I think that is one of her first and was only published in the UK when it came out.

      Right now I’m summer reading my way through A Secret in the Keys by Hope Hollaway a story of a woman who is dumped by her husband of 34 years. Beck goes to Florida with her daughter to what she thinks is a funeral for her aunt but was a way for the aunt to reconnect with her. This is an ongoing series with new characters added with each additional story (I peeked ahead).

      Help! My husband put some fruit on to boil and took a nap, not on purpose. I could smell something burning and went to the kitchen and pulled it off the stove. Any suggestions on how I can clean the pan? The fruit is a gonnah.

      +11
      1. Sometimes boiling water with a few tablespoons of baking soda will release the blackened stuff. I’ve also read that boiling water with vinegar will do it. Just not both together or you’ll have a volcano.

        +14
        1. Yes, thank you. I googled it and used equal amounts vinegar and water and let it boil for a short time, scraped with a small metal spatula to get all the gunk, drained everything and put baking soda and let it sit for a few minutes then scrubbed with a stainless steel scrubby. Came out clean.

          +20
      2. I should add that my husband is on an other medication which knocks him for a loop plus he had gone grocery shopping (before meds) which also adds to sleepiness. He likes to go by himself without distraction (Ahem), so if he settles in the recliner after to read, watch the news or veg he can drift off to sleep. He is going for an implant next week for a new procedure that will alert the doctor’s office of any changes to his heart (pressure).

        +11
      3. When I waitressed, we used ice, salt, and lemon juice to scrub out coffee pots with burned bottoms. YMMV. Best of luck.

        +4
      4. Use lots of baking soda with the water. I discovered that with the last 4 plates after our housefire. I dropped in a cup instead is tablespoons. Worked so much better.

        +5
  7. I just saw Heyer’s Arabella is on sale today on Kindle for $1.99. One of my all time favorites.

    +13
  8. Finished and loved Lucy Parker’s The Austen Playbook – inside theater/tv world, old country home, grumpus/sunshiney trope M/F, all done very wittily.

    Also finished Mrs. Frisby and The Rats of NIMH with my young cousin. I remember the movie from when I was a child – I think I had a crush on the swoony rat Justin – and as an adult I like the book quite a bit more. Fun.

    About to embark on Christie’s The Mystery of the Blue Train. Wish me luck.

    +8
  9. I finished Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, and while I enjoyed it greatly and am glad there seems to be another in series for next year, I keep wanting another one in the style of The Affair of the Mysterious Letter.
    I’m rereading Paladin’s Strength a mere two weeks after the first read, trying to make it last a very long time.
    I’m in the middle of Project Hail Mary, and a couple of less exciting ones.

    +11
  10. Book club assignment for July: read a book on which a TV series is based. A colleague recommended Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, before they became famous writers and were just two guys trying to make each other laugh.
    And I’m re-re-reading Charlie All Night, which is in my top 3 Jenny favorites. I can’t give them place rankings, but I always want to read that one, Cinderella Deal, and Bet Me. Well, and Faking It.

    +15
  11. All week, during the heat and discomfort, I have shared (or inflicted) my reading on everyone, leaving nothing for Thursday. Except that MG Harmon is promising the next book “real soon now” and I just started the “Wearing the Cape” series again. When Bujold said The Assassins of Thasalon was imminent, I reread the Pen and Desdemona stories. It’s a habit I somehow got into.

    The diet. having looked at posts from July, 2018, I must admit that today’s Official Weigh-in Day 270.2 isn’t a shadow of the weight loss from those years – and for funsies, I had turned the diet back then into a Kindle file so I could look back later and ask myself where the discipline went. It does contain a picture (it’s an illustrated “book”) of me in a Star Trek Red Shirt, so there are good parts.

    +14
    1. It’s not necessarily that you lack discipline now. It maybe that your metabolism is way more efficient and can turn less food into the same amount of useable calories now. It is the only thing about me that has become more efficient as I have gotten older.

      +11
        1. I cannot take credit. I am pretty sure I read some place that every time you diet, your body starts reacting as though you are in a famine and learns to use what few calories it gets more efficiently. And it keeps this capability. After a life time of stopping and starting dieting, your body just doesn’t need as much food as it did before. So thin people who never diet get to eat way more food than those of us who average a diet a year. Life is not fair.

          +2
  12. Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson: I loved her first book better, but this is still pretty good. If you like books where the books try to eat you, this is for you. Girl who grows up in magical Great Library loses her mentor, is exiled and framed, her only help is a hot teenage sorcerer and his friendly demon. The relationships between those three are very sweet.

    Well Played by Jen DeLuca: second in her Renfaire workers series. Girl drunk-emails her hookup, ends up corresponding with his cousin, “Cyrano shit.” It was pleasant enough, but not memorable. I think I’m just tired of “sweet,” pleasant romances between two nice people where very little happens. I’m so bored of them, I don’t remember them when they are done, I drag through reading them.

    +9
  13. I had a Grave Disappointment from an author who I really like. The MC proposes to her live together boyfriend of ten years only to have him accidentally text her instead of his mistress about it. Cue voyage of self discovery. I was in for the ride, but just when it was getting better and my heroine was learning and growing, her slimy boss gets her to accuse the new love interest of exposing himself to her in public. And that was an instant DNF for me. I’m sure it ended fine, but it was a point where I lost all respect for the heroine. You just don’t do that. You don’t cry wolf about sexual offenses and you don’t explode another person’s life that way. Not cool. And I am still angry about it.

    After that, lots of fits and starts, but nothing of note. I am happy to be reading new things again finally.

    +22
  14. I finished “The Mad Ship” by Robin Hobb and loved it. First book in a good long while that I really wanted to return to (comfort re-reads not included) to see what would happen to the characters. There’s some huuuge character growth in there. Relations are complex and oftentimes problematic as heck, and the both young and old feel realistic with their flaws and faults and reckless decisions and… She’s a good storyteller.

    Started on the third and last book of the trilogy Tuesday evening: “Ship of Destiny”. Curious to see how she’ll put all these puzzle pieces together to a whole at the end of this ride.

    +9
  15. I finished listening to The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. As you all know, a bad ending can ruin a good book and I was a little worried, but the ending was great. Both the reader and the book were wonderful.

    I also finished False Value by Ben Aaronovitch. I have started A Long Way To A Small Planet by Becky Chambers. I am enjoying it so far.

    After I finished The Water Dancer, I re-started All Systems Red. Something in me just relaxes as soon as he starts, “I could have become a mass murderer after I hacked my governor module, …”

    +12
  16. Work is a mess, and it’s leaving me emotionally rung out again. Doesn’t seem like we can ever get caught up, and it’s quite demoralizing.

    As such, I’m not really reading much and haven’t for awhile. I’ve been doing audiobooks, and the theme is simplicity, minimalism and decluttering. I think I really move towards decluttering in times of high stress because it seems like the only thing I can control. That and dishes. I clean those when upset, too. Then at least the upset energy is transformed into productivity….

    If anyone has any good books in tHt vein, lemme know! I’ve read a ton of them, and Essentialism and Digital Minialism are on my lists.

    I did read Chris Hogan’s Everyday Millionaires, that was fun!

    Does everyone else say read for audiobooks? I feel like I’m cheating…

    +12
    1. This is a step away from what you mention, but Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans can be inspiring.

      +9
    2. Not about decluttering AT ALL, but there’s a nonfiction book I love called The Only Street in Paris. It’s just a great reporter going in depth on what she loves about the neighborhood she lives in, and its history. It’s a soothing read that’s easy to pick up and put down. I’m normally a fiction person, but I read it one time when I felt drained and like my world was spinning out of control and it really hit the spot.

      +9
      1. Oh! I also like The Simply Luxurious Life podcast, which is about minimalism/ living simply/ quality over quantity, etc. She has two books out, but since what I really love is her calm manner of speaking, I prefer the podcast or her audiobook versions.

        +8
        1. Nicole, I have the impression that many folks hear listen to books and discuss them using the verb “to read.” There isn’t any cheating in listening to a book — it’s another way of absorbing it.

          +9
    3. You might like to look over the titles of books by Don Aslett for the ones on decluttering. He wrote one I read decades ago on better cleaning methods (just use commercial products and tools as much as possible; they’re DESIGNED to be non-toxic, thorough, and efficient; go to a janitorial supply store to find them). Then I read everything else I could find by him on the subject, and I especially love MAKE YOUR HOUSE DO THE HOUSEWORK just to fantasize about designing my own house that minimizes upkeep.

      +6
    4. I have The Feng Shui Directory by Jane Butler-Biggs and refer to it often! It is separated into categories; health, finances, career, relationships, etc. Each section has a list of “quick fixes”, small changes you can make for improvements. Sometimes you really only have to do small things to make your environment support you better. It’s also a helpful reminder to be aware of how environment affects mood and how to make deliberate choices to support yourself in whatever your goal is.

      +3
  17. Re-reads this past week:
    I loved Sharon Shinn’s The Dream-Maker’s Magic, a quiet, unassuming coming of age book. It is marketed as an YA, but I think it is a much deeper, multilayered story than any teenager could appreciate. There are no battles there, no angst, no particular adolescent stupidity. No rioting hormones. It is much more suited to adults, even though its protagonists are young. It is #3 in the series, so I went back and re-read the first two books as well.
    Sharon Shinn’s The Safe-Keeper’s Secret is #1. I read it first so long ago, I forgot its plot. It read like new to me. I enjoyed it, although not as much as The Dream-Maker’s Magic. Also re-read #2 in this series, The Truth-Teller’s Tale. I liked the entire series.
    But I didn’t like the covers, at least not the ones that I own. So I embarked on a project to create new covers for all three books – strictly for myself. Nobody would ever ask me for these covers, but I like playing with images and I decided this series could be my tribute to one of my favorite fantasy writers. Here they are, on my deviantArt page: https://www.deviantart.com/olgagodim/gallery/66723433/fantasy-girls

    A new book for me, Deborah Coonts’s Wanna Get Lucky?, was an OK read. Part mystery and part love story, it introduces a snarky female protagonist. Sadly, I didn’t like her much. She is too crude and brash for me. Perhaps it is a job requirement – she is the head of PR in a Las Vegas casino. Because I couldn’t bond with her, I didn’t like her book much either, but that is just my personal taste. I think those who love Janet Evanovich would enjoy this book.
    Also I’m almost done with the latest Amanda Quick – The Lady Has a Past. A romantic thriller with two pairs of lovers, it is as good as her other Burning Cove books, a quick and enjoyable read.

    +16
    1. I remember reading The Safekeeper’s Secret as a teen! Agree, there was something calm, layered, and dreamlike about those books. I think that’s one of the reason I transitioned out of fantasy as an adult. I’m more interested in small village spells than big battles.

      +8
    2. I also read Wanna Get Lucky and had some difficulty. It needed more rigorous editing. After a while I became bored with the excessive and repetitive mention of designer gear and the romance seemed only half a step away from middle school. The mystery itself moved well and was engaging. I have not finished it and have taken to skipping so I may be missing some good stuff.

      +6
  18. Just finished Isabel Cooper’s Stormbringer, which was a very bit enjoyable bit of high fantasy with a spot of steamy romance; there are two more books in the series, and I’ll be continuing right along with them.

    I also finished Francesca Forrest’s The Inconvenient God, which — while it contains no romance whatsoever — was fun, fascinating, and fulfilling even though it was very short. How do you retire a god who isn’t ready to go?

    +12
  19. I’ve been reading Ilona Andrews Innkeeper series. There’s just something so comforting about the idea of a sentient house that can rearrange itself as needed.

    +10
  20. Am most of the way through the newest Laurie R King, Castle Shade, continuing the adventures of Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes. They are off to Transylvania!

    +12
  21. I have several books going right now. When I am not in the mood for one, I pick up another. Right now I am reading Jolene by Mercedes Lackey. It’s # 15 in her Elemental Masters series. I also am in the middle of The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer. I am about a third of the way through Out of the Easy by Ruth Sepetys; and finally, I have started Starflight by Melissa Landers. I should be able to finish them all, if I can stay motivated, within the next few days.

    +7
    1. How do you do that? I can’t read more than one book at a time.
      I also can’t not finish a book. Even if I don’t like it, I have to finish it.
      Also if a series is out and I have liked the first one, I have to read them all and it is rare I stop if it turns out the rest of them are not so great!

      +9
      1. In, if a book is not holding my attention but I know I want to finish it, I put it aside and pick up another in its place. My problem has been that nothing has held my attention long for the past several months. I usually read anywhere from 10-15 booms per month, on average. So far this year, I have finished 30.

        +4
  22. Just started Last Fallen Star by Gracie Kim. Its a juvenile in the vein of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, only with Korean mythology. It’s interesting so far. I was in the mood for something light after reading several Deeply Meaningful and deeply depressing books. This works!

    +10
  23. Going nonfiction this week. I’m reading Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants by Douglas W Tallamy. I’m trying to plan some new ideas for my yard. Oh, there’s a kabillion cicadas in my yard right now. Love!

    +7
  24. I’m enjoying THE PERFECT SQUELCH, a blast from the past. This is a collection published in 1962 of accounts of squelches published, I think originally, in one of the major home magazines, possibly the SATURDAY EVENING POST. They’re rather gentler than the current social-media versions, but fun to read. Now that the used paperback has my eyeball prints all over it, I’m gifting it to my brother for his birthday tomorrow.

    CASTLE SHADE, as McB is also reading, the newest Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes, this one set in Transylvania. Years ago, I worked with an engineer who was a friend of my father’s, and he told me that he’d been warned never to brag about his home, which surprised him, because it was one of the loveliest parts of Europe. It wasn’t until he was on a field trip to a construction site and in a hotel room with nothing but the late-night movie for company that he found out . . . .

    A ROGUE’S COMPANY, the newest in the Sparks & Bainbridge mystery series set in post-WWII London. So far I’m just in the backstory, which begins at the very start of WWI, and the detectives haven’t made an appearance yet.

    UNEARTHED, the Smithsonian National Gem Collection, by Jeffrey Post. This is a popular history of the fanciest gems in the Smithsonian collection, and it’s on the light side, but does have plenty of information about the gems and their chemical composition as well as the people associated with them. I was amused that he analyzed the ladies for whom many of them were bought who “followed the tried-and-true path to fame and fortune, and to accumulating a great jewelry collection . . . she married early, she married often, and she married well.” One distinguished lady is described as “her father was one of the developers of Virginia Beach and her mother was a Colonial Dame.” I plan to pass that on to the next Colonial Dames meeting that’s held in-person, because I don’t think any of US are likely to be the recipients of the largest name-your-stone in existence! Note: I downloaded this one to a hand-held Kindle and also to my PC’s Kindle reader, and the PC displays all the pretty pictures to their best advantage.

    +10
    1. I put Unearthed on hold at the library and also put it on Hoopla. I’m fascinated by ogling gemstones. I also have a catalogue of gem pieces from Skinner’s the auction house featured sometimes on Antiques Roadshow. Jeffrey Post, the author, I wondered if he was related to Marjorie Merriweather Post so I googled him but it did not come up in his bio.

      +4
      1. I think that if he’s related to MMP’s husband, he isn’t aware of it — the sort of relationship where you have a common ancestor in the seventeenth century, perhaps. He did have a comment about their same surname, but not as if he knew of a connection.

        +3
  25. Late last year I picked up A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. I’d really enjoyed her other two: Uprooted and Spinning Silver, and thought I’d give this one a try. It’s a little bit Harry Potter meets the Hunger Games, and it has the crankiest heroine I’ve read in a while, and I love her to death. I think this is the fourth time I’ve reread this book since, and finally talked my daughter into reading it so that I can talk about it with her.

    There’s really something interesting about it. There are layers. Also, I’m fascinated by the structure of the story. Like why did certain parts end up being described where they are. Wondering how the sequel will stack up and I. Can’t Wait! 🙂

    +17
  26. Jenny, I’m afraid I took your name in vain. Baen’s Bar is once again open for business, see, and in the Honorverse conference…

    Recently, Harlequin Books released a Manga edition of Jennifer Crusie’s Getting Rid of Bradley. No, I’m not recommending that you switch from SF&F to Romance/Chick Lit. But Takako Shigematsu (Illustrator) managed to squeeze an entire novel into just 129 pages (including cover, copyright, and Table of contents) by eliminating subplots, exposition, unnecessary character development (mostly of the side characters), and so on.

    Imagine the works of David Weber without exposition or side plots! Baen should hire Takako Shigematsu today!

    [ORIGINAL POSTER NAME REDACTED] wrote on Sun, 23 May 2021 20:08
    So, how essential is it to the Honorverse to have read the spinoffs, like Saganami, or the Crown of Slaves series? I’m finding myself becoming bogged down in the infodumps and minutae, and it’s made me put off continuing to read the series. Will I be missing much by just barrelling through the mainline series and maybe reading the spinoffs later?

    For everyone not familiar with David Weber, the tales of Honor Harrington are at heart a thrilling story. But David does not believe in using 10 words, where 20 and two expository digressions will do.

    +8
    1. I like the Honor series, or at least the first few books. And it reminds me of another series Kris Longknife by Mike Shepherd (or is it Shepard – can’t remember). Same premise, kick ass female rises through military ranks by fighting battles in spaaaace. The big problem I have with both series is they’re supposed to be set in far future but they’re still relying on old fashioned and, frankly silly, tropes about women.

      +5
        1. Misplaced commas or, not I just one-clicked the first Kris Longknife. They want 132.81 for all 19. Too much commitment – we’ll see after a few dates.

          +5
  27. Now for all the Lois McMaster Bujold fans on this blog, there is an excellent interview of her on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog. There is even a transcript for those of you, like me, who are more visual than auditory.
    I think it is one of the best interviews of Lois I have ever come accross. She talks about the Assassins of Thasalon but also about lots of other things. And, she also mentionned how much she liked Jenny’s books from the 1990s!
    Also one thing she said, I can’t resist quoting here because I think it chimes with your philosophy Jenny: «  The plot is, plot is what you use to, you know, do exploratory surgery on a character. For every character, there will be a different, different most-revealing thing. ».
    Here is the link:
    https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast/461-gods-demons-and-retirements-with-lois-mcmaster-bujold/

    +10
    1. Also, she talks about how she self published some of her backlist as ebooks in the UK because she had somehow retained those rights. I wonder if that’s something you could do Jenny. As a UK reader, I can’t buy some of your books as ebooks which is very frustrating and I wonder if it is because your publishers don’t have the rights?

      +12
  28. Very slow reader again. Have finished Rosaline Palmer and liked it very much. Very. I sooo liked Harry and Rosaline grew on me. After a book I really liked or loved, there’s this period of afterglow for me 🙂

    If anyone is interested, Alexis Hall talked about this book and some others recently, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYXYFPhLbOg

    Also still reading The Book of Firsts. After first being sucked into the story, I stalled at around 65 %. I will continue reading, but it’s a choice, not an urge. All the protagonists are so incredibly beautiful and competent in everything they do – it’s been called as a kind of fantasy here and this view helps to plow on (I’m usually not much into manga nor billionaire stories, I prefer a bit of grit and people not perfect at almost everything).

    Last Thursday, when Olga asked for the title of a book with an indentured servant as MC, this intrigued me (it’s Nobody’s Angel btw). So I started to read up on this flavour of slavery. Fascinating topic!!

    On another tangent, I continued to search for novels on the aftermath of Waterloo. I don’t know how I came across this topic, but found some very fascinating reading online (e.g. on medicine and battle field surgery, also on how they “harvested” teeth afterwards etc.). There’s also an interesting video online by David Ebsworth about women at the front lines, e.g as soldiers in the French ranks, I haven’t read his book(s) yet, but the research he presented was intriguing. For anyone interested: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6fDa4Dfu_I.

    So I ecosia’ed novels with MCs who survived the Napoleonic Wars (didn’t find too many) and now I have some excerpts on my mobile yet to check out.
    One that read interesting and was rather a bargain on amazon was Miss Wonderful by Loretta Chase. Alastair Carsington is a quirky character, there’re just enough hints about his experiences at the battle of Waterloo that I’m willing to dive into the romance (I’m at 15 % right now) – as I’m not too much in the mood for romance otherwise.

    What kept me from reading this week watching Love, Victor with dd who wanted me to watch it with her. When a 13year old asks you, that’s too precious an invitation I to refuse. We both find the topic of finding one’s identity totally interesting, dd because she’s of the age to do face this situation right now and me watching her age group experience it. The son handled this by himself, she let’s me in on the process which is a treasure.
    We both loved the series. I liked Love, Victor even better than Love, Simon as the MCs family and circumstances are not so affluent and so the story feels nearer to reality. It also helps that Victor is an absolute cutie and has a great side kick in Felix – both my dd and I love sooo rooted for him, too.
    A re-watching is scheduled for the very near future 🙂

    +8
    1. Mary Balogh’s Slightly Sinful is set immediately after Waterloo. There was also a memorable short section in ‘Time’s Witness’, a non-fiction book I worked on recently (due out later this month), focusing on a young man who bumped into a close friend’s parents who were searching for their son’s remains; he ended up carrying the body home to Suffolk. Unbelievable.

      +6
      1. Heyer’s An Infamous Army is at Waterloo; the end of her Spanish Bride is also set there and describes the real life marriage of Juana Smith who married a british officer at age 14 after the siege of badajoz https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juana_Mar%C3%ADa_de_los_Dolores_de_León_Smith
        And Waterloo is what the last book in the Couriers series by Nita Abrams —five romances with Jewish main characters that is realistic about being Jewish in Regency England—is about. I do recommend the Couriers.

        +7
        1. Thanks a lot for yor recommendations, Jane and Debbie. The Heyer, I’ve already on my list, but the others never csme up on my search, so I will check them out as asap!!

          +3
          1. The one before Slightly Sinful – ?Slightly Tempted? – is also set around Waterloo and its immediate aftermath; different viewpoints/stories about the same few days, and the consequences for the characters.

            +5
    2. Jane, thanks for the second Balogh recommendation. I’ve downloaded the excerpt of this one, too and put the Non-fiction book on my wishlist on amazon (I’d like to have a sneak peek inside before ordering it as one cannot with not yet published ones), but with June 24th as publication date, I will soon be able to read the excerpt). Thrilling prospect to dive into so many titles!
      Just from reading the blurb on amazon’s website, I’d never have guessed in which time Mary Balogh’s books are set, much less that they might be in the setting I’m in the mood right now.
      Miss Wonderful, the Loretta Chase book I’m reading right now, so far is very fine reading material. The story has just arrived at the moment when Alistair gets flashbacks – rather fascinating. With a heroine as down-to-earth as Miracle – wonderfully “old”, it’s a nicely unusual pair anyway 🙂

      +4
      1. Actually Baloghs survivors series is about 6 men and a woman who survive the napoleonic wars with major injuries. I’m sure they are historically accurate as she’s very good that way but they are not very specific to the time period in terms of the injuries—could have been any war.

        +3
      2. NB, Dodo: Time’s Witness focuses on the period 1789-1841 (as I remember), and is about a significant change in the way history was viewed and studied in Britain and northern Europe, so Waterloo is a pretty small part of the whole.

        +2
        1. The blurb seems interesting!
          Waterloo was just a somewhat random starting point as I find the period fascinating in many ways.

          +3
  29. I am rereading Bet Me — the hardcover copy that my sweet husband bought me at a tag sale. (He knew I had the paperback, but wanted to surprise me with something I’d like.)

    After reading a bunch of books that weren’t worth my time, Bet Me succeeds particularly because the conversations between Min and Cal show their core characteristics, their changing personalities, and their deeper connection with each other than they have with others (even with their closest friends). Also, their conversations advance the plot. Really incredible writing — it’s brain palate cleansing after all those bummers.

    +12
    1. Bet Me is also one of my favourite Crusie’s, so much so that I bought it three times. Once to read then to lend to someone who lost it, twice to replace that one and then the third time so that I had it on my Kindle. I couldn’t live without being able to reread, many times at my leisure, Min’s explaining to Cal’s horrible parents that his dyslexia is actually an advantage.

      +8
  30. I had started listening to the audiobook of Obama’s Promised Land in late December closer to when it had initially come out, but I was too keyed up to finish it at the time given the still fraught political situation. I couldn’t get through him talking about running against Hillary Clinton without feeling sad, sick and stressed knowing what later came to pass for Hillary Clinton’s subsequent run …especially while we were still going through the 2020 election in Georgia/attack on the capitol.

    Plus, going into the book, I had forgotten how upset with him I was at the time when he said that thing about “Hillary, you’re likable enough.” He explains in the book that he meant it as a joke that he was making because he thought it was a stupid and unanswerable question presenting an obvious gender bias… and it’s clear that he’s a thoughtful and generous man who doesn’t go out of his way to slam people, so I have to believe him that he meant it that way, but …it just brought back the complicated feelings I have about Hillary Clinton and how she’s always been treated. And my sense that despite much progress, we still live in a deeply misogynistic society.

    So remembering that particular episode, plus just remembering that time in general and all the hope and energy going into Obama’s first term compared with the state of US politics over the winter… I needed to put Obama aside for a bit in that moment or totally spiral. I just couldn’t take hearing him and all that past Hope in light of the reality of all the Trump Change that I was experiencing at that moment.

    But I am glad I’ve gotten back to listening to it now that the late spring sun is shining and things feel more cautiously hopeful in our country again. (except that dear God, please don’t lose sight of the new voter restrictions and heartbeat laws and think that our democracy and rights aren’t still at a very tenuous moment. One side is talking about infrastructure, the other side is trying to make it so that fewer people will vote….I don’t care what your policy stances are, surely making it harder for American citizens to exercise their rights to vote is not where the focus for our country should be right now)

    He remains an amazing and insightful writer. And it is crazy to listen to the book and remember just how much the world was falling apart in late 2008/2009 and to feel comforted about how things can turn around and how quickly. It further puts this moment in context.

    It’s also interesting to listen to his book after having listened to John Boehner’s audiobook to see how the two different men see themselves and their relationship and the forces swirling in Washington at that time.

    +13
  31. I just got Patrick Radden Keefe new book ‘Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynastry’.

    Last year I read his book ‘Say Nothing’ and it was one of the best reads of 2020.

    +7
  32. The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
    I read her previous book, TheTen Thousand Doors of January, and really enjoyed it, but this book, her second novel, is absolutely fabulous.

    Also read the Solomon Vs. Lord books by Paul Levine, great repartee between the leads.

    And I’m reading my wife Terry Pratchett. We started reading the Tiffany Aching series, which are my favorites (perhaps strange as I’m a 77 year old man), and are now going through the rest of the books in chronological order.

    +8
  33. I also read Isabel Cooper’s ‘The Storm Bringer’ this week, and liked it a lot even though sword-and-sorcery is usually not my bag. The M+F+Spirit love story was great. Will probably not read the further books because I get the idea they will be a lot of horrible battles and loss and politics with only palate-cleansing bits of the love story, but who knows; may pick them up out of curiosity sometime.

    Then read two contemporary fantasy M/M rom-coms by E.J. Russell; ‘Single White Incubus’ and ‘Demon on the Down-Low,’ which are both about abuse of power by administrative bodies. Enforced conformity, basing actions on assumptions & gossip rather than facts & investigation. The friend group comes to the rescue.

    Read a not-so-good M/M romance set at a private school featuring former student + teacher, big age gap, very melodramatic, much unexamined motive.

    Then a M/M featuring Olympic swimmers; coming-out, class differences, sabotage by a teammate, threatened blackmail by the rich guy’s parents – loads of angst, but all resolved through teamwork. ‘Relay’ by Layla Reyne.

    Then re-read the four Auckland Med books by Jay Hogan. The first one is a bit rough around the edges. Second, much more polished, stands out from the rest because in alt-1st-person POV; that’s ‘Crossing the Touchline,’ which is about to get a sequel. My personal fave is #3, ‘Up Close and Personal,’ in which the relationship moves very fast over the course of an action-packed weekend as the heroes, investigating a murder, get targeted by the killers.

    +7
  34. My daughter is on her way down from Buffalo to visit. Three day drive so of course I will worry until she drives in the driveway. She has been struggling the last several years with anxiety and my illness has not helped. We talked all the way through Pennsylvania and Ohio this morning. She has a counselor who sounds like she is really helping her a lot. Helping her see that she’s always been an anxious person and a perfectionist – two things that don’t really go together well. I think like all high achievers she believes she is not allowed to make a mistake and is responsible for everything.

    My health has started to slip a little bit. I have a catheter in the plura of my lung that drains fluid that accumulates there and it decided on Friday to give up the ghost. So visit to the emergency room and a very uncomfortable and painful replacement of a new one. Needless to say my ribs are sore and it’s hard to breathe. However it looks like the doctor really sewed it in this time so I’m hoping it will run the gamut.

    Looking forward to seeing my daughter. She wanted to come while I was still able to get around and maybe do a little bit around the area. Sushi came to mind which we all love – poke bowl for me!

    +24
    1. Hey, Ranch Girl! Not happy to hear about the catheter ordeal. *Really happy* to hear you’ll have the enjoyment of family and sushi.

      +6
      1. Ranch girl so happy to see you will have a visit with your daughter. I’ve been thinking of you.

        +5
    2. I hope that the new catheter behaves itself so you can get the maximum enjoyment out of your daughter’s visit. Perhaps the combination of the new therapist and time spent with you will help her to see that the emphasis on perfection and high achievement is preventing her from enjoying all the wonderful imperfections around her.

      +6
  35. So fab that you’ll have a visit with your daughter, RanchGirl. Sorry to hear about the catheter issues, but good they got solved before she arrived. Wishing you both a lovely visit:)

    +8
  36. Just FYI, the most recent Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast is with Lois McMaster Bujold, and she has nice Crusie things to say.

    +5
  37. My housemate told me I had to read her favorite book (she is not much of a reader, and apparently has reread this one dozens of times). It didn’t seem like my kind of thing, but I figured I could at least give it a try. And I’m really enjoying it.

    It’s kind of a humorous travelogue/memoir by a British man named Pete McCarthy, called McCarthy’s Bar. It’s funny as hell, and a wonderful trip through the land and people of Ireland. Not the kind of thing you sit down and read in one bite, but I’m really enjoying reading a bit every morning with breakfast.

    +8
    1. This is on my bookcase (literal, not ebook) and I’ve never read it. Sounds like I should though, thanks for the push!

      +6
  38. The other author who writes with a fair degree of historical accuracy about Waterloo and the aftermath is Carla Kelly.

    +4

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