This is a Good Book Thursday, June 3, 2021

My good book news: two of my favorite authors dropped new books on June 1 (Tuesday): Casey McQuiston (Red, White, and Royal Blue) with One Last Stop and Beth O’Leary (The Flatshare) with The Road Trip.. They’re on tap for this weekend. Oh, and I continued my exploration of New Age Adult romance, and The Book of Firsts (high school with lots of sex and no trauma) was a great fantasy (okay, not a fantasy fantasy but so full of sane people with very little angst and lots of money and connections that it felt like a fantasy and a lot of fun).

What did you read this week?

93 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 3, 2021

  1. I read Paladin’s Strength last week and enjoyed it a lot. Thanks to the weirdness of the library system I was able to check it out again yesterday to re-read after returning it as soon as I finished to the message “4 people are waiting” after waiting for it several weeks myself. I guess they read it as fast as I did. In the interim I re-read Paladin’s Grace to refresh my memory about the pseudo-golems.

    I read several books by Wendy Wax, recommended here, and although I liked all the characters and was interested in them, I found I could not care about plot. In fact I DNFd the last one, turning to the end, wanting to know what happened to them but not caring how they got there. What is going on with pacing that makes me keep muttering “This should have been a short story!”?

  2. I picked up JUST LAST NIGHT on your rec and it was really well done. She really nailed what that shock of grief is like, and then the recovery. I thought the relationship part could have been developed more–there was suddenly deep feelings expressed, but I didn’t quite get there… but that’s a quibble.

    In the same sort of sad-but-happy-ending, I also read Abby Jimenez’s LIFE’S TOO SHORT, which wasn’t what I thought it was going to be, but it keep me reading, which seems to be a challenge lately.

      1. We don’t get nit-picky in the comments.
        Think of the comments as a kegger. Nobody corrects themselves at a kegger, they just get another beer.

  3. Oh, a new Beth O’Leary. I listened to the audio of The Switch a bit ago and really liked the grandmother/granddaughter relationship because I don’t come across it that often– especially with the older generation done so fully. Thanks for the tip about the new book:)

  4. I always assume that Jenny and many others on this site read primarily via e-readers, so I was shocked to find that my library had multiple copies of Just Last Night, and I was able to borrow one immediately.

    The thing is, Mhairi McFarlane writes believable dialogue and I find her observations of people both accurate and insightful, so even if she’s writing about people I have never known and probably wouldn’t have anything in common with, I buy her premises and conclusions.

    And no matter how swift and unexpected the romance ended up being, I was really glad that the two most sensitive and perceptive characters ended up with one another. I just wish that lawyers hadn’t been threatened at one point, but maybe that’s just me.

  5. Jenny, I just put your name in again and out popped a new comic with your name as author, Second Chances #1 in kindle and comiXology, this is getting very suspicious. Should I let you know if I see any more or are you on top of it?

    1. Jesus, no, did not write that.
      Trying to get through to amazon to pull it now, but I’m caught in one of their damn loops. ARGH.
      Yes, thank you, please let me know.

      1. I just checked Amazon, and the book is showing as Getting Rid of Bradley – Harlequin Comics with Jennifer Crusie as author and Takako Shigematsu as illustrator. The publisher shows as Harlequin/SB Creative.

        1. That one came out June First and I’ve been reviewing it on Argh Ink and Goodreads. It’s an abridgement of GRoB (I love those initials!). All the side plots and character development are gone. It reads very fast as a result. About what you’d expect for a comic book, I suppose.

          Think of it as a movie treatment of the book. Very visual, no relation to the source material… It’s a little better than that. And it needs a tablet or very large computer screen to read, right to left, back to front.

          1. It was really interesting to read. Didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me but I’m going back to read the original for comparison.

  6. Just finished Dial A for Auntie which I saw recommended somewhere. Unfortunately I hated the protagonist; she just seemed TSTL for the vast majority of the book. And most of the other characters were just as annoying. I don’t want to give the plot away but pretty much everyone in this book should have gone to prison instead of getting a HEA. Aargh!

    But on the postive side, I also just finished the new Becky Chambers: The Galaxy and the Ground Within. Multiple beings who would not normally associate with each other for REASONS are trapped in a dome together and learn to see (mostly) eye to eye. Wholeheartedly recommend!

    I too have the new Casey McQuiston in my hot little hands. Will be reading it shortly!

    1. Glad the Becky Chambers is good; I’ve really liked all of hers apart from the last one (To Be Taught, If Fortunate).

      1. I would have like To be Taught a lot better if it didn’t have so much to live up to (if it had some unknown’s name on the cover I’d have thought it quite pleasant). so I was worried about The Galaxy and the Ground Within, but it was very good.

  7. I have been reading False Value by Ben Aaronovitch. I’m about 1/2 way through. I’m enjoying it, but I have found it fairly easy to put down, which is actually good this week because I have a lot to do.

    Late last week I read Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert. It is the 3rd of a series and they have all been fun, quick reads.

    I finally got A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher from the library. I just love her. As I was writing this and double checking the title, I realized that Paladin’s Strength that so many of you were talking about last week is T. Kingfisher, so now I know what I will be doing this weekend. 🙂

    I’ve also been listening to The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It is about a slave who has escaped and becomes part of the underground railroad. Both the reader and the book are fabulous. I’ve been recommending it to everyone I know.

  8. I think that you might mean New Adult Romance? Unless New Age is something else that I don’t know about.

    I read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake and enjoyed it. Not my favorite of Alexis Hall, but I found myself wanting to return to it after it was finished, which is a sure sign of a good read for me.

    And for laughs, I read Ensnared by Tiffany Roberts. It’s a sci Fi smut about a race of slightly humanoid spider aliens with a hunter/gather matriarchal society and a crash landed space ship. It was surprisingly good. A bit wordy in the descriptions and stretching over multiple books when it really could have been one, but both the main characters are well rounded and interesting. They have to work through a language barrier and preconceptions about looks and finding another sentient species, as well as the technology gap. He hunts with spears, she flew through space, etc. I may or may not read the rest, but it was fun. Thought I would mention it here after the shifter mash up discussion 😉

  9. Swopping between Bushido, The Way of The Warrior libirivox audio and Atomic Habits by James Clear.

    So far, so good.

  10. I mostly cleaned house, but I did read Libromancer. A fun read and I finally found a magic I would like to have.

  11. Kerry Greenwood came out with a new Phrynne Fisher mystery, “Death in Daylesford”, and I found it . . . disappointing. It read like fan fiction — repeating elements from earlier books, but not doing it well.

  12. I read some more Edge books from Ilona Andrews which inevitably led me to the innkeeper series as I wanted those glimpses of grown up Georges and Jack and Sophie (and Gaston).
    After that, on a recommendation from another website, I have started reading some of Celia Lake’s books. I really liked them so I can see myself reading her for a while as even though she hasn’t been publishing for long she has an astonishing number of books out. Apparently, she releases a book every three months or so as well as being a librarian. Not sure how she does it!
    I started with Pastiche which was a lovely romance of two very diffident people falling in love within their arranged marriage. I continued with their son’s story which was also lovely. I am now on the third in that series but I am not sure how it is connected to the others.
    All her books are set in a fantasy version of England which as far as I can tell exists in parallel to the « real world ». The fantasy aspects are not explained, they are just woven into the story which is something I really like but which some people might find a bit puzzling/frustating.
    Anybody else has read some Celia Lake? I’d like to know what other Arghers think of her.

    1. I never read Celia Lake, but judging from your description and what GoodReads says, I just bought one of her books. When I read it, I’ll report here.

    2. I haven’t read Celia,Lake yet, but from your description Pastiche sounded good, so I just got that as an ebook. Strangely, I can’t find any otger ebooks in that series, but there are two other similar series by her available. I’ll just start with Pastiche.

      1. The one about the son is the fossil door and now I am reading eclipse. I started with Pastiche because it’s set at the turn of the century while the others mostly happen in the 1920s, a period Celia Lake really likes apparently.

        1. In fact I got it wrong, Eclipse is not linked to the other two at all but it doesn’t matter really. They all work very well as standalones. 🙂

          1. I just enjoyed Pastiche, and went on to buy several more of Celia Lake’s ebooks. Thank you for the recommendation!

      1. Deborah — only very very tangentially in that a grown up George, Jack, and Gaston show up (Sweep in Peace, I believe). Very well done for how that crossover works and use of the characters in the Innkeeper world.

        (I think I’ve re-read all of these multiple times now. I’ll go look something up for an answer to a question and end up sitting an re-reading on the spot.)

  13. Slow reader here.

    I’ve finished not a single book this week, but I’ve progressed with The Book of Firsts this week, dipped into Barbara’s two books about Lady Rosamund (they seem intriguing) and downloaded Rosaline Palmer by Alexis Hall.

    I’m a bit behind with my Ancient Greek homework, so I spent this week’s me-time in the park with my textbook, grammar and vocabulary. I’d forgotten my mobile at home and without access to my ebooks, I found it easy to focus on something a bit dry.

    We went places, so I spent a lot of time in trains, but pleasant not-crowded ones. Perfect for reading. However, I wasn’t in the mood for blushing my way through the Book of Firsts (okay, I’m at the 54 % mark, the story has progressed away from the too blush-inducing scenes) on public transport… I agree with Jenny about the fantasy element. Comparing those 19-year olds with the youngsters around me, they seem fantasy material to me, but why not.

    So on the train, I dived into Rosaline.
    With Alexis Hall you definitely seem to always get a different book. I’m only at ca. 33 % but have already formed a keen dislike of Alain and an avid like of Harry (in spite of his grammar). Alain’s arrogance and his acid way of commenting on others he deems inferior grates on me (it very likely should). I’m on the fence with Rosaline and her ever present ex Lauren. But I definitely like Harry (handsome, quiet, kind, and competent in the kitchen and elsewhere), so I’m looking forward to continue reading.

    1. I think that you will come to like Rosaline. I definitely related to a lot of her issues, especially with dealing with her parents and her negative self talk.

      1. I did something I very rarely do and jumped ahead to the end of the story. Just couldn’t endure the tension of seeing Rosaline with such a controlling jerk (Alain). Now I can go back and enjoy the rest of the story knowing all ends well 🙂
        And yes, the Rosaline that she is at the end is someone I like a lot.

        1. First time reading this author. Like you skipped ahead and then re-read but still skipped many pages. Thought the premise was good especially since I enjoy the TGBBS. Alain was controlling jerk, out for himself. Harry was lovely man. Rosaline had a good arc. But…just couldn’t take the language. No one in any corporation would speak like Jennifer or many of the characters. It was just too much. Not a prude and yes I do occasionally use the word. But…not for me.

  14. I took book #7 of the Expanse (Tiamat’s Wrath) with my on vacation, and am working my way through it. The characters are still folks I care about. Turns out the last book will be coming out in the fall. I may need to reread all of these before that comes out.

  15. I’ve been rereading old Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz), to cushion me through my new computer trauma. First Amaryllis/Zinnia/Orchid, and now After Glow. I’m also halfway though Humankind by Rutger Bregman, which I definitely recommend, and which is also good for calming me down (he’s making the case for a more positive view of human beings).

    Also Adobe Lightroom Classic – The Missing FAQs by Victoria Bampton. And various manuals.

      1. I saw on fantastic fiction Jayne has a new book coming out. Sorry can’t remember the name of it.

  16. This week I read another M/F contemporary by Talia Hibbert, ‘That Kind of Guy.’ It’s an age-gap, friends-to-lovers, Fake Boyfriend scenario, another good book.

    Three M/M contemporaries, none bad, none outstanding.

    One of my own books to confirm there are no continuity errors between it and the title I have coming out in July.

    One very good and unusual M/M romance, ‘Midlife Crisis’ by Audra North, for which the title is 100% descriptive. It’s a later-in-life coming-out story, with the closeted hero recently widowed after 35 yrs of marriage to a woman. The setting is Texas, and the hero is Black, which adds a whole ‘nother layer to his conflicts; his lover is Mexican-American, more prosperous, with a supportive family. They have a lot of figuring-out to do.

    Finally, read the Magic In Manhattan trilogy by Allie Therin, which I liked a lot. I especially liked the found-family aspect (always do) and the redemption of many of the antagonists.

  17. Books read this week:

    * American Royals: Majesty: sequel to a book in which the Washington family is (somehow) royalty. Definitely Young Adult Soap Opera, but almost all of the guys are good people to date and the ladies get self-empowerment. Except the one girl who is straight outta Melrose Place for villainy.

    * Last Chance Books: bookstore wars in a small town, plus romance, plus abandoning parental angst. It was okay, I guess.

    * Aurora Burning: sequel to another book, teenage military kids trying to save the world while on the run. Actually even better than the first one. I really like Amie Kaufman/Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae trilogy, and this is almost as good.

    * A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking: worth the hype. I’m not even into baking, but she makes it work. I appreciate the “I have weird magic skills but I’m gonna make ’em work” aspect of it all.

  18. Read A.J. Lancaster’s The Court of Mortals. It was a marvelous book, #3 in the series I’m coming to appreciate more and more with every new addition. I look forward to the book #4. This book was the only new book for me last week, but there were several satisfying re-reads, including Heyer’s The Talisman Ring. It was as delightful as ever. Made me laugh.
    Now I’m trying a new book and new for me author, Shelly Laurenstone’s The Unleashing, but it is going slowly. Not sure I’ll finish it.
    A question for you, folks. You all read a lot, so maybe you could help me. Years ago, I read a book, but I don’t remember the author or the title. It was a hard cover, so the author must have already been well established. The plot was historical, maybe a romance. I don’t remember if it included any sex scenes. A young British aristocrat is falsely accused of some heinous crime he didn’t commit, tried in court, and sentenced to transportation. He is sold as an indentured servant in America. Of course, he is angry and bitter. He is set on escaping. A young woman who bought him is kind and compassionate, but she needs a strong male laborer for her crumbling estate. They fall in love and eventually go back to Britain together, so he could find his enemies, prove his innocence, and get back his title and fortune. Does any of it ring a bell? Do any of you know this novel?

    1. You might have good luck with Smart Bitches Trashy Books, SBTB. They have a column titled Help a Bitch Out, HABO, the main feature is someone who wants to know the author and title of a book and can’t remember either. That book you described would have to have taken place before the Revolutionary War and that’s all I’ve got.

      1. Olga, if you find out the title, plwase do tell us. It sounds quite interesting!
        Keeping my fingers crossed!

    2. It it JUST possible that the book might have been ALYX, by Lolah Burford — that’s the only title that came to mind with your description. It’s possible to get an inexpensive paperback, but the main offering prices are quite high. Lolah Burford was a little too much for me, though like a lot of authors, she might seem quite tame these days.

    3. Olga, I’ve done a search. Could this book you’d like to find be Nobody’s Angel by Karen Robards, published around 1992?

      The blurb resembles your description.

  19. I finished “Ship of Magic” by Robin Hobb, part 1 in the Liveship Traders-trilogy. First time I read a book of hers that does not have Fitz Chivalry as MC, and yes, I like it. It’s more or less all misery for all of the characters right now (just started on book 2: “The Mad Ship”), but I’m sure things will be… interesting. Happy endings are never a guarantee here. Bittersweet is probably the closest you get with Hobb behind the pen. At least I know that some of the characters will survive all of this, since I’ve read books placed later in the Realm of the Elderlings-timeline that briefly feature some of them.

    In other news: We did not get the house. 🙁 Despite placing a bid pretty far above the starting price, we apparently did not bid enough. We’re both secretly a little heartbroken right now. Being prepared for the blow doesn’t take all the sting out of it.

    1. Very sorry for you both. It is so hard to put in a blind bid. Better luck next time.
      Is there a possibility the other party might not get financing, sometimes this happens.

    2. I’m sorry about the house. I hope you can find another you like and that this experience will help you set a winning bid next time.

    3. Thanks, everyone. <3 I think Sven is taking it much harder than I, but I'm sad about it, too. Blind auctioning is horrible. The insane prices are also very discouraging, because we don't have limitless funds to throw into the fight.
      Let's hope something else will show up, because this place is making us increasingly unhappy and sad.

      @Margaret There *is* a very slim chance. We have seen it once before, that the bank did not agree to finance things for the party that snagged a previous place in front of our noses, and that one was put back on the market again (only we didn't want it anymore and the seller wouldn't accept our bid anyway). We're trying not to put too much hope on that though. Secretly, we're probably both hoping it'll happen…

      1. That happened to me. I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy a cottage that needed this much work, and somebody else had their offer accepted. I called my realtor and said, “What else is there?” and she said, “It’s not going to through,” and it didn’t, and I got the place at a good price after all. And now, of course, it’s a money pit, but I love it anyway.

        Fingers crossed for you.

  20. Not much reading this week but I’m really loving Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. Great book about the natural world and our relationship with it, and the importance of stories.

  21. Found an oldie but goodie. Summer’s End by Kathleen Gilles Seidel. I read a lot of her when I was young and forgot how good she is. There is a romance, and family dynamics and characters with a ton of common sense and good portrayals of adolescents. She just sucks you in and gives great motivation for all of the behavior. I find her great at characterization and a page tuner, but YMMV.

    Also finished Like Water for Chocolate for a throwback book club. Magical Realism from, I think, the 90s. Now want to see the movie and make some of the recipes.

    Currently on Lucy Parker’s Austen Playbook, just starting. Can’t figure out her list of books on goodreads. Anyone know anything about the books listed as Battle Royale and Too Wise to Woo Peaceably? Heard of them? Read them?

    1. I think Battle Royale is her new book, out sometime this summer. And Too Wise is a short story available for free on her website, I think! (I should confirm before posting this, but the way this day is going, I would never get back here to post if I took the time to do it…)

    2. I really like the Austen Playbook and the rest of that series. May have to reread…

  22. I too enjoyed The book of Firsts this week.
    I always enjoy Andrea K. Höst’s writing and characters. She writes competent, no-drama protagonists that I really enjoy getting to know, and I always want to know how things are going with them after the book ends.
    She used the pen name Karan K. ANnders for this book because it has so many more sex scenes than her usual writing (60 out of 73, she said in her blog), but those scenes are all used to develop the characters and the relationships, rather than empty tittilation.

    I wondered if I would like this book, as I often skim or skip sex scenes which can be boring and repetitive. In this case, I didn’t skip, as it’s mostly not about the mechanics but about character and/or relationship development, the choices the characters make. I liked it a lot. I also liked the developing friendship with Lania.
    Now I really want to read the next book, where all the family dramas are going to come to a head. She said in her blog that she’s writing on that as well as Tangleways (the sequel to Pyramids of London).

    No sequel in the works yet for The Starfighter Invitation. Like Hunting, that book really feels like there is/are sequel(s) to be told, perhaps a series; but of course there is a limit to how much an author can write at a time, and there are always new ideas clamoring to be given voice.

  23. I finished Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake and absolutely loved it. My favorite book so far this year. Of course, I like The Great British Baking Show, so that helps.

    Just finishing up a YA SF by one of my favorite authors, Maria V. Snyder. Defending the Galaxy is the third book in a trilogy (all highly recommended) and I am sorry to be reaching the end. Navigating the Stars is the first book, for anyone who is interested.

  24. Bah, a typo in the name, it’s Karan K. Anders.

    Just one more observation: the basic setup of the situation as well as the description of the three boys did make me think rather strongly of anime wish-fulfillment ‘fanservice’.

    I haven’t read any, only seen small glimpses of anime, some drawings and comments, so I may be quite wrong about that; but that is the impression I got. Her blog says she’s been reading (watching? playing?) a lot of anime and manga during the Covid year, so it would not be too strange if that had some influence on the visualisation of the characters (everybody is good looking, there’s a lot of long hair, etc.).

    1. It very much feels like shoujo manga, and hits a lot of the manga/anime tropes, but it also avoids most of the aspects of the tropes that I don’t like. And yes, the characters in the book line up pretty well with standard manga types, deliberately so I would imagine. But it’s what she does with them that’s so enjoyable to read. I’m on my second re-reading of Book of Firsts, and enjoying it all over again.

      1. It felt visually like manga to me. The structure based on that list was compelling since you got to see the three boys in comparison in the different sex situations, but the relationships were well developed, too.

  25. Apologies if this has already been posted and I missed it. I read The Last Flight by Julie Clark and it was the first book I picked up and did not want to put down in a long time. I don’t want to give spoilers so I’ll just say it’s about two women who decide to switch identities at the airport and take each other’s flights.

    The word smirk appears in it and it made me think of you, Jenny, and I think that shows you’re an awesome teacher.

  26. Rachel Neumeier’s The Griffin Mage Trilogy. Three books, in which the heroine of the first becomes the villain (sort of) of the third. I wasn’t terribly into the first one, mostly because of the writing style, but I liked the second, then thoroughly enjoyed the third. The moment I finished, I went to the library app to see what else I could read by her.

    E. J. Mellow’s Song of the Forever Rains, an Amazon Prime First book that reminded me not to bother to read those books. It has a fantastic cover and it started off great, but… well, it might work for another reader. In fact, at a different time in my life I might have loved it. But cool, dark, and interesting turned into “let’s all do terribly dangerous things so we can avoid just killing the bad guy, because apparently we’re too nice to kill the bad guy despite our supposedly dark, bloody, murderous history.” Honestly, if it hadn’t started out so interesting, I probably wouldn’t have been so annoyed: it would have been just kind of a generic fantasy romance, pleasant enough.

    T. M. Baumgartner’s Shift Happens, another lousy ending, but such a great heroine — 56, practical, hardworking, fun! She’s basically a parole officer for shapeshifters in a world where anyone might wind up accidentally becoming a shapeshifter, but when they do, they automatically get enrolled in parole-type monitoring. Really loved the first half of the book, then it went off the rails to me, and the ending was a letdown — it felt like the character was still fighting to be the person she was at the beginning of the book, instead of embracing change and growing. But still worth reading.

    Kate Stradling’s The Heir and the Spare, highly recommended by a friend, and another one where I didn’t like the ending. (I’m noticing a theme.) Romantic fantasy with an artist heroine who is downtrodden and abused, but much stronger and more talented than she appears. Lots of good about it, but an ending where the heroine has absolutely no agency. None. Well, okay, just enough agency to say yes to marriage as a happy ending. I liked the style, but I wish the heroine had done something to help herself somewhere along the way.

    Dianna Wynne Jones, Fire and Hemlock. A reread for me of one which was never one of my favorites. I wondered whether I’d finally gotten old enough to appreciate it — it’s possibly the most literary of her books — but actually I think I liked it even less than I did when I was young. The relationship between the main characters has a lot more of a squick factor than I noticed back then. (He’s an adult when it opens, she’s 12 — at the end, she’s 19 and they are theoretically a couple, and that’s just infinitely more troubling to me now than it was when I was 12 myself.)

    Amanda Quick, The Lady Has a Past. A new release but classic Amanda Quick. Fun & entertaining and I’m sure two weeks from now I wouldn’t be able to tell you a thing about the plot. Enjoyed it while I was reading it, though.

    1. Oh, and duh, I got distracted by thinking about my own reading, but I’m so glad you enjoyed The Book of Firsts! I was thinking last week how much I wished my 12-year-old self could have discovered that book instead of Harlequin Romances. Sex that is fun instead of angsty passionate trauma, partners who respect consent, people who grow closer by having conversations — if only!

      1. The lack of angst in The Book of Firsts was a big relief. They had problems, but the relationships weren’t beset by shrieking and pain. Very together high school seniors.

    2. Rachel Neumeier has written a lot of books that I really enjoyed, and a few that are less to my taste.
      Tuyo is a recent favorite. I also liked House of Shadows and its sequel Door into Light, and all of her standalone (YA and adult) fantasies. Her oldest, The City in the Lake, has the flavour of Patricia McKillip in the writing style.

      1. I like Neumeier as well. And I agree with the McKillip comparison. I think there’s at least one other Neumeier book that reminds me of McKillip, although I’m drawing a blank on names at the moment. But bottom line, Neumeier’s backlist is worth checking out. I have Tuyo and the two other books in that series as well, just haven’t gotten to them yet. So many books, so little time!

    3. I agree many of the amazon first prime books are poor, but one of them Where the forest meets the stars was amazing good.. so for free, it is sometimes worth a try , but many months I don’t read any of them ..

    4. Same on Fire and Hemlock. It was never my favourite DWJ and a re-read a few years ago confirmed I still didn’t appreciate the fairy story fatalism or the age gap.

    5. I like Fire and Hemlock. The squick factor is less for me because (1) magic seems to be reshaping time at times, and (2) Polly tells Thomas that he used her when she makes the break that actually saves his life. He has to acknowledge that and regret it.

      To tell the truth I really like the possibilities of the Tam Lin story, so I also enjoy and reread The Perilous Gard (Pope) and Winter Rose (McKillip) and the short story Cotillion (Delia Sherman). And the Fairport Convention song. I haven’t reread Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin since high school because I suspect I wouldn’t like it anymore.

      1. I read Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin regularly and still love it, so you might.

  27. I read Dancing On the Grave and Bones In the River by Zoe Sharp. Mysteries set in rural northwest England (Cumbria), featuring CSI Grace McColl and Detective Nick Weston. Both of them are new to the jobs and are not warmly welcomed by their fellows. Very good and I’m looking forward to a third.

  28. I read The Magnolia Sword, by Sherry Thomas and immediately went out and bought my own copy. It’s a retelling of the ballad of Mulan, and it really captures the sense that this legendary mythic figure is actually just a nineteen year old girl who is terrified to go to war but feels she has to for the family. It also tackles questions of ethnicity and gender in a way that doesn’t jolt you out of the story, which is impressive for something set in the fifth century CE. Highly recommend.

  29. The Bromance Book Club, which put me off really early in the piece when the hero plundered the heroine’s mouth with his tongue. This phrase pretty much makes me take an instant dislike to a book. Plus rich sporting heroes aren’t really my thing. But it was okay, apart from the plundering.
    Miss Kopp Just Won’t Quit by Amy Stewart. A fictionalisation of one of the earliest women detectives in the US, and a follow-up to Girl Waits With Gun. Miss Kopp is wonderful.
    Doreen Tovey’s More Cats in the Belfry, which is a laugh out loud description of her life in the English countryside with Siamese cats and strange neighbours.
    And now I’m reading The Dictionary of Lost Words, which is just beautiful.

  30. When I came on the blog this morning I thought: “How could there already be seventy comments??” until I realized it was Friday not Thursday, which says a lot about how my week is going. Plus we have a new puppy – a Toy Australian Shepherd named Pixie – who is Beyond Cute but has me up three times a night and only pees in one of them. the other two times she just wants to play. I can’t say the feeling is reciprocated.

    Anyway…books! I tried to read The Butterfly Sword by Jeannie Lin and I’m so sorry to everyone who has been recommending her books to me but I DNF. The romance started down such a worn-out path I couldn’t go there. So instead I read The ice King’s Consort, an M/M fantasy – fun but only if you’re hardcore M/M and needs something new. And then there was the Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock’s first in The Lords of Bucknaill Club Book, A Husband for Hartwell. An interesting premise – that in the late 1700’s, marriage between same sexes is legalized in Britain to strengthen the law of primogeniture and to encourage childless unions to younger sons and daughters. Imagine the Regency period where you can marry the same sex – but still be ruined for illicit activities before marriage.

    I also reread one of my favourite KJ Charles – A Seditious Affair. It’s a seriously intelligent M/M Regency that isn’t fluffy – covers the harsh realities of the politics of the day, censorship, poverty, and William Blake, all laced with some delicious BDSM sex and a true couple at odds romance. And finally, I read Martha Wells first Raksura series books. It’s no Murderbot but I was desperate for more Martha. She handles fantasy very competently and I’ve moved onto the second in the series.

    Happy Friday, everyone. We’re still in lockdown up here in Toronto but the weather is supposed to be gorgeous so here’s to enjoying some sunshine.

      1. Seeing those titles, I fired up Google and searched/researched the various iterations of “Lie still and think of England.” The results were akin to TV Tropes, and I wasted at least an hour thus employed, with no conclusive result, save that its origin is at least in the twentieth, not the nineteenth century. Any attribution to Queen Victoria is very much the invention of some later wag.

        1. No it isn’t. That’s what Queen Victoria wrote to her daughter the Princess of Prussia when she was expecting her first child and terribly homesick. Along with advising her to have ether if she could possibly talk her doctors into it, that was advice about how to get through child birth without her family in a strange country.
          I can’t give a citation because I haven’t read Victoria’s letters in over thirty years, but when I read that one I said “Oh! That’s where that comes from!” I think the letters were first published in the late 20s early 30s, though.

          1. The book you’re probably thinking of is DEAREST CHILD, Letters between Queen Victoria and the Princess Royal 1858-1861, which would have covered the time period. Sequels were DEAREST MAMA, YOUR DEAR LETTER, DARLING CHILD, BELOVED MAMA.

            I THINK there was a final volume edited by someone else after Roger Fulford, the editor of these titles, had died, but I can’t find it with a quick search.

      2. I have to say that I put the Will Darling adventures right up there. And occasionally Band Sinister.

  31. I’ve been reading the MS of THE LARAN GAMBIT, but now in a more relaxed frame of mind because I don’t have to edit it.

    About half through THE BOOK OF FIRSTS, and agree with everyone else’s comments; I’m just where Lania and Mika are vacationing in Québec City.

    Comfort reread — THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, because A WITNESS FOR THE DEAD will be released on June 22.

  32. Whoosh! I’m glad the Thursday column is still up, because I wanted to “thank” the person who stole my first five hours of sleep last night by recommending what turned out to be a superb good book — Winter’s Orbit.

    I found the first few chapters a bit confusing because it was hard to get the different planets, and characters, and relevant historical periods straight in my head, but the author was clearly a master of her craft, because the plot threads and relationship clarifications all began to converge on one another in the last third of the book and I COULDN’T STOP READING UNTIL I’D FINISHED THE LAST DAMN CHAPTER!

    (JK about the “thank” in quotes above. So glad someone recommended this here. I’m starting the book again tonight from the beginning now that I have the political situation and names clear in my head. And oh, the scene in the tent….)

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