This is a Good Book Thursday, July 1, 2021

I’ve been re-reading The Book of Firsts, trying to figure out what makes it such a good romance and not erotica despite the nearly sixty sex scenes (by the author’s count).

What did you read this week?

107 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 1, 2021

  1. I did not like a Regency that is said to combine Georgette Heyer’s romances with Wrede & Stevermer’s Sorcery & Cecilia. (No, this isn’t the book suggested by Bujold on Goodreads — it’s from one of the comments to Bujold’s post.)

    I am slowly compiling a list of things I can’t stand in stories I pay for, beyond (1) series and (2) not being researched and (3) reading like a discovery draft that was never refined further.

    I’m adding this: ailments or fairy-caused impairments that allow the heroine to act as if she lives in 2021. This heroine can break Regency rules because of this “problem.” For instance, she can feel for the suffering of the downtrodden, unlike the nasty aristocrats around her. Nope, in my opinion that’s cheating. Georgette Heyer did her research and produced Sir Waldo’s philanthropic mother and Arabella’s pastor father, as well as Drusilla’s philosophical/literary parents. And Heyer made her stories fun, not droopy.

    1. Fun reading! I’m rereading Expecting Someone Taller by Tom Holt. Love its absolute silliness! I’m sure you guys at Argh first recommended it.

        1. The book I bought strictly for the title was Zombies of the Gene Pool. It and its sequel Bimbos of the Death Sun were very fun mysteries set at science fiction conventions.

          1. I bought Bimbos of the Death Sun for the title, and the first paragraph. Definitely worth taking the risk.

        2. The first Ellis Peters I ever read was “Black is the Color of My True Love’s Heart” and yep, I checked it out because of the title.

          1. I remember that one! Haven’t read that in years, I’ll have to look it out again.

    2. I am always leery of books advertised as being like other books. Honestly, they never are and if they aren’t strong enough to recommend themselves then I am unhappy with them. Especially when it is compared to someone like Heyer who has such a strong voice as an author… It’s really not about genre you know? It’s the writing.

      1. And the imagining — the thing that first brings settings and characters into existence. I think the writing is how you struggle to get that across to others.

      2. And authors. “If you like Author A, you might like Author Z.” No, probably not, based on all the ones where I’ve read both already.

      1. I looked on Goodreads, she reviewed Sorcerer to the Crown by Zhen Cho and referenced Heyer. (I have to admit I could not make it through that book when I tried it)

        1. Thanks. I have read it but I did not leave a lasting impression. I vaguely remember it dragged a bit.

    3. I found that one a DNF, too. It’s a fine line between creating a historical character the modern reader can relate to and a character completely true to that same historical period!

  2. I haven’t posted to Good Book Thursday for at least three weeks now, as I haven’t been reading much – only three books this past month. But those three have been great. Unlike many here, I had trouble getting into the Rivers of London series. It took me forever to read the first book, after lots of fits and starts. I then waited many months before listening to the second one – such a fantastic narrator! I still, however, waited a long time to read the third; I’m not quite sure why. But all of the sudden, it clicked. I read the third (Whispers under Ground), and whipped through the fourth (Broken Homes). The latter had a shocking (at least to me) twist; it’s not often I can say that I didn’t see that coming, not by a long shot. And that meant that I just couldn’t resist moving right onto the fifth (Foxgove Summer) which I finished about an hour ago. I will move onto something else now – I like to stretch out good things – so I will be looking for some inspiration here.

    1. Yep, I didn’t see that twist coming either, but it’s the best kind: You know exactly why the character did that and it wasn’t out of character.

  3. I finished Subtle Blood and enjoyed it a lot. I want to stay there a while longer.

    Other than that, one grave disappointment that I enjoyed until the very end where the author pulled a gotcha, as far as I can tell so as not to have a stereotypical happy ending. The book was set up for it, there was no reason to not be happy… I am still nlad about it.

    And a couple of dnf. Ah well.

    1. An author I liked did that once with a last line that said something like “Because sometimes there isn’t a happy ending.” And I thought, “Screw you, there was no reason not to have a happy ending, you just did that for effect.” If the unhappy ending is earned, I can deal with it. If this is one of those “unhappy ending are deeper than happy endings,” I’m not buying you again.

      1. Yes! This! There was literally no reason. The whole book was set up for it to work! Still angry. Grrrr

        1. No, I could completely understand why he left, Scarlet was a sociopath.
          I couldn’t understand why he stayed so long after their daughter died.

          1. Totally agree, I never saw them as a good match at all plus all the pining and drooling over Ashley. He was supposed to be a man of honor but couldn’t come in out of the rain unless told to. Boy, I hated that book. I think because it glorified the south and I saw nothing heroic about owning other humans.

  4. I’ve been cycling through old faves as I dealt with life adjustments.

    Today, I listened to the audiobook of Ikigai: The Japanese secret to a long and happy life by Héctor García, Francesc Miralles.

    Another recommended. I had it on while helping a colleague with marking because all mine was done. I listened to most of it and have to say, I love the way the books is structured to show best practice for a life with purpose.

    1. I read Ikigai a couple of years ago and also thought it was very good. I haven’t really found my way to it yet though, but it was soothing to read it and comforting to know there IS a way to find purpose and joy in the small things. I hope I’ll be able to find my Ikigai someday.

      1. I’ve been doing a lots of my neglected reading on happiness and improvement and Ikigai as presented seems doable if I plan do a little daily.

        It’s like yoga. Some days I don’t feel like doing anything and recently haven’t for months. So I started taking out the mat and just lying on it in 1 or 2 supine poses. It’s about getting started in really small ways because I overwhelm myself with trying for the big goal at the end.

        1. Hey! Just wondering, you’re Sure Thing here, and Sure+Thing just prior. Seems like you’re the same commenter, but, darn, I have trust issues. + is maybe your more positive self?

          1. The site is doing weird things with the plus sign to my name. It’s doing it to some of us. Don’t know why.

    2. Didn’t Harvard or Yale do a study on why Okinawans lived so long and they attributed it to Ikigai as well as to their diet, exercise, and low stress (unlike in mainland Japan)? They used to have the most centenarians on the planet. Not sure that’s still the case as American fast food influences are increasing. Anyway, I received a My Little Ikigai Journal to go along with the book, but haven’t done anything with it yet. I think I’ll take a look at it today. 🙂

  5. Read several new books. The Lady Most Likely by 3 romance writers, Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Connie Brockway, was a so-so regency romance. Not a focused novel but more like 3 novellas united vaguely by the same house party.
    T.A. White’s Rules of Redemption was a brutal sci-fi novel. I didn’t enjoy it – too black for me.
    Karen Robards’s Nobody’s Angel was a historical romance set mostly in America. It was probably one of the first romance novels I’ve read in my life. It was a long time ago, a couple decades at least, and it made an impression on me. That’s why I asked the people on this forum about it, as I remembered neither the author nor the title, just the highlights of the plot. Thank you, Dodo, for finding this book for me, although I wasn’t nearly as impressed this time around. It was an OK story, steamy on the sex front, but I disliked the male protagonist intensely. He was an ass and he spoiled the book for me.
    Jayne Davis’s A Question of Duty was a quiet historical romance novella. I enjoyed it, but then I invariably enjoy this writer’s stories. I can always rely on Jayne Davis to create plots and characters that resonate with me.

    1. Isn’t it somehow sad when we at long last find a book again that had made an impression and it cannot hold up to the expectation?
      When I’d found the book for you, I’d read the excerpt but had the same reaction towards the hero.
      The concept of the indentured servitude however was a new discovery. Historically very interesting. So thank you for providing me the impetus to learn something new 🙂

      1. I felt as if Nobody’s Angel had so much potential with the indentured servitude plot. But you’re right, the hero was awful. It was a DNF for me.

    2. The odds are good that THE LADY MOST LIKELY was written in three separate parts and stitched together by one of the authors after they’d agreed on the premise.

      The last one like that that I had anything to do with was stitched together by the most junior of the authors involved, who mostly rewrote it her way, but with some dillies added in — I remember the castle guard’s dorm being on the seventeenth floor, so it was hardly surprising that by the time the defending crew got to the ground floor when the alarm sounded, it was already too late. And the desk with a stack of interdicts. I THOUGHT the junior author needed to learn to use a dictionary, not just a thesaurus. And possibly to visit some actual castles to count the actual number of floors.

      The work had to be completely rewritten, which was accomplished between Thanksgiving and New Years — its deadline was December 31. Left me grateful to have done the holiday shopping early. Title withheld to protect everyone’s identity!

  6. I also had one re-read last week – Sharon Shinn’s The Turning Season. It was a quietly powerful book, and like many works by this author, it raised some hard questions. One of the questions touched me deeply: who can kill? A soldier sanctioned by the government? Obviously, YES. A policeman – ditto. But what if the government doesn’t care about a certain segment of the population? Who can kill in their defense? Who can protect them? And if someone (a character named Ryan) appointed himself to the role of the protector, is he a hero or a criminal?
    Personally, I lean towards Ryan being a hero. But many of the novel’s characters wouldn’t condone his killing, even though he doesn’t kill to get money or power for himself. He doesn’t enjoy his killing either. He kills to protect the others, to save lives, and I cheer for him.
    Maybe because I lived half of my life in the Soviet Russia, a totalitarian state, I don’t trust a government, any government. In most cases, it is not my friend, even though I now live in Canada, one of the best democratic countries in the world. I’d still trust a vigilante before I’d trust a government. After all, we all admire Batman and Spiderman. They kill the bad guys, and everyone rejoices. Why would Shinn’s characters condemn similar behavior on the part of Ryan? The fact that he doesn’t have ‘a license to kill,’ a piece of paper signed by a government official, doesn’t make him a bad guy.
    What do you think?

    1. I’ve always like the person who worked outside the law for good, especially cons and grifters. Leverage is such a good example of that. I had such a good time writing Faking It, and they were breaking the law right and left.
      But then there are the people who work outside the law to preserve a privileged life–the KuKluxKlan comes to mind–and while they see their actions as good to protect the people and life they love, I see them as horrible, on a par with Nazis and the worst of our police, repressing and killing the Other in their societies.

      I think the difference may be in punching up, targeting people with power and money who are using it to control and hurt others. Because you can do damn near anything and defend it as protecting one group or another.

      1. I don’t trust vigilantes either. Last year we had a horrible summer where there were people on both sides of the question (BLM) supposedly, who were using a good cause as an excuse for violence.

        1. I love vigilantes in fiction. Not so much in real life, because they so often seem to be idiots who smash up a doctor’s house because they don’t know the difference between a paediatrician and a paedophile. Or they think an election has been stolen and they’re going to fix it …

          I’m all for rule of law. I’m aware that it’s horribly fallible and there are groups of people who it fails over and over again. But the solution to that is to fix the law.

      2. Interesting point, Jenny! But what about when the bad person is “down”? You can control or hurt others and not have sweeping power or money.

        This is such an interesting question because it’s always subjective on what’s good, which is cultural. And one person’s good can very much not be another’s.

        1. You’re right. One of the characters in Shinn’s book says something to that effect. She says that vigilantes are supposed to fight monsters, but who could guarantee they identify monsters correctly.
          I’m not sure I agree 100%. I think every situation is different. It is especially tricky when you’re in the minority being persecuted, and your only salvation is the said vigilante. I would welcome him then, even if for the majority of other people, he looks like a villain.

        2. Exactly.
          I think the crux is that when the bad person is down, the law handles it. If the law can’t touch the bad person, then the person isn’t down.

          1. I wish I understood what “down” means in the conversation between Nicole and Jenny.

            I think stories can extend beyond what would be reasonable in real life. For instance, Sherlock Holmes can act as judge and jury in cases where the police don’t have the proof or the laws or the morality to deliver justice. Robin Hood can, on a small scale, balance economic disparity. John LeCarré’s lead characters can turn the fact that the system/government betrays them into a situation where they sacrifice themselves for justice.

            If I remember correctly, Jenny’s characters are kind of tiptoeing along the other side of the law. Tilda and Davey and Nadine can buy art at low values or steal it because we all know their greater goal is to unmask Mason and Clee. And Ford proves that at the end. Shane and Agnes annoy the police officer (I can’t remember his name), but he participates with them because he can’t find the murderer otherwise. And he is right to be annoyed: He is not let into the truth concerning Wilson. Also, in both cases, we know we’re reading stories.

            Yet I think it’s dangerous to merge fiction with real life. For instance, too often a simplistic analogy hurts a whole lot of people in real life, whereas it could merely be a plot device in a work of fiction.

            Anyway, I agree with Olga that cases are individual; I agree with Jenny that while the law should be above all, it isn’t, and that that flaw requires actions (from members of government as well as self-styled protectors and, of course, writers); I agree with Nicole’s point about subjectivity (only in fiction do we stand a chance of knowing everything), yet I’m not sure that culture is a reason for people to be subjective. I’ve met people from the former Soviet Union who react as Olga does, and I think her view is both understandable and reasonable.

            Sorry to mutter on and on.

          2. Punching up and punching down are terms about power.
            The greedy rich who rip off poor people are punching down, hitting those weaker than themselves.
            The cons and grifters in Leverage are punching up, hitting the rich who have moved themselves out of the reach of the law.
            It’s easy in storytelling, much more nuanced in real life.

            One example, Donald Trump asking his mostly low income supporters to give him money to fight the libs and not telling them that they’re signing up for monthly payments, not a one time donation. That’s not going well.

          3. I have a collection of letters written to Mother (in Delaware) from her sons (originally, and then other family members) from San Francisco during the gold rush — 1850 – 1854.

            I transcribed the collection, carefully retyping them with a different Selectric ball/typing element for each writer, and then bound the manuscript as a Christmas gift for my grandmother. Grandmother commented that Sons had not changed since 1850 — most of the letters begin, My dear mother, I am sorry not to have written thee before this, but I have been very busy . . . and I know Henry will have told thee everything. Henry being the oldest brother, my great-great-grandfather.

            One of the more memorable quotes goes approximately:

            My dear mother, I am sending thee the newspaper clippings, but do not worry. San Francisco is much more peaceful now that the Vigilance Committee is hanging the convicts. [I’m sure it was!]

            The official history says that the targets of the Vigilance Committee were trying to establish a protectionist racket reinforced by arson, in an urban community of wooden buildings, so the fire risk was certainly serious. But I have wondered who else the Vigilance Committee directed its attention to.

      3. Have you seen Lupin yet? It’s on Netflix and is a classic heroic con man. I watched it in French with English subtitles. Perfection!

        1. My husband is hooked on Lupin. So I bought him a collection of The Extraordinary Adventures of Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Burglar by Maurice Leblanc.

      4. I want a real life Leverage team. Although, they’d probably be overwhelmed by so much to fix.

    2. The problem with rooting for vigilantes is that they tend to be signing away their personal happily ever afters so even though I’m in love with them I carry the heartbreak to the end. I remember reading a Roseanne Bittner western called Outlaw? where the hero is an outlaw with quite a backstory about how he got into outlawry and how tragically hard it was to be a good person. This book stands the test of time. Bittner could write a western on sidesaddle in quicksand. But back to Olga, I don’t trust government either but I don’t think killing is ever the answer. Leads to madmen and crazy, like Pol Pot. But government can’t fix our broken natures. I think only we as individuals fixing ourselves can improve and possibly save our collective selves. So. We need to choose to live our best lives and when possible lend a hand to those who need help achieving same. Keeping it local instead of big fix corruptible big gov.

  7. I am reading – well looking at the pictures mostly – Lost Lanes North: 36 Glorious Bike Rides in Yorkshire, the Lake District, Northumberland and Northern England by
    Thurston, Jack.

    I am planning a cycling (ebike for me) and hiking trip in the Lake District of the UK for next summer with my daughter – the eldest one. So I’m deep into that these days and not reading much else. Re-reading on my 6 minute car ride into work because it’s not long enough for me to hold on to a story thread.

    Can’t wait for next summer to get out of this country for a few days. God willing and the creek don’t rise.

  8. Reread Crazy for You, which I don’t read as often as other Crusies because Bill is the creepiest creep that ever creeped (which I know is the point, but CREEP). I forgot how much I love Quinn, Nick, and all the romance subplots, so that was fun.

    Also read Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne. It took me a while to get into it, but by the second half I was hooked on the kind, flawed leads who deserve redemption but are also scared of it. Also it takes place at a retirement home, and there are endangered turtles.

  9. I read a book last week, actually read a paper book, whoda thunk it, from an author I usually like and the book seems to have left me flat. It was just a whole lot of heavily-trod ground and the characters weren’t strong enough to make it interesting.

    I listened to Library of the Dead by TL Huchu which I really enjoyed once I realized that whomever it was who wrote the jacket copy had never read the book and I threw all my preconceived notions about the story out the window.

  10. I’ve just finished Witch Hat Atelier vols. 1 and 2. There was a whole lot to like about it, and I’m bummed that my library doesn’t have any more of the 7 volumes that appear to be out in English.

    But the artist/writer/whoever who created it has given all of the “nice” characters blond hair, and the difficult or thwarting characters dark hair, which bothered me a lot as I kept seeing it. Somehow in a written book I could note the fact and not have to fully picture this over and over again, but in a manga, you can’t escape it.

    It may, though, be all of a piece with the characters all being groomed BTS-style, to a T. Not something the hippie in me can deal with all that well.

  11. I’ve decided I need a job where someone pays me lie by the pool and read. Any takers??

    Vacation reading has been blissful. Subtle Blood was everything I was hoping for; KJ Charles is at the top of her game here. Then Witness for the Dead – not the knock it out of the park sequel to The Goblin Emperor but damned satisfying all the same.

    I read Martha Wells Raksura novellas and so ends that series. I’m going to linger over choosing which one of hers I read next.

    Meanwhile, I’m chewing through Lisa Henry’s oeuvre, some of which is not for the faint of heart (she has greatrange, let’s say) , but the Dark Space series I can wholeheartedly recommend if you’re looking for M/M sci fi and really, who isn’t?

    I tried one of Alessandra Hazard’s Royalty series, which is steampunk M/M, can’t quite recommend it.

    I read the first of AJ Lancaster’s Stariel series, enjoyed it enough to keep on reading with the second – Downton Abby with magic. And fairies.

    Happy Canada Day everyone!

    1. I got really baffled re the publication of ‘Witness for the Dead’. It’s being offered in different formats here (paperback and audiobook; no ebook), and not out for another month. Hoping they decide to release the ebook here then – I found it especially good to read ‘The Goblin Emperor’ in ebook form, because I could look up names I’d forgotten.

  12. I finally crumbled and reread the first two Murderbots (I own the first and the library has the second, but no more), and went on to buy and read the rest – I’m a third of the way through ‘Network Effect’. Enjoying them, of course. And it’s good to have a story to dive into when the day job’s so full on.

    1. I thought they were all good, but Network Effect was brilliant.
      So I should go back and re-read that. I love Murderbot’s voice, especially in the opening when it’s so damn annoyed with everybody after it’s shot. It’s such a great contrast to the steely-eyed, serious Navy SEAL hero who would quietly take out the bad guys without emotion because he’s a killing machine. Murderbot actually is a killing machine, but it’s mostly just mad as hell because it TOLD them it was a dangerous situation and they overruled it, and now it’s got shrapnel in it and his humans are hostage, damn it . . .
      That’s one of the best fictional voices I’ve ever read.

    1. Karan K. Anders, a pen name of Andrea K Höst, because the book has so much more sex than is usual for her.

        1. Just read the post, which is really interesting. I definitely think it’s a romance, meaning to do a blog post on it analyzing it as a romance. Hmmmm.

  13. Continuing the Cadfael series; about 2/3 through thanks to Hoopla! Instant gratification in downloading each succeeding book! Also have been rereading the Diane Fallon mystery series about a forensic anthropologist by Beverly Connor. It can be dark, but I like it. Just saw that Alexis Hall has a new book, Husband Material, coming out summer 2022. It’s the continuing story of Boyfriend Material.

  14. I’ve been reading Beach Read by Emily Henry. The blurb from Amazon: A romance writer who no longer believes in love and a literary writer stuck in a rut engage in a summer-long challenge that may just upend everything they believe about happily ever afters.

    So far I’ve been really enjoying it – chuckling out loud in several parts.

      1. Be aware that Beach Read gets kinda dark. I love the premise but disliked the execution.

  15. This week I read Radio Silence by Alice Oseman and am now reading Solitaire. Both books are connected to Heartstopper, if you read and loved that (which I did) but not graphic novels. I’ve had a hard time getting engaged in fiction lately and these sucked me in.

  16. This week I re-read the latest books from Jay Hogan and KJ Charles, as well as a Jay Northcote title.

    Then I read ‘Celebrations,’ a novelette sequel to the Character Bleed trilogy by K.L. Noone, in which the heroes go to Comic-Con.

    Next, ‘The Chimera Affair’ by Keira Andrews, a romantic-suspense M/M about a hardened operative who falls for his young, virginal mark. Some things I liked, some I didn’t.

    Then two more from K.L. Noone. ‘Lightning in a Bottle,’ a short story set backstage after a rock band’s performance, and ‘A Demon for Midwinter,’ the novel to which that story is connected. In which a fortysomething rock star falls for his 15-yrs-younger A&R guy, who is half a demon. A lot of elements similar to those in Character Bleed, but I liked them there so obv that didn’t bother me. Very different milieu, plus the fantasy/paranormal element.

    We also watched WW84 (the second Wonder Woman movie) which really pissed me off, and ‘In the Heights’ which I loved.

    I should really put a moratorium on buying new books this month, there is *so much* in my TBR.

  17. I read Shadow and Bone because I just watched the series. It was interesting to think about why certain things changed during the transition.

  18. I’m only commenting here because I feel compelled to tell you how much I love Bet Me.

    I did reread it this week, so it counts, but I’ve probably read it close to 100 times. (Before bed I can only re-read books, or I would stay up all night every night wanting to see what happens next. There is a category on my Kindle called Escapist Faves and it has like 40 or 50 books that I just cycle through on my way to sleep.)

    I love Cal, I love Min, I love their friends, mostly I love the dialogue. I could do without the silly donut proposal chaos at the end (made up for by Min getting up to fret afterward) and the last chapter summarizing where everyone ends up, but the rest of the book is sooo good.

    If I were about to be exiled on a desert island and could only take one romance with me, it would probably be that one. Thanks for writing it!

  19. I reread this week. Carpe Jugulum by Pratchett was a highlight as always. I want to be Granny Weatherwax when I grow up.

        1. I’m currently reading Witches Abroad (we just finished Wyrd Sisters) with my now twelve year old son. I do all the voices. I do a pretty good Magrat, and an excellent Nanny Ogg, but I can only aspire to Granny Weatherwax. I do warm up by saying “I can’t be having with that!” very sternly a few times.

      1. I think the world needs more than a few Granny Weatherwaxes. We can all aspire.

  20. I’d searched for Once More With Feelings when someone mentioned a similar book (this wasn’t it), so I read it again. It’s a do-over with a body swap. They both die on operating tables circa 2017 or so, and wake up as each other in the same hospital where they’d been in 1984, she for a burst appendix, he for a busted knee acquired from fleeing the scene of his vandalism. They fix themselves, and make the world a better place. Patti attends a convent school (very upper class) and teaches the girls there tactics from a future Olympic volleyball team – they wind up All-Canada Champions. 🙂

    I also re-read Up-Time Pride and Down-Time Prejudice, the tale of Mary Margaret Russo from Grantville, West Virginia. It’s a “Ring of Fire” series book, so know that Grantville was sent from spring of 2000 back to spring, 1631, in Thuringia, Germany, amidst the 30 Years Wars. Mary is contracted by a branch of the Fuggers, the for-real richest family that ever was (and some of it still is.) She packs up and moves to Tyrol in the Alps, and has romance and adventure.

    Other than that, it’s been Too Da** Hot to Read. Earlier today, I went to Walmart intending to buy an Air Conditioner. They had only five units, only 1 under 10,000 BTUs, and its box was open and damaged. So I went to Lowes and got a 6,000 BTU unit. It’s in the trunk of my car. T-storms all afternoon hindered installation.

    What also hinders is that in order to do anything, I have to do three other things first. My computer desk and its glass top and shelves is in the way. It needs to be cleared and moved. To where? I have shelves and shelving that must be cleared and slid over under the window. And so on. And on.

    I picked up a few things at Walmart. The dotter intercepted all my beef and cheese to feed the young’uns, but there’s a neighborhood groceries store, so Nose Wet (no sweat).

      1. The T-storms have helped. The room is 78°F/26°C, down from the nineties/thirties. Things are moving, which has the advantage of tidying up the cardboard recycling. The green-topped recycling can has been full and at the curb for days – later today/tomorrow, I can move all my accumulation to a blessedly empty can.

        When the unit is in the window, the room will be much cooler, and I’ll sleep better. I think.

  21. I picked up THE LADY JEWEL DIVINER, which gave me problems with the characters. The heroine is a young lady who can divine jewels — okay, nice premise. Adventures ensue — fine. It seems to be a YA book, but there’s a romantic interest who, I think, is in his late twenties or early thirties. Fine, this is not remarkable for the late Georgian period, but his character is also, I guess, too YA for me. I don’t know whether I’ll go back to finish it.

    Next is something titled THE LAST QUEEN, in which the writer, a long-time reporter, seems to have collected every negative remark/story by or about the Windsor family, right up to date. He gives me the sense that he’s sure every single one of them is true to the max, but I have a problem when the reason there’s no evidence of some claim is that a royal servant has managed to Delete Everything. Not sure anyone ever manages to Delete Everything! I’ve seen stories that are definitely Fluff, and well-sourced Exposés, but this was all negative, no positive, and I couldn’t say that he even supports his contention that the family is So Dreadful that the Queen will be the last ruler.

    I’ve made a start on the BINTI trilogy, and am loving it; I think I’ll enjoy seeing how the heroine gets herself out of the current predicament and into the next one. She’s a delightful girl.

    THE BOMBAY PRINCE, by Sujata Massey, is about the early days of the Indian Independence movement — the Prince of the title is the future Edward VIII, who visited India after WWI as Prince of Wales. Mystery and politics. I generally like this series — this is the third book.

    Dip and dip again reading, 100 HIEROGLYPHS, Think Like an Egyptian, by Barry Kemp. This examines a hundred commonly-used hieroglyphs in some depth and explains how they are used; often in a number of related words. This one’s like reading a cookbook; usually not cover to cover in one sitting.

    Comfort reading, MEDAIR. A particular favorite, though I know that the decision to publish in two volumes meant rewriting that duplicated some of the foreshadowing, and so the ultimate version is a little clumsier than it was originally. But I hadn’t read it in a while — long enough not to have remembered EVERY detail — so I’m enjoying it all over again.

  22. I finished The Road Trip. She writes really enjoyable characters, but the structure was odd, with alternate chapters flashing back to the destruction of the main relationship, while the current story is building it back up again. I like it a bit. Nowhere near as much as The Flat Share.

    1. I just started a book which opened in 1969 with a child murder. I assumed a prequel. The next chapter was about 27 years later. With the murder I almost tossed the book. But decided to read a bit more. It seemed to be heading in the direction of a 1970’s gothic. Then the next chapter flashed back to the 1970’s. At which point I returned it to the library because it seemed too gimmicky. I can sometimes tolerate switching from one character’s point of view to another’s, I really hate jumping back and forth in time.

      1. Just finished The Overdue Life of Amy Byler, by Kelly Harms. Very good. Also the most recent Anne Hillerman, Stargazer. Currently reading Died in the Wool, 4th in the Melinda Mullet Whiskey Business mystery series. Three very different books but I was on a streak and can recommend all of them.

  23. I’ve succumbed to a 6 months Kindle unlimited subscription.
    Now I only have to remember all the titles I’d put on the tbr pile.

    I managed to read one title by Jay Northcote (Where love grows) and one novella by Jayne Davies (captain Kempton…) which were okay reads but I didn’t love them.
    DH’s birthday is on sunday so I found him two books that I’m interested in reading – someone else does this? One about nearby lakes good for SUP and one on walks through the nearby forests. Both of which we ought to try in order for us not to be overwhelmed by the denseky populated city.
    At least the weather resembles the summers of my childhood: it got rather cool, wet and gloomy after monday/tuesday’s big storms. I’m a bit sad I won’t use my reservation for one of the public pools (with fresh water from the Isar river instead of the usual) at 14 C but it’s a better temp for working than 35+.

  24. I read Subtle Blood and loved it. The plot was fine but the way KJ Charles built Kim and Will’s relationship was just brilliant. There were some gorgeous moments of love and vulnerability.

    I’ve been binge reading all her books and I’m nearly finished, which is a real shame. Any ideas for other authors like her?

    1. I think she’s a one-off. Alexis Hall is my nearest, but of course contemporary not historical stories.

  25. I’m reading and loving Sunrise by the Sea, but British author Jenny Colgan. Her books are lovely romances set on a tiny Cornish island.

  26. Evidently, I am on a non-fiction bent this summer. Currently reading Michael Cohen’s
    ‘Disloyal ‘.

  27. I know I said I wouldn’t read another Lucy Dillon last week, but… I did anyway. I just couldn’t seem to settle for anything else. So I reread “A Hundred Pieces of Me”, and I really liked it (much to my relief). It’s dealing quite a bit with guilt, how people relate to you after an accident or sickness and how, sometimes, we say the wrong things at the wrong time. It doesn’t really have a happy ending as happy endings go, but the MC finds a way to deal with things on her own, be independent and trus herself first and foremost.

    I’ve really started suspecting that I end up reading books labelled feelgood in some strange attempt to…find a way to deal with my life? Don’t think it’s working. I’m ore ending up with: “How come I can not fic my life when they’re in so much more trouble than I am and THEY can do it???!” Argh.

    Anyway, I went on to read “After You” by Jojo Moyes. I read “Before You” a billion years ago, and figured it couldn’t hurt to read the sequel. It was… quite nice. Some parts got me almost teary-eyed, some things made me mad because I know they happen in real life too… all in all a pleasant read. I am not sure I want to read the next one, because this ending was sort of pleasant and I’m worrying she (the MC) will ruin it now that I liked the love interest…

    I also started on a Swedish fantasy that I’m not sure has been translated, but would probably be titled something like “The Dragon Whisperer”. The blurb sounded good, the idea sounded good, but the writing… felt stiff. And too poetic for me. It was as if someone tried to write English poetry in Swedish and combining it with fiction and that just doesn’t work. Maybe I’ll try it again someday, but now is not the time.

    Yesterday I started reading “The Selection”, part one of the series of the same name by Kiera Cass. It’s YA sci-fi and it’s… I don’ know yet. I still have to see where it goes. The description always sounded very much teenage girl drama to me, but I’m willing and curious to see where this will lead.

    (Oh yes, and because I am a tea fanatic, I read “Tea Coctails” by Abigail R. Gehring. I’m no mixologist, but it’s always fun to discover how to make nice things to drink. Or eat, for that matter. I’ll have to figure out how to make virgin drinks out of these recipes.)

  28. Previously this week, I read “Master of Djinn” by P. Djeli Clark. It’s about an alternate universe where someone in Egypt managed to bring back magic, which is the backdrop for a mystery novel starring Fatma el-Sha’arawi who is one of the rare female Inspectors in the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities. I liked it a lot, but then I tend to really like mystery novels set in Egypt.

    I am now reading the prequel which is a novella called “Dead Djinn in Cairo”. It was probably better to have read the prequel first since its events were referenced in the novel.

    Last night, I couldn’t stop myself from finishing “Cast in Conflict” from Michelle Sagara which is the most recent book in her long-running “Cast in . . . ” series. I don’t recommend new readers pick up this book because it relies a lot on past events. But, if you like this series already, then this is a worthy addition and raises a lot of questions about Revellon.

  29. T-storms are supposed to be bad. Bad, bad, bad. But any weather that shicks the kit out of a heat wave has my appreciation. I still haven’t installed The Unit in my window, and I’m good with that.

    I replaced the beef my daughter confiscated (doubled it, actually), gathered my diced tomatoes and green chilis, tomato sauce, pico de gallo (despite the “gallo” name, there’s no alcohol in it), spring onions, cut green beans, black pepper, habenero powder and garlic powder. Yep, another batch of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Chili. I even got a box of water crackers to go with. (Those things are pure carbohydrate, I swear! Except for the salt, of course.) I have exceeded all diet limits, and smiled doing it. Smil, smile, smile. 🙂

  30. I reread all the Sheila Simonson regencies. Very accurate historically and with male/female relationships that are both appropriate to the period and genuinely respectful. I think I will now move on to her mysteries.

    1. Thanks for mentioning that new-to-me author. I just bought and read her regency A cousinly connection, and liked it enough to go on to another one.

      I also read the latest installment of Michelle Sagara’s Cast in Conflict.
      For someone with arachnophobia, I have to really try NOT to picture what these new side-characters look like, nor any action they are involved in, these last few books. It’s a good thing I’m not a very visually-oriented reader, and I can read without seeing the movie in my head. As long as I can keep my mind on words, not pictures, it was a good installment for those who like this long-running series.

  31. I finished re-reading Beverly Jenkins blessings series. Moved on to re-read Barbara Michael’s book Witch.
    Oh since there was an earlier comment about criminals and underdogs I want to mention that it looks like The Lady killers, the original with Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers is being released on the Laemmle circuit. I saw the preview when I went to see the movie Queen Bees. I loved it. Has lots of my older favorites Actors. It’s a love story set between two people in their seventies.
    I also saw in the Heights this week. And adored it. I kept racking my brains for where I had seen the actor who played Benny before. I assumed I had seen him in Hamilton. But I was wrong. I worked with him last year. On Macbeth. Corey Hawkins played Macduff.
    We talked a lot because we were both so thrilled to be on the movie. I had no idea He did musicals. It’s always a thrill for me to see someone I’ve worked with.
    Two movies in two days at a movie theater is a record for me yes. Happy 4th everyone.

  32. I binge-read a whole bunch of AJ Sherwood books because they’re like kettle corn! And all about the most ridiculous found families ever. Assassins and thieves and vampires and psychics oh my. I don’t know that I’d actually recommend binging them all at once, because you can definitely start seeing the writer’s tics etc. But they were very pleasant and amusing reads in an otherwise extremely stressful week.

    I also re-read Agnes and the Hitman, because my god, I love that scene where Agnes is cooking for everyone the first morning, and Garth doesn’t want to leave because the food is so good….

    And I finally got P Djeli Clark’s Master of Djinn from the library, so that was great. I didn’t love it quite as much as I loved the novellas in this series, but I really love the novellas. So, you know, the book is still an excellent read and I recommend it.

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