This is a Good Book Thursday, July 22, 2021

I’ve been binging Emma Lathen all week: John Putnam Thatcher is very soothing. Also reading books on art crime which, to my surprise, are also very soothing. In times like these, I like books where everything comes out all right in the end.

What did you read this week?

132 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 22, 2021

  1. I was delighted to find a new Penric, so I read it and Winter’s Orbit, and reread a couple of my favorite KJ Charles. All because of recs here. Have I mentioned how much I appreciate argh?

    All the books featured fundamentally decent people behaving decently, which is what I seem to need to soak myself in at the moment. Well, and the odd murderer, just to keep things interesting.

  2. I’m trying to only read TBR so I read
    Her Naughty Holiday by Tiffany Reisz.

    It was Argh catnip. There is banter. Good banter.

    1. I was pleasantly surprised by her banter. And general avoidance of bad choices. Her Halloween one is fun too.

  3. I only like to actually make books I enjoyed, sadly this week, two new books of been looking forward to came out & they both felt as if they were written by rote.

    Both of them have long drawn out mysterious conflicts that could have been solved on page two if the main characters had just said to the others, “Hey, this is the problem I’m having. I sure could use some help and advice.”

    Tiresome.

    1. The Idiot Plot — if the character/s stopped behaving like an idiot for five minutes, the story would be over.

  4. I read E.K. Johnston’s Aetherbound, which was very good, and like too many of her books is too painful to read again. I’ll go back to one remembering how good it was, and get a short way in, and say “No, I can’t DO this again!”
    Then I went and read some Murderbot, which I can always go back to. Also rereading some Crusie.

  5. I was at the library the other day & they have books you can buy.

    Lo & Behold there was Going Postal for a dollar.

    So of course I bought it

    1. Okay, confession time: I have never read Pratchett. (Though I own quite a few translated into German, which my kids read to improve their language skills.) Where should a Pratchett novice start?

      1. Jenny recommended “Theif of Time” to a first time reader once. There’s plenty of ways to dive-in. “Going Postal” or “Hogfather”. Pratchett’s range is mindboggling.

      2. I would start with Guards! Guards!, the first in the City Watch series. It’s my favorite series of his. His Witches series I consider the second best. It starts with Equal Rights. After that, you’ll know what you want and go from there.

      3. Going Postal is actually a good start. It’s mostly standalone, although you’ll miss a few jokes from not knowing the world, but you won’t know you’re missing them.

        Alternatively, pick either the Watch subgroup (Sam Vimes) or the Witches subgroup and start with the first of them. There are lists online, and I can’t recall the order right now.

        Thief of Time is a bit like Going Postal as standing mostly alone, but having some inside jokes if you’ve read earlier books.

        Really, the only thing to do is NOT start with them totally chronologically (i.e., The Colour of Magic, I think is the first of the whole series, along with another Rincewind or two). The earlier ones show promise, and for some readers (me) that’s enough, but for other readers it’s not enough and can turn them off.

        1. Yes, I started with the Color of Magic when it first came out, and was delighted, and kept reading, and somewhere along the way, after Mort (I love Mort) I got bored. I liked Going Postal a lot, when I read it after many people mentioned it here, but I just don’t have the urge to go grab everything Pratchett and gulp it down.

          1. I have to keep an eye on autocorrect, apparently. I typed Colour, not Color. Even though my copy was printed in the US it still says Colour.

      4. The Discworld books are divided into several series around different main characters, which each has a different flavor and focus.
        The first two (The Colour of magic, and The light fantastic) feature the inept wizard Rincewind and are very slapstick, burlesque.
        Sourcery, the 5th book is a better place to start, as it stand well on its own and introduces a lot of the underlying ideas of this world without building on such a large background. There’s still lots of comedy, not so much slapstick, but also food for thought.

        The series with a police/detective flavor centers around Sam Vimes and Carrot; it’s my favorite and starts with Guards! Guards!
        The whole Discworld series, and this one in particular, gets better, deeper, with more layered social commentary and characters growing from the flat caricatures they start out as into much more fully-realised complex people – I think Nightwatch is still my favorite Vimes story, but a lot of them are good.

        The witches series has a focus on women’s roles in society, and centers around Granny Weatherwax. This is my second favorite series.
        Later there’s an offshoot featuring Tiffany Aching, a younger witch of a different style – it gets marketed as YA because of her age, but the books are just as complex as the rest of Discworld.

        I laughed so much at Going Postal, it’s one of my favorites, but it fell quite flat for my sister, who hadn’t read Pratchett before. It is stuffed chock-full of layered meanings that trigger my sense of funny, but maybe if your English is a bit less good so you get less of the double meanings, and you also don’t get the jokes that refer to a sense of the world you build up from reading the series, it loses a lot of those double-layered jokes. Reading it in translation certainly diminishes those a lot.
        For example, when Lord Vetinary tells the main character “Please, don’t let me detain you” it just sounds like an oldfashioned polite way of saying “Yes, you can go now, the interview is at an end” (which is correct, both in content and in style of delivery), but knowing Lord Vetinary is a very Macchiavellian city ruler you also hear the subtext “Make the right choice or I will detain you in my dungeon”, and then IIRC there was a third layer that I have now forgotten. A translation can almost never catch all those layered meanings at once, though sometimes they can substitute other jokes or doubletalk.
        Leaving those out can take away quite a lot of depth of character and social commentary as well as leaving a rather flat action-sequence plot.

        For that reason, though the later books are much more layered, complex and deeper, and still very funny, I tend to think that starting with one of the earlier books, like Sourcery (wizards) or Guards! Guards! (policemen) or Equal rites (the first book of the witches) or Mort (the first of the 3 books about Death’s apprentice) or Pyramids (a standalone, like The Truth, and Thief of Time, and several others) is easier – the stories are humorous, and contain insights that can make you think, but are a bit easier.

        I love Pratchett, but there are a few Discworld stories I don’t like or reread: Hogfather and Monstrous Regiment. So if you start with one you dislike you might try another, from a different sub-series, to see if that one suits you better.

        He’s also written some non-Discworld short books that do give a good taste of what his writing style is like, so those might be another good place to start: Strata (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strata_(novel)) and The dark side of the sun.

        1. I agree with Olga: Guards! Guards!

          I’ve tried starting friends with other Discworld books and the friends haven’t like them (The Wyrd Sisters, Hogfather, Reaper Man). Every time I’ve recommended starting with Guards! Guards! the friend has become a Pratchett fan.

      5. I hope you find a good Pratchett entry point for you (as you can see from the replies below there are a wide range of opinions on each individual book)… it’s been such a pivotal series for my life (I see a lot of people online talking about drawing some of their ethical framework from Pratchett and I know I’ve done the same).

        I remember being a teen and bullying my poor parents into taking me to see Terry Pratchett in a book store in Auckland (I think he was doing a reading from carpe jungulum which had not been released yet). They both left as huge fans of his.

      6. A great big thank you to all of you for your replies to this Pratchett novice. So much great information here! This group is the best!

  6. Just started Dennis Taylor’s Bobiverse series. I like the premise, even if it seems pulled from Heinlein, Asimov, Asprin and Adams.

    So far, the characters seem snarky, have good banter and the main character is flawed enough to be interesting without totally forking things up.

  7. In some ways great; in some ways terrible – I read Hunt, Gather, Parent by Michaeleen Doucleff.

    She uses the oh so tedious writing style of telling you what she is going to say, several times, then finally saying it, then repeating it a few times. This book could have been half as long and not lost anything. It also has lots of silly errors that an editor should have caught, such as referring to her memory of “shelling green beans on the porch”. One does not “shell” a green bean. One shells a pea.

    That said, there is excellent, vital data on effective parenting in this book that I greatly wish I had had when my child was young. It exposes the unworkability of many common western parenting practices and reveals vastly more effective methods employed by hunter gatherer societies.

    It is worth wading through the tedium and the many mistakes to distill the wisdom from this book. I am recommending it to everyone I know who has or works with children.

    1. As one who has left her green beans on the vine until the beans are fully formed, I have indeed shelled green beans. It is tedious. But fresh shelled buttered green beans are really tasty – nothing like beans that have been allowed to dry or the young unformed entire green bean. I have also had jars of dried beans one memorable year where I had a bumper crop of adult beans after I became tired of julienning and freezing young green beans. This is how you grow your own dried beans. But I suspect that you would not have noticed this if there had not been so many other mistakes that you were already annoyed by the lack of clarity.

      1. I’ve noticed that some of the canned green beans in my batches of chili-like substance do indeed come apart into little pea-like green bean guts. I don’t recall ever sitting on a porch, shelling them, even at my Texas Granny’s house in Katemcy. And if it was her norm, she would’ve certainly put the young’uns to it. Idle hands and all that.

        1. Besides, it would have been a permanent life skill (beans will probably not change much over our lifetimes).

  8. I’m looking for recommendations on art crime books. I loved the Chris Norgren series by Aaron Elkins which is fiction but also King of the Confessors by Thomas Hoving which is non-fiction.

    Help me Argh!

    1. Have you read Arturo Perez-Reverte’s The Flanders Panel (specifically about art) or The Club Dumas (about antique literature)? So good.

    2. The Jonathan Gash Lovejoy books (The Judas Pair 1977 is the first) are art forgery books. I used to enjoy them a lot but I don’t know how they would hold up. Recently I watched the movie “The Last Vermeer” which was really good and was based on a book. I have not read the book but the friend I was watching the movie with said it was a good book.

      1. I used to love those, but the longer the series went on, the more objectionable he became until I couldn’t stand him any more. Arrogant, misogynistic SOB with no self knowledge. Very good at detecting art fraud, though. Ian McShane played him on TV, so that was a point in his favor. I don’t remember him being as awful in the first one, and the plotting, as I remember, was good, right down to the big climax at the end which depended entirely on what had gone before.

        1. I loved the TV show (Ian McShane, right? What’s not to like?) where he was a charming rogue. So I was stunned when I read the first book and discovered the character was truly hateful. I DNF more than the first couple of chapters, and stuck with the TV version from then on.

    3. Did you try the Alix London series by Charlotte and Aaron Elkins? Or there’s a series by Hailey Lind (Juliet Blackwell).

      1. Oops, I see Hilda already mentioned Hailey Lind. I second her recc. Also Charlotte MacLeod had the Max Bittersohn series which involves some art crimes.

        1. Oooh, I second the Charlotte MacLeod recommendation! She has four different detective series, all are good reads. The Grub-and-stakers short series is more of a ‘cozy detective’, but the Max Bittersohn, the RCMP and the agricultural college series were all three well-crafted good detective series. They remind me of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin series – not in the personages or setting, but in the craft of writing.

        2. I really like the stuff she writes as Juliet Blackwell, but her Annie Kincaid art mysteries, written as Hailey Lind, are my favorites. I wish she would write more of them.

    4. Aaron Elkins has also written a few art crime books featuring a woman protagonist. Alas, I can’t remember her name, but they were some of the more recent Elkins titles.

  9. I read the second in Lisa Henry/JA Rock’s Bucknell Club series (‘Regency’ M/M), which I didn’t enjoy as much as the first but enough to finish and definitely enough to read the third when it comes out.

    TV news: since there’s been discussion of Loki on this blog…my husband coaxed me into watching the series with him. I’m where most Argghers are: Love Tom Hiddleston, Loki: Meh. Although it gets better as it goes along.

    My real point though is to recommend a series that I think Argghers would love: The Nevers. Retelling of Victorian England where some kind of event has resulted in some people, mostly women, being granted small but magical powers – each one unique to that person. The lead actress is amazing and in fact is surrounded by many strong actresses (definitely passes the Bechdel test) and actors, great dialogue and direction (warning: it’s a Joss Whedon production although he’s since stepped away from it). In a nutshell: don’t watch Loki; watch this.

  10. I’ve finished the Frontier Magic Trilogy and moved on to Wrede’s A Matter of Magic, the Mairelon and Kim Duology. I suspect the Sorcery and Kate trilogy is next. That happens when I start reading Wrede.

    I just one-clicked Feint of Art for $2.99, a price I can afford. Thanks, hilda.

    * * *

    Official weigh-in day: 264.2 pounds, not the lowest I’ve been, but the lowest I’ve been on a Thursday, when it counts.

  11. I read several of the earliest Emma Lathans back in the 70s or whenever, but somewhere along the line I lost track of them. I know I enjoyed them, but now ASHES TO ASHES is the only one I remember at all. But what I am confused about is that I was under the impression that “Emma Lathan” is the pen name of two men. I know I read an article about them at some point. So was there ever an original actual Emma Lathan, or is this one of those house pseudonyms that publishers sometimes contract out to a stable of authors? Just wondering.

    1. Two WOMEN, who wrote the books over about a forty-year period. One died in 1997 and the other is still living, but very elderly.

      Mary Jane Latsis died 11/2/97
      A PLACE FOR MURDER
      A STITCH IN TIME
      ACCOUNTING FOR MURDER
      ASHES TO ASHES
      BANKING ON DEATH
      BREWING UP A STORM
      BY HOOK OR BY CROOK
      COME TO DUST
      DEATH SHALL OVERCOME
      DOUBLE, DOUBLE, OIL AND TROUBLE
      EAST IS EAST
      GOING FOR THE GOLD
      GREEN GROW THE DOLLARS
      MURDER AGAINST THE GRAIN
      MURDER MAKES THE WHEELS GO ‘ROUND
      MURDER TO GO
      MURDER WITHOUT ICING
      PICK UP STICKS
      RIGHT ON THE MONEY
      SHARK OUT OF WATER
      SOMETHING IN THE AIR
      SWEET AND LOW
      THE LONGER THE THREAD
      WHEN IN GREECE
      (alphabetical order, not chronological)

      They also wrote, under the pseudonym R. B. Dominic, a series where the protagonist is a Congressman. Also excellent, but alas dated because there is so much cooperation across the aisle. Still, definitely good reads.

      # 1 MURDER SUNNY SIDE UP — VERY hard to find, but an excellent read.
      # 2 MURDER IN HIGH PLACE
      # 3 THERE IS NO JUSTICE
      variant title: Murder out of Court
      # 4 EPITAPH FOR A LOBBYIST
      # 5 MURDER OUT OF COMMISSION
      # 6 THE ATTENDING PHYSICIAN
      # 7 UNEXPECTED DEVELOPMENTS
      variant title: A Flaw in the System

  12. Just finished a reread of “Bet Me” because I had Chicken Marsala at an Italian restaurant. In my mind, Chicken Marsala and “Bet Me” go together like bread and butter, spaghetti and meatballs, fish and chips, etc. Both were excellent.

    However, I didn’t get the salad because a) I wanted the shrimp appetizer and b) the salad write up in the menu did not resemble Emilio’s.

      1. My hubby made it for me (inspired by Bet Me) some years ago. Alas, I was down with a heavy cold and had no sense of taste or smell (before Covid… thanks to a heavily clogged nose). He still quotes my “praise” that the texture felt fine indeed.
        He repeated cooking it later on, but nothing can extinguish this first impression and memory…

      2. Using Jenny’s directions in Bet Me, it is a really easy recipe to make and could be done for one, or if you had a big enough sauté pan, for ten. I have made it several time now. My sister commented that the mushrooms braised in butter and marsala were the best mushrooms she had ever eaten.

  13. I’ve had a mixed week. Finished rereading Courtney Milan’s Brother Sinister series, but didn’t find it as much fun as in the past. There’s a lot of anger and judgement in there. Which is fine, but I needed something more cheerful. Then I read Becky Chambers’ latest, The Monk and the Robot, and was also left a bit flat by that. It’s really a short story, and would be much better edited down to be the beginning of a full-length novel, I think.

    Tried a couple of samples, and bought Paul Rudwick’s Gorgeous, but soon realized I really didn’t like it. It’s a satirical fairytale. I thought I was buying a romcom. But inspired by someone here last week, I tried returning it, and Amazon are refunding me!

    Cleared my palate with a Murderbot short story, and then ‘Witness for the Dead’ was released in the UK today, and I’m happy again.

    1. Thanks for letting us know about Witness for the Dead. Last time I checked it was only available in hard copy in Australia, but I just had another look and it’s now here in digital!

  14. Just finished The Last Guard by Nalini Singh, another in her psi series. I enjoyed it, and I appreciated the fact that the male protag was physically disabled, and the female protag was also atypical. Representation matters! Having said that, I felt the plot was a bit repetitive of her other books. Would be curious what others think.

    I also read Kerry Greenwood’s new Phryne Fisher. She split the main characters up to investigate two different deaths and it felt as if she were telling two unrelated stories in one book. Greenwood’s talent for wordsmithing is nonetheless still fun to read. I admit I prefer the Corinna Chapman series, however.

    1. Jeanine, I felt that The Last Guard was repetitive, also. Interesting to read, and I liked the two atypical leads, but for $15, I want better. I will keep reading Nalini Singh
      s Archangel series, but I might pass on her Psi series from now on. ‘Unless I find a sale! Darn it.

    2. She is becoming very formulaic unfortunately. Some of hers I adore and revisit, but I think that she is turning out too many books per year and not putting in the work. I still read them, but don’t rush to own.

      I am looking forward to her next archangel book because I am hopeful that it will be her first m/m book, but archangels sun was meh.

    3. I thought her last Corrina Chapman was completely off the rails. I love Phryne and really enjoy the new tv show with her niece, Peregrine.

  15. Re-read Bujold’s The Assassins of Thasalon and loved it. I think the fact that I knew the ending only enhanced this second reading for me.

    Kelley Armstrong’s Cursed Luck was okay. The author in her intro calls this book “light and fun,” and it was, sort-of, although I guess my notion of light and fun is different from Ms. Armstrong’s. I found this book a bit too intense. Still, it was an engaging read with a sympathetic protagonist and a bunch of interesting secondary characters. I’m not sure if I want to read another book in the series, but maybe…

    Nita Abrams’s A Question of Honor was a regency romance with spies and counterspies. It didn’t impress me much, but I have to acknowledge: this book is unique in the genre. It has a Jewish heroine. I read romances a lot and I’ve never read a regency about a Jewish woman. The female protagonist, Rachel, is a Jew from a rich family. Her uncle, a banker, financially supports the British military campaign in Spain. Her father and brother serve the Wellington army as spies. I don’t know how tenuously those facts reflect the reality of that time, but maybe. I’m willing to believe that. What I can’t believe is that a British aristocrat would fall in love with a Jewish woman and marry her in the beginning of the 19th century. Despite my doubts about the main conflict of the story – not a bad book. After all, it is fiction.

    1. I was interested enough to take a look at ‘A Question of Honor’ on AMZ but probably will pass. Then I was curious so I did a Google at ‘interfaith marriage in the Regency’ and came up with some interesting stuff, including a dissertation looking at interfaith marriages in literature! Specifically looking at four texts written 1759-1819. Jewish-Christian marriage wasn’t *so* far out of the realm, I guess! “Interfaith Marriage in British Literature,” H. McNeff 2013. Imma download the PDF and read it sometime. 🙂

      1. Hannah Rothschild married earl Rosebury and was apparently the third Rothschild cousin to marry into the British nobility.

  16. I’m sharing an annoyance. Maybe a warning. I have gotten no less than 50 calls from an automated caller that begins “Auto insurance rates in your area have dropped up to 50%…”. The thing is, the robot uses a caller ID spoofer – every call has a different number/state/area code. If the call comes from CA or OR or MI, I use the “call block” button on my phone. They’re still getting through. Last night I purged 8 such calls from my answering machine.

    Oh, and it ends with inviting me to hit 1 to speak to whomever or 9 to be added to their do-not-call list. I’m already registered on the national do-not-call list, and you couldn’t pay me to use either number – it would just confirm for them that a living person owns the number they called.

      1. I haven’t answered my phone in about 6 years. Anyone who needs me can reach me by email, then I can arrange a call if necessary. I also don’t have an answering machine. Bliss.

        1. LOL I never activated voicemail on my cell phone. People gave up on me YEARS ago. I’m like ‘you can reach me at four different email addresses, two live phone lines, or via text if I’m not answering. Deal w/it.’

        2. But I really miss everyone phoning each other without having to make an appointment to do so. And the audio quality of landlines is far better than mobiles.

          1. My mum and her friends are still on landline and the quality is better and she can comfortably spend an hour on the phone, which she can’t do on the mobile

          2. I don’t miss that at all. I hated being interrupted to talk to people. Even when I liked them and wanted to talk to them.
            But I’m a born hermit.

    1. This sort of thing is why I cancelled my land line. Don’t miss it a bit! Now I just have to block spammers who text my cell phone. Only about a dozen people have my actual cell phone number (no, spammers, that’s not a dare!), and everyone else gets my google number, where voicemails are transcribed and sent to me as an email, and if I need to, I can call back from either that number or my cell phone.

      1. I can’t cancel my landline – I need it for the heart monitor. Although, I suspect they now have heart monitors that either work with cel phones or wifi.

        I was sort of surprised by all the “I don’t take messages and don’t miss them” responses.

        1. I remember one voice mail I got that said ‘I have a question.’ Then they didn’t state the question. That was kind of the last straw. It’s like, if you have a question, ASK IT so I can be prepared when I call you back.

    2. I keep being informed that my car’s warranty needs attention. I have been SO tempted to inform the caller that there are no outstanding warranties on a 1923 Duesenberg. (Not that I have one, but my grandfather did in 1953).

      1. Since I don’t have a driver’s license, let alone a car, those are the ones that bother me the most.

  17. I’ve only been rereading. I was surprised to find I could read at all, but very relieved I can and can find some brain rest in the rereads.

    Ploughed through “Carpe Jugulum” on my continued Pratchett-spree, following it up with “Guards! Guards!” and “Men At Arms”. I was planning to continue with “Feet of Clay” after that, but just couldn’t. It was not the right book right then.

    So I’ve been reading Charlie All Night and Wild Ride instead. Just finished the latter. Everytime I read it I exclaim at some point: “I also want a big demon dragon plushie and marshmallow dragons singing off key in my hot chocolate!”, and I wanna sew dragon plushies that look like they’re made of marhsmallow. A girl can dream, right?

    Not sure what to read next. Want something comforting, warm, maybe funny, uplifting. Should probably just shuffle through the comfort read-stash again.

    1. Have you read Bujold’s Penric series? Or KJ Charles Band Sinister? I find them comforting, warm, uplifting and funny.

      1. I have never read anything by Bujold, I must confess. I think this is something I should fix seen as how warmly and lovingly everyone here speaks about their (Her? His?) books. Thanks for the recommendation! I’ll see if/where I can find it.

        1. There is a very good site called Fantastic Fiction https://www.fantasticfiction.com that lists books by author, date published and series. The works by Lois McMaster Bujold most commonly referred to here are her World of Five Gods series and a subsection of that are the Penric and Desdemona books. The Sharing Knife series has also been mentioned a lot. I like the first Sharing Knife book a lot but did not engage with the others in the series.

          1. Oh, Jessie! Lois has discussed the Sharing Knife a lot. The first two books are really one book split for size, because it would have been too thick. And really, all four books are one story divided for size. Then she tacked on a novella (Knife Children) dealing with a particular mixed breed child.

          2. Gary Don’t scold – or be appalled as the case may be. You may not like Proust, who I enjoy immensely. And by and large, I enjoy Butold, some more than others. While I like the first book of the Sharing Knife a lot and I also like the second somewhat, the others did not appeal. I felt as though she had a great idea of a story then after she resolved the romance she didn’t know where to take it.

        2. Check out the CHalion series. It’s lovely. and sort of connected to the Penric series, although they don’t have to be read in order.

          I didn’t particularly like the Knife series. I do like the Miles Vorkosigan series, but they’re kind of frenetic, because Miles is a bundle of energy, so you might be more in the mood for the quieter Chalion (and Penric) series. I listened to the Chalion series and can vouch for the narrator being good.

          1. I started off with Miles back in the day (ie the Warrior Apprentice) but the books in that series I love the most are the ones at the very beginning about his mother, Cordelia: Shards of honor and Barrayar, and the books where Miles matures from Memory onwards. Memory is my absolute favourite Miles book.
            Young Miles is fun but seriously exhausting!
            I would still suggest to read all the books by chronological order though even though they are meant to be self contained.
            My favourite Bujold though is Paladin of Souls from the five Gods world maybe because the heroine is a fifty something widow in search of a purpose… and does she find it!

          2. Paladin of Souls is my favorite too. And I just really like the world building. The Bastard is my kind of god and I love the gentle spirituality of the world.

  18. Finished “Winter’s Orbit” and was very happy with it. I’m starting “Everyone Knows Your Mother Is a Witch” by Rivka Galchen. It’s about Johannes Kepler’s mother, Katharina, who was accused of witchcraft back in the 1600’s. We’ll see how it goes/

  19. I’ve been reading Savannah Breeze by Mary Kay Andrews. Light summer romance, Southern, lots of fun. It took me a bit to get into, but now I’m really enjoying it.

  20. I reread Tightrope by Amanda Quick. I remembered almost none of it. If my Kindle hadn’t said I’d last left off at the end I wouldn’t have known. I also read her Close Up and The Lady Has a Past. All 3 seemed really long to me.

    I read F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby too. First time I’d read it.

  21. So in the interest of building my French skills, I have been trying to find the Dempsey books here in France in French but running into issues tracking them down. Any chance of getting ISBN numbers of Welcome to Temptation or Faking It in French? I saw Bet Me so I suspect there are others out there in the wild but my hunting skills seem to be unfruitful!!

    1. There’s definitely a French WTT because I remember the cover: bright red with a black and white photo of a woman in a prom dress climbing into a dumpster. No idea why. I’ll see if I have a copy around her someplace; I know I held onto it because I loved that insane cover.
      Faking it I cannot remember.

    2. I had a look on Amazon fr by typing Jennifer Crusie français in the search box (otherwise it’s the English editions that come up).
      I found among others : « Séduis-moi si tu peux » (Bet me) and « Charlie à tout prix » and others whose titles were not as obvious ie « La chasseresse », the huntress, what could that one be?
      I also found « Temptation » but that was an Italian edition.

        1. From the French wiki:

          Le pari d’une séductrice, Harlequin ((en) Sizzle, 1994)
          La chasseresse, Harlequin, 1996 ((en) Manhunting, 1993)
          Sans regrets, Bradley !, Harlequin ((en) Getting Rid of Bradley, 1994)
          Week end mondain, Harlequin ((en) Strange Bedpersons, 1994)
          Le privé et la femme fatale, Harlequin ((en) What the Lady Wants, 1995)
          Charlie, toute la nuit…, Harlequin ((en) Charlie All Night, 1996)
          (en) Anyone But You, 1996 Inédit en France
          (en) The Cinderella Deal, 1996 Inédit en France
          (en) Trust Me on This, 1997 Inédit en France
          Un tissu de mensonges, Presses de la Cité ((en) Tell Me Lies, 1998)
          (en) Crazy for You, 1999 Inédit en France
          (en) Welcome to Temptation, 2000 Inédit en France
          L’Amour en embuscade, Presses de la Cité ((en) Fast Women, 2001)
          (en) Faking It, 2002 Inédit en France
          Séduis-moi si tu peux, Milady, 2014 ((en) Bet Me, 2004)
          (en) Hot Toy, 2006 Inédit en France
          Collaborations
          Avec Bob Mayer
          (en) Don’t Look Down, 2006 Inédit en France
          (en) Agnes and the Hitman, 2007 Inédit en France
          Avec Eileen Dreyer et Anne Stuart
          (en) The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes Inédit en France
          Essais
          (en) Totally Charmed: Demons, Whitelighters and the Power of Three Inédit en France
          (en) Flirting with Pride & Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece, 2005 Inédit en France
          (en) Anne Rice: A Critical Companion Inédit en France

          1. Inédit en France means “Unpublished in France”
            Note that the list is topped by herself’s favorite story.
            If Welcome to Temptation is available in French, the wiki may need updating… unless it was published in Quebec or Haiti or Somewhere Not France.

          2. Most of the titles are kind of blah, but “Sans regrets, Bradley” is just as good as the original.

      1. « La chasseresse » IS MANHUNTING — the cover pic I found includes the blurb on the back cover, which makes it clear.

        [I’ve just been checking out the French site of Amazon, which will happily filter Crusie books into English and Dutch if you choose. There are a few French, Italian, and one Japanese editions hidden away.

        Perhaps, Carrie, you might work on your Dutch?

    3. Here’s what I found on Worldcat:

      Séduis-moi si tu peux (Bet Me) – 9782811211530
      Bienvenue à La Tentation (Welcome to Temptation) – 9782890772090

      Un tissu de mensonges (Tell Me Lies) – 9782258048744
      L’amour en embuscade (Fast Women) – 9782258058828
      Charlie, toute la nuit (Charlie All Night) – 9782280115216
      La chasseresse – 9782280114967
      Le privé et la femme fatale (What the Lady Wants) – 9782280114431
      Sans regrets, Bradley! (Getting Rid of Bradley) – 9782280113939
      Week-end mondain (Strange Bedpersons) – 9782280115155

      No sign of Faking It though.

  22. The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow.

    Wow. Just … wow. I loved the Ten Thousand Doors of January, and I loved this even more. Stunning language, and a story that caught me up so quickly and so utterly. I’m still reeling.

  23. Apparently, sad yet inevitable endings are not for me during these sad, inevitable times. I enjoyed the journey of The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave, but was morose for a a couple of days after reading the ending.

    I accidentally found a similar plot device in the next book I picked up from a little neighbourhood library (Yesterday’s Bookshop), felt better and wondered if 2020-21 has ruined me for anything that isn’t escapism.

  24. Two M/M novellas by authors I follow (EJ Russell and Annabeth Albert); a re-read of ‘Miss Billings Treads the Boards’ by Carla Kelly, one of my favorites of hers.

    Plus, ‘Damaged Goods’ by Talia Hibbert – M/F in which a pregnant woman who’s left her abusive husband reconnects with a man she knew as a teenager. It’s a very nice coming-back-together story with plenty of humor and a satisfying bad-guy-losing confrontation.

    ‘Summer Kisses’ by Charlie Novak – M/M following two restaurant professionals who have a very mutually self-destructive first year followed by years apart followed by working together again. Unusual structure. I appreciated letting the story take the time it would actually need IRL given the issues both men have. Well-earned happy ending.

    And then I re-read two of my own things, cogitating on the Smashwords possibility. I understand it’s the top source for libraries to acquire ebooks, so if I do this, will be doing some polishing.

  25. I tried some books, but wasn’t happy. Read “Up close and personal” by Jay Hogan. It started out really well – interesting crime, two leads with the promise of professional competence. And in New Zealand, none the less.
    It was my second book by this author and I have the same ain issue: almost all the more important characters seem to have the same way of talking. Very quick witted, glib, fast repartees. They talk a lot.
    The banter would be nice if it characterized only a few protagonists instead of so many.
    I’m glad I read it through KU, it feels like experimenting.

  26. Not much to report this week.

    THE COURTIERS: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court at Kensington Palace, by Lucy Worsley. This is a collection of biographies of lesser-known courtiers in the early Georgian period, taken from a collection of their portraits hung on the walls of the King’s Grand Staircase at Kensington Palace. “Once trussed up and coloured, the female courtiers resembled the beauties in Mrs Salmon’s famous London gallery of waxworks, and had carefully to avoid the fire for fear ‘of melting’.

    Meanwhile, the male courtiers were donning coat, waistcoat and breeches encrusted with embroidery. Their shoe buckles were jewelled, and each would rest a hand upon the hilt of a sword. On their heads, the itchy and sweaty full-bottomed periwig was still in fashion. Between each gentleman’s left elbow and his side was clenched his chapeau-bras: a flat, unwearable parody of a hat, for the head was never covered in the presence of the king. ‘Dress is a very foolish thing,’ declared the arch-courtier Lord Chesterfield, and yet, at the same time, ‘it is a very foolish thing for a man not to be well dressed’.

    Current comfort read, Gil Cunningham in THE COUNTERFEIT MADAM — I do like Madam Xanthe and the staff at The Mermaiden.

    Also THE GARDEN CLUB MYSTERY, by the late Graham Landrum. This is a sequel in the series where the first book is THE FAMOUS DAR MURDER MYSTERY, highly recommended — I picked it up at a bookstore stop on my way to a science fiction con. I was sharing a room with my cousin Elisabeth and, as usual, we had a table with two chairs and one stack of books next to her chair and another next to mine. We swapped books as we finished them. Some time after midnight I remember her asking if I was Ever going to bed, but I just kept reading and snickering because the book was so perfect. Jenny would certainly give it points for Community — it’s not wrong to say that the Community is a character in the series, the way the sand is a character in DUNE. Comfort reads again.

    Looks as if reading time for the foreseeable future will be slightly curtailed because some of it will be diverted to flash cards for hieroglyphs — the recommended site is Anki. I’ll also undoubtedly have to learn JSesh — I’ve been using Inscribe, which is (if you can actually say this about a program that allows you to compose hieroglyphic text — Out of Date).

    1. I really liked The Counterfeit Madam, and agree about Madam Xanthe. But I’m distressed to discover that I’m almost at the end of the series, that the last one was written some years ago, and there is absolutely no sign online of what Pat McIntosh has been doing since.

  27. Still going through the Penric series. I think it really picks up once it hits the “Penric’s Mission” story and beyond. Am currently on Physicians right now, which has a pandemic in it and uh….. not in the mood….but still interesting, anyway.

  28. Read How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews cosy reading, I always like her Christmas themed books

  29. I continued the fairytale reading from last week and read four by Kate Stradling. The Heir and The Spare, The Lenegdary Inge, Soot and Slipper, and Brine and Bone. The first is an original story and a bit darker than the others, while the other three are enjoyable retellings that found interesting ways into familiar stories without feeling contrived.

    To comfort myself after the dentist I bought Any Way The Wind Blows, by Rainbow Rowell, and will be diving into that tonight. I loved the first two, so hope this is a satisfying conclusion.

  30. Sandman is coming to Netflix sometime this year so I’m re-reading the comics. Apparently series one is just adapting the first book (preludes and nocturnes) but I fancy re-reading them all. Forgot how good they were.

  31. Suggestions for an Emma Lathen book for my first read?

    I read the first 4 Murderbots (upstairs) while rereading Agnes & the Hitman (downstairs). I find Murderbot and Shane very similar.

    I am reading Agatha Christie’s intermixed with rereading Georgette Heyer mysteries. What stands out is Heyer’s character’s banter and her over-the-top side characters. I’m trying to decide whether her 19th century romances actually feature 20th century banter.

  32. I read Winter’s Orbit after all the recommendations here. Loved it.

    I also read Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse about her childhood. I think it was written for children but it is beautiful.

  33. I’ve just finished reading The Princess Will Save You, and enjoyed it very much. It’s heavily inspired by The Princess Bride, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the sequel and seeing where all the intriguing goes.

  34. Me too. never read Pratchett. Will endeavour to find Going Postal. Found an interesting book about woman whose father was printing the Oxford dictionary but left out words. She gathers all the words he left out… The author’s name starts with W. Will look it up and post.

  35. Recently enjoyed the “Rose Code” by Kate Quinn …it’s right in one of my historical fiction happy places of women doing extraordinary things during WWII…this time at Bletchley Park. There were some “twists” that I thought felt a little telegraphed, but definitely a few good mis-directions along the way, too, and I really liked it overall – the characters and relationships felt very believable to me and it was interesting to experience all the different backgrounds of people coming together/growing apart/changing as it unfolded through out the story and they are put through the paces of various pressure cookers of the time and space and secrets.

    I also read “One Last Stop” by Casey McQuiston which I enjoyed as well. I’m not quite sure how I missed going in that it would be so science fiction – timey-wimey stuff. I think because I just grabbed the book for the author after reading & enjoying “Red, White & Royal Blue” without fully digesting the synopsis.

    So I wasn’t quite ready for that, but that was definitely my fault, and it all worked within the story. My one big criticism is that it almost at times felt like there was a Gen Z check list of ‘wokeness’ and slang that was getting worked through – she said being a grumpy “geriatric millenial.”

    Beyond just occasionally throwing me out of the story “Really? A woman from the 1970’s who doesn’t know how to google is supposed to instantly understand a text message that uses internet slang like keysmashing? I barely understand that”…the language just felt like the whole thing is very of its moment which felt like a strange choice since it was essentially a story of love out of time.

    Also, everyone is so understanding and careful of everyone else’s mental health and non-judgmental of everyone’s behaviors and journey’s in a way that feels very aspirational/virtue signaling. Like at no point was anyone anything but supportive about the idea of having a relationship with a being out of time who’s stuck on a train.

    I mean, maybe I’m just an old, and this really is how the kids care for each other these days, which is honestly great if so…but I found it hard to believe that there was not even one person in her life who would have said something like – “hey, maybe it’s a little unhealthy for you to be fixated on this being who may/may not be real?!” Like straight up if I met a ghost on a train and fell in love, I think my roommates would have been more worried about me instead of instantly accepting of that choice. Which feels more real than them being instantly supportive about it.

    But if I put my cynicism/experiences aside and accept that her world is really just a loving and totally judgment free zone of people who are remarkably well-adjusted despite living out unusual circumstances (or perhaps remarkably well-adjusted to handle this particular experience BECAUSE of their own unique experiences?), the love story part is really amazing and well done.

  36. I finished ‘Witness for the Dead’, and felt a bit let down. I was focused on the protagonist, and his emotional journey, and was hoping/expecting more of an arc. The story just stopped. After he’d solved the various cases he was working on; but that wasn’t the heart of the story for me.

    I do love her characters and the world; just felt the story fell short. It might have worked better if I’d had a clue who everyone was. I constantly had to run searches to work out who she was talking about, and still had only a vague idea. She seriously messes up by making up names for too many titles/positions when she could just give them in English; and then giving everyone half a dozen different names and titles.

    Given how severely this handicaps the narrative, she’s obviously an excellent storyteller in that I kept reading. But it is much harder work than it needs to be.

  37. I read Romancing the Duke by Tessa Dare (Castles series) and it was the antidote I needed to a rough week. It’s light and funny and has great banter plus fandom at its best. And a dog, so clearly a good book for anybody here. ; )

  38. I’m just a few minutes into episode 2 of Leverage:Redemption and I’m giggling at Sophie and Hardison’s aliases. Vintage Dr Who for the win!

    I haven’t read much this week, I’ve been busy.

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