This is a Good Book Thursday, August 12, 2021

Did re-reads all week because I needed comfort stuff including the Time Police books, planning hitting Deadly Education again since the sequel comes out next month, Time Police third book in October. Also tried a couple of new romances including one reverse harem that did not work and sent me back to The Book of Firsts to figure out why that one did. If I ever get my act in gear, I’m going to write about why, assuming I do figure it out. Still haven’t seen Loki or Leverage. Must get act and ass in gear or at least go look up “reverse harem.”

What did you read this week?

123 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 12, 2021

  1. I have been rereading too.

    I have been following again Nathan Lowell’s Ishmael Wang’s Solar clipper career. I have now gone beyond Owner’s share and have started on the follow-up series where he finds his feet again after the terrible blow he was dealt in Owner’s share

    Ishmael is such a nice character.

    Still good third (?) time round. Thank you to the Arghers who recommended it!

    1. Thanks for the recommendation!
      The Ishmael booky are even on kindle unlimited, so I’m already on chapter 3 (had to squeeze them in between stand up paddling, snorkeling and swimming…).

  2. Last week I’d read two Eli Easton novels (one trick pony and Prairie something), nothing special but nice nevertheless.

    I’m on holiday now, with a dozen ebooks on my mobile, a Katin exercise book (yes, I’m weird, I’ll switch from Ancient Greek to Latin) abd a book about medieval Military science. Yet, apart from the Latin, I haven’t started anything because the eyes need relaxing, too.
    Watched the video of the Tokyo men’s 10m synchro diving competition last night. Just having to stand uo there would be my idea of nightmare… happy that Daley/Lee won.

    Have got the charming newsletter by Alexis Hall including an extra deleted schene from Rosaline. Will read this scene today and continue to be lazy.

  3. I read the last two Stariel books by AJ Lancaster (actually she’s writing a 5th because there’s unfinished business with Marius but it’s the end of the Hetta-Wyn series proper) and enjoyed them thoroughly. I liked the first book, liked the second even more, and loved the last two. It’s a joy when a series gathers steam instead of losing it.

    Time Police series? I don’t know that one – must check it out.

    1. I love the Stariel series. The first 3 books were delightful. I’m reading the last one now. It makes me happy that she decided to write Marius’s book too. He needs it.

      1. Right? I started to get anxious at the end when I realized she wasn’t going to wrap up his story and I was about to shriek: “Noooooo!” Then I read her afterward and saw she was going to be totally responsible about giving him some narrative space in the future. Phew.

    2. I read the last Stariel book and enjoyed it, but somehow got a (probably?) wrong connection stuck in my head and it’s messing up my timeline and the motivation for the whole mess, turning it into an unanchored loop, which I hate.
      I wish I could talk about it with someone who’s read it, but can’t do so without spoilers for anyone who hasn’t read it – so I can’t ask about it anywhere online, and I don’t know anyone locally to ask.

      Perhaps I should just reread the series and try to figure out where I went wrong. I have an idea that might resolve the timeloop/causality loop, but that requires the King of Faerie to have deliberately done something seriously unbalancing to the whole realm of Faerie, not just once in grief, but twice, once long before! I really don’t like that option much more than the unacceptable, stupid causality loop.

  4. My one book finished this week is Christina Lauren’s Soulmate Equation, which I have had a reserve on since it was mentioned here weeks ago. It was delicious. I read Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating when I first hunted for the Soulmate Equation, and liked it, and I’m reading The Honey-Don’t List now, and liking it, so I will keep reading more of their books, but Soulmate Equation has something special.
    Everything else I read this week was either blah and skimmed, or–more Murderbot!

    1. I agree with you about Soulmate Equation – it was my favorite book this year until this week. Really wonderful characters and a conflict and dark moment that arises from those characters.

    2. I like a lot of their books too! And agree that Soulmate Equation is a lot of fun.

      Just an FYI – some of their earlier series are a bit more erotica than romance. I also enjoy those stories, particularly the Wild Seasons books…which started with such a cheesy, cliche premise, that I almost couldn’t do it….but they totally lean into it, and it was SO well written ultimately, that I couldn’t stop…and just truly love all the characters and stories in that series. The tropes in the Beautiful Series made that one not as enjoyable for me, but ymmv.

      So just wanted to give you the heads up that if you were planning to go into their backlist expecting Soul Mate Equation style stories, you would be forewarned & prepared for more erotic content in some of their earlier ones.

    3. I have issues with Josh and Hazel, especially the end, so I crossed them off the read list. But maybe I will give this one a try 🙂

  5. Re-read some Penny Reid. Tried to watch the new Leverage, but gave up. I miss the old characters too much.

    1. I have watched most of the new LEVERAGE that’s available, but I keep dozing off in the middle. What I am enjoying more is a British series called HUSTLE, which went on for something like 10 seasons. It was touted as “If you like LEVERAGE, you will love this…” and the more I watch the more I think I like it better.

  6. I did a Deadly Education reread a couple of days ago myself. Have been reading Jasper Fforde’s Chronicles of Kazam, a juvenile fantasy series. They remind me of something Diana Wynne Jones might have written. Finished another fantasy A Psalm for the Wild Built by Becky Chambers, which was more of a novella than a novel; I was disappointed because I was expecting a full size book. But it was soothing like everything she writes. That’s nice to have in these days of constant outrage. Little Black Book was a fun cozy mystery by Kate Carlisle that takes bookbinder Brooklyn from California to the UK. A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones with a small town sheriff by the name of Sunshine was a bit grittier of a mystery but still fun. I liked the first novel in the series better, will have to figure out why. Maybe because it was, er, a novelty? Hope everyone else had a good reading week!

    1. LOL. I enjoyed Laurel K Hamilton’s reverse harem – although there was a lot of angst to them. Any kind of harem of course always looks wayyyy more interesting from the outside – lots of sex and drama, etc. – than I imagine they actually are. I read Daughter of Persia a few years ago, an autobiography from a woman who actually grew up in a harem and the thing that stuck most with me is that she had one conversation alone with her father her entire life. Oh. Not exactly the stuff romance and fantasy is made of.

      1. There was an American lady who stayed in a Harem once as her husband was working for the family surveying land and she used it for research. She found the women could be individual and very practical. They advised her to make her husband buy her lots of gold jewellery, their form of financial security for the future.

  7. Is anyone else experiencing High Summer lack of attention span? My reading has been sporadic because of it. It fades in, it fades out.

    I finished the tome that is Books to Die For edited by Declan Burke and John Connolly. Seems like a zillion short essays from mystery writers about mystery/thriller books and authors they love. Really great to dip in before sleeping short reads. I finished it after 3 months.

    Last longer book I read was Andre Norton/Rosemary Edgehill’s Shadow of Albion, for a throwback challenge. High Drama Adventure! with some magical elements. The writing was so lush and good, but it is a M/F romance where the MCs spend very little time together and yet…then fall in love…because of Danger! I am going to get the sequel though, as I enjoyed the whole adventure and spying vibe.

    Read F. T. Lukens In Deeper Waters, a fun, quick fairy tale take on The Little Mermaid, except M/M and so charming.

    Also breezed through Anne Rinaldi’s 9 Days a Queen. YA historical, Lady Jane Grey’s short reign. I forgot what a great writer Rinaldi is, young adult or otherwise.

    Finished Celia Lake’s Outcrossing. Also short and a great M/F 20th c historical with some magic. Thank you to whomever rec’d it on this group, for that is where I found it.

    And looking forward to Rachel Reid’s Role Model. 5th book in her M/M hockey player series. Perhaps this weekend.

    1. Someone else who has read Shadow of Albion! I remember liking it a lot, but I haven’t re-read it for years.

  8. I just finished reading Spoiler Alert by Olivia Dade. Overall pretty good, though sometimes the fanfic-y-ness of it all could be kind of much for me. (As in, trying to keep track of people with names like “Book!AeneasWouldNever, UnapologeticLaviniaStan, AeneasLovesLavinia, TopMeAeneas,” etc, etc. etc. just got Much. I’m not really a fanficcer.) But it makes a pairing of ‘hot movie star with unapologetic woman of size who’s an ordinary fanficcer” work, so there’s that.

    1. THANK YOU. Any new Murderbot is a blessing. I have the whole series on a repeat loop on my reading list: read something. Sigh. Go back to Murderbot. Read something. Sigh. Go back to Murderbot. Repeat ad infinitum.

  9. This week I found two authors new to me that I really enjoyed. Allison Montclair, who writes the Sparks and Bainbridge series of historical mystery novels and Lisa Berne who writes historical romances in the Penhallow Dynasty series.

    Allison Montclair’s first book in the series is “The Right Sort of Man.” The series is set after WWII with two women who open a marriage bureau. The Iris Sparks character graduated from Cambridge and served as a spy during the war. Gwendolyn Bainbridge is a war widow and mother of a young child. Following her husband’s death she spent time in a psychiatric hospital and lost custody of her son. She lives with her in-laws who are wealthy but very controlling. I liked the focus on the mental health issues the women face and their personal growth in the series.

    Lisa Berne’s series, the Penhallow Dynasty, is a fairly traditional regency romance but it felt fresh and well written. It is such a pleasure to find new writers.

  10. Started anew urban fantasy, MONKEY AROUND by Jadie Jang (aka Claire Light), about editors and activists in the middle of Occupy San Francisco in 2011. (Editors can be activists–who knew?) Lots of shifters and other magical critters drawing from all the traditions that call SF home. Plenty of snark. I’m at the 40 percent mark, and it’s delicious.

  11. Thanks to fellow-readers here, I went to Patricia Gaffney, read Flight Lessons, and will read more.
    Also went back to Elinor Lipman, read The Inn at Lake Devine. I kept thinking I’d read it, but if so, it was long enough ago that I’d forgotten it all. Enjoyed it greatly.

  12. So I’m a creaky old physical book reader, and on the “Classics to Try” shelf at the (newly open – Yay!) library there was one of the Westcott family series by Mary Balogh. I’d heard of it but not tried any; now I’ve read three of the many volumes.

    It’s strange — I have a lot of hesitation about reading explicit sex scenes in Regency era novels. They’re all in a way knockoffs of Georgette Heyer’s original work (which was somewhat but not really a knockoff of Pride & Prejudice, but forget that –) and in a Heyer Regency, there wouldn’t have been any such scenes. So the ones in the first volume really kind of bothered me. However, with two more volumes already waiting on the Hold shelf, I went to read those and really enjoyed them.

    I liked the way she goes fairly deep into the thought processes of the main characters. Especially in the books about introverted characters, I found it highly believable to meet people who were really baffled about their own feelings, or sometimes the lack of same. I wondered if others here have (probably long ago!) read the books in this series and have opinions to share about them.

    1. I like some of her other series better. I have read the Westcotts, but can’t remember much. I like the Slightly and Simply series, plus ‘First Comes Love’, etc.

    2. I’ve read most of the Westcott series and while I liked some characters more than others, I think that it is the focus on the interior thoughts that keeps me reading. After seeing how Camille treated Anna Snow in Someone to Love, I didn’t think I’d ever care enough about her to want to read her story. But I did read it and was curious to see how she could redeem herself after her former selfishness and fear.

      I also don’t mind the explicit sex if it is part of the emotional arc. Heyer started writing a century ago and that was a century after the era where she set her novels. Does anyone believe that nobody had sex in either of those times? The difference is how the author handles it. I’m sure that there is pressure by publishers to add more sex and that much of it is poorly written, but to say that just because the earlier books in that genre didn’t include sex, no books set in a certain era can is ridiculous. Part of the problem some people have with genre fiction is that “once you’ve read one, you’ve read them all”. This is fiction, where we expect to see new ideas. So if you don’t enjoy the level of sex in a novel, don’t read it. And if you feel cheated by the advertisements that portray one kind of book as another, go to the library, where you can try before you buy. There is no Truth in Advertising law for fiction.

  13. I read Barbara O’Neal’s Write My Name Across the Sky – stayed up too late to finish it, because it’s one of those books that you just don’t want to put down. I think this is my very favorite of hers – wonderful characters and a love letter to New York. Highly recommended!

    1. I read it and liked it .. I am not a fan of multiple points of view and I despise epilogues. All in all I thought it was a good story and interesting characters..but I don’t think it is my favorite book of hers..

  14. I finished off the Switch by Beth O’Leary (of the Flatshare). This time, a grandmother / granddaughter switch lives. Both of the characters were interesting, and Grandma didn’t let much get her down about moving to the city for a while. It ended well, I thought, with the right people getting together and making their lives better.

    After that, I’ve started rereading Pratchett’s Men at Arms, because I wanted some of the Night Watch, and I couldn’t put my hands on Guards! Guards! I’m sure it is on my bookshelf somewhere.

  15. I’ve been enjoying the audiobook versions of Sherry Thomas’s The Lady Sherlock series (historical mysteries, Sherlock Holmes homage, obviously). The narrator is excellent. I’m late to finding the series (and can’t recall if it’s been mentioned here), so I’m able to go through several books in a row, and they’re just the right combination of distracting and not too demanding of attention for my current mood. Link to whole series here:

    1. I love the Lady Sherlock series. And Sherry Thomas’s earlier historical romances are great also.

    2. Her book The Magnolia Sword is currently one of my most re-read books on my beside table. It was her YA version of the story of Mulan, and it’s magnificent (and very not Disney).

  16. I am currently into summer beach reads specifically divorced women that inherit property from elderly relatives that they have not kept in touch with. In the one I’m reading now a Gulf Coast series by Maggie Miller, Gulf Coast Secrets, the soon to be divorced 53 year old mother of two adult children has inherited a cottage along the Florida coast. When she gets to the house she finds out it is not only a cottage but also there is another cottage with an inn between the buildings. Of course there is. And that got me thinking if she is not quite divorced is her husband who dumped her also entitled to the property and sure enough when he finds out he puts a claim in. The rat fink. There is a handyman that lives in the second cottage, convenient, and also her children come to give her a hand in getting the inn ready to reopen.

    What I haven’t started yet is Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown. I have the book but I find I can’t read simultaneously. And that one is about bootleggers of the twenties. I don’t think she has ever written a historical but I could be wrong.

    1. I can’t speak to Florida (my experience as an estate administratrix is in CA), but in many states, inheritances are specifically excluded from community property, unless you actively co-mingle assets. It’s incredibly annoying to read a book where the author screws that one up!

      1. Depends on whether the state (Louisiana, Arizona, California, Texas, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin) has a community property law or not. In common law property states, each spouse is a separate entity.

  17. I’m re-reading “The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater. This is so good, still my favorite of all her books.

    It’s about a race on the magical island of Thisby which features water horses which are predatory sea creatures which look like horses but have teeth like a shark. They live in the sea and come to shore only once a year, and during their time on land, some of them are caught and trained to run in a straight line. At all times, water horses are ready and eager to kill anything (dogs, cats, other horses, people) who get too close. People need some kind of magical aid in order to train and/or ride the water horses. At the end of their time on land, a race occurs where magic, blood, guts and the sea intertwine.

    This is the story of one such year starring a girl who needs the race money to try and keep her family together and a boy who loves his water horse and needs to win to keep his water horse.

  18. I reread Shirley Jackson’s LIFE AMONG THE SAVAGES, for the first time since the 1970s. I love this book, something I first happened across quite by accident in a used bookstore way back then. Contrary to what you probably think when you hear the names “Shirley Jackson,“ this is a sweet, often hilarious domestic memoir about raising her four children when they were very young, in the 1940s. Think something akin to Jean Kerr’s PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES. There is a followup, RAISING DEMONS, that I was unaware of until I found it on Amazon; I ordered it along with LATS, but I haven’t read it yet. Anyway, highly recommended.

    1. I had never hear of LATS, found a cheap Kobo edition and it is fabulous! I laughed all the way through – thanks for the heads up. Hunting for RAISING DEMONS next…

    2. I’ve been rereading Life Among the Savages since I discovered it as a kid (many many many years ago). It’s rare for me to find anyone else who’s heard of it! It is delightful.

  19. I read the first two of Andrea K Host’s fantasy trilogy Darest, something like that. They are good, not quite up to The Book of Firsts level, but I enjoyed both, was engaged and look forward to the last one. They remind me a bit of Tamora Pierce’s circle of magic series, or Sherwood Smith. Gentler paced adventures, though the stakes are still high, just not high drama. Just people doing their best.

    I think that the problem with a lot of reverse harems is that I read romance for the character interaction and for a lot of author’s, they write it for the sex and skip that part. Or bite off more than they can chew and have too many characters to develop satisfactorily.

    Emma Holly is the only author who comes to mind who pulls off multiple partners in a believable way, with the push and pull of multiple personalities in a relationship. Very very sexy, but she was a go to for me for a long time because she does sex and character and plot well. A little dated maybe now, and not a perfect 10, but better than the new stuff out there, in my experience.

    1. I love Sherwood Smith! Not surprised that you do too, Lupe. *:) Which Emma Holly would you recommend?

      1. It’s been a while, so it might not have aged well… Also, lots and lots of sex. Kinky sex. So fair warning.

        But she writes really sweet make characters which is what sticks with me. And practical heroines.

        Demon Fire is my favorite. MMF menage set in a scifi fantasy steampunk ish setting. It’s not the first in the series, but I don’t think that reading order is absolutely necessary. I will have to dig out my copy and see if it holds up.

        1. Thank you! And not to worry – I’ve been reading Alessandra Hazard’s M/M Straight Guy series and it’s wayyyy kinkier than anything I’ve read before. And I’ve lived to reread them over and over….

      2. Emma Holly has some books that are, um, sexier than others. That is, there are some where it seems like the sex is the main focus, but there is a fantasy series with, I think demons, which just happens to have some sexy times. It’s been a long time since I read them so I could be wrong.

    2. Andrea K. Host definitely gives me a Sherwood Smith vibe. And for those of you who don’t know her work Sherwood Smith is awesome.

      1. Woot! So happy to find another fan. I read my paperback copy of Crown Duel back to back until if fell apart. Then bought another. And I have it in audio book too.

        She is one of the few author’s whose ya work I like as much as her adult work. 😀

        1. I adore Crown Duel – a rereadable for me. And I also loved her Inda series, although oddly not a rereadable.

    3. I too am a Sherwood Smith fan. I really liked her modern fantasy series set in Dobrenica. It starts as kind of a takeoff of the story with Rudolph Rassendyl, lost prince of Ruritania, if I remember rightly.

  20. Someone recommended Girl Reporter by Tansy Rayner Roberts, which I had not heard of before, so I read that. It was fun, but though I like superhero novels, Wearing the Cape, Velveteen, etc., it just didn’t seem like one of her best. Still okay, and I’d probably read a sequel.

    Other than that I’ve been continuing my Vorkosigan reread. Halfway through Mirror Dance.

    A good friend of my recommended Leverage, which I had only ever heard of before when people here on Argh mentioned it, and I didn’t actually know what it was about. I’ve watched the first 2 1/2 episodes so far and it’s kind of fun. I’ll probably keep going.

  21. This has been fun. I’m in the library sponging their WiFi (long boring story) and reading the comments and searching for new reads. One book now in my hot little hand and 2 on hold. Thank ya’ll.
    I’ve been doing a fair amount of re-reading. Mostly fantasy and sci-fi. Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters is my current read and I’ve reread some Sharon Shinn and Patricia Briggs. I did read The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery but mostly I seem to be in a “any other world but this one” mood.

  22. A question to all of you, but particularly Gary J: Which e-reader do you prefer? I am planning a month long vacation and will need one while on the road (if covid allows me to take the trip this time).

    1. I have a paperwhite kindle. I got that one a couple of years ago. I think the contrast is good, it is slimmer and lighter than previous models and was the first one I think, with a flush front design so dirt doesn’t accumulate around the screen. It is also waterproof which is good for me since I killed a previous model by dropping it in the bath. I got the model with model connectivity so that I can download on the go (provided there is mobile coverage). I also bought it in instalment to spread the pain of the cost.

        1. If you buy a Kindle paperwhite, read the description CAREFULLY to be sure you get the connectivity, or not, that you wish — I’d certainly want it for a Kindle that travels with me. It’s the more expensive model.

          B075RNKT6G is the one WITH connectivity,

          B07CXG6C9W is the one WITHOUT — it requires WiFi to load books.

        2. I will add that I think e-ink is crucial as it doesn’t strain your eyes the way a tablet or computer does.
          Last year I had to mark exams using my computer and it put a lot of strain on my eyes.
          This year I used a Remarkable tablet, which is A4 sized and has an amazing stylus and I didn’t have any problems. Unfortunately the Remarkable only reads pdf docs at the moment but I am hoping it will support ebooks at some point in the future.
          I have also used it to read long pdf documents and that’s been great for that and saved me printing reams of paper.
          It is very expensive because it is very much a niche market but for me it has been a worthwhile investment.
          My daughter has also used it to draw some incredible pictures using the zoom function.

      1. I usually read from my kindle. I only use the iPad when a book is not available from my library on kindle. I am allowed to check out up to 50 kindle, epub or Overdrive Read books at one time so I download a lot. I have even downloaded travel guides. One thing I would recommend is getting a bright colored cover. I had a terrible time finding my previous kindle because it’s cover was black (I also have a bright blue charge cord. It eliminated the problem of leaving my charge cord behind in the hotel room. The white one for my iPad is good too.) A cover also gives you some protection when you drop it or leave it on a chair then sit on it (Both happened to a friend of mine – a friend with a black cover on his kindle. Plus he once left it with his clothes on a beach and had a wave total it. Accidents happen.). It would depend on what kind of cell phone you have but my Samsung cell takes the same kind of USB port as my kindle. I also have in my travel bag a couple of plugs with USB ports plus I have a universal plug adapter that can be configured for most countries.

    2. I’m happy with my mum’s Kindle Paperwhite, c. 2014. Before inheriting that, I used my iPad Mini, but the Kindle screen is much kinder on my eyes.

      I do get frustrated with the minimal/clunky organization options for my hundreds of books; but I imagine that’s the same whatever device you use, as long as you’re using Amazon.

    3. I used Nook products for years, and was happy with them. However, when my latest Nook became unreliable, I checked reviews, and none of the new generation of Nooks were recommended. So I made the jump to Amazon, and splurged on the Amazon Fire.

      I am delighted with it! I use my e devices for more than reading, I use them for email, internet googling, games, and I can download and watch movies on this too, if I choose. Fast performance, crisp screen. On the con side, it is heavier than a Kindle, but I rest it on my tummy (recliner) or leg (sitting.)

      1. Be careful with the Amazon Fire. If you want to read outdoors, it’s awful. If you really just want an e-reader, the Paperwhite from Amazon is better. It has true e-ink so can be read outdoors and its own built in light (arounnd the edges) so you can read in the dark also. One really nice thig about the Fire though is you can do audio books on it, which you can’t do with the Paperwhite.

    4. I loved my Paperwhite for years, but now it is about to go defunct because e age. Not sure if I will get a new one. I mostly read on my phone now. It makes for one less thing to carry to work…

    5. Okay, this answer is tricky. I have three Kindles: The original Kindle with buttons instead of touch screen. It’s with me now. It fits in my lunch box/man purse. I think I have my original Kindle Fire, with the 7″ touch screen. It has internet capability, though I always regarded it as a book reader. Third is my newer Kindle Fire. Both fires will do for reading books, or listening to audiobooks. They fit in the lunch bucket, too.

      I also have laptops, an Asus with Win 10 and a Chromebook with ChromeOs. Both have the Kindle ap installed, and a larger screen for reading. If battery life is not critical, I’d use the Asus, whose name is THE GREAT LIBRARY (south) OF ALEXANDRIA (Virginia). In addition to the Kindle ap, it has Mobipocket Reader which is the ap on which the Kindle is based. Amazon bought Mobipocket years back. In some ways, it is superior to Kindle, but Baen is one of the few sources of content, unless you know how to work Calibre. Also, the laptop has a web browser, and I still read books in HTML. Or I can surf the interwebs, if WiFi is available.

      Not for travelling, I have the All-In-1 computer, which has all those reader aps and a 23″ screen. I regard the little Kindle as my bathroom reader. 🙂

      For portability, I pick the Fire or the Asus. (I can put a Kindle in the case with the Asus, too.)

      Hope that helps. I see lots of good answers from others.

      Oh! I also have portable speakers and earphones.

    6. I have a Samsung Galaxy tablet with a 12in? screen and I downloaded the Nook app to it. Works great. I prefer nook to kindle because I find Amazon too predatory. I download lots of books from my library via hoopla and overdrive. Just a word of warning, make sure you actually download the books instead of reading them online so you don’t get caught out if you don’t have an internet connection on your travels. I’m probably stating the obvious but I speak from experience!

    7. Look at the e-ink ones; then think about whether you want or need the screen sidelighting for reading at night without turning on a light and disturbing anyone sleeping in the same room.

      E-ink screens are best for reading outside, and use much less energy, so going a week or two of intensive use before needing to be plugged in. Though using the integrated lighting function uses a lot more energy, it is a really pleasant, non glaring light focused purely on the reading surface.
      They are black and white, not in colors, and generally not useful for looking at pictures, webcomics, websites etc.

      Then think about what kind of connectivity you will need and have on your holidays, and how you will load the reader. By wire from a laptop containing your Calibre e-library? I used to load up my reader with several hundred books that way, so didn’t need any connectivity on holiday (where there wasn’t any wifi and hardly any mobile phone connection).
      Will you be downloading a few books at a time from Amazon or Kobo or wherever? Over wifi, or your phone ‘hotspot’?

      If you buy your ebooks from Amazon, in their mobi format, the Kindle suggestions are useful.
      If you have your ebooks in the Epub format used by other ebook sellers, in the rest of the world, and by people who don’t want to encourage Amazon’s monopolies, another type of reader would probably be better.
      Most of my e-library is bought from Kobo, Baen, BookViewCafe and Closed-circle. Kobo sell a range of Kobo readers similar to the Kindle ones, which people like just as much, but use mostly for epub format books.

      1. I have a kindle – not sure what sort. But I dislike buying from Amazon, so I buy from Kobo whenever possible and convert the epub format to mobi using Calibre. You can also convert pdf to mobi. There are instructions for how to do it online, and it’s a bit more complicated than Amazon’s one-touch buy, but worth it not to be putting any more money into Jeff Bezos’s pocket. And after doing it a few times it’s second nature.

    8. Be warned that you may not be able to buy new books while abroad. I think you can download books you already bought.

      1. I think I bought them with no problem (from Amazon UK) when I was in the US. It was in 2016, though, so can’t be sure.

        1. Yes, I am in France and can buy from Amazon uk without any problems.
          Amazon doesn’t care where I am, they just want my money 🙂

  23. On the reading front, I mostly re-read last week plus a couple DNFs. The only new book I finished was Sarah Morgan’s The Summer Seekers, a nice summer read, a women’s fiction novel of self-discovery and perseverance in life and love. One of the protagonists was an 80-years-old woman with an unusual and controversial history. Yummy!
    My next news is not about the books I read, but it is about a book all the same. I created a book cover for my online friend’s fantasy novel The Last Dragon in London. You could see this book on Amazon at or anywhere books are sold online. It was a challenging project for me, and we went through several versions before she was satisfied with the cover. I feel very proud of myself, as if I’m a real cover artist.

    1. Wow that cover is beautiful! It is amazingly detailed and the blues in it are eerie. Congratulations.

  24. Besides comfort rereading (thank heavens for LMB), I’ve been reading C.J. Sansome’s Shardlake series and really enjoying it. I’m currently on Tombland, half reading, half listening (depending on time of day). Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer occasionally persuaded, lured, blackmailed to assist a Royal Personnage (Catherine Parr, Princess Elizabeth) uncover a mystery. Sadly, I believe this one will he his last one (myeloma). He’s an excellent writer and plotter. Totally engaging.

    When I finish Tombland, I may have to read the third in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series to get my Tudor fix (I read the first two), but I’m hesitating. Can any here can recommend it?)

    Also ducked into Pat Macintosh’s Gil Cunningham series (15th century, Glasgow–thanks to Aargh suggestion) and Paul Doherty’s The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan (14th century, London). Both good for a taste of the times.

  25. Had a curious experience reading THE INFINITE NOISE, a queer high school romance-with-superpowers, which turns out to be Lauren Shippen’s adaptation of her own podcast. Loved it initially, slowly began to find its rhythms and world-building frustratingly off, and drifted into a probable DNF, though I may yet go back to it. I suspect it would work far better for anyone invested in the podcast — I kept feeling as though key scenes & character beats were being left out, and I think that may be because the work had been done elsewhere.

    Very much enjoying Sherwood Smith’s Phoenix Feather series, which she’s serialising on her Patreon, one chapter per day.

    Doing a read-aloud of William Gibson’s The Peripheral with my partner. It’s my favourite of his books, but quite challenging to read aloud — his language is very stripped down, with a lot of the character work in these little chunks of dialogue, & if you don’t get the voices right for them they sort of fall to the floor and go splat. It’s being fun though.

  26. The following is a test. It is only a test. If it were an actual post, there would be content.


    <big>Big Text</big>
    <small>Small Text</small>
     <li>Unordered List Item 1</li>
     <li>Unordered List Item 2</li>
     <li>Unordered List Item 3</li>
    <h1>Header 1</h1>
    <h2>Header 2</h2>
    <h3>Header 3</h3>
    <h4>Header 4</h4>
    <hr>Horizontal Line
    <table border=”1″ width=”100%”>
       Cell 1
       Cell 2
       Cell 3
       Cell 4

    Testing Results

    Big Text
    Small Text

    Unordered List Item 1
    Unordered List Item 2
    Unordered List Item 3


    Header 1
    Header 2
    Header 3
    Header 4
    Horizontal Line

    Cell 1

    Cell 2

    Cell 3

    Cell 4

    1. Test Complete. The only HTML codes that seem to work are Blockquote, Bold/Strong, and Italics/Emphasis. No lists, no tables, no other font manipulation, no horizontal rules. My curiosity got the better of me.

      1. Thanks for teaching me the blockquote one!
        I knew the bold and italics ones, and use one other one that might be useful to provide a link that goes in those smaller than – bigger than parentheses, which I will substitute here with square parentheses

        [a href=””]linktext[/a]

        Where the bit between the “…” is the URL, and the linktext is the text people see, and can click on to go to the URL. Especially useful if the URL is very long and unreadable.

        I’ll try it for real below, see if it works here.


        1. Thank you very much for pointing out the link code. I’ve used it here myself, most recently last Thursday (I think). There is a feature that doesn’t work – the target item.

          <a target=”new” href=””></a&gt;

          The target is supposed to let you specify opening the link in a new window. Instead, you must right-click and choose new tab or new window from the drop-down menu.

  27. I don’t remember who recommended “Things I learned from Falling” by Claire Nelson (about a woman who falls and shatters her pelvis while on a solo hike in Joshua Tree desert). I read it and loved it. Whoever recommended it, thank you!

  28. Rereading Death Qualified by Ms. Wilhelm. She writes so well that I can forgive the amount of anger the main character carries around. Also just finished Knife Children – last of the series – by Lois McMaster Bujold. A true creative artist. Delightful!

  29. This week I read 7 things, one of which was a short story/novelette – ‘Infernal Affairs’ by Jordan L. Hawk – and one of which was an anthology: ‘Irresistible Forces,’ ed. by Catherine Asaro, one of the contributors. All M/F stories in the ‘speculative’ category. One by Lois McMaster Bujold, ‘Winterfair Gifts,’ I liked quite a bit but had to fight my way through All The Characters with obvious story links of which I am ignorant. I wish it made me want to read all the Miles Vorkosigan stuff but it kind of didn’t. (insert ‘eek’ face). My favorite was ‘Shadows in the Wood’ by Jennifer Roberson, which was a Robin & Marian + Merlin story. Instead of being a ‘how they fall in love,’ it was ‘they are in love and this happens.’ Very atmospheric.

    M/M pair-of-cops-in-Australia: ‘Two Man Station’ by Lisa Henry, liked a lot. This one is about trust, partnership, getting the job done, and standing up for each other.
    M/M urban fantasy ‘Witch Under Wraps’ by EJ Russell: I almost always love her characters but this one felt rushed to me. There was a LOT of story, in which many bad things are happening (so it glitched for me as a romcom, which the cover absolutely promises), and while the falling-in-love felt like it had a solid basis, the MCs didn’t get much time to let it develop.
    M/M romantic suspense, ‘Light Up the Dark’ by Suki Fleet, in which again many bad things happen to all the good guys, and a change in POV signaled a swerve to procedural which … didn’t fit the first part. Wasn’t *worse* than the first part (in fact I preferred it because the first part felt like downward spiral to doom), just made clear how much of the story was missing from the first part.

    M/F new adult contemporary ‘Steadfast’ by Sarina Bowen, liked this a lot too. The M is dealing with recovery from addiction, the F is his high-school sweetheart whose brother died in a crash … and M was the driver. Or was he?! The book is about them finding their way into an honest relationship and also about finding the answers about what really happened three years ago.

    Finally, ‘Wait for What Will Come,’ a 1978 Gothic by Barbara Michaels, featuring a young American math teacher who inherits a spooky manor in Cornwall; goes impulsively to stay for the summer instead of selling it out of hand; meets not one not two but FIVE potential suitors, two of whom turn out to be bad guys. There is much ‘is this supernatural or is it some creepy real person trying to make me leave’ in which the possibility of the supernatural is not entirely explained away. 🙂 Plus the guy she ends up with is the one who is the least suitorly. It’s all so very 70s.

    1. The Barbara Michaels books were specifically intended to include the paranormal, while the Elizabeth Peters books were straight romantic adventure.

      Once or twice I remember reading a title which had been published under the wrong name — a Peters title with a bit of supernatural. I suppose that was publisher’s choice.

  30. Oh no, my name has a plus now…

    I’m ready a cozy mystery in a favorite series by Krista Davis. Lots of cute cats and dogs. It’s about what I’m up to handling right now.

  31. This week I read some deeply tropey, deeply average f/m romance as the mental equivalent of ice cream for dinner. Everyone was rich, beautiful, had absolutely zero real problems and everything always worked out. The only author that stood out as making it actually work was Lauren Layne. The Prenup was actually good, if wildly improbable.

    I also read Duking It Out, by EJ Russell (many thanks to the arghers who recommended the author), which was a short but sweet M/M romance set in a fictional European country where the royal families have superpowers. The romance did feel a bit rushed, but it remained believable. I’ll be reading the follow up books for sure.

  32. I read the fourth book in the Stariel series – The King of Faerie – and loved it. I’ve adored the whole series, and felt satisfied by this wrap-up.

    And I finally got around to reading Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, and devoured it in a matter of hours.

  33. I’ve just started FROM THE CORNER OF THE OVAL, a memoir by Beck Dorey-Stein, who was a stenographer at the White House during the Obama administration. So far, she’s in DC, tutoring at a school, isolated and in need of people to socialize with . . . so she sits at a cafeteria table with one of the god-like men of whom there are a handful at the school, thinking that he’s probably a coach. Her efforts to introduce herself only bring the polite response, “I’m working.” It’s not until she hears another table of schoolgirls shriek, “Malia!” that she realizes he’s one of the Secret Service Presidential Protection Detail (Biden’s grandchildren also attend and have SS protection, too). Oops! Don’t know whether she will hold my interest, but I had stenography training back in the day.

    More seriously, reading Kathryn Warner’s new book, EDWARD II’S NIECES, THE CLARE SISTERS. I enjoy medieval biographies — the Tudors have been done to death — and Kathryn is possibly one of the world experts on Edward II and his family. Being rich and well-connected did not ensure that these girls had safe and happy lives.

    Anyone a Judge Dee fan? I’ve just acquired a biography, DUTCH MANDARIN: The Life and Work of Robert Hans van Gulik, by C. D. Barkman and H. de Vries-van der Hoeven. Haven’t started it yet, but I reread the Judge Dee books every so often . . . .

    I tried HER HALLOWEEN TREAT, by Tiffany Reisz, but it was a DNF for me, pretty much when the heroine — just out of a Bad Relationship with a Jerk — is nagged by her best friend to find some man immediately if not sooner for rebound sex. The BFF goes On and On about it over the phone, as the heroine is walking into her brother’s lonely cabin and hears Footsteps Overhead. I just couldn’t relate to the suggestion to seduce a random squatter / burglar / vandal / criminal on the run, and the BFF went On and On, more and more crudely. Didn’t care if he was a vampire; just left them to it.

  34. I have a Kindle paperwhite, with a Fintie cover (partial to the Folio covers, which look like old-fashioned books). It works out well and goes most places with me.

    I also have the Kindle app on the desktop computer — especially good for books like the Smithsonian gem book, where pretty pictures are a special feature.

    And I have, though I don’t use it a lot, a new-ish Kindle fire. I got one for my mother when she was recovering in a skilled nursing facility, and now it seems to be mine.

  35. Last Thursday I mentioned Welcome to Temptation and Faking It in The Jennifer Crusie Collection. Since then, I’ve read Tell Me Lies and Crazy for You. Then I opened the companion book on the little Kindle, the “crazy For You stories.” I love when Zoe meets Harold’s Father. Returning to the collection, I’m halfway through Fast Women. I love this collection. 🙂

    On the side, there was Princess Holy Aura. After reading the partial WIP Ryk posted, I had to reread the original. Also finished Demons of Constantinople.

    Started Once More With Feelings again. All my new books are in the TBR bin.

  36. Inspired by both some of you Arghers, and by all this detective videogaming, I’ve read a chunk of “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Arthur Conan Doyle. Think I’m somewhere around 1/3 and taking a break, but since it’s all short stories anyway, I don’t mind so much. I’ll pick it up again whenever I don’t have anything else to read.

    Read “So We Meet Again” by Suzanne Park,, an M/F romance surprisingly devoid of sex scenes, and quite… cute. It has some pretty nice cooking-scenes in it, and it made me laugh a couple of times, which was nice. I thought it was a pleasant read BUT (!) smirking happened 5 times (of which 4 smirks were smirked by the love interest). Yes, I counted…for Argh-science.

    Reread “Ink & Sigil” by Kevin Hearne, in preparation for the release of the 2nd book of the series on August 10th: “Paper & Blood”. I really like Hearne’s books, but I realize they… mightn’t be for everyone. Baked in amongst the jokes, however, is some quite deep philosophical stuff, life wisdom that is very well formulated. Very quotable, that stuff. Love it. Reading “Paper & Blood” now.

        1. I think I must’ve reread the Iron Druid Chronicles every year since I discovered them in… 2015-something. Such a feelgood read. Love the stuff.
          I heard there’s another novella coming out early next year, as part of an anthology, featuring the events that are briefly mentioned in Paper & Blood. Can’t wait!

  37. Finished the 6 Murderbot diaries and am left with all sorts of thoughts. I guess the overriding one is that ART’s behavior is reprehensible in Network Effect but Murderbot is set up as the more adolescent and stubborn one of the two. I’ve been put in that situation at times and I hate it.

    1. “the 6 Murderbot Diaries”?!

      1. The series starts with All Systems Red in 2017.
      2. A sequel, Artificial Condition, was released on May 8, 2018,
      3. Rogue Protocol on August 7, 2018.
      4. Exit Strategy, was released on October 2, 2018.
      5. Network Effect, was released on May 5, 2020.
      6. Fugitive Telemetry, taking place chronologically between Exit Strategy and Network Effect, was published in April 2021.
      7. A Murderbot short story, “The Future of Work: Compulsory”, taking place before All Systems Red, was published in Wired in 2018.
      8. A second short story, “Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory”, taking place between Exit Strategy and Fugitive Telemetry, was published on in 2021.[11]

      You have more Murderbot to look forward to. 🙂

      1. You’re right, Gary, as usual. 😉

        I’ve downloaded Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory and I haven’t acquired The Future of Work: Compulsory.

  38. Besides comfort rereading (thank heavens for LMB), I’ve been reading C.J. Sansome’s Shardlake series and really enjoying it. I’m currently on Tombland, half reading, half listening (depending on time of day). Shardlake is a hunchbacked lawyer occasionally persuaded, lured, blackmailed to assist a Royal Personnage (Catherine Parr, Princess Elizabeth) uncover a mystery. Sadly, I believe this one will he his last one (myeloma). He’s an excellent writer and plotter. Totally engaging.

    When I finish Tombland, I may have to read the third in Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell series to get my Tudor fix (I read the first two), but I’m hesitating. Can any here can recommend it?)

    Also ducked into Pat Macintosh’s Gil Cunningham series (15th century, Glasgow–thanks to Aargh suggestion) and Paul Doherty’s The Sorrowful Mysteries of Brother Athelstan (14th century, London). Both good for a taste of the times.

  39. I finished ‘The Night Hawks’ by Elly Griffiths.

    And ‘Fugitive Telemetry’ still full of Snark 😆

    1. Did you like Night Hawks? I managed to place a hold months ago so I got it from the library right away. But I could not get into it and decided to return it early so some more appreciative reader could have it. I do poorly with long running series so the problem may just be my short attention span.

      1. Yes -I liked it. I like the whole series.

        Some more than others. I didn’t like the previous book ‘The Lantern Men’. Or the one set in Italy.

  40. I read a MM romance that was dreadfully overwritten and at times more like a therapy session than anything else. Not sure why I finished it, but I chucked it off my kindle as soon as I got to the end.

    Also The Fourth Crow and The King’s Corrodian by Pat McIntosh – both wonderful. I’m only one book away from the last one, so am going to have to start back at the beginning.

    A friend has given me an ancient and battered copy of The Black Riders by Violet Needham. I adored her books when I was a kid, lots of swashbuckling and daring night rides across country, not to mention lost heirs and coach chases. Looking forward to rereading this one, which was one of my favourites. No idea whether it will hold up or not.

    And I found this – Andrea K Host talking about her thought processes when she was writing The Book of Firsts. Note there are spoilers.

  41. I hope you write about Leverage once you’ve watched it. I know you wrote about the old show a few times. I binge watched the new version and then went back to re-watch all the original episodes. I’d love to read your thoughts on the new show.

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