This is a Good Book Thursday, August 5, 2021

I didn’t get a lot of reading done last week, but I have BIG PLANS for this week: The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and A Briefer History of Time: The Science Classic Made More Accessible. (Thank you, Book Bub.) I’m sure they’ll both be exciting, sensual, and funny with plenty of action and suspense: everything I love in a book.

What did you read this week?

125 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 5, 2021

  1. I have been rereading this week. Among other things, following the quotes post, I reread « Shards of honor » by Lois McMaster Bujold since that’s the quote I chose for the post.

    I hadn’t reread it for a long while. It’s her first book and yet it is chockfull of excellent lines. It really needs to be read in conjunction with « Barrayar » which she published much later but is the other half of the story.

    That one is also full of excellent stuff, not least the shopping bag  scene which is funny, powerful and ultimately heartbreaking.

    1. I love Cordelia, the protagonist of both book. She is my favorite sci-fi heroine. I’m now in the process of re-reading another of her books: Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. What a treat!

      1. I adored Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. Not the first time, but now having read it three times it’s one of my favourites, right next to Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. I particularly enjoyed the conversations between Jole and Miles and then Cordelia and Miles.

        1. Yes! That comment about the way honor flows from her like a waterfall is SO very apt! Just about any comment from her to someone else usually seems to offer them more wisdom than they are actually able to grasp immediately. I love that Bujold was able to create both Cordelia and Desdemona, both of whom are just exemplary people.

      2. These are two of my favourite books ever, re-read them all the time. Cordelia is such a grown-up. I love that.

      3. Here’s a question: I’ve read Shards and Barrayar many times, but haven’t read any of the Myles books. Can I jump into Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen? Or does it need more context?

        1. You should definitely read the Miles books. You are denying yourself a treat really.
          And Aral and Cordelia make frequent appearances in the Miles books.
          Also if you love Cordelia you will love Elena (from Komarr onwards).

        2. I think you would be fine with Gentleman Jole so long as you don’t mind spoilers for certain things about the Miles books. (Not major plot spoilers for any specific book that I can recall, just the inevitable ones from it being set after the Miles books. Existence of certain characters, where they are now, that sort of thing.) You will miss the many layers of some characters you won’t know, but the main story will be there, and (IMO) the best things about the book only depend on this book (i.e. Jole and Cordelia).

          But I didn’t read it that way (also a fan of the Miles books…and the Ivan book, for that matter), so just a feeling.

        3. I’m totally in favor of reading the Miles books, but I’m curious — why have you chosen not to read them in the first place?

        4. I recommend reading all the Miles books. Both for themselves and there are a lot of great Cordelia moments you would miss out on also.

        5. You can certainly read Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen without reading the Miles books. No sense in turning yourself off something you like by making yourself read stuff that’s not to your taste to get to it.
          I’ve read them all, but sometimes hyperactive young Miles can be exhausting and not to my taste at the moment; there are some of those books I don’t really reread.

          He does grow up, and at the moment I prefer the books where he’s more of an adult, starting with Memory (from about page 100: when I reread that I tend to skip the first bit where he’s still being an ass). Komarr is good. Then A Civil Campaign has him reverting to some cringemaking panic-mode stuff, but also some good bits. Diplomatic Immunity and Cryoburn are both adult Miles, and Ivan’s book is a much more lighthearted delight.

          In the earlier books, the Ethan of Athos one featuring Elli Quinn instead of Miles is good and rereadable too; Cetaganda is good, and the novella The Mountains of Mourning is poignant, not the hectic Miles from a lot of the earlier stories. The “Borders of Infinity” novella is a border case.

          The other early Miles books are often too hectic to my present taste, for me, while I will not reread Mirror Dance (even if it has a few good bits, it has too much things I hate in there).

          I do like Falling Free, the standalone about the historic start of the Quaddies, which can work well as background for Diplomatic Immunity, though it’s a less mature book.

    2. I loved SHARDS long before BARRAYAR was ever published. It had adult characters with adult problems and responsibilities. The Miles books are basically teenage space cadet stuff, though outstanding, but the SHARDS/BARRAYAR set was on another level.

      1. The first few are space cadet up to a point but the nice thing about Miles is that he does grow up and learn.

      1. Yes, it was going to be one book but it was getting too long so she cut it a key point and then left the rest on the back burner for a few years. Shards of Honor was published in 86 and Barrayar in 91.

  2. I read The Book of Firsts and it was the best thing I’ve read in a while (I didn’t dnf) but I’d like more. I think the characters were revealed to us, and it was gentle and lovely, but I’m not sure they each changed much, maybe just got more confident in who they are? Also, I saw a tweet ‘Lisa Carrington won three golds this morning, what did you do?’ and false comparison I know, but it summed up my general feeling of inadequacy – similarly the general fabulousness of everyone in Book of Firsts was a little disheartening. (Lisa Carrington is not disheartening, she’s awesome, compete fangirl).

    When I finished it, I thought it reminded me a lot of The Goblin Emperor – a gentle revealing of a journey to confidence, where each problem is resolved intelligently. Yes, I liked it.

    In other news, today NZ Parliament passed the first reading of a bill to ban conversion therapy. Little moments of compassion, progression etc are bright sparks of hope for humanity: creating the world I want my kids to grow up in.

    1. I thought they changed, Bran especially, but Mika established long term relationships to people and a place, and Kyou went to war with the family he’d been compromising with. The three boys changed from two friends with a friend in trouble, working at the end to bring down the guy sabotaging them. Lania evolved and became more sure of herself. Most of the, Bran excepted, were small changes but important. Plus it was the end of their senior year in high school, and that’s a big transition in itself.

      I did get tired of Mika being so damn good at everything, but she was a decent human being so I went with it.

      1. I think that it was show, not tell change, and I definitely picked up more of it my second time through. Mika’s biggest battle was deciding to fight for something, work on it, instead of accepting everything as temporary. For example, in the beginning she said that her previous roommate was trying to keep in touch and by the end she was going on a long trip with her, building relationships instead of writing them off.

        But I agree that Mika seems to enact change around her more. Maybe a product of having little to loose since everything is temporary? She lets barbs roll off so she can challenge the status quo of the school and squash a few bullies.

        Anyway, I am a fan. Hopefully the next book will dig in deeper, now that we know all of the characters so well.

      2. I thought the characters did grow and change, but also her blog said she was writing more of a slice-of-life type story than a traditional rising action plot, which made a lot of sense. Also since I watch a lot of slice of life anime, it’s a style of story I’m familiar with and enjoy. (Two great slice of life examples are Laid Back Camp and Tanaka-kun is Always Listless if you want to try one)

    2. I loved this for so many reasons. 1. The four main characters respect each other. There’s no manipulation, no power plays, no one’s using anyone else. They all make it clear at various points that if anyone isn’t right into the game, they’ll stop. 2. There are no stupid misunderstandings that could be cleared up if only people would talk to each other. The characters DO talk to each other. 3. There’s remarkably little angst, except for a bit with Bran at the beginning. The troubles come from outside the quartet. 4. They’re having fun. 5. The fact that the boys are ridiculously rich, privileged and good looking is at least partly countered by their determination not to go down the roads that have been mapped out for them by their parents.

      So good to read an enjoyable story with healthy relationships in it.

      1. Right?!? It made me realize that I really want to read about decent people who want to be together and find ways to make it work. I love that gentler pace. It’s one of the reasons why I don’t read a lot of contemporary romance. The conflict is so contrived. It’s exhausting.

        1. Exactly. I am really all over broken characters. Give me fully realized great people, who grow further rather than repair their cracks, and get their deserved happy endings.

          1. To Tammy – I’m self-published, at this time only available on Amazon. The L.A. Stories by Alexandra Caluen 🙂 thelastories dot com for a guide and blog! <3

  3. I DNFd almost everything I read this week. Things that started off interesting and less than halfway through I just didn’t care anymore. I am reading some Murderbot at the moment, which does not have that problem. Also some Sherlock Holmes.

  4. Not into vampire stories, but a friend told me that I had to read The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires. Really good! Also read Suburban Dicks, another really good twist on the mom detective story.

  5. I’ve been reading The Switch by Beth O’Leary. A 20 something and her grandmother switch houses (and housemates and neighbors) for two months. They each are changing for the better because of it. I really do like the grandmother, who is finally getting her London adventure that she missed out on back in the day.

  6. I’ve just started From the Corner of the Oval by Beck Dorey-Stein, a memoir (thank you, book club requirements) of her time as a stenographer covering President Obama. Full of detail and lots of name-dropping. It feels like West Wing, in terms of pacing–everything seems (and apparently was) very whoosh! I had no idea how much goes on behind the scenes.

    And I read a Regency romance, my default, but wasn’t thrilled. It might be me this time. The plot’s improbability got to me, though I did finish it, because of the characters.

  7. I am absolutely broken at the moment so am re-listening to the Peter Grant books. If I fall asleep in the middle it doesn’t matter because I’ve read them so many times I just pick up where I’m at when I wake up.

    I have a handful of new books to read, but I’m not in the right headspace.

    I think maybe the COVID lifestyle has finally gotten to me? I can’t otherwise explain my inability to adult at the moment.

    One lovely thing happened yesterday though – an acquaintance came over to see if she might like to move into the rooms my boys vacated. I began to apologize for the state of my house, and she said not to and then we had a nice talk for almost two hours, examined the possibilities for her moving in, looked at the garage to see about storage space, and then she communed with my willow. She’s a willow artist.

    I felt so much better after she left. And it made me wonder if my small bubble of people is maybe not big enough. And it was lovely to talk to someone who didn’t have problems I felt the need to help solve.

    Okay, I’ll stop blathering on now.

    1. Hi Kate. Sending you good wishes. A little self-compassion goes a long way: be good to yourself, ignore expectations of others, you can be an adult some other day. Adulting is not all its cracked up to be.

      1. Self-compassion IS part of adulting. The only trouble is we’ve confused self-indulgence (as in the acquisition of things) with self-care. It may stimulate the economy, but it doesn’t really lead to rest and rejuvenation.

    2. I cycle through that mood too, and have been thinking the same thing… my bubble is too small. It’s filled with a few wonderful people, but my brain needs more. More stimulation, something diffferent. I started those online masterclasses (fabulous), and have been looking for an interactive online group/class. I think it’s why Clubhouse is so successful right now, giving everyone an opportunity to talk to people they don’t know about things that interest them.

      Also spending time researching good things that are being done in the world. The news is so full of negatives and I was talking to a friend who basically said, “yes, but this next generation is exceptional, they view the world differently, and they are going to change the world.” And it made me think that I needed to change and actively search out positives rather than negatives to think about.

      So for what its worth, self care is key to adulting. For me it’s about regaining my enthusiasm and pushing myself out of this all encompassing, languishing covid state. Plus it’s really fun to explore new ideas. Although my attempt at learning Spanish is laughable.

    3. You’re not the only one feeling this way, Kate. I think Covid has brought us up against the limitations of our connections/our lives.

    4. I’m right there with you Kate. It’s been a bad week (March 2020 bad) for me too, and I’m struggling to just get out of bed some days. In times like these I think it’s really important that we give ourselves permission to put our previous standards and self-expectations to the side, because some days all that you can do really is all that you can do, and every tiny thing is a victory worth celebrating. So this morning I ate porridge for breakfast instead of an icecream bar, and today that’s enough. Later on, I will water my plants, and that will be enough. You reaching out here, and spending in person time with someone who doesn’t need you to fix all their problems, that can be enough. Be kind to yourself, and take care.

      1. Dont’ know if you’ll see this Georgia, but if you do: Thanks. And I’ll be kind to me if you’ll be kind to you… I promise.

  8. I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s new book: Klara and the Sun. I have an ambivalent relationship with his books. I loved Remains of the Day and I was grimly gripped by Never Let Me Go (movie was awesome) but The Unconsoled was the only book in my life where the act of reading it actually made me hyperventilate – would he NEVER find the concert he was playing at?? Two women in my book circle stopped reading it and the other one also said it made her hyperventilate. So I approached Klara cautiously but with optimism – after all, it was about a child’s robot – sounded delightful. And – so okay, not delightful. But not grim either. More like melancholy and written with his usual cold assessment of human beings’ capacity to treat The Other as object (which I thought was already played out fully in Never Let Me Go but apparently not fully enough).

    Then as an antidote, or from the sublime to the ridiculous, I read an entire series of M/M hockey player romance – set in the US and written by two Australian women but hey, hockey still warms my frozen Canadian heart. Filled with millennial snark and lots of hot muscles flowing, etc.

    1. Tammy, is that the CU hockey series by Eden Finley and Saxon James? I really enjoyed those too. I like how they’re using classic YA romance tropes (brother’s best friend, enemies to lovers, coach’s kid, etc) for M/M stories.

  9. I finished It Ends In Fire and Any Way The Wind Blows, and now I’m moving from what I might call “Hogwarts Revised” to rebellious Space Warlocks by way of Ada Hoffman’s The Fallen. (It’s the sequel to The Outside.) I’m about a chapter in, and so far everything in the story is… broken. Broken characters, a broken planet, broken reality… yeah. Good stuff, though.

  10. I listened to One of Us is Lying which I quite enjoyed. I had a sneaking suspicion about the basic truth at the heart of it but that didn’t mean I saw all the developments.

    Now I’m listening to Fated by Benedict Jacka.

  11. I read more cookbooks, and finished “Bet Me”. <3

    Had been meaning to read "The Princess Bride" by William Goldman for a long time, but never got to it. Read it now, though. I liked it. I even really liked it. Most of all I liked Fezzik, although that might partly have been because the narrator (from the library) made him so adorable. I was very relieved he did not die.
    Actually I cared more about him and Inigo than about the rest.

    Last days I haven't really been able to read. I can't decide on what's…right. I have, however, watched some "Somebody Feed Phil", which Tischa recommended to me about a week before she died, and it's delightful. So much food and such a happy host.

    I've also, thanks to testing by a frend of mine, spent a looot of hours playing a game called "The Great Ace Attorney Chronicles", which is a kind of a visual novel game where you play as a lawyer student accused of murder, and you have to defend yourself in the Japanese court. It takes place sometime during the 1800's, so no modern crime-fighting methods. Thanks to assistive software that can scan text off of the computer screen, I can play it, and I love it! It's a lot of fun browsing all evidence to try to defend yourself, cross-examining witnesses and generally suspect everyone, Agatha Christie style. I have not managed to convince them of my innocense yet – they keep finding evidence against me… But I'll get there!
    (I've heard rumours that I'll end up in England sometime later in the game, and run across a detective named Herlock Sholmes…)

      1. It -is- a lot of fun, and luckily you can continue at your leissure – no quick reactions needed, which helps a lot. Sometimes I’m too tired to think and just put my gaming console in sleep mode and walk away. I have not yet managed to wriggle my way out of suspicion, though. Don’t know what the prosecution has against me – I* am adorable, dammit!

        * I = the main character

    1. If you like “Somebody Feed Phil” you might like the first series. I saw it on PBS and it was titled either, I’ll have what He’s having or I’ll have what Phil’s having. It was thoroughly delightful and a great antidote to other, stuffier food shows.

      1. I’ll see if I can find it. Thanks for the tip! What’s great with “Somebody Feed Phil” is that it has audio description. Hopefully the previous one has it, too.

  12. My copy of Fairies of the Fault lines by Iris Compiet came in the mail. It’s beautiful and I love it. Worth every penny. I haven’t read too much yet, just basking in the art.

    It’s a sort of wildlife guide for fae, and so beautiful.

  13. I read Plymouth Undercover by Pamela Kelley this week a fictional story about a mom and daughter who inherit a private detective agency from the mom’s ex-husband. Also on board is Mickey an eighty year old retired police detective. I live in Plymouth County so I am familiar with the area and I love stories about places and landmarks I’ve been to and can place in my head. Mom (Cindy) lives in the Pinehill section of Plymouth which a few years ago featured a dream house on the HGTV cable channel. At the time my husband and I went to visit the house along with a thousand other viewers. Cindy’s daughter (Emma) was an actress but gave that career up when she reached thirty.

    The story revolves around the disappearance of a woman lawyer and the many stakeouts by Emma and Mickey which involve food. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book with the mention of so many restaurants and homemade lunches, snacks and policeman’s favorite, donuts. The addition of the restaurants was probably research and I’m trying not to be snarky. At one point Mickey’s wife made black bean brownies to bring along. I think if your going on a stakeout with a partner I’d rethink twice about those, but I would have liked to see the recipe. Plus I made it to the end without flipping pages to find the culprit.

  14. I rarely DNF a book but yesterday I did. Thr male-female stereotyping was just too aggravating. If it had been a paper book, I would have flung it against the wall. Someone should make an app that will “blow up” an offending ebook (or newspaper article???) with the appropriate visual and sound effects, because just stabbing angrily at a e-button is not very satisfying!

    But I’ve been enjoying a re-read of the entire Mercy Thompson fantasy series by Patricia Briggs. For those not in the know, Mercy is an auto mechanic who can shift into a coyote and she hangs around with a gang of supernatural friends and relatives and tries to stay alive through multiple murder attempts.

    Now I’m on to Little Black Book, a mystery with a bookbinding sleuth by Kate Carlisle. Will keep you posted.

  15. I love this forum. This is the only place on the internet where I read all the comments, because the comments are the best part of the post. Every week! Thank you, Jenny, for giving us this space to talk about books.

    1. I know, I keep going back to read what everybody else says and add my grain of salt multiple times. The comments are so much fun + so many great books recs!

    2. Thank you all for commenting. I’m really just here to start the conversation, although I’m fairly sure you’d start without me if I disappeared.

  16. Read a number of new books last week.

    Jessie Mihalik’s novella The Queen’s Gambit was a fast-paced sci-fi flick with romantic possibilities; a quick and pleasant diversion. I liked Mihalik’s series Consortium Rebellion better, but I still enjoyed this fun ride of a story.

    Ilona Andrews’s Magic Burns is #2 in the Kate Daniels series. I think I’m getting the hang of these books. Fast, furious, and brainless, they offer lots of magic, hordes of monsters, and gallons of blood and entrails. If you don’t expect such pesky details as character development or a plausible plot, these books provide you with a few hours of pure reading entertainment. I’m ordering #3 in the series from my library. Better late than never.

    In Michelle Diener’s High Flyer, a sci-fi adventure novel with a whiff of romance, a couple of lovers are caught between several smuggling factions. The heroes fight. They run away. They get captured. Then the actions repeat in a seemingly endless loop. I wasn’t impressed.
    On the other hand, Michelle Diener’s Dark Ambitions was a novella, short and sweet. I think she is better at the shorter format.

    The dark urban fantasy anthology Dark and Stormy Knights was a blah, with some stories better than others.

    And finally, I finished Katherine Addison’s The Witness for the Dead last night. It had me divided. It was an OK story, well written, but I didn’t like the protagonist Celehar, the titular Witness for the Dead. Besides, this book had the same problem with the unpronounceable names as The Goblin Emperor, which I liked much better, because I adored its protagonist.

    1. So, I am a pretty hard core Ilona Andrews fan. More character development comes as the series progresses. It gets dark too, so fair warning.

      I much prefer the innkeeper series and Hidden Legacy. But then, the structure is different, with a lot more teamwork and character interaction. Also, Kate was their first work. 🙂

    2. Just an FYI on Kate — Ilona stated recently on her blog that the KD series started off more episodic for the first three books for reasons I now cannot remember… but they then realized that they wanted to to move her forward / character growth, so you’ll see that really reflected by book 4.

      1. Book 4 had a much different feel to it. I never go back to read the first 3, but have re-read a number of the others.

  17. I’m on the audio book of Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. It’s delightfully perplexing but I figure I’ll have to go through it a few times.

    I read Cait Flanders, The Year of Less and quite liked it. Adapted from her blog (which Is never read) but with enough, “this didn’t make the blog” to make it interesting.

    In oddly related no-buy news, am happy to report that not only were a number of businesses closer to work protected, I got my dresses. Two new work items sorted for summer. Along with my two sample dresses!

    Such a small thing in the grand scheme, but ” Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on” – Nick Fury.

    1. I keep Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind beside my bed. I first read it in 1981. I haven’t gotten everything out of it yet. 😉

  18. Tansy Rayner Roberts just released a new novella in her Teacup Isles series, The Spellcracker’s Honeymoon. Mnemosyne and her new husband honeymoon on an island where magic does not work. But it’s also the island where the queen’s summer palace is, so they get roped into some social events, and then one of the queen’s social secretaries is murdered, apparently by magic!

    I also read Hunting by Andrea K Host. It feels a bit like a YA fantasy, but it’s not really. Someone is murdering herbalists, and the friend of the Rhoi (King, Prince) who is investigating takes the orphaned nephew of one of them into his service semi-involuntarily. Semi, because Ash figures she could disappear if she wanted to, but this might be the best way for her to find and catch the killer of her ‘Aunt’. And yes, Ash isn’t the teenage boy she’s pretending to be, for various reasons. I enjoyed this quite a bit.

    Now I’m re-reading The Warrior’s Apprentice. The quotes post got me too. Specifically the ‘I’m looking for … desperate men’, one.

    1. I love Tansy RR, and have listened to the other Teacup Isles novellas on her podcast Sheep Might Fly. If you like her stuff the Cookie Cutter Superhero series is well worth a listen/ read.

  19. Before I talk books read, I need to share diet stuff. There. Shared.

    First was a Crusie re-read. Welcome to Temptation and Faking It, two of seven novels in The Jennifer Crusie Collection. I even read the first few pages of Tell Me Lies… and stopped. I’ll resume later.

    I saw that Robert Lubrican had gone mainstream. He’s a porn writer, for the most part. I read two of his – mainstream means he revised ages to over eighteen, mostly – and The Dildo That Stole Claire Bonneville’s Memory is the only one I’ll mention. It’s definitely a romance, one involving amnesia, and a kick-ass heroine. Nobody was underage even in the original.

    Next, The Demons of Constantinople, sequel to The Demons of Paris, Flint/Huff/Goodlett. The rift between the netherworld and the natural world has been ripped. If it isn’t repaired, it may spell the end for both.

    Author Ryk Spoor has posted eight chapters of a companion novel for his Princess Holy Aura magical girls book, and I hope he publishes the rest. Can the Apocalypse Maidens save the world and find true love? (Of course they can!)

    1. Where has Ryk posted this? I have lost track of him somehow in the past ten years. (My efforts to convince the library to buy his stuff are never-ending.)

      Sir Chart is very handsome. I look forward to meeting Count Graf at a future time.

      1. (It’s) Hard to reply without revealing how much behinder I am at anything. The link was in a notification dated 2017, Ryk letting me know it was available. I’ve been an acquaintance since we both posted on alt.callahans in the ’90s.

        The notification is for a LiveJournal post titled:

        A Companion Story for _Princess Holy Aura_…
        … “On-Site for the Apocalypse“,is now up at Baen.

        1. 2017. No wonder I missed that. I could never keep up with LJ and by 17 I had quit trying
          I knew him on rec.sf.comp before it drowned in spam.

        2. 2017. No wonder I missed it.
          I knew him on rec.sf.comp. By 2017 I had given up trying to keep up with former rasfc-ians on LJ.

    2. Let’s try this for the third time.
      2017. No wonder I missed it.
      I knew him on rec.sf.comp. By 2017 I had given up trying to keep up with former rasfc-ians on LJ.

  20. You all convinced me to read The Book of Firsts and you were all right about it. Fantastic book, can’t wait for the sequel. I also read Bryony and Roses, a fabulous Beauty and the Beast tale by T Kingfisher. I’m now reading The Hollow Places also by T Kingfisher and eeeee it is scary. But also funny. “Let’s not act like characters who die in the first five minutes of a horror movie”.

      1. Right? Loved it! I finished last night. I’d actually read The Willows which was part of the inspiration for it, I went on a classic horror binge in the 90s. Fantastically well done story.

  21. Years ago I discovered the Vorkosigan series by Lois McMaster Bujold, which I have since read and re-read many times. One of those times I wasn’t ready for it to end after the last book, and went down the rabbit hole of Vorkosigan fan fiction. I’m not generally into fan fiction, since so much of it is poorly written or espouses ideas that seem to me to be incompatible with the original author’s writings. And very often it takes characters originally written in M/F relationships and rewrites them to M/M or some other type of relationship. The thought of doing that to the Vorkosigan series was not appealing to me, but desperate times led to desperate reading measures.

    And that is how I found a Vorkosigan M/M fan fiction series that I not only enjoyed immensely, but which holds up very well on re-read. Sometimes when I’m remembering events that occurred in the Vorkosigan world, I actually have to stop and think about whether they happened in LMB’s original works or in the fan fiction universe known as “A Deeper Season”. That’s how well this series captures the essence of the Vorkosigan saga.

    The stories in A Deeper Season universe are by sahiya and lightgetsin and can be found at An Archive of Our Own. The 24 works in the series are listed in reading order at ( ). Many are short, 1-2 chapters. The original two, and the longest at over 100,000 words each, are A Deeper Season (#5 of the 24, 19 chapters) and What Passing Bells (#8 of 24, 18 chapters). I also highly recommend Seeds (#10 of 24, 3 chapters). There is a download button in the upper right for each work and many are available in multiple formats including epub and mobi (you can send mobi files to your Kindle).

    It’s not a spoiler to say that the series revolves around Miles and Gregor’s relationship. But don’t worry about Ekaterin; in some of the shorter works she also gets a happy ending. It also deals believably (well, as believable as science fiction ever is!) with how a hereditary empire like Barrayar handles having its emperor in a M/M relationship.

    To sum up, I’m generally “meh” about fanfic and not usually drawn to M/M fiction, but I love these and if you’re a Vorkosigan fan, maybe you will, too!

    1. I don’t usually read fanfic (mostly because I don’t know where to find good ones), but some time ago Rachel Neumeier pointed me to this one, also at An Archive Of Our Own, and I enjoyed it a lot.

      It’s a sort of companion story to Lois McMaster Bujold’s book about Ivan, Lord Vorpatril’s Alliance, telling the story of Byerly and Rish and their relationship, from By’s viewpoint. It doesn’t mess up any of the original story or romances, just adds to it, and I found it a good addition to the story.

  22. I read “Witness for the Dead”. I have to admit, I didn’t really like “The Goblin Emperor” as I don’t like political maneuvering to be in the foreground of a story, but I did like “Witness . …” much better because a murder mystery is in the foreground, instead. What can I say, I like mysteries.

    I also finished “The Famous DAR Murder Mystery” by Graham Landrum. This is the beginning of a mystery series which was written years ago. It’s about how a chapter of DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) manage to solve a mystery while dealing with dismissive men, housework and keeping up appearances. Each chapter is told from a viewpoint of people involved in solving the mystery. It’s interesting look at how attitudes have changed from when the book was written. However, it does have moments of actual suspense and danger. For me, at least. I felt for some of the protagonists. I don’t know if I want to continue since only Books 1, 2 and 5 are in Kindle format. It was supposed to be funny, especially this one scene, but I think I was too worried about someone being in danger.

  23. I read several of the Shadow and Bones books. They were fun and I am interested to see how the TV show adapts them.

    The Hollow Places by T Kingfisher. I read the first quarter and while I wanted to know what happened, I didn’t want to enough to keep reading. I skipped to the end and read the third.

    Beach Read – I liked everything but the romance. I skimmed alot at the end.

    1. I liked ‘Beach Read’ as a book about writers being writers. As a romance, I thought ‘these guys are not going to last’ … felt like the things drawing them to each other had more to do with their individual career/personal evolutions than with finding things about each other that they truly loved and thought were irreplaceable. Which is fine! Not every love story lasts forever! But I was reading it as romance and so I wanted a HEA that would really stick.

      1. I liked them better as friends. His “How did you not know I loved you in college. I went out of my way to be annoying to you” is one of my least favorite tropes.

  24. I listened to 3 of the Tilly Wallace Manners and Monsters, which I’m enjoyed, but not mad about.
    I checked out the electronic version of the first of the Ms. Marvel series, she’s a Muslim American teenager who develops super powers. Pretty fun, and wonderfully drawn. The electronic comics allow you to enlarge every pane on the page, so you can see everything.
    Started the first new Leverage episode. So great to see them!

  25. Still re-reading. Can’t get my head around new stuff even though there’s a ton on my Kindle and a hardback by one of my favorite authors awaiting my attention.
    One fun thing: I fell in love with an apple tree near me. I picked up some of the windfalls and they were so delicious. I live in Southern California so finding an apple tree is pretty amazing.
    I finally decided I liked them enough to contact the owner of the tree. I left a note for her in her postbox. She graciously responded by text Her name is Anna and the tree is an Anna apple. A half an hour later I was surprised by a call from Robena Grant who was the regular on this forum and who was a co-member of the Los Angeles romance Writers. It turns out that Anna is her daughter. What a delightful surprise to reconnect with her.
    My other nice surprise is that my unpublished manuscript, Lord Byron’s daughter, is a finalist in the hearts through history contest.

      1. Yes, it was a wonderful surprise. I moved to my daughter’s home (she built me my own granny flat) in April last year. Who knew Susan lived one street over? So cute to see her five year old grandchild picking the apples. Plus the baby handing me the rotten ones that had dropped to the ground. Such treasures. Ha ha.

  26. Had another of those weeks where I read so much I lost track of it all. Good thing I keep a journal! Started off with a re-read of Ngaio Marsh ‘Surfeit of Lampreys’ which has some fun Macbeth elements though not a theater story. The feckless noble family feels very much drawn from life.

    Then three M/M fantasy rom-coms by Lisa Henry & Sarah Honey: ‘Red Heir,’ ‘Elf Defense,’ and ‘Socially Orcward.’ Which as you might guess are full of puns, and also full of dick jokes. Funny, fast-paced, action-packed with Mortal Peril and Daring Escapes as well as quite distinct romantic arcs in each of the three books.

    A M/M book billed as a rom-com, ‘The Chocolate Works’ by Geoffrey Knight, and this one didn’t quite work for me. Both MCs have high amounts of trauma. Very short timeline. Unfortunately farce =/= funny this time.

    Then two very good M/M contemporaries by Jayce Ellis, ‘Learned Behaviors’ and ‘Learned Reactions,’ which feature well-educated professional Black MCs dealing with family and career issues. I’m hoping she’ll do a third because there was a whiff of scene-setting with a side character and I want his story. 🙂

    Next, a book which waltzed onto my Best of 2021 list, ‘Silent Sin’ by EJ Russell. It’s M/M historical set in Hollywood in the 1920s. Almost entirely closed-door for the love scenes, which seemed perfectly right here – kind of like Alexis Hall not going graphic in ‘Boyfriend Material.’ Loved the history, the realism, and the characters.

    Finished the reading week with a short story that is basically a M/M holiday porno, which was preposterous and entertaining. ‘Untangling Tristan,’ by Geoffrey Knight.

  27. Hot by Elizabeth Hoyt writing as Julia Harper. Finally, an enjoyable summer book. Encountered two doofuses – doofi? – used to comic effect, I think to offset the terror of killer on the loose. I haven’t read *everything,* but this is the first time I’ve come upon such obvious use of physical, dumb comedy as entr’act in an HEA. I approve.

  28. This week I read two more by Kate Stradling, Kingdom of Ruses and Tournament of Ruses. Fun YA fantasy, with lots of banter and happy endings all around. That’s about all my brain can handle right now.

    Oh, I also read Date Me, Bryson Keller, which is a M/M high-school romance reminiscent of Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda. It’s incredibly sweet, with some excellent supporting characters, but the trauma of high-school homophobia is real. Definitely recommended, but maybe not if you’re feeling over-fragile. There were tears.

  29. Not a bad week: MURDER MOST FOWL, the newest Donna Andrews mystery. The further along in the series, the more characters seem to accumulate, and this one is a bit of a mob scene with Michael putting on The Scottish Play while Meg manages innumerable animals and Mother organizes different mobs of kin and ain’t-kin. And the video blogger is being a nuisance . . . .

    Also out this week, the newest Bruno, THE COLDEST CASE. This — I’m partway into it — involves reconstructing faces, both prehistoric and modern, and lots and lots of lovely food porn. Also beagle puppies.

    Comfort read: GOOD HUSBAND MATERIAL, by Trisha Ashley. It’s one of her earlier books so the Community isn’t quite so much a character as in her more recent books, but still a fun read, and there are certainly plenty of characters. I’m really waiting for the newest one scheduled for October release, ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE.

    1. Good news about the new Bruno — can’t get itself into my hands soon enough. C’mon, Post Office, jump it up!

  30. Hi, there, Gary. I’ve tried to post this as a reply and it just disappeared three times.

    2017. No wonder I missed it.
    I knew him on rec.sf.comp. By 2017 I had given up trying to keep up with former rasfc-ians on LJ.

    1. The three previous replies showed up. Most amusing.

      I never frequented rec.sf.comp. There’s also a long stretch where I didn’t post to LJ much, but used some scheme where my FaceBook posts echoed to LJ. Then I quit FB (deleting all my posts, first), and all those echoes disappeared. Now I’m posting to LJ at least weekly (or weakly) plus that new Blog, “Some Things Must Be Endured”. But as near as I can count, I have more posts to Argh Ink than anywhere else. I like it here.

  31. It’s probably been 30 years since I read “The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind.” Great book but not an easy read, as I recall. Might be time for a re-read.

    I’m working my way through Donna Leon’s Brunetti series, which I’m enjoying immensely. I do, however, have Bruno waiting in the wings, so I might take a little break from Venice for a side trip to the Dorgogne…..

      1. I just finished it in the wee hours. One of his best, and most timely. And basset pups, yum. I’d just as soon he split with Isabelle and found someone to make babies with.

  32. I just got Elly Griffiths new book The Night Hawks from the library & the audio version of Fugitive Telemetry.

    Kevin R Free does Munderbot snark really well.

  33. I finished the five novels in Lisa Berne’s Penhallow series. The final one was The Worst Duke in the World, and recommended here, but I can’t remember who did that, anyway, thank you. The series took care of long hot days last week. I’m looking around for more Regency now, having completed all Georgette Heyer, Julia Quinn, Lisa Kleypas, this summer. Wish I didn’t read quite so much, but there is nothing appealing on TV.

      1. Oh, thanks for the reminder. Must see what Loretta Chase I have on the kindle and order more.

    1. I agree that there is nothing to watch, when you really are desperate, on TV even with all the regular channels, cable, on demand plus dvds. My husband had gone to bed early after taking a dreaded pill. I was flipping through the channels and came upon a movie that I’ve bypassed for ten years, Winter’s Born. Ten years! The next day I couldn’t shut up about it. I felt so bad for the teenage girl trying to save the family and the family’s land while searching for her father with resistance from neighbors who were related to her. Clans in the Ozarks. So I went and got the book and that will be coming up soon.

  34. A good use of smirk!

    “But how did you get in here? Admiral Oser has guards all over the transfer station, on the lookout for you. You couldn’t smuggle in a sand flea.”
    Miles smirked convincingly. “I have my methods.”

    Excerpt From
    The Vor Game (Vorkosigan Saga)
    Lois McMaster Bujold.

    1. Because I’ve never read them. I’m cheating with the Briefer book, but they’re both things I should have read by now.

  35. Hi Jenny,

    within the last two weeks I read two of your old books (again) and it suprised me, how far we as a society seemed to have been in the 90s. In Strange Bedpersons the main character Tess prefers “bedpersons” instead of “bedfellows” and another non-gender-specific term and in Charlie all night the gay best friend is no sidekick but simpy the gay best friend and it is totally normal for him to be called gay in public.

    I am german (and living there) and there is this huge debate about “gendering” in the news (and on Insta) because you would normally always use the plural “Lehrer” (teacher) but with the “Gendersternchen” (= *) you could be better of to write and say “Lehrer*innen” to include the females as well. ( I do not really have an opinion about it because I never felt excluded in anything eventhough I am 39 and there were no “Gendersternchen” when I grew up. I never felt I had to prove anything but instead that I could do everything I wanted.)

    And for the gay character: We probably needed more books and films where being gay or loving the person for the person’s character were just a given, then it wouldn’t be still a thing to be “coming out” because you’d just be.

    Ah well, I just wanted to let you know, that I was suprised by your old books and they got me wondering …

    Best wishes

    1. The feminist revolution in the 80s had a lot to do with “bedpersons,” but the idea was still binary. As for the gay roommate, I got some pushback on that on chat lists on the net (Why would any woman want to room with a gay guy?) but the rest of lists always came down on that (What woman wouldn’t want to live with a gay guy?). We hadn’t even gotten to a conversation about gender fluidity yet.

  36. Omigosh, I hope this isn’t too late to post this. I read The Origin Etc. when it first came out. I think some of the theories have been discredited BUT I learned SO MUCH about how the brain sees the world, it’s one of those books that changed my life. I hope you enjoy it!

  37. The Origin of Consciousness in the Bicameral Mind is a book Deb and I bonded over. A classic.

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