This is a Good Book Thursday, September 2, 2021

This week I read The Undateable, which was fun. A librarian becomes an unattractive meme, and a slacker writer has to convince her to become part of his web-zine’s content by dating thirty guys in thirty days in order to save his admittedly no-brainer job. Characters who are fun to spend time with carried this one.

What I’m really excited about? The sequel to Novik’s Deadly Education is out on the 22nd. I have to find out why the heroine’s lovely mother warned her to stay away from Orion Lake (that’s the hero, not a large body of water).

What did you read this week?

140 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 2, 2021

  1. I hope the sequel to Deadly Education delivers. It’s a shame when sequels don’t quite live up to the first book(s).

    I have been reading various things not worth mentioning here apart from a tiny story from KJ Charles.

    She has written a sort of epilogue letting us know what has happened to Archie and Daniel and Fen and Pat (and Bill and Jimmy) and bringing in Will and Kim.

    Not something to be read at all as a standalone but very nice for anybody who loved Think of England, Proper English and the Will Darling adventures.

    It’s only available to newsletter subscribers at the moment but I suspect she’ll put it on her website at some point alongside the other excellent freebies already there.

    1. This week I read The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Orman. Second in the series comes out later in Sept. and I can’t wait to read it. Thursday Murder Club was delightful, so much so that when I finished it, I turned right around and read it again cover to cover. That rarely happens. Wonderful writer.

        1. I truly didn’t mean it that way. I reviewed it in hopes more people would read it. I think they’ll be happy with it. I apologize if it came off as rude.

          1. It’s hard for me to tell sometimes but I don’t want to offend. I love all the book recs and the excitement over books here.

            I certainly was happy the Netgalley gods were kind that day. It’s very random as to who gets what unless you have a big blog or following. I just try to review honestly anything I’m lucky enough to get and rec in my turn.

  2. Practically nothing! It’s terrible! Suffering withdrawal. I did read the KJ Charles fan-service epilogue story ln mentions above. Then I comfort reread my favourite bits from her short novel Wanted, A Gentleman (and the free epilogue for that too). I really like this story, two characters with real goals and real flaws, a bit of politics, a bit Regency, a lot gothic, a lot of fun without being candyfloss. Also, rewards the reread.

    Also read Philippl Larkin’s The Trees about a dozen times. The poet himself didn’t like it, calling it corny, but it’s comforting. Also, seasonally relevant.

    The Trees, by Philip Larkin

    The trees are coming into leaf
    Like something almost being said;
    The recent buds relax and spread,
    Their greenness is a kind of grief.

    Is it that they are born again
    And we grow old? No, they die too,
    Their yearly trick of looking new
    Is written down in rings of grain.

    Yet still the unresting castles thresh
    In fullgrown thickness every May.
    Last year is dead, they seem to say,
    Begin afresh, afresh, afresh.

  3. Rereading the Enemy by Lee Child, a Jack Reacher book. I love how he writes strong, very competent women. There is (almost?) always at least one in each of his books. This one has two. Competence porn at it’s best. Each of these characters has her own strong personality. They are now cardboard cutouts of “here is a strong woman”. He has a real gift for this and I do not get tired of it!

  4. All kind of B rather than A this week. Best was a reread of Heyer’s ‘Lady of Quality’, although it’s one of her below par ones. I also found ‘Watch the Wall, My Darling’ by Jane Aiken Hodge on the library ebook app, but she’s not my cup of tea any more. Liked her as a teenager, and was even inspired to compose my one and only tune, for the Kipling poem quoted in the title.

    The other problem with library ebooks (apart from an eccentric list) is having to read them on my iPad, which is too big and heavy for comfort when reading in bed.

    Just started Helen Hoang’s ‘The Heart Principle’, which is much more promising.

        1. I like her settings, her characters and her potential plots, but then I always end up disappointed, if I finish the book at all. I really wanted to like her work but gave up long ago.

          For example, there is one where the heroine is raped during an attack on a boat and the hero drops her because of it. (To be fair, he thinks she was unfaithful, but still) so she has to marry her rapist and has a horrible life. It works out years later, but I am still mad about it. I was in for gothic/historical fiction with a romance and brooding hero. I was not signed up for a book about a woman struggling through a torment of a life for years.

          1. Also, the amount of research she did on the Napoleonic era was impressive. But I still don’t trust her as an author anymore.

    1. Just placed a hold on Helen Hoang’s new book at our library. I’m #120 for the 20 books the library has ordered. It will be a lo-o-ong wait.

    2. Speaking of Heyer, one of my finds from Jenny’s recommended reads was The Book of Firsts by Karan Anders who is Andrea K Höst. Loved it, so looked up the backlist for Höst..

      Hunting is a updated response to Heyer’s The Corinthian and it was wonderful. It’s set in a fantasy world with magic and an aristocracy but Ash made a much better boy in disguise than Pen Creed did. Ash is also 21 not 17, so the age difference is not so squicky.

      It’s wonderful.

      1. I too like Hunting, even if it’s not one of her best-known books.
        Though the ending is fine for a stand-alone, it also leaves room for some good follow-up adventures, and I kept hoping she would do something more there. But the setting feels more like a classic fantasy setting than the complex and intriguing worlds she has written ongoing series in after Hunting, so it doesn’t really seem likely she will return to this older setting.
        I would have liked to get to see more of his country and family, his mother and sisters sounded interesting.

        1. I wanted more too! Seems like it would be a good fish out of water book for Ash and more adventures. I also liked Kiri and wanted some of her story.

    3. I love Kipling, and especially PUCK OF POOK’S HILL — who doesn’t? but every time I come across that one line, it brings me back to Flanders and Swann’s “The Bedstead Men” from AT THE DROP OF ANOTHER HAT . . . “Watch the wall, my darling, while the Bedstead Men go by!”

  5. I read Hench – which competence porn as Jenny said. Also looking at the cost of Superheros, which I found thought-provoking. I’m looking for parallels IRL.

    The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, which I thought was going to be funny, but is not. However, it’s my field of study so still good, if not a laugh a minute.

    Shockaholic and Wishful Drinking by Carrie Fisher. I’m not sure how I feel about these books. I got them on sale, so not skin off my nose, but I guess I prefer her fiction.

    The Right Sort of Man, which was recommended here and I enjoyed.

    I bought a bunch of audible books on sale so I’ve got quite the TBR pile at the moment. And my commute is like 10 minutes so I’m actually listening instead of doing WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. But that’s okay. I’m good with it.

    1. I was lucky enough to see Carrie Fisher do “Wishful Drinking” as a one-woman play. So snarky and funny, and probably better than it would have been as a book.

    2. I think that there is a deep underlying sadness to Carrie Fisher’s work hidden under the funny and snark. I tried several of hers, she narrates the audiobook of some, and had to quit because I was just so sad.

      1. I just finished The Princess Diarist, a biography about her, her brother’s book and one of her pieces of fiction. The documentary about her and Debbie Reynolds was wonderful and wrenching. The daughter taking care of the mother hit way to close to home.

      2. She’s like Dorothy Parker in that way. Funny as hell, but when you peel back the smart mouth there’s a broken heart.

    3. The Mother Tongue is such a fascinating look at the English language. I’ve read it a couple of times, and am still intrigued by all the things I didn’t know.

  6. The author of The Undateable is a very good friend of mine. I’ll tell her you liked it. It’ll make her day!

      1. Now, she needs to come and hang out here because we are all going to read her book since it’s Jenny’s book of the week 🙂

        1. I have just reserved my library’s single copy. I had been trying to cut down on ordering library books because I will be out of town, but I couldn’t resist this one. Librarians are my heroes!

          1. My library has it in ebook and in paper. The ebook is on my iPad at this moment, waiting for me to finish Argh and go start it. (Jane B, my iPad must be lighter than yours. It’s perfect for reading in bed.)

      2. I could have SWORN I’d replied to this, but evidently I did a brain glitch.
        Please tell her I had a great time with it and thank her for me.

  7. I love any kind of book about libraries or librarians so will have to give The Undateable a try!

    Still working my way through Hench… it’s grand but I’m in a reading slump where my brain can only handle delightful fluff. Maybe over the weekend I can wrap it up.

    Working my way through Manda Collins “Studies in Scandals” series and it’s enjoyable but a little routine by the 4th book.

  8. I just looked at the Kindle App in “Most Recent” order to prepare for this post. Last week, I mentioned starting a reread of the Wearing the Cape series. I’ve reread everything up to the middle of Recursion, which only leaves Repercussions before the new book, or excerpts from said new book. I am so ready for the new book.

    I also reread The Book of Firsts, not on or in Kindle, but in Mobipocket Reader, three column format. It still delights.

    I have several new-to-me books in my TBR pile. I don’t know why I haven’t started any of them. Fear of the unknown? Afraid of being disappointed, maybe? Especially when so many great rereads are so handy. Like the Murderbot Diaries, which I plan to condense into a single file, like The Jennifer Crusie Collection (which was a previous week’s reread.)

    OWID: 257.4

  9. I’m almost unwilling to post this, but I read a nonfiction “How (Not) To” book which was odd and helpful, although it did have a main character I found it easy to dislike.

    “Hunt, Gather, Parent” (sorry on the quotes, but can’t quite italicize — grrrh) is about a better way to bring up children. Written by a mom who had realized that her two-year-old had become her bitter enemy.

    She’s a science geek who writes for NPR, so she did lit searches, then wrote to authors asking about their work. Ended up going on three trips to study under their research subjects — moms/uncles in hunter-gatherer communities in Central America, Inuit Canada, and Tanzania. Every anecdote on her own parenting style made her wholly easy to dislike and cheer against, and I felt for her tantrum-prone little hellion daughter.

    Even though the mom’s tense authoritarian parenting style made her turn her lessons into a Self Help System with its own Must Do Acronym (T.E.A.M.), the patient recommendations of the hunter-gatherers were wonderful. Made me wish my own drill sergeant mother had met and listened to some of them during WWII, which is where she cemented her own tense authoritarian methods of mothering. So, recommended to any new moms out there.

    1. Oh, I remember saying I will not be like my mom when I parent, sadly there were times I remember being exactly like her. Perfectionism, anyone? I see some traits coming out in son. DIL has her own family style. Just a little ridgid sometimes.

      So, safe place to be free with us. It is no rules Grampy and some rules Grammy. Their imaginations are wonderful.

      1. And It Is Okay for there to be different rules at Grandma’s than there are at Mom’s. Kids adapt to that one pretty easily, especially since Grandma has some interesting things to offer that they don’t see at Mom’s. My grandmothers had homes stuffed with antiques, whereas my parents’ home had — still has — the mid-century modern blonde furniture my father designed and had built for my mother.

        1. When asked what style our furniture was, my brother always answered, “Dead people.” There was a story behind each piece: the dresser procured by my great-aunt at her town’s annual auction; the table where Great-great aunt Day taught her pupils (the gouges illustrated how she made her points); the four-sided bookcase constructed by my grandfather from my mother’s side of the family.

          It was kind of like the ghosts in Maybe This Time.

          1. All the furniture in my house has stories, even the fairly new stuff: the chair my father found on the side of the road and had reupholstered. The bed I am sleeping in that my great-great-grandfather built. Chairs made by great-grandfathers.

          2. And my grandparents were giving up housekeeping about the time I went out on my own, so I have almost all family furniture except for a desk, desk chair, sewing machine cabinet, and all the bookshelves.

            But one of my grandfathers cut down a dining table to coffee-table height (it pulls apart though I don’t think anyone knows what happened to the inserts) and made bookshelves and a hearth bench from the bed in his parents’ bedroom suite. Fortunately he left the dresser and the commode alone and my brother has them now.

            So of late years MY fantasy is a craftsman-style house with everything imaginable built in. Even a century ago, craftsmans had dining room buffets and several kinds of closets and specialized cabinets and occasionally desks, with bookshelves around the fireplaces. I’d just add full-wall storage on most of the the interior walls and a Perfect Kitchen with a breakfast nook. The kitchen would also need to have a spot or two for cats to hang out so they can see what’s going on while staying clear of meal prep and hot stoves . . . .

          3. This tickled my funny bone: “…the four-sided bookcase constructed by my grandfather from my mother’s side of the family.” My family practiced burial or cremation, but if your grandfather could make something of his in-laws, that’s just great. 🙂

            I might have read that wrong?

  10. I read Hench and loved it. I loved how it anti-troped. And how it was not cartoony which I would have expected if someone had described it to me. I’m also right there with the competence porn gene – I think it’s why I loved Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson as a kid – and the post-apocalyptic genre which is often about people competently resetting up the world.

    I read Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ newest, When Stars Collide. She is so on her game – I’ve read everything she’s written – this book is fun! Not as complex and sophisticated as Jenny’s books but still good, solid fun.

  11. Reading another new to me author Allison Montclair, The Right Sort of Man. Thoroughly enjoyed it. Set in London after WWII. Once into it, the characters and dialogue move it right along. Reading her second book, A Rogue’s Company. So, that’s a win. Finally, I’m discovering and reading new authors and books again. Thanks to GBT.

  12. Megan Frampton’s The Duke’s Guide to Correct Behaviour.

    Very pleasant, very soothing read. Duke wasn’t in line to inherit, and has no clue what to do. His illegitimate daughter is sent to him when her mother dies. He hires a “governess”, with a really good backstory. No-jinks ensue. It’s not drama-filled. It’s solid. Just enough conflict for interest.

    Really enjoyed it.

  13. I’m still reading/listening to everything I said last week – the Preston/Child and the Benedict Jacka.

    I’m on the wait list for One of Us is Next, the sequel to One of Us is Lying.

    I emailed my friend who is also a Louise Penny/Gamache fan and we are on the same page as far as waiting goes. Neither of us has the emotional strength for anything like that right now. Right now, the more fantastical and unrealistic something is, the better. Even if it is a gruesome murder mystery or horror. Just no pandemics, please.

  14. I finished Battle Royale by Lucy Parker and loved it. I want Sugar Fair to exist in real life. I think that it is my favorite of hers to date, mostly because she defuses the climax tension better than some of her others. No Big Misunderstanding, thank goodness. Although all of her books are very fun.

    I have just started Lisa Kleypas’ newest, the Devil in Disguise. So far it is sweet and fun. The main character is a widow, so the structure is different from a lot of historicals.

  15. I lucked out yesterday, Three Of my requests were waiting for me at the Library!! SEP latest When Stars Collide, Lisa Kleypas Devil in Disguise and at long last Donna Andrews Murder Most Fowl, the waiting list for that one was looong.
    Let you know how I liked them next week.

  16. I read a novel by a writer I enjoy, but this book disappointed me. I think some of that is on me–the title should have tipped me off that I wouldn’t get to a happy resolution as quickly as desired. So I went to bed last night with Welcome to Temptation to reread. I’ve got research stuff to read/write this weekend, but at least it’s something I want to do.

  17. I’m just starting The Searcher by Tana French. I also just read an interview with David Crosby (of Crosby, Stills and Nash fame) who just celebrated his 80th birthday. He talked about his own feckless character, his hard drug addictions, and why his voice is still good (i saw him in concert a couple years ago and it’s still clear and distinctive). He attributes that to never smoking cigarettes. Anyway, he was not boyfriend material (cheated cruelly on Joni Mitchell, hooked innocent girlfriends on hard drugs, etc). He also discovered a son given up for adoption who can sing and write music. He also donated sperm to Melissa Etheridge and her partner twice, producing a son and daughter (I’ve read in articles that said he regretted ever donating because he didn’t understand the emotional ramifications) that he stayed in touch with from birth. And, ironically tragic, the son, a skateboarder, died last year at age 21 after getting injured and addicted to the painkillers prescribed (i assume) and died of an overdose. Crosby, given his life story is amazed that he survived to 80 and is happy. I can only say – only the good die young…

  18. Read Ilona Andrews’s Sweep With Me. It was a nice but very short novella about the innkeeper Dina and her quirky guests. The authors obviously had fun writing it. I definitely had fun reading it. There are space chicken philosophers there. With an illustration!
    I also watched the first two episodes of Bridgerton on Netflix. What a treat! I’m hooked. I loved the books, of course (Julia Quinn is one of my favorite regency writers), but this was my first foray into streaming TV.
    You see, my daughter bought me a new TV last week. Before that, I had a 25-year-old box with one input hole for a cable. Now, she signed me on Netflix and Prime and Disney and Crave, but I have to learn first how to navigate this unusual device. I feel like my TV remote is smarter than me. Last night, it took me a while of pressing buttons before I lucked on to the Brigerton for my second episode. But I’m determined to conquer my TV remote. I’ll be heroic in my quest, I promise.

    1. I find the wishlist on Netflix helpful (I daresay other services have the same thing). I can save anything I come across that looks interesting. And I find it easiest to do this, and to search for programmes, using the Netflix app on my iPad. The wishlist syncs to Netflix on my TV, but it’s a lot easier to type titles in on my iPad.

  19. Just finished Preston/Child’s Bloodless. The FBI Agent Pendergast books are mysteries with elements of sci-fi and/or fantasy; the proportions of each differ from book to book. This particular one veered way into sci-fi and ended on a big cliffhanger. I don’t think it was one of my favorites but I’ll be back to see what happens to you know who in the next book!

    Enjoyed the new Lucy Parker which, like the new Alexis Hall, involves a reality baking tv show. Cultural synergy at work?

    Now reading A Madness of Angels by Laurell Hamilton. It’s a new series involving angels and demons. No Anita Blake. Not sure what I think of it yet, but so far, no sex, which is, heh, refreshing. If there’s one thing sex should never be, it’s tedious or boring and we had definitely reached that point in the Anita Blake series.

    1. Just realized I mixed up the Hamilton title with Louise Penny’s A Madness of Crowds. It’s actually A Terrible Fall of Angels. Aaargh indeed.

  20. The Undateable sounded so good that I just borrowed it from the library. It’s on my Kindle right now. I read House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones. Some side characters are from Howls moving castle.
    I started Love Story With Murders by Harry Bingham. It’s first person and well written, but I found I didn’t care enough to continue.
    I finished rer-reading Dark Light by Jayne Castle. I am looking forward to starting the unreadable tonight.

  21. This week I read:

    The Search, by Nora Roberts. A re-read of one of my favorites by her. The heroine trains dogs from puppies to search and rescue teams. She also volunteers for SAR and the scenes of searching for a lost kid/adult hikers seem realistic to me. There’s a serial killer which is a bit of a minus. But the relationships between the heroine, her woodworking hero, her step-mother, her dogs, and all the other supporting characters makes up for it.

    False Colours, by Georgette Heyer. The one with a beautiful and charming, but scatterbrained and deep-in-debt mama whose adult identical-twin sons try to resolve her problems. This is my mom’s favorite Heyer. She read it in her 40s: at the time a 40-something woman who could still attract scads of men was unheard of in fiction. I mostly enjoy it because of the humor and the way all the complicated plot threads get tied up in the end. I will admit that this Heyer failed completely as a bedtime get-sleepy reading aid.

    Frost Burned and Night Broken, #7 and #8 in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. I read #1-5 almost back-to-back, then needed a break. But since picking up #6 last week I have been devouring these again. I send many thanks to those of you here several months ago who encouraged me to read this series after I posted about reading her Alpha and Omega series. One similarity between MT and A&O is that Mercy and Anna are both growing as a result of their relationships. It’s also interesting to see how Mercy is changing werewolf pack dynamics.

    Strange Love, by Ann Aguirre. Human woman is accidentally abducted by non-alpha alien male and ends up competing with him in a sort of Bachelor-meets-American-Ninja-Warrior type contest for the right to procreate. Though it lived up to its title, Strange Love turned out to have a fairly solid romance. When I tell you that he has claws and body parts that make me think of an insect, you can understand that the sex scenes had a bit of a squick-factor for me. On the other hand, the hero and heroine are able to be vulnerable with each other and are willing to work as a team. And the dog who was abducted with her from Earth also gets a communications implant: turns out a talking dog can be pretty amusing.

    1. I think there’s a second book related to Strange Love although I don’t know if it’s a sequel or just set in the same universe (heh).

      1. The second book is called Love Code, and it does look like a sequel of sorts. The carryover from Strange Love is an AI, Helix, who took off on his own during that book. Apparently Helix somehow gets a body and a love interest. I added it to my To-Be-Read-Someday list but nowhere near the top.

    2. I was looking at this. Will have to give it a try.

      I hear you on the eww factor, but at the same time, I am glad she went there. It is somewhat ludicrous how most alien abduction is done by an oddly colored, humanoid hunk. The universe is huge and full of possibilities. I am glad that someone is playing with the trope.

  22. I finished “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” by Suzanne Collins and really liked it. It was interesting to see how the president of the Hunger Games-series became…the way he is. He’s not a very likable person however even as a young man, at least not for me. His Hunger Games tribute however, yes. No HEA though, so if you’re looking for that, skip this one.

    Also wrapped up my reread of “Murder is Easy” by Agatha Christie. I did remember correctly – I had read it before! It was not as creepy as my experience of it was when I was 13, but maybe because I was prepared this time and too busy with confirming that I’d suspected the right person to be deeply invested in the story, like I was back then. Will dig up one I haven’t read before next time I read Christie, I think, for more investment on my part.
    The English language has changed quite a lot since this one was written though, I think. I don’t expect it’s more or less standard (at least it seems so in that particular book) today to call old ladies an old word-starting-with-p–containing–two-s-ending-on-y-synonymous-with-cat. That was…interesting reading. 😉

    I’m almost done with “The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels” by India Holton, and it’s… Well. JulieR put it very well last week: Eventually you just want people to be more normal. It’s a fun read and the concept is very good, but after a while I found the constant incoming of jokes, slapstick and clever retorts a bit tiring. I feel like I’m getting a bit of an overload of clever jokes, which is a pity for I really want to love it. Maybe I’ve just turned into a negative old cat-synonym-starting-with-p. (Goodness, I hope not!) I’ll finish it and see how I feel about it then. 1 h 40 minutes left.

    1. You’re not alone on Wisteria Society. I liked the premise but struggled to connect with the book.

      1. I’m very relieved to hear this, thank you for letting me know. I always feel so mean when I criticize something. The book really had some good things, but I strongly feel the humourous parts could’ve been…dished out in smaller portions, and it might’ve worked out better. Of course, that’s a very personal opinion.

      1. I like the cat-reference, maybe because old women have been referred to as “gammal katta” (old she-cat) in Swedish as well aaages ago, so it feels familiar. (I don’t think the youth of today would use it or even know about it, though.) Since the p-catword is flung around so much these days as an insult and profanity, however, it was a bit odd to read it as a very casual expression. Refreshing, but odd. It only shows how much language evolves and expressions change through time. Not even 100 years have passed since Murder Is Easy was published, but words like p-catword (I’m writing it like this to avoid being singled out by some moderation-bot somewhere), gay or queer are used quite differently nowadays. I’m happy I’ve studied enough history of language and litterature, both Swedish and English, to be aware of how living languages change and evolve, or it might have been a confusing experience. 🙂

  23. I checked out a large-print edition of “A Gentleman in Moscow” and finished it up last night. It’s the first new-to-me book I’ve read in quite a while. I enjoyed it tremendously. A Russian aristocrat is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to spend his life confined to the big hotel where he lives (instead of being executed). The story opens in 1922 and ends in the mid-1950s, and events stay inside the hotel. The footnotes give the story of what’s happening in Russia during those years. A great book to read with Wikipedia available for reference.

    1. I am in Williamsport. Outlying areas had flooding and cancelled school, but we got off easy.

      It’s funny to find people here who are so geographically close to me. Hello to my fellow residents of the Keystone state.

  24. Another week of rereads and dipping my toe into things I may or may not go back to. My partner was rereading A Deadly Education as warm-up for the sequel — I’ve read it more times than any other recent book so I picked up Novik’s Spinning Silver instead. Curious book; I love it, but less for the things it thinks its about than for the context and the background. (i.e. the magical elements are fun and involving, but it’s the chapters about life as a hardscrabble Jewish moneylender in a small fantasy-realm-but-basically-Polish village, and about the life of an even harder-off family in the same village, that I kept wanting more of).

    Jenny, I have SO many theories about what’s going on with that maternal warning in A Deadly Education, and I will just say this — I notice Orion’s mother has a Welsh maiden name…

    Also began listening to the audiobook of Mike Duncan’s Hero of Two Worlds. Super-fun & accessible if you’re into history. It’s a biography of the Marquis de Lafayette; it’s also American/French social history for the lead-in to the Regency period, for anyone who enjoys Heyer etc.

    Have just grabbed a couple of kindle samples of things recommended here this week, with hopes of being able to report back next week. Thank you all!

    1. I figure it’s something to do with a prophecy.
      Actually, I don’t care what it is, I am THERE for it. Love that book. Love Orion Lake, for that matter, the big doofus.

      1. I initially wondered if El’s mom (mistakenly of course) thought Orion might be related, but that’s probably not it. Am I the only one who finds it annoying that mom couldn’t have squeezed a couple more lines onto that cryptic piece of paper??? 😉

        1. They make it pretty clear it’s a TINY piece of paper which makes it all the more interesting that her mother used it to say that.
          I refuse to believe there’s anything wrong with Orion Lake, trouser mal not withstanding.

  25. I read (listened to) Winter’s Orbit, which I liked. I also read a couple of Regencies that I think were mentioned here. I enjoyed the first in the series, but the second not as much. I’ll still read the third though…

    Last night I started watching ‘This Is a Robbery’ (Netflix) about the Isabella Stewart Gardner museum heist. I had every intention of watching one episode, and 4 hours later, I’d binge-watched the entire thing.

  26. Read Pratchett’s The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites,Mort (always fun) and now Sourcery. I think I’m trying to answer the question-is the Librarian at least mentioned in all of the Discworld books? I believe most of them.

    1. Many, but I think not all — it’s a while since I’ve read them but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t make it into most of the non-Ankh-Morpork books (Small Gods, Interesting Times, etc).

  27. Currently reading FORTUNE FAVORS THE DEAD, “A Pentecost and Parker Mystery”, by Stephen Spotswood. It’s a female centric version of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe series. Fun.

  28. Was just looking for an audio book–you sold me on Hench! Can’t wait! I just started reading Death at Castle Dark (a cozy mystery) and am enjoying it.

    It’s been awhile since I popped in–I was hoping I’d discover you had a new book up for preorder. 🙂 I can’t believe you’re juggling all those ideas and WIPs (or is it WsIP?)

    I switched from writing romance to historical/cozy mysteries not too long ago, and I’m loving it!

    Have a great week!

    1. Welcome back!
      Yeah, I’ve got to finish something. I gave up and took the summer off and now I have to get serious about everything.

  29. Oh joy! I’ve just picked up Louise Penny’s latest at the library.

    The Madness of Crowds.

    Of course, there’s more than enough of that in the news.

  30. Good gracious, I read 14 things this week, including three stand-alone short stories and two novellas. Also including two anthologies of short stories, both of which were fundraisers and I’m glad I got them for that purpose but will almost certainly never open again.

    Two by Talia Hibbert this week: ‘Take a Hint, Dani Brown,’ which I liked very very much, and ‘Get a Life, Chloe Brown,’ which I only liked very much. 🙂 It’s an excellent book but the pain level was a bit high for me at the moment.

    Very good M/F histrom: Meredith Duran, ‘A Lady’s Code of Misconduct.’ The title sounds like a rom-com and that’s not what this is. It’s complicated and twisty, full of politics and varying degrees of nefariousness deployed by a broad range of characters, including the hero and heroine. 1860s England is the setting. A masterful first-time-to-bed scene, which occurs fairly late in the book.

    Two good M/M things: ‘Cruising,’ a contemporary by Sean Ashcroft, which is a delightful tropefest set on a cruise ship; and ‘Once a Gentleman,’ a Regency by Eliot Grayson, which has a Very Problematic MC2 who has much groveling and self-improvement to do before MC1 will take him seriously.

    1. Remember when Jenny lately pointed out that a disproportionate number of MCs seem to have green eyes?

      Well, apart from the fact that also a surprisingly number of Arghers seem to have this eye colour (in various shades from hasel with green flecks to bright green) – the one MC of your rec “Once a Gentlemen” (the one who didn’t have to grovel) also has green eyes.

      It gets even mentioned in the blurb. As if having green eyes signals “love interest” or “worth fighting for” LOL.

      1. I think I’ve accepted that mine are just blue with yellow spots. Mind you, that should make me rare enough for a heroine, surely.

        1. It should make you unique. In seventy years of reading, I am very sure that not one character in any book I ever opened had eyes of blue with yellow spots.

          Now we need a suitably unique plot or a new trope for you.

          1. Do the magical cats in Tammy Pierce’s books have gold flecks in their eyes?

            Jane, your eye color definitely puts you beyond the ordinary. I think it illustrates your peculiarly perceptive powers of sight, particularly when viewing nature. Your gardens and your photos show this special trait.

        2. The blue alone would. I read someplace (great citation, Jenny) that fewer blue-eyed babies are being born these days. It was always a rarer color, but if the numbers are dropping, it’ll take over from green eyes as something special, especially since blue eyes tend to reflect light.

      2. I was thinking about the green eye question, as it turned up in a character lately. I rather wonder if green because a classification for eye color more recently, where in years before people would say my eyes were hazel, or blue or brown.

        Maybe we can research birth certificates? I am willing to bet that at some point the options were only blue or brown and green appeared later.

        1. Is eye color included on birth certificates?

          I was surprised that gray isn’t an option on US passports. Umm, there are more than a few grayhairs out there.

          1. Eye color isn’t on birth certificates and eye color doesn’t become permanent until about 6 months

          2. Newborn eye color isn’t necessarily permanent. My baby book says mine were gray, “like her father’s.” They’re (light) brown now.

      3. From the author’s POV, you want to be sure the main characters’ coloring is mentioned up front, very likely in the blurb, so the reader can visualize them somewhat the way you do. It also helps if the cover art doesn’t show a blue-eyed blonde when your character is regularly described throughout your work as dark-haired with violet eyes.

  31. This week I had another run of dullness. Several books I DNFd and several more that I skimmed the last half of.
    I did, alas, finish my Murderbot reread, despite my slow pace. That was not in the least dull. Neither was the second reading of Witness for the Dead, or of Polaris Rising.

  32. Mysterious . . . MRS. MOHR GOES MISSING and the sequel, KAROLINA AND THE TORN CURTAIN, by Maryla Szymiczkowa, set in 1890’s Kraków, Poland. Zofia Turbotyńska, married to a professor and unable to think of anything else she can do to advance his career just at this moment, turns her attention to crime. The character names in these books put me forcibly in mind of THE GOBLIN EMPEROR universe — they’re all a mile long — although since everyone’s Catholic, first names are Polish-language saints’ names, so you can generally make sense of them.

    ONCE UPON A ROYAL SUMMER by Teri Wilson “Lacey—known as Princess Sweet Pea at the Once Upon A Time amusement park in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida—was theme park royalty. The very best sort of royalty, as far as Lacey was concerned.” Alas, Lacey forgot to take off her tiara before going out to dinner with her almost-fiancé . . . . My cousin recommended this to me last Sunday and I’ve barely started it, but light read is clearly where it’s going.

    HOW TO COOK A PEACOCK: Le Viandier Medieval Recipes, by Taillevent
    “For pastie of capons, cover with lard. For spices, add some ginger, assorted spices and saffron.” Fannie Farmer’s 19th-century Level Measurements were a real advance.

    FANNIE’S LAST SUPPER: Re-creating One Amazing Meal from Fannie Farmer’s 1896 Cookbook, by Christopher Kimball. I reread the book, which is about choosing the menu, sourcing the ingredients, and cooking them on an authentic 19th-century coal cookstove from the period and making everything from scratch, including the stocks, the puff pastry, the gelatin, and the food colorings. If you look around, this was made into a video which is available online, too. I haven’t seen that, but have the book.

    Comfort re-read was the COMPLETE WORKS OF JEAN WEBSTER, who was best known for her YA classic DADDY-LONG-LEGS. I was just looking for something very light and reread JUST PATTY and WHEN PATTY WENT TO COLLEGE, both school stories.

    1. I like Dear Enemy better than those three. Since I’m sure all her work is out of copyright now I had better see what I’ve missed.

  33. I’m definitely going to keep listening to you all for book recs! I read Hench, which I really enjoyed. Not only a super competent protagonist, but a real anti-hero type! rare, and welcome, even with the unexpected descent into grotesque violence at the end. And Witness for the Dead finally came in on my library loan list so I got to read that and really enjoyed it, too. Competent heroes are great. Competent heroes who might have self-esteem issues are apparently catnip to my brain.

    Currently struggling through two books, one with a series of fascinating, but unlikable characters, and one where the premise is kind of messing with my head after the events of the first book. But I think I will continue on with both.

  34. I re-read Crazy People after many years. Loved the short stories, like little bursts of energy. New and fresh, particularly good after many, many months of lockdown… adds a quick fix of excitement! Thanks for writing it.

    1. Thank you for reading!
      That was pretty much my MFA work right there, except for one story that Mollie wouldn’t let me put in because she hated it, and one story I deleted from all computers because I hated it. When I go wrong, I go wrong BIG.

  35. A couple of weeks ago I looked at Mount TBR and realised I needed to do something about it. So I put my library holds on pause, and started to tackle the mountain.

    The first book was by a well known and popular fantasy author whose books I have loved in the past. This one looked terrific – but it was awful. Clunky and badly written, and it made me doubt that his first books, that had made him famous, had been as good as I thought. Going to reread them to see.

    The second was Mr American by George MacDonald Fraser, who wrote the Flashman series. Still reading this, and it’s a gorgeous book. Quite slow and quiet, but exquisite writing and characterisation, and a good solid story.

    Putting the library holds on pause has been interesting. My reading has become more relaxed, as I no longer feel under pressure to read things and return them by a certain date. I think it was all becoming a bit hectic, trying to keep up. So I’m still taking note of interesting sounding books, but not putting holds on them yet.

    1. Lian, in case you’re interested in Scottish history, do check out Mcdonald Fraser’s “Steel bonnets” about the Border conflicts. Totally fascinating and very well written.
      I found it after I’d been engrossed in all things 16/17th century Scottish (due to the Lymond chronicles and the very good P.F. Chisholm mysteries centered around the historical figure of Robert Carey) -a treat!

      1. Thanks Dodo, I never really got into the Flashman stories, but I’m a total convert to MacDonald Fraser’s writing after reading Mr American. I’ll have a look at Steel Bonnets. And yes, I loved the PF Chisholm stories, and the Pat McIntosh series! As well as Lymond, of course.

        1. He also wrote books about A Scottish regiment first one The General Danced at Dawn love them a reread them often. Probably out of print by now.

          1. Aha! The Complete McAuslan, comprising The General Danced at Dawn, McAuslan in the Rough, and The Sheikh and the Dustbin, is available in both paperback and kindle formats.


            These are collections of hilarious short stories about a Scottish Highland regiment in the waning days of World War II, many of them featuring Private MacAuslan, who’s a walking disaster.

            I never could get into Flashman, but I absolutely love the McAuslan stories.

        2. Couldn’t get into Flashman neither. I guess I don’t always get quirky humour 😉 that’s why I didn’t love In the doghouse last week even though I grew to enjoy it.
          Must look up the Pat McIntosh!!

          1. Best read in series order, because they’re somewhat chronological:

            1. THE HARPER’S QUINE
            2. THE NICHOLAS FEAST
            3. THE MERCHANT’S MARK
            4. ST. MUNGO’S ROBIN
            5. THE ROUGH COLLIER
            6. THE STOLEN VOICE
            7. A PIG OF COLD POISON
            9. THE FOURTH CROW
            10. THE KING’S CORRODIAN
            11. THE LANIMER BRIDE

            These books all have really good opening sentences.

  36. I finally read the “last” two Murderbot stories which Gary had pointed out.

    I’m far more interested in the ideas Wells’ presents than I was after reading the All Systems Red because she introduces so many topics. These are the sorts of books I’d love to discuss with friends.

    For example, I think one point of “Home . . .” is that some very intelligent humans (like Mensah) make themselves into mixed creations like Murderbot. In other words, Mensah closes herself off to other people — specifically her family — in order to maintain her sense of self/public persona. This leaves her in a precarious mental balance.

  37. I’m back! (Had to delete my Bitdefender antivirus, which was blocking this site. The bastard.) Replaced it with something that played nice.)

    I’m finishing up Donna Andrews’ new book, Murder Most Fowl, and loving it.

      1. It was starting to look like it. But Mollie figured out it was the BitDefender, which apparently has been problematic with your webhost in other cases. When it comes down to a choice between my antivirus software and Argh, the software is going to lose every time. Just using a different one instead. So yay, Mollie!

  38. I too read Hench this week. Great characters and surprisingly funny. I liked it so much that I recommended it to DH – we have very different reading tastes. I also read the third book in Lisa Kleypas’ Wallflower series.

    I started to read Kristan Higgins’ newest, Pack Up the Moon, but it was so sad, I’m not sure I’ll finish it – a young woman dies and leaves a note per month (12 in total) for her husband. I was weeping by Chapter 3.

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