This is a Good Book Thursday, September 23 , 2021

This week my preorder of The Antiquarian Sticker Book: Bibliophilia arrived, and OMG it’s just as excellent as the first Antiquarian Sticker Book. Highly recommend.

What book(s) do you recommend this week?

90 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 23 , 2021

  1. I just ripped through Breaking Badger by Shelly Laurenston, and went back to re-read the other books in the Honey Badger series because I needed a good giggle.

    I’m also re-reading Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand.

  2. Reread the so excellent Happy Snak because I wanted something fun and reliable. it’s even better than I remembered. Characters, plot, and created world – all very good.

    1. Oooh, that reminds me I sampled that book ages ago and meant to buy it. Now I will! Thanks for the little nudge!

  3. I read Lisa Henry’s latest in her faux regent series, A Rival For Rivingdon, which was fun. Inside her M/M niche, she has enormous range – fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, contemporary light and dark, suspense-action, comedy, detective – you name it.

  4. I’d like to thank whoever recommended the White Magic Five and Dime series. It’s such a good read and left me wanting another book in the series. I finished Warprize by Elizabeth Vaughn. Again good. And I loved Invoking Infinity by Meghan Ciara Dodge. It’s the first in the series (and only now) so I moved on to her Cupcakes, Trinkets, and Other Deadly Magic. So far, so good.

    1. there are several more books in the white magic five and dime series. the second one is Fool me Once and the third one is Give the devil his due. I think I read somewhere that the author had some kind of issue with the publisher so he had to stop writing this series until that issued got resolved.

  5. I am still delving in Sherwood Smith’s oeuvre and I am now reading some books which are very High fantasy, a genre I am usually not much a fan of.

    I have however enjoyed reading « Inda », despite the truly horrendous trials the poor boy is put through.

    So I have bought the rest of the series.
    Unfortunately while Inda is available as an ebook in the UK, the other volumes are not. I had to buy them secondhand, which I don’t like to do as the money doesn’t go to the author, but I did want to know what happens next.

    These doorstoppers will probably keep me busy until next week!

    1. Ilona Andrews says that if you buy their books second hand, it means that they have already been paid for the book, and rehoming an old copy is a good thing. Same for library books, so enjoy guilt free!

      And one thing I like about Sherwood Smith is that she never goes too dark for me, no matter what her characters have to overcome.

    2. I loved Inda – and it always reminded me oddly enough of Ender’s Game, one of my all-time favourite sci-fi’s. Something about his leadership of a team.

  6. Currently making my way through Andy Weir’s “Hail Mary Project”. It’s interesting, and sometimes gripping, with lots of science. The structure is intriguing – it opens with an astronaut waking up from an induced coma, in his spaceship, with no real memory of who he is, where he is and what he is doing. As the book proceeds, you get vignettes of his past that come to him as he remembers, so you get to know him as he gets to know himself. It is keeping me up later than I would like, so it is holding my attention, but I think I’m ready for the problems to be solved so I can move on to something else.

  7. No reading this week but in Australia there’s a new streaming service called Paramount+ with a series called Why Womem Kill. The 1st season is 3 families in the same house in different decade. It’s good all the way to the last episode which is fabulous. Starring Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.

    1. I LOVE that show! And, yes! the Season 1 finale is just gorgeous! Ginnifer Goodwin’s clothes! And the neighbor from New York! And the pretty boy in Season 2 … dialogue straight out of a 40’s heartthrob movie …. “Say, ….” I loved the daughter’s clothes in Season 2.

    2. It was one of the best written series I’ve seen in forever (also available on SBS) and it looks like season 2 is up on Paramount+ although I’m not sure how that can top season 1.

    3. And I’m also watching “Dead To Me”. (Netflix/Christina Applegate). The heroine seems like a Crusie heroine … Sarcastic (and funny without trying to be), and she is enraged.
      I love her! She reminds me of Agnes. Jenny, did you ghost-write on this? 🙂

  8. This week’s recommendation is Portrait of a Scotsman by Evie Dunmore. The most recent edition in her suffragette series. This time the MCs are a revenge driven industrialist-investor and an artist struggling to find a focus for both her activism and her art. There is also reference to child labor and why the working class was too busy trying to stay alive (especially in the coal mines) to be actively involved in the sufferage movement.

    It was very satisfying to watch the MCs come to understand each other and discover how to balance the competing motivations in their own lives without abandoning the other people in their lives.

    1. Yes. Loved this one. There were some amazing lines that made me pause and savor. Not at home, or I’d quote them. Really well written.

  9. Started the reading week with one of my own. Then DNFd ‘Star Trek: The Lost Years’ by J.M. Dillard. I’d read it years ago, it came up on sale, I thought hey! Geek nostalgia! But … soapy midlife crisis x 3, fetishization, not nearly enough action, too many sexless romantic sub-plots, and finally a reference to a non-human diplomat as a ‘creature’ instead of a ‘person.’ Had to bail. The things I notice now … .

    Next, ‘Clickbait’ by EJ Russell, a Portland-set M/M opposites-attract in which a lot of serious obstacles were resolved (?) in a very short timeframe. I thought the relationship needed at least one more week on the page for the MCs to unpack all their baggage after having the Big Talk. It went straight from OMG are we trying to make this work to HEA Epilogue. (Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but I do like to see negotiations and reconciliations on the page. Untrusting soul that I am.)

    Then, ‘Be My Best Man’ by Con Riley, which I really liked. Age-gap, big-secret romance between a young Russian asylum seeker and a restoration builder based in London. Some painful obstacles here, too, and the way things go bad is realistic. So is the way the MCs resolve it. Will definitely re-read. Found family + trust = win.

    After that, four more K.L. Noone shorts, including ‘Peaches and the Shadow,’ about a magical historian who encounters a lingering spirit and brings him back to life, and ‘Of Starlit Balls and Starship Captains,’ which is a perfect little M/F Regency except in space.

    Finally, ‘Leave it to Psmith’ by P.G. Wodehouse. It’s the post-WWI farce version of KJ Charles’ ‘Any Old Diamonds’ with no sex or F-bombs. Really ridiculous and entertaining.

  10. I am listening to The Garden of Forgotten Wishes by Trisha Ashley. It’s filled with decent, creative people doing their best and, I assume, winning out in the end.

    I also picked up an old paperback copy of Amerylis by Jayne Ann Krentz, which I am enjoying more than I thought. It’s dated, but her hero is really rather sweet under his rugged masculinity.

  11. Didn’t read much in the past weeks. No novels for certain, but I read an excerpt from Ilona Andrews’s new book, Fated Blades, on their website. It was so good! I can’t wait for the book to come out in November.
    Also, Chachal here mentioned stories by K.L. Noone, and I thought to try one. I bought the cheapest on Amazon – the short story Sorceress – and loved it. So sweet.
    The reason I’m not reading is that I’m not home. My coop is doing kitchen and bathroom renovations in all our suits. This week is my turn. They are removing everything in the kitchen and bathroom – cabinets, water fixtures, floor – and putting in everything new. With no cost to myself! Yahoo! Of course, they turn off the water for an entire day, and the renovation for one apartment lasts a week. I had to completely empty my kitchen, bathroom, and pantry, but then I decided to leave home for this week and stay with a friend (bless her for inviting me).
    I’m going back home on Saturday, but for now, I’m having a sort of mini vacation and enjoying it. I really love my friend for giving me this opportunity. And the funny thing is – she is my namesake. Her name is also Olga. And she has two Yorkie terriers as pets. They are funny little dogs and they even accepted me. Allowed me to pet them. I’m becoming almost a family.

  12. Read If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane because it was a bookbub deal that sucked me in. Fake romance with lots of good friendship and family stuff. And now I need another good book.

  13. I discovered a new author via an Amazon recommendation – Lee Welch, Mended with Gold – and was really excited. M/m romance in New Zealand; great characters, emotion & fun. But then it ended rather abruptly (a novella rather than a novel), leaving me not as convinced as I wanted to be about their relationship. I tried another by her, but this was a C19 magic fantasy, and I didn’t like the sample. Hoping she may go back to contemporary stories, because Mended with Gold was mostly really good.

    I’m in that horrible, irritable, nothing works headspace. Gave up on a favourite Katie Fforde, and am now trying an old Jayne Ann Krentz, Trust Me.

  14. I’m reading other people’s CVs in an effort to help them make it reader and hirer friendly to stand out from the crowd. It’s a skill I have from an old job and it makes me happy.

    Rereading Illona Andrews Innkeeper, and Buroker’s Encrypted series wondering what makes me love one but tolerate the other. Also listening to an audio book by HH The Dalai Lama and cannot remember the title.
    Watching Use For My Talent, a Chinese series. Quite pleasant.

    Doing prep for next term. Argh. Is it too late to quit and go qualify as an electrician? At least they don’t have to take their work home.

  15. I read the new Walt Longmire mystery by Craig Johnson, Daughter of the Morning Star. Reservation Police Chief Lolo Long’s niece, a star basketball player is getting death threats and she asks Walt to investigate them. With Henry along they wander around southern Montana investigating while strangeness ensues.

    Someone here recommended The Fourth Marchioness by Jayne Davis, for those who liked her The Two Mrs. MacKinnon’s, which I did. And I found The Fourth Marchioness just as enjoyable.

    Gretchen Galway came out with a new entry in her Sonoma Witches series, that starts with Dead Witch on a Bridge. This one is called Murder by Magic. It’s more of a classic murder mystery, except with powerful witches. Alma accompanies an old school friend to their family estate where her dying grandfather is murdered before he can change his will. It reminded me a lot of an old Ellery Queen mystery.

    Someone mentioned how the new Patricia Briggs books were the best and I immediately went back and read her second and third books, Dragon Bones and Dragon Blood, thank god she finally managed to release them as eBooks. My god they’re even better than I remembered. I yield to no one in my love for Mercy Thompson but Ward of Hurog, and his cohort, are so fantastic.

    I finished up a series I was reading called The Reluctant Coroner by Paul Austin Ardoin. Which I really enjoyed but didn’t really think most Argher’s would for some reason. But my wife read and liked it just as much as I did so maybe you all would too. Fenway Stevenson is a nurse practitioner, the daughter of a poor divorced black mother, who has just died of cancer, and a rich white father who has ignored her for her entire life, but she moves back to the town where she was born when he pulls some strings to get her appointed to fill out the last six months of the term of the county coroner who has just died, when their will be an election to replace him. The coroner is the one who investigates suspicious death’s in Dominguez County not the one who does autopsies. It turns out the old coroner’s death isn’t the only unsolved suspicious death that happened recently. And maybe her father had ulterior motives, surprise, surprise. There’s an evil stepmother, a deranged city councilman, a hot sheriff, and some really cool team members in the coroner’s office. The whole series is really good.

        1. Gary H., Thanks for the rec and Cathy M., Thanks for the info concerning The Reluctant Coroner. I acquired it and read it this afternoon — I really needed something new. The story is definitely refreshing! I thought Fenway’s strengths and weaknesses were in character, that the plot worked well (I guessed the murderer!), and that the conversations fit the people and the development of the story. Now I really want to visit Estancia, CA. Oh, and the food was so good I broke my diet 15 times with crackers and cheese in the 2 hours it took to read the book.

          One odd observation: every character was introduced as black or white. Sometimes details like umber for black skin or freckles for white were mentioned. Then descriptions of whites went to eye color. Do other Arghers see people that way? Yes, I see black and white, but (1) I’m apt to think “Ghanain” or “Jamaican” or “Southern” as some black types and “Irish” or “Italian” or “Mediterranean” for some white types. I also see a lot of “I don’t know” when it comes to coloring and gender these days. Is this just a sign of how old and bigoted I must be?

    1. Dragon Blood and Dragon Bones are wonderful. If I remember the conversation correctly, I took it to mean that we prefer Briggs’ newer works for Mercy. I certainly do, because they are less dark. I always loved Alpha and Omega. Her high fantasy stuff is completely separate in my mind 🙂

      1. Dragon Blood and Dragon Bones are still my favourite Patricia Briggs books. Ward was just such a wonderful character.

    2. One of my favourites of early Patricia Brigs is When Demons Walk, the MC is very enjoyably competent and snarky and the romance about the two learning about each other’s competencies. The other part I enjoy is the juxtaposition of disbelief of a god on one side and a disbelief in magic on the other and how they’re not a mutually exclusive as everyone believes at the start of the story.

      1. Argh. “and the romance grows while the H & H learn about each other’s competencies.”
        (that makes much more sense.)

    3. I love Ward. He is a great character. Great to know these are ebooks now. Off to buy them now!

      That reluctant Coroner sounds good too!

      You always give excellent recs.

  16. I started in on the TBR list. I have Skirting Disaster by Kay Kepler open on the big screen (Ai1). Good, so far. I DNFed Civilizations: A Novel. It was the last part that finished it for me.

    I went through all my downloads from Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press last week except Saving the Dodo, which is an expanded version of Second Chance Bird, in which the folks of the Ring of Fire series realize that they have been transported back far enough in time that the Dodo is not yet extinct, and act accordingly.

    I doubled back to Bite Me: Big Easy Nights, which I had skipped over during my “Wearing the Cape” series reread. Still no new book, dab naggit, so I also reread the excerpt, “Repossession,” from said vapor book on Harmon’s blog. Oh, the book has cover art and a title, Joyeuse Guard. Still no book. Very frustrating.

    I also got back into Once More With Feeling, but I read the feel-good parts I wanted to, so I don’t need to finish it. 🙂

    Finally, it’s the twenty third Official Weigh-In Day (OWID) of my current diet, and I’m back to 257 pounds. Less than a hundred to my “target weight.” You may all express laughter in your favorite mode – chuckling, chortling, tittering, giggling, guffawing, lol, lmao (I own a thesaurus, I could keep this up for a page or two).

    1. Update: I have finished Skirting Disaster by Kay Keppler and The White Magic Five and Dime: A Tarot Mystery by Steve Hockensmith with Lisa Falco, Lisa. I must say, I enjoyed both books, but I must also say that I was somethinged by their similarities. I can’t quite figure out what the something was. Intrigued, possibly. Amused, a little bit. Annoyed could fit in there, too.

      Is it a new meme (by which I mean the hot new meme for writers) to have Xaviera Hollander or some other happy hooker for a mother? The mom in Skirting is just slutty. In the other, professionally slutty and a conwomen to make Michael Dempsey swoon. Neither a role model. Both someone the daughters have no desire to emulate.

      Just asking.

  17. I’m reading the latest Ruth Galloway book ‘Night Hawks’ by Elly Griffiths.

    Does anyone else follow this series?

    1. I’m following this series. I like the books and the angsty romance between Ruth and Nelson. And, Cathbad is purely a delight.

    2. I do. I’m getting annoyed with Nelson’s desire to have his cake and eat it too. He doesn’t want to leave his wife but he still wants Ruth and he keeps jerking her around and using their child together to do it. The book where they were in Italy was a real low point for me. But I like Ruth enough to continue.

      FYI, there’s a new Griffiths, just announced, The Locked Room, due out June 2022.

  18. I am hoping Dodo will drop by and post about the book that was addictive as ice cream.

    More books should be addictive, and ice-creamy in my opinion. 🙂

    Last night I ended up skimming through the (final?) book in the Westcott series, which had a series of brief back-and-forth vignettes of every couple yet introduced in the series. None seemed believable to me. The soldier? Likewise not. The vicar’s widow? Nope. The love story? For me, not really. Thanks to Jane, I’m on to other Balogh journeys. But hoping for ice cream.

    1. Dear Jinx,
      happy to oblige 🙂

      Last Thursday I’d started out reading Betting on his BF by Eli Easton and Tara Lain.
      I’ve always liked EE, loved some of her books, not so much others when they were too sweet for me. Therefore the ice cream comment.

      It turned out the collaboration really does it for me: They’ve written a Nerds vs Jocks series (4 books yet) around the members of two frat houses.
      I read them out of order – started with book 4 and the two protags are such goof balls (with really funny scenes including Wet Jockstrap contests and Loki – a definite draw for me) that it was a lot of fun reading about their adventures on a trip to Las Vegas. Went their as best buddies, had some hilarious moments and some unrealistic adventures, but hey, I like my escapism.
      The epilogue (yes, those epilogues are a method to segue into the other books) introduced the couple of book 2 to me, so I continued with Coaching the Nerd. And again, the two protags were total sweethearts (a scrawny geneticist and a seemingly dumb jock). Plus the sex factor was toned down which I rather liked.
      So I immediately jumped to book 1 after that – Schooling the Jock: a more conventional duo of protags, but nice, too. If I’d started with this one I might not have gulped down almost the whole “ice cream buffet” (so far) in one go, but it was nice enough to start on book 3 last night.
      Head to Head will not be my favourite, that’s one thing I guess after 27 %, because the rich guy trope is so not my favourite. But I like the writing of EE and TL together, so I’m looking forward to finish the series.

      I like the tone and the humour of the books: those guys that at first loathe each other (because of their frat houses’ long tradition of hostility) are too bright not to adjust their judgment. And difficulties they have to overcome are mostly very down-to-earth ones and get resolved by sensible thinking and talking with each other (or when it’s an external conflict/danger by working together).

      Okay, it’s again M/M and I think one does not have to find one’s soulmate by your early 20s, but who am I to argue its’ implausiblity when that’s what I myself did…

      I’ll not finish the last book tonight though because I’ve got a Netflix-date with dd to continue watching Sex Education, yay 🙂

      1. I’ll give those later ones a try. I have the same relationship to Eli Easton as you, but I tried the first of this series and didn’t go for it. Number 4 sounds promising, though.

        1. Don’t let yourself get turned off by Felix’s particular feature that inspires the “betting” elenement. The in-your-face atmosphere reminded me a bit of Sex Education: too weird at first, but lovely rather soon.

          What I didn’t like too much were the covers: I usually try to ignore cover pictures, but with this series, some of the guys are quite spot on (e.g. PJ – the tall one on the cover of Betting), while the smirking guy (that should represent Felix) is not imo – no smirking, please!

    2. I think Mary Balogh used to be very good – I really like the slightly series for instance – but her more recent series have failed to keep my interest… I am nor sure whether I am over regencies in general or if it is the books themselves.

  19. I just started The Midnight Library, by Matt Haig. It isn’t what I had expected, but it isn’t awful. A woman on the verge of suicide gets to enter a library containing a book of her regrets, and many books on her life if she’d made other choices. She gets to sample life based on those choices. It’s strange, rather slow, and I don’t care much for the heroine. I’ll stick with it, I think. But it’s a bit of a head scratcher. Anyone read it?

    1. I did. I don’t remember much about it which will probably tell you something. But that’s not very helpful to you, is it? Lol! Sorry!

    2. Yeah, it was interesting but I didn’t love it? Ending kinda goes about how you’d expect in a meh-ish sort of way…. It went back to the free table I found it on.

      1. Yes – thought it was way over rated. Interesting premise but I got bored with it at some point and wished it were over sooner than it was. I didn’t like the main character and didn’t think she deserved a happy ending. Of any kind.

        1. This is an EXCELLENT example of multiple voices saying “Don’t bother” about a book with a title that might well have appealed to me. Thanks, everyone!

          1. I was too lazy to read any of the over 100,000 reviews, and I figured it must be good. Finally gave up at about one quarter in. Bought a couple of Regency romances. That should make me feel better.

  20. I read “The Fenmore Job” by Marshall Ryan Maresca which is the pentiultimate book in his “The Maradaine Saga” which is a series of trilogies all interconnected, but featuring different groups of people involved in fighting corruption in their city.

    That is, “The Fenmore Job” is the last book in a trilogy featuring Verci and Asti who are brothers trying to find out and stop the people behind a series of fires which destroyed their homes and killed their neighbors. There are 4 sets of “trilogies”.

    The first set features a university student who dons a mask and costume to fight against an underworld boss named Fenmore and his backers. The 2nd set features a police detective and his assistant, fighting against police corruption. Verci and Asti are in the 3rd set. The 4th set features an elite warrior and his assistant, fighting political corruption.

    I’m not really into the political corruption trilogy, but the other 3 sets are really good. And, the intertwining stories are pretty good. It’s also interesting to see how the protagonists of each set are viewed by the protagonists of the other sets.

  21. Squid Empire, by Danna Staaf. Non-fiction, subtitled The Rise and Fall of the Cephalopods. Loved it! Learned that these animals are older than trees: sharks, horseshoe crabs, jellyfish, and cephalopods.

    The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Like the Jungle Book, but with ghosts and a graveyard instead of animals and a jungle. Loved it!

    The Audible presentations of Act I and Act II of The Sandman, a graphic novel series by Neil Gaiman. Not a narrated book, but a cast recording of the stories, with celebrity voice actors, very effective sound effects, and Gaiman himself as the Narrator. I’d been skeptical that an audio presentation could adequately convey the epitome of visual storytelling, but this is fabulous. Loved it!

  22. this week I am rereading an old book called Murder is a girls best friend by Amanda Matetsky. This is the 2nd book in a series but the first book is not on kindle. it is intriguing because it is set in 1950’s New York. Main character works for a sleazy true detective magazine as a secretary and she is surrounded by totally non sensitive male co workers. I started working in an office with men in the late 1960 so there is much that I can relate to. It involves a mystery and a little romance. I am enjoying it because I feel like almost all the newer books I read now are just like the same story line and boring.

  23. I read His Majesty’s Dragon, along with several of the sequels. I really liked the first two but the third got a but bogged down in battles. It is the Napoleonic wars but everyone has aviation brigades of dragons with riders. I am on the waiting list for books 4 and 5.

    I’ve started If the Shoe Fits. I am I only three chapters in and it has promise.

  24. This isn’t useful to anyone else since it hasn’t been published yet, but I read one of my classmate’s short stories that just blew me away with how beautiful it was. (Also, she made a sex scene last most of the story without it ever feeling gratuitous, boring, or overly intimate). If/when she gets published somewhere, I will absolutely post a link here.

  25. I HATE, I BAKE, AND I DON’T DATE! by Alina Jacobs. I’m about halfway in this work of Screwball Romantic Comedy, and I am being exhausted by the screwball, probably because it’s rapidly moving well beyond plausibility. The hero comes from a “family” where Daddy collects wives/not-exactly-wives and has LOTS of children. Alternate H & H viewpoints, and the author clearly took to heart the seminar where she was told not to change viewpoints too often in a chapter, if ever. She starts a new chapter with every change of viewpoint, alternating the H & H, and when I finally decided to look at the table of contents, there are seventy chapters. Not sure I’ll last, though she also provides a link to her web page and her other books, which are clearly romantic adventures of Daddy’s OTHER children. She probably has a lifetime career here marrying these characters off, book by book. I also stalled out when her hero of this one, Beck, is landed with two little sisters to raise (among the crowd, these are his “full” sisters, as opposed to many, many, half-siblings). The girls’ grandmother is inclined to oppose his petition for custody; big plot point. My mind promptly tootled: “if these are his full sisters, why isn’t their grandmother HIS grandmother, too?” No one ever even considers this question, let alone answers it.

    TRUTH, LIES, AND SECOND DATES by MaryJanice Davidson, also looks like Screwball, although in addition to the romance, this one has horror and serial killer tropes. There’s a list of tropes as an afterward. My favorite: “The dog was the mastermind.”

    THEORIES OF INTERNATIONAL POLITICS AND ZOMBIES, by Daniel W. Drezner, is just what it sounds like. It puts me forcibly in mind of C. Northcote Parkinson’s more theoretical works. Besides a number of Very Serious Works, Drezner also wrote THE TODDLER IN CHIEF (three guesses). Anyway, if you find socio-economic theory interesting and also like zombies, or perhaps if you like just one of the two, it’s a recommended read.

    ROME’S VESTAL VIRGINS, by Robin Lorsch Wildfang, is a straightforward history of the Vestals. She pulls together the miscellaneous facts that pop up in the historical record. If anyone is further interested, there are also a couple of YouTube videos on the Vestals, including one where a modern hair stylist recreates the ‘sex crines’ style (which she thinks was really seven crines, spoiler!).

    Other than that, I’ve been taking an online class in Egyptian grammar, which doesn’t translate as well as one could wish. Probably the best introduction is Barbara Mertz chapter on hieroglyphic writing in TEMPLES, TOMBS, AND HIEROGLYPHS, or alternatively HIEROGLYPHS WITHOUT MYSTERY by Karl-Theodor Zauzich (a demotist, so now I know what to call them!)

    1. I actually read the entire Mertz book on hieroglyphs and enjoyed it. Mertz wrote another non-fiction book about Egyptology if you’re interested, although the name escapes me. (I just went and looked and it’s Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt.”) As it happens, I have enjoyed everything she wrote, whether as Mertz, as Barbara Michaels, or as Elizabeth Peters. My favorites are the books involving Vicky Bliss who is usually hot on the trail of some historical artifact. It’s too bad Mertz is no longer with us because I’m sure she’d be fascinated by all the new discoveries coming out of Egypt every day. I know I am!

      1. I öove the Vicky Bliss stories not least because her home base is my own home town. It’s funny how she remodeled the museum where Vicky works to make it into something quite not the same as the original yet almost still recognizable.
        It’s very interesting to see how much of the atmosphere has changed, too: I can remember the Peters’ version from childhood but it has changed beyond recognition.

        Rome, however, where one other of the Bliss books takes place, seems unchanged – unchangeable?

  26. I highly recommend The Dog Runner, a middle grade novel by NZ author Bren MacDibble. It’s post apocalyptic, but somehow she manages to make it really hopeful. Plus she’s a gorgeous writer. Plus over winter I went on a sled dog ride through a southern Tasmanian forest (sled on wheels, not runners), and it was brilliant, and just like in the book.

    Also Reputation, by Lex Crowther, a Regency romance (sort of) about a rebellious middle class young woman who gets caught up with a bunch of wild living and very rich aristocrats. It was fun, though I wanted to smack her a couple of times, and I doubt if it was historically accurate. But a nice change from the usual fare, with the rakish behaviour coming the women rather than the men.

  27. I have been devouring Jasmine Guillory, starting with The Wedding Date. Thanks to whoever here suggested it as it’s given me a new author to get lost in their backlog.

    What I love about all of the books is that the focus is on the romance and how each character works through their baggage so that they can be together. Most of the MC’s are black and most of the female MCs are curvy. Important points are made about the difficulties of both of those things through the books, but they don’t become the focus. There also isn’t the angst about size (in particular) that I get tired of in novels that have curvy characters. And I say this as a curvy person.

    (I have also just read J.D Robbs latest where I got hacked off AGAIN about how Peabody always makes several comments in there somewhere about calories or working off weight. Grrr. )

    What was refreshing about all of Guillory’s novels was that there was none of that. Size was a consideration for some things, but only as an aside.

    I recommend these if you like romance that is mostly about characters figuring out how to be together.

  28. I can highly recommend What You Wish For by Katherine Center. A cheerfully colorfully dressing librarian adores her boss until he drops dead on the dance floor and is replaced by….her old crush at her old job, who used to be a wild and crazy fun guy and somehow has turned into a security-obsessed pod person now. (They work at schools, so you can pretty much guess why he changed personality.) She’s at first excited to see him, then he’s turned into a security-obsessed hardass and she hates him, and then, well, it’s a romance novel. Very sweet and inspirational.

    1. Thank you for this rec. I got it last night after an awful weekend (an employee died of COVID) and it was just the read I needed to help cope. Really lovely story.

  29. Does anyone have any experience with the Open Library site, a daughter site of the Internet Archive? Is it legit, or pirated books?

    I was noodling around and they have ebook editions of some obscure books that are otherwise hard to come by.

    1. I think open library functions in a disputed area of law about how libraries should handle digital content. You can learn more here:
      I certainly would be comfortable reading anything there that is public use or out of the copyright period. Personally I would also be comfortable reading anything out of print.

      1. Thank you! On the one hand, Library — where the patron should be able to read anything there and books are loaned; on the other hand, downloading and keeping something where the author SHOULD be getting royalties gives me creepy-crawlies.

  30. You know, I never once gave a thought about women travelling and then some working on board a ship. Until I started reading Maiden Voyages by Sian Evans. I’ve only gotten as far as chapter 4 but I have learned a lot. For instance when a sailor and husband with a family died on board and there was no income coming in, the wives had no means of support, some left their children in the care of family and found a job on a ship. There was no compensation and also she didn’t have any job skills. This takes place during the time period of the last part of the nineteenth early twentieth century. And is also when women began accompanying husbands (business or vacations) back and forth from England to wherever. And too, this is where a stewardess comes into the picture to take care of women’s needs. And surprise no surprise they are paid 2/3 rds of what a male steward earned, most working 16 hour days. In one story a stewardess was rescued from the Titanic and three days after rescue was on board another ship with no time to regroup. One reason was because the owner stopped paying the crew when the ship sank and also to make it back home. I’m beyond WWI and moving into the Roaring Twenties hopefully it gets better. A phrase from the sixties runs through my head “You’ve come a long way baby”.

  31. I love those sticker books. I picked up one at my local independent builder’s bookstore which, in addition to building books, has a random assortment of books the owner just thought seemed fun.

    As for reading, I’m taking a break in my Nagio March comfort reading activity to give book #5 in a historical mystery series a try. I loved books #1 and #2, but wasn’t a big fan of the next two. I was hoping book #5 would reverse the trend but so far I’m waiting for the actual story to start while the author is rehashing what went on in the past. If things don’t pick up soon, I’m afraid this will be a DNF story.

    Fortunately, I have about an infinity+ number of other books in my TBR pile to choose from.

  32. I have been doing a Ngaio Marsh reread binge too. I read them when I was several decades younger and it is clear that I missed a lot of the sex references .
    I’m bothered by the stereotypes of gay people and there is one incredibly inaccurate depiction of a drug addict.

    But all in all I’m enjoying them.

    I’m slowly working my way through the medieval church graffiti book. Apparently there were a number of stylized patterns that appear in churches all over England, such as seafaring ships depicted as if they were in dock (that is the full shape of the hulls are visible). So far the author cannot explain what any of them meant .

    1. We’re on the far side of fifty years of relentless education on LGBTQ issues that Marsh didn’t have and from a society where being gay was criminal. I spent the day today with a young man who came out to his family when he was eight, and who was then sent to an endless series of “Christian” camps and other supervised activities until he was eighteen and left home. He’s in his thirties now. So Marsh and others didn’t have, or publishers wouldn’t publish, gay characters that WEREN’T stereotypes.

  33. De-lurking to say that I am really enjoying Stella Riley’s Rockliffe series. I’m having to pace myself though with them to make it last longer. I can’t remember who recommended them. Has anyone read her other books and are they as good?

    Also, I just finished ‘Just Last Night’ by Mhairi McFarlane. Found Eve very annoying for the first couple of chapters but then got hooked and loved it. All the Notts bits were an added benefit as an Australian living in Nottingham.

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