This is a Good Book Thursday, September 30, 2021

It has just occurred to me that I have slowly been easing over into the dark side of fiction. Okay, not exactly dark maybe, but definitely supernatural. I just re-read most of the Rivers of London series, I have the sequel to A Deadly Education on deck, and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival in mid-October of the next Time Police novel. This may explain how I ended up writing The Devil in Nita Dodd.. I also have a lot of plain contemporary novels started, but even some of them have ghosts (good old Alice). Since we’re heading into October and Halloween territory tomorrow, this may just be the universe sending me a sign.

So what have you been reading?

157 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 30, 2021

  1. Man, how I would LOVE to see some Alice and Nadine out in the world. I need a fictional lepidopterist that gets annoyed at all the dead butterfly images everywhere.

    I’m currently reading The Priestess and the Dragon by Nicolette Andrews. So far neither MC has done enough to make me care much about them so I’m taking my time and using it to do other things.

  2. As this is my first week back at work, I haven’t had much time to read so I am still with Inda. I am on the last volume and I am still so very curious to know how it all ends. Good stuff.

  3. I am a little embarrassed to recommend this one, which hasn’t happened for a while. Mostly I think that it’s because of the cover art, which seems to promise very sexy and dirty, which it really isn’t. So bear with me.

    I stumbled across Morning Glory Milking Farm by C.M. Nacosta. It’s a contemporary romance between a human woman and a minotaur. He is a business man and she is trying to make ends meet after finishing graduate school by taking a somewhat questionable job at a farm. And it’s really sweet. So far it’s a simple romance, with a possible Big Misunderstanding diffused in a chapter. There is a lot of sexiness, mostly in the main character’s head. I am at the 65 percent mark and we haven’t had full on sex yet. Somewhere it is billed as sweet monster romance? Anyway, I really enjoy the writing and the characters.

    Other than that, C. S. Pacat’s new book, Dark Rise, came out this week. I opened it, but haven’t committed to it yet because I am a little afraid it will rip my heart out and/or end somewhat cliffhanger esque. It’s the first in a ya m/m fantasy trilogy. I lover her Captive Prince trilogy, just hesitant to take the plunge just yet on the new one.

      1. Almost finished and I am really happy with it. Just two intelligent people, trying to communicate and learn about each other. Explicit sex, but it’s not gratuitous in my opinion. I am definitely looking up her other work. And it’s a really sweet romance. The hero is very careful and dear.

        1. A Minotaur had better be careful. I always felt sorry for him. It seems odd that “love children” in stories are mis-made. I suppose it’s to underscore the tragedy of unchecked passion and rule breaking.

  4. I’m reading Cheryl Reavis’s THE PRISONER. She’s added to it and it’s been a long time since I read it the first time. It’s not a good time for me to read about dark places, but I can’t look away from the story or Cheryl’s writing.

  5. Both Naomi Novak’s The Last Graduate AND C.S. Pacat’s Dark Rise landed in my Kindle on the same day this week, which was a double whammy that took my breath away. I promptly had to read something else entirely just to clear my mind. I often don’t want to start a long anticipated book because then I know at some point it will be over! Which is ridiculous I know. Anyway, I started The Last Graduate and I’m slowly savouring every word. And like Lupe above, I am a huge fan of Pacat’s Captive Prince series and am nervous about starting a new series with her and then having agonizedly wait for the next one. I wish books got released like Netflix seasons and I could binge them all at once.

    1. Omg, me too! I stumbled across Pacat by accident, read the first one in one sitting, went back to the bookstore the next day, read it in one sitting, went out for the third … It wasn’t out yet. Almost expired on the spot.

      1. Luckily, I didn’t start that series until she’d written all three. Although I became so obsessed with it that I had to stop half way through reading the third one because I was so terrified about the ending. I couldn’t bear to read it a bad ending on this one. I was so anxious I actually did something I NEVER do – I read the ending before finishing the book.

    2. I keep putting off The Last Graduate because I’m afraid it won’t measure up. I have unreal expectations of that book. I have one more Rivers of London re-read–I’m reading them out of order which is an odd but interesting experience–and of course the comics which I’ll probably skip, but at some point this weekend, I’m sitting down with a lot of chocolate and and going back to high school with monsters.

      1. Can’t wait to hear what you think. Can’t wait to hear what I think either but yours will be more interesting.

      2. I’m not a big fan of graphic novels (they’re usually too short for my money). But I like Aaronovitch and Andrew (The Vinyl Detective) Cartmel’s writing so I gave the Rivers graphics a shot. They were defininitely worth reading; not just illustrated versions of old stories, but actual new stories.

        1. I think I had the same reaction that I have to movies from books I love: THAT’S NOT THE WAY THEY LOOK.
          I’m very shallow.

  6. I haven’t been able to get lost in anything: samples don’t lure me and rereads are slightly annoying. But I’m rereading ‘Trade Me’ by Courtney Milan, and definitely enjoying it.

  7. I loved Richard Osman’s “The Thursday Murder Club” — he writes fully realized “old people.” So I’ve been waiting for the second in the series, “The Man Who Died Twice.” I’m halfway through, and am enjoying it immensely; have laughed out loud at several points, despite the fact that it’s a mystery with several murders at its core. But as one of the characters explains to her diary, the dead bodies will still be there in the morning, and you can’t permit them to interfere with enjoying your pizza.

  8. I’ve been a bit fuzzy-headed lately and haven’t read anything new. I want to send good vibes to Gin in advance of her by-pass surgery tomorrow. I hope it brings her life all sorts of improvements. I’m having far more minor surgery tomorrow in eliminating a bunion and straightening some hammertoes. I think I have the important preparations covered.

    But I would love advice on books you would give at Christmas. I’d like to buy ahead this year. Last week I ordered The Antiquarian Sticker Book after Jenny’s glowing review. I’ve had trouble finding good books that recipients enjoy. The successes have been Guards! Guards!, Miss Buncle’s Book, and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. The failures have been Lois McMaster Bujold novels.

    What books do you recommend giving? Thanks very much in advance for your help!

      1. Quick note to say again how grateful I am for the vibes. All went well yesterday, I’m up and alert, still in ICU, should go to regular cardiac recovery later today.

    1. Good luck Gin and Elizabeth. Gary was also worried about his daughter yesterday so I hope she is ok. Sending everyone healthy thoughts!

      1. Time to direct your healing powers to Gin and Gary’s daughter’s surgeries.

        Your kind thoughts helped me enormously. I’m home and ready to start a new life — after almost 3 decades I no longer have a weird bunion on my foot. Woohoo!

        And the initial meds haven’t worn off yet. Carpe this moment!

    2. Good luck with your procedure!

      I give any book I love, trying to tailor it to the person. But I regularly pick up used copies of Jennifer Crusie to give away, along with Sarah Addison Allen.

      This year I am planning on gifting Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and small poetry books by Mary Oliver. I am not much of a one for poetry, but hers is so beautiful and uplifting. And short. She is good at brief poems. Bless her.

      1. Thank you, Lupe, Allanah, and Susan — I’ll think about which book fits different friends and family members! (And have the fun of reading Rest You Merry.)

        I’d forgotten that Deb Blake’s Little Book of Cat Magic was a big hit with my daughter. Lupe, tailoring a gift book to a person is difficult! I feel good when it works. I can picture several friends loving Bet Me. And Maybe This Time. And . . . .

        1. Sometimes tailoring the gift book to the person is TOO easy. I remember the time when a friend of mine and I gave each other the same book….

  9. Can’t recall if I mentioned it last week or not, but I read “My Calamity Jane” and it was a hoot. Three authors pick three historical characters and give them a happier ending and throw in some paranormal stuff (in this case, werewolves) and a lot of snark and authorial remarks and modern day quotes. I enjoyed it very much and am now on to “My Lady Jane,” which involves people turning randomly into animals and the husband character spends his days as a stallion. It’s very fun.

    1. I liked most of it more than the first one. I felt the ending was a requirement so there could be a third book.

  10. Read some new stuff, but nothing I would recommend. One historical was pretty good, but a number of times the characters used modern phrases that would NOT have been said in the period of the story. That kind of things really bugs me.

    I did re-read a Simon Brett mystery featuring Charles Paris, a semi-failed actor who ends up solving murders. Lightweight but satisfying, and I NEVER guess the villian.

  11. I am reading Beth O’Leary’s The Road Trip. I’m struggling against detesting the main guy’s crazy friend, but otherwise pretty much enjoying the book. However, next on my library pile is Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie, and I’m having a whole lot of trouble getting into it. I love the concept and the writing is fine, but the story line, if it’s there at the beginning, is opaque somehow. Does anybody have a key to getting into the hang of this book?

    Good luck surgically, everybody! I hope you have some comforting reading propped up and ready to go for your recovery period.

    1. With Ancillary Justice I would say just keep ploughing on. The plot is Very Complicated and even when I re-read it (which I do regularly) I know I miss things.

    2. My partner began Ancillary Justice three times and DNF. Then for some reason we discussed it and I told her, no, look, it’s excellent, you just need to keep going; which doesn’t on the face of it seem very helpful advice, but she did exactly that and this time it caught her and she roared through the final two thirds. I remember I had to push myself through the initial… four chapters maybe? Before I got interested enough in one of the two alternating timelines to have a reason to keep going with the other one, and then it became compelling as well, and that was a wonderful feeling, because now a book I’d been frustratedly fascinated by was 100% rewarding, and there was more than half of it still left.

          1. Full disclosure: I was reading AJ for review, & freelance review work was a large part of how I made my living at the time. So, strong motive to push through things. I might never have got into it properly otherwise. All her books present very still surfaces, and more or less dare you to notice that there’s a lot going on under them. It’s not a writing strategy that’s kept on serving her well, I don’t think — my sense is that the success of AJ has pushed her into publishing things that don’t actually have that much deep thought under the hood.

            But my goodness, the central characters of AJ are interesting, and in ways I haven’t met elsewhere. I’m guessing she put years of accumulated ideas into them. The back jacket copy of my edition says “Breq is both more than she seems and less than she was”. Close to uniquely accurate in my experience of jacket copy. Breq remains one of my favourite characters in this century’s SF.

            I’ll wait nervously to hear whether you found it worth testing these assertions!

        1. For me, the character of Bret was so fascinating from the beginning that I kept treading water through the drowning-in-world-building plot-complexity early parts until I caught the wave? got swallowed up? where is this metaphor going anyway?

        2. I come a bit late to the party but I thought I’d add my grain of salt.

          I read « Ancillary Justice » and I can’t remember much about it. That’s my rule of thumb, if I can’t remember much about it then I probably didn’t like it.

          I have a much more vivid memory of books which I put in the same category somehow : « A Memory called Empire » or « The Goblin Emperor ».

          I knew while reading them that I enjoyed them. I don’t remember getting that feeling of enjoyment from « Ancillary Justice ». It felt more like a slog.

          I can’t not finish a book so I finished it and I have some glimpses of scenes in my memory of scenes I remember but I know I don’t want to reread it.

      1. Oh dear. I bought this one but haven’t read it yet. Am not feeling very motivated to now…

      1. In grad school an Irish Lit professor told us to get hooked on Ulysses by sitting in the university pub with a glass of wine and the novel. Worked for me. (He may have said a pint of beer, but I don’t drink beer. And I believe in substitutions.)

        I think he paired whiskey with Finnegan’s Wake.

        1. This advice reminds me of the best paper I wrote in college, about Kafka, while my temperature was 102. Delirium, however mild, is quite helpful in sounding authoritative on Kafka.

    3. There’s a certain amount of similarity between Breq and Murderbot (both love human entertainment and get very…definite about the humans they’re attached to).

      I listened to the audiobook which might have given me an edge because I wasn’t having to wade through trying to make sense of the names etc.

      The later books feature entire subplots involving goldfish and tea-sets and I love them to bits.

          1. I know right! Can’t touch the stuff, have a partner and a daughter who get together to discuss blends and taste subtleties, and it takes the Radch’s tea culture to give me SOME vague sense of why.

      1. I read and enjoyed all three books and was also struck by the similarity between Breq and Murderbot. Now that I have read Network Effect, I will have to reread the Ancillary books to explore the difference between Murderbot’s feelings about his clone and how Breq perceives his clones. Although it is difficult to do any comparisons because Murderbot is so much more accessible.

        1. Yes. It’s been the similarity between the two series that I’ve seen mentioned several times in reviews that led me to pick up AJ. And why I’ve been so frustrated at not being able to get into it. I’m going to follow the lemming (so to speak) and try again, more assiduously, to finish it. Fingers crossed. 🙂

    4. I found the world of the Raatch so very, very depressing. I read all three books and it stayed with me what miserable, curtailed lives all these people lead. And it just went on like that, for thousands of years. The books show a little movement, but they don’t really afford much hope.

    5. I think I started with one of the middle books, liked the characters enough to continue even if I was confused by what was happening, and then went back and started at the beginning of the series. That’s how I got hooked; don’t know if starting in the middle would work for other people. But sometimes one likes characters and worldbuilding enough to ignore the plot, lol!

  12. I’m re-reading The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrow and loving it (again). Next I’m going to re-re-re-re-re-re-read Wild Ride because I read it every October.

    1. Oh, YAY, somebody likes Wild Ride.
      I should have given Oliver a much bigger role there. I got all caught up in the demons. Sigh.

      1. Are you kidding?? I LOVE Wild Ride so much I have the hard cover and the audiobook that was so well done!

      2. Oliver is great. I reread Wild Ride last week. I like the fact that I’m still learning about Oliver — Joe Oliver, that is — as the book concludes because the story isn’t concluding at all. And I love all the mother figures that exist — Mab (nice Irish goddess reference there) has to open herself and her life to new stuff as she accepts that her mom was just one type of many. (And that there was more to her mom’s insanity than Mab thought.) And that she can’t stay in her shell anymore.

      3. I once gave Wild Ride to my SF loving brother to read. His only comment on it was “She’s a much better writer than he is.”

  13. I have almost completed a Miss Marple re-read, mostly with great pleasure, but was At Bertram’s Hotel this boring years ago? I know I enjoyed it for the atmosphere and the Marple-ness but this time I remember every single detail of the plot (which does not ruin the pleasure of most re-reads for me.)

    Thanks to Gary J. I am reading The Alexander Inheritance, and I’m not going very fast because it is so much work! I have realized that the reason I don’t read in the Ring of Fire universe very often is that they’re impossible to read at bedtime because they all push the contingency-plan part of my brain into overdrive, as well as having me scraping the back corners of my memory for all my history and technical knowledge, such as it is. I’m enjoying it, but I doubt I’ll have finished it by next Thursday.

    1. I really liked At Bertram’s Hotel, but there are others of Christie’s that I can’t re-read.
      Since it’s October, Halloween Party (?) is good.

      1. I really liked Bertram’s, too, over the past forty years or so, but this time through it just struck me as predictable.
        I think the one I want to read next is the one with the thallium poisoning. Pale Horse?

        1. I know there is a Marsh with thallium poisoning because I just reread it. Final Curtain.

  14. I read Well Played, Jen DeLuca’s second contemporary romance set at a Renaissance Fair. They’re definitely books I read more for the world then the plot—her style of writing involves more summarizing than I typically like—but I love the world she’s created SO MUCH. It reminds me of theater romances I like, but gentler and with a pretty forest. And points to her for having characters with more ordinary professions (high school teachers, dentist receptionists, web designers, etc.). I enjoyed her first book in the series (Well Met) but the Big Break-Up moment made me want to smack both the leads. I definitely liked Well Played better, and will probably re-read it at some point.

    1. I agree with you on the world building, and the smacking on the head. I was really mad when she did it not once, but twice, in the second book. With the same drama/misunderstanding. Why?!? Glad you enjoyed it. I probably won’t read her again because of the manufactured drama, but I really do love revisiting the renne faire in any form.

      1. Yeah, I could forgive it in the second book because it wasn’t a misunderstanding, it was a choice he made to lie to her because he thought the truth meant she wouldn’t give him a chance, and then the lie blew up in his face. Which is objectively dumb, especially because she did give him a second and third chance. But it made sense given that his big character flaw is assuming women won’t give him a second chance if he fucks up. But I can definitely see where the plot would annoy readers with low tolerance for lying/keeping secrets.

        1. I gave him the first one. I get his motivations. But the second one rubbed me wrong. He had the chances, she gave him openings… Grrr. Personally, I wouldn’t have given him #3. But I am old and grumpy now. If anything ever happens to my partner, I think that I would just live out the rest of my life with my cats.

        2. I reread, after many years, an angst-fuelled romance where he confesses, in an off-hand way, that oh, yes, he lied to her to coerce her into marrying him. I don’t know whether it’s my own outlook, but I have been thinking that she should have responded by telling him, very politely, that he should regard himself as free to lie to her any time he chooses and to make it retroactive; not to give lying another thought.

  15. I did finish The Last Graduate, and I liked it quite as much as the first one, despite a rather odd twist.

    I also read No Escape by Julie Moffett, her latest Lexi Carmichael mystery. If you have read any of the Lexi Carmichael books they’re a lot of fun. Lexi is tall, clumsy and socially awkward, with a number of phobias, much to the disappointment of her former debutante beauty queen mother, but she’s really good at math and computers, and she may work for the NSA, she can neither confirm nor deny that. The first book is No One Lives Twice.

  16. I ploughed on through the THE SISTERS GRIMM-series by Michael Buckley that I started Thursday 2 weeks ago and have arrived at the ninth and last book: THE COUNCIL OF MIRRORS. I’ve really enjoyed this reread and am happy to feel I did right when I Goodreads-shelved these books as Comfort Reading and Favourites. The only thing that still really bugs me is that one of the characters is named Harry in one book, suddenly becomes a Max in the next and later on is referred to as Harry again. It’s such a weird inconsistency. Ah well, I’ve enjoyed the ride and still have 65 % left of the last book.
    Not sure what to read next. One of my loooong-time go-toes for comfort has been tarnished by people around me, which makes me anxious, especially since I think it would’ve helped me to read it. But I am not sure if I can. Dare to.

    Do I understand it correctly that normal html-code with work here, and that is what you use for italics, bold etc? So if I write a book title like WILD RIDE, it becomes italic?

  17. I just read something that struck me funny on my town’s Facebook page. A writer wanted to know do we really need Halloween anymore as she has been wearing a face mask and eating candy for fourteen months.

    1. Always. Always always always. Halloween is the best holiday because everyone can participate, no matter what economic bracket they belong to. A little face paint and a grocery bag and you are good. Also, it’s the only holiday where we open up our home and feed strangers without expecting anything in return. So much more Christian than Christmas, when you think about it.

        1. Absolutely. I was more referring to the way Christian groups refuse to celebrate Halloween as devil worship, etc, in my area. Don’t get me started. It drives me nuts.

          1. Looking at All Saints’ Eve celebrations in Poland, there seemed to me to be more similarities than differences with Hallowe’en. Okay, no bags of candy. But gazillions of votive candles and flowers adorned street corners, as well as notes and decorations. The close proximity of living and dead really came through. Also, no kiddie, Disney/Hallmark flavor — this was an adult, but not exactly somber, celebration. And the remains were still there the next day which actually made it more real to me.

  18. I spent yesterday with enough of a newly-vaccinated headache that I could justify not working, but not enough of one to stop me reading. So I’ve finished The Last Graduate. I love it to pieces. If possible even more than A Deadly Education, because it pays off that book’s expectations overdraft so effectively. Jenny, if you want to start a spoiler thread for it once more of us have finished it, I’ll be there as soon as time zone incompatibilities permit.

    Also read since I last posted — I was in a car driving up-country this time last week — Georgette Heyer’s Venetia. First reading. The title character & her love interest are two of my absolute favourite Heyer creations. (I’ve been reading her at a rate of one book per Christmas for several years now, a pattern I had to break for this book for reasons of relationship harmony, so my comparison base is actually quite small; but I’ve been picking from the top of the best-Heyer lists). The book itself I like slightly less. She puts so many excellent possibilities in play, and then ignores most of them to wrap things up quickly. Perfectly satisfying ending on its own terms, but there was easily scope for 25% more novel if all the characters had been given their due. (I particularly wanted the brother’s splendidly ghastly mother-in-law to reappear).

    I finished Jane Smiley’s Dickens biography and immediately started Our Mutual Friend, which if I finish it will not be a speedy read. I’m highly Dickens-resistant normally, but I have so much fascination with him right now I may push on with this one. It certainly opens well. I’ve also started rereading Smiley’s A Year at the Races — her NF horse book — because I’m not reading to be done with Smiley NF.

    And I’ve started rereading Charles Stross’s Dark State, the latest-but-one of his long-running Merchant Prince series, so I can read the new one with a fresh memory of what the hell is going on. He’s exceptionally smart and well informed — I always learn things reading him — but he’s also pretty cynical and reliably steers towards the darker possibilities in his stories, while tending to spin things out at a two-major-revelations-per-novel pace. So very much someone I get to after I finish my first choice reading.

    1. There was a good BBC adaptation of Out Mutual Friend twenty years ago – by which I mean it was an excellent series; I haven’t read the book, so don’t know how close it is to the original.

    2. *not READY to be done with Smiley NF. Is what I meant to write. I am, in the sense of meaning to read all of it, definitely reading to be done with it. Much as I wish she’d write more.

    3. I have to say I enjoy Stross’ blog more than his novels, as it is my favorite blog after this one. But the commentariat is impossible to keep up with, with comments reaching into the thousands.

      1. Leaflemming, What does the NF after Jane Smiley mean? I like her writing. I’ve read MOO, Horse Heaven, Perestroika in Paris, and the Icelandic Sagas (she wrote the introduction). For what it’s worth, I like Dickens a lot, too, but haven’t reread any of his books in many years.

    4. I REALLY wanted to see the brother come home and turf the mother-in-law out. I needed that catharsis, such an awful woman, and yet so real.

      1. He would have made his wife get rid of her mother – he was such a waste of good oxygen.

        1. He would! And I wanted to see it done in a way that let his poor wife get some measure of insight into him, or herself, or SOMETHING. Also I wanted to see all the servants let out from the mother’s thumb. The book just throws them into this presumably temporary hellscape and wanders off. I wasn’t at all confident half of them wouldn’t resign. From their good jobs! Working for people they cared about! Heyer can get a little too on board with the whole “servants are wallpaper” mindset of her less admirable characters.

  19. In the past week, I had a couple of delightful re-reads. The two new books didn’t fare so well. Michelle Diener’s The Rising Wave was okay. It was a short novella, a standard fantasy love-adventure story with a sorceress female and a warrior male. Not a perfection by a long shot but a satisfactory escape from the real life toils.
    Lisa Kleypas’s latest book Devil in Disguise was a DNF. I have a complicated relationship with this writer. Many of her books I admire and reread periodically. Others – I DNF. This book belongs to the second category. Too much lust and sex; not enough plot.

    1. I DNFed it too, but for different reasons. I will probably come back to it later. I just got to the warehouse fire, and thought, nope. I want gentle, not drama.

      I really like Love in the Afternoon for that reason. The letter writing in the beginning is lovely, and afterwards it’s mostly figuring out the relationship. No mysterious death threats.

        1. I really like Leo’s book too. And the wallflowers, for the most part. Especially the Christmas one. I usually enjoy her latest stuff as well… Maybe this one just didn’t quite gel. Maybe it makes me a bad feminist, but it just doesn’t feel right when historical fiction has too many characters with progressive opinions. I guess I am there for the struggle with convention? Otherwise I would read contemporary romance…

          1. It does not make you a bad feminist. Feminist criticism does not require that all female characters be feminist, it just asks that all female characters be fully developed in themselves and not just there to be the Girl for a male narrative. A lot of the historical romance I’ve read feels anachronistic in the female characterization. I grew up in a small conservative town and it took me years (and a degree in feminist criticism) to look around and say, “Wait a minute . . .” A young protagonist who has feminist parents (say Heyer’s Quiet Gentleman) I will buy, but a young woman who’s been strictly raised? Nope.

          2. Well, if you’re talking about historical romance novels, it’s not like the concept of people marrying nobility after a bunch of hijinks is generally all that realistic either. I tend not to read historicals because I can’t tolerate the sexist, racist, homophobic, classist stuff baked into most historical societies, and therefore almost necessarily baked into historical novels. So the “historicals” I would most enjoy are more modern in attitude (not that modern society is perfect, mind you, but it’s at least slightly better). Which is to say your point is perfectly valid, but I would guess everyone’s mileage and tolerance varies.

          3. Also, to Jenny’s point, it’s also generally. But at least one or two of those young women who’ve been strictly raised must be muttering rebelliously under their breath. SOMEone has to be the first to start the revolution, otherwise nothing would ever change!

          4. The thing is, it’s really difficult to realize how batshit a social construct is if you’re immersed in it. It has to be pretty egregious for you to say, “Hold it, that’s WRONG.”

          5. Uggh, I was trying to say Jenny’s point was generally valid as well. Sorry. Anyway I’m ending my rambling now, lol! Please return to your regularly scheduled programming!

  20. At the moment I’m listening to Margery Allingham’s Mr. Campion mystery “The Estate of the Beckoning Lady,” which has one of the best parties in books, I think. I’ve always wished I could have gone to that party, outside on a midsummer evening in a garden by a small river.
    I listened to The Goblin Emperor again, I just enjoy him so much.

    1. That is an incredible house party. And it goes on for days. And Albert is there with Amanda. So good.

  21. tl;dr

    I must explain Baen Books monthly bundles. A bundle contains 6 or 7 specific books in the publishing queu, for USD18.00. Currently queued are the April 2022 books back to October 2021. You can, of course, purchase individual books instead of bundles, especially since some months contain no books in which I’m interested. I, for whatever reason, bought October, November, and December.

    Buying the bundles has a mild advantage. Unlike a pre-order, you actually get something. You can read part of the eARC for the book, the less-than-perfectly-edited book. Unless the book is being re-released as lower form. Hardbacks as Trade Paperbacks or Mass-Market Paperbacks, in which case it is available in its entirety.

    The (3) new books in the October bundle are “Partial (3/4 Ebook now; full Ebook available 10/05/21)”. For the November bundle, “Partial (3/4 Ebook now; full Ebook available 11/02/21)”, for December, “Partial (1/2 Ebook now; full Ebook available 12/07/21)”. I haven’t bought January 2022 bundle which says, “Forthcoming (1/2 Ebook available 10/15/21; full Ebook available 01/04/22)”.

    Why did I explain all that? I was reading 1637: The Coast of Chaos by Flint/Goodlett/Huff, which is 1/2 available. What that meant was:

    1637: The Coast of Chaos

    Table of Contents

    Preface by Eric Flint
    The Coast of Chaos by Eric Flint, Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett
    The Brothers by Walter H. Hunt
    The People from the Sky by Eric S. Brown and Robert E. Waters
    Remember Plymouth by Bjorn Hasseler
    I Will Walk This Path Again by John Deakins
    The First Conductor by Michael Lockwood
    Confederation by Bjorn Hasseler
    A Wide Latitude by Eric Flint
    Afterword by Rick Boatright

    The only part available was the front matter and the novelette, “The Coast of Chaos,” eight chapters long. I enjoyed the story, as I expected to, given the authors. I look forward to the rest of the book.

    I’m rereading The Alexander Inheritance, and like Maryanne in Kentucky, all the referencing I do to wiki and other sources, even though it’s my reread, slows me down. There are two sequels. 🙂

    I’m sure I read something else, but I’m preoccupied worrying for the dotter. Thanks for vibes and thoughts and prayers. Something must have worked – she’s not crying today. Also, thank God for the boyfriend – he picked her up where she parked off the road and got her to Patient First.

  22. Currently loving the new Osman. I got it as an audio so I can make my knitting deadline and have a layette set done before the baby shower. The narrator is very good. The book is fabulous, you really feel like these are people you might know if your life was more interesting. The internal dialogues often seem like they could have been pulled from my own head.

    And yes, I am also eagerly awaiting the new Jodi Taylor.

  23. Finished A Hearth in Candlewood by Delia Parr. My sister sent it to me. It’s felt like a women’s fiction written in another century. Very Interesting.
    Starting Jude Deveraux’s Meant to be.

    Today my novel Lord Byron’s Daughter tied for second place in the Hearts Through History Contest.
    And then I came in second in a Geico Commercial. I am the COVID Alternate.

    Today I also had a great game of Peek-a-Boo with my 21-month-old grandson. Now I am off to the gym. Happy weekend, everyone.

  24. I finished Suzanne Palmer’s “The Scavenger Door” which is the 3’rd installment in the Finder Chronicles. This trilogy (so far) is about the trials and tribulations of Fergus Ferguson who is a Finder. That is, he finds – for money, or friendship, – things that are lost or stolen and he retrieves them for the original owners.

    They’re a nice blend of mystery and action. They’re set in a Star Trek/Star Wars kind of universe with mysterious aliens and humans. The 1st 2 books in the series deal mostly with humans, the third has more aliens in it. I really like them, they keep me up at night, racing to finish them before I have to go to sleep.

    Fergus is really competent at his job and good at making plans. The universe, however, likes to mess with him in a big way. For instance, in the last book, Fergus finds a significant fragment of an alien device which just happened to land near his brother’s house. Since some major players are also interested in these alien fragments, chaos ensues.

    I’m still processing how the book ended. I don’t know if I liked it or not. It was weird. The rest was good, though.

  25. I was cleaning up “not completed books” on the ereader where I found I “apparently” had not finished Crazy About You. “No, I said, “I know I finished that book.” Bet Me, first chapter was at the end of the book. So now, I am engrossed in reading Bet Me again. Haven’t read for awhile. Downloaded a couple of historicals from BookPub. Will see if they catch my attention. If not, will skim through. Just what authors want to hear: readers skimming their book.

    Think I will re-read Maybe This Time in October.

  26. I didn’t get a chance to post about my reading from last week, because we were at the beach. As it turns out, I’ve read practically nothing this week due to my mother’s death last Saturday. My dad is in his 90s and while he’s mentally and physically still with it, he has slowed down considerably. So I’ve been trying to help him as much as possible and that keeps me busy.

    But here are the few books I read at the beach:

    While We Were Dating, by Jasmine Guillory. I have liked or loved all of her books, and this one is near the top my list. An L.A. movie star meets a San Francisco ad man when she is hired to act in his commercials. These two confront past anxieties, family issues, geographic incompatibility, and work issues while falling for each other. Guillory even manages to give what seems like a realistic view of life for a non-skinny, Black actress in Hollywood. But this book doesn’t feel crowded, since the relationship and their internal changes happen slowly and believably.

    The Legacy, by Elle Kennedy. This is the fifth and final book in her Off-Campus series. Okay, I’ve complained before about final books in a series where everyone from past books appears. In this case, that’s the plot: each of the previous four couples essentially gets their own now-we’re-grownups short story with some continuity between the stories. Kind of like four epilogues to the earlier books, and it really worked for me. But if you haven’t read The Deal, The Mistake, The Score and The Goal, this isn’t the place to start.

    Ghost Talkers, by Mary Robinette Kowal. I was expecting a romance, but it’s actually a ghost/mystery story set during WWI. The heroine is part of a military-intelligence group that communicates with ghosts of British soldiers immediately after their deaths, trying to get enemy positions and other info, which is then relayed back to the battlefields. There was some fascinating world-building here, and an interesting plot. But don’t expect romance.

    Battle Royal, by Lucy Parker. Another story that includes a Great British Baking Show-type competition. I read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake not long ago, and was worried that this would be more of the same. But my faith in Lucy Parker is justified. The relationship between the H/h is quite different than in Rosaline Palmer: they are judges and bakery owners instead of contestants. The plot revolves around their competition to win a royal wedding cake contract. The royal connection is handled well, and there are some good subplots. Neither Sylvie nor Dominic is exactly what they seem on the surface, and watching them get to know each other was a joy.

    Aurora Rising, by Jessie Mihalik. Sequel to Polaris Rising, this is another race-around-in-space-ships-and-rescue-people-from-other-planets-while-falling-in-love book. I happen to like that kind of plot, especially when it’s at least competently executed. Throw in some creative sci-fi technology and I’m happy. YMMV.

    1. What Deborah said. When we lose someone in that age group — my mother died in 2018 at 95, and my grandmother in 1985 at 100 — it’s a whole era that’s gone, as well as the person. I hope you have many happy memories.

    2. I liked all eight of the Elle Kennedy books; she managed to do a series without making any of the characters seem like variations of each other. I’m iffy on The Legacy. It feels like a very expensive set of epilogues so . . .

    3. Very sorry to hear your Mom’s passing. Loosing mom is a hard one. Honking of you and your dad.

      1. Sorry, somehow auto correct or evil imps changed the word: thinking of you and your dad.

    4. I’m so sorry to hear you lost your mother. It’s so hard to lose someone who has been an important part of your life for so many years and has shared so many experiences. May the memories of those times bring you comfort.

  27. I discovered a new to me author. Not sure how I stumbled across the book, since I ended up ordering in from the library on interlibrary loan, but I absolutely loved St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Annie England Noblin. I probably read it faster than anything I’ve read in ages, and promptly ordered her other four books from the library. It’s got humor and romance and animals and unexpected twists. Absolutely lovely.

  28. Ten new full-length novels and two short stories (‘Bookwyrm’ by K.L. Noone in which a neighborhood witch makes the acquaintance of the town’s new librarian, who happens to be a dragon shifter. It’s very sweet, an ideal bedtime story. Also read her M/F story ‘Sorceress’ which was a perfect lead-in to a re-read of ‘Magician’).

    Brand-new good books by auto-buy authors: ‘On Board’ by Jay Hogan and ‘Always Eli’ by Charlie Novak. I liked both but the Novak edges out the Hogan this time; it’s about a well-educated drag queen whose new day job in an estate agency comes with his older brother’s BFF, a mortgage broker (English equivalent). Well-developed relationship, good friends, lots of respect, and two very engaging characters.

    ‘How Sweet It Is’ by Dylan Newton, M/F contemporary, lost me with a howl of outrage when the demonstrably smart, savvy, and well-organized event planner leaves her new lover’s top-secret chapters on a cafe table, from whence they are promptly stolen and published on the web. This was at the 85% mark; I read through to the end only because I’d already invested so much time. There was plenty of conflict already, that particular unbelievable stupidity was unnecessary.

    ‘Love Lettering’ by Kate Clayborn, on the other hand, was a wholly satisfactory M/F romance. The progress of the relationship was lovely. Things Going Wrong were handled intelligently, and best of all those things were not really anybody’s fault. The hero groveled a bit more than I thought he needed to (about his big secret, which was necessarily a secret), but he’s a guy who’s used to people assuming the worst.

    New discovery this week was Chase Taylor Hackett, whose two NYC-set M/M romances I absolutely devoured. ‘Where Do I Start?’ is less funny; it’s a second-chance story featuring a rake’s reform (in histrom terms); I was extremely invested in the outcome. The second book I actually read first, ‘And The Next Thing You Know …’ which is a haters-to-lovers story in which the MCs read each other to filth. I laughed out loud repeatedly, which is rare.

    Also notable in M/M, ‘The Apothecary’s Garden’ by Julie Bozza, featuring a generational age gap; and ‘Charles’ by Con Riley, about a severely dyslexic party boy who meets a religious education counselor at a nontraditional school; the party boy actually wants a career in early-childhood education. There’s a lot of really interesting stuff about teaching in this one, also about various kinds of recovery.

    The other things were an M/M contemporary that badly needed an editor, and one of Aaron Elkins’ art-history mysteries, ‘A Glancing Light.’

    1. On your recommendation last week I read Con Riley’s Be My Best Man and thought it was lovely so will have to try the one above you’re recommending.

  29. Serious reading this week: A CASTLE IN WARTIME, by Catherine Bailey, an intense account of the end of the war, with the grandchildren of one of the Hitler assassination plotters, Ulrich von Hassell, were taken from their mother and “disappeared” to a hidden orphanage with other children similarly situated. Their mother was arrested and sent here and there, to quarters adjacent to various concentration camps, with family members of other plotters. After the war, the hunt for the children began in earnest.

    THE LIGHT AGES: The Surprising Story of Medieval Science, by Seb Falk, is also serious, but not dark — sorry about the pun — but a very interesting account of the real science as it was practiced in the middle ages, by real people. This is specifically not stuff about magical transmutation from base metals to gold, but rather how astronomy was used by everyday folks and the international scientific advances surprisingly like today’s. Great read.

    Looking for a Halloween cookbook that isn’t solely about sweets. Most of the alternatives show spooky ways to serve pizza . . . .

    Coming later this evening: ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, by Trisha Ashley. I do enjoy her sense of humor! Will have to discipline myself not to stay up all night.

    1. Also learned this afternoon that a new edition of THE HISTORY OF RICHARD THE THIRD, by “George Buck and Arthur Noel Kincaid.” Buck is actually two people, one, 1560 – 1622, the great-grandson of John Buck, who died at Bosworth Field supporting King Richard. George left a rough-draft manuscript history of Richard III at his death, which was polished and published as his own work by THE OTHER George Buck, great-nephew of the first one, who recopied his great-uncle’s stuff and used it as if it were his own. Kincaid has disentangled the two and the new edition promises to be very informative . . . if I can find out when and where it will be released! Just thought any Ricardians around might be interested.

    2. One term I co-taught a Medieval lit class with a colleague’s science class. It was his idea — but he didn’t tell me ahead of time that he felt no scientific achievements occurred during the middle ages. Not an experience I’d repeat. (His assumption was that if someone doesn’t know she is creating a chemical reaction, it doesn’t count. My assumption is that if folks are mining and forging, changing dead animals into food and clothing and soap, and other things I couldn’t begin to figure out on my own, then it’s science.)

      Anyway, I’m looking forward to The Light Ages. Thanks.

      1. The author of THE LIGHT AGES, Seb Falk, is interviewed on the Gone Medieval podcast episode of September 27:

        Today’s is Richard III, but not Kincaid or Annette Carson, instead it’s Matt Lewis. If he happens to know anything about the release date of the new edition of Buck, I’ll spread the word.

        1. One of the newer episodes of “you’re dead to me” (bbc sounds) was about Medieval Science with Seb Fald, host Greg Jenner and comedian Josie Long.
          Great show, perfect entertainment while doing mindless stuff like chores.

        2. Nope, the Matt Lewis Richard III podcast is his analysis of Richard’s character. Since he’s currently a major member of the Richard III Society . . . .

  30. I’ve being devouring Andrea K Host’s Stray series this week. So nice to have a character that was Australian – and I really enjoyed the world building.

    My copy of The Last Graduate is sitting waiting for me to devour. I was going to start it last night, then realised that I had to get up for the day job, so it was better that I wait until tonight to start it. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to it.

    As an aside, I’ve come across a “fireside chat” with Dr Jennifer Kloester about “Early 19th Century England, Jane Austen and the Brontes, ‘Bridgerton’ , the novels of Georgette Heyer – what is it about the Regency romance literary genre that has won so many hearts over so many decades? Join us for a fascinating chat with academic and Georgette Heyer biographer Dr Jennifer Kloester when we unpack the allure of parlor politics, society scandals, dashing heroes in riding breeches, and plucky headstrong heiresses in search of true love.”

    It’s Wed 6th Oct AEDT 5:30pm and AUD$10 for those that are interested.

    Link is:

  31. I’m reading a non-Albert Campion Margery Allingham, ‘No Love Lost’. It’s actually two novellas in one book, both with young women finding themselves at risk of being accused of murder. She is such a good writer – and it’s nice to see what she was doing when she wasn’t writing Albert.

    1. Some of her later novels have Campion coming in late and not very often. The Tiger in the Smoke is one that comes to mind; such a good book.

      1. The Tiger in the Smoke is utterly chilling. Absolutely wonderful book, and interesting to see Campion on the edge of things instead of in the middle.

        1. My favorite part is the way Campion panics when Amanda is trapped in the house with the killer. After umpteen books where he snarks his way through harrowing danger, she’s alone and in danger and he completely loses it. It’s right up there with Traitor’s Purse where he loses his memory and thinks she’s his wife, only to find out they’ve been engaged for years, and he thinks he must be an idiot that he hasn’t married her before that only to find out she’s dumping him. It’s all peripheral to the main plot, but I love that romance.

          The mystery is absolutely chilling. I think it’s her best book.

  32. I’ve dipped into the Vino et veritas series. Skimmed over one of them, enjoyed another one far more (Headstrong by Eden Finley), not finished yet.
    Have the new AJ Demas lined up, because, yay, I was selected for her ARC.

  33. First time commenting although I’ve been reading on and off for ages. I’ve been meaning to give Margery Allingham’s books a go, but I haven’t known quite where to start. Which ones would you all recommend as her best/the best to read first?

    I’ve just read To Be Taught If Fortunate by Becky Chambers. I love her work. She writes thoughtful, deeply humane science fiction which is a balm in these tricky times.

    1. The early Campions are possibly too melodramatic. It took her awhile to find her style: dry humor and fabulous characters. I’d start with The Fear Sign (which I think has an alternate title) and then go on from there. That may be because he meets Amanda in The Fear Sign (she’s seventeen, so he thinks of her as a kid, thank god). It’s probably the last of the melodramatic books and a lot of fun. Dancers in Mourning is the next one I think; good mystery and Campion falls for a married woman (the guy cannot catch a break). Then The Fashion in Shrouds where Amanda shows up again in her twenties and Campion notices, followed by Traitor’s Purse, more of a wartime thriller than a mystery, where he’s been faffing about on their engagement, so Amanda dumps him for a millionaire. Yes, I am Amanda-centric; my daughter’s middle name is Amanda because of Amanda Campion. After that, the books follow an arc for Campion’s personal life but each mystery stands alone and they’re marvelous. I think the very last of the series were written by Allingham’s husband after she died, and I’ve never gotten into those, but the rest are just very good mysteries.

      Oh, and welcome out of lurk.

      1. Thank you. And thank you so much for answering. I read the first Campion novel ages ago and didn’t much like it, but your enthusiastic recommendations make me want to give her another go.

        I’ve ordered The Fear Sign/Sweet Danger and look forward to meeting Amanda.

  34. I really enjoyed that article Dodo I started reading GH when I was fifteen and still enjoy them.

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