This is a Good Book Thursday, October 14, 2021

This week I read a cookbook on sandwiches without bread that had really good stuff in it. Also a lot of re-reads: Chase, Stout, Gilbert . . . yeah, I’m not seeing a pattern, either, except “good books I know won’t let me down.” That’s a lot. But I’ve just started the new Time Police book, Saving Time, and so far it’s great (Jane is still a delightful bad ass).

What did you read this week?

ETA: Just finished Saving Time and it was a lot of fun. Needs to focus more on Team Weird and stop bouncing from catastrophe to catastrophe in other character’s heads, but still good.

105 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 14, 2021

  1. Reread Strange Bedpersons. Love that book. I like that Tess and Nick already know each other. Second, I like that Bonnie (right name?) speaks right back to Tess (towards the end). I guess this is a story about how Tess provokes people into finding their own voices. Most of all I love the Lanny/Norbert Welsh bit. Where Tess is going at the end is great.

    1. Oh, thank you.
      I’ve always been unsure about that book.
      I’d offered Harlequin The Cinderella Deal, and they bought it, and then they said, Daisy shouldn’t be a painter and she shouldn’t have father issues and she needed a name change. I should have fought it, but I was a pretty new author at the time, and when I made those changes, of course the whole book changed. So I just rewrote it entirely because I still wanted The Cinderella Deal to be a book. (Bantam published it later.) Every now and then somebody will say, “You know The Cinderella Deal is a lot like Strange Bedpersons. Uh, yeah. Sorry about that.
      So I’m glad to know the rewrite works for you (g).

      1. That’s fascinating — they seem like completely different stories to me. Phin (? no, that’s WTT) and Nick aren’t at all alike. And Tess’s big mouth is more strident than other Crusie heroines’ I can think of. That’s why the balance of Tess forcing the others to speak out is with her own modulation of her voice. Daisy doesn’t have that issue at all — she expresses herself visually through painting and bringing life (home decorating, cooking) to everything around her. (I love the way Daisy attracts people, especially students.)

        1. I thought Linc and Nick were too much alike, focusing on their careers to the detriment of their lives. But yep, by the time I got done with the rewrite, SB was a different book. I think they just echo each other.

      2. Oh that’s so interesting! — and also, I love The Cinderella Deal & I haven’t read Strange Bedpersons yet, so I suspect this is very promising for me personally.

        1. Cool! When Leaflemming and Carol Mc and anyone else reads/rereads Strange Bedpersons, please comment on the differences/similarities between Linc and Nick. (Oops. Of course don’t do it if you don’t want to.)

      3. I just re-read Strange Bedpersons and I do see some similarities, but they are different enough to be separate stories.

        I just have to say, my absolute favorite part of the book, that makes me laugh out loud each time I read it again, is the part where Tess tells Park that she had just arranged a 5 year subscription to The National Enquirer to be sent to his mother!

        1. A girl in one of the classes I was teaching at Ohio State many years ago did that to get back at her mother; I stole the idea from her.

      4. Well, now I’m feeling better.
        The first book I sold to Harlequin, I was all, “What? You want to publish–in a book–some words I scribbled onto a legal pad? Well, heck, sure, I’ll rewrite the beginning and the ending. Oh wait, you want me to rewrite the middle too? Sure, no problem. Um… what part of the book is left that you wanted to buy?”
        The second book I sold to them, I did push back a little. The changes would have made for a horrible book. That semi-revised book did earn out quickly and won a couple of awards, but still. Now I wonder what will happen when I submit a third book.

  2. I read Dark Rise, CS Pacat’s new YA and I was disappointed. I loved her Captive Prince series so much that I expected great things of this book – not the same thing but something as good. She’s simplified her writing style – I suspect because it’s YA but that’s always a mistake, so condescending. And although there are some brilliant moments, the plot frequently gets bogged down in exposition, not to mention that it appears to be overly influenced by (I’ll stop short of saying derivative of) Lord of the Rings and Star Wars with a dash of the Narnia Chronicles tossed in. Again, disappointing because the Captive Prince had such a fresh feel to it. I’ll read the next one in the series but I won’t lust for it to come out.

    1. Well, that is disappointing. I will probably bump that down the tbr list for the present. Was it heart wrenching?

      1. My heart was definitely wrenched. I’d still read it if I were you, but with much lower expectations.

    1. I so agree @KateG. The only thing better than reading those two books by Richard Osman was listening to them. The narrator was excellent. I do wonder if he’ll write more in the series. I do hope so.

    2. Loved it, and I believe there will be a third, at least, but probably not until next year.

      As much as I loved the first, I thought this one was better. It seemed more tightly written or something.

  3. Graduate school is pressing down hard, so I went for some spooky stuff lately.

    The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling who is Rachel Hawkins—light witchy romance/comedy set in Georgia mountain college town. If you love the Practical Magic film, you’d like this.

    The Brightest Star in Paris by Diana Biller. Her previous book, The Widow of Rose Hill was more gothic with a delightful hero. This book leans into the melancholic with a ballerina at the Paris Opera house who is haunted by her past. The hero is the brother of the hero from the previous book so the Moore family is still very much involved. Amelie’s ghosts are channeled through trauma but still quite real for all that. Set in late 1870s.

    I gobbled up an ARC of Fated Blades by Ilona Andrews. They are returning to their Kinsman world after 10 years or so but this short novel works as a standalone. Sci-fi romance with two heads of warring houses forced to work together after simultaneous betrayal from within. All the inventive action, humor, and romance that IA is known for. I found the world building particularly impressive along with that gorgeous cover! Releases 11/23 and I’m writing my review shortly.

      1. Lupe, I know you post on IA’s blog so I’ll tell you that you’ll tear through Fated Blades too. I’ll put up my non-spoiler review on GR and some social media sites soon.

        1. I am so excited for it. Silver Shark is one of my comfort rereads, so I am so excited to return to the Kinsmen universe.

          Also, if you like Practical Magic, Garden Spells by Addison Allen has similar vibes, but without the dark/sad edge.

          1. Thank you so much for recommending Garden Spells. It was an absolute delight to read, she has such a luscious way with words.

  4. Spent a few days post-cataract procedure listening to Charlotte MacLeod’s Sarah Kelling and Max Bittersohn stories, these featuring her intrepid Aunt Emma. One involves amateur Gilbert & Sullivan theatrics and one takes place on a Maine island, with real and fake diamond necklaces and dressing for dinner, people dropping by in biplanes. Very fun.
    (The Plain Old Man, and The Gladstone Bag)

  5. My only new book this week was Weber’s To End in Fire. Weber is still Mr. Infodump, so it was a slog, but it got to an end. Not the end I’d hoped for, but Oh Well.

    Other than that, I’ve been playing with Mobipocket Creator (and Calibre) to turn stuff into bigger stuff. Like a year’s worth of webcomics into a Kindle picture book. (Or a Mobipocket Reader picture book. I like Reader at least as much as Kindle.) Or all eight Murderbot stories in a single file, in proper order. So much easier to read that way.

    The dotter decided that sleep (my sleep) is overrated and got me to follow her – at 8 AM – to the Firestone place to get the Routan inspected and possibly the passenger side window replaced. She made me stop at McD’s on the way home for a large Diet Coke. I’m going back to bed, now. G’night.

      1. Not at all hard. The first step was to create a batch file (an executable text file) to put the contents of a directory into a text file. I named that Hieronius.bat with a directory command and a pipe to a text file Fred.txt. If there are things in the picture directory other than the pictures, you need to edit those out of Fred.txt.

        Next… isn’t difficult but it depends on the software available on your system. You copy the contents of Fred.txt into either an Excel Spreadsheet or your text/html editor. Then you do some global replacement on the picture names…

        Okay, not hard, but not uncomplicated. I will do a blog entry sometime after midnight tonight (because I need to be at home) detailing every step. The software I use includes:

        Mobipocket Creator
        Mobipocket Reader
        NoteTab (I use Pro 6.252, but the free one works fine. I suppose you could use any text processor that had a save as html command.)
        Microsoft Excel (Not necessary, or a freeware version might work.)
        Internet Explorer (because I forgot how to tell NoteTab how to use other browsers)
        Paint, because sometimes I might like to edit or crop pictures.

        1. Part 1 and 2 of a tutorial are on my blog (click my name above), and anyone who follows it will have clean HTML files that display all the parts of the book (especially the pictures). Part 3 will discuss running the HTML through Mobi Creator, but with those source files, you could use Amazon’s Kindle software or other software to make .AZW or .EPUB ebooks. I have Creator, so I use Creator, and if I want another format, I use Calibre.

          Pronunciation, and how I am easily amused: I say cuh-LEE-bray, but I know it’s just caliber. I say tar-ZHAY, but I’m just shopping at Target. Like that sweetener – ass-PART-a-me instead of the actual ASS-per-tame. Had to share. 🙂

      2. I added a video of the final product to the end of Part 2. There’s a part 3, but it really isn’t needed by this point.

        1. Gary, that looks very interesting and useful. I’ve saved your webpages and will try them sometime.
          I have a Notepad++ editor, I think that might work as well as your editor. I’ll need to get the two Mobipocket programs first.

          1. I certainly think it’s useful. Besides webcomics, I’ve turned my old diet diary into an eBook, ditto the dotter’s wedding album (she’s divorced now and doesn’t want it, but there are the grandkinder). And it’s fun.

  6. I struggled my way through Hench last week. I don’t know if I went into it expecting something different or if it just isn’t my kind of book, or maybe a bit of both, but I didn’t much like any of the characters and I got bored 2/3 of the way through. There was a real enjoyment of cruelty in there that disturbed me. I have to keep reminding myself that “dark” in the description of a book/movie/TV show should make it a do-not-start for me.

    1. I gave up the struggle about a third of the way through because I didn’t like ANY of the characters. I can do dark some of the time, but not if I care nothing about anybody.

  7. I had the most amazing week in reading, largely thanks to kicking it off with Paladin’s Hope, more adorable Saints of Steel with all new severed heads. (“Not those severed heads, I realize we’re all a bit sensitive about that.”) Piper returns as the main character. It is wonderful. Seriously maybe the best m/m romance I’ve ever read.

    Then I read Gwenda Bond’s Not Your Average Hot Guy, where the son of the devil and a girl who designs escape rooms must team up to save the world from a cult who wants to start the apocalypse. There is a Good Dog in this one.

    And finally Rae Carson’s newest came out Tuesday, Any Sign of Life. Our heroine wakes up to find the world has been swept by a plague that struck everywhere all at once, which she knows is impossible, rescues a Very Good Dog, and they go off to find answers and wreak vengeance while also finding true love. Some of the descriptions may be a bit much for people especially now but you can skim those, I did.

  8. With work having started again, I find that not only my reading slows down but forgettable books become even more forgettable.

    The highlights of this week have been Paladin’s Hope which I liked as much as Paladin’s Grace and an enjoyable moment spent with Sarina Bowen’s latest, Boyfriend. It looks like she is starting a new franchise with that one. That woman is a veritable book factory!

    1. I have been hedging on the new Sarina Bowen. She used to be an automatic buy for me and then, not so much. Maybe I will give it a go.

      1. I just finished it. It’s pleasant but nothing I’d reread. I’ve been doing better with Elle Kennedy. I liked The Deal a lot.

        1. Just went to look for a kindle sample of The Deal & it turns out the whole ebook is currently free on Amazon — presumably so we’ll buy the rest of the series? Anyway, good time to grab it for anyone else with a kindle who’s curious.

          1. It’s sexually explicit college romance, if that helps narrow it down. I liked it because both characters had real problems they were coping with that weren’t easily solved, and the arc of the romance was done really well. Serious music student vs arrogant athlete, both with good senses of humor. Lotta sex though.

  9. I have a question: Is it actually okay to post about an Old Book on GBThursdays? I read physical books, mainly from libraries or used bookstores, so on a site where so many people are reading just-published e-books or ARCs, my comments sometimes seem almost archaic.

    Coming to this site helped me discover an old series that I’d given up on back when Book 1 was published and I dnf’d it. Ended up loving the series & the author, so hooray! But many of the books others are loving currently are ones my library system doesn’t have, and I can’t really afford to buy in hardback. Which, sigh!

    Not sure if anyone else has this doubt, but I thought I should mention it before launching on a paean to years-old Mary Balogh series. 🙂

    1. Older books are good. There are several that I have loved in the past that are not available in kindle and I love being reminded of them. And since I don’t always read new book recommendations (I find excessive sex scenes boring and some authors if you skip the sex, don’t have much else to offer).

      1. I think a lot of us are re-readers so we do post a lot about old books.
        Where else can we gush about Georgette and Jenny!

      2. I skip sex mostly, too. Boring reading. Kristen Ashley has way too much sex in her books for me BUT I still love her. Her characters & her plots are wonderful.

    2. I *hope* it’s okay to do old-book posts. Or I’ve been out of bounds quite a bit here.

      1. The Survivors’ Club. And I have ordered the Simply series from the library. I thought at first that it might only be the Survivors books that were quite so full of each character’s thoughts about one another, but it seems to be the author’s focus, which meshes really well with my preferences in reading.

        1. I think the Survivor’s Club is one of Balogh’s best series. She gets to do that emotional trauma/healing thing that she does so well. I bounced off her Westcott series that she’s publishing now but her older books really hold up well.

        2. One of my favourite Mary Balogh series is the Slightly series or the Bedwyn Saga series. Slightly Dangerous the last book finishes the series very well. Several of her series are interconnected.

          1. I love the Slightly series; especially Slightly Dangerous. But there are a couple of books leading up to it: On Night for Love, and especially its sequel (well, featuring one of its characters as its heroine) A Summer to Remember. Then the Simply quartet also features characters from both of these (one as a hero; the others as minor characters/setting).

            I think she weaves in all the characters rather well in these linked books; they go from protagonist to supporting characters without all that recapping and echoing there’s been in the much weaker Westcott series.

    3. I love many of Mary Balogh’s old series, definitely more than her newest one. I think talking about old books is a good idea. It reminds all of us that publishing goes back hundreds of years, and some old books are better than most of the new ones.

    4. Hey, we post about Jane Austen. You can get novels older than that, but not by much.

  10. Someone recommended The Secret Countess by Eva Ibbottson, an author I had never heard of before but who wrote post WWII. This one is post russian revolution about an impoverished russian noble who takes a job as a housemaid. The characters are absolutely delightful. I recommend it highly. I’m going to have to look up her other books.

    1. I vaguely remember one that included scenes up the Amazon, at Manaus? Must be thirty years since I read them, but I did enjoy them.

      1. It’s « A company of swans ». Delightful.

        She also wrote a children’s book set in the Amazon which is lovely and I think won a prize back in the day: Journey to the river Sea.

        Honestly, I think I said it here last week, all her books are lovely.

        I really need to fit in a reread of Madensky square now… and Strange bedfellows.

        So little time, so many books to reread!

    2. New to me too. I loved it, and thanks for the many recommendations from Argh people. Looking at other titles, and hope to find more jewels.

  11. If you’ve been reading the Time Police series (three books), the new book, Saving Time, has a really magnificent plot twist for the series. The only quibble I had is that Taylor has created such a huge world with this series and the linked St. Marys series that she has a zillion characters to draw on, and I want to stick with Luke, Matthew, and Jane. There’s still a lot of Luke, Matthew, and Jane, but there’s also a lot of other people in there, some of whom I’m definitely interested in and some of whom not so much. But it’s another great, wild ride with all the personal bits still there (Jane dates for the first time and it’s wonderful) so I must read it again. Best of all possible worlds: a new book that will be a reread.

    I really recommend the series: Jodi Taylor’s Time Police.

  12. I’ve had a string of dissatisfactions recently; books that are objectively good – well constructed, well edited, with characters sufficiently engaging to get me all the way through – but that left me either ‘that’s not enough’ because All The Angst is wrapped up too quickly, or ‘that’s so stupid’ because All The Conflict is so predictable and/or annoying. If you are going to torture your MCs a lot, then I wish the last 30% of the book (not the last 10%) could be devoted to showing *how they actually work things out for their happy ending.* And if you’re going to wave your conflict flag in the first 10%, the MCs had better be working on it, on the page, together, all the way through. It shouldn’t pop up at the 80% mark as if we never could’ve seen it coming, and it shouldn’t be resolved by one MC magically changing hir mind about what’s seemed so insurmountable up to now.


    This week: 6 full-length books, one short story (the wholly satisfactory ‘Checking Out Love’ by R. Cooper), and three novellas. Two of those are linked stories by E.J. Russell: ‘The Artist’s Touch’ and ‘Tested in Fire,’ contemporary urban paranormal M/M, which I liked a lot but taken together make for an incomplete story, i.e. I want volume three so these guys actually get their HEA, because they’ve been through some shit. Will keep an eye on things, hoping she writes more for them. 🙂

    The third novella was K.L. Noone’s new ‘The Featherbed Puzzle,’ a typically soothing historical fantasy M/M fairytale. Noone has definitely become a comfort read for me.

    M/F historical ‘Last Night’s Scandal’ by Loretta Chase worked for me (thanks to whomever recommended it here!), and Con Riley’s M/M contemporary ‘After Ben’ as well. That one deals with loss and new beginnings, a recurrent theme of my own.

    1. Thank you for recommending “The Featherbed Puzzle”, Chachal! It was just the sort of sweet, charming romance I needed this so-stressful-it-gave-me-a-migraine week. Just enough problems to make it interesting but not so much angst I felt overwhelmed. And Arthur was adorable. This will definitely be a comfort re-read for me. Now I’m off to find more by K.L. Noone!

      1. Yes it was delightful – gobbled it up over lunch. Although I think it was more novella material.

  13. I’m currently re-reading Cinderella Deal, which is one of my top three favs, because I love that Daisy is an artist with father issues and that Linc has mother issues and predatory college faculty are called out and lushes get better.

  14. Currently reading A Piece Of Heaven by Barbara O’Neal and loving it. Takes place in Taos, one of my favorite cities and the author really captures the essence of the old Taos in the story. Such a sweet, easy, comforting read. Exactly what I need now. Love the heroine and the opening is one of the best I have read in a long time. Totally drew me into the story.

  15. For those who are Ben Aaronovitch fans, he reports on his Twitter feed:

    Hurrah! Have submitted draft one of the next Peter Grant novel. With luck a release in the first half of 2022.
    –> Next up – the Reynold’s Novella.

    which, from the questions he is asking, he is already working on!

    Hooray! Hooray!

    1. Wow, their turnaround time is fast. Although he probably delivers very polished drafts. So glad to know there’s another Peter Grant coming. This time with twins; that should be fun.

    2. Oh, that’s great news! He’s been asking American questions on his twitter feed so that must be for Reynold’s story. I need to pick up the comics. There’s apparently a lot of Peter Grant’s story that takes place on the comics side.

  16. Slowly reading Paladin’s Hope & enjoying it. Rereading Sherwood Smith’s second Phoenix Feather book, which I love. Have begun China Mieville’s Russian revolution book, October — it’s a very good overview/refresher if you vaguely know the main facts going in, not sure how it would read as an introduction to this bit of history. There’s an awful lot of detail to fit in.

  17. Just finished Cat Sebastian’s Peter Cabot Gets Lost…M/M just post-college age men in 1960 – it’s a coming of age, it’s a road trip, it’s cinnamon roll/sparky trope MCs and it’s charming.

    I was going to read something else that’s been on the back burner (speaking of old books, the Jayne Castle Guinevere Jones private eye romance duo), and just was not in the mood to start a longer book. So, this novella fit the bill.

    Starting Feint of Art mystery, thanks to the rec from this group!

  18. Re-read S.J. Wynde’s short novella Cici and the Curator. It was so sweet. I read it when it first came out in 2019 and didn’t remember the plot but I did remember that I enjoyed it then. I enjoyed it now too.
    Christina Lauren’s new book, The Soulmate Equation was a thoroughly satisfying read, a F/M contemporary romance. This book was my first by those authors but it won’t be my last. I especially liked the humor peppering the story. Already ordered another book from the library.
    Frank Tuttle’s Mallara and Burn: on the Road was a collection of 4 fantasy short stories previously published in magazines. It was okay, nothing special.
    T. Kingfisher’s new novel Paladin’s Hope was an intense fantasy M/M romance, structured around a murder mystery. Unlike her 2 previous paladin’s stories, both F/M romances, this one focuses on Paladin Galen, the charming red-head who likes men. His love-interest, Piper, is a local coroner. Although I’m not in raptures over this book, I liked it. I’ll definitely read the next paladin story, if she ever writes one.
    BTW: I saw on Goodreads that her next books, Nettle and Bone and What Moves the Dead, both scheduled for publication in 2022, are finally going to be NOT self-published. Goodreads states TOR as the publisher. Not sure if that fact makes me happy for her or sad for myself. Self-publishing is so much faster. The big publishers take too much time with each book.

  19. I had a lot of ‘meh’ books this week. They were okay, but I wouldn’t go on to read the next in the series. And quite a few I just didn’t finish.

    The one bright spot was Lord Helidor’s Retirement, an MM fantasy romance novella. (Pretty much no explicit sex, for those who dislike it.) Good characters, and an exciting challenge that drags Lord H out of retirement and into peril. Wish it had been longer.

    Now I’m reading an oldish book, You Against Me by Jenny Downham. It’s YA, set in England. Mikey’s 15 year old sister claims to have been raped by a boy from school and won’t leave the house. His single parent family, already in great difficulty, is falling apart. Ellie’s brother Tom is the alleged rapist, but says it was consensual. Ellie’s family, wealthy and outwardly strong, are standing behind him and hiring expensive lawyers. Mikey sets out to get revenge on Tom. But in the process, he starts to fall for Ellie, and vice versa.

    This is a really beautiful book – it’s so sensitively told. It’s hard to read in places, and I had to read the end and then go back, but she does such a good job of fleshing out these teens who are so torn between family and what they think they should do. And the growing relationship between them.

    1. I remember that Jenny Downham book. It was a great book, heartrending really and a beautiful love story too. I liked also that it was a British book as YA of this sort tends to be American really.

    2. It’s Lord Heliodor’s Retirement (just saying because it took a few goes to find: Amazon presented me with lots of retirement gift items instead).

  20. Hi, thanks to everyone for the following Jessie Milhalik trilogy aurora rising etc. Sarah Morgan one summer in Paris luckily my library had them. Also after a long wait the book of Forgotten Authors by Christopher Fowler of the Bryant and May mysteries, this was very interesting to me as I had read a lot of them way back when.
    By the way Jenny could you please tell me the title of the Other Calder and Behrens? You mentioned it a while ago, and I am going to See if I can find a copy.
    I loved when the libraries had The Stacks now they sell the old books

  21. I’ve bounced hard off a number of new books recently, including some that should have been right up my alley. I’m re-reading Badger to the Bone because it’s fun and demands nothing of me.

  22. I read the teaser on Bob’s website and ordered the Shane and the Hitwoman. Looking forward to it.

    Again, Nothing new caught my attention this week, even recommended books. So disappointing.

  23. This week I didn’t have much time to read – but had an obligation to read one book: My first ARC. Strong Wine by AJ Demas. I’m really glad I liked it. I’d have felt bad if I didn’t. The last two weeks were just too busy and though one isn’t obliged to rave about the reviewed book, there should be a sound critique if you don’t love/like it.
    Strong Wine picks up roughly where Saffron Alley left off (no cliffhangers thankfully in those books). While we got to know one hero’s family in book 2, we now meet the other hero’s folks in book 3 who like any biological family are not always/quite what you’d wish for. Book 3 also picks up the threads of book 1 where our guys got in a very bad situation wirh a bunch of radical students. We’d learnt before that they’d not all been sentenced as one would wish (as it happens), so this creates a rather dangerous situation and an almost lethal obstacle to the protagonists love affair.
    I’ve read KJ Charles’s blog about conflict vs obstacle in genre books and totally love it. Those two heroes are grown up guys, they talk and act accordingly even if their emotions are often rattled and doubts/insecurities creep up.
    The book – as the first two installmenrs doesn’t have much of a theiller feel to it. The pace in general is more comfirtable. Especially in the beginning, the picking-up threads makes it a slow read and for someone without knowledge of the prior books probably not too appealing. For a reader of the series that’s okay.
    I very much liked the heroes personalities, their not hot-headedness (if such a word exists), the tactfull way the physical things/intimacy between a eunuch and a man are handled. I’ve had my share of rather very explicit scenes in my latest m/m books, so this change of pace was appreciated!
    So overall a satifying end to the trilogy.

    1. Oh I love AJ Delmas. It’s great to know a new book is out. I discovered her here. Was it you who recommended her books?

        1. Sadly, it wasn’t me… I can’t remember who recommended the AJ Demas books, but it was here on Arghink – thanks to whoever mentioned her first!!
          Diving into her world is a very pleasant adventure – I particulraly like that that ot’s kind of cozy. No dramatic bloodshed, not too cruel, decent guys as heroes. This description makes ot sound far less exciting that the books are, I realize…
          But more often than not that’s what I need – books like a warm hug. Peopled with protagonists that I’d like to have in my real life as well… decent, lovely, positive guys (I guess that’s why I love Jenny’s books, Penric, Cazaril etc.).

  24. I finished The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin. I so loved the first book I read by her (the most recently written, from what I can tell), but was really disappointed by this one. Almost DNF, although I slogged through to a relatively satisfying end with an unexpected but very “tossed in on the next to last page” kind of twist. I didn’t connect with any of the three main characters, which I think was the biggest problem. It was certainly easy to read and moved along well. And there were nice dogs.

    Next up is another book by the same author. We’ll see if that first book was a fluke or not.

  25. I’m late with books this week because of finishing up — I hope — the yearbook. My proofreaders got back to me early this morning with, “I forgot that so-and-so DOES have email,” and “Her first name is spelled Georgi (not Georgie or Georgia, both of which had been sent to me in other membership lists). And then I discovered that another lady had died since the last edition — she was almost 98, so one must be realistic. I think that’s about the last semi-demi-hemi draft.

    THE GILDED PAGE, by Mary Wellesley, on illuminated manuscripts. This is absolutely fascinating, especially as it’s a history where we know a little about a lot of otherwise anonymous people — so far, I especially like the scribe known to history as the “Tremulous Hand!” All text, no illustrations in the ebook edition.

    “You might also like” then steered me to UNDERSTANDING ILLUMINATED MANUSCRIPTS, by Michelle Brown. This is an updated edition and its purpose is to define the terms used about medieval books and manuscripts, and it’s heavily illustrated from the J. Paul Getty collection. I recommend the book if the subject interests you, and also strongly suggest looking at the ebook version on a tablet or desktop screen, to make the best of the illustrations, which are totally glorious.

    Free Speech Week begins October 17, so I read LIBERTY’S FIRST CRISIS: Adams, Jefferson, and the Misfits Who Saved Free Speech, by Charles Slack, all about the point when free speech came under attack with the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798 during the John Adams (Federalist) presidency. The Sedition Act restricted speech that was critical of the federal government and was used to prosecute and convict many Jeffersonian (anti-Federalist/Republican) newspaper owners and editors. Often “new” Americans — the immigrants the Federalists disdained — “had a greater feeling for freedom of speech and of the press than those who were native born, understanding that free speech belongs to each individual wrestling with his own conscience, and is meaningless unless the people one most hates can have their say without fear of official reprisal.”

    THE WICKED BAKER, by Helena Garcia, is all sweets, but with very dramatic presentations. I especially like her take on the fabulous and cheerful Swedish cake, prinsesstårta – layers of sponge, raspberry jam and mascarpone cream. Mostly in bakeries they’re light green or occasionally light pink, but this one is purple, with a couple of witchy legs indicating that the witch has dived right into it. Wish I could! I am especially fond of prinsesstårta and this one is small, possibly an individual size.

    Comfort read: Elswyth Thane’s EVER AFTER, third in the Williamsburg series. My cousin and I were discussing the Jail Bait Wait trope — one I normally find about as appealing as a lose-your-lunch horror plot — and she pointed out that EVER AFTER technically falls into that group, but Bracken Murray isn’t even remotely creepy about it. I did enjoy submerging myself back in the Day-Sprague-Murray clan and Victoria’s Jubilee, and Bracken is probably my favorite hero in the whole series.

  26. If you like T Kingfisher, the third book in the Saints of Steel series is out. Haven’t started yet myself but the other two were amazing.

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