This is a Good Book Thursday, October 7, 2021

This week I read The Last Graduate, sequel to A Deadly Education, and some of the Rivers of London graphic novels. I’m still on the fence about all of them, which is probably just me and not the stories. Too distracted to read.

What did you read this week?

113 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 7, 2021

  1. I also read The Last Graduate. And I don’t know if it was quite as satisfying as A Deadly Education but still so good and…MAYBE SPOILER ALERT SO STOP READING IF YOU’RE SENSITIVE TO THOSE…the ending made me gasp. And then immediately search for whether there was a next book on the way and, thank goddess, there is in 2022. Now I can gnaw on my fingernails for a year.

    I also read the last of the Eden Finley/Saxon James last of their hockey player M/M series. Good but the series started strong and then stalled out somewhat so probably best that it’s the last one. I do have to say, having read their individual efforts, that they are much stronger as a team so I’m glad they’re going to continue writing together. Interestingly, NOT the case for the Avon Gale/Piper Vaughn hockey series; Avon Vale was better on her own. I’m fascinated by the writerly dynamics of these two different outcomes. Anyone else observed writers stronger/weaker when they’ve teamed up?

  2. I still haven’t finished The Alexander Inheritance, but I’m enjoying the struggle. (Mine, that is.)

    I’m still finding Miss Marple I haven’t read recently.

    I’m still finding anything new I start to be quite blah.

  3. I am on vacation, so not only did I read a lot, but I also have time to talk about it on Thursday, and can actually recommend all I read!

    I re-read: A Janet Neel mystery, and a fun SF called “Happy Snak”

    I read a Kate Wilhem (Barbara Holloway series) mystery, two Philip Craig Vineyard mysteries (they were lent to me). If interested, start at the beginning of either of these series’s.

    I read three books that were suggested here: the second Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery, The first Thursday Murder Club, and The Reluctant Coroner. Thank you for all who suggested these.

    In my stack, I still have two Jack Reachers, an Anne Perry (who I haven’t read in years), a very lightweight romance which has been lent to me, and I have just bought the third Sparks & Bainbridge Mystery, even if I don’t read it this week. I also have The Goblin Emperor, which has been on my kindle for a year an a half, left from the last time I was supposed to go on vacation and didn’t. I know how many people here love it, so I have kind of been saving it….. maybe tomorrow, I still have three more days of reading ahead of me 🙂

    1. I have also been reading the reluctant Coroner series recommended by Gary H. I have just started book 3. I like Fenway a lot.

      1. I thought the Fenway books were reasonably priced for kindle so I bought all of them except the last one. I am giving them a pause. If I read them too close together I start being overly critical of repeating word choices and it throws me out of the story.

  4. I was really happy with C.M. Nacosta, so I signed up for her Patreon page and have been noodling about in her short stories.

    Otherwise, I have been listening to the Fellowship of the Ring. It has been a long time, and took a while for me to get into, but I am newly impressed with Tolkien’s understanding of people. They way the hobbits think of Frodo as odd, or blame him when their horses are stolen. And he feels the need to save them anyway. Same for Gandalf and Strider. They are met often with anger and dislike from the people they are trying to save. I guess I needed to hear that this week.

      1. I stumbled across one of hers last week, Morning Glory Milking Farm. She writes sweet monster romance. This one is about a minotaur and a human woman. Very low drama, high on communication and being open minded about other cultures. There is explicit sex, but it’s not gratuitous in my opinion. So far her shorts are fun too, and she doesn’t do a lot of the trope stuff that I expected.

        1. Oh she’s the one who wrote that! I read that in your post last week and yes, it sounded intriguing. Sounds similar in approach at least to Strange Love.

          1. Kinda. It’s a modern day setting where other species are fairly accepted.

            Basically just two decent people trying to get to know each other with respect and communication. Much less drama and life threatening scenarios than in Strange Love.

  5. I read Crazy People: the Crazy for You Stories. Every story there is my favorite. So, thinking of relationships with fathers, mothers, and sisters, I reread Pride & Prejudice, rewatched Persuasion, and read up on the Brontës — there was a podcast on Anne Brontë’s Tenant of Wildfell Hall this week on BBC 4’s In Our Time.

    I have lots of thoughts about the interconnectedness of all these writings as well as writers’ lives. And how women writers have made happy endings when their societies restrict women’s voices, behavior, and actions.

    I love having lots of thoughts.

  6. So I finished the A.B.C. Murders…Christie at her best I think…so good. The Christie canon re-read is going slowly. Going to start Edmund Crispin’s Gervase Fen series to mix it up a little.

    Discovered both Megan Derr and Amy Rae Durreson in the last month. Glomming all their work right now. Derr’s mix of M/M slow burn romance and fairy tale tropes is terrific. Durreson also has fantasy tropes (her world building is excellent and surprisingly complex for the short story format) and she also has M/M romance often with older characters. They both have some contemporary tales but haven’t made it there yet.

    Also, since I think Nero Wolfe is a fave of many in this group, I watched both the Timothy Hutton/Maury Chaykin 2000s version AND the one-season 1980s Nero Wolfe with William Conrad over the last two months. The 2000s series was so much fun! The Banter! The sets and costuming! And the 1980s series was fun for the “it’s so 1980s TV” vibe.

    1. Amy Rae Durreson has some of my favorite comfort read novellas. I really adore Lord Heliodor’s Retirement. Comforting because even though he goes through hell and back, he’s got so much support.

  7. Tried several new authors. Enjoyed ‘Be My Best Man’ by Con Riley (m/m romance set in London) and currently ‘The Deal’ by Elle Kennedy, which was free on Amazon. Don’t know that I’ll go for the rest of the series; US campus settings – esp featuring athletes – not being my favourite. It’s a little slow, and like ‘The Deal’ slightly too earnest to completely grab me.

  8. I enjoyed “My Contrary Mary,” which is like Reign, but with people turning into animals and a much happier ending. I really do enjoy the “Lady Janies” authors. I’m on to “My Plain Jane” next.

  9. I can’t remember what I’ve read and finished, though the library has produced a bumper crop of books I’ve had on hold. I’m 75% through a recommendation from here, but I’m holding off on commenting until I finish it.

    However on the TV front: while I was in London my friend introduced me to Ghosts. It’s being remade in the US, but this was the BBC version. It’s apparently available here on HBO Max. Definitely recommended! I will try to watch the US version, but I doubt it will be as good.

      1. So true. I wish I knew why that is. The influence of Hollywood’s “Attractiveness is everything” belief system? Timing all based on commercial breaks? The violence/mastery culture? Or just (my theory, anyway) the lack of cultural complexity/education of somebody in charge? Or maybe just the UK’s long history of sending the troublemakers of many generations off to North America & the Antipodes…. I wish somebody would do a documentary about it. 🙁

        1. My personal theory is that diversity & creativity in the UK are packed into a very small space, which means both qualities are more integrated into the culture. Whereas here in the US, diversity & creativity (as expressed in the entertainment industry, at least) are sequestered on the coasts; prevented by thousands of square miles from really being part of in-your-face daily life of millions of citizens; and therefore Othered. As a consequence, millions of citizens demand homogeneity in the products of the entertainment industry, which means the producers generally default to predictable/familiar and less-diverse treatments of material that originated elsewhere.

          Also, getting a good education in the arts is very difficult/expensive to do here. Getting together the amount of money needed to produce something for public consumption has been daunting, until very recently. In the past ten years we’ve really seen an explosion of diverse creative content thanks to low-cost web-based platforms, and I think we’ll continue to see growth in that direction. However, most of that’s going to be original content, not adapted from other material, because obtaining the rights to previously-produced material is *extremely* expensive/difficult.

          1. This analysis makes sense to me. I’ve never lived in the UK, but in the five years I lived in the States, the biggest thing that struck me was the way the size of the country effects everything about it. It seemed like the amount of imaginative energy needed to hold it together in people’s minds as one thing left them way less headspace for paying attention to other parts of the world.

            Plus, in so many ways, it’s the world’s first draft at doing a republic. SO many first-timer mistakes that the rest of us got to learn from. (Or, sigh, not learn from. My own country used to have free tertiary education. And then, somehow, we managed to look at the debt you guys get saddled with and think, yeah, let’s do that).

  10. I haven’t read anything new, but I’ve been thinking of a series that I was late to and read a few weeks back, and want to pitch it again for anyone who missed it. Just heard from a friend I recommended it to that she’s now on book 3 of the series, and really enjoying it, which is an added endorsement.

    It’s the Lady Sherlock series by Sherry Thomas, and my friend is reading it in paper, but I read it in audio, and have to say the narrator is fabulous, really does justice to the underlying story. https://www.amazon.com/Study-Scarlet-Women-Lady-Sherlock-ebook/dp/B01ASO6JIY

      1. My absolute favourite Sherry Thomas book is The Magnolia Sword: the Ballad of Mulan. I’ve re-read it so many times I’ve lost count, and it’s got just the right amount of everything – action, espionage, romance and an intelligent protagonist.

    1. Narrators make a huge difference!

      I finished a cozy mystery audiobook and in part did not like it because of the narrator.

    2. I have read the first 3 Lady Sherlock books over the past month; the series is holding up in terms of drama and humor, and I do plan to continue.

  11. The only new book for me last week was Jillian Eaton’s Winning the Earl of Winchester. It was a short diversion – a historical romance novella. Weak writing but sympathetic characters and overall a nice story.
    Then I went through several DNFs. Now, I’m re-reading The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers. It was and still is my favorite of all her books. At the time she first self-published it, it swept me off my feet. It doesn’t seem so amazing today, but it is still a good book.

    I’ve been trying to figure out why some books work for me while others don’t. I think my criteria are the protagonists. If I like them, I read on, even if the writing is studded with problems. If I don’t care about the leading characters, if they seem stupid or unpleasant or weak like a wet doormat, the story turns me off. I rarely finish such stories.

      1. You can bold things by writing a three character code in front of it, and a four characyer code at the end. I wiil write out the name of the characters instead of using the symbol, so you can see which ones I mean.
        Smaller than B bigger than (two special characters with the letter B between them) tells the site to make the following text BOLD. After the last word you want in bold typeface, you tell it to stop by putting in the four-symbol code Smaller than slash B bigger than.
        The smaller than – bigger than open triangles tell a website that whatever is between them is an instruction to the site, and not to be shown as text.
        The slash / after the opening ‘smaller than’ sign tells the website that this instruction is ordering it to stop doing something. By repeating the earlier letter it gets told what it needs to stop doing.

        So if you want to make stuff bold, you use the letter b, and if you want to make stuff italic, you use the letter i between those smaller than – bigger than open triangles (so they form a kind of triangular parentheses for the instruction you put between them).

        Telling without showing always makes it look difficult, but it really is not that hard once you know which character to use for the ‘parentheses’ and that / means stop.

  12. I read the St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Anne England Noblin, that someone here mentioned, and I quite enjoyed it. A 36 year old woman who was adopted discovers that her birth mother, who never wanted any contact with her, has died left her a house in the small town where she lived. She goes to the funeral and meets her birth mother’s friends and tries to find out why she was given up for adoption in the first place.

    I started Scales and Sensibility by Stephanie Burgis. Regency Paranormal Fantasy, as you might guess from the title. A few plot holes so far but I like some of the characters.

    I reread A Posse of Princesses and The Trouble with Kings by Sherwood Smith, after realizing I didn’t have them as ebooks and therefore hadn’t read them in at least five years. Well worth rereading oftener than that, so I re-purchased them as ebooks.

    1. It was me! I loved that book. I’ve started another one by that same author and I’m not sure I’m liking it as much. But I’m going to wait until I’m further along before I say anything for sure.

  13. I just finished Louise Penny’s latest novel, “The Madness of Crowds”. It’s clear that either the Malthusian theory never existed in Inspector Gameche’s universe or that the so-called scientists in that world are really bad at science. And, historical research.

    So, in this novel, a “scientist” comes up with something very like Malthus’ theory, that resources are limited and unless we control population, there’s going to be a massive population crash when we reach the limit. And, according to this “scientist”, we’re very near the resource limit, as revealed by the pandemic. So, to prevent another mass die off due to a new pandemic, governments need to kill lots of unwanted, unnecessary, maladjusted people. Okay, kill millions to prevent the death of millions. Sounds like every government program, ever.

    Bah, humbug. Anyway, scientific problems aside, this story kept me guessing as to who the killer was, up to the last few pages. It was pretty gripping, in fact. It was also pretty harrowing. I don’t think I will ever re-read this story BECAUSE it was so harrowing. The story had so many little snippets where the phrase “the banality of evil” kept coming into mind. In fact, the proposed plan to kill millions of unwanted people was actually the least evil idea in the book.

    Other than that, it was interesting.

    1. With comments like “harrowing” and “banality of evil”, I think I’ll give Madness of Crowds” a pass, no matter how pretty the cover is. I enjoy the series, but stick with re-reading books 1-10. The storylines in the later books are a little too sensationalistic for me.

  14. I just finished listening to Richard Osman’s “The Man Who Died Twice”, which Mary Rose recommended last Thursday. I really enjoyed the reader as I enjoyed her presentation of the first novel of the Thursday Murder Club series. There are lots of twists and turns and sleuthing by the group of senior citizens who are not what you might expect them to be.

  15. Avoiding spoilers because I haven’t read Naomi Novak’s latest yet. Basically I’ve been flailing around trying to get into something since I read A Borrowing of Bones and Blind Search and will probably just read more Mercy Carr mysteries because mystery, good dogs, nice scenery. Also I’m waiting for the next Saints of Steel T Kingfisher book which I think is out Saturday.

    1. Indeed it is. Thanks for pointing that out. I loved Paladin’s Grace. Paladin’s Strength not so much, though perhaps that was just in comparison to my hope’s for it. The description of Paladin’s Hope sounds promising though.

      1. I loved Paladin’s Strength more, simply because of the bears. And different people’s reaction to–Bear!–was such good characterization.

  16. I’ve just discovered the author Eva Ibbotson. I HIGHLY recommend this author, especially her book The Secret Countess. This story is based on the folk tale Cinderella, and has so many wonderful characters, including a dog called Baskerville.

      1. I like her too. I started with The Magic Flute (or is it Flutes?) and went on from there. She has a lot of juveniles/YA but they are interesting too.

    1. There is one about witches. I don’t remember what the title is. I read my copy until it wore out at the spine. Funny and thoughtful and gently romantic… I may need to look it up.

      1. The Island of the Aunts?
        Save the ghosts?

        I read a lot of Eva Ibbotson too, and liked (almost?) all of them. She has written a run of funny magical Middle Grade fantasies, and a whole bunch of good YA books, some that are more adventure stories and some with gentle romances, that shade on into more adult books, but a lot of them have that sort of gentle tone that is really nice when you are not in the mood for any high-stress stories.

    2. I love love Eva Ibbotson. Everything she has written is so good. My favourites are Madensky Square and A Song for Summer and the Morning Gift but they are all good, including her kids books.

      She actually went to school close to where I used to live until this summer and I always thought of her when I would go on walks there.

  17. After last week’s discussion about Ancillary Justice, I went back and reread the trilogy, which was as satisfying as I had hoped. Brecq’s journey is so moving.

    I also reread Barbara Hambly’s The Ladies of Mandrigyn, which is the first in the Sun Wolf/Starhawk series. Also deeply satisfying.

    1. Just found out that B Hambly has new title out “Scandal in Babylon” that sounds a little like “Bride of the Rat God” – I’ll be buying it tonight so should be reading it this weekend.

        1. Jeanine, her older books, before she started writing Benjamin January and vampires, are wonderful. She’s got several series, all fantasies. The Ladies of Mandrigyn is one of my favourites.

        1. Have added ‘Scandal’ to wishlist. 🙂 I loved ‘Bride of the Rat God’ and Hambly’s ‘Ishmael’ is one of my favorite Star Trek novels.

  18. I’m in the process of re-reading the Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner. I finished A Conspiracy of Kings yesterday and am now working on Take a Thief.

  19. I think the only new book I’ve started was To End in Fire by Weber and Flint. I’ve barely started. My brain was elsewhere.

    To get the dotter to hospital, I stayed up when I got home from work. And since I was to be up until she returned home or got admitted for overnight, I started Thursday right away. Official Weigh-In Day #25. Weight 254.0, down 0.2 from last week. Fasting glucose 90 (I hadn’t eaten after 8 PM last night.) Blood pressure satisfactory. Breakfast was an Atkins shake. My Kindle was to be my companion while the dotter underwent her procedure. Ten chapters of The Assassins of Thassalon.

    We left the house at 5:00. Arrived at 5:35, too early for the 6:00 intake, but that was okay. Then we were intook. I ended up in a waiting room while she was guided off to do… stuff. Or be done unto. The had a status board that electronically let me follow, from preop to in the procedure room, to in the recovery room. The doctor came and let me know that everything went fine, stones crushed and guided out, stent removed, temporary stent installed in case of clotting, to come out tomorrow in the office.

    Then her nurse came and delivered all the discharge paperwork to me, ending with “bring your car around to the entrance and I’ll wheel her out and help her in and belted.” Which I did and he (the nurse) did, and home we went. The dotter was still doped to the gills, as the saying goes. Every word slow and/or slurred. Picked up her post-op antibiotics at CVS on the way home, where she said she was going to nap. Game over.

    Thanks for all the thoughts, vibes and prayers. She even finished her course of whatever for the shingles (I think the surgery was waiting on that), so other than the latest stent, she is Camper Happy.

    I napped, too. Got up and ate a brat inna bun. Some things have been endured.

    1. I like “some things have been endured.” May have to use that term, thank you, Gary. Glad your daughter is doing well.

      1. Thank you! Feel free to use the quote. It comes from “Some things must be endured, if we are ever to be free.” Ricardo Montalbán as a priest, fighting the Japanese occupiers and escorting orphans in the Philippines in 1967’s The Longest Hundred Miles.

      1. It seemed so to me, given the slurring and slow speech, but she was definitely lucid. And she was so tired. In pain for weeks, shingles, little sleep that night before…

        1. Glad to hear it went well, Gary. But still shocked at the early discharge. Day surgery here, they make sure you’ve got someone to drive you home and stay with you that night, but they keep you until the sedation has well and truly worn off. Or at least that’s my experience.

          1. Twice I’ve been discharged while still in a groggy state, but not groggy enough that I didn’t ask for a puke bag for the journey home.

      2. When I picked up my housemate after her hernia surgery, she was still pretty out of it from the sedation. Apparently this in normal. She doesn’t remember the conversation she had with the nurse (who gave her post-op instructions…a useless waste of time, so it was a good thing I was there and they were also printed out).

      3. I have always been totally out of it after same-day surgery. Have fuzzy memories of being poured into the car and then sleeping the rest of the day.

        1. Same here — I was told before a major surgery that they’d wake me and have me walk around the hospital corridor that same night. Well — they did, but someone politely asked me if I’d get up and take the walk now, please, and I’m told I replied very politely that I’d prefer to go back to sleep, please, and promptly did. But my reaction to anesthetic is to sleep it off; my body really doesn’t want to do anything else.

  20. I too read St. Francis Society for Wayward Pets by Anne EnglandNoblin, which Deborah Blake recommended last week. I really liked it. Cosy read. I must admit it felt to me as though she did not connect the dots on some things that might have been pretty significant parts of the story, as if it was edited out of it or never fully developed for some reason or another, which is a bit sad since I’m sure she would’ve made something great out of it. Other than that, I’m very happy I read this book. It made me slow down and relax. Thanks for the rec, Deborah!

    I’m currently reading and very much enjoying My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, part 1 in the Lady Janies-series (although I am quite sure you don’t need to read them in order). I had them on my TBR already, but since I’ve seen some of you reading one or another the last weeks, I figured I should give them a shot. I’m having a good time with this one! I keep thinking that this is what The Wisteria Society for Lady Scoundrels could have been if the breakneck-speed humour-throwing had been taken down a notch. I hope the rest of the Lady Janies and Mary-books are as good as this one is.

  21. I started reading the Menopause Manifesto by Dr. Jen Gunter. So far so good. I have only finished the first chapter but have learned a lot about the history of menopause in the medical profession and all of the misogyny that surrounded it. She also has a decent bit of snark, which I suspect everyone here appreciates.

  22. I’ve been reading Gin Jones’ Garlic Mysteries, finishing #2 and really liking it. Read Witch Please, by Ann Aguirre–it got some very enthusiastic reviews and is apparently a best seller, but I confess, I was kind of meh about it. It was good enough to finish, but not good enough to get the next one in the series. Your mileage may vary. (If you like very sexy books, you might like it more than I did. I skimmed a lot of the sex scenes because they just didn’t seem to add anything to the book.)

    1. I keep trying Ann Aguirre and keep dnfing her. The dialogue is good and the characters are interesting, but she keeps losing me somewhere…

    2. I started Witch Please and it’s ok. Not sure I’ll finish it before it’s due back to the library.

  23. I read six full-length novels this week plus a few short things and one of my own books. Of the novels, my favorite was ‘True Brit’ by Con Riley, in which two competitors on a TV singing competition find out they’re being set up to lose, so they decide to try fake dating to get more votes. Well, we all know how fake dating goes. 🙂 Next most liked was ‘It Started With a Secret’ by Jill Mansell, which has all the things I like about JM and none of the things that were starting to annoy me when I gave her a rest a few years back.

    A book I thought I’d like more than I did: ‘At Your Service’ by Sandra Antonelli, which is sort of a romance wrapped in a spy thriller, where the main characters are a modern-day Bond analogue and his butler/landlady. Surprisingly violent, and while the story was wrapped up neatly on all fronts I doubt I’ll look into the follow-on titles.

    Another spy thriller, ‘The Venetian Affair’ by Helen MacInnes, needed an editor. It mostly follows one character, but there were long scenes in other POV which, IMO, could have been dispensed with. I really hate villain POV. Ended up skimming at least 15% of this to get to the Real MC Scenes.

    Favorite short thing of the week: ‘Peter Cabot Gets Lost’ by Cat Sebastian. M/M road-trip novella set in 1960, terrific follow-up to ‘Tommy Cabot Was Here.’

    1. Helen MacInnes. A blast from the past. While Still We Live was a top 10 for me for years. I didn’t like her later books because the potential female love interest was murdered in the first few chapters. Regularly, as I recall.

    2. This is what searching for Con Riley in my library catalog got me:

      “A journal, comprising an account of the loss of the brig Commerce, of Hartford, (Con.) James Riley, master, upon the western coast of Africa, August 28th, 1815; : also of the slavery and sufferings of the author and the rest of the crew, upon the desert of Zahara, in the years 1815, 1816, 1817; with accounts of the manners, customs, and habits of the wandering Arabs; also, a brief historical and geographical view of the continent of Africa.”
      which sounds fascinating, but as it is a microfiche I cannot check it out! Doubly frustrating. No True Brit for me, and not this “account” either.

  24. BRIARHEART, by Mercedes Lackey. We’re in the neighborhood of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, not quite in the Tradition, but in the universe. I enjoy this universe, and I liked the take on the fairytale tropes.

    THE GOLDEN THREAD, by Kassia St. Clair, about fabric and how it impacts history (and practically everything else, too). Kassia also wrote THE SECRET LIVES OF COLOR, all about colors and the ways they were developed and created. Both recommended.

    THREE ORDINARY GIRLS: The Remarkable Story of Three Dutch Teenagers Who Became Spies, Saboteurs, Nazi Assassins–and WWII Heroes, by Tim Brady. When I was growing up, this kind of story was frequently published, but I had the impression that the genre was fading out, either because the participants — the Greatest Generation — were dying off or because interest was fading. So I was surprised to see this. Well-researched with plenty of drama, definitely a page-turner.

    EERIE ELEGANCE EATS: A Halloween Cookbook of Creepy Cuisine, by Britta Peterson. A generous selection of sinister sweets and a smaller, but at least present, selection of suspicious savories, and directions for some truly creative drinks! Be prepared to deal with dry ice.

    ONE MORE CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE, by Trisha Ashley. I enjoyed this — in fact, I’ve now read it again. Favorite quote: ‘And there’s stacks of steamy historical novels in her room, too. The covers are all very similar — pictures of muscular men — though I’m sure the one on top of the pile yesterday had too many ribs.’ Definitely reminded me of the actual quote from, I believe, a book publisher, inscribed in a book which I won’t name: “The artist assures me the cover is based on life, his wife having had her head grafted onto another’s body and bananas grafted onto her finger tips.”

    1. Thanks for mentioning Briarheart. I used to like the 500 kingdoms books, but had, like Deborah, wandered away from keeping an eye out for them. Bought and added to the TBR pile.

      1. My three favorites are THE FAIRY GODMOTHER, THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, and BEAUTY AND THE WEREWOLF, as having the most substance. YMMV

  25. I read the latest in Anna Lee Huber’s Verity Kent mystery series–Murder Most Fair–which I really wanted to like but wasn’t really thrilled by. I like the premise of the series, which is set just at the end of WWI and deals with the aftermath/impacts on both those who went off to fight and those who remained behind, along with the mystery component.

    Unfortunately, the “Big Bad” that the author has created for the hero/heroine in the last few books is just too “one step ahead / master of everything” to be believable. The inclusion of said Big Bad felt especially forced in this latest story and the heroine had a TSTL moment near the end of the book that was annoying.

    That said, I did go back and re-read the first couple of books in the series, which I continue to enjoy, so this was a good reading week.

    Now I’m back to comfort reading Nagio Marsh.

  26. I too read Happy Snak by Nicole Kimberling and it was good undemanding space fun with some light cultural imperialism themes. Worth it!

    But I really want to recommend The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu. I’ve only read 1/4 of the stories so far but I’m recommending it anyway, it is extraordinarily good. Even the prologue is good. Some of the stories are older, and it shows, for instance, one has a theme of how our tech is dictating our lives, which in 2012 *(I googled when this particular story was first published) would have been insightful and futuristic, but which isn’t far from today’s reality. It’s still good.

    Hopefully they continue to delight!

  27. I re-read Cheryl Reavis’s RITA-winning THE PRISONER, with lost chapters included. It was my 3rd time through for this book and it holds its rightful place in my Top Ten.

  28. I read and thoroughly enjoyed THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB. Thanks to whoever recommended it here! I’m going to get the next one with my next audible credit.

    As an aside, after a summer of lethargy and doing nothing as much as possible, yesterday afternoon I DID ALL THE THINGS and consequently, I’m feeling quite pleased with myself! I didn’t get to the lawn mowing, but that can happen this afternoon.

  29. This week I read Petty Treasons, the short ‘how they met’ prequel to Victoria Goddard’s The Hands of the Emperor.
    I can’t really recommend it to anyone who has not read Hands.
    The voice is very unusual, mostly in second person, and makes it hard to get into, for anyone not already invested in the characters, but it does fit the situation. Even so, it still causes some people who love Hands to bounce off this one.

    I found it an interesting addition, worthwhile (even if it’s only 4 chapters), and it gave me food for thought, so if you did read and love Hands of the Emperor you might want to give it a try.
    It really doesn’t reach that pinnacle, but still, books that good are far between, what else could you expect?

    Now I really want to reread Hands of the Emperor! It is an unusual book, fantasy with unusual worldbuilding (time can be variable in different regions), in which nothing awful happens, the protagonist is a very capable bureaucrat and the main characters are a group of middle-aged men; there isn’t any romance or grand adventure with high stakes and tension, and still it’s engrossing and keeps me turning the pages and looking for more.

    1. Thanks, Hanneke. I’ll give it a go. I was disappointed by the other books by her I read after Hands of the Emperor, but this sounds more promisingly obscure.

      1. Sorry for the obscurity. I find it very difficult to write spoiler-free book reviews and recommendations.
        How can I talk about what I liked or disliked about a book if I can’t mention things that are in the story?

        Other people manage, but I still tend to prefer the more informative book reviews. But then, I don’t mind spoilers at all, and will often read the ending first if I’m uncertain if I might like it.
        That means I don’t trust my own sense of what would be a spoiler, and try to avoid anything that is in the book itself…

  30. I am going have to give up on Martin Walker’s Bruno Chief of Police Series. I am reading The Coldest Case and it is well-written, lots of great food and wine and in the Perigord Region in France, and has a somewhat interesting mystery. That said, it is also over half involved with trotting out the same characters, the same activities, and the same observations that he has made in the last four or five books. So you know that Bruno will have a dinner party, go to Pamela’s for the weekly dinner, go horse back riding, go to the weekly market, lament he hasn’t found someone he can start a family with, etc. Frankly the good stuff isn’t worth putting up with the boring stuff. I am not that invested anymore in his cast of characters that I want to spend an afternoon with them anymore.

  31. Read Donna Andrews Owl be home for Christmas and the Falcon Always Wings Twice, reliably enjoyable cosies, though I do miss characters that appeared more in previous books. I like it for the community really.

    Just waiting for Gift of the Magpie’s paper back release and I will be all caught up with her current paperbacks.

  32. It’s kinda nice coming to this later than usual and seeing everyone’s nested comments. I finished reading Charles Stross’s latest Merchant Prince novel this week, and found it vastly better than the previous one. Far more happened, character arcs progressed massively, I felt well rewarded for the long wait. Also made a little headway on Our Mutual Friend, which… I can’t really characterise, five chapters in. Lots of threads, not much pattern yet. One whole chapter set at a dinner party written in an archly satiric tone which fell 97% flat for me, but in a way that was fascinating — you could sort of infer the social context in which it would have been hilarious, without quite getting most of the jokes.

    And like many here I’m waiting eagerly for the new Saint of Steel novella, which should go live about… four hours from now? That will be my evening reading, and since we’ll also be spending this evening freezing our spleens by finishing Squid Game, I’m hoping for some warm feelings from it.

  33. Allison Montclair’s A Royal Affair, follow-up to The Right Sort of Man. Two friends running a marriage bureau in post WWII London, both with troubled backgrounds not of their making. I like the friendly interaction between protagonists, some intriguing minor characters are on the scene, and the dialog is so sprightly it moves into banter. Plotting was sufficient.

  34. This week I was feeling sorry for myself so I indulged and instead of doing anything on my day off, I sat around and devoured books. I read Olivia Atwater’s Longshadow, which like all her books in this series was ALMOST completely satisfying.

    Then I read The Last Graduate, and mostly enjoyed it. I do love El’s gradual realization that people are complicated, rarely all good, all bad–and how it really shakes her personal worldview. I didn’t love it as much as the first book, but sequels are always hard because the super shiny exciting bits of the world are familiar now, less exciting. And since it is the spooky month, I read Christina Henry’s The Ghost Tree, which I enjoyed, though not to the same extent as Longshadow and The Last Graduate.
    To wrap things up, I read Kali Wallace’s Shallow Graves which was excellent. YA Horror is definitely my speed.

    And I ended up in much better charity with the world.

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