This is a Good Book Thursday, April 14, 2022

This week I devoured Ben Aaronovitch’s newest Rivers of London mystery, Amongst Our Weapons, a novel about policing magic that was magical to read. I love that series.

What did you read that was magical?

(Sorry about the typo that went out in the first sentence. Damn autocorrect.)

149 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 14, 2022

  1. I also read that book. Then my husband read it ( in one sitting, not normal for him) and now I’m reading it again.

  2. In the Kindle ap:
    Bryce, Megan. The Reluctant Bride Collection – The Complete Box Set
    Kerryn Offord. I Want to be Your Hero (Ring of Fire series)
    Bergstralh, Karen. The Horsewoman (Ring of Fire series)
    In Mobipocket Reader:
    Well, Martha. The Murderbot Diaries (currently finishing Exit Strategy)
    Jack C. Lipton. Ecstatic Cling
    Offord, Kerryn. A Matter of Security (Ring of Fire series)
    AeroGarden. Harvest Model Instruction Book. I still haven’t anything planted in this unit, but it’s all set up and waiting. It’s even plugged in and shiny. I read the manual three times. (It’s very short.)

  3. I read Legends and Lattes, thanks to Michael Mock, Deborah Blake et al who recommended it. A warrior female orc hangs up her sword and sets up a coffee shop in a city where no one has heard of coffee. Sounds silly but it wasn’t. Serious and fun – quite delightful really. Lupe, I think you would like it in your current mode – there’s a tendril of romance but nary a sex scene to be found. And LN, you could compare and contrast to Rafe in Lancaster’s Luck setting up his coffee shop.

    1. I read it too and yes it did make me think of Rafe’s coffee shop endeavours! It was delightful.

      1. I like fantasy for sure but…has to be good fantasy. What I enjoyed most was the building quality of this book – building the actual shop, building her relationships and staff, building her business. It had a lovely quiet pace. And then confounded my expectations about how she dealt with the key confrontation/problems.

        1. Small, desperately waving hand slowly sinks beneath wave made of smutty ebooks. Ah well, there are worse ways to go…

          1. Lupe, I have my own shark tank of smutty ebooks, including the twenty or so stories that I wrote. One of the books I listed this week was Jack C. Lipton’s Ecstatic Cling. That nom de plume no longer exists, but I have his works saved in various places. We still exchange email.

  4. I haven’t read it, but the title is reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition skit by Monty Python. Intentional I hope!

    Meanwhile, I’ve started the Wheel of Time book. It took a while, since there was not one but TWO prologues before you got to the action. I understand that there are two different things you need to know before you get into it, but it was a terrible slog.

    1. My sons who have read them all say that the first 3 books are not good but that it gets good after :).

      1. LN: Your sons say the first 3 Wheel of Time books are not good, but they get good after book 3?

        That’s very odd. I read the first 5, the first 2 were interesting, book 3 wasn’t good, book 4 was bad, book 5 I hesitated before reading and then did anyway, and it was horrible. I stopped after that. People whose opinions I respect on the matter tell me I made the right decision, as they themselves kept reading for another 5+ books and really wished they’d stopped when I did.

        While YMMV of course, I have never heard of anyone who thought the first 3 books were bad and the subsequent books were good.

          1. I have asked again and they said very unhelpfully: it’s bad then it’s good then it’s bad then it’s slightly better. Not a great rec then 🙂

        1. That was my experience too. First two okay, three and four less so. But it was book five that broke me – hundreds of pages with nary a plot point to be seen. I quit and never looked back.

  5. I am on book 3 of the ACOTAR series by Sarah J. Maas.
    I’m not generally a fantasy lover but this series is simply captivating and fun and so intricately woven that you’re constantly captivated.

  6. A couple of disappointments this week, so I’m rereading Loretta Chase’s A Duke in Shining Armor (oh, I don’t like having to mis-spell that). Also ploughing through Nicholas Crane’s History of the British Landscape, which has some interesting bits and has speeded up a bit now we’re into Anglo-Saxon times: the prehistorical sections seemed to go round and round in circles, for thousands of years.

    1. JaneB, I also cringe when I see what I consider misspelled words. Armor is not so bad as kerb for curb or using lounge for living room, tyre for tire but it is at the author’s discretion as I found out when I took it upon myself to contact someone and she told me in no uncertain terms that is the way she wrote it and that is the way it stays. But that story took place in America. My all time favorite is the word gaol for jail. Does it take you out of the story a bit?

      1. American spellings in historical novels don’t bother me (‘armor’ probably grated because it’s uncommon); after all, if you read novels of the era in their original form, the spellings will vary. It’s American and/or modern vocabulary and thinking that jar. You obviously dislike UK usage!

        1. UK/Canadian usage, although Canadian usage is becoming more American or modern which grates on me. We are two of three sovereign nations living in North America. Just saying, I like my heritage which is very British (father) and very French (mother). I was raised spelling British format; armour, neighbour, etc. Maybe I am becoming a cranky old lady. Or it is my sense of individuality. Like wearing red or stripes or unique shoes. Or grammar was drilled into me at school. Nothing to get our knickers/panties in a twist.

          I read somewhere that when American was becoming a nation, the scholars did not want to identify with Britain and the British format, therefore, the “u” was removed from the “ou” spelling.

          1. I once read that Noah Webster, of Webster’s Dictionary, is the person responsible for taking all the “ou” spellings out of American English, as well as all the double consonant applications (as in travelling/traveling). The article said he did it in order to make spelling easier for American schoolchildren.

          2. Oh, good grief.
            And it didn’t work. American adults can’t spell, why should school children.

        2. All I’m saying is that an American would not say (for example) “I’m going to finish my coffee in the lounge” they would say ‘living room’. It just throws me off. Just like this conversation.

          1. I completely get why that threw you, if the story was being told from an American viewpoint. It’s extremely difficult to get all those details right if they’re not native to you. For example, I didn’t know until you mentioned it that Americans don’t use ‘lounge’.

            Imagine how unreadable most American authors of stories set in Britain – for example, Regencies – are for many Brits. Although English is becoming more and more Americanized, so younger generations don’t hear the Americanisms as I do.

          2. We do a lot of work in the US. So my powerpoint are now littered with colors and organizations and artifacts and behaviors, all of which make me cringe a little inside.

          3. JaneB, I am with you. Having lived in the UK for many years, I can’t read a regency with American spellings, it definitely jars me out of the story.
            Also, any book where a « brit » automatically has a cockney accent or where a supposedly upperclass character is called Brian 😀

      2. What throws me out of a Regency every time is when they say something “is a block away or they walked a few blocks”. It should be “streets or a few yards away”. Maybe doesn’t bother else, just me.

          1. “Squares” came from a Victorian book where a female character said that she was about to walk a few squares for her health — take an afternoon walk, in fact. Book was 1883.

          2. And I guess she might have meant she was going to walk round a few squares: they usually have garden in the middle, so would make a pleasant walk,

      3. Muffler! Just read a book I enjoyed where they constantly said muffler instead of scarf and it threw me out of story every time.

        1. I’d be comfortable if “muffler” meant “warm winter scarf,” whereas “scarf” can be a light silk confection that wouldn’t muffle anything.

    1. RE: sci fi or fantasy books —- have you seen any of the gawdawful “paintings” and stuff with His Orange Awfulness as a superhero? There are definitely books to go along with it. And I would absolutely put money on there already being “alternative history” fantasy books (Man in the High Tower stuff) with the author’s Great Leader having won in 2020.

      It’s cringey and awful, but, well, to each their own, I guess.

    2. Oh dear. I especially like the review that says it has too many homoerotic sex scenes. I almost want to read it to see it that is true, or the reviewer just doesn’t know what homoerotic means…

      1. I think the reviewer was trying to needle the author. As in, “The part where Bill Barr goes down on Trump is particularly satisfying.”

    3. Did I mention in detail that NOT YOUR GRANDMOTHER’S BOOK CLUB PODCAST reviewed the first book in two episodes? Don’t worry about the picture; the actual author has a grown son and is probably a wizened crone — especially if she’s spent decades in the Arizona sun.

      This stuff is just RW fantasy. I would think her “liberal” characters are taking directly from Trump descriptions.

  7. I was at my library to pick up a book on hold and wandered into the fiction stacks without my list of Good Book Thursday Possibles, so it was like I was browsing blind. In the G-H section of the stacks I decided just to make a random choice, and picked a book from the shelf with a friendly looking typeface on the spine, and an interesting title, “Standard Deviation” by an author named Katherine Heiny.

    The blurbs on the back were actual sentences, by actual authors, all of them with high praise for the author and mentioning various things like “Wry voice … colorful cast of characters … charming novel … brilliantly drawn” but the thing that sold me was the phrase “gives women’s interior lives the gravity they so richly deserve — and makes you laugh along the way.” I am a total sucker for interior lives — I always want to know how the characters think and feel about one another — and this book shone in that department.

    And I’ve loved this book, even though I’m not sure why. The most vivid character in the novel is the wife of the narrator, a twice-married man who comes across as a listener and an observer, but not much in the conversation end of things, which is okay because his wife is a Picasso at conversation — always surprising, inventive, and just cracklingly alive. I wouldn’t have picked up the book for the cover, the title alone, or the author (of whom I’d never heard), but I’m really, really, really glad I did.

    1. This is the experience I miss most. Now that so many books are being purchased in e-book format, my branch no longer has many new novels to browse on the shelf. Everything is designed so you won’t linger (half the chairs have been removed) and there is no incentive to just wander along the shelves and encounter hidden gems. They are very good about ordering things from other places, but for that to work you have to know what you want.

      1. It’s so hard without guideposts, though. I would like to have suggestion lists based on the inside of a book, rather than the category heading of books. Amazon sees that I have purchased a Regency Romance (right — Mary Balogh. I know. It’s an addiction.) and starts telling me I might like these Other!! Regency!! Romances!! but so much depends on what the author knows, how the author writes, what is focused on, what is set aside as irrelevant, and so on. It’s great to have a category that fits well and has multiple authors with a large range of titles in their oeuvres, but I don’t have that. Still, at least I can come to this community of readers who like a smart, funny author who’s really fond of Terry Pratchett & Georgette Heyer. It’s almost as good as a Guidepost list. 🙂

        1. I downloaded Standard Deviation a couple of months ago. Will push it up my TBR list now.

          1. I bought it. Looking forward to reading it. Finally something new to read. I was despairing, thinking I would never find a new book. Honestly, hand to brow despair.

          2. My new comment is in moderation. I misspelled my name. Seriously. Going for a walk now to clear the mind.

        2. That’s what is missing from the online bookselling experience. When I go into my local indie bookseller, they have suggestion cards taped on the bottom of the shelves and human beings who might actually have read the book in question. Over time I’ve been able to tell which of the regular posters here have tastes that overlap with mine and are more likely to recommend something I’ll like, but nothing replaces a place where you can ask follow up questions, either in person or electronically.

        3. I discovered K. J. Charles’ Will Darling series some time ago based on recommendations from this blog. Now Amazon keeps sending me recommendations for LGBTQ+ books. I’ve read some of them; some good, some bad.

          1. It really is all about the writer. It doesn’t matter the genre so much for me. I will read anything if it is my kind of writing.

  8. I am writing, and rereading, and adding to, my book. It came out of one strange event in my life. I have no plan, the barest of outlines, and I have no idea where it is going, but it feels great to be writing again, even though this is not my usual style. And it is magical! It gives me something else to think about besides war and misogyny and the climate crisis.

  9. I reread The House in the Cerulean Sea and loved it as much the second time. Truly magical. That’s all I read this week because we got a new Canine Companions puppy (#15!) to raise, and how do I always forget how labor intensive 8-week old puppies are?!?

    1. How do you survive giving them back? By the time the training is over they have become a part your family and that’s when they get taken away.

      1. You tell yourself that you are looking after them for someone else who needs them more. I liken it to loving your nieces and nephews or your best friend’s kid rather than your own kid; you know they belong to someone else so the love is different and one step removed.

      2. The Kitten Lady, Hannah Wray, says you aren’t rescuing orphan kittens permanently, you’re more like a crossing guard making sure they make it from Too Young to Survive in a Shelter to Ready for Adoption.

  10. Thanks to a recommendation here I read the first Eric Carter book by Stephen Blackmoore. It would be too violent and gory for most people here but I loved it.

    I’m still listening to Our Lady of Mysterious Ailments and loving being back with Ropa and crew.

    I have Amongst Our Weapons audio queued up and the new Jodi Taylor on my Kindle so I’m set for a while!

  11. Omigosh, Jodi Taylor — her new book, A Catalogue of Catastrophes is out today so I’ve been re-reading different books in her series. They’re about a group of historians who time-travel to do research on historical events. They’re hilarious and irreverent, and if you, like me, love history, can send you down the Wikipedia rabbit hole to look up events in the books. The first book is called “Just One Damned Thing After Another.” I think people who love Jenny’s books would enjoy these — I love the humor, the irony, the slightly jaundiced eye of the main characters and especially the character growth in Jenny’s books and Jodi’s books have the same. No, I’m not related to Jodi, employed by her, yada, yada!

  12. I’m reading Findley Donovan is Killing It (another one my agent recommended) and have mixed feelings. The writing is good, and the storyline is is interesting enough that I keep picking it up, but I find the protagonist and pretty much everyone else in the book unlikeable, and that’s usually a DNF for me.

  13. I’ve started the new Aaronovitch. It was a Tuesday surprise when it appeared on my Kindle.

  14. Last week, Tammy mentioned rereading some comfort faves, and since I knew and loved (and had recently reread) all but one of them, I tried the one I didn’t know, Power Play by Avon Gale. I hadn’t thought much of the two collaborations of hers that I’d read before, but I really enjoyed Power Play and moved right on to the next one in the series, Empty Net which I also liked a lot. Then I reread a lot of Taylor Fitzpatrick, and now I’m rereading the whole Rachel Reid series in preparation for the upcoming release of The Long Game (the sequel to Heated Rivalry). I don’t even want to know how many M/M hockey romances I’ve read at this point. LOL

    1. I don’t like her hockey collaborations much but I love all the hockey books she’s written on her own. Don’t forget Breakaway and Next Season – love those. Can’t wait for The Long Game to come out! April 26th! Also, Avon Gale writes in a much more successful collaboration as Iris Foxglove – Starian fantasy series that I adore.

      1. And by the way, have you tried Samantha Wayland and Eden Finlay/Saxon James? Those are the only other M/M hockey player romance writers that I like that I haven’t seen you reference…

  15. I am on my way to the library to pick up my copy of Drop Dead Gorgeous by Rachel Gibson. I thought it wasn’t going to be released until the 19th so I better get over there quick.

  16. I read a historical novel, West with Giraffes, by Lynda Rutledge, imagining crossing the continent over 12 days in 1938 to deliver two young giraffes, male and female, to the San Diego Zoo. Rutledge found info in the zoo’s archives, and she used newspaper clippings that detailed where the giraffes were. The rest is conjecture, wonderfully done.

  17. I’m reading (skimming, really) some books as market research, and they definitely don’t fit “good book” Thursday. Maybe I’m extra cranky about them just because they’re delaying my reading of the new Rivers of London book.

  18. Following up on browsing and finding hidden gems, I picked up The Thief-Taker / T. F. Banks randomly at a library book sale last summer and finally read it. Mystery with bow street runner at the lead, not a romance, but with some romantic elements. Good plotting and great background detail. Does anyone find that library book sales still offers that experience? Finding new gems?

    I thought I found a new series to read! But…found out it was written in 2003 by a pair of authors who only went on to write one more book in the series…which I will read of course. I know series don’t go for many reasons, but still sad when the writing was so good. Under the category of what might have been.

    Also finally read Illona Andrews’ novella Fated Blades. Great Romance/Fantasy, always great world building, and competency porn.

    And, because this is the kind of geek I am…read The Baking Answer Book…cover to cover. A short, Q & A reference book about everything about baking. I am an amateur longtime baker, and I learned some new things and tips.

    Going on to the monthly Christie read: finally The Murder at The Vicarage.

    And thanks to all who suggested short mystery stories for my retired dad. Got him hooked on Rex Stout, Margery Allingham, and Dorothy Sayers now.

    1. I mostly go to book sales now to hunt for copies of books I want to own in physical form as well as digital, or for additional copies to have on hand to give away. I don’t loan books, because it stresses me to wait for them to come back

      1. If I want to recommend a favorite book to a friend, I buy them a copy. No loaning! Also I don’t have to know whether they liked it or not. I’ve given copies of ‘Fast Women’ and a lot of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series.

  19. I’ve been so swamped with classes and grad school that reading time has been short, but like so many I also inhaled the new Peter Grant book this week. Really enjoyed it, especially the new pool set-piece at the conclusion.

    I’m also working on an ARC of Alexis Hall’s Husband Material (seems to be modeled on 4 Weddings and a Funeral so far), The Impossible Us by Sarah Lotz, and The Actual Star by Monica Bryne. Once the semester finishes in May then reading time will really open up. I’m gathering recs from this year’s TGBT for my downtime!

  20. I just finished the new Simone St. James, “The Book of Cold Cases”, and it was very good. Not my favorite of hers (My favorite is “An Inquiry into Love and Death”), but I appreciated the tie in with the current amateur true crime phenomenon and her descriptions of places are just striking. It took at least a chapter to get going though and I stuck with it because I trusted that she’d get there.

    Then I re-read Dorothy Sayers’ Gaudy Night because why not?

    1. I loved Simone St James’s previous books, especially Lost Among the Living. You’ve sent me to a reread. Plus I’ve ordered The Book of Cold Cases from the library.

      1. I do an annual re-read of her post-WWI novels every October! It just seems fitting! Enjoy her new one when you get it!

  21. The past week was mostly re-reading for me. Of the new books, Kristen Britain’s fantasy collection The Dream Gatherer was OK. Not bad, but not very good either. It consisted of two short stories and a novella. I’d recommend it to the fans of this writer, as all the stories are set in the world of her GREEN RIDER series.
    Now I’m in the middle of Michelle Diener’s Breakeven. I have been downloading and reading her romantic sci-fi novels and novellas for a while. They are not perfect, but they are reliable. I always know going in that I won’t be ecstatic about her story, but I also know that I’ll enjoy reading it. Her books are light, fast-paced, and well-written adventures, with no sophisticated bits: the perfect examples of escapism literature. I’m slowly plodding through her entire back list. When I’m done with it, I’ll start with her newest series, The Turncoat King.

  22. I also read Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch. I hadn’t enjoyed the last one as much as previous books, it was merely good instead of great, so the curse of expectations and hopes, and Amongst Our Weapons was very good, though not the best.

    I read Wendy Roberts novel, Dating Can Be Deadly, it’s a mystery about a 20-something receptionist at a law firm who is occasionally struck with, usually unpleasant, clairvoyant visions. It was fun and my wife enjoyed it a lot too. Wendy Roberts is also the author of the Bodies of Evidence series, that starts with A Grave Calling, about a young woman who was an abused child and also has an unusual gift/curse. She can dowse, not water, but dead bodies. Which really causes more trouble than it’s worth. That series is a bit dark but good, very reminiscent of Charlaine Harris.

    I’m not sure I’ve mentioned The Elf Tangent, one of Lindsay Buroker’s latest, which I enjoyed. The younger princess of a kingdom is being sent to marry a prince she’s never met to seal a defense alliance against an encroaching would be empire when she’s kidnapped by elves who think she is the key to removing a centuries old curse on their lands. It seems they’ve discovered her secret identity as a master puzzle solver that she thought no one knew about, and while she resents being kidnapped and dragged into danger, not to mention ruining her countries desperately needed alliance, she can’t resist a puzzle.

    1. I think once the Faceless Man was dispatched, the center fell out of the series. I mean seven books chasing one guy is a good way to hold a series together. So Eight and Nine are regrouping with Peter much matured and more powerful, training others to join the unit, and getting ready to be a father. I think the world is so great that I’ll keep going back, and clearly Lesley is going to be a continuing interest, but aside from whatever that was that stared back from the Mary Engine in Book Eight, I’m not seeing that one Antagonist To Rule Them All that united the first seven excellent books. I’ll keep reading anyway. Even the lesser books are a great deal of fun, Lesley is always great, the supporting cast is terrific, the weird magic is compelling (I LOVE the foxes and Abigail) and Peter remains competence porn and very likable. It’s just a great, great series.

      1. I must give it another go. It got too dark and nasty for me after five books or so. Maybe I’ll be braver now.

        1. He’s still chasing The Faceless Man for six and seven, and there are some disturbing deaths in those thanks to that because the antagonist is a sociopath. Eight and nine aren’t exactly lighter, but the deaths aren’t as bizarre. They’re actually less compelling because Peter has settled down to almost-normal life with his girlfriend, so they’re much closer to regular mysteries. They’re industrial espionage (for supernatural things) and hunting a murderer (who’s a supernatural being but not a mastermind over seven books). Much closer to Christie and Sayers, but still weird. I get the feeling that Abigail may be coming to the fore because Peter’s not a newbie anymore so a lot of the tension is gone. Plus he’s a dad by the end of book nine, so he’s not going to be flooding London or leaping off buildings again any time soon.

  23. I’m working my way — very slowly — through the controversial book Prairie Fires, a Pulitzer Prize winner by Caroline Fraser. I got it initially because I thought it was an in-depth biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it kind of is. But though I’m only about 1/3 through, I am fascinated by the amount of well-researched American history the author has packed into the book. And also by the picture I’m getting of Laura’s daughter Rose Wilder Lane, who — so far — I would characterize as a shady piece of work. A warning to those of you who love Wilder’s books: it turns out they aren’t actually all that true to her life! I’m usually pretty cynical so I don’t know why this has come as such as surprise to me.

    As leavening to the amount of realism I’m getting from Prairie Fires, I’ve been enjoying re-reading Elle Kennedy’s Off Campus and Briar U series. I know nothing about hockey, but I did go to a college (a long time ago) with which Briar U has much in common, at least on paper. Maybe my memories of college are fuzzy, but these books strike me as having a fair amount of fantasy. Where are the students who wait until the last minute to write their papers or don’t turn in assignments at all, and who don’t go to class most of the time?

    Also on the fantasy side of things, I read And All the Stars by Andrea K. Host. Aliens come to Earth and teenagers band together to solve the problem. I didn’t like it as much as her Touchstone series, but it was still pretty good.

    1. The LITTLE HOUSE books were intended for kids, so they were always going to be rather idealized, and they were published between 1932 and 1943.

    2. I dnfed All the Stars because I was afraid that it would end badly and I would be upset. It was all so dire. Would you mind spoiling it a bit for me? Did it end ok?

      1. It definitely had at least one major plot twist I didn’t see coming, and life won’t ever be the same for these teenagers. But the main characters live and end up happy.

        1. Oh good. Thank you. I was getting some foreshadowing of everyone dying and I didn’t think I could handle it. Also, I read somewhere that it was a retelling of Cassandra and Troy, and we all know how that ended.

          1. An American historian friend recommended Prairie Fires so my husband (an American history buff) read it. He was put off by Caroline Fraser’s attitude towards people, especially men. I was surprised that she called Laura Ingells Wilder’s Pa “an abject failure.” She defines a successful man as being one who is focussed on and achieves financial success. My husband has noticed that Fraser has the same attitude in articles she writes for The New York Review of Books.

            We took our kids to different Laura Ingalls Wilder sites when they were little. We read the early books to them and both continued with the series. We were interested when we discovered differences between the stories and the events of Wilder’s life. It didn’t seem incongruous.

    3. I liked this post, JulieR, especially the use of the phrase “and it kind of is,” which is one of those phrases nearly everyone I know uses in speech. I’ve never seen it in print, though. Combined with the expert use of bolding, nonetheless!

      The Little House books were ones I read in my childhood, but they always sounded fake to me, even as a third-grader. The following article related to the “Prairie Fires” book pleased me (especially the quote from Rose Wilder Lane: “Have to finish my mother’s goddam juvenile.”) A piece of work indeed.

      1. I remember bonding with another third grader over these books. We used to pretend our Barbie dolls lived on the prairie and would discuss their imaginary clothing — sun bonnets and muslin dresses — at great length.

    4. I like the Elle Kennedy Briar and Off Campus series, too. Her other books don’t do it for me, but those eight were a lot of fun to read.

    5. I read Pioneer Girl when it came out a few years ago as an annotated version. It was fascinating but definitely popped some of my bubbles about the family.

  24. I read Cat Sebastian’s A Gentleman Never Keeps Score and Two Rogues Make a Right. Apart from the rather puzzling titles, which have nothing whatsoever to do with the stories, these were warm-hearted, rather gentle romances. Very enjoyable.

    1. I’m a big fan of Cat Sebastian and those aren’t even my fave books of hers so you’re in for a treat if you keep reading her.

        1. Historical: Ruin of a Rake, A Gentleman Never Keeps Score, Soldier’s Scoundrel and Modern: Peter Cabot Gets Lost.

  25. I need to catch up on Rivers of London. This week’s good book was Everything I Left Unsaid, and fortunately I was warned about the cliffhanger so I already had the sequel (The Truth About Him) ready to go when I hit it. It’s still 1.99 on Bookbub, great deal on a great read. Also read Jeannie Lin’s Tale of The Drunken Sword and it was a delight.

  26. I wanted to reply to the several Regency threads, but couldn’t figure out to whom to reply. I read the occasional Regency. Bujold’s A Civil Campaign and her acknowledgements therein actually sent me to Heyer. That was excellent, so I read others. After reading Pride and Prejudice, there were two time travel stories. In one, someone from that period is brought to the future. In the other, someone finds themselves in that past. Amusing, but the names have been forgotten.

    Open just now is Bryce’s The Reluctant Bride Collection . I’m more than halfway through the third book in the collection, “To Wed the Widow.” I have no feel for the accuracy of the depictions in this or the first two stories. I haven’t noticed whether the spelling has been American or English (so probably American). I do think if I were going to release a Regency in the UK, I would hire a copy editor to Anglicize it, first. A British copy editor. Or maybe a Canadian.

    As Maximus yelled, “Are you not entertained?” That’s all I ask of books I read. Entertained, or maybe educated, but entertained first.

    1. Gary,

      You might like Joanna Bourne’s books. They are spy historical romances set in the French Revolution and Napoleonic eras. The timeline weaves back and forth between the different time periods depending on which couple is featured. The action, romance, and humor are highlights of the series. The women are VERY French and as Jo Bourne lived in Paris very accurate. The Black Hawk is my absolute favorite but start with The Forbidden Rose (chronological) or The Spymaster’s Lady (publishing order). Ignore the covers.

      1. I 1-clicked The Spymaster’s Lady for $2.99. The others want mass market paperback prices and I’m not willing to spend that on books not by Bujold or Crusie, until I see how it goes. I’ll get back to you. 😉

      2. This is a wonderful series. I loved the first one so much I bought them all within weeks — and the mass market paperback versions, too!

      3. I read the first one but I didn’t feel the urge to read the rest. I am afraid the heroine didn’t feel very French to me.

        1. I think Marguerite and Justine have more of that feeling than Annique but everyone reads differently. The audiobook narrator, Kristin Potter, certainly gives them intonations and speech patterns that seem French to me. But I’m a monolingual American so who knows?

          I do think the first book is the weakest, to be honest. I find The Forbidden Rose, The Black Hawk, and Rogue Spy to be the strongest for me.

          1. I read the last one first, and was a little baffled by how all the bit players seemed to know one another. And it felt more British than French to me, although lord knows there was a lot of cross-channel intrigue going on during, before and after the Bonaparte period.

      4. I second ‘ignore the covers’ – that poor author, the covers do not reflect the books at all, and I liked the books a lot – smart, fun, never boring.

  27. I’m a big fan of that series myself, starting quite a while ago. In fact I’ve just queued it up on my laptop to read again because I think I’ve forgotten enough that I won’t be tempted to skim. I really DON’T LIKE to skim! But I don’t like plodding either…

  28. This was the week I had to start a new reading journal. I suppose I ought to start journaling on the computer, but I do every other damn thing on the computer so I cling to my Thing To Actually Write In (With a Pen).

    I read a collection of four novels, one novella, and a short-story compilation by Neil Plakcy; two of the novels were enjoyable, one was very good (‘In His Kiss,’ a YA M/M romance in which the intelligent teenagers act like intelligent teenagers, with all that implies; slow burn with almost no sex); the fourth was a puzzling combination of tragic historical, mystery, and messy modern-day romance. The compilation, unfortunately, brought down my rating for the whole collection. Eek.

    Then I read ‘The Montesoro Legacy’ by Stella Riley, and liked it, but I fear it won’t prove memorable. And I was dissatisfied with the very passive heroine. Well, they can’t all be winners.

    As witness the fact that the next two things I picked up, I abandoned. ‘Midnight Bargain’ – DNFd at 10%, I don’t need that much misogyny and oppression. ‘Quillifer’ – DNFd at 20%, I don’t need that much late-medieval picaresque questing (I thought it would be funny, and didn’t find it so at all. Being book one of three, I had to draw the line).

    Started reading a thing today that I’m pretty sure I’ll be raving about next week, though. 🙂

    1. I found that Midnight Bargain didn’t work for me and I enjoyed Polk’s other books. For me, it didn’t bring anything new to the table which was disappointing because they are an author I really like. I am really looking forward to their new book though.

  29. I am back to Pyramids of London by Andrea Host after putting it down to read Parties. Both are good, competency porn, low drama. I’m a slow reader anymore, but I’m happy to spend time in these worlds.

    1. Is Pyramids YA? I’ve read the description and still can’t figure that out…it also looks like the continuation of another series even though it’s book 1? or am I misreading that?

      1. PYRAMIDS is reasonably YA. It’s the first of a planned series; the next one, TANGLEWAYS, is coming Real Soon Now. There is also a volume with several short works, THE TOWERS, THE MOON.

      2. I think that it is more like adult fiction that is also acceptable for young readers. Like in the library where I worked, there was a set of the Lord of the Rings in the ya section.

        It’s slow paced fantasy/adventure with lots of world building. Andrea Host and Sherwood Smith both tend to write calm, steadfast, capable characters who prevail through hard work and common sense, but the plots aren’t overly dramatic, if that makes sense.

  30. Still trying to write more than I read. Covering my eyes & not seeing someone mention Rachel Gibsons new book is out.
    Reading Tibetan Peach Pie – non-memoir, non-autobiography by Tom Robbins. Enjoying getting to know Tommy Rotten.
    Also still finding Bob Mayer’s Novel Writer’s Toolkit very helpful.

  31. Is it DNF if you take one horrified look and decide to quit while you’re ahead? Normally Lucy Monroe is an automatic buy for me, since one of her Harlequins, MILLION DOLLAR CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL, is a lightweight comfort reread, but when I discovered that the hero in DESERT MOON is a Scottish wolf who has been living in an Egyptian temple ruin / cave: “Maon had not heard his native tongue spoken by another in more centuries than he cared to count,” I decided that even the appearance on the scene of a pretty Scottish maiden wasn’t enough to keep me reading.

    QUEENS OF JERUSALEM: The Women Who Dared to Rule, by Katherine Pangonis. There were other women in the twelfth century besides Eleanor of Aquitaine, although she does feature in this book. It’s mainly the story of a lady named Morphia of Melitene, the first crowned Queen of Jerusalem, and her daughters and granddaughters who reigned as Queens of Jerusalem, Princesses of Antioch, Countesses of Tripoli, and held many other positions as well. They represent some of the most daring, devious and devoted women that history has ever seen.

    THE RED SEA SCROLLS: How Ancient Papyri Reveal the Secrets of the Pyramids , by Mark Lehner and Pierre Tallet — Pierre Tallet is Professor of Egyptology at the University of Paris-Sorbonne, President of the French Society of Egyptology, was the leader of the archaeological mission at Wadi el-Jarf where he and his team discovered the Red Sea papyri. Mark Lehner is President of AERA (Ancient Egypt Research Associates). Recent discovery at the Wadi el-Jarf of a lot of papyri, which turned out to be the records of a man named Merer, who was a crew foreman who plied back and forth between the site of the Great Pyramid of Giza and the stone quarries where they picked up the fine Tura limestone for, probably, the last of the construction projects on the pyramid site (the dates on the records make it likely that the main pyramid was complete, but there were also smaller pyramids for family members, chapels, and water features which were probably completed after the big job). The contents are about as dry as the Sahara, but having an exact record of the times Merer went back and forth between the pyramid complex and the quarry tells us how long it took, what the job was like . . . all kinds of stuff.

    A PRIVATE HISTORY OF HAPPINESS: Ninety-Nine Moments of Joy from Around the World, by George Myerson. “The vale was all mist, and had I not known where I was, and heard the notes of the Jackdaws above my head, I might have conceived myself walking through a subterraneous passage. But the sun soon began to dispel the mist, and gradually the tops of the trees, the turrets of the castle, and the church pierced through, and stood as if suspended above all objects below. All was calm.” Cut-and-come-again book, but I expect to have ninety-nine moments of pleasure from it.

    THE UNOFFICIAL GAME OF THRONES COOKBOOK: From Direwolf Ale to Auroch Stew, by Alan Kistler. Probably nothing there to fix this weekend, but I was looking with interest at Lord Nestor Royce’s Wild Mushroom Ragout — wild mushrooms, butter, leek, garlic, dry white wine, heavy cream, salt and pepper to taste; what’s not to like?

    1. I read and liked some of Lucy Monroe’s Scottish werewolf books, but not enough to follow them. Definitely nothing about pyramids or Egypt. That’s quite a lot going on in that plot right there…

      1. I guess that — long-time fantasy reader that I am — it just was too implausible for me, especially in a busy week when I’ve been focusing on taxes, now submitted.

          1. As a child I loved E. L. Konigsburg’s book A Proud Taste For Scarlet and Miniver about Eleanor of Acquitaine. I reread it recently and felt it held up.

          2. Bet it was good! I have a problem with every medieval romance author whose heroine is a liberated junior Eleanor, even though the girl is a knight’s daughter at best and does NOT own half France . . . .

            One thing I liked about QUEENS OF JERUSALEM was the genealogical detail — so many names in 11th, 12th, and 13th century French territories were the same, that I hadn’t remembered, if I ever knew, that Morphia’s daughter Melisende was married to the grandfather of Eleanor’s second husband, Fulk of Anjou, and their children were Henry II’s uncles. (Melisende also commissioned a shopping arcade in Jerusalem that included “The Street of Bad Cooking”!)

  32. I am partway through the new Rivers of London (audio version) I love Kobna Holdbrook-Smith.

    I can’t remember if I mentioned it last week, but last week’s surprise was Falling to Centerpieces by Ellie Cahill, which I think I got for free. It turned out to be a fun 20-something roadtrip romance. I thought the heroine was going to make me crazy, but she turned out okay.

  33. I have to confess to mostly not reading for the past few weeks. All my time not spent at work has been spent recovering from work. This is not being a fun year in aviation.

    I’m still reading How Not To Diet, albeit very slowly, and leavening that with my reasonably extensive collection of cookbooks. Reading recipes can be wonderfully comforting. Nistisima, by Georgina Hayden, is particularly soothing.

  34. Thanks to the recommendations above, I downloaded Legends and Lattes and enjoyed it. Now I am reading Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell as well as The Gilded Scarab by Anna Butler, ( also recommended above).

  35. I have been listening to Stephen Fry reading What Ho, Jeeves. It’s one of my favourite Jeeves and Wooster novels and I know it well. It’s incredibly soothing to have Fry’s lovely voice reading the familiar words.

    1. I didn’t know Stephen Fry narrated those books! I know what I’ll be doing with my audiobook credits now. Thank you!

  36. It’s Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody… in my room with me, that is. The dotter is with the boyfriend. Ex-SIL is watching his kids. I’m going through old storage media and deleting crap. One of the not-crap files was a PDF of a blog post about this link: and though the file dates back to 3/17/2004 5:29 PM, the link is still good. The PDF file is titled Biblical Injunctions and refers to a West Wing episode I never saw.

    I found the scene on YouTube.

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