160 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 2023

  1. I just finished Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber (magical realism) and immediately ordered the few books she wrote after that. Absolutely loved it.

    1. I finished Furbidden Fatality 😉 and immediately ordered the other two, and finished them! Loved the characters, including Queenie (of course).

      1. Thanks for saying so, Jennifer! I had a wretched day in which someone told me I was pretty much the most horrible person on the planet (which really, would take way more energy than I have, so she might be exaggerating a little), and it really helped to see someone say something nice. Smooches.

  2. I completed Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series – it was, sweet, funny and great literary candy.

  3. I re-read Headliners by Lucy Parker. I love her work and am really looking forward to the new book set in her Battle Royale universe later this year.

    Now reading Elektra by Jennifer Saint which is a retelling of some of the Greek myths and histories. I’ve never been able to keep this area straight in my head, but I’m enjoying the book so far and it’s starting to make sense to me. Success!

      1. Yes! I just checked – it’s called Codename Charming and is out in August. The main characters are Pet and Matthias, who I remember loving in Battle Royale but I’ll need to read it again before the new book is out to refresh my memory. What a hardship…

      2. Oh my god, Lupe — your offhand comment below about purses and how you don’t use one, you use Society6 tote bags instead led me to their website. Those things are so incredible! I think I want them all! Love the botanicals but so many are just funny and sophisticated and dry. Like the one with crows on page 6, for instance. Love them! Thanks so much for an offhand comment!!


  4. Still fighting shy of The Goblin Emperor and now on book three of The Useful Woman Series by Darcie Wilde, Regency mystery. This one is ‘And Dangerous to Know’ and features Lady Caroline Lamb and her Byron fixation— it seems she was quite the stalker. The heroine/amateur sleuth is torn between two beaux and also values her independence.

    1. PS: leftover from yesterday- was Sophie Dempsey named after The Great Sophy? It was suggested so in Wikipedia. Pretty cool!

  5. I have been chewing my way through Lily Mayne’s series human/monster pairings – for which I blame Lupe for luring me down these weird tunnels – and my only issue is that there’s too much sex in them. I am the Goldilocks of sex in books. Last week I complained that there wasn’t enough in one book and this week I’m complaining there was too much. And really, to continue an Arggh conversation from yesterday, it’s not about the amount of sex, it’s about whether the sex develops the characters and/or furthers the plot. I’m not a fan of gratuitous sex; it’s boring.

    I also read Eliot Grayson’s new release, Alpha’s Gamble, in her Mismatched Mates series, and another TA Moore book, Cash in Hand. Plus Marina Vivancos released the second in her hockey-omegaverse series, Face Off, not as good as the first one but it still works.

    1. Ooh. Lily Mayne has been on the list for a while now. I was worried that she might be too dark. I will have to give her a try when I am in a gratuitously sexy mood.

      1. You make that sound like a thing. Like, you wake up one morning and say: “I’m in a gratuitously sexy mood.”

        1. Pretty much. Like my underwear. Lately I have been very PG, all about cozy comfort in reading and in underpants.

          1. But I just bought myself the nicest bamboo underthings. They are so soft and wonderful. Everyone should have bamboo underroos.

          2. Here we are still talking about underwear. Okay I’ll join in. I’ve worn the same old Calvin Klein brand for about a zillion years, no matter what the state of my mood, day, circumstance, etc. Adventures R Not Us.

          3. We’re sharing underwear preferences? Delightful! I wear flannel boxers in various solid colors. Haynes and Fruit of the Loom. If I’m cold, I might add a t-shirt. That’s my Scantily Clad Gardener uniform, too. 🙂

        2. Weird. Huh. I guess I assumed from your taste in shoes that you would have other fancy accessories. I am a closet sensualist when it comes to nice socks and underwear.

          Fyi, I was very disappointed in Nordic socks. Smartwool and Darntough are much cozier in my opinion.

          1. Nope. I buy Roots cozy socks from Costco in bulk. Totally utilitarian. Purses also bore me. I think of them as Tupperware containers that go on your arms.

          2. Oh, I am definitely not a purse person. I have a lot of printed totes from Society 6 that I can use to beat a mugger to death with. Machine washable.

          3. Wool makes my feet itch. I have fairly warm extremities. You know what they say – warm feet, warm heart.

  6. I read K.M. Shea’s King’s captive & King’s shadow which despite the fairly cheesy titles are actually cosy urban fantasies. The heroine’s powers or rather power is interesting and the slow burn is sweet. These were recommended by Gary H a couple of Thursdays ago and I am looking forward to the third volume coming out next month. Also it’s on KU and it is not always easy to find good stuff on KU.

  7. I finished These Old Shades, by Georgette Heyer. It has a very satisfying ending, with revenge and true love. I re-read the second and third Mrs. Pollifax books. I loved the hint of romantic interest in the third one, and the odd group of rescuers that came together. The second one is full of intrigue and mystery, and is a fascinating look into Gypsy culture. I started His Last Christmas in London, by Con Riley. The almost instant leap into sex took me by surprise, and I have paused to let that settle. I’m still paused on the 5th Murderbot. This just mayn’t be my genre. (Mayn’t is not a word I use, but this autocorrect likes it, so I left it.) The third trilogy of Penric and Desdemona stories came last night. Maybe I’ll start that. I appreciate any reviews that are more than “I liked it”, and say why you liked it. It helps me decide whether to try the book myself. But, if that is not your thing, then carry on. It’s great hearing about new opportunities for reading.

          1. The lemons and cheese. Also, I did not know about the crepes. This is a multifaceted holiday!

        1. Happy Imbolc! In which we celebrate the first stirrings of spring, far beneath the frozen ground, and hope that spring actually arrives when it says so on the calendar.

          1. Oh and the forecast for tomorrow morning is: “-24 C, feels like -37 C”. That’s Metric so in Imperial it’s -12 F/-35 F.

          2. Nope. The northeast of the US and Canada is experiencing a “generational” arctic cold front though.

    1. My first book was Manhunting, it had a bad Temptation cover, but lucky I was used to those and I’d just read the text off the back of the new books before buying

  8. I’m reading The Witches of Moonshine Manor by Bianca Marais. I’ve just started it but so far, I’m excited. I’m also reading The Invisible Kingdom, Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourke. It’s an interesting book filled with lots of science (overwhelming at times) and it is so much my story for the last 30 years.
    Thanks to whoever recommended Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe. I loved it.

  9. I went through my want to read list on Goodreads and started placing any books on hold that the library system owns and they all came in within a couple of days of each other. So what did I read? I reread Under the Whispering Pines by T J Klune. If any of you have read it, you’ll perhaps remember the scene I am going to mention. If you haven’t read it, please skip over this; a small spoiler is coming…

    I don’t know how I missed this the first time I read it, but the scene where Wallace communicates on the Ouija board with Desdemona had me laughing out loud. He wrote something about going to eat her liver only writes diver instead and she says she doesn’t understand, she doesn’t go diving. Wallace then spells out..autocorrect..he meant liver. And I, who have frequent issues with autocorrect, immediately burst out laughing at the idea of Ouija boards now being sold with autocorrect! Please tell me I’m not the only one who finds this funny.

    1. You are definitely not. What on earth happened to the wooden or cardboard board that you spoke to with others in a superstitious group?

      1. Jinx, it was a regular board; what made me laugh was Wallace using the term autocorrect to correct his “typo” of the word liver as diver. It just brought the idea of a new type of fancy Ouija board with all the trimmings to mind and that, besides his error and correction, is what made me laugh so much.

  10. I’m listening to The Last Camel Died at Noon, Elizabeth Peters. I haven’t read that in years, and it’s quite fun to go back closer to the beginning of the series, when Ramses was a boy, and before so many other characters (that I enjoy) were accumulated.

    I listened to “Piccadilly Jim” (1916) by P.G. Wodehouse. He really could control his plot lines, multiple layers of impersonations and cons and family relationships. Not a word out of line.

  11. I can recommend Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, which I enjoyed very much. More like “budding” romance that doesn’t go too far yet, but a sequel is promised. Grumpy/sunshine, but with an academic and a faerie prince.

    I can also recommend Station Eternity by Mur Lafferty, if I haven’t already. Gets complicated beyond “Jessica Fletcher in space,” but it’s interesting and there’s a creative reason why.

  12. I’m still reading the Finley/James hockey books, am about to finish the Shameless Puckboy (my least favourite title of the series so far I guess). Haven’t made much progress this week because I’ve re-read the Irrepsonsible Puckboy (I’d never have thought that Dex the “dumbass” could grow so dear) AND have fallen down the rabbit hole of hockey on youtube…
    By now, even my colleagues have learnt of my new obsession and are – like my kids – making fun of me (in a kind way, but still)…

    A long list of excerpts are waiting for me (Reid, Gibson etc.), so I don’t have to leave the hockey world anytime soon.

    1. I’ve been down the rabbit hole of this world for three years now and I can tell you, you can never leave…

        1. So I’m in very good company 😀
          Btw, the next Rachel Reid should be aut in September, yeah!
          And Puckboy 4 even earlier in April!
          Just after dd and I will be back from 7days in London. So much to look forward to!

          1. Her instagram and iirc goodreads/amazon, so taken with a large ponch of salt.
            Otoh the dates for Fearne hill ‘s and KJ Charles’ next titles were up there too and were the same as on the author’s sites. So I hope RR’s next one ist correct/nearly correct…

      1. You all kept talking about it so I just binge reread all of Rachel Gibson’s hockey series. Still good the hundredth time round.

        And that has thrown me into Erin McCarthy’s Nascar series.

        Y’all are a bad influence.

  13. I have started and discarded a few books this past week. Just can’t get interested. So I went back in time and have a lineup to reenjoy. Spring Break by Mary Kay Andrews, some of her books in KU. Then there is Slightly Married by Mary Balogh. I’m on a wait list for WTT. Also on the wait list for Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun by Lois Winston and waiting for a new release like Someone Else’s Shoes by JoJo Moyes which should come out next week.

  14. I reread Patricia Rice’s Family Genuis series, Evil Genuis, Undercover Genius, Cyber Genius, Twin Genius and Twisted Genius. I still love these characters.

    I keep bouncing off of Astrid Parker Doesn’t Fail by Ashley Herring Blake. It’s the sequel to Delilah Green Doesn’t Care, which I really loved. Astrid is the sister with whom Delilah had such a contentious relationship. It’s also an F/F romance, but so far I really don’t care much for Astrid and the antagonistic love interest is a self-involved manipulative asshole that we’re supposed to feel sorry for because her wife died a year ago. I’m having trouble bringing myself to want to spend any time with these people.

  15. I finished books 2 and 3 of a science fiction series I’ve been reading, the Bobiverse books by Dennis E Taylor and quite enjoyed them. My library system doesn’t have book 4 and I’m anxious to get to it so I bought it as an audio book rather than sourcing it through the almost-province-wide system because I am lazy.

    I listened to The Cold Vanish by Jon Billman which is about missing people and follows one case from a few weeks after the young man goes missing until his body is found. It’s both fascinating and very sad.

    Still listening my way through Personal Effects: What recovering the dead teaches me about caring for the living by Robert A. Jensen. He runs a disaster management company and between that and his time in the mortuary services division of the US Army and his people have been boots on the ground at pretty much every major disaster since the Oklahoma City bombing. It’s very compelling but certainly not for everyone.

    I’ve also started Lavender House by Lev AC Rosen, a 1950s-era queer noir that is so far, so good.

    Next up is the Bangalore Detectives Club by Harini Nagendra which is set in 1920s Bangalore. I’m really looking forward to this one.

  16. After a bit of a book drought, I finally read two novels that I liked!

    Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman was a treat. Smart, breezy, rom-com-ish with a unique set up. Very satisfying.

    I listened to the Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley as recommended by some lovely here. Another satisfying read about found family, a theme I love. I will follow with her latest Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting.

    Thank you, Argh folks!

  17. Kristin Cashore recently released the latest novel in her Graceling series, “Sea Sparrow” so I re-read books 1, 3 and 4 in her series before reading “Sea Sparrow”. The Graceling series is set in a fantasy realm which has magic.

    The first book, “Graceling” is set in the 7 Kingdoms where people who have mis-matched eyes signify that they have a super power aka Grace. People don’t always get their Grace at birth, they may get their mismatched eyes and Grace up until their teens. Normal people tend to be scared of Gracelings since many times when people get their Grace, they don’t always know what it is until they’ve set people on fire, or killed everyone in the house by having a bad dream or turning people into insects. Katya, the protaganist of “Graceling” is the niece of a king and her Grace appears to be killing since she killed her distant cousin when she was very young. So, her uncle uses her as his enforcer. If he wants to punish someone or force a deal, he sends Katya to break a few fingers or kill the entire family. Everyone in the 7 kingdoms know who Katya is and is scared of her. The first part of this book is how Katya learns to free herself from her uncle. The second part introduces a major character in the other novels, Bitterblue, and an evil Graceling.

    The third book, “Bitterblue”, is about the fallout and PTSD caused by the evil Graceling from the 1st novel. It’s a novel about surviving loss and horror.

    The fourth novel, “Winterkeep”, also features Bitterblue as she travels to another land. This also introduces lovely sentient non-human creatures – the Keeper, the silbercows, and, best of all, the blue foxes. I loved the blue foxes.

    The fifth novel, “Sea Sparrow”, features a new character who is close to Bitterblue. If you are dealing with cold and snow, I would suggest NOT reading this book until spring arrives. There’s a lot of snow, ice, rain and wet in this book as Bitterblue and her team attempt to return home from the land depicted in the previous book. The new character is also dealing with a lot more PTSD than Bitterblue because she saw a lot of the evil Graceling from the first book, so there’s quite a bit of angst.

    I skipped the second book “Fire” deliberately on my re-read because: 1) it is about another land which don’t have Gracelings, but have their own magic, 2) it is pretty horrific. It’s more horror than adventure, in my opinion. This book has descriptions of great beauty and events of great horror.

    Except for “Bitterblue” and “Sea Sparrow” – where the main character is still dealing with PTSD, each story has the main character finding their romantic partner in the course of the story, so that was nice.

    1. Thanks for your detailed and interesting reviews of the books. I will definitely avoid Fire. Romance is almost always nice. 🙂

      1. I liked Fire a lot – Bitterblue was my favourite. Winterkeep was only okay and…I’ve heard not great things about Seasparrow.

    2. You made my day! I loved Graceling and Bitterblue but forgot to keep looking for sequels!
      But argh, I have The Goblin Emperor first.
      And work.

      1. If you don’t like the Goblin Emperor after a few chapters, I reckon you may as well give up on it. The style and tone of the book doesn’t change. I love it but that doesn’t mean you have to ;-).

        1. Oh, I disagree. The first few chapters are grim. As the protagonist grows into his job and starts to develop the first real relationships since his mother died it becomes considerably more positive. I think chapter 9 is also when the plot really starts to develop and we are not just learning about the world she created.

          I’m not a big fan of fantasy worlds and I love this book.

  18. Kerry Winfrey’s Very Sincerely Yours was an OK novel. Not truly a romantic comedy as advertised on the cover (it wasn’t funny at all), but rather a women’s fiction with alternate POVs: male & female of the couple. Did I read it to the end? Yes, I finished it. Did I like it? Not really for several reasons. But the main reason was: I disliked the female protagonist.
    On the other hand, Olivia Atwater’s Half a Soul was a lovely short novel, light and whimsical. Magic in regency England. Cruel fairies. A fascinating heroine in the mode of Cinderella and a grumpy magician instead of a prince. It had all been done before, of course, but Atwater put a fresh twist on a traditional tale. I enjoyed reading it and already ordered the second book of the series from my library.

      1. I’m almost done with Avery Sincerely Yours and I have liked it. The main character grows a lot. Everything happens a little faster than seems believable but it’s a fun light read.

  19. The best thing I read this week was The Fair Botanists. Set in Edinburgh in 1822, it follows two women, one of them a perfume maker and courtesan, the other a widowed artist, and is built around the moving of the botanical gardens to a new site, the once-in-a-lifetime flowering of an agave plant, and the imminent visit of George IV.

  20. Ooh, just realized it’s a new month, so I have new borrows available through Hoopla and can go back to listening to Agatha Christie stories as narrated by Hugh Fraser. I’ve been re-listening to the Lady Sherlock series (by Sherry Thomas), in anticipation of the next one, which will release in March. Plus, I just really like the narrator, Kate Reading. Comfort reads on cold nights when my eyes are acting up too much to be able to read an ebook (or paper) — stupid thyroid eye disease, not life-threatening, but really annoying.

  21. I reread Faking It for the Jillionth time! Please say there are publishing dates for the books you mentioned in your blog!!! Nobody else writes with that snarky voice we all hear rolling thru our heads, when what we’re thinking doesn’t match what we’re saying. Love your dialogue!!!

    1. No dates yet, but there are books with our agent, so fingers crossed! And thank you for asking!

    2. I love the mental conversations Cranky Agnes has with her psychiatrist- ‘angry language, Agnes’. ‘F you, Dr. Garvin’

  22. I’m reading Jen DeLuca’s Well Traveled. I generally like the series. I’m not rushing through this one. I’m enjoying some relaxed reads. Maybe I’ll try Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber next.
    I can’t go wrong with Argh recommendations.

    1. Yes, I just checked out Midnight Blackbird Cafe after hearing so many people liked it. I haven’t opened it yet because I’m still reading Argh. 😊

  23. Since Kate Clayborn’s new book came out and reminded me about backlist, I’ve been reading the Chance of a Lifetime trilogy (Beginner’s Luck, Luck of the Draw, Best of Luck), which I had book 1 and 2 of and hadn’t gotten around to reading. I love the found family theme, and book 2 is fake relationship catnip. Good week in reading.

  24. Didn’t have a book in hospital, so not much progress in reading. Variation on a Theme Book 4 is serialized to chapter 59, 60 tomorrow. I’m caught up. A Clean Fake Marriage Collection is in progress. Again. I did finish listening to Minimum Wage Magic on Audible.

    My soup bowl was lost in the move. Tsk. I have eleven cans of soup to eat from Rubbermaid bowls instead.

    Either the healing has begun, or I have the perfect combination of meds. Walking around the basement or climbing the stairs have not bothered me greatly. I have noy yet given my bed any thought at all. The reclining computer chair works for sleep.

      1. Yes ma’am. By your command. 🙂 (Just got up from ten hours in my very comfy bed. Getting out of bed hurt. but I feel better all around.)

  25. I was disappointed this week. I’ve listened to 3 of the Felix Francis books – he’s got nothing on his dad, that’s for sure. He plays around with technology and law to suit the plot (I sincerely doubt that an heir is personally responsible for debts incurred by the deceased, especially when those debts were illegal in the first place).

    Then I started listening to Gail Carriger’s The Heroine’s Journey yesterday. Lovely book, horrid reader. The woman enunciates every single consonant, and she pauses in order to do it. It’s incredibly irritating to listen to and makes me glad I don’t have to try to have a conversation with the woman. I had to abandon it. I’ll get the ebook instead, because the book itself is really quite interesting.

    Other than that, I’ve been rereading for the umpteenth time the Amber Chronicles. Aside from being so very male, they’re a lot of fun. I’m halfway through Guns of Avalon.

  26. I feel like someone should start writing a series of period mystery novels based around the Group of Seven painters and Lawren Harris could be the main amateur sleuth. Setting kind of noir Toronto of the tens and twenties. At some point they could solve the murder of Tom Thomson in the lake in Algonquin park.
    Need someone who’s a big art history buff.

    1. Additional for non-Canadians here: The Group of Seven were loosely knit painter friends who are famous-in-Canada for their post impressionist landscapes of our geography. Lawren Harris probably produced the most avant garde pieces (google his paintings for some truly incredible pictures that still appear to be ahead of their time). Tom Thomson (the best looking one) went canoeing in a provincial park and drowned there under mysterious circumstances.

      1. Thanks! I have just been reading on these. I love paintings and these are magnificent. I am going to have to go and see some in person!

        1. Come visit Toronto some time, LN, and we will take you up to the McMichael Gallery which is mainly Group of Seven.

          1. I want to go and visit my brother in Montréal soon, hopefully this summer so I was thinking of doing a little road trip up the American East coast from Boston but now I may have to change my itinerary or do a detour :).

          2. I hVe been reading up in their lives and Emily would be the better candidate for sleuth. She travelled more, for one thing, London, Paris, northern Canada etc, and also went across Canada to visit the group of seven painters. She even met Georgia O’Keefe.
            Lawren Harris sounds pretty stuffy until he got sucked into a bogus mysticism.

        1. Many thanks to Tammy for her intro to a group I’d never even heard of. Living in an ethnocentric thought bubble, so busy trying to ignore the weirdness of my own government that I am paying way less attention to the rest of the world. 🙁

    2. I wish I had a brain that was history-oriented, because this sounds like so much fun, but I can’t write historical stories. I’ve had ideas for them before (not as good as this one!), but couldn’t write them.

      1. Researching them would be a b*tch!
        I still think a steampunk Eliza Doolittle would be a hoot- the professor hooks her up with all the latest best gadgets and metal joints instead of the recycled rusty ones the lower classes have to settle for. While also getting her to pronounce her aitches!

  27. I’m stuck in the middle of Allison Montclair’s The Unkept Woman. I’m deeply invested in the characters from previous books but this is so depressing I just cannot.

    I’m reading a lot of interior design books that all blur together. Some good, some not so good, but all with pretty pictures.

    I’m not far past the beginning of Neon Yang’s The Genesis of Misery. I like it so far, but sometimes Yang loses me in the middle.

    I’m rereading several favorites, especially Yoon Ha Lee’s Raven Strategem.

    I’m back to working full time (after my boss has been cutting my hours and pressuring me to go part time she seems to have suddenly changed her mind) so I’m short of reading time and also brain.

    1. This is the boss for whom you slept at work for several days because of bad weather so the animals would be ok? She should be so grateful to have you ….

      1. Yes, that one. I’ve worked there twelve years now. I’m still sane. We all have what we call “Peggy-moments” where we just end up staring into space wondering. Like the time she put one of the receptionists at two places on the same day, and Tanya highlighted it and wrote “Sorry, my clone’s not available.”

  28. Interesting range of reactions the Arghers have had to ‘Very Sincerely Yours’! I liked it even though the female MC is pretty much the exact opposite of me.

    Several re-reads – many of the older Dick Francis titles are down to 2.99 / 3.99 at AMZ so I’ve been loading up; ‘High Stakes’ and ‘For Kicks’ this week. Both cracking good books. Also re-read ‘One Day on Beetle Rock’ by Sally Carrighar, which is terrific naturalism disguised as fiction, and ‘The Replacement Husband’ by Eliot Grayson, a classic Regency-esque romance with a twist.

    DNF at 8%: ‘These Old Shades’ by Georgette Heyer. It was a terrible e-transfer (riddled with text errors), but I just hated it. That same old cynical / cutting-wit dangerous dandy, being a dick to his best friend and a paternalistic prick to the heroine. The generational age gap I could live with, but not the incessant use of ‘child’ to describe a 19-yr-old woman. It’s ludicrous even if he honestly thought Leonie was Leon, which he obviously didn’t. A middle-class 19-yr-old man in the mid-18th century would’ve been working for a decade already, certainly not considered a ‘child,’ and if he truly perceives her as a ‘child’ he shouldn’t be already planning to get her out of her clothes. So glad I didn’t pay full price for it.

    Did a review read for QRI, ‘Crush’ by L. Dreamer, which I recommend to anyone looking for cis-female + trans man slow-burn romance set on California’s Central Coast with loads of winery nerdery. I enjoyed it with very minor quibbles, recommend skipping the prologue.

    Read two okay M/M romances along the way to finishing up the reading week with ‘Escort (Three Tales of a Silver Fox)’ by Harper Fox, which if you like Harper Fox please don’t miss this book. It has not bounced ‘Whistling in the Dark’ out of #1 position for 2023, but I loved it.

    1. I have enjoyed all the Heyers I’ve read but I would agree the Leonie/ Monsignor relationship was a bit troubling. She basically knelt at his feet and kissed his ring. The follow-up, The Devil’s Cub- their son’s story, is also eyebrow-raising in Leonie’s fond tolerance of her son’s rascally predilections for seduction and murder, via duels.
      Leonie is essentially a conscience-less character, raised without values, and felt the Monsignor owned her, body and soul, for rescuing her from squalor. I think one really has to set aside any modern sensibilities to appreciate her point of view.

      1. Agreed to both. I do like the heroine of Devil’s Cub and the idea of a pragmatic woman dealing with a rake but the way she gets into her scape isn’t exactly pragmatic and her affection for him seems as much maternal as romantic . And I sadly know a few too many moms who tolerate bad behavior by their sons.

    2. I loved These Old Shades when I was thirteen, but doubt I could enjoy it now. It’s one of her early ones, and they haven’t aged well. I would have been reading Stanley J. Weyman, Rafael Sabatini and Baroness Orczy at the same time, none of whom I stuck with.

      1. I love it still. Avon and Leonie being deeply flawed (even considering historical context, they’re plenty weird) does not make them less interesting. And I was always there more for the vengeance than the romance. The final ensemble scene with cloth of gold coat always hits its marks. (In fact I can’t really visualize it without seeing a proscenium.)

        (Also, I still read Sabatini.) 😉

        1. This whole discussion is making me want to re-read it! I’ve always enjoyed “These Old Shades” but its not one I’d recommend to others. Avon is absolutely amoral, so I completely understand someone disliking him. I just dnfed a book because the heroine was speeding unrepentantly 🙂

          But I’m not sure we can read all that much into Avon addressing Leon / Leonie as “mon infant” – after all “Baby” is an accepted term of endearment in modern times – admittedly not one I much like. Alternatively Avon is acutely aware of the discrepancy in age and dissolution and I’m fairly sure has no intentions of seducing or marrying Leonie for much of the book no matter how much affection he feels for her, so it could also be read as a distancing technique.

      2. I think Heyer, when she wrote it (about a century ago, I think) was still much closer than we are today to an age when the king of an empire would feel a million miles above a peasant girl working in a city slum for a laborer/bully. And a Duke? My god, he must eat heavenly food off golden plates! And bathe every single month! And speak to the King actually face to face!! I don’t think that we can really fully imagine the distance between them in terms of class and power and wealth, since we have been brainwashed by the Enlightenment and the various Revolutions that brought us to the US and England and France of contemporary times. I think Heyer did quite a good job of imagining what it might have been like, and then engineering a HEA for her readers.

        1. Wealth disparities are arguably worse today but power and status yes, and unlike today people thought those things were fixed. Not that Leonie ever seems even slightly intimidated 🙂

          But that’s part of Heyer’s plot and one of the more problematic aspects of the book for me – Heyer is making a nature over nurture argument that reinforces the “rightness” of the class structure. I love the story regardless but it bothers me.

          1. Well, I can see that, but I would love to know what influenced her at the time she wrote the book. My first Heyer was “The Nonesuch” which meant that finding other books by her at the County library led me to expect them all to be set in that time period. I wonder now why she chose to begin with Georgian period novels, and how much she was influenced by other novels popular during that time. Her dislike of sharing personal information makes me wonder if we’ll ever know details like that.

          1. That reminds me of when my daughter read Jane Eyre when she was much younger. She was so excited because there was lots of French in it and it was accurate too :).

          2. This whole discussion of Heyer, Orczy, and others fascinates me. I love Heyer despite — no, on a whole different level from the problems folks are raising. Sometimes I turn off my “inappropriate for some reason” filters and enjoy myself.

            Yet I can’t do that with Orczy (The Scarlet Pimpernel), Anthony Hope (The Prisoner of Zenda), or E.M. Hull (The Sheik). I didn’t find any “there” there in the heroines when I was a teen, and didn’t like them.

          3. Jane — You’re right. I cared much more about the Scarlet Pimpernel than Marguerite. Until you said that, my memory had updated itself to 2023 when I focus on heroines.

  29. So I’m still working on Stolpersteine and reading any books I can find on the war crimes trials. I’m somewhat depressed by the lack of any decent historians writing on it. The two main books on Dachau are interesting and I think fairly accurate but one is really focused on the lead prosecutor and the other is more an effort to counter Holocaust deniers which is important but not quite what I think is needed. And there are apparently pretty extensive archives .

    And the academics who write about it seem entirely focused on whether the trials extended international law on war crimes.

    Maybe I need to write one…

    I also read Judith Flanders book on the Making of Home, which really was thought provoking about what life was like 2 and 3 and 500 years ago. I now have as light relief to the Holocaust readings her book on the invention of murder —the Victorian passion for reading true crime. And I have just got my copy of the January 6 committee report with the Jamie Raskin commentary.

    I should probably rotate in the Goblin Emperor or Terry Pratchett or something else moderately cheering . ( I am following #receptiogate on Twitter still where the plagiarist seems to keep digging herself a bigger and bigger hole…I learned a new term, the Streisand effect, which is when someone’s efforts to hush something up go viral and get it lots of attention.)

    1. Incidentally my favorite bit of #receptiogate right now is she apparently sent several people who have been revealing her plagiarism and fraudulent academic fundraising a letter threatening vague legal action on legal letterhead purportedly signed by someone from that law firm but the letter head is clearly a copy because it’s got a dark spot on the same place on all the letters and is slightly awry on all. She just doesn’t know when to stop making trouble for herself and I hope someone notifies the law firm that she is misusing their name.

      She’s also gotten people briefly kicked off Twitter and tried to get them in trouble at their academic institutions but as far as I can tell no one has been actually hurt and they are all amused (as well as infuriated by the academic fraud. )

    1. You can get the beginnings of the story by reading this Twitter chain for which you don’t need to be on Twitter https://twitter.com/paularcurtis/status/1608146988511690753?s=12
      Or here https://modernmedieval.substack.com/p/receptiogate
      And this version is in Dutch with an English translation. https://nieuwscheckers.nl/verknipt-plagiaat-valse-identiteiten-en-middeleeuwse-manuscripten/
      Basically the woman seems to have created a fraudulent academic institute and gotten grants for her work which plagiarizes other peoples work; medieval Twitter (that’s a group of medieval historians who find eachother by using #medievaltwitter, but I love the concept ) have been digging into her work and finding more and more plagiarism, a fake company, fake employees at her institute, listing respected scholars as advisors who never agreed to serve, a claim to a copyright for a process for studying medieval manuscripts that seems to be just using the Wayback machine website. In efforts to shut this set of attacks down she has threatened lawsuits, her husband has sent anonymous (but easily detected) threats to the guy who first detected and revealed her plagiarism, a legal threat at Wikipedia, and I am probably forgetting more than half of it. It’s been a near daily soap opera since Christmas.

      1. I posted an answer with links and it’s in moderation. The plagiarizer is Professor Carla Rossi, the guy who first spotted it is Peter Kidd, and the academic institute she created with lots of stock photos for the staff is Receptio. Hopefully the comment I posted with links will eventually get through; the links are worthy of popcorn.

  30. Currently reading:
    Three Act Tragedy by Agatha Christie. It’s satisfying as it’s a small hardback reprint with the original cover, even though the murderer is annoying.
    Merely A Rider, the autobiography of Anneli Drummond-Hay. She was a phenomenal rider, of aristocratic family but with no money and a neglected childhood.
    About to start: Finding Hildasay by Christian Lewis. He’s an ex-paratrooper who was severely depressed when he set off to walk the coast of the UK. I follow him on Facebook (Chris Walks the UK). Along the way he found a dog, Jet, a girlfriend, Kate, and they’ve had a baby, Magnus, and are still walking.
    Currently watching: The Lady Vanishes, which is really rather good.

  31. I finished Montclair’s The Unkept Woman and loved it despite the way I felt in the beginning, but I am very tired of books–in all genres–with a ton of treachery.

      1. And to continue this theme, I’ve started Natasha Pulley’s The Half-life of Valerie K, set in 1963 Soviet Russia . Post Stalin, but still so very treacherous.

  32. I just returned ‘Lessons in Chemistry” to the library (I was 541 on the Hold waiting list when I signed up for it) and out of curiosity looked it up after I got home. At the moment, with 91 copies of the physical book in the system, there are 912 on the waiting list. They also have 159 eAudiobook copies, with 949 people waiting for those, and 250 Kindle ebook copies, with 1510 people on that list.

    After my friend read my library copy and returned it to me, I re-read passages and loved it even more, and I’m guessing the word of mouth must be going hog wild on this book to have that big a crowd in one county of one US state waiting to read it. Kudos to Bonnie Garmus, who is apparently a first-time novelist!

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