This is a Good Book Thursday, September 14, 2023

So Vermillion is finished and Bob has it uploaded so you can buy it in paper and hardcover now. And I just plotzed. I have so much to do, and I just couldn’t do any of it. So I tried to read a novel and nope, couldn’t do that, either; my brain is too full of words on a screen to compute right now. I ended up watching Matt Smith’s first Doctor Who episode, which I think is called “The Eleventh Hour,” because it’s brilliant and so is he. That’s how bad my brain is broken: I’m watching TV for the first time in years. Literally years. Unfortunately, this isn’t a “This is a Good TV Show” post, so it’s over to you.

What good book did you read this week?

168 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 14, 2023

  1. I have ended up embarking on a big reread of my Mary Stewart favourite books inspired by the discussion around the Moonspinners a couple of Thursdays ago.

    One of my favourites is Stormy Petrel because of the writer heroine’s musings on writing (I always like it when writers have writer characters) and because of the depiction of scottish widlife and landscape (lots of birds).

    After that I reread Wildfire at midnight (delightful heroine, splendid scottish mountains), Airs above the ground (the horses!), Touch not the cat (psychic powers, crumbling mansion, family secrets). One thing you can say about Mary Stewart is that she doesn’t write the same book over and over again.

    I also really enjoyed reading Two types of sacrifices by the Undiagnosable on Ao3. The author also put it on Kobo for free but honestly, I would have wanted to pay for it. It’s very good.

      1. Me too. I must revisit Stormy Petrel as it’s not one of my faves so I haven’t read it in years. I might have a different opinion. Wildfire at Midnight is one of the first I read. It’s fab.

        1. Stormy petrel has a fairly simple plot but I love the setting ( a scottish higland) and the heroine who is an Oxford don but also a fàntasy writer (under a pseudonym of course :))

          1. I love that book – “…you wanted his heart on a plate. I have cooked it for you…” (that’s from memory – possibly 5o years ago – so may not be an exact quotation).

    1. Are your kids still laughing at you for testing AO3? Or have you convinced them that you are cool now?

      1. I don’t think they’ll ever think I am cool but I do like it when I surprise people. I really enjoyed my much younger colleagues’ surprise when I told them I used to be a brown belt at judo. They could not believe it.

    2. I enjoyed the two MM hockey romances I read by the Undiagnosable on AO3. But that was before I realised that at least one of the hockey players in them was a real person. And now I’m conflicted. They were good stories, but it seems really creepy to me to publish sexually explicit fanfic about someone who is real.

      (I initially wrote ‘to *write* sexually explicit fanfic’. But of course anyone can write anything. It’s putting it in the public sphere that bothers me.)

        1. Also makes me squeamish. Especially since one of the players gets paired with everyone and his brother in the hockey world in different stories. Hard to wrap my head around that. So I also started avoiding the ‘fanfic’.

          1. No real people in that one, or the surrounding ones in that series. Yes, hard to believe those books are free.

      1. Lian, thanks for pointing out that Undiagnosable featured real people in some of their stories!!

        I had downloaded a couple of her (?) stories, hadn’t come around to reading them and now certainly never will.

        I can’t stomach reading stories with real players in any other then very superficial stories like you’d read in a newspaper article.
        Reading explicit text feels like violation to me.
        Far too squeamish.

      2. Also recently a real hockey player and his wife went public with the knowledge he was being sexually harassed and his wife and children were being harassed as a result of some hockey romance fans being inappropriate.
        Sad when a few entitled idiots make everyone look bad.

  2. Matt Smith is my favorite Doctor and I love that first episode. Excellent choice!

    I’m currently reading “Moira’s Pen” by Megan Whalen Turner. I love the Thief series, and I liked her “Three Wishes” collection but this isn’t doing it for me. Not sure whether to persist or not.

    Best things this week:

    “Scrap Metal” by Harper Fox – a lovely m/m contemporary set on a sheep farm in Scotland with a family drowning in grief and a man on the run. Beautiful.

    “In Calabria” by Peter S. Beagle. Gorgeous story of a grumpy, brave and kind farmer who is visited by a unicorn and falls in love with a woman half his age who delivers his mail. Thanks to Lupe & Tammy for the recc!

    “In Other Lands” by Sarah Rees Brennan, which has been on my tbr for ages. I don’t love triangles but this resolved fairly well, and the MC is adorable, snarky, delightfully genre-savvy and very enthusiastic about finding himself in a land with elves, trolls, mermaids & harpies. Very amusing too.

    1. OMG. There is a Peter Beagle I haven’t read? That’s exciting news. I read the last unicorn in 1967 and followed it with a fine and private place and I kept up with him waiting through the 1980s. But I must say I haven’t looked in a long time I’ll have to get that one.

        1. I ordered it and then tidied away the TBR pile before the house was inundated with guests. I gotta go find it.

    2. Guru, Moira’s Pen answers some questions and raises some others. In fact, if you pay attention, in the last story, we find out the Magus’s name. We also get a hint of what happens to Gen and Irene’s twins…sort of.

        1. I wish I was a Guru! I’m tempted by extra information on the characters, but also worried it might make me like them less. Also a bit worried about finding out bad things happen to the children.

  3. I have no objections to a Good TV post. I didn’t watch much TV until the pandemic and then it became essential for mental health. God bless writers who knows when to stop and write good endings. Schitt’s Creek, Justified and Queen’s Gambit all come to mind. I have come to love the long format of TV, provided they don’t screw up the end royally.

    On that note, we watched the Banshees of Insherin last night. I probably butchered the spelling. Anyway, I am not sure what I think of it. Definitely dark, with a lot going on.

    Reading, I finished Pink. I didn’t sink into it the way I did Blue, but that was because I read it in very small chunks while my day job tried to take chunks out of me. It kept me sane, so thank you. I am looking forward to rereading.

    I listened to a Trisha Ashley, which was exactly what I thought it would be and then I started A Gentleman Tutor by Harper Fox. It’s not what I thought it would be at all, but so far it is so good. And to my excitement, Harper Fox’s mystery series is included with my Audible membership. So that is up next.

    1. Lupe, Ted Lasso restored my faith in humanity. That show brought me through the tough times of the pandemic and its aftermath.

    2. The Queen’s Gambit ending just followed the original novel’s ending, by Walter Tevis. That novel was one of my favorites for years so I’m very happy that the tv show did it justice.

  4. I listened to the second book in the Janitors of the Apocalypse series. The world-building amusing me now is an alien species who name themselves when speaking ‘human’ in homage to ancient earth songs. So there are aliens called Greensleeves, Pachelbel and Hollaback Girl.

    To hockey book lovers, I read the latest Hannah Henry, Home Ice Disadvantage, and really liked it. Even if you’re not a hockey lover, you might like this one (was thinking you Chacha1) – not a lot of hockey since it’s more about the MC’s relationship with his writer neighbour, each with their own anxieties. An incredibly sweet book. Also explicit sex. In fact, some incredibly sweet, explicit sex.

    I read TA Moore’s newest, Footwork and enjoyed that, plus Pretty Pretty Boys by Gregory Ashe in my ongoing quest to find another Charlie Adhara. That wasn’t it.

    1. The closest I got to hockey was yesterday when both my husband and I had doctor appointments. Mine in the morning and his in the afternoon. After his we went for an early supper at a sports bar/restaurant surrounded in sports memorabilia. Hockey sticks, golf clubs and the like. Pictures to boot, Bobby Orr, Larry Bird to name a few. Even items on the menu were named after the greats. But wait a minute, we’ll have to go back again because I do not remember seeing a woman honored on the walls and halls of fame.

      1. Which reminds me Larry Bird is basketball and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a basketball romance story.

          1. Sarina Bowen did a short romance about a sorority girl and a basketball player who was unsure around women. It was really fun. I think it was in her book of spin-off stories called Extra Credit (?). The basketball player was the nice guy in the dorm room next door from the hero from The Year We Hid Out and the sorority girl was the heroine’s roommate from that book.

          2. I think that’s the exception not the rule. I dunno…there’s just nothing too romantic about basketball – no knives on their feet, no cold floor, no blood in the snow…I ask you – where’s the drama??

          3. You’re kidding, right? Huge muscular people in shorts pounding up and down a court, trying to kill each other so they can get a ball in a net? Compare that to watching a football game. “Oh, look, they moved the ball ten feet. And now they’re talking about it.” Football is sloooow. Baseball at least has some elegance to it. But really, hockey. Hockey is the game to watch. (Sorry, I’ve never watched soccer, so I can’t weight in on that one.)

        1. There’s a movie called Love & Basketball (2000). It’s supposed to be pretty good. Produced by Spike Lee. I think both of the MC’s are basketball players though.

      2. Jenny’s remarks about hockey and soccer made me remember my kid no. 2 asking why I find my new favourite sports – hockey – so fascinating:

        Hockey players have to be incredibly focused on the puck, on their surroundings, need to have really fast reflexes, an immense skill set (skating, speed, stick handling, reading the “field” etc.).

        Soccer, basketball etc. seems to be incredibly slow in comparison.

        Pictures of players: hockey players when photographed mid-game look intense.
        Soccer players far less so (for obvious reasons as the ball is bigger, often far away, the effect is different most of the times).

        I grew up with soccer, dh and ds are huge fans. I get news about ALL leagues daily thanks to ds. I still like soccer, have watched the Wrexham docu series with ds and find it thrilling.

        However, hockey askes for such a wide variety of skillsets – and I like it that the more modern approach has less fighting and asks for an real athleticism and an incredible amount of endurance.

        Hockey is so very fast. In comparison, soccer is slow – probably not as slow as football though.
        Players only have spikes at their feet, no knives. But those spikes can rip open some skin, too. Saw one player’s thigh ripped open by the spikes once – very interesting structure of the muscle).

        Also, from the little I’ve watched so far, there seems to be a cameraderie more openly displayed than in soccer. Maybe because in this padding the guys can/need be more tactile?
        The egos of soccer stars certainly seem to be bigger (I really don’t like those Ronaldo types).

        Like Jenny said: Sarina Bowen has a foray into basket ball with BLONDE DATE (A nervous sorority girl, a mean fraternity prank and an adorkable basketball player with a heart of gold), part of Extra Credit. As she has with The Shameless Hour where Bella, equipment manager to the hockey team, finds her HEA with a cute soccer player.

        Basket ball: Why do the players have to wear such unappealing outfits (long shorts and tops that cannot prevent them from sweating all over the floor)?

        Anyway – Basketball has finally gained more popularity in my country as our team JUST WON THE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP as grossly underestimated underdogs!!! Hooray!!!

  5. While I wait for my library holds on other books by Ali Hazelwood, I ran across one of the few physical editions of a Cat Sebastian book at the library: “The perfect crimes of Marian Hayes : a novel” which turned out to be pretty adorable. It follows another book that began what’s apparently going to become a series, starting with this one: “The Queer Principles of Kit Webb.”

    In the ‘Perfect Crimes’ book, a handsome young man who’s down on his luck and career success as a criminal tries to blackmail the wife of an aristocratic dastard into sending him money. Five hundred pounds of money. She replies to his blackmail message, he sends another one, and the next dozen pages of the book are a hilarious correspondence written in different handwriting typefaces with different (and funny) aliases used by the blackmailer.

    And Tammy, you were apparently right, that any book by Cat Sebastian is a good one. I like her dialogue and insight into character and the plot just galloped along nicely, which kind of makes no sense because apparently she was laboring hard to get this book to the publisher at the same time as she was moving house. Hard to believe that someone could or would do THAT, right? I bet she’s exhausted now. 🙂

  6. I finished Someone to Love by Balogh. I enjoyed it – and I understand the ending, but it felt low stakes. The MCs talked to each other and found they were on the same page. So all’s well.

    I have started Terminal Alliance, the first of the Janitors of the Apocalypse. I was hoping it wouldn’t be too cutsy, and thankfully, so far it’s great. It’s got a feel of space opera, with a couple of light notes. Like Tammy noted above, one race of aliens names themselves after great works of music. Meanwhile, the spaceships are named after the most dangerous Earth creatures – so our hardy band of janitors are aboard the Pufferfish. And there are zombies. I’m enjoying it so far.

  7. Read Rest in Pink which is a step up from Lavender’s Blue, which I love. (Was that this week or last week? Times merge.) Am looking forward to finding out who the someone is who is running Cash and Vermillion Inc. Wilson? That would be a hoot, after Agnes and the Hitman.

    By the way, is Davy in Lavender’s Blue named after Such a choice would be a great public service.

    Read Heyer’s detective mystery They Found Him Dead which is the earlier story of Terrible Timothy (whose romance is in Duplicate Death). Fast, fun read.

    For Bruno the police chief of St Denis, Dordogne, fans, the latest book is out. Chateau under Siege, I think, is the name. I’m saving it for when I need it.

  8. I am reading a new to me author Brynne Asher starting with book 1 of her killer series. Vines is the title, and the story is about a woman (Addy) who bought a vineyard in Virginia and meets her new neighbor (Crew) when one of her cows moseys onto his property. Addy lives in what was once an Ordinary (B&B from the 18th century) in the farmhouse attached and could be haunted (references to G. Washington). Her employees are also her friends, and they all work together to build the winery. A night off for everyone is a poker game and potluck at the farmhouse. Crew the neighbor is a retired “government worker” and is setting up his property to train his replacements. Addy’s and Crew’s meeting is a little tense when she refuses his check to help replace the fence and he shows up at the poker game. So far it is boy meets girl. Next is when she is invited to the White House for dinner (her wines are making an appearance). Crew recognizes the man (at a wine tasting) who issued the invitation and wrangles one for himself because he doesn’t trust him at all. Crew and Addy travel together to Washington and that is where the story takes off when he is recognized by the Secret Service at the gate and inside the White House. Intrigue and secrets are brought out. Can’t wait to read what happens next.

  9. Just finished reading Good Fortune by C.K. Chau, which is “Pride and Prejudice, except with Chinese people in NYC in the 90’s.” Honestly, it was…okay…but didn’t stand out to me and I barely dragged through it.

    Also read Thief, Liar, Lady, which is a post-ball Cinderella as a girl trained by her evil stepmother to marry rich–and trained by her grandmother to be a secret agent in the rebellion against the country that took over. She’s engaged to a fairly nice prince, but has enemies-to-lovers going on with the hostage prince from the other nation. Very good stuff.

    Also read The Lonely Hunter by Aimee Lutkin, which I thought was going to be “how to deal with being alone forever” (my issue, clearly) but is more of a dating memoir where you know nobody’s going to work out. Sigh. Not what I was shooting for.

    I think I might have mentioned reading Carrie Soto is Back last week–she’s a fairly arrogant (professionally, at least) tennis player on a comeback, but even if she says things that make people call her a bitch, she’s not a bad egg personally. Has a nice resolution.

  10. I am rereading Venetia— Heyer has become comfort reading to me. The lovely, intelligent, courageous Venetia is in a developing romance with her soul-mate, who happens to be a rake who has had high-flying mistresses, one after the other, for twenty years.
    For me, the biggest suspension of disbelief involves ignoring the rampant STDs plaguing Europe at the time. Not to mention the high risk of death in childbirth. Stay single, Venetia! Ah, but true love…

    1. They did have condoms; it’s worth reading the Wikipedia page on the history of condoms.
      Casanova apparently blew them up to inspect them for holes before use.

          1. One of the men in Grace Burrowes’ True Gentlemen series uses a condom. It’s made of lambskin, and has to be soaked in water to make it flexible enough to use. I do not recall which book or gentleman this was. Sorry.

          2. I actually have some of my heroes use condoms (of the time) in my historical romances. What can I say, I came of age in the 80s! IIRC, the English called them French Letter and the French called them English Letters.

          3. They use them in Hotel of Secrets — an excellent book that was recommended by several here — though they don’t get into the nitty gritty on their usage haha

      1. In a Lovejoy book, he mentions the antique boxes they were stored in, used to be deliberately mislabelled snuff boxes to make them easier to sell. Also in ye olden times they used to treat those conditions with Mercury…so they were rolling the dice either way

        1. In Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase the heroine’s sidekick (both are courtesans and kudos to her for making sex workers heroines) introduces a prince to the need for condoms.
          What I really want is a scene with someone using the Casanova quality check.

          1. Loretta Chase is great to read and that scene with the condoms is laugh out loud funny! I have not read a scene with the Cassanova quality check, but that has a lot of comedic potential. Taf

      2. My grandfather apparently would put water in them to check for leaks. My mother used to tell a story (heard from her mother) of a time they were on a romantic vacation, and GF was checking the protection… after the 4th one squirted water, they were laughing so hard that the mood was gone. This is the kind of important info that gets passed down in my family apparently.

    2. I’ve also been reading Venetia and I keep getting stuck on the use of “ejaculate” as a synonym for “exclaim” – oh how language usage has changed in the few decades!

      The banter is delightful, and there’s a gorgeous moment where Venetia thinks how easily she can be herself with Damerel. But at the beginning there’s an incident I can’t call anything but sexual assault and its handled so differently than it would be in a modern book and I can’t really wrap my mind around it.

      1. Yes, it’s striking. I don’t recall being upset by it when I first read it more than 40 years ago but times have changed thank goodness.

        I stopped reading Eloísa James when one of her books about a decade ago had the hero essentially sexually harassing the heroine. I don’t know if she would write it that way today

  11. I’m reading Brand the Author (Not the Book) by Karen A. Chase. I need to change up my author brand to better reflect me. I feel like branding should be simple stuff to do, but it’s so not. LOL

  12. I read Vermillion, and loved it.

    Just finished Jill Shalvis The Family You Make and liked it a lot.

    Fishfingers and custard! Brilliant! (I thought I wasn’t going to like Matt Smith, but that episode completely won me over.)

    1. Me, too. I so loved Tennant, but Smith just went in a different direction, and I thought that first episode was perfect. Well, Moffat wrote it, so there was that.

      I may do a rewatch of my favorite Doctor episodes. The one that was so good was the Van Gogh episode, but the ending makes me cry hard every time. It’s a good cry, it’s so well done, Bill Nighy can do anything, but oh my heart.

      Or The Empty Child double episode. Blink is amazing. The Girl in the Fireplace. The Day of the Doctor (Smith and Tennant together!). The first Tennant episode. The Lodger, so funny. The Pandorica opens double episode. The first Eccleston episode.

      God, I loved that series. Wandered off in the transition to Capaldi, an actor I like a lot, but I got busy . . .

      1. I like Capaldi too, but I really didn’t love his Doctor. Mind you, it might have been the writing. I love Jody Whitaker, but she got the worst writing ever. Not her fault.

        1. I liked Capaldi’s Doctor, didn’t like his episodes with a couple of exceptions. Liked Jody Whittaker’s Doctor, but the episodes got worse and worse and I gave up.

          However 9, 10 and 11 are all great and very re-watchable with both good acting and good writing

      2. Not Dr. Who, but have you watched Leverage: Redemption? The second season was much better than the first.

      3. I also loved the first Matt Smith episode, and he became my favorite Doctor Who. Other than that episode, I also really loved the two episodes where the Doctor moves in with James Corden, who has an intergalactic monster living upstairs unbeknownst to him. The romance in it between the two wallflowers was SO cute.

  13. I listened to All Change by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I didn’t know there was a fifth book in the Cazalet chronicles until an Argh member mentioned it. I love the first four books in the Cazalet chronicles, but have to agree with the Argh member who said to avoid the fifth book. I’m currently listening to Brazen Virtue by Nora Roberts. I’m a big fan of Nora’s novels, but this book has not aged well.

    I don’t normally listen to true crime podcasts, but a podcast called Morbid was trending in Ireland. The episode was called The Attempted Murder of Olga Rocco. I’d never heard the story before. It’s about a young 19 year old woman called Pearl Lusk who had moved to New York in 1946 and thought she had been hired to take a photo of a jewel thief called Olga Rocco; but when she pulled the wire there was a bang and Olga fell to the floor with part of her leg gone. When Pearl was approached by the authorities, she told them somebody had shot Olga whilst she was taking a picture of her. It a wild story and it’s more crazy than fiction. The way the hosts tell the story is very funny too.

    1. I think it was me who said to avoid All Change. Howard wrote it a lot later than the other four, and in my view it spoils a perfect ending in Casting Off.

  14. It is apparently Deb Blake week down here in the Owner’s Suite. Allow me to explain. First there was an Argh post: Argh Author: Deb Blake’s Baba Yaga Novellas. It sounded intriguing, so I bought Baba Yaga Collected Novellas. Reading the shorter works is often a good introduction to a series. But then there was the forward:

    In case you want to know where they fall in the series timeline, here is the entire list of books, novellas, and short stories.
    *Wickedly Magical (.5) – novella
    Wickedly Dangerous (book 1 – Baba Yaga series)
    Wickedly Wonderful (book 2 – Baba Yaga series)
    *Wickedly Ever After (2.5 – novella)
    Wickedly Powerful (book 3 – Baba Yaga series)
    Dangerously Charming (book 1 – Broken Riders series)
    *Wickedly Spirited (3.5 – novella)
    Dangerously Divine (book 2 – Broken Riders series)
    Dangerously Fierce (book 3 – Broken Riders series)
    Dangerously Driven (3.5 – Broken Riders novella)
    Wickedly Unraveled (book 4 – Baba Yaga series)
    Tiny Treasures (collection of four short-short stories)

    *Included in this omnibus

    Blake, Deborah . Baba Yaga: Collected Novellas (p. 4). Kindle Edition.

    Reading the first novella (see asterisks above) hooked me on Baba Yaga stories, causing me to buy all four novels. This week I finished books 2 and 3 of the Baba Yaga series and the second novella and was then reminded of the other series – the Broken Rider series, so I bought all three and Dangerously Charming is open now. I can’t finish the collected novellas until I fish this book. Well, I could, but it would be out of order and I don’t want that.

    I also DNFd Bratva Baby which I have already shared most of my opinion regarding. It needed flaming zombies to “improve” it.

    That Serial I Like – Variation on a Theme, Book 4 – hit chapter 155 of 159 promised yesterday. Four more chapters by next Friday. Book 5 starts the following Monday. I’ll give him three chapters to hook me like the first four books.

    I’m rereading 1638: The Sovereign States (Flint/Goodlett/Huff) because it was so good, but I read it somewhat serially.

      1. Oh good comment Gary…I also curse autocorrect frequently, it comes up with an astounding number of blunders, and not enough of them are funny! May you enjoy many good books without interference from autocorrect… Taf

  15. I just ordered One in Vermillion and can’t wait for it to arrive. It’s out early! Yay!

    To pass the time waiting for Vermillion, I started the Calhoun series, by Nora Roberts. There are five novellas split up into two books. Each novella is about one of four sisters and their aunt, owners of a mansion that was left to them in bad condition. The stories revolve around the love stories of the five women, plus one who comes into the family by her brother’s marriage to one of the women, transforming the mansion into a fancy retreat, and the search for a fabulous emerald and diamond necklace that belonged to their grandmother. The women are gorgeous, independent and resourceful, and the men are interesting and tough.

  16. I opened a banker’s box of books on Sunday, looking for something new to read. Found three of Bob’s novels. Reading Eyes of the Hammer. Bob’s first book. Bought it years ago about the time Bob published his civil war book. Sorry, Bob.

    Hard to read a book in bed without a light on. H protests. He is trying to sleep. So…found Eyes of the Hammer was free in e-version. Excellent so far.

  17. I finished Paladin’s Strength and adored it. I’m so happy there’s going to be a fourth book, thank you to the Argher who broke that happy news.

    I then read The Venetian Game by Philip Gwynne Jones. It’s a thriller that a friend lent me (she’s my old manager from ten years ago, we both still work at the same company but in different roles and locations. We meet up roughly twice a week for tea, cake, gossip and book swaps) and I’m seeing her on Saturday so needed to read it quickly to return it. I enjoyed it an awful lot more than I thought I would and she’s lending me more in the series. Hurray! It’s set in Venice, unsurprisingly, and the main character is an honorary consul who gets entangled in art forgery and theft. I did feel at times like this was the fourth or fifth book in the series rather than the first, as there’s very little by way of backstory, but I actually really liked having to fill in some gaps.

    Then, I read I’ll Die After Bingo by Pope Lonegan, a memoir/treatise by a standup comedian who also works as a care worker for the elderly. A lot of this made me think, some went over my head, and all made me angry as to how the care industry is underfunded, undervalued and mostly forgotten by the powers that be.

    I’m now reading Jane by April Lindbergh. It’s been on my shelves for over a decade, ever since I bought it at The Strand on my first visit to New York. I’m only thirty or forty pages in, but I’m enjoying it thus far.

  18. I’m blazing through the audiobooks of Patricia McLinn’s Secret Sleuth mystery series. Delightful! I stayed up way too late with one last night, listening and playing a mindless “match three” game on my tablet—perfect way to veg out.

  19. After I finished one in Vermilion, I went back to finishing the bride for white Amanda quick’s latest book. I really loved it but just not as much as vermillion. This is the first time I ever stopped a book by a favorite author to read another book by a favorite author.
    Someone here mentioned the road to Roswell and it finally came in at the library. So I think I’ll do that one next. I also added to my Kindle the weird sisters by Eleanor Brown. It takes a thief by Anne Stuart, revenge of the kudzu debutantes Cathy Holton, my heart will find you, Jude Deveraux, and the magnificent lives of Marjorie post by Allison Pataki, they all came on my daily BookBub recommendations
    You may have guessed I speak into a microphone to do these posts, and my phone is terrible at spelling and understanding me.
    I’m off to find that Peter beagle

    1. Thanks for explaining that! I was beginning to think your very strong pain drugs were messing with your posts. So it was a very strong idiot auto steno!!

    2. I’ve used Dragon naturally speaking speech to text software, and found it needed some training, especially for names, but did fairly well after that, even for Dutcb.
      It’s not cheap, but saved my hands & shoulders from typing strain.

      1. I’ve been using Dragon for years, Hanneke, and completely agree that it does well. Unfortunately it no longer supports the Mac version, so my Dragon is getting more and more off-kilter.

  20. For a book club, I read and greatly enjoyed Neil Sharpson’s When the Sparrow Falls (Tor, 2021)

    The machines are Earth’s new overlords, which may or may not be a good thing, depending in part on your metaphysics about matters like uploading human consciousness onto computers, or downloading machine-born AI consciousness into cloned human bodies.  Whatever its faults, the AI-governed world is pretty likely better than the Caspian Republic, the bastion to which idealistic true believers have emigrated to form the last human-governed country in the world.  Over the decades, the CR has become a cruel police state, but it is where Nikolai South was born, raised, and pretty much brainwashed.  As a counterweight,  real life has made him cynical.  Among the CR’s many internal factional struggles is one between the police (think the Soviet MVD) and the CR equivalent of the KGB.  Despite his best efforts to keep a low profile, police detective South has unwillingly ended up in the middle of a seeming plot by the “machine world” to destroy the CR.   Is that really what is going on? 

    The novel does not break a lot of ground new to an experienced science-fiction reader, but it puts concepts together into a stimulating new package.  Not a cozy read, but not really grim either.  There is a semi-happy ending.

  21. I re-read your Lavender and Pink, which apparently ruined me for other books (and also left me craving fries and onion rings) 🙂

    I had downloaded a couple of books in a mystery series set in France and other appealing sounding locales, but after the first pages where the main character (who is apparently going to be searching for her sister’s murderer) turned over money to one contact (without even verifying who he was) and then got in the car and drove to an isolated spot with another (who she didn’t really know and kept thinking ‘this might be a bad idea’) I quit and deleted the books. Life is too short for TSTL characters.

    Going back to Ngaio Marsh — her books never disappoint.

    1. All that was missing was her wandering outside in the night in her dressing gown to investigate the strange noise/mysterious dark van with tinted windows and a muddy license plate, without telling anyone of course.

      1. Or walking alone late at night in a deserted dark parking garage to get to her car or heard a strange noise in the basement and must go down to investigate …

  22. On holiday so I get to read properly. Just finished The Night watchman, Loose Erdrich. Really enjoyed it, and liked learning more about Native Americans (not from North America so I don’t know too much of their history -not details anyway).

    Finished Pink last week. Loved how things turned pink at the end. Also enjoyed more Anemone and Peri! I’m ready for Vermilion (great sample!). I won’t get to read it till I’m home unless there’s a reading emergency (where I run out of books and have to read on my phone…).

    Listening to The Comeback, Lily Chu. Enjoying it a lot, keep wanting to sneak in more listening. Nice romance, plenty of character building. Great Asian perspective.

  23. Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar anthology Seasons was meh. Although all the stories belonged to different writers, they were all equally lackluster.
    Michelle Diener’s latest book, Ticket Out, was much better: a thriller/mystery romp, swift and engaging. I’m never super in love with this author’s stories, but so far, I enjoyed reading everything I’ve tried by her. I have a folder on my kindle with 13 of her scifi novellas downloaded and ready for a re-read. I have read them all once (or twice) already.
    This book is set in 1963 in London. I’m not into thrillers in general, but this story was worth reading. The pace is quick, the villain terrifying, and the protagonists nice, if a little amorphous. I couldn’t quite get the sense of either of them.
    But what interested me most in this story is the realization how far the technology of crime solving advanced in the 60 years since the time frame of this book. The Met seemed hamstrung in the 1960s. No cell phones, no cameras on every corner of London, and not much in the way of forensic science either. The police officers were not even armed, except for their truncheons. Yikes. I would definitely want my police to go armed against dangerous criminals.
    I also finished a reread of Sharon Shinn’s Elemental Blessings series. Delightful, as always. I own all 4 books of the series, and the first novel, Troubled Waters is one of my all-times favorites. It is one of the rare books I rated 5 stars on GoodReads. Imagine my glee when I learned that Shinn has written a new novel in the series, Whispering Wood, and it will be published in November. Of course I rushed to Amazon to pre-order it. Although I didn’t much like several of Shinn’s latest novels, I hope I’ll like this one. Can’t wait to read it.

    1. Olga, I just read a post-war story where the policeman told the other policeman to call in a murder – and the second policeman hurried off to search for a phone box. It made me laugh – my automatic assumption that he would take out his phone or his radio.

    2. What do you mean by ‘armed’? Tech definitely helps. Our police in NZ do not routinely carry guns, but the y do have pepper spray, a baton, and a taser. They do have access to firearms in their vehicles, so maybe that counts.

  24. I’ve read Unrivaled by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James and loved it. Just the right book for the right moment. Gobbled it down.

    Now I’m reading “All hail the Underdogs” by EL Massey. Got sucked into the reading sample and dished out almost 20 Euros for the trade paperback. Which has a most gorgeous cover. It’s YA, but I don’t feel too old for this YA.
    The writing is almost poetic. I like it a lot.

  25. Good books: Martha Wells, Death of the Necromancer. Definitely not a light read, but complex and satisfying.
    Allison Montclair, The Unkept Woman. Part of the Sparks and Bainbridge series about a couple of very disparate women who set up a marriage bureau in London after WWII, and end up involved in solving murders. I love this series so much – just wish the digital versions weren’t so expensive.

    Moderately good books: Ali Hazelwood, Love Theoretically. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Hazelwood’s books. I love the STEM connection, but the plot logic gets very stretched at times, and characters with no boundaries irritate me, even if that’s part of their journey. I nearly stopped reading several times, but persevered and ended up enjoying it.

    Really awful books: a house party on an island post-WWI. We were told that the protagonist was ex-Secret Service, but if that was true the allies would have lost the war. There were detailed descriptions of all her clothes, the dialogue was clunky, and they decided to keep the suicide of one of the attendees secret ‘because the hostess had been looking forward to this party SO much, and they didn’t want to spoil it for her’. That’s when I gave up.

    1. Okay, now I want to write a story of a party where one of the guests dies and they all try to keep it a secret from the hostess because that would be HYSTERICAL. That’s PG Wodehouse territory, right there. I’ve had a bad day, and I read that and now I can’t stop smiling.

      The possibilities are endless.

      1. You’re right, it’s perfect PG Wodehouse stuff. Especially if you added a pig. And I can imagine you writing a scene like that, Jenny. It’d be very funny.

      2. If you write and emulate PG Wodehouse, I want to be a beta reader! That description of a golfer distracted from a perfect shot by the uproar of the the butterflies in the adjoining meadow (not an exact quote-please find the book and read it…) I got too many of the books from the library when I read them decades ago, so I can’t name the book or verify the quote. Taf

  26. I’m on a Maisey Yates cowboy readathon. Past Me had a lot of them stockpiled. Currently on The Heartbreaker of Echo Creek (Gold Valley series). Some excellent lines like “I’m stable and dependable.” “So is a table. You have to do more.” And there’s a salute to the sanity-saving power of baked goods.

  27. I ordered vermilion today. I’m excited to have that mid week next week! I got the hardbound copy.

    I am currently reading a book, called “reinventing organizations: an illustrated invitation to join the conversation on next stage organizations” by Frederic Laloux for a work retreat that will be happening next week. I am about a quarter of the way through and don’t have much to comment on yet. It is a shortened version from his full book which was 360 pages and had no pictures. I think the pictures add something.

  28. I got the date wrong and thought Vermillion, and another book I had pre-ordered, were out on the 12th, which saddened me when I realised.

    I only faintly remember Stormy Petrel, so probably time for a re-read.

    I did enjoy (found via Cosy Fantasy on Reddit) “Midlife Crisis in Gretna”, by Linzi Day. Somewhat usual start of inheriting grandmother’s house, and also her powers as a magical guardian of the gateway to different worlds. There is a talking cat called HRH, or Cuddles if one wants to enrage her, and a bichon frise who doesn’t talk. Local government office politics about the job the heroine is in the process of leaving. Liked the secondary characters too, though there is a child character who is a bit overly cute. No romance. Start of a series.

    Also discovered there is a Diana Wynne Jones I haven’t read, the third in the loosely-connected Sophie and Howl series. I think I wasn’t that keen on the second one, which maybe why I missed the third, but apparently the third is better than the second. I am only in the sample so far, but it is intriguing. I keep meaning to re-read Deep Secret too.

        1. Sorry, I didn’t see this until this morning. Yes, Clare is correct, it’s House of Many Ways. Starts with a teenager going to look after her uncle’s house whilst he is ill and away. The house is managed magically but the teenager doesn’t know anything about magic.

          I used to be an absolute DWJ obsessive, went to conferences etc, so not sure how I missed this. It came out in 2008.

  29. My reading week:

    1. ‘Everything is Choreography’ by Kevin Winkler, a Broadway Legacies book about Tommy Tune, one of the inspirations for my character Andy Martin.

    2. ‘The New Guy’ by Sarina Bowen, yes OMG I know a hockey M/M, and dang it I really liked it.

    [DNF] ‘The Jackal’s Head’ by Elizabeth Peters, which read like an attempt at an Amelia & Emerson caper only with different characters and set in the 60s (I think?). Maybe it predated ‘Crocodile on the Sandbank’? Anyway, been there, read that, liked it better the other way.

    3. ‘Thus Was Adonis Murdered’ by Sarah Caudwell, a re-read; a witty whodunit featuring a bunch of London barristers skiving off work to investigate as one of their number becomes a murder suspect in Venice.

    4. re-read ‘Band Sinister’ by KJ Charles yet again.

    5. ‘The 13th Witch’ by Mark Hayden, entertaining series starter, Rivers of London meets Donald Westlake. I’ll probably read more as I can pick them up on sale.

    6. ‘The Taste of Desert Green’ by Kim Fielding, M/M pandemic-set slice of life featuring a drifter and the owner of a failing tourist trap. Difficult issues, satisfying conclusion.

    7-8. ‘Madison Square Murders’ and ‘Subway Slayings’ by C.S. Poe. I picked up the first one because of a rec here, and I liked it so well that I instantly downloaded the second. Which I didn’t love quite as much, but will surely continue with the series once I’m ready for more serial-killer mayhem (a little of that goes a long way with me). Some editing cringe (‘agreeance’??). The character work in the slow-burn central romance pleases me.

    1. Oh Chacha1 (rubbing her hands in glee), my secret plan to convert you into a hockey romance lover is well into phase two…must cogitate on next turn in the maze….

      1. The second book in Sarinas new series is about to come out on Nov 2nd: I’m your guy. Following one of New Guy’s new team mates 😉
        Have already pre-orderd it.

      1. Those are great fun! I have all of them and one is even signed…I met Elizabeth Peters at a signing a long time ago and asked her if she’d read Thorne Smith when she was growing up (1930’s humor including Topper, Night Life of the Gods, Turnabout (man and wife end up in each other’s bodies). She read them much later as an adult, and was surprised that Dad recommended them to adolescents. There were multiple books laying around the living room partly read, and you had to be fast to prevent a sibling from swiping your unfinished book. Taf

      2. I’ve read all of them, multiple times. 🙂 Among the *very* few collectible hardovers I’ve kept are Die For Love, Naked Once More, and Crocodile On The Sandbank.

        1. I agree with you on all of them!

          When I read Soulless, it reminded me so much of a paranormal Crocodile on the Sandbank.

  30. Mostly reading my illegible handwriting for the meeting minutes. Sigh.

    I finished the St Mary’s Chronicles short story collections. Now I’ve started Sarah Blakewell’s ‘Humanly Possible: Seven Hundred Years of Humanist Freethinking, Inquiry and Hope’. Just in the mood for some non-fiction. I’m not too far into it but it reads pretty smoothly.

    1. “Humanly Possible” sounds interesting. Please let us know what you think when you’ve finished! I’ve been burnt by too many non-fiction books with a great intro that isn’t followed up well.

  31. I read Putting the Ice in Nice by Diana Pharaoh Francis. The third book in the Everyday Disasters urban fantasy series after Putting the Fun in Funeral and Putting the Chic in Psychic.

    I previously posted how much I loved Putting the Fun in Funeral, a book about a woman who was abused and tortured as a child by a mother who seemed to hate her but still came out of it a snarky badass thanks to three awesome best friends. And the strange things that start happening after said mother is murdered.

    So when Putting the Chic in Psychic came out I was very pleased, because it had been awhile and I was starting to think she might not write any more about those characters. And it was good, but short, and not quite as fabulous as the first one. And then Putting the Ice in Nice came out and it’s very good, though not quite as great as the first one, but it does make it obvious there will be more. So that’s a good thing.

  32. I haven’t been reading much. I am watching a series called Healing Kitchen which is turning out to be informative, entertaining, uplifting & in one instance so far – shocking.

    I have infinite respect for Dr. Tierona Lowdog. She is an excellent herbalist who practiced & taught for years in Albuquerque. Then she went to med school & became and MD. Then she spent years working at UNM hospital – pioneering medicine that integrated herbalism & western medicine.

    She made the statement that she would rather see someone eating a twinkie with friends, than something more healthy alone. She was not promoting eating junk food. She was expressing how important she thinks it is for us to eat communally.

    It was shocking to hear her express that so strongly. But I have been watching a lot of blue zone shows & it is expressed in a softer way in most of them.

  33. Just finished Sleep No More, which is the 17th book in the October Daye urban fantasy series by Seanan McGuire. Now I’m re-reading some of my favorite Loretta Chase books while waiting for Vermillion to drop. B&N is still showing the 19th as the publication date for the e-book. 🙁

  34. I finished Harper Fox’s Tyack & Frayne series, but the 3-part ending (books 10-12, but listed mostly as 10a & b and 11) didn’t work for me. I wish she’d edited it down into one book, and not made it so grim. She mentions that much of it was originally episodes for her Patreon supporters, and it reads like a chaotic first draft to me. The third volume is more cheerful, but it hiccups on in a series of sort of epilogues, so I felt a bit downbeat by the end, and the characters and the way the storyworld worked had been so stretched and reworked that my disbelief had crashed.

    Unfortunately, I can’t remember each of the earlier books clearly enough to decide where it would be best to stop when I reread the series. I did enjoy most of them, but I think she was over-ambitious in the end, and seriously under-appreciated the importance of editing your work.

    1. It’s a danger of writing episodes, I think. And then not seeing them properly as one story. So many books out there confirm over and over again the need for decent editing.

    2. It would be interesting to see the entire Tyack & Frayne series fully compiled, filled in or trimmed as needed, then re-divided into more equal parts. It went from a handful of very short episodes into those three full-length books. I personally applaud what HF did with books 9-11, but the change in tone was pretty severe. On the other hand, she really had laid a lot of landmines and things were spiraling down; a bunch of explosions were kind of necessary.

      1. Good to hear another take on it. It’s tantalising for me – it could have worked, which is why I stuck with it. If I ever reread the last three, I might experience them differently, of course.

  35. I continued my Donna Andrews’ Meg Langslow binge with Murder Most Fowl and Dashing Through the Snowbirds. Dashing has an excellent moment worthy of Agnes.

    I love that Andrews made the decision to keep Grandfather in his 90’s since 1998. And Spike is still going strong even though Meg and Michael “adopted” him from his mother before they married.

    Looking forward to Tuesday: Vermilion via Kindle and the new Thursday Murder Club on audio. While the new narrator is not nearly as fabulous as Lesley Manville, she does well enough to carry the beloved crew forward.

  36. Trying this post again. Apologies if it turns up twice.

    I finished John Scalzi’s new book-Starter Villian. It feels like a post-COVID book, although the focus is on the satire of our billionaire overlords. Can a nonvillainous ordinary guy take them down? Very funny, but not a lot of emotional depth. I sped through it in about 2 hours.

    Discussion here is making me think about going back through all those Mary Stewarts I bought in the big ebook sale. I don’t think I’ve actually read very many-only what the public library had when I was a teen.

    Congrats, Jenny and Bob, on Vermillion. I thought that it was out in 2 weeks so this is great news. I’m so glad we don’t have to wait a year for publication and then a year between installments. This is the way.

    1. The next ones may be two months apart because we sprained ourselves getting them out a month apart. But we both had a lot of other stuff going on, too, so maybe next year will be calmer.

      1. I just think it’s so much better (for authors and readers) to finish the book and then publish on your own schedule. And the book covers are fantastic. I ordered the three books for the Houston area library and the trade paperback is sturdy and the covers look great.

        I honestly don’t understand the publishing business. They seem to reject so many good writers while nickel and dimeing the ones “lucky” enough to get contracts.

        Your readers will be happy to get the books on your schedule for sure.

        1. Well, I’M happier. And I was always treated really well by my publisher.
          But yes, now that I have nothing left to prove, I’m delighted by self-publishing. Especially since Bob does all the work.

  37. New books and old books:
    New – The Farmer’s Wife: my life in days by Helen Rebanks. I’m not a farmer’s wife but I felt seen in this book.

    New – The new biography of Agatha Christie by Lucy Worsley. I read Agatha’s autobiography last year, and was interested to see if the biography added more context. The writing style was initially annoying but I got into it. I ended up feeling very sorry for Rosalind, Agatha’s daughter.

    Old – The Mysterious Affair at Styles. As a result of reading the above I decided to read all the Christies in the order they were written, so pulled this one off my shelf. Next comes The Secret Adversary, which it turns out I don’t have, so I looked up the plot on Wikipedia. It’s a Tommy and Tuppence book and I think I read it a long time ago and found the plot very silly. So musing again on my plan. I’ve never read any of her Mary Westmacott novels so may give those a try.

    New – The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman. It’s the latest Thursday Murder Club mystery and is just lovely, although also quite sad and gently philosophical. Also still has those touches that bring a spontaneous chuckle.

  38. I randomly picked a light British Mulder mystery called Murder-On-Sea by Julie Wassmer. There was a sentence that made me giggle. A character is described as being dressed in light brown clothes with fair hair being blown in the wind and looking like a “human cappuccino.”

    I like this book.

  39. I haven’t been on this blog for a while (life and all that). I read too much fiction on my Kindle and sometimes miss new publications so I was gobsmacked to see not one Crusie-Mayer work but two and a third to come. So I’ve spent the past few days reading “Lavender’s Blue” and “Rest in Pink.” Loved them. Loved them. Loved them.

    I teach academic writing to college kids (thankless job but rewarding) and I often tell them that time is one of the factors in growing as writers (and readers). Whatever else Jenny was doing while she wasn’t publishing, she was growing as a writer. I know Jenny does a lot of character backstory work, but in this series, that work gives us not just wonderful characters but Burney, with all of its weird history and secrets. I found myself wondering about the Porter family story. I still feel sad about Rhonda Pitts and the pies and would like to bitch-slap Bertie Rourke. And that made me understand Mickey a little better. And kudos to Bob Mayer for giving us Vince and “Rangers lead the way.” I would gladly spend a good bit of my reading life in Burney.

    And what a wonderful TV series it could be, if handled properly. (Big caveat there.)

  40. My Vermilion paperback copy came in the mail yesterday so now all three in the series are sitting in a place of honor. Which used to be a place of promise and frustration, since I promised myself not to start them until I had all of them to gloat over. Which I do, but I have three library books I have to finish before I can start them…. 🙁

    I see what is meant by ’embarrassment of riches.’

  41. Hurray for Vermillion being ready to go. I bought all three at once which meant free shipping. Yay.

    No hardcover option on Australian Amazon. Boo

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