This is a Good Book Thursday, October 5, 2023

So many people here had mentioned that Anne Bishop’s Lake Silence was good that I foolishly clicked on the sample just to see what the book was like and ended up buying eight books. That sounds like I’m recommending them, and the were great reads at first, but when I tried to reread them . . . uh, no.

I can tell you that the Others books are addictive. They’re well written (although comedy is not her strength) and have compelling conflicts, and I zipped my way through all eight of them in four days. Great world-building and interesting character interactions and evil antagonists who get their just desserts power the books (emotionally abusive exes who get eaten by monsters are my jam). But there were things about them that bothered me, and as I read them again, they became too much. I learned a lot about what I need from a book by reading these, which was illuminating, and there are just not my kind of stories. But they were a lot of fun to read the first time, so don’t let me put you off.

What good book did you read this week?

216 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 5, 2023

  1. I think I have read most of Anne Bishop’s books but what really gets to me is the horrendous abuse women (and some men) suffer in her worlds. I do find her books addictive too but indeed there are many I wouldn’t want to reread. She has a a dark dark imagination.

    This week I read Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yaros which I really enjoyed apart from the slightly over the top sex scenes towards the end. Since the second one is out in November, I tried also some of her contemporary novels. I made the mistake of starting with « The last letter ». Now that was harrowing in a completely different way from a Anne Bishop novel. What a tearjerker! How could she do what she did at the end… After that I tried « In the likely event » which had more manageable levels of pathos but I am a bit wary of reading more.

    I am ok with some suffering in my reading but life is hard enough as it is…

    1. I went and checked and one Anne Bishop book I wouldn’t mind rereading is Shalador’s lady, book 8 in the Black Jewels series (another pretty brutal series that one). I really liked that book because the heroine is one of my favourite types, ie not powerful but put in a position of power and rising to the challenge without suddenly gaining convenient extra powers, if I remember correctly. Also, the horrors are toned down, I think, in that one.

      1. Yes “Shalador’s Lady” is very good – I’d forgotten about that one. And I like that it mostly follows a new set of characters.

        I’ve become very wary with some of the later Black Jewels books, as it feels like she is undermining some of the earlier (very hard won) happy endings, so I haven’t read the latest two.

      1. Not hugely graphic, it’s more the accompanying sound effects. They are 20 when they enter the programme so more NA really.

      2. But in fact, thinking about it, the book feels very YA so that’s maybe why, despite their age, I found the sex scenes jarring in tone with the rest of the book. They are the same as her contemporary romances but it’s not the same type of book.

        1. I missed the references to the heroine’s age, early on, so I was shocked when the hero towards the end mentioned he was 23. I seriously thought they were 12.

    2. With Anne Bishop I noped out when I realised how much more underlying sexism there was in the alternate history society she created despite the fact that technology wise, it seemed equivalent to modern society.
      It felt really weird from a world building perspective(maybe it got explained in later books?).

      1. No. There was no reason for it. It was just a patriarchal society.
        The books that had the female rookie cop addressed it, but didn’t change anything. She basically said, “This is a really sexist world and it makes me mad,” and then the males in the story gave her a cute nickname–some kind of snarling animal that I can’t remember–and that was it.

  2. Agree Anne Bishop can be very very dark (maybe she’s working through some things?). I couldn’t get beyond the first few pages of her Witch series, but I love the Others, and Ephemera and the first 4-5 Black Jewels books. I think / hope “Lake Silence” stands on its own and is quite fun, but perhaps doesn’t give an accurate picture of her back-list.

    A bunch of meh this week for me, with a couple of exceptions. I picked up “Among Others” by Jo Walton, set in 1979, featuring Mori, a teenage reader (as in two books a day) and I think people who have read lots of pre-1980 science fiction fantasy would love seeing themselves reflected. What I liked was how she used magic as something that can change the world, but in ways where you can never be sure what affect it had if any – almost magical realism but not quite. Also really liked the glimpses into Welsh history and the ways their culture was still being colonized right up into the 20th century.

    And reread “An Honorable Thief” by Anne Gracie which made me laugh, frequently. Highly enjoyable m/f historical with wonderfully well-traveled principals.

    1. I loved “Among Others,” totally saw myself in it 🙂 I’ll check out “An Honorable Thief” Amazon has been pushing it at me, and usually hate their recommendations, but on yours, I’ll jump!

      1. Yes to loving Among Others. Agree with Tess about the King Arthur woman warrior and the dragon take off on Trollope/Thackeray type British authors — DNF’d both.

        1. I have never liked anything Arthurian, even as a kid. Too pointlessly sad. No good female characters.

          1. Ditto! (Oh, except I did enjoy Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, which I had to read when studying Middle English – the language was intriguing, as I remember (northern dialect).)

          2. Lupe, Fair enough. I’ve always liked the stories, especially when mixed with history: such as, Fair Melisande who was Queen of Jerusalem or the Emma who negotiated for all her men to leave a beseiged castle in safety. Several of the women in Marie de France’s lais are multi-layered characters. But, in all honesty, I’m interested enough to hunt through the tales and histories to find the hidden women who aren’t merely evil or angelic. They aren’t easy to find.

          3. Would agree, but Nicola Griffith’s ‘Spear’ delivers kick-ass Not A Man hero instead of pointless sadness, if you’re in the mood for a Not A Man version of Percival and Not A Villain version of Nimue. 🙂

      2. Yes, I can read the Others repeatedly but I’ve never gotten more than fifty pages into any of her other series without giving up.

        1. Welp, that answers that question for me.

          She’s a good writer, so don’t let my objections stop anyone from reading the Others series. I whipped right through them the first time.

        2. I enjoyed a few of Anne Bishops other books, but definitely not enough to revisit them. But I, too, reread the Others series (multiple times)*. Lake Silence is actually one of my “dammit, go back to sleep” books, along with Agnes. I like the take on shifters, and find compelling the question of what North America would be like if European explorers and colonists had found the indigenous peoples much, much more physically dangerous and cohesive than themselves (there’s probably a better way to state that, but it’s the best I can do at the moment).

          (*I didn’t like Wild Country much, though I do reread it – I’m not a fan of overlapping timelines)

    2. I love Anne Bishop’s Others series, although I only picked them up at first because the covers were so beautifully done.

      And while I was absolutely engrossed when I started the series, I was somehow less engrossed by the fifth and last book (at least, last among the books set in the city with the visionary girl among the wolves etc.). And I find the only one among them that I routinely re-read is “Lake Silence,” which rewards me each time.

      The thing I think I found about the plots and characters of the series (Lake Silence is set in the same world, just not in the same Big World Politics urban-ish setting) that I consistently like is the way she depicts someone who feels a stranger in the world she finds herself in. The future vision-y girl is just new to everything, so she is experiencing the peaceful people around her and the very dangerous people around her in basically the same way, like someone waking up in a place, among people, they don’t really know or understand.

      The same thing is true of the Lake Silence MC, although she is a person scarred by marriage to a husband who was both psychologically abusive and part of an influential power group. She feels very separate from much that goes on around her, but she’s also giving advice and guidance to the crow people, who know even less about what’s going on within the humans’ world.

      So basically, I like introverted characters, living in a group context but always feeling quite separate from the others. In a way that is what drew me to Jane Austen MCs (except that darned Emma!) and what I like about many of Mary Balogh’s MCs — the orphans and lonely bachelors, etc.

      I am different from Jenny, I think, because I would never say I like MCs who are angry about something. Too angry and I begin to think ‘well, is this a righteous kind of anger or just self-centeredness?’ Not so angry but enmeshed in a tight group of friends who are all successful and crack jokes together? That only works for me if there’s some self-awareness and solitude to mediate it.

      I guess I’m saying that we all seem to have a kind of basic psychological grounding that affects how well we can relate to characters in books, and all I can really say is that it’s why I resonate with “Lake Silence”.

  3. I’ve been re-reading Scalzi’s “Fuzzy Nation”, “Lock in” and the Old Man’s War books. Always a pleasure, and often quite funny. His newest, “Starter Victim” felt limp to me, so I did the deep dive into his catalogue. “Red Shirts” is up next!

    1. I love Red Shirts! I listened to it on Audible and was extra amused as Wil Wheaton was the narrator. 😂

      1. I have to assume the red shirts are not related to the Star Trek doomed red shirts?

  4. I have been putting off reading Anne Bishop for years because I was worried that she would be too dark for me.

    I am still reading Vermilion, but my the pile is growing and starting to stare at me. I still have the new KJ Charles to read, plus Anne Stewart put out a Halloween story that I bought and CM Nascosta released Two for Tea which I have been really looking forward to. And I still have her headless horseman smut to start. And Alexis Hall has a new one coming out in another week or so.

    I really need to switch over to Christmas to get me in the mood and start my crafting for the season but I want to stay in October forever. Also, it’s time to listen to Maybe This Time, again. October is good for ghost stories.

    Oh! And we are watching The Last of Us, which isn’t as dark as I feared, though I look away for the gory bits and the writing is so so good. The third episode made me cry, but in a good way.

      1. It’s called Cry For the Moon. Maybe it’s not new? Could be a reissue, but it had a pumpkin on the front and I haven’t read it. It came across my Amazon recommendations and I bought it.

          1. Oh thank you! I thought it sounded a little familiar. I may read it again anyway – since it doesn’t sound super familiar.

  5. I read Vermillion and can mostly only echo what everyone here who’s read it has said – it’s terrific. Two other things I’ll add…I appreciated so much that this series stayed strong through all three books – not an easy thing to maintain. And second – way to kick the Big Misunderstanding to the curb, Bob and Jenny! I loved that, especially since I’m reading two books with multiple Big Misunderstandings, and even one is too many.

    I read Tea for Two by CM Nascosta. I think this is mostly a tentacle friends book since it does have explicit and slightly weird sex but…if you’ve ever wanted to try one of hers and not have every chapter be sexy this is probably your chance. Not for the faint of heart though since it’s about a young goth witch suffering from chronic depression and acute grief. It’s the first in what is to be a series. I loved the main MC and my favourite part was that every chapter starts with her Outfit of the Day where her shades of black have to match.

    I also read Joanna Chambers and Sally Malcolm’s latest, Best Supporting Actor, in their Creative Types series of M/M romances about entertainment business in the UK. They’ve gotten stronger as they’ve written more in this series and it was a pleasurable read.

    PS – Still testing negative; still feeling crappy.

      1. I tested positive for COVID this morning. So I’ve had to uninvited the ten people we were hosting for Canadian Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow. Sad! I don’t feel too bad though.

        1. Oh, take care of yourself, Tammy. Feel better soon. (Wish I had something helpful to say. Drink plenty of liquids! Get plenty of rest! Uh . . .)

        2. Thank you all! I’m really not feeling too bad. I’m just totally bummed about my Thanksgiving plans. 😢

        3. Well that sucks. Best wishes for a speedy recovery! And a quick reschedule for your plans.

  6. At first I thought you were talking about Annie Dillard. A very cheery person claimed she was her favorite author so I picked up one of her books. I wasn’t far into the book when she did something so horrible to someone in the book that I destroyed the book and had nightmares for weeks.

    I am rereading Amanda Quick still. ‘Affair’ and now ‘Dangerous’.

    The Anne Stuart book sounds promising.

    We are watching Dark Winds; the series based on Tony Hillerman’s novels about Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee. It is excellent!

    I wrote a blogpost about it. If you want more info click on my name.

    1. I read your review. That series sounds great. I am no good at watching series though, unless I am on holiday. It’s going on the movies/series ever expanding list!

      1. What I found interesting is that I totally missed at first that the series was set in the 70s. I noticed the older vehicles, but that could totally happen. And the MCs are part of the police force, so they are communicating by their radios – no need for a missing cell phone. I think it was a screen label in the second season that said something like 1978 the made me stop and think back on all the clues that I had been totally oblivious to – because I was so immersed in the story.

        1. You are right about the time setting on Dark Winds. What amused me was a scene about the tribe watching a moon landing on TV at the community center and the electricity goes out. They just gather everyone up and go over to the police station and finish watching from there. It is things like that, that put the time frame in place. Also, Zahn Mcclarnon’s hair. In this show it is tied up in a southwestern style when normally it is loose and flowing. If they ever do a male version of a shampoo ad, I’d nominate him.

    2. I’ve just discovered Dark Winds – it’s on SBS On Demand in Australia. I read the books years ago and enjoyed them, and the TV series is wonderful! I’ve just finished the first season and am about to embark on the second. I watch very little TV – it just doesn’t hold my attention as well as books – so this is rare for me.

    3. I just finished Season 2 of Dark Winds. The actors are excellent. The books are also good. It’s always interesting to see how books and visual media differ; each have distinct strengths and weaknesses.

  7. I thought I had read a recommendation of the Scholomance books by Naomi Novik here, so I started a Deadly Education. I’m not sure that I like this character, and don’t know if I’ll finish this one – about 1/3 of the way through.

    I’ve started “Shattered” by Lisa J Morgan. It’s near future with variously talented people – the MC is a Clairvoyant who is working with an Empath to forestall disasters. Only a few pages in, but so far so good.

    1. I loved that character. But then I love an angry heroine, and she had a lot to be angry about.

  8. Omg you all! Finally read “Pack of Lies” from Charlie Adhara based on multiple recommendations from this group, and now I need more!! Thanks!

    And one to add- I just finished “Grave Expectations” by Alice Bell, and really enjoyed it. It has ghosts, a murder mystery in an old English mansion, and well-drawn characters.

    1. And after you read Adhara’s other five books, you will be like me – wandering aimlessly in the darkness looking for more similar reads…

    2. Yay! I love Charlie Adhara. Instant reread material for me. It’s going to be a while before her next book comes out, but at least Oliver and Cooper’s story is finished.

  9. I finished Deb’s Dangerously Divine and then Dangerously Fierce. Now I have Wickedly Unraveled in progress.

    I’m rereading by Don Pendleton’s Dance of a Lifetime. Full disclosure, it’s actually six books under one cover, 175 chapters. The sport that runs throughout isn’t football nor hockey; it’s Ice Dancing. Yes, figure skating, but without the leaps and twirls and backflips and all that.

    1. Ironically, Gary, I’m rereading Wickedly Unraveled, because I’m writing a short story for Halloween that takes place right after it, and it has been a long time since I’ve written in that world. Now I’m wondering if I can expand the short story to a novella once it has been used at the blog it is for…

      (And of course, I found two typos in the first chapter. Argh.)

  10. I loved The Others books, but they are right on the cusp of being too dark for me, and so I haven’t ready any of Anne’s other series, on her own recommendation. (I got to hang out with her at a local con pre-Covid, and she’s a sweetie. You’d never guess at the dark things inside her head…)

    I DNF a Peter S. Beagle book, which shocked me, because historically I love his writing. I was looking for magical realism books on Amazon and stumbled across Summerlong. I got about 2/5ths of the way in before deciding it was actually making me twitchy and anxious. I guess that’s the mark of a good writer, but I just couldn’t make myself finish reading.

    I read and mostly enjoyed End of Story by Kylie Scott. Not sure where I got the recommendation for that one, maybe here? The writing itself was great and I loved the characters and the romance. But the sex scenes were so graphic, they threw me right out of the story. It was like someone took a romantic comedy and porn, and mixed them up at the printer’s. YMMV, so if you don’t mind that kind of thing, I recommend the book. Sadly, I don’t think I’ll get another of hers.

  11. On vacation so reading lots of stuff. I loved the 4th Thursday Murder Club. Also good was “Lady From Burma” in the matchmaking series. Thank you to whoever suggested “A Peculiar Combination”. I had saved “Phoebe and the Traitor” and a Jayne Anne Krentz so they were dependable reads. Also a few rereads including the Duck Francis I am currently on.
    Still in the cue is “The Mislaid Magician” which I was delighted to find since I had read the first two years ago. I love being on vacation.

  12. I have been home sick so have had lots of time to read. Yesterday I read Birnam Wood by Eleanor Catton. She captures overly earnest slightly self involved people discuss the problems of the world and the characters are all well drawn but the ending! I won’t spoil it but I was disappointed.

    I also read The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman, the latest in his Thursday Murder Club books. Just as funny as the others but it packs an emotional punch the others don’t. I really liked it.

    1. I also loved The Last Devil to Die and was delighted to discover that Richard Osman is going to continue the series after a pause to write a book unrelated to the series.

  13. I’ve listened to Quenby Olson’s Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide (to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons). It’s read by Zara Ram, who narrates the St. Mary’s and Time Police novels, among others, and it’s excellently done. It’s a slow-moving, domestic narrative, set in 1816 England, but the Regency era is not stressed, and nobody goes to Almacks or dances with an earl. It takes a long time for our spinster protagonist to stand up for herself, which is frustrating, but I am following on to the second book to see what happens.

  14. I was ill this week and looking for comfort so I re-read the Chesapeake Bay quartet by Nora Roberts and they were all just as good as I remember. Also re-read Charlie All Night by Jenny, because I love that one too.
    The Richard Osman is on my waiting list at the library (#22), and I am really looking forward to it. Also on there is Robert Galbraith’s new one (#30). Currently reading Jenny & Bob’s Wild Ride and loving it (hadn’t got to it before and it is a hoot).

  15. I finished Irish Exit by TheUndiagnosable on AO3, which continued to be excellent, and really ought to be published (m/m ice hockey romcom). Went on to read her(?) other ‘original’ story, Two Types of Sacrifices, also good but slower and m/f. Thanks for the reccs: I’d never have found them.

    To coddle myself while feeling poorly this week, I’ve been rereading some Loretta Chase, starting with Lord of Scoundrels. Just begun A Duke in Shining Armor (oh, the mis-spelling grates!).

    1. The Undiagnosable has a number of original stories that are quire good – the one that precedes Two Types of Sacrifices is about the son’s romance for example.

  16. I read “The Locked Tomb Mystery and Other Stories” by Elizabeth Peters which is a collection of Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels / Barbara Mertz short stores. There are 4 short stories in the collection, 3 of which are in the Elizabeth Peters voice and the final story is in the Barbara Michael’s voice. I miss Elizabeth Peters / Barbara Michaels. She was taken from us far too soon.

    I also read “The Dark Lord’s Daughter” by Patricia C. Wrede which is about how a 14-year old girl and her adopted family are abducted into another world by a Dark Knight following his Dark Lord’s final wishes to retrieve his lost daughter. Kayla, the daughter in question, has always known she was adopted but only remembers her adopted parents, and is a normal teenager. So, finding out she’s supposed to be evil and start maiming, torturing and killing all the peasants in her general vicinity comes as a bit of a shock. I really hope that Pat Wrede continues in this storyline, because I liked all the characters.

    I am now reading Book 5 in Charlaine Harris’ series about Gunnie Rose, “All the Dead Shall Weep”. It’s an alternate world fantasy where Russia and Mexico are the preeminent countries in the world due to their magic. Great Britain is trying to catch up with magical powers and the US never even got started before they were carved up by the other countries. Gunnie Rose makes a living as a caravan guard in an Old West analog.

  17. Got a chance to finish Vermillion which was a lot of fun. Loved how it all came together but how each of the books had a proper conclusion too.
    Otherwise have managed very little reading,

  18. I’m reading Kerry Greenwood’s Corinna Chapman mysteries, which I think someone here recommended, and loving them! Really rich stories in terms of description, and very enjoyable characters.

  19. I’m still reading through my backlog of Maisey Yates cowboy romances. So many are Christmas themed. And apparently that is what my soul needs. I’m currently in the Gold Valley Vineyards mini series.

    I do also have a bunch of spooky season reading lined up; Simone St James, Joe Hill, Silvia Moreno-Garcia.

  20. I wanted to clarify: My objection to the Others books isn’t because they’re too dark. I thought the horror aspects were handled really well.

    ETA: I deleted the rest of this post because I don’t believe in ranting about another writer, no matter how annoyed I am. Let’s just leave it at, I am not the reader for these book. Great world building,interesting conflicts, enjoyed the first books as I read them the first time, gradually realized what I was uneasy about, won’t read again.

      1. The books are very patriarchal, and the two main female characters–Vicki and Meg–are treated like children, probably because they accept that. It’s a feminist thing that has nothing to do with the stories, per se. I just don’t like the assumptions behind the stories.

        1. I commented elsewhere but I found the world building pretty patriarchal as well (which I mean, fine it’s her world but I would have liked some kind of explanation for why women seemed to have such limited options).

          1. I do not know Anne Bishop, so this is absolutely not a commentary on her in any way.

            I think the readers that respond to that patriarchal dynamic find it comforting. In both series, the humans are surrounded by lethal beings, but both heroines are protected those by beings. They’re not in partnership in any way, but anything that threatens the two women is taken out by the monsters that surround them. There’s a sense that they are sweet girls and therefore not prey, that they’re kind to the Others and therefore should be protected. Their femininity protects them. If they weren’t nice and sweet, they’d be meat. But because they’re nice and sweet (and in Meg’s case useful), they’ll live. They’re Good Girls.

            It reminds me of the 80s, when so many women objected to feminism because it stripped away a level of protection they felt they had. If they were ladies, they’d be supported and protected, so they fought the idea of women as equals. The books feel like that. Women like Meg and Vicki are protected because they’re helpless and cute. Women like Asia are destroyed because they go after what they want. Yeah, I know Asia was a Bad Girl, but she was also the only female character in any of the books who had a plan and a goal and pursued it passionately. The underlying political thought of those books is so anti-feminist, so anti-woman, that once I stepped back and saw it, I couldn’t read them again. I lived in that ideology for too long, too many of us are still suffering from that ideology, to find that fiction that sees it as a positive, romantic thing is something we can enjoy.

            The stuff underneath the story matters.

          2. It’s nice that we’re getting to the point that unequal societies need justification! Not that I ever really understood how the world we live in managed to make half the population second class citizens.

            Jenny, I can see where you’re coming from on Meg & Vicki, and although Tess is the scariest creature other than the Eldest she’s not the main character. I wonder what you’d think of Belladonna, Jaenelle and Surreal 😊

            What I notice about Anne Bishop’s stories is that they’re very binary, good vs evil, male & female etc. Black Jewels is set in a matriarchal society, albeit with very clear gender roles and one that’s been badly corrupted. I think one of the things that appeals to me about Bishop’s writing is that the good people are good and evil people are evil (mostly), and that her worlds tend towards justice, even if it gets very bad before the end. That Manichean view troubles me a bit, on the other hand that moral certainty is almost relaxing in our morally complex real world.

          3. That’s an excellent point about the binary aspect of her books. I think the simplicity of that is very appealing since we’re living in such a complex reality right now. Although the people in American government are doing a damn good job of dividing into good and evil in front of our eyes.

        2. I agree on that, although it seems pretty consistent with our world unfortunately. I hadn’t really processed the misogynist elements in prior reads, and it’ll be interesting to see how it changes my feelings rereading them.

          My head about exploded on the “Me time” cell in Wild County – another reason I don’t reread like the others, although I like Janica (the deputy) and adore Jessie, who runs the store (and most of their town).

          I do think Vicki is starting to develop more agency towards the end of Lake Silence, and several key characters- people in the town- are women with chops. But overall, I can’t disagree.

        3. This is making me remember that many years ago I read a book-possibly by Heinlein which seems really unlikely — about a girl rescued from a society where all the women had been bred to be little and frail, with tiny torsos. I don’t think she was even the main character, but I was so struck by the idea of making it physically impossible for women to be equal ( I must have been pretty young as now I think about high heels and corsets and foot binding ….)

          And of course I don’t think it’s genetically possible with humans to have such extreme dimorphism with all the men huge and women tiny . But sci fi….

          1. That sounds more like Larry Niven and the Kzinti. They bred their women to be non-sentient because smart females made the feel stupid and weak.

          2. I remember reading an article that suggested that diet culture was invented to keep women weaker physically, so they appear non threatening. There was also a point about consuming less resources…
            Creepy stuff

        4. Why why why does anyone want to go back there? I remember clearly sitting in the ob/gyn office in 1978 and telling him – please tie my tubes after this birth (my second) when I have this baby.

          His response – you’re only 20. I would need to discuss this with your husband.

          I don’t want that for my granddaughter & I don’t want to read it either.

          I think the only reason I reread Amanda Quick so much is her historical heroines and heroes are completely unrealistic for the time. And funny.

          1. Not the “ask your husband” thing, but last year one of my friends is getting to the age when her mother died of ovarian cancer. Another aunt and a cousin got it as well. Her kids are both teenagers, she’s very anxious about getting cancer, and she wants a preventative hysterectomy. Doctors refused to consider it because she “might want more kids”. My friend is a mature woman who knows her own mind and couldn’t believe the patronizing response.

        1. Response to Yuri – I bet she could find a doctor who would do a hysterectomy in those circumstances. Maybe a female.
          Women are getting mastectomys to prevent breast cancer when family has it.

  21. I’m working on my next piece for my memoir writing group, so am not reading a whole lot of fiction. This memoir stuff is difficult: too many “I”s.

    So I reread Willis’s Belwether and enjoyed it more the second time. I’m now on my 4th time through Road to Roswell. Feel free to snort if you remember my reservations about it. I took Jenny’s advice and stuck to enjoying what the author was trying to do. (You’d think I’d remember that rule from my years of teaching.)

  22. Recommended by Tammy and endorsed by Chachal, I HAD to read “Draft Bust” by Hannah Henry and loved it.
    Whoever said “not much hockey” (well, Tammy and Chachal said that) has another definition of hockey than I have. Hockey is what defined the life of both MCs, made them who they are. We don’t see either of them on the ice, for sure (one is about to retire due to injury, the other never made it to be drafted). But I found it very intriguing that the book dealt with the next step in a hockey career, the retirement. Which is an especially dire step when you HAVE to retire very young and without fulfilling your potential. I found this topic very moving and well handled.
    I’d have loved to know why the journalist MC was laid off from his job, but whatever the cause, both MCs felt like losers, so I’m okay with it.
    I particularly liked how tender the story was, how kind, how lacking of unnecessary drama. The inner drama is enough and yeah, no breakup due to a misunderstanding.

    This very probably won’t be the last title by this author. I wasn’t hooked by Off-ice behaviour, but will try some others of the series.

    Then I raced through one KU title which had been waiting for forever, the sequel to a book I liked a lot. I had high hopes but found I couldn’t get through it: I found I really loathe the billionaire trope, the Russian mafia trope, don’t care for the thrill of lingerie (big exception: Jenny’s heroines wearing underwear they love as they wear it to please themselves), also don’t care for 20+ years of age gap (add to it a less sucessfull young guy – loaded older guy with saviour syndrome who fancied the younger one for years before he also becomes his boss) – oh wow, power imbalance.

    Another bust was the book about the referee and the hockey player who suffers from brain tumor. I didn’t even get that far as to the tumor because I didn’t like both MCs one iota. Didn’t like the writing style either.

    Otoh I DID like the new Lisa Henry title (Amazing Alpha Tau boyfriend project – what a nuisance of a title) although a friend with good book taste kind of warned me. Yes, I really didn’t like the intro with the drunken frat boys, and the story was a bit sketchy, also rather unrealistic and why the gorgeous gay guy should need help from the frat boy is dubious, but all the guys there were likeable, even the morons. The narrator was clueless but kind and lovely. So I found the book overall charming. No re-read material, but nice while it lasted.

    Now, Eden Finley and Saxon James have me hooked with Clueless Puckboy, the 5th in the series and the first NOT on KU. Argh. Well placed teasers made me buy it. I do hope it’s worth it. I didn’t much care for book 3 and really didn’t like boo 4, but loved book 1 and 2.
    This time, one of the MCs is crushing badly on his assistant trainer/physical therapist which is inconvenient when he’s laboring with a strained groin. It has vibes of Sarina Bowen’s New Guy (also player with hints of groin injury who tries to avoid his physical therapist on which he crushes badly), but enough of a subtle difference that so far I like it a lot.
    I find physical therapy fascinating anyway, so will read up on the topic 🙂
    Wish me luck that the book keeps up!

    1. Dodo, I also have high hopes for the next Clueless Puckboy. And I can recommend the rest of the Hannah Henry’s, if you like hockey. And by hockey, I mean on ice moving a frozen Oreo around with a stick…

      What was the book with the hockey player with the brain tumour??

      1. Head Game by Brigham Vaughn.
        Seems similar to have created series to get some community but style and personality of MCs are not my cup of tea.

        1. I was meh about the Brigham Vaughan I read a couple of weeks ago so I will avoid all others in the future.

    2. One of the saddest funerals I ever went to was when one of my son’s soccer teammates died age 13 of a brain tumor and all his teammates had to deal with his and their mortality. I don’t think I can ever read a brain tumor book

      1. Oh Debbie, what a horrible experience for your son and all involved!

        Yes, just the thought of brain tumors frightens me. I went into the book thinking the injury would be more like the kind related to hockey (gruesome enough). Concussions e.g. are very dangerous, too.
        The MC not only survived but was back on the ice rather soon.

  23. LOVED Rest in Pink!! Lavender was very good. Pink is even better!

    Finished the last of the Elizabeth Jane Howard series that starts with The Light Years. Thanks to whomever warned us that the last one isn’t quite as good. Howard reminds me strongly of Anthony Trollope. (Try: The Way We Live Now if you want to dip your toe in.) The great thing about Trollope is that if you like him, there is soooo much of him. I am sure that he is too old fashioned for many. I tried to read him when I was young and couldn’t.

    Back to the Light Years folk – So many good characters! She writes children brilliantly, maybe the best I’ve ever seen. She writes deteriorating human relationships with a scalpel pen. I was troubled by intelligent people making stupid mistakes. You know, when you can see a good solution, but they just never get there? Also they breed mindlessly like rabbits. Without considering what it means, what it will take, how it will affect their lives. (sigh)

    Worth reading though and I may read them again some time.

    1. I read and enjoyed a lot of Trollope when I was young. Not ALL of him, even though I was an English major.

      1. I especially remember the one where she jilted him and spent the very long novel regretting it bitterly.

  24. Thanks to my far too short holiday in Canada I had loads of time to read. Not all of them were hits but the highlights are below…

    The fourth Veronica Speedwell book, A Dangerous Collaboration. I had an erroneous belief that I disliked this series, but read the book as my aunt had left it behind when she visited at Christmas. I tore through it in a day and am glad my aunt also left the fifth book – that’s come home with me!

    I finally read Rest In Pink while waiting at the airport to come home and on the plane. Loved it. Saving Vermillion for a rainy day/feeling blue day but I know this trilogy will bear rereading, which is such a lovely feeling.

    After coming home and sleeping for THIRTEEN HOURS on Monday night/Tuesday morning, I had to read Legends and Lattes at speed as it was due back to the library this week. Thankfully I would have read it at speed despite the time pressures. I loved everything about this book, would die for Thimble, and want twenty more books in this universe please.

    I’m now reading Lessons In Chemistry because I want to read it before the AppleTV+ series comes out soon. I think I’m enjoying it but I’m only a couple of chapters in so far so it’s too early to tell.

    1. Stick with it — it starts in the ’50s atmosphere of “Men Wanted” ads and all women being homemakers, and the MC runs into some sad, frustrating, and heartbreaking stuff, but wait until she gets to the place where that little girl and her delicious lunch boxes is fully explained and the heroine starts to go about Fixing Things. If you can get to the point where she’s upbraiding the father of the lunch-stealer, the book will sing for you.

      1. Excellent! I’m another fifty pages in and have got to grips with the writing style, good to know that it’ll pay off…

  25. Read nothing new this week, only rereads. But I have a book-related question. I’m an urban creature. I like big cities. I’ve never lived in a small town and never wanted to. But I noticed a trend in many romance novels and in women’s fiction. Often, the protagonist starts in a big city, gets in trouble on both personal and professional fronts, and retreats to a small town to lick her wounds. And there, she finds peace and love and acceptance. I’ve never read a story where the female protagonist would go in the opposite direction: from troubles in a small town to peace and love in a big city. I wonder why? And does anyone know such a story? I would like to read it, if it exists.

    1. Hm I could be completely wrong, but I think it’s a result of the idyllification of cute/quaint small towns and cozy romances, which is easier to achieve in quirky small towns with a lot of heart than in anonymous huge cities. I wonder whether it’s a trend in publishing that pushes back against the “small town girl moves to the big city to seek her fame and fortune and in the course finds love” trend that was big before. It’s not a story of a small town girl moving to a big city, but I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella is a story about a city girl staying in the city haha. I can’t think of any others off the top of my head, though.

      1. “A moment of silence for all the big city, suit-wearing guys who are about to get dumped by their gilrfriends/fiances for a small-town guy wearing flannel in a Hallmark movie this season.” StuckInIndiana

      2. Is the White Magic Five & Dime trilogy a small town cozy mystery series? I got the impression that they wouldn’t have stayed if they didn’t inherit mom’s untaxed ill-gotten loot.

        1. That was why they stayed originally. But at the end of the series you I got the impression that they would be staying longer for other reasons.

    2. I think that a lot of us are tired and wishing for some kind of sanctuary, hence the trend towards small towns. People have a nostalgic idea about them. Living in one, I don’t see why. People here are not nice. Small businesses do not survive. The population is largely aging and impoverished.

      Anyway, I can think of some books that have heroines shaking off the past and going somewhere new and/or bigger but they are mostly scifi, urban fantasy or another niche genre. Or chick lit.

      Contemporary romance loves a small town with a bakery and adorable children and old people.

      1. I think you’re right, Lupe: the small town is really an image of a slower, deeper, more connected & happier life. It’s popular because real life – everywhere – is getting faster, more inhuman and more isolated.

      2. Agreed. The small town of cozy genre fiction is an artifact of the past, and even as an artifact it’s fairly well a fantasy (mostly having to do with homogenous populations in which nobody is truly poor and there is no overt racism or homophobia (see ‘fantasy’)). I grew up in small towns and they were most definitely not the kind of place you went back to if you needed to regroup. They were the kind of place you stayed if you couldn’t get out.

        1. My small(ish) town has improved enormously since I was a child here in the 1960s and 70s. It’s a lot more varied and less ingrown. Maybe Britain is too densely populated for most places to stay really stuck? Although I daresay things are very different where the major local industries have been lost. (This area was in decline in the sixties, due to farming becoming highly mechanized.)

          1. I know. Makes you wonder where they lurk when Americans aren’t around. Probably hanging out with all those gay ice hockey players.

    3. I think there have been, but I can’t remember titles.

      The heroine goes back to her hometown story is usually about facing the past, making peace with her family, etc.

      The heroine who goes to a small town she’s never been to before is usually rediscovering simplicity and the True Meaning of Life. The Nope for me is if she’s opening a bakery or inn; those are killer jobs which would leave her no time for a life.

      1. Cozies where the MC is starting a new restaurant or bakery cause me so much anxiety! Don’t they know how few businesses survive the first year even when the proprietors aren’t running around trying to solve crimes? I’m like, do you have a business plan? Are you getting enough sleep? Can you really afford to close on Saturdays??

    4. Would like to read more of those too. I remember an article years ago on AAR bemoaning the lack of “Big City” romances 🙂

      Sarah Morgan’s “Sunset in Central Park” features people who moved from a small community but they’ve already living there when the book opens. Some other romances that really celebrate the big city are “Breath on Embers” a Christmas m/f novella by Anne Calhoun (New York), the Cole McGinnis series by Rhys Ford (m/m mystery, Los Angeles), and “The Girl Next Door” by Amy Jo Cousins (Chicago).

      There’s also “Country Mouse” / “City Mouse” by Amy Lane & Aleksandr Voinov, which I remember being very sweet, but I can’t remember now whether they end up settling in London 🙁

    5. I think a number of Nora Roberts heroines live happily in big cities having escaped small towns (although she also does a lot of small town books). Eve Dallas is terrified by small towns.

      Sarah Morgan. Sarina Bowen. Most sports romances because you can’t have a major league team in a small town.

      1. Among my favorite aspects of the Eve Dallas character was her complete disinterest in kids and her deep suspicion of small towns / rural environments. When Roarke started hinting about kids and it seemed as though they were heading that way, I noped out. She had REASONS.

  26. I read Llewellyn’s Little Book of Witchcraft, by Deborah Blake. It was a great refresher, and I also learned some new things, and got some ideas for my practice. I used the spell (#14) for Healing the Body to help seal my wellness on the Full Moon, and it felt good and did the trick. l highly recommend this book.

    I reread the Crusie/Mayer trilogy, and found things I had run over in my speed read, which helped clarify some events and behaviors I was wondering about. I really loved the ending where Vince nails the T shirt love that Liz has, and the fear of commitment they both have. And it was very satisfying in all three books that the villains got their comeuppance. If there are more books to come, I will read them, too. Now awaiting and anticipating the Rocky Start series.

    1. Oh, I also googled Robert Rogers’ Rules, and printed them off. The language is pretty interesting, since those were written in a past century. He is a consummate strategist, and I see why Vince idolizes these rules. Bob has a whole book about these rules! Go, Bob!

        1. It’s on Medium. which you have to join. It’s titled The Classic Rogers’ Rules of Ranging, Which Still Apply, by Bob Mayer. There may , or may not, be the apostrophe and comma in the title. I typed it from memory. I think it’s more of a leaflet.

  27. I am not reading Lavender, Pink or Vermillion, but still dreaming of the day they’ll become audiobooks! (Sorry [well not really but a little] for bringing it up AGAIN.)
    Which, now that I think about it, is true for The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes too. Have I missed any Jenny-books that should be audio but aren’t?

    I’ve done so much rereading this year and very little new things. But, this past week I read both “Chalice of the Gods” by Rick Riordan and “The Sun and the Star”, also by Riordan but together with Mark Oshiro.
    Chalice: Comforting read, was good to get a book in Percy’s voice again. Some very nice scenes that make you think, like embracing aging instead of trying to run from it. I really enjoy these books. And even the ones with really touching/sad/emotional scenes are never too much to handle, so I’m never worried I might read something I can’t manage. Safe.
    Sun&Star: Really enjoyed, but it wasn’t as easy a read as Chalice. There is some time-jumping throughout the first 2/3 or so of the book that did throw me off a little. I understand why they chose to do it, because it might’ve been a long and show-stopping chapter if they put all of it into one or two after each other instead, but then again… jumps. Cute romance between the two MCs (M/M) though, and a lot of good lessons on dealing with “the darkness inside”, trauma, guilt etc. Probably wouldn’t read it without having read Riordan’s other books though. You miss out on so much backstory.

    Recently read “Starter Villain” by John Scalzi and it was…. well a nice read. Not sure if I’d reread it, but liked the cats and LOVE Wil Weaton’s narration. Secretly curious how our Matcha would do with cat-buttons!

    Just started “The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch” by Melinda Taub.

    1. February, Shass. That’s not written in stone yet, we haven’t signed the contract, but we’ve agreed to it, so there WILL be audio, and the not-firm-yet release month is February 2024.

      1. I know a great male voice actor friend (who also does audiobooks) if you need a rec. I’m assuming you’ve already got it sorted, but just shoot me an email if you don’t

        1. Bob has someone he wants for the female reader who already works with Brilliance, and she has somebody, I think. Bob would be the one to talk to on that, just shoot him an e-mail.

  28. None of my “new” reads hit the spot this week. I did enjoy a reread of Rachel Gibson’s True Confessions…the chapter headings in that novel always make me smile.

      1. I’m taking a short break and then will pick up with #5. I want to stretch my enjoyment.

  29. Finally finished Vermilion today, one of my days off. I couldn’t read it before bed because I couldn’t wind down from the tension. Very well written tension. I doubt it will be any less tense on the rereads.
    I love Liz’s house. Almost as good as Daisy’s!

  30. I finished A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1, Audible version. Amazing the whole worlds a mere mortal can create.

  31. I am currently re-reading Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen, as well as reading for the first time Why we Love Middle Earth by Alan Sisto and Shawn Marchese. It’s set up to read as if you are listening to their podcast, The Prancing Pony. It works, but the print is small so I am reading it in small doses.

  32. My weekly reading essay.

    1. re-read ‘The Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel’ by KJ Charles, so good, I want sequels, all the sequels.

    2. ‘These Old Lies’ by Larrie Barton, an ambitious and effective M/M love story spanning 50 years: MC1 a working-class corporal, MC2 an aristocratic major (IIRC) when they meet during WWI. Big feelings, a dash of humor, sexy sex, grown-up conversations and compromises, many good supporting characters with no distracting tangents as the author sticks firmly to how these men get from wartime passion to postwar separation to reconnection to long-term partnership. Lovely epilogue set in 1967 when a major legal victory was won.

    3. ‘Best Supporting Actor’ by Joanna Chambers & Sally Malcolm, the best of their ‘creatives’ collaborations. The initial hostility between the MCs was dealt with fast enough not to annoy me, and all the behind-the-scenes theatre / acting stuff is my absolute catnip.

    [DNFd at 15%, a M/M new-adult story about a musician/restaurant worker and an MFA student, just couldn’t get into it, and sometimes writers need to not describe every single facial expression, especially when description is a head-scratcher like ‘she pursed her lips in a grin.’]

    4. ‘Private Charter’ by N.R. Walker, Australia-set story of a stressed-out hotshot finance guy taking a doctor-mandated vacation which happens to be on a private yacht captained by a guy who retired from being a hotshot financier. I liked this one quite a bit.

    4.5 re-read ‘Revival,’ one of my F/M novellas, the one I’ve done in large print paperback, after figuring out how to fix the page numbering.

    5. ‘No Longer a Gentleman’ by Mary Jo Putney, crazypants F/M 1813-set riff on the Count of Monte Cristo.

    5.5 ‘Bite Me’ by Kim Fielding, a completely charming M/M werewolves in Modesto novelette. Looking for Halloween reading? I recommend.

    6. ‘Ejaculate Responsibly’ by Gabrielle Stanley Blair. Literally everyone on Earth should read this book.

    7. ‘The Dream Alchemist’ by Joanna Chambers, unusual M/M paranormal feat. two dreamwalkers, one of whom has been aversion-therapied into disbelief, dealing with deaths, abuse, and disappearances carrying over from dream to real world. Good central relationship (excellent development & characterization), good conflict with progression from adversaries to allies and denial to trust; satisfying disposition of the villain; true love credibly conquers. The world-building is so solid this could well be a sequel starter, but seems to stand alone.

    8. ‘The Tightrope Walker’ by Dorothy Gilman, re-read for the umpteenth time, still love it.

    9. ‘The Entropy Effect’ by Vonda McIntyre, also a re-read, Star Trek: The Original Series book #2. Kirk gets killed (spoiler alert: time travel fixes it), Sulu falls in love, Spock is a hero, McCoy holds the fort. Would’ve made a cracking movie.

    1. I’ve never been able to watch the movie where they kill off Kirk. He was my first Hollywood boyfriend.

        1. Nah – too emotionally unattainable for me. Kirk provided all the drama I needed in my younger self.

    2. Read an interview with Gabrielle Stanley Blair about Ejaculate Responsibly. I am going to buy it in paper which I never do. I may not read it all the way through but I believe what she is saying & it’s one of many books I want to be sure is never banned out of existence.

      Another such book – if anyone is interested – is Eve’s Herbs; A History of Contraception and Abortion in the West. Very crucial information that should not be lost.

    3. What makes it crazypants? Is the plot farfetched? Is the romance unbelievable? I’m really curious about what you mean by using that term.

      1. Well, since you ask… I would put this book squarely in the Girl Power Wish Fulfilment Perfect Hero Fantasy category of historical romance. Like all of Putney’s Revolutionary / Regency books, the history is solid and the settings are detailed. The characters’ back-stories are exhaustive. It’s a very good book in terms of craft and I thoroughly enjoyed it. *spoilers abound below*

        What makes it crazypants is: 1. the evil French Count (oops, that’s ‘Citoyen,’ but he still behaves like a pre-1789 aristo) who instead of shooting the hero upon discovering him naked in the comtesse’ bedchamber, decides to imprison him in the country castle’s dungeon. For ten years. 1803-1813. When plenty of Englishmen were interned, but for story purposes this one needed to be ‘disappeared’ and presumed dead. And yes, he keeps his sanity by remembering everything he learned in school, doing exercises, and eventually talking through the sewer vent to the priest in the next cell.

        2. the heroine, being a presumed-dead daughter of French + English aristocrats killed in a revolutionary raid, having vowed to single-handedly take down Napoleon and thus working with an English spymaster (one of the Lost Lords of this series). She is a master of disguise, uses wild carrot seeds to avoid pregnancy (it fails of course, see below), knows how to construct grenades, and knows an 1813 version of the Vulcan neck pinch sufficient to render unconscious a beefy prison guard.

        3. the initial escape, which is accomplished on heroine’s very first visit to the country castle, thanks to everyone in the place being down with flu except the beefy prison guard; she extracts wild-eyed filthy hairy hero *and* priest and takes them both through a snowstorm to the priest’s niece’s farm, where they are fed & sheltered and the hero takes a bath in a pond and is revealed to be a gorgeous golden-haired stud. Note, he is already having sex thoughts about the heroine.

        4. the continuing escape, during which H&H proceed to have lots of sex despite fleeing the evil Citoyen and his deployment of gendarmes / mercenaries, despite sheltering in sheds etc, PTSD, and minimal hygiene, and there are plentiful simultaneous orgasms.

        5. arriving in England post coastal escape skirmish in which hero kills two men and is shot twice (glancingly) from which he recovers (physically) in a matter of hours and needs a minute before notifying his family of miraculous survival, except then he hears that his father is near death (don’t worry, there’s a miraculous recovery); meanwhile the spymaster has leaked the heroine’s survival to her remaining cousins who track her down to say they’ve miraculously held onto her legacy and she can now afford to buy her own country house and stop being a spy, except

        6. the evil Citoyen, who just can’t get over shit, is obsessed with getting the hero back in his dungeon and has recaptured the priest *and* priest’s niece et al to lure H back, which of course works, but of course heroine goes along and builds grenades and they recruit some locals to storm the castle and rescue everybody again, after which

        7. the priest, who can always tell when somebody is pregnant, mentions that to the heroine, and now the hero (who’s been asking her to marry him all along, because of course he would; he was a womanizer before but the the girl who gets him out of 10-year captivity is The One) convinces her, and HEA.

        Oh, and along the way, the heroine gets a makeover because hero wants her to come with him to his estate to reveal Survival and have a chance at last words with father and she has to pose as his fiancee. This book is Action Packed.

        The romance development is credible (they do make good allies and communicate well) except for the ease with which a) the hero recovers from ten years of captivity trauma and b) the heroine decides to jettison her two-decade vendetta. It’s one of those Magic Penis / Magic Vagina books. I will note that 1775-1815 France & England was my focus during M.A. History studies.:-) As indicated, I read this book with 90% enjoyment but also 90% suspension of disbelief.

          1. Ditto. Also I think I have several holiday presents with Ejaculate responsibly and Eve’s herbs
            But will read them to be sure

          2. I know I will never make any attempt to read this book – definitely ‘crazy pants’ (always good to expand my vocabulary) – but my goodness what a concise & articulate review. Absolutely loved it.

        1. Wow! I’ll have to reread this one because I’m sure I missed at least half of that.

          1. Same here. I’m pretty sure it sounds strangely familiar. It must have been one of the books that made me quit reading MJP due to the crazypantness in her plotting….

    4. Is “No Longer a Gentleman” the one where he gets through captivity by remembering all the literature he was forced to memorize as a schoolboy?

    5. Managed to borrow Ejaculate Responsibly from my library mere seconds after reading item 6.

  33. Best read this week was comedian Sarah Silverman’s autobiog, ‘The Bedwetter’. Hilariously funny and very foul-mouthed. I picked it up because it was one of the reference books for Curtis Sittenfeld’s ‘Romantic Comedy’, which I loved.

    Everything else this week was meh. Lots of DNF.

  34. I felt that way about the two Anne Bishop series I read, too. (The Others/Courtyard & Others/Lake Silence — and I think I liked Lake Silence better.) I sped through them, thought they were very good, but don’t think I’ll read them again. They are too dark for my personal tastes. I have a very hard time, personally, dealing with characters that have endured/are enduring abuse. But, again, VERY well-written! She is fabulous. Just too hard for me to read them again.

    I am currently reading “The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches” by Sangu Mandana, which I am enjoying very much. While not quite the same imaginative words that TJ Klune comes up with, it does remind me very much of his books.

    On audio, I just finished “Agnes the Hitman” (again) and am debating whether to start Kelley Armstrong’s “A Rip Through Time” or Charlaine Harris’s “All the Dead Shall Weep”.

    But as I am about to start a road trip, I’ll probably go back to listening to Sarah Lyons Flemings’ City series for the (counts) 14th time. It seems weird to consider a book series set in a zombie apocalypse as my comfort reading/listening, but I am SO IN LOVE with her mastery of characterization, of relationships, and of plotting. Plus, she just plain loves words. (The main characters play a word game throughout the books, and the books are titled “Mordacious”, “Peripeteia”, and “Instauration”.) Also, I proofread her books for her (well, all of the newer “Cascadia” books, anyway) so I get my name in the credits!

  35. I enjoyed the Others, but thought the descriptions of the ‘other’ series too dark for me. I thought the concept in Others was interesting, but the humans reactions to Others didn’t seem totally realistic to me if the others were as powerful as depicted.

  36. Well, this is interesting. After reading this last post I started reading a Christmas novel about a young woman from a tree farm in North Carolina not moving but traveling to NYC with her brother to sell Christmas trees. There might be love and mystery in the air. Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews is the title. Sounds like a version of a Hallmark Christmas movie.

  37. Finished Varina Palladino’s Jersey Italian Love Story. Despite the title, not a romance but rather a year in the life of a family. Lots of family dynamics with the titular character at the center of it all. I enjoyed it.

    Currently listening to A Canticle for Leibowitz which I read a million, okay maybe only fifty, years ago. I don’t know what put it into my head but the library had it. A frequently humorous view of a post apocalyptic future that spans several generations as witnessed by a monastery of the Leibowitzian order of monks tasked with protecting man’s surviving knowledge. It’s definitely timeless and possibly more relevant than ever.

    1. I too recently reread (on audio this time) Canticle. This time through (after verifying in the print version) I noticed a few inconsistencies between the novelettes that were combined to make up the novel. For example, at first the Flame Deluge happens in the 1960s, implied by documents in the fallout shelter, but by the last section we are told that before the Deluge the desert was crossed by a multilane highway with robot traffic and that civilization had interplanetary travel. I still found it worth the reread. A huge pity what PTSD did to Miller.

      I was inspired by the reread to go on to reread Neal Stephenson’s Anathem (sic, coined word). Not set in our world, but involving a similar multicentury story of a quasi-monastic order, although with no real religions involved. I enjoyed that as well, although for somewhat different reasons.

      1. the highways and robotic cars are in the last story, which takes place … 15? 20? centuries after the deluge. The first story is only about six centuries after.

        1. McB, you misread my comment. Miller says in authorial voice that LONG IN THE PAST, AS NOW AGAIN, there was, and again is, the superhighway and the robot traffic. Fortunately I wrote about the inconsistencies in an email and can now quote myself:
          》I have been listening to the audio version of A Canticle for Leibowitz, which caused me to go back and verify some points in the print version.  Near the beginning, some ruins from a wrecked fallout shelter yield an ancient tool chest holding an apparent appointment book with dates from “the latter part of the fifth decade and earlier part of the sixth decade, twentieth century.”  Context suggests this means the 1950s and 1960s, although of course the first decade was really the oughts, the second the tens, and so forth, so that it’s actually the 1940s and 1950s.  Taking the 60s as what was meant, 1965 or so by implication was the date of the nuclear war.  (Bantam 1961 edition, p. 22.)  

          》However, on p. 220 we are told that at one time in the distant past, the road past the abbey had had “six lanes and robot traffic,” just as was now again the case.  Even if Miller anticipated self driving vehicles coming faster than in the Real World, in 1959 they obviously lay decades farther on than 1965.  

          But I later added: 》 Having listened farther in the first novelette, I see that scholars are unsure who occupied the White Palace in the mid and late sixties.  That suggests the war was more like 1970 than 1965.  (It’s also the date for the war on an old note I made in the print copy.)

          I may have misremembered the pre-Deluge interplanetary travel. Next time I have the book to hand, I will recheck. Miller still surely did not mean to imply a highway filled with robot traffic by 1970. It is a stretch even to have imagined in 1959 that the robot trucks would show up within the working lifetime of Isaac Leibowitz, who had begun his career at least by the 1950s, although this must be what Miller posits even in the last section.

    1. What a good time of year to get a new blast of light! I hope that all goes well and you recover quickly.

    2. Good luck! I had my cataract surgery on both eyes over a decade ago. Even by then, and certainly now, it almost invariably goes through without problems. I ended up with better vision than before the cataracts appeared, although I still need glasses. Back then I wore them constantly. Now I don’t need them for reading, and I keep forgetting to stash them in their proper place and ending up hunting for them when I need them again!

  38. I finished Vermillion, absolutely loved it . I bought shane and the hitwoman ,it was deal of the day on Amazon a few weeks ago. I really wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it without Agnes ,I really love that book . It was terrific ,I enjoyed it so much I’m going to read the next one. This time of year I struggle with new books ,so it’s time for a Terry Pratchett binge read , saving The Hogfather for December it’s been my Christmas read since it was published.

  39. Chores have slowed me down in finishing Vermillion (still reading), but I did recommend the series, and Crusie in general, to a relative. It turned out she was already a Crusie fan and had even read some of Mayer’s solo works, but was thrilled to know they had resumed publishing. Some local libraries now have the ebooks, which may spread awareness.

    Some my the chores permit audiobooks, and the library had Wild Ride on CD, so I finally read that (using “read” in the broad sense). I had been, and remain, a bit put off by the amusement park setting, but I ended up enjoying it. I guessed what was going on with Oliver from the beginning and kept waiting for the shoe to drop, but I had a very long wait! Other of the plot turns came as complete surprises.

  40. Did anyone mention the Patricia Briggs series? Somewhat the same idea of different kinds of creatures but wonderfully written and planned.

  41. For those looking for a romance that takes place in the big city i recommend ‘The Wedding Bees’ by Sarah-Kate Lynch.

    It takes place in NYC. She keeps bees on the roof and he is terrified of bees.

    SKL writes so beautifully!

  42. I missed this on Thursday and just got to it today and read through the 200+ posts, and I just want to say, I love this forum!

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