This is a Good Book Thursday, May 9, 2024

I’m reading Bob’s revision of Arresting Anna (remember that one? the pick up in Vegas that led to the FBI art crimes unit?) and making notes. We’re thinking about doing a series on art crimes with a mixed community of agents, consultants, and general miscreants, but that’ll be next year. Tonight, I’ll be reading Bob’s revision and continued writing on Very Nice Funerals with the idea of finishing it, or at least coming close because I’ve been a real drag on this collaboration lately and I need to stop up.

I also kind of want to reread some Michael Gilbert and, if I can get my TV moved and hooked up again, watch some Leverage, which Bob was not impressed with but which I adore. I think art crimes novels with a Leverage vibe would be great, so I have to do my research.

What research/books did you read this week?

165 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 9, 2024

  1. I love the idea of an art crimes series!

    I read The Vixen War Bride, which wasn’t at all what I was expecting. From the title, I thought it was going to be funnier, but it was fairly serious. I enjoyed it, particularly the disjunct between how the two species were interpreting relationships. But not sure if I’ll go on to the next one.

    Skin and Bone, the second book in TA Moore’s Dog handler series. Good mysteries, lots of smut. Both characters are developing nicely.

    Luke and Billy Finally Get a Clue. Thanks to whoever recommended this, it was totally predictable but very sweet.

    The Blessed Girl by Angela Makholwa. A young South African woman uses her youth and beauty to live a life supported by sugar daddies or ‘blessers’. She’s smart, funny and self-centred, but there’s a darker side to the story. I enjoyed this, though the story sagged a bit in the middle.

    Lost & Found by Brooke Davis. Pretty sure someone here recommended this one too and I loved it. A 7-year-old girl and two old people go looking for the girl’s mother, who abandoned her in an apartment store. A wonderful voice and truly delightful writing.

  2. Oh yes, please! I loved what you wrote for Arresting Anna. The start in Las Vegas is so much fun and I so want to know what happens next.

    Lately, I have been gobbling Nancy Martin’s Blackbird sisters series on my kindle. It made me think of my grandmother. She wasn’t an aristocratic wasp, she was a selfmade woman after the war and made enough in those days to be a Chanel customer. I have great memories of her in her impeccable Chanel suits smoking Gauloises brunes.
    I have been reading those the way she used to smoke those cigarettes, lighting one with the other. Very easy to do on the kindle since it obligingly suggests buying the next one when you get to the end.

    The only thing is that the author decided to update the books to 2023 when she reissued them as ebooks and it doesn’t quite work especially in the first few.

    It’s mostly the phone stuff: landlines, voicemails and calling people when nowadays everybody texts and Nora who is meant to be in her thirties definitely would . Also some of the murders don’t work: who blackmails people with photos in envelopes nowadays? It’s all videos on the net.

    But it doesn’t matter, Nora is a great character, big hearted and very moral, and her relationships with her sisters, nephews and niece, friends and of course with Michael keep me riveted. A real soap opera but with a good heart.

    There is some hard stuff there though mixed in with the comic moments but the mix is well judged I think.

    1. Well don’t dismiss the whole photo in envelopes thing, Analogue is still the most anonymous way to work… like using cash and giftcards. The problem with tech is, there is always someone more tech savy out there. So if someone did send Nora a dodgy video, one of her little niblings might have laughed, called one of his tech/online friends and they’d know his isp number before teatime then you forward the whole thing to the local FBI office and the story is over. Children nowadays watch fun videos on how to deal with online scammers and learn to code.

    2. Oh, I’m reading these now, too! I’m surprised at how much I’m enjoying them, considering I don’t usually love reading about wealthy people. The author has a deft hand with characterization, though. I got a good deal on most of the set on eBay, but I’m going to have to track down one missing volume soon, because I am just whipping through them, like you said.

  3. I’m also very much in favour of an art crime series!
    Only managed to read the third book if the Alpha Tau series by Lisa Henry/Sarah Honey. I liked it, had a good time. Short and fluffy, could have fone with a longer story, but none of the Apha Taus are.
    Now I’m 15 % into the new Con Riley, Second Song. So far so nice. Makes one long to visit Cornwall. Since I have a long train voyage ahead, I hope to immerse myself there.
    No hockey books for me right now. Far too risky for my blood pressure. Playoffs are too much.

  4. I know I shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I still do it. As a result, when I picked up “Band Sinister” by KJ Charles this week I kept waiting for the woman to reveal herself based on the (lovely) m/f/m cover – *sigh*. I think I will enjoy it much more when I re-read knowing it’s definitively m/m, because the central romance is rather sweet, including philosophical discussions between MCs, and I loved the found family. Would happily read a bunch of prequels.

    Also read Barbara O’Neal’s “The Art of Inheriting Secrets” – lots of moving parts including Anglo-Indian heritage and I thought it all came together rather well. Loved the MMC.

    Best thing I read all week was “The Reformatory” by Tananarive Due, who has written a redemption story for her relative who died in a reform school in Jim Crowe era Florida. Its grim in a lot of ways, with both mundane and ghostly threats, but I felt for the characters and there was also a lot of hope there. Highly recommend but trigger warnings.

    So it was nice after that to spend a couple of hours laughing at “The Fall Guy” with Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt (neither research nor book *blushes*). Of three of us, one thought it “alright” and the other two thought it was great. I particularly liked the romantic banter. And the credits homage to the real stunt guys.

      1. Yes, best thing I have read of hers since “The Lost Recipe for Happiness”. I really should track down her historicals under the name Barbara Samuel.

  5. There is such a gulf between the one where you think, “What am I reading now? …Oh. That.” And the one where you don’t need to pause to think because the characters are with you in your life and you want to spend time with them more than almost more than anything. That is one of this signs a a truly great book I think.

    Another is when while you are reading a book for the first time you are already looking forward to reading it again. I had a third one but I forgot it. It will come back to me.
    I most recently finished Pansies by Alexis Hall. He knocked it out of the park again. This is one of his more explicitly sexy ones. Because he never fails to move the plot forward in his sex scenes, I tolerate his much better than most. The Liz Danger books are also standouts in this regard. Thank you, so much Jenny, for your instruction on moving the plot forward. Your writings on writing have definitely improved my writing – even when I’m writing nonfiction!

    Back to Pansies – I’ve never seen such a writer as Alexis Hall for creating a large variety of unique characters. The secondary characters are often as delightful and richly drown as the main ones. Oh, right, that was the third feature of a truly great book in my mind – that after we are done with reading the book we keep on thinking about the characters and about what they will do going forward in their lives. Pansies was especially that way for me. I want one of the MCs and one of the minors to go into business together… I see these relationships developing, whether or not Mr. Hall gets around to writing a sequel to this book. Fun, fun, fun.

    1. I am an unapologetic Hall fan. He tries so much and it doesn’t always stick, but when he gets it right? Kisses fingers. I really enjoyed Pansies as well.

    2. I too totally loved Pansies! I have found that the characters of his Spires series have all stayed with me, including some of the secondary ones – I think about them at the most random times, as if they were people I actually know in real life. These books are all on the high on my reread loop.

  6. Yes, please, to Arresting Anna and to Nadine’s story, too!
    I am rereading Inspector Hemingway novels of Georgette Heyer.
    Not as much fun as her Regency novels, but still very good.

  7. I read A Spooky Legacy, the most recent in S.E. Harmon’s Spectral Files series. So delightful. I’ve loved this whole series – funny, sexy, romantic with a proper mystery each time.

    Then I read C.M. Nascosta’s Mabon Feast and Hexennacht, the first two in her Wheel of the Year series, set in her Cambric Creek monster/human town, focussing on the relationship between a neurodivergent witch who’s been cast out of her coven and a …wait for it….spider man. Strictly for tentacle friends.

    Last night I stayed up and read Jesse Reign’s second in her M/M Bad Decisions series, Work: Strictly Professional. Lots of familiar tropes here: boss/executive assistant, fake dating, age gap. Again, smutty, sweet and funny with well defined characters.

    To keep my hockey heart pumping, since the Leafs aren’t going to do it any more (still SAD!) I’ve been re-reading Hannah Henry’s Delay of the Game series. I think Empty Netter is creeping up on me as being my next favourite after Draft Bust.

    Go Canucks. There, I’ve said it , and it didn’t hurt too much.

    1. Thanks. I’ve been enjoying the Canucks, but I’m keeping expectaions low. Love the way they fight back, though it would be better if they didn’t have to!

    2. I’m glad you know how to spell Hexennacht. I keep trying to do it from memory and butchering it. This is what I get for checking in from work where I can’t reference things.

      I have Strictly Professional queued up and ready to go. I am very excited! The first one was soooo good.

  8. Herewith some pre-written stuff. My doctor’s appointment got moved up. Possibly more this afternoon.

    I finished and enjoyed Faking It on CDs.  I thought the voice actress, Aasne Vigesaa, did a good job with it.  I have nothing to add to what others have said about it.  I now want to reread its predecessor Welcome to Temptation, but the library has discarded that since I read it, hopefully as worn out.  It may take me some scrounging to find it at a library or for purchase used at a reasonable price.

    I also finished a Great Courses series on CD,  Victorian Britain, 2002, by Patrick N. Allitt.  It was entertaining and accurate except for one or two glitches,  as far as I noticed.  It contained considerable information new to me, for instance about the Boer War, and was a useful review of what I already knew.  (Despite the course title, it also covers the other British isle, Ireland, and, more fleetingly, Britain’s worldwide colonies.)  Allitt has a special interest in Victorian literature, and spends more time on it than many others would have in a survey course.

    The long Victorian period is probably second only to the Regency in its interest to readers and writers of historical romance, historical mystery, steampunk, and even much sf and fantasy involving secret history, alternate history, or time travel. The course is a useful resource.

  9. This week I’m also mostly reading my WIP. And doing edits on another book.

    But over on my FB page, I have been sharing some fun cozy mystery ebooks that are free this week if anyone’s looking for comfort reads.

    Plus, I’ve just put a new book on my TBR list for when I take a break from work on my books. It’s called Closer Together: Knowing Ourselves, Loving Each Other by Sophie Grégoire and it sounds fab. It’s kind of a more conversational look at mental health, neuroscience, and mind/body connection stuff, which is right up my alley so I’m looking forward to it.

  10. I love Leverage. The discussions here were what got me into it. I have an idea for a fun caper cozy mystery novel…we’ll see if I ever get to it.

    I’ve been on a Jill Shalvis binge. This week I read Lost and Found Sisters, which I loved. I confess, I skim over the sexy bits, but they’re not too numerous or too detailed, which I appreciate.

    1. I remember a Shalvis book where every sex scene took place on a hard surface (floor, countertop, etc.). I skim most sex scenes, actually, but I’m particularly skeptical about hers since then—not sure why that struck me as so egregious, but it did!

      1. That reminded me of that wonderful Kirsty MacColl song ‘In these shoes?’

        I once met a man with a sense of adventure
        He was dressed to thrill wherever he went
        He said, “let’s make love on a mountain top
        Under the stars, on a big hard rock”
        I said, “In these shoes?
        I don’t think so (What do you say, love?)
        I said, “Honey, let’s do it here”

        I once read a comment on this song which said that the subject was a fashion victim who let her footwear stop her from doing fun things. I thought: you poor idiot, you really cannot imagine being a woman.

        1. I love that one, too. It’s such a perfect answer to “under the stars on a big hard rock” because you’ll be on the bottom, of course. I need to go back and list to more MacColl. I have “Fairytales of New York” on repeat, but I need to get back to “Us Amazonians” and the one about the guy down at the fish shop who thinks he’s Elvis, “but he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you.” She was so MARVELOUS.

  11. Aaah, can’t wait for you to get to Arresting Anna!! That’s super exciting. Finishing the rocky start series is also exciting, but I’ve been looking forward to Anna since the first glimpse.

    I suppose I should read our bookclub pick, but I also need to finish The Winter Road by Adrian Selby.

  12. You enjoy 2 of my favorites. Loved Leverage and have all of Michael Gilbert’s books. The night of the 12th and The doors open are particular favorites.

    1. Oh, Gilbert. I love what he does. I think The End Game is the one that impresses me most, what he does with that protagonist is so brilliant. But The Quiet House is great, and The Body of a Girl, and . . . . all of them.

      I was trying to think why I like Agatha Christie’s Cat Among Pigeons so much, and I think it’s because it has the same flavor as a Michael Gilbert. He may be my favorite mystery writer (right up there with Margery Allingham).

  13. I re-read (re-listened to) Bet Me! It was as satisfying as ever. I think Harry the ichthyologist was so cute. Maybe he could show up in the Anna/Nadine series? 😍

    1. Anything is possible at this point. I always loved Harry, too. I like kids who aren’t cute (g) so I’d argue with you on that description, but yeah, Harry rocks.

  14. Yes to Arresting Anna! I enjoyed the start very much.

    A quiet reading week for me as I’ve been busy. Finished the Ao3 Catherine Cloud ‘The miles are just an afterthought’. Enjoyed it, it meanders along and then ends, but nice.

    Still enjoying Sunshine, Robin McKinnon (vampire) a lot, and hope to dedicate enough time to finishing it soon, though I have to start my book club book now, as the meeting is on Monday.

    On audio I am listening to my first Alexis Hall ‘Something Fabulous’. it is A LOT of fun and brilliantly read. So I’ll be reading more of him in future.

      1. It’s one of mine too. I remember recommending it to a colleague as Vampires and baking. My reading tastes always surprise my new (always much younger nowadays) colleagues 🙂

    1. Interesting. That was the first and so far only one of his that I didn’t like. I wonder what you will think of Boyfriend Material, Husband Material, Pansies, etc.

      1. Same here, Marian. Not sure, however, if I reacted so aversely to the “silliness” of the story because I didn’t connect with the narrator or because I would have dimmed down the tone of the brother MC while reading.
        Listening to hall’s audios dies either have a hightened effect for me (Boyfriend Material, 10 Things) or a negative one (Real, Fabulous) and none of the narrators of the latter were bad objectively.
        In any case I’m almost sure I’ll have to give those two “dubs” another try to see if I really didn’t like the story or just the way it was narrated.

        1. I didn’t care much for “Something Fabulous” either. I knew going in that it was intended as a silly romp but even so it just didn’t click.
          One of the great things about Alexis Hall is that he writes about a variety of things so you are not getting the same book every time. This can be a bit disconcerting to some: after reading Waiting for the Flood you don’t expect the silliness of “Something Fabulous”.

  15. Ooooh. I love anything art related in my reading. It helps kickstart my own practice and those are the stories I come back to most often.

    I really liked Josh Lanyon’s art crime series and now I am listening to CS Poe’s Memento Mori series which also has art tie-ins, though not as central.

    And I am this close (holds finger and thumb together) to finishing CM Nascosta’s Hexnaught and I really love it. The emphasis on the main character’s craft as a hedge witch is totally my jam, especially all the nuts and bolts about running a small business. The only downside is that I want the picture she paints so badly of a community that supports small business and the work in building one that I get filled with longing. I want it so bad!!

      1. I love her dearly and keep bringing her up here. I picked up MGMF because it looked fun, in spite of or maybe because of the original cover and was just so surprised and blown away by the content. I was expecting a somewhat campy, trashy monster romance, which I enjoy when the mood strikes me. She is smutty fun for sure, but the writing and characterization was just so much better than I expected… And she addresses subtle issues that don’t get talked about as much in a really delicate way… I could gush on.

        For example, Anzan, the spider-person is feared by the community and Elizabeth, his human partner bears a lot of the weight of it. And the things that happen to her are so similar to what have happened to me (I am a white partner in a mixed race couple) that I almost cried. It’s the subtle bias, the whispers just loud enough so that they know you hear. That is exactly what happens.

        1. Yay! This series is on my read list too but I’m saving it for when I need something really good. Your review makes it sound really special.

          1. I love love love it, but I do worry sometimes that I hype things up too much. My in-person friend who reads tentacle books and such with me doesn’t care for Cambric Creek and Nascosta’s writing, which makes me sad because I love them so much. YMMV. She just hits all my cup of tea kind of things.

  16. I read The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet and now want to read everything else that Becky Chambers has ever written. Loved it.

    Current read is True Love At The Lonely Hearts Bookshop by Annie Darling – a re-read but I’m enjoying it very much.

    1. I’m a fan of Becky Chambers, apart from her novella To Be Taught, If Fortunate, which I really disliked. Moralising and depressing.

    2. I have had mixed results with Chambers, but I greatly liked A Closed and Common Orbit, although I (and others in the book club) had a long list of minor science nitpicks, all of which could have been fixed while preserving the major features as written. I think it would improve her craft and lower the amount of suspension of disbelief required if she worked harder on these smoothing those out. But the characters, their worlds of origin and social setup, and so forth were well done and appealing.

  17. We watched Fleabag and Ted Lasso finally. Both are very good. I expected Fleabag to be dark and thus was pleasantly surprised with the upward tilt to it. Very funny, witty and poignant. Ted Lasso is loads of fun. And Fallout! Fallout was great. I am so happy there will be a season two!

  18. I’m also reading and enjoying the Blackbird Sisters mysteries. I read Ilona Andrew’s Fated Blades (somehow, I’d skipped over the Kinsman universe books)—a great read, as always. I read the latest in TA Williams cozy series set in Italy. It’s charming, and the descriptions of the food and setting are fun, but the MC’s investigative and evidence-handling skills are abysmal, especially for a guy who supposedly rose fairly high in the ranks of the London Met. I read and enjoyed Patricia McLinn’s latest in the Drop Dead in Wyoming series—another good installment!

    1. Silver Shark is my favorite of the Kinsman universe. Total comfort reread material that I come back to over and over. Swine and Roses is a short story that sort of kicked off those stories and Hidden Legacy and that is fun too.

      1. Ditto. I re-read Silver Shark multiple times. I liked Fated Blades too, but I never read Swine and Roses. Was it in an anthology? Is it available online?

        1. I think they just re-released it as part of anthology of shorts. Small Magics? It’s a very short story, but good.

    2. Ok, I’m in book 4 of the Blackbird Sister series now, and I’m DNFing. We’ve got some homophobia, a racist “joke,” villainizing of someone with OCD (this is a very hard line for me, since Kid 1 has struggled with OCD since childhood and it’s heartbreaking), conflation of S&M with torture, and basically every character is odious. Even the dog seems irredeemable. Very disappointing since I liked the first book enough to buy most of the series off eBay…

      1. Whoa. That sounds awful. I really Ngaio Marsh, but Death in Ecstasy was downright homophobic, so I’ll never read that one again.

  19. I’m almost halfway through Mary Stewart’s My Brother Michael, recommended by many people, and have stalled out. I find I have less patience for books written long ago, now. I’m not looking for an adrenaline rush, just for the story to move along.

    I bought a book for 99 cents on BookBub, by Bella Andre, called As Long as I Have You. It’s set mostly in England in a bookshop, and has a nice vibe and interesting characters, including the MC’s deceased father. I’m enjoying it. More when I finish it.

    I’m still watching MASH, and the character development, brilliant acting, and the later episodes tackling some very controversial topics keeps me coming back. It feels like family. And it doesn’t glorify war. It’s a way to wind down from the day and the current news cycle.

  20. Last Friday I went to the library (not that far but the farthest I had gotten since my hip replacement. I asked one of the librarians to pick up my books from the bottom shelf of the reservations for me and then stood talking to her for ages (I have been with the library for 20 years here and at least four of the librarians have been there that long and are friendly – all the librarians are friendly and chatty and fun but some are newer to the library). Got home, had a friend over for a visit and tea (Scottish for “we ate dinner”). All was well until the next day and I could not move, totally ceased up! Had two pj days and felt a bit better, then on Monday sat too long on 2 zoom calls and ended up in pain again. So have been doing very little this week except read and feel sorry for myself. Fortunately a lot of visits over the last few days have been cancelled/postponed so I got to be miserable by myself. Feels a bit freaky to suddenly be getting stiff and sore 3 weeks after the op (when I was fine initially) but I guess all the painkillers and adrenaline are out of my system now. Taking it easy and sleeping as much as I can and hoping for the best.

    The Wedding of the Year by Jill Mansell – nice easy romance set in an adorable seaside town and just what the doctor ordered. (from library)

    That Touch of Magic (2nd in a series) by Lucy Marsh – could be read as a stand alone, found it a bit meh at the start but it turned out to be a great story. Finished a bit like she ran out of time though. Perhaps when I read the third it will tie things together (on TBR pile).

    It’s a Wonderful Wife by Janet Chapman – 3rd in a trilogy and, while good, not my favourite of the series.

    Miss Ava’s Scandalous Secret by Sofi Laporte – a wonderful Regency novel about an ugly spinster, a rake, and an opera singer. Supposed to be a second in a series but could find no connection between this and the first. Definitely a keeper.

    Just started The Moment He Vanished by Rebecca Rane – part of the Kendra Dillon cold case series from my re-read pile. Can’t remember a thing about it other than I love this series and it starts really well.

    Looking forward to an Art Crimes Series, and well anything you write really Jenny 🙂

    1. Hope you feel better and heal up completely soon. Sending bucketloads of healing vibes your way!

    2. Ugh – I hate the next day payback. So frustrating to have to limit yourself when you’re feeling fine, just in case you’re over-extending. And then finding out the next day you didn’t limit yourself enough even then. Sending lots of sympathy …

    3. I found that recovery from a hip replacement was very much not a linear narrative, Christine. Heat packs made a world of difference for me on the setback days.

      1. Thank you Christine, Shass, Yuri and Lani – I needed the reassurance. Am feeling slightly better today and taking care not to go too far because of that. Lessons learned (maybe!) Sending hugs.

  21. I love Leverage! Also White Collar.

    In that vein, I recently finished The Art Thief: A True Story of Love, Crime, and a Dangerous Obsession. It’s literary fiction, so it reads like a novel, although it’s one of those truth is stranger than fiction things. If you’re into art or heist stories, you’ll like it.

    I’m slowly (just finished book 3) working my way through JD Robb’s In Death series. At this rate, I should finish in about 15 years (or longer because she writes so fast).

    I just finished Charlie Hustle, a biography of Pete Rose. If you’re a baseball fan, particularly of a certain age, I highly recommend it. As a lifelong Cubs fan, I never much liked Pete. My opinion hasn’t changed but I now have a much better understanding of exactly why he torpedoed his legacy.

    I also recently finished the latest in CS Harris’ Sebastian St. Cyr series. I love this series and recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction (there’s a lovely romantic arc with the main character and his wife, who is quite the bluestocking).

    I also recently read The Prospects by KT Hoffman. It’s a queer romance featuring the first trans player in professional baseball. The relationships and the baseball are both first rate. This is Hoffman’s debut. I’ll read whatever they write.

    Other top-notch recent reads were The Murder of Mr. Ma by John Shen Nee and SJ Rozan; The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride; and memoirs by Viola Davis and Henry Winkler.

    1. Oh, I have The Art Thief on my shelf to read to get ready for next year. So glad to hear it’s good.

    2. Some years ago, I went on a long binge of the In Death series, but eventually stopped (or at least am giving it a very long rest) mostly because I’d had more than enough of serial killers. I thought that one reason Robb/Roberts might have chosen the future setting is because she can write something resembling a police procedural without having to do much research on actual contemporary police procedures. I conjecture that she does not really keep up with science fiction either, and is operating mostly off of having read Heinlein as a teenager plus memories of Star Trek. That’s probably good enough for “futuristic romantic suspense,” which is what I recall as being the publisher’s categorization of the books.

      1. One thing I did like about the series is that it has twenty-odd books all with (as far as I read) the same future setting (generally New York City and always the US except I think for one excursion to a space station in near-Earth orbit, but evidently still legally the US). It’s not 100% self consistent, but it’s not too bad. Most sf wanders farther afield in space or time than does this “futuristic romantic suspense.” (Even the 1632 series gets to many countries, some in Asia and the New World.) There may be a few fairly obscure TV series with over 20 episodes in a similarly restricted setting, but I think all the biggies get around more. Thus I think Robb details her invented setting more completely than sf generally does.

    3. I keep reading the Harris books because I really like the heroine . And her history is solid. But I wish she would stop having the hero solve mysteries by having the murderer just keep killing people off and instead do some actual detecting. The last book was a little better in that regard.

      As far as the In Death series goes, I am amused at how so much of science has caught up with and passed her original ideas. They never were well thought out —just a little flavoring . But my I phone can do more than theirs…

    4. Thank you for reminding me of The Art Thief. I really enjoyed that one. I just skimmed it again — too soon to fully reread. But that in turn prompted me to go re-watch “Made you look” the Netflix documentary re the Rothko forgeries and “This is a Robbery” about the Isabella Gardner museum heist. And then, cause I wanted more art crime shows, I watched “Selling Leonardo” on Amazon prime. These true art crime stories are just fascinating.

  22. My journal is a scribbled mess but it appears the reading week started here.

    1. ‘The Long Farewell’ by Michael Innes, 1950s-set (I think; a plot point is that a young academic woman has to hide her marriage because if the school found out, she’d be fired) English country house mystery involving the 2-day investigation of an apparent suicide, underlying factors = bigamy and a possibly-forged 1600s Italian story collection allegedly annotated by Shakespeare. Clever but not particularly engaging; no characters I could connect with.

    2. ‘On Wings of Song’ by Anne Barwell, a nice WWI-&-after novella feat. a Brit and a German who meet during the Christmas truce in 1914, both survive the war, and reconnect after.

    3-5. ‘Vespers’ by Liv Rancourt & Irene Preston; ‘Nocturne;’ ‘Bonfire;’ and related short story by Liv Rancourt, ‘Dollface.’ Paranormal series (incomplete, alas!) feat. a New Orleans vampire, his human servant-turned-lover, a black ops sect of the Roman Catholic Church, and tons of witch & demon complications. The short story is set during WWII and stands alone. All are on the horror-ish side. The romance arc is well drawn though deeply frustrating to this reader, who doesn’t believe in a single thing the Roman Catholic Church has ever done and very little of what it’s ever said. I do want the last book in series, though, because many threads were left untied and I got invested. Obviously.

    6-7. [re-read] ‘True Brit’ and ‘Charles’ by Con Riley, getting ready for her new one.

    8. [re-read] my own self-pubbed F/M novel ‘Face the Music,’ in which I identified a few improvements that could be made and was reminded of just how deeply I mourned the end of our dance life. 🙁

    9. ‘Second Song’ by Con Riley, the new book, feat. a 23yo aspiring music teacher and a late-20s ex-sapper, freelance demolitions expert. I liked this book a lot, though it didn’t quite measure up to ‘Charles,’ in which the MCs’ emotional lives are deep, open, and articulate. In this one, both MCs and many side characters have trauma and the book as a whole should be approached with caution as the ‘body keeps the score’ theme overpowers the love story at times. Wanted a bit more in the ex-military guy’s POV and a bit more of him processing his issues on the page. I’ll definitely re-read, so rounded up to 5 stars.

    1. Currently reading Second song, too, Chacha1! I wasn’t aware of the connection to True Brit at first, but am thrilled as TB was my very first Con Riley! And I was it on my phone which is my maine readung device these days, so I guess I’ll re-read it afterwards.
      And I second you: Charles is something else of a book. I was drawn in by the stunning cover, but the story did deliver!! And grew roots into my heart.
      I’d wush more teachers had Charles’ approach to education!!

  23. I cannot remember what I reread this week, although I enjoyed them. My book list tells me I only finished two new books: Grace Draven’s The Ippos King, which I liked a lot and am glad to know that at some point there will be a fourth Wraith Kings book, and Lady Violet Holds a Baby, which again left me not quite satisfied. I could not pinpoint what the difference is between Grace Burrowes’ Lady Violet mysteries and her A Gentleman…mysteries, but I confirmed that I like the second much better.

    I have several holds that are predicted to come in “in the next two weeks” so that I am reluctant to add anything to the three ebooks I have checked out now (I’m reading Ann Leckie’s Lake of Souls short story collection, and short stories take me a while, and also two books I’ve just started, and there’s a five book limit) so last night I went looking for something I own to read, and I could not find anything I wanted to read right that minute. I looked at the first pages of many things I love, but I couldn’t choose anything. This is not usual.

  24. I’m almost half through The Boys in the Boat. I don’t normally read biographies, preferring memoir style. This is also set during the depression and the buildup to WWII and that’s a painful topic for me to read about so would not have been my choice. But I’m reading a lot of non fiction this year as a goal, mostly from family recommendations, and this was SIL’s.
    It’s about a men’s rowing team who wins the Olympics in 1936 in Berlin. And it’s very absorbing and easy to keep reading. I already recommend it to you all.
    I like the author’s writing style well enough I plan to read his book about the Donner Party this year, even though that’s another tough topic obviously.
    I also stumbled on my first tentacle smut. Can’t remember the title but it’s entertaining.

  25. When I was younger I read a lot of the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix and have been thinking about it lately and wondering whether I’d like it as much now, so I went and reread the first book, Mister Monday, which I am pleased to say held up. It’s an exciting and creative fantasy romp, and I love the delicious twist of absurdity that’s still grounded in reality so it doesn’t get too out there. I’m excited to finally read the entirety of the series, but my library doesn’t carry it except in audiobook format.

    Then, in a completely unexpected turn of events, I got an alert that my hold for Welcome to Temptation (that I don’t remember making) came up. I realized after that what had probably happened was that the library didn’t have it, so I recommended it, and when enough people recommended it, they bought it and added us all to the waitlist. So I reread that and enjoyed it thoroughly. So thoroughly that it kept me up all night and I watched the sun rise through my windows haha. I haven’t done that in a while, but that’s a Crusie for you!

    That of course drove me to pick up Faking It again, especially since I originally read them so far apart that by the time I read the latter I had largely forgotten the former (no knock on Jenny’s writing skills — only my memory!), so I doubly enjoyed the Sophie, Phin, Dillie, Dempsey updates, and of course had a wonderful time reacquainting myself with Tilda, Davy, and the whole Goodnight crew. Thanks for repeatedly bringing joy into our lives Jenny!

    All these rereads have also got me thinking that I’ll have to make a youtube playlist with all the songs that appear in Crusie books (I searched and couldn’t find one anyone else had made) someday. But also, given I’m fresh off of Faking It, the art crimes series sounds so exciting! It would be great if Tilda and Davy could make a cameo, but even if they can’t, I really enjoyed learning about art (and forgery vs fakes) from Tilda alongside Davy.

    1. Welcome to Temptation and Faking It are frequent rereads for me (speaking of art heist books). And I loved Garth Nix’s Abhorsen series (am I remembering that correctly?). I can’t remember if I read the Keys to the Kingdom books… The title of the first one sounds familiar, though.

      1. Yess I love the abhorsen series! Though when I was looking up the Keys to the Kingdom series, I discovered there are more books in the abhorsen series than just the original 3?!?! I never knew! I’ll have to check those out at some point too (after rereading the original 3 because once again, my memory is awful LOL)

    2. I actually have a playlist that includes songs mentioned in Jennys books. Also in other books I read, so it’s not only Jenny in there, but there is a lot. Exceptions have been when I couldn’t find the song, or wasn’t sure who the artist or band was when only the title was mentioned. Unfortunately it’s not a YouTube-list, but Spotify. If you, or anybody else, is interested, you can find the list here:
      The list hit 600 songs just a few days ago, and there’s pretty much any imaginable genre in there, from Elvis to Pokemon to nursery rhymes to Ride of the Valkyries to…. you name it. I read a lot of fantasy, so it doesn’t grow with lightning speed, but 600 songs in 5 years is not so bad. 🙂

      1. P.s. I have a list of the songs in the list as well and which books they come from. Occasionally I forget to add second or third book if a song is very popular to mention, but I try to keep track as best I can. 🙂

    3. I have a feeling that Bob’s going to move us to NYC for that one. He grew up there and I think he’s had enough Ohio. But since it’s FBI they could also travel around. Lots of possibilities. I’m really being influenced by the French Art of Crime series on that, not because I want to do this characters, but because the tough guy/art girl bit is so down our alley. I really do love writing Anna, and Bob’s a natural for writing Nate now that he has a military background, so I’m happy that that’s TENTATIVELY our next one, especially since is has ties to Alice and Nadine and Carter and Ethan.

      1. Ahhh how exciting!!! All of that sounds wonderful and perfect! Any chance of any movement on Nita (I assume a few years down the line)? While all your fledgling books are fabulous, the premise of that one really pulled me in

  26. Yay to some Crusie/Mayer art crime novels! I am always looking for novels dealing with art crime. I loved the Josh Lanyon’s Art of Murder series and went looking for more art crime novels but didn’t really find anything that did the trick for me. B.A. Shapiro The Art Forger wasn’t bad but somehow didn’t satisfy. Does anyone have any art crime novel recommendations while we wait for Jenny and Bob’s?

    Hockey playoffs (still haven’t decided on my “forever team” but Edmonton was next on my list after the Leafs…) and some good baseball games have been consuming a lot of time so I didn’t get much read this week.

    I read the first in Hannah Henry’s Delay of Game and enjoyed it. I bounced off the second one (Off Ice Behavior) pretty early on so I stopped that series for the moment. Tammy your recommendation is convincing me to just go to book 3…

    I started Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Simply the Best and could not finish it. I found the heroine’s unjustified and unremitting insults against the hero wildly irritating and contrived and sadly, this book was a DNF before I got to 25%. I’ve loved so many of SEP’s books but lately they haven’t cut it for me. I’m clearly in a minority here so maybe I was just in the wrong frame of mind to try it? I’ll try it again at a later date.

    I then reread some Heyer: Masqueraders and Sprig Muslin. Heyer never fails to get me through a book slump!

    Have just started C.S. Poe Momento Mori book 1, and am really really enjoying it so far. Thanks to the Arghers who recommended it!

    1. Ah, Christina, so good to have another Oilers almost-fan. I fear we’re in for heartbreak. The Canucks are STRONG.
      And the fans here probably in the majority.

    2. Have you seen The Art of Crime TV series? French with subtitles, and the most gorgeous art discussed in detail as it’s used to solve a crime. I love that series.

        1. I actually made it through When Stars Collide but it was nowhere near her best… Too bad really — I still reread Heaven Texas and It Had to Be You and a few of the others.

    3. I’m not the hugest SEP fan, if that makes you feel any better. It could just be because of my age (as a millennial), but the way her leads treat each other and the lack of consent often bother me, so I’ve had a lot of DNFs with her and eventually decided to move on from her stuff.

    4. Definitely not just you. SEP is very hit and miss for me and always have been from urk (“Honey Moon” & “Just Imagine”) to meh (“Heaven, Texas”, which came highly recommended) to wonderful “Match Me if You Can” and “It had to be You”). But then humor is always very individual I find.

      Haven’t read SEP’s most recent, but she stays on my list – I’ll at least try a library copy in case she hits magic again.

    5. Christina – I loved a lot of SEP’s Chicago Stars series but not the latter ones. Of her ‘current’ stuff I like the ones that are standalones.

      I love Dance Away With Me & Heroes Are My Weakness. & I know it’s a bad word here but she does fantastic epilogues. I can cheer myself up by reading the last chapter / epilogues of these 2 books.

      1. I love a good epilogue! Just read “How to Tame a Wild Rogue” by Julie Ann Long and it had a great one.

          1. I’m sure I did, I’ve read all of SEP’s books, but an epilogue is stuff that happens after the book is over. If the stuff in the epilogue is still in the now of the book, it’s not an epilogue. If it’s not in the now of the now of the book . . . nope.

  27. My reading this week continues to be Ngaio Marsh re-reads — in between work and playing incessant amounts of fetch with the dog who seems to have no “off” button (possibly getting a “retriever” was a mistake on my part 🙂 ).

    My local PBS station has been showing Miss Marple mysteries and this last one was The Murder at the Vicarage. The story was good–a cozy mystery in a pretty village setting, but what spoiled it for me was the fact that they included the hanging of the murderer(s) at the end. Not that I expected no punishment, but the ending was so completely out of step with the rest of the episode that it seemed odd to have included it.

    1. I’m always taken aback by that, too, even in the books, the idea that they hung these characters, most of whom were horrible, but still. And of course we still have capital punishment in some places when we’re not just gunning people down in the streets. I think the one that gets me most isn’t one that is executed, it’s the one Murder Must Advertise, where the killer knows they’re caught, and Peter suggests that person do something that is basically suicide to avoid the scandal on their family. And you know the killer is going to do it, just walk down the street knowing an assassin is going to take them out at any minute. That freaks me out.

      1. ‘The Long Farewell’ had that resolution – giving the 2nd (retributive) killer a chance to kill himself. I’m not a fan of capital punishment at all, but that kind of plotted escape hatch tends to annoy me. People writing a murder mystery should own the consequences. Ngaio Marsh addressed it a couple times, that Alleyn hated capital punishment almost as much as Troy, but accepted his role in it.

        1. To be fair, I think that was actually something that happened a bit. If the culprit suicides in a way that can be described as a “hunting accident” then it protected the family from reputational and sometimes financial consequences. But I could be completely wrong – haven’t researched it.

          I absolutely agree about the inadequacy of exile as a form of justice. Maybe its appropriate if the perpetrator is sympathetic (a blackmail victim, battered wife etc) but otherwise you’re just exporting the problem to a new unsuspecting community. Particularly if its a rapist, embezzler or something where the crime is unlikely to be a one-off.

        2. I love Patricia Wentworth, but a number of times she has had the villain(s)escaping in a car that crashes, killing all guilty parties. Once, ok, but more than once???? Where was her editor?

    2. I think the worst incidence of this kind of thing for me was the end of the series Ozark.

      Julia Garner did a fantastic job of acting as Ruth whose actions were sometimes questionable but her motives weren’t & I loved her – was unceremoniously shot dead in the end.

      Laura Linney who is such a great actress that I hated her as Wendy who was imo a villiain. Her actions were always wrong & most of the time her motives were selfish. She got away with her villainly instead of being confronted for it.

      So unsatisfying. I loved that series but the end of these 2 characters definitely tainted it for me.

  28. Reading the back covers, inside covers, a few pages of books. Keep or donate. Favourite authors are definite keeps. Found three hardcover Mayer books. On the shelf.

    Arresting Anna – yes, please. Loved what you wrote and shared here.

    Plan to read all the keepers, one novel a week or so, depending on the other stuff going on. Maybe just close my eyes and pick one.

    Little pile of books for each granddaughter.

    1. Take my advice and keep a list of the books you give to the granddaughters. I started giving books to a friend’s kids when the first one was born 10 years ago and now I can’t remember which books I’ve already given them. I don’t want to give the younger kids books I gave to an older sibling.

  29. Nghi Vo’s Mammoths at the Gates was definitely not my kind of fiction. Neither the story nor the protagonist engaged me on any level. Not much happened except for the mammoths at the gates of the abbey where the hero lived. But the book was short and very well edited, so I read it to the end.
    Sofi Laporte’s Miss Hilversham and the Pesky Duke was a lovely historical romance, although the first part of the story – about 30% – almost made me reluctant to continue. The male hero was too obnoxious to the heroine. They bickered constantly. He insulted her. She scolded him. They challenged each other. Not one nice word was exchanged between them. But then, stuff happened, and he showed his ‘heart of gold’, hidden inside his vexing exterior. In consequence, I warmed up to him, and so did the heroine, and I enjoyed the remainder of the book and their mid-life romance. I really love this writer. Sadly, I’m coming to the end of her list. Only 3 titles remain that I haven’t read yet. I hope she writes many more.

    1. I really like the previous books in the Singing Hills Cycle (Empress of Salt & Fortune, When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain, and Into the Riverlands), but Mammoths at the Gate didn’t really do it for me, either. I’ve been giving them to my dad as birthday gifts each year, and with the first three, he’s turned around and reread them as soon as he finished the first read. I’m interested to hear what he thinks of this one when I give it to him in two weeks!

      1. I’ve liked all of them, including “Mammoths at the Gates” which I felt was about the challenges of coming home again, to a home that has changed in subtle ways. But “The Empress of Salt & Fortune” was magnificent in a way none of the others have quite lived up to.

  30. After read all but the last of the Rivers of London series, I thought I’d check the library (which hadn’t ordered the last book when I checked earlier) and finally it was there, so I borrowed it and am about 3/4 finished. Did Aaronovitch even hint at the existence of ‘angels’ before? I’m quite confused now, but hope to finish it tonight. Oh, and Bev has been hinting over the phone that Peter had better finish his current case soon, because the twins are getting ready to appear….

    1. I don’t think she was an angel in the religious sense. I think that’s what Peter called her because of the wings, and I think she manifested that way because she’d gotten caught up in sorcery and the inquisition. I got the feeling she didn’t know what was going herself.

      She was a human woman who was victimized by the Inquisition and got caught up in her tormentor’s fate when his opponent switched things on them and imprisoned them, and then Leslie dropped the bottle . . .

      1. Which one is the most recent Aaronovitch? I can’t figure out his order. I am pretty sure I haven’t read the angel one…

        1. “Amongst Our Weapons.” It’s book #9 in the series — just after “False Values” — the one with Peter working undercover for a tech billionaire?

          1. Thanks! I read that but didn’t recall the angel—probably under the influence of my malfunctioning parathyroid. Life is so much more memorable now that it’s gone!
            Time for a reread

          2. Sorry — my comment might have been unclear — did you read the tech billionaire one? Because the one that mentions angels is not hard to forget the angels part….

  31. Back (for some time) from my doctor appointment. Test results could have been better. More testing and other rigamorole ahead. I’m waiting for callbacks (probably tomorrow or Monday) to schedule the next steps. Feh.

    I finished Ngaio Marsh’s Overture to Death.  It kept me reading, but seemed rather dated for 1939, in comparison to Sayers, whose last Wimsey novel (not counting ones completed by others) came out that year, or to Anthony Boucher in the US, whose second mystery novel came out in 1939.  Not a book likely to turn me into a Marsh completist, although Alleyn comes across as a sympathetic detective.

    I also started a Margery Allingham, since I knew I had read and liked some of her work.  I made the dubious decision to start with the first Albert Campion, The Crime at Black Dudley (1929).  Clearly not representative of her later work, nor as good as Sayers’s first novel (Whose Body?, 1923). But I plan on finishing.

    I’m almost done with the book club book, and have to formulate my reaction. Also, I’m almost ready to vote on more books.

    I had to return a mostly unread print nonfiction book to the library because I couldn’t renew it.  I was rather daunted with the length of my Take Out Again list. I should work on those or cross them off as abandoned.

      1. Sweet Danger is the first book in Kate Davies new knitting-and-Margery-Allingham club, so I am reading it now. I found it hard to get into it, because my brain is pretty fried this week, but it’s picking up now.

  32. I read “Simply the Best” by Susan Elizabeth Phillips. It was a good read and I always like that her female MCs are quirky. I wasn’t wild about the first encounter between the MCs when he decides that she is a sex worker, a fact with which she takes issue. It didn’t advance the plot and a find the “hood girl mistaken for a sex worker’” trope icky. This did actually happen to me in a fancy hotel many years ago when I was there to see my father who was visiting. The man didn’t say anything to me but he was looking me up and down as I was calling my father on the house phone. At the time, I thought it as hilarious because I was a quiet, introverted university student but I later came to realize that it was awful. He was my father’s age and eyeing me like I was an object. So this trope always bothers me.

    I also read “Medusa” by Jessie Burton. I actually listened to the audio book and while I’m not always a fan of this format, but in this instance it works. The story is a re-telling of the myth of Medusa (she of snakes instead of hair) and it’s incredibly powerful. The narrator has a beautiful lyrical voice that adds such depth and feeling to the story. It’s a YA book but the themes are universal and relate very much to the experience I describe above and current events (ongoing trial in NYC). One of the best books I’ve read in a very long time and I highly recommend it (especially the audio version).

  33. For Leverage fans who haven’t seen the reboot, the pilot of Leverage: Redemption is basically Leverage (the original) plus art crime. Really, really good episode, with John Rogers as the writer.

    I should probably do some re-watching because nothing I’ve tried to stream lately (besides the Dead Boy Detectives) has been able to keep my attention for more than ten minutes.

    As for reading, I finished listening to the terrible narrator who did the Fall of Ile-Rien series (Martha Wells), which says a lot for the author’s storytelling skills, because the narrator’s enunciation oddities really grated on me, and then moved on to the much better narrator of Wheel of the Infinite. I read the latter years ago, but don’t remember anything about the story, and I’m not very far into it yet.

    1. I also love Leverage and have watched the first 2 seasons of Leverage: Redemption. I found the second season to be better. I also did not entirely like what the writers did to Parker as she seemed to regress. The costuming in season 1 also seemed off. Still, I’ll watch season 3. It’s still very much a fun show.

      1. I agree mostly. I still think the first episode of season 1 is brilliant because of John Rogers as the author. Episodes not written by him tend to not have any edge to them — he’s both funny AND angry, and I like that. Like in the “redemption is a process” speech by Hardison. The other writers don’t seem to have that edge to them. And without Nate, there’s no angry member of the team to add that edge.

  34. Finally read both some old and some new.
    Reread Key of Light by Nora Roberts, part 1 in her Key-series. It did have it’s nice bits for sure, but I’m not sure I enjoyed the interaction between the FMC and MMC anymore. Yes, when he was clumsy and just cute, sure, but not when he was being a manly man taking initiative. Worked better for me 15 years ago. But not a bad read.

    Picked up and reread The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim, part 1 in her Gifted Clans-series with Korean mythology as it’s inspiration. I think I liked it even better now the second time around. So much so I finally felt ready to read the other two books in this trilogy: The Last Fallen Moon and The Last Fallen Realm. The last one there had me tear up galore at the end, so it was my first new 5-star read in a very long time. Enjoyed this a lot. The narration was excellent as well, and for middlegrade books a LOT to think about when it comes to choices we make, freedom of choice, integrity, family, friendship and love. Lovely little trilogy!

    Have slept like trash lately, so spent today reading The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley from start to finish. I liked it fine or else I wouldn’t have read it pretty much in one go like this, but I don’t think I’ll reread it. Time-travel is a thing and people frm the past are brought into the future as an experiment, but there’s more to it than just trying to save people from dying and giving them a second chance at living. There’s a bit of romance in it, but it didn’t really move me so I’ll consider it a one and done.

    Sven and I also finished Into a Dark Realm by Raymond E. Feist, second in the Darkwar Saga and have moved on to the third: Wrath of a Mad God. It’s still pretty dang dark. Fortunately there’s some humour sprinkled through it still. I’m a bit annoyed at the Dutch translation, particularly how they’ve translated names and then not stuck to them properly.

    Not sure what to read next for myself though. Something fun would be… fun.

    1. The plot summary of The Ministry of Time seems uncomfortably close to that of Brenda Clough’s sf romance Revise the World (2009), especially the part early published separately as May Be Some Time (2001). Probably not lawsuit close, but close.

  35. Not that it is at all important, but all week long I add to a file on my desktop – GBT.htm – that contains my reading that I don’t want to forget. I keep it up in NoteTabPro 6.2+, originally a replacement for Notepad, and now my favorite html editor.

    I reread RISING TIDES (Capes Book 1) by M. Harmon. I’ve asked George about what I see as a plot sinkhole, and I’ve been dropping preafrooding airers in the comments section of the post announcing the story. Mr. Harmon is self-published. The amazing thing is that there aren’t more egregious errors than the ones I’ve found. It is still an excellent read.

    Next, Wrede and Stevermer’s THE GRAND TOUR. Yes, another reread. Well loved.

    Other than that, I seem have fallen into the abyss of “Reels and Short Videos.” Hilariously, I did a double-take looking at a short video of Lauren Young on the drums. I would have sworn this was grandkinder Liam! Seriously!

  36. I listened to A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner while driving to KY for a sibling reunion. After finishing that, I started listening to Thick as Thieves, the next in the series. I also read House of Many Ways by Diana Wynn Jones. My current read is a book that caught my eye in Barnes and Noble, Days at the Morisaki Bookshop by Satoshi Yagisawa.

    1. I have Days at the Morisaki Bookshop too and bought it for the same reason. I liked it but I liked The Kamogawa Food Detectives even better. It’s about a restaurant/detective agency where you can describe a meal you are in the past and they will try to recreate it. Fascinating details about Japanese food culture.

  37. I read Sage Empress I by Sherwood Smith, apparently the first book in what might be a trilogy that is a sequel to Tribute. Both are prequels to the Phoenix Feather series. Tribute is set some undefined but long time (500 years? 1000 years?) prior to the Phoenix Feather series, and Sage Empress appears to be set somewhere in the middle between them. The first third (of book 1) is about Younger Sister, Lan Ren Ti, growing up at the imperial court as the least important ‘princess’ there. Father is the Chief of the Censorate, which apparently investigates corruption, and Mother is teaching her to be the perfect daughter, while First Brother is the most diligent student in the Empire, studying and Second Brother is more the happy go lucky type. But then the Emperor is overthrown by his brother and the family is arrested and Ren has to go on the run or be thrown in prison with the rest of them. But Second Brother evaded capture also and so she searches for him while discovering that she has some essence talent. It’s a good start to the story, which was fairly slow moving to start with, and I’m looking forward to the rest of it.

    I read The Study of Poisons and The Study of Magic by Maria V. Snyder, which tells Valek’s side of what’s happening in Poison Study and Magic Study. Which if you haven’t read them (and I do recommend them) won’t really make much sense, so they are ‘companion’ novels. You do get to see some of the other characters from those books and what they were doing when Yelena wasn’t around.

    1. Oh! I read Poison Study and the two (??? if I remember correctly) following that one a bunch of years back. Had no idea these companion books existed. Maybe worth looking into then! 🙂 Thanks for revealing their existence!

  38. I read the novella A Spindle Splintered by Alix Harrow and would recommend. Dying girl dropped into a Sleeping Beauty fairytale finds new perspecitve on her life and relationships. It’s got a nice queer normative / feminist viewpoint and unusual ending. I’ll look forward to more from this author.

    I also started but DNF MA Carrick’s Mask of Mirrors. I was really immersed in the richly detailed world, and got invested in some of the characters, but there were too many of them and definite pacing problems. In a book that is 689 pages long, I really feel it would have benefited from a good edit and clearer objectives for the extensive cast. But if you can take the pace, the setting and characters were interesting; it might be just your cup of tea.

  39. Above I remarked upon the uncomfortably close resemblance of the setup and character relationships of Kaliane Bradley’s just published The Ministry of Time with Brenda Clough’s Revise the World, 2009.  That said, I have since read the Libby sample of the Bradley work, and it does not closely resemble Clough’s opening.  Moreover, in the Bradley,  a number of people have been brought forward in time from certain death, and only one in the Clough.  It may only be an unfortunate coincidence that they each focus on a polar explorer, in Waugh from the doomed Scott Antarctic expedition and in Bradley from the doomed Arctic Franklin one.  There certainly been other romances about people brought forward from the past.  Moreover, there have been multiple other cases of parallel setups that seem to have been arrived at completely independently, such as Turtledove’s Guns of the South and Harrison’s A Rebel in Time, or Russell’s The Sparrow and Blish’s A Case of Conscience.

    The Bradley promised to be interesting enough that I put it on hold, although I may have a long wait for it—Bradley evidently has better marketing than Clough did, including a recommendation from Good Morning America.  Interestingly, there are  broad similarities in the backgrounds of the two authors.  Bradley is described as British-Cambodian, although I am unsure if that means she was brought to Britain as a young child or that she was born there of Cambodian immigrants or of mixed parentage.  Clough was born in the US of Chinese immigrants. Her father worked for the US State Department and they lived in various countries around the world. I may have recommended Clough’s Revise the World before. It’s still in print as an ebook.

  40. There is a very good tv series about real life art thefts, the name of which completely escapes me. I seem to recall that there are occasional reruns on the History Channel, but don’t hold me to this. I will suddenly remember the name and details at 3 a.m., of course. Which is good because right now trying to remember is really annoying me. 🙄 But it strikes me as a potential research tool for you Jenny, if you are not already aware of it. Hailey Lind also wrote a fiction series about a female artist solving art related crimes.

  41. I listened to Linda Holmes’s book Flying Solo about an art carpet, sort of. Someone tricks the main character into selling a valuable duck decoy for less than it’s worth and she and her friends con the con man to get it back. It’s also a romance that does not end with a traditional happy ever after but does have a happy ending. It was fun

  42. I have been rereading Heyer’s, including False Colours. The twins’ mother is clearly modeled on Georgiana Duchess of Devonshire who must have been deeply irritating to be married to. And if “Aristocrats” had been written (by Stella Tillyard, the excellent biography of the five daughters of the Duke of Richmond) back then I would have said her housekeeping had a strong element of Emily in it…
    Now I’m reading the Talisman Ring. And contemplating what to borrow or buy for my two weeks in London. Any recommendations for books set in London ?

  43. Haven’t read it yet but an English friend suggested “Mother London” by Michael Moorcock to me as a good portrait of London.

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