Books books books

Read Bramble and Blood and really enjoyed it– the first chapter is pretty clunky, but by chapter two the writing is smooth.  The world building was really neat.  I liked it so much that I immediately bought Birdsong and Bone which was also excellent.  Then I bought Shadows and Souls.  These were a nice break from the maybe too predictable stuff I’d been reading lately.  (Note:  The third book had a completely unnecessary Pathos death.  Disappointing, given the second one made a different choice about another potential Pathos death.)

I returned Destiny’s Embrace unfinished because ugh… the hero force kisses the heroine who his mother has employed as his housekeeper on the first day that she meets him after they get into a verbal argument.  I am just OVER “heroes” kissing women they barely know without consent, and doubly over “heroes” kissing the heroines they employ.  Kissing strangers is not normal and kissing employees is harassment.  The book didn’t get better after that, so I gave up.  Which is a shame because the set-up was interesting.  (I’m willing to give some leeway for the hero and heroine being in a working relationship while falling in love if the author can make it work in a way that’s not squicky– not the case here.)

Chance of a Lifetime by Jayne Ann Krentz was similarly terrible, by which I mean the hero force kissed the heroine he has employed as his housekeeper on the second day she meets him after they get into a verbal argument.  I wish the first goodreads review had been on amazon– I wouldn’t have bought it!  I’m considering recycling the used copy I have instead of passing it on.  I need to be better about checking all reviews, though in fairness I thought this was from 1994 (Krentz was mostly better by then, so long as it wasn’t a Stephanie James reissue), but it’s actually 1987.

Merry Inkmas was similarly irritating though not quite as bad.  I did finish it, but I deleted it off my kindle.

Lady Osbaldestone’s Plum Puddings was better than the second in the series (which I do not regret reading and have not deleted, but definitely dragged a bit) but not quite as good as the first.

Death Beside the Seaside was another fun Lady Hardcastle.

A Delicate Deception was a nice meandering book, though the ending seemed kind of abrupt.  It would have done well with a five years later epilogue, though I know that sort of goes against the message of the book.  Still… life does go on, and it’s nice to get a peek into the happily ever after.  I assume they’ll show up in a future book as minor characters but by then I’ll have completely forgotten who they were.

The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics was pretty good except for the heroines losing each other for no good reason.  I hate it when the drama has to be achieved by sensible characters not talking things out.  The end was a bit wishful, but still nice.

I liked the novella One Bed for Christmas.  IIRC this also had some stupidity drama, but it was resolved much more quickly, and in a way that’s more realistic– sensible characters had sensible friends who told them to stop being dumb.

The Magician’s Angel was a good library read but I didn’t feel the need to buy– very much a novella.

I reread Lord Perfect and decided to buy it.  I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t the first time around.  (Maybe because it’s overpriced for an older kindle book and we were on half salary at 2x expenses at the time?)

I impulse bought My Fake Rake and wish I hadn’t.  It took all my favorite tropes… and then was just kind of dumb.  It would have been an ok library read if I didn’t have better stuff, but I think I may have deleted it off my kindle.

Devil Take me was a great selection of m/m short stories.  Some of them were astonishingly good.

I bought a series of four super silly m/m novellas by Jordan Castillo Price.  They probably weren’t worth what I paid for them, but they hit a silliness spot that I needed.

Restless Spirits by Jordan L. Hawk was fun.  I find most of Hawk’s books just really easy to read, even though they’re not entirely predictable.  I’m hoping for more omnibuses to be available in the future.  You can already get some of their series in omnibus form, like SPECTR, the complete first series, which is a steal at $4.99.  Did I say that in the last books post?   Must not have– it’s been a long time since the last one of these posts!

Charmed and Dangerous was fine, but not as good as Devil Take Me, even though many of the authors were the same across the two anthologies.

I can’t remember what I thought about the Duke I tempted by Scarlett Peckham.  Obviously this feature needs to be done more frequently.  I think it had some unnecessary angst, but… I can’t actually remember.

I do remember that A Rogue by Night and Night of the Scoundrel, both in the Devils of Dover series were delightful, though I do think there was more that could have been done with the hero in Night of the Scoundrel– usually the mysterious King in these books is given a full novel finale rather than a short novella with a Mary Sue heroine, but that’s an interesting direction to take the trope.

Gilded Cage by K J Charles was wonderful!!!  Not anywhere near the mindflip as the first book in the series, but I think the simpler nature of this book nicely parallels the differences between the two different Lilywhite boys featured as heroes in the two books.  There’s also some nice followup to the characters in the rat catcher’s daughter short, which is an excellent read.

Flowers in the Storm by Laura Kinsale was Gawdawful.  Just don’t.

I think I liked Lady Isabella’s Ogre by Emily Larkin.  I read it way back in October though!  I bought it before I read a huge dud of hers, and haven’t bought anything else from her.  I wish the library had more of her stuff so I could try before buying.

What are you reading?  Anything you recommend?

15 Responses to “Books books books”

  1. Leah Says:

    I am working on reading all the Caldecott award books. It’s really fun! I’ve read a lot of them already but revisiting anyway.

    It’s a nice, lighter reading goal for me at this time in my life where I have a hard time finding time to read adult books.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Neat– have you noticed any differences between the ones that have stayed with us (ex. Make Way for Ducklings, The Snowy Day) and the ones that have gone by the wayside?

      Also: are any of them unintentionally racist or sexist?

      • Leah Says:

        I’ve started in the middle, at 1978, just because I happen to own a lot in that range. I’ve actually read a fair number of them already (maybe 20-30%?). So far, nothing awful or racist/sexist. Noah’s Ark did win in 1978. The art is nice, and it’s not any more religious than one would assume based on the title.

        My favorite Caldecott books so far (including ones I’ve read before):
        – The Snowy Day (1963)
        – Sam, Bangs, and Moonshine (1967)
        – Where the Wild Things Are (1964)
        – Ox-Cart Man (1980)
        – The Polar Express (1986)
        – Hey, Al (1987) — the only one I read for the first time by doing this list, and it’s really good. I’m surprised it’s not more popular. Really beautiful art.

        The weirdest one is Saint George and the Dragon. The art is great, but it just doesn’t jump out to me as amazing.

        There are none so far that I regret reading. I’ve read 14 so far this year. Even ones I love are being re-read. Awards started in 1938, so there’s a doable amount since I’m just reading the winners.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Have you seen The Snowy Day has postage stamps right now? I got a ton of them for letters to voters last year. They are super cute.

      • Leah Says:

        oh, yes, I have Snowy Day stamps! I have a bunch for Christmas cards. I should go buy more for next year cards. I found a bunch of stamps too when cleaning out my mom’s stuff (she was a low-key hoarder — nice house but tons of stuff squirreled away), so I have tons of holiday stamps. And I still bought Snowy Day because it is one of my favorite books ever. Just makes me happy.

        I’ve been working hard to find diverse books to read with my kids, especially when I can find books with diverse characters where no one calls attention to their diversity (as in, the characters are just people). The Snowy Day checks so many boxes for me.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Scholastic just way upped their Diverse Books selection. We got sent home with a catalogue and I bought a ton (haven’t gotten them yet)… there were a bunch that weren’t Deep and Meaningful (Deep is fine, but also shouldn’t be the only thing– we all should be able to see ourselves in light reading). I was especially impressed with Rick Riordan presents– he could have stolen other peoples’ histories and written mythologies in his world but instead he’s highlighting authors of color writing theirs. That’s the best way to use that privilege.

  2. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  3. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    Everyone: Do this today:

  4. Steph Says:

    I didn’t finish the Ladies Guide to Celestial Mechanics. Part of it was that the scientific aspect felt ahistorical to me (I may have been wrong there, so don’t let this put anyone else off). Part of it was that the romance plotline felt off for me too – I really like reading about characters dealing with their issues/traumas, and this felt like it just…hand waved theirs away. I don’t remember if they were split up at some point, so maybe I didn’t make it to the part where that happened. I was sad that I didn’t like it – I’d really been looking forward to it!

    Most recently I read Katrina Jacksons Pink Slip and Private Eye, the first two books in her “the spies that loved her” series. Overall I liked them and I’m glad I bought them. They are def high heat and start out with the characters already into each other, but they have to navigate their issues and being international spies to make it all work. They’re ensemble stories, which was meant except in book 2 I really only wanted to read the perspectives of that couple, while the trio from book 1 still got POV chapters as well.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      The science I think of as the same alternate universe where Courtney Milan had the genome figured out a hundred years earlier because people listened to women.

      But yeah the major flaw was them breaking apart for no real reason that makes sense (and then getting back together ditto). Just invented drama.

      I will look into those!

      • Steph Says:

        That’s a good point. And I should have reversed my ordering of those points – I probably would have finished the book despite some annoyance with some of the science-adjacent stuff if I had liked the romance plotline better!

  5. nicoleandmaggie Says:

  6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    I just went through the whole Courtney Milan series that our library had!

  7. Debbie M Says:

    Per your review of the terrible books: I visited my Mom last week and she has the TV on a lot (ugh), but I was very pleased to see that on “Let’s Make a Deal,” the contestants *always* asked first before hugging the host. (He always said yes.) This is setting such a good example. (Meanwhile, Mom told me that the host on “The Price is Right” is kind of afraid of his contestants because they will jump all over him even when his arm is in a sling.)

    I used to think I didn’t like short stories–just when I get into the story, it’s over too soon. But Louis L’amour has changed my mind. I’ve read volumes 1 and 2 of his collected short stories so far, and they are all quite satisfying!

    I also just finished Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park” because our local library’s book club featured it. My boyfriend wanted to go because he’s always confused by why putting on a play was so sinful and he’s always shocked by how Henry Crawford doesn’t change into a better human being at the end of the book like he expects. So this time he read it knowing how it goes and paying attention. It’s not my favorite Austen at all, but I did enjoy some of the themes. When I was a kid, long-distance phone calls were expensive, so I sort of understood letter writing, but for modern kids, this book would be very informative on the practice. And Fanny finds sunlight to be wonderful in the country but just revealing of dirt in the city. Unfortunately, it’s super creepy that Fanny can only get what she wants when some man speaks up for her, though admittedly, she’s super introverted.

    I also finally read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” which I feared would be horrible. But much of it is quite delightful. I enjoyed that the kids had gigantic vocabularies. I marvelled that the author could explain how a student who should love school absolutely hated it. She even discussed the opiod epidemic. Most amazingly, the characters are not black and white–my least favorite character did one of my favorite things.

    And I re-read “Ethan Frome” when a friend mentioned that he chose it for his local book club. Ugh, it’s like “it’s a Wonderful Life” without the happy ending. He thought it was a romantic book, appropriate for the February book club choice. I guess it’s romantic like “Romeo and Juliet” is romantic, but I prefer a happy ending.


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