Books books books

Pretty much done with the Agatha Christies– there’s a handful of singletons that weren’t available at the library that I haven’t read/reread, but I’m mostly done.  I quite like the Harley Quinn short stories for the most part (the last/second to last depending on your viewpoint, that is, the one directly before the Harlequinn Teaset is stupid).

I’ve been cranking through Lord Peter Whimseys as well.  My local library didn’t have Murder Must Advertise and I wonder if it’s because of the completely unnecessary use of the N word or if it’s just that their copy fell apart.  (But they have two copies of 9 little tailors, which is the next book in the series, so…)  I swear, the number of times I have read the N word in the past year from these 1930s British mysteries.  Ridiculous.  In any case, my university library had a first edition of Murder must advertise, so I as able to continue my reading mostly uninterrupted.  The Nine Tailors was … boring.  I ended up skipping large chunks even though I had no problem with the previous Scottish Five Red Herrings case which is supposed to be one of the duller Whimseys.  Then I read Gaudy Night which continues to be a masterpiece.  I’m not sure how good it is if you haven’t read the previous two Harriet Vanes, but it really is a classic.  I also read through the short stories again (except the last one which I’m saving for after Busman’s Honeymoon, though I should have also saved the second to last for then too!) and with the exception of the Harriet Vane novels, I think the short stories might be better than the novels.

The big city library recommended Nina Coombs Pykare to me.  They are for the most part forgettable retreads, but go down easily.  A Man of her choosing was TERRIBLE and I eventually gave up on it– TSTL heroine who is not like other girls (because she likes horses) and thinks she’s ugly “a wren” and says so about every other page.  Hero who has no personality other than occasionally jealously shaking the heroine and yelling at her.  The Lost Duchess of Greyden Castle was a nice Gothic that may be worth trying out if you can get it for free from  your library.  A Daring Dilemma and A Matchmaker’s Match were both soothing and forgettable (unless you care about historical accuracy, in which case you should completely avoid this author).

I tried a few more Alexis Hall books but none of them have quite jelled.  They have good bits, but haven’t really been cohesively good like Boyfriend Material was.  I have to wonder if what was lacking was an excellent editor, or if this is a matter of becoming a more experienced author.

The big city library also recommended Emily Hendrickson and I tried A Man of Her Choosing… and it was just super boring and forgettable so I didn’t even bother reading the last couple of chapters, I just DNF.

Joanna Shupe was pretty fun… reading her books in rapid succession left a bit to be desired because she reuses tropes and characteristics and turns of phrases and so on.  But The Prince of Broadway was pretty good.  A scandalous deal not as good, but readable.  The rogue of fifth avenue, similar. The Lady Hellion was a fun romp (cw: a serial rapist/murderer is the MacGuffin), though the heroine had some TSTL manic pixie tendencies, but I think the hero with his interesting anxiety disorders made it readable, AND it had the smartest “how to get someone killed without actually doing it yourself” thing I have ever seen.  Magnate had a great set-up but was ultimately a huge disappointment– it would have been 10x the book if she had spent more time on the heroine and heroes’ fascinating careers (steel magnate and wall street consultant) and less time on boring married-too-soon tropes (and interminable filler sex scenes… literally the first sex scene went from 62-72% on my kindle, and it wasn’t the only one.)  The Devil of Downtown was solid and maybe even a bit better than the previous two books in the series.

I tried out a Shana Galen bundle based on the library recommendation… Couldn’t get into The making of a duchess or The making of a gentleman, but the Rogue’s pirate bride was worth reading the first few and last few chapters and skipping the middle.

The Trouble with Harry by Katie MacAlister is silly and pretty funny (and also I kept going… did I accidentally check out an erotic novel?  but maybe this is too silly to be erotic?)

The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie was interesting.  The hero was nice.  There’s a mystery (more dead prostitutes, though only two this time around).  It’s got gothic bits.  I’d like to read the second from the library (but not buy it because I am not a fan of the estranged spouses trope and the hero doesn’t seem so great from his appearances in book 1), but alas, neither library has it available, so I guess I will skip and try the third next.

I’m not sure how to feel about In for a Penny by Rose Lerner.  I LOVED the way that the protagonists spent a day writing up a list of rules for marriage together (No Mistresses)– that was cute and fun and unique.  I had been hoping that the second half of the book would be watching them quietly building up the hero’s falling down estate while falling in love.  Instead, the second half was full of so many tropes… all together (no carriage accidents though… well no important ones anyway).  There was a two pager that had at least 3 things that would have been stunning drama game changers in another book, right after another from the beginning of the chapter.  Finally, I almost threw the book across the room (if it hadn’t been a library book, I might have) when I realized the entire story was just a huge long walk to get to a terrible terrible pun.  I think I may have to buy it.  And maybe read some more by this author.

Chasing Cassandra by Lisa Kleypas was solid.  It’s another in a series and I found myself wishing I’d read the other ones more recently because I think it would have been more rewarding.  I may have to reread these someday.  This one by itself isn’t really worth owning, but maybe it is if I reread it as part of the entire series?  I’m not sure.  Update:  Apparently I didn’t read all of the prequels because I got annoyed by too many attempted rapes on the heroine in one of her books and just gave up on the author entirely.

The latest Jayne Ann Krentz, “All the Colors of the Night” was a solid Jones book in the Fogg Lake sub-series.  I also wished I’d read others in that series more recently (amazon tells me there’s only one, but I feel like some of the other Jones books must have overlap).  (Also… I wondered if twitter was making fun of her recently by riffing off authors who use the book’s title in the book’s last sentence…)

23 Responses to “Books books books”

  1. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I recently read Ten Things I Hate About the Duke and enjoyed it a lot! Also A Deadly Education (vaguely reminiscent of the best HP fabric I’ve ever read) and Blood Heir (better than anything they’ve written in a long time, imo). And a bunch of forgettable.novels of various persuasions.

  2. Miser Mom Says:

    I read all of the Quincy Library Agatha Christie selection my first semester of grad school (probably not unrelated to my dropping out of that particular grad school, and eventually starting over at another place).

    For some reason, I keep confusing “Whimsey” with “Wodehouse”. I was going to say I read all the Whimsey books while recovering from a surgery, but it was actually the P.G. Wodehouse books. The only problem with the Wodehouse books was they kept making me laugh out loud, something I seldom do, and that hurt because I’d just had an organ ripped out of my body.

    I read a few Whimsey books right after my Agatha Christie binge and didn’t like them then, I think because I was expecting Christie and got Sayers (orange juice after toothpaste). I read them all again more recently and could appreciate them a lot more on their own merits.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Wodehouse is delightful! Except for the horribly racist out of print for a reason ones.

      I liked the lord peters by himself more this time around than last time (before I only appreciated the Harriet vanes). Not sure what changed. But other than the occasional n word, she is not Christie!

  3. CG Says:

    I have to say that The Nine Tailors is one I had a hard time getting through the first time but return to again and again and enjoy it more every time. At the other end of the spectrum I really love Christie’s The Secret Adversary where Tommy and Tuppence sort of wander around and manage to apprehend the bad guys. It’s so silly but I still like it. I almost didn’t read Boyfriend Material because I thought I certainly knew how it was going to end and it was pretty long, but the characters were so charming I didn’t end up minding the obviousness of the plot.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Boyfriend Material is not at ALL about the plot or the love story or any of that. It’s about the joke a day with his coworkers! (IMO, YMMV– one of my friends appreciated the love story, yes I’ve made everyone I know read it and they’re all HAPPY I did. Even DH!)

      I do love Bright Young Things literature, like Tommy and Tuppence and some of Christie’s early stand-alones. (I wish KJ Charles would do more of this! I love her so much.)

      • CG Says:

        Can you recommend a particular KJ Charles? I read Slippery Creatures and found that it wasn’t my favorite–I’m not really into romance novels and prefer the sex more left to the imagination.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Well…. I’m not sure KJ Charles is capable of keeping things up to the imagination…

        But if you’re ok with skipping sex scenes OR sex scenes that advance plot/character development The Magpie Lord series (though I think maybe that book has a sex scene as the solution to a problem? I need to reread) is a good place to start or Society of Gentlemen, but you probably don’t want to start with a seditious affair but perhaps A Gentleman’s position.

        I don’t know. She shows a lot of sex, but the sex is never meaningless. I used to think I hated sex scenes but it turns out I only hate extraneous sex scenes.

        Band Sinister was a fun stand-alone. Proper English was fun and light.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        Also the other thing is that she does different historical genres and she does them *very well* so if you don’t generally like the genre that Slippery Creatures is in (not my favorite– I prefer Bright Young Things to the kind of dismal war/post-war genre around the same time) or don’t care for dark and gritty Victorian (Sins of the Cities– not my favorite but extremely high quality) then those are probably going to be no-go.

        Oh! Any Old Diamonds was brilliant and I think you can easily skip any sex scenes in it. (Though it’s even better if you *have* read the Sins of the Cities since it’s the next gen.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        (I think the rat catcher’s daughter is sex free because the main characters are ACE, but it’s more of a short story/novella/background to the next book.)

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        The new kJ Charles has just shocked my delicate sensibilities and the first sex scene can’t be skipped because it is integral to both plot and character development (!). So maybe not the gentle art of fortune telling even though I’m enjoying it immensely in a squeaky shocked sort of way. My goodness!

  4. EB Says:

    If we erase all the racism (and anti-Semitism, and xenophobia, and misogyny) from old books we will lose our best access to how people (white, or male, or Christian, or English-speaking people) saw the world back then. I limit my consumption of these types of books, but I want them to stay as-is. I just read an article about the depth of T.S. Eliot’s anti-Semitism. It showed him to be a really ugly person. A great poet, in some ways, but not immune to the prejudices he was surrounded by — and contributed to.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I dunno, that’s fine for scholars, but I prefer to have less racist entertainment! I *believe* that the original American versions of these Christie novels that I originally read just wrote N— in place of the actual n-word (or changed it to Indian in the case of And Then There Were None, which we read in high school and would not have if it had kept the N word in that poem!), which keeps both the spirit of racist characters without putting it out there in your face. It’s the newer kindle copies with their original British titles that are really the problem.

  5. rose Says:

    LOUISE PENNY start with her first. the books and people build.

  6. accm Says:

    I’ve been enjoying Melissa Caruso’s book lately — twisty politics and social commentary with no simple answers. Just started CL Polk’s Witchmark which I see you recommended some time ago.

  7. BonnieCCO Says:

    You might enjoy books by Sandra Dallas. There are a half dozen or more, “cozy” historical stories set in the USA. I’m reading The Persian Pickle Club right now (Kansas during the depression era). She advances the story mostly through conversation, skillfully

  8. revanche @ a gai shan life Says:

    I started The Constantine Affliction last night and I’m really not sure what to make of it. I did some light YA reading (Rick Riordan per the suggestion of a friend’s child who wants more of us to understand the world he’s playing in mentally, Kat Cho’s Wicked Fox because I like fairytales of different cultures) which fits my mental capacity dominated by sleep deprivation right now.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      DC2 finally started reading the Rick Riordans. Interestingly, zie preferred the other more multi-cultural Rick Riordan presents (by other authors, set in other universes) and resisted the Percy Jacksons but is finally coming around.

  9. Mary Says:

    Ditto Louise Penny. My latest passion, Chris Nickson. British historical mysteries, all based in Leeds.

  10. First Gen American Says:

    I’ve been struggling with books lately. It seemed so much easier to find good books to read when I was younger. I did work In a cafe In a bookstore, so it helped to know what people were buzzing about.

    Although I love the disruptive nature of being able to self publish, it seems like it’s much harder to sift through the junk these days. When I come across blatant spelling errors or a complete lack of editing, I just can’t go on reading a book. I don’t trust best seller lists either as some of the titles are on there just because of the success of their publisher’s marketing machine. Npr used to do a best books and summer reading list that was pretty good. I wonder if they still do that. I am finding the same issue with new music content as well.

    How do people find new interesting things these days?

  11. maitreyi1978 Says:

    Have you tried Ruth Rendell’s Detective Wexford series, or any of her other mysteries? They are very good, and I don’t remember anything racist or anti-semitic in them.


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