What’s hanging around on your Kindle?

(… or other e-reader?)

A copy of Jane Eyre; Persuasion; Northanger Abbey; Carmilla; Middlemarch; Barchester Towers; a Jeeves book.  Father Brown mysteries by G. K. Chesterton.

Several books from the Liaden universe by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (Fledgling).  Lots of short stories by Seanan McGuire.

Almost everything K. J. Charles has ever published!  Romancing the Werewolf by Gail Carriger.  Amethyst by Lauren Royal.  (#2 thinks she deleted Amethyst, but she loves the Temptation series, especially the Consent is Sexy parts of Tempting Juiliana, even if sometimes that heroine is pretty silly– note that the first in that series is still 100% free for kindle and a good read/reread)

Serpentine by Cindy Pon.  At least 1 collection by John Scalzi.  The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido.

Random fantasy novels that I got a deal on:  The Native Star by M. K. Hobson; Not Dark Yet by Berit Ellingsen (I don’t remember reading this but apparently I did; I have no memory of it); The Final Formula by Becca Andre (tried to read further in this series but petered out); Ghosts of Tsavo by Vered Ehsani.  Here’s me talking about some of this before.

The Amsterdam Assassin series by Martyn V. Halm.

Several books by Martha Wells (Wheel of the Infinite; City of Bones; etc.). (#2 has all of these in paperback because her hardbacks from high school disappeared for some reason… maybe her BIL ended up with them?)

Widdershins by Jordan L. Hawk.  A romance novel I haven’t read yet that I heard about on a podcast.  Novellas by Tiffany Reisz.

Most of Sarah McLean’s Rule of Scoundrels series (A Rogue by Any Other Name), plus some Courtney Milan.  (Some of the Milan has nifty behind the scenes commentary throughout!)

Assorted detritus, short story collections, un-great romance novels, terribly-written fantasy (although I’m trying to delete most of this stuff).  [#2 only keeps very good and great romance novels on hers– even the sub-par Heyer got deleted.]

A couple of the Vorkosigan books by Lois McMaster Bujold; I have most of them in paper books instead.

Here’s some earlier posts on this topic, with links to mostly free or in a few cases inexpensive stuff.  (#2 has literally hundreds of books on her kindle– btw, did you know you could get Shellabarger and Sabatini books for free on your kindle?  #2 had no idea that Sabatini wrote so many boring terrible books in addition to classics like Captain Blood, Scaramouche, and The Sea Hawk.)  (#1 still prefers paper books.) (#2 does too except for traveling which she does a lot of, thus the need for more ebooks.  I’m pretty sure my sister ended up with my Sabatini hardbacks.)

We’re gearing up for holiday reading [and conference trips]… be sure to click our “books” tag to see all kinds of things we’ve read and loved in 2018 (and before).

That oughta keep me occupied for a while!  Whatcha got, Grumpeteers?

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Ask the readers: Help! DH stepped on my oldschool Kindle 3

We didn’t have an ask the grumpies thing queued this week because it has been a crazy insane week, but I have an emergency question!

#1 asks:

DH stepped on my old school Kindle 3– the kind with the side page turners (which I love) and the keyboard.  If money is no object, should I get the Voyage, the Paperwhite, the currently-offered no frills kind, or a used ebay replacement?  (Amazon no longer sells refurbished Kindle 3s and the replacement screens are no longer available for sale anywhere.  We tried all the recommended kindle rebooting things and they erased the stuck picture but it still no longer shows new text.)  If money is an object, what would you get?  Anybody have personal experience with multiple kindles?

I don’t have an answer to this.  The replacement kindle 3 is $35 (including S+H) but sold “as-is” from a 99.4% satisfaction store that has sold 45 of them so far.  The no-frills is $99 without ads.  The Paperwhite is $139.  The Voyage is $219.

Like I said, I really like the side page turners, but I haven’t tried reading with the screen touch, so it might be fine.  I am also skeptical of lighting, but again, haven’t tried it so it might be fine.  I don’t want to see how much time the kindle things I have left– I liked the percentage left options, but I might get used to it.  Basically I’m scared of changing up something I like for something that might irritate me.  But it might be fine!  Is it fine?

Thanks in advance for your help.  I need to keep reading She (free on kindle!– also the origin of the honorific “She who must be obeyed”).  Analysis paralysis is not fun at all.

Kindle stuff besides Regencies that we mostly enjoyed

Here are some (mostly) free things we’ve enjoyed reading on the kindle.

Tyger Tyger: A Goblin Wars Book book by Kersten Hamilton (interesting; Celtic mythology)

Cobweb Bride by Vera Nazarian (fairy tale)

BECOME (Desolation #1) by Ali Cross (fantasy YA)

(In none of the above 3 cases was I inspired to pick up the sequel, however.)

I enjoyed The Corpse Reader by Antonio Garrido (which wasn’t free).

I really enjoyed Fledgling (Liaden Universe) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.  Thanks, Baen Free Library!  This one “worked” for them in that it got me really interested in the universe and now I will buy more books in the series.

Another fun (free!) find was Anna Katherine Green.  Her work is strongly reminiscent of Poe and Doyle. I was entranced with the first paragraph of The Mayor’s Wife which is well worth the read.  Subsequent novels of hers haven’t really been keepers (and there’s been some antisemitism and other assorted racism that make for immediate deletion).  Still, I haven’t tried everything I’ve downloaded yet.  Amazon thinks we should read her Amelia Butterworth mysteries.  [Update, the first is a good mystery so far, but man, had to take a break when I hit racism… this time anti-Chinese-American.]

Ooh, the 2014 Campbellian Anthology of Campbell Award nominees.

I also have some other free stuff (incl. Cory Doctorow) that I haven’t read yet.

Have you found any good free Kindle gems since our last post on the topic?

 

Authors I have been enjoying on my Kindle

Free books and you don’t even have to go to the library to get them! Yay Project Gutenberg.

Maria Thompson Daviess: The Melting of Molly is delightfully tongue in cheek. And has a lovely ending.

A. A. Milne:  He didn’t just write books about Christopher Robin.  I’ve been enjoying his very silly plays.  Belinda, for example.

Mary Roberts Reinhart:  Lovely romantic suspense, lovely romance, lovely suspense.  Fun all around.

Raphael Sabatini:  Sadly not all of his stuff is good; he was prolific.  But they’ve got his best: Captain Blood, ScaramoucheThe Sea-Hawk.  Mmmm swashbuckling romance!  I don’t think they have Master at Arms, which is a shame (also titled The Marquis of Carabas… under which you can get it for cash money as a paperback).

Booth Tarkington:  I loved the Penrod books growing up.  (So did my mom!)  They’re like a lower key Tom Sawyer set in a slightly later time period.

Carolyn Wells: The Patty books are so very silly.  So much like brain candy.  Quite soothing!  Even if women’s best career ambition is to be a homemaker. (Ptuii!)

Oscar Wilde:  The Canterbury Ghost, plays, so soothing, so wickedly funny.

P.G. Wodehouse:  There are at least two Jeeves books.  And assorted crap not worth reading (juvenalia, stuff that is a bit racist and just not very good in other ways).  There may be some non crap stuff too but I haven’t gone through it all yet.  Jeeves and Wooster are soothing my anxious soul.  I like hearing Steven Fry and Hugh Laurie in my head as I reread them.  It adds another dimension.

Fry and Laurie

I say!

What are your recommendations for free kindle books?

What are we reading? Mostly mixed-quality romance.

All Night Long was dark and (tw: spoiler) turned out to have child rape in it.  Not the usual Krentz/Quick/Castle fare.  Do not recommend.  (Then right after I tried When All the Girls Were Gone, which, while less graphic, is about tracking down a rapist.)  I think I’m now out of Krentz/Quick/Castle books that I can borrow online from Big City Library, though the library in the next town does have a ton more in paper that I have not yet read.  And in a few months our local library will be open again!)  The library also had an old Krentz called “Lady’s Choice” which wasn’t that bad even though it was originally published in 1989 and neither the hero nor the heroine were particularly likable.  It was kind of fun in that it turned the hero seeks out the heroine for revenge on her family trope on its head (this is not a spoiler) and it is the first book that I’ve read that starts mid-orgasm.  Probably not worth rereading though.  I also liked a trio of early Castles that have floral women’s names.  They’re set in a world that is similar to but different than the Harmony books– the key differences being that, 1st,  people with powers either have the powers or they can help someone with powers focus their talent, so it takes a pair to do anything substantially paranormal, 2nd, there are no dustbunnies.  But they’re fun nonetheless.  In other Krentz novels, Eye of the beholder was a great (non-paranormal) mystery, and I think I like the Coppersmith books enough that I will have to eventually buy them.  I wonder what it would take for Krentz to write a novella with the gay brother, Nick, as the main character, since the two sisters have gotten full novels.  And what Coppersmith family member would he eventually pair up with?  Oh man, that would be so great.  Krentz was an early romance novelist to add LGBT characters to her novels, and LGBT characters as completely normal people not sassy best friends.  (Nick, in this case is a super sexy thief with paranormal powers.  Just crying for him to pair up with some hunky Coppersmith guy.  Especially since SHE SETS THAT UP in the second, and final, book.)  Sadly she last visited this group in 2013, so it’s probably not going to happen.  :(  If I were super rich, I’d totally talk to her agent to see if I could commission one.  (Update:  I’m fairly sure he would pair up with a guy from the family that is in competition with the Coppersmiths.  Like, it’s all there, just ready to be written.)

I’ve been having trouble getting through Unfit to Print by KJ Charles because although it is high quality, it is also dark and sordid and has child prostitution (not a spoiler because that’s pretty up front), and though it’s never graphic about it it is still disturbing.  The quality of her work taking on these dark subjects is unmistakable, but I so much prefer her (equally high quality, IMO) lighter fare.  Where children aren’t getting abused and family members aren’t betraying each other.   And I guess that’s literally the definition to the plot of Any Old Diamonds, but the children are grown and the abuse is off screen and some of the betrayal is deserved unapologetic revenge betraying.  Speaking of Any Old Diamonds, it is amazingly good– extremely well-plotted (at the end, I texted #2 to tell her it was “splendid”).  You can read it as a one-off, but I think it gains something extra if you read it after reading An Unsuitable Heir, as it is set place in the same world a couple decades later.  If you’re into rereading, then I might suggest reading this one first, then reading the entire sins of the cities series (which is dark and Victorian– I like the third book best… the people in it, even the more minor characters are amazing), then rereading this one to maximize pleasure (reading the first time for the plot which is riveting, the second time to indulge).

Last night with the earl by Kelly Bowen was pretty meh, and the Grace Burrows novella at the end was But Faaaaaaaamily and magical thinking.

I deleted A rake never changes his spots by Samantha Holt.  It was ok, but not worth ever reading again.  Maybe worth a library read if you have a lot of free time and need something brainless.  I mean, it wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t very good either.  I’m a bit mystified by the high reviews.

Salt magic skin magic by Lee Welch was ok, I guess.  I’m really not into that particular supernatural trope, which I can’t tell you about because the book is a big mystery leading up to the unveiling of that particular trope, but I figured it out pretty early because I feel like I’ve read this book before but without a M/M romance and without the main character being a jerk.  Usually it’s a daughter in the trope.  And the mom is always dead dead dead.  (Usually there’s a “or is she” attached.)  Aside from the trope, the writing was good, one of the two leads was great, but the romance wasn’t really believable given the other dude.  There’s a long inner monologue in which the great lead thinks about how great the other guy is…how different from other aristocrats… and the things he’s saying are at odds with what’s actually shown in the book.  Maybe worth trying this author again, I dunno.

I got so many amazing books for my birthday this year!  The kids and I loved Lupin Leaps In.  There’s a lot more substance to this one than to the first Breaking Cat News compendium.  Squirrel Girl continues to be unbeatable!

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert was wonderfully soothing.  More than worth the $2.99 it cost on Kindle.  I need to get the rest of her books now.

House of Cads by Elizabeth Kingston was fun! Part grand sophy, part farce. It has the irrepressible French woman trope but manages not to be obnoxious.

Mrs. Martin’s Incomparable Adventure was pretty good.  Definitely a novella.  And I think the first aging septuagenarian F/F romance in which the couple are the main characters and not minor characters (in which one invariably the heroine’s aunt… in this case, the aunt was aunt to a horrible nephew).

I was excited to see a Cat Sebastian book in the new books section at the library!  Previously the library had been 0/(all of them) for LGBT romances.  I already own this one, of course, because I get all her books when they come out, but I’m so glad that our town has purchased at least this one.

What should I read next, Grumpeteers?

Ask the grumpies: How do you pick which book to read next?

Steph asks:

Most of my postdoc-salary lifestyle inflation has gone to my local indie bookstore, and I waaaay overbought in 2018. My TBR pile has ~30 books, plus at least a dozen graphic novels/comics collections. I find I’m paralyzed with indecision when I confront the pile! How do you pick your new books to read? Any suggestions for wading through a massive TBR stack? (I’m already forbidding myself from most new book purchases for a while, except for a couple new releases like Rebecca Roanhorse’s Storm of Locusts)

#1:  Back when I was a kid, what I would do would be to line up the books I was considering in a grid.  Then I would close my eyes and let fate guide my hand like with a Ouija board.  It always seemed to work out pretty well for me.

Now what I do instead is look at the book on top (either of the literal pile of unread books or on my kindle) and if it looks too hard, I look at the book under it, and so on.  When I’m on the plane and need something easier than what I have in my “new” kindle section (which, in addition to things I’ve gotten from my amazon wishlist, includes a bunch of classics I got from Gutenberg before DC2 was born… which I’m sometimes good with on trips and sometimes are too hard), I will go to the last page of my “read” section and see if there’s anything in there that looks like a pleasant reread.

Personally I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having unread books in the stack.  I’ve had some for decades.  One day they may be what I need, or I’ll actually get to them and decide they’re not ever going to be worth reading all the way through and I’ll pass them on.  I read books for pleasure and not for improvement, so being forced to get through a stack seems like the opposite of fun for me.  Though sometimes I do find unexpected gems when I decide to wade through a pile (which I used to do back when I was sending my unwanted stuff to DH’s relative’s kid, but now have much less incentive to do).

Library books do get a bit of a priority bump because I know they’re going to have to go back.

#2: I use the implicit method of “whichever one I feel like”. I don’t really have a method. Sometimes it’s LIFO sometimes it’s random, sometimes it’s when the next book is out, sometimes I’m reminded of it, sometimes I feel like a fantasy, or a romance, or whatever…. I don’t even know. All of the above, none of the above.

#1: That reminds me.  Sometimes I take a picture of my pile and send it to #2 and ask her which I should read next.  She’s usually right.

#2:  Other suggestions:  Roll some dice.  Pick the nicest cover.  Or the one on the bottom instead of the one on top (FIFO).

What are we reading? Light romance.

I continue wading through everything Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz/Jayne Castle (they’re all the same person).  I have found that the Arcane/Harmony series gets better and better the more of them you read because she adds all sorts of great inside jokes that you start picking up on.  I can see why she’s able to charge $9/kindle book for that series.  Fortunately most libraries seem to have them all.

(#2 adds: I’ve been really digging the Krentz contemporary books in the Arcane Society series.  I’m trying to read the whole thing in order.  #1 has read them out of order and that works too, but she’s definitely planning on trying reading them in order on the reread.  If only they weren’t so expensive!)

While Krentz’s stuff from the 90s is really forward and could have been written in this decade in terms of gender equality and lack of rape (disclaimer:  it seems like any time there’s a mental institution, there’s a past attempted rape, and a few of her historicals have back stories with a bad guy talking about raping one of the minor characters, but not actually ever coming into contact with her, generally because he dies a painful death on his way up the stairs, and in the contemporary Secret Sisters he actually does manage to drag the protagonist out of her house in the prologue before dying a painful death), but her 1985 book Witchcraft, while not anywhere near as bad as any of the Baloghs from the 1980s, really does fit into the crappy alpha male taking away the heroine’s agency theme.  Thankfully she stopped doing that decades ago!  (In her later stuff, sometimes the alpha male hero will attempt to take away the heroine’s agency, but will fail completely because she’s an alpha female.  More often, though, they talk it out and come to joint decisions.)

Finally got off the wait list at the library for Crazy Rich Asians.  It’s great!  One thing I wasn’t expecting were all the helpful footnotes with translations and cultural explanations for things.  Update:  Man the B-story is STUPID.  Soon I’ll start the sequel, China Rich Girlfriend.

#1 got Rafe the Buff Male Nanny and it was as advertised.  Everyone except the ex-husband all behaves so sensibly!  It does kind of end abruptly with an epilogue that ties things together, but I guess if it didn’t she would have to manufacture some unnecessary drama, so this is definitely better than that alternative.

What are y’all reading, Grumpeteers?

What are we getting people for Christmas this year?

DC1:  A set of trick decks for the stocking (DC1 is really into card and coin tricks),

DC2:  Spanish coloring book,  a set of 5 field notebooks and a wellspring flip note (DC2 is really into drawing and list making and notes)

BIL1:  Anti-hero, for the king, and into the breach.  I am told these are steam games.

SIL1:  Usually we get SIL books off her amazon list but this year we only got her Binti:  Home and instead got her the first Timestories game off her wish list because DH really enjoys Timestories.

nephew 1:  A meccano microid and a minecraft plush pig from his amazon wishlist.

niece 1:  We renewed her subscription to the Braille of the Month book club.  Apparently they’ve really been enjoying it.  (The nonprofit provides the books at less than cost, so we also gave them a donation– what a great program.)

BIL2:  We never know what to get for him, so we generally just give an amazon gift card.  This year is no exception.

SIL2:  She had a bunch of stuff for work, mostly craft paper, on her amazon wishlist, so we got that.

nephew 2:  He’s easy to shop for because he’s a similar age to our DC2 and has similar interests, so we got more Magic Treehouse books (our DC2 is not a fan, but our DC1 was, and they were a big hit last year), bad kitty books, and a book of facts that DC2 really enjoyed.

niece 2:  She’s a bit harder because we have to remember what we gave nephew 2 at that age (not to be confused what we gave the other niece and nephew).  Generally we make a list and then ask SIL2 if there are duplicates.  This year we got Go Dog Go, Put me in the Zoo, Big Dog Little Dog,  Sneeches, Green Eggs and Ham, and one fish two fish.

MIL:  Life has gotten easier since she got a wish list!  We got her the Michelle Obama memoir and a non-crisping ninja foodi (so.. basically an instapot?) that is backordered on amazon and may not get there until after January.

FIL:  An instant food thermometer and a gift certificate to Cabela’s.

Sister:  She’s been doing a lot more cooking lately and asked for a bread book, so we got her DH’s current go-do– Bread by Eric Treuille and Ursula Ferrigno.  I would call this a recipe book for the advanced beginner.  It has a lot of really good information (with pictures) about different types of bread, ingredients, and multiple techniques before it gets into the recipes.  It’s not a coffee table book with rich histories like Home Baking, nor is it a trendy artisan bread in 5 min a day, but we learned a lot of techniques from it and it’s got a lot of variety and almost all the recipes we’ve tried have been excellent.  (Exception:  DH notes on the soft pretzel recipe:  THESE ARE NOT PRETZELS, need baking soda.)  We don’t know what else to get her– she has said she will think about what she wants.

Mother:  The local bookstore in her town went out of business, so I guess it is back to Amazon gift cards.

Father:  I’ve given up here.

For #2 I got her a bunch of excellent books off her wish list including three for kindle that I sent her right away because Amazon sucks for gift giving via kindle (stuff stays on the wish list so you might end up with two people buying you the same thing).  I got her Deception by Amanda Quick, KJ Charles’ retelling of the Prisoner of Zenda, and Band Sinister.  The other stuff is still a secret.

 

#2 says:  This year, as with most years, it’s an Icelandic-style bookflood for me.  Though I still have to figure out what to get for DH.

What are we reading in romance?

A Duke in the Night by Kelly Bowen was good!  Not perfect, but good.  I think with some editing and if it were maybe a bit longer it would have been great.

Only one of the Sally MacKenzies I read is worth reading (and not worth owning), and yet I almost read them all (the library didn’t have two of the spinster house books).  I guess that can happen when books are easily available as library ebooks.  Two of them have attempted rape as a plot point (and with a third both the hero and the villain force themselves on the heroine, but it’s somehow ok when the hero does it).  And in The Naked Duke, the bad guy rapes and murders a woman onscreen pretty graphically.  Unnecessary.  Naked king has rape as a backstory. That aside, the author has a small grab-bag of plot-like things to choose from and just randomly pulls for each book.  So much repetition across books.  In case you’re wondering, the only one that wasn’t a drag and actually had some plot was Surprising Lord Jack.  Bonus points on that one for having a hero who respects “no” and isn’t a douche.  It did have a mass murderer who targeted prostitutes and women with bad reputations though, so not completely misogyny trope-free.

Oooh, ooh.  Henchmen of Zenda by K. J. Charles.  We love her.  This improves upon the original.

Song of Blood and Stone by L. Penelope.  It’s a fantasy adventure that feels a lot like a romance (I believe the author has written romance novels before).  I think there’s a sequel out soon, but to me this felt like a complete book that didn’t need one.  Give it a try.

Read a bunch of Sabrina Jeffries.  None worth owning so far.  Lots of the hero kissing the heroine after he’s been told no.  The pleasures of passion starts out with rape as a macguffin.  Yuck.  (That one so far is the only one I quit in the middle– it was just all around not good.  I assume the macguffin’s romance is also in that series, so that’s probably got rape as a backstory which means I won’t even pick it up.)  Update– quit a bunch more in the School for Heiresses series, which has a great premise, but turns out to be chock full of horribleness.  (Brooding jerky kidnapping heroes, ginormous age differences between 17 year old heiresses and the heroes, lots of focus on “innocent but eager” and girls wanting to explore what they read about in a harem book but being soooo innocent, lots of sex after meeting the hero for the second time ever, usually when he turns up someplace super creepy like the heroine’s bedroom in the middle of the night etc., supposedly intelligent but also TSTL heroines and heroes making bizarre choices…, sex as a tool of manipulation except during sex they fall in love etc.)  So… I guess her Duke’s Men series is worth reading and her Hellions of Hallstead Hall series is readable, but not ownable and the rest shouldn’t be bothered with.  Or if you’re just looking at covers:  If there’s a bare female back or a bare male chest, pick it up from the library, otherwise give it a miss.  (I’m guessing that this is probably a date of publication thing– the series that have more skin on the covers also have more feminism inside.)

After a slow start (by which I mean the hero seemed not that great at first), enjoyed A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase enough to put it on my amazon list.  It really felt like the second in a series, but turns out it is the first.  I’m curious about the other two dukes and the aunt, but one of them has the “troubled married couple” trope and the other dude is an alcoholic who doesn’t seem all that bright, but maybe he also has hidden depths that will become apparent.  Or maybe he’ll be the B-story in a book with the aunt and this guy’s uncle as the A-story.

Too Wilde to Wed by Eloisa James had a promising start but then kind of petered out into stupidity.  Worth a library read, possibly.  But I really do want to read the next in the series!

The Doctor’s Discretion by EE Ottoman turned up on a couple of “you must read” lists, so I gave it a spin for $3.99 on kindle.  It starts out really clunky… definitely an early novel in need of professional editing.   But it was on those lists, so I persisted… and it did get much better and was well worth getting through the clunky opening.  Is it worth buying?  I dunno.  It’s definitely not perfect, but it became an enjoyable read.

Amanda Quick’s Deception made me laugh out loud several times and I had to explain why I was laughing to DH.  It is different!  And I love the heroine and her relationship with the hero.  A++ will read again.

What are we reading

Soldier’s Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian!  Cat Sebastian is another author who does regency m/m romances and she’s lighter than KJ Charles, but still good.  I liked her so much I bought all 4 of her books that are out and wishlisted her two forthcoming books.  I wouldn’t recommend buying the first in the Sedgewick series if you can get it at your local library (it had one really well-developed main character but the other main character was more 2-d and not that likable and the plot never really gelled) but the three books in the Turner series were all super wonderful.  A++ Would recommend, will read again.  I started with my favorite rake/bluestocking trope (though in this case the bluestocking is a guy and also the scientist trope), because I tend not to love the books with “soldier” in the title, but in this case the first is probably the best of a really great three book series (which was obvious after meeting the protagonists of the Soldier’s book in the rake’s book).

Jordan L. Hawke was ok.  I liked the first in her Whyborne and Griffin series, Widdershins. It’s about a philologist(?) (Some kind of linguist) who is dealing with growing up being gay in a society where that’s illegal and it’s caused him to be very anti-social and possibly estranged from his family. He tells the early books in first person (the later books alternate between the two protagonists). The second hero is this super handsome private investigator who has stumbled onto something paranormal.  Hawk is not anywhere near as good as KJ Charles; she’s highly derivative–you’ll feel like you’ve read this one before many times BUT her heroes are new, and so sweet.  The first short story was also definitely worth the 99 cents because it was in the first person of the second guy and you get an insight into what he sees in the main character of the novel.  They’re both super insecure and think the other person is amazeballs, and, of course, they’re both right about the other person so… A+++ on romance and character development but B- on plot (I grade generously).  I mean, it’s not like bad or anything, it’s just, you know, derivative but not cleverly enough for my taste.  (Though it is cute that the universities are Arkham and Miskatonic.) Book 7 in the series sticks out as all around good, but the rest of the series after the first book I found myself skipping large chunks, mostly in the middle.  There’s also a LOT of death, much of it gratuitous.   Her Hex series is more interesting in terms of the world-building, but even darker.  So much death.  Those poor redshirts, there to provide Angst and Pathos and to further the plot.

Fool me twice by Meredith Duran had a really strong start– it was gripping and I couldn’t put it down for like the first 40%.  But then it stopped being excellent and was just good.  I’m not sure if I’m going to buy a copy.  Sadly, my library does not have any of the rest in the series, so I’m being forced to buy the rest without pre-reading them, and they’re somewhat more expensive than the $3.99 I’m used to paying.  I did really enjoy the 99 cent first novella in that series, your wicked heart, even though it was pretty silly and only gets 3.5 stars on amazon.  I do wonder about that typing school that makes all its graduates smell like roses even when they haven’t washed or been near any kind of scent in days.  Her heroes also all seem to share an odd fascination with the backs of knees.  That scandalous summer was probably not worth the $7.99 I paid for it, but it was definitely worth a library read if my library had had it.  I enjoyed the heroine in Lady Be Good and am really looking forward to the heroine in Luck Be a Lady (which was already on my amazon list as it’s one of her highest rated books).  See… one of the things with this series is that she gets you super curious about the heroines of future (or previous) books– it’s how she hooks you, and the wealthy auction house owner whose brother is up to no good is extremely compelling in the book that introduces her as that heroine’s boss.  So the series as a whole may be better than the books individually.  So I may end up having to purchase Fool me twice even though it’s $9.  Update:  Luck Be a Lady was fine, but not as good as one would have expected it to be given the build up in Lady Be Good- possibly better if read out of order or with more time in between.  I went ahead and bought the next book in the series too– it’s one of my least favorite tropes, husband and wife are separated early in their marriage by countries because of a misunderstanding and then reunite years later, but in this case the misunderstanding is that she thinks he ran off with a mistress whereas in reality he was kidnapped by a political opponent and put on a prison island for several years.  So… that’s an interesting, and more understandable twist than the usual misheard something while eavesdropping sort.

I liked the second Madeline Hunter Fairbourne quartet book, The conquest of lady cassandra, enough to request the first from the library, but not enough to buy it for my kindle.  The second is probably better after having read the first– the beginning was pretty confusing if you didn’t know the characters already, which I didn’t.

The third Sasha Cottman, The Duke’s Daughter, was so terrible I gave up trying to read it and just skimmed the second half.  Heroine is TSTL, which she was in the first two books too (but she was just the ditzy friend in those), and the hero doesn’t make any sense.  It built him up very well in the beginning and then when the forced marriage drama thing happened he reacted completely differently than he’d been built up to react.  Also she takes his agency away in several cases and he doesn’t seem to mind(?)– we’re talking she tries to give him a sleeping draught without telling him and does things to him in his sleep levels of taking his agency away.  And he’s just like, oh, how horrible a person I must be to make her treat me like this.  Which totally doesn’t make any sense given how he reacted to the forced marriage.  And if they’d just talked things out in the first place… There wouldn’t have been a book I guess.  At least it was only $2.99.  Do not recommend!  I wonder if she lost her editor between books 2 and 3.  Update:  Sasha Cottman is now dead to me—I had another of her books (Not in that series?  About a missionary daughter and a spy?) on a kindle and it was pretty boring and pretty patriarchal with another TSTL heroine but I was on a plane and groggy so I was pushing through…until I hit rape as a backstory.  Pretty unbelievable backstory too.  Flipped to the epilogue in which the missionary mom who encouraged the rape mentions in a letter that the rapist has married her ladies maid and he does whatever his wife tells him to do (despite his use of sexual violence on the heroine and promises to break her of her stubbornness after a forced marriage) and what a happy couple they are.  Just ugh on so many levels.  Unfortunately the book was a gift and it is a pain to get reimbursed from Amazon for gifts but maybe I’ll try anyway.  Should not have put them on my wishlist in the first place.

I’m not naming them here, but in the past 3 months, I have read no fewer than 3 books whose plot twist turns out to be that the heroine(/main character) is the legitimate heir of a bigamist nobleman.  I guess that’s better than carriage accidents, but man, do these people belong to the same plot of the month club?  Or did two of them steal from the first, or did they all steal from some other book I haven’t read yet?

What are you reading?