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lady narcissa

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  1. On 12/24/2022 at 3:57 PM, Gaston de Foix said:

    Will there be more Shardlake?

    As dog-days mentioned, C.J. Sansom has cancer but as he described it when Tombland came out and he talked about his cancer on his book tour, it's treatable but not curable.  I think he has had it for over 10 years at this point.  At the same time he mentioned he had hopes of writing another book but if he did it would have to be much shorter and less involved than his more recent books.  He gave the impression that writing Tombland was incredibly difficult for him and he was afraid he would never finish it.  So who knows.  I hope he does.

    I did finish J.K. Rowling's most recent Strike novel, The Ink Black Heart, and it is probably my second least favorite of the series.  Lethal White is my absolute least favorite, in fact I hated it, in the series.  This is not nearly that bad but there was a lot I did not like about it including (as I mentioned above) the tweets and DMs as well as the direction of the Robin/Strike relationship.  ( @Datepalm I am quite over them as well!  Actually I was never not over them, this has been an aspect of the series where I have always hoping we never went down that path and that they could just be good friends who work together and have their separate messy relationships with other partners.)  So do not recommend.

    Has anyone read the Gemma James/Duncan Kincaid series by Deborah Crombie?  10 years ago, the kindle version of the 3rd book of the series was on offer so I picked it up and read it and enjoyed it.  Enough so that I was curious to read another or two but not enough to pay $14.99 for the other ebooks.  So I waited and waited and waited and waited and finally 10 years later, four other books in the series finally went on offer for $1.99 and I picked those up and will give them a go in the near future.

  2. I spent most of the weeks around Christmas reading some "cosy" mystery anthologies where people were murdered by egg nog and Yule log cakes.  They made me very hungry and I procured a yule log as a result and thankfully it did not kill any of us.

    I have just started reading Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher which I purchased last year and have been holding on to read this winter solely because of the name.  I've maybe read one Pilcher before and I think she is the sort of author I can read occasionally but not often.  Anyway it took the first 100 pages or so to get to winter and introduce the cast of characters but now we are settled down in snowy Scotland in December where I think the next few hundred pages take place and its quite right for reading at the beginning of January.

  3. 9 hours ago, dog-days said:

    I realise that I'm falling into a trap that writers/librarians/booksellers complain about, in that I'm recommending (Hardinge excepted) the authors I loved when I was young. Still love, to be honest.

    I'm about to do the same thing.  But these are the books I know and love and still enjoy.  And they are also books I've given to 9-12 year olds in recent years and they all enjoyed them so I think they hold up.

    The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper starting with Under Sea, Over Stone

    The Silver Crown by Robert C. O'Brien

    The time quintet by Madeleine L'Engle starting with A Wrinkle in Time

    Tom's Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce

    Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin (a more recent one, so read this as an adult)

    Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede

    The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

  4. On 11/28/2022 at 4:21 AM, Datepalm said:

    Finally, Galbraith/Rowling latest way, way overlong Strike novels...

    ...I still find compelling enough that suddenly I've read 1,200 pages.

    LOL!  I am currently read this.  Almost done.  And this one I am finding overly long and skimming...mainly through the tweets and DMs which are just exhausting.  It's weird to say that a series about murders and sometimes featuring serial killers has generally been an escape but it has for me with its wanderings about London and Cornwall and other English locations.  But this one, with so much of it taking place on the internet has seemed more like my day to day life and mundane and has been less enjoyable for that reason.  I wish more of it had taken place around Highgate Cemetery.  Will comment more on it once I have actually finished it. 

    (I'll just note about the kindle version - there are a lot of 1 star reviews on amazon due to the formatting of the online board chats in the ebook and them being unreadable per the reviews.  For this reason I was unsure about trying to read it on kindle.  But it was on offer for $4.99 over Thanksgiving weekend so I decided to give it a look.  They must have fixed it because you get those in the unreadable font followed by the same text but in normal sized font.)

    I did read the first two books in the Ruth Galloway series after they were available for $1.99 each.  On a whole I am put off by the pricing for the books in the series (most seem typically for $13.99 for kindle ebook which I will not pay for a book that has been out for several years) so I probably won't continue unless any others go on offer.  I like the mysteries and the location and the idea of the series.  But I was really put off by the relationship of the main character with another character.  Which surprised me because normally things like that don't bother me in books.  But for some reason, these particular characters and these circumstances did and gave me not a great feeling for them and the series in general.

    @Datepalm Which Peter May are you trying to read?  I think his Lewis trilogy is the best of his work.  If you try to read the first one The Blackhouse and it isn't clicking, probably move on.  But if you are trying one of his other books, maybe take a look The Blackhouse before writing him off.

  5. @dog-days So glad to hear you enjoyed The Bear and the Nightingale!  And I hope you enjoy the other two in the series when you get to them.  Arden as a writer is good with seasons.  She interestingly followed this series up with a middle grade horror series (which is about the only level of horror reading I can handle) and the first one in that series was a very fall New England read and the second looks to be a very winter read so I probably will take a look at it in January.  (Not recommending the series, just mentioning it in reference to Arden.)

    @Zorral I hope you enjoy The Dark is Rising although I am always nervous when an adult reads it for the first time.  I do find I appreciate rereading it (and the rest of the series for that matter) even more as an adult than I did as a child but sometimes books like this have to be read for the first time as a child in order for them to be later beloved as an adult.

    My wintery reading has been slightly delayed by the fact that I made the mistake of starting the most recent Strike mystery at the beginning of the month and its LONG and has been hogging up my December reading. I hope to finish that in the next day and I am not sure what I will first start with.  A few years ago, a collection of Val McDermaid "chilling" short stories - "Christmas is Murder" - was published with a gorgeous winter cover illustration by the artist Angela Harding.  I'm not necessarily a fan of McDermaid's stories but I love Harding's artwork and I purchased it solely for the cover - because that was cheaper than purchasing one of her prints!  For the past few years I've pulled the book out and sort of displayed it on one of my bookshelves during the winter months.  I'm thinking I might actually try to read some of the stories in it this month.

  6. So I have had two near misses with Covid in the past few months and since I did not get it in either situation its making me almost a bit "I'm never going to get Covid" minded.  But I am the paranoid sort and I don't want to jinx myself so I'll say I feel like I could get it and I've just been lucky so far.

    Back in August one of my co-workers got it.  Three others in the office caught it from him.  I tested myself in the days after but nothing.  Except - my lymph node in my left underarm was very irritated swollen feeling for a week when I would have tested positive if I was going to.  I chalked it up to the vaccinees and boosters and because I was the only person still wearing a mask in the office when interacting with anyone.

    However, my dad came down with Covid last month.  I ate with him every day in the days leading up to him testing positive and in one instance took a drink out of his glass and quite luckily neither my mother nor I caught it.  Again I had the irritated lymph node for a week , however.  But at that point it had been 5 months since my last booster and I was not wearing a mask around my dad so.....who knows! 

    While I might never come down with Covid, I do know I can come down with colds and the flu and I have not had either since 2019 and I have quite enjoyed that so I will just keep on masking when around people in the office and on public transportation and in grocery stores and other germ carrying prone interiors. Plus Chicago in winter can be COLD and I have found masks are way better than wrapping scarves around your face for keeping your face toasty in frigid temperatures, so I'll even wear them outside sometime still.

  7. 9 hours ago, dog-days said:

    I've just read the blurb for Trojan Gold - that's a brilliant set-up for a detective novel. It sounds so much up my street I'm surprised I've never heard of it. Plus, I've been desperately missing German Christmas markets too. The UK tries to imitate them and gets them wrong, mostly in a grotty, depressingly plasticky way.

    Chicago has a Christmas market and its similarly lacking so I completely understand.  I'm glad Trojan Gold has interested you.  I do feel I should warn you, it's in the middle of a series but I do not think its necessary that you read the other books first. I think a decent job is done of updating the reader on any necessary details of characters prior relationships and interactions.  Not to discourage you from reading the others!  I don't know if you have read anything by Elizabeth Peters (also wrote under Barbara Michaels).  She is best known for her Amelia Peabody series which I have also enjoyed. But the Vicky Bliss ones are my favorites, most especially Trojan Gold and Night Train to Memphis.

    I've been doing seasonal reading this fall so I have one more fallish book to finish before I begin any wintery reads.  I've picked up Moominvalley in November which I have not read before but seems perfect for the next day or two.  I never read the Moomin books as a child, they were not available here back then, but have enjoyed reading them as an adult.  This reminds me that Moominland Midwinter is a perfect January read.

  8. 5 hours ago, dog-days said:

    Another book I'd break my rule for in winter is The Dark is Rising.

    Yes, I reread The Dark is Rising every year beginning on the Winter Solstice. I also reread around Christmas another childhood favorite, The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston. And then my third absolute annual Christmas-time reread is not another children's book but Trojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters which makes me desperate to jump on a plane and go to Germany the week before Christmas to visit all the Christmas markets.

    But when I read your first post, before getting distracted by the Dark is Rising reference, I was going to suggest Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield.  I read it a few months ago and found myself wishing I had read it in December.  It takes place over the course of a year but begins and ends at the Winter Solstice and really has its roots in winter. It is fiction set in Victorian England except there are some fantasy elements and some mystery. I found the story in how it wove together a number of plot lines and brought them all together in the end, really satisfying.  (Hoping you have not read this and disliked it!)

    Have you read The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden?  The first of a really excellent trilogy.  Russian fantasy that was billed as YA but its as YA as Naomi Novik Spinning Silver is.  Very wintery and Frost is a character.

    You have probably read them but I do find the Vera books by Ann Cleves very wintery.  When The Darkest Winter came out I think 2 years ago, I saved that for Christmas to read since it was especially Decemberish.  Then the Louise Penny mysteries have a quite a few winter ones with How the Light Gets In and A Fatal Grace coming to mind.  And of course Hercule Poirot's Christmas is nice to revisit every so often.

  9. Is anyone planning on attending?

    Being in Chicago, I could never have fathomed I might consider not attending but of course Covid and crowded indoor situations...  Living here I guess I can be more last minute with my decision.  It's hard to believe that this will be the third Worldcon affected by Covid.  Dublin seems so long ago at this point.

  10. Good healing-get-over-covid-quickly thoughts for Which Tyler's sister and Raja!

    I feel like this month will really be the test for me.  Two people in my office are out of the office with covid this week.  It's a small office so I interacted with both of them.  They both have had it before.  Then I attended the family wedding last weekend and out of 200 people, only 3 of us were wearing masks!  There were good opportunities to spread out in the church and be outside so it wasn't a total petri dish situation but there were moments during the reception, especially when I held my 6 month old 1st cousin who goes to day care.  But I kept my mask on.  So we shall see.  I'm going to be testing to double check.

    (Incidentally - I had mentioned that I would not be eating at the reception and this worked out just great for me.  We stopped for ice cream before the wedding.  And then at the reception the food was apparently horrible so I did not miss out and we just stopped and got burgers on the way home.)

  11. They say children should never pass before their parents and Ivana's mother at 96 is still alive so that must be very hard for her.

    The T name has become so tainted for many these past few years that it's hard to remember before times when we might have had different thoughts.  Ivana was certainly a big and bold personality in her own right in the past.  For a time in NYC you could not escape her in the newspapers and on tv.  She was everywhere.  Then the cheating and divorce from her second husband and the whole media frenzy only increased that.  Of course there was no internet back then and you had to get the news in other ways - I remember picking up the Daily News newspaper every morning for several weeks to find out the latest.  But then after the divorce, she exploded on a bigger national scale.  She got a Vogue cover and a new look and opportunities like a cameo in The First Wives Club movie with her famous catch phrase Don't Get Mad - Get Everything!  And people were rooting for her and she had her moment.  And then time moved on and she became less relevant to the public and only got remembered in connection with her second husband and her children.

  12. Thank you!  Most people I know stopped wearing masks as soon as they could because they found them uncomfortable and hard to breath in.  I personally do not find masks uncomfortable - I found a brand that fits me well and I have no problem keeping them on for long periods of time.  And I found I got used to the breathing in an N95 pretty quick.  Masks have also eliminated an issue for me that I have - I am somewhat allergic to dryness which triggers my Eustachian tube dysfunction and I have found wearing a mask really eliminates this issue for me.  So basically no downsides for me with mask wearing.  Of course, I have no idea if my not getting Covid has anything to do with wearing the mask or if I'm just one of those people who will never get it no matter what.  I'm not willing to stop wearing a mask to find out.

  13. I've been reading a number of mysteries - most of them additional books in series I've previously started - so some more Donna Leon and Ann Cleeves and Tana French.  As well as a reread of an Agatha Christie that is really the first one of her's I've reread as an adult and not enjoyed - The Moving Finger.

    And I read the first Jackson Brodie, Case Histories, mystery which i got after some recommendations in this thread. I enjoyed it and would continue with the rest of the series but for the off putting ebook pricing of the rest!  I'll keep my eye out for special on them but I am not paying $10.99 - $14.99 for a not new ebook no matter how much I would like to read them.  I see there was a tv series made based on them with Jason Isaacs so I got a bit of a chuckle when his character in the book had some thoughts on the Harry Potter series since Isaacs was in the HP movies.

  14. 16 minutes ago, Tywin et al. said:

    I have to ask, given this specific example, is wearing a mask even worth it? I assume you're going to be eating and drinking at some point, and if literally no one else is wearing a mask, what's the point? 

    I will not be eating and drinking.  I'll eat on the way - I have a two hour drive to get there.  And I'll snack after on the way home - I'm bringing Tupperware to take my cake to go!  I honestly would not be even going to this except it's my cousin's wedding and she was supposed to get married in 2020 then postponed till 2021 and now 2022 and she has been depressed and half our family is not attending because they are older and being careful.  So I'll go but wear my color coordinated to my outfit (hot pink!) N95 mask and hope for the best.

  15. I had my second booster shot at the beginning of last week.  I've got a wedding to attend this upcoming weekend and even though I plan on wearing a mask the whole time, I am sure no one else will be so just continuing to do what I can do.  I'm the only one still wearing a mask at work and I think at this point everyone there has had Covid in the past 6 months except me.  I hope my losing streak continues!

  16. Okay so I finished When Blood Lies, the 17th book in the Sebastian St. Cyr series by C.S. Harris.  You only have to look at the dates in the book and location to know where you are headed - March 1815, France.  Overall, it was a satisfactory read as all the books in this series have been.  Not my favorite, however, and it does start dragging midway through the book.  I mean we all know what is going to happen with Napoleon so there is no surprise on that front and its a bit waiting for the inevitable.  Of course Napoleon is not the focus of the story, solving the murders are.  But he does sort of distract and take away the focus from the main story.  I found myself putting down the book and spending more time looking people and events up on the side than usual.  And considering the entire series has been building up to a specific event in this book - a 17 book buildup is a lot of buildup! - that bit ended up being very disappointing. 

    Spoiler

    I mean killing Sebastian's long lost mother off right off the bat like that.  SO DISAPPOINTING!!!!!  I wasn't hoping she'd show up and become a regular character but I felt so bad for Sebastian not getting more time with her.  And that Hendon and Amanda knew where she was this whole time and didn't tell him?  So randomly weird, that seemed like a bit of a retrofit.

    At this point I have decided not to care/worry about Sebastian's father so I don't go through anything more like this.

     But always glad to spend a few evenings wandering around with Sebastian and Hero as they solve murders and wander through interesting locations and learn some small bits of history I didn't know before.

  17. 7 hours ago, dog-days said:

    Just got back from a Q&A with Ben Aaronovitch.

    That sounds so nice! He is probably one of the few authors I have not seen in person who I would like to see.  Thanks for sharing the information.  Very much looking forward to reading all of those should they hopefully get written.  Getting ready to start the newest one tonight.

    I read the latest book in Anne Bishop's Other's series, Crowbones, which came out last month.  It was very much 'Rural' Fantasy, set in the same small town and with the same characters from 2 books ago, Lake Silence.  I had been a bit on the fence about Lake Silence when I first read it but after Crowbones, I went back and reread it and liked it a bit better than before.  I still prefer the original 5 Others books but do enjoy the concept of expanding out into other cities and communities in this alternate Earth in which humans are not the dominant species.  My only criticism is the humans are a bit too good or too bad, there is very little shades of grey in between.  Obviously there are always people who are going to think they can get away with things but there are too many just plain bad and stupid humans.  I'd like to see some more human controlled cities, further away from the Others, and then humans from there having to grasp with the situation after the Others have carried out their more recent human extinction exercise.  Never the less still enjoying this world and will continue to read any further books in the series.

  18. I'm reading that one right now.  I ended up starting that one and holding off on the Donna Leon one because I wanted to know about you-know-who after such a long buildup.  But yes, C.S. Harris is such a consistent writer. Not only does she keep this series coming out regularly, but she wrote some books with her husband and another historical fiction novel at the same time as this series.  I had a chance to chat with her at a conference a few years ago and that was very enjoyable.

  19. @Fragile Bird Sorry, it took me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to reread the first Crescent City and then equally long plus some to read the second one.  It's way too long, there are way too many plot lines and the romance taking over from the urban fantasy dominance of the first one made it less interesting to me.  I just do not like Hunt that much.  The friendships between the characters are probably my favorite part of the series.  Oh you might find this interesting, SJM did a spoiler filled interview about the ending of the second book with some stuff revealed about book 3 which she has finished a first draft of:  

     

  20. I was looking through the reviews on amazon for a new release this week where there would have been a very large print run and was amazed at the number of 1 star reviews - not for the writing but for the physical condition of the book. I've occasionally noticed such reviews before but the large number of them within the first week of release clearly indicates there is a problem with this first printing.

    Over the past two years I've seen a number of articles about issues with getting access to facilities for large print runs and some publication dates being pushed back as a result.  It does seem like such issues could lead to a poorer job with printing and assembling books.  This seems to cover some of the shortage issues.

    https://www.vox.com/culture/22687960/book-shortage-paper-ink-printing-labor-explained

  21. @Fragile Bird I'm going to try to paste some of your quotes from the First Quarter Reading post regarding Crescent City and respond to them here...hopefully they paste over...

    Quote

    And the last chapter is a delightful shocker that I did not see coming, even though, honest to God, I mused about it happening while reading the first book.

    Okay I love spoilers but I was not even seeking them out for the Crescent City series because I just at this point did not care that much but I rather inadvertently saw a spoiler on Instagram so I know what it is.  Let me just say...

    Spoiler

    I am not thrilled about it. I sort of hate when worlds collide like this.  And I am a big fan of series coming to an end instead of spinning off into never ending sagas. And part of me slightly wonders if less people were buying CC than the other two series and if this is a way to suck those readers/buyers in. But we shall see where it goes.

    Quote

    Thank the gods Maas is a demon fast writer and the next book will likely be out in a year, because the cliffhanger is wonderful.

    I almost wonder if we are going to have a long painful wait on this cliffhanger. SJM just had a second baby last week. Plus she sold her house in Pennsylvania, spend 6 months in Hawaii, and moved to California in the past year.  And has also spent the past year working with Ron Moore on the possible Hulu series of A Court of Thorn and Roses books.  I am just going to guess that maybe that will have slowed down with her new book writing.  But maybe she is super woman writer?  I think we got some false expectations set up with her early string of publishing since she did have so many things finished/outlined before her first book was ever published and that allowed for just a domino of publishing books every year like that. But we shall see.

    In any event, I am rereading the first Crescent City book (sorry I cannot for the life of me remember the breath and life and blood titles and just default to the series name) and will report back before starting the second one.

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