rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
So, it has been nearly 5 months since I last did one of these.  This is necessarily incomplete because I didn't keep notes, and also because where I did keep notes (e.g. Daily Science Fiction stories), I have way too many to post all at once, so I'll dribble them out over the next weeks.

What I've read: poetry
I Speed Toward The Moon by Constance Hanstedt
At The Forestry Institute, Hanoi by Pepper Trail
Father Son Haiku by Kelvin River
Fallers by Alex Harper

What I've read: short stories
The Family Ghost by Jamie Lackey
Vervain, Grasshopper, Sun by Marissa Lingen
The Thing About Heisenball by Stewart C. Baker
Last Long Night by Lina Rather

While we were in Helsinki I noticed that Lois McMaster Bujold had another Penric novella out - and that it was in the middle of the existing novellas so she'd renumbered the series.  I enjoyed it very much, both for the plot in itself and for the additional worldbuilding about the shamanic and sorcerous magic systems. Then I reread my way through the entire series:
Penric's Demon
Penric and the Shaman
Penric's Fox
Penric's Mission
Mira's Last Dance

What I've read: long fiction
Bookburners: Season 1 by Max Gladstone, Margaret Dunlap, Mur Lafferty and Brian Francis Slattery.  If I'd read this as it was published weekly at Serial Box, I'd probably have listed each episode up in the short-fiction section.  Instead I read one collected ebook with all 16 episodes. A New York police officer ends up getting drawn into a secret society of magical book collectors operating out of the Vatican, and joins the team in hopes of helping her brother.  The overall arc plot gets resolved satisfyingly while leaving an opening for more, and I note that Series 3 is currently unfolding on Serial Box.

I finally read A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet by Becky Chambers and found it pleasant enough but less amazing than some of the hype had led me to believe. It's a good found-family series of minor adventures (in fact, in that sense it reminds me quite a bit of Bookburners) and I'm glad I've read it and will happily read more by Becky Chambers.  But it didn't grab me in the way that e.g. Ancillary Justice or All Systems Red did.

Bewitching Benedict by C.E. Murphy came out last week. It's a historical-romance comedy of manners, which I really enjoyed, especially the grand farcical climax. I am hoping it does well so that the author feels like writing the books to pair off the rest of the eligible bachelors she's introduced here.

Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner is another in her Lively St Lemeston series, this time focusing on a valet and a housemaid who have lost their jobs due to events in the previous books.  There's a good job for both of them in the local rectory, but the vicar insists he only wants a married couple in post. Luckily they fancy each other like mad; it takes them a bit longer to figure out how to solve some trickier conflicts.

What I'm reading next
Well, now my degree is done, anything I like!  Ahahaha. 

A Taste of Honey by Rose Lerner just came out and is waiting on my kindle, which is what prompted me to read Listen to the Moon first. From my long-neglected physical to-read pile, I've pulled out The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik and The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande. 
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Good grief it has been six months since I managed to write one of these! I find I am not reading very much after work and textbooks, and what I do get round to reading for pleasure has been almost entirely fluffy escapist romances, and fanfic (mostly fluffy escapist romantic fanfic). I am very much appreciating the modern world where I can join the mailing lists run by several authors whose books I consistently like, and who are good at sending email notifications that they have something out, or something at a reduced price, and some of whom helpfully recommend other books they have enjoyed.

What I've read

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Penric's Mission by Lois McMaster Bujold
Two further novellas about the characters in Penric's Demon, where several years have elapsed between each one. I like this series very much.

Barking Up The Right Tree by Lilly Grant. A lovely fluffy short contemporary romance about a hunky apple farmer and the bored programmer who freelances as a web designer when not at the day job who makes him a great website for his farm.

Hold Me by Courtney Milan. Second in the Cyclone series, I adored the first, I was very excited about this one, read it through the day I bought it, read it again a few days later, loved it. [personal profile] skygiants wrote a great review of it.

Zero Day Exploit by Cole McCade. I quite liked the geeky setting but was a bit meh about the story.

The Soldier's Scoundrel by Cat Sebastian. A m/m Regency romance with class conflict, a mystery to solve, and a domestic abuser to get rid of. I thoroughly enjoyed this and will definitely look out for more by this author.

Protection, Inc. #1-#4 by Zoe Chant. Bodyguard shapeshifter romances with a "one true mate" trope. They are all shortish novels featuring peril, hurt, comfort, and hot sex, and therefore right up my street.

All or Nothing by Rose Lerner
The Liar's Dice by Jeannie Lin
These are two of the five novellas in a historical romance collection, Gambled Away, which I am enjoying very much. These were the first two in the book, and coincidentally the two by authors I've already read.  They were both excellent; I'm looking forward to the rest of the collection.

Acquisitions this week
Fortune Favours the Wicked by Theresa Romain (recommended by Rose Lerner)
A HumbleBundle of ebooks about astronomy, and another of ebooks about coding games.

Plus 2 seasonal gifts from my brother:
Thors: Battleworld
by Jason Aaron, Chris Sprouse & Goran Sud┼żuka
The Making of Pride and Prejudiceby Sue Birtwistle & Susie Conklin
rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
I read three books this week!  All are historical romances by Rose Lerner, essentially because two of them have been on my private wishlist for a while, and the third (although the first I read) was on sale at 49p and sounded fun.

A Lily Among Thorns is about Serena Ravenshaw, former exclusive courtesan turned innkeeper with a terrifying reputation in London's crime underworld, and Solomon Hathaway, shy chemist and tailor.  Solomon comes to Serena because she has a reputation for finding things, and some heirloom earrings have been stolen from his family.  As they look for the earrings they get sucked into international espionage on the eve of Waterloo.

I enjoyed this very much; I loved that Serena was prickly and frankly scary at times, and that Solomon was shy and gentle but kept finding his courage to stand up to people being rude to Serena.  I also loved his ongoing obsession with people's clothing, and that he keeps not responding to Serena the way he expects (his response to her cross-dressing at one point is absolutely priceless).  The romance and the conflict between them felt real, and arising from their very different personalities and experiences.  (Oh, and there are some non-white and non-straight secondary characters, which is always a breath of fresh air.)

Sweet Disorder and True Pretences are both part of the "Lively St Lemeston" series, that being a small country town in which they are set (and another book to come later this year, I gather).   [personal profile] skygiants has written great reviews of them here and here, (which is why they were on my reading wishlist) but I'll have a go.

Sweet Disorder is the one about an election where there's a widow who can give someone a vote if they marry her; at first she's not interested but then her sister gets into trouble and she needs money.  Essentially, both candidate campaigns offer to bribe her to marry someone on their side.  The Whig is nice but utterly unsuited; the Tory has a young daughter who likes to read, but has horrible politics (and doesn't listen to her); and of course she's actually more interested in one of the matchmakers.

True Pretences is the one about the Jewish con-artist brothers, the younger of whom (Rafe) wants to go straight, so the older one (ash) finds a nice heiress (Lydia) who can't access her money to continue her political work unless she gets married.  All his delicate set up work gets thrown away when Rafe says "hey, so how about a marriage of convenience eh?" and she says "well, it's an interesting thought but actually I might prefer your brother" and Rafe says "fair enough, would do him good" and Ash is all "what? no, it's your nice marriage of convenience" and then the brothers have a big argument and Rafe leaves, but not before angrily telling Lydia about the Jewish con artist part too.  And Lydia thinks about this and says "still need to get married, how about it Ash?"    

And that's just about the first third of the book and the rest is Lydia and Ash convincing her entire social circle that this is totally a whirlwind romance and definitely not a marriage of convenience, and comparing notes on swindling vs political persuasion when you can't vote, and eventually the brothers' wicked past coming back to bite them.

All three books are a lot of fun, and generally warm and engaging and not too much outright villainy.  People are flawed and human rather than Good or Bad.  There's a bit of a theme about sibling and friend relationships being as complicated and difficult and worth sorting out as romantic relationships.  I could see rereading all three of them but think A Lily Among Thorns is my favourite.


rmc28: Rachel smiling against background of trees, with newly-cut short hair (Default)
Rachel Coleman

September 2017

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