Random (but not really)

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The Books of August

Another month of a lot of reading–the weather was hot at the beginning of the month, and then events conspired to keep us at home on weekends towards the end of the month.

I did a fair amount of re-reading this month, mostly historical romances and mysteries. For some reason I’ve been in the mood for books that remind me how glad I am to live in the future.

My recommendations from this month’s reading? Let’s start with Mockingbird. This is marvelous and delightful, but it did take a second reading for me to be way less confused. It is NOT for kids, but it is wonderful. What’s especially fascinating is the contrast between the Mockingbird and New Avengers portion of the second volume. I adore Mockingbird, but have no interesting in reading New Avengers, even if that did help clarify just what had happened to her.

If you like geek heroines, then I highly recommend checking out Courtney Milan. You’ll find an evolutionary biologist (botany), an astronomer, and a suffragette. Plus a fabulous doctor.

If you want characters that are outside the normal heroes and heroines, you’ll find virgin heroes, heroes with dyslexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, a history of substance abuse, and characters with a history of ruin (including a former courtesan), what would be called today autism spectrum disorder, and characters of color and non-WASP ancestry. She really is marvelous.

An unexpected delight was Alissa Johnson’s third book in her Thief-Takers series, A Dangerous Deceit, where the heroine has hearing issues (the previous two books are also marvelous, where the heroines are sisters with a criminal past). And I really enjoyed re-reading Michelle Diener‘s Regency series, which are mysteries with strong and unusual heroines.

And although I listened to the audio version of the second book, if you haven’t read Paul Cornell‘s Shadow Police series, you are truly missing out on some fantastic urban fantasy.

Historical Romance

The Brothers Sinister
The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan
A Kiss for Midwinter (2012) Courtney Milan
The Heiress Effect (2013) Courtney Milan
The Countess Conspiracy (2013) Courtney Milan
The Suffragette Scandal (2014) Courtney Milan
Talk Sweetly to Me (2014) Courtney Milan
The Turner Series
Unveiled (2011) Courtney Milan
Unclaimed (2011) Courtney Milan
Unraveled (2011) Courtney Milan
The Worth Saga
Once Upon a Marquess (2015) Courtney Milan
Her Every Wish (2016) Courtney Milan
Rules of Scoundrels
A Rogue by Any Other Name (2012) Sarah MacLean
One Good Earl Deserves a Lover (2013) Sarah MacLean
No Good Duke Goes Unpunished (2013) Sarah MacLean
Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover (2014) Sarah MacLean
Scandal & Scoundrel
The Rogue Not Taken (2015) Sarah MacLean (6.5/10)

Audio Book

Shadow Police
The Severed Streets: Audio Version (2014/2015) Paul Cornell narrated by Damian Lynch
Soulwood
Blood of the Earth, Audio Version (2016) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam
Curse on the Land, Audio Version (2016) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam

Graphic Novel

Rivers of London: Detective Stories #2: Old Soldiers (2017) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, Luis Guerrero, Gary Erskine, Yel Zamor
Rivers of London: Detective Stories #3: Cry Me a River (2017) by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, Luis Guerrero
Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain (2016) Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Ibrahim Moustafa, Joelle Jones (9/10)
Mockingbird Vol. 2: My Feminist Agenda (2017) Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, Rachelle Rosenberg (8/10)

Historical Mystery

The Thief-Takers
A Talent for Trickery (2015) Alissa Johnson
A Gift for Guile (2016) Alissa Johnson
A Dangerous Deceit (2017) Alissa Johnson (8.5/10)
Regency London
The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012) Michelle Diener
Banquet of Lies (2013) Michelle Diener
A Dangerous Madness (2014) Michelle Diener

Mystery

Inspector Montalbano
A Nest of Vipers (2013/2017) Andrea Camilleri translated by Stephen Sartarelli (written in 2008) (7/10)

Supernatural Romance

The Edge
Steel’s Edge (2012) Ilona Andrews

As usual, I read (or re-read) mostly eBooks, with the paper exceptions being comics, which I strongly prefer in paper format, since I miss a lot of things otherwise (I can’t really get the whole page with ebooks, and it’s a PITA to flip back and forth to check things.)

Trade Paperback: 2
eBook: 26
Audio: 3

Multiple Formats: 5
Re-read: 24

Genre-wise, it was a LOT of historicals this month.

Fantasy: 7
Mystery: 10
Romance: 22
Comic: 4

And this was the month female authors caught back up (what with all the historicals).

Male: 4 (39% for the year)
Female: 24 (41% for the year)
Joint + Anthology: 3

And that wraps up the books of August.

Written by Michelle at 9:31 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
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Monday, August 7, 2017

The Books of July!

Where on earth did the summer go? Jeesh.

Favorite reads of the month were actually a lot of newly published books. (Although there was plenty of re-reading.)

Cold Reign by Faith Hunter is the latest Jane Yellowrock book, and I do love that series. The Furthest Station by Ben Aaronovitch, which is the latest novella in the Rivers of London series. Which I also love. Which means I also loved Rivers of London Volume 3: Black Mould by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, which is the comic series. And finally Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris, which is the latest in the Sebastian St Cyr series.

Historical Mystery

Some Danger Involved (2004) Will Thomas
Sebastian St Cyr
Where the Dead Lie (2017) C.S. Harris

Supernatural Fantasy

Rivers of London
The Furthest Station (2017) Ben Aaronovitch
Jane Yellowrock
Cold Reign (2017) Faith Hunter

Supernatural Romance

Hidden Legacy
Burn for Me (2014) Ilona Andrews
White Hot (2017) Ilona Andrews
Wildfire: A Hidden Legacy Novel (2017) Ilona Andrews
The Edge
On the Edge (2009) Ilona Andrews
Bayou Moon (2010) Ilona Andrews
Fate’s Edge (2011) Ilona Andrews

Comics

Rivers of London Volume 3: Black Mould (2017) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan
Princeless Vol. 1: Short Stories Collection
Princeless: Make Yourself

So I mostly read eBooks this month, although two of the comics were in paper format. And there were six re-reads, because I’m in one of those funks where I don’t know what I want to read.

Genre-wise, a bit more variety this month.

Fantasy : 10
Romance : 6
Comic : 3
Mystery : 2
YA : 2

The romance was all supernatural romance, and all Ilona Andrews. Which is perfectly fine.

Male didn’t pull ahead that much, but female authors didn’t particularly catch up, since half of what I read was Ilona Andrews, which is a jointly written series.

Male : 3
Female : 2
Anthology : 2
Joint : 6

And those are the books of July. My favorite books were the latest additions to series, so I don’t recommend starting there. But there are plenty of books out there, and you can always start those series I love!

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Saturday, July 22, 2017

Where Are All the Women Authors? Again with This?

It seems that yet another white male is saying there are a lack of female authors in SFF, so that’s why SFF movies by women just don’t get made.

No, I shan’t line to the original article, but here is the discussion I came across: Stop Erasing Women’s Presence in SFF

Interestingly, most of the comments are people boggled by the writer of the original article not being aware of, say, JK Rowling. And then the commenter goes off to list their favorite five or ten female authors. There are a LOT of different female authors listed throughout that thread.

So this is where I once again completely geek out.

I read a LOT. You know that.

I also love geeking out. You know that too.

So you might remember that years ago (good grief, 14 years ago) I started keeping track of the books I read, and then later started tracking various information about those books–the gender of the author, the genre of the books, etc.

That means that I have a LOT of data on my personal reading habits. Which I love to manipulate. (Because: geek)

I know this is a confusing chart–I’m looking at two different types of data so I pared things down quite a bit. Here’s how to understand what you’re looking at.

The stacked bar charts are showing the gender of the author: women on the top, men on the bottom, multi-author books in the middle. That pink slice? Women who write under male pseudonyms.

You can see that I tend to read more female authors than male authors in any given year, but that sometimes I read more books written by men, but at no time have less than 40% of the books I’ve read been written by women.

The lines are the genre of the book of read. You can see that I predominantly read fantasy (Green line), but I also read a lot of mystery (red line). As romance is predominantly written by women, that line is pink. (Don’t try to figure out the numbers here, a book can have multiple genres–FREX I have a have a deep love for supernatural mysteries.)

So what is the point of this? It shows you that I read predominantly female authors, and the majority of my reading tends to be fantasy (although some years mysteries win out.)

Yes, I do re-read books a lot, but I am not re-reading the same fantasy book by the same female author over and over again (I rarely re-read them same book twice in a year).

It also shows that genre and gender are relatively independent. Yes, romance novels are mostly written by women. Yes, most comics are written by men. But since most of my reading is of fantasy and mystery, those categories are gender independent.

I have also complied a list of female authors I have read, across all genres.

That list currently has 275 authors on it. If you’re looking for something to read by a female author, I think you’d be able to at least one book on that list you’d like.

So next time some guy says there aren’t any good female authors, you can assure them there are quite a few, and perhaps recommend one or twenty books for them.

Written by Michelle at 5:15 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Geek  

Monday, July 3, 2017

The Books of June

Why yes, I have been hiking a lot, so not that many books this month.

Best books of the month? I’d say Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley is the sequel to The Rook and just as good. The other was Passionate Minds: Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire, and the Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment by David Bodanis which I really enjoyed.

Graphic Novel

Mockingbird Vol. 2: My Feminist Agenda (2017) Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk
Rivers of London: Detective Stories #4.1 (2017) Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, Luis Guerrero, Mack Chater
Princeless Vol. 4: Be Yourself (2015) Jeremy Whitley, Emily Martin and Brett Grunig

Fantasy

Stiletto (2016) Daniel O’Malley

Threads of Malice
(2005) Tamara Siler Jones

Non-Fiction

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist (1994) Dr. William Maples
Passionate Minds: Emilie du Chatelet, Voltaire, and the Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment (2006) David Bodanis

Audio Books

Sanibel Flats (1990/2010) Randy Wayne White narrated by  Dick Hill
Legion: Skin Deep, Audio Version (2014) Brandon Sanderson narrated by  Oliver Wyman

How did things break down?

Ebooks and audio books, although a single paper graphic novel snuck in there.

Trade Paperback: 1
eBook: 6
Audio: 2

Genre-wise there was a fair amount of variety this month.

Fantasy: 5
Mystery: 2
Comic: 3
Non-Fiction: 2
History: 1

Male authors are still ahead. We’ll see how the rest of the year pans out.

Male: 6
Female: 2
Anthology: 1

Written by Michelle at 3:54 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
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Sunday, June 4, 2017

The BOOKS of MAY

Yup, the weather definitely changed this month so we were able to get out and go hiking. That’s not a bad thing, because I love to hike. Just means I read fewer books this month.

So, I can’t say that I read a lot of excellent books this month. I’ve been trying to finish the Elvis Cole series, but the later books are often Joe Pike books, and the last book I read just… it wasn’t what I wanted out of an Elvis Cole book.

I re-read Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love by Dava Sobel which was excellent. I believe there is a fair amount of misunderstanding about Galilelo’s Catholic faith. This book–which contains letters his daughter wrote to him–makes it clear that despite his treatment by the Catholic hierarchy, he never lost his faith in God, or even in the Catholic church as an institution. Which is what makes the story so fascinating.

Mystery

Elvis Cole & Joe Pike
The Forgotten Man (2005) Robert Crais
The Watchman (2007) Robert Crais
Chasing Darkness (2008) Robert Crais
The First Rule (2010) Robert Crais
The Sentry (2011) Robert Crais
Taken (2012) Robert Crais

Non-Fiction, History and Science

Galileo’s Daughter: A Historical Memoir of Science, Faith and Love (1999) Dava Sobel

Audio Books, Mystery

The Shape of Water, Audible Version (1994/2006) Andrea Camilleri narrated by Grover Gardner
Spenser
Looking for Rachel Wallace, Audio Version (1980/1987) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
A Savage Place, Audio Version (1981/1987) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
Early Autumn, Audio Edition (1981/1992) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard

Stats wise, as I said, we were finally able to really go hiking this month, so I read only (HA!) eleven books this month. And four of them are audio books that I listen to while we travel or while I walk.

As far as genre, except for Dava Sobel’s book, everything else was mystery.

And male authors caught up more this month, with only that single book by a female author. That puts male authors ahead 52 to 40 so far this year. However, I think I am done trying to finish Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole series, so we’ll see how that changes things in the coming months.

Thus closes May’s reading.

Written by Michelle at 9:00 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
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Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Books of April

My reading was NOT out of control in April, although I did still read quite a bit–sixteen books. But that’s because I’m me.

This month still had a lot of re-reads, but that’s mostly because I found several series I’d been wanting to re-read available from Overdrive with a WV library card. (SCORE!)

As for new books, I quite liked the newest Brunetti mystery by Donna Leon, Earthly Remains. I don’t think this is a good book for someone not familiar with the series, but for a long-time reader of the series, I really enjoyed this book. I also finally read the fifth book of Sergei Lukyanenko‘s Night Watch series–I still have to read the sixth and final book, but I wanted to mull over the fifth book before reading the last.

I finally got around to reading Ilona Andrews‘s Magic Stars, which is a lovely gift to long-time readers of the Kate Daniels series, but I’m not sure it’d be a good entrance for newbies.

Mystery

Guido Brunetti
Earthly Remains (2017) Donna Leon (Rating: 8/10)

Peter & Rina Drecker by Faye Kellerman
Grievous Sin (1993), Sanctuary (1994), Justice (1995)

Elvis Cole by Robert Crais
Sunset Express (1996), Indigo Slam (1997), L.A. Requiem (1999), The Last Detective (2003)

Fantasy, Urban

Grey Wolf
Magic Stars (2015) Ilona Andrews (Rating: 8/10)

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko translated by Andrew Bromfield
Night Watch (1998/2006), Day Watch (2000/2006), Twilight Watch (2006/2007), The Last Watch (2009)
New Watch (2012/2013) (Rating: 8/10)

Audio Books

Promised Land, Audible Edition (1976/1987) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard
The Judas Goat, Audible Version (1978/1987) Robert B. Parker narrated by Michael Prichard

Now, onto the stats!

14 ebooks & 2 audio books. 10 of those stories were re-reads, and seven of those books I own in multiple formats. (With the death of Shelfie, the number of ebook purchases when I already own the paper format is going to go down pretty solidly.)

Genre had 10 mysteries and 6 fantasies.

Gender sees male authors catching up for the year, with 11 male authors, 4 female authors, and one jointly-written book. That puts men up 44:39 for the year. That trend will probably hold for awhile, while I finish the Elvis Cole series, but I new Jane Yellowrock book did just come out, and that might shift what I want to read.

And those are the books of April!

Written by Michelle at 7:06 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The Books of March

I was out of control in March. Seriously. The weather was mostly crap, so there was little hiking, and it felt like it rained most of the time, so even getting out to walk was unlikely. I read so much I’m not even going to tell you the number, because it’s ridiculous.

Why? Because I went on a binge to catch-up on as well as re-read several series. I re-read and finished Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty series, I got caught up (excluding the most recently book) Ilona Andrew’s Kate Daniel’s series. I’ve started re-reading Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole series, and I’ve begun (finally) Faye Kellerman’s Drecker and Lazarus series. (I finally went back and got another library card, and have been using Overdrive for a lot of books, which is AWESOME.)

So what was good? I really enjoyed the start of the Rat Queens comic series, even if book three went off the rails. I also finished Princess Ugg, and got caught up on the latest Rivers of London. I finally read (and loved) Randall Munroe’s What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions. It’s a delight.

And I finally got around to reading Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook, which I very much enjoyed.

And I’m now all caught-up on listening to Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock series, and have shifted to listening to Robert B Parker’s Spenser series while I walk.

Mystery

Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus – Faye Kellerman
The Ritual Bath (1986), Sacred and Profane (1987), Milk and Honey (1990), Day of Atonement (1991), False Prophet (1992)
Elvis Cole – Robert Crais
The Monkey’s Raincoat (1987), Stalking the Angel (1989), Lullaby Town (1992), Free Fall (1993), Voodoo River (1995)

Historical Romance / Mystery

Dark Angel (1994) Tracy Grant
Shores of Desire (1997) Tracy Grant
Mission for a Queen (2016) Tracy Grant

Supernatural Fantasy

Salsa Nocturna: A Bone Street Rumba Collection (2012) Daniel José Older
The Rook (2012) Daniel O’Malley
Kate Daniels –  Ilona Andrews
Magic Bites (2007), Magic Burns (2008), Magic Strikes (2009), Magic Bleeds (2010), Magic Slays (2011), Magic Gifts (2011), Kate Daniels Short Stories
Gunmetal Magic (2012), Magic Rises (2013), Magic Breaks (2014), Magic Shifts (2015)
Kitty the Werewolf – Carrie Vaughn
Kitty and The Midnight Hour (2005), Kitty Goes to Washington (2006), Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007), Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2008), Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand (2009), Kitty Raises Hell (2009), Kitty’s House of Horrors (2010), Kitty Goes to War (2010), Kitty’s Big Trouble (2011), Kitty’s Greatest Hits (2011), Kitty Steals the Show (2012), Kitty Rocks the House (2013), Kitty in the Underworld (2013), Low Midnight (2014), Kitty Saves the World (2015)

Fantasy

The Phoenix Guards (1991) Steven Brust

Comics

Rat Queens Vol. 2: Far Reaching Tentacles of N’rygoth (2015) Kurtis J Wiebe, Roc Upchurch, Stjepan Sejic
Rat Queens Volume 3: Demons (2016) Kurtis J. Wiebe, Tamra Bonvillain, Tess Fowler
Princess Ugg Volume 2 (2015) Ted Naifeh, Warren Wucinich
Mockingbird Vol. 1: I Can Explain (2016) Chelsea Cain, Joelle Jones, Ibrahim Moustafa, Kate Niemczyk
Rivers of London Volume 3: Black Mould (2017) Ben Aaronovitch

Non-Fiction

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions (2014) Randall Munroe

Audio

Shadow Rites, Audible (2016) Faith Hunter narrated by Khristine Hvam

I read twice as many female authors as male authors last month, but the Robert Crais run is going to shift that back again for April.

Oh, I did read three mass-market paperback books, so I could finish the Kitty series, and the comics were trade paperback. So some paper this month, but only because I couldn’t find electronic copies of the books and was determined to get caught up.

Written by Michelle at 4:56 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Celebrating Women Who Write

Since it’s International Women’s Day, here are some recommended books written by women!

First, lemme natter on a bit about a couple of the authors.

Patricia C. Wrede writes primarily young adult fantasy, however, don’t let the modifier “young adult” put you off. That simply means it’s fantasy without any boinking. She has an amazing series set in a magical United States, where the founding fathers created a barrier along our Mississippi to keep out the dangerous magical creatures. Eff is the thirteen child in her family, and her twin brother is a seventh son of a seventh son. The first book is Eff’s young childhood, but the other two books are her teenage and adulthood. It’s an absolutely lovey series with amazing world building.

Megan Whalen Turner also writes YA fantasy where the YA means to me there just isn’t any boinking. The first and fourth books are my favorite–the first being almost perfect. A young thief is pulled from prison to see if he can help with the recovery of a magical item. Even after multiple readings, the surprises in this book and series take my breath away.

Kate Ross was a lawyer who wrote four books in her Julian Kestrel historical mystery before she lost her life to cancer. Julian is a dandy who gets inadvertently involved in murders. But it is so much more than that. Grandmom also loved this series.

C.S. Harris writes another historical mystery series that I adore. Sebastian St Cry has returned from the Napoleanic wars with what would today be considered PTSD. Two unfortunate accidents made him the heir, but it’s only when he is accused of murder that he awakens to some degree fro his dissolution. This series has had some incredible twists and turns.

I’ve got only one female author who writes a modern police mystery that I adore, and that’s Donna Leon. Her series is set in Venice, and I love these glimpses of a place that is disappearing.

I categorize books as historical fantasy if they are set in a past and/or place that didn’t exist, or feels much like our own past would (if our past had magic). Ellen Kushner‘s Swordspoint has only the magic of her writing, and is one of my all-time favorite books.

I read a lot of urban and supernatural fantasy and there are some very good series out there (many of which I’ve noted below) but I’m going to point out the women who are doing something different from the vampire/werewolves bits that make up much of supernatural fantasy.

First is Jane Lindskold. Her characters are not warriors who fight monsters, but instead have to figure out who they are and how they came to be where they are. I adore her writing.

The other urban fantasist author I want to make note of is Nina Kiriki Hoffman. Her Fistful of Sky is another of my all-time favorite books. It has magic hiding under the surface of our world, which means that humans with magic have to learn how to fit into that world without giving away secrets. Her stories are often based around family, which adds to their complexity.

For straight up historicals, I really love Diana Gabaldon‘s Lord John series. I can’t read her Outlander, because I can’t stand time-travel stories, but Lord John is a soldiers whose only anomaly is being a homosexual in a time and place where it would mean his death if he were caught. She’s tried very hard to get the historical bits as accurate as possible, which makes the series all the more fascinating to me.

Tracy Grant also writes as Teresa Grant, and has two main series, one of which is primarily romance with bits of mystery, and the other is mostly historical mystery, with a married couple who are keeping secrets from each other. Many of the latter stories were written out of the story chronology order, so you can in many cases read them books in any order you wish.

But all of these authors are very good, and you can almost certainly find something you’ll like in the list below:

Fantasy, YA

Historical

Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
Sorcery & Cecelia -OR- The Enchanted Chocolate Pot (1988), The Grand Tour (2004), The Mislaid Magician or Ten Years After (2006)

Patricia C. Wrede
A Matter of Magic (2010): Mairelon the Magician (1991) and The Magician’s Ward (1997)
Frontier Magic: Thirteenth Child (2009), Across the Great Barrier (2011), The Far West (2012)

Megan Whalen Turner
The Thief (1996), The Queen of Attolia (2000), The King of Attolia (2006), A Conspiracy of Kings (2010)

Urban / Supernatural

Susan Bischoff
Talent Chronicles: Hush Money (2010), Impulse Control (2011), Heroes ‘Til Curfew (2011)

Lish McBride
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer (2010), Necromancer: A Novella (2011), Necromancing the Stone (2012)

Historical Mystery

Agatha Christie
Miss Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage (1930), The Body in the Library (1942), The Moving Finger (1943), The Thirteen Problems (1928, 1929, 1930, 1933), A Murder Is Announced (1950), Murder with Mirrors (1952), A Pocketful of Rye (1953), 4:50 from Paddington (1957), The Mirror Crack’d (1962), A Caribbean Mystery (1964), At Bertram’s Hotel (1965), Nemesis (1971), Sleeping Murder (1976), Miss Marple: The Complete Short Stories (2013)

Kate Ross (British 1820s)
Julian Kestrel: Cut to the Quick (1993), A Broken Vessel (1994), Whom the Gods Love (1995), The Devil in Music (1997)

C.S. Harris (England 1810s)
Sebastian St. Cyr: What Angels Fear (2005), When Gods Die (2006), Why Mermaids Sing (2007), Where Serpents Sleep (2008), What Remains of Heaven (2009), Where Shadows Dance (2011), When Maidens Mourn (2012), What Darkness Brings (2013), Why Kings Confess (2014), Who Buries the Dead (2015), When Falcons Fall (2016)

Deanna Raybourn (England 1887)
Veronica Speedwell: A Curious Beginning (2015), A Perilous Undertaking (2017)

Candace Robb (England 1360s)
Owen Archer Mysteries: The Apothecary Rose (1993), The Lady Chapel (1994), The Nun’s Tale (1995), The King’s Bishop (1996), The Riddle of St. Leonard’s (1997), A Gift of Sanctuary (1998), A Spy for the Redeemer (2002), The Cross-Legged Knight (2006), The Guilt of Innocents (2006), A Vigil of Spies (2008)

Anna Lee Huber (Britain 1830s)
Lady Darby: The Anatomist’s Wife (2012), Mortal Arts (2013), A Grave Matter (2014), A Study in Death (2015), A Pressing Engagement (2016), As Death Draws Near (2016)

Madeline E. Robins (London 1810)
Sarah Tolerance: Point of Honour (2003), Petty Treason (2004), The Sleeping Partner (2012)

Mystery, Police

Donna Leon (Venice)
Commissario Guido Brunetti: Death at La Fenice (1992), Death in a Strange Country (1993), Dressed for Death (1994), Death and Judgment (1995), Acqua Alta (1996), Quietly in Their Sleep (1997), A Noble Radiance (1998), Fatal Remedies (1999), Friends in High Places (2000), A Sea of Troubles (2001), Willful Behavior (2002), Uniform Justice (2003), Doctored Evidence (2004), Blood from a Stone (2005), Through a Glass, Darkly (2006), Suffer the Little Children (2007), The Girl of His Dreams (2008), About Face (2009), A Question of Belief (2010), Drawing Conclusions (2011), Beastly Things (2012), The Golden Egg (2013), By its Cover (2014), Falling in Love (2015), The Waters of Eternal Youth (2016)

Fantasy, Historical

Ellen Kushner
Swordspoint (1987), The Fall of the Kings (2002), The Privilege of the Sword (2006)
Thomas the Rhymer (1990)

Susanna Clarke (Napoleanic era, magic, fey)
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004)

Sarah Zettel (Camelot)
Paths to Camelot: In Camelot’s Shadow (2004), For Camelot’s Honor (2005), Under Camelot’s Banner (2006), By Camelot’s Blood (2008)

C.E. Murphy (Regency England, magic)
Magic and Manners (2016)

Fantasy, Supernatural

Faith Hunter (Vampires, werewolves, witches, shifters)
Jane Yellowrock: Skinwalker (2009), Blood Cross (2010), Mercy Blade (2011), Cat Tales: Four Stories from the World of Jane Yellowrock (2011), Raven Cursed (2012), Have Stakes Will Travel (2012), Death’s Rival (2012), Blood Trade (2013), Jane Yellowrock World Companion (2013), Black Arts (2014), Broken Soul (2014), Dark Heir (2015), Blood in Her Veins (2016), Shadow Rites (2016)
Soulwood: Blood of the Earth (2016), Curse on the Land (2016)

Jeaniene Frost (vampires)
Night Huntress: Halfway to the Grave (2007), One Foot in the Grave (2008), At Grave’s End (2009), Destined for an Early Grave (2009), This Side of the Grave (2011), One Grave at a Time (2011)
Night Huntress World: First Drop of Crimson (2010), Eternal Kiss of Darkness (2010)
Night Prince: Once Burned (2012), Twice Tempted (2013), Bound by Flames (2015)

Patricia Briggs (werewolves, shifters, fey, witches, vampires)
Mercy Thompson: Moon Called (2006), Blood Bound (2007), Iron Kissed (2008), Bone Crossed (2009), Silver Bourne (2010), River Marked (2011), Frost Burned (2013), Night Broken (2014), Shifting Shadows: Stories from the World of Mercy Thompson (2014), Fire Touched (2016)
Alpha and Omega: On the Prowl (2007), Cry Wolf (2008), Hunting Ground (2009), Fair Game (2012), Dead Heat (2015)

Jane Lindskold (magic)
Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls (1994), The Buried Pyramid (2004), Child of a Rainless Year (2005)

Carrie Vaughn (werewolves, vampires)
Kitty Norville: Kitty and the Midnight Hour (2005), Kitty Goes to Washington (2006), Kitty Takes a Holiday (2007), Kitty and the Silver Bullet (2007), Kitty and the Dead Man’s Hand (2009), Kitty Raises Hell (2009), Kitty’s House of Horrors (2010), Kitty Goes to War (2010), Kitty’s Big Trouble (2011), Kitty’s Greatest Hits (2011), Kitty Steals the Show (2012), Kitty Rocks the House (2013), Kitty in the Underworld (2013), Low Midnight (2014)

Lisa Shearin (fey, magic, magical creatures, law enforcement)
SPI Files: The Grendel Affair (2013), The Dragon Conspiracy (2015), The Brimstone Deception (2016), The Ghoul Vendetta (2017)

Rob Thurman (monsters, fey, immortals)
Cal Leandros: Nightlife (2006), Moonshine (2007), Madhouse (2008), Deathwish (2009), Road Kill (2010), Blackout (2011), Doubletake (2012), Slashback (2013), Downfall (2014)
Trixa: Trick of the Light (2009), The Grimrose Path (2010)
Korsak Brothers (science fiction): Chimera (2010), Basilisk (2011)

Liz Williams (gods, demons, law enforcement)
Detective Inspector Chen: Snake Agent (2005), The Demon and the City (2006), Precious Dragon (2007), The Shadow Pavilion (2009), The Iron Khan (2010)
Emma Bull
War for the Oaks (1987), Territory (2007)

Nina Kiriki Hoffman (magic)
A Fistful of Sky (2002)

Romance, Historical

Courtney Milan (boinking)
(1840s) Unclaimed (2011), Unraveled (2011)
The Brothers Sinister (1860s): The Duchess War (2012), The Heiress Effect (2013), A Kiss for Midwinter (2012), The Suffragette Scandal (2014)

Carla Kelly (England, early 1800s, boink-free)
Miss Grimsley’s Oxford Career (2012), Summer Campaign (2012), Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand (2012)

Isabel Allende
Zorro (2005) translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

Lucia St. Clair Robson (Japan 1702)
The Tokaido Road (1991)

Georgette Heyer (boink-free)
These Old Shades (1926), The Masqueraders (1928)

Laura Kinsale (boinking)
Midsummer Moon (1987)

Diana Gabaldon (England, late 1750s, boinking)
Lord John: Lord John and the Private Matter (2003), Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade (2007), Lord John and the Hand of Devils (2007), The Custom of the Army (2012), A Plague of Zombies (2012)

Michelle Diener (boinking, mystery)
Regency London: The Emperor’s Conspiracy (2012), Banquet of Lies (2013), A Dangerous Madness (2014)
Susanna Horenbout and John Parker (England 1525): In a Treacherous Court (2011), Dangerous Sanctuary (2012), Keeper of the King’s Secrets (2012)

Alissa Johnson (England, 1872, boinking, mystery)
A Talent for Trickery (2015), A Gift for Guile (2016)

Tracy Grant (mystery, boinking)
The Lescaut Quartet (Europe 1810s): Dark Angel (1994), Shores of Desire (1997), Shadows of the Heart (1996), Rightfully His (1998)
Charles & Melanie Fraser / Malcom & Suzanne Rannoch (Napoleonic Europe): Beneath a Silent Moon (2003), The Mask of Night (2011), The Paris Affair (2013), The Paris Plot (2014), The Berkeley Square Affair (2014), London Interlude (2015), The Mayfair Affair (2015), Incident in Berkeley Square (2015), London Gambit (2016)

Non-Fiction

Mary Roach
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers (2003), Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife (2005), Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal (2013), My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places (2013)

Jenny Lawson
Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) (2012)

Ruth Reichl
Tender at the Bone (1998)

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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

The Books of February

Weather was pretty much horrible most of this month, so I did a lot of reading. Mind you, the tail end of that was comics (which are shorter) but I also read a lot of new books.

So what was good this month? Honestly, most everything.

Mystery had be finishing the Erlendur series by Arnaldur Indridason. The final book was excellent–I very much enjoyed the series, and the glimpse into a non-English speaking country. I also read the first two Veronica Speedwell books by Deanna Raybourn, which were good (I got fed up with her other series and stopped reading. So far this one doesn’t have the bits that irritate me about the other series.)

All the new books I read that were part of an ongoing series were excellent. Daniel José Older concluded his Bone Street Rumba, and it was of course excellent (there are other books set in this world, even if the main arc for Carlos is done). Ben Aaronovitch‘s newest Rivers of London was long delayed, but I didn’t mind the wait. Lisa Shearin‘s latest SPI Files was also a fun romp. And then there was Paul Cornell‘s latest Shadow Police. The last three are all supernatural police books, but all three are as different as it’s possible to be. And all three were thoroughly enjoyable. If you don’t like dark, avoid the Shadow Police, if you don’t like lighter romps, skip the Lisa Shearin.

And then there were the comics.

If you have not read Princeless, then you must immediately stop what you are doing and go find a copy. ESPECIALLY if you have small people in your life. Princeless is a delightful take on the princess trapped in a tower fairy tale trope. It’s truly lovely–the first book was a ten for me.

Along a similar vein is Princess Ugg, which is more for older kids and younger teens, and I liked it quite a bit.

And then for something completely different AND NOT FOR KIDS was Rat Queens, which I really really liked. I said not for kids, yes? I mean it. It’s a snarky RPG story with sex and drinking and drugs and I really liked it.

Fantasy, Supernatural

Battle Hill Bolero (2017) Daniel José Older (Bone Street Rumba) (8.5/10)
The Hanging Tree (2017) Ben Aaronovitch (Rivers of London) (8.5/10)
The Ghoul Vendetta (2017) Lisa Shearin (SPI Files) (9/10)
Who Killed Sherlock Holmes (2016) Paul Cornell (Shadow Police) (8/10)

Comics

Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass & Sorcery (2013) Kurtis Wiebe and Roc Upchurch (9/10)
Princess Ugg Vol. 1 (2014) Ted Naifeh and Warren Wucinich (8/10)
Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: Blood (2012) Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins
Thor Vol. 2: Who Holds the Hammer? (2016) Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matthew Wilson, Jason Aaron, Noell Stevenson, CM Punk
Mighty Thor Vol. 1: Thunder in her Veins (2017) Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

Comics, Kids

Princeless
Princeless: Vol. 1: Save Yourself (2012) Jeremy Whitley and Mia Goodwin
Princeless, Vol 2: Get Over Yourself (2014) Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin
Princeless Vol 3: The Pirate Princess (2014) Jeremy Whitley, Rosy Higgins, Ted Brandt

Lumberjanes Vol. 1 Beware the Kitten Holy (2015) Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Brooke A Allen

Mystery, Historical

Veronica Speedwell
A Curious Beginning (2015) Deanna Raybourn (8.5/10)
A Perilous Undertaking (2017) Deanna Raybourn (7.5/10)

Mystery, Police

Erlendur
Voices (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder
The Draining Lake (2004/2007) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder
Arctic Chill (2005/2009) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder and Victoria Cribb
Hypothermia (2007/009) Arnaldur Indridasontranslated by Victoria Cribb
Outrage (2008/2011) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Anna Yates
Black Skies (2009/2012) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb
Strange Shores (2010/2012) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Victoria Cribb  (9/10)

 

Non-Fiction, Science

My Planet: Finding Humor in the Oddest Places (2013) Mary Roach

Audio Books

Legion (2012) Brandon Sanderson read by Oliver Wyman (8.5/10)

So how did the stats come out? 24 books this month, nine of which were trade paperback (the comics), one audio book, and the rest (14) were ebooks. The six re-reads were all the Inspector Erlendr mysteries–I had re-read the older books so I could finish the lat two books in the series.

Genre-wise things were relatively evenly split:

Fantasy : 13
Mystery : 10
Comic : 9
Non-Fiction : 1

Well, except for that single non-fiction book there.

Gender wise men have taken the lead for the year.

Male : 14
Female : 5
Anthology : 5

Part of that was reading the entire Erlendur series, but the rest of it was reading comics, which are male dominated. Yes, there were female writers and artists, but although there were comics written completely by those bearing the Y chromosome, this month had only a single comic whose crew had all X chromosome comics. (Lumberjanes is very good, but it also is not my thing.)

And that’s how things worked out. Here’s hoping for better weather so I can get out more.

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Friday, February 3, 2017

The Books of January

The start of the month was for short stories–including finishing up anthologies I’d been reading for ages and ages.

I read a lot of good books this month, including going back and re-reading a book I’d almost forgotten about.

As for my favorite books of the month, let’s start with A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories which was an anthology I picked up solely for the Patricia Briggs story. Which I’ve not read about five times, because I kept re-reading it when I’d flip past it or while on a Patricia Briggs reading bender. Not all the stories were for me, but in all it was a strong anthology.

I know I keep going on about Daniel José Older, but that’s because I really do love his writing. Ghost Girl in the Corner is set following the events of Shadowshaper, but follows Tee and her girlfriend Izzy. As expected, the teenage girls are all strong characters I enjoyed spending time with. Kudos again for that.

Ghosts in the Snow is a good book, but it is extremely dark, and I’m not sure that I was in the mood for that much darkness, but if you like supernatural mysteries, then I do recommend it. As long as you’re aware that it’s dark.

The Peculiar Crimes Unit series is one I really do like, and when I realized I had the first book as an ebook, I set out to reread. Second book was also inexpensive, but the third? Well, that’s why I moved into another series. I’m waiting impatiently for that to go on sale. I’d like to note that Grandmom really enjoyed this series.

The other two mystery series are also very good–I’m re-reading the Inspector Erlendur series–but I can only read a couple Karin Fossum stories at a time, because they tend to be extremely depressing–two of the mysteries were about murdered children. The third was about a murdered teen. So small doses of that.

Mystery

Inspector Erlendur
Jar City (2000/2004) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (8/10)
Silence of the Grave (2003/2006) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (9/10)
Peculiar Crimes Unit
Full Dark House (2003) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
The Water Room (2004) Christopher Fowler (8/10)
Inspector Sejer
Black Seconds (2002/2007) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund (8/10)
The Water’s Edge (2007/2009) Karin Fossum translated Charlotte Barslund
Bad Intentions (2008/2010) Karin Fossum translated by Charlotte Barslund

Supernatural Mystery

Ghosts in the Snow (2004) Tamara Siler Jones

Fantasy Anthology

Street Magicks (2016) edited by Paula Guran
Beyond the Pale: A Fantasy Anthology (2014) edited by Henry Herz
A Fantastic Holiday Season: The Gift of Stories (2014) edited by Kevin J. Anderson & Kieth J. Olexa (8/10)

Fantasy Short Stories

A Wolf in Holy Places (2009) Nina Kiriki Hoffman
Burnt Sugar (2014) Lish McBride
Ghost Girl in the Corner (2016) Daniel José Older (8/10)

And now, the statistics! Huzzah!

14 books this month, which is about average.

All ebooks this month (not a surprise), with 5 re-reads, three of which I have in paper. I would have continued on with Christopher Fowler’s series, but I’m not paying that much for a ecopy of a book I own in paper (and paid full price for at the time, I might add!).

eBook – 14
Multiple Formats -3
Re-read -5

Genre, things were split pretty evenly between fantasy and mystery.

Fantasy – 7
Mystery – 8
Anthology – 3

As to author genre, it’s split pretty evenly between male and female authors this month.

Male – 5
Female – 6
Anthology – 3

And that’s it for this month! YAY READING!

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Categories: Books & Reading  

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Books of 2016: Stats!

I love statistics and manipulating and Excel more than is normal, so when I have a data set, I love looking to dig into it for meaning.

Because: geek.

I read a LOT of books this year. More than any other year since 2003 when I started keeping track.

2016 – 189
2013 – 174
2014 – 167
2006 – 164
2012 – 160

That turns out to be an average of 15.8 books a month.
with a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 23 in a single month. Interestingly, nine has been the minimum number of books read in a single month for four of the past eight years.

Here is something that shouldn’t come as a surprise, and yet it does. I read zero mass-market paperbacks this year. Zero mass-market paperbacks.

Paperback : 0
Trade Paperback : 5
eBook : 173
Hardback : 2
Audio : 9

We got our first ereaders in December of 2010. It was a nook and I wasn’t especially impressed with it.

That changed once I got my first Kindle.


(The numbers are off by one because I finished the chart a couple days ago)

But even I’m surprised that I didn’t read any mass-market paperbacks this year.

But that’s reflected in the fact there were 50 books that I have in multiple formats. Nine of those were audio books, which means the rest were books I had in paper and got again as ebooks, so I could read them a second time.

Multiple Formats : 49
Re-read : 68

There are actually a LOT of books I’d like to re-read, but when I have the paper book, I’m not willing to pay $8-12 for a second copy.

Which means I don’t re-read those books.

I’ll note right here that the Shelfie app has allowed me to got reduced price ebooks when I own a paper copy of the book. So kudos to them–and I wish more books were available.

Genre-wise, mysteries came out on top this year, but not by a lot, though this is the second year in a row I’ve read more mysteries than fantasy.

Mystery : 87
Fantasy : 79
Romance : 33
YA : 7
Anthology : 6
Comic : 4
Cookbook : 3

If you’re curious as to that drop in the number of mysteries, Grandmom died in 2011, and she loved mysteries, so I didn’t feel like reading mysteries for awhile after that.

Now comes the bit I find super interesting: author gender.

Female : 120
Male : 40
Male Pseudonym : 18
Initials : 8
Joint + Anthology : 3

120 is a pretty big number, however, the actual number of books written by women is 146, once you add in women writing under male pseudonyms or their initials.

This is, I admit, a confusing graph, but it’s also the clearest way I found to look at both author gender and book genre at the same time.

And that should be the final geek out of 2016.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

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Categories: Books & Reading,Geek  

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Books of 2016: Great Covers (Historical Settings)

Since the majority of the historical fiction I read was old, there weren’t many books that qualified for inclusion. But there were some.

To be clear, I don’t know much about historical costuming, and I know less about the accuracy of such, so it’s quite possible that the clothing is completely ridiculous for the time period, but I’m okay with that.

 

magic-and-manners

This is an obviously photoshopped cover, but despite that, I like it. It evokes the tone of the book, and the main character is neither passive nor submissive, while still looking reasonably like a creature of her time.

Could it be improved? Yes. But for what it is, I think it’s pretty good.

Published by Miz Kit Productions

Magic and Manners (2016) C.E. Murphy (9/10)

 

tremontaine-series-cover

This cover is quite simple, but I think it does an excellent job evoking the feeling of the time and place of the book.

I love the silhouette of Riverside, and even more I love the sword hair sticks.

Published by Serial Box

Tremontaine: Season One Volume One (2016) by Patty Bryant, Joel Derfner, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Ellen Kushner, Malinda Lo, Racheline Maltese and Paul Witcover (7.5/10)

 

As-Death-Draws-Near

All of these covers are good, but I particularly liked this one.

On most of the covers, the main character is facing away from the viewer, and generally looking like she is moving away from you, with some building or structure in the far background.

What I liked about this cover is the use of color–her purple dress against greens and greys of the background.

As I said, all these covers are good, but I especially like this one.

Published by Berkley
As Death Draws Near (2016) Anna Lee Huber  (8/10)

 

A-Talent-for-Trickery

I have no idea of the historic accuracy of her clothing, but as I said, I’m not particularly worried about that part of the cover (I’ll leave that criticism to fashion historians). I just know that I like pretty much everything about this cover.

This is a boinking romance, yet she is fully clothed, and there is no guy looming over her.

I love how she is looking back over her shoulder and the look on her face–and the fact that although she’s not being particularly active, she’s definitely not passive or submissive.

And I find the color scheme especially appealing.

Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
A Talent for Trickery (2015) Alissa Johnson (7/10)

Four books here, and four different publishers, although one of the publishers is Berkeley, of which Ace and ROC are imprints.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Not Cookies

Poticza from The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion: The All-Purpose Baking Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Thank you again to Tania for introducing me to this.

20161223_Christmas_Cookies_016

 

Cranberry-Walnut Bread from The Bread Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum

I made this regularly through the winter, because it’s really delicious. And it has some whole wheat, that makes it healthy, yes?

20161223_Christmas_Cookies_015

 

Chocolate Truffles from Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

These were a PITA to make, at least using their directions.

But they were delicious, albeit ugly.

Pumpkin Pie

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Sweet Potato Pie

20161224_Christmas_Cookies_020

Eggnog (with eggs I pasteurized, because I couldn’t find pasteurized eggs in the story)

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Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

The Books of 2016: Great Covers (Modern Setting)

I complain a lot about terrible book covers, so I figured that I should make a point of noting good covers, and why I like them.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to stop the terrible covers, but I keep hoping.

To make this post, the books had to have been published in 2015 or 2016. I decided to break these posts into two parts–modern covers and historical setting covers.

First up, the covers of books with a modern-day setting.

 

The Witches of Lychford

lychford the-lost-child-of-lychford

Paul Cornell gets some very good covers. I also love the covers for his Shadow Police series, but The Severed Streets was published in 2014 and so missed my cut off.

These covers are deceptively simple, but you can tell they are in the same series, and the fog evokes the mystery of the books themselves.

Published by Tor
Witches of Lychford (2015) Paul Cornell (10/10)
The Lost Child of Lychford (2016) Paul Cornell (9/10)

 

Jane Yellowrock

Blood-in-her-Veins shadow-rites

The Jane Yellowrock series is a good example of what I think are good covers. They had difficulty getting a good model (you can see that one model looks Native American while the other, not so much) but they’ve done their best to make the model on the cover look like Jane.

Although I think that Jane shows a little too much skin, and her hair is never down when she fights, but it’s not a horrible issue. At least they put her in her neck guard.

But most importantly, Jane is active and in control on these covers. She looks like a woman who is in the midst of kicking someone’s ass, which is, well, that’s Jane.

Published by ROC
Shadow Rites (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Blood in Her Veins (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)

Soulwood

bloodoftheearth curse-on-the-land

The covers of Faith Hunter’s are quite different from the Jane books, but they are still evocative, and are a good representative of Nell.

I particularly like two things: first, the use of color, which seems to represent Nell’s magic use, but most importantly, even though Nell is a magic user who does not typically fight, she is still in an active pose. I actually think that’s a good way to depict Nell’s magic use, as described in the book, so extra bonus points for that. The only marks off are for (like the Jane covers) too much skin. But all else considered, these are really great covers.

Published by ROC
Blood of the Earth (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)
Curse on the Land (2016) Faith Hunter (8/10)

 

Bone Street Rumba

Midnight-Taxi-Tango

This is, hands down, one of my favorite covers.

There are three main characters in this story: Carlos, Reza, and Kia. Not only did they make Kia, the teenage girl, the cover character, she looks like a teenager girl and is not sexualized.

I look at that and immediately know it’s Kia.

But even better, she’s 1) in an active pose 2) wearing a leather jacket and showing minimal skin and 3) has wild, natural hair.

Even though Kia is just standing there looking like a tough and surly teenager, it’s still obvious there is action in this book from everything happening behind her.

Kudos to ROC for putting out such amazing and marvelous covers.

Midnight Taxi Tango (2016) Daniel José Older (9/10)
Published by ROC

 

Mercy Thompson

fire touched_front mech.indd

Although I could quibble with some elements of this cover (why do they always have Mercy exposing her stomach and showing boobs? She’s a mechanic, she’s not going to dress like that. And she’s too skinny.) I generally let them slide because 1) Mercy looks like a capable human being 2) she is never in a passive or submissive pose.

Published by Ace
Fire Touched (2016) Patricia Briggs (8/10)

 

The SPI Files

The-Brimstone-Deception

Despite the cartoonish look of these covers, I do like them.

Mak is in the forefront with the male character behind her, she is in an active pose, and the figure looks like the character–small and unassuming.

Published by Ace
The Brimstone Deception (2016) Lisa Shearin (9/10)

 

 

Crow_Girls

I love Charles de Lint’s writing, and I love the covers to his older books. He’s been reissuing his older books himself, and although I realize that the art of the original covers belongs to either the publisher or the artist, I miss those covers.

But this cover actually does a very good job of evoking the Crow Girls.

Published by Triskell Press (the author)
Newford Stories: Crow Girls (2015) Charles de Lint (9/10)

 

 

The Dark Side of The Road

What is interesting about this cover is that–like the descriptions in the book–you really have no idea what the main character looks like.

My reflection met my gaze with a cold, mistrustful stare. A very familiar face because it hadn’t changed in so very long. Not the one I would have chosen; but good enough. I was tall, slim, dark-haired and handsome enough if you weren’t too choosy. A long rangy figure who appeared to be in his mid twenties. Dressed well, but anonymously. The kind of stuff you can buy anywhere, so you can fit in anywhere. An easy smile, a casual look, and dark eyes that gave away absolutely nothing.

I also like the feel that something untoward is possibly going to happen. Plus, of course, snow, which I love.

Published by Severn House Digital
The Dark Side of The Road (2015) Simon R. Green (8/10)

 

YA

Shadowshaper

I have so much love for this cover and almost can’t stand it.

The model is Sierra Santiago. No really, here’s a quote from the book.

(T)he words crept in, made a home in Sierra’s mind no matter how much she fought them off. Her wild, nappy hair. She ran her hands through her fro. She loved it the way it was, free and undaunted. She imagined it as a force field, deflecting all Rosa’s stupid comments.

And although she is just standing, she is not an a submissive position–she looks strong and capable. And the colors (along with the brick behind her) evoke the painting Sierra does.

This is a marvelous cover, and I am so very happy that Daniel Jose Older gets such great covers.

Published by Arthur A. Levine Books
Shadowshaper (2015) Daniel José Older (9.5/10)

Here’s an interesting thing. There are 12 covers here, all fantasy in some way.

Tor has 2 covers
ROC has 5 covers
Ace has 2 covers

But ROC and Ace are both imprints of Berkely (which is now part of Penguin I believe). That means that just over half of the great covers I loved this year come from a single publishing house.

I didn’t have any covers I utterly despised this year, but Avon has released the cover for Ilona Andrews upcoming book and it is just as horrific as the cover for first book in that series. (1)

I don’t know what is wrong with Avon that they keep putting out such abysmally bad covers, but I wish they’d take a good look at what ROC and Ace are doing.

(1) Ilona Andrews has no say in their book covers. That horrificness is ALL on the Avon.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

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Monday, December 26, 2016

The Books of 2016: Graphic Novels

I didn’t read very many comics this year–no particular reason, just the way things worked this year.

Graphic Novel

Rivers of London: Night Witch (2016) by Ben Aaronovitch, Andrew Cartmel, Lee Sullivan, Luis Guerrero : 9/10

The second Rivers of London comic served to give me something to tied me over while waiting for the next book (that keeps getting delayed).

What I particularly like about these comics is that we get stories that most likely wouldn’t fit into the books, in this case, with the Night Witch Varvara Sidorovna Tamonina.

 

Thor Vol 1: Goddess of Thunder (2015) Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman : 8/10

I’ve not read many of the mainstream Marvel comics, but a female Thor? I’m interested.

I actually have the next volume, but haven’t gotten around to reading it.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

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Christmas Cookies 2016: Cut-Out Cookies

Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies by Alice Medrich

Lemon Thins
Twice-Baked Shortbread

20161222_Christmas_Cookies_006
Lemon Thins

20161222_Christmas_Cookies_009
Shortbread

 

Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Butter Cookies

Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts by Alice Medrich

Lemon Curd

20161222_Christmas_Cookies_007
Butter Cookies with Lemon Curd

 

The Essential Baker: The Comprehensive Guide to Baking with Chocolate, Fruit, Nuts, Spices, and Other Ingredients by Carole Bloom

Lemon Shortbread Coins

20161222_Christmas_Cookies_005

 

The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Sugar Cookies

Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques by Shauna Sever

Vanilla Frosting

20161224_Christmas_Cookies_018
Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Frosting

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Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

The Books of 2016: Cookbooks

I finally got around to reviewing some of the cookbooks I’ve been reading and enjoying.

I’ve always loved baking, and I like cooking, but all my recipes were for families, so we’d eat the same thing for a week to eat all the leftovers, and, well, meh.

I started to enjoy cooking when I started using a recipe app that had a “scale” option, so could automatically recalculate the servings from four or six to two.

Baking, however, is a little different, since leavening doesn’t scale linerally, so the discovery of books with tested recipes for baked goods? Fabulous.

Non-Fiction

Dessert For Two: Small Batch Cookies, Brownies, Pies, and Cakes (2015) Christina Lane : 9/10

This is the first cookbook for two that I found, and it’s marvelous. If I want to tweak the recipes, I have the base from which to do it. But many of the recipes are marvelous as is (although they really are more than two servings).

Comfort and Joy: Cooking for Two (2015) Christina Lane : 8/10

I got this because I liked the dessert book so well, and was pleasantly surprised to find dinner recipes I liked just as well.

 

The Complete Cooking For Two Cookbook (2014) America’s Test Kitchen : 8/10

This has more recipes, and like all of the America’s Test Kitchen recipes, you get the reasons why things work. But mostly I just like having recipes that are quick and I know will work.

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Drop Cookies

Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Cranberry Oatmeal White Chocolate Cookies

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Maida Heatter’s Cookies by Maida Heatter

Cookie Kisses

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The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion: The Essential Cookie Cookbook by King Arthur Flour

Chocolate Walnut Holiday Cookies

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Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  

The Books of 2016: Romance

I read a fair amount of historical romance this year, and a great deal of it was dreck. (Mostly my fault, since I tend to buy historical romance almost solely when it’s cheap.) But there were some good books.

Historical Romance

The Thief-Takers
Set in London in 1872

I picked up the first book because: Thief-Takers. That makes it a mystery of sorts, right? Well, not so much a mystery, and there is boinking, but it was interesting enough that I got the second book.

I quite like the second sister. Esther, like her older sister Charlotte, is damaged. Their father raised them to be good thieves and con artists, and it’s been difficult for Esther to move past that.

No one person’s good opinion should mean so much that another person should feel compelled to change who they are to obtain it.”

But she slowly does, and she and her sister come to terms with their past and how it shaped them.
A Gift for Guile (2016) Alissa Johnson : 8/10

 

Courtney Milan : The Worth Saga
Set in London in 1866

Courtney Milan writes a lot of damaged characters, but she does it very well, and the damage is often something that would less damaging in the modern world than it was at the time. In this story, both the hero and the heroine’s younger sister have what would today be classified as mental illnesses. It’s enlightening and distressing to see how such characteristics that are today mostly accepted were hidden and treated.

Demolition, then division: He’d separated the bits first by size, and when that seemed unsatisfying on some gut level, by deviation from roundness.

Then, he’d very carefully started eating— from the most irregularly shaped crumb toward the most symmetrical.

He was almost finished with the infuriatingly oblong bits when Judith came in.

Once Upon a Marquess (2015) Courtney Milan : 8/10

The Brothers Sinister
A Kiss for Midwinter is set in England in 1863.

Miss Lydia Charingford has been ruined. But thanks to her best friend Minnie, no one knows about her ruin except Minnie, her family, and the doctors who saw her.

Jonas Grantham is a doctor–it has been his dream. And once he became a doctor, he vowed never to allow anyone to act against his principles as he did when a doctor he was following all but attempted to murder the pregnant young girl he was seeing.

The Suffragette Scandal is set in England in 1877

This is set more than a decade after the other books in the series, which allows it to be set during the first calls for universal suffrage.

I like both characters in this story, but what I especially like about her writing is her dialog and humor.

“Are you really left-handed?” Mr. Marshall asked.

“No. I’ve just been pretending to use my left hand my entire life because I enjoy never being able to work scissors properly.”

Lots of boinking in all her books.
A Kiss for Midwinter (2012) Courtney Milan : 8.5/10
The Suffragette Scandal (2014) Courtney Milan : 9/10

The Turner Series
Unclaimed  is set in England in 1841.

Why do I like this story?

“But, Sir Mark! She’s wearing scarlet. She made you give up your coat. You can’t really believe she’s an innocent. She…she could be a fallen woman!”

“There is no such thing as a fallen woman—you just need to look for the man who pushed her.”

“When someone falls,” Mark said, “you don’t throw her back down in the dirt. You offer her a hand up. It’s the Christian thing to do.”

That’s why.

Unraveled  is set in England in 1843.

You have to feel sorry for a man whose mother named him Smite. He is badly damaged by his past, but what I particularly liked is that although he found someone to love him, he is not miraculously healed by that love. He is still a prickly difficult person–no magic adoration can change that.
Unclaimed (2011) Courtney Milan  : 8/10
Unraveled (2011) Courtney Milan : 8.5/10

If you click through any of the Amazon links and buy something, it’ll get me hapenny or so, which will eventually let me buy another book.

Written by Michelle at 7:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Christmas Cookies 2016: Bar Cookies

Aside from brownies, I think the only time I made bar cookies is at Christmas.

Probably because the recipes make entirely too many cookies, and I either eat them until I’m sick, or they go to waste (or Michael eats too many).

 

Christmas Cookies by Oxmoor House

Cranberry-Caramel Bars

I follow this recipe only vaguely–primarily I just drizzle the caramel over the shortbread and cranberries, and then sprinkle the other bits on top.

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Fine Cooking Cookies: 200 Favorite Recipes for Cookies, Brownies, Bars & More by the Editors of Fine Cooking

Cranberry Streusel Shortbread Bars

This is my first year making these, and I think they need some work as far as presentation. The dough is gloopy like a drop cookie, rather than sandy like a shortbread cookie. But if they taste good, I’m willing to tweak the recipe.

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Simply Sensational Cookies by Nancy Baggett

Praline-Pecan-Coconut Bars

OMG. I love these so much. I like to trim the edges off because it makes the bars neater, the cookies fit back in the pan better once sliced, and because then I have to eat those edges, since they won’t fit into the pan neatly.

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Written by Michelle at 9:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Food  
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