Christina reads the four seasons in 2021

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Christina reads the four seasons in 2021

Editado: Nov 14, 2020, 1:01pm

Reading the Four Seasons in 2021

Alphonse Mucha, The Seasons series (1900)

Hello and welcome to my 2021 category challenge! I'm Christina, and by day I'm an editor at a nonprofit in northern Virginia. Aside from reading, my main hobbies are music -- piano, trombone, and singing -- and community theater.

I've been participating in the annual category challenge since 2009, and I love this community! But I've also realized that structuring my reading too much sucks all the joy out of it for me. So for the past couple of years, I've been choosing very broad categories that essentially allow me to read whatever I want, while still allowing me to participate in CATs and group reads and so forth.

For 2021, I've decided on four categories once again, and each category will be represented by a season of the year:

  1. Fall: Books I acquired before 1/1/21 but haven't read yet. In other words, the books that are falling off my TBR shelves!
  2. Winter: Rereads, because winter is the perfect time to cozy up with something comforting and familiar.
  3. Spring: Books I buy, borrow, or otherwise acquire in 2021. New life = new books!
  4. Summer: Books for the BingoDOG -- a reference to the dog days of summer. :)

Okay, some of these categories may be a stretch, but they give me the chance to use Alphonse Mucha's gorgeous art! I'm looking forward to my "seasonal" 2021 challenge. Thanks for stopping by, and happy reading!

Editado: Feb 21, 6:18pm

Fall: Books I own as of 1/1/21 but haven't read yet.

Alphonse Mucha, Autumn (1896)

1. Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman's Honeymoon (7/28/11)
2. Jules Wake, Covent Garden in the Snow (12/28/20)
3. Grace Burrowes, My One and Only Duke (6/8/19)

Editado: Feb 15, 6:44pm

Winter: Rereads.

Alphonse Mucha, Winter (1896)

1. Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia
2. Jude Morgan, Indiscretion
3. Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
4. Lucy Parker, Act Like It
5. Megan Whalen Turner, A Conspiracy of Kings

Editado: Feb 11, 10:08am

Spring: Books I buy, borrow, or otherwise acquire in 2020.

Alphonse Mucha, Spring (1896)

1. Amy E. Reichert, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
2. Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear

Editado: Feb 25, 9:28am

Summer: BingoDOG.

Alphonse Mucha, Summer (1896)

1. Mavis Doriel Hay, Death on the Cherwell (set somewhere you'd like to visit = Oxford)
2. Kevin Kwan, Sex and Vanity (new-to-you author)
3. Ellis Peters, The Potter's Field (contains a love story)
4. Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction (arts and recreation)
5. P.G. Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves (made you laugh)
6. Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens (about or contains magic)
7. Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm's List (read a CAT or KIT = January AlphaKIT (M = Mr., Malcolm's))
8. Olivia Atwater, Ten Thousand Stitches (shared with 20 or fewer LT members = 10 members at time of reading)
9. Elizabeth Daly, Murders in Volume 2 (less than 200 pages = my edition has 176)
10. Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice, Light Raid (dark or light word in title)
11. Madeleine St. John, The Women in Black (character you'd like to be friends with = Magda!)
12. Paula Byrne, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice (about history or alternate history = slavery in 18th-century England)
13. Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire (classical element in title = fire)
14. Intisar Khanani, Thorn (one-word title)

Editado: Ayer, 2:30pm

Editado: Feb 25, 9:30am


Théophile Steinlen

I don't plan to participate in every CAT every month, but I'm sure I'll play along at least some of the time!

RandomCAT (LOL): P.G. Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves
GenreCAT (nonfiction): Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
HistoryCAT (Middle Ages): Ellis Peters, The Potter's Field
AlphaKIT (P, M): Mavis Doriel Hay, Death on the Cherwell; Ellis Peters, The Potter's Field; Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction; P.G. Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves; Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens; Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm's List; Elizabeth Daly, Murders in Volume 2; Madeleine St. John, The Women in Black
SFFKIT (book you meant to read in 2020): Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens
MysteryKIT (featuring water): Mavis Doriel Hay, Death on the Cherwell

RandomCAT (fruits and veggies): Amy E. Reichert, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
GenreCAT (memoirs, biography): Paula Byrne, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice
HistoryCAT (1800 to present): Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear; Grace Burrowes, My One and Only Duke
AlphaKIT (T, K): Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire; Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear; Intisar Khanani, Thorn
SFFKIT (sentient things):
MysteryKIT (pastiche): Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear

RandomCAT (surprise):
GenreCAT (action, adventure):
HistoryCAT (1500 to 1800):
AlphaKIT (U, R):
SFFKIT (Indiana Jones in space or fairyland):
MysteryKIT (locked room):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (literary fiction):
HistoryCAT (8th century BC to 6th century AD):
AlphaKIT (A, W):
SFFKIT (series):
MysteryKIT (senior citizen detective):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (short stories, essays):
HistoryCAT (dynasties, civilizations, empires):
AlphaKIT (I, N):
SFFKIT (time travel):
MysteryKIT (set in Europe):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (historical fiction):
HistoryCAT (military, war, revolution):
AlphaKIT (C, D):
SFFKIT (journey):
MysteryKIT (Golden Age):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (romance):
HistoryCAT (social history):
AlphaKIT (S, O):
SFFKIT (historical fantasy):
MysteryKIT (female cops or robbers):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (poetry, drama, graphic novels):
HistoryCAT (your own country):
AlphaKIT (V, J):
SFFKIT (female authors):
MysteryKIT (cozies featuring animals):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (YA, children's):
HistoryCAT (religion, philosophy, politics, law):
AlphaKIT (F, L):
SFFKIT (near future/alternate reality):
MysteryKIT (mismatched detectives):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (horror, supernatural):
HistoryCAT (country or region of your choice):
AlphaKIT (H, E):
*SFFKIT (creature feature):
MysteryKIT (minorities or diverse protagonists):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (SFF):
HistoryCAT (events):
AlphaKIT (B, Y):
SFFKIT (short stories):
MysteryKIT (historical):

RandomCAT ():
GenreCAT (mystery):
HistoryCAT (adventure, exploration, discovery):
AlphaKIT (G, Q):
SFFKIT (gothic fantasy):
MysteryKIT (ancient Greece and Rome):

AlphaKIT (X, Z):

* = I'm hosting the CAT/KIT.

Editado: Oct 14, 2020, 11:28pm

One more for safety...and welcome to my thread!

Oct 15, 2020, 4:17am

Excellent choice of images for your categories. Enjoy your unstructured reading in 2021.

Oct 15, 2020, 5:42am

That's a very original take on the four seasons, and the images are gorgeous. Happy reading!

Oct 15, 2020, 5:51am

What stunning pictures!

Oct 15, 2020, 7:46am

I like this idea - great way to tackle everything.

Oct 15, 2020, 8:44am

>9 Helenliz: Thank you! I'm a mood reader, so very loose categories definitely work best for me. :)

>10 MissWatson: Thanks! I definitely had to stretch to make the seasons fit the categories, but it was 100% just so I could use the art!

>11 Jackie_K: I adore Alphonse Mucha and was thrilled to think of an idea that would allow me to use his work!

>12 dudes22: Tackling everything is definitely the goal! This way I don't have to feel guilty about reading something that doesn't fit a category.

Oct 15, 2020, 9:03am

I love the Mucha paintings! Who am I kidding, I love ALL Mucha paintings! I like your themes for each category too!

Oct 15, 2020, 9:49am

I love Mucha so much. Lovely thread.

Oct 15, 2020, 9:53am

I love Mucha too, especially those with cats. Wishing you good reading next year, I alway enjoy checking out your thread.

Oct 15, 2020, 11:30am

A great set-up and lovely idea to incorporate the seasons into your categories.

Oct 15, 2020, 11:59am

Beautiful pictures! I also love Mucha. I thought about the Four Seasons as a possible category, but I could not quite think of how to organize it. You did a great job with these.

Oct 15, 2020, 12:25pm

Great CATS and pics!

Oct 15, 2020, 4:44pm

I dropped my star to follow your thread! Looking forward to your lovely reviews. And the Mucha is glorious.

Oct 15, 2020, 5:09pm

Love your pictures.

Oct 15, 2020, 5:31pm

>14 casvelyn: >15 majkia: >16 clue: >17 This-n-That: >18 LadyoftheLodge: >19 Tess_W: >20 NinieB: >21 mnleona: Thank you all for stopping by! I don't know very much about visual art (I'm more of a music person), but Mucha is one of my very favorite artists, and apparently I'm not alone! :)

Oct 15, 2020, 6:26pm

Great structure for this year! I hope you have a lot of fun re-reads :)

Oct 15, 2020, 6:58pm

>23 rabbitprincess: Thank you! I love returning to books I once loved and reading them with new eyes. I usually find that I still love them; or if not, I realize my tastes have changed and I can take that book off my shelves, making way for something new. It's a win-win!

Oct 15, 2020, 10:04pm

Wonderful set of pictures depicting the seasons.

Oct 16, 2020, 12:04am

I think we must have joined the Category Challenge in the same year, Christina. I've been following you ever since and, of course, intend to do so once again in 2021. :)

Oct 16, 2020, 1:29am

Great set up and beautiful pictures!

Oct 16, 2020, 9:48am

>25 hailelib: >26 DeltaQueen50: >27 VivienneR: Thank you!

Judy, I think we probably did join in the same year, and I have been following you ever since as well! You always have one of the most interesting and chatty threads. :)

Oct 17, 2020, 4:01pm

The four seasons.... what a perfect theme! I agree that winter is the perfect time to cozy up with familiar and comforting reads. ;-)

Oct 17, 2020, 4:43pm

>29 lkernagh: I'm definitely looking forward to doing so this winter! :)

Oct 22, 2020, 10:41am

Love your setup and how you assigned the books to each season! I am always drawn to the four seasons in art and music so am also a fan of the pictures you used.

Oct 23, 2020, 2:40pm

I love the idea of breaking the challenge up into 4 seasons. I usually reread in the summer, because my brain is otherwise occupied, but I like your idea of comfort reading in the winter. 2021 will be my first foray into the category challenge, I might borrow some of your framework.

Oct 26, 2020, 10:31am

>31 LittleTaiko: >32 amy.rosenberg: Thank you both for stopping by! I knew I wanted to use the same four categories I used in 2020, so I was excited when I hit on the "four seasons" theme! I'm not planning to limit all my rereads to the winter months, though...I'll read books from all four "seasons" throughout the year.

Nov 3, 2020, 9:29am

Beautiful paintings! Good luck with your challenge. I like a more casual structure too, you can follow whatever you're in the mood to read.

Nov 3, 2020, 11:51am

>34 mstrust: Thank you! And yes, a casual structure definitely works best for me -- I love reading at whim!

Nov 12, 2020, 3:41pm

Happy unstructured reading. Enjoy reading what you want, when you want.

Nov 12, 2020, 4:39pm

>36 pamelad: Thanks!

Ene 1, 12:22pm

Happy New Year, everyone!

Image by Aamir Daniyal from Pixabay

I've just finished my 2020 reviews and end-of-year recap, so now I'm ready to dive into the 2021 category challenge! I think my first book of the year will be Death on the Cherwell by Mavis Doriel Hay. How about you?

Ene 1, 4:05pm

Happy New Year, Christina! Wishing you a wonderful year of reading in 2021.

Ene 1, 5:13pm

>39 lkernagh: Thanks, Lori -- same to you!

Ene 1, 7:31pm

>38 christina_reads: My first book will almost definitely be The Purpose of Power by one of the women credited with starting the Black Lives Matter movement, because it's fast approaching for a book club! But then on to something light and YA, I'm thinking, because that's where the mood is taking me....

Ene 1, 8:08pm

Good book to start the year off.

Ene 2, 9:09am

Happy New Year, and may you have a year of great reading!

Ene 2, 9:16am

I really love the images you have chosen! Happy 2021 to you!

Ene 2, 6:32pm

>41 pammab: The Purpose of Power sounds fascinating, but I would definitely need something light and YA after that!

>42 VivienneR: Thanks! I'm about halfway through and enjoying it so far. I just read Gaudy Night, and it's interesting to compare the two portrayals of Oxford women's colleges.

>43 mstrust: Happy New Year to you as well!

>44 Crazymamie: Thanks, and same to you!

Ene 2, 7:01pm

Wonderful pictures of the seasons! And I love this setup!

Death on the Cherwell just moved up very high on my list of British Library Crime Classics to buy. It sounds just great, especially the setting. I own "Murder Underground" by the same author, but haven't read it yet.

Ene 2, 7:37pm

Hello and Happy 2021 Christina! I have added LT's various CAT challenges in part because of your using them for your own reading lists. So thank you for being an inspiration for me!

And wow, what a great theme and what great inspiration for your year. Just beautiful artwork and seasonal, and you can even have some Vivaldi playing in the background as you update your lists.

Ene 3, 5:54pm

>46 MissBrangwen: I've just finished Death on the Cherwell and enjoyed it, although I wanted a little more of the undergraduates' shenanigans toward the end! I've read Murder Underground and enjoyed that one as well.

>47 threadnsong: Thanks, I'm honored! It helps me to list all the CATs and KITs I plan to participate in, so that when I'm stuck for choosing my next read, I can refer back to it. I like the Vivaldi idea -- I'm sure I'll do that at some point this year! :)

Ene 4, 11:57am

Book #1: Mavis Doriel Hay, Death on the Cherwell
CATs: Alpha (M = Mavis); Mystery (featuring water)
Bingo: Set somewhere you’d like to visit = Oxford

Four students at Oxford’s (fictional) all-female Persephone College meet to discuss the formation of a club in opposition to the college’s unpopular bursar. During their meeting, they spot a canoe floating down the Cherwell river — with the bursar’s drowned corpse inside. The girls are questioned by the police and, realizing they and their fellow students might be suspects, decide to launch their own investigation. I enjoyed this Golden Age mystery, although I wanted more undergraduate hijinks; most of the book has a light, humorous tone, but the final few chapters are quite somber. It’s interesting that this book was published in the same year as Gaudy Night, another mystery novel set at an Oxford women’s college. Gaudy Night is clearly the superior novel, but Death on the Cherwell works well as a less weighty counterpoint.

Ene 4, 12:26pm

I've just read another Oxford murder mystery, The Riddle of the Third Mile. Authors really had it in for Oxford.

Ene 4, 12:30pm

>50 mstrust: The Oxford murder has really become its own subgenre, hasn't it? I wonder why Cambridge isn't a similarly popular mystery setting...

Ene 4, 5:23pm

>49 christina_reads: Now I really want to read this book! Sounds like a great follow up to Gaudy Night. Hay would be new to me.

Ene 4, 6:22pm

>52 NinieB: I'd just read Gaudy Night in December, so it was interesting to read the two books so close together! I like what I've read of Hay so far. I should note that Death on the Cherwell briefly references "the Pongleton case," which is described in Hay's previous book, Murder Underground. But there are no spoilers, and the reference is insignificant enough that you won't lose anything if you decide to read Death on the Cherwell first.

Ene 4, 8:04pm

>53 christina_reads: Good to know! Thanks!

Ene 5, 7:27am

>49 christina_reads: I like the sound of this one; I think I'll add it to my list. Thanks for the great review!

Ene 5, 9:11am

>55 scaifea: I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

Ene 5, 3:53pm

Book #2: Kevin Kwan, Sex and Vanity
CATs: none
Bingo: New-to-me author

Lucie Tang Churchill has never felt accepted by her family; as someone with half Chinese and half European ancestry, she doesn’t quite fit in with either side. As a result, she’s always striven for perfection in every aspect of her life. But when she meets the quiet, handsome, unsuitable George Zao at her cousin’s wedding, Lucie is attracted to him and soon feels her perfect life spinning out of control. This novel is a breezy update of E.M. Forster’s A Room with a View, and while I love the original, I wasn’t quite as impressed by the retelling. It’s a fun read — I especially enjoyed the author’s snarky footnotes — but I couldn’t relate to the characters’ ultra-wealthy, jet-setting lifestyle. The book is filled with name-dropping of people, places, and luxury brands I’ve never heard of. I found Lucie shallow and didn’t understand what George saw in her. Overall, I think this book would make a fun beach read, especially for people who enjoy reading about yachts and couture clothing and hip restaurants. I see the appeal of it, but I definitely prefer Forster’s original novel!

Editado: Ene 7, 10:35am

Book #3: Ellis Peters, The Potter’s Field
CATs: History (Middle Ages = set in A.D. 1143); Alpha (P = Peters, Potter’s)
Bingo: Contains a love story

In this installment of the Brother Cadfael series, the abbey is given a tract of land known as the Potter’s Field. As the brothers begin to plow the field, they unearth the skeletal remains of an unknown woman. She is most likely the wife of one of the brothers, who deserted her to pursue his religious vocation. Could Brother Ruald be responsible for her death? Brother Cadfael and Hugh Beringar investigate to discover the woman’s identity and find out what happened to her. I love this series because, even though there’s always at least one mysterious death, the overall tone is very gentle and peaceful. Justice always prevails, and usually Cadfael helps a pair of young lovers get together, as he does in this book. It’s the perfect antidote to the anxieties of modern life, and I’d definitely recommend the whole series.

Ene 7, 6:35pm

>58 christina_reads: I think the Cadfael mysteries are popular this month!

Ene 8, 9:09am

>59 thornton37814: As well they should be! :)

Editado: Ene 8, 2:15pm

>58 christina_reads: I love the Cadfael books! I read them all when they were first published. Maybe it is time for me to unearth those well-loved paperbacks again. Some of mine have a different cover though, not as pretty.

Ene 8, 2:22pm

>61 LadyoftheLodge: I still haven't actually read the entire series -- I have three books left! I've been going through the books very slowly, which gives me a chance to savor them. Once I'm done, I may go back and start again at the beginning!

Ene 9, 6:46pm

Book #4: Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
CATs: Genre (nonfiction); Alpha (P = Pleasures)
Bingo: Arts and recreation

In this short volume, literature professor Jacobs speaks to people who would like to be readers but feel too busy or intimidated to try, and to people who once were readers but aren't any longer. He champions the idea that reading can and should be a pleasure, not an obligation. His slogan is "Read at whim" -- that is, what you actually enjoy, not what you or others think you ought to read. He discusses the perils of the reading list, the specific joys of rereading, and the notion that different kinds of texts can be read with different types of attention. I think this book is probably preaching to the choir for most of us, but I still found it very interesting, and I liked Jacobs's friendly and humorous tone. Recommended for current and aspiring readers!

Ene 9, 10:03pm

>63 christina_reads: I have a few people in mind that this would be a good gift for. Thanks for the heads-up!

Ene 10, 12:13am

>58 christina_reads: Love Cadfael for all the reasons you mention! I'm thinking about picking up another book in that series for the HistoryCAT this month as well, since it would definitely be easy and light and fun. Though, this one, ouch, deserted his wife in the Middle Ages to become a monk? I definitely have a kneejerk negative reaction to that (poor possibly-dead lady).

Ene 10, 11:02am

>64 clue: You're welcome!

>65 pammab: I had that same reaction to the wife-deserting character. The book is a bit too sympathetic to him, I think; but it does at least acknowledge that he put his wife in a really crappy position.

Ene 11, 12:44pm

>63 christina_reads: This has already been on my list and your review confirms that it's something I would like!

Editado: Ene 11, 12:46pm

>67 MissBrangwen: I hope you enjoy it when you get to it!

Ene 12, 1:40pm

>49 christina_reads: - great review and thank you for comparing Death on the Cherwell with Gaudy Night! I am still reading the Sayer book, but I am also now keeping an eye out for similar reads for when I am in the mood.

Ene 12, 2:36pm

>69 lkernagh: Thanks! I hope I didn't overstate the similarity between the two books...they have the same setting and were written in the same period, but they're definitely quite different in terms of style!

Ene 12, 5:52pm

Book #5: P.G. Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves (a.k.a. Jeeves in the Offing)
CATs: Random (LOL); Alpha (P = P.)
Bingo: Made you laugh

Affable, dimwitted Bertie Wooster gets into scrape after scrape while visiting his Aunt Dahlia in the country. Fellow guests include Roberta “Bobbie” Wickham, a beautiful redhead who is pretending to be Bertie’s fiancée while actually being engaged to his friend Kipper; famous mystery novelist Adela Cream and her playboy son Willie; Aubrey Upjohn, the menacing former headmaster of Bertie’s preparatory school; and Sir Roderick Glossop, a celebrated brain scientist currently posing as Aunt Dahlia’s butler. Naturally, complications ensue, and Bertie must call Jeeves back from his annual vacation to sort out the mess. Wodehouse is always good for the soul, and I found myself chuckling my way through this novel. A fun and breezy lark to kick off the year with!

Ene 13, 11:38am

>71 christina_reads: I've never read a Jeeves, but I think this is the one I should begin with! Great review.

Ene 13, 11:46am

>72 Tess_W: The great thing about the Jeeves & Wooster canon is that you can really start anywhere! Hope you enjoy your first encounter with these characters!

Ene 13, 12:51pm

Wodehouse is a great way to start the year.
My favorite J&W story is "The Song of Songs". They break off Tuppy's engagement to an opera singer and it's hilarious.

Ene 13, 1:39pm

>74 mstrust: I don't think I've come across that one yet -- will add it to my list!

Ene 14, 7:20pm

Book #6: Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens
CATs: Alpha (M = Margaret); SFF (book I meant to read in 2020)
Bingo: About or contains magic

Isobel is an extremely gifted painter, which means her work is in high demand among the fair ones. But when Rook, the autumn prince himself, requests her to paint his portrait, she makes a fatal mistake: she paints human sorrow in his eyes, which is both alien and scandalous to the fair ones. To clear his reputation and defend his throne, Rook whisks Isobel away to fairyland, where they encounter many perils and slowly come to a deeper understanding of each other. Yes, this book is YA, and it’s a bit dramatic and angsty at times, but I still really enjoyed it! I loved the magical portrayal of the fairy world, and I wish there were a series of books set in the various fairy courts. Isobel is a strong and practical heroine, and I couldn’t help but enjoy the sulky, emotionally oblivious Rook as well. I also loved Rogerson’s Sorcery of Thorns, and I really hope she comes out with another book soon!

Editado: Ene 15, 6:14pm

>63 christina_reads: I spent time over the last couple of weeks going over my "to be read" list. That one has been there for a number of years. I did add which of my libraries had it to my wish list to make it easier to select something. Maybe it will see the light of day since I know where I'll get it.

>71 christina_reads: I've tried to read some of the Jeeves & Wooster books and just haven't gotten into them that much. I finally just gave up.

Ene 16, 4:13pm

>77 thornton37814: I hope you do get to it eventually...I found it very enjoyable, as well as validating my method of mood reading. :) And regarding Jeeves & Wooster, fair enough! Sometimes even the books that everyone else is raving about just aren't for me.

Ene 17, 12:18pm

>77 thornton37814: I enjoyed listening to the audio versions of the Jeeves and Wooster books, which were quite hilarious, much better than the print versions.

Ene 17, 12:35pm

>79 LadyoftheLodge: Maybe I should try that. I know one other series that doesn't work for me in print that does in audio.

Ene 19, 12:37pm

Book #7: Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman’s Honeymoon
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane are finally getting married, and they’ve decided to spend their honeymoon at Talboys, a house in Harriet’s childhood neighborhood that she’s always loved and that Peter has purchased for her. They’ve made arrangements for the turnover with Noakes, the previous owner, but when they arrive on their wedding night, Noakes is nowhere to be found. Eventually Peter and Harriet discover Noakes’s dead body in the cellar, and all signs point to murder. As they assist the local police in solving the mystery, they also adjust to their new reality as a married couple. This might be my favorite Wimsey story yet. The mystery is more satisfying than many of Sayers’s others; there are multiple plausible suspects and some well-placed clues. But the subtitle of the novel is “a love story with detective interruptions,” and the real meat of the story is Peter and Harriet’s relationship, as they learn more about each other and figure out how to combine two very independent lives. This book also fleshes out two recurring characters, Bunter and the Dowager, in a satisfying way. A wonderful ending to the series, in my opinion, although Sayers newbies shouldn’t start here.

Ene 19, 12:38pm

Book #8: Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm’s List
CATs: Alpha (M = Mr., Malcolm’s)
Bingo: Read a CAT or KIT (January AlphaKIT)

Jeremy Malcolm, the wealthy and handsome younger son of an earl, is widely regarded as the catch of the season. He wants to find a suitable bride, but none of the women he’s met has checked off every item on his list of requirements for a wife. When Julia Thistlewaite, one of the young ladies he rejects, discovers the existence of the list, she is outraged and asks her friend Selina Dalton for help. Selina will come to London and capture Mr. Malcolm’s heart by pretending to have every quality on the list, but will then reject him for not meeting her own standards. Selina is reluctant to go along with the scheme, especially when she meets Mr. Malcolm and finds herself extremely attracted to him. This Regency romance is fine but lacks depth. It’s extremely fast-paced, leaving little time for character or relationship development. Overall, I thought it was just okay.

Ene 19, 1:01pm

>81 christina_reads: that one does make me go "squeeee" inside. Every time.

Ene 19, 1:02pm

>82 christina_reads: Oh. I don't read much Regency anymore, bur the premise for that one sounded so promising! I'll save my Regency Reading brain cell reserves for a re-read of the Bridgerton series perhaps :-)

Ene 19, 2:17pm

>83 Helenliz: There are plenty of squee-worthy moments, for sure! And I really loved the portrayal of newlyweds who are a bit older than the usual 20-somethings...Peter is 45, and I think Harriet is in her 30s. So they have to make a lot of adjustments and compromises, since they've both lived for many years as independent adults.

>84 Tanya-dogearedcopy: On the plus side, the book reads very quickly -- I think I got through it in about 3 hours. So it wouldn't cost too many brain cells if you decided to pick it up. :)

Ene 19, 5:04pm

>81 christina_reads: I'm only a little way in, but I was struck by some similarities between the Dowager's diary and Diary of a Provincial Lady.

Ene 19, 5:32pm

>86 NinieB: Ooh, that sounds promising, as I loved the Dowager's diary extracts, and I have Diary of a Provincial Lady sitting on my shelves waiting to be read!

Ene 19, 6:45pm

>87 christina_reads: I think you will really love the Provincial Lady, Christina.

Ene 19, 10:03pm

>81 christina_reads: Nice review. I'm still a few books behind in the Dorothy Sayers group read, but I'm looking forward to this one. "A love story with detective interruptions" sounds great to me, as I really like Harriet Vane.

Ene 20, 11:40am

>89 mathgirl40: I think you'll enjoy Busman's Honeymoon then! It's not centered on Harriet quite as much as Gaudy Night is, but it definitely gives you more of her point of view than Peter's.

Ene 20, 11:42am

Book #9: Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia
CATs: none
Bingo: none

***Warning: SPOILERS for previous books in the series***

Eugenides has just married the queen of Attolia, but the Attolians are in no hurry to accept this young, foreign, one-handed, seemingly weak man as their king. Costis, a soldier in the Attolian army, gets so exasperated that he forgets himself and punches the new king. He expects death or some equally horrible punishment, but he is surprised and dismayed when the king promotes him to lieutenant and places him under the king’s direct command. The more time Costis spends with the king, however, the more he realizes that there’s more to Eugenides than meets the eye. This is probably my favorite book in the series thus far; I love everything from the political intrigue to Costis’s slow enlightenment to the glimpses of Eugenides and Irene’s marriage. I’m loving my reread of this series and looking forward to the next book!

Ene 21, 8:55am

>91 christina_reads: Oooh, yes! This one is definitely my favorite book of the series, too. I'm reading the new one now and happy to report that it's excellent so far!

Ene 21, 10:00am

>92 scaifea: I'm so glad! I'm planning to read A Conspiracy of Kings next month, which I have read before...but I haven't read books 5 and 6 yet, and I'm so excited to get to them!

Ene 21, 10:15am

Book #10: Jules Wake, Covent Garden in the Snow
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Tilly loves her job as a makeup artist at the London Metropolitan Opera Company, but she’s a disaster with technology. When she inadvertently sends a computer virus to her entire contact list, she’s forced to work with the new IT director, Marcus, to gain some computer literacy. Marcus looks like a slick corporate type, and Tilly immediately decides that he has nothing useful to teach her. But she also feels an unwanted attraction, and the more time they spend together, the more she comes to like and appreciate him. This was a cute read; I enjoyed the backstage theatrical setting, and Marcus is an appealing hero (perhaps a bit too perfect). But Tilly drove me CRAZY. She’s laughably bad at technology — so much so that I couldn’t take her seriously as a professional adult. She also puts up with way too much from her feckless fiancé, who has to betray her trust in multiple very significant ways before she’s finally ready to end the relationship. And she’s completely awful to her family for no discernible reason. Yes, she does grow toward the end of the book, but by then I was already too annoyed with her. Overall, I liked some aspects of this book, and it was a quick and entertaining read, but the frustrating heroine prevented me from fully enjoying it.

Ene 21, 2:38pm

Too bad the main character is so frustrating! I love the Christmassy cover of the book and the setting sounds great, but I think I wouldn't enjoy this story after what you have described. I hate it when the main characters are annoying like this!

Ene 21, 3:26pm

>95 MissBrangwen: It is set around Christmas, so that's another plus if you like cozy holiday reads. But yeah, the heroine bugged me...and her characterization seemed really dated, too. I feel like there was a ton of chick lit in the '90s with these professionally incompetent heroines who needed to be rescued by the hero -- Confessions of a Shopaholic and Bridget Jones's Diary come to mind. But this book, as best I can tell, came out in 2017, which surprised me!

Ene 21, 5:30pm

>94 christina_reads: Hi Christina. I think I enjoyed Covent Garden in the Snow a little more than you, but then I am so bad at technology myself that I felt a certain amount of sympathy for Tilly. But I definitely agree with you about how long it took her to see what a jerk her original boyfriend was!

Ene 21, 5:46pm

>97 DeltaQueen50: I feel bad for being so annoyed with her...I just found her total incompetence with email to be unbelievable. She's in her 20s, or at most early 30s -- she grew up with the internet! Surely she had to use a computer in school! But I'm just being a grump. I'm glad you enjoyed the book more than I did! :)

Ene 22, 11:46am

>98 christina_reads: Interesting thoughts about incompetence with tech and email! I see a lot of that in my adult students, who seem clueless about some basic tech stuff sometimes. I had the same thoughts as you--they should have used a computer in high school, right? Some of them never read my comments about their assignments because they cannot see them if they access the course from their phones. I can tell when they do that, because their discussion postings are full of typos and autocorrect errors. I think they know how to use their phones, but not always competent with other technology.

Ene 22, 11:58am

I agree both with you ladies about students not using the technology available to them. They just won't get off their phones. My students can not read my comments on their papers and posts with their phones and therefore go on making the same stupid mistakes time after time. They never seem to wonder why they are not getting better grades?

Ene 22, 12:06pm

>99 LadyoftheLodge: >100 Tess_W: I never thought about the fact that some people might actually be too YOUNG to understand computers, since they do all their online stuff with their phones!

Ene 22, 12:13pm

Book #11: Olivia Atwater, Ten Thousand Stitches
CATs: none
Bingo: Shared with 20 or fewer LT members (10 members at the time of reading)

Euphemia “Effie” Reeves is sick of feeling invisible and insignificant. As a maid in a noble house, she is either ignored or mistreated by the family. When she falls for the youngest son of the house, she knows a relationship between them would be impossible, but she can’t help wishing for it anyway. Luckily, she has an ally in the faerie Lord Blackthorn, who is determined to pursue virtue by being kind to the powerless. Unluckily, despite his good intentions, his interference often does more harm than good. When Effie’s dream finally seems to be within reach, she discovers that her desires have changed. Like Atwater’s previous book, Half a Soul, this is a charming fantasy romance with some social satire baked in. I especially loved Lord Blackthorn’s enthusiastic efforts to help, despite (or perhaps because of) the fact that they usually led to disaster. Recommended for fans of the genre!

Ene 22, 3:41pm

>102 christina_reads: Interesting! I've downloaded Atwater's freebie novella The Lord Sorcier and will give it a read when I have time.

Ene 22, 3:57pm

>103 spiralsheep: I haven't read that one yet, but it looks interesting! It appears to be a prequel to Atwater's other novel, Half a Soul, which I really enjoyed.

Editado: Ene 22, 4:04pm

>104 christina_reads: Yes, I was considering buying Half a Soul so I went looking for a sample and scored two x 3 chapter samples and a whole prequel novella!

Ene 22, 9:13pm

>101 christina_reads:

Interesting comments about technology and students on your thread. I dropped in to catch up and found some good conversations.

Ene 23, 2:02pm

>102 christina_reads: >105 spiralsheep: Oooh! I just dnloaded and read The Lord Sorcier! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was the perfect appetizer for more of Olivia Atwater’s books. I’m queuing up Half a Soul next!

#HitByGrapeshot :-D

Ene 24, 12:26pm

>100 Tess_W: I see that as well--they make the same mistakes over and over, since they are not reading my comments. I have gone so far as to tell them, "Do it just like this," but that does not help since they are not reading the comments.

Ene 24, 12:53pm

>107 Tanya-dogearedcopy: I've now also read Lord Sorcier and have Half a Soul on my to read list, although not immediately. Let's just call our hostess christina_"two guns"_reads.

Ene 25, 9:56am

>107 Tanya-dogearedcopy: >109 spiralsheep: I'm glad you are both enjoying the Atwater! And glad to be giving out some book bullets, for a change -- I'm usually on the receiving end! :)

Editado: Feb 15, 6:54pm

Book #12: Elizabeth Daly, Murders in Volume 2
CATs: Alpha (M = Murders)
Bingo: Less than 200 pages (my edition has 176)

Rare manuscript expert Henry Gamadge once again plays detective when Miss Vauregard, a member of one of New York’s most prestigious old families, asks him to discover the true identity of a mysterious young woman who has ingratiated herself with the family patriarch (and holder of the purse strings). As Gamadge investigates, he becomes convinced that the woman is working with someone in the family; things get even worse when the patriarch is murdered and Gamadge himself is the most likely suspect! I enjoyed this novel, which is well plotted and contains such intriguing elements as a hundred-year-old unsolved mystery, a cult, and possible travel to and from the fourth dimension. This is also the book in which Henry Gamadge falls in love, and I would have liked a bit more development of the romance. But overall, I liked this book and will definitely continue with the series.

Ene 26, 8:30am

>111 christina_reads: Sounds like a good one. I think there is a difference in older mysteries and newer ones. The older ones relied on the mystery line to bring in the reader. Even though they used the same sleuth, they could be read in any order because there was not a secondary line running through the entire series. The newer ones often rely on the secondary story line to bring readers back. I think I preferred the days of stronger stories.

Ene 26, 9:20am

>112 thornton37814: I tend to prefer older mysteries as well. For me, I think it's because older mysteries tend to be less dark and have less ambiguity. I like that newer mysteries tend to have more complex and interesting characters, but I agree with you that sometimes the plots suffer because of that!

Ene 27, 3:52pm

Book #13: Jude Morgan, Indiscretion
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Miss Caroline Fortune has had an unconventional upbringing: her happy-go-lucky father raised her among gamblers, actresses, and other less-than-respectable individuals. Now her father has run out of money, so she must take a job as a lady’s companion to the formidable Mrs. Catling. In this position, she encounters society in a new way and meets some long-lost family members — and several eligible young men. But Caroline soon learns that it’s dangerous to judge by appearances and that almost everyone has something to hide. I’m so glad I rediscovered this book, which I’d read several years ago and had pretty much forgotten about. It’s a Regency romance and comedy of manners that gives me Jane Austen/Georgette Heyer vibes, though of course the writing isn’t as good. Definitely recommended for fans of the genre!

Ene 27, 3:53pm

Book #14: Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice, Light Raid
CATs: none
Bingo: Dark or light word in title (“light”)

Sometime in the future, North America is engaged in a civil war, and 17-year-old Ariadne has been evacuated to neutral territory. But when her parents’ letters become less frequent and stop telling her anything specific, Ari knows that something must be wrong. She flees her foster home to return to HydraCorp, the large and powerful company where her parents live and work, only to discover that her father is falling apart and her mother is in jail for treason. Outraged, Ari intends to prove her mother’s innocence, but she is thwarted by the mysterious Joss Liddell, who is as irritating as he is attractive. As Ari investigates the situation at HydraCorp, she discovers a secret so big that it could change the course of the war. I never felt like I fully understood the world of this novel — the book doesn’t spend any time on exposition — and I’m still not sure what the war is actually about. But I did enjoy this book; it’s action-packed and full of plot twists, and there’s also a fun YA romance. I liked Ari’s narrative voice; she reads as immature sometimes, but that makes sense since she’s a teenager. Overall, while I don’t think this book is as good as Connie Willis’s solo stuff, it’s still an entertaining read.

Ene 27, 4:14pm

>114 christina_reads: This sounds like a nice read and I like the cover!

Ene 27, 4:47pm

>116 MissBrangwen: I liked it a lot! I've also read a couple of Morgan's other novels (An Accomplished Woman and A Little Folly) and remember liking those as well.

Ene 27, 4:52pm

>117 christina_reads: I've never heard of the author, but I'll check him out! Thanks! :-)

Editado: Ene 28, 12:10pm

Book #15: Madeleine St. John, The Women in Black
CATs: Alpha (M = Madeleine)
Bingo: Character you’d be friends with (Magda!)

This novel follows the lives of four women who all work at Goode’s department store in 1950s Sydney, Australia. Patty, in her mid-30s, is married but unhappily childless, and her husband Frank is oblivious to her emotional turmoil. Fay is around 30 and has been going out with men for years, but somehow none of them seem to want to marry her. Lisa, a temporary hire for the Christmas season, dreams of going to university and becoming a poet, but her strict father won’t hear of it. And Magda, a glamorous Slovenian immigrant, is adjusting to a culture very different from her own. I loved this book and devoured it in a single sitting. It’s light and charming and slyly funny, and I became invested in the stories of all four women. I especially loved Magda, who enjoys the finer things in life and is generous in sharing them. There’s a bit of romance, but the main focus is on women’s experiences and relationships. The book reminds me a bit of Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, but with a slightly more satirical edge. I expect to revisit it often and would recommend it as a great comfort read! Thanks to DeltaQueen50 for giving me the nudge to take it off my shelves!

Ene 28, 1:31pm

>119 christina_reads: I'm glad that you enjoyed The Women in Black, Christina. I also was especially fond of Magda.

Ene 28, 1:38pm

>119 christina_reads: I have this on my To Read for February. Looking forward to it.

Ene 29, 5:01am

>119 christina_reads: I have that as an audio book. I will make sure I get to it soon!

Ene 29, 9:47am

>120 DeltaQueen50: I so wanted to go to that New Year's Eve party!

>121 spiralsheep: Hope you enjoy it!

>122 Tess_W: I'll be interested to see what you think of it in the audio format!

Ene 29, 12:55pm

Ene 29, 1:03pm

Ene 29, 3:10pm

>124 christina_reads: Excellent - a good guide to remember! (I think the author may have watched one Midsommer Murder too many!)

Ene 30, 6:39am

Ene 30, 11:27am

>124 christina_reads: How is this humor when it's all true?
I loved the advice in the "vats" section. Thanks for the link!

Ene 30, 12:08pm

>114 christina_reads: I am so excited! While rooting around on my bookshelves looking for a different book, I came across a copy of Indiscretion with the same cover as yours shown here! I did not realize I owned this book, and was thinking of buying it! Yippee!!

Ene 30, 12:14pm

>124 christina_reads: That was hysterically funny! "Ye olde salty doorknob" was my fave line. I am adding that to my list of epithets. Thanks for sharing.

Ene 30, 1:05pm

Glad to see other people enjoying the "how not to get murdered" link as much as I did! :)

>128 mstrust: It's SO true!

>129 LadyoftheLodge: Ooh yay, looks like the universe is telling you to read it. ;)

Editado: Feb 25, 10:52am

January recap

As in 2020, the pandemic has really boosted my reading total in this first month of 2021. There's nothing to do but stay home and read! :) I'm doing well, though, and hope you are all the same. Here's what I read in January:

Books read in January:
1. Mavis Doriel Hay, Death on the Cherwell
2. Kevin Kwan, Sex and Vanity
3. Ellis Peters, The Potter’s Field
4. Alan Jacobs, The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction
5. P.G. Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves
6. Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens
7. Dorothy L. Sayers, Busman’s Honeymoon
8. Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm’s List
9. Megan Whalen Turner, The King of Attolia
10. Jules Wake, Covent Garden in the Snow
11. Olivia Atwater, Ten Thousand Stitches
12. Elizabeth Daly, Murders in Volume 2
13. Jude Morgan, Indiscretion
14. Connie Willis and Cynthia Felice, Light Raid
15. Madeleine St. John, The Women in Black
16. Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

Favorite book of the month:
I had a lot of good reads this month, but The Women in Black was the standout. It's full of charm, gentle irony, and kindness.

Dishonorable mention:
Mr. Malcolm's List wasn't bad, just disappointing; I'd hoped for better.

CATs completed:
RandomCAT (LOL): How Right You Are, Jeeves made me chuckle several times.
GenreCAT (nonfiction): The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction qualifies.
HistoryCAT (Middle Ages): The Potter's Field is set in A.D. 1143.
AlphaKIT (P, M): *Mavis Doriel Hay, Death on the Cherwell; Ellis *Peters, The *Potter's Field; Alan Jacobs, The *Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction; *P.G. Wodehouse, How Right You Are, Jeeves; *Margaret Rogerson, An Enchantment of Ravens; Suzanne Allain, *Mr. *Malcolm's List; Elizabeth Daly, *Murders in Volume 2; *Madeleine St. John, The Women in Black
SFFKIT (book you meant to read in 2020): I brought home An Enchantment of Ravens for both Thanksgiving and Christmas 2020 but didn't get around to reading it.
MysteryKIT (featuring water): Death on the Cherwell centers around a death by drowning, and the river Cherwell and its banks are a focal point of the investigation.

BingoDOG squares completed:
Set somewhere you'd like to visit: Death on the Cherwell is set at Oxford; I've never been there but would love to go!
New-to-you author: Sex and Vanity was the first thing I read by Kevin Kwan.
Contains a love story: The Potter's Field, like most of the Cadfael books, contains a pair of young lovers whom Cadfael assists while solving the crime.
Arts and recreation: The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction is all about reading for recreation.
Book that made you laugh: How Right You Are, Jeeves made me laugh out loud.
Book about or containing magic: An Enchantment of Ravens takes place mostly in fairyland and features several characters who perform magic.
Read a CAT or KIT: Mr. Malcolm's List fulfilled the January AlphaKIT (M = Mr., Malcolm's).
Shared with 20 or fewer LT members: Ten Thousand Stitches was shared among 10 LT members when I read it.
Less than 200 pages: My edition of Murders in Volume 2 is 176 pages.
Dark or light word in the title: Light Raid contains the word "light."
Book with a character you'd like to be friends with: I really liked all the main characters in The Women in Black, but I'd especially love to be friends with Magda!

Books acquired in January:
Angela Thirkell, Pomfret Towers
E.F. Benson, Queen Lucia and Miss Mapp
Katherine Center, How to Walk Away
Amor Towles, A Gentleman in Moscow
Richard Osman, The Thursday Murder Club
Lois McMaster Bujold, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance
Charlotte MacLeod, Rest You Merry
Suzanne Allain, Mr. Malcolm's List (already read)
Jenny Bayliss, The Twelve Dates of Christmas (already read)
Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire
Taylor Jenkins Reid, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Olivia Atwater, Ten Thousand Stitches (already read)
Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear
Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Emily Wilson (currently reading)
Elizabeth Daly, Murders in Volume 2 (already read)

I feel compelled to say that many of these newly acquired books were either bought used or received as gifts. I think I only paid full price for two of them! But regardless, I'll be shopping off my own shelves for the near future. :)

Ene 31, 4:47pm

>132 christina_reads: Queen Lucia and Miss Mapp are fabulous characters. I hope they make you laugh.

Ene 31, 4:52pm

>133 pamelad: I'm looking forward to meeting them!

Ene 31, 5:45pm

Woo hoo, an excellent reading month (and acquisition month too!).

Feb 1, 5:54am

What a great reading month! A fantastic start to the year!

Feb 1, 4:54pm

>135 rabbitprincess: >136 MissBrangwen: Thank you both! Sixteen books in one month is unusually high for me.

Feb 1, 4:55pm

Book #16: Graham Greene, The End of the Affair
CATs: none
Bingo: none

In this novel, Maurice Bendrix looks back on his affair with the married Sarah Miles and tries to make sense of it. He was passionately in love with her and believed her to be the same, but he always had nagging doubts about her fidelity to him. Then she ended their relationship with no explanation, and Bendrix has been stewing in anger, hatred, and a desire for revenge ever since. When Sarah and her husband unexpectedly reenter his life two years after the breakup, he seizes the opportunity to find out what really happened. For a short book, this packs a huge emotional punch; I cried through probably the last half of it. But I also LOVED it and would highly recommend it, with the caveat that there’s quite a lot about religion in it (according to Wikipedia, Greene called himself a “Catholic agnostic”). The last sentence is one of my favorite final lines in all of literature. I’m so glad I decided to revisit this book!

Editado: Feb 1, 4:59pm

Book #17: Amy E. Reichert, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake
CATs: Random (fruits and veggies = coconut is a fruit)
Bingo: none

Milwaukee restaurateur Lou Johnson is having a run of terrible luck. First her fiancé cheats on her; then, that very night, food critic Al Waters samples her cooking — which is subpar because of her distress over the breakup — and writes a scathing review. The day the review comes out, Lou goes to a bar to drown her sorrows and meets Al. They’re attracted to each other and soon strike up a romance. The only problem is, he doesn’t realize she owns the restaurant he panned, and she doesn’t know he’s the hostile reviewer because he writes under a pen name. I’m a sucker for a You’ve Got Mail story, and this is a fun one that made me want to visit Milwaukee and eat some fried cheese curds immediately. I never quite believed in Lou and Al as characters; they seemed like stock types rather than real people to me. But I liked the setting and the overall cheerful, Hallmark-esque vibe of this novel, so I’d consider trying more by this author.

Feb 1, 5:06pm

>138 christina_reads: I'm pretty sure I've read this, but your review makes me want to read it again.

Feb 1, 5:07pm

>140 pamelad: I read it for the first time in college and remember liking it at the time, but I think it resonated with me at a deeper level this time around!

Feb 1, 6:11pm

>139 christina_reads: That really does sound like a Hallmark movie, which ain't a bad thing. And now I want coconut cake.

Feb 1, 6:30pm

>142 mstrust: I can totally visualize it as a Hallmark movie, and I would 100% watch it. I'm not a coconut fan myself, but I hope you enjoy your cake! :)

Feb 2, 11:41am

Your bookish haul for the month includes some great titles! I hope you like Mapp and Lucia. I read all of them years ago, and they still reside on my shelf.

Feb 2, 3:19pm

>144 LadyoftheLodge: Glad to hear more praise for Mapp and Lucia! I really should nudge these books closer to the top of my TBR.

Feb 4, 4:53am

>138 christina_reads: I have that on my ereader and now can't wait to start it. My friend told me that there is a movie by the same name starring Ralph Fiennes.

Feb 4, 9:33am

>146 Tess_W: Yes, Fiennes was in the film adaptation. I haven't seen it, but I'm curious about it -- the novel seems like it would be difficult to adapt because so much of the "action" is Bendrix's interior thoughts. Hope you enjoy the book when you get to it!

Feb 10, 8:55pm

Book #18: Paula Byrne, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice
CATs: Genre (memoirs, biography = bio of Dido Belle)
Bingo: About history or alternate history (slavery in 18th-century England)

The idea for this book came from an 18th-century English portrait of two young women — one white, one black — who are portrayed as equals, almost as sisters. The black woman was Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of an English naval captain and an African slave. She grew up in the house of her great-uncle, the Earl of Mansfield, who happened to be the Lord Chief Justice and who decided several cases that would be crucial to the antislavery movement in Britain. It’s a fascinating story, but unfortunately, there’s very little about Dido in the historical record, and consequently very little in the book! Instead, Byrne focuses on the English slave trade, the status of black individuals in London, the Earl of Mansfield’s legal career, etc. It’s all interesting, but I was hoping for more biography, less history. The book does have numbered endnotes, many of which cite primary sources, yet Byrne also editorializes a fair amount. I’d say it’s more of a popular history than a scholarly one. Overall, I'd recommend it for people who are interested in the period. Apparently there’s also a movie about Dido, called Belle, which I’m interested in watching now.

Here is the portrait of Dido and her cousin, Elizabeth Murray:

Feb 11, 5:37am

>148 christina_reads: That portrait has interested me ever since I first saw it. So many layers to see in the gestures and fashion styling and accessories. I remember the pleasure of hunting out sources to read more. :-)

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. It's a fascinating story.

Feb 11, 8:12am

>148 christina_reads: >149 spiralsheep: I saw the portrait at Scone Palace in 2019, never having heard about Dido before. There was also a little exhibition about the film, but we haven't watched it yet. It's great to see that there is a book as well, although like you, Christina, I would prefer more biographical than general information.

Feb 11, 9:31am

>149 spiralsheep: It is a really interesting portrait! Dido looks so fun and mischievous.

>150 MissBrangwen: I envy you getting to see the portrait in person!

Feb 11, 9:41am

>151 christina_reads: It was a coincidence, I didn't know about it at all! We were driving back to Edinburgh from Inverness on a trip in autumn and chose to visit Scone Palace because it was a good stop to break up the drive. But I remember that the painting intrigued me at once and we were very interested in the story. I was happy to see it in your thread and be reminded of it! I will check if the film is available here in Germany.

Feb 11, 10:03am

>152 MissBrangwen: I hope you are able to find the film. In the US, it's not available on Netflix or Hulu, but it can be rented on Amazon.

Feb 11, 6:04pm

Book #19: Katherine Center, Things You Save in a Fire
CATs: Alpha (T = Things, K = Katherine)
Bingo: Classical element in the title (fire)

Cassie Hanwell loves being a firefighter in Austin, Texas; she’s extremely good at her job and is happy to devote her whole life to it. So she’s not thrilled when she is forced to transfer to a small town in Massachusetts to care for her estranged mother during a health crisis. The local fire department is old, outdated, and all male, so Cassie knows she’ll have to struggle to be accepted. As Cassie battles her colleagues’ hostility and resists her mother’s attempts at reconciliation, she grows as a person and decides who she really wants to be. I really liked this book and stayed up far too late to finish it! I found Cassie extremely sympathetic, and I loved how tough and competent she was. There’s also a sweet romance that I was completely on board for. I did feel the ending was a bit too neatly tied up in a bow — and this is coming from someone who likes tidy endings! — but aside from that, I enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more by Katherine Center.

Feb 15, 2:18pm

Book #20: Sherry Thomas, The Hollow of Fear
CATs: History (1800 to present = set in Victorian era); Alpha (T = Thomas); Mystery (pastiche = reinterpretation of Sherlock Holmes)
Bingo: none

***Warning: SPOILERS for previous books in the series!***

In this third installment of the Lady Sherlock series, Charlotte Holmes faces her most difficult case yet. Lady Ingram, who disappeared after the events of A Conspiracy in Belgravia, has now been found — dead, in the icehouse on Lord Ingram’s country estate. Of course, Lord Ingram is the prime suspect; everyone knew that he and his wife were estranged, and rumors are swirling about a romance between him and Charlotte. As Scotland Yard builds its case against Lord Ingram, Charlotte works incognito to discover what really happened. I’m very much enjoying this series, and this book is no exception. Though I guessed some elements of the mystery, other plot twists were genuinely shocking. There is a point at which the narrative doubles back to fill in some blanks about earlier events, which I found irritating — it’s the kind of gimmick that would work better in a movie, I think. But otherwise, I liked this book a lot and look forward to seeing what happens next with Charlotte and her friends!

Feb 15, 6:43pm

Book #21: Lucy Parker, Act Like It
CATs: none
Bingo: none

Lainie Graham is one of London’s most popular and talented actresses. Her co-star in a West End play, Richard Troy, is a renowned “bad boy” whose reputation has lately become a public relations problem. The solution, according to his agent and the theater’s PR staff, is that Lainie and Richard should fake a relationship to get some good press. Though both are reluctant at first — his bad behavior annoys her, while she’s barely on his radar — their faux romance soon becomes something more complicated. I absolutely adore this contemporary romance; if I could only read one book in this subgenre for the rest of my life, it would be this one. I love the fake relationship trope, I love the banter between Richard and Lainie, and I love how they encourage each other to become better versions of themselves. I’ve really enjoyed the entire London Celebrities series, but this book remains my favorite of the bunch. Highly recommended if you’re interested in the premise!

Feb 15, 8:55pm

>156 christina_reads: I blew this book off a couple years ago when it first came out, but your rave review is the latest in a string from other romance readers whose opinions I pay attention to-- so onto the kindle it goes! :-) #BB

Feb 16, 9:07am

>157 Tanya-dogearedcopy: Yay, I hope you like it!

Feb 16, 12:43pm

>156 christina_reads: I've added this to my wishlist.

Feb 16, 2:25pm

>156 christina_reads: Now you have piqued my interest. I don't usually read this kind of novel, but I plan to check it out.

Feb 16, 2:28pm

>159 RidgewayGirl: >160 LadyoftheLodge: I hope you both enjoy the book!

For those who might be curious, there are two or three sex scenes in the book, but they're not particularly graphic. I'd estimate maybe 2 out of 5 in terms of steaminess.

Feb 23, 12:02pm

Book #22: Megan Whalen Turner, A Conspiracy of Kings
CATs: none
Bingo: none

***Warning: SPOILERS for previous books in the series!***

This installment of the Queen’s Thief series follows the adventures of Sophos, nephew and heir to the king of Sounis. As the book begins, Sophos is kept away from court intrigues and matters of state; instead, he’s stuck in benign captivity on a minor estate with his mother, sisters, and an incompetent tutor. But when the estate is attacked and Sophos is kidnapped, he is forced to pay more attention to the outside world. Sounis faces both an external threat — the new alliance between Eddis and Attolia — and an internal uprising led by some rebellious barons. As the future leader of Sounis, Sophos must overcome his insecurities and make decisions that will affect not only his own country but Eddis and Attolia as well. This series continues to be excellent, and while I would have loved more of Gen and Attolia, I liked this book’s focus on Sophos as he learns the hard lessons of kingship. This is the last book in the series that I’ve read before, so the rest of it will be new to me, and I can’t wait to find out what happens next!

Feb 24, 10:32am

Book #23: Grace Burrowes, My One and Only Duke
CATs: History (1800-present = set in Regency England)
Bingo: none

Quinn Wentworth is a convicted murderer awaiting execution. Jane Winston is a minister’s daughter visiting Newgate prison. She’s widowed, pregnant, and desperate to get away from her sanctimonious father, so Quinn proposes marriage. He can provide money for her and the child to live on, and because he’s soon to die, she won’t be stuck with him for long. Jane agrees to the deal, only to be shocked when Quinn is discovered to be the heir to a dukedom and pardoned at the last minute. Now Quinn and Jane must decide whether and how to make their marriage work; but Quinn is determined to find whoever framed him for murder and take his revenge. I found this book mildly enjoyable, but the stakes are pretty low. There aren’t really any obstacles to Quinn and Jane’s romance, and the mystery plot of who framed Quinn doesn’t get a lot of time “on page” either. Basically, I never got emotionally invested in the story or characters. This is the first book in a series, and I am mildly interested in a few of the secondary characters, so I may continue with the series at some point — but I’m not in a big hurry to do so.