Wyvernfriend Reads

I read a lot of books, I like fantasy, romance and some non-fiction

I work as a librarian, I'm an avid knitter. I collect Dragons, fountain pens, notebooks and filofaxes. And Yarn, lots and lots of yarn.
A Lady's Guide To Etiquette And Murder - Dianne Freeman

American-born Frances Wynn, Countess of Harleigh is finally done with mourning the man who was found dead in another woman's bed. She needs to get away from the new heir to the title and with her own funds she leaves for London. An anonymous letter implicating her in the murder of her husband leads her down a track of investigating the truth. Add in her sister and a dashing new neighbour, who knows the truth too and you have a fun read.

I really enjoyed this one and I'm looking forward to reading more. Frances is well aware of the problems of society and keeping herself well regarded while also knowing that she wants some freedom. It's an interesting look at a turn of the 19th Century world of privilege.

The Perfect Witness - Iris Johansen

This book and me were not a good match. I'm beginning to wonder if Iris Johansen and I are a good reader/author match.

I mean, apart from the problematic relationship between the hero and heroine (she's 16 and he's an experienced adult) and the dodgy power dynamic going on between them (I mean he fixes some of her mental trauma) and the man-eating tiger owning bad guy it's not a terrible read. It just kept giving me a deep feeling of unease throughout. I didn't actually really enjoy the read and standing back from it I'm not 100% sure I want to read another book by the author. Some of her unquestioned assumptions aren't mine and I'm not sure they're what I want in my reading life.

The story opens with the 16 year old Teresa Casali running away from home and the armed thugs who want to stop her. She runs into Andre Mandak who saves her and offers her a chance at a second life as Allie Girard and a family to care for her. Horrible things happen again and again and they're forced to take the fight to darkest Africa (well actually whitest Africa) and the characters never really came alive to me. I didn't really care if they lived or died and the story just drifted to it's conclusion and I was left feeling that there was more that could have been done with the premise and the characters.

Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee

This is one of those stories that afterwards lingers and makes you rethink how you see the world. It took me a while to get into the story but then it flew.

Captain Kel Cheris is disgraced by unconventional tactics; her chance to redeem herself is to host the mind of long-dead tactician Shuos Jedao normally this would subsume the original mind but together these two work on the siege and form a new alliance that will change things.

It's an interesting read and I'm glad I read it, I didn't continue reading this series when reading the Hugos as I felt I needed some breathing space between me and the next book in this series..

I have to admit that I found it a bit difficult to get into but compelling once I was there.

This Side of Murder - Anna Lee Huber

Verity Kent is slowly coming to terms with the fact that she's a widow; and she gets an invitation to a house party that's going to have several of her husband's friends and co-army veterans there. It's somewhat awkward, particularly as one of the men there is attracting her, Max, who was her husband's commanding officer. When one of the men there dies and they're isolated on the island the party is on, things get very complicated. She works with Max to investigate hoping that they will discover who is behind the murder. And then there was another death and things keep getting complicated. The war casts a long shadow. It's an interesting read that I really enjoyed and found interesting. I'm curious to see what happens with Verity next.

Weaver's Lament - Emma Newman

While excellent it felt a little rushed.

Charlotte is learning to control her magic and finding out more about the Royal Society of Esoteric Arts. Her brother Ben is training in a mill and she discovers how hard the work is and how corrupted things can get. She's dealing with her attraction to Magus Hopkins and her fiance's plans and it's quite complicated. The mystery solving felt a little rushed but the world building is worth reading it for.

Overall I want more in this world.

The Lady in the Cellar - Sinclair McKay

This reads like a murder mystery, but unlike a murder mystery this one isn't solved at the end. There's a body under coals, badly decomposed. The house belongs to a family who take in boarders and this appears to be a boarder who has left. It has all the elements of a good mystery. Eccentric people, immigrants trying to make good, a maid that may or may not be the lover of several of the characters and was accused herself but she turned it around on almost everyone else and added some gothic spice to the mix. Fueled by popular newspapers this was a mess of a case from the start and it's still not clear who dunnit.

Interesting read.

The Earl's Inconvenient Wife (Allied at the Altar, Book 2) (Sisters of Scandal) - Julia Justiss

Temperance (Temper) Lattimar is too scandalous really because of her family. Lady Sayleford decides to sponsor her and allow her the season she has to have in order to fulfil her dream of releasing her dowry and travelling the world. In order to keep things above board Lady Sayleford recruits her godson to squire her around. He's the second son, an MP and aristocrat, Gifford Newell and a friend of her brother.
The two of them embark on the social round and discover that really only one person is distracting them, each other. Then scandal forces them into a marriage of convenience and it gets complicated by both of their pasts.
I liked the two of them and the tenderness Gifford gave after the marriage. It was sweet and gentle and lovely and the two characters seemed to be good foils for each other. Really enjoyed the read.

Choices are coming

Strange Sight - Syd Moore

Rosie is still thinking about whether or not she should sell the Museum but she gets an offer she can't refuse from the owner of a restaurant La Fleur in London.  They appear to have a ghost and he reckons that she's the best person to investigate.  She takes some time off work and sets investigating with Sam Stone and what they find is messy and complicated and at the end Rosie is still wondering where her future is.


Not bad, preferred the first book.


Death Makes a Prophet - John Bude

A wry look at a group that we would now refer to as pagan but then was simply dismissed as a cult. The Children of Osiris and the members of it, who range from the egotistical to the fanatic and all the shades between. I recognised several of the people from groups I've seen. When two of the members die, the simple conclusion is too simple and doesn't fit all the facts.

Entertaining and a wry look at fanatical groups and those that exploit them.


So I went to Worldcon, developed a sinus infection and over the 10 days I was off only read three books.... yeah, not a well person.  I'm still recovering slowly and I'm back to work so playing catch up.

Mortal Arts - Anna Lee Huber

Lady Kiera Darby and her pregnant sister and brother-in-law are on the road to Edinburgh when they stop off at a friends' house. Michael Dalmay is about to be married and there is pressure on him to assume the Baronetcy, but his troubled brother who was heir, is alive, not dead as rumoured, but his sanity is in question. He had been in an experimental asylum and now his brother is trying to do right by him. When a girls body is found all eyes turn to the madman but Lady Kiera is certain the story is more complicated, and she's right. Accompanied by Gage she once again investigates and the truth is complicated.

It was an interesting read and I look forward to more about this interesting character.

Bad decisions book club

The Cinderella Countess (Gentlemen of Honour, Book 3) - Sophia James

While this has a trope I'm not fond of - our heroine has retained her accent and holds herself like a member of the upper classes, I would say this would be hard to do and often is rubbish, people like to blend. Apart from that it's a fun read that I found hard to put down. (another bad decisions book club book).
Annabelle Smith works as a healer in Whitechapel and was surprised when Lytton Staines, Earl of Thornton turns up on her door... his sister is suffering from some sort of wasting disease and he's exhausted regular medics. She comes recommended by servants. When they meet the impression is ruined by the pet dog who rips his waistcoat and spills tea on him.
The two of them are an interesting couple and it was a fun read. There were bits that stretched credulity but overall it was a good read.

Righteous Anger making

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men - Caroline Criado-Pérez

This is a book that once again will be ignored by those who don't want to hear it. I'm sure it has added to the authors litany of threats but it's a book that needs to be read that needs to be thought about and examined. Yes there may be errors, but honestly I want to see your proof and if you're coming at this going "well actually the number is 77% not 78% and with that error how can we trust any of it" I don't want to hear it.
There were two things that stood out for me in this book, one was the Policewoman who had breast reduction surgery to make her stab vest safe... the other is that 78% of female pianists (47% of men) have hand pain and that if they just could use the 7/8 DS keyboard that this would be drastically reduced. The reason the second anecdote stood out for me is because I had ganglion surgery at 21 and stopped doing piano exams because the Octave scales were causing pain. I had done 7 of 8 exams before the Diploma. Barely passing the last one so I decided to cut my losses. 

I'm a short woman, I wear a padded piece on the seatbelt of the car because otherwise it rubs painfully. I'm also aware that front impact protection bags can kill women my size. But the fact that we're in a world where it's acceptable to ignore 50% (I've seen the numbers at 51% but let's just go broad here) of the population because it's messy to properly do the research. Ignoring the fact that body chemistry can have impact on things. The fact that a lot of tools to help detect that a person has fallen over involves phones in pockets... when most women can't carry them that way.
Read this book, no really, there may be some errors in it but overall it's a book that designers and most men need to read and then ask themselves why women aren't angrier.

Reading progress update: I've read 200 out of 432 pages.

Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men - Caroline Criado-Pérez

(not exactly sure what page I'm on here but approximating - I'm just about to start the chapter that mentions Piano Keyboards)

Serious error in picking this up as a book to read last night. It sucked me in and kept me reading, I knew about some of it but this was just heaping on the indignity.  Our industrialised world just doesn't accommodate women. People are surprised that my cabinets, and countertops are lower than normal, I'm short why wouldn't they be? My brother was installing the kitchen and he just made shorter plinths for things.  

I played piano to quite a high level (I passed grade 7 of 8 with only a diploma after that) but my hands were suffering.  I literally had a ganglion and octave scales were hurting.  I looked at the requirements for Grade 8 and noped out of it.  I would have destroyed my hands (not to mention that I was a plodding musician, good but not great, I've seen great, I'm not there)

I was quite upset at the idea that a woman had to get breast reduction surgery to stay safe in her stab vest.  That sort of rubbish needs to stop.


Verdict of Twelve - Raymond Postgate
Some parts of this is quite dated and some of the attitudes, particularly to some of the female characters, but it is of it's period. Published in 1940 this is an interesting twist on a courtroom drama. It's divided into four parts. First we're introduced to the Jury, then the case is laid out, then the trial and verdict and then, finally the story is wrapped up in a short postscript (7 pages).
The pen pictures of the various jurors was interesting and it did feed into the attitudes of each juror to the situation and to the case, no-one of them is truly neutral and it does point out how the hope that 12 people can't always be without an opinion about almost every situation.
The mystery is about a young boy, Philip Arkwright who is an orphan and in care of his aunt, .Rosalie van Beer. His family are monied and she wasn't really part of the family, being only married to one of the younger sons for a short while before he dies in the First World War. She had retreated into drink until she realises that she's the boy's only remaining relative. She treats him as an invalid and it's hard to know how many of his issues are created and how many are inherent. He has several tutors and a doctor that's not at the prime of his career. He's also known to have a "sensitive stomach" so when he reacts to something he eats no-one is surprised, when he dies they are. Poison is suspected and the main suspect is his aunt.
Of course today there would be more forensics but there was a fair amount here and there was a lot of messy lives being lived. Rosalie isn't a sympathetic character and I wasn't sure throughout what had happened. Still it was an interesting look at life in the period. There was a lot of snobbery on the part of a lot of the characters throughout and assumptions.
Very satisfying read.

another unsatisfying end

A Barricade In Hell - Jaime Lee Moyer

A rash of murders seems to be linked to a peace promoting woman. Delia and Isadora get caught up in it along with Delia's new husband Gabe Ryan. The story is told alternating between the supernatural world of Delia and Gabe's mundane police investigation, the two are intertwined as usual and when one of the victims is a member of the Chinese community things get complicated with the involvement of a Chinese leader of the community with illicit ties and supernatural connections.

The kitten stole every scene she was in.

It seemed to run out of steam near the end and the mystery is tied up neatly but unsatisfactorily for me. Still I'd read more by this author.

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