The Relentless Moon by Mary Robinette Kowal is third in the “Lady Astronaut” series, happening somewhat concurrently with the second book. The plot fills in some details about what happened on Earth and on the Moon while the journey to Mars was happening; the characters journeying to Mars had gaps in their knowledge which this story helps to fill. Aside from that, there’s page-turning suspense as new first person narrator Nicole Wargin tries to uncover a saboteur in a dangerous environment. If you love the sort of plot where something goes wrong, and then something else goes wrong, and then something else goes wrong while they’re still figuring out the first thing? This is your book. CW for a character with anorexia nervosa, and for unexpected death of a family member.
Revenants: Shadows from the Past by L.A. Hall is the newest installment of The Comfortable Courtesan, which as usual I devoured. I adore former pickpocket and burglar Bet Bloggs, now private investigator Leda Hacker, so much. It’s so much fun to check in with familiar characters like Maurice Allard and Belinda, t’other Lady Bexbury (I would read a whole book about either of them). I have begun losing track of some of the new generation of characters, though I can usually figure them out via context, and as the series goes on, I will hopefully know them as well as some of the older characters.
The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho is a wuxia-inflected novella in which a group of not-bandits encounter a former anchorite, and shenanigans ensue. The main characters are a delight, there’s terrific banter, and I enjoyed the plethora of secondary characters as well. My only complaint is that I wanted more.
The Sugared Game by K.J. Charles is second of the Will Darling Adventures; I waited long enough to read it that the third book is now out. This is historical male/male romance set in 1920s England. Will Darling is a working class former soldier (World War One) who now owns and operates his deceased uncle’s bookshop. Kim Secretan is the disgraced younger son of an aristocratic family who works for a shadowy agency and has a serious lack of self-esteem. Two delightful women are secondary characters: Kim’s ostensible fiancée, the wealthy and seemingly insouciant socialite Phoebe Stephens-Prince, and Will’s milliner/dress designer best friend Maisie Jones, who is Welsh and Black. Phoebe and Maisie have become friends, and are working together to launch a fashion house using Phoebe’s money and connections and Maisie’s designs. Meanwhile, Kim continues to investigate Zodiac, an organized crime group, while wrestling with his feelings for Will. As in the first installment, Will has fallen hard for Kim but struggles with Kim’s secretive nature, which mostly relates to his investigation. Many Things Happen, which I will not spoil because this series is still in progress. I am enjoying Will and Kim, and would swiftly read an entire series about Phoebe and Maisie, romance or otherwise.
Motivated by Juneteenth, I got back to The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South by Michael W. Twitty, a culinary historian whose work explores connections between African food, enslaved people and their foods forcibly brought to the Americas, and the resulting American “Southern” cuisine, as well as the ongoing impact of enslavement and its social effects on today’s African-American population. In this history/memoir, Twitty also explores his own genealogical and genetic heritage, and how that links up with food. I especially appreciated how he traced the changes in available food and nutrition when cotton became the primary monocrop enslaved people cultivated; I had not seen these connections laid out so clearly before. Rice and sugar were deadly crops for the enslaved, but cotton is associated with terrible nutritional deficiencies when, for example, nixtamalized hominy was replaced with corn minus its germ, and a range of wild foods, such as those found on the coasts and by rivers, became less readily available. If you’ve watched the Netflix documentary “High on the Hog,” in which Twitty appears, or read the original book by Jessica Harris, The Cooking Gene is an instructive follow-up.
Maybe Tomorrow by scifigrl47 mashes up the musical “Annie” with the Tales of the Bots series – DJ Stark is the orphan. It’s very cute, and does some fun things with Bobbi Morse. You could probably read it without knowing the Bots series.
Finally, I read An Undeniable Impression by Ansud a while back, a massive unfinished Pern/Vorkosiverse crossover. I had subscribed for updates while not expecting any. Well. The author has recently posted several more parts, bringing it up to 28 chapters and over 266,000 words, and though it’s still a Work In Progress, I dove in again and that was pretty much a week’s reading. Given the scope of “An Undeniable Impression,” I am not sure it can ever be truly finished, but frankly, at this point, I do not care. It’s bonkers. There’re so many characters, and so many ideas, and so much going back and forth between whens, and so much Robinton Gone Wild, that ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Rock on, Ansud, whoever and wherever you are. Rock on.