Fan of . . . Space Opera, Fantasy, and Dr. Ruth Galloway Mysteries

For this challenge — The Fan of . . . Challenge hosted by Jez Braithwaite — self didn’t want to just say Books. Sure, she spends most of her time reading, but she wanted to specify that she gravitates towards certain types of books, depending on her mood.

This year, she’s definitely into space opera (Shards of Earth), fantasy (The Mermaid and the Bear), and Elly Griffiths’ Dr. Ruth Galloway mystery series.

Sentence of the Day (Also: Spoiler Alert!)

You’re barreling along on p. 380 of an Adrian Tchaikovsky novel and you’re feeling it, really feeling it, swept along by the dense prose and the unspace and the intense flashbacks to what happened on Berenhof, when . . .

OLLI: “Son of a bitch, I knew it!”

And Solace sends the message.

NOOOO! Airlock her now, Olli!

Self can’t even.

Stay tuned.


In the seventy-eighth year of the war, an Architect came to Berlenhof.

Idris had put out on the Pythoness.

— Shards of Earth, p. 363

The above is a flashback. Tchaikovsky made us wait 363 pages to finally learn the full story of what happened on Berlenhof, where Solace and Idris first met.

Another thing self appreciates about Tchaikovsky is his sense of scale. When a ship is targeted, it doesn’t just explode: The Locust Ark, sister ship of the Pythoness, “was shredded across fifty kilometres of space.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.


There is one Ruth Galloway character who never disappoints, who never acts out-of-character for the sake of a cheesy story line, and it’s the Druid, Cathbad (Real Name: Michael Malone). In the very first Ruth Galloway mystery, The Crossing Places, he was a suspect in a child’s disappearance. Nelson kept uncovering layers of his past, it turned out he had some connection to the family of the disappeared girl. He was eventually cleared of all charges, and he and Nelson developed an unusual relationship. Nelson saved his life, and he saved Nelson’s. Now, Nelson feels a grudging respect — even, affection — for him.

With each succeeding book, Cathbad just keeps getting more and more interesting. When he shaved off his beard, he looked younger — even, good-looking. He wears his hair in a graying ponytail but is unexpectedly strong. He stole the heart of DI Judy Johnson, and they have two children together.

In The Lantern Men, he manages to scare off a man with a knife who has attacked Phil Trent, the head of the archaeology department at the university where Ruth teaches.

“Phil will survive,” says Cathbad, “but this will have repercussions. We are all threads in the tapestry of life.”

Ruth can almost hear Nelson’s voice saying ‘bollocks’, Judy seems unmoved. She probably gets enough of this sort of thing at home.

“Where did it happen?” she asks.

“Near Tuesday Market Place in Lynn,” says Cathbad. “Did you know that a witch’s heart is buried in the wall there? She was burned at the stake and her heart flew out and into the side of a house.”

The Lantern Men, p. 106

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Surrender to the Cheese

That is what she tells herself: Do not judge, you like what you like.

She has set aside The Last Graduate — the universe was too difficult, too much a blend of Harry Potter, Survivor, and 90210 — and is back to reading another Dr. Ruth Galloway book, The Lantern Men. She’s skipped a couple of earlier books but has realized it is best to read each book in the series as if it’s a standalone. Otherwise, it gets too frustrating: there is no development of the Ruth/Nelson relationship, from book to book. There is the occasional hook-up, and that is all.

In this installment, there is a delicious development: Ruth gets properly yelled at. By her current lover. An American TV personality named Frank. It is obvious to Frank, as well as to this reader, that she is simply using Frank for S.E.X. because Nelson is married and therefore only occasionally available.

Ruth’s job, Frank yells, is to be “a university lecturer.” And then he does this supposedly very American thing, he calls Ruth “honey.”

Is Frank toast?


Nelson fetches Ruth so she can visit a serial murderer in prison. To add to the excitement, Nelson is a terrible driver: “Nelson swerves to overtake a caravan. Ruth shuts her eyes. She opens them; they are still alive and the road is clear.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Last Graduate, p. 6

Taking a break from the Ruth Galloway series and turning to science fiction. The Last Graduate is Book 2 of a series, and self hasn’t read Book 1, but she’ll just wing it.

From what she has gleaned in the first few pages, it’s about students who are trapped in an evil school called the Scholomance that wants to devour them. And it is told in first person, past tense, which feels like a significant choice in itself — the entire Ruth Galloway series is told in third person present tense.

  • I wasn’t used to anyone inquiring after me, or for that matter even noticing when I’m upset. Unless I’m sufficiently upset that I start conveying the impression that I’m about to set everyone on fire, which does in fact happen on a not infrequent basis.

The Scholomance is like a massive clock. Nothing is stable. One gear will shift, and entire floors shift. The closer one gets to graduation, the closer one gets to being “eaten” — self is still trying to figure out this universe, but seniors rarely get assigned a room on higher than the third floor. So the “eating” is done on the ground floor?

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Flower of the Day (FOTD): English Roses

Self took these pictures at the Oxford Botanic Garden, which she visited in May. What she loves about the location is that, all around and across the street, are very old buildings. The roses are grouped by color: here pink, there orange; here yellow, there white.

Posting these for Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day Challenge:

Quintessential Phil Trent: Ruth Galloway # 6

If someone had told self three months ago that she would be on Book # 6 of Elly Griffiths’ Ruth Galloway mystery series, she would have said, Get out! Yet, here we are.

In the last book, The Outcast Dead, there was minimal Ruth/Nelson interaction, but plenty of Judy/Cathbad angst. That was okay, since self likes Cathbad. She’s not as enthused with Frank, the American TV personality who seems to have only two outstanding character traits: 1) He flirts with Ruth; 2) He is not Nelson.

Anyhoo, he’s gone back to Cambridge or wherever he is based, and Ruth is back to digging! And digging Ruth is the best Ruth, in self’s humble opinion.

Another really enjoyable aspect of Ruth Galloway’s character is how much her boss irritates her. Of course, he is her complete opposite: hates to do any work (any kind of work), but likes fundraising, and also making public appearances.

He shows up during a dig, early in The Ghost Fields, to which self can only say: HALLELUJAH, HOPEFULLY FIREWORKS!

“Do you want to have a look at today’s finds?” asks Ruth. Although she excavated the skeleton yesterday and bagged up the bones herself, there are still a few interesting objects emerging from the trench.

Phil pulls a face. “It’s awfully hot,” he says, as if the weather is Ruth’s fault.

“Is it?” says Ruth, pushing back her damp hair. “I hadn’t noticed.”

Phil looks at her quizzically. He doesn’t always get irony unless he’s concentrating.

Excellent scene!

Ragtag Daily Prompt Monday: LILAC

Self has the perfect picture for today’s Ragtag Daily Prompt — LILAC — evening sky over Belfast, late April.

Self was on her first-ever visit to Belfast. She’d originally planned to go in 2017, but ended up going to the Philippines instead. Then, the pandemic intervened. So it wasn’t until April 2022 that she finally boarded a flight from San Francisco to this (to her) almost-mythic city (She was a big, big Game of Thrones fan!)

A friend advised her to stay at the Europa. She took this picture from her hotel room. It was about 9 p.m.

Flower of the Day (FOTD): The Merton Borders, Oxford Botanic Garden

The Merton Borders were sown in November 2011. The purpose was to create a natural plant environment by sowing, directly into the ground, seeds of plants that would not require intensive management (i.e. no artificial irrigation, no fertilizer).

This is how the Merton Borders look today. Posting for Cee’s Flower of the Day:

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