This is a Good Book Thursday, June 27, 2019

I’ve been reading new romances, trying to figure out what makes a good one for me (not trying to establish a baseline for “good romance” since that depends entirely on the reader).  The thing I keep coming back to is that although I love romance novels, some of them make me wince and think, Oh my god, that’s trite.  And yet I keep reading anyway.  (And some I throw against the metaphorical wall, but forget those.)  One trope that fascinates me is the “we’re pretending to be in love/engaged/married” plot, which is really the contemporary version of the Marriage of Convenience.  That plot always hooks me even though I know it’s a cliche, even though I know it’s ridiculous, even though I know that never happens in real life, it still gets me every time.  I tried writing it once when I was writing category romance, and it was fun but I kept banging up against “this would never happen” so I’ve never tried it again, although I’m coming damn close with Nick’s proposal to Nita in order to give her his money.  Since they don’t get married during the book, I think I’ve dodged that bullet, but they do move in together since somebody is trying to kill her, so I’m firmly in the “Can he protect her?” trope, which is a plot I actively hate (she’s not a victim, damn it), but it does get them in the same apartment and eventually in the same bed, so oh just hell it’s a Marriage of Convenience plot.  Well, I do like that one, I’m just kind of ashamed of it.  Sigh.  Cowgirl up, Jenny.  Own your guilty pleasures.

What did you read this week?

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93 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 27, 2019

  1. I read Brenda Margriet’s Gateway Crescent. Yes, I did.

    While one character is very religious and that would usually make me resistant, this is not an inspirational romance. I loathe those because the characters are always so *good* as to be teeth-rottingly sweet. The characters here are written to not be caricatures and it works. Brenda, I love Jo, she’s great!!

    1. Wow – already? That’s a real compliment! I know this story is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea (even less than usual, I mean) but I really wanted to write Luke’s story – and Jo was so much fun!

    1. You can do a trope without making it a cliche. Cliches do not always work because people recognize them as cliches and they get exasperated. Tropes can be made new in their interpretations; cliches can’t be made new because if they’re new, they’re no longer tired old cliches. Argh.

  2. In honor of Good Book Thursday, all the Good Book Thursday posts are back on the blog, now tagged “Reading” and nothing else so they’re easier to find. There are over a hundred of them; didn’t realize we’d been doing that for two years. How times flies.

    I’m going to find a single image for them, too, so there’ll be that change. See? Already the blog is better.

  3. I have always thought that every marriage is a marriage of convenience in some ways, and at some times, particularly at the beginning of the union. The literary trope reflects this reality, although, like much of what happens in literature, heightened–made extreme or absolute.

    1. I am reading Patrice Locke’s The Happiest Marriage in the History of the World. It’s seven years after the Happy-ever-after in her first book Exit signs and it’s funny and profound with a thread of ‘how long am I allowed to keep this happiness.’

  4. Isn’t the marriage of convenience a device to explore whether/how connection between two unlikely people if possible? And since we all long for connection, but frequently find it impossible, this is a deep wish-fulfilment plot. However daft it seems.

    ‘A Surfeit of Lampreys’ was my favourite Ngaio Marsh so far. Perhaps partly because I skimmed the end first, as I always used to do before ebooks. I hate suspense, and that let me focus on the characters and relationships fully.

    I’ve been reading library books on my iPad since, neither of which are worth recommending.

    1. It’s forced intimacy plus fake-it-til-you-make-it. It’s also a good way to avoid writing people dating.

      1. Getting Rid of Bradley. It was so many decades ago it probably slipped your mind.

        I will do a travelogue sort of on working Wednesday after I get home. Had a great time in Oswestry (think Oz Wez tree) with Jane.

      2. I accessed the site when it was down. Great courage to revisit years of data! Brava!
        Modern reasons for “voluntary” forced intimacy: if an American citizen marries a resident alien, the alien is safe from deportation, but the union is scrutinized by ICE to insure the two cohabitate and say together a lawful length of time; a person with good insurance marries a sick person with none so that the partner can be included in family coverage. My personal experience of these two ‘tropes’ dates from 1960 to the present, centered mainly around college campuses (poor students accepting money to marry fellow moneyed resident students) and among musicians and beauticians (women marrying gay men during the AIDS epidemic and corporate employees marrying welfare friends or moneyed fans marrying starving artists). My offspring have friends now successfully choosing this solution to modern legislated problems. Mostly, everybody is satisfied with the bargain. Love occasionally blooms, children occur, divorce happens down the road not more often than in many modern unions. I have seen a version of this employed once in a British crime series when a female detective allows a sickk gay friend to impregnate her just before he dies. Can’t remember deets but 20C Masterpiece? Oxford?

    2. Isn’t the marriage of convenience a device to explore whether/how connection between two unlikely people is possible? And since we all long for connection, but frequently find it impossible

      Yes, I think this is it. At first, as kids and teenagers, we’re forced into circumstantial relationships why the fellow students we share classes with. You can get to know and befriend a classmate over a long period of time, with your guard relatively down, and you see them every single day.

      But as adults, making friends is really hard, and only getting harder, as people have a hard time even committing to a recurring get-together social. And even the people you are friends with, you may not see them that often if they aren’t co-workers. I’m lucky if I see my friends more than once a month. And in those kinds of situations, your performative guard is almost always up, so the relationships can only deepen to a point. Which means that any friendships that are the slightest bit unlikely don’t get a chance.

      This is also why audiences prefer working partner inter-team romances in procedural shows, because those are the characters who spend the most time together, so we perceive them as being the most emotionally close to each other.

      Forced cohabitation/fake-dating/marriage of convenience is a return to the classmate model, and fulfilling our nostalgia for it.

      1. I read Karen Lord’s The Best of All Possible Worlds this week, which was one of those working partner inter-team romances – only between two humans from alien cultures. It was a slow burn of a book, which I love, and reminded me just a little of some of Ursula le Guin’s other planet/other culture books. Highly recommended.

        I also read Allingham’s Sweet Danger, and totally agree that it’s wonderful. I’ve ordered the next one from the library so I’m going to work my way through those, along with Pratchett’s Sam Vimes books, which are probably my favourites of all the Discworld novels.

  5. Didn’t someone move in to protect someone in one of your books? Ummm, wow, it’s been a while with some of them. Getting Rid of Bradley?

    I’m reading the collected Binti novellas, Afrofuturism but no one warned me about the PTSD that threads through the stories.

        1. I’m glad I cajoled myself int reading all the comments before I made one. I was thinking, “But what about Cinderella Deal?” Grated minds…

  6. I read a sweet YA novel this week, “Serious Moonlight” by Jenn Bennett. An orphaned teenager has a one-night-virginity-losing stand with a fellow, then freaks out and runs, and then they end up working at the same place. The guy is totally sweet and over the moon for her already, but it’s a good story about dealing with fears and the crap we have build up about our lives as well.

    1. That is a perfectly realistic modern setup for the classic trope! How clever!

      I seem to be done with duke and billionaire romance (would I want to date the Zuck? No) and good work-a-day novels are thinner on the ground than I would expect. Renovating your parents’ Napa place is too duke-like.

      Murder series get there — nosy downtown shopkeepers and house renovators are adequately plausible accidental investigators.

  7. On Sunday, I purchased Death Around The Bend (a Lady Hardcastle Mystery) by T E Kinsey for my mother. She loves a British setting and a good but not too gory mystery. Came home from the bookstore, made a cup of tea, and thought I’d flip through the book before mailing. Read into the early evening and finished the book. Really enjoyed it!

  8. I’ve been reading Ben Aaronovitch and the Peter Grant stories for the last 2 weeks. Thank you for the rec. It’s been such a fun binge read. I’m on book 6 now. Have to hold off on buying it so that I’ll get some sleep/work done. 😄

  9. One of my favorite sub-categories of romance is Regency. Often, the plot revolves around a Plucky Girl, most often a commoner, trying to do something unlikely, like prove she’s really a baroness, which was the plot of the Madeleine Hunter novel I just read. I like the writers, like Mary Balogh, who give me real history as well as dukes; I learned much about the Napoleonic Wars from her Survivor Series. Bonus: she is trying to write about effects of war injuries and PTSD in a time when the latter was not diagnosed, and does it without anachronisms. And I re-read Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton books, which add humor (and often a pet) to the mix.

  10. All Those Things We Never Said by Marc Levy.

    It’s partly a story about a daughter and father and partly a lost love romance with a tweak of fantasy (which is a bit of a departure for me). It’s by the same French writer who wrote the book the movie Just Like Heaven with Reese Witherspoon was based on, so the fantasy element is a bit in that category, just a light touch. So far, it’s a fun read. It does take a bit of a buy-in re the fantasy side, but the writing is tight.

    Which I think is a big part of what you touch on with the “this would never happen” idea because if I as a reader feel confident in the writer, I’m much more likely to trust their story has depth and that any tropes or clichés (if any) will be deftly handled, so I’ll go along for the journey:)

  11. I’ve discovered that a recent popular YA subtrend, “a team of aggressively progressive teens Do A Heist,” is not my cup of tea. The characters involved tend to be insufferable with a side of preachy, which means it’s up to the relationships and competence porn to make up for that handicap.

    The recent example I read (Immoral Code by Lillian Clark) was rotating-narrator 1st person, which only exacerbates the “insufferable and preachy” part, but worse, the heist only happened for one act, so there wasn’t even that much competence porn. The three (three!) acts before it were the characters arguing over if they should do the heist. Blarg.

    Death Prefers Blondes avoided these pitfalls. It was in 3rd person, and it had competence action sequences seeded throughout the story.

    Genre YA tends to throw their characters in the deep end immediately, and the requirements on the prose to do world-building also helps reduce time/space for the protagonists to be insufferable and preachy.

  12. I had Dancing In Gumboots on the dock yesterday, and somehow, SOMEHOW, it fell between the boards and into the lake. It will be wet for ages, so it will take a while before I can finish it now.

    Gumboot Girls and Dancing in Gumboots are two collections of memoirs of young women ca. 1970 who went adventuring on British Columbia’s northwest coast and Vancouver Island. Most of them are still there.

  13. Bought the newest P C Hodgell book “By Demons Pocessed” in the series Chronicles of the Kencyrath, that started with God Stalk. I loved the first two, God Stalk and Dark of the Moon. Then there was a lapse in books and since then she had written more but they are not written in order. The latest one is number #6, but it follows #8. Its like she comes up with a story about something that happened earlier, and inserts it. Whatever, I love the characters so much that I will happily take whatever she writes. In fact the newest one caused me several sleepless nights while I reread several of the first ones!

  14. I like humor a lot, and I tend to like characters who bicker first before the characters notice how hot each other are. I really like some of Rainbow Rowell’s, where the first impression might be something more like, “that dude’s got a weird chin and he needs a haircut” which seems more true to life and also a lot more fun to read, when people get surprised by liking each other.

  15. I just finished “The Kiss Quotient” by Helen Hoang and loved it. The heroine defines herself as having high-functioning autism, and because the POV switches between her and her hero you get a great sense of how she sees herself and how other people see her. It’s a reverse Pretty Woman storyline (rich woman hires male escort to make her look more “normal”) and very, very enjoyable. Highly recommend it.

    It also reminded me of “The Rosie Project” which is another great read featuring a hero with autism, told in the first person POV but with such great writing you can see him from the “outside” as well.

    1. I really liked Kiss Quotient so I was looking forward to the next Hoang novel which came out in May, (is it called the Bride Test?) but I was disappointed by it. Bride felt like it fell back too much on older romance tropes/cliches (hello, relationship of convenience!) and didn’t do much new with them while Kiss at least put a new and interesting spin on the same tropes/cliches. Did anyone else read both and what did they think?

      1. I haven’t read any others, but was going to check them out.

        I wouldn’t be surprised if it fell a little flat. TKQ was such a unique story it would be hard to recreate the feeling, given it was so much about the characters and how they related to each other. I felt the same about the second Rosie story, even though it had the same narrator. Even though I still enjoyed it, the freshness was missing.

        1. Yeah, it can be hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice. I haven’t read The Rosie Project, will see if library has a copy. Thanks! If you are interested in books with autistic protagonists, have you read the Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon? Near future SF. Quite good! I believe Moon’s son is autistic which undoubtedly helps to contribute to a feeling of authenticity (at least as far as I can tell, not actually being autistic myself). Speaking of, I believe Hoang is on the spectrum herself? I wonder if she’d feel that Moon got it right. But I digress….

  16. I read “War”, the final book in the House War section by Michelle Sagara West. This is NOT the final book in the epic which deals with fighting Allaskandar. The ending in the book was bittersweet and dealt, rather definitively, with some major characters.

    After “War”, I can’t seem to settle down to any other book, so I’ve been obsessively reading Archive of Our Own fan fiction.

    1. It came in while I was out of town and, having heard the ending was a little sad (not just from you), I have been reluctant to start it. I will bite the bullet eventually though. Already placed my B&N order for the next Cast In… book coming out in January!

  17. Hey Jenny, I wanted to thank you for the intelligent and interesting answer to my questionable which I did get to read (but didn’t have a chance to properly comment on) just before it disappeared. So, thanks! I guess one takeaway is, generally, to learn the rules first so you know when to break them! But, of course, that is itself a rule made to be broken; sometimes gems are produced by people who didn’t know something would never work so they tried it and it worked.

    Also wanted to let you know I was slowly reading backwards through your archives and enjoying them (I think I had reached as far back as 2013, or was it 2009? I lost my bookmark…). So, count me as one who’d be happy to keep prospecting backwards into the Jurassic (or at least the Bush era) if you care to maintain that archive and it’s not too much of a hassle for you.

    As for books, I’ve been reading a unusually high proportion of good ones lately but they’ve already been returned to the library and I have a poor memory. However, I do recall that I read two very good fantasies (not sure if they’d be considered YA) by Margaret Roberson, and they were good enough I’ve added her to my autobuy list. More on that later, after work. . .

    I never remember where I get my recommendations but I know I’ve gotten a lot here. So, thanks again for the great book recommendations, everyone!

  18. I haven’t visited here for two weeks, but I read a lot, although some of the books were re-reads. Most of the new ones I learned about on this forum. If I haven’t said it before, I’m saying it now: this is a great place to find new books and new authors. Thank you, Argh people.
    Now to the books:
    “About that Night” by Julie James. Not my favorite of her contemporary romances. The heroine is an assistant DA, and the hero is an ex con. He is a wonderful guy (despite his conviction – thoroughly unjust, in my opinion) and he loves her. She seems to love him too, but she only agrees to meet with him in secret. She is afraid someone from her job would learn about the affair, and her job would be in jeopardy. I didn’t like her approach. I understand her dilemma, but if you love a man, you make a choice: him or the job. Having sex in secret seems degrading and disrespectful to him. Am I wrong?
    “The One You Can’t Forget” by Roni Loren. This was a new author for me, and I loved the book, another contemporary romance. No critique whatsoever. I already ordered another one of hers from the library. The anticipation is killing me.
    “The Iron Duke” by Meljean Brook. That was a fun steampunk romance, with lots of steamy sex and lots of hair-raising adventures. Airships, zombies, machines grafted to human bodies, treachery everywhere. Very engrossing, although the two plotlines – sex and adventures – never really intersected. It could be two separate stories, and neither one would suffer much from the removal of the other.
    “Local Custom” by Sharon Lee & Steve Miller. This was a romantic sci-fi. A nice story. I didn’t fall in love with it, but I liked it and am willing to try another of their books.
    “Listening Valley” by D.E. Stevenson. This was a typical Stevenson, sweet and light, with the first half faintly boring and the second half much more engaging. I remember Jenny saying once on this forum that Stevenson doesn’t do sex. True, and I was pretty glad she doesn’t, when I read this book. The heroine, a seventeen-year-old girl, is marrying a guy 40 years her senior. I can’t imagine a sex scene between them: an old goat and a young virgin. It would be so gross.
    “Clouds of Witness” by Dorothy Sayers. Now, this is an early Peter Wimsey, so no surprise I enjoyed it. I read it the first time so long ago, I didn’t remember anything. Truth to tell, it started with me finding another Wimsey book at our local free library. That one, “Thrones, Dominations” was written mostly by Jill Paton Walsh after Sayers started and abandoned it years ago. I started reading it, and it was so dismally bad, I had to stop about 20% in. Then I thought: maybe I should try an earlier Wimsey book. Maybe it would be better? And it was. So much better!

  19. I listened to a middle grade book, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden and really enjoyed it. It has creepy scarecrows that are actually people turned into scarecrows so if you have that phobia, this is not the book for you.

    I read The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand and really enjoyed it. It’s a spin on A Christmas Carol and while, as a reader, it was easy to see the way the plot was actually moving, the main character was not TSTL for not noticing what was really going on.

    Light reads were a cozy mystery, Buried in a Book by Lucy Arlington, about a murder at a small town literary agency (it’s not a out-in-the-boonies small town like mine but more like a bedroom community to a larger center) and The Friends We Keep by Susan Mallery which was entertaining even though one of the characters annoyed me and really needed therapy.

    I tried reading a thriller/mystery that was written first person present and got about half a page in before the tense/POV annoyed the heck out of me.

  20. I have two books right now from the library, Tightrope by Amanda Quick (JAK) which I read quickly to about half way and have put it down, not sure if it’s irritating me because I have personal hot-buttons it is pushing, or if it’s something else. So many of her books have the exact same plot but I enjoy the characters and love to read them – this one…. I’m just not sure why I’m not happy with it. And Life Animated by Ron Suskind about his son with Autism and how he used animated movies to connect. Just finished Shockwave (Star Kingdom Book 1) by Lindsay Buroker and this one checked all my favorite things. Nerdy hero who uses brains instead along with super nerdy girl side-kick with brains and brawn. I’ve now read the second one as well, it was also really good, book three I had some serious plot issues with, but still hooked on the characters and so devoured it too.

    1. I just finished the third book of the Star Kingdom series, and it was still fun, with some interesting character development twists. The fourth book is coming out July 13th and I’m looking forward to it.

  21. My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing.

    I had this from the library, but then saw it in the bookstore at the airport on the “bestsellers” table. That worried me a bit (I don’t usually care for bestsellers, e.g., I have never been able to make it through a John Grisham book) but I decided to read it anyway.

    Thankfully, I can recommend it. The story is told from the POV of a husband who is so crazy about his wife that he will do anything to keep their marriage strong. If that means the pair of them become serial killers, oh well! It was amusing in a macabre way, but also made me so tense that I couldn’t put it down.

  22. I’m reading a bunch of cozy mysteries (research before I try writing one myself) and not loving most of them. I am enjoying a series by Krista Davis (Murder She Barked, The Ghost and Mrs. Mewer) that is set in a town that is billed as the top pet-friendly getaway in the United States. The protagonist has a cat and a dog that tend to find dead bodies. Thank goodness my cats only do that when it is a mouse. I also liked A Whisker of Trouble by Sofie Ryan (who also writes under Sofie Kelly).

    Currently reading Nan Reinhart’s contemporary romance Meant to Be (it comes out next month, but I snagged a review copy) and loving it. Of course, it is set at a vineyard…

    1. What kinda cozies you gonna write? I find that sometimes the writers rely to much on the hook (she’s a ghost whisperer/witch/baker/New York executive going back home to Nowheresville, Some Southern State) that they forget to write a book. It’s all just too much. When there’s a book there, an actual mystery and characters who aren’t cardboard, those hooks can be fun.

      1. Funnier than average (because there is humor in most of my stuff). The protagonist is going to be a woman who goes from working dead end jobs to having money because she won the lottery unexpectedly and ends up buying a rundown rescue shelter (because of a stray kitten she picked up). Then she finds out she has bitten off a lot more than she expected (that part is actually based on a local rescue where I live).

  23. I’m in a reading slump, so have turned to non-fiction. Just got Susan Pages biography of Barbara Bush from the library. She was able to read her diaries and had some one on one interviews before she died. So far it is an interesting look at womanhood at a certain place and time.

  24. So I have continued to have rereading all entangled with reading of new things, and this time the rereading was Tanya Huff’s Enchantment Emporium series. I love the first one and the momentum propelled me through the second and so then I reread Popco which made me wonder what happened to Scarlett Thomas and now she writes series for children. Popco so brilliantly captures what it was like to work at a certain sort of company just before the tsunami of new media broke that the general busy-ness of plot and subtexts about vegan superiority and importance of cleverness just disappear.

    I read Chris Hammer’s Scrublands, which is described as a thriller and was neatly written but I kept thinking of the Travis McGee series and waiting, and it kept not getting there. My Sister, the Serial Killer, which is by Oyinakin Braithwaite was snappy and slick and somehow really captured a very specific sisterly dynamic – it is also much funnier than I expected. And then I read Aliette de Bodard’s Tea Master and the Detective – she’s a versatile plotter, and the stuff I’ve read of hers is detailed and complex – the world-building is layers deep and there’s not a lot of exposition – you’re just in there. I really liked how/that a friendship was formed and that it feels open to continuation, in an episodic way.

      1. Yes! It’s good, but technical in a way that checks me out so frustrating. But also good!

      1. That was the first Tanya Huff I read (which seems impossible now) and it flung me into reading a whole lot of authors that I don’t know how long it would’ve taken me to find otherwise. She is just so much fun to read.

  25. I finished two books from the library that were forgettable — one I finished, the other I put aside with great relief that I didn’t actually have to finish it. The other evening, I decided I’d spend the last half hour of my day re-reading the first chapter of Sharon Shinn’s Rider & Mystic, which is the first in a 5-book series. What I’d recalled about it was that the first chapter was just beautifully constructed and exciting without being stupid. She introduces her characters as a mostly unconnected group of patrons at an inn, but they turn out to be something entirely different, and added to the mix is an innocent character who asks questions that allow some graceful infodump in an unannoying way.

    What I hadn’t recalled was that the interactions among the group members was way more sociological and interesting than I’d remembered. I kept reading to see what exactly was the way the author developed relationships from their firm, stratified starting points to something unexpected and different.

    Unfortunately, that means I’ll be re-reading the other four books, which is probably going to keep me up way too late for a couple of weeks. Still, evolution of my thinking, right?

      1. I believe the print books will come out some time in July. That’s what I’m waiting for.

  26. I just started rereading Cotillion, to speak of relationships of convenience! They are fun and silly. (I meant that the pretend relationships are fun and silly, but Kitty and Freddy are too.)

    1. I’m re-reading that at the moment too! I’m just at the moment when Kitty tells Freddy that he has more address.

    2. I think that’s one of the best romance novels ever and I re-read it at least once a year. The way Heyer shows them falling in love through their actions, first apart and then together, and that great, great ending . . . so. brilliant. And that amazing love interest switch. So so good.

      1. And they both become so much more as individuals through their relationship. I love the way the characters around them are constantly surprised by the “new” facets of Freddy and Kitty’s personalities.

    3. Cotillion is delightful in all the ways. It was one of the first things I read after the squishing and I didn’t properly remember it but it felt familiar, and I was so pleased to have it back.

    4. Thanks! I’m reading a dark mystery (and not loving) so I looked Cotillion up on my Kindle & have not read since 2011.

  27. I just finished Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler. A mystery, it goes back and forth in time between London during the Blitz and in the early 21st C. It took a while to get accustomed to the switching back and forth because you have to use the context to know which time period you’re reading about. The mystery was well done, as was the portrait of London during the Blitz, including the Palace Theatre (which still exists). The two detectives, Bryant and May, are the sort you want to meet again. All in all, well worth the read, and I will try others in the series. The only problem was reading about both bombing and murders, because one already sees so much inhumanity and horror in the news.

    So when it became too much I stopped for a while and turned to Untried Heart by Nicky Charles and Jan Gordon. I don’t usually go for stories about angels, but I read the first in the series a couple of years ago and enjoyed it, and I liked this one even more. The concepts of Heaven, the archangel Michael, and Guardian Angels (the heroine is one) are a lot of fun. The story is heartwarming and uplifting and proved to be the perfect antidote. Left me with a lovely warm fuzzy feeling. 🙂

  28. The best book I read in the last few weeks was We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, by Karen Joy Fowler. I just loved it, and am still absorbing it after finishing. Other recent reads have been largely uninspiring…I am contemplating a massive re-read of everything I own.

    I love marriage-of-convenience tropes (and pretty much all the modern variants), although there is absolutely no connection to real life for me. If one of my friends told me that she was getting married and moving into an isolated castle with a person she barely knew, for REASONS, I would be a whirl of frantic intervention…in fiction, I settle in for a happy evening. Realism is not always necessary for enjoyable reading!

  29. My kids break off at lunchtime today so I treated myself to a Reading Day yesterday rather than shop, clean, organise or plan.
    I read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman and I’m not sure it was worth my day. Loved the first half but the end was just long, hysterical dialogues.
    I should have picked up Wild Ride which just arrived. I’ve been saving it because I don’t like to have read all someone’s books until I’m aware that’s what I’ve done. Now that I know you have something in the pipeline, I can read this knowing it isn’t the last! (I still haven’t read The Shepherd’s Crown because I can’t handle it being the last Discworld by Pratchett.)

    Loving all these recommendations!

    Also, I love all stories where love “grows” from beginnings of convenience, tricking others, crime, or conflicting personalities. It’s the development of love and respect and the growth of the characters that I enjoy.

  30. Not reading anything new. Have several new to me books to read. Reading snippets of favourites instead.

  31. i just this morning had a conversation with myself about what kind of romance i want to “read” as i take a mini-road trip to columbus this morning…okay practically afternoon. my go-to is actually the paranormal mystery with romance as a sub thread. i picked caraval. but i might choose a backup from these suggestions here. btw, my mini-road trip is inspired by all the swell crusie heroines who flesh out their mundane life in columbus. i live in california so it’s a particularly special treat.

  32. In the last week I finished the “Oh, John Ringo, No!” series. While I was in a John Ringo mood, I started the Legacy of the Aldenata series. I finished A Hymn Before Battle and Gust Front and I’m finishing up When The Devil Dances.

    In the meantime, Bujold’s Dreamweaver’s Dilemma is open on the smaller Kindle. It’s part of a collection, Proto Zoa I think.

    I have a collection of “Marriage of Convenience” books on the larger Kindle and in the cloud. At one time, I thought all romances were that category, and Betty Neels wrote most of them.

  33. A bestselling writer changed her collaborator for her less popular series. They’re an entertaining read, but not as good as her main series.

    I read the first 2 chapters of her new book and the continuity errors were screaming at me, I stopped reading. I borrowed the book, so I’ll probably go back to it, but if they’d just used common sense, it could have been avoided.

    One of my favourite films is Amelie and that film practically got you believing 5 impossible things before breakfast, but the opening story lead you there. Something lacking in this novel.

    To make up for it, I read Brat Farrar, as recommended by this forum, very enjoyable. Though I think I am too used to Agatha Christie and Hercule Poirot talking you through the solution. For Brat Farrar, I had to go back to piece it together at the end as I hadn’t been paying attention.

  34. Every summer our library does a Book Bingo with a bingo sheet full of categories of books to read (for example, poetry, a book set in the summer, and more. Here is a link to the form https://www.spl.org/programs-and-services/learning/summer-of-learning/2019-adult-book-bingo ) and one of the categories this summer is a “big book” which you define as being one you feel is worth two squares. So I am reading Les Miserables which is both compelling and sooo frustrating. Just as the mayor has been found out to be Jean Valjean, he stops the narrative for about a dozen chapters about Waterloo. What?

    Anyway I keep taking breaks and reading more contemporary, shorter, and faster paced books. Has anyone else read Maybe You Should Talk to Someone? I listened to it and loved it.

  35. I like the “let’s try this out (even though our minds tell us it won’t work)” aspect of marriages of convenience. But I seem to be working on a broader definition than is meant in this post because I think of Strange Bedfellows as a Crusie example (as well the already mentioned Cinderella Deal ((yes, I read Jenny’s response)) and Getting Rid of Bradley).

    I mean, as some other posters have noted, the heroine and hero need to be close in order to connect. A false relationship is a good place to start. More: Andi Archer pretends to still be North’s wife; beautifully, this time their false parenting partnership works out their love problems (Maybe This Time). Better: Sophy and Phin (Welcome to Temptation) deliberately begin an upside down Cinderella relationship. They agree on just sex, nothing more (now I’m thinking of Charlie All Night). Okay, I’ll give up now and just enjoy the books.

  36. I am still doing more writing than reading, but I did re-read ‘Reflex’ by Dick Francis. I love the way he studied the different professions for his protagonists and made those professional skills part of the story.

  37. This is a little odd, and I’m sorry but – can anyone suggest a place I can describe Australian books that someone might be able to tell me the title? I don’t know where to start looking.

    1. These two (uh, now 4) methods worked for me in the past, on both sides of the question (as a librarian and as a reader):

      1) Check with your own library’s librarians. They will have access to databases or to networks of librarians, national and foreign. I’ve never met a professional librarian (not to be confused with library assistants) who didn’t have access to other librarians around the world via professional associations and listserves. And the very best public library librarians will know their coworkers genre specialties.

      2) Draft a brief description of your query and send it to one or more public libraries in Australia. I’ve also never met a professional librarian who didn’t love getting a reference question from afar. Most public libraries will have some kind of online Ask a Librarian service.

      3) Hmmm. Just thought of a possible 3rd option, if it’s appropriate: send an email to a Romance Writers group in Australia or post it to a romance writer’s blog or send an email message to your own local Romance Writers group and ask their advice. (This assumes the book you are seeking is a romance.)

      4) And a 4th: There is also Smart Bitches Trashy Books …. I’ve been listening to their delightful podcasts and they read books and interview authors from around the world. I’m not sure they have a “Can You Name this Book” feature on their website, but maybe they’d create one if readers asked. Visit their website for contact info: https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/

      I’m sure others will have more suggestions, especially the writers here. My suggestions are from the librarian perspective 🙂

      Good luck!

      1. I looked a little more closely at the SBTB website and they do have a What’s the Name of this Book feature.

        You can link to it under their About / Contact tab:

        https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/contact/requests/

        “I’m Looking for Content/HaBO
        Having trouble remembering the name of a book? Looking for a book recommendation? Want to interview us? Use this form….”

    2. What info do you have? I’m an Australian former bookseller – I can’t guarantee that I’ll know the book/s you’re looking for, but I’d be happy to give it a go.

  38. Audio must — Rudyard Kipling, “Kim”, Ralph Cosham, Blackstone pub.
    Naomi Novik, “His Majesty’s Dragon”, Simon Vance. Temeraire series. I see the arc and characters of these books near in spirit to Jane Austen. Novik captures Georgian England and forced mannerly restraint with ironic humor and uses these bookends to shape character development with near Huck Finn moral growth, as the protagonists limp toward “lighting out for the [British] territories” literally. Napolean figures largely as a charming Miltonian Satanic foil. Spunky heroines rife in all content. Many parallel definitions of ‘love’ for sauce. I would like to see Novik woven into a Lit syllabus.

  39. I read a new romance that I didn’t realize was a romance until I was into it. It was so good and I don’t say that about many contemporary romances. Evvie Drake Starts Over, Linda Holmes. Also new mystery author for me Denise Mina. Loved “Conviction” her latest.

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