This is a Good Book Thursday, December 3, 2020

I read Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall, and it was really, really good. If you liked Red, White, and Royal Blue, this is that with more edge. Plus funny as hell. Now reading Wild and Crazy Guys by Nick de Semiyen, a book about comedy in the 80s (all male) to be followed by a palate cleanser, Pretty Funny: Women Comedians and Body Politics, by Linda Mizejewski who I just realized was on my PhD general exams committee, something I’m sure she forgot immediately.

Then probably a re-read of Regina Barreca’s They Used To Call Me Snow White But I Drifted, Women’s Strategic Use of Humor. I learned a lot from that book, time to review. Oh, and I read If You Ask Me, one of Betty White’s memoirs, more of a stream of consciousness thing that was like a nice chat. Very good to read before bed.

What did you read this week?

97 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, December 3, 2020

  1. I have been reading Trisha Ashley’s Garden of forgotten wishes. It makes me want to reread 12 Days of Christmas which is the first one of her books I read. It’s a great one to read right now. It always puts me in the mood for Christmas. Especially this year since, for the first time in a long time, I won’t be spending it with my extended family in Paris.

  2. I’m really enjoying the Vera Stanhope mysteries. I like my mysteries not too dark, but not too cutsey or twee and these hit my sweet spot. The mysteries aren’t that hard to figure out, but I love Vera, an older, grumpy, frumpy women who uses people’s assumptions of her to put everyone on the back foot.

  3. I enjoy the Vera Stanhope series too! For pretty much the same reasons. I also love the series-it is one on the very few where I like the series as much as the books.

  4. I’m reading “Three Men in a Boat” by Jerome K. Jerome. Very Wodehousian. Also “Blowing the Bloody Doors Off: And Other Lessons in Life” by Michael Caine which is an entertaining mixture of life lessons and biog.

    1. I read “Three Men in a Boat” after reading Connie Willis’ “To Say Nothing of the Dog.” It was fun to read them back to back and get some of the inside jokes.

  5. My younger dog, the one who collects rocks, was lying by my feet while I read last night. She had some little toy she was playing with, rolling it around in her mouth & spitting it back out to examine more closely, which is something she sometimes does when she brings one of her precious rocks in from the back yard. So I asked, as I often do, “May I see what that is?” And she looked up, as she often does, with the contraband object firmly hidden in her mouth and an expression of cheerful-yet-uncooperative innocence, pretending she has nothing at all. Except this time, the mouse tail dangling out of the corner of her mouth totally gave away her secret. Dogs are so gross.

    So anyway, the book that was distracting me was pretty good. Girls Made of Snow and Glass, by Melissa Bashardoust. YA fairy tale, & a good, cozy winter read.

    1. Oh gosh. No kidding. Just gross. Maybe I don’t need a new dog quite yet. Better wait until we land in a new abode.

      1. If it helps, my dogs have never brought in a mouse. But I have remarkably lazy dogs. Adopt an older one. They mostly snooze with their chins on your knee, which is better than valium.

  6. Hear me out… It’s a Harlequin Desire called Taking On The Billionaire by Robin Covington.

    I need more of you to read it and tell me if it is as good as I think it is! I LOVED IT. And I don’t know if it’s because of my interest in the heroes history or whether it is handled sensitively by the author, making this such a good read.

    It falls in that it IS a Harlequin and there’s not omitted that could do well in a longer format. But that’s my only gripe.

    I pre-ordered the next one.

    1. Hi a lot of very very good authors started in Harlequin (hi Jenny) yo u could have spotted the next future RW winner. I’ll go have a look for that one.

      1. No question there. It’s just that sometimes the story suffers from the shorter format.

      2. Harlequin used to be the starting place for romance authors, and then the single title houses would steal them. Not sure it works that way any more, but they were good to me (my editors) until they weren’t (freaking lawyers). That was thirty years ago; no idea what they’re like now, especially since they were bought out.

  7. I haven’t read anything this week really, but while I was straightening up my bookshelves to line up my ridiculous number of tiny houses (yes, I have a problem), I (a) found a load of books that I don’t want anymore and can go to the community shelves in the condo building and (b) found a couple of books that I am pretty sure I haven’t read but want to. Maybe they will make it to the list next week.

  8. Finally a new book, Ten Things I Hate About the Duke by Loretta Chase. One of my favourite authors. In non-fiction, reading Steven Hassan.

    1. Thanks for mentioning that! The last time I looked the library didn’t have it, but now they do, and I am number 13 waiting for one of three copies.

    2. I’ve complained to Loretta – well, I thought it was a mistake or tech gremlin – but ‘Ten Things’ is only out in the US. Someone needs to let publishers know about the internet.

      1. I’ve just downloaded the reading sample from, Jill… so the e-book is available in Europe.

      2. Just had a notification from Loretta’s blog: ‘ It gives me very great pleasure to report that the UK/Australia/New Zealand Kindle edition of Ten Things I Hate About the Duke is now available. Other retailers will follow, probably within 72 hours.’ I’ve bought it from Amazon UK – amazingly cheap, too! (It’s just rather daft that it wasn’t available to pre-order; there was just no sign of a Kindle edition.)

    3. I finished it last night. After slowing down on the last 25% because I didn’t want it to end. I think this might be one of my favorites of hers (and that’s saying a lot, because I am a major fangirl). It’s just delightful, I must say.

    1. It was such a good read for me that it (and all of Leckie) is on perpetual re-read rotation, like Murderbot.

    2. I loved it. And it did indeed seem to be foreshadowing Murderbot. Somewhat darker but still a great read.

    3. I loved the Ancillary series, although be warned that the first one starts off slowly, or at least I thought so. If you get bogged down, it’s worth slogging along until it picks up, so don’t give up!

  9. This week’s reading: ‘Gentleman Jim’ by Mimi Mathews, in which the titular character is a long-dead wastrel whose bad behavior sets up all the H & H’s problems. I do like Mathews for a) realistic obstacles b) main characters who use their words.

    Continuing my Layla Reyne binge. ‘Tequila Sunrise,’ M/F novella bridging the whisky and brewing trilogies; ‘Noble Hops,’ 3rd in the Cam/Nic FBI/AUSA trilogy, winding up the complicated understory plot that began in book 1; ‘The Last Drop,’ M/M novella related to ‘Dine With Me.’ Another good thing to read if you want to be inspired about food & drink.

    ‘Jane-Emily’ by Patricia Clapp. Read this looooong ago and remembered several things, but not title or author until someone mentioned it here on Argh, so thanks! Super 1912-set ghost story.

    Continuing my Ryan Taylor + Joshua Harwood binge, ‘The Chrismukkah Crisis,’ a M/M contemporary featuring a young DC lawyer and … his paralegal. As someone who’s worked in law offices since 1989, I was cringing. Like, yelling out loud to the book: STOP TOUCHING AT THE OFFICE. They both end up quitting (instead of getting fired, which is imminent) and secure much-better new jobs along with their HEA. Like all the Taylor/Harwoods I’ve read so far, the workplace details are solid. Pace somewhat frenetic here.

    Two more novellas: ‘In Case of Emergency’ by Keira Andrews, a M/M holiday story that I liked a lot; ‘Inheritance of Shadows’ by A.L. Lester, M/M historical paranormal that I understand to be Ur-story for her Lost In Time series.

    And finally, finally read ‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, which I liked so much that I stayed up till 2 a.m. to finish it. It is going on my favorite books read in 2020 list along with ‘Boyfriend Material.’

  10. I finally got my hands on The Orphans of Raspay, and loved it. I’m not sure it’s my favorite Penric, but I’m about to go re-read them all and see.
    Also finished and enjoyed Jackie Lau’s Grumpy Fake Boyfriend, but had to take breaks because the Stupid People Quotient was high.

    I just finished Olivia Dade’s Spoiler Warning, thanks to recommendation here, and enjoyed it, but I realized reading it that one reason I’m finding romance hard to get into lately is I’m really tired of youth. The H/H seemed so much younger than their official ages. Maybe I should go read some Vera Stanhope–grumpy older woman sounds just what I need.

    In further grumpiness, the freezing page when commenting problem is so bad that I’m writing this in Chrome (which I dislike) after several tries in Safari when reloading the whole page did not help. The problem shows up in Chrome, too, but not as often.

    1. I know. It’s Safari and I’m not sure we can do anything about it. Mollie’s about to revamp the website so maybe when she makes this site match, she’ll figure out what’s wrong with it.

        1. I don’t have a problem with that, Thea, except for the times I uncheck the box under this comment pane that says ‘ Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.’

    2. If you’re a Facebook user you might want to check out two groups – Seasoned Romance and Romance in Her Prime. Both only feature books with older characters. The cut off age is 30, but many of them are 40 plus.

  11. As I feared, many fabulous comments I was storing up for Good Book Thursday have escaped my mind. Let me see if I can recover any of them.

    Previously, I talked about reading new books as snippets at Baen’s Bar, and then the practice was discontinued. Well, another practice that sort of echoes that one is “Monthly Book Bundles.” You can buy them as much as 120 days before release, and then they give you sneak peeks at the books! I’d forgotten I purchased The Macedonian Hazard (Flint, Goodlett, Huff) months ago as part of the January 2021 bundle, and now 3/4 of the book is available until release. So I’ve read that, and waiting for the last quarter is killing me.

    I’m still rereading the “Wearing the Cape” superhero series, and now I’m up to Ronin Games, which Mr. Harmon labels as “Book #5” because he leaves out (of the count) the real second (about Jackie the vampire) and fourth (a short story, but still) books.

    I’m also rereading Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance. Slowly. It’s my bathroom book, so I might get in half a chapter when I set a spell. 🙂

    That’s it. All the quotes and observations I was saving up are gone. The mind is a terrible something something… never mind.

      1. One of the quotes was from Ozma in Young Sentinels. She’s just observed that a teammate is a “gooch” and his heart isn’t true. Then she says, “But things that aren’t can be made to are.” I loved that turn of phrase.

        1. I made the mistake of looking up “gooch.” I may never look at Ozma the same way again, however giggleworthy it may have been.

  12. I’m having trouble sticking with anything, but I read Grave War this week, the last book in the Alex Craft series by Kalayna Price. I’ve also been thumbing through old knitting magazines and perusing cookbooks.

  13. This week my life revolves around palaces, stately homes and mansions. I seem to have a standing date at 4 o’clock in the afternoon for the second season of A Place to Call Home on DVD. One episode a day. In the evening when my husband has finished clicking around a million and one channels, he hands me the clicker and I’ve landed on The Crown. And just today I picked up The Last Castle by Denise Kiernan from the library. A story about the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina and Edith Vanderbilt. If only I could get the servants to clean the windows at my humble estate — oh wait that’s me. Damn it I did them only two weeks ago.

    1. I’m watching The Crown. Still on Season 1. Can’t wait for Season 4. (Loved Diana).

      But I think it’s funny that people are complaining that it doesn’t show she as drama-prone as they thought she was. But, she was 19, early 20’s. I don’t think my own drama calmed down until my 30s. (Guy at work was talking to his girlfriend on the phone, and she was really upset & hung up on him. He sighed. Other guy said “That’s what you get for dating a 20 year old!”) But I am enjoying The Crown.

  14. I’m still not reading much, but inspired by last week’s reminder of a really, really young Christian Kane in Angel, I’m binging the whole series. He already had some of the mannerisms he used in Leverage. But, boy oh boy, he was so young and baby-faced. David Boreanaz too, of course, but not as strikingly so.

      1. He played Lindsey McDonald, one of the Wolfram and Hart lawyers, the one that was trying to beat Lilah to a promotion (or something). Remember the one where he lost his hand, and the evil law practice gave him the hand of a killer that had a mind of its own without telling him that? I remember him grabbing Lilah’s butt and when she turned around to kill him, he said, “Hey. Evil hand.” Then they brought Darla back from the dead and he fell in love with her. How could you forget Lindsey?

        1. And he sings in the evil hand episode (just watched it last night), with Cordelia saying after the performance, “I know you’re evil and all, but that was really good.”

  15. I read ‘Leave It to Psmith’ as a Thanksgiving treat and am now into Anne Stuart’s ‘The Absolutely, Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales’. I’ll have to try ‘Boyfriend Material’ next.

  16. I’ve always been an avid reader, and since the pandemic began my reading increased to the point of being unable to find much that I like. However, this week I was watching the Today Show and they recommended This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousins. It’s a contemporary romance, setting is London, which I always enjoy.
    It was around $11 for kindle. I figured better to buy one more expensive book than three cheaper books that leave me disappointed.
    I really loved the story, the main characters, the author’s style, so much so that I’m back to where I started. What the heck do I read now? Ha ha

  17. A new books for me: Carla Kelly’s Reforming Lord Ragsdale. It was an OK historical romance, but nothing spectacular.
    I’m also continuing with my project of Mercedes Lackey’s select re-reads. I finished Magic’s Promise and Exile’s Valor. Enjoyed them both. She is really a good writer, and her popularity is richly deserved.

  18. Not a romance, but the first book I’ve read in *months* (and I used to read fairly voraciously) was Louise Penny’s latest Gamache,’ The Devils Are Here’. I really enjoyed it, not least because indications are that it is not the last in the series (and I had wondered if the book prior to this was the end, so I’m so happy she’s continuing). I find her writing richly detailed and comforting, which is definitely something I can get behind right now.

    I was spurred to go off and find ‘The Devils…’ by Kristin Esser’s quilting-and-books podcast – my brain seems to be dealing with podcasts easier than books at present – as she is quite the Gamache fan. And it reminded me of how much I loved the other books in the series (well, most of, there was one that I found a slog, but I can’t remember which right now, other than it was a later one… It’ll turn up, lol), so I’m planning on starting again at the beginning.

    1. I loved it for so many reasons, not the least of which was that Inspector Gamache’s apartment is a block from our friend’s apartment that we stay at when we’re in Paris. The Inspector and I are walking around the same neighborhood!

  19. I’m finally reading Blackout by Connie Willis. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it. And I have All Clear to read next.

    I’ve also been reading early 19th C Scotland mysteries by Lexie Conyngham. I have read the first book of two series — the central character in one is a student at St. Andrew’s, and the other is a doctor’s wife in the Highlands. I’m enjoying the somewhat slow pace. I love the characters and am learning lots of interesting new vocabulary and history, always a plus.

    Also read Silence for the Dead by Simone St. James, a creepy, ghostly page-turner that takes place in a home for shell-shocked soldiers after WWI. Couldn’t put it down.

    And for a complete change, I read To Kill a Labrador, the first in a cozy series by Kassandra Lamb. (No, the dog does not get killed. He’s one of the main characters in the series.) Good, solid cozy mystery.

  20. I started Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and gave it up halfway through. There is nothing wrong with it and the meet cute premise was quite rewarding for someone who loves used book stores as much as I do, but I’m so tired of reading about high school kids! I didn’t know anything at that age and these kids aren’t much better. The whole idea that first love is the only kind worth writing about is one that I wish the publishing world would abandon.

    More satisfying was One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London. She’s a plus size fashion blogger and he’s a college professor and they each have to work around some baggage and false assumptions. As someone who has spent time relegated to the polyester dumping ground that is sold to fat women, I can really root for a heroine who wants variety to come in all sizes. And I also enjoyed the fact that she didn’t fully understand him until she saw him interact with his students. This sounded a lot more like people I might know.

    1. The Netflix series of ‘Dash & Lily’ was fun; visually rich, as someone here said. And I liked the secondary characters/community. (In principle, I’m with you, though.)

      1. Same here. The book didn’t interest me when I came acriss it ages ago. Netflix pushed it to me, but I gave on when daughter lijed it a lot.
        What Jane said: it’s a visual treat, nice music, great secondary characters (loved Boomer and the brother plus brother’s boyfriend). Only far too posh living conditions…
        And a great bookstore as backdrop!!

  21. I just finished Happily This Christmas by Susan Mallery. Nice book in a continuing series of connected people, very comfort read. One appalling error that somehow got past all the editors and proofreaders, but it made me laugh, so there’s that.

    Reading the second mystery in Tamara Berry’s Eleanor Wilde series, Potions are for Pushovers. Really enjoying it.

  22. I’ve finished Misty Lackey’s newest, JOLENE (Elemental Masters), which I enjoyed, and started — nonfiction — A WINTER ON THE NILE. This was the winter of 1849-50, and the travelers were Florence Nightingale and Gustav Flaubert. It’s probably needless to say that they saw two very different sides of Egypt; she visited many temples and tombs; he visited a LOT of brothels. And harems.

    Also starting Tamsyn Muir’s GIDEON THE NINTH, “Lesbian necromancers explore a haunted gothic palace in space!” Hugo, Nebula, and Locus finalist for 2020, so we’ll see.

    Holiday reading, ONE MORE FOR CHRISTMAS, by Sarah Morgan, someone whose Harlequins I usually like and occasionally love (PLAYING BY THE GREEK’S RULES).

    A BACHELORS CUPBOARD, Containing Crumbs Culled from the Cupboards of the Great Unwedded, collected by A. Lyman Phillips, 1906. I like old cookbooks!

    Rhys Bowen has some books I discovered this week, so I thought I’d try ABOVE THE BAY OF ANGELS, a Victorian set in 1896.

  23. I reread Connie Willis’s To Say Nothing of the Dog. I first read it years ago, and thought I remembered it reasonably well. I was wrong. In my head, they spent the entire book dashing in and out of Coventry Cathedral, in a comedy of entrances and exits. Now I find they only went near the cathedral two or three times and there was very little dashing. Anyway, I enjoyed it hugely, as if it was the first time I read it, and laughed myself silly every time the protagonist said ’screamlets’ or ‘half past VIII’.

    Now I’m reading Tsumiko and the Enslaved Fox, and liking it a lot.

  24. I’m reading the Vorkosigan saga by Lois McMaster Bujold and THANK YOU to all those Arghers for all those recommendations. I’m up to The Warrior’s Apprentice, reading in chronological order and they are just what I needed. So exciting to have a whole series ahead of me that is entirely new.

    Alexis Hall is an auto-buy for me. I like romance with an edge a lot.

    1. When you finish the last Vorkosigan novel (which is something different, but good!) and you’re feeling sad about having no more to turn to, try the Sharing Knife series by Bujold. It’s got similarly real, likeable, smart characters but it’s set in an Ohio-based landscape that differs in just a few fantasy aspects from the real one. Sort of a Mark Twain-era simpler America with a history of bad wizardry and a social gap between the farmers and the woods people (kind of like psychic warriors in deerskin on horseback).

      If it sounds like something you wouldn’t choose on purpose, that’s how I viewed it until I started it and then was totally into it. The furious young girl running away from home on the first page felt like a Crusie heroine and hooked me immediately.

  25. Jim C Hines’ s Janitors of the apocalypse series is suprisingly warm hearted for a book about a group of janitors who take over a spaceship and inadvertantly change the universe.

  26. I read A Dangerous Education last week and liked it well enough to be looking forward to the next one. I don’t remember if I commented last week or not.

    Yesterday I had both a shingles shot and a flu shot, and I don’t recommend it. Not only do both my shoulders hurt making it hard to sleep, but I’m feeling under the weather. At least that was my last Shingles as it’s a (it’s hard to find a word to describe how bad it is without offending anyone. I’m sure the word I was going to use is really, really rude in England.)

    I’m going to lie/lay down for half an hour now before I need to be doing work stuff. On my back which isn’t my favorite. Maybe I’ll sleep in the chair instead… I’m too tired to look up which form is correct, lie or lay. And the only alternate I can think of is recline. Damn flu shot.

    1. Husband and I had the flu shot lately. My arm was a bit sore, he didn’t experience any side effects.
      My mother though had the shingles shot plus refresher of something else. She’s not so young anymore, but they really wore her down. Unlike the flu shot before.
      Some shots really seem to be nasty.
      Get well soon!

    2. I’ve been delaying getting the shingles shots, because it just seemed like too much right now, with flu shot (got the old geezer version which knocked me out for 24 hours, which never happened with the regular version) plus two covid shots in a few months presumably. I wasn’t sure how the various vaccines would interact, so I decided to wait for a lull.

      1. Babe, get your shingles vaccines. Squeeze it in. Every person I have ever known who had shingles had most vehemently wished it had not happened. My dear friend Lynn Kerstan had shingles after two separate bouts of cancer, and said that the shingles were the worst.

        1. I had a “mild” case of shingles a few years ago and it was hell. I got the shots as soon as they came out with the new ones, even knowing I was likely to react badly. (I did. Still worth it.)

    3. Hard and yucky for now, but having seen several aged relative’s final years made hell by shingles that would not go away, I’m glad that you’ve done it. I just had one day with fatigue and a sore neck for the second shot, so you have my sympathy.

    4. Officially, it’s Lie if it’s alive, and Lay if inanimate. Or Lay requires an object and Lie does not.

        1. When I taught high school, I told the kids, “You lie down, you lay something else.” Because they were teenagers they got it right off the bat.

    5. I would never have gotten those two shots together, Kate! (The shingles one was really brutal for me, although my 80+ year old mom had no issues. Naturally.) I hope you feel better soon.

  27. I got Robyn Carr’s latest ‘Return to Virgin River’ from my library & the last 1/4 of the book was the beginning of her Sullivan’s Crossing series.

    I tried to watch Virgin River on Netflix – but couldn’t get my head around how it was portrayed.

    On a better note – I have been re-reading C S Harris Sebastian St Cyr series & am up to book 14.

    Luckily I have access to 2 library systems for Overdrive (my County System & Free Library of Philadelphia)

  28. Thank you so much for that recommendation! I read Boyfriend Material last night and now I’m wishing I had slowed down, both because I’m sorry it ended and because I’m exhausted. So glad I found your blog, I’m going to look for some more book ideas right now!

    1. That’s going to be a good reread, too, because there’s so much going on.
      Also, welcome to Argh!

  29. I nabbed Chasing Cassandra (Lisa Kleypas, the Ravenels) on a bookbub deal and can’t put it down. Also plowed through Connie Willis’ Take a Look at the Five and Ten and it was as much fun as you’d expect a new CW Christmas story to be.

  30. I’ve been reading tbe Vinyl Detective series by Andrew Cartmel. I liked the 1st 3 books enough to go for books 4 and 5. It comes highly recommended by Ben Aaronovitch who coauthors with this author on Rivers of London graphic novels. But the Vinyl Detective is not a graphic…

    1. They were playing ‘Santa Baby’ in the garden centre this morning, which made me think I’m due for a reread, too.

  31. Have been binge reading gay male historical romances. Anything by Cat Sebastian and Joanna Chambers. Also read Nick Hornby’s newest “Just Like You”.

  32. Reread Alphabet of Thorn which I really like but has a young protagonist.

    I’ve read everything I like to reread.

    So, I’m starting at the beginning with the complete Hornblower series. I usually stay away from male authors and male protagonists, as well as young protagonists, but this series is great and will keep me on the stationary bike.

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