This is a Good Book Thursday, February 18, 2021

This week I discovered that iBooks has a page of free books, each one the beginning of a series.

This week I also discovered why they’re free.

Okay, that was bitchy, but honestly, 90% of them I flip to the back at chapter three and the ending is worse. I am grateful to every author who puts “This is a stand alone novel” even though it’s part of a series because I know that means there’s no cliffhanger (that’s a crime against readers).

Bitch, moan, bitch, moan. At least I can hit the space bar without pain now, so I’m good here.

What did you read this week?

(Also, if you’re in Texas, I’m thinking of you. We get snow here, too, but we expect it. Snow in Houston? Who’s ready for that?)

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96 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 18, 2021

  1. I finally talked my eleven year old son into giving Mairelon the Magician by Patricia Wrede a go for our bedtime reading, and he is thoroughly enjoying it (I was pretty sure he would – it’s got sleight of hand and stage magic, adventure, humour, all the good stuff). I’m feeling smug about this one, because it turns out Mum occasionally knows what she’s talking about when it comes to books.

    For myself, I finished the Honey Badger Sisters series. It was exactly the kind of crazy I needed. I’m re-reading False Colours for the millionth time (Mama’s knacky notions never fail to deliver). And I’m working my way through the landslide of fanfiction brought on by Valentine’s Day.

  2. I finished the Wrede/Stevemeyer Cecy and Kate trilogy re-read. Magical Regency for the win! I’m not quite ready to re-read the Mairelon the Magician duology – too soon. Everything else I’ve read has been excerpts.

    The other forum I frequent has gone on hiatus. Baen’s Bar. Very annoying.

  3. I read the How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole. I enjoyed it so much, I read the 2 earlier books Duke By Default and Prince on Paper. I had read A Princess in Theory this summer and enjoyed it, I think I just had a lot on my reading list at the time and didn’t follow up. I very much enjoy the way there are many opportunities for A Big Misunderstanding, but her characters talk it out and clear it up instead. It’s refreshing. They are also funny and bright and modern.

    Then I started The Flatshare which was mentioned in the sex post. I pretty much did not move until I had finished it. It’s brilliant. Reading people’s notes seems much more intimate than reading about the people.

    1. I seem to miss a lot of Alyssa Cole, so I have to go look for this one. (Nothing can quite compare to A Princess in Theory–the science-ness is so good. I have been a grad student, but not in the sciences.)

  4. Argh !!! It’s snowing again. But I have heat & books & coffee & food & toilet paper.
    All the essentials.

  5. I have continued my rereading of AJ Demas. « A night in Boukos » is delightful and made me think of Bujold’s latest Penric, « Masquerade at Lodi » so I reread that next, then I reread « Sword Dance » in preparation for Demas’ release of the follow up « Saffron Alley » on Tuesday but I misjudged my reading speed so I reread in between KJ Charles « Think of England » which had a very similar plot to « Sword Dance » despite both books being set in completely different times. I love both but following Jenny’s sex post, I couldn’t help noticing I enjoyed KJ Charles’ sex scenes more than Demas’. I didn’t dislike Demas’ and I like the way she handles consent and there is a lot of humour which I like in a sex scene but Charles’ are just hotter.
    I am not sure why. Maybe the emotions felt by the protagonists are better conveyed. I am not good at analysing books. I just know when I like or love a book.
    At the moment, I am rereading Anna Butler’s Lancaster Luck trilogy. I love the protagonists and the romance but I am skipping the sex scenes. Here I think it’s because I don’t think they bring much to the story apart from the first one in the first book. I do like the little casual touches of affection between the heroes but honestly, the sex scenes could fade to black and I’d enjoy the books as much.
    I seem to only be reading M/M at the moment, not sure why! Time to vary things up a little.

    1. I agree with you about the sex scenes in kj charles. They are exceptional and I haven’t quite figured out why yet.

      They are definitely necessary to the plot and filled with emotion. And hot. And I am hard to please on those fronts.

    2. Me three re KJ Charles. They’re never gratuitous.
      The Waterloo bridge scene in Any Old Diamonds for instance, there’s a reason for it, it’s useful for character and plot, as is the aftermath, and how it happens is important – but it’s not about body parts, it’s about reaction, and context. “Then there was a push of a body against his back, and Jerry’s breath on his neck as he leaned heavily in, and Alec braced his forearms against the wall and tried to remember how his lungs worked.” – this reminds me of the dual scenes in Crazy for You -context counts, and the scenes are hot because of what they mean, and the focus on reactions. I think, anyway.

      Two other telling lines, this one (which also says a lot about the character saying it) “I can’t think of a better hold to have over a man than knowing his desires, every little odd turn of them. If I have your desires I have you in the palm of my hand.”

      And another one that I’ve read but can’t remember (or find) where, something like ‘the words worked their magic, as words always do’.

  6. I read the new A. J. Demas, ‘Saffron Alley’, and enjoyed it. I do love the detail of her world. Have just begun rereading ‘The Goblin Emperor’, which I’m enjoying as much as the first time round.

    1. Yes, I love all those unusual details, rituals and words. It makes a change from Victorian England 🙂

  7. This week I read a trilogy by Jessie Mihalik starting with Polaris Rising. Did I hear of it here? Or somewhere else. I enjoyed it a lot, but it teeters on the divide between SF action-adventure and romance, and I kept thinking “Pick a lane.” I enjoyed them enough that I will be watching for more by her.
    What has kept me from finishing The Flatshare, now that my reserve came in, is being sucked into Bill Bryson’s At Home, which I am sure was mentioned here. Cannot put it down for long. I want more history of private life and of industrial development, which reminds me that I reread Loretta Chase’s Miss Wonderful and was once again more interested in the canal than the protagonists. Is that a flaw in the book or in me?

    1. And I finished The Flatshare and went on to The Switch, which seems equally engaging, although so far no delightful notes.

    2. I loved Polaris Rising. I might’ve mentioned it here. I actually enjoyed its about 50/50 blend of romance and adventure. I haven’t read the other books in the series yet but I’m going to.

    3. That canal is so central to the plot it deserves a Tolkien style map at the start of the book.

  8. Finished two books:

    “I Want To Be Where The Normal People Are,” by Rachel Bloom. It’s very…her. Not a whole lot of stuff about Crazy Ex-Girlfriend if that’s what you wanted to read about, but definitely her style. If you’re into her, you’ll probably like it, and if not, then not.

    “Love in Lockdown” by Chloe James, about a couple falling in love when he lives in the upstairs apartment from her in England and he can’t leave because he’s high risk. Pandemic romance in which they don’t even get close to touching but fall in love over the balcony. Very “sweet” romance, and literally chaste given the plotline.

    1. I looked up “Love in Lockdown” because two editors told me that nobody wants to read about the pandemic, and – lo and behold! – there is quite a number of books with that title. But only Chloe James’ novel sounds interesting enough to tempt me.

  9. LOL at ‘why they are free.’

    I read or re-read thirteen things this week, 7 of which were full-length novels. Notable short story: ‘That Game We Played During the War’ by Carrie Vaughn.

    Favorite book of the week: ‘The Flatshare’ by Beth O’Leary. Another new-to-me author this week: Roan Parrish; read her novels ‘Riven’ and ‘Rend,’ both of which are music-industry-adjacent and feature lots of trauma, the latter not my usual thing but I thought it was handled well, especially in ‘Rend.’ Note, Roan is part of Dear Romance Writer podcast which I’ve only seen one episode of on YouTube but enjoyed.

    Other new-to-me authors: R. Cayden – read the novel ‘Crave Me’ which is about a graduate botany student falling in love with his tattoo artist in Chicago; and Mindy Klasky, whose ‘The C Word’ is a M/F quarantine rom-com. Could see the Black Moment coming a mile away but there was a lot to like about this book.

    Also for those who liked ‘Pansies’ by Alexis Hall, I read ‘Natural Twenty’ by Charlie Novak, which is set in Lincoln (UK) and features a florist and a bookseller who bond over Dungeons & Dragons.

    Finally, re-read my own book ‘Take Everything’ because I had a really down day and needed to remind myself that I can write.

    1. Impressive! All I read this week was email. Oh, wait, I also started reading Dave Kellet’s 9th Sheldon comic collection. I highly recommend Kellet’s work whether it be Sheldon, a 10 year computer wiz who “sped up the internet” and made billions, or his space saga, Drive. All free on internet. I only linked Sheldon because 2 links puts me in moderation but you can get to Drive from Sheldon.

  10. I read Godfrey’s War by Richard Revelstoke (full disclosure: he’s my brother) and enjoyed the writing but it’s a little too male themed for my usual taste – yes, told him that. I also started The Gentleman and the Spy but it suffered from my pet peeve about M/M romances with sex happening so fast that it’s unsexy so I dropped it. I finished Something Human by AJ Demas (thank you for the recommendation) which I really liked and then read same author’s One Night in Books which I also liked but I would have appreciated (spoiler alert) some sex. Then read Henchmen of Zenda which was clever but didn’t grab my attention the way many other KJ Charles books have, probably because there were no really redeeming characters and I really need at least one of those.

    OF course, part of the problem here is that I have been so OBSESSED with C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy and short stories (which really have to be included) and re-reading them already over and over that I can hardly see straight. All other books pale in comparison at the moment. This too shall pass.

    1. The rereads are great though, because you get to see so much you missed with Pacat. Is it silly that I avoid rereading them because of how sucked in I get?

  11. I read A Trifle Dead, The Blackmail Blend and Drowned Vanilla by Livia Day, a pen name for Tansy Raynor Roberts. Mysteries (not her usual genre) set in her hometown of Hobart, Tasmania, about a cafe owner and her very strange friends. Very enjoyable. The mysteries were well done and interesting and I would read stories just about the oddballs that Tabitha collects as friends.

    I also read a collection of essays by Tansy Raynor Roberts called Pratchett’s Women, collecting her thoughts on her reactions to Terry Pratchett’s female characters both when she originally read them as a teenager and twenty-something and how they’ve changed as she rereads them now.

    1. I hadn’t heard of that, I’m going to read it. I like Pratchett’s portrayal of women, except for Agnes Nutter, the 4th witch. She’s smart, has a dual personality, has a beautiful voice, and is fat. But mostly he describes her in terms of her size. Since I’m smart, have a beautiful voice and could be described as fat, this irritates me.

      1. I like Agnes for all those reasons. When I first read Maskerade, I was disappointed that at the end the guy didn’t go with Agnes — he chose the dumb babe. Then I realized that Pratchett was telling the truth. Later, when Agnes fights with her inner Perdita, Agnes is gaining the self confidence she needs to ward off the vampire — who found her incredibly attractive. At the end of that book, the resolution isn’t that Agnes gets the Omnian — it’s that Agnes graciously gives the Omnian ointment for his boil. All those examples seem just right to me.

        Sure, I’d like a book about the HEA for Agnes Nutt (by the way, Nutter is the one in Good Omens, but I think the two are closer than sisters). But I think Pratchett wasn’t copping out with a fat girl stereotype. First, the examples above of Agnes’s character developing. Second, Brenda (is that her name? head of the night kitchen) in Unseen Academicals is similar. I picture her as well beyond her BMI although she is more of a dumpy figure than a fat one. But she grows as a person incrementally in the story. In fact, Pratchett is kind enough to the dumb babe Juliet to help her character grow (in proportion to the space she could possibly grow in).

        1. I have this theory that the Omnian and Agnes between them are responsible for the start of the Black ribboners (I don’t think we start seeing them properly until after Carpe Jugulum and a cup of tea, a sing song and a bun is a very mightily oats type of solution).

        2. I can see her character growth, Pratchett writes it in there by showing her actions and thoughts. I just get tired of how he continuously describes her by her body. Not an unusual thing for an author to do, but I expect more from Pratchett.

  12. I finished Martha Wells’ The Wizard Hunters and am halfway through Ships of Air. I had trouble getting into Wizard Hunters at first–my tolerance for stories set in wartime is pretty low–but I enjoyed the world building and the story. I particularly like that there wasn’t much exposition, at least in the Wizard Hunters. Ships of Air has a bit more, but there are things you need to know, so…

    I also read an anthology of Regency short stories. Pretty sure it was free or 99 cents, so worth the cost. It had 7 or 8 stories, so now I have a list of 5 or 6 writers whose full-length books I would likely not enjoy, and couple that I might.

    Someday I might go back to finding books on my own, but for now I’m just going to continue using this group as my book mentors!

    1. I love the Wizard Hunters SO MUCH! I think I was reading it when I was feeling particularly low, and Tremaine’s resigned desperation to work for good was tonic for me. Also the bravery of Giliead and Ilias felt so bracing. And it certainly feels as though they spend a LOT of time underground. I picked up a whole book on sewers, after a recent read through, just to get a better feel for both Death of a Necromancer and these ones!

  13. The Flatshare! Thank you for the recommendation – it was a delightful read. The misunderstanding kept it from being perfect (Leon! You should have known better.) but the follow-up grovel was most excellent.

  14. I’m starting to be able to read again, after a year of no-concentration due to, well, y’all know what’s been going on for the past year!

    I discovered the Overdrive app for my phone and read three books in three days! After not reading much, I had a lot of stuff to choose from that was available, since they’re now old releases.

    Read a Jayne Ann Krentz book (I don’t read much romance these days, but I enjoy the suspense part of her books, so they’re a comfort read), plus the second Gunnie book by Charlaine Harris, and the 2019 Donna Andrews Christmas book. All good and what I expected, but mostly I’m just happy I was able to focus on them enough to read each one in a day!

    Finally, not a book, but storytelling in another format — Highly recommend the PBS series, Miss Scarlet and the Duke. The mysteries are lightweight, nothing really extraordinary like, say, the Sherlock series, but the romance is fun and the visuals are stunning (costumes, sets). And the secondary characters are well done. It should be available for streaming from your local PBS station. Fun and light (a couple places go to a potentially dark place but never actually go there).

    1. I tend to roll my eyes at Miss Scarlett, but I am enjoying seeing Mr. Mosley from Downton Abbey as her ghostly father. His makeup is fantastic.

      1. Yeah, it’s really lightweight, hitting All The Tropes. But I found myself addicted to it anyway, letting myself be amused by the “what trope will they invoke now” game than being irritated by the lack of a twist. The father is great. And Moses. And Rupert, although, again with the tropes. I did enjoy the slight twist to their finding a way for the male lead to be shirtless and then run around beating up bad guys while wearing a tuxedo.

        As an aside, if anyone wants to know more about the death photography in one of the episodes, there’s a series called Dead Still that features a death photographer as the lead. I’m hoping there will be a second series. Darker than Miss Scarlet, but not too dark. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10413648/

    2. It’s funny because I have a very different reaction to that show. I didn’t appreciate the way the hero treated the heroine in the beginning episodes. Among other things, his letting her be jailed several times just seemed vicious. And I don’t find the treatment of women in that time period which is alluded to, or explicitly shown, multiple times, to be lightweight and humorous but rather horrifying. So I guess I’m either not in the right headspace to watch it or I’m not their target audience. Which is too bad because I usually like the mystery series shown on PBS. Anyway, I hope you don’t mind me saying this. I’m glad y’all are enjoying Miss Scarlet even if I don’t. Maybe I’ll give it another try in a few months to see if I have a different reaction. Meanwhile, for light and fluffy and humorous mysteries, I think of Death in Paradise or Brokenwood instead.

      1. I’m happy to hear other reactions. I don’t always get what others see in books/media. I do like Death in Paradise and Brokenwood though!

    3. Oh goodness, Miss Scarlet is a romance?

      …I only watched two or three episodes and then I just … quit watching, not for any real reason, just wasn’t in the mood when it was on and never put in the effort to find the streaming. But … huh. I really hope she doesn’t meet him half way or compromise in any way to make the romance work. (And what a thing that is to say about a romance.)

      To be clear, it’s not that I’m against historical attitudes in something that feels truly historical (my favorite recent-ish thing on PBS was Howard’s End, because I really felt like the characters thought differently and it was fascinating to watch), but Miss Scarlet seems so much modern sensibilities in a historical setting that…I don’t know. I’m having a hard time imagining it as a working romance (which isn’t to say it won’t work, just…limited imagination here, I guess).

  15. I’ve been bingeing on Suzanne Enoch’s Scandalous Highlanders series, which is huge fun. But I took time out to read Novik’s A Deadly Education, and loved it so much. In fact I think it’s my favourite of her books so far. I do love a snarky protagonist.

    1. I enjoyed that series, too. Unfortunately, my library doesn’t own all of them so my mental Scottish vacation was a bit truncated. However, since the weather is overdosing on cold and snow at the moment, perhaps reading books set in a warmer climate would be a good idea.

    2. I loved A Deadly Education also! In fact, I pre-ordered the second in the series (and I generally don’t spend +$10 on an ebook, but I really want it!)

    3. I just reread that for the third time last night. It’s such a good book with such a great protagonist and the supporting cast including the love interest are just as good. The sequel’s not out until September, but I have it pre-ordered already.

  16. This morning I was cruising through the library’s website when it occurred to me that they don’t have a section for new cookbooks coming out. I looked to see what was available and put in for Lidia Bastianich’s, My American Dream a biography of her life as an immigrant from Italy. Then there is Pillsbury’s Best of Cookbooks and Ree Drummond’s Frontier Follies. It all started because I wanted a recipe from Mary Berry but I wanted it in American cooking measurements. Had to google it.

    For serious reading I also put in for The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin a true story that takes place in 1888 of children either staying in the classroom during a storm and another schoolhouse that let the students head for home.

    Lastly on the end table there is Connie Willis’s Take a Look at the Five and Ten a quick read.

  17. I am back to not being able to concentrate on much of anything so I reread an old (1990) Julie Garwood,Guardian Angel. Since a minor health issue has been much too distracting this week, it was a very comforting blast from the past.

  18. I finally give in to peer pressure (okay, curiosity, really) and got the first in the Murderbot series. I’m enjoying it a lot, although I’m only about a third of the way in, so I have yet to be completely bowled over.

    1. OMG, I can’t believe you resisted so long!

      I was hooked on the first page because of the voice. But on re-reading, one of the things I really like is the way Martha Wells builds on prior events in later books.

      Something else that increased my appreciation was hearing the narrator say in an interview that he views them as coming-of-age stories for Murderbot, and I really like that framing.

    2. Unless you hate the first one once you’ve finished, I recommend at least reading the second before fully giving up. I found that they really built on each other. (The novellas are really just one book split up, even though they have perfectly reasonable endings.)

      1. This! They get better as you go. Smart with Ilona Andrews Innkeeper series. The authors find their voices as the story progresses.

  19. Just finished Gin’s latest garlic farm; it really pulled me along. I had to finally put it down to get some sleep. Next up will be Deborah Blakes.

    Now reading SEP’s ‘Dance Away with Me’. I see what Jennie means about prologues not being necessary. But, I’m enjoying it and that’s all that matters.

    But, first, back to my taxes. I don’t know why I agonize over them. If the IRS doesn’t like them, they’ll let me know.

  20. I took a series reccomendation from here and was really enjoying them. Good books with plots and interesting characters. So I checked out some of the early books in that world and oh, what a difference. Characters were flat and I think there was only three pages of plot and the rest was sex or thinking about sex or thinking about the other person thinking about sex. I was skipping 4-5 pages at a time. What a waste.

    1. It’s so disappointing when you go back to the early books in a series and they’re no good, isn’t it? Mind you, it means the author is learning, which has to be a good thing!

  21. Treacherous is the Night by Anna Lee Huber. Number two in a series, it’s a post-WW1 mystery relating to the heroine’s past as an occasional spy in occupied Belgium/France. The author did a great job of portraying the aftermath of war — not only the ruin of a large area of Europe, but the difficulties the heroine and her husband encounter while rebuilding a marriage after several life-changing years apart. I got it on sale, and I want to read book one, but I’m balking at paying $9.99 for it. I probably will,though, when I run out of enticing reads on my Kindle.

  22. I listened to the Anne Leckie book Provenance again, because her world building is complex, and I wanted to listen again while not processing so much about how she’s built it. Still enjoyed it.

    I just downloaded Susan Elizabeth Phillips recent book, Dance Away With Me. I haven’t read or re-read one of her book for a while, but she certainly caught me right up in to the story. I knew I could count on her.

  23. Whoever here recommended A.J. Demas, I thank you. I enjoyed One Night in Boukos as well as Something Human. The world building had a similar flavour to that of The Thief series (Megan Whelan Turner), but without the magic, which I adored.

  24. I have not commented before, I find you all very entertaining so it’s a bit intimidating :). However, I thought some of you might be interested in Hench, by Natalie Zina Walschots. It’s a story of a woman who does data entry for villains, ends up getting injured by the world’s most famous superhero, and eventually becomes a villainous henchman called The Auditor. It’s very funny with a great main character, and for my fellow Canadians it’s one of the CBC’s Canada Reads books.

    Thanks for all the smiles you’ve all given me over the pandemic, it’s been nice to have something to look forward to through the weeks of sameness!

  25. I am in Central Texas (north of Austin) so thanks for the good wishes. It has been a wild and crazy and scary and disheartening and interesting week.

    That said , I read (hard copy library books) Someone to Romance (Mary Balogh) and Cold Truth (Mary Stone- new to me). Making my way through and really enjoying The Body: A Guide for Occupants (Bill Bryson). On Kindle App reading ebook from library Between Sisters (Kristan Hannah) and An Earl Like You (Caroline Linden). Three audiobooks, rotating around depending on mood – I only listen in the car- Murder on Cold Street (Sherry Thomas) , A Promised Land (Barack Obama) and- comfort revisit to the series- Rock Chick Reckoning (Kristen Ashley). It’s a mixed bag kind of month.

    1. Glad someone else here reads Kristen Ashley. She is a guilty pleasure for me and I don’t really know why she works so well, when there is so much that I don’t normally like.

      1. She is also a favorite of mine. One of the last times I was in a library I was able to buy four of her paperbacks on sale. Like I haven’t already read them and own them on kindle but to have the actual books is a plus.

  26. It hasn’t been a heavy reading week for me — I’ve been rereading Trisha Ashley’s A LEAP OF FAITH and, as usual, giggling through every screwball page of it, and am about to begin on THE LAMENTATION OF A SINNER, by Katherine Parr, since we’re in Lent. I have been listening to the audio of THE LIFE OF MARGARET LUCAS, which is available here

    https://soundcloud.com/friendslibrary/margaret-lucas-life-modernized-lq

    One of my favorite Quaker ancestors was a contemporary of Margaret Lucas, though mine lived a little longer and was a lively presence during the American Revolution, but Margaret gives me a sense of the period.

    However, I’m mostly reading not books, but handwritten depositions in the Virginia chancery.

    It’s nice to come from gentle folk
    Who wouldn’t stoop to brawl
    Who never took a lusty poke
    At anyone at all.
    Who never raised a raucous shout
    At any country inn
    Or calmed an ugly fellow lout
    With a belaying pin.
    Who never shot a revenuer
    Hunting for the still.
    Who never rustled cattle, who’re
    Pleased with uncle’s will.
    Who lived their lives out as they ought,
    With no uncouth distractions,
    And shunned like leprosy the thought
    Of taking legal actions.
    It’s nice to come from gentle folk
    Who’ve never known disgrace,
    But oh, though scandal is no joke
    It’s easier to trace!

  27. I am reading Trisha Ashley’s Every Woman for Herself and it’s really delightful. More sarcastic than her regular work, I think, but so fun. Poor Dead Greg. He had it coming.

    And we watched the newest version of Emma. It’s really delightful, if you like that sort of thing. My partner fell asleep 20 minutes in… The costumes are great and they did a good job of making Emma likable, which has always been a struggle for me.

    But the romance is just so dear. It really is. I haven’t felt it in a movie for a long time. So I recommend it. And I want all of her shoes.

  28. Read a couple of books. Nan Reinhardt’s Once More From the Top was a short and sweet romance with two older protagonists: she is 40, he is 48. Not perfect but really nice.

    Susan Wiggs’s The Lost and Found Bookshop proved to me once more why I don’t like literary fiction. Too slow, too many flashbacks, too much grief and anguish. Unfortunately, despite all the tear-jerking attempts on the author’s part, my emotions didn’t stir at all. All this book did for me was bore me. And I heard some good stuff about it. Really, I shouldn’t read literary fiction.

  29. I’ve been reading cozies not worth mentioning here. But I read Paper Mage by Charlie Holmberg about a young female apprentice who uses the magic of paper to defeat an evil magician. I thought it was good enough that I immediately looked up and ordered more Holmberg books. I think someone here may have recommended it, so thanks. I also read the new Jonathan Kellerman murder mystery, Serpentine. I enjoyed it. What can I say, I like the interaction between psychologist Alex Delaware and his police lieutenant friend Milo Sturgis. And for dog lovers, there is a lovely french bulldog character. As for the future, I just got the new Kelley Armstrong, A Stranger in Town, and the new Dana Stabenow, Spoils of the Dead. Looking forward to them both.

  30. I read The Making of the Marchioness, Frances Hodgson Burnett. She wrote The Secret Garden and several other books. She was an interesting woman. Also read one of Mary Balogh’s older novels. Still not landing on anything despite excellent books waiting for me. Maybe next week.

  31. Sorry, I posted a bit of this in the wrong thread, about happiness rather than good books – though good books often bring me happiness. I’m repeating it here, as I can really recommend Andrea K. Höst, especially the Touchstone trilogy (a diary in 3 parts, Stray, Lab rat one, Caszandra – it’s all one story, SF adventure with a slow-burn romance), plus its sequels Gratuitous Epilogue and In Arcadia (those are more about the slice-of-family-life and romance after the big adventure); if you want to try a standalone ‘And all the stars’ is very good. Those 4 books are also available as audiobooks, the rest are ebooks and print-on-demand.

    Rereading Andrea K. Höst’s Touchstone books, and the new Sphere of the Winds book by Rachel Neumeier (the sequel to The Floating Islands), got me out of the reading doldrums and back to reading with pleasure.
    Rereading/relistening to Andrea Höst’s books has done so twice now during this Covid year; for me she fullfils the same comfort reading function that Murderbot does for many here. She helps me get back on an even keel emotionally when I don’t feel like reading or enjoying anything.

    I also like almost all of Rachel Neumeier’s books, and she has been/is on a very productive (re)writing spree: she’s just brought out a very long awaited sequel to ‘The floating islands’ called ‘Sphere of the winds’. They are fantasy books, teenage appropriate I’d guess, with little to no romance in them; exiting adventure stories with teen protagonists, and a very gorgeous translucent feathered dragon cover.
    https://www.rachelneumeier.com/2021/02/06/out-now-or-very-nearly/

    She’s formatting the next book in the Tuyo series now, called Tarashana, in which we get to see the Starlit lands and the land of the shades. This is also fantasy, with great, unusual worldbuilding, and just a little bit of very slow-building romance.
    I got to proofread it, and enjoyed reading it.

    She will also be bringing out a totally new trilogy (or maybe it would more accurate to call it a duology with a prelude) soon, which will probably be called ‘Death’s lady’ (even though she hates those titles where a woman is mentioned only as an adjunct to a man), that is both a portal fantasy and a story about what happens *after* the big war is won and the heroine’s quest is done.

  32. Good news for Ben Aaronovich fans everywhere. His new novella “What Abigail Did That Summer” is due out on March 18. If you go to Amazon, don’t panic. The hardcover is listed for $40! But if this goes as “The Furthest Station” went, the e-book will also be available on 3/18 and for a much more reasonable price. This new one will apparently tell the story of what Abigail did the summer that Peter was off in the wilds, cavorting with unicorns. But Hooray! for new Folly stories.

  33. This past weekend was Boskone, the annual New England Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. This year it was zoomed; I only found out about it on Saturday when I quickly signed up. Tonight I watched several of the programs. Ursula Vernon was this year’s guest speaker. I also watched programs including Connie Willis, Jane Yolen, and Sharon Lee. These folks are super enthusiasts about sharing how they write, and they have lots of questions for others. Especially charming is how much they struggle to, for instance, to write unattractive characters or to show that characters are aging. Sharon Lee said that she and her co-writer/husband Steve Miller once switched from having a middle aged couple as central to a book (rather than a younger couple) because Sharon and Steve weren’t old enough themselves to completely realize the older characters.

  34. I’m jealous- I love all these writers! Was it a good con? Did anyone announce new releases coming up?

  35. Coming late to the Good Book Thursday to say that I’ve just discovered some pretty wonderful interviews with Connie Willis at various science fiction conferences. One was done in 2016, in which she talked about the recently (at that time) published “Crosstalk” as well as romantic comedies and romance films. She also speaks a little about being so overloaded from all the rewrites she had to do on Crosstalk that she wasn’t working on any more novels for awhile, so was getting back to some short stories she’d never finished. I’m not sure if one of those was the 5 and 10 novella recently mentioned, but it was interesting to hear her discuss the connections between the world around us and the worlds she creates in her fiction. So, recommended:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNM7f83B9Mc

  36. I really loved Winters Orbit which someone here recommended. Then I went on a rereading bing.

    I’m also finally able to focus on nonfiction and am slowly working my way through a year of New Yorkers.

    I think it’s time for me to start reading all the samples I downloaded on my nook after they were mentioned here and decide which ones to read.

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