This is a Good Book Thursday, March 11, 2021

Remember that Lacroix journal I bought? Well, it was too weird to be practical so I bought a Panda journal instead. Then I kept looking at the Lacroix, and at some point it got jumbled together with the Antiquarian Sticker Book, which is the BEST BOOK EVER, and I started doing morning pages, something I have never been able to do, by pulling out one of the weird stickers and pasting it in the Lacroix and free writing about it as a starting point it works. I LOVE THIS STICKER BOOK. I also read a lot of fiction and Ina’s new cookbook but mostly I LOVE THIS STICKER BOOK.

What did you love to read this week? (Or not, maybe you didn’t love it.)

147 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 11, 2021

  1. I love beautiful notebooks and diaries, it is however my fate that I use a boring practical plain lined business diary best throughout the year, I try to rebel, but the stickers fall off, the beautiful decorated paper ones end up half written in … A lovely inspirational one for women had paper that smeared… only the simple plain covers remain smug in the knowledge that they will be used regularly

  2. I’d love to see pictures of a few of the results you came up with, Jenny.

    I finished reading the second Murderbot book, and almost done with the third, and ordered the next two from the library. I can’t believe I took so long to read these. I should know to listen to Argh!

  3. I’m on a Susan Elizabeth Phillips reread; just finished ‘This Heart of Mine’ and started ‘Match Me If You Can’. Plan to finish with a favourite: ‘Natural Born Charmer’.

    Am also being calmed by ‘The History of English Podcast’, which crawls at a geological pace. I have skipped a few episodes, but it’s a soothing if repetitive meander through history. We spent several episodes going round in circles with the Indo-Europeans, and have arrived at the Etruscans. Who weren’t even Indo-European, but whose use of the alphabet was taken up by the Romans. A lot of it is only tenuously attached to English, but there are a lot of quirky details. I do stumble over his American accent sometimes – he keeps saying yet another tribe ‘developed riding’, and I think, ‘Surely that was thousands of years before, when they were on the steppes’, and then realizing he means ‘writing’.

    It really won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you like ancient history and language and slowing right down, I recommend it.

    1. Jane, I’ve followed The History of English Podcast for several years — I must have come in quite early. Some time back I read The Horse, the Wheel, and Language, and that’s the book Kevin (surname?) uses for his English podcast.

      A man of many tangents, Kevin gets caught up for quite a few episodes at my favorite eras of English — up to Middle English.

      Kevin faithfully repeats everything, and, boy, is he organized. His legal training is perhaps one reason he puts my husband to sleep (we can no longer listen to the podcasts in the car if my husband is driving). His North Carolina accent takes some getting used to (pin? pen?). And he pronounces some words, Aeneas and Oedipus come to mind, differently than I do. But I’m no expert at pronunciation. North Carolinian might well be closer to British than New Englandish. But I wrote all this because his podcast and In Our Time are the only podcasts I listen to and I’m addicted to them.

      1. That book did sound interesting – though right now, I couldn’t cope with a further layer of repetition! His accent definitely isn’t close to UK English; and like you, I find his pronunciation of some names unusual – Aeneas, Philistines, etc. I do love the fact he’s an amateur: he’s put an amazing amount of work into it.

      2. As a native North Carolinian, I can attest to multiple accents across areas of the state. There is especially notable Outer Banks / Ocracoke accent that is considered a close relative to Elizabethan English.

        1. I heard a story years ago from a friend of a WESTERN North Carolinian who’d gone in for horror . . . “When the full moon rises, I turn into a woof. . . .”

      3. Elizabeth. Thank you so much for your recommendation for Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts. The library had it available for kindle so I checked it out right away. I have only read 3 chapters because it is so dense I had to take a break but it gives a great feeling for illuminated manuscripts and the periods for which they were being generated. Plus I love reading stuff about the “Dark Ages” and medieval times.

        1. Jessie, This is so cool! I hope the kindle version has the incredible and numerous illustrations which included in the hardcover. Also, I think you have excellent taste in favorite historical periods.

    2. As an American it’s fun to hear someone say they have trouble with the accent as I wade thru the murky Scots utterings of whatever Netflix binge I’m in.

      1. Which Scots on Netflix are you binging in?

        I loooove Scots, wouldn’t say that I can understand it easily, but it sounds soooo nice.

        Some time ago, dh and I were watching a Graham Norton show with Lily Tomlin and another guest from iirc Scotland. She obviously couldn’t understand a word he was saying. The other English guests were greatly amused.
        For us non-English speaker it was funny that we did in fact understand what he was saying. Might be because we listened very carefully since the whole show was in a foreign language.
        I’m not sure if the show really was rounded up with a Derry Girl in the big red chair telling her story or if I’ve amalgamated two shows in my memory, but it was too funny that again the two of us were able to follow here story while some of the guests (Tomlin) didn’t.
        But we’re fluent in our Bavarian dialect (which is considered incomprehensible in wide parts of Germany) and are interested in dialects and accents, so maybe that helped, too.

        1. I wonder whether Northern Irish and Lowland Scots have more Germanic links??? Northern English – for example, Yorkshire – has definitely got links to Old Norse. (Not to downplay your impressive English skills!)

          1. I’m not sure about the skills (thanks though), but the melody and the sound of the vowels feel familiar. I definitely know too little about linguistics. It might be the Germanic roots (old English words seem to be nearer to German).
            In any case, loving something helps 🙂

          2. I think you are right. If I remember back a few decades to my stint as a linguistics major, I think we learned that both Lowland Scots and Ulster Scots are considered West Germanic languages. (Lowland Scots has some Northumberland and French influence as well.) Whereas the Highlanders sound different because they started out speaking Gaelic and Norse dialects and then adopted Scots or English later. I might not remember that correctly; it was a long time ago!

        2. I’m jumping in with a remark about Craig Ferguson the Scottish actor/comedian who a few years ago had a late night program in the U.S.. I would wake up at night and flip the channels to find something to put me back to sleep and came across him. I couldn’t understand a word he said. Trying to pick out words instead of going over a work nightmare did the trick, though. When he acts in a TV or movie scene he tends to slow it down and is understood. The show Vera also uses Scottish phrases so it must be close to the border.

          1. All my Scots accent exposure comes from Robin Williams.

            Not really – the second and third submarines on which I served were forward-sited out of Holylock, Scotland. I even remember attending a Medieval Banquet in Glasgow. I ate “authentic” food including haggis. The Master of Ceremonies was quite funny when he addressed all those Americans (I didn’t go alone), but when he turned the other way and addressed the Scots, he became as impossible to understand as Robin Williams imitating him.

          2. When I was young, long long ago, in Dundee (Scotland I know there are more Dundee’s) at home and at play to each other we would talk “normally “ at school we would talk beebeecee.(B. B. C.) we had many French sounding words as I remember. I guess you could say we spoke two languages

          3. I was born and raised in Scotland – at school and with friends I spoke with a Scottish accent, at home with an English one (Mum was English). My accent changed automatically, without any thought from me – or for that matter any control: I could not perform either ‘on demand’, then or now!

            One night at school parents’ night my accent automatically ‘converted’ to Scottish, and it turned out that my Scottish accent was so broad Mum couldn’t understand me (and she had lived in Scotland for about 20 years at that point). She was rather disconcerted by the experience. I was perplexed, as to me I didn’t sound any different from normal.

            I also remember, at the age of 7, going on a school trip to York in England and having to serve as translator between my schoolfriends and the various English people we had dealings with (where we stayed, in shops, etc.). It was truly bizarre, because to me they all sounded perfectly comprehensible, but they genuinely couldn’t understand each other.

            Interestingly, I think that my accent (which is now a polyglot of various, due to the places I’ve lived) has become increasingly Scottish whilst I’ve been in lockdown here in Wales. My husband is English, so I’m not really sure what is going on there…

          4. People have told me that when I drink (which is almost never), my Appalachian speech becomes more evident. It definitely shows up in my writing. People keep trying to correct “that lawn needs mowed” by adding “to be” but we don’t mess with extra words in my part of Ohio which is where a lot of books are set. New Jersey, my part of it, seems strangely devoid of accent which is not what I expected.

        3. Broadchurch and The Professor and the Madman come immediately to mind and it seems like pretty much every British show on Netflix has a Scots accent character. Quite entertaining.

  4. This week I have done a lot of rereads so I’ll talk about something I read last week but didn’t mention in Good Book Thursday. Following a mention here, I think, I read Cara Bastone’s trilogy and short story. There is also a audible story but I don’t listen to books so I haven’t read/heard that one. They are what I would call « pure romance » where the plot is essentially the romance. I don’t often like that kind of books, I like some external conflict/story/mystery mixed in with my romance. I did enjoy those very much though, especially the first one, « Just a heartbeat away ».
    Otherwise I have been reading a lot of Georgette Heyer (mainly her mysteries for a change) and Susanna Kearsley (not a huge amount of plot but always many fascinating historical details and lovely lovely romances in my opinion).

  5. I read Accidentally Engaged by Farah Heron. Having just finished Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder I ended up comparing them.

    And I remember answering that Big Bad Wolf wasn’t as dark and gritty as described. Interestingly the family dynamics at the beginning of Accidentally Engaged made me feel as if the story was darker than expected for a Fake-engagement trope romance. There’s good character development all round so it lightens up emotionally in that respect.

    Both of the books are so good that I feel as if I had one the best reading weeks of my life in a long time.

  6. Just finished Mystic and Rider by Sharon Shinn and loved it. Great fantasy love story, with several more books in the series, plus others by her, to look forward to.

    1. She really is great. I like the Archangel series too, though it’s rather slow and dry sometimes.

    2. Mystic and Rider is one of my all-time favourite rereadable series. Love, love, LOVE it.

    3. Yeah, that’s a good series. And I love most of her other books too, except the very last series about echos. That one was too dark and unpleasant for me.

  7. I just want to reply to MaryAnne in Kentucky about fabric.

    I have a tendency to buy waaay too much. Think Jenny and yarn.

    My needs are often texture and drape based so I stick to certain types of fabric. For daily wear – cottons, and viscoses. I needed some viscose for a dress, two colours cotton for half slips, and strong chiffon for a multi-use shawl. Everything looks great.

    1. I am 68. I have more fabric than I can possibly use up even if (like a friend of a great aunt) I am still sewing at 107. The years of buying 5 yards of something with no actual plans for it are over.
      But if I have something specific in mind I *will* not be able to find it.

  8. Listening to Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett, and really enjoying it. I forgot how funny he is, and the readers for his books are fantastic.

    Read two Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompsons, and watched the final WandaVision. Then watched Age of Ultron through again. That led to Thor Ragnarok, etc. It’s been a Marvelous week.

  9. I finished “Last Night’s Scandal” by Loretta Chase last night. It was enjoyable, and I liked how everything turned out. I stayed up way too late to finish, but it was a great palate cleanser after the historical fiction book I was attempting to read. That one may go to the DNF pile since life is too short . . . .

  10. I went back to look at the first sentences of Guy Gavriel Kaye’s Fionavar trilogy and was reminded how gorgeous his writing is. It isn’t the humorous patter of Cruise but is like narrative poetry – and I don’t like poetry. And it has it’s humorous bits as well although it is high fantasy. I wish he hadn’t sworn off high fantasy after this trilogy because I have never liked any of the subsequent books as well even though I admit they are very well done. If you are looking, however, for fiction that makes you feel as if you are living in a historical period (such as living under Mao’s China), they are absolutely the place to go. I just appreciate them rather than like them.

      1. Ysabel is awesome and more accessible to people)like my mom, who don’t like fantasy. Light fantasy, lovely story based on myth, truly interesting and unusual love story – told from the perspective of a 15-year-old boy. And you get Kim again!!!!!

    1. I dated Guy’s best friend in my 20’s and read the Fionavar trilogy in one weekend because I couldn’t put it down. I did complain lightly to him afterward that his characterization of women was not strong – he said he would bump that up in his ensuing novel and he did. *:)

      1. I read one — someone assured me it wasn’t Ysabel — about a contemporary son of a filmmaker who gets caught up in ancient magical people. I liked it a lot. I didn’t like one I read about Provencal types sleeping with each other.

        1. Any fan of Provençal poetry can hardly avoid Provençal types sleeping with each other . . . .

  11. I read Sex and Vanity. I believe it is supposed to be a romance novel. Too bad there’s not all that much romance in it. It’s instalove/”enemies to lovers” (i.e. he’s into her right away, she is all “he’s not the sort I want but am attracted to him anyway), just when they start to get off the ground they get interrupted by a drone…I’m not kidding….then they meet again years later when she’s engaged to someone else. However, they don’t get to spend that much time together, and the big moment in the book is …. her talking to his mother. Literally, they don’t EVEN have a romantic clinch in which they get together, it’s just “epilogue: they’re together on an island now!” Weaksauce.

    1. I read it too and didn’t like it very much either. However, it’s based on EM Forster “A Room with a View,” so some of those elements are from the original, like the interrupted kiss and the turning-point conversation with a parent.

  12. After a loooong stretch of too little time and books that just didn’t do it for me, I finally to to read something that I really liked: A.J. Demas’ Sword Dance was just lovely. Thanks to whoever insisted on recommending it here 🙂

    Finished reading it yesterday evening and immediately downloaded the second one, Saffron Alley.
    I soooo liked the way the author handled the heroes getting to know and above all respect each other.
    And I loved that the protagonist, Damiskos, wasn’t an obvious alpha male. I’m not keen on alpha males always being in the center of attention in real life, why should I prefer them in books.

    I also loved it that Damiskos didn’t always find the right words with Varazda, quite the opposite, very endearing.

    Varazda reminded me very slightly of one my all time favourite arrogant hero, Lymond of the Dunnett books.

    Less so in book 2, but about 50 pages in, he’s very much his own kind of guy (or whatever non-binary genre), I like him a lot. And the story has just picked up speed again.

    It’s so nice to know that there’s another book out in the same universe, with protagonists that have popped up in Saffron Alley (well, on of them), so I don’t have to leave this world too soon.

    1. All right – this series has been recommended often enough here that I have to try it! And I like how you describe it.

    1. Some day when we don’t have a specific query to discuss, we’ll have to talk over “non-binary genres.” CONAN THE CORINTHIAN?

  13. I am reading Sharon Lee and Steve Miller’s “Traders Leap” Many thank to whoever recommended the series, I have enjoyed them very much. I would never have chosen them (and Miles) if it hadn’t been for your recommendations. The last sifi I read was Asimov and Herbert, when I was younger. These ones are very different.

    1. I should try their work again. The kindle I share with a friend has a bunch of them on it, and I tried one and didn’t get into it, but maybe it was just whatever was going on in my life then or it was the wrong one to start with.

      1. I liked the first 5 or so then there were several I did not particularly like. Then I started liking them again. In some it seems like there are too many story lines going on at the same time. This is not true of all of them.

      2. Lois wrote the first two books and ended by selling half the manuscript as SHARDS OF HONOR (excellent first book to read in the series). She then continued the series — and Jim Baen bought — books about Miles Vorkosigan, of the Screwball S-F Adventure category. BROTHERS IN ARMS, THE VOR GAME. The flavor is different. Jim would have been happy to buy Screwball Miles books forever, but Lois eventually wrote more mature works — BARRAYAR, CETAGANDA, KOMARR. A CIVIL CAMPAIGN is basically a Regency, but should be read after KOMARR.

        Second series, the Five Gods, the intro book is CURSE OF CHALION. If you like that, go on to PALADIN OF SOULS and then to THE HALLOWED HUNT. The Penric novellas, all of them, are also set in this universe.

        Consult us if you need to!

  14. Reading earlier novel by English author. Pressed on through prologue, several chapters before story really moves along. Author’s newer works move along well. Thanks to you, I read stories with a more discerning eye, I can spot saggy bits and bobs.

    Writing a narrative for H this past week, got the writing juices flowing. Deep edits and killing my darlings and repetitive words made it much better,

  15. I ventured into the teen dept. for Beth Kephart’s The Cloud Hopper, which was excellent.
    So I signed up for a webinar with Kephart this spring.
    Also reading a bunch of Grace Burrowes’ novels.

  16. Finished KJ Charles The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting. I love her books for many reasons, but I especially like that when she puts in a twist, it’s never the twist you expect – and then you thump yourself on the head and think – of course that ties into everything and is so well done!

    Now embarking on Elyswth Thane’s Dawn’s Early Light. Colonial times right before American Revolution, written in 1936. Very readable so far, but of its time.

    1. Yes, but there’s that lovely scene in the tavern, where Jefferson and Mason and Wythe, et al., are examining Tibby to see whether she should be allowed to become a pupil at Mrs. Hallam’s school for girls. And Washington’s description of rum as a cure for dysentery during the French and Indian War — ‘They kept pouring rum down my gullet to keep me going,” he said. ”It is no wonder that everywhere I looked I saw two Indians! I have never been so outnumbered in my life!”

      So far only the first two books ever seem to have been made available in Kindle format; I wish they’d do the others.

    2. I used to love those Thane books, but I was a teenager when I found them. I remember Tryst being one of my faves.

      1. TRYST was the first one I bought for myself, though my favorite in those days was THE TUDOR WENCH. Thane was an excellent researcher — I think her father was a school principal and her mother was a teacher, so she came by it honestly.

  17. The only book I’ve managed to read is The Flatshare, which I started at 1am and enjoyed so much that I read it straight through.

    Book related, but not an actual book: I watched the Pembrokeshire Murders on BritBox (but I think it’s also available on Amazon Prime). The Kindle version of the book is currently on sale for 99 cents in the US. It’s a true-crime story about solving several cold cases. The scenery is beautiful, there is hardly any personal drama, you know they get the guy, but yet it is suspenseful and dramatic. Really, my perfect show. I liked it so much that I watched all three episodes in a row.

  18. I love that sticker book. I bought it not that long ago during a very brief outing to an actual store.

    I was talking to the store owner and he said he really debated stocking the book because he wasn’t sure there would be any interest in a book full of stickers. Turns out there was definitely interest.

    1. I have it.
      I haven’t so far been able to bring myself to actually use any of the stickers

  19. As I mentioned earlier, I read Deb’s Furbidden Fatality and loved it. The cats, the dogs, the mystery, and the characters were all great.

    I’ve got a few more on the go but those will have to wait until next week.

  20. I read and deleted some samples, but did actually manage to read a NEW book!

    I had just re-read Eva Rice “The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets” (quirky, British, set in 1955 I think) and saw she had other titles available on Kindle and read “Love Notes for Freddy Friday” (quirky, British, set in 1967). It was darker but everyone still turned out at least ok, which I wasn’t sure was going to happen in the middle. I can recommend both, as long as you are prepared for the “what genre would I call this??????” aspects.

  21. I have ordered that sticker book – it looks fantastic! She has another coming in September called “The Antiquarian Sticker Book- Bibliophilia” which I have preordered.
    As for books I read this week, I enjoyed “Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs” by Jennifer Finney Boylan. I’ve read her other memoirs and this puts a slightly different spin on her life.

    1. Oh, THANK YOU. I have it on pre-order now, too, and I’d never have seen it if you hadn’t mentioned it.

  22. I finished both my audio book and reading book yesterday and now I am desperately in need of new things. Both were good, KJ Charles and Trisha Ashley, but I need a change. I don’t want to comfort reread anymore, but can’t seem to commit to something new. Sigh. Life is difficult.

  23. I’ve been on a theatre/ballet/ice-skating kick with my reading lately. I’ve been re-reading my treasured YA favourites – The Course of True Love by Marilyn Singer about a high school production of Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Something Rotten in the State of Maryland by Laura Sonnemark. I’ve gone through all my Sadlers Wells ballet books, and now I’m reading Elizabeth Harmon’s ice-skating romance books – the Red Hot Russians series. And of course I’ve been rewatching The Cutting Edge and Center Stage.

    1. Did you read any of the Noel Streatfield books (Dancing Shoes, Ballet Shoes, et al.) when you were a kid? I checked them out of the library so often my Mom almost thought they belonged to us.

      1. Yes! And a whole lot of Jean Ure’s ballet books, too. When I was growing up, you were either a ballet girl or a horsey girl. I was ballet, and devoured those books by the truckload.

      1. They’re old now, but Lorna Hill wrote a whole series of books based around the Sadler’s Wells ballet school and company, starting with A Dream of Sadler’s Wells about young Veronica Weston who is determined to join the school and eventually the ballet company. It makes it more complicated when she’s sent to live with her cousins in the North of England. Hill’s daughter studied at the Sadler’s Wells school, so she had a certain amount of insight.

    2. Nicholas Walker had a young adult Ice Dancing series I really enjoyed (wonder if they hold up) Also there was The Swish of the Curtain by Pamela Brown, part of the Blue Doors Series

  24. First I wish to warn readers away from a book called Cheeky Royal by Nana Malone. Not terrible romance about a modern playboy prince from a fictional island kingdom who runs away from home and the female royal guard who’s sent undercover to protect him without his knowledge becoming friends and then romantically entangled, but they’re both lying to each other of course. The problem with ebooks is that you don’t really have any idea how many pages are left in them so when the book abruptly ends halfway through the story on a cliff hanger I am extra annoyed. I would have finished the book, but I’m not going to pay more for the second half of the story.

    I finally read the third book in Livia Day’s (Tansy Rayner Roberts) book about a Tasmanian cafe owner and her quirky friends, Keep Calm and Kill the Chef. Still fun, although I hate the technique of jumping back and forth from before the murder to after the murder and back again, repeatedly. If she writes another one I will definitely read it though, I just love those characters.

    I’m almost through with The Heir and the Spare by Kate Stradling, a medieval romance (not fantasy) about the younger princess of a kingdom whose older sister torments her and then the bully who tormented her at boarding school gets betrothed to the sister who torments her, and she’s sure the two deserve each other, but perhaps he has changed? Should she warn him? It’s quite a bit more complicated than that, and actually pretty good, though I suppose the ending could still fall apart, but I would definitely recommend it based on what I’ve read so far.

    1. I read “and her quirky friends, Keep Calm and Kill the Chef” and thought, with names like those, no wonder they’re quirky!

  25. This week Norton Juster, the author of my all time favorite book, The Phantom Tollbooth, died. That book was as enthralling to me as an adult as it was when I first read it. It gives you permission to think whimsically and makes you look at where your thought patterns and prejudices lead you. It rewarded my love of puns while the illustrations by Jules Feiffer opened my eyes to a whole new level of visual commentary. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve given this book to friends. Reading Juster’s obituary made me want to thank him for all the joy he has brought me for the last 50 years of my life and see if my library owns a copy of the annotated version.

    Otherwise, my reading has been okay, but not exciting. I started The Rakess by Scarlett Peckham. I picked it up because the blurb made it sound like an interesting reversal of common romance tropes, but I just didn’t really bond with the protagonist. That may have been a function of what else was going on this week because I was anxiously awaiting First Comes Like by Alisha Rai and did not find it nearly as engaging as her previous titles. Maybe I should reread this week.

    1. Juster’s Phantom Tollbooth
      🙂 the car that slows when passengers converse, because “it goes without saying”.

  26. This week I read ten things, of which 9 were full-length novels. Three = re-read the Southern Lights books by Jay Hogan, because the fourth in the series is coming out this month and I wanted to refresh my memory.

    Then I read ‘Someone to Romance’ by Mary Balogh, which I liked better than the last of her Westcott novels that I’ve read – this one features a long-missing Earl come home to reclaim his title/estates. I thought more could have been made of the bind he was in at 19, i.e. reasons for fleeing England: being isolated by his soi-disant guardians, being then accused of horrible crimes by them, having literally no-one to turn to. It was addressed but only briefly. In any event a pretty strong book with a humane resolution and satisfying love story.

    Following that, a M/M romantic suspense involving a Leverage-type crew in Chicago. The action part was decent, the romance was decent, but the collateral damage was a bit overextensive for me.

    Then, ‘The Matrimonial Advertisement’ by Mimi Matthews, another of her Victorian-set Gothics. This one involves a young heiress whose family are trying to get her committed so they can take all the money.

    Another full-length M/M and a novella, pleasant but not super noteworthy.

    Also read ‘Honeytrap’ by Aster Glenn Gray, which *was* noteworthy. Have not read anything like it – a 32-year story arc! – and the FBI agent/Russian agent main characters were so thoroughly imagined.

    Last but not least, ‘The Captain and the Squire,’ by Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead. This is a Wodehousian farce involving a problematic legacy, next-door-neighbor enemies-to-lovers, a missing manuscript, a collection of royal sex toys, a crooked auctioneer, and a pet pig. Also two lost, lonely young men who fall into an enthusiastic affair and who eventually win the day. I laughed out loud several times and have Never! Seen! So many! Exclamation marks! Thoroughly entertaining.

  27. I read Big Bad Wolf by Suleikha Snyder – liked it but didn’t love it. It felt …overwritten? or the writing style was trying too hard to be gritty? I’m not sure. I don’t like it when I can ‘feel’ the process of writing; I want it to fade into the background.

    I also read Love Lettering by Kate Taylor – a lovely book. And the whole letters/numbers passion of the lovers was delightful.

  28. I read and loved The Flat Share. Wonderful characters, and just the sort of story I needed. Plus that bit of darkness underneath.

    I also enjoyed Jodi Taylor’s ‘Doing Time’, the first Time Police book. She writes great characters, but I noticed her tendency to over-indulge in cute dialogue a bit more in this. I think this is one of the reasons I stopped reading the St Mary’s Chronicles.

    Now I’m reading Georgette Heyer’s The Tollbooth, which is one of my favourites. Captain Jack is a bit like Sophy in The Grand Sophy, in that he likes fixing people’s lives, and has vast confidence about his ability to do so. And people keep saying how BIG he is, which is endearing.

          1. Thanks: I had a nasty feeling one word was wrong, but two words felt more wrong. Didn’t think of a hyphen (and too lazy to look it up).

  29. I am reading Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus Beginnings by Lydia Sherrer and struggling to finish. The premise sounded interesting: “Saving the World, Preferably in Time for Tea.” The plots are the kind I usually like, but I cannot warm up to the characters at all. I have no idea what the problem is – am I in the wrong headspace (not having trouble with other books though) or is there something going on with the writing? Curious if anyone else has read Sherrer and can shed light…

    Read The House on the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, a gentle fantasy about an isle of misfits with a M/M romance. Loved it! Been out for a while so assume everyone else has read it, but if not I recommend!

    1. I keep thinking I’ll get around to it and other things keep jumping ahead of it. For example this week I have read six T. Kingfisher books (including Swordheart and The Hollow Places) and run out of what my library has in ebook. I have hopes there will be more soon, though, because when I read The Twisted Ones they didn’t have nearly as many.

    2. I really like the Love, Lies & Hocus Pocus books, and the characters, and so did my wife. I’m not sure why you are wouldn’t.

      1. Fair enough, Gary. I’ll let it lie for a while then try it again. We’ll see if that makes a difference! Thanks.

  30. I actually picked and finished(!) a book this week. Two Old Women by Velma Wallis. It’s based on an Athabaskan legend from Alaska where, when the tribe is facing extreme conditions, a decision is made to leave two elderly women behind so the rest of the tribe has a better chance of survival. The two women refuse to give up and manage to survive, despite the odds.

    Besides that, I picked up a few books from the library to try. Ray bearer by Jordan Ifueko, We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faisal, and The Lady and the Highwayman by Sarah Eden. Hopefully at least one of those will hold my attention long enough to finish it.

  31. I got caught up on Charlaine Harris’s alternate-world/paranormal Gunnie Rose series. I read the first before the pandemic and thought it was okay, although it felt like the first of the Texas ones she’d done, where the first book just kind of wandered all over the place introducing characters. So then I read the second one when I discovered the OverlDrive app, and I really liked it. And the third one sounded great, and I had to wait a few days, and then when I got it, it was a disappointment. Not bad, just kind of boring. Perhaps because it was more explicitly a romance, and I read for the other plots. I dunno exactly what the problem was, just that I had to force myself to finish it before it was due back. Harris is a phenomenal wordsmith, but her plotting can be hit-or-miss, for me at least.

    1. I said something similar about the 3rd book a few weeks ago, so you are not alone. Will still look forward to the next book she writes though!

      1. I missed the earlier comment, or perhaps I intentionally looked away so as to avoid a spoiler, can’t recall.

        I agree; I’ll check out whatever she writes. Which made me go look to see what’s pending, and I don’t see anything. Her website needs updating, and a quick look doesn’t show what she’s working on or any releases after the one I just read (which is fairly new).

  32. The two new books I finished this week were:
    Jessie Mihalik’s Aurora Blazing was OK but not great. It is the second book of the series, and although I liked it less than the first one, Polaris Rising, I still liked it well enough to request the next book of the series from the library. I hope it’ll arrive soon.

    Beth O’Leary’s The Switch was OK too, but I liked The Flatshare by the same author better. I think the writer grew between these two books (The Switch is the earlier one), so the later book read more mature and more focused.

    1. Actually, The Flatshare was earlier. I knew it had been published first, but when I saw your comment, I wondered if maybe The Switch had been written before. I found an interview in which she talks about worrying about sophomore slump writing The Switch after the success of The Flatshare.

  33. You guys are such a bad influence. Amazon should send you flowers or flower sticker books or whatever. I just ordered a few more things as I was reading through the comments.
    This week I read Magic Bleeds by Ilona Andrews. I love the world building in this series; it’s topnotch. Last week I read Magic Strikes from this series and was gobsmacked to find an epilogue. For some reason, epilogues generally irritate me no end, but this was like a little Easter egg to the reader and set up the next novel perfectly.

  34. I read through a number of KJ Charles in the last week – so glad she’s on Kobo Plus as they aren’t in my library, and I’d break the bank buying them all. Such wonderful characters, unique situations, and absolute FUN. The most recent was “The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting” which was SO GOOD.

    Also read “The Princess Trap” by Talia Hibbert. Very good book, but my timing was bad. I felt rather uncomfortable reading it the whole time, as it involves cruel royals (albeit of a small Scandinavian island nation) and a black woman that falls in love with the prince. Not that I’ve watch “the interview,” but just the headlines were enough for me.

    1. It was really interesting listening to what John Oliver said at the time of the wedding. He was on Stephen Colbert’s show and gave a very sharp analysis of why one would have pause marrying into that family. At the same time, I really thought a lot of the blame falls on Harry. One reason the William and Kate took such a long time to get engaged was to give her a chance to take a long look at what came with the job. I didn’t get the impression that either Harry or Megan looked very deeply into any of that.
      I also get a kick out of watching Colbert trying not to crack up whenever Oliver is on.

      1. I also didn’t watch the interview just read the headlines.

        I wouldn’t wish the British press on my worst enemy and I have no doubt that a lot of people went out of their way to make Megan feel uncomfortable and belittled and that a lot of the comments were racist but this whole interview thing smacks of a power play by Harry. He’s been awfully fond of playing the “dead mommy” card whenever he doesn’t get his way. Yes, it was an awful trauma for a child but he’s an adult now and you can’t blame all your problems on the past. Seriously, they said they wanted out of the spotlight, for their kids to live normal lives, and for them to make their own way in the world as private citizens who have jobs and bills and mow the lawn on Saturday. People who really want to live private lives don’t give an interview to Oprah about how horrible their in-laws are. Oprah is not asking me (or, better yet, my Black brother in law) to dish on the casual cruelties we married into. There’s money on the line somewhere and it’s not coming from her side of the family. Why yes, I am a suspicious bitch, how did you know?

        1. You cannot hope
          to bribe or twist
          Thank God!
          The British journalist.

          But seeing what
          The man will do
          There’s no occasion to.

          I learned it without attribution, but Mr. Google is your friend: Humbert Wolfe, “Over the Fire”, in The Uncelestial City (1930)

    2. Uncomfortable is the way I felt watching the fourth season of The Crown on Netflix because it featured the Charles and Diana story.

  35. Read Act Your Age Eve Brown (Brown Sisters #3) by Talia Hibbert and it was terrific. Also finished Borrower of the Night by Elizabeth Peters and Faro’s Daughter by Heyer. So a good week in reading.

  36. Oh, forgot to say I’ve just gotten some dead tree books: Elements of Eloquence, Dreyer’s English and Shakespeare for Squirrels because who doesn’t love a retelling of Midsummer Night’s Dream with squirrels? Lots of word nerding ahead.

  37. Did you know it is possible to re-read something so much that you become sick of it? Of course you all do. But I’m not talking about the book(s) you read once (or less) and then throw against the wall. I’m talking about books you loved.

    It’s been a bit since I read anything by Susan Elizabeth Philips, for just that reason. Now, in the past week, I’ve read Dream a Little Dream and Natural Born Charmer. The same thing is happening with Herself’s books. I started to pick up Manhunting. Hesitated. Didn’t open it. Looked at my library and didn’t want a Crusie. Maybe Sizzle. Didn’t want a Heinlein. Didn’t want a Huff or Goodlett. Too many others.

    I have Torch of Freedom by Flint and Weber about 30 chapters in and no urge to finish. I have Callahan’s Con open on my phone. Never read it before. I ‘spect I’ll finish it, maybe this week. I’m almost done with a re-read of Uptime Pride and Downtime Prejudice.

    I did listen to Masquerade at Lodi on Audible, else Bujold would be on the overdose list.

    1. Yes, I can do that. I read A CIVIL CAMPAIGN four times in a weekend — the weekend it was released — and it was a long time before I could pick it up again. Same for a lot of the Amelia Peabody books, because my online reading group had analyzed them, plot point by point, chapter by chapter, sentence by sentence, phrase by phrase . . . including omissions. Immersion deep enough for a bathysphere.

      You could always go back to Doc Smith.

      1. Oh Em Gee, I cannot go back to Doc Smith – I’ve never read him! When someone would say, “You have GOT to read Lensperson or the Green Lensmaneer, or Bongo and Lensguy Save The Universe…” well, I can get contrary, see. So I never did. Not feeling an urge to start now, neither.

        1. They are DEFINITELY period pieces. But they’re stories, in a period where a lot of s-f is Dr. Huffenpuffle has invented an Electronic Chicken Plucker! and the rest of the story describes exactly how the Electronic Chicken Plucker WORKS. Then you get more into the Heinlein era of how this affects the human chicken plucker, now out of work, and the Sociology era of how society is changed because All former human chicken pluckers now have to do something else.

          1. I thought the Heinlein era was more that the chicken plucker was being used on Ganymede sparingly, because its mass was expensive to ship between planets, so people had to learn to pluck chickens the old way, and save feathers for pillows and jacket stuffing. Becoming self-reliant. Heinlein’s heroes were all self-reliant, even the wimming.

            Society is changed because All former human chicken pluckers now have to emigrate to the stars and planets to do something else… or pluck space chickens.

      2. I couldn’t do a deep analysis of the books I love. I fear it might destroy the magic.
        I appreciate analysis with good books I don’t love because it makes me see why they are great. If they indeed are.
        That’s what we did in school. There was never a book on the Curriculum that i loved, but many that I appreciated much more afterwards. I might have had some very good teachers. Neither son nor daughter had that experience yet, sigh.

        1. We’d all just finished FALCON AT THE PORTAL, which had the mother of all cliffhanger endings, and went from “What the heck was she THINKING?” to “What will happen next?” And THAT led to the analysis, as we hunted for foreshadowing and clues. By the time HE SHALL THUNDER IN THE SKY was released (and my neighborhood bookstore owner had become “my Dealer” because he let me have books just before the release deadline), we were analyzing the whole series.

  38. I’m reading, This won’t end well, by Camille Pagan and I’m loving it. The chapters are short and zippy and it’s making it harder and harder for me to get out of bed in the mornings.

  39. I re-read two old favorites by C.J. Barry: Unleashed and Unraveled. Sci-fi romances with good but not over-done world building. Some humor, some adventure, good conflict imho. Not a fan of her ‘Body’ shape-shifter books but the ‘Un-‘ books are all pretty good.

  40. I’m mostly still reading depositions, now into the neighbors. Turns out that the file does seem to have the deposition pages together, but not in any logical order. I have read confirmations that James was living in sin with Polly, so there’s that.

    I am hunting for an online version of the county history — now THERE’S a Good Book possibility. County histories are a phenomenon of the post-Civil War to about 1930, but mostly in the 1870’s and 1880’s. You subscribed to buy a book and your entry about your family history was included — vanity press stuff — but those family histories do cover a period that can be a problem with public records because people were moving west In Groups. So public records can just stop in one place and just start in another. In theory you could say anything you liked about your family, but what people did say was most often taken from sources like the family Bible and the stories your father could remember his grandfather telling . . . generally about the Revolution. And though county histories weren’t fact-checked, mostly I think it’s reasonable to think that people knew who their own parents were, and most likely also their grandparents, and brothers and sisters.

    Still working on BLOOD ROYAL, now delving into various kinds of inheritance and adoption. This is a non-trivial book, but very readable, and the research did not limit itself to the west coast of Europe, but includes practices in the Eastern Roman Empire kingdoms as well. It contains information that hasn’t been done to death in historical romances!

    Other comfort reading, Misty Lackey’s FIREBIRD, a retold Russian fairy tale. I know that the hero will come through and the bad guys will get their comeuppance, and I’m rather partial to firebirds as well.

      1. Yes, from CUP. I recommend, for the seriously interested historian. It might make pretty good source material for plot conflicts, though in some cases you’d have to really establish the cultural background — because it isn’t Standard Modern European — to make the conflict understandable to the reader.

        1. That should have been Standard Modern WESTERN European. There’s a fair amount of material from the lands of the Eastern Roman Empire.

  41. I was dismissing all of Amazon’s recommendations for me when I found-on my own – what appears to be two of the most humorous pictorial books I’ve seen since Calvin and Hobbes. My teen daughter, husband and I were all laughing out loud from the previews. We have ordered the books. Hardcover even. Allie Brosh’s

    Hyperbole and a Half: unfortunate situations, flawed coping methods, mayhem, and other things that happened


    Solutions and other Problems

    I’d say if you are interested in a laugh it would be worth it to go look at the Amazon previews and see it is your cup of tea. You will know pretty quickly.

    1. Allie Brosh is fabulous. And heart-breaking, too. “Clean All The Things” is my favorite, but also the Alot, and anything she wrote about depression. Plus her dog essays are hysterical.

  42. I’ve got a question. I note that quite a few of us read M/M romances, but I don’t think I’ve seen anyone mention F/F romances. I’ve seen they’re around, but this group (appears) to prefer M/M. Is that the case, or am I assuming from too little evidence? If so, what do you find to be the difference, or what do you particularly enjoy in M/M that may not find in F/F?

    1. I personally can relate to falling in love with a man. I’ve never fancied a wonan (i don’t easily fall in love anyway), so it’s easier for me to dive into a story where the protagonist does the same, be it woman or man.
      Also, I find the relationship dynamics interesting when it’s different from what I know from my own experience.
      Plus I find men simply more interesting (and physically attractive) – at least fictional ones.
      So I sometimes find it very jarring when the heroine just seems to have been replaced with a male character (with what I regard as typically “feminine” behaviour though I know men can be very effeminate). My gay coworkers always seemed to be quite masculine in behaviour, so that’s what I measure my reading against.
      Alas, most m/m stories seem to be written by women for women, so I’m unsure how well m/m relationships are depicted. And I can’t easily ask my gay colleagues (a bit too private a topic).
      Comparing the books of female writers to YA authors like Brent Hartinger and Adam Silvera, the women seem to do a good job, though.
      Just theconcept of being okay with – after marriage – one sex partner forever might not be a shared conceot, but then, statistics might say women and men are not so different after all, just on the surface.

      Somewhere I’ve once read that m/m novels had twice the good stuff, so that could something that attracts to the genre.

      1. This brings up an interesting question – what about reading a male protagonist in love with a woman? If the reader is attracted by men, and therefore more likely to identify with a protagonist, female or male, who falls in love with a man, then if the protagonist is male is that reader identifying with the protagonist or the female love interest?… I may be overthinking things here.

        1. I think this is why I was surprised not to enjoy F/F romances, since I’m happy with a male protagonist falling for a woman. All those I read are written by women, which may be relevant. But I suspect it’s more to do with my inner wiring, and not logical.

    2. I haven’t come across any F/F romances. I think Red, White, and Royal Blue crossed my path first (BookBub?) and that probably led to a recommendation of Boyfriend Material. Unless somebody throws a book rec in my path and then circumstances compel me to read it (Murderbot recs here followed by Tor giving the novellas away for free), I don’t pick them up. BookBub is where most of my new reads come from.

    3. *Raises hand* I do! I’m not really into M/M (but see the Reluctant Girlfriend series by Melanie Brown). I don’t particularly seek out F/F, but some fell into my lap and I loved it. The Night Terror series by Mia Archer, and others of her stories.

      If I *must* read M/M, I prefer the old-fashioned sex scenes that go “…and then Kaile lead Brandon to his bedroom. The next morning…” Yes, I am squicked by graphic detail of M/M, whereas M/F and F/F are just peachy. Absent the cookbook sex descriptions, I can read and enjoy any romantic combination with decent characters and plot.

        1. ‘Spect so.

          I visited Amazon, Melanie Brown’s Kindle page. I wondered if the Reluctant series was an outlier. No, the series is not an outlier. She has multiple books and series, the premise of which is that a relatively effeminate man (or boy) is convinced to dress and act as a female. For example, to play the bass in his sister’s all-girl J-pop band. Or the only man in an office gets involved in a bet about the office dress code.

          What I don’t know about these stories is whether the “hero” is trans, or a kinky crossdresser (not the same as trans), or latently gay, or whatever. Sooner or later in her books, these guys will have boyfriends, and there will be PDAs.

      1. Same here, Gary: unless it’s important for the story/character development, I’d very often prefer if there were a fade to black.
        That’s what I liked about Boyfriend Material: I hope my memory is not totally skewed (I had listened to it and my visual imagination/memory is far less triggered by listening than by reading), but the h/h got to know each other deeply before there was any intimacy and that no sex scene was dragged out.
        Sexy bits can be very nice, but generally I’m far more interested in the couple connecting in all parts of life. That’s why Mme Crusie’s stories (Fast Women, Welcome especially) work so well for me.

    4. I’m with Dodo, on finding men intriguing and also relating to them as objects of desire. I’ve tried quite a few samples of F/F romance and didn’t enjoy any of them. I feel, theoretically, that I should be able to get swept up in a really good F/F romance, but perhaps not.

      Like Dodo, I suspect that the mostly female authors may not be getting the M/M stuff right; and perhaps the fact that the stories appeal so much to straight women is evidence of that?? But it is fiction; and the stories work for me (well, the good ones do).

  43. Speaking of cool notebooks and journals, I like Ex Libris Anonymous, which turns old books into notebooks. A friend gave me one, and I liked it so well, I ordered a job-lot (on sale) of 5 more a few months later. Besides a spiral binding and plenty of blank pages, each notebook includes a bunch of pages of the original book.

    In a related subject, the book I’m reading this week is THE BULLET JOURNAL METHOD by Ryder Carroll (who created the method). The method is definitely not for me – I don’t see the point in drawing monthly and weekly calendars in the pages of a blank notebook when I can instead just buy a calendar book, as I do each year.

    But I definitely more one-stop-shopping in terms of organizing my ToDo lists, notes to self, ongoing projects, deadlines, etc. I’ve got too many post-it notes and lists in too many different notebooks, so I hope to get some inspiration from this book for better consolidating & streamlining that sort of information.

    So far, it’s mostly just got me decorating my calendar with colored pens and stickers and patterns and quotes. Which is fine – makes sense to find some fun in the calendar I keep looking at multiple times a day every day.

  44. Hmmm… my non-fiction book ‘Hidden Valley Road’ by Robert Koker finally came up from my library.

    So of course I re-read ‘Evvie Drake Starts Over’ by Linda Holmes. I just can’t get into non-fiction anymore – I need Happy books 😊

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