This is a Good Book Thursday, March 17, 2021

I started a book I was really enjoying and then, somehow, got frustrated with–it involved the protagonist deceiving somebody–I just turned to the back to see how it came out and dropped it. I’m wondering if the single first person voice didn’t just become so annoying in its cluelessness or maybe in it’s over-the-top-ish-ness (which I originally loved) that I just gave up (there’s some pot-and-kettle going on there, I’m sure, since I’m sure my voice eventually grates, too). Great character, great voice, interesting community, but she kept charging around missing things.

On the other hand, I read a three-book series–classic modern romance, nothing innovative–about three women who’d gone together on a lottery ticket and won big. The lottery bit wasn’t a big deal, although I did wonder why they weren’t overrun by scammers, but their individual stories were different and interesting and none of the men they met would dream of sending a dick pic. They were good comfort reads, and since it was a series, I could settle into the community. I do not discount the benefits of comfort reads, especially right now as my world is coming back to life: Kate Clayborn’s Luck Series. (Note: All three had Big Misunderstandings that made me groan, but she cleaned them up nicely.)

What did you read this week?

94 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 17, 2021

  1. It is nice when you recommend something Jenny, these are now going on the Argh booklist.
    As for me, I have stopped rereading and I am now working my way through C.S Harris’ Sebastian St Cyr series. It was of course recommended here. Why did I wait so long to read these? I am not sure really. My only excuse: so many books on the Argh booklist, so little time!
    They are quite a funny mix of grittiness, violence, Heyeresque idioms and soap opera (way too many illegitimate children and complicated family secrets) but deeply addictive.
    I have also read Patricia Briggs latest instalment in her Alpha and Omega series, Wild Sign, which came out on Tuesday. I went into it for Charles and Anna of course but came out really liking Leah of all people. Briggs started her redemption arc in the last book in a way that some people deeply disliked but which I now understand better. And, of course, I also desperately want to know more about the mysterious Sherwood Post. Hopefully, the next Mercy book will bring some answers there.

    1. I read “Wild Sign” as well and was gobsmacked! So many changes in how I saw characters as well as the possibilities for changes in the stories to come. I just felt such a burst of joy when I realized what she had done for the future. To say nothing of Cthulhu!

    2. Glad to hear it! I wasn’t sure if I was emotionally ready to start this one. She can go dark sometimes, which she does well, but life has been so gloomy. I might reread Burn Bright first, just to set myself up.

    3. Yep, read Wild Sign and really enjoyed it and was surprised as well that I started liking Leah. She’s had a really tough row to hoe, but we didn’t see that all these years, except for Bran being an ass. Really looking forward to more Sherwood now. That one line in the book and I was, “Holy crap, I am IN.”

      Of course, now I press my face to the metaphorical window… waiting… not so patiently. (sigh)

  2. I was up into the wee hours last night reading Wild Sign, the latest in the Alpha and Omega series from Patricia Briggs. I couldn’t put it down. Then, I found it hard to sleep because the book was taking up lots of space in my brain. At 5am I woke up suddenly, remembering a work task I had forgotten to take care of yesterday, and jumped up and went straight to work. I am now paying for the lack of sleep, but still contemplating a re-read. The space in my brain is still fully engaged with the book.

    1. Woops! I was so excited about this book that I didn’t realise the previous comment was also about Wild Sign! Yes, ln – I get it about Leah; I never thought she could be a sympathetic character, but my whole perspective on her (and Bran) has changed. And Bookgeek – that ending really grabs you, doesn’t it? It opens up so many possible story lines for the future (and was both joyful and terribly sad at the same time).

      1. Yes, Kelly, the ending was bittersweet with a safe haven found but the tradeoff for safety is separation. I felt it resonated so much for me because of the echo to what many of us faced this last year when we couldn’t interact with loved ones due to the pandemic. But what a springboard for new plots!

        1. Interesting point. This ending really hit me. I am missing my daughters who are stuck a continent and an ocean away and no way to know when I’ll see them again. I hadn’t made the connection to this separation anxiety. And yes, I am excited to see where she will take this. But first, I’d like some Sherwood Post!

  3. I’ve been listening to Marissa Meyer’s The Lunar Chronicles consisting of Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter. They’re the first audio books I’ve tried since a book on tape in the 1990s and the first I’ve borrowed online from the library. I’m entranced. I love fairytales retold. Done well, that is and these certainly are.

    I’ve finished Cress this afternoon and have already started Winter. I’ve enjoyed them so much I’ve ordered the book set.

  4. I’ve finished Saffron Alley by AJ Demas and am now reading A Night in Boukos which I like better than SA (a bit too domestic). It feels comfortable spending time in this imaginary world.
    I’ve started to re-listen to Curse of Chalion while ironing but it seems I might be experiencing what Gary has talked about a few days ago – ennui towards a favourite. Oh my, I can always switch back to Trevor Noah’s Born Illegal which I haven’t finished yet.

    1. I finished Sword Dance last weekend, on the rec of this group, last week…I appreciate the comments on Saffron Alley…dodo would you recommend reading a Night in Boukos first?

      1. A night in Boukos takes place a couple of years earlier then SD and SA and it nicely sets the tone. When we meet Damiskos and Vari there, it feels more familiar.
        So: Yes.

      2. When signing to her newsletter, you get bonzs fragments. Little glimpses from the other pov. Like little pralines. I enjoyed them a lot.

  5. A friend just left for a sun- and warmth-filled Caribbean vacation, and our parting consisted of suggested reading. She urged me to read Fifth Business and Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell. Then my daughter-in-law’s Christmas package arrived (she mailed it on 12.21.2020)! She sent me a book called La La, translated from Polish. I’m both intrigued and somewhat overwhelmed.

  6. I read Sword Dance and Saffron Alley, on recommendations from Dodo and others here – thank you. Thoroughly enjoyed them – and realized AJ Demas is a fellow Canadian who lives in Ontario. I like to think that made the reading experience even better. *:)

    Then I read Midnight Library which has landed on a lot of best-0f-2020 lists although I’m not sure why. The premise is interesting – what if you could redo all your regretted decisions in life and see how your life turns out? However, the writing was a bit flat so I found it tough to get through.

    Naturally that led me to re-read my favourite M/M historical romances by Joanna Chambers and Cat Sebastian. Although really what I did was read my favourite parts – is there a word for that?? There should be.

  7. I picked up Jennifer Weiner’s Big Summer for $1.99 on Kindle. Except for the prologue, which bugged the heck out of me because those characters didn’t show for a long, long time, and I kept wondering) it was an intriguing story and held my interest throughout.
    I’m one third into The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. I adore the three main characters, very well drawn, and the concept of the story is different, and refreshing. Plus, I love British authors and London settings. Get the sense there will be a romance, but it isn’t the main focus yet. Have to run. You’ll have to google it if interested. Have a great day!

    1. That’s exactly why I hate prologues. Why are you telling me about X when you won’t get back to X for 3/4 of the book?!

  8. Off and on over the years I’ve read books by Sharon Sala but not read any of her Blessings, GA series. That is until I saw the premise of Somebody to Love her 11th edition in the series. Someone in this young man’s family stole $8,000 of his hard earned college money and Hunter is told by his father to get over it and find something else. So he does and joins the army and becomes a helicopter pilot. He comes back after 15 years to his mother dying in the hospital and that is the start of the story. It’s a hard won reconciliation of this family and I confess I went to the end to find out who the culprit was and it wasn’t there. It was 3/4 of the way in. Another confession, every time I got a little bored and wanted to skip the book something would happen to keep my interest. And it is a love story of an adolescent girl, Ava, who grows up to become a nurse and has been in love with Hunter for years. Squirmy goodness all around. Here’s another thought. I always wonder whether it is a two way street when a southerner says “Bless her heart” do I cringe?

  9. I read Combustion by Elia Winters. Steampunk romance with lotsa sexy times. She’s an inventor and maker of ahem “felicitation devices”, he’s a business owner and watchmaker.

    The MC meets her love interest in chapter 3,the same time we’re introduced to them, and thanks to Jenny I now can see how chapters 1 and 2 were naught but prologue. Alas!

    Not sure If recommend it. Would rather reread a Talia Hibbert book.

  10. I’m amidst what Jenny wrote about the other day, lots to skip. Disappointed in a historical romance author I generally enjoy, but who decided in this one to go deep on court processes and epilepsy. That’s fine, but it’s cluttering the book (imho). Last night I set it down, but brought it with me today, because I need a story, and can skip the court scenes. [It’s break week; there is one patron in the library.] Argued with myself about it, because of course I know what’s going to happen, but I’m really more excited about a teaser excerpt for a sequel coming out later this year.

  11. Apparently I need to go back and re-read the beginning of Briggs’s Alpha and Omega series. I read it when it first came out, enjoyed it well enough but for some reason never continued with the series. Now I’ve got the whole thing to look forward to!

    The latest Rivers of London novella released today, and I finally got around to reading Tales of the Folly to tide me over, and decided that Aaronovitch is just better at longer works. I always thought his promo story, about the “cunning device,” ended abruptly, but the pattern is even more obvious when reading the short stories one after another. I found them really unsatisfying, like there was this great set-up and then nothing happens and suddenly there’s a revelation but no real resolution.

    Anyway. I’m looking forward to reading the Abigail novella tonight. I just won’t be reading any more short stories.

    1. I got the feeling he’d just cleaned off his hard drive in the Tales of the Folly book. Just ordered Abigail because even when he’s bad, he’s good. Also I love Abigail.

  12. Martha Wells was just nominated for a Nebula for Network Effect, so YAY Martha!

    Also the vast majority of my ebook backlist are grossly overpriced. No, I have nothing to do with that. No, I can’t change it. But what the hell?

    Just started John Lithgow’s Drama and so far it’s great.

    ETA: The Curse of Chalion is $1.99 today.

  13. I just had my first disappointment from Forthright. I usually love her work and this one was promising. It’s a short story and in my opinion, she skimmed the wrong part of the story. Or just should have made it longer.

    It wasn’t bad, just not up to my high expectations.

    Haven’t decided where to start next. Maybe Patricia Briggs. And I need a new audio book.

      1. I would suggest you start with the first one: Tsumiko and the enslaved fox. Personally I think there can be too many story strands but that one is pretty much centred on the two main protagonists.

  14. I finished Elizabeth Bear’s Carnival late last night. One of her early books, first time I read this author’s work. I really liked it – colonization politics, romance, world building, AI, gender systems and native fantasy beings.

    It was ALL over the place, but I couldn’t stop reading. To the kick off point today, it was a good story. Planning to read more works, anyone read her and any recs? Thank you!

    1. You really can’t go wrong with her books. You might like her steampunk (Karen Memory) or current space opera (Ancestral Night, Machine), but you have to love somebody who can write a really good sentence as well as a really good story.

  15. I started with a Charles Todd mystery. I’m trying to catch up on Ian Rutledge. I like the rhythm of them. Even though they are murder mysteries, they are somehow quiet and restful.

    I also finished listening to The Best of Me by (and read by) David Sedaris. I remembered most of the essays and stories, but I still enjoy hearing them.

    Unfortunately, I moved to a mystery that seriously irritated me. I should have stopped early on – perhaps after the second flashback? – but it is an author that I have loved in the past and I wasn’t willing to give up hope. After the 47th pivotal coincidence and multiple stupid mistakes by a woman who was supposed to be smart and strong and well prepared for a fight, I just skimmed to the end. An end in which the heroine meets a man who despises her because he thinks she killed his wife and son and in which they resolve that misunderstanding and sleep together within hours. Maybe less. Honestly, I don’t know why I kept reading after that.

    I have now started Sword Dance by A.J. Demas. I bought it based just on the recommendations here. Knowing nothing about it before starting it has been interesting because I have been a little off-balance but that really works because the protagonist is also off-balance and we are figuring it out together. I am enjoying it.

    1. I met Charles Todd at a conference once, and he was very kind. We commiserated a bit on our aches and pains. He has a spinal condition that affects his mobility, I believe, and so do I.

      Just thought I’d mention it, because I like to hear that the authors I admire are also nice people (at least in their public appearances), and thought others might like to hear it too.

  16. I am a new fan of Kate Clayborn’s. After reading your commentary on writing and leaving out the part that the reader skims, I thought, Clayborn sticks to the necessary bits and that means I get drawn in and stay there for her books.

    I read anything in any genre, although I do love the world of Romance. Lately I’ve found Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series in Sci Fi, and anything by Attica Locke in the Mystery genre. Smart, stick-to-the-story authors, both.

  17. Forgot to say this: I was really down in the dumps earlier this week, feeling very stressed out and overwhelmed. I tore through my bookcases looking for something to read that I hadn’t looked at in a bit, and that would be fun and comforting. I found Anyone but You. I don’t think I had read this since it first came out (there was only one crease on the spine, and those Mills & Boon printings were not known for spinal integrity). It was completely lovely and charming and funny and totally re-set my mood.

  18. I love Kate Clayborn! I liked this series partly because I can see her growing as a writer until the last book where I went “Yep, this is definitely the writer who’s going to write Love Lettering.”

    Question: is there a meaningful difference between a big misunderstanding and a secret coming to light at the worst possible moment? I’m thinking of something like Phin and Sophie in Welcome to Temptation, where he finds out she was indeed making a smutty movie that would hurt him politically, even if there’s more to the story now.

    For me it feels like there is (there’s more to the story than the thing that sets Character A off, but character B definitely did that thing and A has a right to be upset, just maybe not THAT upset). But if people define big misunderstanding more as “a fight that didn’t need to be as big as it was if they had told the whole truth to each other sooner” than maybe “poorly timed secret reveal” is functionally the same as “big misunderstanding.”

    1. The problem I have with all Big Misunderstandings is that if it happens at the end of the book, their relationship isn’t quite cooked yet. In all three cases (as I remember), people blew up (understandable) and walked away ending the relationship (not understandable if this was the Real Thing) and then came back and said, “I made a mistake.” Two of the three were enough to have a tense discussion over, but not enough to end things. And then everybody changed their minds. The characters and the community and the detail and the writing were all good enough that I enjoyed them, but they clunked at the end for me.

      I don’t see Sophie and Phin sa a Big Misunderstanding. She lied to him and left him vulnerable, And she didn’t just apologize, she fixed it, and he didn’t just change his mind, he changed his life. They didn’t go back to where they were before the blow-up, they started over in a different place. In other words, there was no, “Oh, you didn’t do that? Sorry.” There was no kissing-your-sister. They were different people after that. I didn’t think any of the lottery winners changed after the Big Misunderstanding because they were misunderstandings, not real conflict.

      1. Ok, I *really* like the “did they change after” idea as a metric. Off to go ponder and geek out about story structure…

      2. I always thought of Sophie and Phin as a Moonstruck style conflict. He even says at one point how she set his whole life on fire and thank god for it, or something to that effect. It never even crossed my mind that it could be considered a Big Misunderstanding. Hmm. Must re-read now.

        1. I don’t think Sophie or Phin misunderstood anything. They both took the information they were given by the other at face value and acted accordingly, but the problem was that they were each giving each other incomplete information until it all blew up.

  19. I too read Wild Sign. I don’t seem to like the Charles and Anna (Alpha and Omega) books as well as the Mercy Thompson ones, but I would say it’s on par with the previous ones.

    I also read Throwing Shade by Deborah Wilde. I was at first hesitant because it lists itself as Paranormal Women’s Fiction, which appeared as a sub-genre a bit ago, so suddenly it seems that a group of women authors must have gotten together and decided to create it by agreeing to all write books about 40-something women suddenly discovering they were witches, or otherwise had hitherto undiscovered magic. The subject matter seemed like it would be right up my alley, and some of the authors had written some decent stuff previously, but all of the samples I downloaded and read were not good at all. Until this one.

    I actually feel the blurb doesn’t do it justice, “She’s ditching her shapewear, owning her hormones, and letting her magic fly free. Underestimate her. That’ll be fun.” But that’s not what it’s about at all. It’s true that Miriam Feldman is a 40-something divorced woman with a sixteen year old daughter, and she has been suppressing her magic for 30 years, since her parents were murdered and she went into hiding. But now her best friend has been kidnapped by magicals, or possibly vampires, and she has to come out of hiding to find her. She ends up hiring a grumpy werewolf to help her find her friend, who apparently has been a magical all along without either of them knowing the other knew anything about it.

    It’s pretty good and now my wife is enjoying it a lot as well. I’m looking forward to the sequel.

    1. Lolly Willowes by Sylvia Townsend Warner (sp usual caveat) classic
      See Guardian review.

  20. I enjoy Tales by Aaronovitch, in print and as read by Holdbrook-Smith. Each fragment or rounded story fills in the Rivers world, and the librarians’ nicknames for each other (Hatbox, Pirate) in armed with facts and dangerous to ownership conversation in the Bodlean (sp) library about a book gone walkabout contain volumes.
    I love Briggs, and sometimes her work is, to quote Cordelia Naismith, a gift with sharp corners. Yet I relisten and feel like I’m hearing familial conversation. The Alpha & Omega narrator, however, seems a shirttail cousin and could use professional coaching. What are the politics of text + narrator? What can the author choose?
    I’ve just relistened to Kinsale’s Flowers from the Storm. Nick Boulton (sp) (if I quit this site to ck spelling, I lose my text) is the narrator for all the Kinsale novels; that voice would knock Song of Songs out of the park. Whew! The early work of Kinsale fascinated me as it emerged, since each book explored a widely variant genre, period, and literary model. Sterling prose and not a barker in the bunch, as long as you were willing to suspend disbelief. Flowers fascinates me for its inside knowledge of 1800s Quaker life and works arising from spiritual purpose, or leading. Some intentions led to good chocolate bars and some to ghastly penitentiary jails. Internal character development as spirituality, in the world but not of the world, is delicately handled, and that worldly gap bridged by buttressing with matched weaknesses. A priggish Quaker caretaker recognizes a genius mathematician in a Friendly madhouse, and she realizes that he is impaired, but more maddened by the confinement meant to keep him safe than madly insane. Conflict ensues on several levels. He is a rake with a dissolving brain clot, of course, and she a moral woman with dissolving touchpoints. These are not spoilers, just encomiums about set up.
    Now reading the Wild Child books with my grandson, persecuted witchy earth protectors. He’s gobbling them up. Good at any age.
    March winds do blow at 45mph today!! There goes the old aluminum snow shovel.

  21. Beginner’s Luck (the first in the K. Clayborn series) is free just now if you have Prime. Thanks for the recommendation. It’s queued on the Kindle now.
    I read The Vineyard at Painted Moon by Susan Mallery this past week; not my favorite. The main villain is way over the top, think Cruella de Vil. The ending was vintage Mallery and I enjoyed that.
    Also read Small Kingdoms, a compilation of four very short stories by Charlaine Harris. I particularly enjoyed the first one.
    Last one is rereading On Beulah Height by Reginald Hill from when I read mostly mysteries.

  22. This week I read thirteen things plus 10% of another thing that I abandoned. 5 were novellas or novelettes. Four were Georgette Heyer, from a collection, of which my favorite was ‘Frederica’ though I also liked the short ‘To Have the Honour.’

    Of the others, there were several that were sufficiently entertaining to read in full but which I did not love for various reasons. Favorite full-length book of the week was a re-read of Joanna Chambers’ ‘Restored.’ Favorite shorter book of the week was ‘Undercover Star’ by Jackie Keswick, in which a rock star is recruited to help a Scotland Yard art-theft investigator infiltrate a charity event. Full of detail on the musician’s work life; well-developed love story with realistic conflicts.

  23. I just finished A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It is the 30-year saga of the Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, who is placed under house arrest inside the Metropol Hotel in Moscow in 1922 when the Bolsheviks spare him from death or Siberia because of his 1913 revolutionary poem written in university. Really enjoyed it. I borrowed the book from the library and was thinking of buying a kindle edition. But it seems that a great deal of important material has been omitted from the Kindle version. there are additions, footnotes, introductions that give relevant Russian history, in the printed text, and they add a lot to understanding the book. They are missing from the Kindle version.

    1. A Gentleman in Moscow was my book of the year when it came out. There is a sense of deep kindness running right through it that just touched me so much. And the writing is beautiful.

  24. A lot of my reading this week was inspired by Looking Things Up.

    Arghers mentioned SEP’s story (Nobody’s Baby But Mine) where someone (Dr. Jane Darlington) removed all the marshmallow bits from her husband’s (Cal Bonner’s) Lucky Charms. My Kindle copy says she did it in about four hours, but other Argher said fanmail said it wouldn’t take all night (the original published text?) but just 3.7 hours. Maybe. I read the rest of the book from there.

    Someone said something about falling in love. I read Wearing the Cape again, and found the part where Hope (Astra) Corrigan describes her annual Hopeless Infatuation (along with details) and observes “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” Her AP Greek History professor pointed out that the Greeks regarded all love stories and romances as tragedies. Finished WtC, moved on to Villains, Inc, starting Young Sentinels shortly.

    I still haven’t finished Callahan’s Con. I think it’s because it’s on the cell phone. I made progress, then the phone asked to be charged.

    1. I just had to Google Lucky Charms because I couldn’t reconcile ‘marshmallows’ and ‘cereal’. I’ve now seen pictures and I’m still struggling.

      Not being health police judgy here, I can’t buy Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (so delicious) or cocoa pops or I’d eat sugar-coated cereal all day, but some things sound weird if you haven’t grown up with them I suspect!

  25. I’m reading Katie Fforde’s latest (British romance). It’s set in the early 60’s which was apparently still pretty repressed in England. Very much enjoying the book, as I love everything Katie writes–definitely a comfort read–but not one of my favorites.

    Really need to get the new Patricia Briggs.

    And I just picked up the 3rd Murderbot novella and following novel from the library. They have a new system where people can self-check out, and you have to scan your library card. Apparently mine was so old and beat up it wouldn’t work, so I got a new library card. SO SHINY. You would have thought I was 5 years old and it was my first one, I got so excited. The clerk was highly entertained. She said most people didn’t want to give up their old one or be bothered with changing. I walked out of the library smiling behind my mask. Go figure. A NEW LIBRARY CARD. It tells you a lot about me how happy this made me. Now I want to call my mom and tell her. (She was a librarian, which also explains a lot about this story.)

    1. I’m having possibly not altogether reliable memories of childhood library cards that were little cardboard pouches, one for each book you could borrow. The librarian would put a ticket from the book into a pouch and store it until you returned the book. It seems a long time ago; and I suppose it was, given it’s fifty or sixty years back.

      The library switched to self check-out a while back (I think our branch pioneered it in Shropshire).

      1. Jane, that’s the sort of library cards we had as kids too. Every now and again when I order a book from the stack, it comes with its old library pocket in the back, which I love.

    2. My Mom wasn’t a librarian, but she would buy you ice cream (or at least an ice cream bar) when you could print your name and therefore get your own library card. It was quite a rite of passage in our family and one of my memories. You also got to go downtown to the main library instead of our cozy little neighborhood branch.

      1. My parents bragged that I had my first library card at age three — you had to be able to print your own name, and I have a very short name! Mother said she’d have been perfectly happy to check out children’s books for me on her card for a few years more, but I was early independent.

        SHE and her sister used to go to the local library and were allowed to check out adult books if they said they were for their mother, who was a busy doctor. Of course they’d read them as well . . . .

        And in the mid 1950’s, we were stationed overseas where there was a modest library on the base. Mother kept asking about books which by coincidence had been ordered by one of the officers, and if he was off-base on an assignment, they’d let her borrow them first if she returned them before he got back. So eventually the day came when he arranged for an introduction to the person whose name was just ahead of his in all the books he was borrowing! Naturally he and his wife promptly became lifelong friends.

  26. I want to thank all of you who recommended The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary. I am really enjoying these people.

  27. This week was filled with reading for me, but nothing stuck. I started three new books, one after another, and couldn’t finish any. I still haven’t given up any of them, but I’m reading them in small portions. I want to know how they end, but I needed something to clear my reading palate in between. Something enjoyable. So I decided to re-read Bujold’s Cryoburn, one of my favorites of hers. It’s so filled with absurdity, it is simply delicious. Of course, I finished it.
    And I watched Zootopia, a 2016 feature anime. Loved it! I don’t know why I missed it on its release. I like anime. It was simply charming.
    BTW: it was called Zootropolis in Europe. I’ll never understand this trend of different titles for the same books and movies in the US and in Europe. Why? It just confuses the hell out of us all.

    1. I couldn’t finish Cryoburn. I know we have to say Goodbye to Aral in this book and I just don’t want to do this…

      1. My favourite re-reads in the Vorkosigan series are: Cordelia’s Honor (of course), Memory and A Civil Campaign.

      2. For me, that book is extra poignant because it was published just before my dad died. I was unable to reread it for many many years after. I did finally reread it fairly recently and I really enjoyed but the ending makes me cry.

    2. The different titles are the work of marketing departments. They usually decide that people in their country won’t understand the original title, or won’t be drawn to it, or something like that. But I agree that it’s confusing.

      1. In Germany it even had another title – Zoomania.
        It’s weird to choose different titles. In this case I find it funny too, because the changes are so telling:
        Zoo-topia (emphasis on the utopia bit)
        Zootro-polis (emphasis on the city/civilization aspect)
        Zoo-mania (emphasis on ghe craziness).
        Three very different points of focus.

  28. Last night, I started THE FLATSHARE, after reading about it here. I’m enjoying it.

    I read THE SECRET LIVES OF THE AMIR SISTERS by Nadiya Hussain this week. A fast read – I finished it in two nights, and I’m a fairly slow reader. Very enjoyable. The Amirs are a close-knit UK-Bengali family, and an unexpected crisis leads to gradual discoveries that various family members have been lying to each other for a long time about major things, and now those lies come home to roost and bring consequences with them. It’s a very pleasant read about regular (if sometimes peculiar) people doing the best they can and making mistakes and then trying to fix them, and there’s also some light romance. I enjoyed it.

    Also, you might know the author: Nadiya Hussain was on the Great British Baking Show a few years ago. Married at 20, in an arranged marriage, she was a young mother of 3 children who suffered (and still does) from anxiety disorder. Her husband, who’d watch the GBBS on TV with her, kept urging her to apply as a contestant, saying he was sure she’d win. Finally, he printed out an application and kept waving it under her nose until she finally filled it out. When she went for her first audition, she was a mess (she later wrote), having never been on a bus or train by herself, and having never gone to London alone before… And then she was accepted, did the show, and (after a rocky first few weeks when it always seemed like she was sure to be dropped from the competition) eventually won the season. She went on to become a popular celebrity in the UK over the past 5 years, doing cooking/baking shows, writing cookbooks, participating in talk shows, public appearances. She wrote an autobiography, and also this novel. A British minister recently remarked that Nadiya Hussain has done more for Anglo-Islamic relations in the past 5 years than 30 years of public policy has accomplished. Oh, and she and her husband recently renewed their vows – this time as a love match. 🙂

    1. Nadiya!!! I absolutely adored her in the Bakeoff. Her face and voice were so expressive, and her cooking such a mixture of British tradition and pragmatism. She just had such an introverted, intelligent, empathetic personality — things that you don’t always find together in someone that’s also funny and charming.

      Alas, my library has only a cookbook by her. I would love to read both the books you mention. Nadiya. *sigh*

      1. I adore Nadiya!

        My library only has 2 cookbooks and a picture book by her so I tried to order my first ever inter library loan for it. They also listed a picture book she wrote about panic attacks. Evidently she suffers from them, which makes her performance on The Great British Baking Show all the more remarkable.

    2. I enjoy novels about close-knit but peculiar families because they remind me that mine is not the only one.

      Nadiya’s picture book is called My Monster and Me.

  29. Oh, I’m also about halfway through “Crime In Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier & the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump.” Fusion GPS in the US is run by two former WSJ investigative reporters, and the firm they subcontracted in the UK is run by former MI6 officers, including Christopher Steele. This is the team that started researching Trump in 2015 and continued through 2017; paid at various times by Republican interests, at other times by Dems, and sometimes continuing the work pro bono because they were so alarmed by what their research uncovered.

    (Also, the golden showers thing aka the “pee pee tape?” I never had an opinion about it either way (I thought maybe it happened, maybe it didn’t) until I read Michael Cohen’s book, “Disloyal,” and this book. Cohen doesn’t opine about whether or not it happened, he just relates what he knows and does not know – and what he knows is pretty damning. Combined with the many details in “Crime In Progress,” I think the incident definitely happened, it was definitely recorded… and it lost its value as kompromat once the media leaked the Steele report.)

  30. I’m having a bit of a disappointing week, bookwise. I downloaded the second book in a series, and it quietly faded to disinterest halfway through, and then a book I’d read ages ago and put on hold at the library to read again came in. Two chapters in, I was going “Oh, yeah, I remember now why I didn’t get my own copy.” I finished it, but it was with a sense of disappointment and wanting to give the characters a good hard shake. So I’m re-reading Christie’s Murder is Easy.

  31. I also read Wild Sign, excellent series addition, can’t wait to see what happens with Sherwood. And I read The Leaf Reader, a YA paranormal mystery, full of surprises.

  32. As of now, I’ve finished LAMENTATIONS OF A SINNER, by Katherine Parr, complete with suitable credits, “But thank the Lord, who has now sent us such a godly and learned King, in these latter days, to reign over us: that, with the virtue and force of God’s Word, he has taken away the veils and mists of errors, and brought us to the knowledge of the truth by the light of God’s Word, which was so long hidden and kept suppressed, that the people were nearly famished and hungered for lack of spiritual food. Such was the charity of the spiritual clergy, and shepherds. But our Moses, and most godly, wise governor and King, has delivered us out of the captivity and bondage of Pharaoh. By Moses, I mean King Henry the eighth, my most sovereign, favorable lord and husband: who, through the excellent grace of God, is suitable to be an expressed picture of Moses’ conquest over Pharaoh. And by Pharaoh, I mean the Bishop of Rome, who has been and is a greater persecutor of all true Christians than ever was Pharaoh of the children of Israel.”

    The endnotes include further recommended reading about Katherine, and I noted with interest that the editor’s endorsement of these several works varies specifically depending on how much their authors praise LAMENTATIONS. Just a natural bias, I’m sure. It is clear from the content that LAMENTATIONS was written in Henry’s lifetime, but published after his death in January 1547.

    Screwball romantic comedy; THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK. I’m just at the part where the hero’s unworldly parents have produced something that sounds like an entire village of Frodo houses, designed to bankrupt the family. I’m sure the heroine will come up with the very idea to rescue the situation.

    BROTHERS AT ARMS, by Larrie D. Ferreiro, Straight history, showing that without the equivalent of $30 billion and 90 percent of all guns used by the Americans provided by the French and Spanish, the American cause would never have succeeded.

    MEETINGS WITH REMARKABLE MANUSCRIPTS, by Christopher de Hamel. Fascinating! I am loving this book, and you might like to know that the Kindle version is well suited to a desktop; it has all the gorgeous color illustrations.

  33. I have discovered Elly Griffith’s Ruth Galloway murder mysteries and have become completely enthralled, even to the point of buying them instead of waiting the 6 weeks before I can borrow the next in the series, something I almost never do if the library has a copy.

  34. I have had a difficult time reading anything new over the past few months – buying an apartment seems to have reduced my attention span to the point where I can only read short snippets of old favourites. So I haven’t had much to contribute here until this week.

    I read Evie Dunmore’s A Rogue of One’s Own, and Erin Gough’s The Flywheel, both of which I really enjoyed. One is a Victorian suffragette romance, and the other a queer coming of age story set in Sydney. Very different, but equally satisfying in their sense of verisimilitude and righteous outrage. I already have Gough’s second book Amelia Westlake, which is excellent, and now I have to track down Dunmore’s first. It’s in the same series, so expectations are high.

  35. I turned 70 this week, and am I’m reading ‘Women Rowing North’ by Mary Pipher. It’s about ageing, and so far I really like it.

    Also reading The Killing at Kingfisher Hall, a Poirot mystery by Sophie Hannah. I’m not big on new authors taking over from dead ones – so often you end up with grotesqueries of style, and no substance. But this is looking promising.

  36. I read a bunch of the psycop series by Jordan Castillo Price, they’re pretty readable. M/m romance with two people who are well rendered, with human flaws. The protagonist has a talent that makes him special and some crap to deal with, and the other hero loves him and let’s him be who he is and takes care of him and I liked it.

    I was wondering why I have been reading more m/m than m/f recently. I think it’s because I’m just so angry with, I guess not men, but male supremacy? And yet, I like men, and I like reading romance, and many m/f romances really don’t make me less angry because argh, and so this way I avoid the risk? But Jenny’s books aren’t like that, neither was The Flatshare, most sff isn’t, and I’m happy to read historical (apparently it’s only contemporary inequality that really upsets me, I guess because I see how things have improved for women since whatever historical period setting I’m reading).

    Sigh. Rant over. Does anyone else feel this way?

    1. Yes, I’m a bit the same way. Even with historicals. With m/m you don’t start off with that societal power imbalance that you get in a lot of m/f books. Plus the m/m ones don’t seem to do the big misunderstanding thing. Or play the same stupid games.

      1. Yes, this. I get why women write this imbalance, because it’s perhaps the world they live in, but I don’t want it to be my world.

        On the harlequin fb last week, someone asked if it was ok that their hero smokes weed, in a state it’s legal. The resounding answer was no, it’ll turn off readers. I (couldn’t help myself) asked about the role of fiction to broaden minds, show other perspectives etc, and was told ‘in literature maybe, but not in romance’. Like, wtaf?

        (Ok maybe rant not over. I’m feeling the rant this week. And it’s happiness Saturday here).

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