This is a Good Book Thursday, May 27, 2021

Mhairi MacFarlane’s new book, Just Last Night, is great. There’s a darkness to this one, but it gives the story so much depth. I loved it.

What did you read this week?

+11

126 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 27, 2021

  1. I’ve been reading lots of books over the last weeks, some new, most re-reads.

    I’ve now gone through all of Nathan Lowell’s books. I still haven’t figured out what I like about his books. Quiet competence in most of his characters maybe?

    I really enjoyed Kelley Armstrong’s Cursed Luck. I liked that it breaks a number of romance tropes (lack of rescues, no HEA) which was fun. The main characters both have the same big bad, but are forced to work together, which by dint of Jenny’s teaching I was able to recognise 🙂 early on, I enjoyed that too. What I really liked though was the ‘physics’ (for want of a better word) of magic, it was one I hadn’t seen before, and I thought it was pretty clever.

    I also read LMB’s The Assasins of Thassalon, it closed off a few loose ends which was nice.

    Home, by Martha Wells was interesting, it took me about half the short story to realise that it was Dr Mensah’s POV.

    I tried to read Beth O’Leary’s The Road Trip, but didn’t finish it. I didn’t like the characters and I found I was just getting cranky with them. I did like her The Flat Share (particularly how she matched the writing style that she used for each character when it was their POV to their note style) so I was disappointed I didn’t like TRT.

    I’ve gone back to Patricia Briggs Masques and Wolfsbane which I haven’t read for a while, also the Cainsville series of Kelley Armstrong.

    I’ve been a bit all over the shop in what I’ve been reading lately. From romance to fantasy to mystery and back around again.

    A question for everyone though. I read a lot. I can read between 4 to 6 books a week sometimes, and I work fulltime, so I don’t have that much free time (no family though). Lately I’ve been wondering if my reading about stories about other peoples lives (regardless of setting) has been a blocker for me creating my own real life story. That I’ve used the escapism of all the wonderful books I’ve read, to not put the work in to have an amazing life of my own.

    Has anyone else thought this, or is it just me?

    +23
    1. That’s an interesting question. Reading is my foremost passion. Like you I easily read a book a day unless I am very busy at work. I have a husband and 3 now grown up children but I never invested much effort in my career back when I had one. There are people around me who have had big careers and great ambitions. I’d much rather read instead. I am just happy to read about other lives, some amazing, some just different from mine.

      +20
    2. Speaking only for myself, if I’m not reading stories, I’m making them up in my head (not for publication, just for fun) so reading is my way of getting out of my head. For you, it depends on how long it takes. you to read a book. (Yeah, I know, depends on the book.). If you’re spending twelve hours a week reading, that’s a lot less time than a lot of people spend watching TV which is passive (reading is active because you have to partipate and imagine while you read). Also, you work full-time, so it’s not like you’re avoiding people. The big key, I think, is do you wish you were out more? But if you did, wouldn’t you go out? Nobody’s making you read.

      My theory is that some people have quiet brains; they’re not stupid, but there’s not a lot of interiority there so when they’re alone and not moving, they get bored. And some people have noisy brains; they’re not any smarter than the quiet brains people, they just have a lot going on inside thinking about thing, wondering about things, imagining things, so the last thing they need is more stimulation and they will never bungee jump because any more adrenalin would kill them. So quiet brains go out because they have to or they’ll go mad, and noisy brains stay in because they have to or they’ll go mad. This is not a scientific theory and I postulate a spectrum between the two so you might be only sorta QB or sorta NB, but I think if a noisy brain person tries to get out more for any other reason than she wants to get out more, she may be fighting her nature. Of course, I am often wrong.

      +32
      1. Interesting theory….

        I definitely have noisy brain, but I could go either way on in vs. out.

        +9
        1. I have a crazy noisy brain, in part from my anxiety. I’ve always loved to read shift the focus off my thoughts. If I take out my fear of catching Covid, I enjoyed staying home during the pandemic. This theory sums up my life.

          +5
      2. Actually, there is a scientific theory that runs something along those lines! It posits that introversion and extraversion are characteristics of the brain’s base arousal state. Essentially, extraverts have much lower levels of base line arousal (electrical activity in the brain), and so need external stimulation in order to feel engaged and happy. Introverts, on the other hand, have high base line arousal, and tend to get over-stimulated.

        It explained a puzzling conundrum in my family: my older brother is fairly quiet, and tends to stay out of the spotlight, while I have nary a shy bone in my body and enjoy public speaking. But he consistently tests as an extravert on Meyers-Briggs and similar measures, while I am definitely on the Introvert side of the scale. The difference can be better understood by what happens during and after a social event. He stays quiet, but gets more and more engaged and energized the more he’s around the other people. I’m vivacious and outgoing during the event, and then have to go home and lie in a darkened room with earplugs in to recover!

        So yes, your theory is very well supported by certain researchers and studies! (But not proven, because these things are never actually proven. Therein is the distinction that science-deniers tend to miss – saying something is ‘just a theory’ doesn’t actually mean it’s discredited…)

        +17
      3. Jenny, your comment about ‘any more adrenalin would kill them’ is so true. It has taken me a lifetime to learn to deal with adrenalin, and I still struggle with it.

        I read about a study done a few years back with babies, looking at how they reacted to adults making faces at them. Some gurgled and waved and were really excited, and some just lay there and stared (and all the reactions in between, of course). The researchers’ theory was that the gurgling waving babies would turn out to be extroverts, and the silent ones would be introverts.

        In practice, it was the exact opposite. Because the extrovert babies weren’t getting enough stimulation to make them react, whereas the introverts were.

        Was this in ‘Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking’? I think it might have been.

        +9
      4. I have noisy brain and find the best way to quiet it is audiobooks alongside walking.

        +5
        1. I can’t stand audio books. I’ve never even heard my own. They’re like fingernails down a blackboard, and that’s no reflections on the narrators, I just don’t like people talking in my ear. I even avoid podcasts and video interviews. I have no idea why, since I can listen to music with no problem.

          +14
          1. Yes!! If someone is reading to me, I never get all the way into the story. The real world never falls completely away. And they never read the fast parts fast and the slow parts slow like I do. It makes me kinda crazy.
            Audio non fiction can work, tho. I is more like a lecture anyway.

            +2
      5. Very interesting theory, I’m definitely noisy brain – the only thing that shuts it up is doing jigsaws – and more introvert than extravert, but do enjoy going out, just not with lots of people around.

        +5
      6. I have only recently been diagnosed with ADD (apparently I outgrew the H in the last 30 years or so) so I have been paying a lot of attention to my brain. Very noisy brain: if I am not reading or actively thinking about something it will be an endless loop of earworms and annoying, intrusive thoughts. As I have aged the number of activities that can quiet my brain has gotten shorter. In the past year it’s gone down to reading and working, some of which is writing. If I want to have a conversation I have to distract part of my brain with coloring or looking at Pinterest so that I can really listen and process. Otherwise it’s a constant stream of words.

        So yes, I think your analysis is spot on.I

        Oh, and yeah, I read a lot.

        +7
    3. Maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. I see your life as amazing.
      How wonderful that you have a full time job that affords the luxury of reading time. How wonderful that you have the talent of relaxing into these delicious worlds and finding joy in experiencing others’ thoughts.
      How wonderful that you are enlightened enough not to struggle needlessly for your fulfillment.
      How wonderful that have the ability to entertain yourself without making demands on other folks.
      How wonderful that there is an endless supply of current and future books.
      How wonderful that you can change your mind at any time and choose new types of fulfillment. If you are asking for greater engagement, you can have it.

      Just a thought…

      +25
      1. LOL – thanks, I definitely wasn’t thinking of it like this.

        Very good points. 🤣

        +5
    4. You remind me of a line Nora Ephron gave Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” when she’s saying she’s had a small life–important, but small–and she wonders if it’s because she likes it or because she’s not brave.

      For me, one of the beauties of aging has been the acceptance of having a reading/writing life, and the fact that reading is more to me than keeping a clean house, planting a garden, or making art, though I make attempts at all of them. I have a friend who says it’s not that I’m lazy, just that I’m not ambitious. Never have been, and I’m okay with that.

      Some of it related to age. If you’re actively unhappy or discontent, and you have years ahead of you, you can change your life. Just be sure you know what amazing looks like for you, not for anyone else. Bon chance!

      +24
      1. Thanks – and this is one of the things I’m thinking of. I’m pretty happy with my life, got a great job, family, friends and so on. I’m just at a tipping point of ‘this is what my last 50ish years have been, what do I want the rest of my life to be’. Particularly when it comes to my career, and more importantly, my retirement. What I am in my day job is part of my identity, so what identity will I have when I’m no longer working?

        This isn’t something that I’m needing answers for right now, just some things that I’m cogitating on.

        Reading is my foremost passion as In put it – and I’m happy for it to be so – I’m just noodling around with some ideas of where do I put my effort and time in the future. I will always be a reader that’s for sure!

        +6
    5. To put it bluntly: real life is boring. You have to clean the toilet, feed yourself, and most of us have to maintain a full time job in order to stay alive. Most of us have to maintain a full time job we don’t like/find boring/actively despise because we can’t get paid to do what we care about and the world needs helpers, fixers, supporters and problem solvers. (I hate doing all of the above, but unfortunately that’s what people need in jobs. Nobody’s gonna pay a 40+ nerd of average looks to be a star, baybee.)

      You don’t get to have adventures for most of the year, if ever. The only way to have an adventure in real life for most of us is to read, or watch a movie, or whatever other fictional thing. That’s why fiction is so popular.

      If you want to create an amazing life of your own, hell if I know how to do that while still having income coming in, paying for your house and car, etc. I have no business sense and can’t do math, so that’s shot out for me. I have interesting hobbies and that’s as adventure-y as I can manage (mostly by doing theater). A lot of people write books for the same reason.

      I mean, is there actually anything you know you WANT to do and can reasonably do that you’re not doing because reading is more fun? Or is it just kind of wishing that you wanted to be more interesting, but in actuality, you don’t really because a safe life is cool by you?

      +18
      1. Good question, reading is definitely more fun (so much easier for a start!), but there are things that I can be doing as well as reading, if I don’t fill all my free time, just some of it.

        +3
    6. I think ask yourself if there’s something you wish you were doing more of/always wanted to try. If yes, take some time away from reading and try it. If no, enjoy your books! I think the cliche that your life can be what you want it to be applies here.

      +12
    7. Of course I’m completely unqualified to give advice but since you asked!!!! 🙂 I think if you’re reading that much because you purely enjoy it and you’re happy with your life and don’t feel that it’s lacking, you shouldn’t worry about it. Having said that, there’s nothing wrong with testing this out by signing up for a class on one night a week or book club one day a month or something requiring a very minimal commitment. You might find you’ve discovered a fun new hobby that you like to do in addition to reading, and/or you might meet some interesting people to hang out with. I probably read as much as you do, but it doesn’t stop me from traveling around the world or trying all sorts of other hobbies like making stained glass windows or going out for coffee with friends. Somehow, there’s room for it all. But it’s YOUR life, not anyone else’s. You may want to assess whether you concerns are truly internal or are a result of societal expectations. Good luck!!!

      +15
    8. To be honest, I am not any happier or more productive or outgoing when I am in a reading dry spell. And it feels like a part of my brain closes off without the stimulus.

      I have been thinking a lot about ageing recently. I don’t want to turn into my parent, mentally as I grow older. And the elders who I most enjoy being around tend to read. It seems to keep their minds open, and give them more flexibility of thinking. I am hopeful that I will be a decent little old lady one day if I keep my brain sparked.

      +13
      1. I’ve learnt enormous amounts by reading, I certainly want to keep that, and yes, be flexible in my thinking.

        Fingers crossed we both get to that point! 😊

        +5
    9. What would an amazing life look like for you?

      I have a pretty amazing life, tbh. I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve taken a lot of chances, I’ve done some cool things. I don’t know exactly what your picture of an amazing life is, but I received a Facebook comment literally today that said, “I so look forward to having a life like yours, Wendy. You are inspiration overload.” (I actually have no idea why that specific post, which was about Instagram, was worthy of that reaction, but maybe it was because I also eat well and post pretty food pictures. :))

      But I also read 4-6 books, per week, often more, and I think they are much more the cause of my amazing life rather than vice versa, because reading so much inspired me to want to go places and do things. I think that most of the things that make my life look amazing from the outside are single moments — a day spent ocean kayaking, a night camping in the desert — while the books give me pleasure all the time.

      That said, I’ve definitely thought that reading too many romantic heroes probably spoiled me for reality. I’m divorced, don’t anticipate ever getting involved in a romantic relationship again, and am fine with that. If “amazing life” translates to “madly in love with an adoring guy and 2 doting children” then I’m not sure any amount of work would have actually gotten me that.

      +14
      1. I suspect that part of my amazing life is ‘madly in love with an adoring guy’ (I’ll pass on the kids thanks 😊,) but there’s also other things in there as well to add. Good question.

        Travel is definitely on the list too…

        +4
  2. Thank you to everyone last week who recommended Winters Orbit. I lost some sleep, it was very good. Interesting world building, plot trips asking nicely, very satisfying. CW for a (mostly) off the page abusive relationship.

    I’ve just heard of the book classification HAFY. Where the book ends with the protagonist happy AND the bad guy getting their comeuppance in a very satisfying manner. I have to admit, I’m a fan of the HAFY ending.

    Like WTT, and the police chief deputising Stephen while he goes on leave. *Chef’s kiss.

    +15
    1. The perfect comeuppance is one of the most satisfying endings for me, too. I hadn’t heard of HAFY before, either — we’ll have to spread the word!

      “Let the punishment fit the crime.”

      +6
  3. Dear Philby,
    others will hopefully chime in to give you sound advice here, far better than mine, but here’re are my 5 cents anyway (sorry in advance for any rambling):

    I’m an introvert who hardly has an amazing life, but the man is a good one and the kids are well-behaved and seem to like me, so I guess my life is not too bad.
    I’ve always loved reading and couldn’t imagine life without books and the stories of other great and/or funny minds.
    Reading engages your imagination, so it always felt more amazing and satisfying to me than e.g. watching tv or films where other people led amazing lives.

    Not being able to read and enjoy it has always been a sign that I’m not feeling really well. I need a balanced state of mind to be able to dive into a story. When I like my reading material a lot, I tend to discuss it with poor husband – the better or engaging or troubling the book, the more he has to listen to. So I don’t think reading cuts me off from the people surrounding me.
    I’m also a rather slow reader, 4-6 books a week would be out of my reach (it used to be feasable when I was a kid and on holiday) and when I like a book/story a lot, I need to bask in the afterglow of the reading experience. And have to drown poor husband with my thoughts (he reminds me of a passive smoker, ahm, reader…).

    But back to your question:
    Reading takes up a lot of time, so yes, right now you may not give your life enough free space to become the amazing life you could make it into being.
    You might indeed want to give it a try to allow your life more “space” to become “your” life.
    But think about first what amazing means to you.
    Writing down your ideas would be a good idea.
    How could you approach the new life?

    Test out the various approaches.
    Also – give yourself time to experience all the approaches you’d like to try out.

    If you try out new habits, new forms of experiences, give yourself time to really feel it – it takes at least 7 days for all of bus to be able to examine how we like new habits, even more to integrate good new habits into daily life.

    After Jenny pointed out the Yale course on Well-being on this site about 11 weeks ago, I signed up (still have to write my final paper). It was an interesting ride, a fruitful one as right at the start I realized a lot about myself and now I’m better equipped with the methods of how to get myself into a good state of mind.
    I’m glad they called it “Science of Well-Being” because “happiness” is too loaded a word for me and happiness as the goal would have put me under to much pressure.

    Why I mentioned it here is that your definition of an amazing life could well be to be an avid reader / diver into amazing written stories or at least include enough time to read multiple books a week.
    Amazing is different for everybody and for you might not mean cycling around the world with a cat on your shoulders (sorry, saw a Youtube video yesterday with a Scottish bloke who picked up a tiny kitten while cycling the world) or solving crime like Jacqueline Kirby or have a whirlwind romance with a shapeshifter 🙂

    +24
    1. 🤣 I’ve seen the same guy on the bicycle with a cat video, and no, that’s not necessarily on the list of things I want to do. I will always be a reader, but what else do I want to add to make my life even better – to your point – is the question. One that I shall think on more.

      +2
      1. Making my life more exciting was easy – a few years ago I started doing courses at the local Volkshochschule (might not be the same as community college or college of further education – it offers a wide range of classes on almost any topic, some for young adults, most for adults and some for the elderly).
        I had done classes earlier, but about 4 years ago I started in earnest with Ancient Greek because the son was about to do it in school. Great group of co-studetns and very nice young teacher, so I’m still doing it (4th year now), it’s widening my horizon about how languages work and it keeps the brain matter alive and kicking’.

        Since then I’ve done classes about sewing, the Alexander Technique, done Yoga there, took a singing class (one was brilliant, in the second one had the pleasure to get an assh… of a teacher), have done a number of conversational courses in English on interesting topics, during the lockdown have followed a tour guide through town discovering the hidden remains of my own city, my father and son have done a knife making class with a swordsmith once and a couple of cooking classes.
        I love, love, love learning new things, so this is somehow my way of making my life more amazing (i.e. interesting).
        The courses are not too expensive and though the quality can vary a lot (the one with the assh… of a singer), but sometimes classes are just great. And it’s one way to connect with topics and people, especially when classes are going on for not only a couple of weeks, but longer, like my Ancient Greek one.

        I’ve learnt in once that one pillar of our well being is to belong. Groups to belong to can be kind of automatic ones (i.e. at work), but also of your choosing – friends, like-minded folks, friends you make in a sports club, chess, book club, whatever hobby you have.
        Here in Germany, after leaving school it’s not too easy to make friends – really good friends -, but when you share a love for something, being acquaintances can develop into becoming friends.

        Whatever I do passionately, I have to share this overflowing love and passion.
        I’ve noticed that I do need social connection to enjoy life. I’d classify myself as being an introvert, so social connection is not too easy to accomplish, so actively seeking out this connection is easiest done in such an environment with like-minded folks.

        +13
        1. That’s the kind of things I’m thinking of, heading out and learning new things, getting a new hobby, taking on new challenges outside of my current space.

          Expanding my horizons in the physical world as much as I do in my reading worlds.

          +4
          1. Great idea. Enjoy the journey! I think we never stop learning new things but consciously embracing learning new things will be even better.

            +4
  4. Sadly, the new book I bought this week really failed to engage me in any way and I have given up on it. It was so dull and like reading blank cardboard. I don’t want to be mean, so no title.

    But also no good book. 🙁

    +10
  5. I read Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake, and it turned out to be exactly what I was in the mood for. It was worth it for the Bread Week if nothing else. I second the people who mentioned that it’s more chick lit with romantic elements than romance, but that actually made it more enjoyable as far as I was concerned.

    I’ve been working my way through a handful of Dick Francis and Ngaio Marsh (Photo Finish at the moment) as my bedtime comfort reading.

    +16
    1. Thank you for the recommendation. I just checked out the sample of Rosaline Palmer takes the cake on Amazon and I think it’s my next read.

      +9
    2. Thanks for the thumbs up – I’m far more intrigued by Rosaline not being a typical romance. Romance for me is like cake – I can only eat so much before I have to have a break and eat /read something more savory.
      Yesterday when finishing the reading sample, I noticed the price had gone down to 2.99 Euro, so I was very quick to order 🙂 Yippee!

      +3
  6. I have started rereading the Lucky O’Otoole Vegas series. They are lighthearted and fun. Lots of humor, a little mystery and some romance. At least they keep my attention and I don’t find myself skimming pages.

    +9
  7. I have been rereading Ilona Andrews Edge Series. I hadn’t read it for quite a long while and I am enjoying rediscovering that world!

    +9
  8. I followed the SmartBitches rec for Ella Quinn’s Believe on Me.

    Mostly regular historical romance fare but for the traveling through Europe bits.

    I don’t know whether I was tired, or if the author was engaging in fans service by bringing in previous books’ characters, but is VERY “people-y”. There are a LOT of people that we get introduced to and it just starts to sound like noise to me. I really struggled to get past that.

    H/H were quite good. Development sufficient for the type of novel it is. But I don’t know if I’d say to start with this of her novels.

    +8
  9. I re-read Angel of the Crows with even more enjoyment than the first time. I want more in that universe (if alt-Sherlock is a universe). I also want more in the Goblin Emperor universe, and probably any universe Katherine Addison invents. (Which leads to the question: if Katherine Addison is Sarah Monette, why have I not gotten more than ten pages into anything by Sarah Monette that I’ve tried?) Write faster.

    I read Goodbye, Things and Hello, Habits both this week, and am now puzzled by the human race. Or by Fumio Sasaki, but I don’t think it’s just him. He repeatedly refers to (not just him) people buying things in order to impress other people or to be seen as a kind of person they only aspire to be. He says things about buying clothes that you only wear once or twice and then are tired of. ??? This summer, a dress that I made about fifteen years ago has become un-mendable and I am so sad. I have worn that dress about fifteen days a (summer) month for so long. It is about to become a skirt (all of the worn out places are in the collar and sleeves) but it won’t be the same, especially without the mother-of-pearl buttons that belonged to my great-grandmother. I have two pairs of knee socks that date back to 1966. And the idea of getting rid of things you haven’t used in a year! I haven’t been to a wedding or a funeral in over two years, but the next time I go to one I certainly won’t have time to go shopping for clothes. I will go find something in the closet!
    I find shopping for most things highly stressful because I know Exactly What I Want and it’s not there, and compromises are maddening. Groceries are all right, partly because the compromises are so temporary.
    So apparently I’m living surrounded by a lot of people, though probably not most of them, who buy things because society tells them to, and it’s freaking me out a bit.

    +17
    1. I’m with you, Mary Anne. Both in hanging on to clothes I like, and in being an extremely difficult to please shopper. Does save a lot of money, too, which is good.

      +10
    2. I also have a question about Katherine Addison vs. Sarah Monette. I liked The Goblin Emperor, and The Angel of the Crows also worked for me, but when I tried one of Sarah Monette’s books recently, I couldn’t read it. Just NO. Maybe that’s why she started using a pen name. Because she changed somehow as a writer and wanted to distance herself from her older works?

      +10
      1. Her publisher wanted her to, and if there are many people like you and me, that would be why.

        +5
        1. (P.S.: I’ve tried several Monettes, before Addison, because I like Elizabeth Bear, and I tried some more after Addison, and they never worked for me. Reader-brains are strange.)

          +5
      2. I seem to have a quirk where if I read Series A by an author, most of the time I don’t like their Series B (or C) or whatever. It’s pretty rare when I like more than one series of an author’s, and I’m not sure why. Sometimes Series B is more boring, or sometimes Series B is way too similar to Series A–usually one of those. Could also just be their writing style from series to series.

        +3
      3. I love Sarah Monette and Katherine Addison – but those books are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT and it shocked me when I learned they were the same person. I don’t know if she wanted to distance herself from her older works – I like to think that she really was taking on a different ‘voice’ as each author – as a good author should – and exercising her right to fully express each voice.

        +5
      4. The usual reason for a not-a-secret second pen name is that the reading experience is quite different between Manuscript 1 and Manuscript 2, and the publisher thinks that readers will be disappointed or worse and quit buying anything that author writes. Alternatively, the author uses, say, his or her real name professionally — say, on the PhD thesis and associated papers and so on — and doesn’t feel professionally comfortable associating it with the erotic fantasy mystery series, especially if one’s peers are likely to find out.

        Well-known example is Barbara Mertz, who wrote non-fiction popular Egyptology under her own name, Gothic romance as Elizabeth Peters, and paranormal mysteries as Barbara Michaels (with a couple of accidental switcheroos over the years). CROCODILE ON THE SANDBANK, first in the Amelia Peabody series, is definitely a Gothic — remember the animated mummy? — though eventually as the series continued, the Gothic element shrank and the later ones are pretty straight mystery.

        +11
      5. I love her first Sarah Monette series (I like a good messed up wizard 😀) and I like the series she did with Elizabeth Bear but those are both grittier/darker in tone than TGE which I also adore. New one next month, huzzah!

        +3
      6. I loved the first Sarah Monette series, did not like the one with Elizabeth Bear and love her Katherine Addison stuff. I have no idea why one series works for me and the other doesn’t.

        +5
    3. In some ways, I am (was, more so) one of those people who buys things to impress, or because they match the person I want to be. It’s not so much clothes – I still have a shirt from middle school, and I am weeeeelll past that stage, but other things.

      When I was reassessing my books (constant thing, really), there was and still is a huge category of books I’ll never read. A nice chunk were nonfiction books I bought because I would love to learn more on that topic, would love to BE the person who knows these things. But then, there were also books from college I bought because friends bought and (maybe) read them, and I was trying to fit in with that group.

      I didn’t buy the books and knowingly see that at the time – the genuine intent was there, but I never read them. I get sleepy with NF, and am really more the type to gravitate towards fiction. But I wanted to be like them, and thought buying the books was part of that path. Kind of like buying the exercise equipment to lose weight because it *seems* necessary to that goal.

      So his book, and minimalism in general helped me declutter the me that would read those books, as well as the books themselves. It was and is very freeing.

      It kind of makes sense that people are buying things they are told they need vs really need – that’s the point of marketing, pretty much. And we (speaking US here) are a churn and burn society, and there’s always the next big thing to buy.

      Aside from all that, are you able to add the pearls to the skirt as a decorative accent??

      +13
      1. I don’t think I could add the buttons to the skirt. It’s a marbleized purple print and they wouldn’t show up. I can imagine them being a great design element on a solid color. Don’t worry; I’ll use them in another dress before too long. This was their third dress in forty years. 🙂

        With books I’m not an aspirational buyer, but I am an aspirational Keeper. “But I want to read that again! Soon!” I reread a LOT, but I also keep acquiring more books and less lifetime.

        +12
        1. Same, ha! I starting realizing that I felt bad for not reading certain books, and those were always tied to an aspirational version of myself.

          I’m letting go better now that I have realized this. That, and not enough time to read it all!

          I read a fabulous quote somewhere along the lines of the best time to read a new book is when you buy it. After that you’re less likely to pick up a book from your TBR pile the further from the date of purchase you get.

          That’s weirdly helped me release all kinds of things!

          +9
          1. I also like Marie Kondo’s assertion that an item did it’s job if it made you happy when you bought it. The act of purchasing it was it’s function, not necessarily reading/wearing/etc. And it’s ok to let it go now that that function has been fulfilled.

            +10
        2. Could you repurpose the buttons as earrings? Or a necklace, so you could still wear them together.

          +3
          1. Oh, I’ll be putting them on another dress, eventually. It’s just that the skirt will be lessened by not having that link to my great-grandmother. (I have a full quart jar of buttons from that side of the family.)

            +4
      2. This is me about non- fiction books. Being the kind of person who knows about those topics!

        +5
    4. I think it’s largely people who watch a lot of ads who buy a lot of stuff. When my kids were little they were not allowed to watch TV (videos and compiter games were allowed) and the only thing a child asked me to buy was Ovaltine because radio ad.

      I had a boss once who loved and wanted a VW bug but bought a Jaguar because she got a great deal. I sAid she should
      Have bought the VW since she loved it and she said but it’s a Jaguar and we stared at eachother in mutual incomprehension .

      I have clothes that go back 40 years and I’m the throw er out in my family….

      +11
      1. I agree, those who watch a lot of ads, and those who externalize their validity or happiness. This next thing proves I’m such a kind of person, or this next thing will make me happy. Marketers definitely capitalize on both notions!

        +6
      2. I have a friend who sat down with her small daughters and talked them through the tv ads. ‘See, they’re trying to persuade us to buy a new car. But we’ve already got a car, so we don’t need another one.’

        The kids caught onto this really well. A few days later they were watching one of those weird hair shampoo ads – someone’s gorgeous hair cascading down. ‘Mummy,’ says one of the girls, ‘they’re trying to persuade us to get new hair. But we’ve already GOT hair!’

        +14
        1. We decided developing defenses against advertising is one of the best skills we could teach our kids, so we did something very similar. We called it Defense Against the Dark Arts too – for added impact – and the kids got really into assessing any claim pretty critically.

          +2
    5. For me it is if you are lucky enough to remain the same size season after season then you are lucky enough.

      +5
  10. Well, my summer reading is all set, I just bought Beach Reads Box Set by eleven authors for zero dollars on Amazon. That and I’m recommending two books that I read recently The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews and The Break Up Book Club by Wendy Wax. The Newcomer is about a woman on the run who escapes with her 4-year old niece after she finds her sister murdered in her New York home. Then travels to Florida to hide out in motel with a cast of senior citizen characters plus the drop in detective son of the owner. Missing money, missing jewelry!

    The Break Up Book Club is about four main characters, and believe me it took a minute to get them all straight in my head with all their stories. This also has many side characters, too, like a supporting cast. I hope this has a sequel I’d like to read about them in the near future.

    And a new one I started yesterday An Invincible Summer by Mariah Stewart about a woman who goes back to her home town for her fortieth class reunion with her BFFs, also on board is the town’s chief of police her ex high school boyfriend. The one review I read mentions the pandemic with no one wearing a mask and lack of social distancing but I’m reading it anyway just because. Maybe the pandemic is mentioned as happening in the past I’ll have to read and find out.

    +10
  11. Still working on book club’s 19th century challenge–found Louisa May Alcott’s short stories not to my taste, but am re-reading Rose in Bloom. I had a copy condensed for kids, so it’s interesting to see what those editors left out (geek!). Also read Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days. I’d never read Verne, and enjoyed this very much, though sometimes the time/space details and descriptions got old. But it’s an interesting picture of the world in the latter part of the 19th century.

    +12
    1. I’ve read more Alcott than I probably should including a terrible book that was never re-printed called work. Don’t.read it
      I like some of her short stories a lot and I did love eight cousins and Rose in Bloom. I may have been influenced by the fact that the first book I read as a child that held my interest was a childhood of famous AmericanBiography entitled Louisa May Alcott girl of old Boston.

      +11
      1. I’m weird: I canNOT get into Little Women (so much that the only way I could finish it was to read Little Vampire Women), but I liked Eight Cousins/Rose In Bloom, in a weird perverse kind of way. Like “Hi, I am a rich blonde hot young heiress. Why is it I can only marry one of my cousins? Are there literally no other available men in town?”

        +9
        1. I never liked Little Women either. I had hopes for the latest movie, but ended up really disliking Jo and only really connecting with Amy, which I don’t think I was supposed to at all… I didn’t care for the movie as a whole.

          The new Emma was delightful, but that is another story.

          +5
        2. I thought Little Women was trite. Admittedly, for its time, it was recently contemporary, but it had Victorian sensibility that was too saccharine for me.

          I also did not like Gone with the Wind, which could not even remotely reflect Civil War society being written almost 100 years later (like comparing Jane Austin to Georgette Heyer, one knew the social mind set intimately, the other researched it). I only made it a couple of chapters into GWTW before I decided that I did not want to waste any time at all with Scarlett.

          +5
          1. I read all of GWTW, when I was 15, and absolutely despised Scarlett. I have never been able to re-read it. I did like Little Women, though I prefer Eight cousins/Rose in Bloom.

            +9
          2. Well, it was Victorian. And given that Jo and Amy had careers and that Jo educated women as well as men it was progressive for its time. One of the things I enjoy about her books is seeing what feminist meant back then.

            +5
    2. I tend to like the non-LITTLE WOMEN / LITTLE MEN books better, too, but I read those when I was nine or ten, and by “read,” I mean “read my mother’s copies until they were worn out.” My mother started me out on the chapter in LITTLE MEN where Daisy gets a miniature kitchen, and I loved the playhouse setting. They read differently now, as the children are pushed to take on Victorian gender roles.

      But ROSE IN BLOOM is a special favorite because in the last chapter, Alcott mentions her favorite Victorian philanthropists, and she includes my great-aunt Abby Hopper Gibbons (technically the aunt by marriage of my great-grandmother, Eleanor Peters Gibbons, but what-ho, any claim to fame, however tenuous). Abby was also the great-aunt of William D. Hopper, Jr., better known as Paul Drake. I was truly startled to find her just casually referenced in a children’s book of 1876 as an aspirational icon of the day.

      +8
  12. I finished three books over the week, huzzah there. None are ones I recommend with great enthusiasm, but overall they were pleasant enough.

    * Pairing Off (Red Hot Russians): American pairs skater with a politician dad gets screwed out of a career in America, goes to Russia and changes citizenship (easily?) to continue her career. The fellow in it is very nice and sweet, but these days one kind of shudders to imagine living in Putin’s Russia now. Of course, it was published in 2015, so.

    * 11 Paper Hearts: teen novel in which girl is in a car accident and gets amnesia, never remembers the 11 weeks of her life before the accident, during which it turns out she seems to have made some major changes in her life that she now doesn’t know about. It’s very obvious that the guy who suddenly shows up in her life was her new boyfriend, and mostly it’s not huge suspense, but the author suddenly throws in some big stuff towards the end. Interesting take/development on slowly realizing that you’re in a mean girl clique when you weren’t quite aware of it before.

    * Prince Philip Revealed: ever wonder about Prince Philip? Not me either really, but I asked for royal family books for my birthday and this was thrown in too. I suppose we can say he’s certainly quirky and I guess supported the queen, but his frequent jerkiness is definitely mentioned frequently. Can’t say I would have wanted to hang out with the fellow.

    +9
  13. I read a bunch of Leslie Langtry novels. They were pretty funny. She has a mystery series about Merry Wrath, a former CIA spy, that reminds me of Jana DeLeon’s mystery series about a former spy (or spies) which is set in the town of Sinful. I also started a humorous mystery series by Stephanie Caffrey about a female Vegas PI Raven McShane whose other job is stripping. The protag had a very different perspective on life and employment which I really appreciated. As it happens, both Langtry and Caffrey are published by Gemma Halliday Publishing. 😀

    +7
  14. Theme/costume parties when I’m in a bad state. I’ve totally bought a dress and fringe to sew on the hem for trimming for a Gatsby theme party. And paid extra to have my hair done in Roaring Twenties style. I didn’t even Iike those people, lol.

    I’d say it was probably at the start of my depression/burnout and I was NOT thinking about me, but the version of me they saw (unafraid to speak up when things were blatantly wrong) and was hostile to (cognitive dissonance), so I’d out-shine them as an F-you.

    Yeah, therapy worked! (And medication, reflective reading, exercise and the doggo helped.)

    +11
    1. Oops, this was in response to Mary-Anne’s question about people and buying things.

      +6
  15. I took up the Jennifer Crusie Collection last week, and finished WtT in time for last Thursday’s post. So this week, I read the middle four novels of the collection, ending with “Faking It.” That leaves “Bet Me” and “Maybe This Time” for the week to come.

    I also searched for a quote about wordplay in a Ring of Fire novel, and found it in The Barbie Consortium, which made me read that book, too. That means I’ll be reading The Viennese Waltz this week, which is also about the Barbie Consortium. While I was engaged in reading Goodlett and Huff, I looped around to their “Holmes” stories. I love those.

    And I pre-ordered the graphic “Getting Rid of Bradley” to see how bad it could be… and also because I’m a Crusie Completest, and without it I wouldn’t have The Complete Works of Herself.

    +13
      1. I get big grins when you say things like, “I don’t have that one and I’m not shelling out FITB dollars to get it.” I also have all of the audiobooks. 🙂

        +6
        1. I feel the need to share that I am a completest with only one other author – Lois McMaster Bujold. As is true with you, I have all her books (as ebooks) and all her audiobooks, and often some books from multiple collections.

          +6
  16. I read Alexis Hall’s ‘Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake’. Didn’t enjoy it as much as his M/M romances; felt it wasn’t as emotionally involving. Did like the hero, though.

    +11
  17. Seven books came in from my library, so I’ve been busy scanning or reading them. One I liked very much — Catfishing on Catnet (recommended here). A really good YA narrator/protagonist, a supportive online community dealing with slightly weird problems in inventive ways, and a wonderful AI. Very fun.

    Others of the collection bored me or made me frown and tuck them back in the book bag, but the last one is miraculous. The House in the Cerulean Sea starts out in a button down bureaucratic world, but it gets way better. Reading it gives me this sense of coming home to a place of goodness and safety that I can always visit again when I buy the book, which I have to do IMMEDIATELY or sooner. Really great read!

    +11
  18. I read a lot last week. Lois Bujold’s The Assassins of Thasalon was excellent, exactly as I expected. I started it after a string of uninspiring DNFs, and it helped me retain my reading morale. Have you noticed that in all the stories of this series, this novel included, Penric always helps someone else? None of his adventures occur because he has a problem of his own. He doesn’t. All the books grow out of Penric’s need to help another. Even the very first one – his acquiring his demon, Desdemona – took place because he stopped on the way to his betrothal to assist an elderly woman who collapsed on the road. I love Penric.

    Deidre Mask’s The Address Book was a captivating non-fiction about street names, city maps, and house addresses, their history and geography. I don’t often read non-fiction, but when I saw the blurb of this book, I knew I had to read it. I wasn’t disappointed. Lots of sociopolitical issues inspected through the prism of street names – it was a fascinating exploration.

    Michelle Diener’s Dark Deeds was a mediocre sci-fi novels with a romantic thread woven in. I wasn’t impressed.

    I liked Katherine Addison’s The Angel of the Crows, but I wouldn’t recommend anyone not familiar with the Sherlock Holmes canon to start with this novel. You should read Conan Doyle first.

    +8
  19. On the topic of noisy vs quiet brains: I’m such a noisy brain person it’s a wonder people around me can’t hear it. It has been so noisy lately I haven’t been able to shut it up. Even reading has been a pain, dammit.

    Fortunately, there’s this woman I think you might’ve heard of called Jenny Crusie. She writes books. 🙂 I picked up Tell Me Lies, which I discovered I hadn’t read since 2017 or so. It definitely deserved a reread! Getting Rid of Bradley was next, followed by Welcome to Temptation and Agnes and the Hitman. I love ’em all, although I must admit that the way the narrator of Getting Rid of Bradley does Zack’s voice isn’t really my cup of tea.
    And my brain SHUT UP! Finally. So relieved. (It’s noisy and screaming again now, but at least I got some days and nights where I could get a small break from myself. YES I am a broken record: Thank you again, Jenny. <3 )

    Unless he has any specific wishes, I'm the one picking out books for Sven (my fiancé) lately, and I'd given him the first book of the "The Liveship Traders"-triology by Robin Hobb: "Ship of Magic" to read. We both like Hobb, she's an excellent storyteller if you like intrigues and backstabbing and very, very flawed people in epic fantasy, but since this trilogy doesn't include her main character of the Farseer books, we just…never got started on it. Sven reported, however, that it is a great book, so I picked it up this morning. Enjoying it so far. He only reads an hour or so before bed, so I might be able to catch up on him before he finishes the first one.

    +12
    1. You are very welcome.
      And you and Sven seem like you really know how to read together. I think that’s the foundation of any good relationship, don’t you?

      +11
      1. Absolutely! Reading together is great for a relation. I wish more people did it. We don’t just read the same books but on our own, we also read books together, i.e. in bed before sleep listening to the same book. It’s very cosy, and you get another thing to talk about, speculate in, bond over, or think differently over, and it’s both great fun and relaxing. We also take turns in choosing the read-together-books and thereby discover things we mightn’t have read otherwise, like me introducing him to other fantasy than Tolkien, and he getting me into read and enjoy Dan Brown and John Grisham thrillers.

        If I wasn’t such a bad and out-of-practice-braille reader, I would’ve read books aloud TO him as well. That is also something couples could do more. I recommend it to every couple I speak with if I know they enjoy reading: Read to each other! Or if one of you don’t want to read: Enjoy listening! Curl up on the couch or in bed and dive into these worlds together.

        +8
        1. Oh Shass, lucky you that you read for/to each other! My hubby always fell asleep whenever I tried to read for him. Sometimes we’d chosen books that were not really thrilling, but others were not… Sigh

          +5
          1. Ah, that is unfortunate. Maybe your husband isn’t the being-read-to-type? I suppose not everyone is. How about switching roles, that he reads to you instead? Maybe you’ll reveal an undiscovered talent there! Or change the reading place – don’t read in bed, read on the couch, or in the garden, or read to him while he’s cooking? Just brainstorming here. Please do let me/us know if you find a way that works for you both.

            I’ve loved being read to since I was little. our teacher in the lower grades reading for us were my favourite moments of the day/ week, and my dad read to me until I was 19, and this way of winding down and enjoying a story told has always stayed with me. I even got my ex-boyfriend into reading aloud. He was very reluctant at first, but eventually he even narrated manga for me and I am pretty sure he enjoyed it, too.

            +5
          2. Dear Shass, being read to is a wonderful thing, that’s absolutely true.
            Yet, hubby isn’t the only one having trouble to listen. I like audiobooks a lot, but I get antsy unless I can do something while listening – sewing, knitting, doing chores, ironing, whatever. Also, these days I mostly read books in English. With the two of us not being mother tongues, we both easily butcher a great text by us stumbling over the words. Right now, I find professional narrators more enjoyable and even with pros very often I don’t like the voice or accent of the narrator and this ruins the fun, too.
            Hubby and I might try the reading to each other again sometime in the future, when we’ve got more time again as a couple. Right now I enjoy it more to spend the time together actively – cycling, watching movies, even working or reading side by side. With the latter, it does happen that one or the other is so fascinated by a text that he/I read(s) a passage that’s especially captivating, so we’re not hopeless :-).

            So reading to someone is a wonderful thing, but

            +4
  20. I read Kate Kerns’ ‘The Last Big Fake’ which was announced here. Very entertaining and fun. There were a few things that I was wondering about (no spoilers here, though!!), but as a whole, I can fully recommend it!

    +5
  21. I read the newest Murderbot novella and liked it a lot. I didn’t read the spoiler post, so I don’t know if everyone else did or not.

    I’m in the middle of Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake and not only am I loving it, but I now want to watch The Great British Bake-Off (which would torture my housemate, but oh well…). Interestingly, I tried reading some of his earlier works (before Boyfriend Material, which I adored) and didn’t like them at all.

    +12
    1. If you like Rosaline Palmer, maybe try Glitterland? It’s a bit darker and the humour a bit blacker, but despite that I think it has a similar feel – although it took me two tries to get into it.
      I really like the Billionaire series too, but that is mostly because I really like the character Arden.

      +8
    2. I think that Hall varies a lot, tries a lot of things with mixed results. Finding his voice as a writer perhaps? Not all of it works for me, especially the early bdsm stuff, but there is almost always a genuine spark of interest or connection for me, which does happen that often anymore.

      My first book was There Will be Philogestin (spelling is wrong, but it’s late. Sorry) Steampunk romance that, if I remember correctly, is very sweet. Waiting for the Flood is like that too. And the MC repairs antique books, which is lovely.

      +5
  22. I still have not read any Murderbot. Someday I’ll get to it. 10 stories, novellas, or novels this week.

    2 vintage Dick Francis: IN THE FRAME (about a painter, adventure in Australia & New Zealand); and SMOKESCREEN (about an actor, adventure in South Africa); both e-book editions contain an intro by the author about why/when/how he wrote these. A lot of the early titles are only 2.99 right now so I’m probably going to be adding more to the e-library.

    2 M/F contemporaries by Talia Hibbert that I really liked. These are heroines I can relate to, even though they are nothing like me! A GIRL LIKE HER and UNTOUCHABLE are about sisters. Funny, sexy, and full of feels. The book that comes next is on my wishlist.

    THE ART OF THEFT by Sherry Thomas. That’s books 1-4 of Lady Sherlock that I’ve read, and honestly I wish I could say I loved them; book 3 is my favorite so far, but I’m not sure I’ll continue on to book 5. Keep hoping for more. Action, or suspense, or romance – something. The Maximum Tolerable Chins gag gets old fast, and the blackmail from secret passages thing was done better in ‘Think of England.’ Eh. I think this series would have been stronger if it was not trying to do a Moriarty Antagonist Through-Story.

    Notable M/M of the week was LOVE MATCH by Keira Andrews (her debut novel, much better than *my* first book!), which is about pro tennis players, one of whom is nearing the end of his competitive career while the other is just getting started.

    +6
    1. I have enjoyed the Lady Sherlock series on audiobook but I don’t think I would like the books as much without the great narration of Kate Reading. She keeps me in the story.

      +4
    2. I really enjoyed the Sherry Thomas Lady Sherlock novels.
      When I finished those I was in Sherlock mode so I had to go back and reread the Laurie R.,King Mary Russel novels.
      And then I was into early 20th Century detectives and had to reread all the Dorothy Sayers novels and found the Jill Paton Walsh novels that carried on the story.
      It is a good thing that the pandemic left me with so much reading time.

      After all that detecting, I need some romance and found Talia Hibbert. I read the Brown Sisters trilogy then the Ravenswood novels.

      I think it is so interesting that heroines are now allowed to be less than perfect physically, in any number of ways
      but the heroes are still all studs, even the supposedly nerdy ones.

      +1
  23. I just completed a comfort- binge re-read of Sarina Bowen’s “True North” series and Karen Grey’s latest, “You Spin Me” (both on Kindle app). Also Nora Robert’s “The Liar”. Started Andrew McCarthy’s “Brat: an 80’s story” (borrowed from the library). Finishing up two audiobooks- “A Dark Lure” (Loreth Anne White) and “Too Good to Be True” (Kristan Higgins). “The Four Winds” (Kristin Hannah) hard cover is waiting for me on my dining room table – maybe I will get started on this holiday weekend. Up until about 10 years ago, I never started one book before finishing one but now days I am all over the place.

    +6
    1. Also- thanks for the heads up, Jenny, about Mhairi MacFarlane’s new book. Must add to TBR…..

      +4
  24. Still on the Dick Francis jag. Reading some of the older novels with some archaic
    writing . I found an essay by Rohan Maitzen, teaches in the English department at Dalhousie University. She also blogged about her top ten DF novels, (essay and blog 2013). Interesting. Straight, Break in, Bolt, To the Hilt, Hot Money, Reflex, Enquiry, and Banker are faves. He has a way of writing his lead characters in which I connect with quickly. Honest and flawed people and truly twisted bad guys. Only a couple I read the end before the end. Finished Knockdown this morning. Oh, the ending. Will think about that ending for a while.

    +5
  25. Finally FINALLY finished Winterkeep and yes, I agree with whoever said it here that Lovisa is just such an unlikeable character, especially compared to Bitterblue, that it made the book tough slogging. So then polished off a Lisa Henry fantasy called Red Heir – imagine a comic, anachronistic Lord of the Rings with an M/M romance. Fun all round – will try the next two in the series, one an elf three-way M/M romance and then an orc romance – hard to imagine that one…

    +7
  26. Delightful smut! So not my usual thing, but I read The Book of Firsts by Karan Anders (a pen name for Andrea Host) and seriously enjoyed myself. It’s reverse harem set in a private high school, which is something I would have rolled my eyes at, but the heroine is delightful and it’s pure nerdy wish fulfillment on the one hand with interesting character development on the other. The characters have a lot of sex, but they also play a lot of video games on their phones. The wish fulfillment part is quite self-aware — one of the characters says to the main character, “Mika, everything seems to take a turn for the fantastic when you’re involved,” which felt like the author acknowledging the over-the-top-ness of the whole thing, but it was extremely enjoyable over-the-top-ness. Mean girls get their comeuppance, etc. When I finished, I started over again from the beginning, and I’ve actually spent a couple days now feeling vaguely frustrated at not knowing what happens next.

    +9
    1. Thank You! so much for recommending The Book of Firsts. It sounded like just my catnip so I downloaded it last night and spent all day today lost in it. It’s basically the best of reverse harem shoujo manga without the teeth-grindingly painful elements of the shoujo tropes, and with a lot of sex, but in a good way.

      +5
      1. I think I have to start reading some manga! I know nothing about it or its tropes, but I definitely felt like there was something like that happening there. Maybe because the characters were so clearly not American, but not clearly Australian either. (Winter weather in February ought to be northern hemisphere, right? In Australia, February should be warm. Japan, though, has cold weather in February, because it’s a lot farther north.) But I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  27. I’m still working my way through BLOOD ROYAL, and have now reached the chapter on “Names and Numbers,” about assigning rulers and other members of aristocratic houses Numbers. I had no idea there was so much to say about this, and how much is communicated and what kind of statement is made when you say he’s Charles IV, as opposed to Charles IX. For instance, describing Edward, the last Tudor king, as Edward VI is making a statement about the legitimacy of Edward V. A new take on the relationship description “complicated”!

    Also reading THIS LAND IS THEIR LAND by David Silverman, about the Pilgrims’ settlement of New England from the viewpoint of the Wampanoags and other native populations. This one is serious but readable.

    Rather lighter is the mystery LADY ROSAMUND AND THE POISON PEN, by Barbara Monajem, (Barbaric Cherry). It’s set during the Regency, the heroine suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, the hero is shabby-genteel, though the reviewer (Jen No Cherry) thinks that he may be much better connected than Lady Rosamund suspects. We’ll see.

    Comfort re-read, THE NONESUCH. This is really a book that’s all about Community, and I really like the characters.

    +8
  28. There is so much going on in all of these comments so far. Thank you Jenny and everyone.

    The noisy and quiet spectrum fascinates me.

    The search for understanding “what does what I do or don’t do tell about me?” and “am I getting what I want out of life” is fun in and of itself. In response to a comment way up in the list — no woman I know should overburden herself with guilt over her good fortune because all the women I know are very aware of local, national and global inequities and do something about them on some level. And feel they should do more.

    Good book: Nation by Terry Pratchett. Five days after finishing it, I think Nation is a book about (1) what fantasy is and (2) how important fantasy is. Pratchett says that whether or not we need gods and myths, we need hope and belief in basic human goodness.

    +6
  29. Earthy Delights by Kerry Greenwood.

    A buxom baker, a man of mystery, soup kitchens, drug addicts, cats, imaginative muffins and a Melbourne apartment building with a rooftop garden.

    It’s the first book in the Corinna Chapman Mysteries by the writer of the Miss Fisher Mysteries. Enjoyable.

    +9
    1. 1) If you haven’t read all the others, you will enjoy them, too; and

      2) Kerry Greenwood’s NEXT book is in the Corinna Chapman series. I don’t know how far along she is, but it was progressing nicely last I heard.

      “December 27, 2020 First draft of the new Corinna approaches completion!” from FaceBook. No word about a working title or any further updates so far.

      +5
  30. Saw the recommendation for Barbara Monajem’s Lady Rosamund and the Poison Pen. Bought the Kindle version and just devoured it —

    But —

    It has no concluding meeting between heroine and hero. Just stops.

    I did what I never do and instantly bought the second book, Lady Rosamond and the Horned God.

    On the one hand, this shows how good …Poison Pen is. Yet I’m not going to fall for that gambit again. (I did not fall for that gambit with The Discovery of Witches.)

    +4
  31. Sorry, my point about saying this about an Argh author is more praise than criticism — I apologize to Barbara if I was too negative. I loved Lady Rosamund and the Poison Pen and haven’t done a single thing this morning (oops, it’s 1:36 pm already!) except read.

    +6
  32. I just finished City of Schemes in the Counterfeit Lady series by Victoria Thompson. If you love historical fiction AND con artists who scam for good (like in Leverage), you’ll enjoy this series set in NYC in 1918-19. This author also writes the Gaslight series, and I also finished Murder on Wall Street, set in NYC about 15 years earlier. A good, twisty murder mystery.

    +6
  33. Hot weather is not conducive to reading. I am in southeast Virginia. The mercury has climbed to the eighties and nineties all week. The air conditioning at work is dead (in a steam plant) and the offices have been in the upper eighties. Out in the plant, the boilers make that seem pleasant.

    At home in the garage apartment, my air conditioner is dead. The ex-SiL installed it by cutting a hole in the wall and sealing all around it – it doesn’t come out for maintenance.

    Finally, last night it started raining. Scattered T-storms. Windy and wet. That broke the back of the heat wave, and I am thanking all deities for 77 degree room temps. And I can read again.

    Maybe This Time, 1636: The Viennese Waltz, The Assasins of Thesalon, Part of Harmon’s 9th book, which may be titled Joyeous Guard.

    +3

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