This is a Good Book Thursday, July 15, 2021

Last week when the internet went out (shudder) I was forced to read books printed on paper. Since the books on paper I kept were the ones I couldn’t get digitally, I found a lot of old favorites: Gilbert’s The Long Journey Home, Haskell’s Green as Spring, and a lot of my old Emma Lathen’s including Murder Without Icing. Yes, I know the Lathen books are on Amazon, but the new editions have somebody else’s name on them besides the Lathens (economic analyst Mary Jane Latsis and attorney Martha Henissart), so I just don’t. Bank Vice President John Putnam Thatcher never disappoints, even though his mass market paperbacks are all the color of weak tea now. (Latsis said, ““We decided on a banker because there is nothing on God’s earth a banker can’t get into” which is chilling but helpful if you need access to a lot of different crimes.)

What did you read this week?

141 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 15, 2021

  1. I’m really slow in reading compared to you all, but I read – and enjoyed immensely – Winter Orbit by Everina Maxwell. Thanks to all of you who kept mentioning the book 🙂
    I got really sucked into the story, found it original (yes, I rarely read SciFi) and compelling. Well written.
    I especially loved that the protagonists did get to know each other before they fell in love – which was more a side note to the overall adventure.
    And though intimate scenes – if well done – progress the story and here the author just left us out when the MCs got to know each other as a couple, I didn’t mind. The first public kiss had therefore far more impact.
    In the end it was a tad saccharine, but the MCs had earned their happy end, so I’m fine with it as well.

      1. I also read Winter’s Orbit and recommend it. I liked watching the two main characters find each other and the slow reveal of what had happened in Jainan’s first marrriage.

  2. This week I read In the Doghouse a KU book recommended last week on Argh. When I realised it was set in France, I was a bit wary but none of the main protagonists were French and while the secondary French characters were the usual gallic caricatures, these were not too offensive.

    It is always difficult for me to enjoy a book set in France by a foreign author unless they have spent a significant amount of time there. I especially hate it when they get the French wrong. think I have said that here before :).

    I remember Ilona Andrews saying how she didn’t enjoy Leigh Bardugo’s Russian inspired Grishaverse because the names were all wrong so I am in good company.

    I think I prefer Sharon Shinn’s approach where she basically invents everything.

    I also prefer it when the author uses a locale where they live or have lived when the novel is set in modern day or in an alternate reality. It gives the novels an authentic flavour which I can recognise even if I have never been there.

  3. On Kindle App, I am re-reading Susan Wiggs’ The Beekeepers Ball. Audiobook- Penny Reid’s Happily Ever Ninja (doing a comfort relisten of the Knitting in the City series). And paperback, Bill Bryson’s The Body : A Guide For Occupants.

  4. I was hungover from the Book of Firsts, so I creeped on the author’s blog. She has a large backlog of fantasy and sci-fi under the name Andrea K Host and hoopla had some. Unfortunately the one I started had too many echoes of the pandemic in it for me at the moment, so I paused on that. I did read her erotic short story and was impressed. It’s sexy, but the emotions and character packed into it are pretty intense. I will try her fantasy next.

    Other than that, a lot of stops and starts. I did finish an alien m/m romance by Alessandra Hazard, which was a fun and interesting take on the genre. Light and fluffy, but I will probably read more eventually.

    1. I suggest starting with STRAY, the first book of the TOUCHSTONE series (heroine is just finishing high school) or, if that’s a little young for your taste,

      MEDAIR (in the ebook version), hard copy version in two volumes, THE SILENCE OF MEDAIR and VOICE OF THE LOST (my personal favorite).

      Or possibly CHAMPION OF THE ROSE (wow, that rosebush has NO moral standards).

      HUNTING is a standalone though lots of us would enjoy a sequel in that universe.

      I would strongly recommend reading Andrea’s books in chronological order in each series, as they tend to be set up that way. Her blog page groups her books by series — I think in the right-hand column.

  5. Mostly re-reading this week – vacation hangover I think – but I did read the second in the AJ Lancaster’s Stariel series. Enjoyed it even more than the first one.

  6. I had acquired an extra cheap (approx 1 dollar or less) month on the Bookbeat app (Swedish audiobook app), and since you’ve spoken so warmly about Rainbow Rowell and I had some of her books on my TBR already, I read “Fangirl”. I really liked it. Levi especially. I was also happy that there weren’t just a conflict between MC and Love Interest, which is what I always expect from YA romance, but things around it all too.

    I also finally finished “Homeland” by R. A. Salvatore, first book of the Legend of Drizzt-series. It’s fantasy in, I believe, the DnD universe, following the first 30 or so years of the life of a drow elf named Drizzt whom, in stark contrast to all other drow, has a conscience, shows and feels compassion, doesn’t want to murder or backstab everyone he meets and can see and appreciate beauty. It took me a while and some stops and starts to get into the story, but eventually I enjoyed it a lot. Might read further in the series at a later time.

    Started on “Daring to Dream” by Nora Roberts, but then got a brain-feels-like-porridge-attack and had to take a break. Might get back to it at some point. Or not. We’ll see.

    Switched over to “Witches Abroad” by Terry Pratchett for the gazillionth time, and I’m sooo glad I did. Don’t know why I haven’t picked up Pratchett sooner. I have been thinking about his books now and then last half year, but it probably wasn’t the right time. Went on to read “Maskerade” directly afterwards and finished it this morning, and just started on “Carpe Jugulum”. I actually intended to read the City Watch books when I scrolled through my Pratchett list, but it became the Witches instead. Seems my brain decided I needed Granny Weatherwax more than Sam Vimes.

    1. I love the first three Drizzt books, but could never get into the rest of the series. He’s still writing new Drizzt, though, if you are interested!

      1. When Krissie, Lani, and I were writing together, we decided Lani was Magrat, Krissie was Nanny Ogg (that one was obvious), and I was Granny Weatherwax. So every time somebody praises Weatherwas in here, I take it as a compliment.

      2. I adore Sam Vimes. Heck, if I had a son I’d name him Sam. Sometimes, however, you need some Weatherwaxing to know where you’re standing. (Some Nanny Ogg doesn’t hurt either, for the good cheer and openmindedness.)

  7. I started and am 84% through the box set of Rachel E. Carter’s The Black Mage and while book 1 was promising I just stayed in it for the ending. If there is no HEA at the end of book 4 I may write the most scathing review usually kind me can think of.

    I’ve started whatsapping work to my class. And doing teaching by voice note. At least something to keep the children occupied through all the upheaval.

      1. I live in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. There has been what the news refers to as social unrest.

        Most of us are ok. But it is absurd to hear gunshots and see smoke from fires from kilometres away. I have probably lost items that were with a tailor in the worst hit zone. I literally don’t have work clothes for our summer.

        I queued for an hour for pet food. And another for petrol. But I got both. Whew.

        Supplies had to be stopped for fear of further looting. So many people were without essentials. I literally went through my stores and figured out thank Goddess I’m an aspirational food buyer – I buy for the home chef I want to be, so I have extra millet, and, pearl barley, and poha. All of which has been sitting there for months and I don’t know how to cook, but will learn.

        Please do keep sending prayers. Thank you all for the love.

        1. Due to fear that the blog will bounce me to the bottom due to over nesting, I’m replying to Jenny via my own comment! (Why yes, I DO spend too much time on Argh.)

          Thanks, Kate. And everyone else for vibes and prayers.

          @Jenny. It’s cool. It’s unlikely you would. Have been very cagey online about privacy. The less people know, the safer I feel. I don’t think there’s a full picture of me anywhere! Lol. I literally only admitted to being South African when Madiba passed in 2013.

          The neighborhood I work in is the edge of the border of the city centre of Durban. Many colleagues who live there are affected. I haven’t been able to get ahold of one for days. She’s safe but not able to connect to calls.

          The name of the municipality is Ethekwini. We are a beach and harbour city. It is BEAUTIFUL. There are some poorly composed pics on my Instagram. I just can’t do the city justice. And I’m someone who LOVES the city centre.

          I live in suburbia about 30-something minutes away. But thanks to apartheid-era planning there are deep pockets of poverty and despair interspersed throughout. BUT poverty wasn’t the sole cause of this, there’s definitely plans afoot to destabilise the country. Because looters just loot, something sinister sets fires to warehouses in economic hubs.

          I’m not a regular conspiracy theorist, but I am a teacher union member. When I was a kid in school, my now union was known as a destructive one – that when they marched, rubbish bins would be toppled and car windows broken, except teachers wouldn’t. And if there was one who would, the 100 around would stop them. It was people trying to discredit and destabilise the union. Same thing happened here with us.

          I actually made a grab bag on Tuesday as it all worsened – ID, driver’s license, passport, bank/store cards, toothbrush, laptop, hronic meds, 3 favourite childhood books, some special non-fiction,…

          As things got worse and then better it changed to include different clothing items and the photo albums. Today I added Crazy For You, I never owned a copy until my favourite cousin bought it for my birthday in 2015.

          But I think I’m undoing it. Not because everything is stable, but because it’s becoming an intellectual exercise now instead of survival need. We are getting staples, just really slowly.

          My family who work in manufacturing in the hard hit industrial area might not have work to go to as raw materials warehouses were torched. This will affect our household income. Definitely not as bad as some. But enough that I think I need to disable buy with one click and learn to meal-prep for budget ruthlessly.

          I don’t know what will happen but since Tuesday I’ve been quoting Nick Fury, “Until such time as the world ends, we will act as though it intends to spin on.”

          1. The news reports we’ve seen down here have been pretty awful, but I didn’t realise the warehouses were being selected strategically. Please keep us posted so we know you’re all safe.

            And pearl barley makes a wonderful soup with some onion, garlic, dried thyme, and borlotti beans. Even better with some Parmesan or miso stirred through.

          2. Most grains can be browned in oil / butter and then cooked in broth or water with flavorings — the pilaf method. Simplest approach.

            We’re holding the thought for you.

  8. I have been listening to audiobooks lately, as I don’t seem to have the bandwidth for reading right now. I’ve just finished Juliet Blackwell’s “Spellcasting in Silk” and really enjoyed it. I listened to “The Art Forger” by B.A. Shapiro, and hope to read it sometime too, as it was interesting. I’ve started a non fiction book “The Menopause Manifesto” by Dr. Jen Gunter – seems appropriate for my stage of life and is entertaining and informative so far.

    It is supposed to be very hot here in Manitoba, Canada for the next week, so I hope to spend some time at the beach with my daughter, mother-in-law, and a good book. Hope everyone stays cool!

    1. It’s cool here in Germany. Rained so much that large areas are flodded horribly. Whole villages swept away. And houses here are solidly built with brick and cellars. A catastrophe.
      Luzern in Switzerland, where a friend of mine lives, is in fear of being flodded, too.
      Nature…

      1. I’ve been reading about it on the news, Dodo. It sounds terrible – they’re are calling it the worst weather event since WWII. I hope you’re okay.

      2. Stay safe over there! Being in The Netherlands, we’re not so far from the catastrophy areas, and since we’re under the sea level already, we’re hoping we’re not next up… Hope you’re and your loved ones are all safe and dry. Nature’s really showing the powers it possesses, how easily it can sweep us all away. Scary, scary things. 🙁

        1. I’m in the South, Munich, and gladly we haven’t been affected.
          We haid heavy rain but nowhere near the conditions in the affected areas.
          My grandfather always warned my mom of the dangers due to water/flooding.
          But this devastation is nothing of the “usual”.
          It’s horrifying to see the coverage.

      3. I live just a few miles from the Ahr Valley and know all of the places (Schuld, Bad Münstereifel, Bad Neuenahr…) very well as the Ahr Valley is a favorite place for an excursion. Have friends and colleagues directly affected — my employer is setting up a digital blackboard for colleagues needing help or offering assistance. I am appalled when I see the pictures. I have also been hearing transport helicopters on a regular basis over the past couple of days coming up from /heading down toward the disaster area. I assume they are bringing wounded to the hospitals here in town. But we have escaped harm, thank FSM.

  9. Last week, I gobbled up Claire Nelson’s “Things I Learned from Falling.”

    A woman on a solo hike in Joshua Tree National Park falls from a rocky height and breaks her pelvis. For 4 days and 3 nights she comes to terms with the knowledge that no one knows where she is, and no one is expecting her anywhere. (Spoiler alert: she lives to write the book.)

    1. My grandma would get really upset with me for hiking alone and I didn’t see any problem. Now I agree with her and I’m sorry I worried her.
      I read the first of Stephanie Bond’s six part series, Elevator Girl. It’s good and it’s the first fiction I’ve read that talks about the pandemic.

  10. “We decided on a banker because there is nothing on God’s earth a banker can’t get into” which is chilling but helpful if you need access to a lot of different crimes.

    Jenny, you said a mouthful there…

    1. Not me, one of the Lathen’s. They’re such good books, very little romance (there’s a subplot romance in the first one, I think) but lots of dry humor and competence porn, and John Putnam Thatcher, gray-haired bank Vice President, is nobody to mess with.

      1. I used to have all her books, but moved quite often so had to lose them. All the “team” were so much fun. Sorry I got rid of them now.
        Finished Winter Orbit and I started a cosy mystery, usually I finish all mysteries, but this one,, I didn’t even care who the murderer was. So then I reread my Catherine Aird’s always a good tonic for me

        1. I want to reread them but like you not willing to buy what looks like someone ripping the surviving author off

          1. I wrote the publisher about it, but there doesn’t seem to have been a take-down order. I don’t know what agency handled the books. Though I haven’t looked through the print copies, which I do have, so perhaps I should see whether the agent is thanked in them.

            I’ll have to work on not sounding like a demented fan — I’ve been the recipient of emotional requests to allow someone to do The Movie Version “I have no experience and no résumé” [and probably no talent, either] “but I LOVE [the work] more than anybody else so you have to let me / fund me.” Of course, the response is to refer the request to the literary agent, and I’d be delighted to have that happen . . . .

  11. I finally finished Beach Read, by Emily Henry, which gave me an ending suitable to the material – both of the authors end up reading each other’s books that they had written as part of a challenge to each other. The romance author’s literary fiction and the literary author’s happy ending (which was kept true to that character’s style, which I appreciated.)

    I’ve started Tim Powers’ Forced Perspectives. So far so good.

    I hope you enjoyed your sojourn with physical books. I’m a big fan, as is my doctor who doesn’t want that blue light keeping me from sleeping.

  12. I picked up a paperback mystery at the library because there was something about the spine design that looked interesting. “Hope Never Dies” by Andrew Shaffer was published in 2018, and describes the crimefighting ‘n’ sleuthing skills of a modern-day Sherlock & Watson as they pursue a murder mystery with a lot of connections to Amtrak (the passenger railroad system that covers North America).

    The sleuths names are Barack and Joe, and they’re both recently retired, with plenty of free time.

    I started browsing the book in the library stacks, and after finding myself unable to re-shelve it after half a dozen pages, I borrowed it. It’s funny, it’s full of dialogue, and since it portrays Joe Biden as feeling really hurt that his old pal Barack has been so busy hanging out with celebrities that he hasn’t had the time of day for good old Joe, it’s funnier to me now than it would have been in 2018. There’s apparently a sequel, too.

    1. Don’t you love browsing the stacks? Whenever I discover a new author I like, I feel like I’ve won the lottery.

      1. Yes! Especially since it’s the first time I’ve been IN library stacks for what seems like a lifetime. Finished the book last night; as Barack continues to appear, the author does a great job of (a) giving him a very dry delivery of funny lines and (b) gives him an inescapable urge to explain complex scientific or historical points whenever a bystander makes a comment. So, recommended. 😉

  13. A glorious week for reading new books: Katherine Addison’s Witness for the Dead was as terrific as I hoped, and I’m almost through reading it the second time. I went from the last page straight to the first and started over. Becky Chambers’ Psalm for the Wild-built was just as good, but I returned it without rereading it because ebooks have a shorter borrowing time than paper books and I have yet to finish P. Djeli Clark’s Master of Djinns, in paper, although I’m close to the end now, and loving it.
    On the downside, I DNFd Destiny Soria’s Iron Cast, which has marvelous world-building of an alternate Prohibition-era with magic, and engaging characters, but the angst was hip-deep and I just couldn’t. I recommend it to those less angst-averse than I am. [Which leads me to try to identify angst in Shakespearean terms: I love many speeches and scenes from Lear, but I don’t love the play as a whole the way I do Hamlet or Macbeth, even though Hamlet and Lady Macbeth spend some scenes wallowing in angst.]

    1. Hamlet wallows. Lady Macbeth goes insane. That is, I always get the feeling Hamlet is secretly enjoying himself–college kids love angst says the former college teacher–but Lady Macbeth looks into the abyss and goes mad because she destroyed the man she loved.

      In case you couldn’t tell, I loathe Hamlet and love Macbeth.

      1. So funny – I love the writing in Hamlet but cannot bear watching it. I go to every production of Macbeth that I can.

        1. Oh the writing is marvelous. The plotting is marvelous. The characters are fantastic.
          It. Just. Goes. On. Forever. With whining.

          1. Exactly. I once saw a goth version where half the lines were cut and Hamlet’s monologues were delivered as stand-up routines into a microphone. Still didn’t help but it was worth the effort.

        1. Oh, I think Hamlet wallowing is part of his being a college-age kid. Also his father was murdered by his uncle who then married his mother which would throw any kid off his summer break, especially since his mother is hot and he’s noticed that. It just goes on forever, much like Polonius.

      2. I’m the opposite. I like Hamlet more than Macbeth. But what I like about Shakespeare is the eminently quotable language, rather than the plots. I actually spend a lot of time figuring out how I would re-write the tragedies to have happy endings. Endowing Romeo and Juliet with some common sense, for example. Uggh!

        1. One of the first things my professor said about Shakespeare is it can feel like reading Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations.

        2. I think I tend to focus on the female characters, always a mistake in Shakespeare. Lady Macbeth has agency, Ophelia has a river. Beatrice, however, has it all.

          1. “I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick; nobody marks you.” Best. Putdown. Ever.

          2. I think Emilia in Othello is almost the most essential character in the play. Gertrude (Hamlet’s mom) is given more opportunity to grow than most Shakespeare women. Luciana in Comedy of Errors . . . okay, I’ll stop. But I think the famous tragedy should be called, simply, “Juliet.” She is the one who travels further and is more deeply betrayed.

          3. Beatrice is my favourite. I see every production of Much Ado that I can find. My favourite line: I confess nothing!

        3. I seem to recall that in the runup to the wedding of George V and Queen Mary (nearly twenty years before he succeeded to the throne, of course) one of the featured Events was a production of ROMEO AND JULIET rewritten with a happy ending just for the occasion.

      3. Someone makes “Lady Macbeth’s hand soap,” in case you ever need a hostess gift.

        Not sure what would be suitable for Lear. “You know more than you think you do”? or is that too obsolete for anyone to get it?

        1. OMG. I googled the soap, and found this website:

          https://www.theliterarygiftcompany.com/collections/all?page=1

          which has the most amazing selection of products. I scrolled through the entire products section, which includes wonderful Shakespeare t-shirts (“Enter foole”), loads and loads of Jane Austen merch, Grammar Grumble mugs which present single sentences with English homonyms such as “They’re there for their afternoon tea”, and they even have a set of Georgette Heyer earrings, which include the cover to Cotillion and a typewriter showing a quote from the book. Things for librarians. References to 398.2, which I’d never heard of. Amazing posters. A book of book lists.

          And of course the hand soap.

          1. Oh, you HAD to tell me about this….
            The baby clothes with “Though she be little, she is fierce”! Someone I know had better have a baby girl soon.

      4. I am really looking forward to the new film Macbeth coming out. Working on it was magic. Not only because I love to play but because everybody in the cast loved the play.

      5. Hi, as I mentioned I am rereading Catherine Aird and she did a short story on Mrs. P. From ( as we find out) Hamlet! I was stumped for a bit but finally caught on.
        Now reading “A Rogue’s Company” by Allison Montclair very enjoyable.

  14. Becky Chambers’s The Galaxy, and the Ground Within was a quiet, introspective novel, a rarity in the science fiction genre. It doesn’t have any chases or fights or villains. No weapons or explosions. Just four people and a child, all aliens to each other, all from different civilizations in the galaxy, thrown together by circumstances for a few days, with no possibility of outside contact.
    It could’ve been a boring novel, but it wasn’t. It was heart-warming and profound. I wish we, the humans of Earth, all stopped our endless squabbles with each other and reached for the same mutual rapport the aliens in this novel found so comforting. Who knows – we might like it, too.
    K.J. Charles in her review on GoodReads called this book “Extraordinary.”

    Mary Balogh’s latest Someone to Cherish was the Harry book, at last. Everyone else in the Westcott clan have already gotten their books by now. The quality of writing was decent, but this novel suffered from the same malady as every other novel in this series: each member of this prolific fictional family (and there seemed dozens of them) makes an appearance. Everyone from the previous 7 books is named. Everyone and their children and their hair styles are described in details. A good editor should’ve removed them all, leave only one or two characters relevant to the story, but then this novel would’ve lost half of its text and become a novella. It would’ve been better for it, for sure. Am I too critical?

    Two more books are in progress. One is a re-read of the first 3 novellas of Bujold’s Penric and Desdemona, bundled together in one tome. A delight, as always. The second is C.L. Polk’s The Midnight Bargain. I’m torn about this book. It’s a good story. Interesting world building, high tension, 3-dimentional characters. I can’t complain about anything, really, but I can’t enjoy it either, and I don’t know why. Something just doesn’t click. I’m already about halfway through and I’m determined to finish it, but I have to force myself to open it again, and Penric provides an excellent excuse not to.

    1. I started the midnight bargain and read about a third of it when my kindle loan expired and I thought “oh good. I don’t have to finish it”. The writing was good. Every scene I read was predictable. It may have improved but I will never know.

      1. It was predictable to the very end which is too bad because I adored the Witchmark books.

    2. I’ve heard books like that called “hand waves” — all the characters from earlier in the series stick their heads in the door, wave, and leave without doing anything else.

  15. In the past two weeks, I have finished several new items after a period of floundering, unable to find anything that I enjoyed.

    I half read/half listened via Whispersync “Furbidden Fatality by Deborah Blake and am looking forward to the next installments. Great community and a fab kitten.

    Kay Keppler’s short “Reading Gregory” was very satisfying and I will seek out more of her work.

    I read the latest of Gretchen Archer’s Davis Way series, “Double Wide” and enjoyed it so much that I started to re-read immediately upon finishing. So fun and chock full of snappy writing, so much going on that I knew that I missed some funny details. The series is focused on a Gulf coast casino security team and has kept my attention for all 10 books despite my lack of interest in gambling. A little slapstick but not as off-putting (to me) as Stephanie Plum. Great relationships and community. This episode combines letters, web posts, news reports, etc. in an unusual format that provides multiple view points which I found engaging.

    I also read and listened to one of the highly promoted romances for this summer which is a decent sized investment when buying both Kindle and Audible combined. I’m only complaining about the money because I had to force myself to finish the book. And the audio even had an outstanding narrator which can frequently carry middling storytelling!

    There is some snappy dialogue with funny moments, but I was sick to death of the protagonist way too early in the book. I felt sorry that the hero was stuck with her when it reached the HEA.

    I’ve been trying to pinpoint why it was such a fail for me. I know that first person narrative can wear me out. Maybe I’m too old for Millennial POV. I’m not sure, so I won’t name the author/title because this is just my opinion and your mileage may vary.

  16. I wasn’t in the mood for more Margery Allingham, after all. I’ve switched to a reread of Courtney Milan’s Brothers Sinister series (after aborting my read of a library ebook that I thought was going to be about garden wildlife/ecology, but turned out to be more The End Is Nigh). Just starting no. 4, ‘The Heiress Effect’.

  17. Since this time last week, I had just installed CA, rearranged furniture (via dis- and re-assembly), put a new computer on my gloriously clear desktop… I haven’t read nor re-read as many books as usual. I did install all the reading software I love on the new computer. Mobipocket Reader, Kindle, Mobipocket Creater, MS Office 365 (yes, I read in Word, sometimes). It came with Edge and Internet Exploder so HTML is no problem.

    You might be asking yourself, “How can he read in Mobipocket Creator?” Well, you don’t, actually. It opens an instance of Reader when you build a new document, to preafrood for mastikes. As part of tidying up, I’ve turned a heap of comics into just a few of what are labeled Kindle docs on the drive, so I’ve read years worth of Grrl Power and Living with Hipster Girl & Gamer Girl webcomics.

    Actual book-type reading, 1635: The Dreeson Incident. A dozen others for a few pages each, couldn’t make a connection, get hooked, whatever. Also, a few stories in Grantville Gazette IX, the latest “best of the Grantville Gazette Magazine” book. There are over 90 editions of the magazine – this best of volume draws from two or three years of those.

    Other than that, it’s Official Weigh-in Day. 265.2, up 0.6 from last week. No worries.

        1. Two months on a submarine tender in San Diego, six months in Nuclear Power School, Mare Island, Vallejo. I never went back. Ever. One memorable earthquake while I was walking to the Navy Exchange, which I’ve always described as making me do “the Clark Teabury Shuffle.” One weekend in Yosemite. Climbed Mount Half-dome.

          I don’t like to be irresponsible, but when it comes to CA, I am. Totally.

          1. You might have liked Mare Island better if it was the last place you were before shipping out during WWII. My parents were there while my father was waiting for his ship and my Mother had very fond memories of it. She couldn’t say much for the accommodations, but the time together was very precious.

          2. My parents met at Mare Island during WWII. My mother worked on submarines (radio equipment, she was an electrical engineer). She had many lively stories about her time there (spring 1945 – summer 1946). She ended up married to a local guy (my dad) and spending the rest of her life, after he resigned from the Navy in 1955, as a Californian.

            She never did lose a certain sensitivity to earthquakes — she’d ask me whether I’d felt the earthquake the night before, and I’d have to ask What Time? if the answer was 2 a.m., I’d have to point out that at that hour, if I woke up at all, I’d think it was a cat jumping on or off the bed.

            Glad you got to Yosemite. I saw a safety film once where the narrator ended up travelling to California and mentioned that when he got to Yosemite, he realized that God lives there. Audience of Californians almost all of whom had hiked there, or camped there, or (utility company) had worked on hydro powerhouses nearby, knew just what he meant.

          3. I enjoyed Mare Island just fine. One memory was going into San Fran Chinatown and eating at Sam Wo’s. Our waiter was Edsel Ford Fung. He sat at our table with a bowl of fried rice, and between bites, aske “What you want?” One of us asked for a menu. He said, “You don’t know what you want? Go to MacDonald.” He was a Chinese Don Rickles. I think I had pork fried rice. Big, big bowl. That was in ’71.

      1. The link seems to work, so now I have (another) blog. Why? because I wanted to post some pictures and I’ve never gotten the hang of it elsewhere. LiveJournal claims I’m x-rated. On rare occasions, I rate an R at worst.

        In the test post, you can see my “kitchen” behind me. You can especially see empty Rubbermaid.

  18. Wow I came on hoping to find a book recommendation. Where is everyone?
    Anywho I was going to recommend Backrush by Jana Deleon. It’s the start of a new romantic suspense series for her and it’s really good. I will definitely go for book 2 when it’s available.

  19. My recommendation for this week is The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab. Addie is being forced into a marriage she doesn’t want and makes a deal with a dark god to escape. The book bounces back and forth between where she is in 2014 and how she got into such a mess. I usually loathe books that don’t follow a straightforward time line. I loved this book. I am giving myself a break before I reread it. It has romance. It sort of has a HEA. Addie wins. That’s all I can say without spoilers.

  20. I am listening too What Abigail Did That Summer and loving it. Of course.

    That’s all I’ve got.

  21. I just got Kate Quinn’s newest from the library ‘ The Rose Code’.

    My book club read ‘The Alice Network’ and had a good discussion about it.

  22. I read “What Abigail Did That Summer” and a YA novel called “Troy” I enjoyed them both.
    Troy starts with the last few weeks before the city of Troy falls and follows a pair of sisters, Helen of Troy, and a few others.

  23. Reading Everina Maxwell’s ‘Winter’s Orbit’. Very happy with it. I haven’t read much SF or fantasy but Argh has never steered me wrong.

    1. I love SF and fantasy but not as much these days. I ordered the book from my library on the strength of all the recommendations here and I’m very happy I did.

  24. I DNF’d “Legendborn” by Tracy Deonn which is an Arthurian re-telling featuring an American Black girl from the South. Unfortunately, the story starts off with the death of the girl’s mother which sends the protagonist into a self-destructive tail spin which would be fine, but the girl insists on trying to destroy her best friend as well. Bah, humbug. I have no patience at this time for assholes.

    I just finished Rainbow Rowell’s “Any Way the Wind Blows” is the final story in the Simon Snow trilogy. It was an emotionally satisfying conclusion. I really liked it. in fact, I really liked the whole trilogy. I hope Ms. Rowell continues to write in this universe because I think there are still a lot of issues left – mainly political – left over from the 1st and 2nd book in the series which I would like to have resolved.

  25. I read Paul Rudnick’s PLAYING THE PALACE, about Carter, a New York event planner, who falls in love with the openly gay Crown Prince of England. It’s a typical fairytale romance, sweet and charming and frequently very funny, with one of those “why can’t real life be like this?” endings Rudnick is so good at. If you didn’t know, Paul Rudnick wrote the screenplay for IN & OUT, one of my favorite movies from the 90s, and he was also “Libby Gelman-Waxner” for the late and much-lamented PREMIERE Magazine.

    1. Paul Rudnick is wonderful. Ages ago, I taught a class on love stories at OSU, and I used Jeffrey because I thought it was so great; that was back when gay romcoms weren’t widely accepted, so I had to put my foot on the neck of some of the students, but the play is so charming that they went with it. Thanks for this; I didn’t know he wrote novels. (I live under a rock.)

      1. I think this may be only his second or third novel. I remember seeing a production of JEFFREY on TV decades ago, and I told my husband that the gay themes were all that kept the story from being a perfect Harlequin romance.

  26. This week I read and re-read a ton of stuff by K.L. Noone. Many small things plus the Character Bleed trilogy again. I think I can leave her alone for a while now. 🙂

    Also read the new Celtic-legend-retelling short story from A.L. Lester, ‘Taking Flight,’ which I liked.

    Then I read something unusual: ‘Violated,’ by Jamie Fessenden. It’s a serious, graphic, and occasionally upsetting novel about a gay man who is raped by a longtime friend – who is nominally straight and also a co-worker – and the consequences/repercussions. The main character has a gay neighbor who happens to be a cop, who becomes his ally and later his love interest. When the book begins MC is engaged, but his fiance decides ‘I was raped’ means ‘I cheated on you’ and dumps him. Uncommon in a M/M book that is nominally a romance (it is definitely a love story, but the MC and the cop don’t do more than think ‘hmm’ about each other until fairly far into the book, for a lot of reasons) the many gay characters here are not all sweet fluffy trophy gays. They are messed-up ordinary men living imperfect lives and occasionally making some unpleasant choices. I would say I appreciated this book more than liked it – it’s well written and obviously deeply felt, but tough subject matter and therefore not a fun or comforting read. There *is* a happy ending, which I really wanted. 🙂

  27. anybody on goodreads? I wanted to flag a comment offering a download site on a book that came out _this year_. I have some sympathy for wanting to download esp in these times with libraries closed but a brand new book posted to a major site like Goodreads!

    And then I spent at least 15 min trying to get off all the email lists they want me on and close the privacy gaps. Starting with making your full name, city, and email address open to search engines. Really? There are so many people with that preference that it is the default?

    If you have an account and you haven’t, you might want to check all those settings.

  28. I am about to finish Twice Shy by Sarah Hogle. It may just be because I have been having a very action-packed week, but I found this gentle romance a great comfort. Two somewhat wounded loners inherit a property together from an old lady who turned into a super hoarder after her husband died. Each one thought that they were the sole inheritor until they met at the will reading. She wants to turn it into a hotel and he wants to turn it into a preserve for retired farm animals. Since they have endless piles of junk to sort through, they have plenty of time to, eventually, get to know each other and fall in love. They also learn a lot about the old lady who left the property to them.
    .
    Just before the main characters get together, the woman thinks,”Nothing at Falling Stars is turning out the way I expected it to. Thank goodness for that.” And that is one of the best things about this book. I know that they are going to get together, but how that happens and who they will be when that happens, is what makes this worth reading.

  29. This week I stayed up far too late reading fantasy novels. Good thing I was on night shift again.

    Red Heir, by Lisa Henry and Sarah Honey, was a lot of fun and reminded me in style of one of my favourite books of all time, Splashdance Silver by Tansy Rayner Roberts. (That one lives on the shelf with Pratchett, Crusie, and Stella Gibbons, that’s how much I love it.) Big thanks to Lupe for recommending Red Heir. I followed it straight up with Anhaga, by Lisa Henry, and really enjoyed that too. It was a little more serious, darker subject matter, but a great central conflict and a satisfying ending.

    I also read A Sharpened Axe, by Jill M Beene. It’s a YA fairytale retelling, grim at times but still a lot of fun, with a satisfying slow burn romance and some excellent friendship arcs. There’s a nice substance to it with the social issues that the protagonist tackles, so it’s more than just princes and floofy gowns. I admit I predicted the ending, including the twist, but I still wanted to see how it played out enough to stay up until 4am reading it.

    1. Is Splashdance available electronically? It doesn’t seem to be on Amazon or B and N at all. If not, is there another book by that author you recommend?

  30. They were released Tuesday and I’ve read them both, with the horrified can’t-look-away that the former guy evokes, LANDSLIDE, and FRANKLY, WE DID WIN THIS ELECTION. I probably need brain bleach. Don’t know what was more horrifying, the fact that the WH team could not make it plain to DT that he really, really lost because he had to be Handled — they kept trying to convey that his chances of winning were, say, 1% — or that he was incapable of interpreting that as losing. Or the fact that he’d worked his way through any attorneys who were half-way competent. Or that what decided the Senate Republicans to vote for acquittal was his polling numbers, not any, you know, actual facts about his actions. Or the fact that he is utterly convinced that He Won, because he can’t get his brain around anything else.

    I switched to comfort reading guaranteed not to trigger: TASTE OF HOME CELEBRATIONS, 500+ Recipes!

    Also, special interest, THE DAWNING MOON OF THE MIND, by Susan Brind Morrow, which is a reinterpretation of the Pyramid Texts. She thinks they’re really poetry. Some of them certainly seem to be magic spells, so we’ll see.

    Comfort read, THE KING’S CORRODIAN, by Pat MacIntosh, one of the later books in the Gil Cunningham series. Series highly recommended, begin with THE HARPER’S QUINE. They’re all excellent reads.

  31. Your comment about Emma Lathan sent me to my bookshelf. And I picked up one of her R B Dominic books. There Is No Justice. That will be tonight’s read.
    I finished Alyssa Cole’s latest and I found it somewhat of a disappointment. I also read The Last Daughter by Belle Ami and that was really well written and just too much for me. I don’t want to read anything else about the holocaust.

    1. The older I get, the less able I am to read Holocaust books. Don’t know quite why, because I read my fair share of WWII history over the years, and we actually lived in Germany during the Occupation — Dad was stationed there and the Occupation actually ended during that time, so I’ve been to one of the official ceremonies marking it.

  32. I’m reading the whole Linear Tactical series, by Janie Crouch. Quick, sexy and with a little bit of danger. This week I finished #11, Redwood. A little bit more than a category romance but I find them addictive.
    I know none of the authors and books you mention, so now I’m going to investigate a little bit about those names.

  33. I finished Evie Dunmore’s A Rogue of One’s Own, and loved it. A wonderful combination of suffragists and aristocracy.

    Then I read Riviera Gold, which is one of the latest books in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series. It left me … unengaged. I loved the early books in this series, but not so much the later ones. I think the whole Mrs Hudson debacle seemed so unlikely that it put me off.

  34. Speaking of good books, a BookBub newsletter this morning lists ‘The Cinderella Deal’ as one of 19 ‘Incredibly Charming Romance Books About Fake Relationships.’ 🙂

  35. I’m in the middle of Metzger’s Dog by Thomas Perry – audiobook. It’s the sort of thing Carl Hiaassen might have written. Good, but it wasn’t enough what I wanted that I’m heavily into it. Still, it’s good for driving. Metzger of the title is Dr. Henry Metzger, a cat, and when the crooks bring home a truly vicious junkyard dog, the cat dominates and tames the thing. It’s funny, the CIA is populated by idiots, and the crooks are a combination of decent and lucky. So far it works.
    Last week (so still recent) I listened to Winter’s Orbit – surprisingly good, which I was sorry to finish. Also book 7 of the Witcher series. I truly hope there are more. I don’t want it to end there.
    Next up is Attachments (Rainbow Rowell) in audio and Heads You Lose (Lisa Lutz and David Hayward) in ebook.

  36. I needed a comfort read. I’m halfway through Pat Wrede’s “Frontier Magic” trilogy. As usual, I am loving the world building, the competing magic systems, Eff’s family and friends, and the slow, three book climb to romance.

  37. Even though I didn’t like the first Agatha Christie I read, I tried Murder at the Vicarage. Delightful! The voice of the vicar was particularly sweet — he starts as a stern moralist and develops into a companiable husband and admirer of Miss Marple’s perceptiveness.

    Now I understand the difference between first person narrators that separates Murder at the Vicarage from the other Christie I tried: Who Killed Roger Ackroyd. I wish I’d read them in the opposite order.

    1. Roger Ackroyd is one of Christie’s rule-breakers. Brilliant but not as fun as Vicarage or any Miss Marple. The 4:50 from Paddington is my favorite. Lucy Eyelesbarrow is the Susan Sto Helit of mystery fiction.

  38. Most grains can be browned in oil / butter and then cooked in broth or water with flavorings — the pilaf method. Simplest approach.

    We’re holding the thought for you.

  39. My dear brother has just informed me (and of course I confirmed it, because of course) that this year’s Palme D’Or winner at Cannes, TITANE, is a film involving a heroine who becomes impregnated by a vintage car . . . if I’m reading the plot summaries correctly, she may have had sex with multiple cars and possibly not be able to identify the parent.

    Now there’s a plot in need of a Trope.

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