77 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 19, 2021

  1. Thanks to ln’s recommendation last week, I’ve discovered the Ishmael books by Nathan Lowell. Loved Quarter Share, am at 75 % with Half Share and loving it.
    Plus: included in kindle unlimited…

    How well they all go along on the Lois is a bit fantastic/unrealistic imho, but it seems in character for Ish, so it’s all right.

    While he was the skinny greenie in book 1, the daily exercuse while on board has made him into a yummy guy in book 2 – I particularly enjoyed his female shipmates “discover” him, LOL.

    Now the only problem is sharing my mobile wirh dh who was also hooked by the excerpt but has to read the book on my device…

  2. I am glad you are enjoying it!
    I am at the other end of Ishmail’s story having finished the seeker’s tales and smuggler’s tales trilogies.

    I do love Ishmael’s youthful obssession with clothing.

    1. Yes, the fashion bit is fascinating. And wonderfully playful (his first shopping tour with the ladues)…
      Especially the thought, “who am I” for choosing one’s outfit. Which makes sense if you only have a very limited amount of civvies.
      And the small touches like choosing a string of leather with the right stone to go with the outfit and that he knows just how long the string ought to be.
      Sorry, I’m babbling… 🙂 I just love those tiny details…

  3. Ooooh Hench looks good! any romance in that there book? I couldn’t tell from the description on Amazon.

    As for me, I’ve moved away from hockey players onto football players with Eden Finley. Like Susan Elizabeth Phillips only M/M. And even more muscly.

    1. There’s the possibility of one in the next book, but mostly it’s just this underdog temp worker (an agency for henchmen for Supervillains) who gets obsessed with analyzing the data about the damage done by superheroes. Which sounds boring, but it’s not. The characters are all well-drawn, the protagonist is great, and the plot keeps moving.

      1. Good enough for me! I will not be expecting a romance and it doesn’t sound boring at all. I think Murderbot would sound boring if framed as: Cybernetic creature obsessively watches downloaded trashy shows while using minimal amount of processing function to rescue lame humans. And yet – it’s not boring at all!

  4. I read Dear Reader by Cathy Rentzenbrink. She talks about finishing university and not knowing what she wanted to do with her life, except read books. She tells us about her brother who died in a car crash just as she was finishing university and the impact that had on her life, which is why she wrote a book about him. She charts the books from childhood to current times that had an influence on her and helped her deal with what was going on in her life at that moment. A quick and enjoyable read.

    If Only I Could Tell You by Jannah Beckerman. Two sisters have not spoken for 28yrs because of a family secret that nobody wants to talk about. But now Audrey, the mother, is dying of cancer and she is determined to find out what caused Jess to stop taking to her sister and bring them back together again. But is the secret what we the reader is expecting it to be. This book has a suicide and a child’s death, so may not be a book some would want to read. But the story is beautifully told.

    On a lighter note, I read a romance story called Eight Perfect Hours by Lia Louis. Noelle Butterby is caught in a snowstorm on the motorway whilst returning from a school reunion. Her phone is dying and she is sitting in her car crying as she remembers her best friend from school. Sam, an American, who is in the car next to her, knocks on her window to ask if she is okay. Whilst he charges her phone, she sits in his car and gets to know him. But Eight hours later he drives off to go back to America without leaving any details. But fate has been working for sometime to bring this couple together.

    I’m currently listening to The Light Years by Elizabeth Jane Howards that is set in 1937 and tells the story of the Cazalet Family. It’s the first book of 5 novels. The next book on the TBR is Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal, which is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

  5. I loved Hench, too, I read it when it first came out.

    Currently reading the fabulous Lucy Parker’s Battle Royal, I love how she does the rivalry romance. Also reading Charlie Jane Anders’ nonfic Never Say You Can’t Survive, about how we can save ourselves and others with stories.

    Also this week read Kristen Ashley’s Moonlight and Motor Oil series (due to BookBub promo) and it struck me that I have read several romances recently that are structured much more like slice of life/soap opera. Interesting trend.

    1. I liked Moonlight and Motor Oil. The first one better, but the second one was enjoyable too. And I find myself craving that structure. A small, comfortable life in episodes. I am not sure why, but I am certainly intensely tired of drama.

  6. I’m scrambling to finish Blind Tiger by Sandra Brown. It is due tomorrow. The story is about a cowboy turned soldier (Thatcher) returning from the Great War. After spending another year overseas he makes his way west from Norfolk VA, hops a train, has a run in with a group of men (fight) jumps off the train and walks his way to a town in TX.

    Laurel lives in a shack outside of town with her father in law (Irv)and finally convinces him to move to town where she discovers and joins him in his moonshine business using her pie baking skills as a cover for the deliveries.

    This is 1920 and so far hardly a flapper to be found but prohibition has taken hold along with greed, corruption, murder, lowlifes and generally people trying to make a living. Blind Tiger is another way of referring to a speakeasy.

    All the characters do there best to add to the story. The sheriff, the deputies, the mayor, the delivery drivers, the crotchety landlady, the pomaded shoe salesman, the prostitute and Irv’s partner Ernie working the still, the family of rednecks, oh, just everybody.

    Sorry, I have to get back to the book.

  7. I too read Hench when it first came out and enjoyed it a lot. I’m glad to hear there’s going to be a sequel.

    Someone mentioned Lucy Parker had a new book out, so I’m currently reading Battle Royal and it’s very good at the halfway point.

    I finally finished a A Good Day for Chardonnay by Darynda Jones. I just didn’t like it as much as the first book, but then I really really loved A Bad Day for Sunshine, so perhaps it was just the contrast.

  8. No new books this week, all re-reads. I’m finishing up books six and seven of The Jennifer Crusie Collection, which are “Bet Me” and “Maybe This Time.” I’ve decided that’s it is easier to say that the collection is my favorite Crusie than to single out just one story. Seven favorites in one cover. Ecstacy.

    Once More With Feelings was in there. I’m not as sure about the ending as the rest of the book, but it fits with the themes, so good.

    DeMarce’s Designed to Fail is designed to please, but I keep losing my place. I’ll finish it this week, for sure.

    I got an email from my favorite Superhero author’s website, someone asked George when the new book was coming out because we hadn’t had an update since months ago when he promised, “Real Soon Now.” He replied, “Real Soon Now.” Everyone knows what that means: we’ll have the book in our hands (on our screens) when we have it, and not a moment before. But as usual, when I’m expecting a new book, I started a reread of the old books, beginning with Wearing The Cape (the special edition, with illustrations).

    Incidentally, I splurged on a domain name and all that, so my blog is at https://www.somethingsmustbeendured.com/ which is crammed together for “Some Things Must Be Endured (dot com.) More dieting stuff than anyone could endure. 🙂

        1. My heart as well. I wrote the most recent entry while nibbling pork rinds. Crunchier than ice cream, and saltier than most ice creams, but I worked them in. 🙂

          1. Wow I’ve forgotten such a thing as pork rinds exist. It’s been years. Now I’m going to try to develop amnesia about them.

  9. I’ve been working on Men at Arms by Pratchett. It’s rolling quickly to it’s conclusion, although it does point to something I don’t care for in Pratchett’s books – no stopping points. There is a small extra blank line when he switches POV, but there are no chapter breaks. I used to be a much faster reader than I am now – I think I wallow in the story more now – but I know I would tell myself I’d read til the next chapter and then go to sleep. If I do that with Pratchett, I’d be up all night!

    I did come across NPR’s list of the best Sci/Fi Fantasy of the last decade.
    Of course Murderbot is in there!

  10. I finished all the released books of T.A. White’s Firebird Chronicles. Currently, only 3 are released from what I think – based on her other series – will be a 5 or 6 book series. There is no status on when the 4th will come out as she first needs to write books for her other series.

    The Firebird Chronicles are about Kira Forrest who is a survivor of a major war between Earth humans and an alien race who only want to dominate and control all life. She not only has PTSD from the war, but also her upbringing since she grew up in a torture camp. She had been kidnapped as a child and brought to this camp where she was tortured and experimented on until she was rescued by some humans.

    These books feature lots of action, simplistic characterization and, all in all are a quick read. I read all 3 books in the space of 2 days. The plotting is pretty good and the story just zooms along, taking the reader on a wild ride.

    However, there are some problems and I’ve run aground on one of them. I’ve decided that I don’t want to continue with the series after some reflection because I realize that I do not like Kira Forrest. I think that she’s fine in the first 2 books, but the third is where her unlikeable qualities really come to the forefront, for me.

  11. My reading last week included a couple of re-reads of Anne Bishop’s The Others books. And some new books.
    Becky Chambers’s A Psalm for the Wild-Built was a slow and quiet story, a unusual sci-fi novella. No fights, no chases, practically no conflict, just a contemplation of what it means to be alive. What it means to be a human. I liked it, and the only sore point for me was the protagonist Dex’s self-identification as THEY, neither male nor female. I mean, for me, a gender is anatomical, not psychological. If you have female genitalia, you’re female. If you have male genitalia, you’re male. If you have both, you’re a hermaphrodite. I have never heard about a creature who has neither. That’s why Chambers’s approach feels pretentious, more an affectation than a feature. And nothing in the book gave me a reason why Dex must be a THEY and not a HE or a SHE. Besides, THEY never shave in the story. Doesn’t have a beard either. Must be a SHE after all. Yay – my problem is solved!
    Beth O’Leary’s The Road Trip was a DNA. I so looked forward to this book. I liked the previous 2 books by this author, but this one disappointed.
    Roni Loren’s steamy contemporary romance What if You & Me was satisfying and fun. I enjoyed this novel a lot. I have to tell you I’m following this writer. As soon as she publishes a new book, I feel that I must read it. Her previous series was superb, and this one is proving to be a delight as well.

    1. Hi Olga. Everything I’ve read suggests that while gender identity probably is biological, it isn’t crudely anatomical — it seems to be determined at the level of chained gene activations, so that if one gene does or doesn’t activate, the genes below it in the chain will respond differently, and a person’s sense of gender will swing more towards “male” or “female” accordingly. The possible combinations seem to be so complex that “male” and “female” become very rough approximations. Science fiction is an excellent tool for exploring this.

      Just to add a personal comment — I have trans family members, and I’ve seen up close what it costs them to go against social norms on gender. There’s nothing pretentious about asking to be called a pronoun that challenges people’s expectations. It’s both a brave and a dangerous choice. I don’t ask you to agree with me on this — a random stranger from another country, why should you? But I love this blog and it would be neat not to have my daughter’s identity glibly dismissed here. Let’s be kind, okay?

    2. From what I understand, gender is determined by a number of factors. Physical attributes certainly, but genes and brain patterns as well. For example, a person can have a female body, but male genes, xy chromosomes. And we are taught in school that there is xx and xy to determine gender, but this is not the only possibility. There is also a significant portion of the population with xyy or xxy chromosomes, and so on. Really, there are a lot of variables that we are never given to consider. I am by no means an expert, just trying to educate myself.

      In this particular case, perhaps you mean that the author of the book did not do a good job depicting a gender neutral person? That she jumped on a trend she saw in pop culture that she didn’t particularly understand or communicate to the reader well? I can understand that criticism. There are tons of M/M romances written by straight women for an audience of straight women and it can definitely have a gimmick or trope feel to it.

      One of the reasons that I love Murderbot so much is because it is the best portrayal I have seen in fiction so far of a gender neutral person. I imagine Murderbot’s body to be male in appearance, because if you are going to build a bodyguard it is going to be fairly large and strong looking. But the voice of that character is very female to me, although of course Murderbot is staunchly asexual and prefers to be referred to as an “it”. Also, these books are delightful, so if you haven’t had a chance yet, I highly recommend.

    3. A few months ago, I went to Ben Elton’s touring stand up show. The theme was ‘I don’t get what I got’ – it’s the idea that there’s a bunch of stuff he used to think he understood, but as society has changed and we learn new things he has to ‘re-get’ some stuff – one of those things is recognition of gender.

      For you (and me!), your gender aligns with your anatomy and for that we’re lucky. For others, that’s not so clear cut. For me, hearing stories from people who fall into this category helped me ‘get’ this concept of gender in a way I hadn’t been forced to consider before. Arghink is a gorgeous space where we are kind to each other – I think that supporting people who identify as a gender different to their anatomy is a characteristic of the type of kind society I want my kids to grow up in. 🙂

    4. Gender isn’t biological, it’s part of the person as a whole. Just as red hair doesn’t make you Irish and dark skin doesn’t make you African, having a penis doesn’t make you male. I means you have male genitalia, but not that you’re male. Ditto vaginas making you female. Too many other things make up identity to hang it all on one physical characteristic. Especially one characteristic that is there mainly to make sexual intercourse possible since sexual intercourse is all over the place in its variety.

      Things were tidier when we everybody just looked between their legs and said, “Oh, that’s what I am,” but that never really worked. People get to define who they are, the rest of us need to accept that because we do not get to tell them who to be, any more than they can label us.

      The one thing I have learned in my looooooong life, is that if I don’t stand up and say, “this is who I am and this is how you treat me,” people are going to assign me a label and make me conform to that. Which makes me angry. (You woundn’t like me angry.). (Who said that?) (Oh, the Hulk. Yeah, that’s about right.).

      1. I regret how rude I was about 14 years ago when faced with “they, them, theirs” for “he, him, his” or “she, her, hers.” I’ve gained sensitivity as an effect of remorse.

        However, I am a stickler for precise language and I have no patience for a loose use of 3rd person plural pronouns. Comprehending a writer’s intentions is difficult in the first place. The writer takes on a greater challenge when using “they” instead of “he” or “she.” I agree that Martha Wells handles this very well.

    5. I’d just like to say “Hooray!!” for the Others series. It’s a topnotch re-read for me too.

  12. Kia ora koutou… my whole country went back into strict lockdown two days ago, and if we stay here long I expect my reading brain will come back online. A little scrambled just now. Sherwood Smith’s Patreon serial is still giving me enormous pleasure, and I’m rereading Robert VS Redick’s ironically titled Master Assassins, so that I can read its sequel with all the characters fresh in my mind.

    I have half a feeling, actually, that the thing I need to read in this state is a Jenny Crusie novel. There are only so many that I haven’t read yet and I’ve been saving them. (Jenny, you wouldn’t mind quickly writing a few more? No pressure).

    1. Tena koe! There are a few of us NZers here. I think Jenny’s humour and approach click with us.

      I think you’d like it here, Jenny. Come visit any time. Well, once we start letting people in again. It sounds like you could use a break.

      1. Kia kaha everyone, I tend to lose my reading brain in lockdowns but am alternating between the Fred the vampire books and the honey badger series.

        Also finding the daily press conferences soothing.

        Hope everything is ok for you guys

    2. At the moment, I’m talking with Bob about his sequel to Agnes, so . . . Have you met George RR Martin? Yeah, I’m like that.

      I did finish a book I have to get back to rewriting, but right now, it’s more fun telling Bob where he went wrong. He loves that.

      (And thanks for the compliment!)

  13. I’m listening to The Trials of Morrigan Crow and really enjoying it. I also have the audio production of Sandman as the Audible Editor’s pick this month and will eventually have to get back to it but I’ve been too busy to really pay attention to it.

    I have a long drive on Saturday and I’m going to need a new book.

    We built most of our deck today (I have a bunch of boards to screw down but the cordless drill ran out of juice) and I’m to tired for much. I have a Squirrel Girl graphic novel and that will be about it for me.

  14. I read The Angel of the Crows and enjoyed it enough to get to the end. It was bit of a slog and not my very most favorite, but it was an interesting take on Sherlock Holmes.

    And I started Nalini Singh’s newest, Last Guard. I am enjoying it more than I expected. She can get a little formulaic for me, but this is hitting the right notes of familiar and comforting. She is always comfortable for me. All her characters are care givers in some way and have a solid support structure of the same. I am not deeply engaged in the story. I know it will all be fine, but I am enjoying the ride. And I appreciate that she added her first nonbinary character.

  15. It was a busy reading week….

    Winter’s Orbit, by Everina Maxwell. Overall, I thought this was good, but I did spend a lot of time wanting to knock the two heroes’ heads together. If only they could really TALK to each other, this might have been more enjoyable.

    Someone to Cherish, by Mary Balogh. Harry Westcott finally gets his happy ending. Pretty standard Balogh, but I liked it. Yes, there are a lot of characters from past books who appear, and I can see that would be annoying to some people.

    Unwell Women: Misdiagnosis and Myth in a Man-made World, by Elinor Cleghorn. Discussion of how medicine has short-changed women since the beginning of time. Some of the early beliefs about the way women’s bodies work are just appalling, and treatments were worse, but I can’t get over the fact that gender inequities in medicine are still such a problem.

    Love Her or Lose Her, by Tessa Bailey. I’d tried a couple of Bailey’s other books and thought “meh”, but I really liked this one. The story of a long-married but disconnected couple, who decide to try to save their marriage. Surprisingly moving.

    The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie, by Jennifer Ashley. I’d read (and loved) this before, but this time I listened to the audio version and it was great!

    And finally, Hope Never Dies, by Andrew Shaffer. Set in about 2017, the hero is Joe Biden, who is pouting because his old buddy Barack Obama has gone off to hobnob with the jet set and poor Joe is feeling left behind. But the death of an Amtrak conductor, a long-time acquaintance of Joe’s, brings Barack and Joe back together. These two as a crime-fighting duo are amusing, though the mystery is kind of weak.

  16. I finished “Paper & Blood” by Kevin Hearne and really liked it. It made me laugh and his books also generally make me feel good, so that’s a big plus. Maybe the humour in this one tipped slightly more towards the… let’s call it less refined and grownup at times, which was the main reason it didnot score higher for me, but all in all the story was good. Definitely going to read the next one in the series, whenever it’s released.

    Reread “Feet of Clay” by Pratchett because, well Sam Vimes and other things. It again had me laughing out loud here and there, and goodness, I love Pratchett. <3 Which is why I am rereading "Reaper Man" now. Almost finished.

    Started rereading "Murder Is Easy" by Agatha Christie. I'm pretty sure I read it in Swedish in my early teens, but I can't remember so much of the story. I'll know if it's the book I think it is once the murderer is revealed, I'm sure. I can't read it at bedtime however, it sets my brain off on nightmare paths, so it's going slow. Enjoying reading it in its original language though.

    Another cookbook swooshed past too: "Everyday Grain-Free Baking" by Kelly Smith. Loved it. Once we've moved and have settled at the new place, I'm definitely gonna try these recipes. They're not just gluten free (i.e. mostly based on almond- and/or coconut flour), but they also seem to be relatively low on sugar and all in all pretty nutritious and healthy things. It's everything from bread to scones to cakes, cookies, pancakes, pies, cupcakes, a bit of everything, really. Looking forward to see if they taste as good as they sound.

  17. I read On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan. What was I thinking?

    Obviously it was excellent, just really really good observational writing, but ugh. I mention it on GBT because it’s really a ‘big misunderstanding’ book, complete failure to communicate. But the characters and story are so finely drawn that as you watch the story unfold the path of ‘big misunderstanding’ is just inevitable.

    Depressing as all hell. Recommended and not recommended. I’m off to read something fun. (I lie, I’m off to fail to cram two days work into 2 hours).

  18. Murderbot is my Sanctuary Moon. I’m still in my reread of Murderbot and about to run out. Since I did a complete reread in June, I really need to slow down here.

    I also read several contemporary romances, sufficiently ok to finish but not interesting enough to talk about.

  19. I fully-read eight things this week, including two of my own books in the never-ending quest to find typos and remind myself what happened.

    Read a M/M historical set at Cambridge tagged as ‘a sparkling tale’ which I did not find to be accurate. For one thing, there’s a serial killer. I don’t like reading about young men who are slaughtered for being gay, especially in the context of a gay romance. Then, a new M/M/F romantic suspense, again with a serial killer, and I really should know better. Even when it’s an author I generally like, I almost always hate serial-killer plots.

    But then there was M/F histrom ‘The Devil Comes Courting’ by Courtney Milan, which I *loved.* And ‘Undone,’ a M/M contemporary by Leslie McAdam, which delivered what I wanted. Then M/M contemporary ‘Playing the Palace’ by Paul Rudnick, which genuinely is a sparkling tale though it does not shy away from the gruesome reality of trying to have a relationship with someone permanently in the public eye. Followed by ‘Royal Holiday’ by Jasmine Guillory, a later-in-life M/F in which a holiday fling turns into pen pals turns into ‘dang it, we’re in love, how do we make this work.’ I really appreciated that the M prompts the F to think through a potential job change and decide what she actually wants.

    Also: Finally finished ‘The Big Change: America Transforms Itself 1900-1950’ by Frederick Lewis Allen, who has a light way of delivering a heavy load of facts. Started reading ‘The Governess Game’ by Tessa Dare and bailed out at 9% due to too many ‘oh gods not that again.’ Well reviewed and has potential to amuse but I was just not in the mood for it.

      1. I am now number 3 on hold for the ebook, of which they have only ONE copy? (They have it in paper and audio also.)

  20. I managed to read BATTLE ROYAL and thoroughly enjoyed it, especially the over-the-top descriptions of the sweets produced at Sugar Fair.

    It then sent me on to JELLIES AND THEIR MOULDS, by Peter Brears, a history of jellies, and

    JELLY WITH BOMPAS AND PARR, which is loaded with spectacular jellies; everyone should TRY glow-in-the-dark jelly at least once. My daily menus are just pedestrian, I fear.

    Lastly, I’ve been leafing through the ebook of BETTINA’S BEST SALADS and What to Serve With Them, newly available online now it’s in the public domain. The salads are mostly pretty straightforward, though one thing I note about the authors’ writing style is that quite a few words are in quotation marks when used, such as “messy” or “marinate.”

  21. I have to thank everyone who recommended Sherwood Smith last week. I read Crown Duel and really enjoyed it. I reminded me a bit of A Sharpened Axe, so I’ll no doubt be rereading that this week.

    I also read King’s Ex, a follow up to Duking It Out by EJ Russell. It was as enjoyable as the first one. M/M superhero romances in a fictional monarchy make a nice break from the unrelenting awfulness of the real world.

    1. Yay! Glad you liked it. Posse of Princesses is also fun, and The Trouble with Kings. Some of her YA stuff doesn’t quite gel, in my opinion, but a lot of it is fabulous.

  22. I read Kazuo Ishiguro’s Klara and the Sun and am still wondering about it. A very strange book but also beautiful.

    On a lighter note, I finished The Goblin Emperor (which was on the npr science fiction/fantasy list along with Murderbot) and started The Right Sort of Man which I think was recommended here. If it was you who mentioned it, thanks, I’m enjoying it.

    Also read Jasmine Guillory’s While We We’re Dating which had two very likable main characters.

  23. I have an audiobook on tap that I need to get started on, but it’s a new author and all I want to do is slide back into books/worlds I know and not risk a new one. That seems both silly and understandable to me, so I will get going soon. It would help if I hadn’t worn stupid shoes one time in June and given myself plantar fasciitis, seriously curtailing my daily walks. That’s my audiobook time.

    I also have two nonfiction paper books to read, one from the library and one a gift from my father. I think they will both be good, and I don’t think either has been mentioned here. Will report back!

    Otherwise I got caught up in Murderbot again. I’m reading Network Effect for the [high number] time. I’m juuuuuust managing to stop reading and go to sleep every night instead of reading through to the next turning point.

    1. This is why I like audible at night. I set the sleep timer for 30 minutes. Not to say that I don’t sometimes put another 30 minutes on, but I do try to only do re-reads at night so it doesn’t matter if I fall asleep.

  24. Rereading a bunch of Jayne Ann Krentz Harmony books just because they’re comfort reads.

    I’m thinking abut moving on to Pratchett if I can’t switch to something new. Maybe his first two because Luggage.

  25. I read Hamnet. Started a little slow but better and better and the last line was perfect. If you’ve ever wondered why Shakespeare wrote a play that almost has the name of his son who died young, this gives a plausible ❤️ answer. I have not read a 5 star novel a while, so that was nice.

  26. I read Jasper Fforde’s The Constant Rabbit. I do like how he uses language and his sense of the absurd. However, this one felt like a homily so not my favorite.

  27. I have a request. No, a request and an idea. I watch hardly any tv. If I wanted to watch a great series, any suggestions? I know, there’s infinite variety, but just tell me your faves.

    I really enjoyed the POI Arghink big watch-and-analyse. We haven’t done one of those in a while, but I suspect it’s a lot of work.

    1. This year, on Netflix, I’ve really enjoyed Call My Agent (French) and Rita (Danish). Older ones include Sex Education, and they’re also showing Borgen (Danish), Gilmore Girls, Gavin and Stacey. I enjoyed Last Tango in Halifax (BBC). All these are comedy dramas, featuring community. Because of the setting and characters (and relaxed pace) I also like Montalbano and The Young Montalbano (Italian, shown here on the BBC).

      I’m enjoying Netflix (my first and only paid-for TV) because of the choice beyond grim, violent melodrama, which has been the staple on terrestrial channels for years now, and which I won’t watch. I find even supposedly lighter dramas, like Dr Who, have a depressing worldview so that I bail out after a few episodes.

      1. I second Sex Education. It seems very shrill at first, but it’s really good. In case you like it: season 3 is about to start mid september 🙂

    2. The Detectorists, a British series set in England that tracks two Saxon-treasure-hunting friends armed with metal detectors. It is warm, funny, engrossing, and gently-paced. Here in the States we get it on Netflix (but have since bought the DVDs). It’s just lovely. Here’s some more info on it: https://thecinemaholic.com/detectorists-cast/

    3. So many! Leverage, of course (original and Leverage: Redemption, although the latter is better if you’ve seen the original). And Burn Notice. I didn’t realize it, but they were both on the air around the same time (and overlapped Person of Interest) — I watched Burn Notice when it came out but didn’t have access to Leverage until just a few years ago, with POI somewhere in between for when I watched it on DVD, so it felt like they were from different eras, but they all have so much in common. And all are eminently re-watchable.

      I love Acorn TV and Britbox and forget which one has which series. Vera is excellent (but dark), just saw the final season of Heart Guy (pretty much the opposite of Vera and I wouldn’t think I’d like it, but I did for its quirky characters). Not necessarily great, but I enjoy 800 Words, which is more Heart Guy than Vera, and Brokenwood Mysteries, and the Good Karma Hospital and Midsummer Murders and Murdoch Mysteries (although it’s uneven) and Death in Paradise (also uneven). For a truly brilliant series, check out Foyle’s War (another eminently re-watchable series). Oh, and George Gently. And the original Morse and the prequel series, Endeavour. And the sequel, Inspector Lewis. I know I’m missing some that are just as good. Oh, Unforgotten, although that, like Endeavour, is on PBS, not Acorn.

      I recently got a month of Netflix to see what I was missing there and decided I really wasn’t missing anything. None of the hits there appealed to me, except maybe The Witcher, which confused me more than entertained, but I couldn’t stop watching. For the rest, apparently I don’t have the gene that makes for appreciation of superhero stories, unless The Witcher counts, but that seems more in the vein of the old Hercules and Xena series than Marvel universe.

    4. I really, really enjoyed The Good Place, which I first saw mentioned here some years ago. I kept thinking at the start of every new season that nope, they couldn’t keep making a good series out of it for another season, but it worked. Or, it worked for me. Maybe it’s time to rewatch it again…

    5. I loved an Australian show called My Life is Murder, starring Lucy Lawless of Xena fame. (She’s actually from New Zealand.) I think it was on Acorn, but it could have been Britbox (I have both and get them confused.) There was only one short season, but thankfully the second one is starting at the end of this month.

      1. We can get Season One on DVD, probably through Acorn (I don’t have Britbox). Awaiting Season Two, which is teased to have many well-known actors making cameo appearances. I never know who they are, but we did enjoy Season One and will be getting Season Two when it’s available on DVD.

    6. Schitt’s Creek is very endearing, once you get past the first season. Netflix

      There is an Australian soap called A Place to Call Home that someone here recommended that held my interest for awhile. I think it’s on Amazon or Acorn.

  28. Evidently I am back on my non-fiction road again.

    Am reading Lisa Napoli’s book ‘Susan, Linda, Nina & Cokie – the founding mothers of NPR’.

  29. Currently about halfway through THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. I very seldom read YA, and I picked this up because a friend whose opinion I respect was so high on this book–and I’m glad I did. I think it’s exceptional. Very good writing. Powerful and complex story. Vivid & believable characters. Sympathetic first-person protagonist, a Black teenage girl who’s a good student on scholarship at a mostly-white well-to-do high school who witnesses a friend being shot to death in her poor, struggling home neighborhood an hour away. And despite the tough topic, a smooth “easy” read, not a book one “works” to get through—in large part, I think, because of the strong and shrewd narrative voice of the protagonist.

    Also about halfway through FRANKLY, WE DID WIN THIS ELECTION by Michael Bender, a WSJ journalist. Book covers Trump’s 2020 election and his attempts to cling to power after he lost. Bender’s prose/storytelling jumps around a lot in time, so sometimes I’m confused about when the narrated events are occurring–2020? 2018?2016? 2011? That’s annoying, but he does a good job of linking 2020/21 events to backstory, including backstory that I wasn’t aware of (despite having read far too much about the Trump regime). He also covers the Front Row Joes in some detail, people so devoted to Trump that they spent much of their lives on the road to attend his rallies for 5 years. What I find surprising is how little interest they seem to have in policy (or competence), and how much their involvement is about finding a community of friends.

    Also recently read two other books about Trump’s final year and attempts to cling to power. (1) LANDSLIDE by Michael Wolff. I liked his first two Trump books, but I thought this one was mostly a mess because far too much of it was Wolff’s own speculations and opinions. There is one priceless must-not-miss chapter, though, about how Trump hired his lawyers for his second impeachment trial, who they were, and how they ran the defense; it was like the Marx Brothers’ DUCK SOUP but without any of the wit or talent. And (2) I ALONE CAN FIX IT, but WashPost reporters Rucker & Leonnig. The best of these 3 “Trump’s final year” books–solid reporting, good writing, clear chronology.

  30. Popping in from the laptop. Still need to do something about the desktop, probably involving changing antivirus programs which might be more than my brain can cope with at the moment.

    I’m reading Susan Mallery’s latest women’s fiction book, Sisters by Choice, and liking a lot. (Her WF is a little hit or miss for me, so I’m never sure how I’ll feel.)

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