This is a Good Book Thursday, September 16, 2021

I read new books this week, but nothing I’d recommend. Too many romances that are too much alike. I realize in part that’s a big ask since you know what’s going to happen in almost every romance, the way you get to that HEA matters, so nope, not recommending anything this week.

So help me out here: what did you read that was good this week?

155 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 16, 2021

  1. I have now read most of Andrea K Höst books and while I enjoyed them, I found the word building very inventive but sometimes a bit too complex.
    The Touchstone series is still my favourite!

    I am now reading the Sherwood Smith books that were recommended last week and my favourite so far is The Trouble with Kings.

    I seem to be on a YA kick :).

    Lots of books were people are doing a lot of growing up 🙂

  2. I read the new Nora Roberts. I do like her books, they’re easy to read but this was one of those that start when the characters are children and follow through to the HEA and to make it fit, it skims the surface. In this one, beautiful people with talent and resources know what they want and they go get it. There are some roadblocks – strained family relationships/death of first wife etc that I guess are supposed to bring depth but in this one it just felt to me kind of flat.

    So next up, going for a non-fiction. James Clear Atomic Habits. Many people seem to have mentioned it in the last few months and one of my friends has started doing star jumps while the kettle boils to regain some fitness using ‘habit stacking’

  3. Battle Royale by Lucy Parker and I adored it. Her writing always feels effervescent. It could come across as Gbb Fanfic but I think it transcends that. There are some heavy topics covered but it’s done with a light hand.

  4. Not much to report here. I am mostly rereading again. I can’t seem to figure out what I am in the mood to try, or am not in the mood for failure. I did have a thought about something to recommend here, but now it’s completely gone from my mind, other than the echoed memory.

    I would appreciate more Netflix/Amazon recommendations. We finished up Sex Education and have been doom scrolling for the last few days. Luckily the new season comes out tomorrow.

    We greatly enjoyed Schitt’s Creek, Mrs. maisel, Stranger things, The Witcher and so on. I like lighthearted. My partner is not a fan of cooking shows or period drama, so I will have to watch Bridgerton on my own. Thanks!

    1. It’s several years old, but I’m rewatching White Collar on Amazon. It’s a charismatic conman + practical FBI agent solve crimes together. Fun, great supporting cast, great central friendship.

      1. I double-rec White Collar.

        If you’re after something even lighter, I’ve enjoyed both Chesapeake Bay and Sweet Magnolias – both are definitely on the bubblegum/predictable side, but I revel in the sets

    2. I highly recommend the Nevers to you. I think you would like it given what you said you liked watching.

    3. Have you seen the Good Place? (Originally aired on NBC but I think streams on netflix now)

      Also – Catastrophe…it gets a bit darker in season three, the writers were dealing with some super intense personal tragedies when working on that season – Rob’s 2 year old son died of a brain tumor, plus Carrie Fisher had died…and it felt like a lot of that pain was understandably coming through in the art…but honestly, I’ve never laughed out loud harder than in the first couple of seasons…possibly because I was experiencing being pregnant/dealing with babies/figuring out how all that impacts a relationship/career… which is a lot of the ground the series covers. (amazon)

        1. Well blast you’re right–it doesn’t seem to be available for streaming in Netflix. It is available on DVD though.

          I don’t have Amazon but I just checked Prime Video. It seems to be available there with some combination of access: “Included with your IMDb TV subscription”, “Or $0.00 with a [sic] Acorn TV trial on Prime Video Channels”, or “$0.00 with a Prime membership”.

        2. I got the DVD’s, which my cousins and I have been watching over the last several weeks. Thanks for the recommendation!

    4. I’ll watch a movie or series on Netflix or Amazon and move on to another one the next night. Last night we watched Fisherman’s Friend on Netflix an OK movie but with heart. A story about a music executive who is on a weekend trip to Cornwall with so called friends/co-workers and is left in the town and pretty much told by his boss to sign a group of local fishermen singers. Of course it is all a joke to his pals, but he does his job and signs the group. In the movie is James Purefoy, Daniel Mays and others who are only familiar to me by thinking “I know I’ve seen him somewhere”. And the setting I’ve seen before, too. If you have ever watched Doc Martin you will recognize the area. I kept waiting to see Mrs. Tishall chasing the “Doc” around town. Do towns rent themselves out to movie producers?

      Usually I’ll end TV watching at night with either House Hunters or a comedy. Lately it’s been 30 Rock which I’ve never seen before and there are at least seven or more seasons worth.

        1. Looking up Fishermans’ Friends, wikipedia reports that it’s filmed in Port Isaac, which is likewise on the north coast right near Boscastle. And the wiki article says Doc Martin was filmed there too. It’s a beautiful town, no?

      1. There is a charming town in north Georgia, Dahlonega, where many Hallmark movies have been filmed. They bring in fake snow.

    5. For Netflix watches, Lupe, I like Grace & Frankie with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin.

      They’re on their 7th season I think, and while I favour some storylines over others, I just love the characters so it pulls me in every time. They have many seasons available but the most recent only has 4 episodes so far with the rest to come–which I am eagerly awaiting especially because it’s rumoured that Dolly Parton will make an appearance and I’ve been waiting to see if she’ll play the person I projected she would a few seasons back.

      Overall, it’s a lovely show with a good heart that celebrates friendship, how full life can be at any age, and the full spectrum of relationships.

    6. I know that “not in the mood for failure, can’t figure out what I want to try” state so well. I reread Bujold’s KNIFE CHILDREN a couple of days ago basically because I didn’t want to step out onto the new-book ice in case I fell through.

  5. I’m hitting a lot of “well, that was ok, I guess” right now. I liked the Monica Ferris mystery I tried, but they have only one of her books in ebook (very late in the Betsy Devonshire series) and I am just tired of fitting trips to the library into my exhausting schedule. They appear to have every single one in audio book, so it’s a pity I can’t stand audio books.
    One of the other blissful things about checking out ebooks, besides the instant gratification, is that they never smell of tobacco or perfume.

  6. I’ve fallen back on rereading Nora Roberts’ ‘Born in’ series. Needed the comfort and guaranteed enjoyment. Am on the last one, which I especially enjoy because the heroine gets to fulfil my dream (though it’d be writing or photography for me). My paperbacks are the original UK edition, published under the pen name Sarah Hardesty.

  7. Am on vacay at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) and am seeing about 25 films so haven’t read as much as usual this week.

    What I did read though was the Rachel Reid’s Game Changer series. Thank you for the reco, Arghers; I do seem to love me some M/M hockey player romance lately. Heated Rivalry was especially yummy – a really interesting take on the hate-you-love-you trope. Very graphic sex but never gratuitous, always forwarding the narrative and so so SO romantic. I promptly re-read it.

    1. So envious you get to go to TIFF. Our national film festival has been postponed from August to November this year, and the programme is due out any week now. I’ve been saving annual leave for it. Have you seen anything particularly good?

      1. I don’t know if I can say particularly good but – some good stuff – a German film called I’m Your Man where a woman tests out a robot as a romantic partner made to order for her – with Dan Stevens – Matthew of Downton Abbey Fame – he speaks German! who knew? Anyway, I enjoyed that. And a Spanish film called Odd-Job Men that was adorable. Seeing a couple of Benedict Cumberbatch films tomorrow so I have high hopes for those.

      2. And PS – I always write a summary of my Picks ‘n’ Pans of TIFF – if you give me your email I’ll send to you.

      3. And is your film festival in Stockholm? I went to a film at that festival a long time ago. Great energy.

        1. Thanks! I’d like that. My email is my username here, at gmail — not typing it out in full for fear (probably groundless) of bots adding me to spam lists. My film festival is the New Zealand International (NZIFF).

          1. Ah! I just watched a film by your fellow NZlander Jane Campion, Power of the Dog, with Benedict Cumberbatch. Not a cuddly film.

            Anyway, I’ve sent you a test email to make sure I got it right.

    2. I’ve said it before, but I really liked Heated Rivalry and recommend the reread and also the audiobook. (Yes, this is how I love books I love. Also all the Murderbots and all of Jenny’s and most of KJ Charles, although I don’t love all her narrators)

  8. I’m working on a Stephanie Plum by Janet Evanovich. I dropped out of reading these ages ago, somewhere in the early teens (of the books, they’re all number titles) but recently saw 25 in the library and picked it up. Liked it enough to check out 26 (where I am now) but trying to decide if I like it enough to continue with the next book. Unsure.

    I did, as previously mentioned, really enjoy the latest Louise Penny (now finished, slightly unclear on the ending, but suspect that is down to reader-flaw rather than anything to do with the book. I got a bit lost following the train of thought since I was reading it late at night). I love disappearing into that world, even though when you think about it there’s an awfully high chance of murder in that village…

      1. Did she?? Oh no! I tried one or two of the Janet Evanovich books that were co-written and thought they were terrible. I thought the Plum quality was pretty steady though. Not revolutionary – but steady.

        1. I find her Plum series is usually reliably enjoyable, her other series vary, I found Metro girl awful, but enjoyed the graphic novel. The first 2 books of the Wicked series were fun, but the 3rd was missing the enjoyable wacky magical feel. Her Knight & Moon series was stupid, no one who graduated from Harvard Business & Law will need the hero to explain finance to her. The Fox & O’ Hare series had a cast of whacky characters that kept me reading, until The Big Kahuna which the new co-author obviously hadn’t bothered to read the previous books and had the guy on the top ten wanted list with a secret deal with the FBI meet at FBI headquarters, they also left out the fun whacky characters which was my reason for reading it in the first place

        2. It’s pretty late in I think. Up to that point Stephanie holds to her moral code, then she really starts to get questionable. She never cheats on either Morelli or Ranger before, and has a compass for her sexual escapades, but that gets lost. Which is why I stopped reading. I don’t abide with stringing good men along, nor cheating on both of them with the other. Grrrr.

          1. That actually makes sense. I hadn’t heard about any ghost writer before, but now that you point it out it’s making me think. I *had* noticed the change in Stephanie’s moral compass, but put that down to Evanovich running out of ideas about how to keep writing the same thing, over and over.

            I did try her other stuff, many years ago while I was reading the Plum books, but never liked any of it. Early Stephanie I really enjoyed though.

    1. I read about the first 10 Plum books and then gave up.. it just became boring and too much of the same story.. no one grew or changed..

  9. Read Evanovich’s Fortune and Glory easy enjoyable read, but my favourite bits are with Benny, Granny, Stephanie and the food of course… I may learn to make baked zita just to satisfy my curiosity and taste buds. Also trying to slog my way through The Venetian Venture by Suzette A Hill. A story about hunting for a book in Venice shouldn’t take me this long to read, a book that has all the elements I should like. Still she’s a new to me author, may just have to finish the book and try it during my comfort read stage to enjoy it.

  10. I read The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany and it is one of the best books I’ve read in years. I recommended it to my Mom and sister and they agree. Can’t recommend it enough. I am not giving details because you should just read the first few pages and see if you like it. Also, I don’t know how to describe it without giving too much away. It is a feel good book.

    For my book club we have been reading The Lost City of the Monkey God and it is nonfiction that reads like Indiana Jones. I guess that is what happens when the author is a NYTimes journalist who also co-authors a series of horror thrillers. It is about an archeological expedition into Honduras and the book club organizer arranged for the archaeologist to speak to us. I had to stop reading it at night because I’d get too caught up in it and fail to go to sleep.

    Also, I finally started listening to the “Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone” podcasts and found out they do a “book club” as part of the weekly broadcast. It is the most hysterical thing. Best book club ever. You know all the sarcastic, whiny comments you wanted to make when interpreting literature for deeper meaning in English class? That is what they do. Although one of the people on the podcast did a very dry explanation as to the parallels in Moby Dick vs Eat,Pray,Love claiming they were more or less the same book. And I listened to an older podcast where the book clubs summary of that weeks 10 chapters was “you can just skip them” but with more humor.

    Now I thinking that’s need to reread my actual paper books to decide which to keep and which to give away as I have too many of them. The problem is that I mostly read in bed these days after my husband goes to sleep and real books are just inconvenient then

  11. I’m such a slow reader – only finished two that were nice enough, but either too level headed (the period one) or too sweet after the 50 % mark. I’ve started on one (friends to lovers) that I expect to be nice enough because I like one of the two authors. Very probably n
    othing to recommend. Like a nice cup of ice cream – easily consumed and fun while it’s eaten/read.

  12. Back to rereading until I get to the library, I read the Georgette Heyer mysteries (and I can say this here without being thought eccentric) did you notice all the Scotland Yard detectives names begin with H? Then I read the Unknown Ajax, one of my favourites. Of to the library later.

    1. “begin with H”–I had forgotten that but I’ve long wondered why that happened.

    2. I’m on the Heyers this week and read Bath Tangle, which I’ve always misread as Bath Triangle. It actually works as a title considering the number of people engaged to one person and in love with someone else in this one.

  13. Back to rereading until I get to the library, I read the Georgette Heyer mysteries (and I can say this here without being thought eccentric) did you notice all the Scotland Yard detectives names begin with H? Then I read the Unknown Ajax, one of my favourites. Off to the library later.

  14. Caved in and read A Deadly Education (almost done). Very great narrative voice, but horrifying murder school, so I’m conflicted as hell about it. It’s well done, though.

    1. Deadly Education was indeed dark, and ends on a bit of a cliffhanger. (Well, more of a tease. A tease hanger?)

      But be warned! The sequel is coming out soon (next week, I think?) and judging by the early reviews it has a cliffhanger ending of epic proportions. I’m in two minds whether to read it asap or wait until the third book comes out so I don’t have to gnash my teeth while I wait.

      1. Oh no! I have been waiting for the second one before reading the first.

        Now I have got to wait for the third.

        I just can’t stand cliffhangers anymore!

        1. It wasn’t really a cliffhanger. The story got resolved. It just made it obvious that there were more stories coming.

  15. Back to nothing really catching my attention again. I read the historical recommended here. Okay read. Getting very jaded and not seeming to like very much. So…will start reading biographies or rereads.

    Have taken boxes of books out of storage for sorting and giving away. Lots and lots.

    PS enjoy your day tomorrow, have a good one.

  16. I bit the bullet and bought and read the last two of the Emperor’s Edge series by Lindsay Buroker and yeah, I think I’m done with her as anybody worth paying dollars for. The exchange rate blows right now. It’s like music, I’ll pay for music I love, but I’ll listen to the stuff I like on radio.

    With these books, I had something like a year break between reading book 5.5 and both of the “Forged in Bloods”, I could see how much LB doesn’t kill her darlings when writing. There’s a lot of “extra” kept in, making the books into longer series. And meh. I don’t have depression-related escapism addiction to make me want to power through. I’m just going to envision Basilard’s HEA. I’ll probably reread Chains of Honour when I want a semi-Wuxia fix.

    Related, please help: I’m looking for Japanese based stories – like how Jeannie Lin’s books are Chinese based. Some steampunk is ok. I don’t know what is Japanese for Wuxia category.

    I watched Rouroni Kenshin on Netflix. It’s seems I was fortunate to get into it in the correct year, as they made “The Beginning” and “The Final” in the same year. I’ve watched them in sequence. I’m an hour into the final and I don’t want it to end. So I’m looking for more of the same.

    Currently watching Samurai: The Battle for Japan docu-series to fill my interest.

    In terms of Korean TV, if anyone can find the translation of the novel that Cinderella and the Four Knights is based on, I’d really like to know. The series has many, many, many weak points. But the strong points are so very strong, that I haven’t been able to let it go mentally since I saw it. Damn thing moved in and is renting space in my brain. I watched it ONCE and I’ll remember scenes from it in unexpected moments.

    1. That Cinderella series was surprisingly addictive. I’m almost finished it and have found it so fun. I think it’s the lead actress for me. She was so appealing that I went and looked her up and she’s been in some highly regarded films including Parasite.

      1. Yeah, I looked her up too and saw the same! Bak So-Dam seems to be one of those people who has chemistry with EVERYone.

        And Jung Il-Woo reminds me of Hiroyuki Sanada, so that helped. 😉

        1. Please tell me more! I was going to try to find moon Embracing the Sun because of Jung Il-Woo.

          What has Hiroyuki Sanada been in that’s good?

        2. In the US Sanada-san is known for The Last Samurai and Rush Hour 3. He’s been in quite a few action films. I’m trying to get his Japanese stuff but I don’t want to go through the download sites. I want it through a proper vendor. We just got back-paid our salary increase here and I’m debating making a friend who lives in Japan just buy me DVDs and post them.

          1. Buyer beware. I just think that he gives off the same look and vibe. In the series tho’ so many side characters show up and disappear, and plot lines opened to set up a story but they’re just there to make something happen.

    2. Maybe try Forthright? Her series starts with Tsumiko and the Captive Fox, followed by Kimiko and that accidental proposal. These are set in an alternate magical Japan, heavy on myth and tradition, but in a modern setting. I really love these books, good people taking care of each other. Just some of them have tails and such…

        1. It’s the only Japanese culture story I can think of at the moment. Aside from Anne Stuart’s ice series, one or two of those is in Japan.

      1. I can second that recomnendation.
        Forthright’s Amaranthine series is nice, contemporary fantasy (not urban fantasy or what is generally meant by paranormal fantasy – not the hot werewolf or vampire romance type, though there are shapeshifters), with not too stressful adventures and lots of friendships, and (often but not always) mild romance.
        There is an ongoing series of novels (the titles with ….miko and the ….) that are set in the same world but each has a new protagonist, so can be read standalone; interspersed with short stories – most of those have been collected in one volume for those who prefer paper books.

        She also writes as C.J.Milbrandt (Galleries of Stone series); similarly nice fantasy stories but with less romance, aimed (I think) at a slightly younger audience. Not too demanding, smallish scope stories, nice when you’re looking for something relatively low-stress.

  17. I am half way through Feint of Art, which was recommended here last week. I am really enjoying it. It even lives up to its very clever title! Great mystery about art fraud with an engaging heroine and a fun cast of characters, and some really lovely descriptions of food, art, and San Francisco.

  18. I reread Pratchett’s “Thud!” followed by “Making Money”. You all know they’re great.
    Vimes’s madness-reading of Where’s My Cow at the end of “Thud!” always makes me all teary-eyed, there’s so much emotion and love and devotion and power right there. That’s real daddiness. Hits me right in the heart.

    Then exactly all books I could think of felt intimidating and scary, so I’m now reading Astrid Lindgren books – first one of the Emil ones, now Pippi Longstocking. In Swedish, with Astrid herself reading. Still works for me after all these years. Astrid, you will always be one of my heroes. <3

    Oh, I also started rereading The Fairytale Detectives, first in the The Sisters Grimm-series by Michael Buckley. I came across them some years ago, I think around the time I started joining in on the Good Book Thursdays, and I really enjoyed the series. So far the reread feels good, too.

  19. It was a good week for reading. I started with Cinder by Marissa Meyer. I think I read that it was a modern (sometime after World War IV) retelling if Cinderella. Yes, there’s a Prancesome Hince (Spoonerizing, sorry) but instead of a glass slipper, Cinder has a bionic foot – she’s a cyborg, after all. No other spoilers, but I saw the ending coming from the moment Marissa placed that gun on the mantle. It was okay, but I won’t be reading the sequels or recommending it.

    Next was The Sicilian Coil, Goodlett and Huff. This is a third book in the “Alexander Inheritance” series. That series shares an origin story with the “Ring of Fire” alternate history series. The same mechanism by which a West Virginia town was sent into the year 1631, causes a cruise liner from some years in the future to be sent to the time of the Diadochi, shortly after Alexander the Great’s death but before the Macedonian Empire fell to squabbling among his generals. The ship, Queen of the Sea, and its crew and passengers cause much history to change. Rome may not rise… as Rome. Carthage may not fall. The Greeks have adopted a constitution. Hijinks ensue. (I liked it.)

    On the list are A Matter of Security and its sequel, Missions of Security by Bjorn Hasseler. It’s in the Ring of Fire universe. The last survivors of a levy from a small village are captured by Americans at the battle of the Alta Veste. (Wallenstein lost the battle and was shot by a sniper, he needs his jaw reconstructed, not germane to these stories.) Anyway, they pass a winter in Grantville, then journey home, where the local adel (ritter, noble, whatever) wants them to pay two years of back taxes, so they gather family and return to Grantville, where they start a security company. The leader, Neustatter, and his secretary, Astrid, are not romantically involved, though there are assumptions made by many outsiders, and even her brother wonders. 4.5 stars.

    Also, Mrs. Flannery’s Flowers, by Bethanne Kim. Mrs. Flannery was a throwaway character in the novel 1632 by Eric Flint (the book that started the Ring of Fire series.) Her only mention was to say that this crazy old lady refused to leave her home when Wallenstein sent 2,000 Croat Cavalry to ravage Grantville and got sabered while berating them. In a novella in the first Ring of Fire anthology, Mrs. Flannery was slightly – very slightly – expanded to become the last straw for Father Larry, who asked Monsignor Mazarini (later to take Richeleu’s place as premier of France, that Mazarini) to take a whole bunch of modern Catholic Historical Documents to the Pope. The novella was Between the Armies, one of my favorites. Well, Bethanne Kim took on Mrs. Flannery and made her real, gave her background and history and a legacy, and managed to make me cry for her.

    1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Offord and Boatright is still in progress. I set it aside to finish some of the books above, and now I’m at Chapter 5. It needs fewer interruptions and I may start over – but probably not.

    I finished Feint of Art by Lind. It was, as mentioned by others, quite good.

    The TBR list includes The White Magic Five and Dime: A Tarot Mystery (Tarot Mysteries Book 1), Awake & Dreaming (The L.A. Stories), and Civilizations: A Novel which is open on the Ai1 confuser.

    1. I’m still waiting for my reserve on Civilizations to come through.
      The Bjorn Hasseler ones sounded interesting, so I made the happy discovery that, although my library does not have them, they do have some Grantville Gazettes in which he has stories. The last time I did a search on Ring of Fire they had no Gazettes. (My library’s Ring of Fire holding are haphazard at best.) And they have The Alexander Inheritance, going on my reserve list now!

    2. Thanks for another great recommendation (I think you recommended Larry Correia also). Thoroughly enjoying the first Ring of Fire book.

  20. I read quite an eclectic selection in the past week.

    Gerald Morris’s Parsifal’s Page was a pleasant diversion, a retelling of the Percival’s legend as part of the Arthurian canon. The book (and the entire series Morris has written) targets middle-grade readers, but to my surprise, I enjoyed it. Mildly.

    A re-read of The Reluctant Widow by Heyer was as delightful as always.

    I also tried Catherynne Valente. I know many adore her writing and I wanted to try, but she didn’t work for me.

    A.J. Lancaster’s The King of Faerie was the conclusion of the Stariel series. And a disappointment. It was book #4, and I didn’t like it nearly as much as I liked the first 3 novels. Before, I was so excited to have found this author. Now, I’ll withhold my judgement and try her next book. She promises a 2022 release. Maybe the quality will rise again, to the level it was in the first 3 books of the series.

  21. I started to read (listen to) The Once and Future Witches by Alix Harrow, and I could tell it was really well written, and I think there are probably readers here who would love it — the language is excellent — but it was just too lit-fic for me. An actual prologue, plus three lengthy character sketches that are also essentially prologues, no story yet, and I was done.

    But I really think it’s just me, and I’d encourage anyone who does like lit-fic with some history and magic (witches) thrown in to check it out. I can tell it’s a good book, but it just doesn’t work for me (emphasis on the “for me”).

    I’m wondering if anyone here has read the brand new Toby Daye book (by Seanan McGuire)? I was underwhelmed by the previous book (felt padded with explanations of prior adventures instead of moving forward with the new story), and from the reviews, this one seems to have the same issues, and I’m reluctant to spend fifteen bucks to find out.

    1. I had the same experience Gin had with Once and Future Witches. I found it really hard to follow, and somehow never found a story, so I dnfed it. 🙂

      Instead, I’m working on another Mary Balogh series, the Survivor’s Club, since Jane stirred me into trying it when she said she liked other Balogh series better than the Westcott family saga. Really like the way she shows the inner thoughts of both protagonists, especially about how they perceive the other and how their connection grows. The link between all of them is injury during the Peninsular wars, and all the seven club members are working through serious versions of PTSD and/or physical injuries. All of them spent three years convalescing together at an estate in Cornwall, whose owner has PTSD of his own, only somewhat related. I found that a more convincing series connector than the idea that every member of a wealthy upper-class clan is or becomes an enlightened being and finds happiness through marriage. That I sometimes found hard to buy.

      Whatever the reasons, the important thing is that I feel happier whenever I’m immersed in this series. So thanks, Jane!

      1. Me three. I disliked the characters so much in Once and Future Witches that I didn’t care whether I found the plot or not. I skipped to the end to be sure it didn’t change tone in midstream, and gave up.

      2. Well, good – though in fact my favourite Balogh series are the Slightly and Simply ones, along with First Comes Love . . . So hopefully you’ve got even more to look forward to.

    2. I’m not familiar with the term lit-fic. Literally fiction, I am assuming. Does this mean high brow poignant novels like the Goldfinch? Have you noticed that they always have poignant somewhere on the back cover? I hate poignant.

      1. Literary fiction. Yes, the angsty stories that English literature classes like to dissect. I usually spot them with the subtitle of “A Novel.” Pretty much any book that has to tell readers that it’s a novel isn’t gonna be my preferred reading.

        I know there are fans of lit-fic. It just doesn’t work for me. I read for plot, and am pleased when there are also pretty words. Lit-fic readers seem to be the other way around, reading for individual phrases/sentences/ideas/images/emotions (all good things) and are pleased when there’s also plot. It strikes me that both types of readers also read for character (since character is integral to both plot and images/emotions).

        1. Gin, your description of “lit-fic” and its fans makes me chuckle. I’m generally on the “lit-fic” side of the road, but I often cross for fun stuff.

          Many stories occupy both sides of the road, depending on the reader.

        2. I like pretty words. I’m reading M.G. Harmon’s Wearing the Cape 1.5 – well, George calls it Bite Me: Big Easy Nights, but it’s about one of Hope Corrigan’s (Astra’s), BFFs. Artemis, Scourge of Bad People, secretly Jackie Siegler, and a Chicago Sentinel. Except in New Orleans, she’s Jacqueline Bouchard, granddaughter of NoLa’s Voodoo Queen, and a publicly known vampire.

          Jackie’s about to hide in a sanctified mausoleum, because no other vampire can approach her on hallowed ground. Jackie is not afraid of holy water, crucifixes, not being invited, and so on. Anyway, it is “a whitewashed and well-kept mausoleum belonging to The Most Sacred Order of Funny-Hatted Drinking Buddies.” My step-dad was one of those guys!

  22. I just finished Alison Bechdel’s new graphic novel, THE SECRET OF SUPERHUMAN STRENGTH. Complex feelings — I love her work, and I loved reading this, but at the end I’m left with something similar to how I felt at the end of ARE YOU MY MOTHER? — I think she’s trying to create a balanced artistic whole out of things she doesn’t know how to balance yet, because they’re still working themselves out in her life. (It’s another memoir book). It’s about her relationship to physical exercise over time, and about a set of writers going back through Kerouac as far as Wordsworth & Coleridge. Gorgeous art throughout.

    I read THE UNDATEABLE and I… really wanted to love it. Sorry — I know the author has a friend on here. I *really* wanted to love it, it has all the right moving parts, it’s nearly the book I want it to be, and… that’s the problem. Because it’s so close to being my catnip, I kept pulling back from the dialogue and being like, No, this isn’t quite there, this isn’t quite right.

    Still reading Jane Smiley’s Dickens bio, very slowly — I tend to be very slow with nonfiction — & still loving it. She’s so smart.

    And I feel weird about this, but I read a Warren Ellis comic series start to finish, THE WILD STORM. it’s a reworking/reboot of earlier comics I’d read but never loved, and it has that “all the world-building has been done, I’m just going to focus on making it really tight and efficient as a story” quality you can get in a good reboot. (Reboots generally are one of the things that have killed modern big company superhero comics for me; but I can like them sometimes). So, super-fun, and then I googled him to find out if there were more stories coming in this world, and, um. That was a mistake.

    I never read Heyer when I was younger, and the last few years I’ve been doing this thing where I read one of her books every year at Christmas. This week my partner was like, okay enough of this annual drip-feed, I want new Heyer. So Venetia is now on our shared Kindle, and I just started reading it. This is a very happy thing.

    1. I will look for the Alison Bechdel even if it does have the same problem as Are You My Mother? Even when she doesn’t get it quite right, she’s so enjoyable. I love that she apologized in Mother for not seeing that the unfinished nature of what she was writing about would cause problems.

      1. P.S. : there are five (now six) active requests for Superhuman Strength at my library. 🙂

        1. It’s worth waiting for. I should have made it clearer that I definitely like it more than AYMY — which I admire hugely and like overall, but love only in parts. But any Bechdel is good Bechdel. (Fun Home and Dykes To Watch Out For are still my runaway favourites of hers. Though I have to be careful rereading Dykes. It’s so more-ish and so funny that I don’t notice until too late how depressing it is, read in a rush — I’ve tipped myself into a major “life is empty and pointless” hole twice, reading the whole strip start to finish in a few days. It’s safer as a sipping beverage).

  23. I read a not-great romance that had two basset hound as the supporting players. The bassets were fun.

    1. Is this the romance between a librarian trying to up her skills in writing sex scenes and her colleague, the history professor?

      1. Nope. This is the one with a PR person and a neurology professor.

        I guess basset are popular. Of course that is how I read my first Jennifer Crusie novel, it had a basset on the cover.

        1. That would make a good posting topic here. “How did you discover Jennifer Crusie?” Jenny would probably hate the thought, though 🙁 .

          1. In the UK … Mills & Boon has a Temptation Series (American) Manhunting by Jenny was in all the Newsagents/bookshops that carried M&B.

          2. Oh, I’d love to know how people found me. I’m assuming they just fell over a book somewhere, but I think the strongest way is to have somebody you know and trust recommend a book. (Hence Good Book Thursdays.).

          3. That’s how I started, with ‘Manhunting’, but I didn’t quite know how to take it; nearly didn’t keep it. She grew on me with subsequent Temptation titles; enough that I ordered ‘Tell Me Lies’ from Amazon in the US (I think; I ordered a number of longer books by favourite authors that hadn’t been published in the UK. They were still cheaper – via seamail – that buying them from the handful of London bookshops that imported US titles.)

  24. I’m reading Skirting Disaster, the second of Kay Keppler’s new series, and it is good entertainment for a stressful time. Light and charming with smart women.

    I read The Undateable last week and enjoyed it. Maybe not one for my reread pile, but enjoyable and low stress which is important right now.

  25. Haven’t read it yet but just discovered a book called Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of this World for Crucifixion and Empire. I am spiritual rather than religious, still I take an interest in world religions. The premise of this book is that for its first 1000 years, Christianity portrayed Jesus as a teacher, healer and counselor and the world we live in as bountiful and beautiful. Then it switched to an emphasis on crucifixion, punishment, and death. Sounds quite fascinating.

    1. It’s a well-known pivot – and, as you say, fascinating. In Anglo-Saxon England, for example, Christ is shown triumphant: a warrior who vanquished Death. It’s later, in medieval times, when the focus switches to his suffering and mankind’s guilt.

  26. I love the media recs mixed in with books because often in the last 2 years I just haven’t been able to focus on a book, even when I really wanted to read. (also HOW has it been 2 years of this argh)

    I’m currently trying to read multiple books and not getting far so I think I’ll join my teen who is sucked into Stealing from Wizards, RA Consell. I also have The Changeover by Margaret Mah.

    1. Livia Day (Tansy Rayner Roberts) released a new mystery set in Hobart, Tasmania. Not related to her previous Chef related mysteries set in the same location. This one is about a former wedding planner whose husband embezzled all their money, and framed her for it, and skipped to Bali, trying to rebuild her life. But wedding dress related crime seems to keep following her about. It was very good.

      Matthew Hanover’s third book, only very tangentially related to the first two, came out. Not Awkward. Which made me realize I had never finished his second book. So I forced myself to finish that, Not Dressed, which I still didn’t like much. So I went back and reread his first book Not Famous, which was actually as good as I remembered it. Not Awkward was better than his second book but not as good as his first.

    2. Thank you! I just took the quiz and scored 100%, but some were slightly wild guesses. I’m going to pass on the link to the quiz tomorrow to my DAR meeting, because it’s Constitution Day and the start of Constitution Week. They’ll love it.

  27. Started the reading week with M/F historical ‘The Rakess’ by Scarlett Peckham; a good book that I liked, probably won’t re-read, as social messaging overtook the storytelling. Also Mary Wollstonecraft was an important person but arguably not the best model for a likable romance heroine. Followed up with a re-read of ‘River of Fire’ by Mary Jo Putney, a post-Waterloo Regency featuring artists.

    M/F contemporary ‘Grease Monkey Jive’ by Ainslie Paton, which should’ve been a slam dunk because it’s about a ballroom dancer and it’s set in Australia. As someone who’s seen ‘Strictly Ballroom’ at least 20 times … this book was too long. Because we kept having the same conflict over & over. All in the MCs’ minds, meaning when they finally gave up their assumptions & preconceptions & biases and used their words, they worked it out.

    lit-fic ‘Dear Committee Members’ by Julie Schumacher, which is really a novella (took me 2 hrs to read) but they’re calling it a novel. Whatever, it was entertaining and also sad. Epistolary, all communications written by a 50ish professor of English at a college that doesn’t value the liberal arts.

    M/M historical frolic ‘Kidnapped by the Pirate’ by Keira Andrews; the classic-bodice-ripper cover alone was worth the price.

    Another binge of shorts from K.L. Noone; many of these stories and novellas share a theme; the protagonists are very familiar from one setting to the next; but they’re all so damn sweet that I happily continue reading and keep going back for more. ‘A Prophecy for Two’ was the longest of this batch (short novel length) and is set in a quasi-historical fantasy world in which a crown prince and his fairy companion must go on a Quest that goes Very Bad, but (thanks to being a romance) everything works out in the end.

    Finished the reading week with ‘Raven in the Foregate’ by Ellis Peters (thumbs up!) and ‘As You Wish’ by Cary Elwes, a charming memoir about the making of ‘The Princess Bride.’

    1. I loved the professor’s letters in “Dear Committee Members”, especially his recommendation letters for co-workers and students. I found his efforts to be honest while trying not to completely sink their chances very funny.

  28. When I posted earlier, I employed a Spoonerism, a type of word play, from Archie Cambell’s Rindercella Story. The story of Rindercella, her mugly other and two sad bisters. You know the mory whose storal is, “If you want to meet a prancesome hince, slop your dripper.” Google will show the video(s) of this story. But that led me to The Three Little Pigs – Shakespearian Style. That’s a comedy sketch by John Branyan, and if you’ve never seen or heard it, it is a riot!

    begin with, “I looked it up, Shakespeare had a working vocabulary of 54,000 words – Fifty four THOUSAND words – in just working vocabulary. We today, in the United States, have a working vocabulary of THREE…thousand words. That’s why when we read Shakespeare we’re like ‘What light through yonder window….’ *sniff* does this come on a dvd?”

    He then tells the story, “In time passed, though not long ago, there lived three pigs, in stature, little in number, three, who being of an age both entitled and inspired to seek their fortune did set about to do thusly.” (Oncea ponna time, there was three little pigs?) Here is one of the several links: The Three Little Pigs – Shakespearian Style

    1. Thanks for the link, Gary; I hadn’t seen this before but enjoyed the 3 little pigs Shakespeare-style!

  29. A little slower reading week than some, but still some good books:

    Smoke Bitten #12 in the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. The way I tore through #6-#12 tells you how much I enjoyed these. The only down side is that I went looking for #13 and found it won’t be available until next March. 🙁

    Valour and Vanity by Mary Robinette Kowal. This is #4 in her Glamourist series set mostly in Regency-era England with magic. I don’t recommend this one unless you’ve read #1-#3. The two main characters have now been married for 3 years and end up in Venice/Murano with no money. Fortunately, they can use their talents and make friends easily to get back on their feet. Add a plot to obtain justice against those who put them in their predicament, and it’s a pretty good story.

    Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik. Super-high status, extremely rich girl runs away from annoying father, who puts a bounty on her head. Then she is captured and stuck in a cell with a known murderer; they both escape but are almost captured by the guy Dad wanted her to marry. She and the murderer set off to evade recapture, mostly in space ships with a few stints of hiding-on-other-planets thrown in. No big surprise: the erst-while fiance is evil and the murderer isn’t. It took me a while to get into this one, but once I did I found it enjoyable enough to request the next book in the series from the library.

    The Talisman Ring, by Georgette Heyer, was a very satisfactory read-me-to-sleep book. After the previous book, False Colours, kept me reading far later than I’d hoped, I made a point of picking a Heyer that wasn’t one of my favorites. Though I would classify Talisman Ring as “lesser-Heyer” (sorry, all of you for whom this is a favorite!) it still has memorable characters, a far-fetched but fun plot, and not one but two romances. And while nobody actually rides “ventre à terre” to save anyone else, both Sarah and Eustacie end up with the right guy for them.

    1. I think that Patricia Briggs really hit her stride with the later Mercy books. I enjoy and revisit them a lot. And Alpha and Omega, though the latest one was unexpectedly dark. I probably won’t reread it until there is another to hopefully lighten it up.

      But there are a series of short stories she has been working on lately about Asil which are delightful. He gets signed up for an online dating service and the dates keep going horribly wrong.

      1. Patricia Briggs husband died suddenly not so long ago and I do think since then her books have gone darker.
        He used to write the blog entries on her official blog and he seemed to be a very nice guy.
        Very sad.

        1. The first one is in Shifting Shadows, a collection of short stories in Mercy’s world that Patricia Briggs had published elsewhere previously but also some originals. It’s a great collection. I especially like the one about Ben.
          People will correct me but there are two others published in anthologies.

          1. I just looked it up and in fact all 3 are in anthologies:
            Here are the details from her website:

            A Fantastic Holiday Season [2014 | ISBN: 9781614752028]: This is a Christmas anthology, edited by Kevin J. Anderson and Keith J. Olexa. I wrote a little story called Unappreciated Gifts. Some of the pack members think Asil should get out more, so they’ve challenged him to accept a series of blind dates . . .

            Fantastic Hope [2020 | ISBN: 9780593099209]: A sci-fi and fantasy anthology edited by Laurell K. Hamilton and William McCaskey. Patty’s contribution is called Asil and the Not-Date.

            Heroic Hearts [2022 | ISBN: 9780593099193]: An Urban fantasy anthology celebrating heroes who do the right thing when they are called upon. Patty’s story is called Dating Terrors. Asil finds an online date that might just turn into something more – if she can escape the dark magic binding her.

          2. Oooh! I just bought Shifting Shadows, so now I have these stories to look forward to! Thanks, everyone for the recommendations.

  30. I’m reading a fantasy (2nd in the “Archives of the Invisible Sword” series) by Maria V. Snyder called The City of Zirdai. Her world-building and characters are second to none.

    (For those who have heard of the Prism awards, from the RWA Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal chapter, all the books in her Sentinels series won her catagory, and she also won “Best of the Best” with the current, 3rd one.) Many of her books are YA, but very relatable even if you’re not particularly a YA reader. The first book of hers I ever read was an adult fantasy called Poison Study. The whole series is absolutely stellar. If you like fantasy, I highly recommend. Also, we shared a room at a con once and she’s a sweetie.

    1. I think I’ve read all of Maria V. Snyder. Poison Study and all the Glass-related books were good. But my favorite is the Sentinels series — loved these soooo much! I just recently read Eyes of Tamburah, and have The City of Zirdai on the Kindle to read soon. Looking forward to it!

  31. Non-fiction this week has been LOST HEIRS OF THE MEDIEVAL CROWN by J. F. Andrews, a discussion of what happened when various heirs did not, for one reason or another, inherit. Not a case of the crown descending on the heir like an inescapable doom, to paraphrase Geoffrey Trease. It starts with William the Conqueror’s ELDEST son and goes on from there.

    Also fun is THE LORD PETER WIMSEY COOKBOOK, with recipes for most of the dishes and meals mentioned in the Sayers books. Much traditional fine cooking, though I think my favorite is a non-standard recipe “suggested by Miss Sayer’s husband, Atherton Fleming, in his cookbook. Major Fleming recommends putting two bloaters in a soup plate, pouring on whisky to cover, setting the dish afire, and letting it flame until done.” The cookbook authors, Elizabeth Bond Ryan and William J. Eakins, think that while the Flemings might have prepared bloaters this way, it seems highly unlikely that Helen, Duchess of Denver, would have tolerated it at her breakfast table . . . .

    Fun rereads: Margaret Frazer’s Frevisse mysteries. The series begins with THE NOVICE’S TALE and ends with THE APOSTATE’S TALE. Frevisse is the niece of Thomas Chaucer’s wife and consequently, though she’s a nun in a small priory, is in contact with a good many of the great names of the fifteenth century.

  32. It occurs to me that I’m liking every comment that mentions Georgette Heyer. So if you want to game the system, READ HEYER. Also, because she is very good.

  33. I read The Midnight Library by Matt Haig and despite it being almost completely predictable and a bit emotionally manipulative and a lot trite and preachy, I somehow I still enjoyed it and found it worthwhile reading. Really! A bit like James Blunt? I really like his music (except you’re beautiful), and for ages wished I didn’t. (I no longer feel quite like this. Also he has the best Twitter, v funny).

    A question!
    I read the start of The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin and I think I’m going to have to keep going, but books that start by telling you the world is definitely ending make me feel anxious the whole way through…who has read it? Is it very stressy?!

    1. From James Blunt’s Twitter:

      Also, reading something so so wrong (like appallingly wrong, I can’t bring myself to share the link) and so so funny: someone on Instagram is dealing with lockdown stress by writing erotic fan fiction about the 1pm press briefing (daily govt covid update). Yes, erotic fan fiction featuring Jacinda and MPs and senior officials. So, yeah, terrible she strangely soothing. In other news, remember a few weeks ago the NZ arghers were cracking up about an MP accidentally saying ‘spread your legs’ instead of ‘stretch your legs’? Well, said MP turned up at the next press conference and took a sip of water from a ‘spread your legs’ meme mug. He almost kept a straight face. Sometimes I love this country.

    2. I’ve read the series and…it is very stressy. Totally wonderful writing. Probably on elf the best sei fi series ever. Buuuuut – not a lot of good things happen.

    3. The Fifth Season wasn’t my favorite Jemisin. So, yeah, stressy. And at some point, it really felt like the trauma was overdone. I forget what put me over the top, but after the second or third (or fifth?) unendurably bad thing happened, it felt like the next one was just gratuitous. Sorta’ like what I think Jenny once said about the rule of three in fiction (or maybe it was someone else) with respect to incidents or even lists — that one event is kind of random, two is coincidence, three is a pattern, and more than that is just redundant. Jemisin’s work is always compelling, but I did sort of roll my eyes at what should have been a final tragic moment, because it was just too much.

  34. Happy birthday Jenny! Wishing you many happy, healthy, fun-filled (with you a given), interesting in the best possible way (ditto) days of discovery and craft and whatever brings you joy.

    I don’t speak Spanish but let me try out this mishmash: su joyeux est notre joyeux. 🙂

  35. Word. Happy Birthday, Jenny. Thank you for the laughs. May you have many more… birthdays and laughs!

  36. Finished when Stars Collide. And I am rereading the previous one First Star I see tonight,
    My sister sentme A Hearth In Candlewood by Delia Parr and wants me to read it asap.

    1. Thanks, Deb.
      We were having a good time talking about books, and it didn’t seem helpful to say, “Hey, I got another year older” since I do that every year. I mean, what do you say after you say, “It’s my birthday”? Yay, me?

  37. I just finished “Sourdough, or Lois and Her Adventures in the Underground Market” by Robin Sloan. I loved it but find it hard to describe. It’s not a romance, it’s too quiet to be adventure, there is no mystery… but a very enjoyable read. Searching out his first book now: “Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore.”

  38. The weirdest thing I have read recently is the wiki page on Robert Durst including the strangest motive for a marriage of convenience i have ever heard of .

      1. Happy birthday.

        All these birthday felicitations have me rethinking my personal birthday philosophy, which is that there are only x birthdays worth celebrating: the birthday that marks the eligibility to attend school (5 or 6?); the birthday that marks the eligibility to wed (16?); the birthday that marks the eligibility to grajiate and get a dilemma (18?) and be regarded as a dult; the birthday that marks the eligibility to legally drink in the U.S. (21); and the birthday that marks the eligibility to retire (65-ish).

        I used to feel the rest were just another day. But now, I am 70.57 years old, and every birthday is a victory over diabetes and heart disease, not to mention Covid, Influenza, Shingles, Pneumonia – I get inoculated a lot.

        So hearing that you had a happy one brings smiles to my face. 🙂

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