This is a Good Book Thursday, September 9, 2021

This week I read Buzzfeed lists and air fryer recipes and developed a lust for coconut shrimp. Also a lot of hockey romances for some reason; it must have been Guys-On-Skates week. I also started a book and wasn’t sure I liked it, so I quit halfway through and turned to the end and realized I’d read it before and hadn’t liked it. My mind, it’s like a steel sieve. And I read about what it means when your cat bites you but doesn’t bite down, how to make canvas shoes white again, and Modigliani’s miserable life, briefy (NYT). Yeah, it was that kind of week. That last one did make me want to watch the Doctor Who episode about Van Gogh again, but I just can’t face the kind of wracking sobs that ep always reduces me to; good sobs, it’s a fabulous story with a fabulous ending, but no ugly crying this week.

What did you read?

142 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 9, 2021

  1. I’ve been reading a lot of fanfiction this week, some of it truly excellent, and I’ve been rewatching Julie and the Phantoms again because I need good ghost fluff, great songs, and nice balance of humour, chemistry and cheese, and JATP has become one of my feel-good repeat watches this year.

    I read Hunting by Andrea Host, and was hooked on the adventure until about 3/4 of the way in, when the romance kicked in and lost me. It felt very abrupt and underdeveloped.

    I’m also re-reading Duplicate Death by Heyer, and enjoying Timothy (but not the homophobia).

    1. Ditto on the final paragraph, Emily. I love the setting of post war London, as austerity is blithely circumvented by the vulgar rich social climber. And meeting up with Timothy again. And Jim.

      1. Ditto here, too. I always enjoy the description of the Haddington interior decorating scheme, too, and note the comparison with Timothy’s temple chambers with the worn Persian rug and, of course, the resident cat.

  2. I’m comparison rereading. A couple of weeks ago I paired Network Effect with Agnes and the Hitman for revelations about Murderbot and Shane.

    This week I paired Guards! Guards! with Wild Ride for kinds of sassy banter.

  3. I have read too many badly written romances lately. When did romance novels become a genre of too many sex scenes and not enough plot and character development? Damn that shades of grey series, another horribly written book with too many sex scenes. I like my romances to build the attraction/desire between characters and serve up the sex as a culmination of that build up, not just throw the sex in there like it’s a every few pages hello, how are you greeting and hug. Sigh.

    But now I’m cleansing my palette with Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club. Fun, witty and charming.

    1. My random ‘think’ this week is when did characters go from climaxing to having multitude orgasms? Characters have been orgasming all over the place to the tune of not much story. When did the story fall to second place? Could it have to do with word counting? I don’t know but it seems that when there is a lull and a word goal has to be reached the first thought is let’s have sex. Which is so different from making love.

    2. I’m in agreement with Susan, in that I like to know what it is about the character and values and sense of humor of each protagonist that causes them to like one another. For me, that’s the point of reading a story rather than getting told over and over in so many words that each one is very beautiful/attractive, the other one notices and is drawn to it, and then SEX SEX SEX. There are movies for that. With scenery, too.

      Last week I read Garth Nix’ YA title Left-Handed Booksellers of London. I was seduced by the title and the notion that it was about booksellers, bookstores, and literate folks in a semi-realistic, semi-magical fantasy setting, but I found myself more and more frustrated. Not about sex scenes, which there were none of, but about what I experienced as the author’s attention to plot rather than personalities. It was like reading a description of Gaugin’s or Van Gogh’s painting by a color-blind person — something that feels central to me was simply overlooked as incidental.

      I wish there were a way to advertise that — Greek letter codes under the titles, maybe — a Psi for books with psychological insight, a Theta for books with plenty of threats & violence. In this book, the protagonist guy (gorgeous, of course) and girl (special, with secret potential) get together in the very end, but by the time I got there, who cared?

      1. “I like to know what it is about the character and values and sense of humor of each protagonist that causes them to like one another”–this. I want to watch them finding that out.

        Which leads to my week’s reading: gulping down all the Jasmine Guillory I somehow missed since The Wedding Date. She’s really good at that. I love watching her characters trying to figure out what they’re feeling.

        1. P.S. “somehow missed.” I actually kept The Wedding Date in my Overdrive wish list so I would remember to check for new titles, and somehow it has been two years since I read it. How did that not work?

        2. And if you like Jasmine Guillory, check out Talia Hibbert. Her books have imperfect people falling imperfectly in love. Gives a gal hope and they’re darn good reads. 😊

      2. I really like Talia Hibbert AND I liked the Left-Handed Booksellers of London.

        So maybe I like plot, and imperfect (smart/competent) characters, who fall in love because they click with the other person and I quite like it when sex is part of that.

        Huh, when I read that, I wonder why I’ve got so fussy.

        Hmmm. Now I’m wondering, what makes a ‘not for me’ book for me? I will ponder.

        1. I’m sorry my review of Left-handed Booksellers came off so negative. There were many things I liked about it, particularly at the beginning. Very nice opening surprise connection between the male and female protagonists, in a tense but short confrontation with opponents. Liked the setup of the booksellers old and new bookshops, and their resident police intermediary and linked-in London cab brigade plus bespoke B&B. But for me, the curiosity each protagonist had about the other was kind of “where does that person fit into the current mystery details?” rather than “what is this person like and what do they care about?”

          I read and mostly enjoyed Garth Nix’ Keys to the Kingdom series. Loved the modern boy dealing with his Victorian cockney street sparrow girl Friday, and some of the world building. But again, as I went along I just found it less personal and more …. well, “plotty” (if that’s a word). New dangers, new obstacles, different main opponent for each book, temporary calm between crises, etc. But it didn’t feel to me as if character development and attention to relationships were very much on the author’s mind. And that’s what I connect to most in books. So, that’s my version of “own.” 🙂

          1. No need to apologise! We’re not all meant to love the same books all the time. I like hearing about why books didn’t work perfectly for people too.

  4. I’m still listening to the Cazalet Chronicles. I’m reading a book called Dear Mrs Bird by A J Pearse that is set during the Second World War. I think because of the pandemic books set during the war have become a weird comfort to me.

    I read the Last Library by Freya Sampson. It’s been a while since I couldn’t put a book down. Chalcot Library is under threat of closure by the council. The local community that use the library form a protest group and want the librarian June to be its secretary. But June is shy, and has been told privately that if she helps the group she will be fired. Alex, a solicitor from London who is home briefly to help his father recover from an operation, tells June she could still help the group without anybody knowing. It’s a book about friendship and kindness. There is a love story. A cat called Alan Bennett. And a character called Mrs Bransworth who returns all library books with the words: well that was shit. I loved the community that Sampson built and was sad to leave them at the end of the book

  5. Last week I finished Winter Orbit. I enjoyed it, but there were parts where I wanted to yell at both characters “TALK TO EACH OTHER!!” Man, those assumptions were crippling!

    This week, working on the second in the Chronicles of St. Marys – a Symphony of Echos. It was all over the place for me, particularly the “foreshadowing” in the form of the narrator, who is telling the story chronologically, putting in little bits like “in two days I would . . . ” I didn’t need that. But that particular thing has lessened as the book has gone on. I also had a couple of “talk to each other” moments, but they’ve gotten over that too, so it’s all good.

    1. Nancy, St Mary’s Chronicles is one of my favorites. I listened to them and Zara Ramm is a wonderful narrator. There were times that I’d like to shake the heroine (much like Claire in Outlander) but overall I love the series.

  6. I too read a hockey romance. Athletes are not my shctick usually, but someone here recommended Role Model by Rachel Reid and it was really sweet. Slow paced in a good way, no Big Misunderstanding, just decent people trying to figure out an insane world. It was just what I needed, as I dnfed a number of other books and comfort read the rest.

    1. Oooh, now Heated Rivalry! Which I love so much and again, can’t explain why. It’s very sweet, but I really only noticed the sweetness on the second read. (tuna melts!)

  7. I read Fool Me Once, the second in the Tarot Mysteries by Steve Hockensmith. Fun read. It has enjoyable characters and a surprise to the mystery.

  8. I read Last Guard by Nalini Singh. I was expecting it to be rather ho-hum after reading other’s comments, but actually I think I like it better than the last few books in the series. The best since Silver Silence. I was intrigued by the character Sophia who pops up in the book, because I don’t remember her story well, and have now gone back to re-read her book, Bonds of Justice. Also, perusing lots of knitting books.

  9. Thank you Cassandra for recommending Hunting by Andrea K Höst.

    I really enjoyed it. There were an abundance of strange names, titles and rituals to get used to at first but the world was fascinating and I liked the protagonists.

    Then I reread the Book of firsts (still Andrea K Höst as we all know by now but under her other pseudonym) and then I read the six Touchstone books which I gulped down.

    I really really liked all of them including the very funnily titled « the Gratuitious epilogue » which is basically a novel length epilogue for the preceding trilogy. Loved also book 5 « In Arcadia » as it is one of my favourite types of romance: mature love and the short story to completes the set for now.

    Having ran out of Touchstone books, I have just started « And all the stars ».

    I expect by next week, I will have read the rest of Höst/Anders backlist!

    1. I am almost through my third reread of the Book of Firsts and I just realized that Mika is the Cheshire cat! I know this sounds obvious, but I was thinking of her as the fairy godmother and then the author’s blog said she was something of a game avatar, but then she really feels chaotic neutral and I was trying to fit her in a puck/coyote style role. But duh. She is the Cheshire cat. She is even named it. A fairly benevolent agent of chaos who Alice follows for odd, magical adventures that appears out of the blue when needed.

      Sorry, I am excited;)

    2. You’re welcome, Ln. I just finished the Touchstone trilogy this afternoon. I wouldn’t have thought I’d read a diary of a 17 year old with so much interest at my age, but there it was and I kept flicking pages. I said the hell with it and went and bought the whole backlist.

      I think I’ll read the Rose book next.

      And wait for Seconds, of course.

  10. I finished reading The Black Moth for the Georgette Heyer readalong, read half of a small town romance that kept making me mad so I stopped and am now in Ann Aguirre’s very fun Witch Please. And somewhere in the last week or so I read T Kingfisher’s The Seventh Bride, which is way beyond Bluebeard and fabulous.

    1. My friend and I had an interesting discussion about Bluebeard, since giving someone a key to a door they’re not allowed to open is so obviously a trap. Since that door would get opened at the first opportunity. What if his wife had no sense of curiosity (rare) and the door didn’t get opened … I thought he’d probably kill her anyway out of boredom

  11. I also read a lot of hockey romance in the last week, finishing up most of Samantha Wayland’s M/M hockey player series, which I thoroughly enjoyed (plus she got the French Canadian names right which often have a lot of hyphens so snaps for that) although after reading two of the M/M/F books I decided to skip her other ones. As I’ve always suspected in real life threesomes, without empirical evidence, there are just too many people.

    My favourite hockey player series is still Eden Finley and Saxon James series – because of the snark which I loved.

    I confess I started but DNF Undateable. The writing was a little too flat for me, especially coming so soon after Hench and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ When Stars Collide, both of which were super fun, sparkling, witty and clever. And then I read Strange Love, recommended here, and it was the same level of great! I didn’t find the sex squicky at all, only interesting. And it was also super fun, with real suspense and romance.

    And finally, I noticed that Alessandra Hazard and Eliot Grayson edit each other’s books so since I love Alessandra so much ….I ended up reading all seven of Eliot’s paranormal M/M books (werewolves, vampires, warlocks, etc), and for sure you can feel both authors’ fingerprints on the other’s books. Moving onto her Dragon book next.

  12. I’ve been watching more than reading. I finally watched Loki, kept waiting for it to get good. And I watched Dr Death, I think I was waiting for the main character to do something redeeming.

    For reading – the new Nalini Singh psy-chsngling book, they always make me happy ( is anyone else hoping she’ll tell the story of council members Anthony and Nakita?) And the new Shelly Laurenstone honey badger book which was also a good time

    1. My reading picks have been kind of meh this summer and favorite TV shows are on hiatus. On Amazon by chance I found an Australian series titled Sea Patrol. Five seasons with an episode a night it should get me through September. It is about a Navy crew and ship that patrols the coast and all the little dramas on board and when they come to port. And most important going after the scum of the sea.

    2. We will certainly watch season 2 of Loki (for all kinds of reasons, including (for me) Tom Hiddleston) but I was grievously disappointed with its raison d’etre. I DGAF about the multiverse. To me it’s nothing but a way to write multiple simultaneous storylines about characters in whom the audience has already invested, without ultimately advancing the story of any one character, because storylines keep terminating and plunking the character back where ze started. For this, I was strongly annoyed by the will-they, won’t-they romance tease between Loki and Sylvie; given his conflicted grief about his family, I thought a sibling storyline would have been much stronger. Also more logically consistent and less icky given that Sylvie is implied to be a feminine form of Loki.

      And if they were going to dump Loki in a different timeline at the end wherein nobody remembers what happened before except him, I think they should have had him connect with Mobius instead. Of course I can imagine the screams of outrage if Tom kissed Owen, but would that not have had more resonance? He’s back in the archive, sees Mobius, starts to ask what happened, and Mobius is like who are you?

      1. Your cogent analysis of the Loki show sum up my feelings about it. Love the option of him connecting with Mobius instead. *:). However, I did so LOVE the alligator Loki.

  13. And PS – I read FIVE books in a row where the hero had green eyes! Between that and smirking, I’m becoming jaded. (Pun intended.)

    1. I really think that it is a language thing… I am still halfheartedly trying to research it. At some point, birth certificates or driver’s licenses or something only had blue and brown and then got updated to include green and Hazel, etc. And it became popular.

      Either that or it’s reactionary to too many years of blue eyed main characters and now that feels cliche for writers…

      1. I do wonder if it’s more about the uniqueness factor. Because there are also a LOT of red haired hero/ines in romance lit – way more than are statistically prevalent.

        1. Agreed. But I really think that something had to happen for such a widespread cultural preference… A public figure or character in a book or movie?Otherwise why not grey eyes? They are pretty rare. What triggered such a positive response to green?

          1. Well, the first character I noticed to have green eyes and dark hair was Harry Potter, more than 20 years ago by now.
            He is/was a very popular character for sure even if Daniel Radcliff didn’t have to wear the green contact lenses.

      2. Drivers’ licenses, probably, because by the time you’re eligible to apply for one, your eye color has certainly stabilized.

  14. I’m on the third book A Rogue’s Company which I started last week only to discover A Royal Affair was the second book in the Right Sort of Man series by Allison Montclair. Mysteries more than a romance although there is some romance. Set just after WWII when London was rebuilding. Enjoying the world Allison has created. A bit like Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers and Margery Allingham.

    I am reading, yeah. Not watching a lot. Watched the first season of Marvel’s Luke Cage. Started Downtown Abbey from the start which I only watched the last two-ish seasons. I will watch the English debate tonight, Canada is in the middle of an election as the prime minister wants a majority and who cares if there is a fourth wave of a pandemic. Have been watching a lot of YouTube even some French vlogs. Practicing hearing the language and understanding it again.

  15. I got Bombshell, the New Sarah MacLean book, from the library and have been really enjoying it. I enjoyed seeing how these characters that I enjoyed from previous books overcame their obstacles and revealed the reasons for their rather singular behavior. It also helped that they were both outsiders who managed to establish some autonomy outside a very rigid social structure.
    Since I had a bad few days with my knee rehab, I mostly reread some of my favorites in the Ice series by Krissie (Anne Stuart). Seeing the MCs escape danger and get a HEA was a great distraction from how little I was able to move. Who cares if the only things in stock are extremely overpriced when disaster is averted and romance triumphs?

  16. Sigh. All the recommendations I looked up are not owned by my library. I should not complain about this because I’m having trouble finding time to read everything I _have_ found. But still.

    1. That’s why I was so happy to get Bombshell so quickly. The majority of the titles I see recommended here are not in the system.

    2. See if there is a system to request purchases. I know that when I worked at a library they openly welcomed specific requests.

        1. Trust me, your purchaser is dying for directions. Very few people put in formal requests and the library desperately needs books to go out. Most public libraries are funded based on circulation data. It’s the only way to keep them alive.

          And if I am wrong, the worst they can say is no. I request purchases all the time on the overdrive app. That way I don’t have to ask a human. I am pretty antisocial anymore.

          1. My library has a webform for acquisition requests. I use it mostly for pre-leases. What they don’t have is an easy way to discover that they have or have not ordered something. (I do like Overdrive’s putting a hold on the book for you if they do purchase it.)

  17. I’ve read some books. A few. Completed my reread of the “Wearing the Cape” series, nothing left but snippets from the next book, which still isn’t here yet. I’ve finished When Stars Collide and First Star I See Tonight.

    Currently open on my various devices are Cinder by Marissa Meyer (interesting, not sure yet), 1637: Dr. Gribbleflotz and the Soul of Stoner by Offord and Boatright (Rick Boatright recently died. Cancer.) Also, Feint of Art</i. by Lind.

    There's another book in the Heirs of Alexander series, The Sicilian Coil by Huff and Goodlett. Without Flint.

    That’s all.

    1. Damn. Wish I could do italics for titles. I’ve tried, but don’t want to glom up the blog by doing test posts, because I’ve got a feeling it would take a lot of them. You’re good, mister!

          1. If you forget the shift key, as I did in my reading post above (second paragraph, third line), you end up typing a . instead of a >, and you see the </i. and the rest of the post is italicized.

  18. I’m currently reading Helen Hoang’s The Heart Principal. Thanks to Jane B. So far so good. I just finished Undateable, thanks to Jenny. I did enjoy the characters, even though it was a bit slow. It suited my busy week though, as it was easy to put it down and read a bit later. It could have seemed slow, because I was watching the Lupine series on Netflix. Love that show.

  19. I finished When Stars Collide by SEP and Devil in Disguise by LK I enjoyed them a lot, the Murder Most Fowl by Donna Andrews very good like meeting old friends. I then read The Paris Apartment by Kelly Bowen really really good, grandmother WW2, granddaughter present day. I won’t say any more, no spoilers.

  20. Only the other day I read a novella via Kindle Unlimited. I’m rather glad I can chalk off “Any closer” as KU experiment. The blurb seemed intriguing. But… I found it to be a very strange story. Hated it even. Very, very strange execution of difficult topic: friend/employee/potential love interest of narrator had a traumatic experience not long ago. Narrator learns about it. A few pages in and one short talk later the traumatized one gets over everything (and gets rather randy for the narrator). Because the narrator is okay with him having experienced a horrible situation. And is okay with his former job (porn star).

    This would be too much to handle in 66 pages imho, but the author stuffs a whole lot of other topics into those pages (sister getting attacked by a date?, backstory of interracial marriage of narrator’s parents, his ex wanting a threesome before getting married to his creepy fiancé) – none of which made sense to include in a novella where the main focus should be one but not all of the themes.

    Very, very strange that this novella is obviously on the market for some time and treasured: found many good reviews on Goodreads. Would the (probably mainly female) reviewers be okay with a female protagonist’s story being treated like that – that it’s easy to get over rape because you’re not guilty of having done something wrong? Very strange indeed.

    Apart from that unpleasant experience, I’ve read read two other stories recommended here, one of which I liked and one I didn’t. The former had nice and sympathetic characters whom I’d probably like in real life, too.
    Yet, both stories had too much sex for my liking.

    I agree with the other Arghers regarding an overabundance of sex scenes in too many books of late. I usually prefer the less is more approach – in the Mrs McKinnons we got a glimpse of an ankle and a bit of naked shoulder of the hero and how the two MCs felt about it – very innocent, very respectful, great effect, told a lot about the MCs.
    Also I feel disconnected easily when everyone is having mind-blowing sex all the time, multi-orgasms of earth-shattering proportions… yuk. One could get the impression that one is deficient for not having the stamina of a turbo-sex-engine…

    So I obviously do not like overly passionate stories and am by far too sensible. I prefer connection over passion. And friendship (give me friendship over passion any time). Since I really really liked the Two Mrs McKinnons (read it last year) by Jayne Davis and found her other books at least okay if not nice, I’m now reading The Fourth Marchioness. Luckily no multi-orgasm to be dreaded there…

    Still about hot and steamy: what is it with bruised or swollen lips/other body parts simply as a result of kissing? I get it that those is short hand for passion. But, again sensible me wonders: I’ve never noticed that my lips get swollen by being kissed passionately. Why should they? I don’t get bitten when being kissed.
    The only time my lip(s) got swollen was when a wasp didn’t want me to eat the same same fish burger…
    My upper lip got really swollen quite badly. No passionate feelings between me and wasp. And all I wished for afterwards was to be allowed to hide until the temporary disfiguration deflated (no such luck when you visit Vienna and stay with family who wants to show you all the sights the big city). Teenage me was thrilled, not.

    1. Devil’s advocate here, I do believe in smut for smut’s sake. I liked it more when I was younger, but it’s still a somewhat odd place of comfort and escape for me.

      Maybe because it is so simple and straightforward? Not deep by any means. Or maybe because I had a very repressed upbringing and such books are tied into a sense of rebellion and self discovery for me.

      Of course I also like to read romance from different decades depending on mood. It can be really distinct, the handling of romance in the 90s or 2000s. Too far back and it’s too rapey for me, but I guess I see the short, smutty smut smut as something very specific to this era and belonging in it’s own category?

    2. I find that my comfort level with the level of steam corresponds to the author’s comfort level. I’ve read fairly mild romances that squeaked me out because the author was having such a difficult time putting sex on the page. And then I’ve read fairly explicit romances that read just fine because the author was so comfortable putting it out there. Elle Kennedy falls into that category.

      It’s always the writing for me.

  21. Some re-reads and some new for me books last week. Among the new was Anne Gracie’s latest novel THE SCOUNDREL’S DAUGHTER. It was a delightful regency, escapism at its best. I loved it, but then, I like most of this author’s books. I buy them as soon as they are published.
    The other new book for me was the old anthology WINTER MOON (2005). It consisted of three fantasy novellas with a whiff of romance: Mercedes Lackey’s Moontide, Tanith Lee’s The Heart of the Moon, and C.E. Murphy’s Banshee Cries. The first two were OK. I didn’t finish the last one.

  22. I would like to ask you, argh people, for suggestions. Now that I have a new TV and several streaming services, I want to watch some nice stuff. I just finished the first season of Brigerton and loved it. I might embark on the re-watch of the first 3 Star Trek series. Maybe Downton Abbey. What else? Could you recommend some other light stories (TV series or movies) that you enjoyed in the past few years. Humor is a bonus. Nothing dark or gritty. As for the genres – I’m pretty open: speculative fiction, paranormal, adventure, romance, drama, mystery. British is good. Japanese anime is good too. No thrillers or horror though. Thank you.

    1. I enjoyed Gilmore Girls (new to me) when I first got Netflix. I think I’ve mentioned more recent favourites: Sex Education (UK but the school is a sort of US hybrid), Call My Agent (French), Rita and Borgen (both Danish), Never Have I Ever (US). Also Gavin & Stacey and Last Tango in Halifax (UK), if available. All comedy drama series.

      1. Gav-ah-laaa

        I love Gavin & Stacey. If any romance-reading Arghers haven’t watched it, recommend x 1000.

    2. Brokenwood Mysteries, set in New Zealand. Especially the first episode of the last series, with the dog-headed bank robbers.

    3. Much better than Bridgerton, Pride and prejudice (the BBC series with Colin Firth)
      Firefly (Cowboys in Space, a lot of humour, a little bit of horror, not really shown though)
      Friday Nights lights (I know nothing about American football but enjoyed this one very much)
      Ted Lasso (very crude humour at times but the eponymous hero is such a marshmallow and the female characters are strong women + team Roy Kent forever).

      1. Lupin, Derry Girls, Dash&Lily (best watched around xmas), The Crown (when you’re in the mood for something less uplifting), the Queen’s Gambit.
        Netflix has a lot of interesting documentaries – e.g. Indian Matchmaking, Lennox Hill, Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, my teacher the octopus.
        Fascinating but also kind of bleak are Shtisel and Unorthodox.

        1. The Queen’s Gambit is fantastic and My Octopus Teacher blew my mind. So beautiful and illuminating.

    4. My favourite series last year was actually For All Mankind – it’s an alternate history of the American space program, starting with the premise that the Russians were the first to land on the moon. Not only is the history of the space program impacted, but so is broader history. Done with a mixture of real and fictional characters – fascinating to see some of the different paths given to real characters. Strong writing, strong acting. And one of the best parts of the series is that women in the space program end up playing a way more prominent role than they did in reality. I love feminist revisionism.

    5. You might like Derry Girls? Set in Ireland and very funny. Midsomer Murders is funny in its way because the little village would have been depopulated by the 10th episode, but if you like brit mystery you might like that. For feel-good anime, we all loved Laid Back Camp (students building outdoors skills) Haikyuu is a great volleyball anime and if you want gay romance anime, Yuri On Ice.

      1. I live in the area where Midsomer Murder is filmed. My hardware store is in one episode, my butcher shop in another, even my office was used as a location shot. We watch it and make a game out of trying to identify every house, shop, and village green. It’s fun. But my girls are always teasing me “Don’t join any clubs, Mom! That’s the kiss of death in Midsomer. This week it’s the orchid growers society who bite the dust, next week it’s the archeology club!”

    6. Ted Lasso, ignore the fact that it’s about football/soccer, the characters are amazing and it is likely to make you feel better about humans.

    7. I would strongly suggest to anyone Apple plus TV and Ted Lasso. Ted Lasso is a sharply funny intelligent comedy which is redefined comedy as caring comedy. All I know is when you watch an episode everybody I’ve talked to says the same thing- you feel good afterwards.
      I was wondering if in season two they could keep up the good work and so far they have. They keep developing the characters and they bought it a couple of new ones. They also have other series that are good- Schmigadoon is the new Lorne Michael’ musical series 6 parts. mythic Quest , the morning show and several documentaries including the new Richard Attenborough.

        1. It’s not on Netflix though, is it? We get in on Amazon prime.
          But then, so many good shows are not included in the German version of Netflix.

    8. Schitt’s Creek is wonderful and lighthearted after you get through the first few dreary episodes. Bonus, it has a fabulous ending.

      We also enjoyed The Witcher, though it took a while to get into and the timeline is a little hard to follow.

      Kim’s Convenience is heartwarming and funny except for the last season. They got different writers or something and it went completely off the rails. You can skip that. Just poorly done.

    9. MISS FISHER’S MURDER MYSTERIES, seasons one through three, FOLLOWED — NOT preceded — by the movie, THE CRYPT OF TEARS. The film version is based on, but doesn’t slavishly follow, the book series. Normally this causes me to stomp off in a huff, but actually the film series is fun, and I can see that many of the changes were really necessary when shifting from page to screen.

    10. I second Brokenwood and The Good Place and would add Mr & Mrs Murder (which is extremely quirky but I’ve always wished they made more) and the first season of My Life is Murder. I also really love Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist where the heroine hears people’s inner feelings as popular music & dance numbers. Mo, a gender fluid character, is especially great with a tremendous voice. Very well done imo with some good character growth, although centering it on the final illness of Zoey’s father may be a trigger for some. I think you can watch the 1st season on Peacock or Amazon and the second on Hulu.

    11. Old TV: Leverage and Person of Interest (there’s a new Leverage, but I haven’t watched it yet). Brokenwood Mysteries are always fun, charming cast.

  23. I finished Helen Hoang’s The Heart Principle. Didn’t enjoy it as much as her previous two novels. Felt she went off the rails and lost sight of the romance. From her note at the end, sounds like it became too autobiographical. So I reread the previous two, which I enjoyed.

    Also enjoyed Sarah Title’s The Undateable, tho’ agree it was a little slow. Tried several samples but felt they weren’t for me, and have finally bought and am reading Steadfast by Sarina Bowen.

    Also, of course, lots about gardening with roses.

  24. I read The Perfect Escape by Suzanne Park, which mostly is a sweet story between two teenagers who work at a zombie escape room and team up to do a survivalist competition. I note that her dad is a tech genius who techstalks her every move, which is creepy. The romance is sweet, but during the competition it just gets CRAZY in a Jennifer Lynn Barnes sort of way (she writes a lot of teenagers getting involved in very crazy adult situations books) and I was NOT expecting conspiracies and forced blackmail and kidnapping and shit to break out!

    So overall, nice read but ah….really unexpected tonal change.

  25. I’ve been rereading. First the first half of “Rage of a Demon King” (the Swedish translation is split in two) by Raymond E. Feist, book 3 in the Serpentwar Saga. Sometimes I need to treat my brain to some Swedish, so I won’t speak jibberish only if my parents call.

    Then I moved on to Pratchett again and read “Going Postal” and am now busying myself with “Thud!”. Bliss.

  26. I read A Royal Affair, the second book in Allison Montclair’s series about a marriage bureau in post WWII London. It’s a beautiful series, she writes with such a light touch. Bits of snappy dialogue that made me laugh out loud, but not a constant stream of it, just what happens between good friends. And there are deeper issues in there, but again she doesn’t whack you over the head with them.

  27. I read Undateable. Thanks for the recommend
    Last night I started and stars collide and realized I should’ve gone back and friends or star I see tonight because I forgot it was on the counter. But I’m enjoying it very much.o

  28. I read The Undateable and liked it too. The heroine reminded me a little of the character Gwyneth Paltrow plays in the movie , Possession, based on the brilliant novel by A.S. Byatt.
    What does it mean if your cat bites you but does not bite down?

    1. She likes you and wants your attention for something. I treat it as if she were grasping my hand with hers. It’s disconcerting until you realize there’s no pain, she’s just latching on.

      If she bites down, stop what you’re doing, it’s bad.

      1. Plus they regularly remove films and series from their list when the licence expires. So don’t put off watching something you’d dearly want to watch.

        1. Be sure to check your library for any series or DVD, they may just have it. I’ve been waiting these past couple of months for the release of Season six of Line of Duty.

  29. Six full-length novels, a whole slew of K.L. Noone shorts, and a memoir this week.

    M/M romance: ‘These Violent Delights’ by Jess Whitecroft, which is a sexy all-the-bad-ideas contemporary about a professor/student relationship. Lots of ballet & literature, a few editing fails that made me wince, and So Much Drama. Very soapy plot. But – to be honest – on top of liking both MCs quite a lot, this gave me some warm nostalgia about my own bad-idea professor/student fling back in the day. Am certain to re-read at some point.

    Also read M/M historical ‘False Colors’ by Alex Beecroft, and I reallyreallywanted to love it, but it was rough going. Every single awful thing that could happen, did happen. The MCs are at odds, or separated, for 85% of the book. The concluding love scene – the only one they get, long-awaited surrender to each other – was too little, too late for me. Especially since they’re both still in the godawful 1760s English Navy, which doesn’t bode well for HEA. I very much appreciate that the book was written – it’s a slice of history I haven’t seen in fiction before – but not a fun reading experience. 🙁

    The other four novels were mysteries. The book of the week was the memoir, ‘Double Life’ by Alan Shayne (actor, casting agent, producer, and for 10 yrs president of Warner Bros. Television) and Norman Sunshine (artist/illustrator). This book has everything: awkward first meeting, terrible first date, slow & cautious courtship, eventual cohabitation, making homes together, decades of personal & professional evolution with occasional strife dealt with lovingly. They met in the late 1950s and married in 2004. As far as I can tell, still together.

  30. I’ve been reading classic mysteries. First Michael Gilbert and now Marjorie Allingham. I am also trying to read the occasional nonfiction. During the whole pandemic I couldn’t focus enough to read nonfiction. Next up is a book on graffiti in medieval churches.

    1. 1) What’s the title of the graffiti book, please, and

      2) What are the best examples in it?

      Many thanks,

      1. I will report on the best examples when I’m further along. It’s Medieval Graffiti the lost Voices of England’s Churches by Matthew Champion

  31. I’ve been enjoying leafing through THE VINTAGE CHURCH COOKBOOK, which doesn’t have much plot, but does have lots of classic recipes that are now out of style, like seven layer salad, and had a beef “stew” recipe with a sweet and sour sauce instead of a standard gravy, which I plan to try, and a prune cake made with baby food . . . I think the tomato soup cake may be in there somewhere, too.

    Nonfiction: SCOTTISH QUEENS, 1034–1714, by Rosalind K. Marshall — from Lady Macbeth to Queen Anne, the last Stuart. I’m working my way through this one and have been enjoying the accounts of the earlier queens of Scotland, now up to Margaret of Denmark, the queen Lady Cunningham served in the Pat McIntosh books.

    Amber Share’s SUBPAR PARKS is the book collection of her posters, plus detailed comments, inspired by one-star reviews of various national parks. She’s a military brat whose family was transferred around the country and wherever they went, hiking, climbing, fishing, and camping and national, regional, and state parks were part of their lives. So . . . she started with the iconic Delicate Arch in Arches National Park in Utah, which one unhappy reviewer described as looking “nothing like the license plate.”

    I read, and finished, STARTING OVER AT ACORN COTTAGE, by Kate Forster, which I’d describe as “some bad things happened to some nice people in the past and better things are happening to them now,” but I definitely think the recommendation “if you liked this other screwball romantic comedy book you’ll like it” didn’t work for me, probably because ACORN COTTAGE wasn’t at all screwball and didn’t have a particularly tight plot, either. I’m sure this is just because I don’t really understand the Amazon recommendation algorithms, and if I did, I’d know why my Kindle told me that if I liked Mary Berry [the food writer, chef, and baker] that they thought I should read . . . and what follows is five, count ’em, five, separate editions of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

    1. Queen Anne is stretching it, surely. Did she ever set foot in Scotland? Her reign was 100 years after the Stuarts left for England. (Obviously, they still ruled Scotland, but in absentia.)

    2. My Kindle is now telling me that “more by Mary Berry” is the five editions of MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.

      If anyone knows Dame Mary, do let her know that she’s being credited as a second Shakespeare. She and her husband will probably get a good laugh out of it.

  32. I finally finished my Vorkosigan reread.

    After that I discovered that Sherwood Smith had written a new YA series during the pandemic and just released the first book, Phoenix Feather: Fledglings. It focuses on three siblings who are the children of a noble lady who had been chosen by a future emperor as his bride but ran off with the captain of his guard and disappeared. It mostly focuses on Mouse, the youngest sibling, who goes to watch the audition of her oldest brother for Officer Candidate School, but he does so well he gets chosen to attend Command School instead, mostly populated by nobles, and to fit in he needs a servant, so Mouse goes with him as his servant. And though it’s not at all unusual for younger brothers to go as servants there aren’t any girls allowed at all, but Mouse has always been a tomboy and manages to hide it. It looks like it’s going to be a trilogy, at least to start.

    Shelley Laurentston has also written a new Honey Badger romance. This one mostly focuses on Mads, a member of Max’s basketball team, who’s half Honey Badger and half Hyena, and one of The Black Malones, Siberian tigers, who are searching for whoever murdered their father. The Black Malones enlist the MacKilligan sisters in the search, but a whole lot of people apparently don’t want them to find out the truth.

    1. I’d definitely like to read some Sherwood Smith but not sure where to start. This one looks good but I’d prefer to wait to read it until the rest of the series is released. Any recs? I know a lot if people like Sherwood Smith here.

      1. Crown Duel is a great place to start with Sherwood Smith – it’s actually two novellas with one story arc.

        1. Crown Duel is a good choice. On a lighter note I would recommend A Posse of Princesses. The Trouble with Kings is very good. Sasharia en Garde (originally published as two short novels, Once a Prince, Twice a Princess). All standalone YA fantasy.

          If you’re looking for non-fantasy Rondo Allegro and Danse de la Folie, are historical romance, and very good.

          Really, everything Sherwood Smith writes is excellent. But those are the ones I would recommend starting with.

  33. A few books read this week, but most of them were… competent. I read them. I enjoyed them enough. I don’t want to rave about how good they were. I did reread the Kinsmen novellas from Ilona Andrews and was struck by how much they’d mined the same sort of territory in their Hidden Legacy series. Mostly, I am just waiting for Novik’s The Last Graduate to come out with increasing impatience.

  34. Jury duty this week just ended yesterday, so I’m a day late for Good Book Thursday. The good news is that between reading on BART (our local, just-okay public transport) and reading in the evenings after my husband declared that I didn’t have to do jury duty and cook/clean up, I did get through a few books.

    More Mercy Thompson, by Patricia Briggs: Fire Touched #9, Silence Fallen #10, and Storm Cursed #11. Obviously, I’m liking them, because I keep picking up the next in the series right away. But now I can’t remember distinct plots of any of them. I can remember what’s been happening generally, just can’t remember what happened in which book. Someday I’ll do rereads at a slower pace.

    Luncheon of the Boating Party, by Susan Vreeland. This is a semi-fictional story of the creation of the famous painting of the same name, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. The painting has 14 people in it, all enjoying eating and drinking on a terrace looking out over the Seine River. Some are all dressed up while others are in their undershirts, which I found incongruous recently when I did a jigsaw puzzle of the painting. My dad was able to identify most everyone in the jigsaw for me, because his book club had read this book. Vreeland did tons of research to make it as factual as she could; because she didn’t want to stray much from fact, a few of the models whose stories were not known become point-of-view characters to give the book more life. The stories of each are interesting, but Renoir is of course the main character. A strong secondary character is Paris and its environs. The morals and mores of 1880 Paris were somewhat surprising to me — I guess a certain level of prudish American values are still baked in!

    River of Fire, by Mary Jo Putney. This was a reread because I wanted another take on artists/painters. Set mostly in London after Waterloo, Kenneth comes home from war to discover his newly-inherited estate is heavily mortgaged and there’s no money. He is sort-of blackmailed into investigating whether famous artist Sir Anthony Seaton murdered his wife. Seaton’s daughter Rebecca is also an artist, and she ends up giving her father’s new secretary, Kenneth, lessons in oil-painting. Rebecca and Kenneth fall for each other, but he feels very guilty at being there under false pretenses while she is still dealing with her mother’s death. The story is good, the characters are all interesting, and while people from earlier books in the series appear, it’s only when it makes sense for them to show up. My favorite thing about this book is that while Kenneth can have the overly-reasonable traits that make Putney’s recent books less interesting to me, most everyone else (and even Kenneth sometimes) act like real people with artistic temperaments and selfishness, offset by basic goodness, charm, and talent.

  35. I listened to the audiobook of “Behind the Frame” by Tracy gardener. It’s the second in a cozy mystery series. The first is “Out of the Picture.” They are really quite cute and there’s some light romance happening.

    I am also reading the book “Unleashing the Power of Rubber Bands: Lessons in Nonlinear Leadership“ by Nancy Ortberg. I’m enjoying it a lot because many of the examples she uses I remember as I was part of the community she refers to. However, I’m also sometimes saddened by what she writes given the leadership, or really the lack of it, at the institution I currently work at.

  36. “Hello. My name is Gary, and I am a Horrible Father.”

    Hello, Gary.

    “Arriving home from work after midnight, Thursday night, I checked my personal email to find one from my dotter, in whose garage I live. It read, ‘Hey dad. I went to Er today after the pain got to bad. Still here and might be kept overnight. I am passing 2 stones and it looks like one is stuck. I’m probably gonna need surgery. Anyway just keeping you informed.’ In the immediate vicinity there are over 50 hospitals, and lots of those clinics like ‘Patient First.’ So I fired back, ‘What ER where? What are visiting hours??’

    “The next day I read, ‘I was at tricities er. They moved me to Henrico for surgery’ followed by ‘Retreat doctors hospital’. Again, I send, ‘Okay. I don’t think I can get there from here, but I’ll try in the morning. Will you still be there? Should I offer to bring children? Did you have surgery? (Sounds like you did.)

    ‘How are you feeling, now? Did you know that if you Google Retreat Doctor’s Hospital you get 51 hits in Virginia?

    ‘For some reason, I suspect that hospital food is not Keto, especially for kidney stone patients. GET WELL QUICKLY!’

    ‘I am a terrible father. I should be there with you, holding your hand. How long are they keeping you? Where did you leave your car? How are you getting home? I’m sort of assuming you’re keeping your boyfriend better informed than me, and he’ll get you home, but I will come for you if I can ever figure out the right hospital. I said to myself, “Self, if you figure out where to visit, don’t take flowers. Take a plant of some kind.” Then I sort of thought I’d take a Lowes gift card you could use in Lawn and Garbage.

    ‘Get well. Be well. Be.’

    “Note that by this point I have still neither located the correct hospital nor visited.”

    Boo. Hiss.

    “Her final email reads, ‘The surgery sent well but i honestly hate how uncomfortable it is. They put a stent in. I don’t when im being discharged. Could be today or tomorrow. Adam has offered to drive me home so don’t worry. Hospitals suck.’ Adam is The Boyfriend.

    “And now it’s Saturday and I’m getting ready for work. She still isn’t home, but I’m reassured she has that under control.

    “I am a Horrible Father.”

        1. Possibly an independent daughter that is bad at providing practical info…

          I assume that if she needed a ride or needed you to bring the kids or take care of the kids you would absolutely have done it. So you are not a bad father.

        2. Nope, you are not a horrible father. You have to work. But if you feel bad, then pamper your daughter when she comes home. Glad the operation went well for her; hopefully she will be feeling better soon.

          1. The independent/grown-up dotter is home, in much pain because of the stent, and requesting no pampering. At this moment, she is disassembling a macramé project that she keeps holding up a tape measure against, fingers busily un-macramé-ing. Apparently, in addition to the two stones, she had at least two infections and sepsis, and is pumped full of antibiotics. And she pees blood. So I added to the groceries (lots of 2% milk, I used to like that – four grandchildren, y’know) and stuff.

    1. You’re not a horrible father. The last time I was in the hospital I told Mollie not to visit because I was just lying there and didn’t need anything and I’d be out before she arranged babysitting. She wasn’t happy, but I didn’t want to waste her time. Sometimes relatives are just efficient like that.

  37. I had a bad cough all week (COVID test negative, thank goodness). The coughing was not fun, but staying home sick gave me plenty of time for reading. My favorite book of the week was A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas, a re-telling of Sherlock Holmes (set in Victorian times w/Sherlock as a woman). I really enjoyed A Lady’s Guide to Mischief and Mayhem by Manda Collins, which I would describe as a historical mystery with a very strong romantic subplot. I read my first Murderbot mystery, Fugitive Telemetry (Martha Wells); it was refreshing and I will definitely check out another from this series. Finally, I caught up on two paranormal romance series, reading the very serious Last Guard by Nalini Singh and the very silly Breaking Badger by Shelley Laurenston. I’m probably due for some non-fiction now!

  38. ‘I’m listening to Connie Willis “Bellwether.” It’s one of her crankier books so far.
    I found “A Memory Called Empire” on an NPR list of the 50 Favorite Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books of the last Decade, so I downloaded it from Hoopla. We will see.

  39. My library just notified me that Michael Gilbert’s ‘The Long Journey Home’ is ready for pick up. 😂

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