116 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, October 28, 2021

  1. I’m reading the latest Time Police book and loving it. I reread the first two too. Might move onto the whole St Mary’s series next, they’re about the level of escapism I feel like now.

    1. I’m in the middle of the audio version of the new Time Police. I love listening to Zara Ramm’s voice. I’m about to relisten to the St. Mary’s Chronicles. I’m reading The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet. So far I’m enjoying it.

    2. I finished One Damned Thing After Another and ordered the next four. I saw the recommendation for Time Police here. I went on Taylor’s blog, which made me think I would like her work. I liked first one and and planning to work through the catalogue.

  2. I’m almost at the end of Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson and weirdly enjoying an increasingly frustrated demon trying to convince the woman it’s possessing to take better care of her body by eating more and resting .

  3. I just finished Gin Jones’ 3rd Garlic Farm mystery and loved it. Will have to go check and see if there is a 4th.

    Bought Bob Mayer’s Shane and the Hitwoman, but haven’t had a chance to start it yet. Still finishing a book that has to go back to the library.

    Sit! Stay! Speak! is by Annie England Noblin, whose most recent book I loved so much I went out and got all her earlier ones. But none of them have been as good as that first one, at least so far, and reading them back to back I’m seeing that they are all very much the same. (And not like that newer one.) I will finish this one, but the last one on the stack is going back unread.

        1. That’s very kind of you, but unfortunately there’s no “yet” to add. The books didn’t sell well (my storytelling not up to snuff? pandemic being hard on new series? cozy mystery market being over-saturated? something else?), so Kensington rejected the option book proposal, and I’m not prepared to self-pub the option book. (Okay, you can add a “yet” to the self-pubbing, but the manuscript is currently only a proposal, just a few rough chapters, not a whole draft, so self-pub is unlikely.)

  4. I just discovered Elizabeth Berg and The Story of Arthur Truluv, which was charming and lovely.

    I’ve also been reading Kate Atkinson’s Jackson Brodie series which is excellent.

  5. Now, I am a complete Jane Austen fan like many here I suspect. She was the first author I read in English for pleasure. I started reading her at the age of 17 starting with Sense and Sensibility. It was optional reading for an English language test I was taking and I fell in love with her writing even though I didn’t understand half the words. I went to WH Smith on the rue de Rivoli and got all her other books and since there aren’t many, I went on to read other 19th Century female writers.

    I then branched out into detective fiction (Dorothy Sayers of course), stumbled upon Georgette Heyer regency novels quite by accident (Arabella had been misshelved) and ended up reading a lot of American SF & Fantasy thanks to Brentano’s, an American bookshop on avenue de l’Opera, sadly gone now.

    Some of those SF authors I had already been reading in French thanks to my dad but switching to English led me to a wealth of female writers who were not translated into French in those days (Zimmer Bradley, Norton, Hambly, McCaffrey, Le Guin, Lackey, McMaster Bujold and many many more…).

    Then somehow I stumbled onto Jenny Crusie and I realised that contemporary romance could be fun and intelligent and witty.

    And here I am now, after lurking about this site for many years, chatting about wonderful books with you all every Thursday.

    All this to say that I reread First and Then by Emma Mills following Jenny’s recommendation last week and enjoyed it even more this time round and that now I need to reread Sense and Sensibility.

      1. I was very motivated to read those books. I wasn’t bad at English for my age but once I started reading all those books, I got much much better!

    1. When I was in Germany I would read Georgette Heyer books in German. I had read them so often that I could tell what was going on. Useful, although not exactly contemporary language.

  6. We Ride Upon Sticks – so quirky and I enjoyed the second person perspective.
    The Personal Librarian – expected more books, but thoroughly enjoyed the story. I want to read nonfiction about Belle.
    The Man Who Died Twice – great second in a series
    Beth and Amy – contemporary Little Women

  7. Forthright had a new book come, but I am saving it for when I need a treat/comfort. And Nalini Singh’s newest archangel book came out, which I am listening to. I am enjoying it, but I am not sure where it’s going. I really wanted the main characters to be love interests, but I am not sure it is going to happen. This disappoints me because I think that she is shying away from having m/m love interests rather than what makes sense for the characters. But I am not giving up hope yet…

    1. I have to apologize to Nalini Singh. She did right by her characters in a very thoughtful way. Should have trusted her more.

  8. I don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it, but I devoured “Get a Life, Chloe Brown” by Talia Hibbert. It was funny, sexy, and extremely sensitive to some serious issues in a way I hadn’t read before.

    I also read the first two books in the Paranormal Hunters series by Mila Nicks. They’re pretty adorable and she’s clearly a fan of Buzzfeed Unsolved. My only problem is they felt like they weren’t quite finished? Or maybe the word is “finessed”? In Jenny Crusie terms, they felt like they were in the “truck draft” stage and they had at least one more editing pass to go through to really shine. That being said – they were delightful and a fun read!

  9. I read Morning Glory Milking Farm, recommended by Lupe on this blog. I loved the premise. I enjoyed all the different species, dragged randomly from mythology, fantasy and Dungeon & Dragons and I loved the minotaur-human romance – a great erotic charge. I would have liked to have seen some form of narrative conflict – there was only the slightest five minute hitch in the relationship.

    And speaking of conflict, I’ve been tearing through VL Locey’s Point Shot Trilogy and subsequent books, all M/M hockey romances. Mostly I’m there for the Victor Kalinski first person narrative – one of the angriest and funniest narrators ever.

    1. Yay! I’m glad you enjoyed Morning Glory. For me, right now, I am all about lack of conflict, so it hit the spot.

      1. That’s very funny – I think it’s great that you know you are all about lack of conflict right now – I hadn’t considered that but I appreciate anyone knowing what they want in a book.

        1. I think that is why I read The Book of Firsts three times. No capacity for dire straights right now. I think that I also enjoy the reversal of my expectations. I didn’t expect a lot from Morning Glory. I mostly wanted to see how the author made that scenario work. And then I liked the writing, but I still expected the typical cheepo self published smutty romance arc. The big misunderstanding, something. And it never happened. That amuses me. Meljean Brook does it sometimes too, but with battles. You think this epic conflict is coming and then the advisory behaves like a reasonable adult and the fight never happens…

  10. Since my brother lives in a town so small that they don’t even have street numbers (800 people), my access to English language reading was limited to what I had dragged with me or some rather dark Scandinavian mysteries, for which I wasn’t in the mood. So I spent a lot of time rereading 2 Talia Hibbert romances, The Princess Trap and Undone by the Ex-Con. They are just the kind of sexy HEAs that I needed to get me through a very stressful week.

    I also bought a picture book in Toulouse, where I found a bookstore with a large English language section. I told myself that I was buying it for Becky & Nick’s brood, but it was just too dear for me to give away. It is Penguin Problems by Jory John with illustrations by Lane Smith. I had seen it before I left the States, but decided I didn’t need to buy myself a copy just yet. So instead I bought it in a foreign country, where it cost twice as much. Don’t you love my budgeting skills?

  11. This week I have been reading essays by David Foster Wallace to send myself to sleep. Very effective.

  12. Currently reading Child Of Silence by Abigail Padgett. Enjoying it immensely. It is a mystery. The main character is a social worker who deals with children in crisis – including child abuse.. but the main focus is her personal daily struggle with manic – depressive issues. that is fascinating and well written. This is something I know nothing about and find the description and struggles interesting. I am ADD so i can somewhat relate to struggling with what feels like out of control states sometimes. Nothing to the extent she deals with . I find it an interesting story and very different from what i usually read. This is first in a series and I have already ordered the next one.

  13. No books but I do want to recommend a dvd series we watched over a three day period. Mare of Easttown with Kate Winslet as Mare a divorced beer drinking, vap smoking police detective trying to solve a murder of a teenage mother where just about everybody is a suspect. Mare lives in a home with her daughter, mother (played so well by Jean Smart) and grandson. Sadly her son has died and DIL is in and out of rehab. Strange but part of the story is that her ex has bought a house directly behind her property. There are characters galore in the series and yes it also includes nasty teenagers, of course it does. Jean Smart does an outstanding job as Mare’s mother even giving us some humor to break up the drama. One scene takes place at a funeral reception another at a doctor’s office. This is season one, hope there is a season two.

    1. I watched the first episode and thought the acting was great, but man was it depressing. I find I can’t do depressing these days. Maybe next year.

  14. I’m in the middle of several books that are quite nice and I will probably finish them, but I reread Witness for the Dead just so I could read something completely entrancing.

    The mention of Talia Hibbert above made me think about trying to finish Get a Life, Chloe Brown. I kept meaning to get back to it, but I never did. I tried another one of hers and didn’t get far. She seems so well liked that I want to read some more and figure out why I Just Don’t Care about her characters.

    1. Relieved to hear I am not the only one! I wanted to care about Chloe Brown so so so much, because the book sounded so promising, and I had been looking forward to it for months after reading an interview with Hibbert about it, but there was something with it that…. Well, I couldn’t connect the way I wanted. I did finish it, though. A couple of months ago, I tried to start the book about Dani Brown, but either it wasn’t the right time or the books don’t work for me, even though I wish they did. Makes me a little sad, but you can’t love everything, I suppose.

    2. I have the same problem. I have tried several of hers because they keep popping up here and keep dnfing them. For me, her main female character keeps doing something that I don’t like, and I guess I have a very low tolerance anymore. In one of the Brown sisters books (can’t remember which one) she poured tea or coffee in her neighbor’s mailbox and ruined letters from her grandchildren. And I was like, nope. That’s mean, not funny. And I couldn’t like her after that.

      1. Coming back to this comment to add that I also felt this way about Second First Impressions by Sally Thorne. I wanted to like it, but I was just not invested in the characters. And the two older ladies at the retirement village – I think they were supposed to be lively and funny, but I thought they were mean. When I was a young person, I worked for a number of years at a senior’s summer camp in the Catskills and I loved every minute of it, so I thought this book would sort of be in my catnip zone, but I just didn’t connect at all. Too bad, because the writing was simply lovely.

      1. I reckon I can stop feeling guilty for not reading the rest of them now. Maybe I will try them at a later point, but at this point in time, they’re not my books.
        Very happy for the rest of you Arghers whom do enjoy them though!

  15. I read Best in Snow by David Rosenfelt, the latest Andy Carpenter mystery. Andy’s dog Tara finds the dead body of the Mayor while out for a walk, and his buddy Vince begs him to defend the fired reporter accused of the murder. It’s pretty good. If you liked all the other Andy Carpenter mysteries you’ll like this one.

    I read Knot of Shadows by Lois McMaster Bujold. Thanks to Gary J (I think) for pointing out this was out. Penric has to solve the mystery of a dead body possessed by a ghost.

    Also The Last Time She Died by Zoe Sharp. A new standalone involving a girl who disappeared when she was fifteen showing up ten years later at her fathers funeral, much to the dismay of his new wife and stepchildren. But is she really the missing daughter? It was rather confusing at first but I quite enjoyed it by the end.

    Also, Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest, who is mostly know for her steampunk and light horror, wrote a humorous slightly paranormal mystery that’s quite enjoyable. Leda Foley thinks of herself as an inconsequential psychic. Meaning she can sometimes predict things and pick up psychic impressions that are completely useless to everyone, like that person over there is about to spill her coffee. But never anything useful, or when she wants to, until one day she rebooks a client from her travel agency’s airplane reservation because of an unexplained feeling and the plane he was supposed to be on crashes on takeoff. He turns out to be a police detective and he talks her into trying to give him hints on where to look on a cold case he is investigating.

    Lee Goldberg has released a third Eve Ronin mystery, Gated Prey. Most of the deputies at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s department still wish she was dead, but when one of them fails to send backup a shootout ensues, and there’s a lot of fallout and few answers. It was pretty good, but I didn’t like it quite as much as the first two, but I really liked them.

    And for those of you who like Sarah Kuhn’s Heroine Complex books there is a new one out, Hollywood Heroine, though I haven’t gotten to it yet.

    1. On the basis of this, went to buy Grave Reservations and discovered the Kindle version costs £11.99!!! That is an awful lot of money for an ebook.

      1. Oh, hell. I hate it when they do that. It’s the publisher, not the author. Some of mine are nosebleed expensive and since they’re all old, it makes absolutely no sense.

        1. Maybe next Time on sale. Things that go bump in the night. Made my Hallowe’en! Been wanting that for, oh, ten years, or so. Thx, Jen! Good fun. And the office chair! Hilarious! Next … ?
          Listening to Bahni Turpin read Zora Neale Hurston’s Dust Tracks on a Road. (Spelling unreliable) I love Hurston’s narrative voice, how she takes a walk, and, incidentally, you can feel both the mosquito tickle and the hand slap and the itch start, while you hear the gator bellow, and the walk continues, uninterrupted.
          Colin Cotterill writes the consequences of my generation’s war, Viet Nam, on his Laotian cast of characters, featuring ancient folk who survived jungle guerrilla warfare under French and American colonialism, to amuse us with the slapstick comedy to be derived from Aral Vorkosigan’s truism, “The first thing a principal does is start a war,” or summat’o’at. A dozen murder mysteries that keep me grinning, pointing at the persistence of human folly. The HEA for 80+ yo Dr. Siri and his noodle making restauranteuse army veterans’ romance keeps on keepin’ on. Esp Slash and Burn, a good starter.

      2. The paperback’s not due out till 2022, and the ebook costs less than the hardback. My library doesn’t have it, *sigh*.

  16. Just finished My Calamity Jane by Hand, Ashton and Meadows. This is a YA fantasy/historical novel with modern sensibilities and a sense of humor. It follows Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok and Annie Oakley and other historical figures as they hunt someone turning people into werewolves. It was a light, fun, and easy read.

  17. For most of the past week, I kept and updated a file of what I had read. That file does me no good if I can’t find it. Oh, well.

    The first things in that file were Gin’s Crazy Cat Lady books, One Cat for the Road and Two Cats are Better than One. Interesting world. The third is pre-ordered.

    I, too, read Bujold’s Knot of Shadows. The possibilities realized in this book were spoken of in Curse of Chalion and maybe others. Talk about Checkov’s Gun… “…must be fired before the series is finished.”

    I reread two of the three books in the Star Wings series by Goodlett and Huff. Arachne’s Web and The Rat Rebellion. I love that series.

    There were other books, in whole or in part, but without my memory file, I can’t remember what they were. Sad, really. I can’t praise Stevermer’s The Glass Magician if I don’t remember… wait…

    1. Some years back, I read and reread a six book series – the “Shifter” series – by Rachel Vincent. I got each new book as it came out, and corresponded with the author a time or two. I even bought two of her other books, My Soul to Lose and My Soul to Take, to be supportive, though I never read those two.

      Until now. Today. No spoilers, just… Kaylee is a teenage Banshee.

      The Shifter series just went atop my TBR list. It’s been too long. Time for some good werepanther fiction.

  18. I read My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton and Jodi Meadows, second book in the all standalone Lady Janies series. Such great reads. Plus, the narrators have been excellent for both this one and the first, My Lady Jane.

    Now slowly and in fits and starts rereading Lords and Ladies by Pratchett for the…havenoideath time while trying to figure out what to read next. Pratchett always works.

  19. Still working my way thru Anne Bishop’s ‘The Others’ series.

    Conversely, I am also reading Amanda Quick’s ‘Burning Cove’ series.

  20. After I lost my credit card on a slippery cliff path, I stuck to rereads (didn’t want to add a different card to my Amazon account on the public hotel network). So I’ve reread two K. J. Charles’ series: Society of Gentlemen, which was excellent as always, and Sins of the City, of which my favourite is the first, although they’re all good. I’m just more of a Regency fan.

    1. I don’t go nuts about Regency. Yes, okay, Heyer is exceptional. Then there was Patricia C. Wrede’s A Matter of Magic: Mairelon and The Magician’s Ward and The Cecelia and Kate Novels: Sorcery & Cecelia, The Grand Tour, and The Mislaid Magician with Caroline Stevermer. And technically, the early Vorkosigan novels were written in a regency, even if it was on Barrayar in a future, not England in the past. I guess I am a regency fan, after all.

      1. I daresay it’s because I grew up on Heyer and the ‘Girl’s Own Paper’, 1879-1901. The GOP was all about being pious and good, and if you were lucky marrying a curate and making pokerwork screens and curing cheese. Then there was the match girls’ strike. Altogether, it was a much more serious world. (Except for the occasional exotic series, like ‘Robina Crusoe and Her Lonely Island Home’.)

      2. Regency is just so Other, I think. The structure of society is different, so the tropes are different. I have to be in the mood for it, and as I get older I definitely get pickier. But it is still a very safe space for me. Perhaps because everyone is so polite? Even when they are trying to kill each other?

        1. I feel strongly that a good Regency is a comedy of manners, not just a setting for some other type of plot.

  21. Diana Biller’s new book, The Brightest Star in Paris, was a delight. I loved Biller’s first book, The Widow of Rose House, and I loved this one too. One of the best novels I’ve read this year. Besides, it happens in Paris. Need I say more?
    Mary Kingswood’s Stranger at the Dower House was a weak, amateurish historical romance. I regret spending the time to read it.
    A.J. Demas’s Sword Dance was a delightful M/M romance, the first of the series. I enjoyed it so much, I bought two other books in the series. The second book, Saffron Alley, was lovely too. I’m starting the third, <Strong Wine.
    Christina Lauren’s Twice in a Blue Moon was a controversial book. I finished it. It is a well-written contemporary romance. But I hated it with a passion. The reason: the hero betrayed the heroine for money, and years later, she forgave him. And I couldn’t. In my book, a betrayal for money is not OK in ANY circumstances. It is unforgivable. You don’t sell anyone’s secrets, entrusted to you in confidence. NEVER! No matter your reasons, noble or mercenary. Those are not your secrets to sell. That the authors made him a hero of their book was incomprehensible to me. He should’ve been a villain. He was. I wonder if anyone here read that book and agrees with me.

    1. I hated that book too. I keep trying Christina Lauren and getting left with a bad taste in my mouth. Josh and Hazel are Not Dating makes me see red and rant and rave.

  22. It’s been a few weeks since I posted about my reading. I won’t subject you to descriptions of every book I read since my last post, but here are the highlights:

    Of Noble Family, by Mary Robinette Kowal. The last of the 5-book Regency-era Glamourist series. Set in the Caribbean, and addresses the issue of slavery while still bringing a satisfying close to the saga of Jane and Vincent’s relationship.

    Castle Shade, by Laurie R. King. The latest Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes. They are in Romania, with the real-life Queen Marie as their client. A worthy addition to the series.

    Shifting Shadows, by Patricia Briggs. I’ve finished all the full novels in the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega series, so this collection of 10 short stories was just what I needed. It includes back stories for characters such as Samuel and Ariana, Thomas and Margaret, Anna and Charles, and Warren. Definitely recommended to anyone who loves these series.

    Forgotten in Death, by J.D. Robb. This is number 53 (!) in the series, and it’s one of the better ones. Though it hits many of the same notes that I expect in an Eve and Roarke book, there are signs that Eve may be mellowing (just a bit, we wouldn’t want her to become too mellow). For example, Eve designates a certain period during working hours when Peabody is allowed to tell Eve all about her latest design ideas for the new house, and Eve. Doesn’t. Complain.

    Several by Georgette Heyer: The Quiet Gentleman, The Nonesuch, Bath Tangle, and Envious Casca. Except for Bath Tangle, none of these are ones I remember being favorites. In fact, I remember really disliking Envious Casca. Surprisingly, of these four the best was The Quiet Gentleman, and former favorite Bath Tangle was least favorite.

    Boyfriend, by Sarina Bowen. College student Weston offers to rent his services as boyfriend for any college girl who needs a presentable date for Thanksgiving with her family. Abbi hires him, and then he hires her to be his date for his family’s Christmas. Predictably, their fake dating turns real. Watching them learn to trust each other despite both having pretty screwed-up families was enjoyable.

    The Last Graduate, by Naomi Novik. I’m probably in the minority here since I actually liked this better than A Deadly Education. Yes, that ending is a bit of a head-scratcher, but I have faith that the third book will resolve everything to our satisfaction. (My favorite of the original Star Wars trilogy is Empire Strikes Back, so maybe I just have a thing for the middle story?)

    1. I like Shifting Shadows too, particularly Ben’s story.

      She has some shorts that have been coming out in anthologies lately with Asil going on blind dates and those are so much fun.

      1. I really want to read the Asil stories, but don’t think I’m interested in the other stories in these anthologies. I am hoping that she may collect the Asil stories at some point. Just the idea of Asil on a blind date makes me smile.

        1. Agreed. I borrowed then from the library and only read hers. Too expensive to own in the current format.

    2. The Quiet Gentleman is one of my favorites. I like Gervase, and how he builds a relationship with his snotty immature younger brother, and I like that he notices and appreciates Drusilla.

  23. Read First and Then and thank you very much for mentioning this book! Great read and she has more, mwahaha. And I just nabbed the new Penric which I didn’t know existed. Huzzah for the Good Book thread.

    Read Grave Reservations which I’d had pre-ordered forever and it was spooky fun, I hope there are more books with these characters.

    Also been reading Lilith Saintcrow’s zombie roadtrip series, Cotton Crossing et al. I’m on book 3. I love Lee, he really grows on you. The character development is so well done, at first you only see his outer layer and then as the conflict increases Lee is forced to drop his “cover” so to speak. Not exactly a romance but not NOT a romance either as the relationship between Ginny and Lee is kind of the linchpin.

  24. The last weeks were far too busy at work so I didn’t get much reading done. I read some excerpts but my Kindle Unlimited is about too end soon so I’d like to read some more titles there before having to buy real books again.
    When thinking about what I read – I knew that I had read something -, I couldn’t remember, so that for sure is a sign it wasn’t recommendable. I did remember in the end – a title by an author whose books written in collaboration with one favourite author I’d quite liked lately. But this one was too repetitive and too lightly sketched, it felt like it could have needed a very critical editor.

    But last week I’ve discovered that Boyfriend Material will come out in German soon-ish, so I’m thrilled. My daughter might like it and maybe, maybe I can tempt her to do some more reading. So now I’m longing to re-read it or more correctly read it since I’ve just listened to it last year and listening does far less for my imagination than reading. Even though it was read by the great Joe Jameson who’s timbre and way of reading I absolutely adore. When I imagine Luc or Oliver, Joe’s voice is in my head and it feels instantly charming.
    Same with James Marsters reading Harry Dresden/by Jim Butcher, sigh.

    Way more often, though, the opposite is the case with me: e.g. I simply don’t like the voice of the guy who read Bujold’s main body of work. Well, the upside is that I don’t spend too much money on audiobooks.
    But for the train ride tomorrow (off to visit a dear friend) and for the way back, I’d like to listen to something since I plan to get some knitting done. I very much like the fact that one can download podcasts from the BBC so even though I didn’t fancy anything on audible, there’ll be something to listen to on my phone.

  25. Reread The Cinderella Deal — struck by its its tenderness — this story is incredibly different from any other Crusie. There’s little comedy in the telling. I love the students — when I taught in a boarding school, kids from abroad would stay over with us the nights before the dorms opened, as well as for long weekends. Even more, I love what is going on in the art that Daisy creates.

    Also reread Miss Buncle’s Book and Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. They always buck me up.

    Read Summer in Orcus because it had been mentioned here. Vernon’s/Kingfisher’s sloppy writing really bugged me. Her early stuff is well-written, tight, and very powerful. I need to stay away from her stories now.

    Read Knots & Shadows, the new Penric tale. It’s my favorite kind of Bujold in that it explores the details of the World of the 5 Gods’ peculiar theology. I checked back on the dendarii.com email discussion group which I left 5 years ago. Fortunately, they were discussing (among a million other things) Georgette Heyer. That was fun. Then I tried the Goodreads place Bujold set up for discussing Knots & Shadows. It was okay — good place to ask questions, but the same sort of . . . argumentative responses that made me drop dendarii.com. Not like arghink at all. I really like you guys. Thank you.

    1. I totally agree with you about The Cinderella Deal. Love the vibe and reread it often. I also love how Daisy’s work as an artist is depicted. It’s so real. Oddly enough, reading about other artists working helps me jumpstart my own practice. But not when it’s unrealistic. One author has an artist who jumps from landscape to portraiture to abstract and never needs to prep or find reference photos. The art just flows out. Ugh.

      And I also agree with you about other blogs. I follow Ilona Andrews, but rarely comment there because it can get ugly. They do their best to moderate or ban, etc, but it’s not a fun vibe.

    2. I too read Knots & Shadows, the new Penric tale by Lois McMaster Bujold.

      This was a rather sad story and ended up pretty near the bottom of my ranking for her Penric tales, more or less tied with the Physicians of Vilnoc, depending on how I feel about the grinding misery in that, compared to the grimness of the deaths and zombies in this new one. Even though she doesn’t dwell on that, if I think about what happened it’s pretty grim, including the setting-up and likely murder in jail of the young man from the counting-house, and the horrible death of the lost child.

      Though nothing she writes is bad, this ghost story reads to me more like an intellectual exercise working out some obscure bits of the theology of the Five Gods, in the form of a story – and not a pleasant story, with all these deaths and the two zombies.

    3. I agree with you about the comments on LMB’s goodread blog about the latest Penric. Not a nice discussion. I really wouldn’t care to wade in.

  26. I read the Christmas pig. Cute, but found myself longing to get back to the Jayne CastleI was re-reading – dark light. I reread all the RB Dominic‘s. Happier times in Congress when people actually talk to each other from other sides of the aisle. Also some pretty good mysteries.
    Today I bought Neil Gaiman’s the Graveyard Book on Amazon deals and Beverly Jenkins NightHawk. I’m beginning to have quite a big backlog.

  27. Okay, for some reason, as I am reading the blog for the first time, I am discovering that every single heart in the place is already red. Huh?

    I mean I love you guys — ALL of you — but I didn’t click them to make them red. Is there a way to “like all” that I didn’t know about and that I might have hit on accidentally?

    As for books, my Read All Mary Balogh books virus has been overtaken by my Re-read All Others series books . Only one-fifth through the main series of five, so my eyeballs are booked for the near & immediate futures.

    1. Yes, the hearts react as if *I* put them all there (and can take them off!). The Internet: it’s always weird.

      I missed last week because traveling, and noting every book I’ve read since the 13th would be insane, so I’m skimming through the journal to find the things I really must blather about.

      Re-read the Society of Gentlemen series by K.J. Charles, for something like the 3rd time. (4th for ‘A Seditious Affair’)

      In other authors I like: read four more things by K.L. Noone, couple more things from Con Riley, couple more things from E.J. Russell, and ‘Finding Joy’ by Adriana Herrera, which is quite different from the others of hers I’ve read. According to the afterword, it’s drawn from life, and it shows. A good book, set in Ethiopia, featuring an American aid worker and his local counterpart.

      Read a few things that other people like a lot and I didn’t like much. Oh well. Then read ‘Witchmark’ by C.L. Polk which everybody seems to like, including me.

      What’s standing out for me in this period is a pair of young-adult M/M books. The first is ‘Tracker Hacker’ by Jeff Adams. It’s a thriller more than a romance – the central relationship is already in place when the story begins, though it gets plentifully challenged – about a teenager who’s become part of his secret-agent parents’ organization. Much smarter and more realistic than Spy Kids, I promise.

      The Most Notable Book since last report: ‘Fifteen Hundred Miles from the Sun’ by Jonny Garza Villa. Features a 17 year old Mexican-American boy in Corpus Christi who outs himself (drunk tweeting) and the 17 year old Vietnamese-American boy in Los Angeles who reaches out online to help him adjust, because Texas boy has a very supportive older sister and a good friend group, but none of them are gay. It’s a Romance for real, though with plenty of angst & trauma. The language is hilarious. No problems are hand-waved. Hopeful and rewarding conclusion. Gave me all the feels.

      1. Thanks for reminding me about liking Witchmark; I went and bought the other books by C.L. Polk just now because of that.

        I see a lot of red hearts today as well, but not on all comments: some replies to other comments don’t have the red heart, but more than a few do.

        I read and liked Strong Wine by AJ Demas this week, thanks to the person who mentioned here that it was available, last week or the week before. A strong ending to a good trilogy about these characters, and the start of a new life for them.

        I also read and enjoyed the new book in the Amaranthine saga by FORTHRIGHT, Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. It clearly signals that there will be a sequel, there is more to follow in this story, but doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending. It does widen our view of the backstory, and the history of some important characters, as well as introducing some new characters (as every book so far has done, this one has a new set of protagonists, while keeping previous characters alive in snippets about what’s going on in the world of the Amaranthine).

        Finally, I did read the third Saint of Steel book by T.Kingfisher. I am glad to say it didn’t have the visceral, emotional impact of the second one, as I dislike horror and that one gave me nightmares. I keep thinking I should stop reading her, as she does write horror, but then keep getting sucked in again…

      2. I also love KJ Charles Society of Gentleman and have read Seditious Affair several times. One of my all time faves by her.

    2. I’ve had the same experience with the hearts today: they are all red. I thought maybe I clicked them all in a fugue state.

    3. Ooh, I thought it was just me. I mean, I tend to heart most posts anyway, but yesterday I started noticing that posts I DEFINITELY hadn’t read yet were already red-hearted. Weird.

  28. Today is the twenty-eighth Official Weigh-In Day since I got too fat to live and started dieting… again. The scales said, “254.0, now get off!” Up a pound from last week. The calories all week averaged in the “lose a pound per week” range, but the carbs averaged 51 grams. There were two days over 60 grams of carbs. Evidently, I raised my carb limits too soon. Back down to max of 40 I go.

    I wish I’d realized that before I ate the Texas Toast.

    1. I read the third Paladin book. The pace of the book is so good that it took me a day or two to realize the plot is actually pretty weak. She may have written the whole book to write the last sentence ….

      1. I finished it two weeks ago, and now that I try to decide whether the plot is weak or not I find I can’t remember a single thing that happens! The characters, oh, yes, but not the plot. I guess that means it’s weak, doesn’t it? 😉

  29. I’ve gotten into the (bad?) habit of starting a book at the end of the day, reading until it’s past my bedtime, then skimming and popping into a scene here and there until I reach the end. Which really makes no sense, since by then it’s waaay past my bedtime and I haven’t really read the book. And most times I don’t bookmark where I stop reading and start skimming to go back and read the whole thing.

    However, when I got Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake by Alexis Hall from the library, I read each word, start to finish. I’d remembered (or misremembered) some of the comments here about it being more women’s fiction than romance, so I had lower expectations, but I enjoyed it, perhaps because I’d also just watched an early season of the Great British Bake Off (with Mary Berry).

    I also read 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, which surprised me, because I’d read the first chapter at the end of The Hating Game and thought both main characters were introduced in that excerpt. But nope. So it wasn’t the story I was expecting. I didn’t like it as well as The Hating Game, but I enjoyed it more than Second First Impressions.

  30. My reading this week: THE GHOST IN THE MACHINE, by Joy Reed. Cozy-ish mystery featuring Madame Seraphina Fox, Spiritualist, Describing Her Worldly and Otherworldly Experiences. She has created an Electrical Spiritograph: a telegraph to communicate with the Other Side, which has both a device to answer simple yes/no queries—a bell—and an alphabetical clock-face to spell out more involved answers. To anyone who has ever sat through a séance where words had to be laboriously spelled out by reading through the alphabet, the advantage of this system is obvious. Clearly, this gadget is a great advance on the Ouija Board and Planchette . . . there are five books in this series, and I went ahead and bought the other four. Joy Reed wrote a number of light Regencies which I enjoyed; I like her sense of humor.

    BAIT AND WITCH, by Angela M. Sanders. (Witch Way Librarian Mysteries Book 1) Witchery and librarians, what could be cozier?

    13 STEPS TO EVIL – How To Craft A Superbad Villain, by Sacha Black; if your villain isn’t cutting the evil mustard, how to create credible and authentic villains, villains so brilliantly twisted they’ll make your readers throw themselves like sacrificial lambs between the pages of your book. I think the problem is that in creating a well-rounded villain, it’s a challenge not to make him/her more interesting than the hero.

    KNOT OF SHADOWS (Penric & Desdemona), Bujold. My favorite new insight into this world is Penric’s dealings with the funeral animals, particularly the dog and the cat.

    SPOOKY FOOD, by Cayla Gallagher, has a reasonable assortment of savory recipes — “Cauldron Dip,” “Sea Witch Risotto,” “Haunted Mansion Loaf,” “Eyeballs and Meat Sauce,” “Skeleton Hair Pasta with Homemade Pesto,” though my actual appetite on the night will probably run about as far as the classic Pumpkinburger (cut out jack o’lantern faces from slices of cheese, broil your burger, and lay the cheese on it, letting it heat through but not melt enough to obscure your careful art work. Serve open-faced if you’re using buns).

  31. This week I DNF’d a science fiction / romance novel for two reasons, the first reason was the wrong use of a number of words, and I then belatedly realised that the cover had the woman staring wistfully into space in stiletto heels, the ones that are 6 inch high needles. That was the final straw.

    I’ve also done a dive into Sara Ney’s backlog. College athlete meets the one who makes him change his ways are the main themes. A fair amount of explicit sex (which I don’t mind from time to time) and decent attraction to commitment plots. I’m enjoying them. I started with Jock Row which is still my favourite. I don’t know where I got the book from, thanks if it was here.

    I tried Complementary by Celia Lake, and I’ve put it down a couple of times to read something else. Not sure why. It’s a F/F mystery romance, I’ve enjoyed most of Celia Lakes books I’ve read, this one doesn’t have the same feel. I thinks it’s because I can’t see the spark / chemistry/ attraction on the page between the couple. I’d be interested to know if anyone else has read it and what they think.

    1. I enjoyed the other books by Celia Lake, so I’ve bought Complementary and will give it a try.

    2. I didn’t see much of a spark of sexual attraction in there either, not much of a strong emotional charge.
      Both were very practical women, finding things in each other that fit well together, and things that they liked about the other.

      It seemed to me more like they were becoming good friends, exploring if they might suit, might like living together; and taking things slowly in mostly talking about whether they might like going to bed (for anything other than just sleeping) together too.

      Not bad, but not emotionally compelling nor very intriguing.

  32. Finishing While My Sister Sleeps, Barbara Delinsky. Very poignant.

    Having trouble with the hearts; won’t let me add a like, takes it away instead. I like lots of the comments.

  33. Thank you guys for recommending the Gil Cunningham books. I just read The Harper’s Quine and enjoyed it very much. It fells well researched and I have strong images and understanding of the characters.

      1. Will do, depending on cost. I haven’t read a Brother Cadfael for decades, so decided to try. Oops. Kindle versions are $12.99, higher, and not much lower. No thanks. Amazon has dropped The Sancturay Sparrow price to $2.99. If I remember the Cadfael series correctly, the Gil Cunningham series is better written. But the Cadfael series takes place in the period that interests me.

        You folks introduced me to Red Adams’ Lady which has the best detailed description of life in Britain in the 12th century that I’ve come across. I wish I knew the author’s sources. Did anyone else read Thomas Costain medieval histories when young?

        1. My grandmother gave me the complete set in hardcover, back in the day. They were as well researched as was possible at the time (more sources are now available for a number of reasons, including being able to read some documents with far-end light spectra, for instance).

          Besides the books she wrote as Grace Ingram, she also wrote three books as Doris Sutcliffe Adams, of which the best, in my humble opinion, was NO MAN’S SON, set at the siege of Acre. It was impeccably researched and the research was evident but not dropped in as infodump. VERY highly recommended.

          1. Woops, make that Four books:

            DESERT LEOPARD
            THE PRICE OF BLOOD
            NO MAN’S SON

            Grace Ingram
            RED ADAM’S LADY
            GILDED SPURS

            POWER OF DARKNESS and GILDED SPURS are linked.

          2. Sanctuary Sparrow (a Brother Cadfael mystery by Ellis Peters) was fun to read. Better than I remembered.

            Doris Sutcliffe Adams/Grace Ingram is certainly highly praised for her books, especially No Man’s Son. I can’t find out anything about the author herself, short of the fact that she lived a long life. I wish I knew more. I can’t even tell how Power of Darkness and Gilded Spurs are linked.

            I reread Red Adams’ Lady regularly.

            Gilded Spurs has the same tropes but they seem to me to be dumped on the page (faithful follower has to die; heroine’s capture and bodice ripped open — not once but twice).

            Umm, looks like this reponse to both of Ann’s posts will end up in the middle instead of following her second.

        2. I think the Gil Cunningham books are a lot better written than Brother Cadfael. Or perhaps the latter just didn’t appeal to me for some reason. Amazon had the first four Gil Cunninghams as a package, which made them cheaper. I assume they’re still there.

  34. I really enjoyed Well-Matched by Jen DeLuca this week. Another of her Ren-Faire romances but this one has an older divorced heroine who’s preparing for empty nest syndrome after her teen daughter graduates from high school. April helps out a friend of her sister’s with some fake dating and then he helps her out with fixing up her house to go on the market. I certainly related to the heroine who is preparing for the second half of her life after divorce and grown-up kids and Mitch who is 31 to her 40 was a sweetheart. Not as much of the Ren Faire vibe with this one, but still fun.

    Audible sent me an ad for a Jennifer Crusie book and I realized I’d never read it! Wow, not sure how that one got by me. So I bought Maybe This Time and I’ve been listening to it on my commutes. It’s very appropriate for spooky season and although I’m not sure where it’s going, I know Crusie will not let me down with the HEA. The house is creepy, the housekeeper cryptic, and I just adore the kids and Andie so far.

    1. I absolutely love Jennifer Crusie books. Have you heard if she is writing another book or if she has retired? I’m re-reading them (about the 4th or 5th time!) right now!

      1. Hi, I’m Jenny. I’m writing several books, I just haven’t managed to finish any of them. Working on that now. Welcome to Argh!

  35. Chachal, Thanks for reminding me about liking Witchmark; I went and bought the other books by C.L. Polk just now because of that.

    I see a lot of red hearts today as well, but not on all comments: some replies to other comments don’t have the red heart, but more than a few do.

    I read and liked Strong Wine by AJ Demas this week, thanks to the person who mentioned here that it was available, last week or the week before. A strong ending to a good trilogy about these characters, and the start of a new life for them.

    I also read and enjoyed the new book in the Amaranthine saga by FORTHRIGHT, Fumiko and the Finicky Nestmate. It clearly signals that there will be a sequel, there is more to follow in this story, but doesn’t have a cliffhanger ending. It does widen our view of the backstory, and the history of some important characters, as well as introducing some new characters (as every book so far has done, this one has a new set of protagonists, while keeping previous characters alive in snippets about what’s going on in the world of the Amaranthine).

    Finally, I did read the third Saint of Steel book by T.Kingfisher. I am glad to say it didn’t have the visceral, emotional impact of the second one, as I dislike horror and that one gave me nightmares. I keep thinking I should stop reading her, as she does write horror, but then keep getting sucked in again…

  36. Up to “The Last Continent” in my Pratchett reread. I thought I’d be in the mood for a break, but no. My TBR pile is getting bigger.

  37. I had so much fun reading The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell that I looked up his back list and tried out The Dublin Trilogy, Part one (kindle unlimited). It’s a treasure, and luckily Part two was available and the joy continued. Now I’m onto The Stateside volumes. I’m trying to stretch it out, but can’t manage it. Honestly, the sleep I’ve lost over these books is worth the next day’s stupor.

  38. I loved the television (HBO maybe?) series Mare of Eastown that someone mentioned above. It is very gritty and there are holes large and small in the plot but the acting is marvelous and the series is addictive and wonderful and heartbreaking.

  39. I found a sci-fi series by Suzanne Palmer, the Finder Chronicles (maybe I heard about it here) and I’m listening to the third one.
    Pretty fun, and it runs around all over the solar system. The protagonist is kind of a twit in ways, but he’s only human.

    1. Here, I think, because I’ve started it, too. He’s a twit, but he tries not to be. My library only has the last two in paper, so I’m waiting (work-related) until it’s not such a time burden to physically get there.

  40. Thank you to one of you here who (I believe) recommended People You Meet On Vacation. A novel premise with two charming characters.

  41. I finally got around The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso, which has been sitting on my tbr for a couple of years.

    I not saying I loved it, but I’m now part way through the final book in the trilogy and my wife is yumming down volume 1!

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