This is a Good Book Thursday, January 13, 2022

This week I read cookbooks and subtitles (a rewatch of all five seasons of The Art of Crime) but was shamefully low on fiction.

What did you read this week?

105 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 13, 2022

  1. Let me get this out of the way: Official Weigh-In Day #39, 250.0 pounds. There.

    Books. I read some. Not many.

    My reading was intercepted by a recommendation of my old editor, Denny Wheeler. I read all 89 chapters of Variations on a Theme by Grey Wolf. I give it ★★★☆☆. The story was riveting. The writing needed some serious editing. Grey Wolf needs to read Jenny’s questionables and how-tos. The proofreading is excellent, but I think there’s way too much story in the story, and it doesn’t all drive the story. I liked it anyway.

    That didn’t stop me from starting Variations on a Theme Book 2. Since book 1 ended on a cliff hanger, I growled and clicked on the next book. 30+ chapters in, of 117. Since nobody pays anyone on Stories Online World Literature Company, they don’t request authors to trim their output. If this is a story about a guy sent back to when he was 14 years old who becomes a great debater, then he could lose all the romance and drama club stuff. If it’s a story about a guy who goes back in time to his 14 year old body to straighten out his social life and find the love of his life, all the debate club and drama club stuff is superfluous. (And yet, I continue to read with great interest.)

    A 1632 Christmas, an Anthology of 21 Christmas stories in the Ring of Fire alternate history series. Finished 3 of the 21 stories, so far. No progress since last week.

    “Trisha Ashley 3 Book Bundle” by, of course, Trisha Ashley. First book, Chocolate Wishes. 32 chapters in (of 37). Still loving it. I should finish today. Maybe.

    Trisha Ashley 3 Book Bundle, second book, Sowing Secrets TBR
    Trisha Ashley 3 Book Bundle, third book, Wedding Tiers TBR

  2. I am currently on a nostalgic trip to Pern. I am in the middle of book 7, Moreta Dragonlady of Pern.

    It is quite strange to read about a pandemic during a pandemic but I still like Moreta just as much as I did when I read this series many times eons ago.

    Some things, especially the way sex is portrayed, haven’t aged well but the dragons remain as delightful as I remembered and I have enjoyed revisiting this universe. I am probably going to continue at least with the ones Anne McCaffrey wrote on her own.

    1. I loved these books when they first came out. I haven’t picked one up in a long time, but it might be a good idea to do so. Thanks, LN!

    2. When I acquired the books, it was in Microsoft Reader format, which nobody uses anymore. I loved the series. I especially loved Dragonsong and Dragonsinger.

  3. This week I reread the Murderbot Diaries and started To Sleep in a Sea of Stars by a Christopher Paolini. I do love a good sci fi by a former fantasy writer (he wrote the Eragon trilogy).

  4. I read Bob Mayer’s Shane and the Hitwoman and absolutely loved it. It definitely hit my “happy place read” spot. I admit I was a little worried that it wouldn’t be close enough to Agnes and the Hitman (one of my all-time favorite books…humor, har) without Jenny. But it turns out Bob is funny too. Who knew? This is already one of my favorite reads for the year, and it is setting the bar pretty high for another book to beat it.

    I think there is another one in the series, and I’m going to track that down ASAP. Thanks, Bob.

    1. Dev, I loved it too. It’s apparently going to be a series called The Organization which makes me really happy. Unfortunately the next book doesn’t come out until November of 2022. It’s a book about Phoebe and I can’t wait.

    2. I just read this one too and really enjoyed it. Happy to have a new series, even if I have to wait until November….argh! Also read The Bar Harbor for Famous Writers (and Their Muses) by Terri-Lynne DeFino which i enjoyed and just started Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah which so far, I really like.

  5. I’m not sure who it was, but someone in here recommended the Bedwyns by Mary Balogh. I trust you all, so I started the first one – Slightly Married – this week. I now have you to blame, as I ignored my schedule and stayed up WAY past my bedtime several nights in a row caught up in the story. Everything finished correctly last night, and I’m now groggily sleep deprived at my day job. I think I need a deep breath (and a good night’s sleep) before I start the next one! Thanks – this one is going to the keeper pile!

    1. I followed that recommendation too and am now loving the series! They have a nice feeling – I’m not sure how to describe it. There is tension and conflict and all the things that make a book interesting, but there is also a lack of excessive drama and I need that right now.

      Following another recommendation, I also recently read both Richard Osman books – The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice. I highly recommend both. They are a very fun read.

      1. I may have been the one who posted about how fun the series was, but I picked it up because Jane and at least one other person here said it was their favorite Balogh series. Somehow, the progression through the family members from Book 1 through Book 6 was really satisfying. And I liked the last three books best, so you have fun ahead, imho. 🙂

  6. The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, Janet Evonovich’s new Stephanie Plum & Coben’s The Boy from the Woods…all good.

  7. I blame this on Lupe who led me down the alien abduction comfort romance path that I didn’t even know existed until last week, starting with Honey Phillips and ending up with the Claimings series by Lyn Gala. It’s not so much an abduction series, hence the Claimings title, and I enjoyed the sci fi aspect of it as much as the M/M relationship. The main aliens are a trader based society and Gala does a deep dive on that society, and one lone human’s entry into it. So not a fast-paced space oat novel with lots of ships and high-fangled weaponry (“pew pew!”), and instead a thoughtful deconstruction of a created culture and of course by contrast, our own.

    1. Mwahahaha! Welcome to the rabbit hole… One of my first M/M romances was Spice and Solace by KC Burn, who has a series of Space and/or Alien romances. There is just a sweetness to them. Also, in this one, the main character gets mistaken for a male courtesan by the other MC, who is trying to broker intergalactic peace with an alien race, which was just very fun.

      And a friend got me started with Ruby Dixon, known for blue ice planet barbarians and Amanda Milo. Milo is a little hit or miss for me, but something about both parties having to overcome language/cultural barriers is just catnip for me…

          1. Replying to the Spice n Solace comment here bc apparently I have reached the end of where I can comment down below. Hope you liked it! And I can’t tell you what a thrill it gives me to have someone to share such recommendations with… M/M space opera romance with sex work overtones ain’t for everyone. In fact, the best thing about reading on a Kindle is being able to answer, Pride and Prejudice, whenever anyone at work asks what you are reading… Xo

          2. I did enjoy it! And now I am giving Ruby Dixon a try. May not be Pride and Prejudice but still fun. Despite all my complaining, I am eternally grateful.

  8. Elizabeth Vaughn’s Warprize (2005). The first in her Warlands Chronicles series. A series I reread pretty regularly, even then I stayed up way to late and finished it in one go.

    1. I really liked Warprize way back when, and have re-read it more than once, but I hated the second in the series so much that I was never able to carry on with the books. It made me somewhat wary of series.

      1. So glad you got to Vancouver for Christmas. Beautiful photos on your blog. It was so cold and snowy this season. The snow is finally gone.

        1. Vancouver was gorgeous this Christmas! I had loads of fun. I finished knitting the sweater too, on the very last day. I’ll post a link up on Working Wednesday.

  9. It’s been a late-80s/early-90s theme week over here.

    I re-read an old Stephanie Laurens romance I remember liking; however, I think I have finally outgrown regency romance. Well, I’m sure I’d still enjoy a really humorous one…

    I just started a Dorothy Cannell mystery I found at a used bookstore. I liked The Thin Woman many years ago, and so I have good hopes for this new-to-me mystery.

    1. You are right. Is it because it is 2022 and the pandemic is still here that we are all going back to more innocent times?

  10. I haven’t had the bandwidth for anything new this week, so I finished my relisten to the Amaranthine Saga, and am now working my way through Murderbot.

    We did start watching Imposters on Netflix, which is fun so far. You get two sides, the con team and the group of people they conned that band together to hunt them down. I like all of them and care about what happens, which is good. There are only two seasons though, which could possibly end badly…

  11. I’m re-listening to Murder in an Irish Village by Carlene O’Connor. The narrator is Caroline Lennon, and she’s wonderful. This is the first in her series and a new book is due out this spring, so I wanted to revisit the series from the beginning.

  12. Sorry Tammy, no blaming anyone for taking you onto new reading paths! 🙂 Thanks to you, I lost big chunks of my week reading and rereading “A Suitable Consort (for the King and his Husband)” by R. Cooper. Historical fantasy (or any kind of fantasy) is not my usual fare, but I was totally charmed by this M/M/M story of a young librarian working hard to help the king find another consort while totally missing what the king and his husband actually want. As Tammy mentioned, the back story is provided as needed, so there’s a bit of feeling thrown into the action. You rely on the POV character’s perspective to understand the world and the situation but soon see his complete blind spots. I love books like this because they really reward rereading; even reading between the lines the first time, some events and cryptic comments make much more sense the second or third time through.

    Also, as Tammy mentioned, it’s really romantic. One of my favorite parts of romance is the characters’ transition from ambiguity/not knowing (that they’re loved and desired) to knowing and how they get there. This book drags that process out on all sides satisfyingly.

    1. I fully admit to dragging you into the drag side! And I’m glad you liked the book. I’ve reread it a couple of times already I was so charmed by it. But Jen – you dragged me into the Taylor Fitzgerald world – I’m now part of her Patreon and her Tumblr and her AO3 – and have read every word of hers I could get my eyes on – and there’s a LOT. Consumed a couple of weeks of my reading over the holidays – I give you all the blame and all the credit. *:)

        1. Sorry/not sorry, Tammy! I am the same with Taylor Fitzpatrick. After exhausting AO3, Tumblr, and Patreon, I bought three books directly from her that I’d already bought from Amazon just so I could get the 160K words worth of additional stories, and strategically timed it for Christmas binge reading. I am way overinvested in most of those characters. OTOH, I can now answer hockey trivia questions. LOL

          1. Oh I only bought one book directly from her! will have to buy the other two now just to get those additional stories – dang! Yes, my hockey knowledge has expanded enormously – plus I’ve read just about every hockey M/M romance out there now I think – I keep calling my hockey mad brother to ask: “What’s a penalty kill?” “Why does the worst team get the first draft pick?” and he thinks I’ve gone mad.

          2. Tammy, me too. I actually have discussions about the Habs with my brother who having now lived in Montreal for many years has become a fan!

          3. LN, your brother has a team who are consistent Stanley Cup winners, whereas I am in Toronto, home of the team who consistently breaks our collective frozen hearts every year….

  13. My daughter & I binge watched the 2 seasons of the Derry Girls again. Just as hilarious the second time around. We are waiting on the 3rd and final season. They were interrupted by the pandammit.
    If you haven’t watched it yet it’s full of great funny, flawed characters. School principal Sister Michael is my favorite. Siobhan (a name I love but can never remember how to pronounce) McSweeney plays that part to comedic perfection.
    The Cranberry’s run throughout the soundtrack & I could listen to Dolores O’Riordan 24/7.
    If you are a fan of GBBO the Derry Girls cast are on the Holidays Xmas show for 2020. So. Very. Funny!

    1. I love, love, love the Derry Girls. And I’m such a fan of Sister Michael.
      Siobhan McSweeney was host to last year’s Pottery Thrown. down and what little snippets I got from that was hilarious as well, so I am on the watch out for anything with SMcS from now on.

      This year they have another host – let’s hope SMcS couldn’t make it because she had to be Sister Michael again.

  14. Books: I started the first in the new Misted Pines series by Kristen Ashley. Still her voice but different. Usually she gets me from page one but I was 2 or 3 chapters in this time before I knew I was going to like the book / series. She develops her usual community of quirky lovable characters. The plot starts out suspensful & thickens well. Looking forward to more in this series.
    Which led me to a re-read of her Mountain Man series; 7 books starting with The Gamble.
    BTW all those who read on the Kindle app – I love how they are doing series now. Grouping them for me & then putting all of them under the first book with a little indicator of how many in the series.
    Love it!

    1. I’m number 28 in the Boston Public Library for The Girl in the Mist for one copy but number six in another library network. I’m patient so I can wait especially with all that I add to my KU list.

    2. I wasn’t sure about Kristen Ashley writing a thriller. I don’t like thrillers and was avoiding Nalini Singh’s as well. How suspenseful is it?

      1. IMHO several of her series have elements of suspense. This is no more scary than Rock Chick heroines, Burg or Mountain Man heroines, etc.

        1. That’s fine then, thanks. I can handle that. I just don’t want to go full on Girl On the Train, etc. Too dark for me. I carry dark things around too long in my head.

  15. I’m reading the Phoebe Monday Paranormal Cozy Mysteries, which starts with Merry Little Mystic Murder. The Monday Triunity has for hundreds of years produced only one daughter leading to the mystically powerful Maiden, Mother and Crone Triunity. Phoebe is the unexpected and unprecedented second daughter, and also somewhat mystically dud-like. While her amazing older sister, her mother and her grandmother do amazing things and wield immense power Phoebe makes her way in the world painting the occasional portrait and doing the odd job of making police sketches. She also has the ability to give people good luck, but only by taking on their otherwise bad luck for herself for 24 hours.

    Phoebe is the duck out of water looking for her pond, when she stumbles across information about a murder due to her minor powers but can’t tell her mundane police colleagues about it.

    I really like Phoebe and her friends, and the mysteries are kind of fun too.

  16. I’ve finished Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers series – reread of the first three, first time for the last one (The Galaxy and the Ground Within). This started a bit slow, and I worried I wouldn’t like it, but it really worked. It’s a great series, and the characters and storylines are still haunting me.

    I’m currently halfway through Lily Morton’s ‘Beautifully Unexpected’, which is good except that the characters laugh too much at each other’s jokes, which aren’t as funny as the author thinks they are. (M/m romcom, set in London.)

    1. Coincidence for the win: I just finished rereading The Galaxy and the Ground Within this week.

      Also re-read Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace, and a lot of Barbara Hambly.

      What little new-to-me I managed to finish was very meh. All of them were books people here have reported enjoying, and I think perhaps “women’s fiction” is just not my thing. The characters were interesting and likeable. Their growth seemed…contrived? forced? It felt like the authors said “How can we change these people to produce an interesting plot?” and it just put me off.

        1. I have nothing against multiple generations, either, but when they seem to be required….
          I think I could really have enjoyed these books if they hadn’t seemed to be cut to a pattern. “Cut your coat to fit your cloth” is not good advice for novelists.

        2. I think that it is also that they have lost it all, at least at some stage, through their own poor decisions. Women’s fiction always seems needlessly dramatic and tragic to me, like how dare they have a happy life? Romance and chic lit are much more fun and imo, more supportive of women in general. But then I don’t like lit fic either. Can’t be highbrow if it ain’t sad…

  17. I read Sharon Shinn’s new latest Uncommon Echo series – “Echo in Onyx”, “Echo in Emerald” and “Echo in Amethyst”. I used to really like Sharon Shinn, but she’s no longer one of my favorites after reading “Summers at Castle Auburn”. I really, really hated that she gave a slaver his heart’s desire after he kidnapped a little girl to sell for money. And, made him a guy in good standing in the end. Bah, humbug. The Uncommon Echo series was typical Shinn, so it was okay to read. Nothing rage-inducing, at least.

    I hate read Aliette de Bodard’s series Dominion of the Fallen: “The House of Shattered Wings”, “The House of Binding Thorns” and “The House of Sundering Flames”. The series is about what happens to the world if angels are real, fallen angels are real and have come to Earth – cast out by God over a series of many years. The sense of decay and rot and pain are palpable throughout the entire series so, if you really liked “Gormenghast” by Mervyn Peake or “Gideon the Ninth” by Tamsyn Muir, I think you would like these books. For myself, I hated those books, I don’t like reading about rot and decay and filth permeating the world, if you please. But, there are enough moments of glory and wonder in the House series which made it possible to continue reading.

    As a palate cleanser, I read Donna Andrews latest Meg Langslow book “The Twelve Jays of Christmas”. It was enjoyable as always.

    I also read Lish McBride’s “Curses”. I’ve read all of her previous books in the Necromancer series so she’s an auto-buy for me. This looks like the start of a new series in a fictional land where fairy tales are true. I liked it and makes me look forward to hopefully other people in this tale getting their own story and happy ever after.

        1. Another way to look at it is that he got captured by the person he was trying to enslave and she permanently removed him as a danger to her people. And she did so without violence because that was the nature of the people she was protecting.

  18. I liked the first Sharon Shin Echo book but the last two were not as strong, I thought. Her Mystic and Rider series is one of my all time favourite fantasy series.

  19. Re-read all Murderbots novellas. Charming as always.

    Karen Hawkins’s The Book Charmer was a new for me book. A nice mainstream novel about a librarian and her friends saving their small town’s Apple Festival. I enjoyed it, but recently I’ve read several other books written on the same blueprint. As if a group of writers went to the same workshop together, and then each wrote a book with the same list of components through her own author’s perspective. I wonder who led the workshop that had such a strong impact.

    FYI: Ilona Andrews started publishing a new Innkeeper novella on their website. They post every Friday on their blog, and there are three chapters published so far. https://ilona-andrews.com/sweep-of-the-heart/ I’m loving it.

  20. I’ve had a migraine this week so haven’t read anything. I did watch The Lake House though. It was just what I need in these perilous times. I always love Sandra Bullock’s screen presence and Keanu Reeves is peak Keanu in this movie. They have fabulous chemistry and I was totally carried away by the romance, by its restraint and its intensity.
    Alex asking permission before he sits beside Kate at the party, then sitting at a careful distance from her, and dancing close together but with his body and head not touching her, was all so respectful, so considerate about not pushing the intensity of his feelings on her. That’s rare in a movie and I thought it was lovely and moving as well as being sexy as hell.
    I’m not sure that the plotting would stand up to close inspection, but I didn’t care.

  21. I finished The Thursday Murder Club (the narration is fantastic) and loved it, even if it was very bittersweet.

  22. I’ve listened to two KJ Charles’ novels, book 2 and 3 of Sins of the City (Unnatural Vice and Unsuitable Heir). I liked both of them, though I definitely like Wanted, a Gentleman with a slightly similar set of h/h (shady little guy/man of standing) more than UV. UH revolved around one of the protagonists identifying as non-binary, a concept I couldn’t wrap my mind around. Well, the novel made it understandable although it dealt a bit more about the concept than I would have liked.
    Still, KJ Charles can write and the narrator did a good job.
    In between I rushed through Echte Schotten lieben Blumen by Jona Dreyer – a KU. I’ve read one lovely story by her some time ago, also set in Scotland. This one wasn’t a success though – rather shallow little story.
    Now I’m dipping into excerpts. The day job is so stressful right now that I need something soothing – escapism.

    I feel like it’s pointless to go on holiday when afterwards I have to try to manage 3 weeks worth of important stuff in as little time as possible (a temporary situation hopefully as I’m helping out another team short a number of staff)? I feel overwhelmed and my blood pressure is rising. Should practice meditation (reading sounds more appealing). You know it’s too much when I dream of work and wake up thinking about the to-do-list. Grrrr.

    1. I never managed meditation, even though I took a class and practiced, though not as much as I should have… But I can do moving meditation, whether it be a simple flow yoga, tai chi, or repetitive motion in craft, like sewing. I once read that adult coloring books give a similar effect to meditation…

      Anyway, I hope your load gets lighter or you find another way to carry it. Definitely not good to dream about work. Hang in there. The weekend is upon us.

      1. I took a mindfulness course and flunked meditation. At the beginning the teacher said we would find it transformative. Not for me.

      2. The only meditation I sometimes manage is breath meditation. Found an App with nice voices, both with Australian accents (so the App might be Aussie as well :-), one male, one female.
        I tried this while doing the Yale Science of Well Being course, but I didn’t stick with it. Should try afresh.
        Regarding the workload: it’s unlikely that it gets better soon. One colleague is on sick-leave for at least a couple of months and I agreed to add 10 h/week to help out. We cannot risk of burning out the rest of the team. However, this team has been understaffed for years now, and the devil lies in the detail – in theory it’s a small part of my colleague’s work, but it takes double the time I can spare. No wonder he crumbled under the work load. Plus, there’s no substitute for any of us, so when we go on holiday, work just piles up until we return.
        Sorry for wailing.

    2. Meditation is the only thing that keeps me sane. 15 minutes each morning before reading email, etc. It took me a few years to effectively accomplish the meditative state, but I’m so glad I continued trying. My life is measurably more satisfying and I owe it to meditation.

      I have a white noise app on my phone and found a stream sound that I like. I set a gentle timer for 15 minutes. I focus on the stream, drawing my mind back to the sound whenever it wanders. And it will wander because that is what minds are built to do. But after a few minutes, I feel “floaty” and a sense of detachment that works like rebooting internal computer. I may only be in the state for 3 minutes of the 15, but that’s all it takes.

      1. I’ve been trying to meditate on and off for years, with little success. I try to focus on the breath and count up to 10 breaths then start again. A couple of weeks ago I read a book that said basically, ‘Who can focus up to ten??? Count to three, then start again.’ It made a huge difference to me, and I’ve been really enjoying it for the first time ever. Sometimes I do 15 mins and sometimes 20. It makes a real difference to how the day goes. It’s like an anchor.

  23. I read the latest Captain Lacey mystery (Ashley Gardner, author) that I somehow missed when it first came out and enjoyed it. The whole series is good, and it’s into double digits of books, I believe, and I can’t remember a dud among them, and I haven’t tired of Captain Lacey or his associates. I’m planning to catch up on the Genevieve Cogman series next. Just need to figure out where I left off.

    Other than that, I haven’t been able to focus on books. Instead I binged the second seasons (they’re short seasons) of both Vienna Blood and All Creatures Great & Small, and while they were enjoyable, they both left me a bit disappointed.

    For Vienna Blood, I even know why I felt let-down — the two leads are FABULOUS still, but in the first series, there was a REALLY interesting romantic-interest character with all sorts of interesting plot possibilities, and she got watered down in the second series (and played by a different actor after a long break between seasons due to covid), until she was pretty dull and the plot options involving her were equally dull. They did add a new character, an archivist, that I like, but I was still annoyed by the way they made the romantic-interest woman so blah after giving her such a great backstory full of intrinsic conflict with one of the leads. On the plus side, the show does good buddy banter between the two male leads. Apparently, I’m a sucker for that — the thing I love most about “Shetland” is the interaction between the lead and his frenemy (father of the lead’s stepdaughter, so they sort of share custody of her), which goes from very real conflict to banter when they forgive each other.

    1. I thought the Captain Lacey mystery sounded interesting, and found that my library has several; HOWEVER they are “traduit de l’anglais par Patrick Moisan et Sophie Beaume. …” My French is not good enough. (I just checked–I can read the French instructions for my new vacuum cleaner almost as well as the English but not a whole novel’s worth.)

      Autocorrect did not try to change any of the French up there but it changed mystery to magery and found to fond.

      1. Ha! My library only has it in French too. FWIW, the first one, Hanover House, is a free download on Amazon, so you could check it out at no cost. Many of the later books are available in sets for cheap.

  24. I finished The Tender Bar (JR Moehringer). Maybe I will watch the movie this weekend…or not.
    Started Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir) at a friend’s insistence. I didn’t finish The Martian but I like this one better already. Not a big sc-fi fan but trying to expand my reading horizons in 2022.

  25. This week I read some different kinds of things, so even though I’m not reading less I’m at least reading less of the samey same, right?

    New figure-skating M/M romance by Keira Andrews, ‘Kiss and Cry’ – liked it. 🙂

    D/s with spanking M/M romance by Misha Horne, ‘Hot Mess’ – liked it more than I expected. The psychology of the kink is addressed consciously by both MCs with most of the book taking place over a single weekend full of talking. (Much more talking than sex.)

    Two novellas – ‘The Actor and the Earl’ by Rebecca Cohen, M/M which is dressed up in my catnip but suffered from a bland, passive POV character and a pig of a love interest. ‘The Fog of War’ by A.L. Lester, which is post-WWI paranormal with a whiff of F/F romance; I liked it but if I hadn’t read her others in this ‘shadows’ series I would’ve been lost.

    A skim re-read of ‘The Mummy Case’ by Elizabeth Peters followed immediately by ‘The Painted Queen’ by EP + Joan Hess, both of which were harmless entertainment but not quite up to the later books by EP alone (when she got as serious about the history and character growth as she was about the Egyptology).

    ‘The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics’ by Olivia Waite, F/F Regency which I liked a lot except for a bit too much interpersonal angst (there was plenty of angst in the Us Against The World main plot) and an unnecessarily evil ex-girlfriend.

    Finally, ‘Dragonflight’ by Anne McCaffrey (so funny that a couple of us went to Pern this week!) which I may have read eons ago but remembered nothing about. The world-building and the dragons are great, but the main characters are archetypes, not people. And the main woman, who actually saves the world, is mostly presented as an insubordinate brat. The central relationship (actually the treatment of women throughout) is icky. So I probably won’t be picking up any more of those.

    1. Dragonflight is problematic. Dragonquest too. I think the character development gets better after. The books about Menolly are good. The White Dragon is still good (a bit icky on attitudes to women though). Moreta which I have just finished is very good.

      1. I return to Dragonflight every couple of years despite the rape and the other misogyny. Lessa is resilient, troubled, determined, inconsistent, powerful, and demeaned. Granted, her relationship with F’lar is slow to develop because of big misunderstandings, but one lesson for both of them is that they learn to talk and to listen. In contrast, the bad guys are bad because they are nasty brutes, they are only into self-aggrandizement, and they are stupid. They have no belief and only follow the traditions which give them wealth or power. They would rather give up than consider a new line of thought. Flat? Or, speaking to our current circumstances in the US?

        It bothered me for awhile that I keep returning to Dragonflight, but I’ve decided I’ll read what I want. I haven’t read any other McCaffrey books and want Dragonflight to stay in my mind as the whole story because I like Lessa so much.

        1. I think there’s the seed of a great book about Lessa in Dragonflight. It isn’t about her in the way that I wanted. She’s a very interesting character but she really only has agency in her destructive early years and in her climactic jump for the five weyrs. Plus the misogyny, I just can’t with that.

  26. Too much work to read anything new, but somehow I am halfway through Murderbot AGAIN. I’m on the 3rd novella, which is my least favorite, but I still like it, of course.

    I have been watching too much TV. I finally binged the Blown Away glassblowing series on Netflix (2 seasons plus a Christmas miniseason). I have some thoughts on the editing, but you have to have a certain level of competence to blow glass, so there was lots of beautiful film of skilled people in smoke and steam manipulating flame and glowing glass, so overall definitely worth watching.

    I am awaiting the new season of the Great Pottery Throwdown, but there’s no way of knowing when it will arrive on HBO Max (assuming some other network doesn’t buy it).

    And finally in my trio of TV about competent people making/fixing things, I found four seasons of Repair Shop on Discovery+, so I bit the bullet and signed up for a week’s trial so I can watch them all. Oh how I love that show. Work is getting into the busy part of the quarter, so I will probably end up paying for a month, but worth it. Plus there appears to be a plethora of my favorite kinds of shows on the channel.

    Next month I will renew all the holds that expired this week and read a new book for a change.

    1. I’ve read about the pilot of Homeboy on Discovery+ featuring
      Rajiv Surendra (I hope I didn’t butcher his name). I loved his home tour and all the clips about his crafting/music/art etc. Fascinating guy. Would love to watch the pilot too. But Idon’t even know how to get D+ over here.
      So if you come across this one while discovering, please tell!

    2. I love Great Pottery Throwdown. If you’re the one that recommended, thank you so much!

      I saw that HBO Max has contracted for five more seasons including 2022.

      1. I’ve mentioned it today, but I’m pretty sure a number of Arghers reommended it.

        It’s what I use as a form of meditation 🙂
        I used to be able to catch it on youtube – also Sewing Bee and Graham Norton and the Portrait Artist of the Year, but no luck for either of those wonderful shows. Sigh.

        1. A few Portrait Artist of the Year is on Amazon Prime here and is just a lovely stress reducer. I have searched but haven’t found a way to see more recent seasons.

          Gardeners World has a similar uplifting effect for me. I can stream it via Britbox.

  27. I’ve kind of given up on romance. I’m sure it won’t last for long, but I can’t seem to find anything that appeals in romance.
    A recommendation turned out to be loads of fun. I read Jasper Fforde’s The Ayre Affair. It’s the first book in the Thursday Next (I love her name) literary detective series. The author has an incredible imagination. It’s hard to describe this book, but tons of great British humor, and quirky characters with interesting names. I had many a chuckle and some laughs of surprise. Just ordered the second in the series, and I hope it’s equally as good.

  28. I have the last chapter of Chocolate Wishes open. I took a cooking break, making tomorrow’s leftovers today. In the January 2 Post, I said I had 5 basic recipes, which I promptly changed to 6. (I’ve since added 2 others.) I said, ” My sixth recipe is boneless skinless chicken thighs (or maybe breasts, or both) baked on a bed of onions and maybe other veggies.”

    That’s what I made, more or less. This time, the “other veggies” were chopped celery and banana pepper rings, topped with 4 frozen BSCThighs. Popped it all in a tinfoil baking pan and stuck it in my toaster oven for something over an hour.

    I pulled it out to check on it—Nearly done, and the thighs were submerged in liquid. My first thought was, “I’m not baking the chicken, I’m boiling it.” Next thought was, “Wow, look at all that yummy broth!” On final thought, I have packages of instant mashed potatoes. So I set the thighs aside, dumped in a half cup of Half&Half (I don’t have any milk), then emptied a 57 gram package of “Original Homestyle” mashed potatoes and stirred. A lot. When it looked creamy, I put the chicken back in, under the spuds. Put the cover on, folded in the edges, and set it aside to cool. I don’t know how it tastes, yet, but it looks bloody marvelous!

    I won’t even think it’s a hobby, but it turns out I like to cook stuff when there’s no deadline, and so far, I’ve eaten my mistakes. Most of them.

    Then I remember I’m on a diet. 1120 grams of Recipe #6 has 1403 calories, 61 carbs, 2597 mg of sodium, and 120 mL of liquid. I’ll divide it into thirds, or quarters, for actual consumption.

      1. Yes! And cooking can turn out to be a lot of fun. Besides the recipe #6 chicken, I still have 2 pounds of chili (Recipe #1) and some steaks (Recipe #2).

  29. THE SILVER BULLETS OF ANNIE OAKLEY, by Mercedes Lackey, was released this week and I enjoyed it. Another magical romp with the Buffalo Bill Wild West show in Bavaria, though apparently set before Bill acquired any magical abilities of his own.

    SCOUT’S PROGRESS, by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller. Comfort reread; I am very fond of Daav and Aelliana, the math genius! If anyone who likes series books has not checked out the Liaden universe, it’s worth a look. There is a lot of comedy-of-manners Regency flavor in them, too. The first books in the series were AGENT OF CHANGE, CONFLICT OF HONORS, and CARPE DIEM, but since then various volumes have been published and the timeline is now more complex; check the Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liaden_universe

    Also planning for another comfort reread, this time of the late Essie Summers, whose books are being reissued by her estate/children in a Commemorative Edition (Collected Works of Essie Summers). She wrote category romance for M&B/Harlequin for many years, and I read all of them, because an extra character in her books was her much-loved New Zealand, and I have a hard time resisting an author who is writing about a much-loved place — like Kathleen Norris, who loved California and set a lot of light romance there. The thing about the reissues is that Summers manuscripts were often cut drastically to meet M&B’s exacting word count limits — occasionally as much as 17% — and this material will mostly be returned in the reissues. And there are some nice photographs of the neighborhoods where the books were set — very scenic — and some biographical notes about the books and what inspired them. Some stuff is dated — one hero I liked very much smokes a pipe . . . .

    1. I like the Liaden Universe too. Calm, decent, competent people accomplishing good things despite the obstacles provided by life and the bad guys. There’s a new one coming out later this year.

  30. I was at a book sale and asked a friend if she needed any books. I had Do care Preston’s The Lost City of the Monkey God which she needed for February book club. She had a couple of days left in Covid isolation so I read the book. Good book, but like River of Doubt; terrifying. Also thank you for the recommendation of Ten Things I Hate About the Duke. I loved it.

  31. I read Light of Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki. A SFF novel about aliens come to earth who cross the path of someone looking to collect a soul on behalf of Hell. There is kindness and a romance and an exploration of gender identity and some delicious food. It sounds like a very strange combination but somehow it works. I’m not quite sure the ending is as strong as the rest of the book but I enjoyed the story nonetheless.

    I also enjoyed The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta which is a YA romance involving an agender teen baker who can affect other people with their magical baking. The story follows the baker as they seek to repair the relationships that they accidentally broke up while learning about themselves in the process. I’ve seen magical baking done before but this was a cute take on it.

  32. Someone here mentioned Jack Irish the third season and I don’t remember seeing it so I picked it up from the library. I checked my checkout history and it was not listed. The last season I saw was in 2019. My list goes back as far as 2012. My library is now on porch pickup again because of the continuing outbreaks. This is one of the times people should get over themselves and just get the shots already. My grandson tested positive which meant the whole family was quarantined for a week, also my sister’s family. They have all had their shots so symptoms were fairly manageable but they were still watchful.

    One of the side benefits of porch pick up is that they will put out magazines for free to take. Yesterday I brought home copies of Eating Well, the covers are scrumptious, and also one of my favorites Real Simple. I’d rather get the actual magazine versus the e copy, just not a fan. It seems there are more advertisements than story content.

    1. I forgot while this is going on I also reached back a couple of decades BC (before covid) and am reading a Jo Goodman western, Marry Me, about a girl raised as a boy until some bad people find out and take cruel advantage. There is no other way to say it. She is rescued by the new town doctor and they eventually marry only to be confronted towards the end by a typhoid fever epidemic.

  33. Have we ever talked about Finlay Donovan Is Killing It: A Mystery by Elle Cosimano?

    I read it over the summer, and don’t remember if I had mentioned it at the time here or not, but I see that it’s becoming a series and there’s a new installment coming out at the end of the month so I was thinking about it again and that I might want to re-read in anticipation of a new installment, and I wonder if some people here might like the combination of mystery/writing/romance/farce it offers.

    It’s fun in sort of a zany & manic way. But it’s a bit dark at times and the main character definitely makes some strange & at times hard to believe/dumb Choices along the way…so that I was never sure that I would actually want to be her friend or hang out with her in real life- which I typically prefer in my heroines – but she was always interesting even while being a mess and I rooted for her.

    For the plot there was a lot of tension and twists and turns along the way to keep me engaged in the first reading…it will be interesting to see how I much I like it when it’s less about what’s happening in the plots and more about re-visiting characters I’m not so sure about.

    Although Vero…Vero, I for sure would want to get drinks with and I’m excited to visit her again. I’m hoping the sequel gets us more Vero. But I’m sort of interested in how the re-read will go and how much my overall enjoyment holds up with the major plot points already known to me.

  34. I reread Sword Dance, then read Saffron Alley. I didn’t like the second book quite as much, mainly because the external threat only emerged close to the end of the book. But the relationship development was delightful, and I’m looking forward to the third book.

    Now I’m reading The Windsor Knot, starring an elderly Queen Elizabeth and one of her secretaries as a team of undercover detectives. It’s very enjoyable, funny, and almost believable. I love the way some of the people around her, while respecting the Queen deeply, also underestimate her as a little old lady.

  35. I just finished a novel that I wanted to recommend called “Dark Truths” by author Tess Thompson (https://sisterswritingcrime.blogspot.com/). It really blew me away! This is a serial killer mystery with a lot of really likable characters and romance. It follows Sheriff Jonas Clearwater on a hunt to find the killer of his friend, Cecil, a crime author who may have stumbled too close to the truth while researching his latest book. During his investigation he runs into Peyton. These two met once upon a time and had instant chemistry. The timing wasn’t right for either of them and they went their separate ways. Now Cecil’s death reconnects them again. The writing and character development is top notch as is the very unique storyline. This one will have you on the edge of your seat while you work through the case with Jonas hoping at every twist he isn’t the next victim! I would love to hear what you think if you end up checking out this book. It’s actually a part of the Angel Falls series but each book can be read on it’s own. This has been my favorite so far. Happy Reading!

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