This is a Good Book Thursday, January 27, 2022

I’ve been re-reading a lot for the comfort of a sure thing. But aalmost as good as a Sure Thing is the Sorta Sure Thing, like when an author I love has a new book out and I get my hands on it. Like the third book in the Deadly Education series (next year) or the next Peter Grant (April), or the fourth book in the Time Police series or the second in The Book of Firsts series or the sixth (seventh?) in the Murderbt series (who knows when we’ll see those). The Sorta Sure Things don’t always pan out, but even then the authors are so good that their meh books are infinitely better than other people’s best work.

In the spirit of Sure Thing week, I am now going to reheat a pizza (I’m working my way through the Villa’s insane list of pizzas, the food equivalent of a fiction series, and tonight is a Cheese Steak Pizza with mushrooms, onions & extra cheese) and reread Loretta Chase’s Difficult Dukes.

So what did you read this week that was a Sure Thing? Or a Sorta Sure Thing, we’re open-minded here.

118 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 27, 2022

  1. Yay, Good Book Thursday!

    I can’t say that I’ve read a lot this week. Reading the instructions for my seed pods shouldn’t count.

    Variations on a Theme Book 3
    Grey Wolf continues to churn out Book 3, posting new chapters on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’ve read through Chapter 41. That might say something about the quality, which I’ve described as FaceBook level. But I continue to want to see where the story goes. I might have been a FB junkie, too.

    Once More With Feelings
    Nighthawk’s “do-over” story was different, and better written. I re-read it while waiting for new chapters of VoaT.

    Doing It All Over
    Another do-over reread… that sounds redundant again. I think I vued my own deja. Al Steiner could use some pointers, but the story was great. Where he needs help is an epilog longer than any two chapters of the story.

    The Gourmets of Grantsville
    Another “Ring of Fire” novel by Bethanne Kim. She does this so well. Mrs. Flannery is again a supporting cast member. This is even more about adapting uptime stuff to downtime 1632 stuff. The Grantville Cooking Club in action. Plus sniffles.

    Thursday is still my Official Weigh-In Day, the 41st of the diet. I seem to be stuck on the plateau above 250. Officially, 252 today. It was lower earlier in the week when it didn’t count. (grumble, grumble, mutter)

    I’m having a teensy bit of trouble with my Chair Yoga routines. I have all eleven of the ten episodes downloaded. The way I’m supposed to do this is Episode 1 (warmup), my choice of Episodes 2 through 9, and finally Episode 10 (cooldown). Episode 10 is kicking my self esteem. Yes, that’s a euphemism. I ordered Yoga equipment. Yoga blocks, straps, a mat. They aren’t required, but I feel a need.

    As I type, my clock/thermometer informs me that it is 69°F in my room (20.6° if my room was in Canada). My preferred comfort zone is between 72° and 74°, and no draughts. (I think draughts are Canadian drafts. Or maybe Canadian beer.) Outside, it’s 17°F, which is cold as all getout even in Canada. My Canadian relatives would scoff at me. In French.

    I don’t know what the temperature really is – I own too many thermometers. The one under the AC unit, by the hydoponics, says 66.4°F. The one on the Fridge says 69.9°F. In the “kitchen” it’s 70.0°F. The bathroom, the highest point in the garage, it’s 73.4°F. My desk clock/thermometer says 68.9°F. A man with more than one clock never knows exactly what time it is. Likewise, a man with multiple thermometers never knows the temperature. Long story sh… too late for that, eh? I’m feeling a little cold.

      1. Okay then. My weight today was 114.3 kilograms. For our British cousins, that’s 18 stone. I’d mention 0.126 short tons, but that just hurts. Not just that it’s in tons, but that, like me, the tons are short.

        1. Definitely thanks for the stones. My 14-times table has a lot of gaps. I usually have to subtract 140lbs (10 stone) and then see how many 4 stones (56lbs) or 2 stones (28lbs) there are, approximately.

          1. I cheated – the computer has a calculator app that does unit conversions. LOTS of unit conversions. It lacks furlongs per fortnight, my favorite measure of speed.

          2. I cheat. I type stuff like “convert 17 fahrenheit to celsius” into Google and it tells me the answer. I like the internet. But it’s been bad for my maths skills.

          3. I can’t resist a challenge. And it works too: “convert 1 c to furlongs per fortnight” tells me it’s 1.8026175 × 10^12 furlongs per fortnight. That’s a lot of furlongs!

          4. And the units come from a Naval Reactors Technical Bulletin (40 years ago) discussing applications of Murphy’s Law. It said that “The units on a blueprint will be expressed in the most useless format, e.g. Furlongs per Fortnight.” That – the fact that a NRTB would publish such a humorous topic – stuck with me ever since. And that was only one of about twenty or thirty examples. Other examples include “When you have removed 35 of 36 bolts securing the head of a Main Condenser, you will realize you are working on the wrong condenser.” followed by “When you are torquing the 35th of 36 bolts securing the head of a Main Condenser, that’s when you will realize you forgot the O-ring.”

          5. I’m a technical writer by trade and I find that hilarious. I don’t think we’d get away with joking around like that these days.

  2. I had a very good reading week. First, I got a friend to read a Suitable Consort, which she is finding as adorable as I did. And I really appreciate how almost all of the action takes place of screen. At this point, I really don’t care who stabs who with what. I just want to know how everyone felt about it afterwards.

    I also finished Electric Gods by Katee Robert and really enjoyed it. I like how her heroines have a moral code while still being very savvy. Also, she does something I haven’t encountered before when she introduces a character: she describes them as white. She says ‘he was a burley white man with a gray beard in his 50s’ or some such. It reminded me of the discussion here about how, if a character isn’t specifically described as a person of color then we as readers just default to assuming they are white. I found Robert’s method a good solution.

    Third, I am listening to Vespertine by Margaret Rogerson and am loving it. Actually, it reminds me a bit of Murderbot. The main character is very shy of people while being hellbent on saving them, and there is a lot of internal snark dialogue, although it is between her and the spirit possessing her. Both are snarky. Thanks to whoever here recommended it!

    Last, Alexis Hall has a new book out, so I am looking forward to that next. It looks like fun.

    1. I like your description of A Suitable Consort for the King – the last line made me laugh. And I read that new Alexis Hall book – Something Fabulous – regency M/M – parts of it made me laugh out loud.

    2. Ben Aaronovitch does that too — describing characters as white, rather than using white as the default. It’s definitely in character for Peter’s point of view, but it’s also, I believe, a statement on the author’s part. I vaguely recall hearing Aaronovitch talk about it in an interview, but I could be misremembering that.

    3. Ben Aaronovitch does that too: he doesn’t have “white” as a default. Instead, all the important characters get described by their particular colour of hair, skin etc. So even-handed.

    4. “Lots of internal snark”—I can see I will have to move that one up the reading list.

      1. I am really happy with it. I plan on looking for more of her backlog. The phrase, “stupid human meat brain” comes up a lot, along with vile nun.

  3. I re-read Peter Cabot Gets Lost by Cat Sebastian, which is probably the only Sure Thing I’d recommend here today from this week. An M/M road story, it’s humorous, kind and delightful. Sebastian absolutely knows how to create two very different characters and have them drive (pun intended) the plot. I want to be best friends with both the MC’s.

    And lucky me, Cat Sebastian also had a new book out this week, The Missing Page, which is the second in her British mystery series. Not my favourite of her work but still worth the read and this one was better than the first, a kind of literary accomplishment.

    I read Wealth of Unsaid Words by RJ Cooper, thanks for that, Alexandra, a poignant read.

    I read the last of Lyn Gala’s Claiming series, Kensho, which was a series of related stories, and finished Anna Butler’s Lancaster series with The God’s Eye. Although I wearied of all the Egyptology, I do love the main character Rate so much and enjoy all the politics of the Houses, that it was still a good read. Thank you for whoever recommended it here – I’m sorry I can’t remember! – and do you know if any of her other books are as good? I admire an author who can use the word terpsichorean with confidence.

    1. It may have been me. Anna Butler has a SF series I like too : Taking Shield. It is also M/M and there is also a bit of egyptology in it but not as much.
      I think I first read Taking Shield because it was recommended here and then read the Lancaster series but I may be wrong.

  4. I had another look at me least recently read Kindle books, and have been rereading Loretta Chase’s earliest Regencies. Alas, they’re too contrived: much too much plot, and I’m not close enough to the characters to really care about them (or ultimately be convinced by them). So won’t read again. I wish there was a way to permanently delete books I don’t want any more. It’

    1. ‘s so easy to re-download them, even if I remove them from the device.

      (No idea why my comment posted itself mid-word, and of course before I’d checked it.)

      I’ve just started Alexis Hall’s ‘Something Fabulous’: fun so far.

      1. I’m quite fond of LC’s early regencies, however, if you go to manage your content and devices on amazon and locate the book you don’t want, you can then open up “other actions” and choose Delete. This is delete from your account not from a device so make sure you really really want to do that…

          1. Also, if you permanently delete a book on kindle after a few days (I am not sure how many) you get a refund. Be careful though, if you do it too often, they’ll stop doing it. Personally I use that function when I read a book that I have found offensive, which happens 2 or 3 times a year at most.

        1. I think that you can also permanently delete it directly off of your device. At least I can. I have the option, when I highlight a title in my library to “remove from my device” or “delete permanently”. I get a refund if I haven’t read much of the book. First 10 percent or so?

          1. I have had a refund even if I have read the whole book. I think it is only possible if you do it fairly quickly (and don’t abuse it as I have said).

    2. I could swear that there is a way to permanently delete a book from your Amazon account. I share an account with someone (who does the vast majority of the purchasing on the account by a factor of at least ten), and I live in fear that I’ll somehow permanently delete something that’s oe of her faves. (Okay, not exactly fear, but you know what I mean.) I’m sure I once got a message that continuing with whatever I was doing would permanently delete the item.

      Alternatively, if it really isn’t possible, you’ve probably already thought of it, but can you create a “collection” for books you don’t want to re-read?

      1. Thanks, Gin: I have done that, but I don’t find collections the most helpful way to organize things – because when I run a search, it doesn’t show me if titles are in a collection. I wish you could add badges to books, as I can to my photos – so I could see at a glance which were rejects, which maybe worth another read, and which favourites.

        I shall try Catie’s method.

  5. If I’m thinking of another book while I’m reading Kristen Ashley’s After the Climb that is not a good thing. This is about three people who grew up to become wealthy and one causes the break up of the other two for over 28 years and only confesses after his death in a letter. It’s early days yet so I set it aside for awhile and went into the next book, Broke-Ass Women’s Club by Sharon Sala. Of course I liked the title and it is totally different from Ms Ashley’s book. This story is about four women who married the same man, big time bigamy, and only find out about each other after he dies in a car accident. Therefor there is no money for the three of them, he had hoodwinked them all. Luckily the first wife owns a mansion and had invited the three to move in together with her. What I didn’t see coming was the reaction of family members to this dilemma. Looks like I’ll be going back and forth over the next couple of days.

    PS I don’t know why I’ve become such a crank over money maybe it is the personality of the character, I never had a problem with any of Judith McNaught’s characters.

    1. Real life. My late wife’s father never divorced his first, second, third, fourth, nor fifth wives. She was the only child of the fourth wife. She met the eldest daughter of wife #1 and they became friends. Elva attended the funeral when my wife died. We said her father pre-deceased her in the obit. Elva showed him the obit and he protested. She told him that as far as we were concerned, he was dead to us. I assume the violent, abusive old bigamist is dead by now. That was 25 years ago.

    2. I love Kristen Ashley & I thought this one started slow. Not sure when I started liking it but I got there and will be reading the rest of the series.
      I think she may be feeling her way a little because the main characters are older than her.

      1. I have been saying away from that one. Sometimes when she does a time gap the beginning is just so sad… I know it will be ok eventually but…

  6. I just finished (in record time…curled up indoors, while the temp outside was something like -15 C yesterday. Yes, in Canada) a book by a new-to-me author, SJ Bennett. She has a new mystery series, Her Majesty the Queen Investigates. Yes, that queen. Our queen. First book is The Windsor Knot, and the second is on order at the library.

    Wonderful mystery and characters (two of whom are real; well four, if you include the Obamas on their state visit, but they don’t get involved; though I think he wanted to be). And Rozie, the queen’s eyes and ears and legs, who does much of the running around behind the scenes.

    Highly recommended.

    1. I really enjoyed The Windsor Knot. I was in awe of how much research the author must have done to be so convincing about the royal household. Looking forward to the next one.

  7. You don’t have to publish this comment, but Jennifer, YOU are my sure thing. I recently re-read Manhunting, which is still funny, insightful, and relevant. The rom-com would not be dead if they’d just make this into a movie.

  8. I loved A Master of Djinn by P. Djeli Clark. It’s about a female government agent in late 1800s(?) Cairo who works to protect her city from supernatural attacks. Fun worldbuilding. Steampunky flavor. Competent women. Lots of diversity of all kinds.

  9. I’m reading another of Alexander McCall Smith’s No.1 Ladies Detective Agency books – To the Land of Long Lost Friends is the title.

    Alexander M-S is one of my sure things, although this book seems to be a little slow and draggy. I keep falling asleep listening to it. But still well written and the characters are old friends. You definitely know what you are getting when you pick one up.

    1. If you haven’t seen the series in HBO Max, treat yourself they only made seven episodes and it was marvelous. Beautiful acting beautiful beautiful scripts

  10. I read Magic Flutes by Eva Ibbotson, recommended by someone here last week. Almost as good as A Secret Countess, which I enjoyed a lot.

    Previously people had recommended A Company of Swans, but the sample didn’t really intrigue me. Perhaps I should give that another try, meaning buy the whole book.

  11. Let’s see “Dial A for Aunties” by Jesse Q. Sutano…a bit of a wacky ride, but fun in a turn your logic off sort of way. There are several instances of severe stupidity that almost made me turn on the main characters… but if you can hand wave through some of the early dumb decisions as stemming from shock instead of stupidity, it improves enough that the characters don’t feel TSTL….just that they panic and make bad choices when they don’t have time to process. (and who among us hasn’t made a panicked bad choice or two….although in the case of this book, it’s at least six that I can think of without even trying…)

    “City of Girls” by Elizabeth Gilbert …I’d only read “Eat, Pray Love” by her previously…and wasn’t sure what I’d think of her fiction. This story gives a really interesting take on love & relationships as experienced through the device of a 90 year old writing a tell all letter that reflects back on her youth leading up to and during World War 2 and beyond and generally her experience of being in the midst of a confluence of events and changing social mores. Enjoyable, but bring tissues and oh man, did I feel sorry for her and just feel some of her embarrassment/shame as if it were my own at certain points (what’s the opposite of schadenfreude, just utter empathy?)…while also thinking she had a hell of a life and a lot of joy & personal growth on the way. I’m not sure if I’m selling it, but I really liked it and it had a lot of wit and humor along the way to balance out the tougher parts of her tale.

    If you can take a pandemic story right now, I recommend “The Pull of the Stars” by Emma Donoghue which is the fictional account of an experience of an Irish nurse in a maternity ward during the 1918 flu. It’s sadly sweet and will stick with me for a while…but honestly, I would not have been able to get through it in the beginning stages of Covid…and it definitely added to my omicron anxiety, so I feel like I need to give that trigger warning that it might not be the moment to tackle it. But if you’re ready for a story of the resilience of women in the face of disease and war, it’s a good one. It hits that bittersweet note of not an entirely happy story, but still giving you reasons to leave it feeling hopeful.

    1. Oh, I forgot to mention my Sure Thing which I am saving for listening to for this weekend when I’m snowed in a which is an audiobook of Betty White’s “If you ask me (and of course you won’t)” which is read by her.

      I feel like listening to that in my earbuds will improve the shoveling out process for sure.

      1. Oh Betty White … I remember a college kid bartender served her once and he said she was lovely and got flirty when she was tipsy. He said if I’d been 60 years older.

        1. It was a near thing for me…honestly a lot of the stupidest stuff to start I could mentally assign as panicking and get around…but it was the Big Misunderstanding flashback in particular where it almost lost me….but I was so far into it at that point, I just pushed through, and am ultimately glad I did. The fun was enough to override the dumb for me in this case. Although, yeah…not sure I really like/respect the majority of the characters…and if you don’t have patience for heroines who flirt with being TSTL….this might not be one for you.

    2. I LOVED The Pull of the Stars. Somehow it’s a soothing and gentle book set against the backdrops of war, pandemic, and life and death in the maternity ward. It might a comfort re-read this weekend if we get snowed in.

      1. Agreed…I feel like I may not have emphasized that enough in my initial review about the book…it really showcases an awful lot of competence in the face of uncertainties & difficulties, and did leave me with a sense of “keep calm and carry on” and that while things may be confusing and/or going to hell all around us, Mr. Rogers was right – there are always helpers and you just need to look to the helpers. And it will all get sorted out eventually, even if not as quickly/easily as you’d like, but ultimately we will endure and go on.

        Maybe I need to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood this weekend too.

  12. I am still working my way through Pern. I am currently reading All the Weyrs of Pern. By this book, all the problematic sex aspects have disappeared which is a relief.
    My sure thing this week was Alexis Hall’s new book, Something Fabulous, which I finished early this morning. A festival of linguistic fun. He really plays with the Regency language in a really fun way. I want to play the Dictionary game now :).
    Also, all the characters are fun and the main protagonists delightful.

  13. We are still in the grips of our January Warm Up (it’s -8C/18F) but apparently we are due for a few days of cold. I think the meteorologists give us warm weather in the 14-day forecast just to drag us along through winter.

    As for books, I have the last 2 Sandman Slim books by Richard Kadrey (SF horror) and a middle grade ghost story for actual books and I’m listening to The Man Who Died Twice. I’ve just started it but it’s nice to be back at Cooper’s Chase.

    1. I hardly had time to read but managed to finish “Honeymoon sweet” by Allison Temple. Really a sweet story (not saccharine). Groom left at the “altar” goes on the honeymoon cruise alone. Rescues a naked guy who’d shut himself out of his room. Who sheds his boyfriend who’s too busy to leave off work.
      Naked guy steps in to play the pretend husband.
      When re-told like this it seems total BS but the two guys are lovely and when life ist exhaustinf, a kind story with h/h that I could imagine to be friends with is soothing.
      It’s the second book in a row in presemt tense (after last week’s If this gets out). Usually this shoves me out of the story, with these two not. The story has an immediate feel to it
      maybe that’s why.
      Right now I’m finishing an excerpt of a book recommended here last week. It feels nice but I simply can’t muster a connection with filthy rich 20 somethings.
      Plus I don’t buy the European soccer star persona of one of the protags. Can’t pin point why. Just doesn’t feel like the guys we watch on tv all the time.
      Next lined up is the new Alexis Hall, gloriously a KU.

      1. Sorry, this is no reply to Office Wench Cherry’s post.
        Too tired to find the rught comments box, yawn.

      2. Forgot to add: the new Alexis Hall is my sure thing. Might get the audio too. Yummy British accents ❤

        1. I’m alternating reading and listening to the new Alexis Hall. The narrator, Nicholas Boulton, is outstanding.

      3. If you are talking about the book I think you are talking about. Yes, I agree, European football (soccer) stars do not come from filthy rich backgrounds. In private schools, you play rugby or cricket not football, too working class 🙂

  14. I reread one of my Sure Things: Georgette Heyer. I went for Pistols for Two, which is a collection of short stories. It was just what I could handle. Little bites of fun.

    Then I read The Worst Guy by Kate Canterbary, which was recommended on another blog. I enjoyed it a lot: two successful adults who know who they are and accept themselves while being aware that in itself doesn’t make their issues go away. Canterbary was a new-to-me author, so definitely not a Sure Thing at the beginning, but I’ll be looking into her backlist now.

  15. I was rereading my favorite Sarina Bowen, “Rookie Move,” for comfort. And decided to try to make my own Caesar salad pizza from Jenny’s description. Because the pizza places near me home are nothing like as creative as her local pizzeria.

    I was correct to fear the next bad thing. My 87 year okd FIL has caught COVID. So I’m going to drown my fear in pizza. That may be counter productive, but I just don’t care right now. Life is too uncertain, so pizza it shall be…

    1. Sending good vibes for the FIL. I’d volunteer to eat some pizza for you too, but that probably wouldn’t help you and it’s definitely not good for me.

  16. I’ve finished “Velocity Weapon”, Book 1 of the Protectorate series by Megan E. O’Keefe which is my Sort of Sure Thing. That is, I liked it, but then I like most books shortly after finishing it. The real Sure Things are if I still like the book after re-reading it later.

    This book starts off with a gunnery sargent named Sanda Greeve waking up from cold sleep with a missing leg. She is told that she was picked up 200 years after a battle and that her planet, the enemy planet and the only wormhole gate in the region were destroyed shortly after she was injured and was stored in her evacuation pod. Her rescuer is an AI ship from the enemy planet who claims that their only means of survival is to fly at 0.8c to a nearby star colony which is about 200 light years away.

    There are 4 threads to this story, one is of Sanda Greeve and how she copes with the loss of everything she has ever known, thread two deals with her brother who is a rising political star back on their home planet who moves heaven and earth to try and find his sister’s body. Thread 3 deals a little with the woman who manufactured the first wormhole gate and some of her secrets – which persists to the current story’s timeline. The 4th thread deals with a girl from the slums on some unknown planet and at some unknown date; it’s after the reveal of the wormhole gates, however.

    There’s a lot of action and a lot of mystery. It got pretty intense, in fact. So intense that I had to read the end before I could continue. Since this was a new author for me, I didn’t know if I could trust her not to kill her protagonists. So, spoiler, although people die, none of the protagonists die. So far.

  17. I also started reading a Rex Stout Nero Wolfe novel. And it made me laugh out loud when Archie says that Wolf was smirking, and then says “He is most intolerable when he smirks.”

  18. I finished Death on The Nile, a re-read (although I first read it 30 yrs ago.) Very much a sure thing of plot and vivid characters, ignored the parts that were very much of its time (1937ish). On to the Secret Adversary next month, and the Death on the Nile reboot film. Branagh is good but Suchet forever!

    It’s 4 degrees here, so planning on finishing out the month by trying Virginia Heath’s A Warriner to Her Rescue, a series regency/historical. I’ve heard of it on a few blogs and podcasts I follow, so fingers crossed, it will be cozy-feeling and good! Anyone read this author?

  19. Finished Eva Ibbotson’s A Countess Below Stairs. A light and sweet historical with a hint of romance. I enjoyed it.
    Other than that, several DNFs and a re-reading of Murderbot. I’ve just finished Network Effect, the only novel in the series. I liked it better on the re-read, but still not as much as the novellas. I think Wells is better with the shorter format.
    Also at the recommendation from my son, I started watching a Japanese anime serial on Netflix, Violet Evergarden. I’ve only watched the first two episodes, but so far, I’m liking it a lot.

    1. I like to think of Network Effect as four novellas in one package. There are such distinct turning points (won’t say what they are, because spoilers), and somewhat different feels to each section, with a resolution to the big question of the act at the turning point.

      1. Plus, if you read them all back to back, I think that the longer length is pretty satisfying. Rogue protocol slots right in and adds to the relationship with Dr. Mensa. I read Network Effect differently this time with the relationships built on Preservation as backstory.

  20. I finished Jayne Ann Krentz’s new book lightning In a Mirror. It was up to her usual entertaining standards. I very much enjoyed it. Then I moved on to Jana DeLeon’s new book Wrong Side of Forty. It is the start of a series called Marina In Midlife. She is always entertaining and enjoyable and this book was both of those. I read another series of hers called the Mudbug series which was absolutely hysterical. She also has a series about a lady named Fortune. Haven’t really gotten into that one. It’s supposed to be very good though. She has a lot of loyal followers. And a really funny presence on Facebook.

  21. I picked up the latest my library had by an author I’ve been reading for decades and although it was good enough to finish, it was not what I’d call a sure thing. I will check out the upcoming title from the library when it comes in, but I don’t think I’ll buy it.

    Far more satisfying was The Singles Table by Sara Desai. This was a tale of 2 opposites who meet at various singles tables during the Indian wedding season with no plans to ever interact after the engagement party. The day starts when she hits him in the ass at a paintball party because he is so serious about winning that he takes all the fun out of the day. Needless to say, he was not amused.

    Since he is one of the oldest friends of the prospective groom, who is a cousin of the paintball shooter, they keep running into each other at the various pre-wedding affairs.
    Along the way they have to navigate the expectations of the greater community, learn to balance building businesses with having an outside life and, in her case, finding out where they belong. There are a few background characters from the first two books, but since it is mainly a bit of comic relief, you don’t have to remember them to get the joke.

  22. I managed to finish a few books this week. I wouldn’t call any of them Sure Things, but they were enjoyable. First, Iron Widow, which I was able to enjoy despite the present tense. With some authors I find present tense very irritating; with others (for example Charles Stross) I don’t even notice it. I did have to keep stopping, though, because the whole unjust corrupt society made me So Mad.
    Then I read the second and third of Evie Dunmore’s suffragist series. I had read the first one some time ago and not liked it much, but they get better, it seems, at not hitting you over the head with research. (Speaking of unjust corrupt societies. I do hope I’m not on a roll, here.)
    Now I’ve decided to read Paladin’s Grace, as a Sure Thing, and just to watch Stephen knitting socks.

  23. I also read the new Alexis Hall, ‘Something Fabulous,’ which I expected to love, and I did. Per his newsletter, the sequel will be about Peggy, which is a relief because sweet Bonny’s sister is a colossal and incessant PITA. I did *not* want to read a whole book about her.

    This week I read 5 full-length novels, 2 mostly-pictures nonfiction books, 3 shorts, and ‘Sense of Occasion’ by Broadway producer/director Harold Prince, which is a career memoir (exactly what I wanted). DNFd at 25% a M/M romance about a young gymnast and an older circus acrobat, which I fortunately got on sale; the cover was the best thing about it.

    Aside from the Hall, the novel win was ‘The Spymaster’s Lady’ by Joanna Bourne. Appealing characters, not too much mayhem, time to rest in between episodes of Mortal Peril, and a man who truly respects his woman.

    Two of the shorts were Very Good Indeed, and both by Harper Fox. ‘Life After Joe,’ which is full of bad decisions, angst, and triggers; and ‘Out,’ which features an agoraphobic hotel staffer and a cop searching for his missing partner. I’m leaving that one on the Kindle for inevitable and probably frequent re-reads.

    Am moderately tipsy thanks to a work-sponsored cocktail hour. Now going back to Hall’s newsletter to read the new installment of his Category Romance serial.

        1. At the same time. Towards the end, there is a moment where you understand better how she could see Valentine as a monster because of his dogged pursuit of her. But yes, her histrionics are a bit much while Bonny’s somehow are delightful.

    1. I am a huge fan of Joanna Bourne. I’m sorry she retired recently. I reread The Black Hawk and The Forbidden Rose yearly. If you like that series, you might want to consider the audio versions. Kristin Potter does the French female characters particularly well and I also really appreciate her voice for Hawker.

  24. Haven’t been reading or rereading. I have a mystery I’m trying to solve, where is Cinderella’s skirt? Sorting the Duplo Lego for the niece. Cinderella needs her skirt.

    Will try Her Majesty mystery and the Broke-ass Women’s Club. Hopefully they will break the spell.

    Manhunting should be a movie. So should Bet Me and Agnes.

  25. THE MADMAN’S LIBRARY: The Greatest Curiosities of Literature (Hardcover), by Edward Brooke-Hitching I like this one, which is a collection of the weirdest books imaginable and unimaginable: Books written in blood including a Qur’an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein (if true, he’d have been very anemic; it’s a 600-odd page work), books that kill, books of the insane, books that hoaxed the globe, books invisible to the naked eye and books so long they could destroy the Universe, books worn into battle, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered… and a few others that are just plain weird. It’s a dip-and-come-again book, very heavily illustrated.

    JUST ONE DAMNED THING AFTER ANOTHER: The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, by Jodi Taylor. I should have read this series years ago; and can’t imagine how it didn’t come under my eye until this year. Time travel to the Upper Cretaceous, naturally, because how could you visit any period that didn’t harbor T. rex?

    So, of course, the cookbook of the week was AND THE REST IS COOKERY: A Manual For the Care and Keeping of Historians, compiled by Sara Robinson, Afton Cochran, Merry Schepers, Barb Ruddle, Sara McKenna. This is the cookbook linked to the St. Mary’s books. One thing about the concept; except for dining in dinoland, you can use recipes from anywhen. This one is fun — I have a respectable collection of medieval and reenactor cookbooks, so it isn’t unfamiliar stuff in the pot — but the ebook version, the one I have, is published with the pages as single images, so it isn’t well suited to a handheld reader. I’m doing well enough with it on the (relatively large) desktop screen. I think the print would be uncomfortably tiny on a laptop or tablet.

    INSIDE THE WARDROBE OF ANNE BOLEYN, by Barbara Parker Bell. There are a surprising number of records remaining about Anne Boleyn, and “wardrobe” accounts are where her household goods, clothing, and especially jewels, were tracked. This is a readable account of such things, not only used in her lifetime but also what happened to them, when they can be traced, after she died.

    “Queen Anne’s bed”—still called this during Jane’s lifetime—was dismantled and its pieces added to Jane Seymour’s bed; the Greenwich bed had a counterpane and hangings embroidered with Henry VIII’s arms and Anne Boleyn’s monogram. Jane’s mark on this bed was a headboard, added when she became Queen, painted with the King’s arms and Jane’s cipher. At Hampton Court, the bedstead of Jane Seymour’s bed was “curiously wrought and carved with the late Queen Anne’s ciphers and cognisances, painted walnut colour and parcel gilt” with hangings decorated with Henry’s and Anne’s arms and her cipher.

    Of course, Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour were second cousins.

    I’d say my new Sure Thing would be a new Janet Neel, or an unexpected Emma Lathen. Or someone from my short list of category romance authors.

  26. I’m reading the latest in the Lady Astronaut series. They’re definitely a Sorta Sure Thing, and I’m really enjoying this one though it’d be easier to put the book down and go to sleep if things stopped going wrong for them for a few minutes.

    Other than that, I’ve has a rough few weeks and I’ve been very focused on my Sure Things, which this month have been KJ Charles, Murderbot and Georgette Heyer. I need to expand my Sure Things list – it’s about time for my regular reread of your books, Jenny.

  27. Well, umm. I’ve been taking notes from The Gwent County History volume 2. After months of inactivity, both my brain and body are beginning to move again. I discovered McKissock’s Medieval Monmouth and a collection of essays gathered by Nora Chadwick on the Early British Church which includes an article on a group of Welsh Saints’ stories which was made either in Monmouth or Glastonbury in the 12th century. I can’t find a book which I’m sure was called The Welsh and the Britons. Perhaps I’m imagining it.

    I feel like Sleeping Beauty, awakened.

    Which is good because I can’t find any fiction I want to read. I’m looking for comfort which probably means a reread. But I’ve re-reread my many faves too many times to find comfort right now.

    1. Have you checked the British Library catalogue? There’s nothing of exactly that title, but several old histories of Wales have similar phrases.

      1. Actually, all my discovering/missing is happening among books I own. I haven’t been in my office/bookroom to just mess with the books for nearly 4 months. I think they’re annoyed about having been ignored, so are playing hide and seek with me. And I don’t seem to have any control; I pulled out my college yearbook just for the fun of it (my 45th reunion is this summer). Yet I’d been intending to look among the medieval books for the perhaps imagined Welsh and Britons. Which doesn’t make sense. Welsh and Bretons would be possible. If it existed.

        1. Well, the Welsh were also Britons. (As I think are most of us English: my father always reckoned our ancestors were the ancient Britons who couldn’t be bothered to run away; they just lay back and thought of Yorkshire.)

          1. Gotcha, Jane. I meant that a title “Welsh and Britons” would be redundant because the Welsh were the Britons. Just later. Oops, I see! I spend too much time in the 12th century. Folks in the UK are Britons, aren’t they? Not Anglo-Saxons any more. Nor Anglo-Normans. Except for reenactors. Sorry.

            I jumped to the conclusion that “Welsh and Bretons” would make sense because of the stories about the Welsh saints who went to Brittany and the migration into Brittany from Britain.

            Thank you, Jane, for checking around for me and coming up with the British Library catalog.

            And I love the image of ancient Britons lying on their backs and thinking of Yorkshire.

  28. That was my first Crusie and is still one of my favorites. I have no idea how many times I have read it. Definitely a Sure Thing.

  29. I finished Shane and the Hitwoman which I enjoyed as Agnes and the Hitman is way up at the top of my Sure Thing list. One nit-picky thing in Shane and the Hitwoman…I thought Rhett was a Bloodhound, but he is described as having short, fat legs and Lisa Livia carrying him up the stairs because he was too slow. Reads more like a Corgi to me…

    Also, alternating reading and listening to the latest Alexis Hall and having fun with its brand of romp.

    Other Sure Things for me when nothing else will do are Faking It, Charlie All Night, Heyer’s Venetia, Pilcher’s Winter Solstice, Chase’s Lord of Scoundrels, Last Hellion and her recent Dukes are definitely keepers, too. And you know, Lucy Parker has become a Sure Thing for me as well.

    1. He was a bloodhound. And Agnes and Lisa Livia did meet in boarding school.
      You’ll need to take this up with Bob (g). In his defense, I wrote Rhett, Agnes, and Lisa Livia. If I were writing a sequel and had to do guns, I’d get those wrong, too.

    2. Or a Basset hound, sometimes people get them confused with Bloodhounds who are tall.

  30. One of my sure things is the Cinderella Deal by you know who. As a matter of fact I just finished an umpteenth reread.
    I look every Friday at Thursday blog with a note pad to jot down y’all recommendations. So I’m always late then don’t bother.
    Everyone keep healthy

    1. I admire your discipline. I have to avoid reading Herself for sure thingness. If I re-read one, there’s a 90% chance I’ll dive into her entire backlist.

  31. I read the third Time Police novel. They are rapidly becoming one of my sure things. And then I reordered the first one from the library because I wanted to remember how they started. Taylor does character so well, and all of them have grown and changed in unexpected ways.

    1. Oops, meant to add, I’m currently reading The Other Merlin by Robyn Schneider. Prince Arthur is a bookish 20 year old, Luther his father is still alive, and the original Merlin has twins – a boy and a girl. Luther sends for the boy to be trained up as his son’s court wizard, but of course the boy twin can’t go for various excellent reasons so the girl goes in his place pretending to be him. It’s only supposed to be for a week until he gets his shit together, but it ends up continuing. And she is by far the better wizard than her brother.

      So no one’s aloud to know she’s a girl. And she and Arthur have serious hots for each other. Only he thinks she’s a boy, and he doesn’t usually fall for boys.

      It’s fun and it mostly works. But Schneider has set Camelot Castle smack in the middle of London, which is really weird, especially because St Paul’s Cathedral is also there, which I’m pretty sure is a major historical anachronism, even if it’s the old St Paul’s. I can’t see any reason for doing it yet, and I’m nearly at the end of the book.

      1. I finished The Other Merlin last night, and she did something really dumb towards the end that was obviously going to end in disaster. So I have a couple of issues with the book. But it was still fun, and clearly the first in a series.

      2. I liked this book too but seems to me all of London is an anachronism in this book. Among other issues. Best to just ignore it all and enjoy the plot instead! 😉

          1. It’s book 1 in a series, isn’t it. With a cliffhanger or cann one read it and not bite one’s nails till book 2 comes out?

  32. I read The Flatshare, which I loved, and then re-read Attachments by Rainbow Rowell, because The Flatshare put me in that mood. I think Tiffy (Flatshare) and Beth (Attachments) would have a lot in common if they ever met up.

  33. January 29

    National Corn Chip Day (I used to eat a lot of those.)
    National Puzzle Day (This day confuses me.)
    National Seed Swap Day – Last Saturday in January (I’d like to swap my basil seeds for something else.)

    And tomorrow is National Croissant Day. I wonder when National Bagel Day is? Never mind – it was January 15. I missed it.

  34. It’s 12:30 AM Sunday. I am only looking at my clock/thermometer on the wall above the bed nook. Looking at all the other clocks and thermometers would be contraindicated.

    Just before midnight it was 66°F (19°C) in the room, and 21°F (-6°C) outside. Room temperature was way below my comfort zone, so I climbed into my two-piece thermal underwear. I hate the bottoms. They are a major pain to get on, way too snug. When I told the dotter that she laughed and laughed. She threatened to buy me some queen-size panty hose so I could compare the experience. Harrumph!

    Some time back, before my 1500 watt heater was running continuously, I’d heard it making squeaky noises when it started. I didn’t know if it was bearings going or the fan blade rubbing, but it went away once the heater was at speed. The idea of being without heat in an otherwise unheated garage being unacceptable, I did the Amazon “buy again” thing and ordered another heater. It’s been waiting to replace the old one.

    It isn’t waiting any more. I unplugged the 200 watt heater in the bed nook and plugged in said 1500 watt heater. At 12:30, room temperature is 68°F (20°C) and rising. Outside has dropped to 19°F (-7°C) on its way to 17°F (-8°C). Five more degrees (either measure) and I’ll retire the thermals for the night. At least the bottoms.

    I am too old for this shweather.

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