This is a Good Book Thursday, January 5, 2022

It’s still weird typing “2022.” Feels like science fiction.

Which I am reading (Murderbot again) because romance is failing me. No, that’s not right, romance is an excellent genre. Some romance authors are failing me. I could go on at length at what makes a good romance (as could all of you), but the bottom line is that you have to know how to write, how to use words not only to best advantage but correctly, for cripe’s sake, and then use them to write character in action, not pages of back story. I’ve been reading Bookbub excerpts on Amazon all week, and the number of times I’ve hit “delete” instead of one-click is high. I could go on, but you want to know what I’ve read that’s been good. Hmmm. Articles about Betty White. And . . . yeah, that’s it this week.

Of course that could be because of me. Sometimes I get hypercritical. No, really, I do.

What did you read this week?

112 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 5, 2022

  1. In a lot of romances, the reason why the protagonists are not already in a committed relationship is because of something that made them miserable in their past: a bad childhood, a bad breakup. That can definitely get wearing.

    I like Kate Canterbury’s books but her books definitely have a lot of that. I just read her latest, the Worst Guy, and it is a bit overfull of angst for my taste.

    On the other hand, I read the first three books of Sherwood Smith Phoenix feather series and they are great. They are set in a Chinese inspired world but remind me of Inda. I am just bummed that I have to wait until March for the next book. I thought it was a trilogy and waited for the third one to be published before starting to read them but I realised when I got to the 80% on the last one that there was no way all the threads would be resolved in the time left in the book. I hate waiting to know what happens at the end.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation on the Phoenix Feather books. Got the first one and I really like it. Thanks to someone else in this group, I’ve gotten obsessive about watching Korean and Chinese dramas and romcons.

  2. I read Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris. Excellent historical fiction with a lovely romance. Here’s the description from Amazon:


    The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

    For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.“

  3. After reading the two books by SJ Bennett about the Queen solving murder cases in her palaces and then finding out that the next one will only be published in November, I followed Amazon’s recommendation and downloaded Richard Osmans “The Thursday Murder Club” about four Seniors who solve murder cases in an English retirement village. So far, so good.

  4. I read “A Suitable Consort for the King and His Husband” by R Cooper. I usually avoid polyamorous romances – too much emphasis on the threesome sex which usually confuses me (which tab is fitting into which slot??). This book was oddly charming – all the back story was in the back story, Jenny, and informed the story on the pages but didn’t take over so that worked. And what really worked was the premise itself – a warrior king and his brawny husband woo the court librarian who is oblivious to the whole thing. It was so romantic – the highest compliment I can give to a romance novel.

    1. OOoo. This one has been in my TBR pile. I will have to bump it up the list. It sounds really sweet.

  5. I’m rereading SF too – I’m on no. 2 of Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers, ‘A Closed and Common Orbit’. It’s good stuff.

  6. I have been exploring my Kindle Unlimited subscription. So far, quite a few have been “Oh hell no, delete” followed by a number of “meh, delete” and one author who I was pleasantly surprised by and would read again. But at least I am reading new things and it is fun to have the ability to play with new books. My spending on books is way down, which is also good.

    Another fun thing, my local library decided to go digital with their magazines, so now over 3000 are available through overdrive and there isn’t a limit on check outs, so I have been borrowing a lot of crafty mags.

    1. Who was the author you were pleasantly surprised by and would read again? Share!

      Crafty magazines? or craftsy magazines?

      1. I am not sure what the difference is between crafty and craftsy? Anyway, all sorts of crafts, beading and sewing, and some home stuff too.

        And Honey Phillips. She has a cyborg cowboy series that is fun. Not stellar, but solid alien romance comfort read material. Her characters are good and steady.

          1. Well, usually it is all about comfort, if it is done well. To people are thrown into a chaotic situation with cultural and possible language barriers and need to help each other. Usually it’s the female who needs physical support and the alien male that needs emotional support, but it ends up as an Us against the bad things/odds and pulling together as a team while trying to meet each others needs. All the comfort. Plus sometimes tentacles.

    2. I found Andrew Mayne (Naturalist series, very interesting, science based mysteries) and Ann Swinfen (Oxford Medieval mysteries about a widowed bookseller and family). Little romance but I’ve re-read both series which is a good reference for me.

  7. I think I am hypercritical also. I started 2 romance novels and rejected both as DNF. So now I’m back to rereading and waiting for all my favorite authors to put out new books. I could take this as a sign that it’s time to write instead of read and finish one of my many wip’s but where’s the fun in that?

    1. I am with you on that one. You would think with all of the need to stay home it would’ve stirred up the better imagination or plot.

      1. I think the romance writers are like the rest of us and are feeling un normal, if that makes sense. It must be hard. How are all you authors managing?
        Happy New Year To All.

  8. I read The Untold Story, the 8th book in the Invisible Library series by Genevieve Cogman. The main character is a librarian whose job is to steal books from multiple worlds in order to keep the universe in balance. I don’t think I have ever read a fantasy series that has such a perfect story arc; the minute I finished it I marched the first book to my husband and insisted he read it. I had almost stopped reading earlier in the series because I was concerned it was going in a direction I didn’t like, but I’m so glad I finished it. On her blog I discovered the author works for the NHS in England, which makes it more incredible to me that she was able to finish this series at this point.

    1. You’ve intrigued me. So I bought the first one. Although who knows when I will it. New year’s resolution to self: stop buying so many books…

  9. Back at the beginning of December, I stopped reading Spinning Silver in favor of Murderbot, mostly because of the heft. I was taking a trip, and the hardback Spinning Silver wouldn’t fit, while slim novella of Murderbot did. Since I was on a roll, I read all four of the novellas, and then it was Christmas, so I waded into a reread of Hogfather. All of which I enjoyed.

    Then I was staring at the half finished Spinning Silver, wondering if I would take it up again. I didn’t have a good feeling about the characters and where things were going with the plot. But, my brain likes to complete things, so I picked it back up. I’m now back into it, and speeding toward the ending, wondering why I waited so long to restart!

  10. I’ve been in a reading slump too although I did enjoy John Scalzi’s upcoming _The Kaiju Preservation Society_ which was light and fun. I read and reviewed an eARC but it will be out soon in March.

    I’m trying to get out of the slump by switching to non fiction for a while. I read The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe by Gabriele and Perry. It really focuses on the interconnectedness of medieval Europe to Asia and Africa and the continuity with the classical world. Very readable–recommend.

    I’m slowly dipping into The Dawn of Everything: A New History of Humanity by Graeber and Wengrow. It’s a massive book with archaeological and anthropological evidence for the development of human societies and cultures. Very readable but will take me some time to get through it.

    I’m not finding much I want to read right now in romance. All the illustrated covers look the same and I’m bouncing off female protagonists in their 20s who work as Instagram influencers, or write travel blogs, or do wedding planning. I could be just grumpy with covid continuing and starting a new teaching semester next week. Maybe I’ll go back to Andrea Höst and read Silence of Medair or the sci-fi one of hers about gaming.

    I’m going back through the last several Good Book Thursdays looking for recs. Really appreciate this community!

      1. I do remember reading that book and look on the cover for who gave it a ringing endorsement.

  11. I’ve listened to 2 of Jody Taylor’s Time Police novels, the adventures of Team Weird, and I’m really enjoying them. I backed off of her St. Mary’s for some reason, but this has led me to take another look. And then I just needed a friend, so I’m listening to Murderbot.
    And still checking in on Brothers Karamozov.

  12. Finished the year with Agatha Christie’s Murder in the Mews and The Regatta Mystery short story collections in my quest to re-read all the Christie. Enabled me to finally get to Marple sooner than in time sequence. January will bring on Death on the Nile, which is a happy coincidence that it’s right ahead of the upcoming Branagh movie.

    Currently reading Kelly Williams Brown’s Easy Crafts for the Insane (her word choice). Not really about crafting, more of a memoir of one of the very bad times in her life and the coping mechanisms she employed. I know this author may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am finding it sharp, sad, and funny.

    Also discovered Megan Derr last year. Dipping into her very short stories and novellas, mainly fairy tale and fantasy romances of all kinds. I like her pacing, world building and patter.

    I second the Conman rec – those books were so good!

  13. I’ve only read one book this last week iirc (Sol, book 2 of the Learning to love trilogy by Con Riley, which was solid but I didn’t love it).
    Have watched interesting clips (on how realistic scenes in Heist films are) with Arthur Brand, the “Indiana Jones of art theft investigation”, and former art thief Oky Durham, both of them were highly himself. Amazon tells me, Brand has obviously written a book about one of his investigations into two bronze horses stolen during WW2. I’ll also check out his Ted Talk because his work sounded really fascinating even though Oky will most likely not be present there, if he were, that would be the icing on the cake.
    Otherwise, I’m still suffering from the cold gifted to me second handedly after the in-law-family meeting (from the least favorite nephew via dh). One whole week of holiday plus my birthday ruined that way, grrr.
    Also, my sleep cycle is off, so I’ve been searching my audible library for books because listening usually makes me fall asleep more easily.
    Have finished Greg Jenner’s A Million Years in a Day which was nice and it’s easy to get into the flow even after a break.
    Searching for a follow up that is fiction, but couldn’t decide on any one title. So I listened to Noel Fitzpatrick’s Listening to the Animals. Made me listen to what he had to tell, so not much success with the sleeping.
    But I still long for fiction, sigh.
    I’d love to cancel my audible subscription but still have 9 titles available if only I could decide which ones.
    Plus – does anyone here know how one can save audible files??
    I had downloaded everything on my old Apple but that one suddenly decided to give up its ghost, dh is working hard on saving what was stored on it.
    I will have to download everything again on my MacBook or Acer (my work horse which is less likely to have interference from the kids), but how can I then transfer anything to a listening device? Or do I then have to listen via computer? Recommendations much appreciated.

    1. You can download Audible books to your Mac. Audio book files live under Books now.
      I have 100s that I downloaded prior to the availability of the Audible app and still keep my favorites on my phone as well as my Mac for emergency listening of Crusie, Heyer, etc.

      1. I’ve no experience with audiobooks, but you should be able to share any content in Books with the same app on an iPad or iPhone using iCloud; or possibly transfer individual files using Airdrop. (Life is that bit easier now I’m using a Mac that includes Airdrop; my iMac was too old for it to work.)

    2. I recommend Google. There are ways to save AAX files, the proprietary Audible format. There are apps to convert AAX to MP3. All these were listed when I Googled “can you save audible books as mp3”

      I have roughly 160 books in Audible. I have another 40 or so in Downpour. Originally, the Downpour/Blackstone Audio books were directly downloadable as MP3.

    3. Dear Lisa, Jane and Gary,
      thanks so much for your help! I’ll try all of it as soon as I’ve relocated the audiobook files to my MacBook. It’s great that the files very probably won’t be lost (well, some of the audiobooks I’m happy to lose)!

  14. I am not sure what the difference is between crafty and craftsy? Anyway, all sorts of crafts, beading and sewing, and some home stuff too.

    And Honey Phillips. She has a cyborg cowboy series that is fun. Not stellar, but solid alien romance comfort read material. Her characters are good and steady.

  15. I just downloaded Playing the Odds by Nora Roberts. That was from the list for Working Wednesday regarding romance novels. I don’t think I’ve ever read it and I always liked the MacGregors.

    In the meantime this morning I made an appointment with AAA for license renewal. There is now a list (two pages worth) of ID info to bring in. Everything from birth certificate to SS card, marriage certificate, W2, proof of residency, no copies no laminates, tax records, etc. They can’t mean to bring in all that stuff. It boggles the mind. I’m going to have to reread that document again. My one time plan was to renew online when I got to a certain age. But that thwarted by being over 75. I have to show up in person. Nuts! I mean Argh!

    1. It’s most likely the RealID requirements. If you have one of those, you don’t have to produce a passport to get on a plane for a domestic flight.

      1. I think that’s right. I had to produce a lot of stuff — I took in both my birth certificate and my passport (the BC is a little weird, since it wasn’t issued in the continental United States), and utility bills and financial documents (to provide current street address). It still took two tries before they finally sent the new ID.

      1. It is, but the French bureaucracy is equally bad. I believe that the Real ID is a list of suitable documents; you don’t have to produce them all.

  16. I ended up awake at 7:00 AM Monday to finish the first two on my list. I was alternating, one in Kindle, one in Mobi Reader, both on the Windows 11 computer. When I woke up at 3:00 PM, I started the next two, same way.

    Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey. Considered SF because it takes place in a future post apocalyptic USA. It feels more like a western. Did someone here recommend it? It was interesting on multiple levels. ★★★★☆

    The Chocolate Racoon Rigmarole, Chocoholic Mystery #18 by Eve K Sandstrom writing as JoAnna Carl. Lee gets involved in murder and mayhem in her tiny resort town. Again. It’s starting to look like Cabot Cove. ★★★★☆

    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. All good so far. All different, as befits multiple authors.

    Trisha Ashley 3 Book Bundle by, of course, Trisha Ashley. First book, Chocolate Wishes. 14 chapters in and loving it.

    Trisha Ashley 3 Book Bundle, second book, Sowing Secrets TBR

    Trisha Ashley 3 Book Bundle, third book, Wedding Tiers TBR

    As per usual, other books were visited as the mood dictated. Audio books, too.

    1. For anyone who wants to include stars in their description or “rating” of a book, the code is:
      ☆ for an empty star ☆
      ★ for a filled star ★

    2. I read 2 Trisha Ashley books about 2 weeks ago and greatly enjoyed them and bought the 3 book bundle. It was too much Trisha Ashley at once. By time I got to Wedding Tiers I skipped huge sections – well, I would read 1 sentence per paragraph because she includes a lot of stuff that I found extraneous. Her characters and plotting is great, the dialogue can be less then stellar, but she has some really humorous moments. When the story started moving again, I went back to enjoying it a lot.

      1. I have been reading her books and find them to be nice comfort reads but every so often she moves from past to present tense. I am fine with first person writing but the present tense drives me nuts .

    3. I read Upright Women Wanted and Station Eleven at the beginning of the pandemic. Loved both!

      I’ve been reading DL Carter’s Pride and Prejudice fanfic – lots of fun! I bought kindle versions on Amazon; I don’t know if they’re available elsewhere.

  17. At long last Delia Marshall Turner has released a new book!!! Yes, *three* exclamation points.

    Brief history/recap. In 1998 Delia Marshall Turner wrote an absolutely fantastic book called Nameless Magery. Which became one of my favorites of all time and I reread it many times. I even bought a second copy so I could loan one out to people and still have one (I did the same thing with The Princess Bride). Then she went back to her day job of teaching.

    About five years after that she wrote a second book, Of Swords And Spells, set in the same universe but basically unrelated to the first one. I was also wildly excited, but unsurprisingly it wasn’t as good as the first. It was okay, but not fantastic.

    I didn’t actually know she was also a fellow fencer until I ran into her commenting on a fencing forum. So I got to know her a little bit through her comments, mostly about fencing, there. But the second book hadn’t done as well as the first, and she was shelving the writing for awhile.

    Fast forward twenty years and she finally got the rights back and self-published the first two books on Kindle. So I finally had ebook versions! I was pleased. And this, and the pandemic, apparently inspired her to finally write another book. The Stick Princess. Also set in the same universe as the first two, but not involving the same characters. And it is very good! Not as amazingly fantastic as Nameless Magery but still very good.

    Not Kindle Unlimited, but the first two are only $1.99 and the third one $2.99.

    1. I can recommend Rosalind James for romance, Tanya Huff and Grace Draven for fantasy, and Anna Carven (in KU) for science fiction romance! Also, I loved Kate Clayborn’s Love Lettering. It was a very quirky romance with a twisty suspense subplot. A lot of Penny Reid’s books are in KU, and I love her!

      I’ve been reading a lot of 19th century “girls” literature since Thanksgiving. I find it soothing.

    2. Wow thanks for the update on Delia Marshall Turner. I loved Nameless Magery. I’m thrilled to learn about The Stick Princess.

  18. I listened to the audiobook of “All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business” by Mel Brooks which was such a joy. He reads it himself (and sometimes even breaks into song) and it’s just really refreshing to hear some of his funny stories and get to revisit some of his classics with him.

    It was also instructive for me to hear about how some of these comedy canons were birthed (or nearly not) and that what we know now in hindsight as huge hits – that seem like everyone should have recognized as inevitably bound to be successful – were actually seen at the time as so potentially risky. Like a message from Mel as I jump into the new year that sometimes you need to trust yourself, figure out how to get what you need to make things happen and then just do what you want and let the work itself show ’em in the end. Not sure I would have been able to work in his writers room with him given some of the stories, but I sure wish I got to be a member of one of the many lunch/dinner groups he mentioned.

    I did get “Springtime for Hitler” stuck in my head, though.

  19. I re-read Welcome to Temptation last week between deep cleaning kitchen and living room. I started it again last night. Loving it again and again.

    Purchased a new book from Bookpub; In Five Years, Rebecca Serle. Hopeful it will be good book. Otherwise back to rereading and Murderbot.

  20. I have been venturing into a lot of m/m romances. Somehow they hit differently for me and really provide something I had been missing previously. I had previously thought it odd that hetero women would enjoy them but I’ve found that I like them better than f/f and am enjoying broadening my horizons.

    1. Agreed. I couldn’t tell you what about it is different, but there is definitely a vibe…

      1. Me too. And one thing I’ve noted is that there still a taboo quality to M/M relationships that adds a frisson to the reading.

        1. Ah. Maybe that is it. The relationship its self is the obstacle to the relationship… It definitely changes the pattern.

    2. Me too. Mostly for me it’s that I found myself increasingly annoyed by gender roles and how female characters acted in some (too much!) f/m romance (especially when written by women, argh. Also have you noticed it’s always written m/f? Sigh) (not Jenny’s!).

      Saying that, I try hard to find own voices stuff, or at least where there is evidence outside publishing that the author is a strong ally, and there are some sub-genres I really avoid (gay for you for instance, ick). My top are KJ Charles and Alexis Hall, and I also love Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid (not so much the rest of the series) I’m open to recces!

      1. Same here.
        I often get annoyed by the typical gurly stuff in romances. And I’ve noticed that sometimes I’m a bit too oldfashioned or stuck up when reading f/m, e.g. girls and booze and very loose attitude towards sex. I’m not always sex positive there as I still thonk very active girls are treated differently to men behaving the same. With m/m my attitude is less complicated – there’s less of a filter of my own values to skew the picture.

  21. I’m partway through Blood Royal by Robert Bartlett, a Christmas gift. Bartlett examines dynasties from 500-1500 CE, focusing on the larger West (Europe and east through Byzantium with a few references to China and other Asian dynasties.

    So far, the book is all about Women. Yay! Brides, Queens, Women rulers, Concubines. I’m up to mistresses.

    Bartlett, a well known Medievalist, organizes the book this way because a dynasty — inheritance of kingship from father to eldest son — is incredibly difficult to maintain. Many people and incredibly good luck are required to just give it a chance.

    This makes me think about the requirements of many romances. Especially if a romance follows a dynastic plot, the possible complications are endless, from emotions (jealousy, competition, wish for power, greed) to situations (childlessness, illegitimacy, child ruler).

    I’m enjoying this. Hint: While a couple of dynasties have lasted as many as 300 years, most haven’t.

    1. If you have to go from father to son to grandson, the odds are that in about three or four generations, someone will have no children or only daughters.

      BLOOD ROYAL is an excellent book!

      1. Bet Me doesn’t seem like a book about kings, but Cal’s position in his family — younger son, disregarded by parents for older brother who, like a prince, is rising in father’s firm — is right out of the dynastic myth.

  22. I’m listening to the Thursday Murder Club and quite enjoying it. That’s it for me this week, I’m waiting on a few physical books to come in at the library but they won’t be here for a while.

  23. I bought a copy to reread of Jasmine Guillory’s Royal Holiday. Our heroine is a 50 year old mother of a fashion stylist. Said stylist ends up having to go to England over Christmas to style a certain Duchess and drags her mother along. It’s sweet and funny and I’m enjoying it all over again.

    Also reading the just-discovered Blaize Clement series about Dixie the petsitter. Good mysteries with a very slow burn romance. And trying a bunch of Fantasy some I like some I don’t as much. YA sometimes is too Y for me and not enough A. (I know I’m not its target audience.)

  24. I finally read “First and Then”, which I had saved for the holiday break. Not generally a YA fan, but this was terrific, and then dear sister and I had the pleasure of pointing out the best parts to each other.

    Also read both the Thursday Murder Club books. I had saved #2 for the break, read a few pages and realized I needed to re-read the first one. Really enjoyed both of them.

    Now on “Lady of Quality” because I just NEEDED a Georgette, and I don’t actually know this one by heart.

  25. I re-(re-re-)read the Will Darling books by K. J. Charles because I felt like something familiar with a good happy outcome. And I’m a third through Harrow the Ninth, which is even stranger than Gideon the Ninth. I’m reserving judgement on whether I like it or not. It’s doing interesting things with point of view, and following several different timelines, and most of the characters aren’t likable, and it’s hinting at a nasty ending. But it’s got me rooting for Harrow, so I guess that’s good.

    1. There is a line in that book that was perfect and terrible and made me groan and laugh and appreciate everything…

      On the balance everything in the book was worth it for that single line.

      1. Me too. Mostly for me it’s that I found myself increasingly annoyed by gender roles and how female characters acted in some (too much!) f/m romance (especially when written by women, argh. Also have you noticed it’s always written m/f? Sigh) (not Jenny’s!).

        Saying that, I try hard to find own voices stuff, or at least where there is evidence outside publishing that the author is a strong ally, and there are some sub-genres I really avoid (gay for you for instance, ick). My top are KJ Charles and Alexis Hall, and I also love Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid (not so much the rest of the series) I’m open to recces!

        1. Joanna Chambers’ Enlightenment series is excellent. Lisa Henry has a ton of breadth but not all of hers are to everyone’s taste – her Dark Space series is my favourite. And I would try Taylor Fitzpatrick’s You Could Make a Life and then Coming in First for hockey and/or Avon Gale’s Power Play and Empty Net.

      2. Argh, double post in wrong place!

        Now I’m all like WHAT LINE??!?

        I loved them both, both batshit, but I also liked how the tone was difference – still funny, but totally different humour with the different narrator.

        1. The line that left me reeling was this:


          (Caps original)

  26. Oh, and over Christmas I re-read all the Georgette Heyers that have older heroines, if you can call mid-twenties “older”. That was good – lots of snark.

  27. I remember reading Terry Pratchett’s Guards! Guards! years ago and loving it. It felt like I discovered something priceless. Then I proceeded to read the entire Night Watch series, and every book was a treasure in its own way. But I never re-read any of the Pratchett’s books until now. So I decided to go back and see if these books stand the passing of years. They do, folks. They definitely do. Guards! Guards! was amazing. I enjoyed every page. I’m going to re-read the series.

    Mimi Matthews’s Fair as a Star was a mediocre historical romance. Although written well, it was faintly boring.

    Rex Stout’s The Rubber Band was a classic detective story. I can’t say anything about this book that hasn’t been said before. Did I like it? Not much. Was it worth reading? Yes. The plot construction was masterly. The only aspect of this novel that irritated me: it is a very male story. All the male characters are interesting and diverse. The female characters all play second fiddle, and they all are rather stereotypical and flat. 🙁

    The good news is: my son got me all the Murderbot paper books for Christmas/New Year. Hooray! Some delicious re-reading in my future.

    1. Olga, Do you like Pratchett’s witches books? Equal Rites, The Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords & Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum.

  28. I don’t think my entertainment bar has gotten higher but I’m trying to be slightly more critical, meaning attentive to why I do or do not like a book. A lot of discontents zoomed past me last year in the course of reading more than 500 things. I was just like, don’t look up, keep reading, la la la. I almost wish to read *less* in 2022.

    And yet, I still read 5 full-length novels and 4 novellas in the past week. Only one home run, which was ‘Beautifully Unexpected’ by Lily Morton, M/M in which the MCs are both over 40.

    I am still connecting more to M/M than to M/F but there are two things I see a lot of that annoy me. A: one MC does almost all the work in the relationship. B: the relationship obstacles are real but they take up almost the entire book. I need a damn sight more of my protagonists actually being in a relationship and figuring out how that works, OR slowly working their way toward each other, vs. insta-lust followed by ruminating about why things won’t/don’t/can’t work. Do not cram all your Wow We Can Actually Be In Love into the last 10% of the book, plz. Adults can actually deal with some of their issues *after* they say I Love You.

    1. Don’t know if you saw my post above but I think you would like that book – has the sweet quality you seem to enjoy.

      1. I looked the R. Cooper book up and read some reviews but put it on the back burner for now. Fantasy doesn’t always work for me (I trip over certain specific-to-genre tropes) and the oblivious object of desire really doesn’t, especially when that character is otherwise presented as competent/perceptive. 😉 Just personally, when someone’s been into me I totally knew about it, especially if *I* was also into *them.*

        Loved Cooper’s ‘Wealth of Unsaid Words’ though!

        1. LOL – I have been known to be completely oblivious when someone was into me – in fact, I ended up living with someone for seven years after he informed me he wanted to have a relationship with me – I didn’t even know he wanted a date. Will check out Wealth of Unsaid Words.

          1. This is me, too. Denied that my partner was in to me for about a year. Poor boy. I really made him work for it, but it wasn’t intentional.

  29. I’m reading The Thursday Murder Club and LOVING it. I keep bursting out laughing. So thank you to all the people who have recommended it.

    Also reading Dr Norman Swan’s ‘So You Think You Know What’s Good for You’ about current health research. He writes very much like he sounds – dry humour and great clarity. Good stuff.

  30. My anxiety is still through the roof (one of the lovely side effects is I avoid things with any social interaction, such as this blog, a closed FB group, actual people, etc.), so I am not finding much new that I can read. Basically, I can read a lot of things I’ve already read (not all things) and I can read things that are short, sweet, and light. I’ve gotten into a few books where I had to stop partway in because something about the story or characters triggered (more) anxiety. I’ve reread all of Ilona Andrews Innkeeper series and her latest book Fated Blades. For light and sweet, I’ve reread Good Earl Hunting by Suzanne Enoch, On a Cold Christmas Eve by Bethany M. Sefchick, a novella issued in a couple of titles — Falling in Love with a Duke, A Duke for the Holidays — by Jillian Eaton, How to Ditch a Duke (originally in a no-longer-in-print anthology) by May McGoldrick, and a couple of novellas by Grace Burrowes: Lady Mistletoe’s Holiday Helpers, and The Duke and the April Flowers (in that same no-longer-in-print anthology as How to Ditch a Duke.

    I’ve also been rereading some books only for the ends and some dramatic bits inside. My ability to concentrate is very … very … very … SQUIRREL!!!

    1. Oh yeah. And I follow @JortstheCat on Twitter. Because that is all that is happy and joyous.

  31. I read the latest book by an author I really like, but I found the ending really frustrating. A bunch of subplots, several which ended with events that made no sense plot-wise and didn’t fit in with any of the world-building the author had done. Seemed like she just wanted XYZ to happen to set up the next book, regardless of whether XYZ required a suspension of all disbelief–and belief in the characters up til then. Very frustrating. So I’m not looking forward to the next book.

    Then I plucked Beginner’s Guide: Love and Other Chemical Reactions by Six de los Reyes out of my TBR pile/list. I enjoyed it quite a bit; it was very different from the previous book–character-driven rather than plot. It was sort of a very gentle kind of figuring-things-out/accepting-yourself book. And all the actions the characters took rang true to them, which was great.

  32. OUTSMARTING CATS: How to Persuade the Felines in Your Life to do What You Want , by Wendy Christensen. This one claims to be non-fiction . . . .

    THE BOOK OF FORGOTTEN AUTHORS , by Christopher Fowler, is quite a fascinating read, though I don’t regard Robert van Gulik or Georgette Heyer as Forgotten. Some of the others wrote pulp fiction and my brother, who loves the stuff, has most of them. Fun to leaf through.

    THE GOOD KINGS, by Kara Cooney. I’m still on the introduction, and was expecting a set of biographies similar to the ones of women rulers in Egypt, in her book WHEN WOMEN RULED THE WORLD. The introduction is rather lengthy and still explaining that she has suddenly realized that, glamorous as Egyptology is, it tends to blind Egyptologists to the fact that those gilded Pharaohs were actually dictatorial patriarchs and that patriarchy is still with us.

    COZY FOOD: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes. Includes Haute Dish, a casserole from Mary Monica Pulver, and Donna Andrews’ THE Pumpkin Pie recipe with praline liqueur, which I hadn’t heard of before. Also Pate du Chateau Blanc . . . ‘take fifteen whole White Castle hamburgers, including buns, pickle, and onion, blend the burgers in a blender, three at a time . . .

    GEORGE V, by Jane Ridley, is an interesting biography of the late King-Emperor with a lot of new material and considerable disagreement with previous biographies of him and of Queen Mary. She was able to see a larger number of private letters and other material that had been suppressed or ignored in earlier books. Recommended for a different take.

  33. I’ve been reading Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson books after lots of recommendations here over the years. Def more urban fantasy than romance, and I think I should take a break between each one, but they have been perfect at-the-beach reading, thanks everyone!

    Also re-read The Left-handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix. Still fast paced fun with moments of perfection.

    1. Her Alpha and Omega series has more relationship building, and generally I like it better. But Mercy Thompson gets better as it goes along and I really enjoyed the last couple of books, enough to put them in the reread rotation.

  34. I am reading The Every by Dave Eggers. It’s funny and scary, and I’m genuinely enjoying it. It’s a followup to The Circle. Very self aware.

  35. Mr. Fluffypants (cat) decided to jump on top of a bookcase, which caused a bit of an avalanche, and after picking up the pile to reshelve them, found that Shards of Honor/Barrayar by Bujold was on the top. So I decided to re-read it.

    I basically loved the entire Vorkosigan series, but it had been a long time since I read this wonderful one, and it was a joy in many ways. I read at night before sleeping usually, so I kind of skipped the most violent incidents (only about 2 or 3, so not that much to skip) but the part I found most surprising — basically no shred of it in my memory — was when Cordelia dusts her hands off and plays Go-between to speed up the rocky courtship of Drou and Koudelka. It was laugh-out-loud funny and yet so true to the wonderfulness of Cordelia Naismith/V.

    Such a joyful result of an unexpected avalanche.

    1. I like the idea of cat-guided reading, Jinx. Maybe Mr Fluffypants could be your inhouse librarian. ‘Okay, cat, what should I read next?’

      1. If Mr. Fluffypants just flops on his side and closes his eyes (in answer to the question), is he implying you should read Outsmarting Cats/Outwitting Cats?

        1. No, he’s saying “do that thing you do, where you pretend to purr and stroke my back while holding my tummy and then keep purring while you reach up with the tummy paw and scratch me under the chin…there….right there….now the other side…..wait, where are you going?”

  36. Based on last week’s suggestions, I’ve read several Loretta Chase books this week. I enjoyed the characters and the storyline. I’ll reserve more from the library once I have space on my account (e-books reserves are limited to 20 at at a time). Several people suggested Kristin Ashley and I read an older one – DNF – lots of crude language about women and a racial storyline was not handled well. I have another one on my reader and will give her another try.

    I got several pages into a new romance this week and realized I cannot read books that refer to the female characters weight/size in the title or first few pages. The fact that this is a defining characteristic of a MC makes me angry. Perhaps I’m naive and the authors are trying to correct the balance of the “gorgeous skinny girl” in many romances. Of course readers need descriptions of the characters – I wish weight wasn’t one of them. I could be crankier than usual – I was the last in my household of 3 to get Covid – direct exposure from a family member who originally tested negative – and while my symptoms are mild, I’m very fatigued. Sapping all my patience.

    1. Interesting. I usually think that Kristen Ashley handles race issues really well without making it a “thing”. She is also the only popular author who comes to mind who regularly writes mixed race couples…

        1. But she definitely uses lots of crude language about women and has lots and lots of explicit sex. That doesn’t change. Usually that is a turn off for me, but she is the exception to the rule.

  37. I recently read two romantic fantasies that suited me pretty well! The endings got a little rushed or messy, but the characters were great! Erin Sterling’s The Ex-Hex, which was a lot of fun. And in a similar vein, Lana Harper’s Payback’s a Witch. Both of them centered on witches; both of them had entertaining secondary characters and some fun banter. Just what I wanted.

  38. Nameless Magery looks interesting so far.

    I always find good books when I read these threads! Thanks to all of you for adding to my TBR pile 😉

    This week I’ve mostly been working on my own stories, but I took time out to read the last of the Between series, Between Kings by W.R. Gingell, and re-read What Happens in London, by Julia Quinn. Both well worth a read.

  39. My reading has been bushwhacked. I still have The Chocolate Collection open in the Kindle app; Chapter 23 is where I am, of 37. Nothing is open in MobiReader, but the Christmas anthology is just clicks away. No, trading emails with friends, I took a recommendation for a Do-Over novel of 89 chapters, and got sucked in. Variations on a Theme by Grey Wolf. I am a sucker for Do-Over stories. Replay by Ken Grimwood, the 1986 film Peggy Sue Got Married, the TV show Early Edition. Al Steiner’s Doing It All Over. The Night Hawk’s Once More With Feelings.

    Grey Wolf wrote, in a forward, “There are some giants in this field. “Once More With Feelings” by The Night Hawk, “Doing It All Over” by Al Steiner, “A Fresh Start” by rlfj, and the sadly unfinished and therefore cliffhanger-y “Rewind” by Don Lockwood are a few favorites. There are plenty more. If you like those, I hope you like this story. If you like this story, and haven’t read any of those, go read them.

    I’m 3 for 4. I’ll probably read the 4th, eventually.

  40. Reading romance has been a real struggle for me in recent years, mostly because of reality. It’s hard to get past. So, mainly I’ve read historical romance. And lots of horror and fantasy and SF. But the romances that have worked for me, many of them have been rec’d here, like The Book of Firsts. Which isn’t set in our reality, which helped. *g* I’m currently reading the Touchstone series by Andrea K Host which does contain a strong romance plot but is SF and a really interesting world. I got sucked into book 1 (Stray) and kept on going. Now on book 3.

  41. I’ve been reading Stephen Fry, and I just started Naked Comes a Stranger, which a work friend told me about. It was written to be a big money book, but really badly written on purpose. I’ve only just gotten into the story, but the preface telling how it came into existence was a great deal of fun.

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