This is a Good Book Thursday, February 17, 2022

After a bad week followed by a worse week, I needed something non-stressful to read and BookBub had Agatha Christie’s They Came to Baghdad for $1.99, and I hadn’t read it, so I bit. There’s no sex, very little violence, a rapid plot, and her usual anemic romance, but this one has a protagonist, a heroine, who was really fascinating. One of the characters in the book describes her as aa nitwit with common sense, but I don’t think that’s right. She rushes into things, and she’s about as deep as a puddle, but she has an excellent sense of self-preservation and an openness and enthusiasm about life and people that means she has zero angst. She thinks, “I want that,” and then goes about getting it: following her crush to Baghdad, pretending to be somebody she’s not, escaping from a locked room, if Victoria wants it, she’ll get it. She’s also an expert liar because she enjoys lying, improving on reality to make it more interesting or to bend it to her needs. I loathe liars but by the end of the book, I admired her. She’s not stupid, she’s just not good at thinking, but she’s great at noticing and remembering and acting in the moment. She was a great escape for me after a run of bad time.

What did you read to escape this week?

121 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 17, 2022

  1. This week I escaped to Liad. I reread some of my favourites: Local Custom, Scout’s Progress, Mouse and Dragon and Conflict of Honors
    I have now started on Agent of Change which is not a favourite but which leads to good stuff. I have a feeling I’ll still be immersed in that universe Jethri next week because I want to visit with Pat Rin and Theo and Jethri and possibly Jela even though the Crystal novels are pretty weird in many strange ways. Duels to the death in Academia, anyone?

    1. I’m a fan as well. Probably I Dare is my personal favorite but I enjoy all the short stories/chapbooks and universe. I agree that the Crystal duology is a stretch for me. As Evelyn Waugh so eloquently put it, “lone scholars, sniping from the walls of learned periodicals.” I was an academic librarian for 10 years so it resonated with me.

    2. Pat Rinn is my favourite — I think that’s Plan B. Him and his rugs, making the best of a horrible situation.

  2. I read nothing new. I have Variations on a Theme Book 3 open in the browser. Like I mentioned, he updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I read those updates.

    I’ve been editing the html in his books. And therefore, the kindle product that results. All the m-dashes and n-dashes display as gibberish, his ellipses are free standing, the acute characters are also gibberish. It makes the story hard to read. I’ve fixed it.

    Instead of reading, I’ve been gardening. I get a real kick when a little sprig of green pops up. I’m planning on asking the dotter to transplant a basil bush (the mature rilly fast) to soil, to free up a pod to host my Red Pak Choi, which I thought I’d started, but hadn’t.

    Later, I’m going to take Whoopsie Greyford out for a spin, maybe cash my state refund and shop at Publix. I haven’t been there in a while. Yes, after yesterday, I’ve named my car.

    Oh, my. All the grow lights are on. Time to go weigh in. TTFN.

    1. Gary, do not transplant your basil outside until the temperature is over 40 F AT NIGHT. This does not mean 40 F most nights. It means you are to the point where it won’t get below 40. They are very cold sensitive. I transplant mine into 4 or 6 inch pots and set the pots into an old broiler pan (these appear at Goodwill and other charity shops regularly and are cheap and are enameled so that you don’t have to worry about water getting on stuff). I keep fertilizing them as though they were in the Smart Garden. And I place them where they can get some of the light from the Smart Garden lights. Then when the weather is suitable, I harden them off then they go into the garden soil. In my climate I can harden off by putting outside for a few over cast days. DO NOT plant them out into direct sunlight since they have not built up a tolerance for UV light. There are probably lots of youtube videos on hardening off that does a better job explaining than I do.

      1. One thing you might look into is a portable cold frame. Amazon has a ton. I don’t grow enough vegetables or have enough direct sunlight to make it worth while – I just go to the store and give them money and they give me vegetables in return. Also I can’t be relied upon to remember to raise the lids so they don’t turn into portable ovens and cook my plants. They are a good way to move plants outside before the weather is generally warm enough. There may also be youtube vi deos on using cold frames. They are not difficult to build yourself but it is a good idea to install an automatic opener for the lid. Also I did have one years ago and my little cat jumped from the fence down onto the lid and cut her foot as she went through the glass lid. My husband had the cold frame dismantled almost as soon as we discovered her injury.

      2. For now, the littlest basil has been transferred to a flowerpot the shape and size of an ice cream cone, sponge and all (good fit), and watered therein. That allowed me to start one red pak choi plant. The dotter was otherwise occupied today, so I didn’t bring it up. In the meantime, baby basil’s ice cream cone is straddling the decks of the QYO units soaking up their light. I think.


  3. The latest Rockton book by Kelley Armstrong just landed, and I ripped through it with enthusiasm in very short order.

  4. Sadly, I’ve read no new books worth reporting on. Have been trying to find a new hockey book M/M romance writer to fall for but ….not feeling the love yet. Even the new Eden Finlay/Saxon James was not noteworthy. This is especially disheartening after reading the Cait Nary first time novel in the genre that was SO GOOD. I wish they could all be like that. However, I will say that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying all of Taylor Fitzpatrick‘s Patreon entries and can say confidently that I read every word she’s written. Wow, she is prolific, and reaches out to her audience and asks what they would like to see her write. Thank you, Jen+B for that. PS, my favourite Agatha Christie is Death Comes As The End, a mystery that takes place in ancient Egypt.

      1. No but I think you for trying! And OMG – I can’t believe I talked about hockey in any form without a giant shoutout to our Canadian women’s hockey team for winning gold at the Olympics! Sorry USA! But we can all find common ground in this: ‘PLAY LIKE GIRLS!!!”

          1. I don’t like her hockey stuff either. The men are usually lack luster, like the one where he cheats on his wife, then he goes back to her when she turns out to be dying for his daughter’s sake and completely ghosts his lover. Who then understands and… Takes him back… I could understand some of it, but he just ducked responsibility left and right. No thank you.

        1. I was going to say that the third book in her college series was M/M and I liked it. Title: The Understatement of the Year

          And you’ve read Red, White, and Royal Blue, right? That’s a wonderful book. No hockey though.

          1. It’s one of my favorite romances of all time, but that doesn’t mean it will be one of yours (g). Read the sample and see if you get caught up in it. I just love the characters. And the love story. And the community.

          2. Not a hockey book either but recently read The Best Men by Sarina Bowen and Lauren Blakely and enjoyed it. As much snappy dialogue as sex.

          3. Red White and Royal Blue is good. Heavy on the character side, which is my catnip and less on the on page graphic sex side if I remember correctly. Plus a long distance/ letter writing/email relationship, which I also love. More comfort than angst, which again, is my preference.

          4. I loved the Understatement of the year. It’s about much more than “love” (and all the time betwe
            en sheets zhat seem to fill up 50% of the usual romances – exaggerating a bit here).

          5. Red, White and Royal Blue sounds like it has all the things I look for! So I’ve downloaded it. Maybe there’ll be a hockey playing sequel…and I liked Understatement of the Year but it does not make it up into even my top 20 of M/M hockey romances. Again – there is so MUCH better stuff out there. Mostly Canadian though so I don’t think it ends up getting the marketing chops that Sarina Bowen does.

    1. I’m glad you enjoy Taylor Fitzpatrick’s world as much as I do. I feel so incredibly invested in some of those characters and relationships! I wish I knew you IRL so we could talk about them!

      1. Right? I feel like I know them personally. I’m like a stalker fan, wow. Where do you live, Jen? Maybe some time I’ll be in your hood??

          1. Toronto – I don’t make it to California very often! I’m jealous of your weather right now – we’ve had another snowstorm.

    2. Tammy, I’m on the hunt for a new m/m hockey romance authors too and would love to hear some of your recs. I’ve been reading and enjoying Catherine Cloud’s books and AO3 stories. I haven’t tried Taylor Fitzpatrick yet but may give her a try.

      1. Catherine Cloud is VERY similar in style to Taylor Fitzpatrick – to a point that I think she must read her books. She is a kinder, gentler version of Taylor Fitzpatrick. Taylor can be quite ruthless with her characters. But start with You Could Make a Life. The other great authors are: Rachel Reid (especially Heated Rivalry), Avon Gale (without Piper Vaughan), Samantha Wayland and the new one that I love – Cait Nary (she only has the one out).

        1. Tammy, I don’t know if you are still looking on here, but I came here to say: Catherine Cloud has been on my radar for a while, but with your recommendation, I started reading her in AO3 today. I don’t think she just writes like Taylor Fitzpatrick, I think she *is* Taylor Fitzpatrick. There are some of the same turns of phrase and even some of the same grammar mistakes. I don’t know why she would write the same genre under two different names, but maybe she wanted a separate universe with a fictional hockey league instead of her version of the NHL? Anyway, I’m happily digging into her stuff with the extra intrigue of her identity.

        2. Thank you Tammy! Going to try Heated Rivalry first since I already have that on my Kindle. Taylor Fitzpatrick has a lot of stories on AO3 and I wasn’t sure where to start so I think I’ll start with your You Could Make a Life. I adore Catherine Cloud so if she and TF have similar writing styles and/or are the same person then that’s going to give me a ton of new reading material.

    3. I like DEATH COMES AS THE END, too, though I have enjoyed nearly as much the original letters that inspired it. One of them was still unopened when discovered, as if the recipient just didn’t want to know what it said . . . .

        1. Winlock discovered the letters during the 1921-22 season, in the tomb of Meseh, in the tomb complex of the vizier Ipi, at Deir el-Bahri. There are several books, but I couldn’t find any for sale (small print run, technical subject, probably all bought up by Egyptology students).

          Online links:

 has images of the pages.

          And, of course, they are described by Barbara Mertz in RED LAND, BLACK LAND.

        1. I’ve posted some information — my sources are mostly too old to be helpful — and the comment is awaiting moderation, probably because I have two separate URL links.

    4. I’ve gotten a lot of great book recommendations from this site, some of which led me to enjoyable M/M romances including K J Charles’ Will Darling series. Loved the Cait Nary ‘Seasons Change’ romance for so many reasons, even though I know nothing about hockey and for that matter don’t care about sports. Yesterday I reread Jenny’s ‘Fast Women’ for the umpteenth time. Chapter four has the best revenge scene ever and I laugh out loud every time I read it!

      1. Yes! Seasons Change is the one by Cait Nary I mentioned above! Loved that book so much. Have reread it twice…or more…already.

  5. Reading Nan Reinhardt’s The Valentine Wager. It combines small town conviviality, an Irish heroine, and the sharp sweetness I’ve come to expect from her.

  6. Er, this week I read How Civil Wars Start; And How to Stop Them. Not a fun read but I’m glad I read it. We have lots of work to do to strengthen democracy. I also got a book I ordered on heritage gardens but I think it’s time to go read the most frivolous romance I can find. Will be checking everybody’s reads for recs.


      1. Thanks, I have of course read ALL the Crusies and Sophy. I ended up reading Odette Stone’s first book in her hockey series based on somebody’s rec and WOW that was fun. Just what I was looking for. I have now bought the rest of the series to devour over the long weekend.

  7. Someone here suggested Sharon Shinn so I read The Shape of Desire. It reminded me of The Time Traveler’s Wifebecause it dealt with the details of what it would be like to be involved with someone who shifts, willy-nilly, into something not human. Plus, the writing was gorgeous.

    So, thanks!

  8. I read They Came To Baghdad years and years ago. I remember being impressed, but not much more than that. Plus my copy had one of those great pulp fiction covers…

    Not a great reading week for me. I kept staring audiobooks and wandering away. I settled on Unseen Attraction by KJ Charles, because it was available. Not my favorite of hers, but good and sweet and it got me through the weekend.

    I am slower at actual reading anymore so I started The Worst Guy, which was recommended here but haven’t gotten very far. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but this isn’t it. It’s better written with complex characters. I liked the hero immediately. We will see about the heroine.

    And I started listening to Nalini Singh’s first thriller, Quiet in Her Bones. I don’t read thrillers, but it was available. I keep thinking about bailing out though. I’m not sure if it is going to take me somewhere I don’t want to go, or not.

  9. I read the 3rd book in Kristen Ashley’s River Rain series; Taking the Leap. KA is a never fail for me although she writes in lots of sex which I skip cause reading sex is boring to me.
    Heroine for this book is Alex. She’s a “bashful” outdoorsy woman. Hero is Rix. He’s a disabled former firefighter. I would never try to summarize a KA plot as they are always complicated.
    Good read for sure.
    Series order is: 1 After the Climb, 2 Chasing Serenity, 3 Taking the Leap, 4 coming in September 2022, Making the Match.
    I am rereading Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells and First Frost about the Waverlys. I love all her books but those 2 best.
    And exciting news; she, Sarah Addison Allen has a new book coming out in September of 2022!!! After a very long hiatus.
    I hope this ends the hiatus of my other Sarah’s as well. Time for new books from Sarah-Kate Lynch and Sarah Wynde. (And, of course, from a certain Jenny!)

  10. Have spent the week with emperors. Finished rereading The Hands of the Emperor plus The Return of Fitzroy Angersell (which was better with drastically lowered expectations); then segued to The Goblin Emperor, and have just started Witness for the Dead. I always enjoy The Goblin Emperor; it’s taking a while to get into Witness for the Dead, but I think that was true the first time round.

    1. I liked Witness For the Dead, but didn’t love it. It’s slow, with a lot of introductions to characters and early relationship building but not a lot of growth. But apparently there is another one coming out soon, so that may help. Don’t get me wrong, it was still a good read, just not much rivels the Goblin Emperor.

      1. Yes, that’s how I felt, as I remember, first time round. Didn’t want to leave the world, though – although what I really want is more Maia.

    2. It was one of those weeks so I reread Goblin Emperor. It re-zeroes my angst meter, I think. Anyway, it makes me a better person. Some weeks I need that.

  11. For school, I read “Little” by Edward Carey. It’s this off-beat book about a kid in 1700s Europe (mostly France) and what happens to her as she grows up and runs into various famous historical figures, complete with drawings the “narrator” has done of the things that are important to her. It was weird, dark, funny, and occasionally touching. The plot is not particularly driving, but it is fascinating.

    Basically if you read Jane Eyre and were like “I like how little orphan Jane has a strong sense of self-respect, despite what the world tells her, but I wish her book was weirder, with no central romance, and more blood” than “Little” is the book for you.

  12. I’m reading Tell Me Lies which I haven’t read in years. I think it was my first Crusie and I am wholly hooked again.

    I half read, half listened to The Guncle and definitely enjoyed the heartfelt warmth of it. The author narrates which generally isn’t a great idea, but he does an adequate job. There is a good bit of emotion, working through grief for both adults and children, so could be problematic for some.

  13. I finished up Slightly Scandalous and moved on to Slightly Sinful. Why do characters / writers think that pretending to be married is a good thing? Ah well.

  14. Started Grace Burrowe’s True Gentlemen series with Tremain’s True Love. Saving 2nd Murderbot for the weekend.

    Side note: local bookstore was asking on Valentines Day about reader’s favorite romances. One of the first that popped in my head was your Maybe This Time. 💕

      1. Maybe This Time is one of my favorite rereads. I love Andie’s relationship with Alice. I love how Jenny writes kids.

  15. I am listening to a Dorothy Parker, but I keep falling asleep and missing bits. I didn’t bother to re-wind because it didn’t seem to matter much. I’m almost at the end now, and I suppose it will finish on the way home today.

    I don’t know if it’s the writing or the narrator but nothing much seems to happen.

    Perhaps I’m in a mood. that’s definitely possible.

  16. I just finished Aurora’s End by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. They did a flabbergastingly amazing trilogy (Illuminae) years ago and this is their second space trilogy in a different universe. I wasn’t quite as into this as I was the first series (or at least the first two books), but they did a really good job on book #3. It’s a YA book, but I enjoyed it all.

    So I mentioned reading Almost Romance last week and I’m still obsessed with that. Does anyone know of any other books that feature one of those kind of relationships–i.e. they know they’re meant for each other but they somehow don’t get together right away and eventually figure it out?

  17. Unnatural Magic by CM Waggoner was wonderful. Terrific world building. All new take on gender, hero roles, magic. Really fascinating. I plan to read the next book in the series.

  18. I’m back to riding the stationary bike every day, so I have to have something light (both physically and intellectually) to read. In this case, The Wee Free Men because I’ve re-re-read the Sam Vines and Susan Sto-Helit and witches books too often. Happily, I’ve forgotten a lot about Tiffany Aching and it’s all great to rediscover.

  19. “They Came to Baghdad” is my favourite of hers. I love all of the ones that are on the adventurous side / connected to archaeology.

    “Cat Among the Pigeons” is another good one.

    I re-read “Agnes and the Hitman” for the umpteenth time. So much fun.

    Also going through books by Andrea K Höst again. I really like that way she brings in narratives about young adults in a school / learning environment. “And all the Stars”; “Hunting”; and “Stained Glass Monsters” are all great. She has mentioned that Diana Wynne Jones is one of her favourite authors.

    I am looking forward to the sequel to “The Book of Firsts”.

    1. I have been trying not to reread the Book of Firsts because I will want to do it again before Seconds comes out, but it is hard.

  20. They came to Baghdad is one of my favourites, yes she lies, but she’s also lots of fun and she doesn’t wait around for other people to rescue her. I always wished she ended up with Carmichael (impossible I know), but they both had that instinctive quickness when reacting to situations

    1. I was pulling for Carmichael, too, but I think that was just expectation. She ended up with a quick-thinking guy, though.

  21. I started a book my husband checked out for me from the library as a surprise, written by an actor I’ve enjoyed watching.

    I wish I were enjoying it more, but it’s not engaging me. The writing style does not appeal to me.

    Other than that, I read the most recent JD Robb.

  22. I discovered Eli Easton’s How to Howl at the Moon series – dog shifters, M/M, small town in the mountains – light fun. Liked the first 2, with the start of the 3rd I am drifting out of the premise but YMMV.

    Been dipping into Anne Fadiman’s At Large and At Small essays, at night. I like a good long essay before bed and these have broad topics like “Charles Lamb” or “Mail” or Night Owls/Larks”. Slightly older book, but really on point and smart.

    I find I like NF essays or any type of romance/mystery/fantasy short story with which to finish the day. Will I every break the nun-enforced don’t end a sentence with a preposition? Sorry, oy.

  23. What I have done this week is mostly stack up much anticipated books for later, later, always later. Basically, I’ve done a lot of pre-ordering. Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews (can’t wait!); Blitz by Daniel O’Malley (can’t wait!); Locklands by Robert Jackson Bennett (yep, can’t wait!).

    But I did finally read Emily Tesh’s Silver in the Woods, which was really different from my expectations–much more fairytale-esque, less romance. Loved it. Also really enjoyed The Vine Witch by Luanne G Smith about a cursed witch finding her way back home to a vineyard only to realize the vineyard has been sold to a mortal man. Light romance, pretty enjoyable. My wild card this week was The Album of Dr. Moreau by Daryl Gregory which combines boy band politics with murder and mad science. It was excellent.

  24. For fun and relaxation I am reading Mary Balogh, but what else would you guys expect? I re-read my first read of the Survivors Club series, and liked it every bit as much as the first time. It’s the one about the widow who’s gone to live with her older sister in a little cottage in a little village. (Only Enchanting) I must say that Balogh’s sex scenes in her books are more than a little formulaic, but the great thing about these series books is that you can read each additional one with a much more realistic and nuanced sense of the background and sensibility of even the most minor character, since he or she is probably a major in one of the other books. Having finished this one, I’m re-reading the one about her older sister.

    When I’m less moved to read for pleasure, I’m trying to read a book about writing — “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain” by George Saunders. He writes about the elements in short stories that engage you on each page and make you want to find out what happens next. I like his approach to things — it’s much less formal and academic than I had feared, and probably pertinent to all fiction, not just short stories. But when you want to know whether the dowager is going to create a scene about her granddaughter’s engagement and what her fiance is going to do about his missing brother, it makes you prone to straying back to Baloghistan.

  25. I finished reading Nan Reinhardt’s The Valentine’s Wager and really enjoyed it. Immediately pre-ordered the next one in the series.

    I’m reading Past Due for Murder, a cozy by Victoria Gilbert that is set in a library. I think this is the 4th one in the series. Interestingly, they have more romance than usual for cozies, although still nothing graphic. I’m enjoying them.

  26. It’s been a good week for reading. I read Stolen by Allison Brennan (6th in a series) and His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik and enjoyed both of them very much.

  27. I am reading a dark romance, my first, no that is a lie. Started one a couple of years ago but just didn’t like it. That’s not to say I like this but the story line intrigues me. It is about two antagonists Cora and Dean who are kidnapped and held in the cellar of a psychopathic serial killer’s house chained to different posts. Dean is engaged to Cora’s sister Mandy. Those two have had a hate/hate relationship since their teenage years. They’re always going back and forth making snide remarks and even pulling gags on each other. Why am I reading it because the summary said the story also has humor. I’ve found it here and there, but having a hard time getting past the psycho. Thank goodness I read the end, of course I did, and am just at the part where they’re are going to save themselves. Maybe. It is still early in the book. So we will see what happens. The book title is Still Beating by Jennifer Hartmann.

    1. What an interesting premise. I may have to try this, even though I don’t usually like dark romance either.

  28. I’m looking for a book that is the literary equivalent of a bowl of creamy chicken soup and a slice of hot fresh bread slathered in butter.

    Or maybe I just need to make that for supper.

    I need supper and a book.

    1. I’m about to make a fish stew with capers and olives for dinner. With a nice glass of wine. Now I think I need to find a book equivalent to go with it.

  29. That is what Lois Bujold’s “Sharing Knife” series always feels like to me. Starting with a young woman running away from home, all alone, to find a job and escape that awful boy and what the family would say. Within a few pages she’s up in a tree after buying some fresh bread from a farmer’s wife.

    But have supper first!

    1. I agree completely. Fern is such a good character. I know some people don’t like the wide age difference between her and Dag but she totally holds her own from the start.
      I love all the books in the series but I especially like the second one for the river journey.

      1. It’s funny, age gap is something I usually avoid, but I’ve never seen it with ‘the Sharing Knife’.

        I think it’s because Dag is starting his life over, and not only does he see Fawn as someone essential to that, he’s learning and growing just as much as Fawn is. She’s not someone who he has to take care of, but a full partner. And, she essential to him thinking of new ways of doing things.

        I read an article where LMB (I think) said that it’s an alien story; two very different cultures, that are alien to one another, who have to learn from each other.

        It’s one of my favourite series.

        1. Dag’s people actually live far longer than Fawn’s, so the difference is, well, different. It’s like the Vorkosiverse in which Betan’s live far longer than Barrayarans.

    2. I just visited Flavel House in Astoria, OR. And Capt. Flavel at 31 married Mary Catherine who was 15. This was before the Civil War (I think). Her two best friends, same age as she, married before she did. And they were all pretty pleased with themselves for making “good” marriages. I keep remembering as I read stories about pioneer societies that it was more important to have girls in secure marriages in case something happened to their families. And the society in Sharing Knife was basically pioneers.

      1. According to the 1860 St. Louis, MO census my grandfather in his early thirties was married to my grandmother who was sixteen, but I’m not going to get up off the sofa to check. But I know the records stated her age. That’s what I was surprised to remember.

      2. Oregon was especially noted for this, because it was settled by Donation Land Claim. Part of the terms were that if you were a single (man) you could claim 80 acres, but if you were married, you could produce proof of the marriage and claim 160 acres, 80 of them in right of your wife. Oregon wives were extremely conscious of their share, too! [This is how I learned where in Ohio, more or less, my great-great-grandparents were married, and the date. The Ohio records weren’t quite a match; the county lines had changed and the JP had recorded great-great-grandmother, whose name was Cornelia Ann, as “Cornelian,” and this was so puzzling to whoever in the county searched the records that my mother finally wondered whether the g-g-grandparents were living in sin. I just asked whether she could picture grandfather’s grandparents living in sin, and she couldn’t — he was basically raised in a Quakerly way and, as everyone who knew him said, “had no vices.” Sure enough, eventually we found the record.] Their daughter, great-aunt Julia, married at fifteen to someone eight years older than she.]

        1. I’m reporting another error I made. I miscounted a generation and a place of birth. Yesterday I went over the documents I have (they are copies of copies) and looking closer I realized my Gr grandfather was born in Indiana moved to and married in Illinois and finally settled in Missouri. Makes me wonder if the Homestead Act applied there.

          Another humorous fact I noted when looking at the documents, (this is original) on my mother’s side my Gr grandparents were married on Feb 29, 1892.

  30. I had several excellent re-reads this week and two new books. Jayne Ann Krentz’s latest Lightning in a Mirror was an average thriller, rather weak for this author. She can do (and has done) much better.
    Maddie Dawson’s Matchmaking for Beginners was a sweet and wonderful novel. Thank you, everyone who recommended it. I’m going to read more of this author. Are her other books as good? Which one should I choose?

  31. I’ve spent the last week re-reading Charlotte MacLeod’s Sarah Kelling/Max Bittersohn series. Next I can start on her Peter Shandy series and of course all her books written as Alisa Craig. All of this should bring me nicely to the publication of the new Anne Bishop.

  32. Re-read a PD James. They are always grimmer about life in general than I normally read, but she writes well, they are long and well plotted, and I always end up much happier about my own life and family after reading one.

  33. I read six full-length things this week (including one of mine that I’m about to update), four short things, and one DNF. 16% in, cute premise was torpedoed by unprofessionalism, offensive assumptions, a too-young smartass and a too-crybaby older character.

    One of the novels was Jay Hogan’s latest, ‘In Step,’ which has a ton of tango stuff that I enjoyed (thus why I re-read my tango book). I always like her books. This one follows a very similar arc to the other two in her Painted Bay series and, as in book 1, both characters are sympathetic.

    Read Steven Rowley’s ‘The Guncle,’ which I liked even though it’s not a romance. 🙂 Likewise Deanna Raybourn’s ‘An Unexpected Peril,’ though my interest wanes a bit. Can’t quite see how she’s going to progress the relationship, and IDGAF about all these aristocracy-adjacent Mysteries. Charlie Novak’s ‘Strawberry Kisses’ was aptly sweet though with a highly predictable storyline (have seen the fake boyfriends/forced proximity thing a few too many times lately).

    Finally, ‘You Had Me at Hola’ by Alexis Daria, a satisfying F/M showbiz story which avoided falling over the cliff of incessant family interference. Plenty of external conflict, not too much internal, and a fresh milieu.

  34. I am still in a mood for light and fluffy so I have been watching Disney animated movies. This week I watched Encanto. OMG. I watched it straight through, then turned on the subtitles and watched it again. The only reason I didn’t watch it a third time is it was well after 2 am. Light and fluffy but also so much good, meaty story in there. It made me remember some of the discussions of writing and storytelling we’ve had here.

    1. With music that’ll be stuck in your head for weeks. I love the characters in this movie so much.

  35. THE BEST FROM HELEN CORBITT’S KITCHENS, by Patty Vineyard MacDonald, was my cookbook for this week, and quite satisfactory. Described simply as “the best cook in Texas,” Helen was the 1968 recipient of the solid gold Escoffier plaque from the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the world’s oldest gourmet society, founded in 1248. It is unclear how she managed to keep their requisite ancient vow “never to desecrate a roast by cooking it in any other way than on a turning spit.”

    She ran the restaurant at Nieman Marcus, though Lyndon and Lady Bird Johnson really wanted her to run the White House kitchen.

    Thank you, Gary, for mentioning that Margaret Bell had books published that I hadn’t read! I love topology (mostly memorized A SPACE CHILD’S MOTHER GOOSE), and have now finished A POCKETFUL OF STARS and am two chapters in to AN OPENING IN THE AIR. I also bought and started SALT MAGIC: A Regency fantasy romance. Regency does especially well with a touch of fantasy . . . .

    SHOP CATS OF NEW YORK, by Tamar Arslanian, pictures by Andrew Marttila. Cats, cats, and more cats! Needs a reader which can present pictures well.

    A DEADLY GRIND, by Victoria Hamilton: this one came my way unexpectedly because of a subject matter search. First mystery I’ve ever seen where one of the characters is a Hoosier cabinet! “No one would expect to find a new love at an estate auction, but Jaymie Leighton just had; her heart skipped a beat when she first saw the Indiana housewife’s dream. She wasn’t in Indiana and she wasn’t a housewife, but those were just details. Tall, stately and handsome, if a little the worse for wear, the Hoosier stood alone on the long porch of the deserted yellow-brick farmhouse. The hubbub of the crowd melted away as Jaymie mounted the steps, strode down the creaky wooden porch floor and approached . . . .”

  36. This blog is the best source of books I might want to read… I’ve only had one real miss (Hench, time I will never get back), and lots of hits.

    I finally had time for a bit of fun reading.

    First on the list was One Last Stop, Casey McQuiston’s follow-up to Red White and Royal Blue. I think I liked it more than RWRB, which I liked quite a bit. The premise was equally unlikely, but in a completely different way, but the growth of the protagonist was delightful to watch. Next was A Suitable Consort for the King and His Husband, also a win. I started it again from the beginning as soon as I finished it.

    I have an audiobook on tap too, but it will have to wait until I can get outside to walk. The wind outside sounds frightful (and it’s less than half what the UK is experiencing right now).

    1. So far everyone here who has read A Suitable Consort, then immediately rereads it – to pick up what they might not have noticed – very funny!

  37. I don’t recall to whom to address this. In a post in Argh, Ink, someone commented about downloading audible books. I have three MP3/MP4 players (two without their instruction manuals, dag nabbit!) and all of them have slots for a micro SD card. I also happen to have five micro SD cards. 🙂

    Yesterday, I logged in to Downpour (part of Blackstone Audio) and from my library, downloaded all of my Penric and Desdemona books as MP3s. Then I started in on my Crusie library.

    I know that you can download Audible books to the Kindle app on your phone or tablet.

    I plan to listen to my books in Whoopsie. The dotter plugs in her phone for music in my car all the time. She even borrows my phone when she’s used up all the hours on hers.

  38. I find Christie very relaxing to read and also re-readable. Speaking of, I think A Passenger to Frankfurt is a lot like They Came to Baghdad.

  39. Since last Thursday, I read…
    – Sonali Dev’s Recipe for Persuasion. NOT FOR ME. LOTS of flashbacks, and I DID NOT AGREE AT ALL with the ending. This is a second chance romance, those are not my favorites and it is my opinion that the person who broke them up the first time is not the one the author had apologizing for said breakup.

    – Sonali Dev’s Incense and Sensibility. SO FREAKIN GOOD. I know, I swung from the lows to the highs between books 2 and 3 of this series.

    – Tasha Harrison’s If She Says Yes. I mean…this one kept popping up in my various social media feeds so I finally bit even though age gap is not my fav. And it was a very sexy book, sure. But…I am not sure that I believe that this couple is going to be able to function happily going forward (the hero is the heroine’s son’s best friend).

    – Sarah MacLean’s The Rogue Not Taken. Umm. This one…I was straight up angry when I finished it and I yelled at my husband for like ten minutes about it. I just did not believe that these two characters loved each other. I would say they were on their way, but there was no trust and the way they behaved! yeesh! One of the stupidest third act break ups I’ve ever read.

    Not the best week for reading.

    1. I’m going to try If She Says Yes. I have a similar age gap in my own marriage so am definitely interested. *:)

      1. I hope you enjoy it!! It truly wasn’t the age gap that I struggled with. It was believing that the prior relationships would accommodate the new one. The author did a pretty good job convincing me they wouldn’t 🤷‍♀️ Also, heads up, there is no epilogue type scene where you actually get to see the new relationship existing alongside the old. You apparently need to join her Patreon for that

  40. For my favorite light rereads besides Jenny I love going back to “A Civil Campaign” by Bujold. Ivan’s book is also hysterical. I still laugh out loud when reading those.
    Also Loretta Chase especially her series that starts with Miss Wonderful. And the dressmaker series.

  41. Some years ago, I embarked on a project of reading (or listening to the audiobooks) all of Agatha Christie’s novels. (Not back to back, so it took 7-8 years.) THEY CAME TO BAGHDAD was among my favorites. I found it fun and engaging, and I enjoyed the heroine, for the reasons you note.

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