This is a Good Book Thursday, March 24, 2022

This week I read car manuals, recipe books, and a lot of how-to-do-this-thing-on-a-2022-Mac webpages. And the last of the Rivers of London books, just in case they release the next one early. Also, the beginning of Nita three thousand times.

What did you read this week?

106 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 24, 2022

  1. I read Playing the Palace, enjoyed it, so I’m 4/4 on M/M romcoms. I also read Ariel Bishop’s newest, Fictitious – but the stuck in one hotel room together and being pursued by a stalker tropes are so overdone that I couldn’t get too excited about it. Eliot Grayson’s newest is out today, now that I’m excited about.

    Mostly I’m still reading Lesli Richardson although taking a left turn from her alien romance series to her Governor series, so am learning a lot about US state politics, like there’s a Lieutenant Governor role – who knew?? Anyway, there are about 25 books in the series so I may be down this rabbit hole for a while.

    1. I live in the US, and have heard the term Lieutenant Governor, but I couldn’t tell you what one does….

        1. Actually, the role of a Lieutenant Governor varies state-to-state, and not all states have them. Usually, their duties are delineated in the state constitution. Some states amount to being like the vice president, but not all. There’s a wiki…

      1. Apparently yes, the right answer is: the same as the Vice President.

        Although according to my books, they also spend a lot of time being involved in polyamorous, BDSM relationships – but perhaps that’s literary license?? I am naive in these matters.

        1. As long as they are unrealistically young and good looking, we can only hope this is accurate.

          1. They’re all totally fantastic looking, and fit, of course. I’m sure all your state leaders are too…??

          2. Such a relief to hear. I’m all about verisimilitude in fiction. Our offering up here to attractive leadership is Justin of course. But he is way too much a good boy to do anything as interesting as be involved in polyamory.

          3. California’s lieutenant governor does have an unrealistically young and good-looking official photo 🙂 She also holds an MBA and was President Obama’s ambassador to Hungary. Go Eleni Kounalakis!

    2. The Lieutenant Governor gets to be Governor when the Governor dies, or resigns or gets convicted. When Sarah Palin decided she would rather be a political commentator on Fox and make millions instead of being Governor of Alaska and deal with an unexpected major budget short-fall and resigned, the Lieutenant Governor Sean Parnell became Governor. In Oregon when John Kitzhaber got in a snit because people were criticizing his significant other’s funding and behavior as a political consultant and he resigned (it was his third term anyway), his Lieutenant Governor was the excellent Kate Brown which is how Oregon received its first lesbian governor. And I am sure that there are other cases of this happening in t he last 20 years. I just don’t pay that much attention to state politics west of the Rockies.

  2. Kate Hewitt’s FIND ME AT WILLOUGHBY CLOSE. Ms. Hewitt’s writing and her gift with setting reminds me of Miss Read’s Thrush Green Series. They both make me happy. I’m also listening to Jennifer Weiner’s GOODNIGHT NOBODY on audio. Great writing.

  3. This week I’m reading student papers. I had a full-blown meltdown yesterday. Thanks to my former university (where Ina till teaching one class) opting to forgo TOEFL scores, the majority of my students (in a grad program) can’t write a coherent sentence. It’s so bad, they don’t know what I mean when I say tense agreement or number agreement.


    These are the weeks I wish I still drank.

    1. There were times I wished I could drink too, I’ve been there, fortunately for my health and my wallet I don’t/can’t drink. I do however treat myself to small quantities of excellent chocolate to reward/sedate myself

  4. Where I still teach.

    A typo in a rant about bad writing. And I’m over my annoyance now. Maybe.

  5. I picked up Helen Hoang’s latest, The Heart Principle, which really needs to be slapped with just about every trigger warning out there. I was expecting a romcom and instead got a downward spiral as her main character gives up everything to provide hospice care for her paralyzed father for her verbally abusive family. I stopped at about 75 percent because it just felt like punishment to read. Also, it felt like it was building towards a climax because that is what the author thinks a book is supposed to do, not because it was right for the story. I think that she needs to try a different genre, chick lit or something heavier and is forcing herself to write romance because that is what people expect of her.

    After that I needed a pallette cleanser, so I read First Blood by Elliot Grayson, which Tammy recommended for me (thank you very much). It was very sweet and I appreciated that it was from the perspective of the big grumpy vampire. It’s almost always from the perspective of the human, so that flip was very fun. Lots of dry humor and the human pulls his weight in a crisis, so all around well written.

      1. Same, though I think her first was her best. The romance never quite gelled for me in the second book, which is why I think that she really wants to write chick lit or lit fic.

    1. Well that first one sounds like it should have a unique warning of its own invented for it. Like “Plethora of Triggers Warning”. I’m sure you can come up with something better.

      I’m glad you enjoyed First Blood – I know you were looking for something sweet. The others in that series are less sweet but I still enjoy them, and #7 came out today so I’m very happy about that and looking forward to curling up with a werewolf or mage. Or something.

      1. I will probably visit the others eventually. I enjoyed the writing style and characters a lot.

    2. Man, did I feel for Helen Hoang when I read the Heart Principle. It just felt so hard and autobiographical…I know it was fiction, but it felt very heavily influenced by her own experiences and the author’s note at the end reinforced that feeling/idea for me. And I agree on the trigger warning to make sure you’re ready for it – it wasn’t at all what I was expecting when I picked it up.

      I’m glad I read it, because it’s one of those books that feels profound and illuminating to read – you’re getting a really deep and intimate view of the struggles that the main character is dealing with. It stuck with me for sure and I feel like it made me grow in empathy and understanding of what it’s like experience the world through a filter of autism & depression, but it also put me in a headspace that was not necessarily a good one for my mental health. I was ultimately glad I finished it, but I don’t know that I would rush to go back to it.

      1. I agree that it is an important topic that she obviously had a lot of experience with personally. My issue is that it is billed as “A woman struggling with burnout learns to embrace the unexpected—and the man she enlists to help her—in this new New York Times bestselling romance by Helen Hoang.”

        This last is taken directly from Amazon and the item description has no trigger warnings. It hit me hard, as we just buried my father in law and we’re working on setting up palliative care or hospice for him.

        Also, I really do feel that the author bent her writing around the expectations of traditional romance formatting, which was not necessary and did not suit the story. I’m not trying to criticize her addressing the topic, just the marketing behind it.

  6. This week, I read the last Phoenix feather book from Sherwood Smith. I had trouble getting back into it because there were many side characters I had forgotten but I got sucked into the story fairly quickly. Not as good as Inda I think but pretty good nonetheless.

    After that I have been rereading Sarina Bowen Ivy years books. I like the first one a lot but I think the enjoyment decreases a little with each subsequent ones even though I do like the characters in them.
    I did really enjoy rereading the short stories Blonde date and Studly period (collected in Extra credit). They are very sweet.

    Also, the French in Studly period is correct. One of my pet hates is bad French in romance novels and there is a lot of that out there!

    1. I liked the first three, and then looked at the next two and they both had plot points that were going to annoy me, so I didn’t read on. I liked the short stories, too.
      I’m finding that while I may really, really like the first book in a series–The Deal, The Year We Fell Down–my enjoyment decreases as I read on. I think the whole series idea, while I love them, can be a writing killer. “And now I have to do X’s story . . .” I am not saying that’s what Kennedy and Bowen thought, I don’t like reviews that speculate on the author’s motives or state of mind, they just start to feel less . . . intense? That’s not quite right. It’s not just romance; I’ve liked each of the Rivers of London novel less, although even the eighth was great.
      I think part of the reason romance sequels tend to sag is that there’s no growth, the series is not a continuation of a protagonist’s growth, it’s an examination of a social group, switching protagonists each time, so the reader is going back to a world more than an individual character. I love the characters in the Murderbot books, but I go back for Murderbot. The world in the Rivers of London book is full of wonderful characters, but I go back for Peter Grant. The only romance series I can recall staying strong to the end was Loretta Chase’s Carsington series, and even then I like some of them less. My favorite is the last one, but I’m just now realizing that was a continuation of character story, the lovers were children in an earlier book.

      Boy, I’m chatty today.

      1. Well it may also be because familiarity breeds contempt? The ideas or style or whatever in the first book were shiny and new and exciting but then the reader got bored over time? Takes a special author or story to overcome that.

      2. Yes a good hypothesis about why romance series tend to decline in quality. I always wonder about that.

      3. I was thinking that maybe it was the publish or perish thing: an author pours blood, sweat and tears into their first work and then it takes off and there is an expectation for more, more, more, as quickly as possible.

        1. I don’t know if that’s true for Sarina Bowen. I think her problem is more that she is insanely prolific.
          Her latest (multiple) offerings are very clicheed. I am not sure why I keep buying them and reading them.

          1. Yes, I have stopped buying her automatically. Also, the stories by other authors set in her universe are pretty mediocre to poor. It’s like she is trying to build a little empire…

        2. That and a reader demand, or perceived reader demand, to know what happened to every supporting character. I’m thinking of the last few Amelia Peabody books where so many characters from earlier stories made cameo appearances to wave at the readers. And carrying story lines on and on and on.

      4. The thing I like about the Carsington series is that the books don’t particularly feel related. Each one is genuinely a different story. I didn’t enjoy her Dressmakers series as much, purely because so many of the story beats are the same when (nearly) every story has a dressmaker ending up with an aristocrat.

        1. Wouldn’t it be nice if they ended with a nice taylor instead?
          That’s why I don’t read regencies anymore…

        2. I think the Chase Scoundrels series actually gets better as it goes along.

          I think it may be less of a problem with detective novels which have to have separate settings.

          But I agree that most series get weaker. And I would think the authors must get sick of some of the characters.

  7. My reading life has been weird in Covid times – I read about 100 fewer books in 2021 than I did in 2019. But it feels like I’m getting back to normal.

    This week I was on a bit of a space/time kick – I read The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier and Recursion by Blake Crouch. I enjoyed them both, though I think that would have been less true if I hadn’t taken a few days between finishing one and starting the next.

    My bedtime re-reads this week were from the Portland Devils series by Rosalind James. I like them well enough to reread, but they aren’t my faves, even of her books.

    And I flipped through a couple of Travel and Leisure magazines – the mags are piling up faster than unread books, and I’m ready to 1) dream of trips that might actually happen soon and 2) get the piles out of my house!

  8. My number 1 read this week was a Gift Of Luck by Sarah Wynde. It’s #5 in her Tasamara series. It’s a little different than the firat four. I enjoyed it even so. Most of the lovely characters from Tasamara go to Disneyland, taking along a stranger.
    If you haven’t started the series, Gift of Ghosts is first.
    I’ve also been finding Bob Mayer’s Novel Writers Toolkit very helpful with my wip.
    Speaking of my work in progress, I reread Another Roadside Attraction by Tom Robbins as my wip needs a similar structure. Fun to revisit Amanda and Marx Marvelous.

    1. I haven’t read Sarah Wynde’s latest yet, although I downloaded it already. I loved the first four Tassamara books so much, I bought them in paper format. I re-read them occasionally. I hope I like this one too.

  9. John Scalzi’s Kaiju Preservation Society. I enjoyed it and am listening again. Wil Wheaton is an excellent narrator.

  10. Yesterday I was at the library to pick up some holds – like I don’t have anything to read what with 18 books on KU including Jenny’s Bet Me. Yeesh! On my way out I went by the new book section and spotted at eye level a small book positioned just so with the title An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed by Helene Tursten. About Maud an elderly retiree at age 88 with a hidden nasty disposition who takes care of people that rub her the wrong way. I took that one out too and started it as soon as I got home and realized it was the second book so I looked up the first book, An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good and started that one instead. The books have short stories that revolve around her schemes. And here I was thinking about my late 89 year old MIL who got her daily exercise by pushing a cart around the aisles of a supermarket with her arms laced over the handle.

    1. I didn’t finish An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good – got about halfway through and then looked at my TBR pile and decided to take it back to a little free library (probably not the same one I picked it up from – there are at least 5 within a half mile of my house, lucky me!) Also, Bet Me is so good!

      1. I read the first book in this short series and set the next one aside maybe until it has to be returned. I could find nothing about Maud that would want me to continue. There is getting even with people and then there’s just plotting about it in your head.

  11. I read Well Met by Jen DeLuca and really enjoyed it. Romcom set at a ren faire with believable family issues and a great romance. Looking forward to the next one in the series. I think someone here recommended it–if so, thank you.

    Started the new Katie Fforde, A Wedding in Provence. Brit romance, not available here yet, I don’t think (I order my fav British authors through The Book Depository, which will ship free anywhere in the world.). It is set in the early 60’s which I didn’t think I’d like, but it actually works. Plus it’s set in Provence, obviously, although with a British protagonist. Katie’s books are my happy place, which I need right now.

    1. And thank you, Deborah, for recommending Katie Fforde some time ago. I’m reading A Springtime Affair and enjoying the fact it is hitting my sweet spot for comfort right now.

      I’m listening to Molly Harper’s How to Flirt with a Naked Werewolf, delightfully narrated by Brittany Pressley. While shape shifting isn’t my cup of tea, I do appreciate the “family by choice” that is a Molly Harper hallmark along with the wit and humor.

    2. FForde’s books are my happy place too. Thanks for mentioning that a new book is out!

  12. Read two romances, one contemporary, one Regency, both just okay and not worth naming here. I put the contemporary one down for several days, which is always a bad sign. Have enjoyed all three middle-grade novels I’ve read for work by Holly Goldberg Sloan, especially Counting by 7s, should you need a quick read full of thoughtful material: death of parents, child geniuses, gardening and books as therapy, true family.

  13. I too read the fourth and final Phoenix Feather book, Dragon and Phoenix by Sherwood Smith, and it was very hard to put down as I mentioned last week.

    I also read Lindsay Buroker’s latest, The Elf Tangent, which was kind of fun. It was supposed to be a standalone but now she says she might write another about one of the other characters.

    I also read A Gift of Luck, Tassamara #5, by Sarah Wynde. And it was a bit different than the previous ones. Not bad, but I think I enjoyed the others more. Which was quite a lot, so that’s not really a criticism.

  14. I don’t think anything has changed since last Thursday. Still re-reading and listening to Bujold. Still reading The Grantville Inquisitor. Still plateaued on the diet at 251.8#/114.2kg. Still gardening hydroponically. I did shave my twenty-year-old beard and mustache off. That’s different.

    1. I bet you were surprised to find that all that hair did not prevent your face from getting older in the last 20 years. Now when you look in the mirror you can wonder why your father is staring back at you.

      1. If you examined any pictures of me (there are a few on my blog) you would have noted that the entire beard had gone white. Losing the Santa facial hair, on the one hand, seemed to scrape 10 years off my age. On the other hand, I would never know what my father looked like at this age. He died the day after his 32nd birthday in 1952. I was 16 months old. In those few photos I still possess, he will remain forever young. On the third hand, the dotter encourages growing the beard back to hide my jowls and turkey wattle.

        I don’t miss the beard. I miss lazily not shaving.

          1. He had the distinction of being the only person to have died on his submarine, the USS Drum, which share museum duty with the USS Alabama. In Alabama. There was a memorial service years ago attended by both of my older brothers. He was asphyxiated in a ballast tank while making a routine tour of the boat in drydock. He was the off-going Duty CPO. When he did not show up for watch relief, they searched the ship and found him.


          2. It’s just possible that he might have met my mother (who worked on sub electronics at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard) the second time the Drum went there for refitting and got a radar upgrade. Mother was there from the spring of 1945 through June 1946, and she knew the sub crews, many of whom became lifelong friends of hers and my father’s.

  15. I started the last week with Agatha Christie’s Dead Man’s Folly. It was an intriguing mystery, and I enjoyed reading it. I think I remember a Poirot movie with David Suchet based on this story, but I didn’t remember the details, so it read fresh. I liked it much more than most other mysteries I have tried lately, so decided to read more of Christie. My next one was The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. What can I say? You all know she was a great mystery writer, and I just confirmed it for myself.
    Freya Marske’s A Marvellous Light was a DNF at ~ 60%. I wanted to like this book, but I couldn’t. I wanted to finish it, but I couldn’t do that either. It was too brutal for me. The protagonists suffer endlessly, and half-way in, I was thoroughly tired of their perpetual misery, inter-spaced only occasionally with lusty thoughts and steamy m/m sex scenes. I leafed through to the end of the book and decided to DNF it. I wasn’t enjoying it at all.
    On the other hand, Jonas Jonasson’s Sweet Sweet Revenge LTD. was pure joy. Full of absurdities and laughter, it followed several bumbling heroes and one greedy villain, as they navigated their ways in Sweden and Kenya. A brilliant tale. I highly recommend it to everyone.
    Eva Ibbotson’s Magic Flutes was charming and naive. No deep emotions there, no profound psychological revelations, and you could see it was written decades ago, but I still enjoyed it very much. This is my second novel by this author, and I’ll definitely seek more of her books.

    1. Yes, I thought A Marvellous Light was overrated. Made a bunch of ‘lists’ but I don’t really understand why.

      1. Which is sad, because someone will pick it up as their first experience as a genre, which it is really not a good example of. I’m not sure why this one was so popular either. It read as a cobbled together blend of Harry Potter and Kingsman to me. But dark and sad.

    2. Eva Ibbotson are light frothy delights. If you want a little more depth in her works. I suggest reading A song for summer and my absolute favourite Madensky Square (the heroine is not the usual Ibbotson ingenue).

  16. Someone mentioned The Unknown Ajax a couple of weeks ago, so I read that. I’m not at all sure I’d read it before, but it has shot to the top of my list of favourite Heyers. Hugo is so funny, and I love the whole pretending-to-be-stupid-because-that’s-what-they-expect thing.

    Now reading Jo Walton’s Among Others, which is a paean to books (and SF in particular), mixed up with fairies, a wicked mother and a girl trying to find her place in the world. Quite a gentle book so far, and beautiful to read.

  17. I got about 3 chapters into the first Thursday Murder Club book, and got so tangled up in club members, details they’d observed, points of view they disagreed with and so on that I didn’t finish it. Which allowed me to cancel my hold on the second book, for which I’d just gotten up to the 132nd spot in line, so easy come, easy go.

    That being finished, I started another book — an M/M romance that the library system recommended I try when I looked for some other book. This was called “Conventionally Yours” by Annabeth Albert. It must be a young adult book, because the two MCs were 20-something boys who knew each other in a group of gamers playing something like Magic: the Gathering (although by another, imaginary name) at their local game store. (They head cross country to a game tournament together.) It had what’s a tired romance trope about two people who can’t stand one another at first but who eventually link up. And still I found it sweet, sincere, and very believable.

    I really like books where the reader is given plenty of information about what each character is thinking and feeling about one another during the course of a book. Sounds like the basic premise in any romance novel, but too often for my tastes, it’s done very sketchily so that their actions can show it for you. I find I can’t get a deep enough understanding of the characters from that, so I was happy that this book gave you lots of data to build understanding on. Nice balancing of skills, nice insight into weaknesses & self-doubt of each character — it’s a book I went back to the beginning of and read a second time, I liked it that well.

    1. I couldn’t get into the Thursday Murder Club either. Especially in audio, I couldn’t keep track of who was who, and then I got to what was essentially a list of more new characters (presumably minor ones) with names and backstories, all sitting on a bus, and I was done. The narrator was good, but I just couldn’t find a character I cared about, and I really didn’t care who killed the victim, who seemed like he needed killing.

  18. I finished up Michelle Sagara West’s epic series of series which is composed of 3 series (The Sacred Hunt, The Sun Sword and The House War) which I thought would take a lot longer since this series of series is composed of 16! Big! books. However, once I got going, I couldn’t stop reading them – to the detriment of my sleeping and working hours (I would open my phone and read on the sly).

    Now, I have this long, LONG wait until she finishes the first book in the next series – The Burning Crown in the End of Days. She’s only on the first few chapters – say about 40 pages? – and she typically writes about 600 pages per book.

    Bah, humbug.

    I’m starting Traci Chee’s new book “A Thousand Steps Into Night” which is about an innkeeper’s daughter becoming infected with a demon. So far, I like Chee’s writing and Miuko’s pre-demon-infected personality.

    1. Have you read her Elantra series written as Michelle Sahara, her MC is Kaylin Neya. Some I like less well than others but I almost always reread them all. And there are about 16 of them.

  19. Ten novels and one novella/ette, the short being a pedestrian M/M Regency in which the love interest, inspired by real engineer Thomas Telford, is a tiresome dick.

    There were mysteries! M. Ruth Myers’ latest in the Maggie Sullivan series, ‘A Dame Worth Killing,’ which is teased to be the last featuring this main character but not the last in this world. I’ll continue to read ’em because I like the style and the milieu is so unusual. Then I re-read ‘The Seven-per-cent Solution’ by Nicholas Meyer: a solid thriller, rewarding character study, and fond homage. Proceeded directly to his 2019 ‘The Adventure of the Peculiar Protocols,’ which makes for resonant reading at this moment since half of it takes place in Ukraine pre-WWI. Trigger warning for historical anti-Semitism. Recommended.

    Re-read three of Jay Hogan’s Southern Lights books, then read two Star Trek: TOS novels, one of which was ‘Uhura’s Song.’ That’s my other recommendation for the week. It’s a solid first-contact story in the context of a high-stakes mission in which there is no villain and there are no battles. (Also, who doesn’t like cat people?) The e-formatting is a bit hinky but the book is good.

    1. I read dozens of Star Trek (The Original Series) novels years ago. Most of which ranged from not bad to really really bad. But two of them, Uhura’s Song by Janet Kagan and The Final Reflection by John M. Ford were just really awesome science fiction novels set in the Star Trek universe.

      1. I also read lots of Star Trek books although these days I tend to focus more on the TV series. And what with Discovery, Below Decks, Picard and the Captain Pike series, we live in a glorious time.

      2. One that I particularly loved was ‘Ishmael’ by Barbara Hambly. It’s sitting on my wishlist hoping for a sale. 🙂

    2. Lucky you in the US. Here over the pond the kindle costs around 9 euro and second hand paperbacks start at 40 euro. So dh (a trekkie) will not get it soon.

    1. I read the first book in that series, and maybe the second. I liked it, but it was such a non-stop, blistering pace, I needed a break from the series, so I wandered away and never went back. And now there are seven! I might have to wander back to them.

  20. Ran out of steam reading CHILD OF MAGIC, the last of the topology books. I may come back to it, and may switch to a different Margaret Ball series. Not sure right now. I bought them all, and I do love her writing, so it may just be me.

    Cookbook of the week: HOLY SWEET!, by Peabody Johanson. This cookbook is heavily into sweets, but the author has a website at, and some really creative approaches to deviled eggs — French Onion Dip, Potato Salad, Bacon Caesar Salad, Honey Mustard Pretzel, Cheetos, and Soy Sauce Ramen — and some other promising savory recipes, which is more my interest. One thing I’m looking at with interest in the cookbook is Fruitcake Monkey Bread, which looks like just the thing for next December.

    THE DAUGHTER’S RETURN , by Rebecca Winters. Comfort reread, especially as the hero is living under the radar as a genealogist.

    CECILY BONVILLE-GREY – Marchioness of Dorset , by Sarah J. Hodder, new biography of Lady Jane Grey’s great-grandmother. More and more fifteenth- and fourteenth-century source material is becoming available all the time, and so biographies of people who were not wives of Henry VIII are being published. This one seems very well-researched, though I haven’t seen genealogical tables, so it probably helps if the reader is already familiar with the family trees of the fifteenth century. Born to a Yorkist mother and a Lancastrian father, Cecily truly was a War of the Roses child.

  21. It’s a film this week. Highly recommended. I’M YOUR MAN / ICH BIN DEIN MENSCH. A melancholy (or just German?) romcom with Dan Stevens as a lovebot being evaluated by a reluctant scientist. Should clarify, by melancholy I mean surprisingly deep rather than misery. Oddly funny and romantic. Germany nominated it as their entry for the Oscars, which amazes me somewhat but tells you something about how good it is. On Amazon/Curzon (UK).

    1. I haven’t seen Ich bin dein Mensch, only its trailer. Got shown in cinemas when it wasn’t easy to get tickets due to Covid regulations. But the trailer was interesting.
      Btw German romcoms usually aren’t known for being melancholic, more for being of the fluffy or silly kind, but every now and then we are treated to really fine stuff. Here you could expect the film to be good thanks to its director, Maria Schrader, who also directed the series Unorthodox. A very good actor and screen writer, too.

    2. I saw this at the Toronto International Film Festival last year and loved it. Plus was very impressed that Dan Stevens speaks German.

  22. Rotated over to Science Fiction this last week as John Scalzi’s latest, “Kaiju Preservation Society” was just released. Now I’m re-reading some of his back-list that I have loaded onto my kindle. While he does write series, he works in a number of different imaginative universes. None of the novels are comedies, per se, but he does sneak some surprise laugh-out-loads into his stories. His near future/alternate universe works may or may not hold up over time as he sneaks in a number of current refrerences (Muderbot diaries, any one), but they are fun to catch in an Easter Egg kind of way now. He admits in his afterword, that the “Kaiju Preservation Society” in more of a “pop song” kind of novel compared to most of his current work. He basically wrote it as a “palate cleanser” after a dark, depressing and not successfull 2020. (None of us can relate to that!)

    Now waiting for the latest Wen Spencer “Tinker” novel to be released in a week or two.

      1. I read the eARC – you can get it on Baen’s site. It was disappointing, and I really, really love the series.

        1. She’s (Wen Spencer) still writing the second half of the book…

          I’m really hoping that she gets around to writing the second “Black Wolves of Boston” book soon. I think that I’ve read the first one at least ten times!

  23. I read and enjoyed “In a New York Minute” by Kate Spencer.

    It felt super low stakes in a way where you knew from the writing nothing truly awful was likely to happen to the heroine and even when things were moderately not going well for her there was an obvious and easy solution that was clearly lined up and had been so blatantly set up that you knew she’d be fine. But I liked the character, and it was fun to hang out with her, so even though it was pretty predictable, it was a nice read.

    It felt a bit like instead of throwing rocks at her protagonist to see what would happen the author set up safety nets to either side of her and then gently tossed throw pillows in her general vicinity…but I don’t mean that to be as negative as it might sound, but just to give you a sense of what the story is like.

    And I kinda appreciated a low key story like that after everything we’ve lived through & continue to deal with over the past few years. This book just sorta let me hangout with someone I liked and see her succeed. I don’t think I could only read books like this…but it’s nice to just have something that feels light and uncomplicated sometimes, especially if you need to escape too much other realness.

    So if you’re looking for like a sweet romantic comedy, this might be a fun one to try. If you’re looking for an interesting/surprising plot with high stakes & twists where you’re at the edge of the seat, and where the protagonist is going to work to overcome tragedy/pain on her path to triumph, it’s probably not this.

    1. I am totally with you at this point. I think that is why I keep revisiting The Book of Firsts so often. No matter what is thrown at them, the characters meet it with equanimity. And CM Nascosta usually prefaces her books with a warning that they are “about basically nothing, no drama,” or words to that effect. And I love it. She mostly writes about people/creatures who live in a small town and work at creative jobs… It’s just so cozy and comfortable.

  24. I’m in an awful mood (too much on my plate work-wise, the overall global situation, teenage kids at home etc.), so the books I’ve read/listened might be in fact great, only they didn’t wow me but were solid:
    White Magic Five and Dime – I liked that it was something different from what I’ve read lately. Snarky heroine, not driven by finding a bloke and I liked looking at life and her fellow men through her con-woman eyes, well, her eyes thanks to having been trained by her con-mom. But I grew impatient nevertheless and skipped ahead (doesn’t necessarily reflect on the book but on my short fuse).
    I managed to finish Alexis Hall’s Something Fabulous and while the writing was fine I just didn’t grow to like the book very much. I guess I wouldn’t have loved it any other time because the plot had too little substance for me. Quite fluffy and hilarious but I never grew to like neither MCs nor story.
    After a good start I dnf Alien Taste, I just couldn’t stomach the alien element, don’t know why, the writing was good.
    The alien story Jailmates by Lesli Richardson I did finish and liked alright. I didn’t expect much after having read the reviews on Goodreads that weren’t for some part quite scathing. I didn’t fall in love with the story, but it held my concentration which is a mean feat these days. Also, it didn’t bother me that a third of the story took place before the main protagonist met his significant other and that the latter was off page for most of the time. But with the hero having gained so much enhancements to make him almost a superhero and then have him end up as an Sci-fi equivalent of a stay-at-home-mom was strange.
    Now I’ve finally started the new Eli Easton Hot Seat. It’s nice so far, but will my mood allow me to enjoy it? I might have to alternate with the non-fiction I got from the library – 15000 years of murder and man slaughter (anthropologists dealing with cold cases of spectacular crimes of the past). I loved those British series on very cold cases of some years back, so I’m curious.

    Apart from that today is the day, finally, that Bridgerton series 2 is available. So while dh watches Let’s dance (the German sibling to Strictly come dancing with C and D celebs but great professionals) I will immerse myself in colourful frocks and snarky dialogue and good music.

    1. But with the hero having gained so much enhancements to make him almost a superhero and then have him end up as an Sci-fi equivalent of a stay-at-home-mom was strange.

      Why strange? I though all stay-at-home-moms were superheroes.

      1. Point taken, Gary.
        Bit there should be a balance between the parents and here one went out to go into politics and the other stayed home to care for the kid. Why should the “father” (of a non-binary couple) miss out on spending time with the kid? “His”/phey job as law maker seemed to be more important/distinguished. No job-share model even in the far future? What a pity.

          1. Same as you, Gary, or mostly – was going to say that stay at home moms need every enhancement they can get.

    2. Dodo – If you want to try something different try books by Tony Hillerman .. The first in the series is Blessing Way. The MC is a navajo policeman in modern day who is also training to become a religious leader in the Navajo, They are mysteries but not very violent or graphic. I am so bored with so many books I read now because most of them are predictable and feel so similar to other books I have read. The Tony hillerman series took me to a different world and I enjoyed learning about the culture and the mysteries were intriguing.

  25. In a thread that is now closed for comments, Ann said:

    Probably not boy-girl stories. Boy and his dog is more likely at that age, [12] and if anyone is writing porn about dogs and twelve-year-old boys, I don’t want to know.

    I must (belatedly) reply, “Rule 34.”

    Rule 34 is an Internet maxim which asserts that Internet pornography exists concerning every conceivable topic. The concept is commonly depicted as fan art of normally non-erotic subjects engaging in sexual behavior.

      1. Should probably add that if it’s internet porn of the pictorial kind, I only see it if it’s internet kitten porn, and any kitten porn I’ve ever seen could be enlarged, posted on a billboard, and used to raise money for animal rescue.

  26. I haven’t read any new fiction in over a year. I’m not into romance as romance and I don’t like series, and none of the titles suggested here have intrigued me, especially after checking them on Goodreads.

    So I’m rereading Robert Bartlett’s The Making of Europe as prep for visiting France next month. My knowledge of European history is embarrassingly weak.

    And, I’m hoping for Nita whenever she appears in print — the latest first scene is the best piece of fiction I’ve read in a long, long time.

  27. Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl was a library recommendation in the midst of the line of mysteries it was recommending for me. The cover caught my eye so I checked it out. Having finished a Murderbot reread to early for bed, I decided a food memoir would be just the thing to read a few chapters before bed. I am still having trouble reading a lot of fiction so this seemed do-able. I stayed up until 1:30 finishing it. Admittedly I skipped the recipes because I did not want to become hungery before going to sleep, but it was so well written and her writing was so good. It has been a long time since I read something I became so immersed in. I highly recommend it. Her personal journey through childhood basically as an only child (her 13 year older half-brother mostly lived with his father) of a bi-polar mother whose cooking was very strange “Just scrape off the mold, it will be fine”, through being sent to a private Catholic school (she’s Jewish) so she would learn to speak French well, it was just mesmerizing.

  28. FYI Bob Mayer has a book for free on Kindle right now psychic Warrior.

  29. Great to see that you recently read The Murder of Roger Ackroyd! I also recently read the book and really enjoyed it.

    I’m also a part of a team of researchers who study how we remember the stories that we read. We’re currently looking for readers of the Murder of Roger Ackroyd. If you’re interested in helping with a short 15min survey, please read below. Thanks for your time either way!

    How do we remember the stories that we read? How do we use memory as we follow the actions of a story’s protagonists and discover the storyline?

    We – a team of memory researchers at Princeton University – are exploring how memory works. Memory we use in real life, not memory that is measured in a lab.

    We are looking for readers of the book “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” who can tell us what they remember.

    We have developed a short survey (~15min) to assess what readers remember. We invite those of you who have finished reading the book to participate in this survey.

    Your participation will help provide the first glimpse of memory of such long narratives and may fuel much progress in studying memory processes in everyday settings. We value your participation and will offer the opportunity to enter a lottery for a $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card upon completion of the survey, contingent on correct responses to a few basic questions about the book plot.

    Who is eligible?
    Readers of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd book who have finished reading the entire book within the last month, and who have not taken this survey before. Must also be 18 or older and currently reside in the United States.

    What will I do?
    You will be asked to recall events from the book and to answer 10 multiple choice questions about the order of events in the book. The estimated time for the full survey is 15 minutes.

    Want to know more?
    The project is being conducted by Drs. Mariya Toneva, Uri Hasson, and Ken Norman at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute. Feel free to reach out at

    To begin the survey, please follow the link below.

    We thank you for your time and participation.

    1. Well, that’s fascinating. I haven’t read the book in twenty years. Does rereading count? I mean, I remember who the murderer is, but that’s about it.

Comments are closed.