This is a Good Book Thursday, April 21, 2022

I keep going outside and thinking, “Wow, it’s really warm now, spring came early.” Then I realize it’s April and spring is right on time. Yes, we’re a third of the way through 2022. Remember when we thought nothing could be as bad as 2021? Good thing there are good books to read. I’ve just started David Chang’s Cooking at Home Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave) and I love it. It’s a non-recipe cookbook and very laidback and free and non-judgmental and I need all of that right now.

What are you reading that you need right now?

135 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 21, 2022

  1. I read the latest Rivers of London and loved it, especially the scenes with Lesley. The series has become lighter since they got rid of the big bad, but that suits what I want now.

  2. I read half of Impossible by Sarah Lotz. It was cracking along and then I got bored and stopped. I don’t know why. I liked the concept and at least one of the characters, but I stopped caring what happened to them. Upshot: maybe a good book, but wrong reader or wrong time.

    Also An Unkindness of Magicians by Kat Howard which definitely kept my attention, interesting style, I can imagine it as a movie with awesome effects (ie, read like a screen play). But the end. Wtf? Conclusion: worth the read.

    So then to recover I re-listened to Red Heir by Lisa Henry and I don’t get it either, on first reading I wouldn’t have thought this would end up on my re-read pile. It’s so funny, but it’s funny because it sees the obvious (usually filthy) joke and runs with it, then keeps running, and running. It could almost be parody (an elf, orc, dwarf, pickpocket, deposed royalty go on a quest and all the boxes are ticked) but it’s not at all, it’s fun and joyous and basically rolling around in delight in its ridiculous world (I mean the title is a pun. Decisions are made based on what will ‘sound good in the ballads’. The Prince’s name is Tarquin, yes, Tarquin.) Wait! Maybe it’s like Shrek but not for kids? And without the required kids movie positive message? Maybe it’s really genius, or maybe I just appreciated being (not so) childishly entertained. Maybe that’s the genius after all. Verdict: if a good book is one that makes you happy, this is definitely a good book.

    1. Wait—I missed my high school grad dance through too much smoking Red Hair blend— is that the pun?

      1. Probably not? But I suppose it could be, in an inside joke sort of way. But the plot is about a band of adventurers who are hired to rescue the prince with red hair. And the other red haired fellow in the cell with him claims to be the prince to get rescued too.

    2. I really enjoyed Red Heir. It’s ridiculous, but it doesn’t even try to take itself seriously so I didn’t mind. I haven’t read the follow up books, but did enjoy Anhaga, by the same author.

  3. Easiest would be to link to a book post in my blog. But some people don’t follow links, so:
    I most recently read The Reluctant Bride Collection, four novels set in the Regency period of England. I enjoyed them muchly, though I can’t attest to the accuracy of their depiction of the locations or time period, nor the language.
    Wilde In Love is in progress.
    So is/are the Murderbot Diaries. I’ve reached Network Effect, the grand finale. Must be the fifth reread.
    I also read Spying with Lana Case #29: Chaotic Neutral. Spying With Lana is a webcomic of the N(very)SFW variety, published in cases as graphic novels. (graphic, hut, hur).
    I’m up to chapter 77 on Variations on a Theme. Chapter 78 on Friday.
    And finally, I reread Going Down by Gary Jordan (me). I made me smile.

  4. I read Proper Scoundrels, thank you, Alexandra. I enjoyed the romance part, but the magic part not so much, not sure why. I also read an alien love series that was a guilty pleasure, and another Lesli Richardson – now the US federal government is being taken over by polyamorous BDSM triads.

    The find of the week was Victoria Stoddard’s Hands of the Emperor, which LN recommended. There are so many good things to say about this book and I’ll contain myself to saying the relationship between the Emperor and his secretary Cliopher was my favourite part. The book however is inordinately looonnnngggg – Stoddard could have used a more judicious editor, especially for those scenes between Cliopher and his family/friends which were repetitive to the point that I could have written one: Cliopher comes home for a visit and endures his family/friend’s whining/ridiculous and then some public recognition/action happens whereby the family/friend is astonished/puzzled by Cliopher’s true accomplishments/nature. Anyway, didn’t prevent me from downloading the next in the series, Petty Treasons, a novella – am interested in what Stoddard’s version of the length of a novella is…

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it too. It is always a bit worrying when someone reads a book you have recommended as you never know if they are going to enjoy it.

      I have tried a few times to lend books to friends in the hope they’d enjoy the same thing I do and they were not into it at all.
      Nowadays, the only people I recommend stuff to are my kids -I have been force-feeding them with my favourite books since they were little so the indoctrination seems to have worked- and you guys 😀

      1. And I am always a little disappointed in the person I have recommended a favorite book for and they are like, it’s fine, but I like Bridgerton better… I don’t have anything against Julie Quinn (ok, I might, there is much better stuff out there) but there is Much better stuff out there… Benedict’s book still makes me mad… Anyway, I end up thinking, “how can you not see that this is better?” And then it is all down hill from there. I should be less judgemental, but I get very invested in books and authors.

        1. I read that series years ago and got bored with it fairly quickly – the only one I really liked as Penelope’s book. Yeah, I don’t get it either.

          1. To be fair, I think that she is a very good example of the classic historical genre, and writes good dialog and engaging characters. It’s just that a. I have read so much historical romance and b. I don’t really enjoy traditional regency tropes. And I have always been drawn to less traditional characters and story lines.

          2. Colin and Penelope are the only ones I revisit but I think I liked some of the post-Bridgerton books better.

        2. I hear you on that. I adopted a policy of lending or giving books that I love to friends and colleagues, saying “Don’t tell me if you like it or not, hope you like it.” So people who like it tell me (Yea!) and people who don’t…remain silent (Double Yea!)

        3. After spending time with a varied range of very dedicated music fans I realised that there’s something in everything when you’re seriously into it. I might not see it at all, but there is no objective measurement of goodness when it comes to what you listen to (or read) for personal pleasure. Julia Quinn is one of those authors where I can read the books for the things she’s good at and largely ignore the things that annoy me. I’m interested to see what they do with Benedict’s book – there’s some crunchy stuff about employer/employee relations that could be interesting if they chose to do it.

      2. On the polar opposite side – I kept lending my paperback version of Lois McMaster Bujold’s book Cordelia’s Honor to people who wouldn’t give it back – until I had to rebuy it SIX times and I am not exaggerating.

        1. This is why I go to book sales to find copies of my favorites. I have a designated “give away” shelf.

    2. What was the guilty pleasure alien book? Oh, no, I shouldn’t be asking. My tbr list is screaming at me.

          1. I cannot be held responsible for this. Okay it’s Eileen Glass’ Human Omega series. But it’s smutty as well as trashy! And you’re not reading smutty right now! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Am I whining? Yes, I’m whining.

          2. Thank you. I promise not to blame you later. I will put her on the list for later, when I am in the mood for smutty and trashy, which I really do enjoy a lot. Trashy is also a comfort hit for me.

    3. Another thank you to the Victoria Goddard recommendation. I binged the green wing and dart books and am now working my way through Hands of the Emperor. I don’t deny there is room for a little editing but since I have a bunch of travel days with connecting flights and boring airport time I appreciate being able to escape to this world for so long. And the shout outs to other characters in other books which will probably be more apparent when I finish the rest.

      1. I really enjoyed her short new novella, Portrait of a Wide Seas Islander.
        It’s from the viewpoint of Cliopher’s mentor and great-uncle, concurrent with some of “Hands of the Emperor”, so best read after Hands.
        The tone and style fit very well with what I liked about Hands, more so than some of the more picaresque adventures of Fitzroy Angursel or the middle-eastern fairytale feel of the two sisters Avramapul novellas.

  5. I had to dnf a book that I was looking forward to. A reader/mood problem not a book problem. So I went back to Murderbot for a bit. I am really struggling with finding audiobooks that I want to listen to, which is primarily how I get my reading done these days. I use my local library, my big state library, hoopla and audible. I’m trying to be as economical as possible, hoarding my audible credits for things I know I will revisit often… And again, it might be a reader problem rather than an availability problem.

    1. I forgot. We watched Marry Me, with JLo and… I forget. Blond guy. It was a cute and sweet traditional style romcom with characters who are older. They managed the silliness of the premise well and didn’t have too much needless drama. A woman directed it, which I believe makes all the difference.

    2. Have you tried Sherry Thomas’s Lady Sherlock series? I think the audiobook narrator is particularly good, and my library had multiple audio copies, so I assume it’s widely available through libraries. The first few books in the series might have been on Hoopla too, but I don’t recall where I got them.

    3. Audio versions of the Rivers of London are excellent – Kobna Holbrook-Smith has a fantastic reading style.
      I’m re-listening to Jim Butcher’s Furies of Calderon series.
      For a light romance, recommend The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary.
      I’ve gotten back into audiobooks since they’re making me go back into the office (boo, hiss)

  6. Someone here (I think) recommended “Among Others” by Jo Walton, which I’m liking very much. It’s set somewhat in Wales, but mostly in a stuffy girl’s school somewhere in Britain, so what’s not to like? The MC in it is a young teen addicted to books, and that is the thing I liked most about it — I was exactly like that as a kid/teen — searching library stacks at school and at the public library, thrilled to find that the book I was liking was part of a Whole SERIES!, and always drawn to fantasy & SciFi. The books she reads are older ones, from the 60s and 70s mostly, but I loved that she found a club of likeminded readers and a sympathetic librarian. This was a comfort read.

    1. I also read “Among Others” after reading the recommendation here. I so so SO much identified the bibliophile main character as I’ve been that bookie kid all my life. There was the part where the WorldCon (World Science Fiction Convention) was mentioned and I got a chill. The Phoenix WorldCon, with Harlan Ellison as main guest of honor, was my very first science fiction convention. My husband and I went, having no idea what we were getting into. We ended up doing some volunteer work there, and worked many other conventions for the next ten or so years. Just reading that part felt a bit like time-travelling, and I wanted to tell the MC “Yes, yes, you should go to WorldCon! It is perfect for you!”

  7. I finished (barely) Finley Donovan is Killing It by Elle Cosimano. Apparently a very popular book, and well enough written, but I just didn’t love any of the characters. Came very close to DNF it.

    In the middle of Little Bookshop of Murder, a cozy by Maggie Blackburn. Bookshop, beach, what’s not to like? Except the writing just isn’t very good. Or maybe it’s me. I’m in A Mood, so maybe I wouldn’t like anything?

    1. But your new book just came out! Shouldn’t that make you happy?? (Spoken like someone who is not an author but apparently knows everything about what it is to be an author.)

    2. I had a hard time with the characters in Finley Donovan, too. I liked Vero, but had a really hard time with Finley. It just felt like everyone in the book was a bit of an a-hole. Vero too, but she made it work for her better- an endearing a-hole, somehow. (At least to me)

      I stuck with it for the plotting, though – so many wacky & ridiculous things were happening, I needed to see where it would go. And I ended up checking out the sequel too, just to see what would happen. But I skipped re-reading the original before the sequel… which I would normally have done to prepare, but just for what you were saying. Once I got past the plot & the hijinx- which I found entertaining, the characters in the series just aren’t people I care to spend time with, so I didn’t want to re-read it,

  8. I haven’t finished my read this week yet, but I did see a little gem of a movie based on a memoir called My Salinger Year.

    It’s about a young aspiring novelist who goes to work at a New York lit agency that reps Salinger. Sigourney Weaver plays the lit agent and Margaret Qualley plays the MC. While I first checked it out because a lot of it is filmed in Montreal, I was quickly taken by the story and the characters. There is a sad piece to it, but it’s handled well and not the focus. Overall, I found it charming and not the usual gimmicky side of publishing so often in films so a nice surprise at a time when nice is a good find:)

  9. I just read Faking It, which was what I needed. <3
    Have read a bunch of good books since….whenever last I posted on GBT. One beautiful day, I'll list them all.
    I haven't been around much lately (so tired all the time), but I think about all of you a lot. Hope you are all staying safe and doing fine and being loved.

    1. Hey, we miss you. Get some good sleep and then come back here and tell us about that bunch.

  10. All I cared about was the audiobook of Rivers of London. I’m not sure I even need a plot at this point, just Kobna reading random things in all the voices.

  11. I read A Sunlit Weapon by Jacqueline Winspear. It was another very competent entry into the Maisie Dobbs PI mystery series. Here, Maisie is investigating the death of a woman pilot ferrying a plane from one locale to another during WWII, and Maisie is also dealing with the racism her daughter is encountering in school.

    The new Aaronovitch finally came in and I read it and enjoyed it as much as everyone else. But I have questions! That need answers! When’s the next installment coming out???

    I’ve been re-reading the Sarah Graves Home Repair is Homicide series. It centers around a woman who is fixing up her historic Maine home. The author has a sense of humor and her heroine’s interactions with friends and family are fun to follow but the author doesn’t shy away from realistically addressing issues like addiction and sexual abuse. Even though I already know that everything will turn out ok in the end, I’m skipping over the tenser moments of the series. Probably a reread of something really light is in order, something like… Douglas Adams! Time for lunch at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe!

    Also, to respond to Deb, I have noticed that I’m officially getting bored with most cozy mystery series myself. Let’s face it, cozies, by their very nature, are formulaic. And cozies involving libraries are also becoming formulaic. So a series had better have some fabulous characters, sparkling repartee, or really interesting twists to keep me engaged these days. What I’m trying to say is that it may not just be you being In A Mood, Deb.

  12. This week I have been reading a lot of KU books as I subscribed for a 6 month half price membership. This gives me the opportunity to read some stuff I don’t especially want to reread.
    So, I read the Elf Tangent which was OK and a lot of forgettable stuff I won’t mention here.
    I did buy Kerry Greenwood’s first Corinna Chapman first book. I really enjoyed it so I might read the rest of the series. I had to look up some australianism. It’s always nice to learn new words. From now on, I am calling my duvet a doona :).

    1. I love all the Corinna Chapman books, and since you’ve read the first one, I recommend reading the others in order; they’re chronological.


      1. Corinna is great. My favourite is Devil’s Food, I think. The bit with Jason and the pumpkin cracks me up every single time.

  13. I just reread Thale’s Folly, by Dorothy Gilman. It’s an oldie but a goodie, published in 1999. There’s no sex, and one kiss. It has wry humor, and is about a family made up of castoffs and misfits, including a witch. It just makes me happy every time I read it. Plus it’s about an author who can’t write due to trauma. Right up my alley. The weird thing is the quote about herbs at the beginning of each chapter. Just skip that.

  14. I’ve been snuggled up on my bed, just reading and watching mystery shows on my laptop (MHz is a great site for that… it’s got Maigret, Montalbano, Captain Marleau, and about a dozen others (not all beginning with the letter M), so I’m in the lap of mystery-story luxury. Still cold in Baltimore but I’m fairly sure it’s going to turn hot within the next four weeks. Baltimore is odd like that… 5 months of winter, 5 months of summer, and one week each of Spring and Fall. Had I but known…
    I’m very much looking forward to your next book, whatever it may be!

    1. A visit to the museum store (Sideshow) at the American Visionary Art Museum might distract you from your seasonal inequity. I realize that I am prejudiced because the owner is a friend of mine, but hanging out in Ted’s stores in Chicago got me through some very awful weather in the past.

      1. That museum is priceless. Anyone who ever goes to Baltimore should go there immediately. It is so unexpected in many ways, but joyful and interesting. Even the outside, with all the sparkly, moving, twisty and jangly things, is enough to put a smile on your face.

  15. With the joy of one day snow, next day full warm sun, next day rain/wintry mix in the Mid-Atlantic, I retreated to comfort re-reads. I re-read Sally Malcolm’s New Milton 3 book series + novella. M/M, small long island town, protagonists full of feelings and so…much…pining. Love it.

    Also re-read Ilona Andrews’ Kinsmen universe novellas. M/F, family clans with special fighting skills and rules, love when both the protagonists are competent, smart, and clearly recognize their match.

    Finished Murder in the Vicarage. Marple rules. Tried The Man in the Brown Suit…Christie’s forays into espionage and intrigue just don’t hold up for me. DNF’d.

    Started Charles Rowan Beye’s Odysseus, billed as a short biography of Odysseus. I like it so far as it’s written as if it’s the biography of a man, and is not, as sometimes these things can be, dry dry dry. Give me a myth, a re-telling, an homage, or a new way of approaching mythological characters any day.

  16. For context I seldom read non fiction. If there isn’t a strong linking from idea to idea my brain wanders off, even when I really want the information. I sometimes buy or borrow the stuff, I just seldom read all the way through.

    Why We Can’t Sleep by Ada Calhoun
    I’ve never been good at going to bed or falling asleep once there. (It is 2:54am, bed at midnight gave up trying to sleep an hour ago) I thought it would have suggestions of what to do about why we can’t sleep.
    No. It’s a whole book pointing out that we have perfectly good reasons to be struggling and stressed. But it held my interest. Partially memoir, partially history, the author talks about being generation X and how their/our experiences have been challenging, not that other people’s weren’t, just how ours were. American mainstream perspective, not everything applies but enough. Kind of like being diagnosed with ADHD(after 45years). Some of these things I struggle with are not just failures of character, but of different chemistry. Or as in this book, of generational experiences. Not so much what to do about it, more of a you are not alone. Which is a bit comforting.
    The history of it was engaging and sparked some interesting conversations around here about defining moments, especially given also different countries.

  17. I reread the sequel to Loretta Chase’s A Duke in Shining Armor: Ten Things I Hate about the Duke – which I must have read at great speed the first time round, because it almost read like a new book, which was fun. I’m rereading a couple of her short stories, alongside The Making of the British Landscape, which I galloped through for medieval to C17, but am slowing again as he gets to industrialization, since it’s familiar ground.

    I’m rather flummoxed as to what fiction to read next; I’m watching Bridgerton, which rules out most historicals for the duration. (Loretta Chase can hold her own, and has as much energy though far more historical accuracy.)

    1. Have you read her blog? She doesn’t post very often, but she does have some very interesting posts regarding her historical research. I was inspired by your post to go back to my favorite short story ( The Mad Earl’s Bride ) and found that I enjoyed it as much as ever.

        1. One of my favourite Loretta Chase short stories is Lord Lovedon’s Duel. Comfort read when I can’t sleep.

    2. I know what you mean about re-reading Loretta Chase books. They’re so beautifully dense with detail. I can’t get it all on the first go through.

  18. Since I’m doing this anyway (I still really Do Not need to know about more fascinating books)
    Another book picked up for its title:
    A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking by T. Kingfisher
    This one I haven’t finished yet but it started well and is written by the same person that wrote Digger, a web comic about a wombat! that I keep going back to even though the art is black and white. Brain chemistry insists lack of colour is confusing, grr. I even take notes with a four colour pen lest I never look at them again. So the story is compelling.

    1. I really enjoyed Defensive Baking. Bob is my favourite, and the heroine is so clear eyed about the adults running her world. It escalates beautifully. Doesn’t seem like there’s a sequel coming though, which is the only disappointing part.

      1. She does have a new book out yesterday called Nettle and Bone which she says is the best thing she’s written, set in the paladin world but apparently no overlapping characters . Next on my weekend reading list (so I can focus on it and not read in bits and pieces.)

    2. T. Kingfisher is one of my faves, and Wizard’s Guide is great – although I’m very annoyed at how adults are Not Fixing Things for the next gen.

  19. For a change I read Carol Burnett’s book about her show, the visitors and regulars. We enjoyed that show so much, it brought back good memories, (I need them right now) enjoyed it. Then I read Debbie Reynolds book, not quite so interesting.
    Finally I got The Thief Returns, And, The Man Who Died Twice, I think I was 194 on the list for that one. So I am going o be enjoying myself for the next while.

  20. I don’t remember who on GBT recommended Elinor Lipman’s book of essays, I Can’t Complain, but please accept my hearty thanks. I love her voice and it’s a very satisfying read.

  21. I’ve done lots of reading in the past week. It started off with Kate Elliott’s Servant Mage – a fantasy novella set in a brutal world, steeped in political strife. The helpless and oppressed young heroine, gifted with magic, is trying to find a safe place for herself but can’t. Pretty dark, all told.

    Michelle Diener’s Breakeven was an OK sci-fi novel, one of her VERDANT STRING series. Non-stop action, but the characters are rather forgettable. Diener’s sci-fi flicks are pretty reliable that way. When I want some quick action and no deep thinking, I pick up one of them. She has never disappointed me yet.

    The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler was a historical mystery set in medieval Japan. It could’ve been an exciting little story if it wasn’t so primitive. I think its intended reader must be a 10-year-old boy. I don’t qualify, so I DNFed it at about 60%.

    Anne Bishop’s Crowbones, the latest in her THE OTHERS series, was a good read, but I liked it less than the rest of the series. This book is too grim for my taste.

    Another gloomy tale – Premee Mohamed’s The Apple-Tree Throne – was a disturbing ‘steampunk-ish’ novella about a soldier coming home from wars. He is suffering from PTSD. He is tormented by memories. He can’t find his inner peace even after the war ended. Bleak but powerful.

    And to finish off my reading week, a short story that was surprisingly uplifting – Jeannie Lin’s Tale of the Drunken Sword. A warrior falling in love with his enchanted sword that turns into a woman. They fight demons together in magical China. Yummy!

  22. I was looking for something very different from my other recent reading, and read two books by Tana French in her Dublin Murder Squad series. In the Woods and The Likeness are related but with different protagonists. Both are very good reads, with interesting mysteries and believable police procedures. A bit on the dark side but somehow that suited my mood at the time.

    Also read Agatha Christie’s They Came to Baghdad and while it started well, it became a bit of a slog to get through.

    QEII and her PA Rozie have another mystery to solve in All the Queen’s Men by S. J. Bennett. Finally, something that was really enjoyable.

  23. Reading Standard Deviation by Katherine Heinz, recommended by Jinx last week. Really enjoying the language and the characters. I’m savouring the reading, just a little bit every day. Although, I did wake up early and read for over an hour. I don’t think I would have purchased the book from the cover but it makes sense after the first chapter. Thanks, Jinx.

    1. Yes! That’s exactly what I thought and felt about the cover. Somehow the decision to take a chance on something, and the intensity and details of the approval on the back cover talked me into it. And I’m glad they conspired to do so. Such an unexpected gem, and a book I can’t fit into any genre, really — even mentally, and even though I’ve read it (and some parts of it several times). I’m glad you’re liking it.

    2. I read it also but could not remember who recommended so my thanks as well, Jinx! I cannot remember the last time I laughed out loud so many times. It is all told from the husband’s point of view and his recounting of his wife’s conversations were spellbinding. No filters for her! I found the Origami Club members also hysterical. Great read that I plan to suggest to my book club. Thanks for the great recommendation.

  24. Confession: I haven’t read any comments, yet. I will do that during deadtime at work tonight.
    Someone mentioned getting an orchid in comments on the last blogpost. Sent me down a wormhole of pleasant memories regarding Susan Orlean. The Orcid Thief is a great book full of stories about the (sometimes crazy) people who collect orchids and the lengths they will go through to get them.
    Then there is The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup. Also full of entertaining stories including the story that inspired the movie Blue Crush.
    Any Jean Smart fans out there HBO Max has an excellent 10 episode season 1 of Hacks. It was so good!
    Also, on the recommendation of Bob Mayer, watched the 6 episode first season of The Tourist. Very good!

  25. I’m having trouble getting into the latest Rivers of London book, but I’m at least 90% sure it’s a me problem (I’m extra stressed at the moment for a variety of relatively trivial but cumulatively annoying reasons), not the book’s problem, and I’ll love it when I reread, and for now I’m just enjoying listing to Kobna Holdboork-Smith, while not entirely following the storyline.

    1. It’s not the instant suck-you-in story of the past, the whole Sons of Weyland thing is convoluted and after one read I still am not completely sure about why the things that happened happened. I think it’s probably the weakest of the nine. But like any book in a series that I love, I’ll show up for the characters. Some of it is just fan service I think. I love Abigail and the foxes, I’m so happy that Foxglove is safe and happy in the Folly, love seeing Guleed again, happy that Leslie appears to be safely in some kind of no-woman’s land, delighted about Bev giving birth to twins . . . the huge community that he’s built over nine books is just a good place to go.

      Which is kind of a problem, I suppose. His dad is playing again, his mom is content especially now with twin granddaughter, he and Bev are solidly together, Abigail is growing up fast, the Folly is expanding rapidly, it’s all Nothing But Good Times Ahead which is great for life but bad for fiction.

      And I still want to know what the thing was that looked back at him out of the Mary Engine. It smells like something rotting in the sea, right? I’m thinking Cthulhu. But then I always think Cthulhu.

      1. I think there were a couple of hints of developments coming in future books. Brook calling Peter the Starling, for example .

      2. I enjoyed the foxes so much in this book. Cheese puffs as currency. I can get behind that idea.

  26. I’ve been blessed with a slow day of Day Job so I finished reading a book I really wanted to finish so I could tell you about it. It’s not for everyone because it’s near-future sci-fi narrated by a self-aware android who’s discovering emotions. It’s going on my ‘favorite books read this year’ list; I found it bright, funny, sweet, and heartbreaking in all the right ways. SET MY HEART TO FIVE by Simon Stephenson. The narrative voice takes a minute to settle but if you get a chance to sample, and you can deal, I recommend this.

    Also good this week: INTO THE FIRE by Mia West, a collection of M/M novellas following a former Roman soldier and a blacksmith over thirty years; they are the grandfathers of King Arthur as imagined for her series. Great historical setting and everyday conflicts to be solved or obstacles conquered. Loved these characters.

    In case there’s anyone here who reads M/M and hasn’t read the Arden St. Ives trilogy by Alexis Hall, I re-read that this week and was impressed all over again. It’s not only the clever literary and fairy-tale and cinema allusions, it’s the really dark understory and the articulate, open-hearted POV character who a) never stops trying and b) never stops telling the truth. These books are 50 Shades of Consent.

    1. All right – I downloaded Into the Fire – and the first Arden St. Ives – although I really am trying to get caught up on my reading pile!

      1. Omg, you haven’t read Arden’s books yet? I am pretty sure that you will love him. He is such a sweetheart.

        1. I really haven’t. Alexis Hall is new to me and so far have only read about four (?) of his books. Am looking forward to it.

          And now I’ve downloaded Set My Heart to Five. Sigh. I’m not making progress here. But who can resist this description? I ask you!: “Set in a 2054 where humans have locked themselves out of the internet and Elon Musk has incinerated the moon, Set My Heart to Five is the hilarious yet profoundly moving story of one android’s emotional awakening.”

          1. Alexis Hall can be hit or miss. You can see him figuring out how to write, but there is always a core of something that draws me in. I am really looking forward to the next one out, A Lady for the Duke, (I think) wherein the trans main character “dies” in the war and starts a new life as a woman. Meanwhile, her best friend is grieving and falling apart, so she has to come back into his life.

        2. Arden is not the kind of character I generally relate to. In these, he was perfectly right. I will say the trilogy through-story is the opposite of the course of true love running smooth, so it takes some tenacity – I didn’t read these until all three were available because AH said ‘book two does not end happy.’

    2. I’ve said it before, Arden St Ives is an excellent character. I forgive a lot in those books just to spend time with him as he navigates the world.

      1. My biggest problem with those books is that there are only 3. One more to tie up all the loose ends would be greatly appreciated. But Hall says no, unless they are contracted. Sadness.

        1. yes!! but fwiw there’s a casual name-drop in the trilogy that is being developed in a new category-style thing he’s writing for his newsletter. He says that will eventually be a book, but he’s doing it on his own time as inspiration strikes so it might be a while. I haz patience.

    3. Thanks for the recommendation. I just checked out SET MY HEART TO FIVE. It sounds great.

  27. The bad news is about books: I just want to rant angrily about the first two Martin Walker books in the Bruno series.

    1. The writing is sloppy and the plotting has huge holes. It feels as if the author is checking off a list of “must haves” in a detective story.

    2. The lead character is too damn perfect: war-damaged local police chief who saves his town of St Denis (often while allowing petty crimes to continue), always figures out the problems, masterfully calms crowds, and is always sensitive. Fights well when needed.

    3. My biggest criticism is that both the books have young woman (teens? twenties?) who maliciously bring down young men and introduce really nasty elements (drugs, sexual control). Mister Perfect lead character (40 years old, his true love died) is fine with considering a relationship with an adult woman while waiting to see how his sexual relationship with another adult woman works out. (There’s even a conversation about how relationships for these adults are better than the relationships between the young folks.) The nastiness towards young women as sexual predators and the pomposity of the adults who are no better than the young people grate on me.

    Anyway, thanks for listening.

    The good news is that I read the books on flights to and from central France (where the books take place). I’m happy to report that France is absolutely amazing and I had an extraordinary time.

    1. That’s the problem with writing fiction: all your nastiest issues show up on the page. (Have you noticed the horrible mothers in my books? I was trying to get away from that but there are TWO in Lavender’s Blue.)

      1. Thanks, Jenny. That gives me something to chew on.

        Of course, I know the character of every single mother in your books and could recognize each in a blind alley (poison perfume, anyone? No, Julia would be more direct).

    2. I am still reading Martin Walker because I am interested in his back story and the local. I am really tired of Bruno’s relationships which are boring and I can’t think of any character I find particularly interesting. However, here I am waiting to get the newest one from the library. And I don’t even like serials once I am past about the first four books.

      1. To be fair, my husband enjoyed the books and kept searching for the likely town that’s the model for St. Denis as we drove through Dordogne and Perigord.

        His reaction reminded me of Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence. The story was secondary to The Place. In both cases, The Place is delightful.

          1. No — is that where the author lives? It was on my list of places to visit, but I had everything on my list. I’ll go check it in the guidebook.

  28. I am currently reading Doing Time by Jodi Taylor. I have seen her books recommended here so picked up this one to try.

    1. Oh, that’s Time Police. I like those better than the St. Mary’s books, although I think I made it to Book Seven before I bailed on that. Just too many awful things happening to the protagonist.
      But her son is having a high old time in the Time Police, so that’s a comfort. And it’s about three-man-team, and I dearly love Jane, well all three of them. Doing Time, Hard Time, and Saving Time, and then About Time will be out in October and I’ve got it on pre-order.

        1. I was not going to say it but I can’t keep my mouth shut or fingers away from the keyboard. Library card. There I’ve said it. I looked up on Boston Public Library website and there was 57 copies of Tessa Dare’s books and audio books. Including One Dance with a Duke. If they have them I’m sure yours does too.

  29. I’ve been reading the Brunetti mysteries by Donna Leon. They take place in Venice, which is a fabulous setting. I usually have to read something else for a while after each of these, because she tackles some really unpleasant topics. The best part for me is the relationship between Brunetti and his wife and kids, and of course Venice itself.

    I also just read The Forgery Furore, the first in the Ladies of Almack’s series by Marissa Doyle. Such fun — I love Regencies fantasies.

  30. EATING TO EXTINCTION, by Dan Saladino. We just think we’re eating a greater variety than our ancestors; actually we’re eating fewer varieties (there are more than 1,500 different varieties of banana, global trade is dominated by just one, the Cavendish, a cloned fruit grown in monocultures so vast their scale can only be comprehended from the view of an airplane or by satellite — and the Cavendish is in trouble). Consider these facts: the source of much of the world’s food – seeds – is mostly in the control of just four corporations; half of all the world’s cheeses are produced with bacteria or enzymes manufactured by a single company; one in four beers drunk around the world is the product of one brewer; from the USA to China, most global pork production is based around the genetics of a single breed of pig.

    TOOLS FOR FOOD, by Corinne Mynatt, a collection of tidbits about various kitchen and food-related tools to store and prepare the limited varieties of food [see above], from baskets (ancient times) to rubber scrapers. A drop-in-and-out book.

    CATHERINE OF ARAGON, by Theresa Earenfight. Catherine’s history is pretty well known, but this author feels strongly that the focus on her last years gives an incorrect assessment of her character, and also views her life through her possessions and her accounts. This makes her much less of a cipher, which seems logical enough for a daughter of Isabella of Castile. Contemporary customs related to physical possessions are also covered in detail — Catherine would have been expected to give such things routinely as an expression of friendship and loyalty. There’s quite a bit on her actions as the Regent when Henry went off to war, and it’s clear that she was held in great respect and affection.

    Combined comfort reread and cookbook of the week: A THOUSAND WAYS TO PLEASE A HUSBAND: With Bettina’s Best Recipes, by Helen Cowles LeCron and Louise Bennett Weaver, one of my favorite cookbooks (though not for the recipes). The first edition was published in 1917, the book’s format is by chapters covering the first year of marriage of Bettina and her husband Bob, and every chapter includes a set of recipes, mostly for two to four servings. It was another world, where entertaining meant going to someone’s home or having them come to yours. Bettina’s serving sizes are notably smaller than ours — a pound of ground beef provides six adult servings, for instance — and her meals are heavy on carbohydrates, though vegetables, often in white sauce, and salads feature regularly. I think we’re largely out of the habit of white sauce, although I certainly use the technique for roast meat gravy.
    Toasted cheese sandwiches are too rich for children . . . .

    1. I read the Argh posts I had missed (1 1/2 weeks), working my way up to this GBT. Last week included a fascinating post about the Queens of Jerusalem (Melisande is my fave). Catherine of Aragon is also high on my list. In addition to what you write, Ann, I’m sure you know that her father just left her in England after her intended husband — was that another ill-fated Arthur? — died. He refused to return Henry VII’s marriage gifts. When I imagine those years for Catherine, I think she was a tough young woman to endure and end up with the next heir.

      Of course, Iselle and Bergon would never have treated their child like that.

      1. I do know. As long as she lived (not long enough, alas), Henry VII’s wife Elizabeth was a good mother-in-law to Catherine. Catherine toughed it out. Her father was too busy remarrying in hopes of at least a male heir to Aragon (alas, baby Juan died in infancy) and making himself Emperor of All Africa.

  31. I read Harlan Coben’s The Match, a sequel to The Boy from the Woods. In this one Wilde, the boy who was found living in the woods as a small child, signs up for a DNA ancestry site and finds a couple of relatively near relatives. But shortly after making contact both of the other accounts get deleted, but he gets his foster sister to track them down anyway. Strange things start happening then.

    I read David Rosenberg’s latest, Citizen K-9. The third in the spin-off series from his Andy Carpenter series. In this one they get hired by the police department to investigate a cold case, because there is money left over for consultants in the budget but not for regular police. The case they end up investigating turns out not to be so cold after all.

    Someone recommended Legends & Lattes, and that was indeed very enjoyable.

    1. We just finished binge watching The Stranger another Harlen Coban thriller on Netflix. I had a couple of questions on the characters but not enough to get into. The actress Dervla Kirwan was in it and every time I see her in a movie I go back in time to Ballykissangel when her character was killed off. She may have said something that irked management. My sister was devastated and I felt I had to console her and remind her it is fiction. But it changed the whole enjoyment of the show.

  32. I want to read What Abigail Did That Summer but it is not available as kindle on the Canadian Amazon. Does anyone know if they are going to release it as a kindle in Canada?

  33. Last night my mom and niece and I went to see “The Lost City” with Sandra Bullock and Tatum O’Neil. That can’t be right….Channing Tatum. We laughed a lot, and I ate movie house popcorn. Some smuggled in chocolates melted in my pocket, but they tasted OK anyway.
    The protagonist is a romance writer who started by writing history, and added romance to make money and now has a series, but she’s grieving and wants to stop. It’s funny, full of physical comedy, and respectful of the genre and the readers.
    Both thumbs up!

    1. I saw it this week, too, and thought it was hilarious. A remake of “Romancing the Stone” but much funnier. Daniel Radcliff! And OMG, Brad Pitt’s semi-cameo! Intended as escapism from the news, and it worked.

  34. I read a couple of excerpts but nothing was able to grab my attention. No fault of the books, as I was reading them on my train trips and the surroundings were top noisy to immerse myself.
    I’ve binged an Italian series on Netflix instead: the astroligical guide for broken hearts. It seemed very silly at first but it grew on me (the voyage home from Balgium took some hours…) and the spoken Italian wasn’t too fast, so I understood it fairly well (with subtitles). I learnt a few new swearwords, hurrah, and in the end grew to love it. Silly, hilarious, not my kind of show at all, but a good experience!
    Thfn at home I realised that Beforeigners is only available for free streaming for a short time, so I binge watcjed it, too. Very different to the silly romance series, but hey, addictive!
    Thanks to whoever recommended it here!! I do so hope season 3 will be available soon. Please let there be a season 3!!
    It’d be great if this series were based on books. I’d love to read them. Very strong female Viking protagonist, more sensitive male modetn day colleague.

  35. 6:30 AM is a strange time to do Stir Fry, but I had an urge.
    I prepped the pan with Tsang Stir-Fry Oil. Then added Sliced pork chop (boneless), onion (diced), minced garlic, green pepper (diced), Bok Choy picked from my hydroponic garden, Ty Ling Stir-fry Mixed Vegetables, diced serrano pepper, and Pineapple chunks with the juice.

    This is not a colorful dish. Cooked pork is white meat. The pineapple is pale enough that it blends right in. Bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, sliced water chestnuts, all white. The baby corn is yellow, but very pale. The onions and garlic are white as can be. So the touch of green comes from the Serrano peppers and green bell pepper, and there aren’t enough of either to more than hint at color. Oh! Parts of the bok choy were green. Not enough to notice.

    Then I added the crushed red peppers. Liberally.

    Now I don’t know what to do with it. Stir fry is not a well known breakfast staple. I suppose I could stir up three or four eggs in another pan and make a Polynesian omelet. (The pineapple turns it from pseudo Chinese to pseudo Hawaiian.)

    I’ll figure it out.

      1. Whilst dining of the stir fry (which I had rendered quite hot, between Serrano peppers and habanero powder), I commissioned my eleventh hydroponic unit, a second AeroGarden Harvest. Yes, I have a problem with moderation. Going overboard with my hobbies is my trademark. There’s a blog post.

        Anyway, all those bright lights tend to overwhelm the optic nerve. The QYO systems are black. The iDOO and AeroGarden systems are white, and very reflective. So I grabbed my polarized clip-on sunglasses and discovered that the screen of my All-in-1 computer is also polarized, and 90 degrees from the clip-ons. What that means is the screen turned completely black. If I tilted my head, it started to return to visibility.

        I thought that was interesting.

  36. There are new people here, which is cool. They have new avatars, and since I’m happy because it’s spring and we got the waterfall in the backyard pond started, I’m obsessing about the avatars. I find myself drawn to other blueish-purple people, 8-pointed stars and eyebrows. Is that positive racism? I don’t care, actually, because the yard now sounds right. Springlike. Happy.

  37. I think my avatar suits me-it’s the teeth. Today is a day for sitting on the front porch drinking coffee and reading. And listening to Pixie bark while chasing squirrels.

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