This is a Good Book Thursday, June 30, 2022

This week, I read Lavender’s Blue for the zillionth time, and Rest in Pink, what we have of it, about 40,000 words now, for probably the tenth time. I also read a lot of samples on Amazon Kindle, but nope, my head’s in the book we’re writing, which means I have no new books to tell you about. I’m selfish like that.

So over to you. What did you read this week?

163 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 30, 2022

  1. I’m re-reading The Dark is Rising series by Susan Cooper, and various iterations of the ballad of Tam Lin in both ballad and novel form.

    1. Cool! Including Fire & Hemlock (Jones)? The Perilous Gard Pope)? Winter Rose (McKillup)? Tam Lin (Dean)? Have you found others?

      1. You made it through Fire & Hemlock! I don’t know the ballad, made it through the book with a vague comprehension of what was going on and never read it again

        1. Kay, For me it gets better with rereads, but some other arghers don’t care for parts, especially the hero/heroine age difference.

          Emilly and others, Does the Dark is Rising series have anything to do with the Tam Lin story?

          1. Dark is Rising has nothing to do with Tam Lin (that I can tell). It does seem to have a lot of Arthurian connections.

            I’m a Fire and Hemlock multi-rereader. I don’t get the age difference objection. He’s at most nineteen when she’s ten, maybe only eighteen, so by the time they’re grown up it should be negligible.

          2. I didn’t mind the age gap mainly because from my vague understanding of the book, she was ageing faster then him. I think he gave her a magic book and for her time sped up, while he wasn’t ageing for a while. So by the time they were dating/engaged, she was a lot older. I won’t try to explain that book, I’m not sure I understood it myself. Some of Dianne Wynne Jones books are great, some are pretty good, a few I didn’t like, but Fire & Hemlock feels like I need to do some studying to gain any comprehension. For anyone who’s never read Dianne Wynne Jones, start with Howl’s Moving Castle or The Magicians of Caprona.

          3. Dark is Rising doesn’t have anything to do with Tam Lin, but Tam Lin put me in the mood for a bit of Dark is Rising vibe.

            Also, if you like the Tam Lin ballads, have a listen to Anais Mitchell’s (of Hadestown fame – she wrote the musical) version of Tam Lin.

          4. Fire and Hemlock is one of my favourites. Agree that it gets better with rereading. It’s a book that rewards careful reading.

      2. There’s also Joan D. Vinge’s short story in the Imaginary Lands collection, and The Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska, which I love and which turns the Tam Lin story on its head. Lina sets out to win the boy she loves back from the Witch Queen, and finds herself fascinated by the wicked Queen herself.

        1. Joan D Vinge! I haven’t heard that name in ages, oh my goodness I loved Catspaw. My first ever sci-fi and my teenage angsty heart loved it for years.

      1. Interesting! I forgot to include “Cotillion” by Delia Sherman. It’s a short story in the collection called Firebirds: an anthology of original fantasy and science fiction edited by Sharyn November.

        I’ll look up the Vinge, Jasinska, and whoever wrote Rose and Rot.

  2. This week, I read a delightful book by Cara Bastone: « Call me Maybe ».
    Sparkling dialogue (I think it was written to be an audiobook originally) and a wonderfully nerdy and sweet hero.
    Next time, I call a helpline I want a Cal at the end of it.
    I also read the next two in series. The next one was good but not great, the third one was great (slightly different premise: a road trip and again a lovely hero) but the first one is my favourite.

    I found the book by looking at reading recommendations on another blog I follow and one of my favourite commenters was talking about her Apocalypse library. I thought that’s a great concept: it’s the books you buy paper versions of in case a disaster happens and ebooks become inaccessible so that you still have good stuff to read. I am now pondering which books need to be in my Apocalypse library.

    1. I loved Call Me Maybe!
      This week I’m reading her Just a Heartbeat Away, a very slow burn romance with a lovely cast of characters.

      1. You had me at “sparkling dialogue” so I’ve downloaded, despite my vow to stop downloading every Argher recommendation that catches my eye.

  3. I read Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking – thank you everyone who recommended because it was great. I loved the 14 year old baker whose only magical ability applies to her bread and cookie making – but that turns out to be entirely enough to save a city.

    I started but did not finish a Nalini Singh book – I apologize to everyone who recommended her! But it had an M/F dynamic that I usually don’t care for and this was no exception so…DNF.

    Read two hockey books by an author I hadn’t read before but meh. Won’t read the third. Jen B sent me some outtakes of Catherine Cloud’s and those were lovely. And then in keeping with the hockey theme, I re-read Cait Nary’s Season’s Change from beginning to end. I love the nuances of the build-up to the love-sex-romance thing. She infuses every little moment with such intent.

    1. I think that Nalini Singh gets better with time. Assuming you started at the beginning of one of the series, the romance is very traditional and tends toward heteronormative. There is a sweet spot in the middle, but her more recent stuff hasn’t grabbed me. I still read them for comfort and because they are fine, but I don’t pay too dollar for a new release anymore. I think that she needs to slow down a bit. Also, I think that she is caught between her romance template and wanting to write a more sweeping epic sci-fi political story.

      That said, she just did her first m/m. I wasn’t sure that she would go there, even though it really needed to happen for the characters but I am really glad she did. But it’s at the end of a long story arc, so I can’t recommend it to you.

      And I have been reading her for years and years. I have an emotional buy-in and nostalgia. I can see her not being your cup of tea at all.

      1. I hope I don’t sound whiny here. I don’t mind an alpha male in an M/F romance – still love every one that Linda Howard produces! – but I want the woman to be a strong character in her own right – like the one in Howard’s The Woman Left Behind. What I don’t love is the predatory male and uptight woman arc. Bleh. That was the set up in Slave to Sensation. But if there is a better start to another one of her series let me know and I will try it.

        1. You don’t sound whiny if I don’t sound defensive. You would probably do better with the Guild Hunter series. It’s grittier. I don’t know. They are both a little dated, leaning heavily into the popular tropes of the time they were written. It’s sort of a guilty pleasure for me, like Kristen Ashley; she has a lot in there that I shouldn’t like and don’t like, but somehow she rises above that. Can’t tell you why.

          For Nalini Singh, I actually return to her modern contemporary series most often. I am still not sure if it is your cup of tea, but they were written later and have more of that internal character drama kind of stuff, rather than focusing on an outward threat. I don’t remember the names. Rock Hard is Charlie’s book and I enjoy it. Also Molly. But especially the third one? Idk Kit is the main female lead, working on a difficult relationship with a tortured rock star. YMMV.

          1. All right. I’ve downloaded one from each series and if I don’t like them, I am going to keep that to myself.

          2. You are braver and more forgiving than I am. But by all means share your thoughts. If you can still be friends with me after I gave up on Cat Sebastian then I have no problem with you trashing Singh. She isn’t near and dear to my heart, just good, solid middle of the road comfort. I do recommend her, but I wouldn’t to you, knowing what I do of your tastes. Just a different vibe.

          3. I’m a third of the way through Rock Hard and liking it already so all good. And I also downloaded the first of the Guild Hunter series so we shall see. And as for Cat, I understand totally that you won’t like her historicals. Ever. They’re not for everyone. AND I still heartily think you would like Peter Cabot Gets Lost. I believe in you…(am humming some kind of inspirational tune here).

          4. Pencils are prohibited at the bank. Also funny colored ink. Deposit slips written in red make me say bad words.

            I carry a packet of drawing pencils.

        2. I reread some of my Linda Howard books this week, I still enjoyed them a lot, Kill and Tell is one of. My favourites. Just got latest Amanda Quick from the library, sorry to say it feels as if I had read it before.

          1. Linda Howard has staying power. Amanda Quick kinda went in one ear and out the other for me. I’ve got my mother now reading all of Linda Howard’s – and she never reads romances.

  4. My hold on the latest anthology featuring Patricia Briggs finally came in and I read her short story twice before returning it. I didn’t even try any of the rest of the book. It was just lovely.

    My last borrow on Hoopla was Paladin’s Hope and that was fun.

    And then I fell down a rabbit hole of Alessandra Hazard on Kindle unlimited and I haven’t quite climbed out of it. Lots of sex, questionable situations and a little formulaic, but oh my goodness, the emotions. Plus they are short, and not overly dramatic, which I like. Gabriel and Jared’s book was absolutely addicting. Not for everyone, I bam sure, but I will probably revisit that one specifically.

    1. And I want to hear about every twist and turn down that rabbit hole. My faves in the Straifht Guy series are Wicked, Ruthless, Bossy, Wrecked, and Twisted. In the Calluvia series I like That Irresistible Poison and in the Wrong Alpha series I like Unnatural.

      1. I haven’t gotten into Calluvia yet. One more Wrong Alpha to go. I liked both of those so far. I have liked all of the Straight Guy series, although I struggled with Tristan. I may need to take a break from her, or it might be that he was so unlikeable for so long and we didn’t get much of Zach’s perspective to balance out the hurt angry lashing out person. I will let you know as I progress.

        Gabe and Jared might be my favorite so far. Such an unusual plot, so much emotion… Sigh.

      2. I tried Twisted this week, but didn’t finish the sample: hated the situation. So your enthusiasm is tantalizing, but don’t think she’s for me.

        1. Yeah, she does a lot of problematic scenarios. They don’t tend to poke a hole in my cloud of suspended disbelief, but they are definitely not for everyone.

        2. A lotta dubcon in her books which is just not for everyone. She is so over the top though that I suspend a lot of disbelief and enjoy the ride.

          1. So many of us were raised on it. The first romances I read – Kathleen Woodiweiss onward had a heavy dubcon content. Harlequin was almost exclusively dubcon. It was all water to the fish back then.

        3. Didn’t work for me either. Day job at a university/working closely with profs might have something to do with it. However, I was curious enough to find out how the story progressed beyond the sample.

      3. Bossy is seriously sketchy and yet… somehow I love it? I’ve read it several times trying to figure out why I don’t hate it for the situation, and I still don’t have an answer. I definitely couldn’t handle it in a f/m romance.

        1. I think in part, it works for me because a. I know it is not real, is so far from my reality that they never touch and b. I know it is perfectly safe. It’s going to end well and the bossy/alpha/whatever person is not going to go to far and never means badly because I am guaranteed a happy ending.

          So I can play with all sorts of scenarios because it’s pretend. It’s not going to happen in my real life and sometimes, I am just dying to see how an author pulls off an unlikely scenario.

  5. I’m reading Crowbones by Anne Bishop. I love her The Others series (I adore Anne and her writing, but all her other work is too dark for me) and this book has been working its way up my TBR pile since it arrived on release day. I’m trying to read it slowly to make it last, but I’d really like to just binge it. I’m loving the book, although as a few others mentioned, the many multiple points of view are a little jarring.

  6. Best new one this week was ‘Nora Goes Off Script’ by Annabel Monaghan. Not quite my catnip, but fun, and came good in the end. Romcom about a scriptwriter and the film star who plays her ex husband.

    1. Nora Goes Off Script is half of my favorite summer reads so far this summer. The other is Time and Forever by Susan B. James. I liked it so much I had to set aside the second book of the threesome Maybe This Time because my brain was still in the sixties.

  7. I’m listening to Patricia Brigg’s short story collection, and enjoying them.
    I’ve used an Audible credit to check out the version of Pratchett’s Wyrd Sisters with new narrators. I’ve heard the old version, which was really funny, but it was very hard to hear, even with the sound turned up, a real disservice to the reader. This one is much better so far.
    My book club is reading The Midnight Library next.

  8. I have been rereading Joanna Bourne and have just finished The Spymaster’s Lady. Joanna’s MC are the ultimate in competence. Think The Grand Sophie only a spy. Annique is one of my favorite heroines, such a complex character who retains her humanity in spite of a difficult life during a horrendous period in history. I just reread the blurb on it and looked at the cover art and really I don’t think I would ever have read her books based on those. Good thing so many people here like her books and raved about them over the years. Her characters are interesting, the mysteries are complex, the villains are believable and the sex scenes feel necessary and not like you are reading porn, although they certainly are hot.

    1. And she’s a lovely person. I had coffee with her and some friends. Went out and got Spymaster’s Lady immediately after. Loved the book and then she fell off my radar. Loved your comment “ultimate in competence”. I’ll need to check for more from her. Any you particularly recommend?

      1. It’s worth reading them in order, because the characters deepen and connect as time goes on. I started with the last one and wished I had done them in order the first time, because although it was a bit detective-storyish figuring out who was who, and why did they all feel XYZ about something, I think the chronological read would have been more satisfying. If you do that, next one to read would be Forbidden Rose.

      2. That’s difficult because the order does not seem to be tied firmly to the publication date. The Forbidden Rose is probably first and the Spymaster’s Lady second. Then the time line gets a little wobbly with part of a book before or during those two. I would put Rogue Spy #3 and The Black Hawk #4 and My Lord and Spymaster #5 with Beauty Like the Night definitely #6. Although maybe My Lord and Spymaster should be #6 – I haven’t read it in a long time and I may have the sequence of events confused. I think all the “spymaster” and “Lord” titles are a poor choice because none of these women have a master or Lord pushing them around. These are really great main characters: a sense of humor or a will of iron.

    2. Yes, they are definitely ‘don’t judge the book by the cover’ books! So much more than their wrapping suggests.

      1. Agreed with all the above — my absolute favorite is My Lord and Spymaster (which title I loathe, because it in no way does the book justice). There’s so much there to love–character development, nuance, insight, love the voice of each character, and then the writing itself is lovely, too.

  9.       My reading this spring is stuck in a rut. Am I still reading Variations on a Theme Book 3? Yes. Chapter 108 comes out tomorrow. Am I rereading Books 1 and 2? Yes. I finished Book 1 and I’m at Chapter 30 (0f 116) in Book 2. That’s in my Mobipocket Reader. In the Kindle, I’m still slowly working through Diskworld #41, The Shepherd’s Crown.
          I’ve purchased and downloaded several additions to the TBR list. No names until I start them, though.
          I finally identified the pepper plant throwing peppers at the sky as the piri-piri I’d forgotten. Remember, “piri” is Swahili for “pepper,” so it’s my Pepper-Pepper Pepper plant.
          Official Weigh-in Day is 251.4 pounds. I’m gaining, not losing. It may be time for drastic action (but I don’t know what drastic action!)
          The tea this morning, plucked randomly from the sampler, is English Breakfast Tea. What a relief after some of the herbals. Perhaps I should try an herbal tea and biscuit diet? Atkins biscuits only.
          Today is the last day of June. The last day of the second quarter of 2022. The last day of spring as some reckon seasons. I’ve got to make it last.

    1. ‘Some’ are surely wrong: we’ve just passed midsummer. Time to refresh yourself with some beach reads.

      Suggestion from my weight-loss years, which I definitely need to revisit: simple changes worked for me – eating a bit less (and especially less fat and sugar) plus exercising a bit more (I started with a 15-30 min walk each day, upping it to an hour after a month or two – having decided walking was my favourite form of exercise). I know that I tend to think I must make really drastic changes to my diet to lose weight, and that feels like a mountain to climb. But the smaller stuff worked for me. (This is to remind myself as much as to suggest to you.)

      1.      I figured out an interim diet solution. I drove to the nearest Wendy’s and bought a triple baconator with large fries and a side of spicy chicken nuggets with a large diet coke. I gave the soda to the dotter – she loves fountain drinks – and brewed a green tea.

    2. The Purple Chilis in Ranch Three are turning red! That means, ripe. I can hardly wait to pick some and discover if they are worth eating. If they’re strictly ornamental, I’ll rip them out without sentiment and plant tomatoes.

  10. Finished Happy-Go-Lucky by David Sedaris. I rather enjoy that he covered “current” topics like the pandemic and his dad’s death in this one.
    Read “Hench,” which is interesting, kind of downer-ish but not what I would totally consider to be a downer either.
    Am currently reading Amber Ruffin and her sister’s book on racist incidents in Omaha-dang.

    1. Yeah, “You’ll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey” packs quite a punch, doesn’t it?

  11. Request for advice: What’s your favorite Nero Wolfe book? We have a lot of them and I haven’t read any for years. You’ve discussed Archie’s romance — I’d definitely like to hear which books that shows up in.

    We’re going up to Maine for a week. The weather will be cold and cloudy and we’ll be in a cottage overlooking Penobscot Bay. Great place to sit on the porch and read.

    This week I reread Gaudy Night and Busman’s Honeymoon and Whose Body?

    I also read a biography of Israel Putnam, a Revolutionary War general. I’m descended from him. Most things I thought I knew about him aren’t true. I did know — and it’s true — is that he was the farmer/innkeeper type who could drum up lots of troops and was well liked. He wasn’t educated nor was he a strategist. Two friends in college once asked me what it was like to be related to the man who lost the battle of New York. I guess they thought I’d spend my life hanging my head over my ancestor’s mistakes. Instead, I have a vague fondness for him.

    1. I too would like to know about Archie’s romance, particularly when they meet. I know the relationship develops over several books, and that I can handle: just read from when they meet onward. No hardship.

      1. They meet in Some Buried Caesar. The other two I like a lot about them are Death of a Dude and In the best families

  12. I listened to The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett and loved it. I really don’t like books with real people as primary characters but her portrayal of Her Majesty both as a person and as an institution seem very solid and not over obsequious or derogatory. There are scenes in the book where she must quite firmly put on her “it’s my job to listen to these idiots and smile politely” hat and I thought that was probably fairly accurate.

  13. I listened to What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. It’s my favourite of her books. Alice falls over whilst doing a Spin class, knocks her head and forgets the last ten years of her life. Ten years ago she was happily married and expecting her first child, but now she awakes to find out she’s getting a divorce and has three kids. The three kids make this book and Caroline Lee does a fantastic job on the audio. I laughed a lot listening to this audio book.

  14. In perfect timing for good book Thurs, the 4th Murderbot novella is on sale in audio format today for under three bucks: You’re probably already sick of hearing me say it, but Kevin R. Free is absolutely brilliant performing the book.

    I’m still not reading anything new, except the series where the author gets the “between you and me” structure wrong at least once per book, and I’m not enthusiastic enough about it to recommend.

    I’ve been disappointed in visual storytelling lately too — on the fence about The Old Man and the current season of Endeavour. Not enthusiastic about the second season of Grace (Brit murder mystery), and I think they made a mistake in producing so many Murdoch Mysteries this season (like twice the normal run), so the stories are even thinner than usual, sacrificing quality for quantity. Oh, but I still highly recommend this season of So You Think You Can Dance, even though I can’t stand the new judge that replaced the one who got fired after the first 3 episodes.

    1. I baled out of Endeavour a while back: it got too depressing. Had to follow the fashion for grim-dark, of course. I don’t want what they’re selling.

        1. Yes, you’re right. I loved him to begin with, and really enjoyed the sixties setting – brought back my childhood, when my dad and his friends lived in their tweed jackets.

        2. Morse (in the original) is pretty flawed, so I never considered the younger self to be all that sympathetic. Original series — Morse is hitting on all the pretty female suspects, alcoholic, terrible to subordinates (and bosses too, so at least it was consistent), etc. Yes, I still cried at the final episode, but he was NOT a Good Person, so I didn’t expect his young self to be either.

          1. Agree Morse was very flawed, but I still found him sympathetic – he kept trying and failing to connect. I didn’t watch the last episode, though. It didn’t sound much fun.

          2. I never saw Morse, so came to Endeavour with no idea where it was going. Like JaneB, I loved him to start with, but he was becoming more rigid and self-righteous in the most recent series. Plus the alcohol thing. One of things I did like about the whole trajectory was, as Endeavour was becoming less appealing, Chief Sup Bright was becoming less rigid and far more appealing, to the point where he was one of my favourite characters. A man of hidden depths. I think the turning point with him was the tiger episode.

    2. I’m a few seasons behind on Murdoch. I’ll have to keep this in mind when I catch up to this season. It’s one of my comfort watches, so I don’t require too much from it, but if the storylines are thin, that could be disappointing.

      1. Yeah, I expect it to be lightweight, so I don’t compare it to the greats, like Morse or even Midsommer Murders, but it’s even lighter than than I expect for most episodes this year. Unless it’s just me, because I have been extra picky lately, but I don’t think so. They really seem to be reaching for plots this season.

    3. Only in Hollywood could a 72 year old character take out assassins coming at him left and right. I find when I’m walking across the yard and hit an uneven spot I might tumble over. The actor that plays a younger version of him is spot on for a Jeff Bridges look alike. Didn’t care for the third episode it dragged, hope they pick up the pace.
      I think Endeavour was supposed to be a bit dark this season. He’s taking to carrying a flask. And looking a bit rumpled and hungover.
      Also this season I’m three episodes in for the Tony Hillerman series Dark Winds a story that takes place on the Navajo reservation in the early seventies.
      I think I’m getting spoiled with having everything streamed, now I have to wait a week between episodes.

    4. I have the Murderbot Diaries on Audible. Same book, I bet. I get annoyed because all the audiobook venders insist there are only six books.

            “My risk-assessment module predicts a 53 percent chance of a human-on-human massacre before the end of the contract.”
      All Systems Red
            On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.
      Artificial Condition
            It has a dark past — one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot.” But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.
      Rogue Protocol
            The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is. And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.
      Exit Strategy
            Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right? Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.
      Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
            This short story is told from the point of view of Dr. Mensah and follows the events in Exit Strategy.
            Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory was originally given free to readers who pre-ordered Martha’s Murderbot novel, Network Effect.
      Fugitive Telemetry
            Set before Network Effect. When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)
      Network Effect
            Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

            I count 8 stories, 7 books. 1 Novel and 6 novellas and one flash fiction/short story.

      1. Only 5 novellas, sadly:

        All Systems Red
        Artificial Condition
        Rogue Protocol
        Exit Strategy
        Fugitive Telemetry

        2 short stories:

        The Future of Work: Compulsory
        Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory

        Plus the novel:

        Network effect

        1. I hadn’t actually counted words for any of them. Thanks for doing all the work. Either way, eight (8) stories.

          1. Thank Wikipedia. I love love Wikipedia. I don’t know how I ever found anything out before the internet.

    5. We’ve been watching The Old Man and I appreciate seeing those actors do their thing but I’m glad it’s a short series. Grimdark = no me gusta.

  15. I finished Sherwood Smith’s four book Rise of the Alliance sub-series (A Sword Named Truth, The Blood Mage Texts, The Hunters and the Hunted and The Nightside of the Sun), building on the events of Senrid, Sartor, Fleeing Peace and The Spy Princess, as well as the C.J.’s notebooks. It gets quite complicated.

    Then I reread Sasharia-en-garde (Originally published as a duology Once A Princess and Twice A Prince), which takes in between The Rise of the Alliance books and The Wicked Skill, despite having been published more than a decade prior to them. But clearly those books had been plotted out, if not actually written, because characters and incidents from The Rise of the Alliance books appear in Sasharia-en-garde, which I had no way of recognizing the first time I read it.

    Now I’m reading The Wicked Skill, and about a third of the way through the plots for that book have barely begun and almost all the characters from the previously mentioned books have made appearances and nothing would have made sense if I hadn’t read them.

    In between I took a break and read a couple of other books.

    The Key to Deceit by Ashley Weaver, the sequel to A Peculiar Combination, another mystery/adventure about a lady safe cracker, and her family, who have been recruited by WWII British Intelligence to help foil German spies in London. I really like these so far.

    And an F/F romance called Delilah Green Doesn’t Care by Ashley Herring Blake. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book where there were two such likable characters that I was desperately rooting for them to get together, but not sure they were going to make it due to past misunderstandings and other obstacles, mainly family and friends whose own problems are overwhelming them.

    1. I read Delilah Green Doesn’t Care a few months ago, and really enjoyed it as well. Complicated, sympathetic characters negotiating each other’s edges. I’m expecting great things from the next book.

  16. I’ve been reading backwards through Alexis Hall’s blog. Thanks again for the rec! Nora Roberts is also currently blogging about her Italian vacation and I’m vicariously traveling along. In terms of actual books, I just finished the middle book of a trilogy, not realizing that, while the library had the first two books, the library (and Hoopla, et al.) did not have the third book. I will have to actually buy the book from Amazon. Aargh! It’s not worth buying the third because I was only mildly invested in the series, but still I’d like to know how it all turned out. On a more positive note, I’ve been reading Emma Mills YAs, and really enjoying them. It’s nice to read about teenagers who have genuine issues and concerns, but are pretty sensible and good-hearted in resolving them as best they can. I mean, Mills could turn teenage drama into MELO-Drama! And she doesn’t, but she also doesn’t minimize it. Now about to read the new Ashley Weaver mystery. Wishing everyone good reading!

    1. So it’s more mellow drama than melodrama then?
      Sorry… couldn’t resist the bad pun 🙂

    2. Yes, Alexis Hall could stop writing novels and just blog forever and I would be perfectly content.

        1. His new one (Paris Delacourt) is coming out shortly and Husband Material is scheduled for 2022, too. He’s quite a diligent writer, we cannot complain, can we?

          1. That’s excellent news – thanks, Dodo. No, we can’t; especially since I understand he has a day job too. In fact, no idea how he does it all.

  17. I bounced off hard of “Slouch Witch” by Helen Harper. This is the 2nd book of hers I tried and the second one I DNF’d. I just don’t like her protaganists, I think they’re selfish and immature.

    I finished Adrian Tchaikovsky’s “Shards of Earth” which is book 1 of the “The Final Architecture” series and am still reading “Eyes of the Void” which is the 2nd of the series. This is a fast-paced series with lots of alien torture – that is, aliens torturing other aliens. Humans have definitely been killed and threatened with torture, but no human on the side of good has yet been tortured.

    The first book starts 20 years after a human-alien alliance fought against mysterious crystalline entities which look like a jagged crystal moon. These crystal aliens – which are called Architects – never spoke, never communicated, just destroyed worlds with living creatures to make some kind of artistic sculpture. Earth had been destroyed by an Architect and now Architects are threatening other human and alien worlds. Humanity managed to develop living weapons against the Architects which sort of worked and so this area of space has been relatively quiet. This series follows the trials and tribulations of one of the living weapons who managed to survive the war and is now trying to live in peace. It seems, though, many groups would love to enslave him because the attributes which made him useful against the Architects also make him useful in other ways as well.

    I like the series so far, but it is definitely violent and I had to skip several parts where the torture and execution of various aliens were described in lots of detail.

    Also, thanks to the readers of this blog, I am also reading “Hands of the Emperor” by Victoria Goddard. I like it so far and it is a nice contrast to the previously mentioned series.

  18. My hold on Grief of Stones came in and I finished it last night, and started it again from the beginning this morning. It was excellent, and my only regret (as an opera lover) is there is less actual opera than in Witness for the Dead.

    I am in the middle of several novels of the “I want to have finished this already, but I’m too invested to quit now” variety. I have been switching back to Murderbot when I get too bored or annoyed.

  19. The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. Fake dating between grumpy professor and a grad student who is not under his direction. I loved this so much. Professor and student are both complete nerds and really bad at social stuff, and the development of their friendship is delightful. The power imbalance issue is addressed in a couple of different ways, which worked for me.

    Also Larrimah, by Caroline Graham and Kylie Stevenson. It’s non-fic, the story of the disappearance of Paddy Moriarty and his dog from the tiny hamlet of Larrimah in the Northern Territory. Nicely written, full of weird characters, plus it was an army camp during the war, and both my parents were stationed there, so I feel as if I have a sort-of connection to the place.

    ‘We find him out the back of his house, cleaning his car wearing only a pair of sagging undies and a damp blue singlet. He invites us straight in for a cuppa, and we expect he will duck into the bedroom and put on some pants. He does not.

    Despite his choice of attire, he moves with the confidence of a man who is both wearing pants and used to a level of success with women. When we ask his age, he tells us he’s seventy. No, seventeen. Wait, seventy-two.’

      1. I reread it the first time before I even had to return it to the library. And then I ordered a copy from England.

        1. All right FINE – I downloaded Love Hypothesis. Sigh. Good Book Thursday this week has been bad for my wallet.

  20. After talking about Aurora Rose Reynolds last week I teread the first 4 books in the original Until series. Still loved them. Still skipped the many sex scenes.
    Then went on to reread Until July from her Until Him/Her series. Now rereading Until Harmony. Same reactions- loving books, skipping sex scenes.
    Can’t get into Slouch Witch.
    Have all 3 Jen Deluca books from library – we’ll see.

  21. I reread The Absolute Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales and I love the OTT gothic tropiness. The same vibe for me as The Lost City: yes, we know it’s ridiculous, just come along for the ride.

    And, in another reminder about the glorious diversity in Arghers reading pleasures (with one obviously commonality) Jen DeLuca was a DNF for me. I just didn’t like her characters? And tell tell tell, and then she described some woods as ‘pastoral’ and that was enough for me. Which was sad, because now I want to read romance set in a Renaissance Faire!

    1. I’ve read enough reviews about / comments on the Jen de Luca books to know they are not for me, but … now thinking about *writing* a Renaissance Faire story. 🙂

      1. Yes please! I loved the setting of Deluca’s novels, but the end arc never works for me. I did, however, search for more Renne faire set romances and there was a surprising lack. They are such fun events.

  22. I read two highly recommended books: The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi and A Lady for a Duke by Alexis Hall. I’d never read anything by John Scalzi before and loved KPS. It’s sci-fi set in an alternate world in the current time. I don’t read a lot of sci-fi–not enough to to even know if Murderbot, which I loved, is–and usually with a romance angle, which KPS doesn’t have. KPS was so much fun, with little jabs and references to the past few years that were funny instead of frustrating/rage inducing. I also read his author’s note twice.

    I’ve read Alexis Hall before (Boyfriend Material and Rosalind Palmer Takes the Cake). I didn’t love either of them like I know others do. Not going in my Apocalypse Library. I feel the same about A Lady for a Duke, described as a “lush, sweeping queer historical.” It was such a good premise, but there was too much sitting and angst-ing for me. It felt like there were a lot of plot threads that were dropped and then the ending was rushed without tying everything up. I was particularly frustrated that there was much more detail provided about one MC’s backstory than the other’s. After I finished it, the more I thought about it, the more frustrated I got. And I didn’t have the same happy feel as when I finished KPS, so I went back and am rereading that.

    1. If you liked KPS by Scalzi, you may also like his ‘Redshirts’ and/or ‘Agent to the Stars’ (my personal favorite). 🙂

      1. The only Scalzi I have read are the first two Old man’s war books. I really like them and keep meaning to read the third. There’s a good romance in those.

    2. Honestly, I don’t think that any of those mentioned above are Hall’s best works, just his most mainstream. And they are a bit toned down…

      And I don’t think that I consider Murderbot to be sci-fi, now that you mention it. It’s probably classified as such but doesn’t feel that way at all. But then I don’t know what it would be.

      1. I don’t get this: surely Murderbot’s sci-fi, even if – from your reactions – it’s unusual? I’d have thought its world defines it as such.

        1. It probably does. It just doesn’t feel like it to me… If I was trying to describe it to someone else, trying to get them to read it, the words sci-fi wouldn’t come up. Maybe because it is so very much character based? Or the world feels so old and mundane rather vast and new? Star wars vs. Star trek. Space western vs sci-fi.

          1. Usually a lurker, but if you’re looking for other strongly character focussed sci-fi I’d suggest perhaps try Becky Chambers. Also good, if older, is Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan saga or Sharon Lee & Steve Miller’s “Conflict of Honors”.

        2. I think this is my lack of knowledge of sci-fi showing itself. I did start typing that I wasn’t sure what *kind* of sci-fi it was, so that’s probably poor editing, too. So I just did what I should have done earlier and looked up the definition (“fiction dealing principally with the impact of actual or imagined science on society or individuals or having a scientific factor as an essential orienting component”).

          So what are books set in alternative worlds called? T Kingfisher’s Paladin series isn’t set in outer space or a futuristic world, but it’s not paranormal. Jenny pointed out that Pratchett is satire, not sci-fi, which I see now that she said it, but I wouldn’t have gotten there myself.

          1. Maybe Space Opera? I don’t know if that is specifically a designated genre, but it sounds like it would have more feels than typical sci-fi.

        3. I think classifying SF is like classifying romance.

          There’s sweet romance, cosy romance, new age romance, gothic romance, romantic comedy, romantic suspense, erotica . . .

          SF has same the multiplicity. We need Laura Resnick in here to explain that; she a science fiction writer who’s the daughter of a science fiction writer.

  23. I read The Queer Principles of Kit Webb which I liked for the way it examined the privilege of the upper classes in a way most historical romances do not.

    Also reread The Search for Delicious by Natalie Babbitt a favorite from childhood which did not disappoint.

  24. Six novels (including two Con Riley re-reads), one nonfiction, two shorts, and two DNFs.

    One of the DNFs was an author I usually enjoy, but this particular book has a criminal hero, and I bailed out very early. The other DNF was a paranormal rom-com, and you’d think I would know by now not to waste my time on something called a rom-com, because 99% of the time I am not amused. Eh, it was free, whatever.

    The nonfiction was ‘From Hollywood With Love’ by Scott Meslow, which is a survey of romantic comedy movies from When Harry Met Sally to now. Fun & interesting.

    Favorite Books This Week: ‘Driftwood’ by Harper Fox, a brilliant book about troubled men on various edges; ‘Wilde Love’ by Lucy Lennox, M/M about men who meet in 1968 in Vietnam (they both serve in medical evac), become close friends, and nine years later become lovers. It’s part of a series and while the book is quite serious, there’s a funny epilogue in which the main characters, now 75 and 85, meet up with a mob of descendants in Napa Valley to renew their vows. I don’t feel the need to read all those family members’ stories, but I really liked the recent-history background to the book.

    One of the shorts was also by Harper Fox, ‘Nine Lights Over Edinburgh,’ which is a suspense novella featuring an alcoholic policeman and a Mossad agent, with romantic elements and a happy ending.

    1. I am betting the DNF with the criminal “hero” was the new Nora Roberts? I had a hard time getting on board with that one for precisely that reason.

    2. Already downloaded Wilde Love as I have a very soft spot for medical themes/personnel of all ages (I’m still researching hospitals in the Middle Ages and have discovered with huge excitement works of medical archeologists…).

  25. I picked up Krissie’s (Anne Stuart)’s newest, It Takes a Thief, and so far, am thoroughly enjoying it.

    1. First of all, I didn’t realize Anne Stuart had a new book out so thank you for that. I read all her books. Second, Anne Stuart is Krissie?? How have I missed this??!! Clearly I haven’t been paying attention. Does she ever make guest appearances on this blog?

      1. Not all that often, but from time to time. Back in the old days, Jenny, Krissie and Jenny’s former housemate (whose name I am too tired to remember) had a blog called Reinventing Fabulous and Krissie posted quite regularly in that.

          1. Gary, Lani is Jenny’s former housemate, and the third person who posted in the ReFab blog.

          2. Gary – Lani Diane Rich – she is an author in Amazon.. I loved many of her books.

    2. Huh. That’s one of the books that joined my TBR list that I wasn’t going to mention until I started it. The other was a pre-order of Brenda’s latest.

  26. Having finally had some time off to read, this week I read A Lady’s Guide To Fortune Hunting, by Sophie Irwin, and Love, Hate, and Clickbait, by Liz Bowery, and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Very different settings (regency society f/m vs modern political m/m) but both stories about strong-willed, complicated, frequently unlikeable characters who end up making each other better.

  27. I just came across two versions of What the Lady Wants. This one is priced at $4.99 with 384 pages. The second one is titled Story of My Life: Anything You Want at $6.69 with 199 pages. Same characters Mae and Mitch. Does this happen often. I think the second had been edited to bring it up to date. I found it when I plugged in Jenny’s name. Maybe I should mind my own business.

    1. I think that it must be a mistake. It’s categorized as a children’s nonfiction art book.

      1. I think Jenny needs to contact Amazon. It looks like someone is ripping off her name and story. The look-inside pages seem to be cut and pasted from the real book and then reworked into terrible English(???). Reading the book description is also…interesting.

    2. That is really weird, and it looks like at least one person has bought a copy, since it’s got a ranking. The text appears to be a copy and paste from multiple sources, with perhaps a few automated thesaurus changes, but it’s totally unreadable (increasingly so, as if they tried to at least have complete sentences in the first page or two and didn’t bother later on). Weird.

      1. I find these things fascinating — trying to figure out the scam. This one eludes me though, given the mismatch between the listed genre (children’s) and the genre mentioned in the description (either romance or some sort of cross between literary and psychological analysis), and the lack of any attempt to claim authorship. Where’s the money supposed to come from?

    3. I contacted Amazon. That is really weird. And illegal.
      The cover is beautiful though.

  28. We have finally finished The Goblin Emperor, and we liked it very much. We were dismayed and confused by the very long names and the very long list of characters. We did learn that we could just keep reading and there would be prompts following each name in the dialogue and the narrative to give us a hint of who they were, which we appreciated very much. We would like very much to read more of Katherine Addison’s books, if they are available. We did like very much that the ending left some things unsaid and unfinished, but all was well.

    1. The Goblin Emperor is a bit of a one-off so far. Witness for the Dead features one of its minor characters in a different city. It’s good, but not in the same league. Reads rather like linked short stories. I didn’t like the alternative Sherlock Holmes novel she wrote, but quite a few people here did.

      1. She just released The Grief of Stones with the same main character as Witness for the Dead. She apparently is writing a third book in this trilogy. We would love to spend more time with the Emperor but we think she has said everything she wants to about him.

        I have realized that what is really likeable about both the Emperor and Celehar is that they are such good people. They hold themselves to very high standards even as they understand and forgive those who don’t meet those standards

  29. I have been rereading Sheila Simonson’s regencies and mysteries. I think she does a great job of putting us in the time and the communities she is writing about .

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