This is a Good Book Thursday, August 18, 2022

I really really really want to reread Boyfriend Material and then go straight to Husband Material, but instead this week I read Lavender’s Blue and Rest in Pink for the thousandth time, retconning the stuff that’s showing up in One in Vermillion. We’re at 50,000 words. Stakes have risen. The relationship has arced. The bad guy is going to get his. And then I can read Alexis Hall.

What did you read this week?

150 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 18, 2022

  1. Thanks to Lian, I read the Untied Kingdom by Kate Johnson. The romance was indeed lovely and I liked all the little snippets of alternate history throughout.

    I then read her Max Seventeen trilogy. It is, as she says, a mad space book. The heroine is magnificent really and very good at rescuing the hero too. Lots of fun.

    I also read the Ivy tree by Mary Stewart which I hadn’t read before. Very enjoyable too.

    As usual, Argh recs rock.

  2. I finished the book I was listening to last night and I didn’t like the ending, so I am not recommending it. Too rushed, too typical, with a health emergency leading to the resolution instead of everyone growing up on their own and talking about the important things. Bleh. So now I am cranky.

    But my hold on the audio book of Witness for the Dead came in and I am enjoying that.

  3. I read Tal Bauer’s Gravity – sorry Cristie I can only give it 3/5 stars. Middle of the pack for M/M hockey books. Lots worse out there (also read Icebreaker which is YA hockey and was wayyyy overpriced – this coming from someone who doesn’t much notice these things so) but also so much better. The hockey scenes themselves were off – D-men do not play on a ‘line’ with forwards. And it was annoying that the Quebecois M/C kept narrating or speaking in French and then immediately translating himself. Comprenez-vous? You understand? Who does that. Even worse when he’s named Bryce – Bryce? from a small northern Quebec mining town? And then refers to “le petit mort”. Has anyone since 18th century French seriously called an orgasm that? Really doubt they were playing hockey in a Quebec mining town.

    On a more cheerful note, I obtained my first library card from my local Toronto branch (no stain glassed windows or gryphons, only metal shelves, uncomfortable furniture and child art on the walls, sorry to disappoint) and downloaded Rakes I’d Like to F**. Was like scratching a long-standing itch. First story was much fun and am onto the next. Thank you, Lupe, for contributing to my growth as a human being.

    1. Plus, it would « la petite mort » if you are talking about an orgasm since death is a feminine noun.
      I cannot stand bad French in books and god knows there’s lots out there.

          1. I don’t currently use the (correct) phrase, but I have used it. I’ve read it in a lot of books, too, which is where I got it. I’ve never seen that masculinized version.

      1. That may be me misrepresenting it, rather than the author, so we can only blame him for eye-rolling writing rather than poor French grammar.

        1. I for one am glad you joined the Toronto public library system, with or without gryphons. You guys have just about the best libraries ever, imho.

    2. Unfortunately I’m having the same issues with Gravity. The hockey is definitely off as is some of the off ice stuff. There’s no way on god’s green earth that players skip showers after a game. I’m sorry I played in high school and the smell of the equipment alone will ensure you shower every time. Also things like the goalie having 5 shutouts in a row or something ridiculous like that which is fairly impossible these days. I’ve stalled at about 69% right now because I feel an outing coming, but probably will finish it. There were parts especially in the beginning that I liked, but I just wish they’d had someone who knows hockey review it to make that part more believable. I’m re-reading TFs You Could Make a Life to make myself feel better.

      1. Cristie, I ended up taking the same strategy – except rereading Between the Teeth, Long Game, Power Plays and Blindside Hit – any books where there’s some verisimilitude.

      2. Yes, it’s awful when authors get facts wrong and the reader knows the subject. That will pull me right out of any story. If it’s fairly minor (e.g. incorrect astrology in initially describing a personality), I can skip past it and still enjoy the book. But if I know the subject and the author clearly doesn’t, and the subject is a big part of the story, I have to stop reading.

    3. Yay library cards! The past librarian (without the degree, we were just book jockeys) in me and my husband are doing a happy dance. Glad you liked the first story too. 🙂

        1. Libraries do so much good above and beyond just providing books. I hope your new card will be a gateway into a community of interesting people.

          The other day the Friends of my branch library had a table set up at the local Farmers’ Market. They were giving away free cookbooks in an effort to entice people into joining. I signed up for their email list and discovered that they will be having a book sale in 2 months. This is terrific because it will motivate me to cull my bookcases, volunteer to help with the sale and meet some new people with similar interests.

    4. I doubt any self-respecting Quebecois would do that but I know a lot of people who are Franglish speakers who do it.

  4. I read Heartbreak Incorporated by Alex de Campi and really enjoyed it. I’ve been on a bit of a PNR reading tear recently as escapism from nihilistic or disaffected Booker material (I work in two bookshops), but a lot of it is aggressively YOU WILL BE MINE HE GROWLED SEDUCTIVELY AS HIS FAERIE SHIRT FLEW OPEN and because I was trained to finish what’s on my plate I have to finish books too. Breathe out, I have finished that sentence.
    ANYWAY. Heartbreak Inc was a breath of fresh air. It was fun, it had a discernible plot, it had female friendships, and for once I was really annoyed to discover it was a standalone, not 1 in a series of 25. Now for a full reread of the Sandman comics.

      1. I have been told off for sliding into all-caps but SOMETIMES IT IS NECESSARY (also thank you!)

    1. Have you tried CM. Nascosta? Not strickly PNR, but lots of mythical creatures in a fun, small, inclusive community. It’s more about navigating cultural differences and good communication. I really like Girls’ Weekend, but Morning Glory Milking Farm and Summer Berries are both good stand-alones. All the fun of magic, without the alpha males.

        1. I don’t, because he was so sweet and careful. He was dominant in bed, but that was only after copious amounts of talking and consent. I think Violet describes him as a bit of a bastard, which fits for me.

          I guess I just associate alpha with bad behavior outside of the bedroom?

          1. Makes total sense. I like alphas who are good guys outside the bedroom – one of the reasons I like Ali Hazelwood’s books.

      1. I swear, enough with the alpha males. And the claiming, and the mating (for me, personally, anyway. Live and let live, etc etc).

        1. I have to be in the mood. I got really tired of the heroes in contemporary romance whose biggest issue was that they didn’t want to commit, so the possessiveness was a nice change. And it definitely got over used in recent years. And abused.

      2. Oh, I forgot about Mabon Feast. I liked that one better than Sweet Berries, I think. But I like the tortured souls better than the sweet ones. And not advised if you are afraid of spiders…

  5. I read Alexis Hall! Lots of it was the funniest thing I had read in forever, laugh out loud funny. (the train! The office emails!).

    The 4 weddings style clues you in though that the plot is looser than Boyfriend Material. Still 100% worth reading because it’s Alexis Hall, funny as hell, and good people with real challenges talking about it. And for anyone who hasn’t read Boyfriend Material, or Glitterland…

    Also still reading Raven Boys. I’m tempted to start the Ronan series, but by bk 4 Raven Boys was less cool kids on an adventure and a darker, more wild ride that just kept getting more… More something. I suspect the Ronan series will also be in that vein. So a break.

  6. Following a rec here I read a book by a new author – and – drumroll – I finished it and loved it. I can’t remember the last time that happened. I haven’t read a new author I liked since 2019.
    Donna Andrews is so much fun. Murder With Peacocks would have been good without being funny. But it was funny. Laugh out loud funny. I want to read the rest of the series. The library has all but #2. So irritating. I get paid tomorrow so I will buy #2 and then read the rest from the library. Just annoyed because I didn’t want to wait for the next one until payday.
    Also read a new book by an author that I love, Marian Keyes. She isn’t necessarily a reread because her books can be intense. But she is good the first time around and Brightest Star In the Sky is up to her usual standards! She is also funny. Highly recommend this book.
    And if anyone can figure out if Marian Keyes has a cozy mystery series and what the first book is – let me know. There is a mention of it somewhere but I couldn’t figure it out.

    1. I so agree that Andrews is a lot of fun. The Meg Langslow books are just wonderful. My favorites are the ones that take place at Christmastime (yes, Andrews can even make solving a murder a Christmasy experience). Her first Christmas Meg is book #10 (I think) of the series, then over the next nine years she wrote two more Christmas Megs, and lately there’s been a new one every year–and the quality stays good, IMO. The characters grow, the stories stay fresh, and I still find myself laughing aloud at times. I so enjoy, every December, reading books that take place at Christmastime. I have a shelf of Christmas titles,* and the Megs are my absolute favorites. (e.g. Visions of Sugar Plums; Trojan Gold; Rest You Merry; Curtsey; A Christmas Carol, which I finally read a few years ago; The Sherwood Ring because my favorite chapter takes place at Christmas; and nine Andrews titles.)

      SUBJECT CHANGE: A couple different “books in order” websites list Keyes’ Walsh Family Books (6 novels and a collection, first title Watermelon), but it does not appear to be a mystery series. You’ve probably already read those.

      FINALLY: I’m about a third of the way into Kate Flora’s CHOSEN FOR DEATH, and so far I like it very much indeed. (not a Christmas title).

    2. Clever Cherry–what is your avatar? I wondered if it was a Rainier cherry (love them!) but I don’t think that’s right. Thanks!

      1. Lol it’s a mistake. It’s a lamp shade that’s part of a bigger picture. I keep meaning to change it….

    3. Marian Keyes, Mhairi Macfarlane, and Sara Manning are UK/Irish booksellers’ top three favourite UK/Irish romcom writers for NICENESS. They show up, they engage, they chat, they support. They are absolute peaches and we love them (also Marian Keyes, doing impressions of her mother, is hilarious). Sadly, none of them has as yet done cosy mystery…

    4. The Mystery of Mercy Close might be what you’re thinking of. It’s part of the Walsh family series and I don’t think it was a cozy.

    5. Just a word of warning: I have found that Murder with Puffins (aka #2) is one of the weakest books in the series and I know people who were turned off the series by it. In a long series weak books happen, but one it is the second book it is discouraging.
      As always YMMV

  7. I have a question, rather than a book recommendation. For those of you who are dedicated e-reader readers, how do you distinguish your favorite books from your run-of-the-mill or meh books? Does your e-reader have any kind of ToC or indexing system that you can use to search out a particular book, or is it a matter of endless swiping to the right and left and wherever your system swipes to?

    Since I read paper books, I shelve my favorites in a different place than the ones I just like to own. I can’t imagine what the access/storage process would be in a formless digital world, but maybe that’s just an Old People’s Problem….

    1. When you own a thousand ebooks, this becomes a problem. I’ve mentioned Mobipocket Reader as an alternate to Kindle. There’s no backwards compatibility, so I find myself using Calibre to convert Kindle books to MOBI so I can use the ap to read them. Once they are in MPReader, I can sort by rating, and I can change the ratings at will. With Kindle, you can only sort by title, author, or “Recent.” With Mobipocket, you can sort by title, author, genre, rating, book size, last read date, read count, or read time.

      I’m going to make a post (tomorrowish?) about Mobipocket Reader vs Kindle with screenshots – lots of screenshots – because Reader has awesome display options.

      BUT… I still have minor problems finding a particular book. Consider that publishers often list an author as Jennifer Crusie instead of Crusie, Jennifer. And then some authors have pseudonyms that should be in the first category, like Grey Wolf, not Wolf, Grey. No matter, there’s a search function.

      That’s my solution, at any rate.

    2. You can use the new Collections function on Kindle to distinguish favourites or any sub division of your books, really. I have a DNF one.

    3. As Tammy says, you can set up different tabs for collections and ‘shelve’ them that way. I also have a DNF, and a couple of others. And I have it linked to my Goodreads account, so when I finish a book it asks me for a rating and automatically saves that for me as well. And Goodreads is pretty easy to search.

    4. Dedicated e-book reader here. I remove the downloads as soon as I update my reading journal (unless I plan to re-read very soon) so the e-reader contains only things yet to be read. Yes, the old-skool handwritten reading journal. Maybe at some point in my remaining decades I’ll be motivated to transfer all that to digital form but more likely I’ll simply scan the journals and then chuck them out.

      I rate almost every book, and if something’s a 5-star read – a book I’ll want to read again sometime – I note that in my journal. Once I’ve written about something, I have a pretty good recollection of it if I come across it again – at least to the point of remembering if I liked it or not. When I really like a book by an author I don’t already follow, I follow them (if that option’s available) so AMZ will tell me when there’s a new book. And also in some cases (Jenny Crusie … KJ Charles …) so I can obsessively read everything they’ve ever published up to and including their blog. 🙂

      I read mostly romance, and there are many sub-genres that I don’t care for, so the number of authors I follow isn’t infinite. Rarely have to go to the physical journal and dig out my initial impressions of something.

  8. It’s frustrating, basically. I have a Kindle. What I’d like is a rating system/flags I could see immediately when viewing titles by list or thumbnails. But it’s not an option. You can create folders: I have Rejects, Keepers and Christmas (just because I often want to read seasonal stories then). The problem is, when I run a search it doesn’t show which if any folders a title’s in. So for Rejects (which in paper form would have been donated to a charity shop)
    I also add a note to the first para of the book, briefly reminding myself why I don’t want to read it again.

      1. Thanks, Gary => Jane, all of you! You are kind of confirming my sense that with e-readers, it could be kind of hard for Paper Age people to find things again.

        Still, it makes me feel a little better about being antediluvian to realize that Kindle DNF folders contain books that have been purchased, whereas in my case the DNFs go straight back to the library. Or occasionally back to the used bookstore where I originally bought it for $1.50 plus tax.

        (Not better = “superior” but better = “thrifty”, btw. You e-readers have the advantage of getting to read the latest books instead of waiting for 193 other people to finish or DNF them first, which is clearly a big plus for your approach to reading books.)

        1. Well, also, most of the novels I read aren’t available in my library system, and aren’t sold in paper form in the UK. I’ve been buying from Amazon since before they set up in the UK (they shipped cheaply by seamail), because I couldn’t get hold of the stories I wanted to read any other way.

          1. I have this problem as well. As I age, my tastes become more and more specific and usually my library doesn’t cater to them. I hunt used bookstores and sales religiously for things I want to own in real life paper, but again, it’s a pretty narrow category and most don’t make it to print anymore.

          2. I’ve started to use inter-library loan once in a while. I live in a big city and this allows me to order things from the surrounding suburban networks. It is slow and uncertain, but it has allowed me to find some titles not in my local system. I don’t know what I’d do if I lived in a small city. It was actually easier to order books for my Mother in Milwaukee from her county library system than it is for me to use the inter-library loan. Except 2 of the adjacent suburbs will allow you to borrow on your city card if you register it. And they are connected to the surrounding suburban systems. Once you do that, you can just walk in and borrow.

          3. I worked in interlibrary loan for a while. It’s an interesting process, on the clerical end.

          1. Same. And if you do it within a certain timeframe from when you bought it, occasionally you get a refund.

        2. Remember when “antediluvian” meant longer ago than last week, or yesterday?

          * The 2022 Eastern Australia floods were one of the nation’s worst recorded flood disasters with a series of floods that occurred in South East Queensland, the Wide Bay–Burnett and parts of coastal New South Wales.

          * Massive flooding along Stillwater River in Montana

          * Jul 26, 2022 · A conceptual model for the meteorological setup of the flash flooding event that occurred on July 26th, 2022 in the St. Louis metropolitan area.

          * Jun 17, 2022 · Yellowstone River flooding is a 1 in 500-year event, US Geological Survey says.

          * The Salt Lake Tribune reports that 1 to 1.5 inches of rain fell in Moab on Saturday night, with nearly an inch of rain that fell in a twenty-minute span. This led to flooding, best shown by the situation on Main Street in Moab. The flooding on Main Street was three feet deep in some spots, leading to challenging driving conditions.

          * European Flood Events

          *And of course, Dallas over the weekend.

          Prayer, vibes, good thoughts, and a few bucks to the Red Cross.

    1. If you want to delete a book permanently from your Kindle, you can do so. Go onto your Amazon account to Content and Devices, then Books. Search for the book and when you have the listing look at the right side of the screen. One of the choices is labeled More Options. The first of these is Delete, which after giving you the option to change your mind, permanently removes the book from your Amazon account. If you ever want to read it again, you have to repurchase it.

  9. This past week I read a book on Amazon’s recommendation, apparently I like political thrillers. Don’t remember the last one I read but anyway the book is Madame President: “This is not a drill” by O. L. Gregory. It is a what if premise about a father/daughter president and vice president. The president is kidnapped and daughter steps up to take charge. I read it because why not. It goes through the succession down to the secretary of state, they really don’t think she has what it takes to run the country. The story takes place over four tortuous days of trying to find the president and who will back the now president. And just to make it interesting O.L. wrote two endings – you pick the one you like. Honestly, I didn’t know they had drills for this kind of thing.

    1. Madame President: “This is not a drill” by O. L. Gregory sounds better than a bunch of… other books I’ve been reading. I 1-clicked it. Thanks. 🙂

  10. I followed Husband Material with a reread of the Arden St Ives series, and then just couldn’t segue from Alexis Hall to anyone else, so reread Glitterland and finally Waiting for the Flood, which is gentle enough that I could then switch to A, J. Demas, who I’m rereading in order, starting with Something Human; I’m on One Night in Boukos at the moment. Do love her fictional ancient world.

    I’ve just listened to an excellent audio post by Alexis Hall, which I think writers here would find helpful, as well as fans of his. My only caveat is he keeps dropping into a public school gabble – speaking too fast and swallowing some words – so that even as a fellow middle-class Brit I couldn’t catch everything. Well worth sticking with it though:

  11. I started reading Susan Wiggs’ new one, Sugar and Salt (she’s an auto-buy author for me) but got stuck halfway through after a graphic rape and violent attack chapter. Which was all the more upsetting for being really well written. I don’t know if I’ll finish the book or not. I wish books came with trigger warnings.

    In the meanwhile, I was rescued by the arrival of the new Donna Andrews, Round Up the Usual Peacocks. I always love her mysteries, and this series in particular (which has somehow just continued to get better even after all the books in the series), but the humor and cleverness really saved me. I’m almost done with it and then will probably be reading Husband Material.

    1. Always an auto buy for me as well. Haven’t bought many of her books for a while. The last was a bookstore plot. Skipped many pages, which surprised me bc I like her writing.

    2. I’ve definitely read books with content/trigger warnings before the first chapter, so it is a thing!

  12. I DNF Time and Forever by Susan James. Just couldn’t stand to read another word. I dug out my copy of Murderbot, All Systems Red, which I had put in the “To sell” box, but so many of you rave about this book and the series, I decided to try it again. I keep looking at it, but haven’t picked it up. Now, I am looking through all the notes I’ve taken of your reviews of books I thought I might like, and trying to decide where to start. It’s daunting!!! Thank you all for your great, and detailed reviews. I am not one to read just anything. I have triggers up the wazoo. So these reviews, and the first pages that are shown on Amazon, really help me decide. Read on McDuff!

    1. This is another reason I love the library. Recommendations and algorithms have their place, but there is nothing like opening a book and reading a few different random paragraphs.

      1. I agree! Or a bookstore! I haven’t figured out the digital equivalent for discovering new books. The algorithms always just spew out the same few titles over and over

  13. I continued rereading the same crap as last week. Nothing new to report. My TBR list is getting backed up. I need to work on that.

    Official Weigh-in Day. Also a reread. (252.4) I have become too good a cook for my own good. There’s a beef stew in the slow cooker, chili in the fridge, steaks, chops, fresh veggies and salad fixings. I’m fasting until noon because I have WILL POWER! (I WILL eat everything in sight! That’s my POWER.)

    1. mine too, Gary. Mine too. And fasting only makes it worse. But I do it every day anyway because it’s helping me lose weight and keep it off. But I do want to EAT ALL THE THINGS!

      1. I have been on a bad food kick. A sure sign that I am tired/unhappy. Last night was spicy instant ramen with a fried egg on top and bacon on the side. And a brownie this morning. I swore it was worth it, but I am paying for it now.

          1. I think that I am just worn out. Last week’s full moon was pretty crazy. Two customers got into it with each other in the lobby. Ugh. And various other things. And it’s Little League here, so everyone is driving like maniacs and being cranky.

            I have the next two weekends off, so hopefully I can recoup. And I scheduled time off. Couldn’t get my first choice, so now it seems that we are going to the Renaissance faire for time travel weekend. Not my favorite theme, but it should still be fun. I have to decide if I am going to alter my outfit… Planning good things is surely an antidote. Thanks for asking.

          2. Oh post a picture of your Renaissance Faire outfit! I’ve never been to one. Do you combine that with a Little League outfit? the mind boggles…

          3. No little league outfits. Shudders. I have no idea what to wear. I really don’t care for time travel as a trope. Last time it was Fantasy creature weekend and I was a pretty successful elf.

          1. Your food looks really good but your digital skills amaze. You made the chicken thighs in a spreadsheet?

          2. Sake, you’re being facetious. There is a period between those sentences. I made the hot dish (in the toaster oven). (I recorded the description) in a spreadsheet. Must I be so explicit?

            Then I baked a pork chop and the remainder of my little red potatoes for dinner. I’ll be eating Atkins chocolate snacks tonight.

    2. I am up 2 ponds due to ice cream bars. I used to limit myself by only buying my favorite brand when it was on sale, but now I am working my way through the Aldi to see if any of them are comparable. Systematic testing is a bad way to resist temptation.

      1. Official Weigh-In Day #70.

        I can’t point to two specific pounds, or one specific cause. There are many reasons I’m fighting the same weight give or take two pounds. Bad habits. Bad food choices, like a double quarter pounder with cheese AND a double cheeseburger. The only good thing I did there was throw away the DQPwC bun and eat all four patties on the cheeseburger bun. No regrets. It was fabulous.

        Diets are for people who can’t meet the challenge of being large boned. Stop laughing. Stop it, I say. *mutter* *mutter* *mutter*

        1. If I were admitting to bad choices including ice cream, I’d admit that I had a box of 16 mini chocolate ice cream sandwiches, of which there are 14 remaining. But I’m not admitting that, so never mind. (At least I’m all out of Snickers Ice Cream bars. For months. They’re irresistible.)

  14. Like Jenny, I want to re-read Boyfriend Material before diving into Husband Material only I got HM as audiobook because I adore Joe Jameson, the narrator.
    But my hands need to do something for my mind to be able to focus on listening. It’s too hot for listening. It’s still too hot for almost anything.
    Though yesterday, when we watched the European Championship – long jump, hurdles, women’s Heptathlon, female hammer etc -, it was so nice to feel like sitting at some arena in Rome, Athens or else. Even the bike ride home through the city around midnight felt like cycling through syrupy warmth…

    1. Totally forgot about my rec: I’m currently reading Zhe one that got away by Nicky James. A romantic suspense thriller around a sensitive topic. I’m 65 % in and loving it in spite of the sensitive topic. Takoda, a cop with a huge chip on his shoulder, and Charlie, former victim of a kidnapping and sex trafficking ring, and tegarded as a lunatic because of his subsequent OCD and paranoia, battle a case of stalking and get drawn to each other . It’s superbly written very tender. I’m rateher hopeful that the author won’t let me down on the home stretch.

  15. For an hour or so yesterday it looked like my scheduled Thursday off wouldn’t happen, but a miracle happened so I’m not At Work. Yay! The plan for today: read through the holiday book and make sure I’m happy with finalizing the ms for submission. This particular publisher, based on what I’ve read from them, takes the ms as they get it – nobody’s going to clean it up for me – and I wouldn’t be able to fix anything post-pub, so I want it to be as close to perfect as possible just in case they decide to acquire it.

    This week, aside from one of my own books: a disappointing F/M romance; 2 disappointing M/M romances; DNFd a F/M novella; re-read ‘Unfit to Print’ and ‘Wanted, a Gentleman’ by KJ Charles.

    Also ‘Murder on B Deck’ by Vincent Starrett, an entertaining whodunit set on an ocean liner in the 1920s. The ebook transfer of this golden-age book needs some cleanup but wasn’t so sketchy that I couldn’t enjoy. And ‘The Great Train Robbery’ by Michael Crichton; a well-paced, detailed, light-footed examination of the 1855 heist of 12000 English pounds’ worth of gold. There is a movie and I think I want to see it.

    Rec of the week: ‘Eleventh Hour’ by Elin Gregory, a M/M romantic thriller set in 1928-ish involving a plot to blow stuff up and two Home Office agents assigned to investigate. One of them is a longtime Continental spy, the other a younger linguist + codebreaker with a gift for cross-dressing who goes undercover as the spy’s wife to surveil a suspect in the home of a government official. This book would also benefit from some tidying-up but is well plotted & suspenseful with great characters and a satisfying resolution (no cliffhanger). Rumor of a sequel, which I would instantly read. If you liked the Will Darling adventures from KJ Charles, you’d probably like this – and the MCs are never not sure of each other (though they do have some conflict).

  16. I also read Husband Material this week and laughed out loud. I think I liked Boyfriend Material better but this was a worthy sequel. Now I kind of want to watch Four Weddings and a Funeral.

    I listened to Light from Uncommon Stars by Ryka Aoki, a book unlike any I had ever read. It is science fiction about a transgender violin prodigy, a violin teacher who steals souls for the devil, and an alien who runs a donut shop. And yet the tone of the book was way less wacky than that sounds. The writing about music and making music is nuanced, the violence the violin student lives with as a trans girl is heart wrenching, the aliens’ (it’s a whole family of aliens) sincere desire to make a good donut all give this book unexpected heart.

    And I read Flying Solo by Linda Holmes about a woman who is cleaning out her great aunt’s house after the great aunt dies. A man who is being paid to help sort out salable items cheats her out of a potentially valuable item and she and a team of friends are determined to get it back. Some very funny moments.

      1. I’m reading the same book now, based on a library “if you liked that, you’ll love this…” recommendation. It’s wonderful. Every main character is adorable, and very willing to accept others for who they are inside. Including the alien donut shop proprietor/spaceship captain.

  17. I read A Matter of Scale, by Steve DeGroof. Cass has just moved into a new house in Willows Falls when her trash cans start getting raided no matter how she tries to secure them. When it turns out not to be raccoons but raccoon sized dragons she gets worried, because that’s impossible, isn’t it? And then the teleporting cat, Pickles, shows up and things start to get strange. I thought this was really amusing and just a lot of fun.

    I also read the first two books (the third one isn’t out yet) in the Davina Ravine Psychic Crime Thriller mysteries, One Gone More Before Long and Two Lies Someone Must Die. Davina’s had a hard life, her sister disappeared when she was twelve, and two years later her mother committed suicide, and her father went insane. She is now his legal guardian and cares for him at home despite the fact that he large, violent and mostly non-communicative, but she remembers the man he used to be. The real trouble starts when her psychic visions come back showing her someone in danger and she has to race across town wreaking havoc in order to save his life. The hotshot new big city detective the town has just hired keeps arresting her and things go from bad to worse. I really liked these. The characters are just great and while half the town hates and reviles her the other half are really good friends. I’m really looking forward to the next one.

  18. I just read and enjoyed A Strange and Stubborn Endurance by Foz Meadows. It’s a M/M arranged marriage turned romance which really reminds me of Everina Maxwell’s M/M arranged marriage turned romance, Winter’s Orbit. Except the former is fantasy and the latter is SF. I think if you like one, you might like the other. Content warning though, for sexual battery (in Meadows) and domestic abuse (in Maxwell). Not graphic but…

    I also read the latest Donna Andrews. No content warning there!

        1. That is disappointing but I will try to come to terms with it. What about aliens? any tentacles?

          1. Which book? If the Meadows book, no aliens. Or tentacles. Really, the only thing that makes it fantasy is some minor use of magic. As for the Maxwell book, it’s been a while since I read it but I think there might be aliens. Although still no tentacles. Sorry!

  19. The only new book I finished last week was T. Kingfisher’s Nettle & Bone. It was a good story, sad but powerful. On the surface, it was a fantasy quest with all its ingredients: the valiant heroine, the supporting team slowly gathering, and a noble, selfless goal. The villain was super villainous, and the obstacles the heroine faced were almost insurmountable. But like every story by this writer, everything was not exactly what it seemed. It read like a fairy tale or a myth, and we all know that most fairy tales are pretty dark indeed.
    On the re-reading front, I re-read The Black Wolves of Boston by Wen Spencer and enjoyed it. A great fantasy with lots of humor. A vampire, a werewolf, and an angelic warrior walk into …

    1. I love the Black Wolves of Boston. I have been waiting impatiently for the sequel to appear☹️

  20. I finally finished four books this week. The absolute winner was Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan. Like Sara C last week, I enjoyed the character’s growth, the unwrapping of why her marriage ended and her honesty with herself about why that happened and the compromises she has been making for the sake of home and family. There was a Big Misunderstanding, but it was not solely the fault of the MCs not talking.
    I liked this more than anything I’ve read in a very long time.

    I reread Boyfriend Material and liked it much more than I had originally. When I read it the first time, I kept comparing it to another M/M romance I had just finished and had to return it early because of the huge waiting list at the library. This time I was able to take my time and get invested in the characters. I still think some of the background characters are somewhat broadly drawn, but I am looking forward to the sequel.

    I was really looking forward to Grace Under Fire by Julie Garwood because I have been using one of her previous FBI romances as a comfort read. This was perfectly fine, but I think it relied too much on tropes used in previous books in the series.

    I should have liked Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley more than I did because it combines two things I love: romance and baking. But this one felt way too formulaic. How many fake engagements are we supposed to believe? I know that I just really enjoyed the fake romance in Boyfriend Material, but this felt like someone said, “Cupcakes, retiring athletes and social media influencers are popular, let’s use them!” This was like butter cream made with only emulsified shortening: soft, pretty and tasteless.

    1. I agree about some if the background characters in Boyfriend/Husband Material – especially the co-workers. I wasn’t convinced he’d really made up his mind about Alex, especially – if he’s as dim as he’s mostly made out to be, I really don’t believe he’d have got into Oxford – and got a degree – nowadays, no matter how good his connections are. The farce is great (I loved the mash-up of badgers and juries), but its impact is diluted when you’re not sure whether the character’s on the level. Listening to Alexis Hall’s responses to reader questions, it’s clear Alex is meant to be dim, in fact – and he did come over more straightforwardly by the end of Husband Material.

      1. Actually, Alex reminded me of the Upper Class Twit competition in Monty Python. It was also the James Royce-Royces who also struck me as cardboard.

      2. Considering the scandal we had over in the US with celebrities and other rich people buying their children admission into various colleges, it’s more believable that Alex is a twit riding on the old boys club than one might think.

        1. Maybe Alex is a secret genius mathematician or classicist… just kidding.
          As a character, I see him as a parody of Bujold’s Ivan Vorpatril, except that behind the vacuous exterior, there is actually deep vacuity.

    2. I loved Nora Goes Off Script too. But as a writer myself, I read its title and thought: it would sound better, punchier without the verb. Nora Off Script – doesn’t it sound better? Or am I deluding myself?

      1. I actually like it better because the verb implies a deliberate move to get off script. And this all started when she chose to write a different kind of movie.

      2. After all the recommendations for Nora Goes Off Script, I placed a hold for it but it will be months before it becomes available. So I checked out one of Annabel Monaghan’s other books, a YA about a math genius called Digit. Smart girl, not a clue about anything else. I found it fun and interesting and very well written. Because the first book “A Girl called Digit” was already checked out, I borrowed “Double Digit”, the second in the series -which seems to end here. I recommend it: fast paced, readable and – mostly believeable. And no sex scenes which I am beginning to find really boring. I have probably read to many in my life.

        Which reminds me, does any one else here remember a Lolah Burford? She wrote sex scenes well. And she wrote novels that were regency. But we are not talking Jane Austin or Georgette Heyer. A fantastic writer but someone who could almost give you nightmares about sex.

        1. I’ve read several books by Lolah Burford. I thought they were great. They’re all very different. My favourite was A Vision Of Stephen – a YA about a young Saxon princeling who escapes the brutality of his own time and time shifts to Regency England. It’s a while since I read any of them and I’m afraid I don’t remember any sex scenes at all although all of them went to some dark places in different ways. They’d all probably need trigger warnings.

          1. Vice Avenged was the one I remember. And one that started in Scotland and ended in America, which I vaguely remember as being violent.

          2. Was that MacLyon? That definitely started in Scotland in the aftermath of Culloden and was very violent. I don’t remember where it ended up though. I haven’t read Vice Avenged, yet though it’s been sitting there, waiting for me for some years now.

        2. Oh Yes. I read A Girl Named Digit and Double Digit several years ago. Digit is a clueless genius level math geek who has just turned 18 and is about to go off to college when she stumbles onto an encrypted message and espionage hijinks ensue. I loved them, and I keep checking back to see if she has written a third one yet, but it’s not looking promising now 🙁

  21. I found a new author to like – Sarah Addision Allen .. I liked her first book – Garden of spells. it was sweet, full of quirky characters, and a “cranky apple tree”. Am now reading the second book First Frost and also enjoying it so far ..

    1. Oh, yes. She has been one of my favorites since her first book came out. She had some health crisis a few years ago, but it seems she is writing again. Her new book is announced to be published later this year. I can’t wait.

    2. She is wonderful. I revisit Garden Spells, Sugar Queen, and Lost Lake fairly often. Peach Keeper was a little dark for me, and Girl Who Chased the moon had some sadness to it. Still worth reading, but not in my comfort pile.

      1. Lupe – the book First Frost – is a sequel to Garden Spells .. many of the same characters and some new ones

    3. Every word she writes is magic. After a health issue driven hiatus she has a new book coming out, Other Birds, on 8/30. Can’t wait!

      1. If you are on Facebook or Instagram, she’s worth a follow. On Facebook she does Sunday stories, usually about really interesting pictures, and she’s also doing a small series where she writes notes to her niece about outfits her mother, Sarah’s sister I mean, and her grandma wore. That’s on Insta and FB.

  22. I’ve read a lot of books lately with a lot of satisfying moments but that I’m not sure totally worked for me. YMMV

    1. I read and enjoyed The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn, a historical fiction novel about a female WWII Russian sniper.

    I’m not sure I responded well to way the author was switching narrators at certain points along the way, sometimes it felt unnecessary & jarring. It also came across to me like she didn’t have as strong a handle on some of the other character voices the way she did with the main character Mila…and if you’re going to give me the POV of Eleanor Roosevelt, who’s so fascinating in her own right – I kinda of want a little more of a distinctive voice from her!

    But other than that quirk of structure which may be more of a me thing than a story thing, it’s a really interesting novel – not the least of which because it is very grounded in historical fact, there really was a “Lady Death” sniper in the USSR forces who was instrumental in defending the Soviet from Hilter’s invaders and Quinn was able to pull from a ton of primary sources to create a really compelling fictional picture of her and her war experience.

    I don’t think I enjoyed it quite as much as I enjoyed her novel Rose Code, but it was good and worth the read. And I have hopes that since she referenced the old saying “WW2 was won with British intelligence, American steel, and Russian blood.”in her author’s note….that might be a hint she’ll do at least one more set in this time frame looking at an American factory worker. A reader can hope, anyway!

    2. I tried Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia – very noir and moody, and very interesting in terms of place/setting/plot but ultimately a bit unsatisfying for me. There were a lot of things that happened in terms of plot/unfolding investigation, but I didn’t feel like the amount of character growth was what it could have been. Not to say that every story needs to have the character grow…but there was like the hint of possible growth without the confirmation of where it was going …and I just wanted a bit more of that confirmation as a reader. In general, these characters were all kind of annoying/hard to love. But Mexico in 1970s makes for an interesting backdrop if you prioritize an interesting plot over protagonist growth/personality. As a reader, I’m generally more in it for the characters than the plot (although when both are strong, that’s preferred!) so my review might be a bit more tepid than the book deserves just for that reason.

    3. I read Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney. I always like her writing, but in everything I’ve read by her, her characters continually make decisions that stress me out. So I sometimes find it hard to recommend wholeheartedly just based on that…I constantly want to fix them…when the point is that they’re a bit broken and just going through it.

    If you like awesome writing and characters who are compelling but who are flawed and will continually make the worst possible/cringey choices, you’ll be fine…but if you’re expecting uncomplicated that’s not what you’re in for.

    I also feel like this story stops a bit more than it finishes for me. It’s definitely a stylistic choice in the story to leave it more open ended, but I generally find it less satisfying when it feels like there’s a lot of loose ends. I know life is messy and not everything is wrapped up in reality, and sometimes that works for me in a novel…and it does work here…but it also tempers my endorsement a bit, because I just find that less satisfying personally.

    But I truly love the way she puts words together. And she builds worlds and situations that are engrossing.

    1. I had exactly the same reaction to ‘Velvet was the Night’ – very interesting history, not particularly engaging characters. Its the first of her books I’ve read so I still might try Mexican Gothic sometime.

  23. Read Husband Material! Would like a 3rd book now where they go on a nice vacation together and things go wrong and hijinks ensue but the power of good and true love prevails.

    Now reading Brother Cadfael, A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters because who doesn’t love a monk in his garden, occasionally interrupted by a nice murder mystery?

          1. oh, definitely, they had SO MUCH crap to work through and by the end of HM have really barely finished identifying / articulating their crap.

    Bob Mayers
    The Green Berets Pocket Sized Survival Guide is free on Kindle right now.

    Also double-dipping; I am rereading The Lost Book of Fragrances by M. J. Rose. Such a good book!

  25. I read The Guest List by Lucy Foley, and it was so good. I read every single word, in order!, and stayed up way too late doing it. When I actually made myself put it down and go to bed, I kept thinking about it, and when I finished it, the only thing I was disappointed by was that I was done (partly because I thought there was 6% more to the story rather than other stuff at the end. I don’t remember having this problem before e-readers. I need to start looking at where the acknowledgments start or figure out page numbers instead of percent read. OTOH, if I knew I was closer to the end than I thought, I probably would’ve stayed up even later–or earlier at that point).

    Anyway, it’s a thriller/suspense set on an island on the weekend of a wedding. It’s told from several different viewpoints (5 by my counting just now) and even at different points in the timeline, which might have been distracting if the pacing weren’t so tight. I was surprised by the twists and reveals but can see how everything tied together. I highly recommend it (although it does have some trigger warnings–you can see them in the review on Smart Bitches Trashy Books). Actually, I started Book Lovers after that, but since I was more interested in what was going on with the MC’s sister, I started a re-read of The Guest List to see if I can catch more hints that I missed the first time around.

  26. It’s a while since I posted here but you don’t want a list of books a mile long so I’ll just recommend the last good book I read which was Three Twins at the Crater School by Chaz Brenchley which is a very affectionate homage to all those old-style school stories set on a steampunk version of Mars. Full of schoolgirl friendships, derring-do and competence. I really enjoyed it.

  27. This, despite being Brainstorming the Ending Friday, is still the GBThursday thread. I’m listening to Bujold’s Falling Free. I’m not listening in the dark, though. For one thing, there are thirteen farm units’ grow lights, four of which should blink off in a few minutes. (There they go.)

    I spent a few bucks on enbrighten 10-inch linkable under-counter lights. I have five, linked, on the top shelves of my book shelves. Tomorrow, I expect an order of remote control outlets (with two controllers). I have five lights or fans that I would love to control remotely – the linkable lights are all plugged into a single outlet. Indirect lighting. I’ll know how well it works in an hour.

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