133 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 4, 2022

  1. As I said yesterday, I’m in the middle of the last Murderbot Diary: Network Effect. Earlier in the week Fugitive Telemetry, and last week the other six stories in the Murderbot Diaries. I left off last night at:

    I’m not a caretaker, I told ART. I finished the log conversion and checked my drone view of Amena. She was leaning in the hatchway, her head propped on the seal buffer. (That isn’t a good place to put your head, just FYI.) From her expression, she was either falling asleep or deep in thought. Or possibly both. I said, “You need to sleep.” She yawned. “Okay, third mom.”

    I thought that was an appropriate place to carry into slumber.

    I’m also in the middle of chapter 8 of It Takes a Thief by Anne Stuart. My inner jury is still out.

    That accounts for Mobipocket Reader and the Kindle Ap. In html, I’m at chapter 67 of Dance of a Lifetime, Frank Downey as Don Lockwood. Chapter 67 is one of a number of tangent chapters without which the story as a whole could do. I like Frank. I’ve read everything he’s shared. But he’s no Jennifer Crusie.

    The final open book before I say, “Official Weigh In Day Number Sixty-eight was two hundred fifty-one and eight tenths pounds” – or maybe after I say that – is Variations on a Theme, Book Three, the on-going serial of Steve Marshal, a doing-over time traveler from 2021 to 1980, and his adopted sister Angie, recycled from 1997 to just months before Steve’s own return. Let me share the latest chapter titles:
    117 – Far, Far Away
    118 – One Righteous Pile of BS
    119 – Rest and Recreation
    120 – Meet (some of) The Press
    121 – Spreading Waves
    122 – Rather a Big Deal
    117, 118, and 119 are all Prom Night 1983. Grey Wolf could benefit from a course of Crusie about unnecessary wordage and shrinking arcs and stuff. Or from Simon Illyan’s course on ImpSec’s ABCs. Keeping it short, Lizzie Vinton, Memorial’s well known and popular lesbian, attends prom with her date. News crews arrive, do interviews, film footage, and go away. No violence. No throwing of food. A good time was had.
    120, 121, and 122 are aftermath. The story has gone national. More interviews. Lizzie waves a newspaper and says, “Phyllis Shiafly knows my name!” Anonymous threats are made via notes stuffed in their lockers. They are all carrying bear spray (like Mace but made from chili oil).
    History is being altered by the actions of two teenagers with memories from a future that will not turn out the same. Two futures, because Steve and Angie have compared notes, and they didn’t come from the same futures. They are changing a third universe, which was already different from either of the ones they grew up in. Am I making anyone else interested in reading this epic? Chapter 123 is due out tomorrow.

    1. A late addendum: I read the graphic novel version of Getting Rid of Bradley last night, which only took an hour or two. Illustrated by Takako Shigematsu, it reads right to left and “backwards” from any other Kindle ebook. Think of it as the Manga version. It is, of course, much abridged.

  2. It was a good reading week for me, finally. Husband Material came out Tuesday and I am enjoying it.

    My local library actually got Grief of Stones and Witness for the Dead on audio book, which was surprising. One is on hold and the other is up next for me.

    The big state library got A Long Way to a Small and angry Planet and I am just over half way through that. I really like it a lot. Apparently I have a lot of preconceived notions about sci-fi that I need to let go of. I love how all the characters (besides Corbin) are good people, calmly and competently fixing things.

    And my hold came in on Beach Reads. I see why people like it. It’s not quite my cup of tea, but it was good. I am frustrated with the apparent need for slapstick style cringe worthy scenarios in modern m/f romance. Why? It’s a weird, contrived device for me. And it seems to be a part of the formula for a lot of authors. I dnfed one last week in the first chapter because the main character had a shoe break at work, causing her to flash her office and her new boss. And she was embarrassed that she didn’t have cute underwear on… I really didn’t like that the author did this to someone I am supposed to like and relate to. Anyone else find this an odd ongoing theme in contemporary fiction? And it always happens to the female lead, never the male. Grrr.

    1. I’ve also started Husband Material although I got distracted by going back and reading some parts of Boyfriend Material and …not leaving. Also enjoyed A Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet although it didn’t make me want to finish the series, not sure why. And now you’re confirming that I don’t want to read Beach Reads – I dislike exactly those same devices in M/F fiction. Okay back to M/M…

      1. It’s frustrating because it is unnecessary. It’s like that scene in the movie Leap Year, which I think is a great movie, where her shoe flies off at the wedding and hits the bride in the face. It didn’t need to happen for the rest of the plot, and really it felt like a false note in an otherwise smart and funny film. But for some reason people feel the need to add these really contrived, goofy bits. Why?!?

        1. Poor writing is my only explanation. One of the other elements of M/F fiction I don’t appreciate is a neurotic heroine. It’s stereotyping of an almost misogynist kind.

          1. But in 50 First Dates, Drew Barrymore and Sandler were so cute together that I can’t resist that movie.

          2. 50 First Dates (if I skip past Schneider) and The Wedding Singer are basically the only Sandler movies I’ve ever had an interest in seeing, because they are Drew Barrymore movies.

      2. If it helps, the sequels to A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet are all quite different. The only one if hers I haven’t enjoyed is the moralizing one about space travel from Earth, which isn’t part of a series.

    2. I dislike that device too, Lupe. I feel as if it’s pushing a theme of ‘women have so many things to be embarrassed about, and men don’t’. And then the F protag gets to agonise over it for half the book.

  3. I am enjoying a reread Amanda Quick aka Jayne Anne Krentz trilogy with Lavinia and Tobias whom I love. Their bickering is so entertaining.
    Slightly Shady
    Don’t Look Back
    Late For the Wedding
    Loving them!

  4. City of Windows by Robert Pobi. Exciting thriller with an x-FBI agent who lost an arm, leg and eye in a tragic event. I was breathless when I finished reading it.

    The Unkept Woman, a Sparks and Bainbridge mystery – 4th in the series. It keeps getting better and better but must be read in order.

  5. It’s not a book, but I just read the article “The Case for Bodice Rippers,” in the September Atlantic magazine, by Sophie Gilbert. It’s in part a review of the biography of Elinor Glyn by Hilary Hallett, in part an essay on the history of “trashy” romance novels, and it’s very interesting. It bothered me, though, that the author didn’t address the implications of her very title—“bodice rippers” refers to that era of romance novels I remember myself so clearly, the Kathleen Woodiwiss plot that makes rape the opening move in romance, justifying the heroine’s loss of virginity and subsequent sex life by making it not “her fault.” In fact, the article wants to talk about romance novels in terms of “the revolutionary potential inherent in women expressing and exploring what they really want.” Which they very well can be, but in actual bodice rippers, weren’t.

    1. Maybe she is trying to reclaim the derogatory term? You instantly know what she means and get that slightly ‘ew’ response…

      1. She doesn’t use the term in the article, at all. I’m wondering now if her editor wrote the title?

          1. Well, isn’t that interesting? I’ll bet that was the author’s choice, because “trash” was discussed in the text. 99-1 the editor, who doesn’t read romance novels, wrote the title because he (and you know it was he) thought bodice rippers was an apt description.

  6. I’m reading/listening to Donna Andrew’s latest, Round Up the Usual Peacocks. I’m enjoying it. I read The Quantum Curators and the Faberge Egg and enjoyed enough to go to the next book in the series.
    I’m wearing my Murderbot T-shirt today, so I’m cool.

    1. I splurged on a T-shirt that says The Shire Public Library, Hobbiton. It makes me so happy 🙂

  7. My long ago college roommate sent me the draft of her book proposal and first chapter of a biography of a successful woman USAian business president from 1906 through the 1940s. It is so cool. I’m a former high school teacher and proofreader, not a copy editor, so I’m probably noticing the wrong things. But I love examining good writing about fascinating topics. My weekend is set.

  8. I finished When London Snow Falls but found it tedious. By comparison, I read Alexandra Caluen’s Exposure – wayyyy better. Both of them had two M/C’s who were navigating a relationship. versus a romance, both relatively kind to each other. But When London Snow Falls had contrived drama and not much of the entertainment context showing up except as a backdrop. Exposure’s two M/C’s meet cute, (connect in the Biblical sense), and the actor M/C decides to come out – the other M/C says let’s give this a year before we try a relationship until you find out who you really are. A great premise and the entertainment – dancing, acting, photography – context in LA is so strong and interesting it’s almost a third character.

    I also read Sebastian Nothwell’s Oak King Holly King – a fantasy M/M taking place in London 1816, a year when historically there was “no summer” – the fantasy element is a parallel realm where the Oak King has not been suitably slain and so holds back the summer. What made this novel unique is that there are two separate plot threads in both the historical and fantasy realms and neither of them actually intersect except with the main character; the threads just bob and weave in out around each other, so I enjoyed both equally. Will definitely read more of this author’s work.

        1. My bad. Long week. I completely ignored the first book you didn’t like. Oak King Holly King.

          1. That’s says a lot that you ignore the unlikeable. A good recipe for living. Anyway – the romance itself is probably not the strongest part of the book. It’s not angsty nor suspenseful. I would have liked more suspense. There is some growth in the romance though.

          2. I started reading Oak King Holly King and had to tap out pretty early on. The high-fantasy elements juxtaposed with utterly miserable real world and slow-moving romance didn’t suit my mood.

    1. Aww thank you once again for kind words! Now I feel guilty for rec’ing ‘When London Snow Falls.’ LOL I gave those MCs some slack for being so young, vs my MCs in ‘Exposure.’

      1. Ha! don’t feel guilty – you mentioned Oak King Holly King last week and I actually liked the one so we’re even. Can’t win ’em all.

        1. People! People! One person’s garbage is another person’s treasure. And vice versa. If we’re going to feel guilty on this blog when someone doesn’t like one of our recommendations we’re….I can’t think of a good ending to this sentence so just insert dire future prediction of our time together on this blog here.

          1. It’s very specific guilt because you, Tammy, spend time and money on my recommendations and I am pretty certain you are the only person who does. The power and the pressure is enormous 😛

          2. I’ve spent way more time and money on a closetful of shoes I’ll never wear now. At least I get to read the books. I don’t think (?) I’ve disliked any of your recommendations and even if I have, they are far outweighed by all the weird books you’ve recommended that I’ve loved. Tentacles anyone?? Besides, one day you’ll pay me back by reading Peter Cabot Gets Lost and informing me that you really did not like it, so there. Hold that thought.

          3. Redeemed by tentacles again. Someone put that on my gravestone. Just kidding. I am leaving my body to science

          4. What about Evil Liberal Cupcake? Shouldn’t that be reserved for your gravestone??

          5. We may not like everything that everybody recommends but our book lives would be so much poorer without those recs so it doesn’t matter in the slightest! Keep them coming!

          6. I don’t feel guilty, but I do feel less inclined to post more recommendations. I realize that more people here buy rather than depend upon libraries and I remember what it was like to buy something you didn’t like based on another person’s taste.

          7. I’ve bought books based on official reviews or top ten best books of the years list or – gasp – my own research and haven’t liked them all. You win some, you lose some. I have gone to Amazon and read descriptions of books recommended here and decided nah, not for me. Last week I bought one of Chacha1’s NON recommendation and enjoyed it. We all have choice. I wouldn’t want people to stop recommending books on Good Book Thursday because they were afraid to lead me astray. Go ahead, lead me astray. I promise to go cheerfully.

    2. I started When London Snow Falls too, and also found out a bit tedious. I got sidetracked and haven’t gone back yet. Same with I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston because, ahem, SOMEONE (Tammy) got me into the Captive Prince trilogy, and I binged books 1 and 2 all last Saturday night until 8am. I was useless for the whole day Sunday. Trying really hard to wait until the library gets book 3, because I don’t have time right now. But I may cave first and buy it. Looking forward to starting Husband Material too.

      1. I did the first two captive Prince books in one sitting too. At the time the third one wasn’t out yet. It was torture.

        1. Sorry not sorry Jen! No better books to obsess about. You’ve got me reliving them in my mind all over again. May need a re-read. Husband Material first though. Lupe, did you read the Captive Prince short stories? Totally worth it.

          1. All of them except Green But For A Season. Too potentially heartbreaking. Couldn’t bring myself to do it.

          2. Oh that one wasn’t heartbreaking at all – the title sounds it but it wasn’t. Was the least interesting of the stories to me though.

          3. Oh and I should probably confess that I told Jen+B that you had also really liked The Captive Prince books. So I’d she had hated them you would have had to feel guilty by association.

          4. We have talked about it. Wayyyyy back when after I first read it. I think you were the only person on this site who had read it so I remembered that quite clearly. And then I had to disappoint you last year by telling you that her newest, Dark Rise, was kind of disappointing.

          5. That I remember and was grateful for. I will read it someday, but probably not until the rest of the series is out.

            And my apologies. Between breathing automotive primer, covid and a birthday ending in 0, my memory isn’t what it used to be.

          6. If you are going to apologize for not remembering every single conversation we’ve had about books on this site in the past two and half years – you really should become a Canadian. Apologizing is a national past time for us.

          7. Ha. I meant the birthday a year and a half ago. I just feel fuzzy anymore. Don’t know if it was the birthday, lock down, a combo…

    3. Tee hee, reminds me of a subplot of foreign fantasy drama, where they kill the love of his life, of the most powerful magician in the Land. He was going to execute the entire Royal family, but settles for punishing them by removing 3 seasons from their Kingdom until he can resurrect her. He is never able to and they live in perpetual winter. To be fair he was an idiot too, but I guess there wouldn’t be a story if he had woken up realised he could level the Kingdom and just left with her to go live happily after over the objections of everyone

        1. Well when you lived in a nice temperate climate with actual seasons, suddenly living in Arctic temperature, when your buildings aren’t weatherproof and you don’t have any fuel, unable to farm or grow the usual crops and livestock causes a lot of suffering. People adapt eventually, but that Royal Family went from having a prosperous kingdom, to having to trade for everything, while their subjects thought they’d cursed them so miserable time all round.

          1. Living in sauna hot seemingly perpetual summer when you were used to a moderate climate seems like a punishment, too.
            Especially knowing we inflicted it on ourselves… at least last night it started to rain and still dribbles today.
            The temp has cooled to very bearable 20 C, but we need far more rain.

    4. There’s a really good podcast about that no summer summer. Look up Cautionary Tales, your looking for an episode with Frankenstein in the episode title.

      Hope for times of catastrophe

  9. I found a whole bunch of Mary Balogh paperbacks at a different used bookstore from my usual one, and started with the least promising — a two-novella volume containing “A Promise of Spring” (1990) and “The Temporary Wife” (1997).

    The older of these involves a Fallen Woman who’s been keeping house for a brother during the past decade. When he dies, she’s done for — no one to support her, an illegitimate child, now deceased, and no other family members who will speak to her. It’s kind of a grim, tormented tale with a very pale sort-of-happy ending. I gritted teeth and finished it, but wouldn’t recommend it.

    But the other novella just mesmerized me. Somehow, it’s a fairy tale — not quite literally, but reading it felt like watching Beauty and the Beast or Cinderella or some other really well done technicolor cartoon movie. I was very happy at the end, interested throughout, and found it one of those storied I had to go back to the beginning and re-read immediately. EVEN THOUGH it included many things that ordinarily I raise eyebrows at. I loved the female MC, grew to like the male MC, enjoyed all the secondary characters, even the unlikeable ones, and just basically loved it. (Despite its lack of zombies….)

    So it’s a book I half recommend. Skip the Promise, but the Temp Wife is so worth it!

  10. I have finally caved in and bought all the Murderbots. I had bought the first one and enjoyed it enormously but I found the prices offputting. I got a bonus at work this month so I decided to splurge. And before you think I have now got millions in the bank, I am not a banker but a teacher at a British University… so no millions, not even a thousand but enough to meet ART and the rest of the gang.

    1. did the same-totally worth it

      love murderbot!

      thanks, jennie, for recommending it on your blog

    2. If you like to reread, Murderbot is very rereadable. On the basis of cost divided by rereads, mine are now about a dollar and novella and dropping.

  11. I am happily working my way through the mysteries of Tracy Kiely. She has a wry sense of humor that reminds me of Joan Hess. There are two series, one with a Jane Austen influence and the other with a Dorothy Parker/Nick and Nora Charles influence. I am enjoying both series.

    1. Bizarrely she has only one book available on Kindle in the UK. Shame, these sound delightful.

      1. So frustrating when something you want to read isn’t available. I feel your pain. I remember flying into NYC and going to the New York Public Library reading room (the one with the lions) and spending a few hours there reading a book that wasn’t available to me otherwise. I didn’t travel to NYC to go to the library but it was a nice bonus! The reading room there and in the Boston Public Library are just fabulous. That’s probably a good topic for one of our no-topic Saturdays: libraries we have known and loved.

  12. Nabbed Stealing the Bride by Nadia Lee because it was a deal and I’m so glad I did. It’s just fun.

    Other than that I’ve been reading Mind of a Bee and An Immense World because hey nature, it beats the news.

  13. I re-read THE SECRET COUNTESS by Eva Ibbotson. Charming old-fashioned romance. She’s a secret Russian aristocrat working as a maid and is far too good for this world. You’d think that would be annoying but somehow it isn’t. He’s an impoverished English aristocrat who has to marry for money. It’s one of those ridiculously English romances where they occasionally look longingly across rooms at each other while all the delightful side characters do their thing and keep the book going. Something of the PG Wodehouse house party about it.

  14. Robin Sloan’s Sourdough was a good read. Years ago, I read Sloan’s first novel, Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore and was enchanted. I didn’t know he had a second book out. As soon as I knew, I ordered it from my library. It didn’t quite reach the quality of Mr. Penumbra, but I enjoyed Sourdough too.
    If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be “unexpected”. Every plot twist in this novel was unexpected. Every trope was ignored. Every chapter led in a direction I didn’t anticipate. And the faint magic realism flavor only added to my satisfaction with this quiet book.

    On the other hand, Emily Henry’s Beach Read was a DNF. I know many of you loved it, but I couldn’t finish it. Couldn’t even reach the good parts. The problem: the heroine was either drunk, or drinking, or hungover for the first 50 pages. I couldn’t force myself to read more. I hate drunks. When I was a kid, my family shared an apartment with another family: mother, father, and two little girls. Their father was an alcoholic. He would come home from work several times a week already sloshed to the brim. Sometimes, he would stagger inside the front door and collapse across the corridor in a drunken stupor. He couldn’t even walk two meters farther to their own door. His wife would have to drag him inside their room. It was revolting: the sight, the stink, the action. Since then, I can’t abide drunks. There is no excuse for them in my mind.

    1. I struggled with Beach Read as well. If it hadn’t been recommended here I would have dropped it too. But I had it in audio and didn’t have anything else on deck. It got better, with the shining moment for me being when the heroine also got sick of her own behavior. But it never arrived. I don’t think I will be reading any more of hers.

      1. As in she never corrected her behaviour? I must admit I’m getting much less tolerant of casual drunkeness in books when it isn’t recognised as a problem.

        1. She got better overall as a person, but I don’t think that the drinking was ever addressed as a problem, just a symptom of everything else going on in her life. Sort of the ,” it’s normal, wine o’clock, mommy needs her mommy juice” culture.

          1. Thanks for the heads-up. I think I’ll push this further down my tbr. it’s so nice there are so many good books out there that there will always be something to read 😊

    2. And as the adult child of a functional alcoholic I can understand the path that leads someone to that place, but it is very hard on them and everyone around them.

      But I thought the purse wine scene was pretty funny.

    3. I agree with you about Beach Read. Want for me. Did you see Robin Sloan has a Sourdough prequel out? The Clone in the Suitcase? Jim Bascule’s story-very odd so far.

    4. Can’t comment on Beach Read because the excerpt didn’t suck me in so I didn’t continue reading.
      But heavy drinking bothers me too much too. Be it in books, film, in real life. Even without personal experience. I’m extremely lucky there – my family aren’t teatotaller but hate to lose control. I can count on one hand when they had too much and dearly regretted it. I experienced the room spinning once after one glas of read sparkling wine (not a nice few hours, I can still remember the brand). I just associate too much alcohol/ drugs with no-fun-at-all and I loath it when drinking too much is something casual in books/films/real life. Yes, I’m really boring that way.
      It’s something I noticed in “Uncoupled”, the new Netflix series with Neil Patrick Harris: alcohol was a steady part of their days…
      I otherwise loved the series and hope for a second season. When oh when does one have – 40/50 somethings as main protagonists AND circle if friends, some of them still quite handsome but not botoxed to death. I loved that NPH had quite some wrinkles!

  15. Finished the Murderbot reread; always fun. Now reading Jessie Mihalik’s Eclipse the Moon. It’s starting slowly.

  16. I’m interstate, so it’s all kindle reads this week. First, a reread of Artistic License, which someone here last week reminded me of, and which I really like.
    Then The House in the Cerulean Sea, which I kind of liked, except it was trying a bit too hard to be cute for my tastes. And it got into some pretty heavy handed editorialising. Still, I enjoyed it.
    Then The Mistake, which I loved, despite the fact that I have no interest whatsoever in ice hockey. And now I’m reading The Book of the Unnamed Midwife, which is post-apocalyptic, and gripping. It was written before covid, so the fact that it’s about a plague that kills off most of the people on earth, and hits women and children particularly hard, resonates quite differently from when it was written. The premise that it is being transcribed from old diaries some time in the future is weakened by the occasional wandering into explaining things that the diarist couldn’t possibly know. But it’s a good read and I’ll look for the second book in the series.

    1. I read all the Pat McIntosh mysteries which I really liked. Then I started re reading Jo Goodman western 19th c romances which I really like (But note that her work with troubled families shapes the plots—some really grim things happen).
      And then I started reading Liz Dye’s live tweets of the Alex Jones’s trial. These were hilarious (for example
      even before the plaintiffs’ attorney revealed that Jones’ attorneys had accidentally handed over all his phone records including texts he had denied existed. Under oath.
      Making him liable for perjury.
      Then the January 6 committee asked for the phone records and the judge didn’t stop then being turned over . Apparently tbey include “intimate “ texts between Jones and Roger Stone which …ewwww…during the key period for the insurrection. And then they found child porn on tbt phone and reported it to the FBI.

      This has been more entertaining than any book not written by Jenny.

      The judge will hear sanction motions at tbt end of the trial which I assume means after the punitive damages phase. I can’t wait.

      1. The child porn stuff dates back to 2019 and apparently were files embedded in email sent TO Alex Jones and unread — that’s the problem when you get into crazy arguments with QAnon and friends — so while they were on a phone of his / in his email, they didn’t originate with him. Per Opening Arguments OA619: OK, Alex Jones’s Lawyers REALLY Don’t Know WTF They’re Doing, at https://podbay.fm/p/opening-arguments/e/1659674656

  17. Speaking of Romney’s complaint earlier, I would love to read Artistic License too but it seems to only be available on Kindle, and I don’t do Kindle. Wish there was a paper copy for sale somewhere.

    1. Are we talking about the book by Katie Fforde? Try ebay or Book Depository. I’ve also had success with Thrift Books, although Book Depository is probably better for British titles. If you have the patience you can Google the title and see which booksellers list a copy. You will have to delete a LOT of duplicate entries, but that’s how I found Book Depository in the first place.

      I’ve also found some of her titles at used book sales.

      1. I get most of my Katie Fforde books through Book Depository. They carry all my favorite British authors and ship anywhere in the world for free.

        1. Just know that Book Depository and Abebooks are owned by Amazon. Thriftbooks is not.

          That’s why I check Thriftbooks first for used books and bookshop.org for new books; however, there are books and things which I end up buying on Amazon.

          1. I much prefer Thrift Books, but because Book Depository is based in the UK, they have a much bigger selection of British titles.

        2. Well, last time I looked, Book Depository had become part ot the Amazon Empire, so no real alternative.
          The few times I ordered from them, they used a postal service provider that left my hard cover order just outside the door of my building. Which is just not done in my part of the world!! Wheather/big city/ otherwise relatively easy access to the inside because of helpful neighbours…
          Sorry, stepping off my soapbox now…

          1. I had the same problem before I swore off Amazon. I had one package stolen and another returned to sender because Amazon would not return the next day to deliver when the store that collects my packages was open. I love Thrift Books, but they don’t have a good selection of British titles.

      2. Well, the Artistic License I was talking about was the one by Elle Pierson (aka Lucy Parker). Unfortunately, I can’t find a paper copy of that version at abe or book depository or thriftbooks. Although I appreciate learning about thriftbooks – always good to find a new and recommended book source. Apropos of nothing, while searching, I noticed that there is another Artistic License; this one written by Julie Hyzy who is an author I also like.

        1. Btw, I should’ve started with letting you know that I really appreciate you looking for the book for me, Aunt Snack. Thank you!

  18. I read a ton o’ stuff this week, including finishing up the Chronicles of Prydain by Lloyd Alexander, re-reading ‘Boyfriend Material,’ and reading ‘Husband Material,’ which I really liked. By Alexis Hall, jic anyone didn’t know.

    Also in romance: ‘Bona Fide Fake’ by Rebecca Raine, an Australian fake-boyfriends romance because obviously I was in that mood; and ‘Bittersweet’ by Sarina Bowen, first of the True North books, which I enjoyed; unexpectedly realistic about the grisly and grueling life of a farmer.

    In non-romance, ‘Uprooted’ by Naomi Novik, which is based on Polish folklore; 16th-century realism plus magic, involving a wizard and his apprentice who didn’t know she even had any magic and is forced to learn it fast when an avalanche of awful shit starts happening. And it never stops. This is a violent book. It’s well-written, there’s a thread of romance and a hopeful ending, but damn I’m tired.

    In non-fiction, I finished reading ‘To Boldly Go,’ which is a collection of essays examining leadership through the lens of science fiction. Extremely thought-provoking though sadly uneven. Some of these are pure gold, though.

    And finally, I *finally* read the two Murderbot novellas I’d acquired – ‘All Systems Red’ and ‘Rogue Protocol’ – and can report that I liked them a lot. Not so much that I’m going to run out and buy the others (insert ‘eek’ face here) though I’ll pick them up if & when they go on sale. Pretty sure I’d love the Murderbot Diaries as a TV series; if that ever happens I hope it’s on Prime so I can see it.

    1. Yay Murderbot! And I recently read a Novak book for the first time and felt exactly the same way. Compelling but exhausting.

    2. And there is also Spinning Silver and the Temaraire books. I’ve loved every word Naomi Novik has written, in all three of her voices.

  19. I’m rereading Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars series. I love these books. Now I want to lobby for Hannah Calebow to have her own book.

    I also recently read Kristan Higgins’s Out of the Clear Blue Sky and Barbara O’Neal’s Place of Wonder. Both wonderful!

  20. MRS HARRIS GOES TO PARIS & MRS HARRIS GOES TO NEW YORK, by Paul Gallico. I read these when they were originally out — there’s also a MRS ‘ARRIS GOES TO MOSCOW somewhere — but they’ve been reissued because of the movie, and the heroine’s name changed in the title either because modern audiences can’t cope with Cockney or because dialect is now politically incorrect or just out of fashion. A very light read, but happy, and the movie has been favorably reviewed, too.

    THE GEROULD FAMILY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE IN THE CIVIL WAR: Two Diaries and a Memoir, edited by Lois McMaster Bujold. For history buffs and genealogists.
    This chapbook contains four family documents of historical interest: two personal diaries from the year 1864, one by mother Cynthia Locke Gerould (1804 – 1893); one by her third son Martin Luther Gerould (1841 – 1904); a memoir of his Civil War experiences written later by eldest son Samuel Lankton Gerould (1834 -1906); and a copy of the war services transcript from the American Revolution of earlier ancestor Samuel Gerould (1755 – 1824), grandfather of Samuel “

    In the midst of UP THE USUAL PEACOCKS, the new Donna Andrews, which is more fun than usual!

    1. That’s so interesting, that LMBujold is behind the publication of the Gerould family book — Amazon’s description says that Bujold is the great-granddaughter of the diarist. So she has not just the engineering family background, but also a writing family. Perfect!

    2. I loved Mrs. ‘Arris Goes to Paris, and the sequels years ago, and when I saw the movie reviews, I ordered it to read again. Such a fun read!

  21. Last week I listened to Witness for the Dead and liked it so much that I bought Grief of Stones as soon as I finished it so I didn’t have to leave the world. Excellent audiobooks. I think I liked them more than Goblin Emperor.

    1. LOL – you are swimming against the tide on this one, Karen. most of us loved the Goblin Emperor and only liked her next two. Diversity is a wonderful thing.

    2. I’m with you. I remember reading and enjoying The Goblin Emperor, but can’t remember much about it. The main character of Witness for the Dead and Grief of Stones really appealed to me, so I’m hoping for more in that series.

      1. It’s like you’re a whole subversive subculture in this blog. Next, a subculture will emerge of people who say they didn’t like the Murderbot books which would be practically heresy here.

        1. Can’t say I will ever reread the Murderbot books.

          Yet this group has introduced me to lots of books I enjoyed and will enjoy again.

  22. I am realizing that “re-reads” are my literary Xanax. I recently re-read Strange Bedpersons (the Levee dinner scene makes me laugh out loud Every. Time) and also Maybe This Time (was excited to see the teaser of Alice’s story). I’m ALSO so happy to see some of our fellow Inkblots mentioning Murderbot-I want more! (Crusie/Wells- crazy different genres but similar snappy character interplay? ) and to finally get to the actual question, I just found Robin Sloan’s prequel to Sourdough (another fav)The Clone in the Suitcase so reading that now… Here endeth my coffee and work avoiding babbling…(keep posting good book recommending, everybody)

  23. I started an obligatory read of a fellow author. It was ok. But then in the hospital waiting room I saw a man in hot pink mid top running shoes reading a paperback.I sidled close enough to see the title. Good Omens -a book that’s been lurking on my Kindle for ages. I opened it immediately on my phone Kindle app. And I love it so much. The series stuck so close to the text that It feels like this is a rereading. So many laugh out loud moments. I’m in heaven.

  24. I started reading False Colours again, and got past the worst of the “feeble-minded woman” parts. It’s getting interesting, but my copy of Agnes and the Hitman came, and I moved on to it. So many of you liked it, and my brother, a Crusie fan, also did, so I’m reading it. The frying pan episode reminds me of the movie Chocolat, where the abused wife hits her husband with one, after he says she can’t even use a frying pan. The line “Now, that’s how to use a frying pan” after that is hilarious. Years ago, I couldn’t stomach Don’t Look Down, so have avoided the Crusie/Mayer efforts, since. I looked for this Blog all day yesterday and it didn’t show up. I got it today! Obviously a bunch of you got it yesterday. This is my favorite one. Although, my list of TBR is getting pretty long, and I don’t even own most of them.

  25. Thanks to the people on this site who recommended Georgette Heyer’s “Sylvester,” I’ve just had a lovely reading week. Heyer’s romances are among my favourites but I’d forgotten this one. Felt like reading it for the first time. Now I’m moving on to “New Girl in Little Cove” by Damhnait Monaghan, set in Newfoundland. Feels like moving from Mozart to Great Big Sea — love them both.

  26. I have just, following recommendations here, brewed up my first pot of Mu-16 tea. How is it? There’s been some confusion for you see, my Mu-16 is unusually and exceedingly peculiar and altogether quite impossible to describe. Or to put it another way, “It tastes blahnd.” If you recognize the song from which I stole that description, hope with me that the end effect isn’t where that song went.

    I strongly suspect that there will not be daily infusions of this tea in my future.

    1. Well alas. As a fan of that tea, I’m sorry that I was unable to infect you with fondness for it.

      However, with 16 different ingredients, I can imagine that different manufacturers may create completely different versions of it, not all of which I’d like if I tried.

      1. I may have simmered too, too long, and the Mutagen-16 tea concentrated in the pot. A lot. I will give it another try… sometime. (I threw out almost half. Used a measuring cup, dumped 200 mL. I started with a liter of spring water… so I boiled away half the water before the first sip.)

  27. I’ll withhold final judgement to see what effect is has on my mood and sleep pattern. I may have to regard it as medicinal, up with which I’ll put.

  28. I just finished Cosplay by Andrew Liptak. Surprisingly good. There’s some retelling of the same stories in the first few chapters, but it goes through the history of costumes and cosplay, starting with his interest in it (big in the 501st Legion, I think it is. A huge bunch of people worldwide who dress as Storm Troopers from Star Wars).

    There’s a lot of history – for instance, dressing up at Halloween? Started as the ragamuffins at Thanksgiving. There’s also a lot about the legal aspects of both dressing, especially in groups like the Storm Troopers do, and making and selling props and costumes. interestingly, he says that Mandalorian came about, at least in its current form, in large part because of the interest in Boba Fett from the original Star Wars.

    Reading that led me to my current audiobook, Every Tool’s a Hammer by Adam savage. Read by the author, which in this case is a treat.

  29. Nothing new, re-read Lord of Scoundrels and Ten Things I Hate about the Duke, Loretta Chase.

    Checked on Loretta’s website this morning; discovered she won RWA Vivian Award, a new award for long historical romance category for 2021 publication. Congratulations to Loretta. Hoping Blackwood and Alice are ready and cooperating with her. See Blog post December 18, 2021 on Loretta’s website.

    At the Kids Bookstore here in Vancouver, I discovered two new books which promptly left my brain the moment we left the store. Calling them to set aside for me. G&R got new putty in a can and pens with a nib, no new books. Maybe it is the heat.

  30. While waiting for Husband Material to be released, I reread What the Lady Wants and loved it more than ever. Isn’t it wonderful to like a book and then gain extra fondness upon second (or third or more) readings?

    I’m enjoying Husband Material very much and I’m glad I reread Boyfriend Material recently so all the inside jokes were fresh in my mind. I’m doing the Whispersync with half reading, half listening, and for those of you who like audio, Joe Jameson is an outstanding voice actor and adds significantly to the story.

  31. I read Book Lovers by Emily Henry and loved it.

    Now I’m reading Susan Wiggs’ newest book, Sugar and Salt. Lovely, as always, although she is going back and forth between past and present a bit, which isn’t one of my favorite things. She makes it work, though.

    Also, for some reason the Thursday blog didn’t show up in my email until Friday morning, and the Wednesday one never showed up. Sigh. The internet is against me.

    1. For anyone who happens to be checking back, the Susan Wiggs book is great–extremely well written as always. But I just hit an unpleasant surprise halfway through. I wish books came with trigger warnings.

      So just in case, trigger warnings for graphic rape and violence.

  32. It was very hot here last week and I couldn’t read the serious book I had going. Instead I read Loretta Chase’s Dressmaker series. I liked all of them but especially the last one Dukes Prefer Blondes. Less conniving women and masterful men and more of a partnership from the beginning.

  33. Mary Balogh’s ‘Someone to Romance’ was lovely – really liked the couple dynamic. Finished it with a happy sigh.

    Re-read ‘The Kiss Quotient’ by Helen Hoang: adorable and funny with a neurodiverse heroine (the author discivered her own diagnosis by recognising herself in her research).

    In a complete change of pace also read Xinran Jay Zhao’s ‘Iron Widow’ which is an angry scream of a book – surprisingly cathartic and I’m interested to see where she takes the trilogy. Warnings for violence.

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