This is a Good Book Thursday, September 1, 2022

So here we are in the first month of the new year. I know a lot of people foolishly believe the year starts on January 1, but anybody who has ever been to school knows that it starts the day after Labor Day with new pens and fresh paper and a great backpack, probably with candy hidden in it somewhere (although that may just have been me). And also books. Books are a big part of education. We should stop banning them. Just saying.

So what are you reading to start the new year?

151 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 1, 2022

  1. I have been rereading a favorite series of mine. It is the Eli Marks series by John Gaspard. The first book is the Ambitious Card. The MC is a magician and I have always had a love of magic which is part of the appeal of these books for me. Well written stories.. they are mysteries with a bit or romance ..

  2. I am slowly working my way through Ruby Fever and really enjoying it. I like that Catalina and Alessandro get a lot of page time together, figuring things out. It’s nice to see their relationship working. And man, the plot is moving fast. I did laugh out loud at the part about Arabella stomping on things with her monster foot and then refusing to get a tetanus shot.

    For something different, I am listening to Martha Beck’s book, Expecting Adam, an older biographical work about the birth of her son who has Downs syndrome. It’s interesting, and of course hard because of how people treat her and her unborn child, but I know it has a good ending.

    And I have lots to look forward too. On top of the new Patricia Briggs, CM Nascosta has a new release, and Sarah Addison Allen. Might be a while for that one. I am 48 in line on one copy. If someone here has read it and is really happy, I may skip out and buy it… It’s still hardcover expensive though.

          1. Oh those warnings act like marketing to my easily influenced mind! I’ve downloaded that one too! Now who is shovelling dirt into whose grave??

          2. I will find you the teeny tiniest little tea spoon and play the world’s smallest violin for you while you dig.

    1. I love Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells. I will anxiously await your assessment of the new book.

      1. I got a four week hold from my local library. Hopefully I will have cleared my other tbr stacks before then.

          1. 3rd on the list for a print copy (which still hasn’t arrived from the supplier). The ebook holds are up to 8.

    2. I preordered Sarah Addison Allen’s book from B & N and still have not received it. I won’t do that again. If I had ordered it from Amazon I would have gotten it by now. Even though Amazon gets a bad rap on many things ( and some are much deserved) I get my book orders quickly. So who knows when it will arrive.

      1. I read all of her books at one time. I am not sure why I stopped. I am off to the library then Amazon.

  3. Just finished Helen Hoang’s latest “Heart Principle” which was wonderful and compassionate. Her first two were funnier but this deals with the difficulty of caring for a terminally ill parent and its very heartfelt. The romance was lovely too, with two caregivers struggling to accept as well as give love.

    1. I read Boyfriend Material on the advice of folks here. Luc is a tough protagonist to get behind as the book opens but, based on the positive reviews here on Argh and because it was very clever and witty, I stuck with it and was rewarded for my persistence. One thing about a protagonist who’s a mess at the beginning–there’s a lot of room for growth, and he did.

  4. I’m going to be listening to Plaid and Plagiarism byMolly MacRae, a cozy mystery set in a Scottish bookstore, on the plane home. It’s waaaay to early for the horror TV show I watched on the way to Toronto.

  5. I loooove stationery and the stuff associated with the new school year which in Germany starts at a different date in each Bundesland with Bavaria always starting the latest in mid-September (we also start into the holiday last August 1st).
    Saldy I don’t think as a non-student I can justify getting yet another fountain pen (my favourite writing tool)… The secret cupboard (with all kinds of to-be-gifts) is stuffed full of notebooks, so I shouldn’t be getting any new ones either.

    When on our trip along the Limes I bought the German translation of Boyfriend Material – slightly different cover colours but absolutely gorgeous paper quality and the first few sentences seem very well translated. I might re-read it soon and it will alomst be a different book because of the language change.

    Readingwise I only managed to finish one title and didn’t like it much (book 4 of the Hot Canolis). It’s a solid story but I didn’t manage to connect with the 2 MCs and now I’m wondering why some stories suck me in and the protagonists feel like “real” and with many others this doesn’t happen?

    Also the book felt rushed. I don’t particularly like the insta love trope. Okay, both the MCs exterior was attractive, they matched regarding their particular kink. Which is maybe the reason why I didn’t like it that much: they are both oh-so-attractive and accomplished in everything they do. Show me not tell me!
    One MC (the shy one) suffered from PTSD for two years due to a hate crime (understandable), but was able to shake it off in only a few short days because he basically wanted to. That certainly felt strange.
    The shy one is also into drag and it would have been interesting to have this explored – the shy programmer nerd and the extroverted drag persona, two very different sides of a coin.
    The villain wasn’t well crafted either – which reminded me that Jim Butcher once wrote a brilliant piece on the importance to have a well-crafted baddy for the whole story to be solid and good.

    Spoiler ahead:
    What also bugged me was one sexual encounter with the shy/drag MC definitely taking sexual advantage of his partner. One MC “using” the other one is a no-go, no matter if the used one (has been sleeping and woke up to being f…) is far stronger and capable of “defending” himself awake. Waking up being encouraged to enjoy – okay. Waking up to being f… – a no for me. I guess I’ve taken KJ Charles’ blog post about consent very much to heart.

    Apart from that fail I’ve mainly continued reading papers on my current favourite subject (all things medicine and medical care of the past) including a magazine on what the bones can tell us (our human history archived in bone) about the deceased one’s life and illnesses.

    And I watched Netflix – the new documentary about the mind of cats and Indian Matchmaking season 2 which ended on a cliff hanger – arrghhh (Indian Women really seem VERY strong personalities – at least the well-educated high-earning ones of this series).

    1. We watched the cat documentary too. It was cute. I was especially interested in the cultural differences between American and Japanese cats…

      1. Pn youtube there’s a couple making interestinf films about their life as muxed couple – she from the US, he from JapB. Zhey have 2 or three cats. One goes on shopping with him, riding in the bike’s front basket, observing the scenery.
        I wonder how mucv gheir cats’ personality reflects themselves.
        Btw, he’s aa artist eith his sushi knives ❤️

      2. You know that quote from The Great Gatsby, “And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.” I always feel like life is beginning over again with the school year like Jenny said.

        I want to see the documentary about cats’ minds. I loved Kedi. It’s a documentary about cats who live on the streets of Istanbul. What’s cool is they’re mainly cared for by men instead of the stereotypical cat lady. I admire feral cats. They face danger everyday.

    2. Stationary, fountain pens, new pencils, leather notebooks, you name it, I’ve bought it recently. I should have stock in Levenger.

      1. Ah, great!!
        Do you havd a fav brand of foutain pen?
        Leather notebooks remind me of Galen Leather, an Istanbul based manufacturer of oh so nice writing things, from notebooks to pen purses, notebooks and fountain pens. Following their insta a count is like window shopping for me: I hVe neither the spsce nor the bucks for them, but a girl can watch…

        1. I have just bought a Lamy safari fountain pen.
          I have embarked on a mission to improve my handwriting . Years of marking have wrecked it. It is now a terrible mismatch of French and English style writing which my students have trouble deciphering (and myself too actually!).
          I have been copying my favourite French poems using a clear legible handwriting style I found on the internet. I have enjoyed using the Lamy to do it. It has a big barrel which I like for fountain pens. You can get it in lots of colours too.

          1. Lamy is a good one. DS has one or two of them. They also have terrific and very cute beginner’s pens with wooden barrels. If your hand is small, like mknd is, you can write with them as adult, too 🙂

          2. Lupe, I have always wanted to learn calligraphy. Art, stationary and words. Some of my favourite things. So this year I have finally enrolled on a calligraphy workshop. It’s in November, so something to look forward to in the worst bit of term!

        2. Dodo, My very favorite fountain pen is a Conklin Stubby nib with a marbled deep yellow, white, and black design on the pen. It’s good for italic writing. I fill it with purple ink.

          1. Had to look it up – soooo many pens oug there!!
            The Conklin looks very fine.
            I love Italic cursive.
            And coloured ink.
            Hardly ever use it myself as sometimes my pens don’t get writtdn for some time and I’ve ruined one Rotring pen for once and ever when the black ink clogged the nib beyond repair 🙁

  6. Oh, a rant, and a relevant book:

    The rant: I’m not saying NZ is any kind of utopia (really, not) but the books that get banned here pretty much fall into three themes: ‘how to make meth’, ‘yay kiddie fiddling’ and ‘I’m going to kill lots of people’, (ie the mosque shooter’s manifesto). Upshot, I’m not against banning books, for Reasons. However it’s local elections here, the crazies are coming out, and honestly, I’d like to laugh at the candidates openly declaring racism, transphobia, homophobia (they’d be prime book banners)… But people will vote for them and WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE???

    And, in happy coincidence, I’ve been reading Gregory Ashe, mostly mysteries, with romance subplot, there are a lot of themb in various series but they’re good. Interesting cases, fairly writing (I think), funny in places. I’ve just read Final Orders, in which an author visits a school, and the PTA tries to get the visit (and the book) banned. Bad things happen. They’re good!

    PS Jenny, I am so much looking forward to new books with your name (and Bob’s) on the cover. I wish I could read Fast Women for the first time again.

      1. Well, my library only has one ebook, so I started with that about fifteen minutes ago and I’m loving it so I’d say anywhere would work. Later I will investigate their paper holdings.

          1. Relative Justice. I have not yet checked the non-ebook collection but I’m hoping they have a lot.

    1. Allanah and all – found this to make me happy about politics in America for a brief moment today:

      Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) loses special election to replace the late Rep. Don Young (R) after ranked choice voting is tabulated; Mary Peltola (D) will become the first Alaska Native in Congress

      My heart sings. SP is defeated! Yay! A female – democrat – Alaska Native American – WINS!

      So freaking happy!

      1. I can’t begin to tell you how happy this made me! I had to email my brother in France to let him know that there was now some hope that all of his siblings and their spouses, kids and grandkids might not all be trying to move into his spare bedroom simultaneously.

  7. I read Ali Hazelwood’s newest, Love on the Brain, and yep it’s samey as Jane says. I can’t resist her brand of samey though for several reasons: 1) her MC is always a smart, usually quirky woman in STEM work – don’t see a lot of that, 2) she is a funny writer, not Alexis Hall level of funny but still funny, 3) her men are alpha males only in the bedroom.

    I also read Joanna Chambers/Sally Malcolm’s latest contemporary Home Grown Talent which was SO much better than their first one. I give up my previously stated opinion that they should have stuck to Regencies.

    Also read RJ Scott and VL Locey’s new release, Blade – I appreciated that they wrote something with one MC on the spectrum and the other with a hockey player who’d had an accident resulting in an amputation – an interesting and brave pairing – although I don’t know if they really characterized the former accurately. Also read Breakaway by EM Lindsay – another interesting pair with an Indian hockey player and this time a figure skating who’d had an accident resulting in amputation. Not sure either of them were re-reads but perfectly acceptable summer reads.

    And I read Bona Fide Fake by Rebecca Raine which I had a hard time paying attention to. As many have noted, it’s been a couple of weeks of new releases – do people only start to read at the end of August?? – so lots more to look forward to.

    1. I can’t remember if this is a regular occurrence, or if this is a special August. I know Ilona Andrews as struggling with this book. Maybe everyone overcame their writers block at the same time?

      1. In my memory this is not the first time that the new Ilona Andrews book came out on the same day as the new Patty Briggs book. In fact, I think it is pretty much SOP. The last week of August seems to be a big week for publishing. Maybe the fact that it precedes the last holiday of the summer in the US, so prime reading time? If only they could release them on the weekend instead of on a Tuesday.

          1. Well, I looked it up, and I am completely wrong. So much for my memory. The last 3 Hidden Legacy books were each published in late August, but Briggs books tend to be released in March.

    2. If you like novels with a female STEM MC, check out Susannah Nix’s Chemistry Lessons series. There are six of them, and they are each stand-alone. I recall the first several (by publication date) were fun. I think the first is “Remedial Rocket Science”. 😊

      1. Jennifer – thanks for the rec. These books sound good.

        If you like that, Sarah Wynde, who comments here some, in her book Gift of Ghosts,
        Akira seduces Zane in a way that you will really enjoy (don’t want to spoiler with details).

  8. I needed to reread. I’m rereading Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede, and loving it. Also rereading Wearing the Cape by M. G. Harmon, and loving it. There’s a romance subplot in WtC, wherein Our Heroine, Hope “Astra” Corrigan falls for John “Atlas” Chandler who is 1) her boss 2) her teacher. I’ll try to stick a Spoiler as a hover-over-the-link thing. It’s a superhero story.

    In the new reads category, there is The Enola Holmes Mysteries by Nancy Springer. I have the six volume compendium and have so far read the first book, The Case of the Missing Marquess and enjoyed it enough to read the rest. Which I will, a bit at a time.

    I also read the wrapper on a Tyson Cornish Game Hen, which I thawed in the fridge for two days and it is in the toaster oven baking now, with onions and Stove Top Turkey Stuffing. I have two more of them in the freezer. Tis a fowl thing I do this day.

      1. The reason I by the tiny chickens is that they fit in my toaster oven. I have a small toaster oven – Walmart’s Mainstay. I just follow the instructions on the wrapper as though it was a full size oven, so 350 degrees. I cook it in three 30-minute intervals, flipping the bird at the end of each. I think I might have started breast side up. I usually use a disposable tinfoil pan. I put 10 mL of oil (peppercorn chili oil this time) in the pan and add a chopped onion. The bird rides on the onions. The Stovetop Stuffing is just the box type. I follow the directions for the microwave, and add it to the finished bird for the look of it. I don’t actually stuff the bird, but if I did, it’d be full of onion.

        I don’t rub it with salt, but I do use coarse pepper, poultry seasoning, a generic onion seasoning and a dash of habanero powder Flipping the bird (I love saying that) accomplished all the basting I care to do, from the oil in the pan. Oh! The seasonings don’t get added until the first flip. They stick better on the oily skin. Now reassemble everything I wrote in the proper order, and there you go.

        I don’t usually cook Stovetop (the sodium is way too high) but it was approaching its sucks-by date.

        1. I have to tell you, Gary, that one of my favourite parts about this blog is about how your posts often turn into cooking posts. So delightful.

          1. Do I do that? Honestly, I thought I digressed to hydroponic farming, not cooking, except to mention I was eating my produce, such as it was and what there was of it.

          2. You can digress to anything you want, Gary. Except zombies. I’ve had enough zombies for this year.

        2. To fancy up the Stove Top stuffing I’ll add a few cranberries. There’s always a bag floating around in the freezer. Talking about toaster ovens, Deb and Gary, that’s what I was going to do on Working Wednesday was to clean ours. This summer it has gotten a lot of use and needs to be cleaned. I didn’t get to it because I was reading and it was oh! I’ll get to it in ten minutes or the next chapter.

          1. My T.O. has reached the point where it might be easier to buy a new one (they’re cheap) than to clean it. Ensconced as it is in a bookcase, it isn’t convenient to get at all the parts. I tried the trick where you soak a paper towel in vinegar and lay it on the door horizontally. Partial success. It’s preety grody. 🙁

        3. Thanks, Gary! I will definitely try this. All toaster ovens are definitely NOT created equal (when my last one died I tried replacing it with one which got so hot on the outside it was a serious burn and fire hazard). I finally ended up with a Breville, which they will pry out of my cold dead hands. (Also, Consumer Reports really likes it.) It has the best feature: a button that says, “A little more.” If you have to replace your current one, I strongly recommend one of these.

          1. Thanks for the recommendation. The cheapest Breville I found was $149.99 USD. A replacement Mainstay 4-slice toaster oven runs about $19.99 USD at Walmart. Which do you think the cheap old curmudgeon will have?

    1. I read the sample of Wearing the Cape, and had to buy it immediately. Thanks for the recommendation!
      I watched the Enola Holmes movie on Netflix, but hadn’t read the books … getting that one too!

  9. I read “A Summer to Remember” by Mary Balogh, which stirred a faint memory of having read it several years ago, before my fascination with Balogh’s work began. All I recall of that experience was a feeling that everyone in it had way too much memory of events & people I didn’t know about, nor care about. I don’t think I finished the book that time.

    But this time I found it a fascinating story about two people who together managed to unravel a whole lot of things that were making each of them into false versions of themselves. They ended up happy, probably ever after, due to both realizing this about themselves and about the other. An intricate book that really rewarded. (It comes as one of two connected books that are precursors to the “Slightly” series about the Bewcastle clan, btw.)

    1. I like A Summer to Remember, too: I often use it as my starting point for a reread of the Slightly series, or else before Simply Love.

      1. Does it relate to the Simply series as well? I know Balogh has a lot of character sightings in other books, but I don’t recall that as a connection.

        1. Well, they’re neighbours, and so appear as minor characters. I suppose they feature more in the Simply series, both Simply Love, which is about Kit’s brother, and Simply Perfect, where their house party is the venue for the climax of the novel. It’s all the same world.

          1. Right. I started Balogh (as far as I knew) with the Survivors, and then the Simply series and Slightly series based on your comments. This is clearly fodder for a massive re-read. 🙂 Many thanks, Jane!

      2. I am reading Summer to Remember, which I had somehow missed, and now I am compelled to do a complete reread of the Bedwyns.

  10. I’ve listened to The Sandman: Act II as my Audible book of the month. Pretty intense.
    I watched the television program on Netflix, so I continued the trend.

    1. Did you see the surprise last episode of Sandman that they dropped a week or two later? I am so glad they did. I think that it really showcased Dream’s growth and I liked him better after that.

    2. I am also watching The Sandman, loved the comics in the 90s. Maine+Betty, where does the Act II stop if you’ve gotten through it…will there be a III?

      1. There will be Act III but the date hasn’t been confirmed yet. Neil Gaiman confirmed this on Twitter a little while ago.

  11. In the Great Christie Re-Readathon, I finished Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? Overall, I like it, the overarching mystery was good but I was not quite fond of the amateur sleuths, Bright Young Things, out for a lark. That went over much better when I was eleven.

    I also rewatched the adaptations. The recent Britbox was pretty close to the original plot. The one with my fave Julia McKenzie as Marple was bonkers (no Marple in the book, weird siblings plot, etc.)

    Read M/M hockey You Could Make a Life after reading recs on here last week…very good MC pairing, made for each other kind of thing, good hockey talk.

    Now Reading Hotel Bemelman’s (yep, short essay memoirs by the creator of Madeleine, he came from a family of hoteliers.) Charming and wry, with a very Grand Hotel Budapest feel but the actual time and place.

    Happy last days of summer everyone!

    1. I just saw a PBS dramatization of Why Didn’t They Ask Evans? with Julia Fleming(?) as Marple. She was good as always but the BYTs were so grating that I really wished they had been the murderees instead!

    2. I didn’t like the fact that they shoehorned Marple into the PBS version; concur that was bonkers (as was the rest of the plot). Is there a different version on Britbox? I may have to break down and subscribe.

      1. Speaking of altering Christie plots, the relatively recent Witness for the Prosecution with, I think, Kim Catrall? Didn’t like that one either for a variety of reasons. But mostly the ending.

      2. Yep Britbox released a very true to the book version early in 2022, still on the channel. Tone is a bit better.

  12. I’ve been re-reading Amanda quick. But stopped when my copy of Other Birds arrived. I really love Sarah Addison Allen’s writing and this doesn’t disappoint.
    my volunteer activity is reading to kids and for the first time in over two years we are doing it in person again I’m reading the book for 4th grade. Confessions From The Principal’s Kid by Robin Mellom. September has always been my beginning. And it used to be my favorite season. I have a grandson who started first grade this year. I have to say they have better first readers than they did when I had to read dick and Jane.

    1. Glad to hear that SAA’s new one is good. I’ve been waiting such a long time for it, and I loved her other books so much, I was a little afraid to start it.

    2. I’m re-listening to Amanda Quick’s The Mistress, narrated quite effectively by actress Barbara Rosenblatt. The pacing of novels written in the mid-90’s is so different than current releases.

  13. Ducking in to say – got this from Bob Mayer:
    As usual, deals. Shane and the Hitwoman is in Amazon Prime Reading until December which means if you are a Prime member, you can read it for free. It’s also in Kindle Unlimited, where you get it for free, but I actually get paid, but, you know, whatever. Phoebe and the Hitwoman comes out in November. Lost Girls is also free today and the next couple of days. Several new Area 51 titles are discounted to .99 or Kindle Unlimited.

    Will come back to read comments & post my good reads.

  14. Only one new book last week: Jill Paton Walsh’s The Late Scholar. It was the last (#4) of this author’s novels about Peter Wimsey and Co. … and the worst one. Very disappointing. I liked the other novels of the series. They might not have been as much fun as the original Dorothy Sayers’s books, but I still enjoyed reading them. Not this one. :((

  15. I am reading A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King on the Kindle. It’s the second one in her Sherlock Holmes apprentice series and I’m really enjoying it.

    Finished reading a cozy by a new-to-me author, Gabby Allan (I’m pretty sure she’s written other cozies under a different name). Much Ado About Nauticalling. It takes place on an island off of CA, hence the name. It was okay, but I doubt I’ll read the next in the series.

    Just started Husband Material and I’m enjoying it. Which is a good thing, because somehow despite masking inside everywhere except with close friends, I have managed to come down with a horrible bug. Not THE bug, thankfully, but a horrible sore throat and swollen glands which have so far resisted all of my usually successful bug-fighting tools. (Tons of garlic, elderberry syrup, zinc lozenges, etc.) The Sunday visit to urgent care got me a negative Covid and strep tests. The return trip yesterday, because of bizarre white patches on my throat netted me the news that I probably had added a bacterial infection to the mix, plus my first ear infection since childhood. I am now taking antibiotics for the first time in about 30 years (I tend not to tolerate them well) and hoping everything magically disappears in time for me to make it to Bouchercon next week. Dammit.

    But Husband Material is the perfect sick book, so there’s that.

    1. Oh Deb! So sorry. Take care of yourself. I also don’t do well on antibiotics. I hope you are okay in time for Bouchercon!

    2. Antibiotics suck. But when I have to take them, I usually take probiotics as well, like acidophilus, to take care of my guts bacteria. Otherwise, antibiotics kill them too.

      1. Oh yes! I always take probiotics with antibiotics (you can’t get enough from yogurt, even if you’re not too nauseous to eat yogurt). Give them to my cats when they have to have antibiotics too.

    3. Really sorry about this, Deb, but good for you for staying off antibiotics for so long. That should mean the ones you’re talking now should kick ass. Keep us updated, please.

      1. Yes, they kicked mine. Profoundly. The first three pills seemed to go okay, so I had some hope that these “so mild they give them to babies, incredibly well tolerated” antibiotics would be okay. Pill four brought the nausea, and some stomach discomfort. Pill five (of a total of six) gifted me with crippling stomach pain and intestinal distress that would have prepped me for a colonoscopy. Needless to say, I did not take pill six.

        Oh, and they gave me thrush, so then I had to go get a special prescription mouthwash for that. Sigh. On the bright side, they did seem to get rid of the infection, so yay?

        Er, TMI?

  16. I finished Murder with Peacocks and loved the humor. There were a lot of characters, and a lot of disasters, and I got bogged down about two-thirds of the way through, but managed to recoup. I ordered some more of the series, and hope they don’t disappoint. I’m almost through Boyfriend Material, and I’m still wondering why we needed that first encounter in the book? Is it to show what an incompetent and sad human being Luc is? I think we could have figured that out without that first chapter. I have noticed that a lot of British Romcoms have at least one character with really low self esteem and there’s a lot of moaning about that. Is that a British trope? Anyway, I love how both men grow into their best selves and begin to be able to share their feelings with each other. There were several LOL lines that just made me happy. That’s the sign of a worthwhile read.

    1. Do you mean the party at the beginning of Boyfriend Material? Where Luc is dressed up as a rabbit and talks to the reporter?

      I think that it was important thematically because it comes back to haunt him later, when the article is written and then brings up the ghost of what his ex did to him. It opens all that up again and he has to deal with it with Oliver. And I think that it sort of legitimizes some of his neurosis? Like, of course he is paranoid about a partner selling his story to the media in the worst possible light. Look, it keeps happening.

      1. He wasn’t really dressed as a rabbit, he just had the ears on. Which I thought was a great idea; he doesn’t commit fully to anything because he’s waiting for the blowback.

    2. I think we tend to have lower self-esteem in real life (we might turn that on its head and stereotype Americans as being pushy/full of themselves). But my generation (especially girls) were still being brought up to be seen and not heard as children (the middle classes, at any rate). And I was made to understand at the age of 5 that it was shameful to boast about my achievements (I’d probably graduated from slates to pencil and paper, having just started school).

      1. I think that’s definitely still a gender issue regardless of nationality. For example, women don’t get enough credit at work because they don’t “brag” about themselves like men do. Obv a generalization but…

        1. Jeanine, I definitely think that’s true, and studies have shown that a woman can make a suggestion in a meeting, which will be ignored, and not long after that a man will make the same suggestion and get credit for it.

          1. I have seen a suggestion that women support each other by following up saying “as she said, we could ….l

      2. Americans have low self esteem, too, but we cover it up with brash overconfidence, or shyness.

      3. Jane – I read the sweetest story on facebook. A mother was missing her son who had been unusually quiet for 30 minutes while she was cooking. She went looking and he was hanging all his drawings in his room like a gallery. She asked him what he was doing and he said, very proudly, “My teacher says I’m an artist.”
        I thought – what a great teacher!

        1. Absolutely. And I didn’t mean to be ‘poor me’; nor do I doubt it’s an issue for everyone. Maybe I should have talked about presentation. In my secondary school, for instance, the culture was about being bad at everything. So you’d do yourself down and hide any achievements. I remember getting on a train for Venice to do an art history course in my gap year, and being completely shocked by all the other, privately educated participants, who were boasting and name-dropping like mad – ‘Oh, Eton – my brother’s in such-and-such house’, and so on. I thought they were dishing themselves with the group for sure, but of course they were just networking and social climbing as normal.

          1. I learned about that when I was in Australia, they were talking about the tall poppy syndrome; the tall poppies were the ones in danger of getting their heads lopped off? I said I wanted a t-shirt that said, “I’m a Tall Poppy.” I was raised that way, too, and it’s insane. You’re supposed to wait for other people to talk about your strong points? How does that work?

          2. One of my favorite unattributed quotes: In a society that profits from your self-doubt, loving yourself is a rebellious act.

          3. The “tall poppy” idea is very embedded in Dutch culture too, we even have two different sayings about it. “Sticking your head up above mowing-level” i.e. standing up too tall and proud is just asking to be mowed down to the same level as everyone else, and “tall trees catch a lot of wind” i.e. the ones standing out will catch all the opposition/counter-force trying to blow them down.

            People get admonished to “act normal” (the second half is often left unspoken, “then you’ll be crazy enough already!”) when they are overly exuberant as well, not just for boasting.

            I’ve been told it is part of the Lutheran (reformatory, protestant) mindset, that boasting is seen as some kind of hubris, just asking to be taken down a peg – if not by God, then pre-emptively by his followers.

            But that doesn’t explain why girls and women are trained so much more strictly against this, except in the general way that religion is often used to suppress women.

            Maybe because men tend to exaggerate women’s speaking out: there are research findings that in an equally mixed gender group discussion, for the men present their evaluation of which sex was most active in the discussion shifted at women speaking more than 17% of the time, instead of around the 50% mark. So if 1/5 of the speaking was done by women, the men already perceived it as the women dominating the discussion and talking more than their fair share. So suppressing girls from speaking is already much more widespread, and not just when they toot their own horn. But it does seem as if being proud of oneself is considered especially boastful for girls, contrary to the modesty and meekness historically expected of them.

  17. I read the October Daye series by Seanan McGuire. I think it is the best fantasy series I’ve ever read. The foreshadowing and planning she does in these books is AMAZING. It’s flabbergasting. I am reading book #16–I note that every fourth book is a huge whammy–and HOO BOY IS IT EVER. I can’t blab about it to those who haven’t read the series, but let’s just say the equivalent of the First Evil arrives in this one and HOO BOY.

    1. Is this the one that’s just coming out Be the Serpent? I haven’t gotten my copy yet, but looking forward. Or am I? I heard there was a turncoat (it’s in the official book description on Amazon so hopefully not a spoiler) and betrayal bothers me so I am a bit reluctant…

  18. I read Discerning Insight by Melissa McShane, the eighth and final book of her Extraordinaries series (one for each discipline). It was good but not the best of them.

    I read The Consortium Rebellion trilogy by Jesse Mihalik, three science fiction romances involving the three rather extraordinary daughters of one of the High Houses that rule the Consortium’s Stellar Empire. It starts with Polaris Rising where Ada has fled from an arranged marriage and her father has put out an enormous bounty on her, because he’s that kind of guy, ensuring that every mercenary in the galaxy is trying to capture her.

    1. I love Jessie Mihalik. I recently bought the entire Consortium series because I want to re-read them occasionally. Her next series is also good.

  19. Doing a reread of Amanda Quick (aka Jayne Ann Krentz). One of the books I read was not actually a reread. I’m sure I have never read it before and I love it! “Scandal” by AQ was copyrighted in 1991. The heroine, Emily Faringdon, is SO MUCH FUN. Her husband, Simon Traherne the Earl of Blade, arcs from a ruthless, powerful man obsessed with revenge, to a ruthless, powerful man enchanted with Emily. The plot that leads to his arc is so well crafted and engaging.

    My local library uses Libby app for ebooks and I read it from there. I highly recommend it.

    1. Thanks to y’all I have 3 samples added to my kindle and, of course, I am purchasing Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen, for sure. Can’t wait to read it!

  20. This is definitely the start of the year for me too but not quite yet since my university’s first term starts at the end of September but my husband is off to school next Monday (as a teacher that is… I am not robbing cradles 😀)…

    This week, 3 very different books have retained my attention.

    I liked Fearne Hill Two Tribes m/m romance. I liked the settings (mainly the Midlands in the 90s and Bournemouth now), the two protagonists who fully deserve their hea and the acknowledgment that love is not a cure all for severe mental illness.

    Katherine Center’s Happiness for Beginners made me wince at times (no washing for 3 weeks, no thank you!) and the twist was thoroughly heartbreaking but ultimately, it contained lots of thoughtful insights and joyful moments.

    I approached Ilona Andrews’ Ruby fever with some trepidation as, like others here, I have found Catalina and Alessandro less to my taste than Nevada and Connor but I enjoyed this book very much. It was very funny and tied up a lot of plotlines very neatly.
    So of course now, I have gone back to the beginning so I can hang out with the Baylors for a bit longer.

  21. Finished reading Ruby Fever by Ilona Andrews and Soul Taken by Patricia Briggs. Excellent series additions, both. Now reading Eloisa James’ Much Ado About You and I love it, I will be sad when it’s over. It’s exactly the light-hearted read I needed.

    The start of the school year is absolutely the true beginning of the new year! There was a trip to an art supply store for “supplies” yesterday. We never outgrow the need for just the right new pen or notebook or glitter tape.

  22. I’ve been rereading old, forgotten titles on my Kindle. Alas, mostly duds (guess there was a reason I forgot them), but am now on a good one that I did remember: A Murder of Magpies by Judith Flanders. A mystery with great characters and a hilariously convincing publishing setting.

  23. Fans of Christina Dodd – it’s her wedding anniversary and this is what she posted on Facebook:

    “Me: “Are we done running errands?”
    The Husband: “We’ve got one more stop. You can’t take off your bra yet.”

    Today is our anniversary, and yes, he knows me too well.”

    I lmao

  24. In a news item related to banning books, props to Nora Roberts for making up the budget shortfall of a small town library after locals voted to “defund” it because the librarians would not take a LGBTQIA+ book off the shelves (they did move it behind the desk but apparently that wasn’t good enough).

      1. Well, she said this is the most I can do on a go fund me but let me know if you need more and I will make up the difference.

        They have a vote coming up which if they win will restore funding.

  25. Purchased many books of differing genres from BookBub the last two weeks. Two duds, one pretty good but rushed ending, so onto Nora Ephron’s Heartburn.

  26. I just had to (HAD TO) order several M/M/M romances because one of my oldest & dearest friends texted me from Chile, where he’s on vacation with his husband, to ask if I wrote any m/m/m because he’d read some in the past and liked it. I promised to investigate the subgenre. 🙂 Then he asked for something of mine so I emailed him stuff.

    Now for what I actually read over the past week: eight novels and several shorts; I selectively binged on the ‘Captains’ series by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead. Also DNFd a SciFi thing; got to 30% but it just wasn’t moving fast enough and I didn’t care enough about the main character, though I deeply resented that his one ally, his brother, was horribly killed early on.

    Read Georgette Heyer’s ‘The Foundling,’ which I can’t remember ever having read before, and which was nothing like I expected. It’s only nominally a romance; it’s really a coming-of-age story in which a young Duke who’s lived all his life under a sort of regency is nearing the point of taking full control of his inheritance but is so used to being bullied into doing things (with love, but still) that … well, if you like a story in which a young man discovers his strength and comes into his own, and you like traditional Regencies, you’d like it.

    Read three good M/M romances this week. ‘A Totally Platonic Thing’ by Eliot Grayson is new-adult featuring a real mess. If you have no tolerance for college-aged people doing lots of things wrong, stay away from this. I got quite invested in them. 🙂 Then there was ‘Heppel Ever After’ by Con Riley, which continues the story of her sensational character Charles in a very satisfying way.

    And finally, a book I will re-read very soon, ‘You & Me’ by Tal Bauer. The point of view character is the not-long-widowed father of a troubled teenage football player; the love interest is the out divorced father of the team’s star. The boys are friends; the divorced man volunteers with the ‘team moms’ and invites the other man (who was kept away from all things football by his wife, about whom we learn the worst much later) to join in. There is conflict, grief, awkward are-we-on-a-date, bi-awakening, rapprochement, friends-to-lovers, and new beginnings. The happy ending involves all four of the main characters as a newly-constituted family. Truly loved this book.

    1. As usual, Chacha1, you tempt me, you tempt me. I really have to read Con Riley’s Charles and I’ve also downloaded You and Me., Even after my dubious experience with Gravity.

  27. I read Nothing But the Truth by Holly James. The night before her 30th birthday, a publicist stops in at a bar on her way home and wishes for a perfect day. What she gets is the inability to tell anything but the whole truth. This makes working as a publicist and office politics extremely challenging so she dashes back to ask the bartender what he put in her birthday drink. They only know each other as “Birthday Girl” and “Hot Bartender”, but they set off together to try to figure out how to reverse this curse. In the process, she learns a lot about herself and the many ways she has been lying to herself about what she really wants.

    There’s also a battle against sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace that is won all too easily to be real life, but I didn’t care. The good guys won, the heroine got her HEA both in love and work and she learned a lot in the process. I really enjoyed it.

  28. I read TJ Kline’s Under the Whispering Door. It’s about a dead man. It was brilliant. You all should read it.

    And I reread Boyfriend Material as prep for reading Husband Material and I think I laughed at least as much as I did first time round.

    It was a good week, bookwise.

    1. I loved Klune’s previous book about the man on the island taking care of outcasts. I’ll have to get my hands on the Whispering Door book.

  29. While mentioning books, food, and gardening, I forgot to mention watching a movie on Amazon Prime: Samaritan. “Thirteen year old Sam Cleary (Javon “Wanna” Walton) suspects that his mysteriously reclusive neighbor Mr. Smith (Sylvester Stallone) is actually the legendary vigilante Samaritan, who was reported dead 25 years ago. With crime on the rise and the city on the brink of chaos, Sam makes it his mission to coax his neighbor out of hiding to save the city from ruin.”

    Marion George Harmon, author of the Wearing the Cape series, had this to say about it:

    Samaritan is a fun superhero yarn. In superhero comics, you can’t look too close at the underlying logic; if you do, you lose suspension of disbelief needed to immerse yourself in the story. In Samaritan, you’re given a quick history you can’t look at too closely. Two brothers, who John (Stallone) describes as “genetic freaks” are super-strong and tough and heal fast. A family tragedy is sketched; a mob tries to kill them in their home with fire as kids, succeeding only in killing their parents. Both of them become vigilantes, one Samaritan and the other Nemesis—and promptly become each other’s sworn enemy since Samaritan insists on fighting the “criminal element” that violently victimizes others while Nemesis has his sights set on the “true criminals” in society, the system and establishment that grinds people down. Their philosophical difference means Nemesis is a supervillain in Samaritan’s eyes, and in the eyes of all law-and-order types, but Nemesis is idealized by those who believe the whole system is corrupt and needs to burn. Finally the two of them meet in climactic battle where both are presumably killed (only their masks and Nemesis’ signature weapon are found in the burned out rubble).

    That’s all backstory, and I won’t go into the movie’s plot since I don’t want to spoil it for you. All you need to know is it takes place twenty-five years later, involving a suspiciously superhuman “John Smith,” a city getting ground down by economic hardship and runaway crime and homelessness, and a new bad guy who wants to finish what Nemesis started; tear it all down.

    Samaritan is an excellent study in superhero personae, starting with the names: Samaritan and Nemesis. Samaritan, of course, invokes the Good Samaritan of Jesus’ parable of a man who goes to great lengths to help a complete stranger who is the victim of a brutal robbery in answer to the question “Who is my brother?” It’s a wholly positive image of heroism. Nemesis, on the other hand, invokes irresistible enmity. “Nemesis” literally means “one that inflicts retribution or vengeance.” We know that Nemesis called Samaritan “a cop,” and could always count on drawing Samaritan out to battle by threatening others.

    So, a clear-cut battle of Good vs. Evil, right? Not so much. I have to say the writers were brilliant for giving the two brothers a shared origin. The same origin created both a superhero and a supervillain, and this speaks to the theme of the tale. As John Smith puts it late in the show, “Let me tell you something, kid. If it was only bad people doing bad things, it would be easy to get rid of them. But the real truth is, good, and bad, live in everybody’s heart. And it’s going to be up to you, to make the right choice.” You get a gold star if you recognize what quote that’s a paraphrase of, and he says it to a kid who idealizes Samaritan but who is himself a petty criminal.

    But enough, I don’t want to spoil it, so I’ll just say see it as soon as you can.

    He said all that, so I don’t have to.

  30. You are absolutely right! Being a teacher I also see the passage of time in terms of the academic year. Following the return to work on Thursday, I now have behaviour, special needs and pupil premium policies to read (yawn). However the summer hols gave me
    6 weeks of uninterrupted reading time (yea!) I can recommend ‘who is maud Dixon’ as well as ‘the league of extraordinary women’ books. I’ve just finished the 4th Trudie Fine mystery.
    As it happens a book arrived earlier by someone called Bob Mayer… maybe he’s familiar to you on this forum. The book… Shane & the hitman. Well, of course I had to have it.

  31. “… but anybody who has ever been to school knows that it starts the day after Labor Day”


  32. Now that it’s a bit cooler and I can work in the garden, I’ve been listening to the Carola Dunn Daisy Dalrymple mysteries as I weed (free, all of them! on Amazon/Audible prime). There’ve been three different narrators, none of them very good, one mispronouncing things wildly (I don’t expect someone to be able to pronounce all foreign languages, but if you’re a professional narrator, wouldn’t you look up the pronunciation of an English word you didn’t know? Not even particularly obscure ones. I sometimes wonder what the role of a “director” of a recorded book is), and one with terribly affected, screechy female voices. But I keep listening, because the plotting is very good, and there are all those weeds…and cherry tomatoes. I have just one plant, but it’s been a bumper year. The big tomatoes haven’t produced well at all, plus blossom end rot, and the new varieties I tried seem sweeter than usual.

    In the same period and type of setting as the Dunn books, but even lighter, are the mysteries by James Anderson, starting with The Affair of the Blood-stained Tea Cozy. Not quite a parody of country-house murders, but in that direction.

    Went to see Judy Collins at Tanglewood last night. Such a beautiful voice, even now, and she seemed to be enjoying herself very much.

  33. I forgot to mention Official Weigh-In day #72. Rather than quote a number, I will quote a conversation from Shoe comics.

    Roz: “What have you lost on your diet, so far?”
    Cosmo: “The will to get out of bed, in the morning.”

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