96 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, November 24, 2022. Also Thanksgiving.

  1. I read remarkable little this week. One story about a jilted fiance who went on Honeymoon to Australia anyway (a well trodden trope) and of course found his hea there. Nice story yet not really remarkable apart from the fact that it could have done with some ruthless editing.
    I’ve started a Christmas novella Tuesday night and still haven’t much progressed. Not a good sign, especially as I had been looking forward to this story for quite some time. Too far fetched elements so far, meh.
    Nothing really interests me much right now and work is busy as is life, that’s the problem.

    At least I managed to tick of one series on my Netflix to-watch-list, as I binge watched Julie and the Phantoms last weekend. I had previously dismissed it because I couldn’t connect with the trailer, but it’s lovely. My dd has good taste or at least the same taste as her mum :-). What a pity that it ended on a cliffhanger and it wasn’t renewed for another season.

    Also I get on with doing some knitting projects as it gets rather cold and the prices for usual stuff like mittens and hand warmers have sky rocketed – small projects to which I could listen to while knitting. Now if I could remember where I put my needles…?

  2. I read an Christmas alien romance that was fun but forgettable and then I started a Thanksgiving paranormal smut book. It’s sort of awful, but that is the fun of it. The writing and editing are both fine, it’s just ridiculous and over the top.

    And now it is time to finish tidying and start cooking. There must be a general thing that I am not aware of because my aunt, father and mother in law all decided independently to arrive two hours earlier than the appointed time. So I need to basically be dressed and ready by then. Or at least have some snacks set out.

    1. Wow! Interesting family dynamic, there.”Thanksgiving paranormal smut book” would be a good name for a band. That’s Dave Barry’s favorite line about weird things. I love reading his compendium of events of the year!

          1. It’s by Layla Fae. She does a lot of short, very smutty holiday themed paranormal erotica books. They are trash, but I enjoy them. Some are better/worse than others. I like her Halloween one with the pumpkin headed Jack. The Christmas one where the female lead is dyslexic and writes letters to Satan instead of Santa is also fun. Sometimes she squigs me out a little bit, but the reads are free in KU. You have been warned.

          2. I have been warned. And hey, I recommended Alessandra Hazard to you – can’t get much smuttier than that.

          3. Ummm. Alessandra Hazzard may have more literary quality. It’s not the smut level so much as sheer ridiculousness. Plus blatant smut.

          4. Too late. I just read it. The Satan one. It was over the top – the cookies…but I took it all in the spirit of the season.

          5. It is our nature, someone could say a book plot is a glorious trainwreck and we’d be downloading and getting the popcorn ready

  3. I am getting to that point in the semester when my brain becomes extra tired so I am rereading a favourite series, Touchstone by Andrea K Höst.
    I really like Cassandra as a character. She is such a nice ordinary person. I especially like the way, throughout the series, she stays physically challenged and refuses to engage with weapon training. She doesn’t somehow develop epic levels of fitness. She has her psychic space ninjas for that and they protect her as much as she protects them throughout.

  4. I’m stuck on Mrs. Pollifax — I suppose it’s because she’s an exemplar of old-lady-competence-porn. (She’s only 60 or in her early 60s.) But it isn’t her age, it’s the time when the books were written that makes the mood reminiscent for me. Good guys win over the bad guys. Most people are naturally nice wherever you are in the world. Luck is ever present — you just have to recognize it and follow its lead. Just hold onto your absurd hat.

    I laugh at the image of Mrs. Pollifax bouncing around in a van with a dead man and a comatose woman. And the image of Mrs. Pollifax carefully removing the labels from large jars of peaches so she can exchange them for the canisters of plutonium.

  5. I missed the Charlie Adhara series so much that I found another series by TA Moore (her real first name is Tammy!), Night Shift, with a slightly alternative world where 80% of people are shifter wolves. Human detective, shifter ally. I would have liked more world building – but still quite satisfying and she has a whole lovely back list that I’m making my way through.

    Read another in the Death and the Devil series – Dealing in Death – a novella retelling the events of the previous book from the other MC’s viewpoint. Always an interesting technique but has more novelty value than anything else.

    RJ Scott and VL Locey published a Christmas novella in my favourite of their hockey series, the Railers, so that also hit the spot. Plus that’s my holiday-themed reading for the year.

    And speaking of hockey, I read Marina Vivancos’ Fresh Ice which takes place in an a/b/o universe. Whoa, that’s a challenging – hockey is a very present, tangible genre so I couldn’t quite it would work with a paranormal combo. Not highly sophisticated writing but she pulled off the mash-up.

  6. At last some of my holds are coming in — books many of you read months ago. One was “Nora Goes Off Script” by Annabel Monaghan. What a cute, funny book! The author did a great job of keeping the focus on the MC (the aforementioned Nora) but made a lot of the interaction between the love interest and others on the movie shoot with her family full of unexpected moments. Great kids, a number of believable unlikely events, and I’d totally recommend this book despite its on-trendy all-pastel cover. (Something I am growing wary of, even though the predecessor–closeups of toned muscular bodies in athletic poses) was on of my pet peeves.)

    Also read and loved the “Orphans of Raspay” — one of the Penric series of novellas by L.M.Bujold herself. It was both a rollicking adventure and an extra-credit lesson in kindness.

    Good reading this week. 🙂

    1. Can “Orphans…” be read on its own, or do you have to read the whole series, first? It sounds like something I would like.

      1. It could be read as a stand-alone, but it is better to read the whole series in the chronological order. The protagonist, Penric, is such a lovely character.

        1. I think in general Olga is absolutely right, but I’ve been reading the Penric series sort of piecemeal, because I read physical books, and my library has those for only a few of the titles. A couple of the sort of omnibus editions (with 3 or 4 novellas) are also available in hard-copy books, and I read novella #1 (Penric’s Demon) in one of them. That’s the best one to start with — it gives the origin of Penric’s relationship with Desdemona. But I’ve missed several along the way, and the fact that I could enjoy The Orphans of Raspay in spite of missing a number of books in between suggests you might like it regardless.

          Have you read any of the 5-Gods series by Bujold? Hallowed Hunt? Curse of Chalion? Because those introduced the religious schism between the people (in that world) who believed in all five gods and those who despised those people because of course there were ONLY four gods, and anyone who believed otherwise was a despicable heretic. The Penric novellas are all set in that world, and Penric is affiliated with the fifth god.

          But all of them, like most everything by Bujold, are pretty darn wonderful.

          1. Thank you for that expanded explanation of the series and adjunct books. I have not read anything by this author. I will look into all of Bujold’s books. I’m getting quite a list of TBR books!

          1. Penric is a good way into LMB’s books because they are short.
            If you don’t want to start at the very start of that series, you coul go in with Penric’s Mission.
            If you want a super short taster, Masquerade of Lodi (Lodi is modelled on Venice), is also a good way in but honestly, starting with Penric’s demon makes complete sense!

          2. One of the things I love about Baen Books is their “samples,” as much as a quarter of the book. If you aren’t hooked by a quarter, likely you shouldn’t buy that book. So, I love putting up a link to the collection, Penric’s Progress, because that will get you the entirety of Penric’s Demon for free. Should you become (as so many of us are) hooked on Penric and Desdemona, there are two more novellas in that collection, and two more collections at Baen. That’s nine of eleven stories. I suspect if Bujold writes a twelfth, there will be a fourth collection.

    2. I’m still waiting for Nora, but I just got Killers of a Certain Age, and I’m wondering, almost a third in, whether I like it enough to finish it. The set up is intriguing, but it’s just not gripping me.

      1. This is very interesting because I just got a call from the library saying the copy I ordered has come in. I darted into a different, considerably smaller branch of the library a few days ago because I needed to use the toilet and there I saw a much better selection of new fiction than they have at the branch I usually frequent. I happily checked out another 4 titles but haven’t had a lot of time to read due to Thanksgiving. Why do the popular titles always come in at the wrong time?

  7. Currently I am reading “Phoebe and the Traitor”. I can’t say much about the story since I haven’t finished it yet, but… I know Bob is one of the good ones, but doesn’t he know anybody who could proofread his manuscript before he uploads it to Amazon? Sometimes, I get really confused because of some inexplicable comma. Or lack thereof. Or misspelt words. It’s distracting, to say the least.

    1. Ditto, Colognegrrl, and it is driving me crazy. The story is good (although not as good as the first one he did without Jenny) but the amount of typos and mistakes is appalling. Hell, I would have proofread the thing for free, just to save other people from them. It’s bad enough that it pulls me out of the story. Argh. I’m reading it on my Kindle, so I’ve actually started marking them, which I never bother to do.

  8. I am rereading Troubled Waters by Sharon Shinn. It’s my favorite of her elemental blessings series. I also started Wrapt in Crystal by the same author; it has taken me a while to get into it but I think I will be able to finish it this weekend, which is a good thing as I had preordered her newest book The Shuddering City which happened to show up a couple of days ago, so now I have another book to read. I think I will find something different to read in between these books so the author doesn’t feel stale to me.

    1. I loved Troubled Waters too. Re-read it several times. And Wrapped in Crystal was a powerful book as well. But I’m afraid to start on her new book, although I’ve already bought it. Her latest series about Echoes didn’t work for me, and I don’t want to be disappointed again.

    2. My favorite is Royal Airs, which is the first one I ran across at the library, but that’s not why. There’s just something about flying machines! But I re-read them all.

  9. I’m reading Sharon Shinn’s new book The Shuddering City. I like it a lot. It is a new world but has the same feel as her Rider or Blessings book although the world may be a little thinner on details

    1. Just read Shuddering City also, I enjoyed it for the most part. But I thought there were some holes in the plot that left unanswered questions. (I started out to write my list of plot holes, then realized that might provide too many spoilers …)

  10. I just finished First Frost and loved it. The precursor novel is one of my favorites. I was glad there was a sequel. I read the extra chapter in the back, and it was a fun addition and filled in some cracks.

    I read the second Murderbot. It started off so slowly, I almost gave up on it, but when it did get exciting, it really got exciting. I’m beginning to see why some of you love Murderbot. They are becoming an endearing nb person. I look forward to seeing the future changes to their makeup. I’m thinking there will be more surgeries and psychological insights that make them more and more human. The next two are on order, now.

    I may not read a lot for the next few weeks. It’s time to start playing the movies on my Christmas shelf, now. This is the time of year that I really mourn the loss of Nora Ephron. 😢

    The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches arrived yesterday, so it will be a fallback if I get bored with the holiday movies.

      1. We watched People You Hate at a Wedding on Netflix (?)

        It’s not Nora Ephron quality, but better than expected. Not really a romcom either, just family and learning to be a better person, but it had some great lines. I enjoyed it and it didn’t veer too far into slapstick, as comedies so often do.

        1. They are definitely a good person, and a growing one. If you get to some of the short stories, they are very fun. It’s like Murderbot is stuck with the task of herding beloved cats. They are very exasperated. It’s hilarious.

  11. Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche By: Nancy Springer

    I listened to Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche and Enola Holmes and the Elegant Escapade by Nancy Springer on Audible. I love this series.

    Grey Wolf’s Variation on a Theme Book 4 serialization continues. I continue reading it.

    I have A Dozen Days of Death by Gin Jones open in the Kindle ap.

    Last week I said “Subscribing to Netflix and Hulu may have been a mistake.” I’ve watched more Supergirl, more Smallville, more of The Flash, more Gilmore Girls, Arrow and more. You may notice a preference for superhero themed shows. You may have previously noticed that I read and reread the “Wearing the Cape” series by Marion G. Harmon, so yes, I like super-heroes / super-heroines / super-beings in books, graphic novels, and movies or television. I like how they worked J’onn J’onzz, pronounced John Jones, (the last survivor of Mars) into Supergirl. He was DC’s forgotten superhero.

    Official Weigh-In Day #84. I may have pigged out, and the number is better forgotten.

    “Feed Me Seymour” Day. My gardens are clamoring to be fed.

    A brief Farm Report. Sheba is sporting one tall tomato plant. There are blossoms, but so far only one tomato. Both Phredd and Ethyl have been taken over by another tomato plant sporting a dozen unripe tomatoes. There are more tomatoes in Ranch Two and Ranch Three. Seble has a ginourmous sweet pepper plant. No blossoms, no peppers. I have lettuce ready for harvest. There will be a salad course with my Rock Cornish Game Pigeon. I have retired all of the 16-ounce Mason jars, including Jenny of New JARsey whose Jenny-vese basil plant now grows in Hilda, one of the 32-ounce amber jars.

    I have not begun my fowl plans for dinner, but all the reagents and chemicals are standing by. There will be pictures.

    1. I hear Leroy Stubbs singing in the background (“I’m a mean green mother from outer space…..”)

  12. I just read a book called IN THE VANISHING HOUR by Sarah Beth Martin. Dual-timeline (1950s and 1970s) and dual-protagonist psychological mystery about two drownings, secrets, a young woman with dreams but who is “stuck” after her older brother dies, and a man who knows more than he’s saying. It’s not a fast-paced story. It’s more deep and psychological, but I really enjoyed the way it was written. I savored it, in fact.

  13. I don’t have my reading journal with me, but the book that wasn’t a re-read that I actually remember at the moment is ‘This is Real’ by Barbara Elsborg, a Christmas-themed M/M featuring a Harvard math instructor from England who does a favor for a friend in the movie business and is talked into accent-coaching a movie star and editing his dialogue. The movie star is deeply closeted and their first few interactions are not very positive, but once they are sequestered at the actor’s New Hampshire house things take a turn. Interpersonal conflict basically goes away entirely, but there is family conflict, fear of coming out, an ill-timed visit resulting in teacher driving off alone. Then there’s an accident and a stolen phone and the actor gets outed. Some potentially triggery material but the dialogue between the men was sharp and funny, the development of their relationship is swift but well-paced, and HEA was credible.

    And now I have to go downstairs and make sure the stock pot is not boiling over. 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving, y’all.

  14. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m LOVING “The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy.” I’m not entirely clear on everything in the worldbuilding setup, but their letters and relationship (note: based off the She Loves Me/You’ve Got Mail/Shop Around The Corner plot) are absolutely choice AND makes the whole “dear friend” and “I’m in love with someone yet I don’t know the basics of their life” thing work.

    As for me and Thanksgiving, my mom fell and broke her shoulder last night, so Thanksgiving’s off there, more or less. Her boyfriend is taking care of her and she’s driving him crazy and he says I owe him 😛 (True, she’s awful when injured/sick, y’all.) They got home from the ER at 4:30 a.m. and he texted not to call early. Meanwhile I’m not at all sure if *I* am still invited to where we were going for Thanksgiving since I don’t have their number, address, or passcode to get into their gated community….all of which mom had and obviously I can’t ask now. I’m so confused.

    I mean, I presume I’m not UNinvited (I presume the other person who was invited is no longer going though), but I still don’t know what to do, exactly?

    1. Yikes.
      Sorry for your mom, her boyfriend, and you.
      I would wait until you think you could call them, and then ask what they plan (maybe mom wants to go?) and if she doesn’t, ask for the info to let the host know your mom won’t make it and get whatever you need to go? That way you are saving the boyfriend a task?
      Not that you asked for advice …

  15. I am grateful for the clerks at Trader Joe’s. I went there yesterday to get the last few things I had forgotten and the clerks were so friendly and well informed that it really smoothed out all my rough edges and calmed me. It also meant that I didn’t have to make another trip before I started baking which means I didn’t have to stay up late.

    My favorite Thanksgiving card reads, “Let’s Get Basted”. I bought a more formal one to give to my hostess, but the drawing of the turkey baster really made me smile. Happy Thanksgiving to all of Argh Nation who also add happiness to my days.

  16. It’s still November nanowrimo month so I’ve been writing more than reading.

    I read several samples and did not go on to buy the books. So I went back to the Arcane series in Jayne Ann Krentz world. Currently reading Fired Up.

    I also read some poetry: Alice Walker, Joy Harjo, Mary Oliver, Thich Nhat Hanh, EE Cummings, Shel Silverstein.

    The Fresh Visions and Voices Anthology is coming out soon and I have 6 pages of poetry in it. I wrote a blogpost on poetry to go on my blog the day it goes out.

    I also relistened to ’59’ on the YouTube video. It’s the poem Harry Baker performed to win the World Cup in 2012. It’s genius and so entertaining.I will try to reply with a link.

  17. I’m reading a fun cozy by Alicia Bessette, Smile Beach Murder. Well done enough to recommend.

    Also reading Bob Mayer’s Phoebe and the Traitor. Not a bad book, although not nearly as good as the first one he did alone. I keep thinking it needs Jenny’s touch. And a good copy editor. Dear gods. It feels like he threw it up on Amazon before it was really ready, which is a pity. Still enjoying it, but not as much as I would have otherwise.

  18. In the pet aisle of the grocery store I saw a stuffed chicken/turkey and brought it home. Put it in the grandog’s toy basket and watched as curiosity took over as she pulled it out, gripped the belly and laughed at her antics. Rolling over it as it squeaked, marching over to the back door to take it outside with the other victims of her barn yard shenanigans. Until a little while ago when I got the bright idea to get her picture with the new toy/baby. She was having none of it and is now hiding upstairs. I can’t understand it, I used to be her favorite human.

    On to books, still reading Christmas novellas but beginning to get a little weary. So, now I’m reading The Takeover by T L Swan. Heavy on the sex, skimming as I go. It features a romance between a widow with three children and of course a billionaire (I think). He says all the right and funny things. But to me the story doesn’t start until he meets her children. It could lose about 200 pages of sex and still have a decent story.

  19. I am currently reading Babel by R. F. Kuang set in an alternate history where there is magic that works because of the practitioner’s ability to understand the small differences in meaning between words in two or more languages. It is set at Oxford in the 1830s and there is a lot of linguistics and history, most of which is real history only slightly altered to fit this alternate reality. The racism and colonial attitudes of the British are appalling. It is gripping but also stressful.

    And for relief I’m reading Fabric by Victoria Findlay which is about different kinds of fabric, how they are made and their histories as well as a meditation on grief as the author wrote the book after the death of both her parents. It is full of fascinating facts. Did you know that the song Baa Baa Black Sheep is about taxation?

  20. Mary Balogh’s The Proposal was a re-read, the #1 of the Survivors series. It was as sweet as ever.
    Jayne Castle’s latest, Sweetwater & the Witch, was a fun romp. A guy, a girl, and a dust bunny fight villains on a futuristic planet of Harmony. Not very deep, but well done, as always, and enjoyable from start to end, like all this author’s books.

  21. A Rake of His Own – wonderfully smutty and definitely the best of the series so far.

    Killers of a Certain Age – I found this disappointing. The premise was great, but it was pretty shallow with no real heart. And I found it hard to believe that five crack assassins who had worked together for forty years still hadn’t come to an agreement whether they should move on ‘One two THREE’ or on ‘One two three GO’.

    Remarkably Bright Creatures. This was fun and sweet.

    1. Who wrote A Rake of His Own? My library doesn’t list it and if I have to look farther afield, an author’s name would be helpful.

      1. I think it’s A. J. Lancaster. (Usually, a search on Amazon with just a title will bring up the book you’re looking for, if you want to double-check.)

  22. I just finished another newly published book and wanted to share. Axie Oh’s The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a YA novel based on Asian mythology. I don’t often read YA books and I almost never like them. This book was an exception. I loved it. Besides, it didn’t really have a feel of a YA story. There was no teenage angst there, for one thing, which was a huge plus for me. Instead, it read like a myth: timeless, beautiful, lyrical, mystical. Delightful!

  23. Haven’t gotten into anything new lately. Like Judy, I’ve been rereading Krentz’s Arcane and related books.

    I’ll snap out of it soon.

  24. Happy Thanksgiving! Whole family got sick for the holidays so this week’s been mostly about survival and cooking a turkey anyway, but I did read Shannon Stacey’s Stranded in a Small Town Christmas. Fun cast of characters, nice chemistry between the trapped together protagonists, I enjoyed it. Now waiting for Ursula Vernon’s Illuminations to come out on Black Friday so I can read that. It is apparently in the vein of Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking.

    1. A new Ursula Vernon?!?! I thought I had to wait until next June for the next T. Kingfisher book. You have absolutely made my day! 😁

      1. Yes! Also Digger Unearthed is back in print via Patrick Rothfuss’ publishing adventure, we supported the Kickstarter so our print copy already arrived. : D

        1. Oooh! I hadn’t seen that. I do have all six volumes of Digger (from Sofawolf Press), so I’ll have to think about the collection. So glad it is available for new people to discover!

    1. Yikes! Good reminder of how much heart disease is affected by genetics rather than diet/exercise. (Not saying to hog wild with food and sedentary lifestyles, just that a lot is NOT within our control!)

      If anyone’s wondering how invasive stent placement is, I initially thought that a stent or two was all I’d need, rather than surgery, and had been advised that I’d need to watch for bleeding where the stent was inserted (wrist) for 24 hours, and then be a little extra tired for about a week, but pretty much back to normal after that, so it’s not a long recuperation. And in theory, he should be feeling better than he had been, due to improved blood flow to the heart.

      Bottom line: Bob should be back to giving Jenny a hard time in their book shenanigans in a matter of days, if he’s not already doing it.

  25. The sequel to Hands of the Emperor dropped so I dropped everything else and read it. It’s LONG. Like, the print book is 1300 pages. I really enjoyed it, though a bit of cutting wouldn’t have hurt, especially at the start. It went in a direction that wasn’t what I expected but was much better, to my delight.

    1. Oh, great! I pre-ordered it, and have had my fingers crossed for a sequel along the lines of the original, rather than one of her plot-heavy, contrived stories. She really doesn’t seem to believe in editing!

  26. I’m coming back on here to brag. I decided to turn an abandoned novel into a short story to submit. Deadline is soon, can’t remember exactly. It was at 10000 words, not quite finished. I needed 8000 or less. I finished it and it went up to 10500. So I started chopping. It’s down to 8250 and it is soooo much crisper after I cut. Those last 250 off are going to be hard but I know I can do it.
    Proud of myself. Bragging – sorry, can’t help it.

      1. It is very satisfying. I got it down to 7957 – improved – and now I can submit it. Also – I think I’ll blog about it and call the post – the pleasures of killing your darlings

        hehehe – there is something wrong with me, i think

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