167 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, December 1, 2022

  1. I have been waiting for Victoria Goddard’s At the feet of the sun which arrived on my kindle this morning.

    In the meantime, I started reading Jody Taylor’s Chronicles of St Mary series.

    I have now read book 1 and 2 and I don’t know if I liked them enough to continue. On paper, they are right up my alley. I like the premise, I like the characters, I like the relationship even though I think there is a big lack of communication between Maxwell and Leon which leads to falling outs which could have been resolved with a proper conversation but somehow these books didn’t quite work for me.

    I know people here like these books. I’d love to know what you think!

    1. I wanted to like them, and I read 3 or 4 of them, but ultimately, I think, they left me unsatisfied and I stopped. As I recall, I could never really identify why.

    2. I love the St. Mary’s series but I listened to them. Zara Ramm is one of my favorite narrators. I do get frustrated with Max. I love history and archaeology so the premise is great for me. The community and secondary characters are some of the best, especially Markham.

    3. I too read the first two. I took a lot of space between the first and second, and I have no compunction to read on. I know they’re there, and if I’m in a reading pinch, I suppose I could pick them up, but I think I wasn’t emotionally invested in the characters.

    4. I tried them, well the first one, and just never connected to any of the characters. I could never really identify why either.

    5. She lost me with the story of her son. I just couldn’t go back knowing what happened to him.

      But the Time Police which has her son as an adult works just fine for me. Go figure.

      1. Good to know. Do you think the time patrol books can be read without having read the Chronicles?

        1. I just couldn’t get into the concept of this time traveling thing. But I love Jodi Taylor’s Frogmorton stories, beginning with The Nothing Girl.

          This week I didn’t really read anything. On the one hand, I’m trying to finish writing a novel that I thought I’d be done with by now, on the other hand I’m working on uploading my backlist of books for which I got the print rights back. It sounds so simple but it’s a lot of work.

          1. The time travel premise bothered me as a basic thing. I didn’t like the idea of casual touristry to other times when I was younger, because it seemed self-centered. Fun to see the Great Pyramid when it was new, but did anybody really want or need me there? What germs would I carry into the world of Galileo that didn’t need to be there? Would meeting my 5-times great-grandmother ultimately lead to her deciding NOT to have children? Just somehow off as a device for helping the world or humanity.

            Now I imagine the idea of intervention-motivated time travel as actively harmful. I mean, if someone came to you and firmly said that you must immediately abandon your home and all that is in it because some important future person would come to investigate the site and discover the cure for cancer or the secret to XYZ, would you want to? Would you do so? It feels like an Elon Musk bright idea to amaze the world but basically be fun for Elon Musk for about five minutes and bad for many other people and things.

        2. I think so, though you’d be missing important context about just how shitty Matthew’s childhood was. And there are other characters who she assumes we know from the St Mary’s series.

          1. Darn, that was supposed to be an answer to whether you could read the Time Police without reading St Mary’s first.

        3. Yes. It’s like any spinoff, you’ll miss some background, but the stories are about these three damaged young people who join a military-like policing unit that exists because too many wing nuts are time traveling. The real juice of the series is how theses three form a unit and bungle their way through their assignments, succeeding every time through sheer determination. Spoiled rich kid with a bad childhood (Luke), shy girl with an emotionally abusive childhood (Jane), and then Matthew, and you really don’t want to know how bad Matthew’s childhood was. Also, it’s funny just because the three are such survivors. There are crossovers from the other series, but I’d forgotten who most of them were or hadn’t gotten to that place in the other series, and the books still read just fine.

          1. Thank you all!
            Food for thought…
            At the moment I have 1000 pages of At the feet of the Sun to read so I’ll see what I feel like after that!

  2. On Monday, a nice little M/M story by Fearn Hill was released – Cloud Ten. I finished by Tuesday (as I’m a rather slow reader, that says a lot).
    It was lovely to dive into the story and the small community surrounding Frankie, the main protagonist. He’s a PA not able to find a good job because of reverse sexism – the majority of jobs are for women. His siblings push him to apply for his dream job anyway and do so as a female Frankie via Zoom. He’s effeminate enough that he pulls it off for quite some time. Until the mutual feelings of more than attraction between him and his boss make it difficult.
    There should be a number of triggers (boss – employee, dishonesty) or things that usually put me off (not very realistic plot; too much talking of and around the gender politics), but I liked it nevertheless: the power-balance is not typical as his boss, Lysander, is a fish out of water at his job and Frankie is more than capable in his job.
    Lysander is also very aware and conflicted about his inappropriate feelings for his PA. Consent is a very big part of their relationship. Frankie comes clean before they engage in anything. The resolution to his professional dishonesty doesn’t feel unrealistic.

    It was glaringly obvious that the other guys in this circle of siblings and friends are set up to get their own story but I don’t mind at all: When do we get a potential love interest with cerebral palsy and when does one come across as very very intriguing from the start?
    Plus: very slow burn which I liked a lot.
    Minus point: The very last bit felt very rushed – I guess the author felt the need to inclue an intimate, smutty scene to an overall not smutty book: the only disappointment.

    Then, yesterday before going to bed, I found KJ Charles announcing on Instagram that book 1 of her Darling series is available for free for a short period of time. Yay!!
    So guess what I’m reading now (not right now because I’m on my lunch break writing this before going back to some urgent reporting)…

    Very different in tone from Cloud Ten but with Charles what can go wrong?

  3. I read Sharon Shinn’s newest, Shuddering City. Liked it, didn’t love it. Plotting strong as always. New world feels a lot like her Elemental Blessings world. I couldn’t connect to the characters, and even though there were four distinct romances in the book, it didn’t feel romantic in the least. So I guess the question of does more romance make a book more romantic has been answered.

    Tried another TA Moore series, Wolf Winter – semi post apocalyptic really bad weather, shifter wolves and dogs, romance, etc. – some graphic violence that made me wince but I’ll definitely read more of hers.

    For a fairly unique existential crisis, try Becky Chambers’ conclusion to the Monk and Robot book, A Prayer for the Crown-Shy (title is a metaphor referring to trees in the canopy that somehow never overlap each other). This time the tea-monk has lost the desire to serve just the right tea to his customers and listen to their issues in life, and instead escorts the newly emerged from exile robot around to introduce him to people, life’s activities, and …the conundrum of existence. Quirky, delightful and thoughtful.

    I also read Suzanne Brockmann’s most recent, King’s Ransom. Yes, I love me some Navy Seals romance, take that. I really appreciated the female MC who says everything she’s thinking, no matter how awkward, along with Brockmann’s usual well crafted plot. The male MC was not as strongly written, and I wonder if that’s because he was black? I give credit to Brockmann for frequently including racial diversity in her characters but I wonder if she is tentative about writing them? She doesn’t seem as tentative with her gay characters. I’m always grateful that she wrote the first gay romance I ever read, the FBI agent with his not quite sober actor.

    1. I also read the Shuddering City and I completely agree with you. Maybe, if she had given a book to each of the couples that would have worked better (apart from Brandon & Villette).

      The whole blood thing squicked me out a bit though just as it did in one of the Blessings books!

      1. I hadn’t thought of separate books – yes, that might have done the trick. I wonder if this is a stand-alone or a series? Not sure it has the legs for a series.

    2. I’ve certainly enjoyed the Suzanne Brockman Navy Seal books, and that was also my first gay romance. I liked that it took place over several books, with time for personal growth for both men. Sam and Alyssa are my favorite of the couples, also a slow-burn relationship.

  4. My hold on The Bodyguard by Katherine Center came in and I am this close … To finished. It’s really good. I enjoy that the author avoided all of the obvious missteps that I was expecting and kept her characters true to themselves. It reminds me a little of Nora Goes off Script in that regard, although without the deeper sadness of the plot twist. I appreciate this new trend of exploring traditional romance plots but making them less slapstick.

    Otherwise I have been rereading or sticking to short stories. Once I get passed this week I will have more focus and time to read, I hope.

    And we are watching Wednesday. It’s not as dark as the trailer seemed and I am enjoying it. I like that Christina Ricci has a role. It’s a fun nod to her time as Wednesday.

      1. I listened to it with half an ear as I got ready this morning. It didn’t bother me, but admittedly I wasn’t paying much attention. I never do to the epilogue…

        1. You don’t do the epilogue?? Some books it’s practically a whole other chapter – like A Consort for the King and His Husband.

          1. I always finish them, but I don’t pay a lot of attention to epilogues. They can get laundry-listy

          2. No Epilogues Ever.
            Whenever Bob wants to make me scream, he suggests the book needs a prologue and epilogue.

    1. I just got Nora Goes Off Script from the library, I think on the recommendation of someone here. Is there a deep sadness in a plot twist in it? If so, I might skip it.

      1. It’s good, and it works out, but I found it sad. Of course, I think that I am fairly sensitive to things that don’t bother a lot of other readers, so YMMV. I would call it a grown up take on the Big Misunderstanding. I got through it, it’s well done, but I wouldn’t call it a comfort read. And I don’t plan on reading it again.

        1. I am going to agree to disagree with you here. The slow death of Nora’s hope in her relationship was painful for me. I give it points for being realistic and well done, but it hit me hard. I guess I wasn’t expecting it. The pastel cover and blurb fooled me. Plus it’s really chic lit, not romance. The story isn’t about the couple falling in love, it’s about Nora learning to heal and grow.

          1. I found it more hopeful in that she was finally seeing the relationship for what it was instead of trying to pretend that it would ever give her the kind of connection she craved. This left her open to share what she did have without the frustration of the disappointment that it wasn’t the whole enchilada. And it left her open to find the romantic relationship with someone else.

            What it wasn’t was static. The traditional HEA leaves you with the impression that things will never change. And while that idea can be comforting,it also means we will spend the rest of our lives with what looked good to us at a very early age. What’s the use of growing and changing if we can’t also change our definition of what we want and need?

            My Mother once advised me to look for someone who could grow in the same direction as I would, but I imagine that is very hard to show in one book.

          2. That’s so interesting, because to me there was no deep sadness or pain per se because the relationship you mention was with a MOVIE STAR — (caps just for fun there….) which to me was a sign that the big misunderstanding came with full protection of the “well, it was an unlikely thing to begin with…” thoughts that had to come. It was a level of sadness that I think we all go through as we try and fail to stay in various relationships as time goes on, so it was not a triggering issue (to me) in the way the sudden loss of an old friendship, or a child, or a spouse, or a beloved animal might be. And things magically got better, which was pretty nice, I thought.

            I totally agree that it is chick lit, really. But I loved the support the MC got from her family, her friends in the small town, and the important career success that came to her. I will definitely re-read it at some point. It was fun, and funny, with a premise not hackneyed enough to bug me away from it at Chapter 1. I’m sorry, though, Lupe, that you found it painful.

      2. I didn’t find it terribly sad, and I’m a complete wimp when it comes to sad or upsetting. In fact, I was impressed that they were coping admirably.

        The misunderstanding was frustrating as this plot device is nearly every time, but I didn’t throw the book against the wall. It was worth the read to me.

        That said, during this holiday time, I’m sticking with Trisha Ashley, The Christmas Train, Hot Toy and the latest TE Kinsey Lady Hardcastle that that came out this week.

        1. Trisha Ashley is the best for christmas. I am definitely going to reread my favourites of hers in the run up to Christmas starting with, as always, the 12 days of Christmas. It was the first I read and I still love it after countless rereads.

          1. ANN, I have missed seeing you here. You always have such great historical biography recommendations.

  5. I listened to Enola Holmes and the Boy in Buttons on Audible.

    I re-read Variation on a Theme Book 1 (and compiled a character list.)

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

    I still have Gin’s Twelve Days of Death open in the Kindle ap.

    I’ve watched more Supergirl, more Smallville, more of The Flash, more Gilmore Girls, more Arrow, and more The Good Witch.

    It’s official weigh-in day #85 (257 is just a number). There will be a farm report later today. The dotter and I will be shopping. I’ll be wearing one of my new hoodies.

    1. Gary, completely off topic here, but I’ve decided I want fresh herbs in winter. Which grow-light-planter thingy do you recommend for basil, mint, etc?

        1. I hit post before I was finished. click and Grow website has the smart garden 3 on sale for $75 right now. Basil is a good one to start with. I believe Gary as a posting that compares them . If you want a bunch of herbs you probably been a larger one. Click and grow may sell mixed packages instead of 3 packages of the same thing (they never used to) so you should check.

        2. I am currently modifying mine so I can grow other things. Yesterday I bought a package of 3 hydroponic grown butter lettuces from Costco which I have inserted in it instead of the plant modules to see if they will stay fresh and keep growing. If this works I will have revolutionized how I store lettuce. Also the plant pods for the smart garden cost almost as much as the already grown butter lettuce. But the basil grows insanely well. I have fresh basil pesto all winter long then I plant mine outside in the spring once temperatures at night are above 45 because they do not like the cold. Dill and cilantro have dampened off before they were mature. My parsley pot outside produces right up until a hard freeze. I also buy parsley and clip the stems and keep it in a tall glass of water- changing the water to keep it from spoiling- and can keep it going for about two weeks. Chives did okay but I found it easier to just buy green onions.

          1. Re storing lettuce: I cut the base off and put them in a plastic container with half an inch of water in the bottom, cover with a plastic bag or lid, and store in the fridge. I change the water every few days. Works pretty well.

          2. RE Storing lettuce. I just don’t harvest until I want to eat it. 🙂

            I can cut 1/3 of the leaves off, or just take the whole thing and replant. My phone’s battery is dead, or I’d tack pictures onto the December Farm Report. (I’ll edit them in later.)

          3. RE Storing Lettuce. Harvey Too was down to one head of lettuce – “AeroGarden Salad Greens” sprouts in 1 to 7 days, medium height. I harvested the whole thing, ~80 grams, and used it as the base for a salad. I added onion, tomato (including one Golden Harvest mini-tomato from Phredd, the first to ripen), bacon bits and parmesan cheese plus my home-made salad dressing. Harvey Too now hosts three “Marvel of the 4 Seasons” lettuce seed pods, which jave not yet germinated. I’m down to two lettuce plants growing from amber mason jars, until those newly planted ones grow.

      1. Hoo boy! It’s Jessie’s fault I’m a hydroponic gardener. If I were doing a cost/benefit analysis, I’d say “Stick with the grocery store.” But you want fresh herbs, and hydroponics will deliver.

        For an assortment of herbs, you need more pod space than the three pods of the Smart Garden 3. I own six of them. 🙂 Even at $75 each, the cost adds up. I recommend getting the Smart Garden 9 if you’re set on Smart Gardens (the 9 is for 9 pods). Sets of pods vary from $9 to $19 for three pods, so I say buy the empty pods and add your own seeds.

        For a lower initial cost, you can get an iDOO or any of a dozen other brands of 12-pod gardens. The difference is maintenance. Whatever you get, you’ll have to monitor water level, which is not a big deal. The Smart Gardens are pretty much plant and grow to harvest. The others need to be fed bi-weekly, and water changed bi-monthly.

        The AeroGarden systems are the most expensive, especially on a per-pod basis. I like my four AeroGarden Harvest 6-pod units very much. They are… smarter than the others, remind me to add nutrients and warn me if the water level is too low… usually. They have a good-to-excellent selection of herbs, but you buy them as kits of 3-9 seed pods (plus grow domes and liquid nutrient). You can find deals like the $75 for a Harvest, with twice the space for plants than the Smart Garden-3, and half the space of an iDOO.

        Finally, there are Mason jars with Kratky adapters available from Etsy. They recommend amber mason jars, or paint them to keep light out (it encourages algae growth.) A half dozen jars are cheap. Adapters are cheap. Sponges and so on are cheap. Grow lights can be cheap. If you just want to grow a few herbs, buy a half dozen wide mouth amber mason jars, a half dozen Kratky adapters, an AeroGarden Gourmet herb kit, and a pint of Miracle Gro plant food. Any of several grow lights will do. Later, you can buy more sponges and reuse the pods from the kit with your own seeds (don’t reuse the sponges). In place of the label/covers, use tinfoil. You still have to track the water level (through the amber glass). You’ll add a few milliliters of plant food every two weeks.

        Whichever solution you decide on, herbs grow like kudzu. You’ll need to prune on occasion. Tomatoes and peppers are space hogs. Lettuce is easy. I have grown more basil than I will ever use or put up or turn to pest or whatever people do with that stuff. Also more dill.

        Let us know… whatever, please.

        1. IF you go with Mason jars and IF you get regular mouth size, I have a dozen Kratky adapters I ordered by mistake (no return or refund) that I would be delighted to send you. Or anyone else that wants them (you get first dibs.)

        2. I’m thinking about the Aerogarden six-herb unit. I like the idea that it tells me when to add things. Still pondering though.

          1. Make sure you shop for the best deal. Also, there are different 6-pod units. I have four Harvests. Not Harvest Elites, nor Harvest Bounty models. One of the things I like is the Aerovoir reservoir (sold separately) that automatically adds water until it’s empty. It “Gurgle-bloops” in the background, like a water dispenser in my doctor’s office. 🙂 It holds a gallon which lasts 10-30 days depending on how thirsty your plants are. Pepper plants and tomato plants are very thirsty when they start to bear fruit. Romaine lettuce got very thirsty. Without a reservoir, you just lift a little hatch once-a-day and add water until you cover the “Fill To Here” post. Simple. If you miss checking for a week, the blue light on the front will start flashing red. Every two weeks, the green “Feed Me” will start flashing red to remind you to add some nutrient.

            AeroGarden Seed Pod Kits all contain seed pods, domes, and nutrient germination. The kit linked to has seed pods for Genovese Basil (2), Thai Basil, Curly Parsley, Thyme, Chive, Mint, Dill, and Italian Parsley.

          2. I just started my experiment with a small one an experienced friend suggested to me, which you add your own seeds to. I then took advantage of a Black Friday sale at Aerogarden’s website to get some mix and match herbs already in their little inserts.
            This is the one I got https://www.amazon.com/dp/B099KB7S28?psc=1&ref=ppx_yo2ov_dt_b_product_details
            She warned me that the picture is deceptive, because it can’t grown anything as big as tomatoes. But herbs and lettuce should be fine. It’s pretty basic.

          3. Deborah, that looks like an excellent kit and an excellent price. Do AeroGardon seed pods fit as-is? Is that a pop-up float type level indicator? (My old QYOs had those.)

            The one advantage my iDOO units have over the others is a built-in fan. You don’t need it with herbs or lettuce, but all the flowering fruit plants have to be manually pollinated if you don’t have a fan. I use a 4″ personal fan for my pepper plants in the Harvests.

      2. I just broke out the tape measure. The Genovese Basil formerly residing in a one-pint clear Mason jar named Jenny of New JARsey and now occupying a one-quart amber mason jar named Hilda is 12″ tall. Basil is a weed, I tell you.

        1. I thought nothing could out-compete mint in the garden. It’s the definition of an invasive pest. Then I planted some basil mint next to it. Luckily the basil mint tastes better than ordinary mint.

          1. Second attempt to reply:
            My mint didn’t germinate – that happens sometimes. The fastest growing weed in my gardens is Dill. It’s even faster, taller, and more spread out than my Thai and Genovese Basil. I’ve had Rosemary and Thyme and Parsley but no Sage (I have a sudden urge to listen to Simon and Garfunkle).

            The (pardon the pun) Jenny-vese Basil now in Hilda (was in Jenny of New JARsey) measures 13 inches tall.

            The pictures have been added to the December Farm Report. Clicking on a thumbnail takes you to a larger photo.

  6. I’m on the 4th book of the Bailey Brothers series by Claire Kingsley and this one seems a little slower than the first 3. I am enjoying the small town quirkiness and there are snippets of organized squirrels that wreak havoc and a mysterious town feud.

    I’m going to stick with it but hoping the pace picks back up.

  7. So… I don’t know if this series would be to any of your tastes, but I love it, and wanted to just put it out there. If you are looking for something completely unpredictable, this might do it for you. The books don’t really fit in a genre, there are unpredictable narrators, and a large cast, but, again, I love them. And, from what I can tell, a lot of other readers do too. Check out the description of the first one, and if it appeals at all, maybe give it a try? It’s been described as something like, ‘lesbian necromancers in a haunted castle in space.’ Lol.
    Gideon the Ninth, by Tamsyn Muir.

    1. I adore Tamsyn Muir! The Locked Tomb series is incredibly engaging: the characters, dialogue, but perhaps the world building is the most impressive element- you can tell she has a background in story development, which she got from working on videogames, if I’m remembering correctly?

      The narration of all three are very different in style, but God does she know how to tell a story. She’s under contract with Tor for more titles after this series wraps with Alecto the Ninth. Definitely one of my auto-buy authors!

      1. Yay! I did not know about the contract. I was already just so excited that the ‘trilogy’ would have 4 books.

    2. We take everything here. Basically, I have found that I will read anything regardless of genre if it is written well. This blog has expanded my horizons significantly.

      For example, I would never have picked up Murderbot. The cover looked so serious and somber and I generally don’t care for full outerspace sci-fi. But the whole series is a delight that I reread often.

    3. The second is utterly weird, and my hold on the third just came through at the library. Brilliantly strange stories!

  8. On my travels this week, I started “The Cancer Code” by Dr. Jason Fung. It’s put in layman’s terms, and explains the science, so it is not as dreary a read as you might think. So far, he’s gone through the various theories about what cancer is and has pointed out where research spending (and big pharma greed) hasn’t really achieved a cure. It was interesting to read the difference between medical research and scientific research. Scientific research looks at the data and forms a theory to fit that data. Medical research forms a theory and then tries to shoehorn the data to fit that theory. I’m at the point where two physicists were engaged to look at the data without any pre-conceived notions about cancer and cancer research, and I’ve still got half the book to go. I’m thinking there is going to be some good information in here.

  9. I’ve been re reading WR Gingell’s Two monarchy series. I found two new books of it and realized I needed to reread the earlier ones first.

    One of them has Peter as the hero and I must say I find him very annoying

    1. I found Peter very irritating too; in fact I didn’t finish his story, even though I read the others.

  10. I just got Louise Penny’s latest, A World Of Curiosities. I’m not too far in yet, but so far it is quintessential Penny. Today, Janis McCurry’s 3rd in her Berenger Brothers series, Defiant, drops. I really liked the first two so I can’t wait to get started on this one.

    1. Every once in a while, I really, really, really wish that Louise Penny would make up some fictional tragedy because I did not need to be hit between the eyes with the Ecole Polytechnique massacre this morning while I was washing dishes.

  11. I just finished The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, and I’m still feeling the glow. It’s a lovely story, and the characters are interesting. The twist at the end was really twisty! I recommend it.

  12. Still re-reading favourite books and short stories. Don’t have the fortitude it seems to read a new novel. Haven’t read the Murderbot series, perhaps not wanting to be disappointed even though everyone loves the series. Go figure.

    1. I sometimes worry I’m going to set expectations too high when I recommend Murderbot to people, and they’ll be disappointed, but so far, everyone’s loved it.

      But I was the same way about Pratchett initially — resisting reading his books despite many recommendations. Really glad I did eventually pick them up!

      1. Huge Murderbot and Pratchett fan here. I just reread all the Murderbots again. Must be at least the twelfth time. Murderbot never fails. And Pratchett is just a miracle.

      2. Empathy here: while I love Muderbot, I’m not into several authors that many here rave about – including Pratchett (clever, but I don’t love the stories). Worth trying a sample of Murderbot, though, or borrowing from your library, when you’re in the mood for an experiment. The idea of it definitely didn’t appeal to me.

    2. I put off reading Murderbot for a long time. The hype is a little intimidating and the covers looked so serious. Then the first one showed up at my library and it was short! The trouble with ebooks sometimes is that I get a false impression of how much of a commitment they will be. But the novella length was perfect. And easy to give away or recommend.

      The only person who hasn’t loved them is my sister’s boyfriend who is a snob and a dweeb. He makes it very clear that he thinks we are all rednecks. Of the recommendation came from someone cooler, I am sure emhe would gush about them…

        1. I probably would never have bought them because of that, but Tor was giving away the first four books for free, one a day, so for some reason I downloaded them, and that was it. I’ll pretty much pay whatever they ask now, but since I really have read all of them several times over, the first five at least twelve times, I figure my cost per reading is down to nothing.
          Maybe try your library?

          1. I saw the giveaway but European readers didn’t have access to it. I thought that was very unfair.

          2. Ditto. I stalled early on in the series for quite a while, due to the prices. Tor evidently don’t care about readers outside North America. Maybe they think we don’t know about prices/offers elsewhere.

          3. Responding to LN and Gin, I am positive that has to do with legal and contractural issues rather than Tor thumbing their noses at overseas readers.

          4. New Zealand reader here – the location check is just a question on the website, and if you answer yes, you get the free book.
            They don’t check where your computer is located or anything.

  13. Finished The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy, can highly recommend (even if the world setup is a bit confusing). JUICY letters, makes the “Shop Around The Corner” plot work. Also they are not coworkers (work adjacently to each other, let’s say) so there’s no job squick going on there.

  14. I’ve been mostly focused on my own NaNoWriMo book, so all my reading has been either that or re-reading (Murderbot and Lady Sherlock).

    I can’t vouch for the “good” part of my Good Book Thursday suggestion (since I’m a bit biased), but if anyone wants to try my Crazy Cat Lady Chronicles (post-apocalyptic cozy mystery), the first one is free through Sunday: https://www.amazon.com/Road-Crazy-Lady-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B09B17VRHM/ Note that it’s set after an apocalypse, with a lingering poorly understood medical condition (written years before the pandemic), so although it’s intended to feel optimistic, focused on the hopefulness of rebuilding, it’s not as light as some cozies are.

  15. Finished The Lord of the Rings, such a different experience from reading it when I was a teenager, as I take time to notice the writing, instead of rushing on for plot. One phrase really pleased me, when Eowyn is on her sick bed and Aragorn uses a healing plant as part of her cure: “…and it seemed to those who stood by that a keen wind blew through the window, and it bore not scent, but was an air wholly fresh and clean and young, as if it had not before been breathed by any living thing and came new-made from snowy mountains high beneath a dome of stars, or from shores of silver far away washed by seas of foam.” I think it’s the word “young” that is the particular touch.

    Aside from that, I’ve started and abandoned several romances, and I’m listening to Kristan Higgens Out of the Clear Blue Sky, which has the location of Cape Cod, which I visit several times a year. She puts her protagonists through it, but she gets them to the other side more grown up than when they started. I’ve also watched some old and new Leverage episodes as I try to sort out my mess of a desk. Never fails!

    1. I also like that Faramier(no idea as to spelling. Ugh. Sorry) brings Eowyn his mother’s robe because it’s the prettiest thing he can think of and he wants her to stop despairing. She is one of my favorite characters from Tolkien, because I think that her darkness as a woman from a war torn country is ignored so often in other war stories, the way she fell into it and couldn’t get out.

      1. Lupe, you were close on his name; it’s Faramir. I loved the part about hm bringing Eowyn his mother’s robe too.

        1. He is such a sweet, ignored second child. Such a nice foil to Eowyn’s bitterness. I love their happy ending.

      2. Faramir’s profession of love to Eowyn is pretty romantic, as well as showing a good grasp of psychology.

      3. Yes, that’s a lovely section, I do love that relationship. They’ve both been carrying such heavy emotional burdens, it’s great to see them find a haven with each other.

  16. I read a bunch of stuff over my Thanksgiving trip to see my parents. They’re doing well and it was good to finally see them again.

    Surprisingly the one I seem to have enjoyed most was reading the first two books of a trilogy called The House Witch. It’s about a house witch who becomes the royal cook in the castle of a beleaguered kingdom and it’s got a lot of unexpected charm. But villains are plotting to conquer the kingdom. Book 3 is coming out in February and I find myself looking forward to it much more than I expected.

    I reread Proof by Dick Francis, one of my favorites, when I discovered that my wife had never read it and so I repurchased it as an ebook so she could enlarge the print instead of reading my paperback. Yes, she liked it just as much as I did.

    There was also a new Teacup Isles book by Tansy Rayner Roberts, (fantasy regency romance). This one following Liesl instead of Mnemosyne, who is still on her honeymoon. It’s called Lady Liesl’s Seaside Surprise, and it’s fun and not a little surprising.

    Tansy Rayner Roberts also wrote a novella called Curse of Bronze where a young woman inherits her mothers house, but her mother was the world’s most renowned curse-breaker and she has none of that ability. Not a Teacup Isles story.

    There’s a new Gunnie Rose book by Charlaine Harris, but this one follows her sister Felicia at her new school where she is regarded as a powerless charity case. As the truth slowly emerges plots begin to emerge as well.

    I am currently reading Cast in Eternity, Michelle Sagara’s newest entry in the saga of Corporal Kaylin Neya, Imperial Hawk, Chosen and all around stumbler into every form of disaster.

    1. I was trying to think of my favorite Dick Francis and decided finally it was Hot Money. Such a good book.
      Also I have a hard time remembering what title goes with what book. I really like the one about the train across Canada. The Edge. (Had to look it up.)
      And the one about the election. 10 Lb Penalty. He just a solidly good writer.

      1. Dick Francis: Banker, Hot Money, Straight, and the Kit Fielding two book series; Break In and Bolt are rereads. I haven’t read The Edge. One of the few I haven’t read.

        Last year I purchased all the Murderbot books bc of all the good recommendations and just bought Maggie Finds Her Muse.

      2. I enjoy all of his books, so picking one is pretty hard, but if I had to it would be Hot Money also. I think it’s because it’s more of a character study than his others.

      3. Straight and Proof are my favorites. I love Hot Money, too, and the one about the architect (it somehow echos back to the beginning and the Sid Halley (sp?) stories). But in the end, it’s Proof and Straight I always return to.*

        Reading the discussion here made me think about why those two in particular. On reflection, I think it’s because they both involve protagonists navigating grief and depression to return to life. It’s maybe a weird take, but they’re both ultimately profoundly hopeful stories. Also, I *love* learning things, and learning about fluids transport at scale – and how the Japanese import whisky – and gemstones was awesome! (I also love the Maxwell’s The Diamond Tiger for the same reason.)

        * caveat!!! I find the grief in Proof very raw, and I’m careful about to whom and when I recommend it. I couldn’t read it for a few years after a bereavement.

  17. Read Flight Risk, the 2nd book in Cherie Priest’s psychic mystery series. Mostly flailing around trying to figure out what to read right now. Maybe Rivers of London is a good idea.

  18. I finished my first draft. Well, probably my sixth.but I have an ending. I’ve been blocked on that for a long time
    I started Lord of the Silent
    I think that means I’m almost halfway through the Amelia Peabody books.
    Happy December.

  19. I love the Rivers of London series. I re-read a lot of favorite books. And for some reason, when I have busy days at work with layouts I enjoy playing audible books I’ve listened to and read multiple times. I think the reason I enjoy doing this is a little because I enjoy the story and characters. Some is the narrator. And some knowing how it will all turn out. I love the narrator for the Rivers of London series! I re-listen to Patricia Briggs series (Mercy Thompson or Anna & Charles). Romance novels by Tessa Dare and narrated by Mary Jane Wells. Those give me a chuckle every time. A “go to” audible for me during stressful deadlines is Agnes and the Hitman. 🙂 Soothing for my brain.

    1. I relisten all the time. It’s very comforting. Also, I am usually doing something while I am listening, so it helps if I loose focus for a minute if I already know the story.

  20. I tried several new books and DNFed them all before I discovered a new and wonderful writer: Dee Ernst. Her rom-com novel, Maggie Finds Her Muse was a joy to read. And it has a delightful heroine. Maggie is 48 years old. She is a romance writer, struggling with a writer’s block. And she is in Paris for the first time in her life – searching for her muse. I haven’t enjoyed a book so much in a while. It’s funny and sweet and romantic. One of the best books I’ve read this year. And there is Paris. And French food. I can’t stop smiling. How come I never read this writer before? I already ordered another book of hers from the library. I don’t remember where I got her name in the first place. If it was from this forum, thank you, arghers.

    1. You did get the suggestion here, because I did, too. And because my library was unusually helpful, I was able to follow it up with this year’s title, Lucy Checks In. At first I was annoyed by the set up – another jilted middle aged American finds herself in France?- but the love interest was so charming and the triumph of the small and local over the big and impersonal was so satisfying that I gladly finished the book. I did find the repentance of the thieving ex-boyfriend to be extremely implausible, but I was so glad to see the people he bilked get most of their savings back that I didn’t quibble.

      I apologize if this is a duplicate posting. I was sure that I had already posted this,but was unable to find mt previous posting. So please forgive my probable repetition.

    2. I quite enjoyed the sample of Lucy Checks In, but not enough to pay £7 for the ebook (the other title’s even more expensive). They’re not in my library system, and probably won’t be, as US genre titles.

  21. I’m struggling with trying to find something to listen to on my long drive. I want to listen to the new Louise Penny but I think I’m not in the right mood for it. I’ve been oddly down lately and I really feel like I need something that will buoy me up.

        1. You are nothing but a crumb of cheese, a bit of undigested potato. There is more of gravy than of grave about you…

        1. Which audio version do you listen to?

          I *hated* the one I could find. My kingdom for Stephen. Briggs readings of them all!!!

  22. I must have gotten a recommendation for Megan Derr here, and I finally read a book, then 2, then finished a series, started another….. all within the last 2 days. Boy, oh, boy or should I say man, oh, man…..
    I also finished Eleventh Hour by Elin Gregory and enjoyed it a lot.
    There will be a new Rivers of London graphic novel out in January: Deadly Ever After, yeah!

    1. I loved the Eleventh Hour, but am very frustrated at not being able to get the second one in the series. They were published some years ago, and I gather she is republishing them. But hasn’t got round to the second one yet.

      1. That’s so funny, I was thinking that I should finally read the Megan Derr that I have on my Wishlist – How Not To Marry a Prince.

      2. Well, I started with Book 1 of the Tales of the High Court: The High King’s Golden Tongue and went on from there. I am reading them through Toronto Public Library’s website.

  23. For reading today I read Christmas cards at the dollar store along with all the other senior citizens. And bought individual ones for my family. Got a few more things and went to get in line but so didn’t all the seniors. Imagine if you will that there was only one cashier available for the store and we all got into a single line. A man behind me counted and I was number seventeen. But it was a jolly group, he kept reminiscing about the fifties, sixties and seventies. It wasn’t till I got home and telling my husband that it wouldn’t have surprised me if we had started to sing Kum – By – Yah.

    1. the last time I was in a long line (at Whole Foods) I mentally started writing a romance about people who meet in a long line at Whole Foods. 🙂

      1. My sister could have used you today. When I spoke to her this afternoon she had been in line at the drive through at the pharmacy for 17 minutes and they were still waiting on the first car in line.

  24. I was in bed almost all of last weekend fighting a vaccine reaction, and couldn’t manage anything that required thought, but at 3am Sunday picked up a thin book from the top of a stack of my grandmother’s books I’d decided to donate. It was called “That House I Bought” by Henry Edward Warner, and turned out to be the 1911 equivalent of a humorous column in a free local newspaper. I think he was doing self-deprecating shtick inspired by, but not nearly as observant and funny as, P. G. Wodehouse. But it was quick to read, even while fighting a fever and a headache. Like a tiny window into the attitudes of American people in detached semi-mansions in places like Boston or Cleveland during the Taft administration. Inviting neighbors over for iced tea and peanut sandwiches. Playing duck on the rock. Trying to keep the angry man with his cart and mule from taking shortcuts over the newly planted back lawn and Tulip Bed. I couldn’t follow at least half of it, but it distracted me from my head and its ailments. Especially since a single paragraph of six or seven sentences was all they printed on each page, so it went quite quickly.

    Then I took up the next book in the pile, “The Gentleman from Indiana” by Booth Tarkington. Another window into the past – young man buys newspaper business, travels to the town, discovers previous owner absconded, paper almost dead, hunts stories, makes success of it, meets locals, poor but honest, goes off elsewhere for some reason I didn’t understand, (injured in some way by low class rascals), paper managed by skeleton staff & crusading stranger, more successful, young man comes back to the town, finally realizes temp editor was beautiful girl he despaired of winning, she loves him but only reveals that on last page. FINIS

    That book was not as cliched as I would have thought — a bit like a modern sort of chick lit story, but also a very different time that I failed to fully understand. Glimpses of supportive black people but no insight into their travails. Bad cronyism vs. good cronyism. Emphasis on the hero with almost no reference to the typesetting or printing or payments or current events or anything elsewhere. The hero is sent off to congress due to the editorials (and some cronyism) of the heroine. Very vivid nascent feminism, which I conjectured might have led to my mother being given the heroine’s name when no one else in the family had held it. Just a total departure from my normal reading. And the past is a strange place to spend time — another argument against time travel! 🙂

    1. I read a lot of Booth Tarkington in high school and not since. I wonder if I would like him fifty years later?

  25. Between many hours in airports & on planes, and many hours awake while my aged parents were not, I read a lot in the past week. Much of which was re-reading.

    In ‘new and notable:’ reaching back to November 17 for His Last Christmas in London by Con Riley, a M/M age-gap novella featuring a young photographer and older restaurant critic. Well balanced and well-paced, with growing sweetness to relieve the stressful opening scene.

    In ‘new and didn’t love it:’ Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble, by Alexis Hall. As always I appreciated the writing; I did like this more than Rosaline Palmer; but it’s not really a romance so much as a coming-of-age and learning-to-deal story with some romantic elements. A bit too much downward spiral for me at this time.

    In ‘new and pretty much disliked it:’ Fran Cuthbert Ruins Christmas by Lisa Henry & J.A. Rock. A lot of times I’ll just not mention a book I didn’t like, but I’m feeling ungenerous today. Very short novel; lost points for slapstick, lying, persisting in bad decisions, plot moppets, too good to be true former sweetheart who forgives all, and not nearly enough improvement from the POV character.

    Finished out the reading week with a very bad workplace F/F romance (alleged romance) that I picked up to review for QRI, so I felt obligated to finish it, and with a swift DNF of a too-silly fantasy with a title starting ‘That Time I Got Drunk … ‘. Should’ve known better. I am now going to fix a cup of tea and go read Ngaio Marsh.

    1. A friend recommended That time I got drunk and rescued a demon (something like that?) I looked at it but decided to pass. Glad to hear the confirmation.

    2. I picked up “that time I…” as well, it turned into one of the fastest DNFs that I’ve ever had.

  26. I am struggling to remember what I actually read—all rereads—and what I only thought about reading. Work is exhausting right now and I’m not up to paying attention. I’m reading Sharon Shinn’s Twelve Houses series again, but what else I can’t say.

  27. One of the many things I love about Argh is that we all are reading many books at once and take it as a given …

  28. I read a blogpost I wrote to my critique group. The subject was – tips on critiquing romance. It got favorable feedback but for some reason it plunged me into a reread of Maybe This Time. I love that book no matter how many times I read it.

  29. For everybody here who likes KJ Charles, she is releasing a xmas e-novella. It’s not available for preorder but will be available everywhere apparently on Monday 5 December.

      1. Jane, I got her newsletter on December 2, announcing the xmas novella – didn’t you get it? Spam folder checked?

        The news about the Will Darling book 1 for free was on her instagram post earlier.

    1. It’s not on the Knopf website so maybe the publication date was delayed? You could write the publisher

  30. My new one this week was Jax Calder’s latest “Beautiful Hearts”. It’s a M/M widowed dad, age gap (kinda) romance that has the second best I-did-not-see-that-coming relationship crisis that I’ve read recently (the first being in Golden Enclaves). Jax always has good banter – another favourite for the banter is An Anonymous Hookup – and this one is no different.

  31. I’ve made a sacred vow to write no more than two sentences at this site in future, to atone for LONG posts. Re-reading Penric novellas out of order as I can get them at my library, and it is extremely rewarding!

    1. Jinx,
      Please do NOT stop yourself – I always loved reading your posts whatever their lenght!

      Also, very egotistical of me I wonder if you forbid yourself to write more than two sentences as longer posts feel wrong to you, does this mean we all should censor ourselves to only write short posts?

      Please say no – it would mean losing out of so many interesting posts by the Arghers!
      Having to keep my own posts short would be quite a challenge, too (although I know reigning myself in when babbling would be useful). I always thought people would skip over them if they are too boring or too long or both.

      See – I even couldn’t make myself stick to the two sentences (I would be able to write very baroquishly long two sentences though…).

      1. Oh no, no — I am making this vow only for myself because I keep writing about more than a single subject, which I think can be hard for others to read, because it’s hard for me to follow when I run across it again. But thank you so much for your request — I think I will focus on tw0-sentence posts for December just to get in the rhythm and to let myself know what brevity is all about; there is only so much self-knowledge a person can generate in four weeks, after all.

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