This is a Good Book Thursday, December 8, 2022

This week I read about wizards (Rivers of London) and a non-magical romance, which is why I’m not mentioning the title. There was nothing wrong with it except the Big Misunderstanding which I almost always find annoying, but there wasn’t anything right with it, either, anything that made me sit up in surprise or laugh or, well, anything. My goal is to find a new book that halfway through doesn’t make me skip to the end just to get out of it. I’ll keep trying, but Rivers of London is saving me this week.

So what did you read this week?

124 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, December 8, 2022

  1. It’s been very quiet on the book front for me.

    I did finish Victoria Goddard’s At the feet of the Sun and I am not sure what I think about it. I’ll be interested to know what other Arghers think about it.

    1. I am still waiting for my library to buy it. When they do, I will go on the holds list automatically. (Also still waiting for two other books mentioned here months ago.)

      1. And Ocean’s Echo arrived last night and I stayed up too late starting it. So far it’s fantastic.

    2. I was waiting to hear what you thought about it! Am feeling cautious about taking on such a long book when I’ve felt before that she needs some editing…

      1. I am happy I read it and there are elements of the story I enjoyed and but I didn’t relish reading it the way I did « the Hands of the Emperor ».
        There will apparently be a third volume at some point and I am sure I will buy it and read it but probably not with that much anticipation while I will definitely keep rereading the Hands of the Emperor.

        1. Okay that settles it for me then. I’m going to give it a miss. Thank you for being the vanguard on this one.

  2. I listened to Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I didn’t think I would enjoy the book listening to the first few chapters , but the dog, Harriet (good friend) and Maddy (daughter) made this book: once those three characters were on the page, the novel took off for me. And Miranda Raison does a great job with the audio book.

  3. My library has been slow to get the physical book versions of Bujold’s Penric & Desdemona series, so I’ve only been able to read them kind of piecemeal. Now I’m reading them seriously from the beginning and they’re amazing — plus, they include Bujold’s forewards/afterwords sections, which offer such a great insight into the mind of a writer — just a slowly unfolding masterpiece of a series.

    1. Jinx, I just looked on Amazon for Penric’s Demon, the one I was told to read first, and it’s either $70 for a hardback, or $475 for collectors edition, plus $4 delivery fee!!!! Is this out of print?! I don’t care for Kindle and don’t own one. I guess I will have to check the library availability.

      1. Jan, “Penric’s Progress” is the collection I just bought — $25 for one of the most beautiful hardbacks I can remember seeing. It contains the first three of the novellas, and is a great place to start.

        1. Jan brings up something I’ve been wondering about. Now that it’s easy for publishers to print a single copy of something (for a million bucks), are there fewer print copies available on the used book market?

          I found one printed copy of a biography of an ancestor; when I looked for more, the price was in the hundreds of dollars and/or not available.

      2. They’ve never been “in print” so to speak – ebooks first, so tend to only be printed as collections. I’m guessing the hardbacks are pitched at collectors.

        Just listened to Bujold being interviewed back in 2021 on SmartPodcastTrashyBooks and she was talking about how eBooks provided her with a monthly paycheck from her writing for the first time ever. I found it rather startling given she’s such a lauded author but maybe her income was always rather uneven. Plus she talks about Heyer and mentioned Jenny Crusie (!) and Rivers of London and Megan Whalen Turner and a bunch of manga reccs I shall have to check out.

        1. I think the hardbacks are pitched at libraries, because my library has the hardbacks but not ebooks.

          1. I think maybe the eBooks are via Amazon, and Amazon doesn’t play well with most library platforms. Half the time when I suggest a book the library says no-can-do because Amazon-only published and sometimes later if someone does a print run they’ll acquire it because those come via their usual distribution channels.

      3. The novellas were published as paper books by a specialist publisher when the ebooks came out. These were limited print runs so are now a rarity which explains why there are super expensive.
        If you don’t want to buy the ebooks then, as Jinx says, your cheapest alternative at the moment are the hardcover editions from Baen which include several novellas in each volume. Apparently, they will come out as a paperback at some point.
        They do have lovely covers but my favourite cover of all is the subpress cover for the Physicians of Vilnoc by Lauren St Onge. Penric looks absolutely stunning on it. This is how he looks in my mind now!
        I’ll try and link to it:
        https://forbiddenplanet.com/336881-the-physicians-of-vilnoc-hardcover/

        1. Exactly! I received that one as the second book on my Amazon gift card, and it’s gorgeous too. I have my fingers crossed that the same illustrator does the series novellas/novel? yet to come; physical book cover illustrations can be the icing on the cake of having a physical book in a physical library.

        2. Yeah, they’re usually published by Subterranean Press some time after the e-books come out. The hardcovers are not cheap unfortunately even if you buy when they first come out.

          1. Thanks for you input, Jeanine. I so appreciate that this group has answers and is willing to share them!!!

  4. I dnfed a lot this week. Some were just meh, but one got really dark and bloody. It was well written and I feel bad about deleting, so I have held off, but I don’t think that I will be picking it up again.

    Thanks to whoever recommended His Last Christmas in London by Con Riley. It was the perfect antidote. Sweet and emotional without being saccharine. I had thought that I had read this author before, but the writing style doesn’t ring a bell, so I will be reading more in the future.

      1. Second that, sweet (not saccharine) little story. Plus, if you’ve read Con Riley’s other books (like Charles, Luke, Sol etc., all published this year – quite prolific!), you feel right at home: Cornwall is the core centre for her writing, even if the protagonists don’t live there anymore. Big plus: the heroes of her other books do not have to make an appearance for me as reader to feel at home because I know the place by now and expect them to lurk just around the corner (by getting a small detail in the narration) and they do not take over at all.

        Not quite finished: KJ Charles’ new Christmas novella. I got impatient, so I skipped to the end and now am leisurely enjoying the whole book (I should know by now that romances have a happy ending…).
        Postponed: Slippery Creatures. I had some problems getting into the story, probably my fault (too much of a similarity of the 1920s to our 2020s with inflation, just-out-of-a-pandemic, dissatisfaction with politics and politicians etc.). Will continue later.
        Also not yet finished: listening to Alice Oseman’s “I was born for this”. I like it but am strangely not drawn into the story which might have to do with the fact that it’s an audiobook. Or about fandoms. I didn’t really like “If this gets out” by Sophie Gonzales which has a similar setting. Maybe I’m comparing too much.

      2. It’s just solidly nice, you know? I like both characters, they both have issues, but they are adults about it. It’s pretty much a feel good read through and through. Without being silly or too much.

  5. I read a couple more TA Moore series, one of which I found a little too gritty for my tastes, but another, the Digging Up the Bones duology, hit the spot – about the uneasy/reluctant partnership, professional and non professional, between an FBI agent and a police K-9 handler who works on missing person cases. Moore is a terrific writer, very edgy for sure, with lots of insight. As an aside, I was really interested in the relationship between the handler and the dog, which was not sentimental, and how he trains and manages the dog. I didn’t know German commands are typically used for these dogs and had to consult a lexicon to get clear on them. Plus I like that she has unique names for her characters – Cloister and Grade and Took – instead of all the Kyles, Liams, Xanders and Ollies that seem to litter contemporary novels.

    I tried a couple of Megan Derr’s, based on Mary’s recommendation – How Not to Marry a Prince and The High King’s Golden Tongue which I really enjoyed. Am now moving to on the rest of that series.

    Also read KJ Charles’ Christmas novella Masters in this Hall, which was good, but not one of her best. Have also realized despite my declaration that I’d read one Christmas book for the season and I was done ….that I’ve actually read…nine Christmas books. Denial, it’s a thing.

    1. Hi Tammy,

      As a former police dog trainer, I feel the need to clear up the commands. Sometimes they are in English, sometimes in German. When I was training it depended on if the dogs were raised in Germany. Now I think it’s whatever the tradition of the department that’s training them. So you’ll find K-9 departments across the US all have different protocols when it comes to dogs, and even differences within departments sometimes. Search and rescue, vs bomb dogs, vs patrol dogs.

      Okay. Got that piece of useless knowledge out of my head. Carry on.

      1. Got any tips for getting through the thick skull to the smart brain of an adolescent GSD? Hannah is driving me to drink. She’s going through the bad-when-the-humans-can’t-see-me phase and doing things like taking stuff off the kitchen counter. Yesterday it was my pill case! Fortunately, she didn’t want to eat the pills, just destroy the case (All pills except the vitamin D capsules were accounted for).

        1. I feel your pain. I have an 8 month-old labrador retriever who is in the teenage-I-can’t-hear-you / thieving phase. I had to block off the entrance to the kitchen to keep her from counter surfing.

          Thank goodness yours didn’t eat your pills. Mine thieved an avocado the other day, though fortunately suffered no ill effects.

      2. To give the author credit, she was clear that commands could be in both English and German, and that it depended on the situation and department, etc. So my bad not hers! It’s a fascinating topic.

    2. Men’s names seem hard. Women get so many more choices, including coopting traditionally male names.

      Good to know about Megan Derr. I will move her up the list.

    3. Try R. Cooper. She writes both contemporary and fantasy and she’s very good. Some of my favorites are A Beginners Guide to Wooing Your Mate, A Suitable Consort (for the King and His Husband), My Man Godric, Familiar Spirits… Oh, I almost forgot – For Better or Worse, and Dancing Lessons, and Green Tea and Pink Apples, and…

      Maybe I better stop now.

  6. Besides a lot of rereading, I read Moira’s Pen, which is essentially a mix of authorial reflections and mini stories by Megan Whalen Turner about her Queen’s Thief world. For those like me who love her books it’s a nice return to that world but it’s not a coherent whole if that makes sense

  7. I’m still trying to emerge from a 2.5 year reading slump. (Yes, I read Murderbot, and no, it didn’t lead me to pick up another book!)

    But, this week I was at a work conference and did finish one of my free Prime books – Keeper of Enchanted Rooms. It was sweet and entertaining, but I was annoyed at the number of modern-ish references/concepts in a book that was set in 1846. It’s funny how I can suspend disbelief when it comes to a house that rearranges itself, but not when a character from 1846 thinks something along the lines of: oh, well, it’s cheaper than therapy.

    At any rate, I think I’m going to set a goal of one NEW fiction read and one non-fiction every week this month, which seems lame compared to the goal-less 250 books a year that I read before the pandemic.

    But I’m hoping it will give me a jump start and then if I just keep the books open, eventually my reading battery will recharge itself.

    Apparently Anne Helen Petersen’s Culture Study discord has a group called READING IS IMPORTANT TO ME AND I WILL PROVE IT – I am tempted to subscribe just to be part of a group that is clearly calling my name.

    1. Maybe you are putting too much pressure on yourself, my bar is really low, pick a book (nothing long or complicated) read a page a day, you will read more if you get into the story, but you only have to read the page today, It’s how I did most of my reading last year

    1. This is so cool! — Thank you, Jane!! Apparently KJ Charles is another author who constantly re-reads Georgette Heyer and Terry Pratchett!!! — Oh frabjous day!!!!

      1. You might want to look at her previous annual recommendations. That’s where I found A. J. Demas; and I think Alexis Hall, among others.

  8. I read Garth Nix’s Frogkisser! and then went back into “I don’t know what to reeeaaaaddddd” mode. I don’t know if it’s the holidays or getting sick for Thanksgiving but I’m struggling to find something that holds my attention even though I really really want to read.

  9. It seems likely that I’ll be evicted from the dotter’s garage soon. So I’m shopping for a new home. I’ve printed out Benefit Verification Letters from State and Federal Retirements and Social Security. The dotter (also to be evicted) is taking me to see three houses today. Why will we be evicted? The deadbeat dad from whom she is divorced has not kept up paperwork, is off his meds, is unemployed, can’t pay the mortgage and the house is solely in his name.

    I am too old for this sh*t.

    Oh. I read or listened to the usual book and watched the usual shows. I gardened. I maintained my weight, despite a horrendous GTH diet-buster day.

        1. Umm…. I don’t know squat about ownership laws, but I hope your daughter has checked with Legal Services or something concerning any money she put into buying or maintaining it.

          1. There are questions for which she can’t afford a lawyer. That’s all a separate issue. Since she’s been a stay-at-home mom all along, she’s finding it impossible to get employment.

            We looked at three houses today. The first and most expensive was not the favorite, but either of the other two would do, and both have finished basements. Call those “The Owner’s Suite.” I’m starting the loan application process. Either would triple my space for hydroponics, permit a larger bed, dresser, table and chairs, plural. I might even get an apartment-size stove to cook on and retire the hotplate.

            My cart seems to be ahead of my horse. One step at a time.

            If I do manage to buy a house, I told the dotter I’d need to hire a part-time housekeeper. Slave wages and room & board. Tax withholding and social security. Employment history. Recommendation. 🙂

          2. Gary it might be worth talking to the state child support agency to see if they can garnish any house sale proceeds after the bank recoups its loan to cover unpaid child support. They should do it for free.

          3. Hey, it’s great that the two more reasonably-priced houses had potential!

            If you get a housekeeper, you’ll have fewer naked gardening days. Just saying.

          4. We have just made an offer on a five bedroom with partially finished Owner’s Suite. I have a preapproval letter from a loan company. Things are moving faster than I thought possible.

            I have passed suggestions from here to the dotter. Thanks to you all. 🙂

          5. Gary, she shouldn’t have to pay for Legal Aid (or whatever it’s called in your area) if she falls into that financial category. It’s definitely worth looking into Legal Aid to see what can be done, especially if he’s not paying child support either. This situation is raising a lot of legal questions. Having said that, there may be a upside to breaking all legal/financial ties.

          6. I believe Gary was speaking (with tongue slightly in cheek) about a more steady & trustworthy occupation for The dotter Herself, so the nakedness thing will be a previously-established pattern. At least that’s my reading….

  10. I just finished Louise Penny’s newest Inspector Gamache, A World of Curiosities. As with all of her books, I loved it. I’d never heard of the painting, A World of Curiosities, and had to look it up. Now I’m on to An Isle of Man Ghostly cozy collection by Diana Xarissa. I’m in the middle of the second book and so far, so good. Nice cozy mystery set in a place I’d love to visit.

  11. I’m re-reading (in audio) some of the Dresden Files, and got to one I didn’t particularly like the first time (Ghost Story — it just drags and drags and drags), when I read it on paper, and it’s also the one that was narrated by someone other than James Marsters (until readers complained, Marsters’ schedule cleared, and it was re-recorded). The library only had the original non-Marsters version, and I decided to listen to it anyway, because it was free through my library and I was curious about the different narrator. He was perfectly adequate, but couldn’t overcome the weakness of the book itself, I think. Plus, I think I’d gotten so used to James Marsters as really embodying Harry Dresden that the different narrator just felt wrong. Sort of like anyone other than Kobna Holdbrook-Smith performing the Rivers of London books. (Heaven forfend!)

    But in better news — looks like we’re getting the next Murderbot sooner than I’d expected (now scheduled for fall 2023, and I’d been resigned to 2024): https://twitter.com/TorDotComPub/status/1600867806798413826

    1. I’m with you, I can’t read the books, on summary they have all the elements I should love, but they are missing something at the core for me. Listening to James Marsters narrate them worked for a bit.

    2. I could never listen to the James Marsters Dresden recordings, because I just heard Spike with an American accent. Which I know is his actual accent, but I couldn’t get past it, even as good as he is.

  12. I’m at the denouement of Dry Bones, the first of the Enzo Files by Peter May. I made myself stop listening last night as I had an early meeting this morning, so I can’t give a full opinion. However, I have been enjoying the story and unless the end completely sucks, I will likely listen to others in the series.

    I also restarted Murderbot while I was in Williamsburg over the weekend. I never tire of them.

    Probably there have been others…

  13. I read the Murderbot books two and three:Rogue Protocol; Exit strategy. They both jumped right in and moved along nicely. I was partly right about Murderbot becoming more human, as he (beard= he) grew more hair on his face and body, and he endured several hugs without shuddering. Now, do I read on? I would have to order more.

    I reread Hot Toy. So many laughs! I read Woman World by Aminder Dhaliwal. It took me an hour, tops. This is a cartoon book, and involves a world where the men die off and eventually disappear. Interesting concept. If you’re interested, don’t buy it, just borrow it.

    1. Oops. That’s Murderbots three and four. I’m thinking book five is a lot more expensive, so I didn’t get it.

      1. Number five is the full length novel, if I am counting correctly. That may explain the jump in price.

  14. I’m doing my yearly everything Louisa May Alcott read, but I have to break it up with other books. I read VE Schwab’s The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue and it was amazing. I gave it 5 stars and recommended it to everyone.

    I also read Emily Henry’s Beach Read, which was good, but not amazing. Klara and the Sun made me cry, and also dislike human beings, so I’m not sure how I feel about it.

    For brain candy, I read Kristen Ashley’s Smoke and Steel which is surprisingly feminist and has a fully adult female main character instead of a teenager in a grown woman’s body. I really liked it and never wanted to slap either of the main characters, so that was a pleasant surprise.

  15. I listened to the A Very Merry Bromance which was good but would have benefited from more interaction between the bros as that is the strength of the series in my mind. Very nicely narrated by Andrew Eiden.

    I tried to listen to Bright Winter Lights also performed by Andrew Eiden and a female narrator whose voice isn’t comfortable to me.

    Still reading and enjoying A Winter’s Tale by Trisha Ashley.

  16. I just finished A Lady For a Duke by Alexis Hall which left me strangely ambivalent. Although I liked the main characters, it took me a long time to get into the story. I also found some of the terminology about living one’s own truth a little too Oprah-ish for the historical setting. I enjoyed parts of it, but like Rosalind Palmer Takes the Cake, not as much as I had hoped I would.

      1. The Duke part is not necessary. I read the Eloisa James ones because I liked the first one I read. In fact,I find all attention to living off the tenants disturbing.

  17. My browser ate my first, rather lengthy, attempt at posting about a couple of books. Here’s the barebones version.

    Wistful Ascending by JCM Berne. Here’s the blurb:

    “A superhero space opera for grownups.
    For fans of Invincible and Marvel Cinematic Universe films who like a little hard science fiction in their superheroes.
    If Thor and Harry Dresden combined in a transporter accident.

    The il’Drach have conquered half a galaxy behind the civilization-ending Powers of their mixed-species children.
    Half-human Rohan, exhausted by a decade fighting for their Empire, has paid a secret and terrible price for his freedom.
    Now retired, he strives to live a quiet life towing starships for the space station Wistful. His most pressing problems are finding the perfect cup of coffee and talking to a gorgeous shuttle tech without tripping over his own tongue.
    A nearby, long-dormant wormhole is opened by a shipful of scared, angry refugees, and the many eyes of the Empire focus uncomfortably on Wistful.
    As scientists, spies, and assassins converge, reverting to the monster the Empire created is the surest way to protect his friends. And the surest way to lose them.”

    A Hard Day for a Hangover by Darynda Jones. If you liked the sequel to A Bad Day for Sunshine (A Good Day for Chardonnay) then you will probably like this third book in the trilogy. I loved A Bad Day for Sunshine so very very much, particularly the relationship between Sunshine and her daughter Auri. I thought the sequel, and the third, leaned too hard into making the rest of the people in town, including the love interest, caricatures. But if you liked the second book you will probably love the third book.

  18. I read the first two books of The Firebird Chronicles by T. A. White. Will likely move onto the third. I convinced my husband to read Written in Red by Anne Bishop and then he raced through the next four books in the series. I knew he’d like them! It’s been fun having him chortling away at the antics of Meg, Simon, and the rest.

  19. I listened to Murderbot on my long drives and, as always, it totally hit the spot. I could drop out of the story when I needed to concentrate on my driving and know I wasn’t going to miss anything, which is always good on a combination highway/city drive.

  20. In preparation for Everina Maxwell’s new novel, Ocean’s Echo I re-read her last year’s debut book, Winter’s Orbit. I loved it then, and I loved it now. This sci-fi adventure incorporates an m/m love story perfectly. If you haven’t read it yet, you should. It is graceful and very intense, although not a romance, precisely, as there are no sex scenes. Instead, it is a love story unfolding in a complex and controversial alien world. But the people are humans, no matter what they call themselves, and their emotional upheavals kept me glued to the pages until the end.

    The new book for me this week was Jilly Wood’s The Seeds of Power – a light, sweet fantasy with a romantic subplot. It has been sitting in my TBR pile for a while, but I finally read it. I’m glad I did. If I thought about a cinematic representation of this story, it wouldn’t be a grim series like The Game of Thrones. Instead, it would be a Japanese anime, bubbly with music, color, and magic, like a Miyazaki film. The characters, the tension, the conflict – everything worked. Although the villain in the story was as cartoonish as they come, the hero and the heroine still had to wade through a labyrinth of problems before they could find their HEA. A delightful little novel.

    1. Hi Olga, thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed The Seeds of Power.

      I’m currently waiting for the editor’s report on the next Elan Intrigues book, The Seeds of Destiny. If all goes well with the revisions I’m planning to publish it in the first half of next year.

  21. I reread a couple of the Rock Chick books by Kristen Ashley. Now I’m rereading Tangled Up In You by Rachel Gibson and I think I’m going to reread that whole four book series the writer friends series by Rachel Gibson. No new reads this time.
    I do want to say that I really enjoyed the documentary Taylor Swift Miss Americana. I wasn’t a fan before but I am now. If you watch it make sure that you keep watching until she gets to the point where she realizes her voice has been muffled for no reason and things really change for her from that point forward.

  22. I finished Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristan Higgins, a satisfactory journey through the first year of a surprise divorce. There’s our protagonist, an earth mother nurse mid-wife who feeds the birds and cooks a lot, and then there’s the other woman, who is a calculating gold digger, who climbs up from white trash to a New York society lady. I have to say I enjoyed her character very much, she was pretty formidable, focused, and disciplined in her search.

    Now I’m listening to Paladin of Souls, by McMaster Bujold, carrying on the story started with The Curse of Chalion. Very gratifying that Ista gets her freedom from insanity, grief, and shame.

  23. Finishing Dick Francis The Edge, a train travelling across Canada with race horse owners, race horses, actors and the bad guys. Love to travel by train so I felt right at home. It will be one of my favourites.

      1. Really it should be “rail trip across the Rockies in Canada” – that’s the really beautiful part. You’ll want to miss Prairies which are flat and endlessly boring and flat….Sorry Manitoba and Saskatchewan.

        1. Northern Ontario by rail is also not fun. Been there, done that. Twice. I love rocks and trees (and prairie) but not at those speeds!

          1. I rode the Canadian once from Vancouver to Toronto and loved it all. Yes, the tracks through the Rockies sported elk on the side tracks and an amazing view of Mount Whoosis (sorry, I forgot, it’s tall, I have a photo). But part of the fun was traveling during the winter when the locals, in Saskatchewan, for instance, took the train for “local” stops because the driving was so bad. Constant snow also meant the crew had to keep shoveling out between the cars; not only were the Dome car and the dining car a snowy hike from our sleeper — the showers were, too. That was one of the best long distance train trips I’ve been on.

  24. I’m reading a female-centric, historical, nonfiction collection of biographical essays called WOMEN OF MEANS by Marlene Wagman-Geller. I’m only in two essays, but so far I’m enjoying the vignettes about women who were born with silver spoons in their mouths but who ended up tarnished in spite of their privilege.

  25. Read Casey McQuiston’s “One Last Stop” and really liked it. I liked the romance but oddly enough it would have worked if they’d been separated at the end instead as it felt like it was more about growth than love per se. But also happy with them together. The cross-time format really enabled McQuiston to explore how far we’ve come in the last fifty years in a way I haven’t seen before and very much appreciated.

    Continued my Grace Burrowes glom with “Forever & a Duke” and I really rather loved the brusque bank auditor heroine and her baffled hero. One of Burrowes’ more enjoyable books.

    Kris Ripper’s “Hate Project” featured a wonderfully saracastic hero with a great support system and the standoffish collegaue from the Love Study who doesn’t quite know what to do with the friends he’s accidentally acquired. The two heroes bicker delightfully. Plus I loved the grandmother-grandson relationship.

    And just re-read Harrow the Ninth in preparation for Nona but didn’t like it as much this time around – I think knowing the mystery took some of the fun out of it unfortunately.

  26. I’ve been slogging through an academic tome about actresses in Georgian England; if I ever finish it, I’ll let you know.

    Finished this week: three Ngaio Marsh re-reads. An anthology of holiday M/M stories, with the usual mix ranging from ‘skip past’ to ‘try to find this later as a standalone.’ The new KJ Charles novella, ‘Masters of this Hall,’ which I honestly loved and will be re-reading as soon as I re-read ‘Any Old Diamonds.’

    Then it was three satisfying full-length M/M romances in a row: ‘Beautiful Hearts’ by Jax Calder (recommended here last week, thanks!); ‘What Happens at Christmas’ by Misha Horne; and ‘Christmas on Firefly Hill’ by Garrett Leigh. Very different books, variously angsty and sexy; all well-paced with good character development and no ‘OMG not that again’ plot devices; all with believable emotional arcs and good communication between the MCs.

    1. I read What Happens at Christmas too – and also enjoyed it. But what’s with Misha Horne and the spanking thing?? I’m all for a kink – but she centres her entire canon around it..that’s just strange. Especially since in the of hers I’ve read, there was other stuff going on with the MC’s that could have used a little more exploration.

      1. I reckon everybody’s got their thing. With me it’s career evolution (which, let’s face it, is much less sexy). I’ve now read three by Misha Horne and will admit I chose them because they were on sale but it’s like I can put aside the kink part because her character work is so interesting. The books do skew toward erotica and with all three I’ve wished for more This Relationship Outside the Kink, but you can’t have everything. 🙂

        1. I definitely don’t think you can count career evolution as a kink. And I say that as an Human Resources professional. It’s an excellent ‘thing’ though.

          Yes, I’ve also read three by Misha Horne and have the same wish as you – you’re clearly more of a realist than I am – I am hoping for having everything still!

  27. I have been dealing with the title company on the sale of a house and it has been such a PIA that I’m comfort-reading Ngaio Marsh to keep my blood pressure in check.

    I got a “Bob Ross” advent calendar thingy, which has little quotes and audio clips, which has been quite entertaining. When the house thing is all done I think I’ll get out my painting supplies and try my hand at some “happy, happy trees”.

    1. For some reason I read Bob Ross but pictured one of the men from This Old House on PBS and I thought – why would he do an advent calendar. Then you said the happy, happy trees thing & I figured it out. I got a laugh first, though.

  28. I semi-randomly picked out a book on my library app, Game of Secrets by Kim Foster, Victorian era kids with special abilities – mission: protect the Queen’s Golden Jubilee from bad guy sabotage. Enjoyed it.

  29. If anyone needs some fun reading over the holidays, try Murder with Peacocks. Donna Andrews. Funny and upbeat, with bodies. And if you like it, there be many more after it… Murder with Puffins, We’ll Always Have Parrots… you get the idea.

  30. Not a book, but this year I am opening the days on the Christmas Bookshelf Advent Calendar from the Bodleian Libraries, University of Oxford. It’s beautiful.

    The front artwork shows library bookshelves with early-20th-century sorts of books. Open each day to see an illustration from another book. Of course, all the books are in the Bodleian’s collections.

    1. The Bodleian Library is great, I did the tour for my friend’s bachelorette party, we also did the Lewis detective’s Landmark tour. Worth it if you watch the series

  31. I read Search by Michelle Huneven about a woman, a writer, who joins the search committee for a new minister at her UU (Unitarian Universalist) church partly in hopes of getting material for a new book. It was a funny read and I learned some things about the UU’s but most of the things that went on in the committee would be recognizable to anyone whose ever been on a committee of any kind.

    I also started KJ Charles The Band Sinister. I’ve never read any of her books before but so far I’m enjoying it. Which one should I read next?

      1. Either that or Think of England, which also has a similar character dilemma, although different tone and plot.

    1. Band Sinister was a new departure for her. I like it a lot; The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting is, by comparison, a blank in my memory. She does have a strong series set in the same period – The Society of Gentlemen, which starts with a novella: The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh. The stories are more emotional and the sex pretty full on, especially in the last two in the series. The world is brilliantly conjured up, and the characters are great.

        1. Tone was my first thought. 🙂 Society of Gentlemen series is brilliant work but the historical through-plot is really kind of harsh and some of the MC interactions are, well, harsh. 🙂 I think once you embrace the KJ Charles world you trust that she’s not going to do irreparable damage to her characters, but there are moments that require trust.

    2. Search committee for UU minister? As a UU adjacent person (many friends there) I have to find this; it should be hilarious.

      1. I used to work for a small UU affordable housing loan fund, which gave me a great fondness for UUs — very environment-conscious, politically informed people with big hearts and (sometimes) big personalities, but it was hard to drum up support for affordable housing sometimes, since there were so MANY good causes, each of which was demanding help and attention. Still, it made for a better world in many small ways.

  32. The dates from Thanksgiving to Christmas are always stressful for me and I realized that I do tend to reach for older books that I enjoyed to comfort me. One such book series is Janet Chapman’s Highlander Series. There are Scottish highlanders, magic, romance, humor. I will go back to the first book in her series and enjoy the story all over again. We lost her too soon.

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