149 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 26, 2023

  1. I read both of Becky Chambers’ Monk and Robot books. They’re lovely gentle stories set in a post apocalyptic world where people had actually fixed society and the environment.

    And in total contrast, I read Ilona Andrews’ Magic Tides. That was great fun.

    And I read a bunch of tax guides. One star, do not recommend, but sadly will probably reread next year.

    1. Just whatever you do, don’t get tax advice from social media! Apparently there’s now a whole genre of “tax influencers” offering really risky hacks to lower your taxes, and all I can say is that the IRS is probably salivating over finally being able to hire more agents (and support staff) to start auditing these guys and looking into whether they’re following the rules about offering tax advice without being licensed! The last I knew, there were some pretty strict licensing and continuing-ed requirements for tax prep.

  2. I read Spare. Purely voyeuristic – I was interested on a royal’s insider pov on what it is like to be a royal, and it totally satisfied from that perspective. You can read the ‘top ten scandals’ from the book in any newspaper these days but even those are not being reported accurately, to a shocking point actually, and so I’m glad I read the source myself. From the perspective of a memoir, it was as honest as possible – Harry is committed to telling the good/bad/ugly about himself. However, he has little ability to put himself in the shoes of his family and so has thrown his relationship with his father and brother onto the trash heap, which I think is kind of sad. From the angle of autobiography, it certainly doesn’t live up to the Katherine Graham standard, and the ghostwriter doesn’t entirely capture his voice (read the Keith Richards’ one for a well ghostwritten book) and jumps around erratically in various anecdotes sometimes. The writer’s at his best when capturing Harry’s experience in the military.

    I also read Even the Wingless, thanks to LN and Lian – a bit harder edged with violence than I was expecting but fascinating anyway and am now onto the second book in the series.

    And for my hockey book loving friends, I read Hockey Bois by A.L. Heard – so good! Slow burn, lots of hockey stuff to geek out on, and interesting relationship dynamic building between the M/C’s. One weird thing – no sex scenes in the book and instead are published them on Archive of Our Own. Weird choice – I would have included at least the one where they finally get together – it actually built a whole other character dimension. Oh well.

  3. I’m reading the new “Innkeepers” book by Ilona Andrews, Sweep of the Heart and enjoying it. That’s the Kindle book this week. In print, I’m reading Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber. I’m pretty sure that one was recommended by someone here. If so, thank you! I’m loving it. Magical realism.

    Random question…is magical realism always set in the South?

    1. I think there’s quite a lot set in south america (which is still south haha) and also Japan. Oh, and I don’t know if it counts as magical realism or just absurdism, but any of Etgar Keret’s work (Israeli) is excellent and also along those lines. Oh, also there’s catch-22 which I’m not entirely sure where it’s set haha

    2. Alice Hoffman writes a lot of magical realism (Practical Magic, anyone?!?) And sets them all over the country.

    3. I just enjoyed Murder Most Fowl, by Donna Andrews, and noticed a nice little thank you at the end to her Wicca expert, or as she puts it, Wiccan Sensitivity Reader. Cool!

  4. I just finished Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and enjoyed it. I’m working my way through The Invisible Kingdom, Reimagining Chronic Illness by Meghan O’Rourk. It’s very interesting so far. It pretty much chronicles what I’ve been going through. I’m just starting Likely Subjects by GK Parks.

  5. It is never a good sign when I have to open my kindle to check what I have read this week. I have gone back on KU for a couple of months and I was hoping to read some of the books that were on my KU list but all those I fancied turned out to not be on KU after all. I now need to decide whether I am prepared to buy them.
    All this to say that I haven’t read anything this week that I want to recommend. It happens :).

  6. Linda Holmeses “Flying Solo.” I really enjoyed the writing and the story. As often happens, I thought the book was longer than it needed to be, but I’ve come to the conclusion that that’s just me.

        1. Films too, I once watched a cheap horror movie starting half way through on TV. I though it was pretty good for what it was, then watched the first half when it turned up on TV later. If I’d started there I wouldn’t have bothered, just info dump for the set up. Sometimes less is more.

  7. I read “Just Last Night” by Mhairi McFarlane. It was good, but not the light hearted romp you may be expecting from her. A group of four friends is devastated when an accident kills one of them. This book deals with the fallout from that – dealing with the deceased family and other issues that come up as a result of that death. The bit I marveled about at the end of the book is when one character is told of his/her shortcomings, thinks about it and actually comes clean with owning it and working on doing better. And there was a little romance toward the end.

  8. I am with you, Jenny. It was 16º this morning and it is only going to get worse. Maybe -1º next Thursday.Cocoa sounds good!

  9. I read all 4 of TS Geissinger’s Queens and Monsters series.
    The dialogue made me laugh so much; I thoroughly enjoyed it.

  10. Variation on a Theme Book 4 continues to be serialized. I continue to read it. Fifty-six chapters into Senior Year of High School and it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet. It’s looking to be another half-million word story. The author is unapologetic. The readers of StoriesOnline.Net/World Literature Publishing Co. seem to prefer the “long form,” since they aren’t paying by the word. They have never learned Simon Illyan’s “ABCs”: Accuracy, Brevity, Conciseness. I am one of those readers. What does that say about me? (I know it says I like Bujold.)

    Tell Me Lies is open in the Kindle Ap. Since it is book 2 in The Jennifer Crusie Collection there will be five more Crusies over the next several Thursdays.

    I also have Chapter 10 of A Clean Fake Marriage Romance Collection – The Marriage Series by Victorine E. Lieske open. Fake marriage stories are so predictable. Guilty pleasure. It seems familiar. I may have read it before.

    Other than that, no books. Lots of serials on Netflix. How did I manage 20 years without watching television?

    Official Weigh-In Day #93: 254.0 pounds. Retreading familiar ground.

      1. Years back I was chastising author David Weber for giving characters nicknames without hint nor explanation. This is a writer famous for infodumps and 300K word novels. I quoted Jenny: “What am I, Chopped Liver?” as an outstanding example of the bestowal of a nickname. [The nicknames in question came during conventions, particularly after-hours card games – Spades – and were therefore private between David and some fans. So unfair to the rest of us.]

      2. I re-read that one recently too. It reinforced my horror of small towns.
        The one I am craving to re-read next is the one in which the plumpish heroine tells him ‘I’m going to spread’ and he says ‘ Not until midnight.’
        Oh yeah, Bet Me. That line slays me.

        1. Bet Me is always described as a romance with a plus size heroine. I remember how appalled and astounded I was when Min said she was a size 12 during one of the fittings. Excuse me, when is a 12 a plus size? Especially since I think she said she was 5’ 6”. When I was younger I was that height and size and I weighed 133lbs. I wasn’t petite and I was always trying to lose 5 pounds but I did not think of myself as fat. I thought losing some weight would make me perfect. Of course Min had a sister and mother who were size 4. My sister was 15 pounds heavier than I was and just shy of 6 feet and was also a size 12.

          1. I used to wear a size 12 when I was thin. I have wide hips and wide shoulders and long arms, and even when I only weighed 120 lbs I wore a 12. (I’m not telling you what I wear now, but I long for a 12.)

          2. My sister and I recently talked about the old days when we were much thinner. Back then it was in the jeans now it is in the genes. Argh!

          3. Min never says she’s a size 12.
            Her mother buys her a size 8 corset that she can’t lace up, and people have decided from that she’s a twelve, but I don’t see how they get there.
            Just to be sure, I called up Bet Me on my Kindle and searched for “twelve” and “12.” Nope.
            You know what else she never says? That she’s 5’6″. Cal describes her to himself as medium height, which in American 5’4, but again, I have no idea how tall she is because the reader gets to define all of that. Some people will see her as overweight at 5’9 in a 12, and some people will see her as overweight at size 22, and some people will decide she’s not overweight it’s all in her head.
            I deliberately never said what size she wears because I don’t want to get in the way of a reader’s assumptions and because the size doesn’t matter.
            Sorry, but I have been getting this ever since Bet Me came out and how the hell anybody knows what size she is when I don’t is beyond me.

          4. I never really thought about Min’s weight. To my mind, what she is not is a « I am starving myself to be thin » weight. That’s what I like in heroines.

          5. Jenny, This is fascinating. I know that I’ve misremembered things in books many times. More often, I’ve added things that weren’t in the books.

          6. It’s part of that “every novel is a collaboration between writer and reader” bit. I try to leave a lot of room in a text for the reader to fill in the blanks on description while not explaining things, and readers do, which is fine. It’s when they get mad at me because they filled in the blanks that I start getting frustrated.

            Also I’m cranky because I’m sick, so I apologize for being bitchy.

          7. I didn’t really think of Min in terms of weight or size – just bosomy because Calvin looks down her blouse. I think. I may have misremembered that….?

          8. Tammy, You’ve got it right. Min’s style changes from white cotton bra and tightly pulled back hair to a lacy red bra (are my specifics right?) and a haircut that emphasizes her curls. And Cal’s on board all the way.

            Cynthie’s breasts are only athletic or something like that. But she wears an in appropriate blouse to the kids’ ballgame which show a lot of what she’s got. At least, I assume that’s why the blouse was inappropriate.

          9. Wow. I could have sworn I read that. Although in my defense, even when I was a 12 I could not had fit into a size 8 of anything. A size 10 possibly and a size 8 corset was beyond the scope of possibilities, even had I lost 10 to 15 pounds.

          10. The thing about sizes is, they’re all over the place. Even in shoes; I wear an 8 in some shoes, and a 7 1/2 in others. Plus size means nothing without knowing how tall somebody is, what kind of body distribution they have, if they’re muscular, and more. And then you consider that one person’s honest evaluation of what “fat” is can be a size 22, and another person’s definition of fat is size 12, and there was no way I was going to put numbers in there. Also I didn’t care what size she was; it was all about perception. Her mother looked at her and saw fat, her sister and friends looked at her and thought her body was fine, Cal looked at her and fell in love.

            It’s funny. During high school I was convinced I was fat. Thanks to the side effects of new meds, and now whatever this is that’s making me throw up, I’m at my high school weight again. I was not fat in high school. So even our own perceptions of our bodies change.

          11. I think I probably assumed her mother had bought her something two sizes too small – even she would be unlikely to imagine going down more than a couple of sizes would be possible; and one size smaller isn’t unreasonable enough. Of course, since they’re all American sizes, I’m translating them into English anyway: 8>10 or 12, etc. (And then there’s size inflation, so what was a UK size 16 when I was a teenager is now a 12. So the longer it is since Bet Me was written, the hazier any size references become.)

      3. I recommended Tell Me Lies to my sister as a romantic comedy. She was really upset with me because she said it was not a comedy. Her empathy for Emily overwhelmed everything else in the book. She read the entire book though so the story was effective. It is one of my favorites.

  11. After a few more rounds of stopping and starting, I am back to the comfort reads. I am really liking slice of life, with characters who are determined to make their world be what they want, so back to the Book of Firsts, after which I will probably see how Four Kings rereads, and Parties to follow up on Girls Weekend. I am really hoping the third in that series comes out soon. My rereads are wearing thin from overuse.

  12. A week of minor to could-have-been major family emergencies, then house guests, so the best I could do is listen to Murderbot’s Network Effect. Somehow the parts where it is whacking and smacking Targets around was very satisfying.

  13. My dad was an interpreter for the defense (assigned military duty in the US army , not his choice) at the Dachau war crimes trials after being on the war crimes investigation committee . I found a book called unsung heroes of the Dachau trials that was supposed to be about the investigators but it was mostly an effort to debunk Holocaust deniers and not really a history of the investigations. Very disappointing as my dad never talked about this work much and I would love to know more. He did say that he was never tempted to lie about what the defendents were saying because they were not trying to hide it—they were proud of it.

      1. He didn’t talk about it when we were kids because he didn’t want to traumatize us. When we were adults he would let bits drop. And we have records of an interview one of my sisters did and of sone other people did. But my sister tended to keep interrupting him to ask him things that interested her instead of prompting him and the others were short.
        I am eventually going to pull it all together for the Holocaust Museum.
        But there are so many gaps and things I would love to know more about.

        The book did make a case for the US and its allies reducing sentences and casting doubt on things that were really proven as part of the Cold War. For example my dad interpreted between Ilse Koch (“the bitch of buchenwald” ) and her defense lawyers and he said she really did make lampshades of peoples tattoos but subsequently people cast doubt on that.

        1. By “make a case” I mean it documented that it happened not that the author thought it was right.

      1. I think so much of it was chilling … growing up in Nazi Germany, fleeing, losing three relatives he was close to to the camps (and they knew what was happening in the camps because his uncle had been in Dachau and they got him out, but he stayed in Germany to care for his elderly father), the war, the investigations work which included digging up bodies of murdered American pilots, and then listening in court to the testimony about what happened. Hearing these men be proud of it I think wasn’t really a surprise —he had seen it in them.

        He was 19 to 21, and he hadn’t lived with his parents since he was 15 because the only jobs they could get were residential in youth homes. And of course he couldn’t call them and letters were pretty limited. So emotionally I think he was pretty isolated.

        My dad was the best person I ever knew and the kindest and most gentle. And always on the side of Justice. He helped found our town NAACP and Jewish Community and fought for an African American Studies Dept at the university where he taught botany and fought against the university doing anthrax research. When I was 7 he took me to our towns weekly Vietnam war protest. I cannot imagine what living through all of this was like for him—I’m sure his fight for Justice grew out of this .

          1. I am. And when he died I decided I had to talk about it to keep the memories alive ….

        1. Deborah, he sounds like an extraordinary man. I suspect a background like his would either make you very bitter, or make you determined to be kind. It sounds as if he took the latter path.

  14. I read Penric’s Travels, the second trilogy of Penric and Desdemona. The first one was pretty gruesome. The three got better, with the second one adding some humor. Will there be a marriage, soon? Hard to tell, since things intervene all the time in these stories. I re-read Legends and Lattes, and enjoyed it just as much the second time. I’m re-reading my favorite Georgette Heyer, These Old Shades. The Leon/Leonie character is cute and pert, and I love her attitude. The Duc of Avon is enigmatic, cynical and ruthless. The soft spot he develops for the “infant”(?) 19-year-old girl is the sauce of the book. I find it harder reading this time, maybe because I’m actually reading the court intrigue and historical stuff, when usually I skip over that.

    1. I wonder how many rereadings the paperback copy I bought 46 years ago in London will survive. The pages are all turning brown, but the binding is still holding. That and Devil’s Cub are the only Heyers I kept this long.

      1. I’ve got a few older than that – ones I bought as a teenager, so over 50 now, plus my aunt’s copy of The Grand Sophy, which I think is a 1950s paperback. I did get rid of a lot of them in the 1980s, and have had to buy much less attractive recent editions. (Pre Kindle, or I’d’ve bought them as ebooks.)

        1. The Grand Sophy is excellent, too. I may re-read that soon. She is a force to be dealt with!

  15. I read some more memoirs (the one true downside of work-from-home: I am not seeing/hearing other people’s real life stories anymore, so I have to read them), including ‘Downtown Shabby’ by Hopwood DePree, which was a quick fun read and also kind of inspiring. He has a YouTube channel which I plan to binge-watch someday – search Hopwood Hall Restoration if you’re interested. That book ties in nicely with a M/M romance called ‘Saving Crofton Hall’ by Rebecca Cohen, which I enjoyed this week too.

    My fiction time this week was otherwise devoted to Tamara Allen; I’ve now read everything she has available on AMZ in English. For me, these are 4 and 5 stars across the board. They are true historical fiction with M/M love stories embedded.
    ‘The Road to Silver Plume’ and ‘Playing the Ace’ are about a Treasury agent and a former counterfeiter in 1892-ish, joining forces to take down a new false currency/coin threat posed by a former ally of the counterfeiter. ‘Silver Plume’ wraps up neatly but ‘Ace’ really develops the romance.
    ‘Blue Skies’ is a time-travel story that is in all ways more satisfying than the famous one I ranted about last year. Requires undivided attention because there is a lot going on and several POV characters.
    ‘The Only Gold’ is a deception-for-good scenario and the POV character is the one deceived, which means his stress & heartbreak are front and center. The setting is a bank (also 1890s NYC – these characters appear briefly in ‘Playing the Ace’). All of those titles: day-by-day unraveling of plot and growth of relationship, Mortal Peril, plentiful historical detail that does not read like a lecture, good supporting casts.
    ‘If It Ain’t Love’ is a short story set in the Depression, featuring a journalist and the son of a scandalous suicide.
    ‘Whistling in the Dark’ is my favorite of 26 books read so far in 2023. Features two young WWI veterans in NYC at the dawn of the Jazz Age. Both: PTSD and money trouble. MC1 is a radio fanatic trying to save his family’s business. MC2 is a pianist whose career aspirations were torpedoed by a war injury and who was forced to leave postwar college when his campus affair was exposed. The characters are kind to each other in perceptive, important ways. Unhurried pace, non-graphic sex, realistic conflict, excellent supporting cast, completely credible happy ending.

    1. I liked her novella “Office Romance”. I found “Whistling in the Dark” a little tense for my liking but the history was excellent which I really appreciate and I suspect I’ll enjoy it more on the re-read.

  16. I finished all the Spade/Paladin short stories from Kristine Kathryn Rusch as well as “Magic Tides” from Ilona Andrews. They were all enjoyable.

    I’m now reading the latest Gunnie Rose novel from Charlaine Harris called “The Serpent in Heaven” which is a story about Gunnie Rose’s little sister Felicia in her new boarding school. It’s pretty interesting so far.

  17. Finished Deanna Raybourn’s Killers of a Certain Age and Ben Aaronovitch’s Amongst our Weapons. Really enjoyed both. I’m in the middle of Dana Cameron’s Past Malice. I checked out PM and Grave Consequences a couple of weeks ago in preparation for interviewing her for Con-Tinual, the multi-genre online convention. I’d read and liked a Emma Fielding book ages ago, but lifed prevented me from binging. Now PM and GC are the only Cameron titles in my local library system. Bummer. Cameron is eminently bingeworthy.

    1. I like the Emma Fielding series too. Cameron just started a new series; the first book is Exit Interview, in which a female covert op has been framed and targeted for termination. It sounded intriguing so I ordered it last week. Looking forward to it.

  18. I just finished ‘A Useful Woman’ – regency mystery lite, I liked it enough to start the second book but am not glued to the pages.
    I took The Goblin Emperor out of the library as an ebook since I kept hearing about it, here I believe. I haven’t been brave enough to get past the several pages of character names and explanations of pronunciations in Elf language. I mean, I practically lived in Middle Earth as a child, but is this really necessary?
    I need a few people to assure me that it’s all worth it in the end. I have just booked a late February trip to see my brother in Basel in February (hooray!- daffodils bloom there in February!), and it would make a nice meaty holiday book, but the risk… the risk!

    1. I think it’s worth it, and I just finally gave up on the pronunciation. If you really need to know a pronunciation, look it up as you go. I like the way the MC grows into his position as Emperor, and extracts vengeance against his former “mentor” in a very non-violent way. He makes friends with the best people, who can help him, on his own. He becomes a caring, innovative ruler, despite those who do not appreciate him and are working against him.

    2. It’s seriously worth it. The names and myriad titles are annoying – I think her editor should have persuaded her out of them – but the ebook format will allow you to search the book for previous references when you get confused, and then hop straight back to the story.

    3. It’s absolutely worth it. It is one of my favorite rereads, and I would call it one of those magical, near perfect books at the risk of overselling it. Although, I am a big audiobook person, so I switched to that, which helped with the pronunciation a lot. The narrator is excellent.

      1. I think the thing that threw me the most is that the feminine names end in o and the male names tend to end in a, the opposite of my beginners Spanish.

          1. It was my name in Spanish class, and my family adopted it. My given name is Emily, and there are always so many of those that I have used Lupe as a nickname for 15 years.

            No hablo espanol. Leo un poco mejor.

          2. That’s a great story Lupe. I remember in my first English language class, my teacher gave us anglicized versions of our names if they existed. If not, she gave people a random English name. One of my classmates ended up being called Beryl!
            Lupe is much cooler really.
            As for my alias here, it is the correct way to pronounce my first name which most English mangle when they see it written down :).

          3. Happy to know your secret. I was speculating the other day that maybe you were a Louise; I like Hélène much better. (Mine’s easy: I’m happy to be Jeanne in French.)

      1. Ok, Iguess we are at critical mass of recommendations here. I will read it!

        I would like to further develop the theme of my upcoming trip to Basel, Switzerland.
        If anyone is curious, look up the ancient and enduring festival of Fasnacht which takes place every spring in some complicated relationship to lent. Think Rio Carnival but take away all the beads and nudity and put everyone in grotesque plaster heads with snare drums and piccolos. My sis-in-law is totally over it after 23 years and doesn’t leave the flat for three days, but my brother and the kids throw themselves unashamedly into the street partying. Again, Swiss style— no sex, no boobs, no dancing— tossed blood oranges and candy, flour soup and onion tarts and a little mulled wine for anyone over fourteen.
        I adore it, this will be my fourth Fasnacht.

        1. Growing up in central PA, Fasnacht Day to us kids meant the day we got handmade donuts made from potato flour, deep-fried in lard, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. The very elderly ladies in our church made them, and when I was really small I would go with my mom to pick up a dozen for our family and I would get one recently out of the fryer and still warm. It’s been well over forty years since I’ve had one, and I doubt I could stomach it now (and I don’t know if it’s still a local tradition), but it was such a special treat!

    4. That’s actually a peculiarity of the ebook!

      I almost didn’t make it through that part. I was glad I did… but I found out later that the print book does *Not* put them first and it all made so much more sense.

      So, you could skip that and go straight to the story.

    5. It is absolutely worth it, Lisa. I can’t usually be bothered with long names and unpronounceable places in books, but Goblin Emperor quickly became so engrossing that I didn’t care.

    6. I think the language and archaic pronouns are designed to put you in a similar place to the main character, being dumped into a world that he doesn’t really have a good grasp on.
      I genuinely think it’s worth finishing, it’s a comfort book for me.

    7. This has become one of the most re-read books on my bookshelves. Maia, and the way he approaches the world and deals with things, is just so deeply satisfying to me.

  19. I’m almost done with a sweet chicklit book called “Very Sincerely Yours” by Kerry Winfrey. I’m liking it, and it’s highly useful for reading before sleep, because it’s so quiet and gentle — all about a nice girl who is living with a boyfriend who treats her like a useful doormat. When he informs her that it’s time for her to leave their house (“MY house”) and find a different life for herself, she moves in with friends who persuade her that it’s time to do one thing every day that she’s afraid of doing, which she embarks on.

    She’s cute, the friends are great, the young man she finds herself attracted to is really great, and things start getting better for her fast. A nice uncomplicated book.

    1. What a timely review! I just picked it up from the library and I will keep that in mind when I decide what order I want to read the latest stack. Thanks, Jinx!

  20. Georgie, All Along came out this week by the fabulous Kate Clayborn so I dropped everything to read it and it was wonderful. There’s a very good rescue dog, an adorable romance, re-invention, plus some ecology. Loved it. Also everybody should have a family like the heroine’s in their lives somehwere.

    I’m halfway through Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson, and then I have the rest of Stevie Bell mysteries to catch up on. For some reason Nine Liars doesn’t come up as part of the Truly Devious series but it is the same characters, and like Box in the Woods, a setting outside of the Vermont school. I love the romance between Stevie and David. He takes her on a date: “Is this…a Jack the Ripper tour?” “Nothing’s too murdery for my princess!”

  21. I finally read “Boyfriend Material”. I quit on the sample because the first scene at work completely annoyed me. Based on dear sister’s gentle comments about how funny it is, I tried again. Yep, see why you all like it. Immediately read “Husband Material” which I didn’t like as well, but really enjoyed the “Four Weddings and a Funeral” pacing, once I realized it.

    Otherwise DFNing samples and fighting with my Kindle which won’t stop showing me things I have removed from download, (though admittedly with a helpful X on them). sigh. Might have to reread something on paper while hoping they fix this bug.

  22. I read Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren and I think I had too many issues with it to give an enthusiastic review. It takes until the very end to explain why this soulmate couple broke up, the reason why is having a character who seemed incredibly unlikely to do what he did, do what he did, and then we finally find out something else that just massacred and whammied me emotionally on top of THAT, and there’s a few other things that are confusing or not working well. The slow build romance between teens is cute, but I didn’t leave the book feeling warm and fuzzy.

    Also read “Forty Ways to Look at JFK,” which is an interesting/contradictory book on the guy’s plusses and minusses.

    I am now on to Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries, which I am enjoying so far.

  23. Light week. I finished Christie’s One Two Buckle My Shoe pretty quickly. The suicide of a dentist…or is it? A bit too much espionage/oh those young radicals distractions but it did keep me reading to find out how it was done and by whom.

    Re-read Wayland’s Poetry in Motion in gleeful anticipation of her new one, The Long Game coming finally in February (Pre-Order? Check!) And, I’ve always like Poetry in Motion…M/M hockey player/teaching assistant with lots of great poetry quotations and a surprisingly deeper look at concussions in sports.

    And finished with Tom Gauld’s Revenge of The Librarians. Cartoonist for the Guardian and the New Yorker with a dry literary bent. Catnip for us book nerds/literature majors and the writers of the world.

    1. I love me some Christie from time to time. One of my part time jobs is as a dental hygienist so I particularly like the book where the dentist is the murderer.
      Another fun book in which the dentist is a dweeb is Lawrence Block’s The Burglar in the Closet. Lawrence disses the hygienist at the end too. I like to imagine that he propositioned his own hygienist and she turned him down. I stress that this is purely speculation.

      1. Strong Poison by Dorothy L Sayers, She really hated that murder victim, it was only a few years after I read the book I found out why

  24. I reread Anna Cowan’s ‘Untamed’, which is one my favourite historical romances. Unfortunately the rights have reverted to her (that’s not the unfortunate bit) and she hasn’t yet made it available for sale (that is), so although I recommend it heartily, you can’t yet buy it. There are still a few hard copies floating around libraries in Aust and the US, however.

    Then I read Natasha Pulley’s ‘The Kingdoms’, which is one of those books that make me immediately want to go back to the beginning and start over. It’s an alt history/time travel/slow burning romance, with the divergence happening in the Napoleonic wars. Absolutely 5 stars, and a definite reread for me.

    Then The Last Bear, by Hannah Gold, another gorgeous book, this time for kids. And now I’m rereading Seduced by the Sorcerer (tacky title, but a good book), and enjoying it just as much second time round.

    1. I just finished Natasha Pulley’s “Lost Future of Pepperharrow”, the second about Mori & Thaniel. I really love how she handles Mori’s precognition and, although its sad in places, its also incredibly romantic. Will have to pick up “Kingdoms” next …

    2. Who’s the author of “Seduced by the Sorcerer”? I thought I knew but was mixing it up with Lee Welch’s book.

      1. Amazon shows two books with that title, one by a Karen Cobalt, the other by a Clare McClane. Both have five category specifiers, which I think makes each one unique. (Or the category labeler has issues, I don’t know….)

  25. After picking it up and putting it down several times, I finally read Partners in Crime by Alisha Rai. It certainly provided an interesting glimpse into Indian matchmaking and bridal customs. When you throw in some skulduggery in the family tree, precious jewels and relatives returning from the dead, it adds up to an entertaining romp. Since the publication date was 9 days after the author’s wedding, you have to wonder how much came from real life (did she ever run off to Vegas in search of stolen jewels?).

    Before that I read Merry Inkmas by Talia Hibbert. I enjoyed this novella, although I am getting somewhat tired of the I’m being crabby with you because I’m trying to deny how attractive I find you trope. And you have to cut it some slack because the shorter length doesn’t allow for as much character development. The background characters were colorful and it was a nice, quick read.

    After that I was excited to find that Hibbert’s latest, Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute. I was excited that I didn’t have to wait for it, but disappointed to find that it was YA. The MCs were engaging enough and I wanted a HEA for them, but I found the high school setting and the “which group do you belong to?” that comes with it exhausting. This is probably more a reflection of my general mood than a comment on the book itself, so you might want to take that with a grain of salt.

    1. I agree with you about Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute. I quit after a couple of chapters to avoid throwing it against the wall.

      1. I was disappointed to see that this new one of hers was YA. I’ll likely give it a pass for a while.

        Despite my comment last week, I’m plowing through the Temeraire series. I have to admit I’m skimming quite a bit, though. I’m not sure I’ll go back to re-read the books in the middle, but as a series it’s doing its job: I do so want to know what happens next and how it all ends up!

  26. My new books this week were not inspiring. Nan Reinhardt’s The Summer of Second Chances should’ve been a good romantic suspense. It had all the ingredients: a middle-aged protagonists, a mysterious treasure, a long-lost mother from hell, and villains searching for the aforementioned treasure. Plus lots of sex. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I hoped. The characters were flat, and the writing barely adequate, with lots of typos. Meh.
    Faerie Knitting by Alice Hoffman and Lisa Hoffman was a knitting book. It included 14 knitting patterns and 14 accompanying original fairy tales by Alice Hoffman, one tale per a pattern. I didn’t like the tales much and wasn’t interested in any of the patterns, so for me, it was a miss. For someone else, it might be a treat. The best thing about this book was the illustrations. They were truly beautiful.
    My re-read was better: Bujold’s Penric’s Labors. It was the collection #3 of her Penric novellas and included Masquerade in Lodi, The Orphans of Raspay, and The Physicians of Vilnoc. Delightful! Of course, I’ve read all three novellas before, but the hardcover book was my son’s Christmas gift and very welcome. I love paper book.

  27. Finished Husband Material. I enjoyed the pacing. I’m now reading Donna Andrews The Falcon Wings Twice which I missed when it first came out. I seem to need something light and happy right now. Also sure things which is Andrews and something recommended here. (So grateful for the Argh! recommendations.)

    1. Donna Andrews is so nice to read. I feel like the first one was the funniest, Murder with Peacocks, but it is really enjoyable folloWing Meg through her life. Heh heh

      1. Holy, I just looked and there are three new Donna Andrews that I haven’t read! That woman writes way too fast.
        One of the new titles: Birder, She Wrote. 😄facepalm

  28. Am halfway through Lethal White by Robert Galbraith (aka JK Rowling). It’s book #4 for the Cormoran Strike series. Very enjoyable. She is a good writer, no mistake about it. It’s hella lengthy, as are most of her books. Sometimes, you want the story to get to point sooner rather than later. My own personal preference is for less sexual tension between the 2 lead characters. It would be nice to read a mystery where the detective isn’t secretly in love with his business partner. Otherwise, I like the writing and I am a big fan of mysteries.

  29. I read A Hard Day for a Hangover by Darynda Jones, the last book in the Sheriff Sunshine Vicram mystery series. I liked it better than the previous one. But I got the feeling she was wrapping up plot lines a bit sooner than she had intended. Next came Kelley Armstrong’s latest time travel novella, Ghosts & Garlands. It had some fun moments but left several dangling ends. I also reread Steel’s Edge, a fantasy novel by Ilona Andrews, which was worth the reread. Getting ready to dip into Hell Bent by Leigh Bardugo. Happy reading, y’all!

  30. Finally read “Hands of the Emperor” which is as good as everyone says – loved it. One of those books that shouldn’t work but does. So have ordered a bunch more of her stories.

    Also read “The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea” by Axie Oh, which reminds me of my favorite anime Spirited Away. Apparently based on a Korean fairytale, and its quite lovely.

    And have been reading C S Poe’s Snow & Winter series, the non-cop MC is rather TSTL but at least he knows it and I really like how the relationship is developing. I also like how the covers play with his achromatopsia.

      1. I think I read it on your recommendation – so thank-you! I must see if I can track down the source material – I’m always interested in how people riff on fairy-tales.

    1. Just to say: I found Victoria Goddard’s Greenwing and Dart stories, though kind of in the same world, quite different to The Hands of the Emperor and its sequels: I didn’t take to them – although I know others here do like them.

      1. The few I have gotten hold of I have liked, not loved. Enjoyable but not overwhelming and great, like Hans of the Emperor.

      2. I love the Greenwing and Dart books too. The ones of hers I’m not so keen on are the Return of Fitzroy Angursell series. Another one I loved was Portrait of a Wide Sea Islander, which is about Buru Tovo but is a great story and makes Kip’s family a lot clearer and more sympathetic.

        1. Portrait of a wide sea islander and Petty treasons are very much companion pieces to the Hands of the Emperor unlike the sequel which I think very much goes off on a weird tangent.

          1. Goddard’s website does say to read “The Return of Fitzroy Angursell” before “At the Feet of the Sun” so I assumed it wasn’t a direct sequel.

  31. That’s very good news about the next Murderbot. I notice that Barbara Hambly has a couple of new books coming, too. The Iron Princess, her first fantasy in 16 years, is coming out at the end of Feb. And One Extra Corpse, the followup to Scandal in Babylon, is coming out a week later.

    She is such a good writer and the author of some of my favourite series.

  32. The friend I loaned “Lessons in Chemistry” to has written me that she can’t put the book down, but she was so sad that bad things happened to good people. She sounds to be through only about the first third of the book, but I don’t want to send her spoiler messages.

    Personally, I found that the bad things were covered quickly, without reveling in “the awfulness, oh lord the awfulness!! The misery!! The terrible pain that must be described in detail!!” sort of thing that can bother me about grim crime or war novels. Much of the book was set in the early 60’s, so the life of any nascent feminists had to be frustrating and difficult, but the book gets to a great place in the end. Should I tell her any of that, or leave it up to her inability to put the book down to let her experience the good parts to come?

    1. I’m reading it also and had the exact same response: tired of bad things happening to good people. I’m about two thirds of the way through so things getting a little better…glad to hear that it gets to a great place. And I think you can go either way on whether to let her know or not.

      1. Before I could decide what to write to her, I got an email saying she finished the book and loved it. So we’re golden!

        Meanwhile, I finished “The Dead Romantics” by Ashley Poston, which was previously recommended here, but I’m not sure by whom. It was a sweet little book, with a shy young MC who is a ghostwriter for a well-known bestselling author. She also sees dead people, and is surprised when the new series editor (who she hates on first encountering) suddenly appears in her home town as a ghost. The southern US hometown is a main character, along with its quirky characters and her quirky family. All kind of clichéd, but it’s done nicely and it works. Another basically gentle book, and I’m grateful to the person here who pointed me in its direction.

        1. Lessons in Chemistry was my favourite book last year. But when I recommended it to friends and relatives, I did warn them that the first few chapters are dark because of the subject matter, but to keep reading because the book it so heart warming and funny.

  33. I’m reading Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman. I enjoy her voice and out of the box characters. Only about 25% in so far.

    I’m listening with disappointment to Beth O’Leary’s The Road Trip. Excellent narration, but the structure of telling the story with excessive flashbacks is wearing. Plus there is a character that I loathe which is making it hard to finish.

    I have mixed feelings about the O’Learys I have read as I loved The Flatshare, enjoyed The Switch, felt manipulated by The No-Show and now can barely finish The Road Trip. She’s so talented but resorts to what seem to me to be tricks and gimmicks that are unnecessary in the hands of a storyteller that writes as well as she does.

    1. My experience with Beth O’Leary is similar. I much prefer The Flatshare, and like you, have ended up skimming her latest.

      1. Same here. I saw that The Flatshare is being made into a movie (series?), but I can’t expect that will be as good as the book, which I love.

        1. The Flatshare has been made into a series, which I actually just started watching today. They’ve made a couple of changes to the book which have me a little nervous, but I’m reserving judgement until I’m further in and see how those things play out. So far I haven’t noped out of it.

  34. I feel a bit spoiled for choice this week as I just picked up 5 actual paper books from the library and I’m listening to 2 grim but compelling non fiction audio books.

    We shall see how things shake out.

  35. For those interested in the status of my hydroponic gardens, I can now report that all six of my Smart Garden-3s are online, and all three of my iDOO 12-pod units are up as well. They’re time sharing electrical power, with a third of each coming on at intervals around the clock. I’ve been editing and adding to An Interim January Farm Report almost daily (with pictures) to chronical the progress.

    None of my Harvests are plugged in or filled, yet. None of the mason jars, either. For all that the units are low wattage, there’s no sense overloading the circuits. Everything plugged in right now totals less than a 200-watt light bulb. The real reason that the Harvests are idle is because my supply of seed pods didn’t seem to make it through the move. I have more on order. I populated the iDOOs with EZ-Gro seeds, instead. If the spinach and butterhead lettuce work, I might try broccoli next. In a Harvest.

  36. I just finished re-reading Boyfriend Material and Husband Material, both by Alexis Hall. Then I did a re-read of Nora Roberts’ The Witness. Now I’m reading Georgie, All Along, the latest from Kate Clayborn. So far, it’s a five star book.

Comments are closed.