This is a Good Book Thursday, January 5, 2023

Lots of Golden Age murder mystery rereads, especially Edmund Crispin. And of course, Rocky Start. We’re at that point in the writing where I keep cycling back to read the first act over and over and over . . . move on, Jenny. Also on the horizon, reading Nita again and FIXING it this time. Basically, I’ve been reading a lot of Crispin and Crusie.

So what were your first reads of 2023?

118 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 5, 2023

  1. Reading Holly Jacobs’ SIGNS OF THE TIMES and enjoying it a lot. Holly has a writing voice I enjoy spending the afternoon with. Just as important, I like spending that time with the less-than-perfect people she writes.

  2. I finished the Four Kings and am considering a reread. It’s not the near perfect book the first one was, but it still created a vibe that I was sad to leave. I could have done without the epilogue, so I am going to pretend it doesn’t exist for future rereads.

    I also listened to Anhaga by Lisa Henry and finished Flattered by Flowers by Forthright.

    The real surprise this week has been Hush by Tal Bauer. From the cover, I thought it would be gritty and action packed, but so far it’s a super sweet slow burn m/m romance. The main character, a closeted judge in his mid 40s is really adorable and lovely. I’m hoping it ends strong. And the shooting has to happen at some point.

      1. I liked it. It didn’t cross over into love territory, not sure why as all the elements are there, but it was solid with an imaginative premise and really good characters. I will read more of hers eventually.

        1. I think that’s the only fantasy she has written. She has huge range. Writes in a lot of genres and voices.

        1. I read two chapters and decided it was a DNF. Tal Bauer just isn’t my thing. I keep trying him but…nope.

        2. I keep trying with Tal Bauer, loved You and Me, The Jock was good, but heavy, but I haven’t been able to finish any of the others I’ve tried.
          I’m not in the mood for lots of angst right now.

        3. Wasn’t even the angst. I can do angst. It just wasn’t that well written. Back to TA Moore for well written edgy stuff.

  3. Read Susan Mallery’s Home Sweet Christmas and liked it a lot. I confess I much prefer her romances to her woman’s fiction books. That’s the end of this year’s Christmas reads, except finishing off a reread of a Trisha Ashley Christmas book.

    Finished beta reading a fabulous book. Can’t wait until the rest of the world gets to read it.

    Now I’m reading the next book in Jen DeLuca’s ren faire romcom series. Well Traveled is the fourth one in the series, and I’m enjoying it as much as all the rest. Witty banter, interesting situations, fun characters, and romance. What’s not to like?

      1. My cousin sells kilts, she has expanded her vocabulary for the words size larger and smaller in several languages 🙂

  4. I read Four Kings. I can tell you that all that gaming nerdiness is accurate because I checked it out with my nerdy gaming husband. Anyway, I really do enjoy the characters so reuniting with them was fun but I could have used a little more plot, fewer new characters and a little less architecture talk. Oh and a bit more sex since that’s what the first book was based on. The best thing about it was that I went back afterward and reread Book of Firsts and liked it even more the second time around.

    Also reread the Murderbot books. Still so good! And I read a Christmas hockey novella. Hey I’m still on vacation.

  5. Currently reading Robyn McKinley’s Dearskin.

    So far it’s very lyrical, but I suspect that it’s all about to Hit The Fan.

  6. Talia Hibbert’s Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute came out this Tues and I devoured it. Her usual great characterization, plus her writing. “Scotland is the Fear Factor version of England”.

    I’m also reading PawPaw: in Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit (nonfic).

  7. So last week I finished “Ocean’s Echo” and was very happy at the end. Then I read “Out of Character” by Annabeth Albert, which was a sweet book. The odd thing, though, was that by the time I finished the latter I was wondering why I read it. Turns out, I read another book by the same author, but had no memory of it whatsoever — my library reading history showed it was borrowed, and I kind of recognized the plot, but….

    And I found myself dipping back into Ocean’s Echo because I so liked both protagonists that I was missing them, and had to do some re-reading to see what exactly one said to another about their ‘must-do’ assignment, and then exactly what happened in the abandoned space laboratory, and then what did the first one say to the villain that time? And so I was re-reading the whole thing, enjoying it even more that second time.

    I finally decided that the author of that book (Everina Maxwell) had given each of the protagonists the ability to surprise other people (and mostly one another) with their responses, and decisions, and always in a good or interesting way that juiced up the plot each time. Whereas in the cozy m/m genre romcom that Albert presented, there were the normal relationship challenges to drive the plot, but that was about all. Each protagonist was kind of a standard character, facing standard problems (should I come Out? does he really like me? will my father/brother/friend circle approve?) with no surprises.

    Stated that way, it sounds like I’m challenging the whole genre of romcoms. Couldn’t the same be said about “Pride and Prejudice” or “Maybe This Time”? But in those books, there is so much else to marvel at, laugh or worry about, and the depth of the characterizations is enough to create a wonderful world of friends to go back to for multiple re-reads.

    So anyway, loved Ocean’s Echo, kind of liked Out of Character, and am still pondering the difference between the read and the re-read. For me, at least.

  8. I’ve just finished Ocean’s Echo, thank goodness, because I had the opposite reaction to Jinx. I was lukewarm about Everina Maxwell’s first novel, but hopeful she’d improve with this one; instead I’ve concluded that she’s just not my cup of tea. Far too much plot, and a depressing world. I wanted her to focus on the relationship, but it’s the SF world-building that comes first, and I’m not really an SF fan. But she’s evidently good (see Jinx above) if you are.

    What I did enjoy this week, despite its flaws and absurd length, was Victoria Goddard’s At the Feet of the Sun. Which goes to show that reason doesn’t have much to do with why a story works for someone.

    I really need a pick-me-up now, so have just started Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ Natural Born Charmer for the umpteenth time. This is Twelfth Night, after all, and I want to end Christmas on a high.

    1. Well, that’s cool, JaneB. I grew up on Robert Heinlein, so I think I read books in that kind of setting saying to myself “okay, noted” as I encounter the details about an exoworld. If they make sense, I’m fine with whatever I’m told, and concentrate on the characterizations and in this case, I found those fascinating. I’m very much the same way reading books where a knowledgeable author goes into great accurate period or societal detail about places/settings I don’t know. That stuff sails past me and I get bored or start skipping pages until there are people and they talk to each other.

    2. I grew up on science fiction (right along from Danny and the Anti-gravity Paint onwards) so it feels familiar to me no matter what the author does, but also I’m on Team More World-building, Plz no matter what genre it’s in. So I loved that part of Everina Maxwell as much as her characters.

    3. I’m reading Ocean’s Echo at the moment, and it is hard. I’m contemplating whether I should continue or DNF. I loved Maxwell’s first book, Winter’s Orbit, but this one – argh! I dislike the protagonist so much. He is a complete ass. And the world seems darker than the one in the previous book.

      1. Olga, I’m not sure how far into the book you are, but I started off hating the protagonist too. He definitely improves, and a lot of his more irritating characteristics turn out to be useful in the end.

    4. Oh yes, At the Feet of the Sun is absolutely ALL IN for absurd length!! If you like her writing and want less length, you might try Stargazey Pie – a younger protagonist, but he ages well, and a much shorter tale!

  9. I read Paladin’s Grace in two days, loved every moment of it and bought the next two books straight away. I’m rationing myself though and will start Paladin’s Strength next week.

    I then read Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh – I’ve liberated Mum’s collection of her books. I enjoyed it, but my brain is definitely not in the right place for detective fiction. A review on Goodreads said that the murderer was obvious – that’s subjective, of course, but I didn’t have a clue until the grand unveiling at the end of the book. Back to undemanding reads, or re-reads – something to calm the brain, anyway.

    1. I don’t care for Death and the Dancing Footman just because I don’t like any of the characters, except (spoiler) for the murderer, and I’m not so sure about that person, either. A very strained plot and just not her best. The only good part is the references to characters in a much better Marsh, Overture to Death.

      I will confess that the Marsh mysteries I like best have romance subplots. And, usually, theatrical settings, like Death at the Dolphin or Opening Night. Audible has a bunch of them, well-narrated by Nadia May (she has several aliases, I don’t know why, Wanda McCaddon is one) and James Saxon.

  10. Mrs. Pollifax and the Whirling Dervish — Spoiler Alert —

    An Argher warned me about this title in the Mrs. Pollifax series, so I was thinking about that as I read the book. The Argher, kindly, hadn’t explained why this book was so disappointing.

    I see the problem as the fact that the author, Dorothy Gilman, loses the key to her lead character’s appeal: by this point in the series, Emily Pollifax no longer solves the problem at the climax of the action. The tale is grittier; Emily suffers; instead of learning something new about herself, she faces death and thinks about who/what she will miss; and, a male character makes the move that saves the day.

    I’m not sure which book first starts this (for me, downward) trend. I suspect that the times were changing: the first was published in 1966; … the Whirling Dervish wasn’t published was published in 1993. Also, the premise that a lady in her 60s will figure out an international problem and then solve it (with her team of professional man + child + young adult + young adult’s romantic partner) isn’t easy. And, it relies on a kind of fantastic humor.

    I’m continuing to read the series but I hope that the Argher who was dissatisfied with … Whirling Dervish will comment. I’m very curious about her take on the book.

    1. It wasn’t me, but I would have given the same warning. That is the only one of the Mrs. Pollifax series that I don’t re-read. I don’t even remember why, now, but it just wasn’t up to her standards.

    2. I think your take is very acute—the later Pollifaxes are much less about her and more about plots. I think the worst is Mrs Pollifax and the second Thief, which simply sucks. The Hong Kong Buddha is, I think, the last good one.

      1. Thank you, Jan and Liz — I’m reading the Mrs. Pollifax series in order, so I just read Mrs Pollifax and the Second Thief.

        While I agree with Liz that the strongest books are the early ones, for my taste, I agree with Jan that the Whirling Dervish was particularly disappointing.

        In Second Thief, I like the fact that Emily finds that she enjoys being a burglar. She realizes that this will be a side of herself that she’ll keep from Cyrus, and is what makes her spying essential to her happiness. So, the self-realization and further characterization this gives makes the story fun for me. Also, Gilman has returned to the whimsical. The change in someone whose name begins with an “A” is pure silliness.

  11. Lessons in Chemistry knocked my socks off.

    Now reading A.A. Milne’s mystery (yes!) The Red House Mystery. It’s an English country house locked room classic mystery from 1922. I’m charmed. My book launch team & I are reading this together for discussion & fun.

  12. About Nita… Maybe this has already been discussed, but I wonder if a one or two page introduction at the beginning, before the story starts, that explains the world you have created and the “talents” of your characters would leave you free to write the beginning you want to write? Some readers would skip the explanation, and maybe go back to it when they get confused. But then you wouldn’t have to try to cram so much information into an action-packed beginning. So much of that information is needed right away, that it can’t really wait for the reader to catch on over time. Just a thought. I really liked the snippet I got to read, especially when you answered my questions about what was going on.

  13. Read Minor Mage, which I realized partway through was a re-read, and Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking this week, having heard it mentioned here. Both highly enjoyable.

    I have not heard of Crispin, despite loving the Golden Age great dames- Agatha, Dorothy, and Margery, with a side of Ngaio. I will search him out, sounds great. He might be a good source of gift books for my dad, my lifelong reading buddy. Hooray!

  14. I read Nora Goes Off Script, by Annabel Monaghan. Even though I did not want her to get involved with Leo, who seems like ex-husband, part 2, I read on, and got pulled in. I loved the dialogue where Leo fills in the blanks of her romance formula, and Nora gives him the script back in a few words. I’ve watched a few Hallmark specials that I was sure were filmed in only a few days, and corresponded to the formula Nora uses for her work. The twist ending was a bit contrived, but I like a HEA.

    I’m reading the fifth Murderbot, Network Effect. Martha Wells has me trained to expect it to end after a certain number of pages, so I got antsy as I read past that limit. I stop reading a few hours before bedtime, because this one is really suspenseful.

    I’m re-reading Charlie All Night. It was published in 1996, but is very apropos for these times, and the long overdue legalization of Marijuana. The Twinkie puppy gets to me every time. I like that there’s a gay character, too, which was ahead of its time, as well.

    1. Something I find really impressive about Network Effect is that structurally it’s basically three (or maybe four; I looked at the page count at one point to confirm my theory, but forget if it’s three or four) novellas woven together — there are very distinct turning points at right about the word count when one of her novellas would end, and you could sort of stop there and take a break if you prefer novella length, and pick it up later for the next chunk. Won’t do spoilers, but for anyone who’s read it, you can probably think immediately of the two (or three?) really distinct turning points that end the first acts, each novella-length, and provide a new goal for Murderbot in the following act. From what I’ve read, Martha Wells isn’t into outlining, so the fact that she can hit this turning points so perfectly really amazes me.

      1. Thanks for your analysis. I just powered on. I don’t have a preference for novella length, it just seemed out of character, after reading four shorter books.

      1. Got it. And I can understand that feeling. The characters and their growing relationship were in the foreground for me, so I just kind of counted on them to fix things in that world singlehandedly. Plus, I’ve worked in a lot of bureaucracies over the years, and what with the Legislator and the ship commander and the usurper and those Regulator people over on some other planet somewhere, and all the systems of rules & laws, I’m used to that framework and also to individuals having very little agency except within very small groups or individual friendships. Seemed normal to me somehow.

        1. I’m hoping she’ll give us a closer look at the Regulators. In their own world.

  15. One week ago today, I bought a house. I have given myself something to moan about for the rest of my life. Home Moanership – it’s a meme. Nothing newer to moan about today except more unpacking. And moving furniture. (*Moan*)

    Of new books, my Kindle reports that I am 18% through Four Kings. So far, so good. Variation on a Theme continues to be published serially. I continue to read it. Under the reread header is Callahan’s Crosstime Saloon (by Spider Robinson). I didn’t reread the whole volume, just selected short stories.

    It’s also Official Weigh-In Day #90. I considered starting over at #1 for 2023, but then I’d lose track of the fact that this particular iteration of “the diet” has been going on for 90 weeks. Anyway, today is 251.4 pounds. That’s three pounds lower than OWID#89. I have hopes of getting below 250 again.

    I only just realized that all but one of my amber mason jars were lost in the move. I realized this when I thought to start one (1) lettuce plant. Since I have just one jar, that’s all I can plant, for now. That’s all I want – I haven’t hired an electrician to add more outlets, yet.

    1. Do you have a book that explains about how to garden in mason jars? I am very interested in trying that.

      1. I have no book, just lots and lots of google search results. There being many ways to get started, I bought amber jars from Amazon, because they were recommended to limit sunlight in the water promoting algae growth. Alternately, you could spray-paint the jars, leaving a narrow “level guage” clear.

        I bought “conversion” lids to let me use AeroGarden (or iDOO) seed pods. The iDOO pods are just baskets with sponges and your seeds. A sunlight exclusion gimmick is recommended, and Amazon/Etsy/AeroGarden will happily sell you some but waiting for a stalk (germination) and using tinfoil works, too.

        The conversion lid inserts I eventually bought have an extra hole (for an aeration tube). I use that hole to add water or nutrients as needed. I dislike unscrewing the lid. I have various size syringes or squeeze bulbs or eyedroppers whose tips fit that hole, and little plugs for when I’m not using the hole.

        The dotter suggested I use the workbench in the shop corner of the basement and just go nuts with my indoor gardens. There’s a shelf over the bench. It might just work. If so, I need to shop for a dozen gallons of distilled water. That’s where I was planning to put the lone jar for my lettuce “crop.”

  16. Oh! I forgot to ask earlier. We are once again looking for recommendations for shows to watch.

    Amazon Prime,
    Disney Plus,


    1. For the past several months I’ve been watching on Amazon Prime (an episode here and there) of Blue Heelers. It’s a mid 90’s Australian police show about country policemen/women. And I just realized why I like it, it’s because there is a different theme for each episode. The police problems are more or less resolved at the end of the episode. Whereas now I’ll watch a series of six or eight episodes of a show, and it all tends to drag after a while. Anyway, it is part of Frevee so it is with commercials somewhere between 15 seconds to a minute and a half.

    2. Netflix:

      Derry Girls !!!!! LOVE this show, I’m on my 4th re-watch.

      Dead to Me. Christina Applegate does seething rage so very well.

      Ginny & Georgia …. Maybe, I’ve just watched a few minutes of the first episode, but the trailer was cute.

      To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before … I’ve just watched a few episodes, and then I found the books. Just started reading them.

      1. We just rewatched Ginny & Georgia because a second season is coming out. I remembered that the mother really annoyed me last time which was funny because the daughter really annoyed me this time.
        Not sure if I’m going to watch the second season.

    3. SMILEY. A katalan series on Netflix Europe. I’m not sure it’s available worldwide, but i hope so.
      Lovely and very diverse.

    4. Ooh, if you can bear subtitles then “Extraordinary Attorney Woo” and “Crash Landing on You” are fabulous. My friend Jennifer got me hooked and then I introduced them to my colleagues at the bookstore, and now we are all hooked on South Korean shows. Superb acting, slow romance, drama and humor.

      1. We loved Woo. Subtitles are hit and miss, because I like to work on projects during TV time.

    5. If you’re a fan of The Godfather, we’re watching The Offer, which is a limited series that fictionalizes (not doc) how it was made. Stars Miles Teller. Lots of fun/interesting imitations of people like Al Pacino and Marlon Brandon. Matthew Goode (whom I love) plays a revved up Robert Evans.

  17. I listened to an Agatha Christie book (Hercule Poirot’s Christmas) and was impressed by the narrator (Hugh Fraser, I think), so I found another Christie he narrated (The Four), but it was weird — another Hercule Poirot, but in first person (by a very Watson-like character) and more of a spy thriller than a mystery, and just isn’t working for me. Also feels very much like a shout-out to Sherlock Holmes, with the Watsonian narrator (who is Poirot’s best friend, and there are condescending comments, much like Sherlock makes, to the friend not being a genius), plus a reference to Poirot being a “consulting detective,” and some snide comments that I think refer to Sherlock’s method of investigation as compared to Poirot’s superior one.

    Anyway, I recommend the Christmas one, and the narrator, but not The Four.

    1. Hey Gin, I am listening to Peril at End House, narrated by Fraser, right now. So far, so good. I like his narration style and since he’s the Hastings in the Poirot/Suchet series, I can easily picture him. I may have to seek out the rest of Fraser narrated books – but not The Big Four – I completely agree with you on that one. Not my cup of tea.

      1. I’ll have to check out Peril at End House. I just looked, and it’s available through Hoopla along with a LOT of other Fraser-narrated Christies. So I can return the Four without fearing I’ll run out of books to listen to!

      2. I have to confess I’ve always loved the Big Four, just because it’s so completely over-the-top. I think Christie had fun with both the Holmes and the master-criminal (there are four master criminals!) tropes. It’s like The Man in the Brown Suit—it feels like a take-off of a 40s thriller. But then, I’m not a fan of Christie’s more psychological novels. My preference for mysteries is that a. Murders happen offstage, preferably before the book starts; b. I don’t like the victims; and c. I don’t like the murderer. Also, no children die. Or dogs.

  18. I read Everina Maxwell’s “Ocean’s Echo” and Mary Robinette Kowal’s “The Spare Man” both of which are excellent.

    “The Spare Man” is a sci-fi mystery based on the Nick and Nora “Thin Man” movies. The science in this book is harder than the science in “Ocean’s Echo” and the mystery is harder to figure out. At least it was for me. I totally fell for the red herring.

    1. The Spare Man was very much a DNF for me. Not sure why – maybe I just wasn’t in the mood – I’ve really enjoyed everything else from Kowal. But this one I found irritating, and struggled to suspend disbelief.

  19. This is weird. I just tried to leave a comment. My saved information on name and email needed to be reinserted and when I tried to post a comment, I was sent to another page to prove I wasn’t a robot. If I get through this time, I will try to post again

  20. I read and enjoyed BELOVED STRANGER by Patricia Potter. It’s a historical romance. It has been on my shelf for years and I never read it. Actually, a lot of books have been sitting there for years and years without being read, so I’ve decided to make a commitment to tackle these books. I need more room on my shelf, but I can’t get rid of any books until I read them…so the goal is to read these books, and if I don’t like them for any reason to stop and donate rather than trying to slog through.

    1. KM, I remember reading Potter. Enjoyed her western historicals. I just listened to a What Should I Read Next podcast with Anne Bogel and Laura Vanderkam, where Laura said at some point in your life, if you’re lucky to be long-lived, you’ve got the hours for 2,500 more books (YMMV). Sigh.

      And that like you’ve decided, read ’em or discard/donate ’em, and go onto the next, to retain the good stuff. Double sigh. Not the best realization for us book lovers. Onward!

  21. Facebook gave me a memory yesterday. Two years ago I had returned a dozen books to the library and borrowed 18 (during Covid).
    Then I proceeded to go to the library yesterday and borrowed 10 books and 2 dvds (exercise dvds). I’m blaming all of you for this – I have 43 items borrowed and 13 e-books.
    I do not blame you for any titles that I have bought in the past year from my favourite authors, and have tried to limit what I buy to these authors, but it’s your fault for all my library holds that are now coming in.

  22. I started 2023 the way I ended it. I have now read Four Kings a second time. I am going to put it in the category of nice books I can comfort read.

    I am also slowly continuing through MCA Hogarth Princes’ game series. These won’t go in the nice book category despite the gruelling redemption of the original villain but they are holding my interest enough. Basically I want to know what happens next and Lisinthir is a magnificent character.

    So, nothing new for now but I am looking forward to reading The ruthless lady’s guide to wizardry which is my second son’s xmas present to me. Usually when he gives me a book I have already read it but not this time!

    1. I so agree that Lisinthir is magnificent. I’ve finished the whole series now, and see it as something I’ll reread at some point. The final book is a bit odd, in that she has so many ends to tie up that the climax happens about midway through, and the rest is end-tying.

      1. The two of you share similar taste to mine so I am sorely tempted by the Prince’s Game series, especially since you’ve both talked it up so much. I’ll at least stick it on my wish list.

  23. I’ve continued to read Jodi Taylor’s St Mary’s chronicles; I just love and apparently need all the snark. I’ll have to move into the Time Police books.

    And I’ve picked up the new Jayne Krentz; she’s always reliable.

  24. I listened to an interesting sci-fi book, We are Legion (We are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor and quite enjoyed it. Its about a guy who wakes up (after dying and having his brain cryo-preserved) as an artificial intelligence and is uploaded into a space probe and sent exploring.

    Alas, I got it on an audible book-of-the-day sale and the rest are full price but I can get them as books from the library (gasp! actual books. Weird, I know).

    Then I borrowed a book from the library today that looked interesting and couldn’t even listen to it the whole time I was doing dishes.

    Maybe I’ll ask for audible credits for my birthday.

  25. I read a perfectly ok fantasy, but….the end was odd. There were a number of plot lines going, and then one big blow out event, after which the heroine is physically away from where the action took place. Somebody shows up and basically they update each other – “oh, this is how this was resolved, what happened with that?” “oh, that’s all in progress, no worries”. I was just left with “huh. HEA, I guess?” just weird.

    And, like most of the known world, I am reading “Ocean’s Echo”. Nothing else memorable. Did I mention I got DH reading Louisa May Alcott? He never had, and is enjoying them immensely.

  26. My hold on Jasmine Guillory’s Drunk on Love finally came in, and I enjoyed it; it made me go back and reread a couple of hers.
    The rest of my new reading has been DNFd, or in one case, almost DNFd. I finished Kristin Ashley’s Chasing Serenity, but I almost gave up several times. I don’t like a lot of anguish with my romance and it had So Much. But I was too interested in the characters, all of them, to give up. In fact, I am reading the next of that series. I looked at my book list and I have read one Kristin Ashley before, but gave up because it seemed flat to me. I remember nothing about that one.

    I am running out of things to reread that I have not read too recently. I have shelves of books I could reread, but the effort nowadays of reading paperbacks means I’m stuck in the middle of four that I started within the past year. I pick one up wanting to read it and in a few pages the smudgy print on brownish paper makes my eyes tired. It’s not just being able to adjust the print size that makes ebooks better. The contrast is better, too. Holding paperbacks open makes my now-arthritic hands hurt, and holding up (easier to read the print) hardbacks makes them hurt worse. Argh.

      1. I can barely afford my _new_ favorites in ebook. Fortunately my library has a lot of the old ones in ebook (all of Catherine Aird, for instance! More than I own, although the Airds are printed on paper that has not browned as much as some.)

    1. Kirsten Ashley is hit or miss for me. And yes, I usually steer clear of her works with lots of anguish and backstory. I don’t want to know about missed chances a long time ago and years of anguish. And her male leads are pretty alpha. Sometimes I am just not in the mood.

      But there are some of hers that I reread over and over. I like the found family she builds, that her characters are older, and I even like that her female main characters are over the top girly girls. I feel like being overly feminine, liking shoes or getting your nails done, comes under fire a lot in modern chic lit.

      1. I won’t completely cross her off, then. I am suffering through the anguish right now because I can’t put these characters down!

        1. Yeah, she has a lot of things that usually bother me in her books, but underneath that, there is something that keeps pulling me back in.

          1. I liked Complicated. I also like the Will, and the rest of the Magdalene series. I think that they are free. Older characters and building new lives.

            I like some of the Rock Chick series, barring the first one. That one didn’t really gel for me. But I like Jet and Eddie and the rest of the others are pretty fun. Some anguish with Stella.

            I skip the motorcycle ones because MCs are just not my thing, but some of the Dream Man books are also good. Law Man is a comfort reread for me.

            And the Moonlight and Motor oil duet. Good comfort, slice of life.

  27. Read a fascinating article about our love for books and the unread books in our own home collections. It is called TSUNDOKU.
    Re-read On the Edge by Ilona Andrews and their 3 Kinsmen novellas. They were all good, fast and furious, if you’re in the mood. I was.
    The new book for me this week was Sherry Thomas’s The Magnolia Sword: a Ballad of Mulan. Despite my low expectations, I enjoyed it. It is categorized as YA, not my favorite classification, but the book read like light adult fiction, an historical martial artist girl’s adventure with a whiff of romance, set in ancient China. It does have a premise in common with the Disney’s Mulan, but only a premise. The author’s version of the legend felt more mature and true-to-life than the Disney’s musical anime with its mini-dragon. No dragons in this novel anyway.

  28. I am still in Hawaii and there was a wonderful bookstore here here in Kailua called bookends. It’s a mixture of new books, lots of old books, books outside in boxes and delightful gifts. I picked up the Gilded girl by Alyssa Coleman, which is a mid grade magic novel. I also picked up eight cousins by Louisa may Alcott. I just finished both of those so I am I’m going to go onto Sariah Wilson‘s new book which is a first read pick on Amazon. Then I may go back and read some old Georgette Heyer. When I get back to California, I’m going to pick up Jayne Ann Krentz’s new book. I’d do it now but I don’t want to carry it home
    I need to have my computer read me my book before I go home and do the next set of edits.

  29. A real pleasure this week was reading Death at Fair Havens, by Maren Tirabassi and Maria Mankin, who are mother and daughter. One protagonist is a 50-something Congregationalist pastor, and the younger woman has come back to the smallish New England town as the Vice Principal of the high school after being a bit of a hell raiser in her teen years. Both women have an interesting past, and jobs with a lot of public demands with confidentiality and required reporting obligations. Since I live in a smallish New England town, attend a Congregational church, and have had the pleasure of attending service when Rev. Maren has led us, I enjoyed the whole thing very much. Well written, well paced, and full of characters I’d like to meet again. Not exactly cozy, but no cynicism.

    This week I listened to Santa Grint, a short Time Police novella, and Reaper Man, an earlier Pratchett Disc World story, featuring Death and the wizards. Both quite satisfying. Reaper Man one would have been a better read than listed to, I think. I had forgotten that Pratchett didn’t use any chapters for his earlier books, and I had trouble keeping track of events.

  30. I’ve just started The Lark Shall Sing by Elizabeth Cadell. It was my entry book to “grown up books” back when I was a kid and I’m wondering if it will hold up. I’m hoping so, since I devoured all of her books way back when.

    Has anyone watched Three Pines on Amazon Prime – the series based on Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series? If so, just curious about first impressions. I keep meaning to at least watch the first episode, but thinks keep derailing me.

    1. My first impression of Three Pines was that it was very, very, very heavy handed. I did not last past the 3rd episode. In addition to the murders, they are also dealing with fall out from a residential school (aka the evil Hadley house in the first books of the series) and a missing Mohawk girl (with some Surete shenanigans somewhere, I didn’t stick around to find out what was going on).

      I found the combination of that and the compressed time frame to be very much like being hit over the head with a stick. Everything that you would get spread over a 350 page novel was just there, no nuance. It also felt a lot like it was just there to show how good and kind Gamache is, not to bring attention to either issue in any meaningful way.

      Tantoo Cardinal is wonderful. She is always wonderful. The actress who plays Lacoste, Ella-Maija Tailfeathers, is also great, I really liked her.

      I also found a lot of the characters to be … off. The village comes across as a little bit off as well.

    2. I’m watching it. I think readers of the books will spend time initially dissecting which things they get right and which things they don’t- like all adaptations, it can’t match all your expectations. That said, I’m enjoying it. Alfred Molina does a great job in the role of Gamache. The aboriginal art that is featured in a number of episodes is fantastic and very moving. Great scenery. After a few episodes, I stopped comparing it to the books, and just enjoyed.

    3. I haven’t read my large stack of Cadells in a long time but I remember Lark Shall Sing as one of my favorites.

    4. I loved The Lark Shall Sing as a teenager. I think it holds up now, but the sequels (I didn’t know there were sequels) are less satisfying. I do have a few other Cadells on my shelf, they’re great reading-in-the-bathtub books.

  31. I haven’t read comments yet. I will come back later for that.
    I just finished Jayne Ann Krentz latest book Sleep No More. It’s the first book in the Lost Night Files trilogy.
    I can’t believe I’m saying this but I was disappointed. I will read the other two books because it kept my interest throughout but it wasn’t the usual pleasure that I get from reading anything written by JAK and any of her pseudonyms. It had a grim quality which her books frequently have and I’m okay with that. It didn’t have the usual charm that lightens things up. The characters were likeable but they weren’t really quirky the way she usually does. It was good enough that I will read the next two books but I I was disappointed.

  32. I started the year off with rereads. The first one was Pilgrimage by Zenna Henderson. I still love her People and even to this day wish I had their gifts. (Smile). The other one was Wizard’s Butler by Nathan Lowell.Next up is a reread of Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen, then on to the library book that came in for me yesterday.

  33. I’ve listened to A gentleman’s position by KJ Charles. Felt like a contemplation on consent and the unsolveable inequilibrium of love between boss and employee, especially difficult in the time it was set (19th cent.).
    Consent really is a topic dear to the author’s heart!

    I didn’t like how the narrator portrayed Richard, the rich gentle-/nobleman. Sounded pompous and stuffed loke a walrus. However, I liked Foxy, the valet.
    Now I’ve started book 1 in the Gentleman’s society series (position way book 3).
    This time the young MCs voice is done well (to my ears), same narrator as almost all of KJ Charles’ books.

  34. Since last report, I’ve read:

    ‘Out of the Corner,’ memoir by Jennifer Grey of Dirty Dancing – very literate and full of surprises since I was oblivious at the height of her fame;

    ‘Cracks in the Ice’ by Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood, a meh M/M hockey romance set at a college;

    ‘Tough Luck’ by Annabeth Albert, a M/M bodyguard/celebrity romance with decent character development but a problematic starting point for a relationship, plus age gap, plus oh there is a lot of baggage;

    ‘The Holiday Trap’ by Roan Parrish, which I really liked – its alternating F/F and M/M romances building on a year-end house-swap scenario were well paced and well-considered;

    ‘Hair Balls’ by Tara Lain, a decent* M/M romance featuring a Very Out femme stylist and a Very Closeted bear of a contractor (*the romance itself grows nicely but again: so much baggage, and a short timeline with big hurdles. Much was hand-waved);

    ‘Dancing Man: A Broadway Choreographer’s Journey’ by Bob Avian, who worked on (among other things) A Chorus Line, Miss Saigon, and Sunset Boulevard – I enjoyed this very much. It’s the chatty and (mostly) light (he lost 8 of 10 close friends during the AIDS epidemic) story of an unconflictedly gay dancer who had a good life doing what he loved, making and keeping many friends, and settling into a 30+ year partnership/marriage with a TV director;

    ‘A Little Blessing’ by R. Cooper, a slow-burn paranormal that begins with one MC very sick with flu, exhaustion, and grief. The other MC comes to help and the book is basically them figuring each other out while unpacking lots of baggage (the theme this week, apparently), some having to do with coven politics. This book didn’t really provide the solid HEA I wanted; the relationship is not as central as I’d’ve liked. Nicely written, interesting world-building.

    1. I’ll skip that hockey romance based on your say-so, and download Tough Luck instead. And yes, R Cooper’s Familiar Spirits series always leaves me wanting a little more.

    2. Poor Jennifer Grey, I watched a Christmas movie she made and didn’t realise it was her till the credits.

  35. I finally read “The Bodyguard” by Katherine Center that I got when she visited Lark and Owl bookstore in July. She did a fabulous author talk and I will admit to a bit of a girl crush. The book is charming and thoughtful and LOL funny in some parts. Not sure if I enjoy her books most because she captures so much of what is still good about my home state or if her quirkiness just resonates. Although it took me awhile to get around to reading it, I can declare it my favorite book of 2023 so far. 🙂

    Sherry Thomas is a favorite author, but I had somehow missed reading “The Luckiest Lady in London”. I borrowed the audiobook, and it kept me entertained during the New Year’s weekend. I love Felix and Louisa- odd and funny and messed up – this is one I will listen to again- Corrie James did a great narration.

    1. The Luckiest Lady in London is my favourite Sherry Thomas romance. Loved their relationship from beginning to end. Had some surprisingly erotic moments in it too.

  36. I’ve been reading Twitter and Hill
    press on the speaker vote and watching CSPAN which briefly can show us all the side bars and conversations since there are no rules enacted yet. Once the rules for this congress are voted on they will have to go back to the very limited shots of speaker and the presiding officer and so forth. It’s fun (insofar as I can recognize key players).

    My favorite bit so far is this:
    During a [Democratic] caucus meeting Thursday morning, no members brought up even the possibility of working with the GOP, according to three people attending. Instead, Democrats were still ready to repeatedly oppose Republican attempts to adjourn the House and said they were prepared to stay in town as long as it took to get a speaker.
    At one point during the meeting, Jeffries began to repeat the mantra of his predecessor, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi: “Our diversity is our strength, our unity is our power” — only to have the rest of the caucus repeat it in unison.

    For those like me who remember decades ago where the Dems fought internally and the Rs hung together this is definitely an improvement.
    Pelosi has a very big legacy.

    I did read the Pratchett biography which was charming and ultimately heart breaking and I’m now reading a collection of his nonfiction writing which has some lovely bits .

    I’m waiting to get more energy back to read several books that I expect to be really wonderful including Other Birds, Ocean’s Echo, This Place of Wonder (Barbara O’Neal) and in nonfiction the Jan 6 committee report (New Yorker version with Raskin afterword ) and Lady Justice by Dahlia Lithwick about women lawyers fighting Trump. Oh also the new biography of Balanchine.

    1. I’ve just been checking in on the House proceedings. And I’m loving the memes on social media.

      1. The size of the cans of popcorn Democrats brought on day 1 was cute, but the best joke so far I think is “how many Kevin McCarthys does it take to screw in a light bulb?” “ first he has to have a House”

  37. “Limbo” by Amy Andrews: I liked the title, the synopsis and the orange cover (a beacon, as it was a really dark gray day). Quite pleasant reading.

    “The indian bride” by Karim Fossum: Norwegian noir (No. No chirpy cover).

    “Anything for you” by Kristan Higgins. Enjoying it for the time being.

  38. I’m rereading Elizabeth Moon’s Vatta’s War series. Just finished the second book, Moving Target, and about to start on the third. Lots of competence porn on the part of the main character, Ky Vatta.

    Also about to reread a friend’s middle-grade novel which is coming out in Aust/NZ in Feb. Queenie in Seven Moves by Zanni Louise, who has written lots of picture books and has now turned to novels. I read it in m/s, and loved it, so am looking forward to reading the finished book.

  39. Finally finished 2 books, No Humans Involved by Kelley Armstrong, haven’t been in that world for ages, but since it worked more like a standalone, it was entertaining enough.
    Sherlock Holmes & the Sussex Sea Devils by James Lovegrove, easy to read, decent Sherlock Holmes mash up done well

  40. I read The Touchstone Series, by Andrea K Host. Was mesmerized by Stray, the first one, then had to buy all the rest of the series. Trouble is, she gets carried away by the worldbuilding, then I had to suffer through detailed descriptions of architecture etc for five whole books. By the last one I was gasping. I was also troubled by the wholesale colonizing of her brand new planets, without mention of the native species being displaced.

  41. I am reading something NEW. For those of us who like The Goblin Emperor I highly recommend A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland. An insecure protagonist who comes into his own. This may become a reread.

    Also NEW I have started The Risen Kingdoms fantasy adventure by Curtis Craddock. I really enjoyed it once I soldiered past the first two chapters which really were prologues, necessary to the story but slowed it down. I will continue with the series.

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