122 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 2, 2023

  1. It’s nice to know you have broken your book drought, Jenny!

    I am reading fairly slowly at the moment. I have been reading some forgettable stuff. Cowboy romances are not my thing I think or I haven’t stumbled on the good ones yet.

    On the other hand, I am still reading Rachel Neumeier Tuyo series since a new one has just come out. I have really enjoyed Keraunani (the closest one to a romance so far) and especially Suelen, strong echoes of Penric there.

    1. I have never been able to get into cowboys. Something about the tropes involved just don’t work for me. Honey Phillips Cyborg cowboys are fun, but that’s not really the same thing at all.

      1. I have never been able to get into cowboys either. With the notable exception of Nathan Fillion as a space cowboy in the Firefly series.

        1. Space cowboys are always good. We really liked Cowboy Bebop. I was sad when season two got cancelled.

        2. I cut my teeth on Zane Grey novels, which my parents had in the bookcase next to the Readers Digest condensed books. Rugged man tamed by a Good Woman. I adored them when I was 13, but cowboy romances hold no appeal for me these days.

          1. Same here! And then later on, I discovered Louis L’Amour and devoured those as well.

        3. For me, it’s the classic movies which were always shown on French TV on Sunday afternoons. I used to watch « les westerns » with my dad and my brothers and sisters.

  2. I read the first four of “The Vixen War Bride Series.” When I started to move on to book 5, Cupcake Girls, i got this on my screen: “Your Kindle App requires an update to view this content. CLICK HERE blah-blah-blah-di-blah.” No. I did not click there. Amazon is attempting to install the latest encryption scheme so I am welded to them. I like to read on multiple platforms. In my opinion, encryption is a way to say, “Dear customer, we believe you are a lying, cheating, pirate who will turn around and sell the book for less, bilking the publisher and author of their just rewards. So we will put sophisticated roadblocks in the way that by the way prevent you from reading the book on anything but an approved Kindle app, which also allows us to delete your content remotely.” Fortunately, I still have my original Kindle device, the one with actual buttons for navigation, and the book downloaded right to it.

    I also finished and reread Rachel Vincent’s No One Is Alone. I don’t know who first recommended it, but I got it from Gary Hayenga. Thanks, Gary! Excellent book.

    Variation on a Theme continues to be serialized. I continue to read it. There’s a lot of Theater Arts in VoaT, and No One Is Alone fit right in, so I recommended it for readers of VoaT in Grey Wolf’s blog.

    Other than that, I advance my viewing of seven or eight Netflix series.

  3. My library actually had Lavender House, recommended here last week. It’s good, though I think that it’s billing as a 1950s Knives Out is more marketing than an accurate description of the book. Knives Out/Glass Onion has a firm sense of the ridiculous. Lavender House is more rooted in a grittier reality. I do enjoy the setting with it’s very strong 1950s vibes.

    And I am almost finished with my reread of Four Kings. I like it better the second time through. I am picking up on the more nuanced bits. And I just want to live inside those books. She really needs to write more books about nothing. Not that her books about something aren’t good too, just that the slow pace really suits my frame of mind.

    Up next is going to be CM Nascosta’s newest, How to Marry a Marble Marquis. A regency monster romance with a fancy dress ball, an arranged marriage and lots of sex. It should be good fun.

    1. I downloaded the new Nascosta! It’s next on my list. I hadn’t really paid attention to the fact that it’s part of a multi-author world with that regency monster ball. I may try some of the others too. I like a good monster romance. Thanks to You Know Who.

      1. I have tried some of the authors, via the anthologies that they all do together. There are some that I will try more of, but most are pretty “meh”

          1. To be expected, really. A lot of reading is sorting through the mediocre to bad to find the good. I will still probably try some of them if they are free on KU, but I haven’t tried anything I liked yet from Evangeline Priest, for example. Which is a shame because I am usually interested in her scenarios.

        1. Some authors just can’t do shorter lengths I find. I read an awful lot of JD Robb until I finally reached capacity, but I dislike every novella she’s ever done. And sometimes vice versa.

    2. Definitely more gritty than humorous! I had thought it resembled Knives Out from the death of patriarch/matriarch and the unconventional family aspects.

      1. Yes, but Knives Out is spoofing the classic format whereas Lavender House is embracing it. So I think that it is closer to a classic whodunit style like Heyer and Christie. I was expecting more hijinks and hilarity from the description.

    3. I finished the new Nascosta! Delicious fun! I love that she is trying a slightly sideways foray into Regency romance, well, AU Regency. Plus she has three more books scheduled to come out this year. So good!

  4. I read Sarina Bowen’s most recent book, The New Guy, and it’s the best of her hockey M/M romances so far, and I also read the new Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James hockey book, Unrivalled which was also their best so far – and I enjoyed it more than the Bowen book. More differentiated and interesting characters, more fun, better sex, better writing.

    I also read Like Real People Do by EL Massey, which is also M/M hockey romance but YA I think? So low on the sex-o-meter. And completely adorable. Speaking of adorable, I read the first two of the Fairytale Retellings books, so thank you, Fretful Porcupine. May I call you Fretful?

    1. Tammy, that’s brilliant news about the New Guy. Had already downloaded it and am looking forward to reading it.
      When I’ve finished with my current read… in spite of being hesitant towards the fake boyfriend series/trope I dipped into the short novella book by Eden Finley (Fake Boyfriend Breakaways) and really liked It’s complicated about Ollie Strömberg’s ex and brother. So I had to try Deke about Ollie. Well, I loved it. Maybe because here the conflict felt real (coming out when a pro athlete) and the MCs had to get to know each other better before they got together. I got their attraction to each other. They had distinct voices (in contrast to Fake Out).
      I really, really like how Eden Finley manages to get her MCs and side characters/characters from other titles to mingle without the latter taking over.

      I love that I don”t have to leave the universe the series is set in.
      Same as with the Ivy Year series (Bowen also did this community thing well).

      Have also downloaded excerpts of titles by Rosalind James. When Jenny says Hockey without the ice, this sounds tempting… And New Zealand, bigh sigh. Such a wonderful country!!!

      Hockey and rugby, such dangerous sports…

      And the hockey world championships are in May – yeah!!
      Would love to be in Finland then. The kids would even tag along, just for the fun of getting to know Finland, another great place…

    2. Tammy, the follow-up of Like Real People Do by EL Massey should be out in a couple of days, says amazon.
      Thanks for giving me no reprieve from hockey LOL.

      1. Oh yes it is on my list and ready to download as soon as it’s available! Sorry about that. I will try to be a better person.

        1. Please don’t try to be a better person!!
          Book recs are ALWAYS welcome. If I want change, I can always try to use willpower to not follow them.

          1. Willpower is highly overrated! On your own head be it. I do think Unrivalled is better then The New Guy so you might try that.

  5. I’m rereading Courtney Milan’s Turner series, which starts with ‘Unveiled’. Early Victorian m/f romances with a social conscience and a sense of humour, plus enjoyable regional settings for two of them – I’m in Shepton Mallet at the moment.

  6. I overloaded on Nero Wolfes while putting off the last Emily Pollifax. Finally read Mrs Pollifax Unveiled — which I was sure was going to be a story that ended the series. No way! It’s just like the others. I’m free to imagine Emily, Farrell, Cyrus, Bishop, and Carstares in all sorts of future antics.

    Reread Persuasion after listening to https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001g9cv .
    Loved hearing professors talk about aspects of the novel which had never occurred to me.

    1. I listened to that episode of In Our Time too! Persuasion is my favourite Austen novel so I enjoyed the in-depth discussion, and then watched the Amanda Root/Ciaran Hinds adaptation on DVD (I can’t find my copy of the book which is annoying, but it will turn up eventually).

    2. Thanks Elizabeth for that link. Listening to Melvin Bragg and his guests talk about Persuasion, my favourite Jane Austen novel, was a real treat. I definitely need to reread it too!

      1. Glad you folks liked it. I would have added how funny the novel is and a couple of other things. But I hadn’t noticed the recurrence of “nothing” throughout the story or the changing descriptions of places. Rereading, I understood the comparison of Lyme to Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, but I never in a million years would have come up with that on my own.

        I also liked hearing that Jane Austen had been pressured into dedicating a book to the Prince Regent. That shows both how well-known she was and how one could not refuse a Royal request.

  7. I read Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, by Juno Dawson. It kept me reading, from an actual book, all the way through. I’m not sure yet how I feel about how good it was. The author is a trans woman and writes about witches and warlocks and how a trans woman would be a witch, but the conservative witch says that’s totally wrong, and is a very bad person. I guess I was waiting for some nuance, although I agreed with the points the author was preaching. At the same time, I want to find out what happens in the next book. Fortunately I already knew there was a next book, because there’s an extremely abrupt and major plot twist in the last paragraph.

    I’m listening to Elizabeth Peter’s On Seeing a Large Cat, which is quite long and complex, with multiple plots going on. This is the time in the series where she started writing the Egyptian characters more fully, also when the children are entering adulthood. I’m enjoying the added depth.

    1. I think Dawson is addressing the current issue transwomen are facing of being excluded from women’s areas by people who otherwise claim to support women (both in the UK and everywhere). While I also agree with her points, it does seem to be rare for a historical fiction book to address contemporaneous issues in a nuanced manner. Often these villains come across as two-dimensional because they only serve as a foil for the protagonists (although given how often have villains been lazily portrayed as gay, perhaps it’s fair play?)

  8. I’m about half way through The Rook by Daniel O’Malley. Although the reminisces get a little long, overall, I like it. A strong heroine and lots of monsters to fight.

    1. I’m listening to The Rook (second time with the book) to get myself stuck back in the world of the Checquy before I read Blitz.

      1. Loved the Rook. That first scene where she wakes up to craziness and then has to figure out who she is and why she’s there — amazing stuff.

  9. Nalini Singh wrote a contemporary romance series “Hard Play” set in New Zealand, where all the main characters play rugby either socially or professionally. The first is “Rock Hard”, which is intersectionally also part of a different series. I like them better than her psychic/shifter, and angel/vampire series.

    1. I really like the first three of that series. I never got into Abe’s book and struggle with the later ones, but the early ones are comfort rereads for me. Charlie is a great character.

  10. I’m listening to the latest Ishamael Jones book by Simon R. Green. Just started it but so far, so good. I am disappointed that it has a different narrator, that’s always jarring to my ears.

    Reading the latest Preston/Childs The Cabinet of Dr. Leng. Again, just a little way into it.

    Lavender House, a horror anthology, and the Rook by Daniel O’Malley are also in the mix. Paul starts a night shift tonight so I will be able to do more reading. We usually hang out together and watch tv in the evenings when he’s off/on day shift.

    1. Warning, Dr. Leng ends on a huge cliffhanger. I was a little surprised when I got to the end to see it was not really the end. I don’t mind waiting for the next book but I know a lot of people would.

      1. Oh, man, I hate that. I feel strongly that manipulating readers into buying the next book is a betrayal of the author/reader relationship. ARGH.

  11. Read a good chunk of Ending Hunger by Anthony Warner, and have also gotten about a quarter of the way through The Widow of Rose House by Diana Billei which went on sale and is a gothic romance with a heroine whose financial future depends on remodeling and decorating a haunted house and the mad scientist ghost hunting hero determined to help her. (“Not ghost hunter, I don’t want to hurt them, just get acquainted.” “Ghost social climber, then.”)

    I have lots of thoughts about Ending Hunger, but it’s an important topic and one it behooves us to be informed about and involved in.

  12. I am reading another book set in a baking competition world — Alexis Hall’s “Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble,” which popped up in the ‘Recently Published’ shelves in the library. So far, so sweet. Clueless but skilled young introvert keeps apologizing for things, shocked to find he is winning things, and wondering why the amazing boy with all the friends and social skills keeps talking to him. How did the British come up with such a friendly, homey baking competition world? Never mind. It’s the quirky charm of the British. 🙂

    1. Did you read Rosaline Palmer takes the Cake? Not my favorite Hall, but still fun. And I really like Battle Royal by Lucy Parker for more British Bakeoff style fun.

      1. Yes, I read that several months ago, but I can’t say I liked it a lot. There was something about the female MC that kind of grated on me — more because I’ve known loud, self-confident women who that character reminded of, and a small dose of them was often all I could take. And I didn’t quite believe the romance that ensued. But the baking competition setting? Always fun, even without Mary Berry.

        1. It definitely had it’s problems, though the bread scene was pretty great. I have been putting off reading Paris, since several people here said that his anxiety is pretty intense. Looking forward to seeing what you think.

    2. I loved “Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble.” I liked how it starts off light and fun and Very British, but as it goes on, it starts to deepen and ask more difficult questions about mental health, fame, and what it takes to be in a healthy relationship with someone who’s different from you. It stuck with me longer than I was expecting.

  13. I re-read books four through six of the True Gentleman series by Grace Burrowes. I will not explicate. Just read the back covers of the books. I’m on book seven, now. It’s fraught, and has a truly nasty villain. Some of these books give me nightmares about the ways women were caged in and exploited and abused by men and the legal/social mores of the time. I’m about ready to move on and crack open one of the other books that have been recommended by this group.

    I don’t understand the fascination with hockey books. It’s not personal. I am not a sports fan. However, I am looking forward to the new season of Ted Lasso, which weaves around soccer. Thank goodness, the plots are about a lot more than the sport. If I had to watch soccer for hours, and not just the highlights, and without the human dynamics going on in the foreground, I think I would give up on that show. I love that he is just so determined to be optimistic and kind. It’s a great antidote to much of what is on the news here in the U.S.

    Winter is roaring back this weekend. Next weekend is DST, and more winter. Sigh.

    1. Jan, I’m one of the people fascinated by hockey books and…I don’t understand it either. I tried some baseball, ruby, football and – not interested. I don’t know if that’s because the hockey book genre seems to have gathered momentum that have brought an ever-expanding circle of writers to it and therefore elevated the field…or if it’s because the speed of the sport has its own unique quality? I can’t put it down to being Canadian because I was never all that interested in hockey before discovering an interest via this blog. Would love to figure it out.

      1. I’m glad to learn that, Tammy. I thought for sure that your nationality (and hence immersion in the sport of hockey) was responsible for your addiction.

        Somehow, there’s an underlying structure in some settings that lends itself to a certain shape of plot and/or a certain type of person, and yet we never talk about that sort of thing, even while we immerse ourselves in it.

        For example, the detective novel really doesn’t interest me all that much, but then I’ve never wanted to know more about the superior rascals who plan murders and concoct elaborate alibis to avoid detection, much less about the suspicious uptight people who make it their business to vicariously enter that world in order to Solve the Crime and Arrest the Perpetrator. I’ve certainly read a few in my time, but seldom liked any except the ones (nearly all by women authors) that leaned towards humanizing the community that is affected by these threats. But they provide a very dense mental puzzle to unravel, so I can sort of get the point of the genre.

        Do the hockey novels center around teamwork? That’s how hockey itself always seems to me — an endless dance around an enclosed space by very skillful and observant young people working together to set up shots and help one another make them or avoid letting opponents do so. But I always feel sorry for the goalies.

      2. I’m not even Canadian and only recently got the hockey bug.
        Had read some fine hockey books before and kept sane…
        Football doesn’t do it for me at all for a number of reasons.
        Hockey right now is gascinating for me. It’s so fast, stick handling is technically difficult, the players have to have a lot of stamina bit it looks doesn’t look as draining as it must be. They are tough to an incredible degree, rather crazy. Unlike often in soccer where some forwards (eg Nexmar) tend to get down dying on the gras even without being touched in order to get a free kick or penalty kick (Brits excluded, no dying drama there).
        I love football (soccer) but for the last couple of months have grown to admire the faster game on the ice.

          1. No, no! It’s interesting! As long as the competitive brain death sport of American football doesn’t creep into the world of novels, I’m fine with insight into sports of skill.

          2. I’ve no interest in sport, and American football players look particularly silly, but I did enjoy most of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ football series (the Chicago Stars). The stories mostly took place off the field, though, after the first one.

          1. Absolutely, Aunt Snack!

            answering JaneB & Jinx:
            I like sports even though I’m not much of a sportsperson myself. I find the drive and energy level fascinating when reading about it/watching it. I don’t need it in my personal life, being more like a sloth than a border collie myself.

            Maybe for me, it’s an antidote for what real life doesn’t provide: I’m neither young nor fit enough, nor talented or skillful enough for doing sports of any kind. So I love to read about it/watch documentaries whatever.

            I always had the tendency to dive deeply into one topic at a time for either short or more lengthy period of time, be it history, sporty things (I was quite keen on horse riding when reading Dick Francis), arty things (same with Portrait Artist of the Year/Faking it by Jenny), ballet and dancing, music.

            I find the skill, determination, stamina, passion and dedication fascinating. And the talent. Especially when I’m myself neither talented nor skilled nor fit enough to do even a tid bit of the riding/painting/dancing/skating in my favourite films/books/documentaries etc.

            E.g. I’d have loved to paint my furniture after reading about Tilda’s work. But hey, I’m not her – no inspiration…

            So right now, hockey / reading about it is my passion, it can be something else shortly (but I’ll keep a fondness for all my pet topics).

            Competency is fascinating, and when combined with storytelling that suits my current mood, I’m sold.
            And the books that hooked me lately had the bonus to have the backdrop of a kind of a close community and continuity (being series). It’s nice to re-visit my favourite people, especially since real life it is so much more difficult to do so these days when everyone I know and love is more than busy and/or lives far away.

          2. And I hate to say it, but the frequent fighting in hockey makes for interesting plot points.

    2. It’s because hockey is awesome.

      I don’t get the fascination with football. It’s hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait . . . . And this from somebody who grew up in a football mad state.

  14. I started reading the Tinker series by Wen Spencer since I really wanted to read more werewolf stories – which I thought “Wolf Who Rules” which is the 2nd book in the series was about. I was wrong. This series is about elves from a parallel earth and humans from earth prime. Apparently, humans started up a gate which led to the city of Pittsburgh being transferred back and forth between prime and parallel earth.

    The first 3 books has Tinker as the protagonist. Tinker is a genius inventor who was born several years after her genius father who had created the gate was murdered. She was born from his stored sperm and was raised by her grandfather. These stories feature fast-paced action, romance, evil villains, little children being murdered and eaten by the villains, heroic resistance and kindness. They’re cotton candy for the brain.

    I’m currently stalled on the 4th book in the series – “Wood Sprites”. This book has 2 new protagonists; 8-year old twin girls also born from the same sperm sample as Tinker. However, these girls live in NYC and live relatively normal lives. Or, as normal as girl geniuses can live. I’m stalled because the girls are trying to track down their DNA family which is going to attract attention from the villains from the previous books. I need to remind myself that this is a Baen book so the girls and their friends will be fine. Although, other children may not be.

    1. For werewolves Patricia Briggs is always going to be my favorite, and anyone on this board has surely read Charlie Adhara, but if you’re still looking for werewolf stories lesser known options are:
      – Jordan L Hawk’s adorable m/m “Christmas Hex” features a werewolf
      – Eileen Wilks’ World of the Lupi series: solid urban fantasy with a continuing m/f romance which I really like. She hasn’t completed the series yet but I still found it enjoyably worthwhile and there’s plenty to get your teeth into
      – Wen Spencer’s “Black Wolves of Boston” is actually a werewolf story 😉
      – Maria Vale’s Legend of All Wolves series: lots of angst, m/f
      – N J Walters’ Salvation Pack series: enjoyable m/f brain candy

      1. My favorite werewolf story is Bisclavret by Marie de France. It shows unusual empathy between a king and a noble (the noble had started as an occasional werewolf who was tricked so he couldn’t return to being human).

        If you want to try Bisclavret, you need to look beyond the evil, adulterous wife trope.

      2. Eliot Grayson’s Mismatched Mates series is also a fun shifter series, mostly wolves.

      3. Does anyone know what’s going on with Eileen Wilks? It’s been quite a while. Hopefully she is ok.

        1. Would really love to know this too. Last time I checked her website it hadn’t been updated but that was a while back

  15. I recently read ‘Scapegracers’ by H.A. Clarke. It’s YA (high school characters) with witchcraft/outcast/girl cliques/LGBTQ themes. I found it a definite page turner, with good world building, well-developed characters, and unpredictable twists. And, if you try it and like it, there is a sequel.

  16. I’m reading The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges. It’s a charming magical realism (and I was following the author on Twitter before she was published, and she’s very cool). My only issue is that it hops back and forth in time, and I sometimes get confused. Mind you, I am reading it on the Kindle, which means right before bed when I’m tired, so it might just be me.

    Just finished a cozy mystery by V.M. Burns (who also writes as Valerie Burns). It had an interesting twist in that the protagonist was writing a historical mystery which you read bits of between the modern story. Lots of fun sidekicks, especially her grandmother and friends. I wasn’t completely enthralled until the end, but I liked it enough to order the next one from the library.

  17. I read Courtney Milan’ the Duchess war and liked it a lot. I think I’m going to read the rest of the series. Right now I am reading. Meet me at the cupcake café by Jenny Colgan. Sweet meandering read. I read all of Rosalyn James‘s soccer books compulsively. I have absolutely no interest in hockey and don’t plan to read any of those. Allie Therin’s new book Liar City come out yesterday it’s the start of a new series called Sugar and vice. I loved her magic in Manhattan series.
    Dictating does not work well when you have laryngitis. I give up. Happy reading everybody.

  18. I’ve re-read a couple of favourites before embarking on round three of my alphabet challenge.

    Chocolate Cake For Breakfast by Danielle Hawkins is excellent for many reasons (set in New Zealand, down to Earth and realistic protagonists despite the main male character being an All Black rugby player, amazing title) and is on my top ten favourite books list.

    I also enjoyed re-reading The Love Act by Zara Bell, again with a famous male protagonist. I love the female protagonist’s turn or phrase and inner voice, and it made me laugh just as much on my second reading. Bell doesn’t appear to have published anything else, which is upsetting.

    I’m now reading Meet Cute, a YA short story anthology where the focus is, unsurprisingly, on how two people meet and fall in love/crush in interesting situations. I’m enjoying it so far.

  19. The last week was strange for me, reading-wise. I started several new books and DNFed them all – nothing worked. The only book that I finished was a re-read of an old favorite. Maybe the next week will be better.

  20. I read Murder at Haven’s Rock by Kelley Armstrong, which is the first of her sequel series to the Rockton books, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve been struggling to find anything that keeps me hooked lately, so it was nice to have a read that didn’t make me work to stay engaged.

  21. I know this is good book Thursday, not ‘throw against a wall’ book Thursday, but I DNFd a book this week that annoyed me so much I have to share!

    Picture this: a university has a paranormal research dept, and a ghost (‘personality after death’) specialist is funded to do some research on a haunted house.

    Now, the ghost story was great, the insta-romance annoying but that’s not an unusual crime, but the portrayal of academic research? SO BAD. Unforgivably bad.

    I mean, I’m absolutely fine suspending disbelief for a uni paranormal department and ghosts. But a researcher contracting a social media video making team because they “have the professional attitude to conduct solid scientific research”? No. (Ok I’m aware of my elitist academic attitude here, whoops) Oh, and then when the ghost hunting tv team pull out a paranormal measuring device and the academic says ‘what’s that’? YOU HAVE A PHD IN GHOST HUNTING AND YOU DON’T KNOW THE KIT? No, just no. And don’t even get me started on the hunting methodology. I mean, where was your ethics approval?! The guy tdtl and I’m meant to believe he’s this super smart dude. Argh.

    Also, there was a surfeit of winking. (And by surfeit I mean any, unless you are Camilla).

    So so annoying. But also, is it just me? How is it ok to go ‘cool, I’m ok with paranormal researchers at unis’ but not be able to suspend disbelief for the bad research? (And it’s not that I believe in ghosts, I suspend disbelief for that happily).

    Ooh, that’s my second long ranty post this week. I have covid (again), just the right amount to lie on the couch reading and napping, not so much covid that I’m miserable in bed.

    1. It’s not just you .. I still have ardent frustrations with a book I read years ago with a heroine who missed a few years of school after high school, got a PhD on a field biological topic (you cannot speed up breeding season), then got tenure at a highly respected research institution and was well established by the time she was 28. Nope. No how, no way.

      1. Please my friend’s partner got her PhD and the amount of time it took her to gather her dissertation data and University politics (the 2 people who’s decision it was were at war) alone delayed her actually getting it. Unless the fictional character’s family are billionaires who practically own the university and she killed off an entire generation of tenured professors since some University departments are literally dead man’s shoes, while raising record levels of funding and publishing in all the academic journals

    2. Definitely not just you. If it’s something that doesn’t exist in the real world, like ghosts, I’ll suspend disbelief to the author’s heart’s content. But if it exists in the real world, like academic standards, then get it right, ffs.

    3. It’s not just you. I can’t remember the book in the long long ago that had me saying “Human trials? Three weeks after your great discovery? Are you insane?” but it was not set in the 19th century. It was science fiction but set in contemporary 20C America. I did finish it, though, I just ranted a lot.

  22. New month, so I have new downloads from my Hoopla account and I’m back to listening to Agatha Christie. The latest is not the best timing, because it starts with a dentist appointment (and murder of the dentist), and I’m having minor issues with a tooth but my longtime dentist died last year, and I don’t like the new guy, so I’m resisting dealing with it. And being reminded of it as I listen to this book.

    But what I thought was interesting is how well Agatha Christie absolutely nailed the patter of a dentist. She really was a keen observer of human behavior.

  23. I’m feeling stressed so I’ve been binge reading Donna Andrews (the Meg Langslow series) and listening to hand pan music by Hang Massive. Their music is wonderfully soothing and relaxing. I’d post a link if I had any idea how to do so, but if you’re interested, go to youtube and search for Hang Massive and the song Pearl Garland, although The Secret Kissing of Sun and Moon is great also.

  24. PS Delighted by truth that ice hockey without the ice is not in fact hockey, but rugby ha.

    I’m finding it both difficult and hilarious imagining a whole romance genre where the heroes are field hockey players.

    1. My sister’s high school field hockey class wrote a whole field hockey musical (set to the tunes of the songs from Hair), but since gym has gone much more co-ed, I don’t hear of it being played very often. Those balls leave some really horrifying bruises and I was very glad that I managed to avoid it during high school.

      1. I used to run in the opposite direction if the ball headed my way. I chose the most remote position, too, so I could lurk pretty safely.

        1. Jane, I love that! I was like that as a student — later, I coached a jv soccer team (I was teaching at a boarding school — coaching was required, just like meal duty and evening study hall).

          Every day I headed to the nurse’s office on the way to the soccer field to pick up as many players as I could wrest from the nurse’s hands. The nurse thought I was cruel. I still don’t know how girls could have periods that ran for 4 weeks. I thought they were damn lucky — after all, teachers can’t use menstruation as an excuse to shirk duties.

        2. Jane, I was like that too. I played hockey (field, not ice) in my first year at high school. At the end of the year everyone in the team except me went up a grade, so I gave it up with great relief.

  25. In mystery: 3 by Dick Francis; ‘The Enigma Affair’ by Charlie Lovett: an ingenious, suspenseful, deft, compassionate, and seething thriller about Nazis, fraud, and a coded message.

    In romance: ‘Honey & Pepper’ by A.J. Demas, which I enjoyed though I tripped over how one MC went from ‘that’s degrading’ to ‘let’s have all the sex in all the ways’ very very fast – like in one conversation, which wasn’t even with the other MC. Also quite a lot of political theory in amongst the romance. Or maybe it’s a nice romance inside the political theory.

    Also: ‘Midnight Duet’ by Jen Comfort, which was enjoyable without being wholly satisfying. The love interest is the one person taking his career seriously and doing what’s necessary; his bandmates are irresponsible assholes who contribute almost nothing till magically they all get a professionalism upgrade, simultaneously blaming him for making them work. -.- Also there’s a ‘ten months later’ epilogue in which a fire-damaged century-old opera house is completely renovated and a brand-new rock opera is premiering. Hahahahahaha no. See above re tenured Ph.D. age 28. Time matters. The romance itself works and the sex scenes are unusually good.

    In YA fantasy/romance: ‘So This is Ever After’ by F.T. Lukens, which refreshingly begins not with the chosen one hearing the prophecy but at the moment in which he and his ragtag band of misfit teenagers slay the evil sorcerer king … and now have to run the kingdom.

    In nonfiction: ‘The Ravenmaster’ by Christopher Skaife, which is simply a delight; and ‘My Boy Will Die of Sorrow’ by Efren C. Olivares, which is an infuriating, sad, important book. Well-written memoir, personal history alternating with chapters concerned with the Zero Tolerance family separations in Texas in 2018.

    1. The imaginary opera house remodel sounds sort of like the French Government promising they will completely rebuild Notre Dame within, what is it?, five years of the fire?

      Also, I think Ever After may be $1.99 at B&N. Last I looked anyway.

      1. I mean I am happy they’re rebuilding Notre Dame but 5 years just sounds kind of ambitious, especially given how unstable the structure is and how dangerous it is to work in due to the toxins released by the fire. But I recently watched a special on, I think, Nova/PBS showing fascinating details about the restoration process. So cool!

    2. It took 5 years to restore the Cutty Sark after a fire and that was a ship. A listed century old opera house, 10 months probably wouldn’t make a dent in the paperwork processing, the inspection and actually getting the few available experts to look at the damage. There is also a limit on who is qualified to restore what

  26. I’m almost exactly halfway through listening to Everina Maxwell’s Ocean’s Echo. I’m enjoying it a little more than Winter’s Orbit because I know what to expect… not the entire plot, but the general throughline. Her main characters are a bit scattered and flighty for me, but they end up with hidden depths. It’s a nice long listen and I’m making myself save it for walks, so it’s making me get outside.

    I also listened to the first book in the Ruth Galloway mystery series. I’m sure I reserved it in a suggestion from here. I liked the mix of archaeology and detection. I’ll keep going with the next book at least.

  27. Sports in novels. What a subject. I wish the hockey contingent of Arghers every joy of their choice. Likewise the footballers, whether American or European. Also Tennis. And any other endeavor that results in hot, sweaty bodies in motion.

    One of my favorite stories, Once More With Feelings, features girls volleyball (in Canada.) Another old favorite, Orange County Babylon, had American High School Football en route to a scholarship to the Naval Academy. Yet another, The Book of Firsts, had canoeing and canoodling. 😉

    Whatever the backdrop, if the sport is the focus, I’m probably not reading it. I’m looking for well-written stories with well-written characters.

    1. Same here, Gary. If the sport were the focus of the hockey books I raved about lately I doubt I’ve read more than one. Hockey is the common denominator: it’s easier to dive into it as it’s quite a popular genre right now. It’d be more difficult were I currently hooked on novels with a ballet backdrop, or painting. The backdrop should also not be only decor: if you are passionate about your profession it should be felt in the story.

      And yes, the hot, sweaty, – fit – bodies in motion are definitely a bonus 🙂
      I sometimes wonder how the accompanying characters manage to get those perfect abs, hard muscles etc when they actually have no time to exercise, but oh well. When reading about monsters, magic or sci-fi or whatever I’m willing to suspend disbelieve, so I try to do it here too.

  28. I read ‘Mad About You’ by Mhairi McFarlane, which I loved, and am now heading off to read more of hers, hoping they’re as good. Also the second Miss Seeton book, which was hilarious.

    But a large part of my week was spent shouting at Amazon. I discovered last Monday that one of my kids’ books, Rita’s Revenge, was listed twice, once with me as author and once (kindle version, and half the price of my kindle version) with Emilio M Parks as author. At first I thought it was an Amazon mistake. Then I looked at Mr Parks’ other books, and every single one of them was actually written by someone else. He was even claiming The Lorax. So I shouted a lot, then emailed my publisher, who set the legal wheels in motion to send a cease and desist letter to Amazon. Then I started emailing the other authors whose books he’d pinched.

    Meanwhile I tweeted about it, and local ABC radio saw my tweet and asked me to do an interview. ABC news heard the interview and wrote a news item. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-28/book-plagiarised-ritas-revenge-lian-tanner-amazon/102031762

    Mr Parks’ entire account has now disappeared from Amazon and my blood pressure is back to normal. So is my reading!

    1. Well done for taking action! Infuriating but glad that it sounds like it may have worked out.

    2. There seems to be a lot of that sort of stuff going on at Amazon these days. There’s always someone trying to game the system, but it seems to have escalated. A few weeks ago, someone set up a publisher account, issued a bunch (like 100+ in one week) of bestselling books for free, listing the original author (and IIRC, linking to the real author page at Amazon), just with different covers and a zero price, and if you downloaded the book, you basically got the “look inside” sample plus a link to go to a pirate site to download the rest). It got taken down shortly after a reader noticed and alerted the author of one of the books. But it seems to me that if a new account uploads 100+ books in the course of a week, it ought to trigger some sort of manual review and a freeze until there’s confirmation that it’s a legit account. Because, really, it would only have taken about three minutes for anyone familiar with publishing to know that it wasn’t legit.

      1. Wow, that’s really nasty, I hadn’t heard about that. And yes, a friend commented that the technology to stop what happened to me exists and would be really easy to implement, but Amazon doesn’t bother. The Rita rip-off only had 25 pages – it looked as if someone had done a bad job of scanning the first 25 pages of my books. It’s very much buyer beware at the moment.

  29. Good news for Pratchett fans:


    “A collection of newly rediscovered short stories by Terry Pratchett, originally written under a pseudonym, are to be published later this year.

    The 20 tales in A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories were written by Pratchett in the 1970s and 1980s for a regional newspaper, mostly under the pseudonym Patrick Kearns. They have never been previously attributed to Pratchett, who died in 2015 aged 66, eight years after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

    The collection was bought by Pratchett’s longtime publisher Transworld for a six-figure sum, and will be published on 5 October.

    The discovery of the stories is down to a group of Pratchett’s fans. One of the longer stories in the collection, The Quest for the Keys, had been framed on Pratchett fan Chris Lawrence’s wall for more than 40 years. When he alerted the Pratchett estate to its existence, the rest of the stories were unearthed by fans Pat and Jan Harkin, who went through decades’ worth of old newspapers to rediscover the lost treasures.

    Lawrence said The Quest for the Keys had resonated with him when he was 15, and he collected each part of it. “I treasured and kept them safe for more than 35 years,” he added. “Having survived numerous house moves, little did I know of their importance.””

    Rui Jorge

    Are there any Pratchett fans here?

  30. I dislike horror movies and books. Stephen King is not among my top 10,000 favorite authors. And yet, I find myself watching Wednesday on Netflix – and loving it. Sort of.

    “Of course the first boy I kiss would turn out to be a psychotic serial-killing monster. I guess I have a type.”

  31. I finished the book on the Louis XIV era affair of the poisons.
    My conclusion: who knows how much was real—most of the evidence was the result of torture. And a lot of the witnesses were locked up for their whole lives for fear of scandal.
    I am now reading the Miss Seeton books by the original author, which are fun, and gearing up to read a lot of personal finance books because I want to give one to my two kids and my foster daughter and they each need something different. Will probably give foster daughter something by Michelle Singletary. Not sure what to give my son ( who basically needs a checklist of all the things to do like renters insurance and advice on managing investments) and my daughter (who needs to figure out how to manage savings in England and the US). Would happily take suggestions.

  32. I finally finished Natasha Pulley’s The Half Life of Valery K during the storm power outage when I couldn’t download anything to distract myself with. It was excellent, and worth reading, and I will never read it again. The grimness is too much. I love her writing, and I loved this, and getting through it was awful.

    I have not finished anything else new, and only one of my stack of rereads (Confluence, the end of S.K. Dunstall’s Linesman trilogy, as good as ever).

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