148 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 30, 2023

  1. I tried books by Sarah J Maas, Jennifer Estep & Patricia Briggs. First two didn’t work for me at all.
    Lots of info dump, inner monologue & frustrating at times.
    I’ll try Mercy Thompson again at some point. It’s a little slow but the world building looks intetesting and there’s a vampire who loves Scooby doo & owns a mystery machine.

    You can try Kate Daniels or The Beginners Guide to Necromancy if you like Urban Fantasy. Both series get really good from book 4 but it’s worth the wait.

    I’m bingeing the Stephanie Plum series. It’s funny, comforting, light, easy to read & has some bizzare mysteries.

    1. I love Stephanie Plum… but I listen to them on audiobooks. The narration is so great!

      1. Please can you recommend something similar to Stephanie Plum? This is such a addictive series and I’m done reading most of it.

        1. I’ve only read one Stephanie Plum so I’m not sure if it’s the same, but it makes me think of the Miss Fortune series (Louisiana Longshot being the first one) (though this series is maybe a bit goofier) and the In Death series by J.D. Robb (aka Nora Roberts) (though this series is definitely grittier — the crimes can get pretty awful)

          1. Just started book 3 today. The one where Ida Belle runs for mayor. I love the In Death series but I’ve not been able to read darker books since the last 2 years.

            Did you read Encore in death? Im curious, excited but cant read it right now.

          2. If you’ve read one Plum, you’ve read them all.😁 That said, they are fun potato chip books

        2. I love Stephanie Plum. One of my other favorite series is The Chronicles of St. Marys. The heroine is similar. Also, Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. Grittier but good.

          1. I had a good time with the series until I just couldn’t take what the author was doing to the main character; the hits were too devastating. I stopped when the victim was her baby.
            But I loved the Time Police series. Haven’t read the latest one yet, but the earliest (first three?) were good.

          2. I’m with you on Plum. She reintroduces the characters every single book, which normally annoys the heck out of me, but I always look forward to what she’s going to say about Grandma. Also, I really love the ones with Diesel.

            The audiobooks are fabulous, even funnier than the hard copy books (I still nearly pee myself when I think about the squirrel bombs).

            If you haven’t tried them, Pratchett’s Discworld. I just finished the Long Earth, etc., and they’re good but not funny like Discworld.

            Susanna Craig did a bunch that are kind of fun. Regency romance/spy mostly, with characters of a pretty modern personality. They’re a romp, though. Definitely potato chip books.

        3. I recently read an archived GBT rec for The Spellman Files by Lisa Lutz as a series reminiscent of Stephanie Plum, though I have not personally read any yet. I just added to my “keep in mind” list.

          1. The first spellman files didn’t work for me, and apparently a lot of people, but I have heard that they get better after that.

          2. I really liked the Spellman Files. But, you know, it’s me. I have questionable taste…

          3. I’ll keep an open mind and Spellman Files to my TBR. I’ll try the 3rd or 4th book in the series first. Somehow that works for me.

          4. I loved The Spellman Files. If you like weird, wacky, dysfunctional families, who also happen to be private investigators, you will too.

            I would recommend starting with the first book though.

    2. I like alpha and Omega better than Mercy Thompson for Patricia Briggs. Most of those have achieved comfort reread status for me. It’s more about Charles and Anna working together, where Mercy usually works alone, at least in the early books. I like the later Mercy books better, less dark.

      1. I love both series. I think the Mercy books get indeed less dark after a while but the latest have been getting darker again.
        Charles and Anna are lovely together.

    3. I’ve getting behind on the Stephanie Plum series (author is Janet Evanovich, btw) – still haven’t read the last two. I loved the first dozen titles but there are nearly 30 books now and I’m pretty much over them.

      1. The ghost writer killed it for me. I liked them until Stephanie started cheating and that was that.

      1. Mine too. I find it genuinely scary each time, even though I know what’s coming. And I love the complexity and the way it messes with genre conventions.

  2. I am not being swept by the books I am reading at the moment. They are predictable contemporary romances by Zoe York. What I like about them is that so far there are no secrets and no misunderstandings, just a slightly fraught, but not too much, journey to HEA.

  3. I read Getting Real by Emma Chase and I really enjoyed it. It was witty and had great dialog and the story was just fun. Living in middle Tennessee this week… I needed a little escape from the news and this provided it.

    It’s about a single father of 3 boys who is an ER doctor and a nurse who also works there who has appreciated him from afar. They attend a wedding together and connect. Of course there are misunderstandings and an ex… but the teen and pre teen boys are written well and it was just a good read. Give it a try.

    1. Oooh! Emma Chase I haven’t read any books from her recently and I just checked on Amazon and it is on sale for .99 cents. Nice find. Thank you!

      1. I was not familiar with her before but I’m going to find more as I really enjoyed it!

  4. I have been reading a lot of things that catch me in the beginning and then the middle sags. Sometimes I finish it, sometimes I don’t, but I find myself saying “Why am I spending time on these characters?”

    I finished Olivia Atwater’s Half a Soul with no such problem (recommended here) and I’m now reading her Ten Thousand Stitches. I enjoyed T. Kingfisher’s Illuminations a lot, but it isn’t one that I will reread over and over like the Paladins. But Payne is such a bird! The parrot we have at work could play his part really well.

    1. New T. Kingfisher is out today! I’ll let you all know how it is. Looks like it’s more one of her horror-type stories than paladins or re-interpreted fairytales.

    2. I love the first 2/3 of Jesse Mihalik’s Polaris Rising so much, but for me it loses steam once they return to Earth. Conversely, the 3rd book in the trilogy, Chaos Reigning, starts super slow for me and only picks up steam in the second half when they return to Earth. As for the middle book, it just didnt catch me. I think it must be really hard to sustain across a whole book (much less a series). I just did a re-read where I read the first part of Polaris Rising and then skipped directly to the last half of Chaos Reigning. Maybe I’m just fickle? Distracted? Bored? Stressed? Multi-tasked to death? In other words, it’s not you, it’s me.

      1. I read one of Jesse Mihalik’s books for bookclub and really liked it. I’ll have to try more of her books.

        1. She is definitely on my auto buy list cause the stuff that works for me works really well. I enjoy a space opera/romance and hers are fun. I am unduly nitpicky these days.

  5. I finished A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking, by T Kingfisher. It did not get less dark, but it did end in a redemptive way. I loved the beginning of Chapter Twenty-seven: “…if things go wrong in a siege, you’ll all die horribly, and in formal weddings, the stakes are much higher.” a funny baker’s perspective on weddings.

    I re-read Darkover Landfall by Marion Zimmer Bradley. It had been a long time since I’d read it, and things have changed in our world a lot. It gave me a new perspective on the crash landing and world-building in the book. Then I re-read Part I of The Shattered Chain, which takes place centuries later in the same world. There is a real feminist/political bent to this book that I noticed a lot more in this reading. Maybe our changing situation in the US brought that forward for me.

    I rewatched Ghost Busters. There are so many great lines in that movie! After hearing them in puppy Milton’s voice in Dogs and Goddesses, I had to watch the movie again. The recent revelations about Bill Murray tainted it a bit, for me, but it’s still a great movie with a funny cast.

    I am also at sea on finding a book, or two, that are intriguing and engaging. The TBR pile just isn’t pulling me in.

    1. I’m rereading one right now that I find intriguing and engaging. “Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts”, by Kate Racculia. It may require more focus than it sounds like our Jenny Crusie might have right now, though. I know I get in places sometimes where even a magazine is too much effort.

      1. I really liked Tuesday Money, but I read it awhile ago, so I wasn’t so scatter-brained.

  6. I read the Witches of Karres, recommended here. It must have been one of the original space oaters, back in the day. A little too much plot and not enough character. And I read the Hall of Blood and Mercy series. I enjoyed the first one but the next two started to lag. I stuck around to read the end of the romance arc.

    I also read the third in Alexandra Caluen’s LA Stories, am so fond of the MC’s, Victor and Andy and I wanted to see what they were up to which was mostly dealing with the post traumatic stress of the previous book. And that put me in the mood to reread my fave of her books, Be Mine, which is a unique read.

  7. I finished Witchful Thinking and was unfortunately disappointed. It started our really promisingly, but I think because it’s the first book in what is meant to be a quartet, the other three women feel like they’re in the book a weird amount — enough to be interested in what’s happening with them but without any actual development or closure on their stories, and too much to just let all that slide. I think part of this is because rather than all of their stories happening at different times (which is what happens in a lot of quartets so that the author doesn’t have to juggle multiple storylines at once), they’re all occurring at the same time, set off by this wish spell they all make at the beginning of the story.

    The laws of magic in this book also don’t feel clearly defined, and there were several times where I thought “why doesn’t she just cast a spell for that?” There were a couple weird character choices that I won’t write in case anyone wants to read this (they’d be minor spoilers). At times the romance was well-written, and at other times it was painfully awkward (maybe this was just me though, not sure what other people would think).

  8. I have to wonder sometimes what I am reading. If the main characters have sex after they first meet in the first chapter that’s a no. Because I know that is going to happen all the way through. When the female character has a secret (and it is always the female) and it follows her throughout the book playing on her mind, that drives me nuts. Just tell him. If that goes on too long, I skip to the last chapter and consider myself done with it.

    1. Agree, Mary. I haven’t read many contemporary writers for a couple of years. It just feels so blah, blah, blah now.

    2. I’m tired of romances (and other books) with plots centered around one or more big lies or secrets between the main characters (with all the stress of being found out, the inevitable fallout when it happens, and the equally inevitable reconciliation).

    3. Oh yes, Mary, I hate it when one of the characters has a secret that you KNOW they should tell the other. It’s the same with children’s books where the kid has a secret and doesn’t tell their parents.

  9. I stayed up way too late last night, finishing the last of Penric’s Travels, a compilation of three Penric and Desdemona stories by Bujold. I’ve enjoyed the series, so thanks to whoever recommended them.

  10. I just finished If We Were Villians by ML Rio. It was a very different read for me but kept me reading. Lots of Shakespeare quotes and a mystery that worked until almost the end. But, it left me with several questions that didn’t get answered.
    I’m going back to Sue Grafton’s Alphabet series. I’m up to F and loving it.

  11. More meh books than usual.
    Tried the Moo U series but the titles I’ve read feel immature and now that you Arghers pointed out the BS conflict (break up around 80/85 %), it really galls.

    Have gulped down Stick Shift by KM Neuhold but wouldn’t recommend it: the protags are nice and the writing flows easily, but it feels far too much like a sketch. The ice berg of knowledge and info about the MCs that’s usually there but not visible was missing or it felt like it.
    The circle of friends felt like all of them had their own stories but I couldn’t find it at a short glimpse into the backlist.

    Read some excerpts (Tough Guy by Rachel Reid – I wanted to cuddle MC1, the anxious giant of an hockey enforcer, it felt a bit sad though; and the Massey YA hockey book with hockey Alex Price/Eli the figure skater – I liked AP much more than Eli – tbr).
    My paperback copy of Heated Rivalry will await me on my return from the UK, amazon informed me.
    Also about to drop soon is Cloud nine by Fearne Hill: when reading Cloud Ten I thought I’d like about the sibling with cerebral palsy – I love that FH most often than not writes MCs with physical difficulties as representation of this group is rare in romance books.

    But mainly I saw myself in Jenny’s description of her reading habit right now. I definitely feel scatterbrained: It’s amazing how many books I started, got impatient in the middle (not always a fault of the writing) and skipped to the end. And not always came back to catch up what I missed.

  12. I almost done with The Secret Lives of Country Gentleman and it’s still very nice. I am just slow and my life has been full of interruptions lately.

    Otherwise, I am in a Patricia Briggs/Ilona Andrews relisten loop. The library got the newest Innkeeper on audio and I really enjoyed that. The spoof on the Bachelor tv show was very fun. But now I want more, and there isn’t any. Boo.

  13. I continue to read That Serial. It’s up to chapter 84. It has me hooked but I can’t recommend it here.

    I finished Cupcake Girls, Vixen War Bride #5. It was approaching a happy ending when suddenly they erected Cliff’s Gallows and executed him. Now I have to buy book 6 when it gets written and published. I blame the Dark Ones.

    I reread Bet Me by Herself. I long ago lost count of how many times I’ve read it.

    I have The Assassins of Thasalon by Lois Bujold at 33%. I’ll finish it today.

    There were the usual Netflix TV series. Gilmore Girls is an old friend. Rory has applied at Hahvahd and Princeton and Yale. Lorelei blames her parents. Then there were The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow and Madame Secretary, which are all new to me.

    The other thing I’ve been reading are old emails that I saved in categories (Friends, Family, Receipts, Membership, etc.). There are thousands, and I’ve been deleting as I go, but Oh! My! God! I have found stuff I want to keep forever. It’s like a head-first dive into TV Tropes, I get stuck for hours. I confess I shared one yesterday in the Wednesday post, about the half-glass thing. Weeding old email will take… forever.

  14. The book I keep giving friends and suggesting to customers at my bookstore job is “ The House in the Cerulean Sea” by TJ Klune. I have yet to find anyone who does not love it.
    I recently read “Baking Bad” by Kim Watt, a cozy mystery with tea, dragons and murder. It was clever enough to make me track down the rest of the series from the library.
    Other than that, I’m in the same MEH place as everyone else. In my case it could be that I was traveling in the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, and it’s nearly impossible to compete with penguins, seal puppies, and glaciers.

    1. Could you please share pictures? Most of us will never see any of those “distractions”.

    2. Marianne, I’m one of the rare people who didn’t love ‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’. I thought the author was trying too hard to be cute and quirky, and although I didn’t actively dislike the book, it wasn’t my cup of tea.

      Penguins, seal puppies and Glaciers however are TOTALLY my cup of tea! I second Aunt Snack’s request for pictures.

      1. Couldn’t get into it either, but I think that’s more my mindset than the book. I just started another book, got 41% in and bailed, too. It’s not the books, it’s me.

    3. I just read that and loved it. So sweet, and I was surprised, which is nice. Usually I’ve got a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen, but I really didn’t. My first TJ Klune was the Lightening Struck Heart, which was pee my pants funny, and I started the next one after, but I found that I really could have enough of gay men, unicorns and dragons. Who know? But Under The Whispering Door was wonderful, and then Cerulean even better, so I’m definitely a fan. My library had both in audiobook, and they were really well read.

      1. I discovered M/M romances because someone recommended the Will Darling series. That led me to M/M hockey romances and now Amazon keeps recommending M/M romances and I keep buying them. But like Lisa Tollefson, I really can have enough of them. But some of them are great!

  15. I just finished the new Katie Fforde (British contemporary romance), One Enchanted Evening. I love her books. She’s one of my comfort reads, and this one was just as charming as the rest. It was set in the 60’s which I didn’t think I’d like, but I did. Sweet, and lots of talk about food…

    1. Friends of mine are renting a narrowboat to travel some of England’s canals. I knew what they are because of one (or 2?) of Katie Fforde’s early books. 🙂

      1. Those are fun. Try Jeanne Ray. Eat Cake is my favorite, but I’ve really enjoyed them all, and I keep hoping she’ll write more.

    2. I wish my library loved Katie Fforde as much as you and I do. First they got me hooked on her books and then they stopped buying them. Sigh.

      1. That’s just cruel. You can request them, you know. If your library won’t buy them, you might be able to get them through Interlibrary Loan.

  16. Just adding to the tally of people with meh reading at the moment. And nothing really to look forward to, since I’m skeptical about the upcoming Rivers of London book (since it’s not focused on Peter Grant). Popped in her to find some recommendations, but …

    How about some books to look forward to? All I’ve got is the aforementioned Rivers of London (Winter’s Gifts) on … I don’t know, can’t find it on Amazon, but I thought it was this spring; plus Witch King (Martha Wells, May 30), and System Collapse (Martha Wells, Murderbot, November 14). And the next Lady Sherlock (#8), but it doesn’t have a release date or even a title, as far as I can tell.

      1. Yep, like Office Wench Cherry said, it’s Reynolds, I believe. But it’s confusing, because the Peter-ish lead in the German spin-off is named Winter, so originally I thought it was the second in that series, but I’m reasonably sure I saw a reference to Reynolds. And I think Aaronovitch said something about alternating between non-Peter novellas and Peter novels. I’m just not as enthusiastic about the novelllas/shorts as I am about the novels (even the novellas/shorts that Peter is in — I think the author’s strengths shine in longer work, not so much in shorter ones).

    1. I am looking forward to CM Nascosta’s Blue Ribbon Romance. It is the opposite pov from Morning Glory Milking Farm. I don’t usually bother with those, but I really liked that book and Rourke as a character. But it’s Contemporary Monster Romance. Aka Minotaur smut, and therefore not for everyone.

      1. I’ve got that on my April list too. Plus Catherine Cloud’s first book in the past two years – but only of interest to hockey book readers.

    2. Oooh, a new Murderbot. Yes, please.
      I want more Peter Grant but I think he may have achieved too much stability, happily in a relationship with twins, accepted and admired in the force, ready to take over the Folly . . . I can see where it would get harder to write. Fortunately, all his books are re-readable.

  17. I think we’re all dealing with (or trying to avoid) grief, fear, rage, digust, and despair on so many fronts that it’s almost impossible to focus on the day-to-day stuff. Add into the mix the unavoidable things like moving, jobs, family, etc. it’s a miracle anything else gets done. I can usually lose the real world in fictional ones, but nowadays it has to be really exceptional to grip me. I find myself sobbing while reading a fairly mundane sad segment of a book. I worry for our collective mental health.

  18. Seven duds this week. I’ll have to switch to old favourites. But this is mostly due to sorting out old titles on my Kindle, which I must have read before I began adding every book either to my Keepers collection or to Rejects, in which case I attach a note to the opening para saying why it didn’t work for me.

  19. Finally, finally read a new author to me, Elizabeth Strout’s “Oh William!”. Woke up really early and read till dawn Wednesday. First person. No skipping. Hoping the scattered thinking is broken. Not all night reading, though. Purchased “The House in the Cerulean Sea” full price. High hopes.

    1. I had downloaded two samples, both Elizabeth Strout novels. My Name is Lucy Barton and Anything is Possible when I purchased Oh William! Plus the sample, The Best American Short Stories, selected from U.S. and Canadian magazines. Must have had hopes. Let’s hope so.

  20. My library tells me:

    “Good news! We bought the eBook you recommended:

    At the Feet of the Sun
    by Victoria Goddard”

    and I’m downloading it now. So I will be reading it soon.

    1. Wow! That alone might convince me to buy an e-reader. How large is your library system?

      1. Big city. Louisville, KY, where I work so my occupational taxes allow me to have a card without paying a subscription. My local library is pretty small and I hardly ever check anything out, kinda saving it for when I actually retire.

      2. I am in Pa, which makes me eligible for a card from the Free Library of Philadelphia. I was hesitant to make the jump to an ereader, but borrowing from their much larger system made me a believer. That and the privacy factor. Any time someone asks me what I am reading on my ereader, I can say Pride and Prejudice and end the conversation.

        1. Next time, I get asked I will steal your answer! That’ll save me from my usual vague answer to cover up all the Minotaur smut.

      3. I can’t read my library’s ebooks on my Kindle. Apparently, Amazon won’t allow it – presumably to force us to buy more from them. It’s frustrating, since the Kindle Paperwhite is much easier on my eyes than my iPad.

        Which is a long-winded way of saying, check which devices are compatible with your library system before investing in an ereader.

        1. I know my library offers its ebooks in Kindle format, so somebody somewhere must do that. I know nothing of dedicated ereaders, because my iPad is the most readable device I own, including most of my paper books. And checking compatibility with your library system is vital.

        2. The other option is converting the books to .mobi via third party software such as Calibre. Its a bit of a hassle but worth it – I like my Kindle but have no interest in playing by Amazon’s rules.

          What’s particularly annoying is that Amazon won’t allow Amazon-published works in most library systems, which means there’s a lot of books I just don’t read. Thankfully there so many books it generally doesn’t matter.

          1. Yuri, this is what I do – use calibre to convert the library books to mobi, then send them to my kindle. And when I’ve read them I delete the file from my kindle, because I have no desire to rip off the author, and it is a library book, after all.

          2. I’ll talk to the library again; and have made a note about converting files. Although the range of ebooks offered isn’t great.

        3. I love my Kobo – and it has a dedicated OverDrive portal, though I, like others here, use Calibre instead. The newer ones also have audio capability.

          The backlight on the tablet really clobbers me. I find the eInk screen essential. Highly recommended!

      4. Hey, you know you can sometimes buy a membership to a library that you don’t live in. I carried one in Maryland when I lived in CT and in NV for something like $20 a year. I share with my daughter now, so we both benefit from Las Vegas and Harford County MD libraries, but it was really nice. Not all of them do that. There’s audible, too ($$$) and Recorded Books probably has a membership deal too, but I like to support libraries, especially small town ones.

      5. I’m *not* in a big city, though am US, and my library’s catalogue of ebooks is huge (!). I’m in a geographically large, tiny population country, and our library is part of a three county conglomerate (Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma, if anyone wants to know). It is *amazing*, as are our librarians(*).

        I primarily use the Libby app to search the catalogue and check things out/put in holds. You can also have multiple library cards, which can broaden the selection.

        Most of library loans I can read on kindle, simply by tapping “Read with… Kindle” in Libby.

        I moved from kindle to kobo years ago and manage my library via Calibre (including the aforementioned loans), which isn’t for everyone but I adore.

        (*). There’s even a seed “library”! SEEDS! I’m off to pick up my seed “hold” momentarily. I *LOVE* the library.

  21. My curiosity was piqued when one of the Argh-ers (maybe Jan K.?) said she’d read “Castle Hangnail” with a younger-than-adult member of her family and both he and she had enjoyed it, so I found it at my library and read it too. The cover made it appear like quite a young-reader title, but I was pleased to find that it was very funny and very adeptly crafted, which I understood completely when I looked up the author (Ursula Vernon) and found that she is the same person who publishes adult fiction under the name T. Kingfisher. Since I don’t e-read, I haven’t been able to access anything by Kingfisher, but when Argh people’s love her books, she’s got to be good. And this one was.

    So after DNF’ing another library book, there was nothing to do but pull out the last (to me) in the ‘Mistress’ series by Mary Balogh. Weird book, but weirdly satisfying. It violated Argh rules by giving the MC a dark secret, introducing that shocking secret 2/3rds of the way into the book, in a way that made it clear that all her hopes & dreams were shattered, then having her run away from the hero three different times. If it hadn’t been a book by an author I love, I would have thrown it at the wall, but I’m glad I ended up finishing it, because Balogh unraveled the threads of the secret bit by bit, which changed the secret from a horrifying one to a brave & noble sort of one, and there was eventually happiness and a found family ever after. The series is probably on my re-read list now, mirabile dictu.

  22. Of anything I’ve read recently, one author stands out for me – K.M. Shea. There are much greater writers out there. Everyone admires them. They get their novels made into popular movies or TV series (think Harry Potter). But sometimes, their works, which are objectively superb, don’t do anything for you personally. Subjectively, you’re not a fan. Even more, occasionally, you can’t finish their books. Or even start them (again, Harry Potter). They bore you. They don’t resonate with you.
    And there are other writers, who might not be as good by the objective criteria, but subjectively, you enjoy their stories. They touch you. They make you happy. This is what this writer does to me.
    K.M. Shea’s Crown of Shadows is the #1 in the Court of Midnight and Deception series. I already read three other books by Shea – another trilogy – so this is #4 for me. It is silly and light, and fluffy, and even absurd at times. The logic of the plot is limping. The characters are anime rather than reality TV. I see all the flaws in the narrative, and still, the story made my heart sing. I smiled. I found delight in little details. I cared for the protagonist.
    I’m rapidly becoming a fan of this writer. I look forward to two more books in this series. And there are several other series by her, set in the same world. I can’t wait to buy and read those books too. So much reading pleasure in my future.
    On the other hand, Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Spare Man was a DNF. It is a powerful story, no questions about it. The book is marvelously written and the characters are alive and sympathetic. There is even a charming little dog in the story. BUT…
    I couldn’t finish it. I abandoned the book about half way through. The reason? The story is too intense for me, and the heroine suffers incessantly, subjected to the unending mental and physical pain. Her travails never stop. She never catches a break. Eventually, I got tired of her suffering, and the reading process became too depressing. So I stopped.
    I did finish Kristan Higgins’s In Your Dreams, but I didn’t like it much. It was a decent enough women’s fiction, I suppose. It even involved a bit of humor, but its pacing was extremely slow, and its plot was about such small events, I’m surprised they warranted a full book. Anything of importance that ever happened to the hero and the heroine happened before the book started.
    And here is my main objection to this story. Several chapters in the book were dedicated to flashbacks: the back stories of both protagonists. Years of backstories, during which the action of the novel, already sluggish, rolled to a dead stop. I got so bored I contemplated DNFs while I slogged through those flashback chapters.

    1. I recently read The King’s Captive and The King’s Shadow, the first two books in her new trilogy set in Magiford, which I thoroughly enjoyed. The third just came out though I haven’t gotten to it yet. I haven’t read, and indeed didn’t know about any of her previous books set in that city.

      1. I read those two on your rec and really enjoyed them. I loved the cat persona of the heroine. I am planning to read the third one asap.

    2. I DNF’ed The Spare Man, too, even though it felt like it should have really been up my alley. I liked the ingredients but didn’t want the cake.

    3. Interesting about the “too much suffering” aspect of the Spare Man that turned you off despite the excellent writing/storytelling. I haven’t read the book, but I had to stop watching a tv show for very much the same reasons. It’s gotten good reviews and has excellent performances, because it was shaping up to be too much suffering, and I just couldn’t watch any more. It struck me as odd, because I’m always telling new writers “story = conflict,” and I fully believe that, and I’ve certainly watched a lot of shows that are dark and have lots of conflict, and it didn’t bother me, so I’m not sure why I was so resistant to the conflict in the show that was theoretically quite well done. I wonder if, in the case of the tv show I couldn’t keep watching, it had a lot to do with all the suffering being self-inflicted: the lead is having sex with someone she knows full well she shouldn’t, and she’s not even enjoying it particularly or getting the comfort she’s craving from it, and the instigator of the main plot line did something rash and terrible, and there’s just no possible good outcome, only various degrees of bad outcomes.

      I dunno. Just thinking out loud, because the show had all the elements that would normally appeal to me, but it just had me on edge in a bad way, stressing me out, rather than a cathartic sort of way.

      1. There is conflict and then there is just wallowing in misery porn. I can handle dark, though I usually choose not too. What I can’t handle is unrelenting hopelessness.

        1. And pointless. I hate pointless suffering in fiction. I can accept sad, if there is a reason, but pointless sadness for the sake of being literary makes me mad.

          1. I hate star crossed lovers that don’t need to be star crossed, but are for the sake of the story

  23. I think that the gap between hearing about a current title and starting it is exacerbating my sharply variable attention levels. I finally got my hands on a copy of Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn. When I signed on to the waiting list, I was excited and I didn’t have to wait all that long to get a copy. But once I had to fit reading it into the chaos of my day to day life, I found lots of excuses to do other things first. Which is too bad, because I can highly recommend this book.

    I think the reason I kept picking up this book and putting it down again is that it centers on woman who has to figure out what she really wants to do with her life and that I have managed to avoid doing that for most of my life. Most of the books that I see these days start with a romantic disappointment that sends the heroine back home to lick her wounds. But this story starts with a professional setback and makes no reference to her romantic life at all, although her previous career must have made it difficult to have one.

    Once home, she comes up against the assumptions the town made about her based upon how she was during high school and ends up sharing a house with the brother of her high school crush and his dog while his house is being repaired. The housemate has his own reevaluations of the past to do and they each have to become more accepting of themselves and their pasts to come together.

    I liked this book because although it contains several tropes that are quite common these days, it doesn’t feel like you have read the story countless times before.

    1. I picked up a book by Kate Clayborn at a sale this weekend. I liked her and then forgot about her. I will have to revisit.

  24. Last week I read the Scholomance trilogy by Naomi Novak. A mash-up of Hunger Games and Harry Potter in that it is a wizard school with a low survival rate. No teachers so a bit Lord of the Flies too. I really enjoyed it. Novik has done some nice re-tellings of fairy tales as well. A very good writer.

  25. I have to read a book for work (a company I ghost for occasionally has us read certain books that are selling especially well) and for the life of me I can’t figure out what people like about it. Part of it is that I don’t love the author’s voice, but the other part is that the heroine is determined to think the worst of everyone (herself included) in a way that becomes both boring and unattractive. The biggest part is that the hero’s big traumatic secret that’s supposed to make us understand him is that… he nearly beat a man to death the last time his heart got broken. And now he’s scared of falling in love because what if he loses control and beats someone else up again??? They don’t quite phrase it like that, but that’s definitely the implication. Also, in the big happy ending moment he decides to have unprotected sex with her without using a condom because he decides he’s so happy he’s ok with them having kids, and HE DOESN’T DISCUSS THIS WITH HER. Apparently she “asks him with her eyes” and he just magically knows that means she wants unprotected sex, despite the fact they have never talked about this before.

    GAHHHH. I am not getting paid enough to read this book.

    1. Tell them, most people will think if he is smart, he will realise he shouldn’t be in a relationship until he’s got help for his anger management issues and for all he knows, she might have just lost a contact lens

  26. The much anticipated new book from T Kingfisher came out Tuesday so I read A House With Good Bones and loved it. And now I’m reading The Black Dogs by Ursula Vernon because I was all sad and bereft when House ended.

  27. Amazon prime offered a free read from March called The House Witch by Delembach. It sounded intriguing, so I got it. Turns out the book is actually three books and the first one was free. I am mediately bought a house which two and three. I really loved it. They’ve got another one coming out in June. Set in the same world. to me, the naming was off, but the story kept me going. I’m thinking of reading it again.
    Then I started It’s just one Damned thing after another by Jodie Taylor. I am halfway through it and it’s weird but enjoyable.

  28. I rattled through a new (to me) fantasy series, Greenwing and Dart by Victoria Goddard. Then I read Slough House, the latest in a spy series written by Mick Herron. It was nice to get absorbed by something new, I haven’t done that for quite some time.

  29. I read the newest Time Police book, ‘About Time’, which was fun. There’s something both appealing and horrifying about the ruthlessness of the Time Police – I think it’s that desire we sometimes have (at least, I hope I’m not the only one, it’s going to be really embarrassing if I am) to just sort out the nasty people in our lives with brute force. Plus there are some really big character shifts in this one, and the relationship between Jane and Grint is adorable (in a mute, hilariously clumsy sort of way).

    On a much more serious note, I read Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. I don’t read a lot of serious books, but every now and again I dive in. And what a book this is – absolutely 5 stars. It’s about the opioid epidemic and foster children, but it’s also about the way the rural parts of America, particularly the Appalachian areas, have been treated by industrialists, politicians and businesses. It’s a mind blowing book, a modern take on David Copperfield, and full of life. Bits of it are hard to read (and I had to check the ending to make sure it was going to turn out okay), but so rewarding. Kingsolver is such a brilliant writer and gets inside her characters in the most convincing way.

    1. Have you read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Kingsolver?

      It’s nonfiction, autobiographical and I just really love it.

    2. My dad is trying to get me to read Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior, about Monarchs, as I have an interest in insects. (Databasing beetles today with MLB baseball on in the background)
      It looks very good.

  30. I’m another one who’s been struggling with finding books that hold me, and I suspect that’s more on me than the books themselves.

    That said, I’m most of the way through The Sinister Booksellers of Bath by Garth Nix (sequel to The Lefthanded Booksellers of London) and I’m loving it. It has the feel of fantasy authors I loved most in the 80s, and I love the character of Merlin so much. And the book addict in me keeps getting excited over the bookish in-jokes.

    1. I have the Sinister… on my kindle to be read. I really liked the left-handed booksellers.

  31. ‘We’re Going to Need More Wine’ by Gabrielle Union (memoir, enjoyed this)
    ‘Defining Moments in Black History’ by Dick Gregory (memoir/history/polemic)
    ‘Quartered Safe Out Here’ by George Macdonald Fraser (memoir, very good)

    ‘Green Tea and Pink Apples’ by R. Cooper (M/M novelette feat. two very unhappy guys who really need to get together and who eventually do. Would like this story very much as the first 25% of a full-length novel.)
    ‘Villains’ by K.L. Mitchell (queer fantasy picaresque satire a la ‘Into the Woods;’ entertaining & imaginative with some really clever writing, not least a campfire bard singing about a series of anticlimaxes ‘so it’s not a very good story;’ the only character I truly had an emotional reaction to was the horrid cave monster whose overdue library book gets taken away before he can finish it.)
    ‘A Brighter Darker Art’ by Halli Starling (M/M contemporary set allegedly in St. Augustine with other references that seem to confirm it’s Florida but with absolutely no sense of place; lots of extraneous characters and subplots. Could’ve been very satisfying; I skimmed to the parts that were actually about the relationship.)

    ‘Lights and Sirens’ by Lisa Henry (M/M contemporary set in Australia featuring a cop and a paramedic. Unflinching and very good.)
    ‘Astounding!’ by Kim Fielding (M/M contemporary scifi romance in which MC1 is editor & publisher of failing spec-fic magazine and MC2 is an alien hiding in plain sight who keeps submitting terrible stories because that’s the only way he knows to signal his alien cohort. All in MC1 POV, and he starts off a depressed and jagged little pill, but stick with it – I loved this.)
    ‘Treasure’ by Kim Fielding (M/M fantasy novella which I bought immediately after finishing ‘Astounding!’ and which I also liked very much.)

  32. I read A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore and it was good. A guy turns out to be Death and fumbles entertainingly with that discovery. I must have read other stuff too, but I can’t for the life of me think what. It’s been a busy week and the days have blurred a bit.

  33. Read a bunch of disappointing books but a lovely novella to make up for it. Nghi Vo’s “The Empress of Salt & Fortune” was a beautifully layered gem about history and loyalty and gender and its amazing how much world she packs into this short tale. I’ve read other things by Nghi Vo but this her best I think.

    Re-read “A Marvellous Truth” by Freya Marske, and like it even more this time around. About to dive into the sequel so am crossing fingers its as good.

      1. Oops yes! I was conflating the two titles. Literally just finished the sequel “A Restless Truth” – lots of fun – f/f madcap adventure on a trans-atlantic ocean liner in 1908.

        Only problem is I want the last book but at least I don’t have too long to wait – out in November and currently available to pre-order.

  34. I’m in the middle of reading ‘Guilty As Sin,’ by Rosalind James. It’s Book 1 in the Sinful, Montana series. Two strong characters, lots of witty banter, mystery, romance, and a fun read.

  35. This week I read Extraordinary People by Peter May–pretty sure it was someone here who had recommended it.

    It had a bit of trouble getting started in the story (my fault, not the book’s), but once I got going I read it straight through. I enjoyed it, though I’m not sure if it will go into the “one-time-read” or the “re-read” folder.

    Next up is the next book in the series–The Critic–which I was gifted for Christmas. . . . or maybe I’ll read Elizabeth Cadell’s Be My Guest as a palate cleanser first.

  36. I’ve mostly been rereading old favourites. Joy in the Morning, which is PG Wodehouse at his peak. Unpleasantness At the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers. I really like the glimpse of London life between the wars. Frederica by Georgette Heyer. It’s up there just behind Cotillion as one of my favourite Heyer novels.
    I’ve just finished The Golden Enclaves by Naomi Novik. I liked the first two in the series a lot, but I’m not quite convinced by this one. The pacing was off somehow. There was too much exposition and not enough follow through on the plot strands set up in the previous book. But I’m still thinking about it a week later because Novik is a very good writer even when the book doesn’t quite come off.

    1. Joy cometh in the morning! I love Plum. Unpleasantness at the Bellona is one of my least favourite Sayers (after Red Herrings)— it is so bleak, and shell-shocked. But being Sayers, it is still an excellent book.
      I discovered Heyer in the summer of 2020 and I think she saved my sanity!

      1. Gaudy Night and Murder Must Advertise are my favourite Sayers novels, but Unpleasantness At the Bellona Club was my first, so I’m fond of it. My least favourite is Have His Carcase. I like them all though.
        Georgette Heyer has been my saviour this year when I’ve had long covid and haven’t been able to do much of anything. I’ve found that listening to audio versions of books I already know well doesn’t overwork my poor foggy brain.

  37. I’m listening to Murder in Old Bombay, set in the 1890s. The protagonist is mixed race, Indian and English, raised in an orphanage. His love interest is from a Parsee family. It’s a quite interesting view on a part of the world and a society I know almost nothing about. It’s also maybe 2.2 times too long, so the urgency is spent. I still have about 10% of the book left to listen to, which I will, but I took a Jane Austen break for a while there. You can count on Jane.

    A friend had to put her two cats down on Friday, so as a distraction we went to see Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. If you like that kind of thing, which I do, it’s a lot of fun. Almost totally CGI, but used to show another world, other beings, etc.

    1. Hmm, you have two promising book premises there- A Jane Austen Break, and You Can Count on Jane.

  38. I tried The Keeper of Lost Things, by Ruth Hogan. It is supposed to be magical realism, but the author came across as pretentious to me (yes, she’s British, but I read lots of books by British authors, so I don’t think that’s it. She used unnecessarily convoluted language and big words–including some I had to look up, which rarely happens. I DNF’d after four short chapters.

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