169 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 9, 2023

  1. I am still reading Rachel Neumeier. Now that I have finished her Tuyo books, I have gone on to read her Black dog series which I am enjoying a lot. There is quite a lot of violence in her books but I think she writes interesting worlds with characters who have a strong core of integrity, my favourite type of character!

  2. I’m re-reading. Same-old, same-old. The only new material is Cupcake Girls. More Vixen War Bride stuff.

    Lots and lots of Netflix and clips from musicals. And sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

      1. I’ve never been a big drinker of any spirits, beer, wine, nor hard liquor. These days, there is a box merlot in the fridge for cooking and some red wine vinegars in the pantry. I am no help at all when it comes to this. On the one hand there is much discussion of a daily three-to-four-ounce glass of red being good for the heart and digestion. On the other hand, without forbidding it my PCP has suggested that it does not mix well with my heart meds.

        I can’t address Keto at all. The dotter says she’s off Keto and just watching what she eats. Despite all the chocolate snacks prominently labeled “Atkins” on the box, I’m not following an Atkins regimen either. That’s probably why I weighed in still in the 250s this morning.

        What else do I drink? Caffeine Free Diet Coke (39 mg sodium per can) and Diet A&W Root Beer (115 mg sodium per can), tea (no sodium), and water (not softened so not measured). After a taste test, I’ve settled on the Decaf versions of Earl Grey, Lady Grey, English Breakfast Tea, and Irish Breakfast Tea. I have a filtered water jug in the fridge for water and tea. I’m supposed to limit consumption to 2 liters/day, including the liquid from soups and such. I have some bottled water (Deer Park), but I tend to use the filtered water for home consumption.

        Not much help, huh?

        1. Two liters a day! I would dehydrate in a day or so. But that’s me and my thyroid. I drink about a gallon a day of water, plus about sixteen ounces of coffee.

      2. I hesitate to mention it but I’ve seen recent news articles suggesting that keto is not a healthy diet. Don’t know the details but maybe something to consider, assuming you haven’t already! Good luck with your diet!

  3. I tried very hard to slowly savour KJ Charles’ new release, The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen…truth is I gobbled it up – it was too delicious to deny myself!

    I finished the Princes’ Game series – deeply satisfying – so grateful to LN and Lian for introducing me to it. Am now moving onto the next series in that universe, mostly to enjoy being with the characters some more. What’s that phrase you used with Four Kings, Jenny, to describe that phenomenon? Anyway – that one. By the way, Hogarth appears to have swallowed a dictionary judging from the number of times I had to grab mine to look up a word. Am planning to inject liquescent, sororal and divagate into conversations randomly.

    I also read The Mystery of Nevermore by CS Poe – liked it but not sure I’m going to continue with the series. I prefer her Memento Mori series.

    1. It’s definitely Lian you have to thank since it’s on her recommendation I read the Princes games.
      Recommendations are funny though because sometimes someone recommends something and I think, that sounds good but I go on to read other stuff and then someone else recommends it and I am ready to read it then. At that point I can’t always remember who mentioned it first and I feel bad for not crediting them. A guilty remnant of my defunct academic career 😀

      1. I have the same problem! Sometimes I can recall ‘that was somebody with a photo?’ or maybe ‘I think that was a blue-icon person…’ but I’m not sure I recall who exactly.

      2. I finally decided to keep a little notebook with titles, authors, recommenders, and whatever descriptions are given for books I might like to read. It’s been very helpful.

        1. That is so good of you, Jan! I’m always hoping that when I don’t remember who recommended something they will speak up and say: “That was me!”

      3. “defunct academic career” or librarian training: citations, citations, citations!

      1. This sounds good! I’ve downloaded the sample. I almost always love K. J. Charles, but there has been the odd exception.

        1. And me. I wanted to savor it but nope, chomp! And it was great. Charles st her best.

    2. And now I want to read Four Kings again. And I just finished it. I find it really hard to leave that universe. I need more lovely books about practically nothing.

      1. I have several books/series that I have on perpetual rotate. I think it’s allowed.

      2. Lupe, have you read her stray series? That’s the one that gets me stuck every time. She even has a book in it called Gratuitous epilogue and that one is definitely about nothing and yet completely satisfying 🙂
        Also with your love of art, I think you’ll like the one about her mum.

          1. I started it in audio book, but stopped. Sometimes I need to read the book first. Also, at the time I was afraid that it was going to go somewhere dark, like her Cassandra inspired alien book. I will give it another look. I like her other fantasy stuff, but sometimes I am afraid to try new things.

          2. Also, the start of the first book when she is on her own is very hard to read when you don’t know what comes next. When I reread, I don’t read that bit. It’s too sad. You shouldn’t skip it though the first time.

          3. Yes, I found the beginning to be ominous. I plan to read everything of hers eventually, but I have to be in the right place, and pace myself.

        1. Karan K Anders. The ‘series’ is called a Very Secret Garden. The first book is titled The Book of Firsts, the second is Four Kings.

    3. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, Tammy. That first book is so violent that I hesitated to recommend it, but it also worked remarkably well for me (as someone who dislikes violent books) that I took a punt. I haven’t started on the new series yet, but it’s in my sights.

      1. I’m better with violence when it seems buffered by the unreality of a sci fi context. And aliens. Whereas I’m reading a book that takes place during the Biafra Wars and the violence is keeping me awake some nights because…real.

        1. Yes, that makes sense to me. Plus I think if the person to whom the violence is being done has a purpose, as in the first book, it helps, because they don’t seem so much a like a helpless victim.

  4. I’m reading another southern magical realism by Heather Webber, The Lights of Sugarberry Cove. I’m really enjoying it, although not quite as much as her previous ones. Very sad that this is the last until her next one comes out in August.

    I finished reading The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone and loved it. Highly recommend. Not sure what I’m going to read next on the Kindle, although I have a ton of books on there. Nothing is quite hitting me, although I have a stack of physical books to read in the morning.

    Anyone have any suggestions for more magical realism?

    1. Deb, have you read any books by Sarah Addison Allen? I have enjoyed them all, some more than others. My particular favorite is Garden Spells, but that’s mainly because of the main character growing and using edible flowers and herbs.

      1. Garden Spells is one of my favorites, too! It has some descriptions of domestic abuse, for those who might be triggered.

    2. I’ve enjoyed “The Secret Ingredient of Wishes” and “Dreaming in Chocolate” by Susan Bishop Crispell.

      1. Oh, good one. Charles De Lint is great. I also love Peter S Beagle. In Calabria and Tamsin are both rereads for me.

      1. I loved the Practical Magic movie. I also loved the book. But when I read the book I thought – how did that movie come from this book.
        2 separate experiences, both good.

  5. Well, I finished Paris Daillencourt (Alexis Hall’s the author) and quite enjoyed it, but it’s more of a coming-of-age story than a romance, even though there’s sort of one during the baking show with another contestant. Paris does decide to go get help for his worrying and apologizing, so there’s a lot of relationship & inner self depth, both of which I like. Well-written, but not quite the the cute M/M relationship that it promises on the book cover.

    Then I picked up a YA book that was on the ‘Librarian recommends’ shelf at my library, and THAT book I really loved. It’s called “The Porcupine of Truth” (Bill Konigsberg is the author) and it’s about a 17-year-old whose mother drags him off to Billings Montana to look after his dying alcoholic father, and complications ensue. At the local animal rescue zoo, the boy meets a gorgeous, gay, homeless girl with a sharp imagination and together they work on solving a mystery, going on a quest, and seeking to find the thing that each of them wants most. Oh, and there’s some cute improv work that gets the two out of a real pinch — I couldn’t put the book down.

    1. Jinx,
      thanks a lot for the thumbs-up for Bill Koenigsberg’s Porcupine book! A colleague of my husband’s is a big fan of this author and introduced us to his books. Thanks to him I found “Openly hetero” – a book my son “had” to read last year as part of his English syllabus.
      Porcupine sounds like a title my daugher would be interested in (and her birthday is coming up)… yeah 🙂

      1. Argh, it’s “openly straight”. The openly hetero is the Gernan translation….

          1. Yes indeed.
            But many might have problems to understand the language when trying to read ,Openly hetero LOL.

        1. I figured that out when I looked it up in the library. My library has that one, but not Porcupine, which I have recommended now.

          1. And Openly Straight was good, but I’m getting tired of teenagers with problems. At least in the mundane world, not fantasy. Fantasy problems are different. I wouldn’t have finished it if all the characters, every single one, hadn’t been so interesting. And snarky.

    2. Agree re Paris Daillencourt – I felt that the romantic crisis came too late for it to be properly resolved and for me to have faith in a future for this couple, but I still really appreciated Paris Daillencourt’s journey.

    1. I LOVED that book. So amazing. Loved all the story lines and how they connected. Months later I still think of it.
      I gave it to someone who just couldn’t get into it. It made me wonder if something was wrong with me but I think they just weren’t in the right mood for that book. That’s my story anyway.

  6. Lots of stopping and starting for me again. I think that it is 50/50 me and the books. I haven’t started any of the things on my kindle by authors that I know I like because I don’t want to wreck it by being in a Mood.

    We did finish watching Killing Eve. Seasons 1 through 3 are fabulous and then 4 goes right down the toilet. Apparently the original writers didn’t come back from the covid hiatus. Why do tv shows do that? Season three ended in a good place. I should have stopped there. Anyway, looking for something new to watch. We lost netflix with the household crackdown and didn’t have anything coming up, so didn’t resubscribe. Hulu and Amazon prime are all we have currently.

    1. I enjoyed all 4 seasons of Killing Eve, but mostly because I love watching Sandra Oh and Julie Comer together. I didn’t know about the original writers not coming back, but there was definitely a different vibe to the 4th season and I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much.

      I was going to recommend another show that is very different from KE but with a similar vibe, but it’s on Netflix. 🙁

    2. I have no excellent TV to recommend because mostly I only watch The Bachelor and RuPaul’s Drag Race. Yup. And I can’t think of what to recommend to make a difference to your book rut….maybe something completely off the your usual path? No romance or aliens, etc.? Maybe something like 84 Charing Cross Road? or The Daughter of Time? I’m kicking it old school here.

      1. Thanks. I think that it is just a symptom of my general malaise. Someone used that word here a couple of weeks ago and it is just so perfect.

        I don’t want to start anything new, but my comfort rereads are pretty threadbare.

        This too shall pass.

        1. I’m going to continue to come up with non helpful ideas for you. Forgive me in advance.

          1. Here are my next thoughts: How about Raise High the Roof Beams, Carpenters and Seymour: An Introduction by J.D. Salinger, Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford, The King’s General by Daphne du Maurier, Pavilion of Women by Pearl S. Buck, Dearly Beloved Physician by Taylor Caldwell, Never Cry Wolf by Farley Mowat. I went for my tried and true comfort list. Although they’re not all comfortable.

    3. When I’m in a winter of fictional discontent, I read non-fiction. Two titles that come to mind for sheer fun are ‘Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?’ and ‘The Ravenmaster.’ 🙂

    4. I’m not sure what’s automatically in Amazon Prime and what you need an additional subscription for, but I know they offer some Britbox and/or Acorn shows. The Brits do GREAT mysteries. I think Amazon has the first season or two of Vera, which is great. I think The Bodyguard (not the Whitney Houston one, but a short Brit tv series, just one season) is slso directly on Amazon, and if so, I highly recommend it. There’s also some good stuff from Australia/NZ on Britbox/Acorn if you can access them through Amazon and if you want something light — 800 Words and The Heart Doctor both sound absolutely ridiculous but are actually quite good. I also recently discovered Candice and Astrid (two separate shows), both French procedurals (with subtitles), but more in the vein of Midsommer Murders than anything gritty. Candice is on Acorn, and Astrid is on PBS (if you have PBS Passport, by way of donating to your local station). Same basic premise — female police detectives, getting some help from their friends/family, but very different in execution. They both deal a lot with the lead’s personal lives, with Candice’s mostly involving romance, and Astrid’s struggle to engage with others through her autism.

      1. My PBS Passport has 7 seasons of Landscape Artist of the Year, an excellent comfort watch.

        1. We absolutely love Landscape and Portrait Artist of the Year. There is a short one season of Landscape done in Canada that is slightly different but still good, also. I think it’s on Freevee.

    5. I strongly recommend Apple TV. It’s got some great series and also the musical come from away which was awesome. It will be a new series season of Ted Lasso soon and I have friends who are watching a lot of other things on there. My son recommended shrinkage with Harrison Ford.

      1. I just re-watched the first two seasons of Ted Lasso to prepare for the new season. It is still some of the best, most heartwarming writing ever.

        Harrison Ford is fabulous on Shrinking.

  7. I read the first three Penric novellas, and enjoyed them very much, so much so that I’ve ordered the next set. (I did stay up too late last night finishing). It’s an interesting concept, and I think I’ll enjoy the next several as well.

  8. I read and enjoyed the first two books of Ilona Andrews’s Innkeeper Chronicles series (I think I learned about them here, so thanks for the rec!). I also tried a memoir called Ghost Forest by Pik-Shuen Fung on a whim (I’m more of a fiction person than non-fiction) and found that quite excellent. It’s a relatively short and quick read, but I felt like it packs a lot of the Asian-American/Canadian experience into such a small book, and even though I grew up in quite a different situation with parents who were unlike her parents, it still resonated. Would definitely recommend.

  9. Still not fed up with hockey books.
    Though I had a break of it after I’d discovered “Of stardust and sunshine” by Christina Lee and Riley Hart. Had to jump from 50% to the end because the dreaded the conflict in the second thread of the book. However, very nice change of style of writing. Will go back and read the rest soon.
    Then back to hockey with Bowen’s New Guy. Liked both MCs a lot. I see why Tammy wasn’t over the moon, though. Anyway, I’m feeling very comfortable with the whole universe around the Brooklyn Bruisers, so I’m eying up the other titles and have discovered that I’m about to meet some characters from the Ivy Years that way.
    So now I’m listening to Hard Hitter and loving it as the gritty side of the sports comes into focus. And I like the narrators a lot.

    Bowen’s hockey books – so far – have female MCs I like, so I’ve come out of my m/f flunk. Feel better for it.

    My tbr-pile is slowly towering high.
    Have already read about 50 % of how many books I read last year. And I’m a snail when it comes to reading…

    1. KJ Charles’ book is rather expensive as e-book, the paperbook is just plus 2 Euro. But I got stuck in the first title of the Will Darling books so I’ll probably wait until April when dd and I visit London. Maybe I can find it for less there as “real book”.

      1. Sigh. I’m so jealous that you get to go hang out in London bookstores! The first time I went to London (January and February of 1977), I would go hang out in bookstores whenever it was too gray and wet to play tourist. That and cheap tickets to matinees were my favorite way to deal with winter. Of course, by this time the stores I remember are probably no longer there. But I remember being enchanted by the range of different authors and publishers that I didn’t get to see at home.

        1. Spending time in bookshops is a favourite past time. Thankfully the kids like it too – our usual meeting point in the city centre is one of the larger bookshops. If anyone of us is late, the other one(s) don’t get cross 😉

          I’m really looking forward to the bookshops in London. Dear daughter is not keen on e-books, she prefers real paper ones. I will make sure to have extra space in our suitcase to bring back books.

          Will have to do some more research which museums offer free entrance, too. And she’s interested in seeing the Globe too. Must check out ticket sales there too. I’m really happy to have a kid (well, two, but the older one has to stay home and study for finals) interested in books, movies, culture as a whole. Very similar taste to mine (or mine to hers).

          1. The main/older museums and galleries are all free, except for some of the special exhibitions they put on. I avoid those, since I don’t like crowds as well as not being rich, but they only occupy one or two rooms anyway. My favourites are the British Museum, the V&A, the National Gallery and Tate Britain. I’ll also check out a particular era at the National Portrait Gallery if I’ve been reading history or stories of that period – it’s fun to put faces to names.

          2. I’m also a big fan of the British Library, which I suspect would be true of everyone on here. They have a room displaying their most amazing treasures

          3. Personally, I am a big fan of small museums.
            In London, I really like the Wallace collection and next time I go to London (once in a blue moon), I want to see Leighton House. Frederic Leighton was a very conventional painter but apparently his studio is amazing and it has just reopened after renovations.

          4. And you have to go and have a cake at the V&A cafe. It has the most luscious decor. Also it’s a great museum 🙂

          5. Forgot Sir John Soane’s Museum – I’ve just checked, and it’s still free. A wonderfully eccentric early C19 collection. He had to buy the house next door to jam everything in. It’s got a gothic feel, plus a great collection of Hogarths. And it fits LN’s preference, being small.

          6. I like to drop in at the British Library when I’m in London (which isn’t often). I don’t know if one pays to see the continuing exhibit. It varies, but a page from Beowulf is always on display, and I’ve seen Cassandra Austen’s drawing of her sister Jane and many bits of writing from over the ages.

          7. I remember being most fed up on my first visit, when the British Library was part of the museum, that I couldn’t read any of the Anglo-Saxon, despite having learned some at Oxford. We’d used modern printed versions, of course, whereas the scribes used loads of short forms, as well as unfamiliar handwriting.

    2. I didn’t care for the Brooklyn Bruisers much. Generally, I think its because the male characters did things that I didn’t like. Her m/m stuff is better, in my opinion. Leaving Paradise and the sequel. And her m/m hockey books. Her m/f stuff gets a little too tropey for me.

      1. I remember that I didn’t care for the True North books at all because I didn’t like the heroines. But I am fond of the community in the Ivy Years books and some of those appear in the Bruisers. Tropey is not so much a problem for me, I’ll wait and see if it’s too much.
        Well, at the moment, I’ve got sooo many titles waiting to be read as KU, my head is spinning which one I should be reading first. Probably Julius Caesar’s De Bello Gallico as that’s the one dd has to translate these days… And wow, those first chapters are BORING AS HELL.

    3. I really like the Bowen and Elle Kennedy hockey books. The college I did my undergrad in was just south of the Canadian border, and I got hooked on hockey there.

      1. Must read the Bowen/Kennedy book soonish. It has been recommended so many times by so many readers with similar taste.
        So many books, so little time, sigh.

      2. I liked those, and the pair ups it Tanya Eby (?) Man Hands and the next couple were fun, light romcoms.

  10. I really prefer romances where the couple works together, figures out any problems together.

    I’m very tired of the standard plot moment where they briefly break up just before coming back together near the end.

    1. I’m so glad to hear that! It’s not my favorite plot point, either, but it’s so common in contemp romance, I’ve doubted myself for not including it in any of the books in my romantic suspense series. Although most of them have some element of one of the h/h being kidnapped or almost dying at that point in the story (because romantic suspense).

      1. I am all for the dying or being kidnapped or really any other plot point than “we broke up”! Half the time I can’t figure out why they broke up and the other half the time I can’t figure out why they are getting back together.

      1. I second this. And I am almost ingrained to expect it… That is one of the reasons that I like Nascosta so much. I kept waiting for it in my first book of hers, seeing it coming, and then… they just talked to each other. AND IT WAS SO NICE! Same with Book of Firsts/Four Kings and most of Meljean Brook. I think that the trope is a holdover that people have read so often that they don’t realize that they don’t like it, or that it is not necessary.

        1. I don’t like the break up and make up bit. But I like to see a growing relationship forced to stretch. Say, in Bet Met, when David brings up Cal’s bet in the muddle of Diana’s failed wedding. What would have been a breaking point earlier in Cal and Min’s relationship stretches it instead: Cal has to put aside his sense of humiliation and Min has be be honest about never confronting him about what she overheard. Mostly, they have already acknowledged that they’re in love and now they prove it.

          1. You know, I never thought of that as a break up. Just a fight, which is fine. You are absolutely right, it’s a relationship readjustment and the reasons for it are understandable.

            But sometimes with sloppy writing, it just feels like a plot device to add a climax and end the book… Basically, good writing can make anything work.

    2. The Big Misunderstanding. Bleah. Hate it.
      For one thing, it comes at a point in the relationship when they really should be past jumping to conclusions. If they don’t trust each other at that point, at least enough to talk about it, the relationship is toast.

  11. I listened to “What the Lady Wants” which was fun, and I’m listening to a huge recording of all the Hercule Poirot short stories, often read by David Suchet. Comfort reading. For Book Group I’m going to read “I Have Some Questions for You,” by Rebecca Makkai, all 448 pages. I guess I’d better get started!

    1. That sounds intriguing. But… 448 pages w/my attention span? Must stop reading the news when I wake. I made it to 4:30 am this morning, even with the self talk NOT to read the news. It’s read the news or what to wear or deep breathing, hoping I get back to sleep. Some truly bizarre fashions?!

  12. I read Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe, and liked it very much. It was recommended by Deborah, Stephanie, Kate, Jenifer D., and Olga, a veritable host! It’s a bit odd, since it has two main first person narrators, plus the reporter’s sources as first person narrators. This causes bouncing around in the story, which was a little confusing to my elder brain, in the beginning. But the stories are “flocking” good. I have a new expletive to use that is not offensive to me, now! There is also a lot of death in the book. We are not there for the deaths, but they thread through the narrative and are essential to the storyline. Two were car accidents and one a drowning. The former owner of the cafe is a “natural causes” death, which brings the MC to the cafe. There is a person dying of cancer in one narrator’s family. So, there are triggers, for some readers. But it is a lovely Southern slant on community and caring. The love stories are unfolding, so no gratuitous sex. There is an adorable toddler, and a Quixotic cat. And pie!!! What’s not to love? The magic is sometimes subtle, and sometimes obvious. I will re-read it soon, now that I understand the trajectory.

    1. Ahh, I nabbed this after reading your description, it is just the thing I was in the mood for.

  13. I did read this week but nothing worth mentioning, except one tiny part of a book made me sit up and take notice when someone talked about a Johnny Mathis song that was on a CD. I was telling my husband about it and reminding him we had his albums and cassettes. Although he referred to albums as old timey LPs. Johnny’s voice was something else. We don’t even have a stereo anymore.

    Other than that on Amazon Prime I am coming to the end of Australia’s Blue Heelers series. Just three episodes left of season 4. They did about forty episodes per season. That was produced in the nineties when there weren’t too many breaks or going on hiatus. I think I started to watch it in the early fall. I just hope there isn’t a heartbreaker in there. I know it is coming because I looked it up on Wikipedia. Maybe it will be on the season we’re not getting.

    So I took a break last night and watched the first episode of Daisy Jones and the Six, looking forward to the next episode.

    Yesterday I took down the winter curtains in the dining room and put up new spring/summer curtains. One room at a time.

  14. I haven’t really read anything new this week, but I did binge watch The Law According to Lidia Poet, which I enjoyed very much. The actress who played Lidia had a beautiful sense of intelligence, humour and rage.

  15. I read The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, which is worth the hype. More like “The Seven Husbands (And One Off-And-On Longterm Girlfriend) Of,” so you get the idea of where it’s going right there. Like if Liz Taylor was bi and frequently married beards.

      1. I very much enjoyed Carrie Soto is Back.

        It was nice to hear from Carrie after she was such a villian in other stories…especially since it didn’t whitewash her bad choices, just that you were in her head and seeing how the dominoes fell from her side.

        Taylor Jenkins Reid is pretty much always a must read for me. (and leads me to point people who like her to check out Daisy & the Six, both the book & the Amazon Prime series)

  16. Best read of the week: Lilith Saintcrow’s Baba Yaga take, Rattlesnake Wind. A metaphor for our times, a deep read that works on many levels and a very good tale.

  17. We’ve been watching the new Mel Brooks series on Hulu, which is mildly amusing with the exception of Taika Waititi as Sigmund Freud, which is f**king hilarious. Also, would totally watch a real TV show starring Wanda Sykes as Shirley Chisholm.

    In reading: ‘The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen’ by KJ Charles, a 10-star book for me, soon to be re-read. I’ve already pre-ordered the sequel.

    Also: ‘The Gentleman’s Book of Vices’ by Jess Everlee, a high-angst Victorian M/M featuring a writer of illegal tragedy porn and a handsome young molly facing an arranged marriage. I rounded up to 5 for pace, world-building, and engaging characters, with caveat that the younger man is wholly likable and sympathetic but the reasons he falls so hard and fast for the writer are not super clear. The conflict at its core is all legal/social, not interpersonal, as is my preference – the obstacles have to do with the awful realities of life for women and non-straight people in that place and time. Satisfying resolution all around. I’ve put the sequel on my wishlist.

    Then there was a 1941 whodunit that I skimmed to the end just so I could give it a 2-star rating because I hated everyone in it. It’s like sketch comedy – short scenes featuring a multitude of POVs – except not funny, the Scotland Yard detective is an idiot with no boundaries, the ultimate villain is predictably the person nobody else liked, and I’m glad it was a sale book. Murder mystery by female author set in a fancy dress shop, in case anyone wants clues of what to steer away from.

    Also re-read one of my own self-published titles and did a polish pass through the next novel I’ll be submitting.

    1. Definitely going to put the Everlee one on my list. Hey, please tell me you’re going to submit Be Mine and/or Public Offering to a publisher. My faves of yours!

      1. Aww, thank you 🙂 There is very little chance a traditional publisher would pick up any of my self-published things unless some tornado of promotional magic results in a whole lot of people actually buying and reviewing and discussing said things. I do not have the contacts (or an agent). Having a publisher is unbelievably awesome, but they want new stuff written for their specific market segment, which I totally understand.

          1. Nono, if they’re publishing chacha1 they must therefore be Good and Right.

  18. I read long awaited #11 in the Maeve Kerrigan series by Jane E. Casey: The Close. Worth the wait. I love this mystery series.

  19. I’m in a bit of a holding pattern, waiting for the new Lady Sherlock book coming out on Tuesday. Plus, the Hercule Poirot mystery I listened to most recently just irritated me, and I couldn’t remember who was who (and it was audio, so I couldn’t really flip back to check), so I’m not inspired to listen to another one just yet. I think it might have been an earlier one, and I’d been listening to more recent ones, and she’d gotten better at differentiating the characters and getting to the murder (and Poirot’s entrance into the story) sooner.

  20. This has to come first because I’m teched up to include it and being a tech NONwizard I will lose it.
    Amazing 31 minute film. Breathtaking cinematography. Whoever wrote the narration did a phenomenal job. Mind blowing.

    In new reading I read Emily Kimelman’s ‘A Spy Is Born’. That said I won’t be pursing the series any further. Just my irritants but – she missed an opportunity to off a t ru mp like character or at least have him not get elected. She didn’t take the opportunity presumably so he would be in other books in the series. Her right to do that. My right to not read further.

    New non fiction read: Vegetarian Keto Diet. Okay but not the best.

    Reread Susan Elizabeth Phillips Fancy Pants; followed by Call Me Irresistible; followed by The Great Escape. I love all of them.

    I wanted to reference Clarice Cliff pottery in the ghost backstory thing I’m writing. Couldn’t remember her name. Went into Ms. Crusie’s ‘Fast Women’ to look for it and got plunged back in to a reread of the book. Which I also love.

  21. Still on a good reading roll…

    Finished the M/M novella, The California Dashwoods/Lisa Henry. Her take on Sense and Sensibility in a modern setting. I enjoyed the romance but was really surprised and pleased on the poignancy of the MC’s dealing with grief in the loss of both a parent and a way of life. Think someone here rec’d it, so thank you. Lisa Henry is certainly versatile. Keep those Henry recs coming.

    Delved into the old-ish Malice Domestic mystery short stories anthologies. YMMV, some good, some good and dated, and some just dated (circa 1980s/ 1990s).

    Finished Louise Penny’s The Nature of the Beast/Inspector Gamache mystery. I read the first ten and then did a full stop. This is number of 11 and she sucked me back into Gamache and the world of Three Pines. Like her/loathe her, she is a master of creating a page turner, IMO.

    And finally, in the Great Christie Re-Read: Evil Under The Sun. One of my faves. Love all movie adaptations (Ustinov AND Suchet versions) and think it is one of Christie’s best How it Was Done. Onto: The Body in the Library.

    1. Malad Bajo El Sol.
      My trying to learn Spanish phase.
      I liked the Elizabeth Taylor movie of The Mirror Crack’d a lot. Just for the famous violet eyes in that fixed stare….

      Louise Penney I hope to read one day when you lot stop turning out such fascinating stuff. I found my first try at her quite heavy going and gave up, but the first book in the series is still kicking around here somewhere.
      In general I have a prejudice against fellow Canadians as writers, with the exception of Alan Grant. High school English scars, probably.

      1. Have you ever tried Tanya Huff? Canadian sf, fantasy, and vampires. I particularly recommend her Enchantment Emporium and Summon the Keeper (a hotel in Kingston, Ontario with a door to Hell in the basement)

        1. Come on, a country that produced Leonard Cohen, Joni Mitchell, and Ian & Sylvia? Not to mention Robert Service. Great writers, poets, lyricists, those Canadians.

    2. I immediately downloaded and read the Lisa Henry. It’s a very complete re-imagining of S & S, isn’t it? I wasn’t wholly convinced by the HEA – the POV character is so young and the affair is so brief & troubled – but wanted them to *have* the HEA, which I think is success for a romance. 🙂

  22. I read Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler – a YA book about best friends visiting different colleges in Kansas to decide which one they want to attend the next year. It was really well written, and I enjoyed it but did want to talk some sense into both of the girls at various stages – it’s dual viewpoint so you get into each of the girls’ heads, and parts of the book made me realise that my university days were a fair stretch of time ago now.

    I also read Twelve Days In May by Niamh Hagan. I’m not sure what happened to me while reading this one. I started off really enjoying it, and by the end I found it a slog. I liked the setting – behind the scenes at Cannes! What’s not to love? – but I think I put it down on Sunday night and lost my momentum with it. Hagan has a new book out this year and I think I’ll try again.

    My current read is a book I’ve had on my shelf for ages – The Truth According To Us by Annie Barrows. The author was part of the partnership that wrote The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I adored. This book is set in rural West Virginia in the 1930s, and so far there are lots of things to love. I like that the frivolous socialite sent to the town to document its history is actually fiercely astute and intelligent. I also like that not all of the information about the town, and about the family she boards with, is given to the reader at once. I’m having to read on to fill in the gaps, which is rewarding.

  23. This week I read the YA novels Illuminations by T. Kingfisher and Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon- I think they are the same person.
    They are both lovely and heartwarming easy reads that I wish were part of series but are stand-alone.

    In all the frenetic chatter I have been doing on the very patient Jenny’s page this past week I gave been trying to work up the courage to say that I hope whatever trials are afflicting you, Ms. Crusie, whether health or personal, yield readily to treatment and are less troublesome than one might fear. You have a large coven of devoted admirers here who got your back in any way we can. It is not fair that genius should suffer, but I guess it does have precedent. Wishing you strength until the sky clears and there are nothing but good times ahead.

    1. Thank you, Lisa. It’s nothing I can’t handle, it’s just that it all came at once, so I’m scrambling to put out fires. But it does mean I’m not in here a lot, and I feel bad about that, like I threw a party and then didn’t bother to show up. I think if I can just make it to April, all this stuff will be handled, so it’s just head down and keep going.

      I apologize to everybody for neglecting you.

      1. I once went to a goodbye party for a friend who was moving to Europe – except he got caught in a snowstorm and couldn’t make his flight to get home to the party. We found a picture of him and put it on the mantel and toasted him goodbye. So…we have your picture. We’re good. Don’t worry about us.

      2. Jenny, feel free to just put us on a shelf for a while and send the occasional nod in our direction when you remember we’re there. We’re good, and all hoping that the fires can be extinguished readily, and that April comes soon for you.

  24. I reread Three Mages and a Margarita, then the next one in the series, Dark Arts and a Daiquiri. Both fun, and light reads, though there was one very forced moment in the second book that made me shout at the author, ‘What? Honestly? No way would she do that!!!!!’ General story is that human woman gets a job bar tending for supernaturals, and ends up very involved in their business. She’s competent and smart, and the books are well enough written. The author seems to publish one every three months or so, which boggles my mind, because how do you keep up that sort of output without producing utter trash?

    The really good one I read was Strange Practice, by Vivian Shaw. It’s been sitting on my kindle for ages and I’ve only just gotten around to it, but I’m so glad I did. It’s set in modern day London where Greta Helsing runs a medical clinic for ‘monsters’ – vampires, ghouls, mummies, etc, all the creatures that human London doesn’t and mustn’t know about. Then these weird blue monks start killing them. It’s definitely not a romance, and there are smallish elements of horror – mainly wrt the blue monks. Horror is an absolute no for me, but this was very slight so I could pretty much ignore it. And the relationships between the main characters – Greta, Lord Ruthven (a vampire), Varney (a vampyre, which is apparently different) and Fass (no one knows quite what he is) – are delightful. Lots of references to the classic vampire books.

    1. The range of speed at which artists work is stunning . There are authors who produce a great book and then their next is decades later. And apparently Leonard Cohen told Bob Dylan it took him two years to write Hallelujah and asked Dylan how long it took him to write a song and Dylan said 15 minutes to

  25. My new book of the week was Shelby Van Pelt’s Remarkably Bright Creatures. It was a warm and impassioned discourse on the nature of human loneliness and the ways we all battle it the best we can. I don’t often read mainstream fiction, but this book went down surprisingly well. It is slow and quiet, pensive but with a shimmering of hope. It raises questions but supplies very few answers. And of course, there is Marcellus, the old octopus and the true hero of this story. In his considered opinion, despite all our failings, humans are remarkably bright creatures. Sometimes…
    Also I’m re-reading Michelle Diener’s Class 5 series. Amazingly, these books read much better the second time around. I disregard all I disliked on the previous read and concentrate on what I like. I already finished Dark Horse and Dark Deeds and into Dark Minds. So far, I’m enjoying these stories, even though they are formulaic. They are sci-fi. Each book is about a different young Earth woman, but they all were abducted from Earth by aliens. Their adventures in the galaxy comprise those novels. There are also romantic subplots in each book, plus each heroine forms a bond with an AI. I love those stories: quick and fun.

    1. Yes, Marcellus was a wonderful character. It was a lovely and as you said, quiet book. One of my recent favorites.

  26. I’m a long time reader, and only occasional de-lurker on this site. This week I have been rereading one of my favorite authors, who I hadn’t thought of in such a long time. He’s James K Schmitz, who wrote mostly science fiction short stories and novellas in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. He wrote good solid characters in general, and really strong competent women as his main characters. Almost all of his writing was reissued in 4 books in the last 10years or so. His best known work is the novel The Witches of Karres, which is often listed in the best 100 science fiction books of all time. On a list of my favorite all-time authors, he’s right up there with Diana Wynne Jones. A lovely read.

    1. I know I’ve heard of the Witches of Karres. Must go investigate.
      My sf faves from my youth (as in “a long time ago”) were Andre Norton and Robert Sheckley. Then one day, I was driving my pick-up down a country road with my pal Alisa Kwitney, heading for my house where we’d whoop it up for the weekend, and the subject of fathers came up and she mentioned that her dad had written sf, and I said, “Who is he?” and she said, “Robert Sheckley,” and I almost drove off the road. I had a Marion Zimmer Bradley thing, and McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern, too.

        1. I am SO JEALOUS! I’m old. I read Schmitz when he was being originally published in Analog and stuff. I was ecstatic when Eric Flint talked his estate into letting him edit it all up for Baen Books to re-publish – it had all been out of print for years. Then Flint, David Freer, and Mercedes Lackey wrote NEW Karres stories: The Wizard of Karres, The Sorceress of Karres, and The Shaman of Karres. (Not as good as Witches but not bad.)

          I was a Pern fanatic until her son Todd got involved, at which point I just accepted her retirement. Sad, really.

          MZB and Darkover were fabulous and fabulously annoying. Her continuity sucked – it was said that she claimed all the books took place in parallel universes and were not necessarily connected to previous works. That’s one way to get out of needing consistency.


          1. Selfish me, not thinking of the younger crowd when Schmitz was out of print. I was mostly smug that I owned nearly all of it.

      1. I loved loved MZB and Anne Mc Caffrey back in the day.
        My favourite Darkover novel was Hawkmistress (very YA).
        As for Pern, Menolly was my fav character for a long long time. And I had a big soft spot for Nerissa with her practicality and ungainly physique.

      2. I love Schmitz. He wrote kickass female characters at a time when most men didn’t. I also liked MZB back in the day. Unfortunately, I can’t look at her books now without thinking about the allegations agaist her and her husband.

      1. I don’t think I ever read the Witches of Karre but apparently I had read his Telzey Amberden and am now enjoying rereading it — my memories of it are very clear.

        1. Yes, Telzey Amberdon and Trigger Argee figure in a great many of Schmitz’s stories. Kickass heroines, indeed.

  27. I had owned the Louise Penny book “Still Life” (first in the series) forever and finally read it this year. I think I will like the series, but I need to clear out a few that are in line ahead of the next one, “A Fatal Grace”.
    Right now, I am finishing up “The Boys in the Boat” (Daniel James Brown). Also doing a couple of comfort listens from Nora Roberts- “The Witness” and “The Search”.
    Sherry Thomas is doing a book launch of “A Tempest at Sea” at my local bookstore- Lark and Owl- next week. I think tickets may be sold out, but I so would have liked to see her. She lives in the area and has been to the bookstore before- I feel like such a fan girl for her!

  28. It is 4 AM Friday morning. I’ve been sleeping in two-hour increments. I made the mistake of sleeping on my side (left) which activated pain receptors in everything attached to the right ribs. Okay, so the solution is to put the foam wedge back on the bed and sleep on my back. And that works, for the two hours it takes for me to slide down the wedge until I’m flat.

    But that’s not why I’m posting. Yes, I’m in mild pain for which I will take a one-every-twelve-hours extra strength acetaminophen at 4:30. But when I rolled out of bed, I glance at the wall clock (3:51) then at my digital alarm clock (4:51) and realized that it’s That Time of Year and the alarm clock has jumped the gun to Daylight Freaking Stupid Time!!!

    I am retired.
    I am no longer a slave to the clock.
    Waking at 4 AM is only a big deal because it is quiet time.
    I can’t crank up Dance Dance Dance with my Hands Hands Hands.
    I can’t crank up any of my Audible Library or YouTube favorites.
    I am a mature adult (tchah, right) who is above petty vengeance for the grandchild with the VR headset who shouts and screams through his games while stomping and cavorting on my ceiling.

    I have sworn off… toned down my anti DST rhetoric in recent years. I usually just mention “my biannual DST Rant” and maybe add some dark muttering, and anyway those Facebook posts no longer exist. I hates it, I doessss.

    The mature thing to do is to simply remind all you wage slaves out there to adjust your clocks, the ones that aren’t self-adjusting, before bed Saturday night. It would be irresponsible for me to encourage every Argher to call their representative, senator, minister of parliament, alderman or whatever public servant you have at 2 AM Sunday morning to express your opinion of DST. Note that I don’t care if you’re pro or anti – make the call and let them know.

    I will feel so much better about it all.

    This has been a public service post. 🙂 😉 🙂

    1. Gary, I blush to confess that since I moved to Arizona, DST is no longer an issue for me. Except when I’m calling family/friends in California, and I have to stop and think, “Now is it the same time or one hour earlier?”

      1. Say one Our Father and Three Hail Marys and call a California politician at 02:00 local, Sunday. (I used to be a Roaming Catholic. Does that entitle me to hear confessions?)

    2. It is… some time Sunday morning and I have overslept the time to make my phone call. Bah. Humbug. My senator can sleep the sleep of the damned until time to Fall Back.

      I have stepped on my scale and recorded my weight. 257 pounds (247 pounds DST*).

      *DST=Daylight Savings Tonnage.

      I look forward to a day of consuming Daylight Savings Calories, the first of which are in my glass of Earl Grey Daylight Savings Tea.

  29. Thanks to you all my TBR shelf stays well stocked! I get sad and cranky when it gets too empty.

  30. I started reading My Latest Grievance by Elinor Lipman, an author that I love and …paused. Not saying I won’t finish at some point, but I’m not liking any of the characters.

    Since I routinely read the GBT archives, I discovered a recommendation for The Boyfriend School by Sarah Bird. Thank you to the Argher who recommended because it is wonderful and funny and offers a lovely “Cheers!” to romance novels.

    I listened to Jojo Moyes “Someone Else’s Shoes” which is marvelously narrated by Daisy Ridley. I enjoyed its very satisfying ending, though I got bogged down in the overly drawn out stay in the yuck. YMMV.

    1. I don’t know if I was the one who mentioned The Boyfriend School, but it is a long time favorite of mine. In fact, it encouraged me to search out copies of The Mommy Club, her next book, and Alamo House, her previous title. I much preferred TMC except for the tag line on the inside cover of Alamo House. A book that says that it is about Women Without Men Men Without Brains seemed to echo my experience with dating among the frat boys.

      1. I love all three of those Sarah Bird books! They did make a movie of The Boyfriend School (aka Don’t Tell Her it’s Me). It’s not great, but it’s fun if you’re in the right mood, and was filmed in Charleston, SC, a city I love.

  31. I have strep. I know I read things this week, but they’re all a feverish blur. I appear to have read a lot of Penny Reid. I know I tried one of hers a while back and didn’t like it. It may have been one of the ones I read this week, but I’m not sure–too much character overlap. I liked the four or five I read, and will be reading more. I read other things, that I’m in the middle of rereading, but: blur.
    I have antibiotics now and my doctor says that after twenty-four hours of them I will no longer be infectious and can safely return to work, and may even feel well enough to do that. We shall see.

  32. Spent the last two weeks finishing up the Chorus of Dragons series by Jenn Lyons. Epic fantasy – five massive books and I’m really happy they all paid off in the end. I think book 4 missed some opportunities to explore her extensive world-building, but I found the resolution deeply satisfying. Some nice romantic threads throughout (queer, poly etc) that wrapped up nicely. Plus I’m a sucker for footnotes and these made me laugh.

    Plus have slowly been reading Victoria Goddard’s novellas, and the Sinner’s Gin series by Rhys Ford: m/m romantic suspense which are a little OTT but I’ve been enjoying nonetheless.

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