This is a Good Book Thursday, May 11, 2023

My book perusal this week is about what to move and what to pitch. I need all my books on magic because of the Rocky Start trilogy (sleight of hand magic, not casting spells). I need all my books on butterflies and ghosts because of the Alice book. All my books on art crime because of the Nadine book. All my Michael Gilberts and Emma Lathens. because some of those aren’t digital. All my books on herbs and poisonous plants because of You Again. All my demon books because of Nita. (I really need to finish some solo books and get rid of the research stuff.). So mostly my book interaction is triage: what to keep and what to let go.

What did you keep reading this week?

200 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 11, 2023

  1. I am still wandering around a bit aimlessly in my reading, but I did find a Kristen Ashley that I had missed that hit the spot. After the initial fight/misunderstanding at the beginning, the characters put conscious effort into getting to know each, working out misunderstandings and supporting each other in difficult and dysfunctional family situations. KA is an acquired taste and not for everyone, but I really appreciate this structure. I don’t need conflict about the relationship. Them against everyone else is enough for me.

    And we have been watching Jinny’s Kitchen on Amazon prime (I think).

    It’s a Korean reality tv show about famous actors who are taught to cook street food and sent to Mexico to run a little restaurant. It’s very soothing. They all pitch in and help each other, not like American reality tv at all.

      1. The only problem is that it is subtitled, so I can’t work on projects when we watch.

  2. I read “Duck:, Two Years in the Oil Sands” by Kate Beaton, that won this year’s Canada Reads contest. A graphic novel, where the illustrations tell half the story, which is the author’s accounting of her real-life job(s) in the far north oil sands. Read it in hard cover since graphic novels don’t translate well to Kindle. Covers a lot of territory – the job-driven migration of young people out of our eastern provinces, the unrelenting damage to the environment, indigenous concerns, the cold bureaucracy of organizations, and absolutely the experience of a young woman in a mostly male world. Engrossing and powerful.

    I listened to “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, and felt as if I were in 20 hours of a PhD lecture series in statistical research on judgement and decision-making. I can sum it up briefly though and save you the effort: your intutive thinking is stupid and lazy, and makes evidence-less decisions that are overly influenced by your feelings. Nevertheless, you prefer it and even revere it.

    And keeping up with the playoffs…I read Samantha Wayland’s newest hockey romance, “Not Over You”, which is I suspect how many Torontonians feel about the Maple Leafs.

    I also finished MCA Hogarth’s “Mindtouch”, and am onto “Mindline”, plus reading “Dragon’s Fealty” which continues the series after the “Princes’ Game” series. And I’m re-reading the fourth book in that series. Becoming a bit confused by being in three very different places in the overall timeline of this mega series.

    1. Do you agree or disagree with Kahneman? I am lead by my emotions but I guess I am mostly okay with that.

      1. I agree with him. Hard not to when he actually gives exercises as he goes along to prove his point, not to mention results of seemingly every research initiative in the history of the universe on the subject. It was actually a book that left me full of chagrin and rue. But I’m sticking my tongue out at him anyway.

        1. All the evidence points to him being right. But still … I find that my intuition leads me to making the right choices for ME. Even if they might seem like the wrong choices to other people.

          1. To be fair – he does not talk about big decisions like love or where to live. However, he does talk about how people make business decisions, investment decisions, voting decisions, etc.

      2. I’m not a philosopher/statistician, but even a cursory glance at human history tends to support the contention that emotion beats logic 99.9% of the time.

          1. That’s a really strange test. According to the ‘debriefing’ at the end, my data ‘suggest a strong automatic preference for African American children compared to European American children.’ But they don’t give any reason for saying this.

            It’s also quite disturbing that the first thing they do is set up a strong correlation between European American children and nice words, and African American children and nasty words. Then they change it halfway through. I’d like to know what the results would be if they did it the other way round. Surely what they reinforce first must influence you?

        1. I was told that we make decisions with our emotions then justify them with our intellect.

    2. I have also read Kahneman’s book and found it excellent.

      I especially liked it, like you, when I wanted to think I was cleverer than I am, and still made the predicted mistakes!

      For those who haven’t read it, it’s not a logic v emotion, but different decision systems in the brain – both of which can encompass both emotion and logic.

  3. I have a daunting pile of ARCs on my teetering bedside pile: Victor Frankenstein’s granddaughter revisits his research. Steely spy thriller by an actor surely too hot to have a brain. Victorian freak show uncovers murder and laudanum skulduggery. Yet ANOTHER Hades/Persephone romance. Definitely going with the Victorian freak show to start with, but I really want to comfort re-read The Dragon Waiting.

    1. I really like Hades/Persephone retellings. I guess the myth just lends its self naturally to a certain kind of sweetness and balanced power dynamics. And I like the transition from goddess of spring to queen of the underworld.

    2. I love Hades and Persephone retellings, too (and am toying with the idea of writing one). Recommendations, please!

      1. Well, Lore Olympus is the very popular graphic novel retelling. I was reading it on Web Toon before it got big and really like it, plus the art is great. It’s pretty mainstream now with pretty hardcover versions. My library bought them, so yours might have it too.

        I also like Katee Robert’s Neon Gods stories. Modern setting, a little dark, with lots of graphic sex. I didn’t click with her latest, but the first three are all good.

        And I am in the middle of a M/M. I forget the author. Someone Tammy recommended. The dynamic is super sweet. It’s just a longer read and I tend to wander off when I am not in the mood. But I like other books by that author and enjoy what I read so far. Will get back with the author.

          1. Not sure. I enjoyed the opening and then wandered away. I plan to return, but am not far enough in to make a recommendation.

        1. I’ve been following Lore Olympus for awhile and liked Neon Gods, though I admit it was the first book that made me feel old. I don’t generally mind smut, but I wanted more politics and wandering around the “underworld” and less sex in that one!

          1. That is fair. I actually like Electric Idol more, and Cupid and Psyche is not usually my myth of choice. It feels more finished than Neon Gods, less BDSM vibes. But they are still very similar.

      2. I always related to Hades/Persephone because my mother is a Demeter type and (way back in the dark ages when the occasional man liked me back) the best thing to do was to keep my mother and boyfriend 100% separate from each other. Mingling her or any other family members with a boyfriend was a terrible idea.

        I note that I don’t think my parents actually wanted me to get married and devote my attention away from them…and this is probably part of why I’m utterly unwanted at my age.

        1. I am sure it made it harder to get to know men when you were trying to keep them separate from your family.

          Are your parents still in your life?

  4. I wanted to read The Hands of the Emporer again, but for the first time. Seeing as my time machine’s off for repairs, I went for the fan fiction instead. There’s some excellent work there. I loved Embers, which is a book-length work about Kip trying to find a place in the palace after he goes back after the fall. Totally true to Kip’s character, and both sad and very funny. It’s in case anyone else is keen.

  5. I’m still reading the Washington Post “Daily 7” headlines via email. Still not doing the quiz, though.

    The Variation on a Theme serial continues to continue. Chapter 102 tomorrow.

    The Loralynn Kennakris Series Boxed Set: Books 1-3 by Owen R. O’Neil and Jordan Leah Hunter. Now I’m into the third book. Book 2 was even longer than I thought. The ending was not boring at all. The middle, though…

    I moved on to A Mission for the Czar by Goodlett and Huff. The third “Holmes” book. If I read the entrails correctly at Baen’s Bar, Terry Weiscoff’s accounting minions have determined that the Ring of Fire series is still financially productive. She/they have bought in many books previously published by the late Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press and are setting up contracts for more.

    So I’m rereading Yellow Eyes by John Ringo and Tom Kratman. Alien invasion/space opera, part of the Lagacy of the Aldenata series. The Posleen are an alien race created by the Aldenata, an ancient alien race. The Posleen exterminated them because they were dicks. The Posleen are by their design and nature omnivorous shark-toothed centaurs with a biological mandate to reproduce and eat everyone else. Kind of like humans.

    Had a visit with my heart doc on Wednesday to have my ICD monitored. It still has 9 years left on the battery. No further action before next year.

    Gardening continues. The Spinach is harvested. I need to plant something else in its place.

    Dieting continues. This morning I ate a pound of omelet consisting of egg substitute (like Egg Beaters but not), sausage links, and Swiss Cheese on Pepperidge Farms Very Thin Wheat Bread. One meal and I’ve consumed half my calories and all of my sodium for the day. Bah.

        1. I know! Fun right?? Wait until Friday when you get to bet as many points as you like on one answer. I like to live dangerously on Fridays and bet ’em all.

    1. I recently did a very short NYT quiz to see if I could correctly answer some questions from eighth-grade history. Much to my relief, I could!

      1. Me, too. Usually, I find them annoying. I wish I could ignore more things I find annoying.

      1. It’s rocket. (To save you Googling.) Should be really easy, though I think slugs are eating mine. Even more idiot-proof is Greek cress, which they leave alone although it tastes good to me. I should think you could grow water cress in your system, which is delicious – though I find it much easier from cuttings (i.e. as it comes in the greengrocer’s, in bunches) than from seed.

          1. All righty then! Next I had to Google “Green Chard” because I just planted six of those. Experimentation may possibly be fun-ish. :/

      2. Arugula is one of my favorite field greens. Especially when combined with a balsamic raspberry vinaigrette and goat cheese crumbles. But it is on the sharp and bitter side in flavor.

        1. I planted six, and I still have lettuce to harvest. Sandwiches and salads. If it’s too bitter, I’ll mix in sweet onion and Swiss cheese.

          1. I love an Italian salad with arugula and sliced Turkey and shavings of Parmesan and a lemony dressing. Or another Italian recipe with bits of chicken breast sautéed in a pan with garlic and a small branch of rosemary, put over an arugula salad, and a dressing of lots of sliced shallots cooked in olive oil and equal amounts of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar.
            Harvest the arugula when it’s young to avoid bitterness.

          2. “Harvest the arugula when it’s young to avoid bitterness.”

            I will remember this. I look forward to the harvests.

          3. I find it nutty rather than bitter, although it gets hotter as it ages – as other brassica salad leaves do.

          4. I think “Harvest the arugula when it’s young to avoid bitterness.” covers the seed problem. I’ve had some lettuce go to seed before. I didn’t like it.

            I have seeds for butterhead, black-seeded Simpson and Parris Island lettuce to augment the broccoli and arugula in the iDOO units. I have more Romaine for the Smart Gardens. Three Harvests are preoccupied with hot peppers, the fourth is all herbs. The mason jars are all tomato plants for the dotter.

    2. Moving right along! I read Chapter 102 of VoaT. I finished <Yellow Eyes, including Epilog 1, Epilog 2, and the Afterward/Political Screed. (Jenny loves those, right?) I set Book 3 of Kennakris aside for now. I have Scharlette Doesn’t Matter and Goes Time Traveling open in the Kindle Ap. I have Veiled Magic open on Jo (Kindle Fire). In Mobipocket Reader I have A True History – Book One by StarFleet Carl: There was a rocket, but the occupant wasn’t a baby. A young man (Cal) is the sole survivor of his planet, crash landing in Kansas in 1984. Cal is found by a farmer and his daughter…

      Jenelope. I love it.

  6. I’ve started a bunch that I haven’t finished. But I’m just starting a Susan Stoker book called “Searching for Lilly” and get this… it’s set in Appalachia. I’m hoping its good.

    But can I just say how excited I am to hear you are working on Alice’s book?

  7. Still on a Lily Morton reading spree: The Amazing and Mysterious Blue Billings. Low key paranormal with two very nice MCs and LESS juicy bits thanks to the haunted house shenanigans.
    Gulped it down in 1,5 days – fast for me.

    Tried to follow it up with book 2, but the MCs have overcome what made them do no or few juicy things, so no quite so intriguing. Got very nosy and jumped to the end but will come back.

    There’s a kind of follow-up with one of the side characters and again some haunting (poltergeist). But I’m not far in.

    Instead, because real life sucks at the moment, I’m in Amsterdam with a chaos prone but kind MC and his crush of 10+ years in Lily Morton’s Merry Measure. Light and fluffy.
    Yet, what this teatotaler never understood is the appeal of getting drunk. Well, nobody can blame you for foolish behaviour when drunk? Apart from the foolishness of GETTING drunk…
    I guess I just have no sense for fun?

    1. I liked ‘Merry Measure.’ Have very mixed feelings about getting drunk. I like alcoholic beverages in general and enjoy the mildly soporific and/or inhibition-lowering effects … but I also like the way my brain works, and tampering with that is just a whole lot of risky. It’s not consequence-free, so I prefer an author to acknowledge and perhaps show zir characters consciously weighing the decision to drink.

      1. Well, Lily Morton’s characters usually have headaches and feel awful, but often it’s used as an inhibition-lowering took to bring two guys together who would be more hesitant otherwise.

        I’ve got an awful feeling when it’s girls in stories that get drunk: in one of Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years series the heroine didn’t drink much but was treated to a knock-out tampered “special cocktail”. A horrible moment with repercussions that were the motor of the follwing events. I very much liked how the author dealt with it.

    2. Depends on how you’re drinking. I never got stinko in my life, and I rarely feel any level of drunk from drinking unless I do heavy duty booze on an empty stomach, but it CAN calm you down, chill you out, and/or turn you into a “woo!” girl (i.e. cheerfully yelling “woo” at parties). It definitely calms me down faster after yet another terrible day at work, and can be fun in small doses.

      1. Re drinking: I guess, my mother’s words just sunk in very, very deeply, that as a woman you should not get helpless.
        Also a very deeply loved elementary school teacher once told us about the effects of alcohol on the brain cells. That sunk in so strongly that to this day I have this picture of dying grey matter in my head…

        That said, I like a glas of wine on occasion, or a nice Martini. However, I am such a non-connaisseuse that the non-alc-Martini I got hubby as a xmas present 2019/20 tasted equally fine than the real stuff. Go figure…

        And I’m so not used to alcohol that I get tipsy VERY easily. Much to the fun of my kids. Tipsy and silly mom after one glas of wine at dinner…
        Yet, apart from those moments when I get “ostensibly tipsy” for their fun, I hate the feeling because I hate loosing control. Once or twice after an ridiculously little amount of stuff I felt the room spinning and I much prefer this feeling when having fun at the Oktoberfest/fair/fun rides.

        1. I have a very occasional drink. To this day I think my kids remember the time when my mom upset me so much that I asked for a second (small) glass of grand marnier.

          1. Ok, my son knew immediately what it was down to the the trigger and the place where I had the drinks. Daughter is in London so I will hear from her tomorrow

    3. I don’t do alcohol or caffeine at all. I appreciate the effects of both, but really can’t handle what they do to me when they wear off. They trigger a fair amount of anxiety and/or depression. I do miss the lack of pretty coffee drinks and cocktails in my life. But I substitute with pastries as needed.

      1. I am a very bad Frenchwoman. I don’t like alcohol, coffee, stripy tops, berets or lipstick and I have never smoked a cigarette in my life.

        1. I don’t like tea. It was a great disappointment to my French penfriend’s English teacher, who’d bought some specially. I think she thought I was an imposter.

          1. I don’t like green, black or white tea. Herbals, especially hibiscus or fruit based are good, but I think a lot of people don’t consider those “proper” tea.

          2. What shocked me on my first trip to London was that cafeteria style tea meant a pot of black tea, with the milk already poured in and kept on the burner. Ugh.

        2. I don’t drink alcohol or coffee or pop, or smoke. I’m not quite a Mormon though because I do drink huge quantities of tea, ingest a few cannibis gummies several times a year and eat far too much sugar.

          1. I grew up with Italian caffè (thanks to my father who’s South Tyrolese and Italian on my nonna’s side). Caffellatte, cappuccino, espresso after lunch – you name it. Though I should definitely stop pouring in the milk as it doesn’t really agree with me.
            I used to love tea in my teens, mostly the English variety, not green/white etc. But back then I drank it with sugar which I try to stay away from nowadays. So very little tea now.

          2. Some time back I solicited help here with decaf teas. Long story short, I drink decaf black teas and an infrequent decaf green. I still drink decaf diet coke. No milk in the tea, just some stevia. I have a mug of decaf instant coffee with Half&Half and Stevia roughly monthly. and bottled water. Lots of filtered or bottled water.

          1. That they should be eaten daily. That’s why I am allowed to retain my passport :).

      2. I like the taste but hate the effects. I don’t even like getting tipsy. Plus gives me a stomach ache the next day because its a gut irritant.

      3. I’ve discovered fancy gin and tonics this last year. Yum. But one a few times a week is plenty.

    4. Never was much of a drinker. One glass of wine (usually red) or mixed drink (gin is my choice, usually a gin and tonic). Since I normally will be driving the one drink in 3-4 hours is plenty. Caffeine is my drug of choice.

    5. I was a student for five years. Five years. It’s lucky I still have a liver.

      And then I lived in wine country (Marlborough) for a the better part of a decade, although I did spend most of 3 years either pregnant or breastfeeding.

      I can’t tell you the last time I drank enough to be hungover, so I’m clearly getting old and sensible.

  8. We moved a couple of months ago and I kept all my writing craft books, some favorites, and all the research material for a historical romance set in Hinckley, MN in 1894–the year a firestorm destroyed the town and killed hundreds of people. And didn’t kill a bunch of others, for interesting reasons. I have a plot-free first draft & plan to rewrite.

    Unfortunately, the new house lacks the built-in bookshelves the last house had, so most of them are in boxes in the garage.

    1. Interesting! I’m not far from Hinckley on the WI side and didn’t know about that.

      1. There’s a wonderful little roadside museum there that contains a diorama of the town as it existed prior to the fire. And so many wonderful (and also heartbreaking and awful) stories.

  9. I have finally gotten round to reading Dick Francis. What I don’t understand is why I haven’t read any of his books before because his books are exactly the kind of books that my dad loved to read and what my dad read, I read.
    So, since last Thursday, I have read:

    Hot Money
    Break in
    The Edge

    I enjoyed all of them, especially Kit Fielding and Tony Beach.

    So to all the many DF fans here, what do you reckon I should read next?

    1. My mother read those books, over and over. Maybe I should try one. Is there violence?

      1. Lots of violence, I am afraid, mainly directed towards the hero, not perpetrated by him.

        1. Wow! That’s a side of her that I didn’t know about, if she really liked those books. The things you learn after someone is gone.

          1. It’s true competence porn. The heroes are amazingly capable at something like glass blowing or banking or photography and use it to solve the crime.
            And some also have deeply moving endings. It’s hard to pick favorites but I would try Banker and Reflex and To The Hilt.

      2. DF’s heroes very often get beaten up or brutalized in some fashion. The realism of those scenes works for me, though. This is, after all, a guy who knew all about pain.

        1. Yeah, he broke a lot of bones and I gather ultimately retired from racing when the Queen Mother said she didn’t want him to be her jockey any more because of his continuing serious injuries.

    2. It’s funny you should say that about your dad which is exactly how I was with mine. He read science fiction, so I did. He read westerns, so I did.

      1. My dad was a voracious reader. Basically, when he wasn’t working, he was reading.
        Every Saturday during my childhood, we’d go together to a big bookshop to buy books. He’d go his way, I’d go mine and we’d reconvene at the till, each with a massive pile to last us the week. He’d never direct my choices and let me get whatever I wanted. I think I started reading his books when I was about 9.
        I have done the same with my kids and they are all big readers now.

        1. Same, same, LN. He was a voracious reader and never directed my choices. It wouldn’t have occurred to him to I think since he was the only reader in his family. And I also started reading his books at about 9.

      2. My grandmother got me started with her vast collection of Emilie Loring romances. These DO NOT hold up with time, but I have been reading romance for most of my life.
        A lot of other stuff too, but that is where it started.

        1. I read a lot of Emilie Loring, too. You’re right, they don’t hold up. Very white, upper class, proper family background, entitled perspective.

          I read some science fiction, too. Got away from that and am coming back thanks to some great recommendations from Argh!

          My mother wasn’t a reader but Dad read westerns.

    3. If you want to try one of the early ones (the tone can be *quite* different from those published during his Big Fat American Bestseller Days), maybe ‘Smokescreen.’ It’s a very different setting and conflict, featuring a movie star who ends up in an extremely dangerous situation in South Africa. 🙂

    4. Yes read The Banker, Straight, and The Edge which is the train ride across Canada with horses and owners. Since I am Canadian (French/English heritage) I enjoyed it very much. It ends in Vancouver, BC. We travelled by train a lot when I was growing up. So was nostalgic read.

      1. I have read The Edge which I enjoyed very much. It definitely made me want to cross Canada by train.
        My brother who is Canadian now, told me recently that he’d like to do it by bike. A bit too ambitious for me that.

  10. Hello all on this bright sunny morning – at least in the Mid Atlantic for all of you I hope!

    I am in the middle of the Maurice Druon French Kings series, Book 5, The She Wolf of France – which is actually Isabella of England. This series is so good – has depth, the writing is accessible, and surprisingly fast reads.

    And Oh, the mistreatment of Isabella, both by her husband King Edward, and by Mel Gibson’s writers, in the movie Braveheart. When she would have been Age 9 in real life. Ok, end of my tangent.

    Finished Wayland’s Not Over You as well. Nice novella. Not as cracking for me as her other works.

    Read a delightful M/M Mary Archer’s Cherry Picked. Like the series, and liked this one especially. Bit of an age gap, but two people so well suited to one another, and happy once one of them finally wises up to that. Also liked the Vermont setting.

    In the Great Christie Re-Read: The Moving Finger. I want to like this novel more than I do. Really great witty lines. And excellent murder plot. Marple does not appear until Page 120, which is to its detriment.

    Not loving the MC’s romance with country village girl – the supposed misfit. A bit too much “let me take care of you, and let you be grateful to me for the rest of your life…as my wife” for me. Maybe of the times, but I suspect even then, it would play off a bit weird.

    If anyone if familiar with this one or has recently re-read it, would love to see if anyone got the same vibe?

    1. I’ve always generally disliked Braveheart because of the bad history. Same way I feel about the movie about Elizabeth I with Cate Blanchett – falling in love with Francis Drake? Really? That guy she later beheaded? Uh huh. The Helen Mirren version was so much better and stuck to the history – and why not? She had a fascinating life and there was lots of drama, no need to make up stuff that didn’t actually happen. Okay, rant over.

      1. I think the only way to actually get through Braveheart is to regard it as some sort of alternate history fiction, perhaps from an alternate Earth.

    2. Didn’t Christie write one where the husband is always trashing the wife for being incompetent and she ends up competently killing him ? A car is involved—he always criticized her driving.

      If I’m remembering right then that suggests Christie had a range of views on paternalistic marriage …

      1. Christie’s ideas on class, however, stay annoyingly the same. And it’s a class difference that FP seems to be describing.

        1. I just re read it and I don’t think it’s a class difference (although no question Christie has a big class problem). The girl’s stepfather is a solicitor and she is being raised as a daughter of the house— sent to boarding school and so forth.
          But she’s described as slow initially (later in the book others describe her as brave and intelligent) and I think we are meant to believe that she is naive and unloved —her mom is not really attached to her.

          So throughout the book the narrator treats her as a child until he decides he’s in love with her.

          The interesting part is then she turns him down initially. So I think we are supposed to believe that she sets a better balance in their relationship.

          It’s one of her first books and I think she never was great at showing relationships but this one is particularly awkward.

  11. I started A Symphony of Echoes by Jodi Taylor. The beginning was terrifying, bloody and horrendous! I read on until I came to a stopping place. Then I began re-reading Bet Me. I skip the psychologist’s theories and the chaos theory stuff, by now, but they were needed in the first few reads to explain all the nonsense going on with David and Cynthie, there. I’ll go back to the St. Mary’s book again, eventually. No new books on the horizon, right now.

  12. After struggling for quite a while, I’ve found a book I’m really enjoying. Scharlette Doesn’t Matter and Goes Time Traveling by Sam Bowring. Silly title, I’ll admit, but it has one of the best covers I’ve seen for a while. And, I’m enjoying the writing and story.

    1. Stephanie, I looked that book up, and the first pages made me laugh several times, so I added it to my list. Thanks!

  13. I really enjoyed Kate Stradling’s magical fantasy Deathmark. When the heroine, Nell, discovers that she’s carrying the deathmark, a magical plague unleashed on her homeland by necromancers, she quits her life of grinding servitude and chooses to live before she dies. She shares her adventure with a shabby, grumpy, smart hero with a mysterious past, and together they discover the truth about the deathmark. The premise may sound grim, but the story is surprisingly upbeat. The characters are fun and the dialogue deliciously snarky.

    The author’s note said that Deathmark was inspired by L.M. Montgomery’s The Blue Castle. I’d never heard of it. So I read that, too, and loved it. Best reading week in ages.

    1. I loved Jane of Lantern Hill by Montgomery. May have to give The Blue Castle a try.

  14. From things I never learned in history class to things I should know now. It’s been a week. I’ve Netflixed my way through movies and series from Netflix. There was already a discussion on the new series The Diplomat, the next series I watched was Rough Diamond about a family of Jewish diamond merchants in Antwerp. That was quite a story featuring a suicide, theft, smuggling, a son leaving the community he was brought up in for fifteen years and coming home, with his own son, for his brother’s funeral. Frankly, After a while, I was more interested in the family dynamics than the main story line. I didn’t know women still wore wigs to cover their hair, children could not go to see a movie. There were still matchmakers for crying out loud. A Jewish wedding where the guests are separated (men from women) at the reception.

    Netflix also gave me a weekend of Airport franchise movies. I don’t know how many were produced but I saw three – Airport, Airport 75 and Airport 77. Each one campier than the other for the time period.

    The history class reference refers to a book I read a few days ago Killers of the Flower Moon about the murders of Native Americans in Oklahoma in the early Twentieth Century. Never learned about that. Greed, just to get the oil rights. There was no CSI or much of forensics that we know now. It also sparked the career of J. Edgar Hoover from 1925 and onward.

    Last, I’m heading over to the library to get some dvd’s that were on hold. One of which I’m sure my husband will be surprised with is The Detectorist’s Movie. He liked the series when it was out.

    I’m sure glad I didn’t type this on my phone or kindle, lately I’ve referred to as a robot. Humph!

    1. Orthodox communities are following those rules to this day. And in NY they are also sending their kids to schools where they learn almost nothing beyond religious topics keeping them unemployable outside the community—and violating state law.

      1. Yes, but there are also groups like the Chasidic Rabbi in Milwaukee who is a computer buff and whose wife is a social worker, a matchmaker, works full time, raised 8 kids and has an open door policy every Shabbas. And her best friend is a convert who doesn’t cover her hair or follow any of the more extreme rules for women. I once sat in on a course given by the local JCC about different sects of Judaism and was amazed by the range of manifestations even in my not so huge Midwestern city.

  15. I DNF’d Emily Henry’s Happy Place.
    So frustrating as she has such a glorious command of the language, but her work is clearly not for me. Overly emotional from the get go. Misunderstanding that runs underneath from the beginning. Ugh. Happy it is not. For me. YMMV.

    Combine frustrations from recreational reading with Mercury Retrograde tech frustrations and I absolutely had to turn to Agnes and the Hitman. Relief every single time, hallelujah and PTL.

    I’m listening to The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece and am enjoying Tom Hanks telling me a story. It’s detailed, slowly unfolding, and I’m at peace with the style. I’m in the early portion, “gathering source material for the movie”, and it makes me think of The Right Stuff. Lots of facts gathered, somewhat dryly but engaging at the same time leading to something bigger.

  16. Began my reading week with ‘The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes’ by Cat Sebastian. Georgian F/M post-caper Fixing Things with a charming criminal (Robin Hood type) as the MMC and an ex-duchess (she’s shot the duke and also was never really married to him because bigamy) as the FMC. This book will read better if you’ve read ‘The Queer Principles of Kit Webb.’ I didn’t love Marian and tripped over a few scene-setting elements that struck me as anachronisms, based on recent academic reading. I also have a real problem with characters (*both* MCs) who are justifiably obsessed with money yet for past trauma reasons say No to the obvious, simple, legal solution. I do not, in short, share that issue. Will getting the money actually hurt you or anyone else? Will getting the money in fact enable you to care for the people you care about? Get over yourself, like halfway through the story instead of at the 95% point.

    All that said, it was an entertaining and enjoyable read with characters and setting that are very rarely presented. Good Georgian romances are few.

    And since then I’ve been re-reading my own Co-Stars books because number 5 is starting to simmer and before I really get cracking on it I want to revise 1 and 2 a bit. Both were written during the Summer of Disemployment and betray my state of Need To Create A World Because This One Sucks.

    1. Chachal, you must know that this world still sucks, so good for you working on that other one. I think that is the appeal of other worlds and time travel books: absolute escape, not just into a story, but into a different world.

  17. Tanya Huff’s latest novel Into the Broken Lands was a DNF. I read about one third of the novel before I stopped. Too dark and dismal for me. I was a fan of her earlier fantasy books, both medieval fantasy and urban fantasy, but I disliked her sci-fi. So no surprise really.
    Then I finally stumbled on a book I enjoyed. It broke my recent reading funk. Elinor Lipman’s Ms. Demeanor was a delightful women’s fiction novel. I never read this author before, but I’ll definitely seek out her other books now. This one was light and gentle and nonsensical, with subtle humor and a charming heroine. I smiled all the time I read it. Just what I needed.
    Patricia Rice’s Lessons in Enchantment was meh. Great idea for a historical paranormal romance, but the execution was less than stellar. I had trouble finishing it.

  18. Still struggling to find books I can really get into, so my recommendation today isn’t a book, but an adaptation of a book series — Dalgliesh (books by PD James) on Acorn. I was unsure about the first episode of season 1 (gotta go back and rewatch it to see if I like it better now), but it keeps getting better, so I highly recommend it!

    1. Is this an older adaptation? My Mum & I used to watch Dalgliesh in the 1990s and they were great.

  19. I read the The Critic, the second Enzo Macleod story from Peter May, but I think it will be my last in the series. The first book in the series (Extraordinary People) got off to a good start, but this second book just didn’t keep my attention. The book was light on the plot and heavy on descriptions. The real nail in the coffin for the story for me was the graphic and pointless killing of a puppy.

    Fortunately, I have hundreds of other books waiting in my TBR list.

    1. That’s why I didn’t like the first John Wyck movie – killed his puppy. Not tastelessly but…I don’t care. It’s a PUPPY.

  20. Listening to Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers and enjoying it while I knit socks.

  21. I just started The Angel of the Crows, by Katherine Addison. Several of you had recommended Goblin Emperor, which I liked, and which led me to the first one about the – I always want to call him Speaker for the Dead – Witness for the Dead. Then I saw this one, and when I started it, even though I’d read the blurb and wasn’t really expecting the same type of world, I was expecting the same type of world. What a delightful surprise to find the one I found! This one features an alternate reality with Holmes and Watson, only Holmes is the Angel and Watson is Dr. Doyle. JH, not AC.

    It’s a completely different style, the characters are different – it could be an alternative self of the author. A new take on the London of Holmes and Watson. That’s not usual, and I’m loving it.

  22. I’m listening to Elatsoe by Darcie Little Badger. It’s a slightly-alternate Earth fantasy adventure about a Lipan Apache girl getting justice for her murdered cousin. Author is also Lipan. It’s very good. It’s one of those books that’s been in my library for a dog’s age but I never connected with it until now, partly, I think, because I kept thinking it was supposed to be about an Inuit girl set in the high Arctic not an Apache girl in Texas.

    I/we went to help my parent the last 2 days. Yesterday I just helped them buy some stuff and the day before we soaked smoldering hay bales and hunted for hot spots. Dad’s not sure yet what he wants to do with things and where he wants to start. What he really needs is a 40 hour nap and a hot shower but neither of those are on the horizon

    1. In the Washington DC area we’re getting smoke drifting down from the Alberta fires, and every time I notice it, I think of Office+Wench+Cherry and the fires up there. Hope things calm down and you guys get buckets of rain to dampen everything down!

      I read and loved “The Lonely Hearts Book Club” by Lucy Gilmore, which didn’t start out as I expected, but instead better. A crotchety old guy with a short temper in a library, being helped by an introverted girl who’s engaged to someone who’s absolutely wrong for her. Over time, she learns to stand up to the old guy’s antagonistic remarks, and when one day he doesn’t show up at his usual time in the library, she gets worried. I recommend.

      Also read and very much liked “Remarkably Bright Creatures” by Shelby Van Pelt. About an old lady and an octopus. The octopus has the final chapter, which I loved loved loved.

        1. I may never find out. My library has 22 copies (!!!) with nine holds on each.

  23. Just finished The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches and Owner of a Lonely Heart and Travel by Bullet, all of which I recommend.

    * Very Secret Society is about a witch recruited to train three kid witches in a world where witches stay mostly apart from each other for their own safety. Very cozy/low stress for the most part, resolves well, grumpy/sunshine couple.

    * Owner of a Lonely Heart: widow trying to get pregnant with dead husband’s embryo meets a formerly deadbeat dad (for Reasons, he’s reformed these days) and his tween daughter who’s undergoing cancer treatments. Very sweet.

    * Travel by Bullet: third book in Scalzi’s Dispatcher series, probably wouldn’t make much sense to review this one unless you heard the first two. In the world, people resurrect upon being murdered and nobody knows why, our protagonist puts people out of their misery for a living.

  24. I read the newest Casefiles of Henri Davenforth novella, by Honor Raconteur, called All in a Name.

    I also read The Tea Princess Chronicles trilogy, by Casey Blair, which starts with A Coup of Tea. Which was quite enjoyable. A princess disowns her family and disappears and ends up working in a tea shop on the other side of the country, on the border with The Cataclysm, where apparently half the country was drowned by wild magic 50 years previously. Humor, drama, secrets, romance. Good stuff. It apparently started as a web serial a few years ago.

    Next will likely be Victoria Goddard’s latest, Derring-do for Beginners. Which might be a YA.

    I also read Vanished: Book One of the Gwen St. James Affair, by Nicole McKeon, a fun magical mystery that takes place in New London, an alternate historical London. I’m looking forward to the sequels.

  25. I just finished A Suitable Bodyguard which I loved and am now reading So This Is Ever After which is a hoot.

    1. R Cooper has also written not one but two AU versions of A Suitable Bodyguard already which are fun.

        1. Two. Short stories. One is freely available and the other is only on her Patreon I think (?) – called Tahlen has Entered the Fields. Can’t remember what the first one was called.

  26. I’m reading the latest in the Dragaera Cycle “Tsalmoth” by Steven Brust. This series is about a anti-hero Vlad Taltos who was an assassin for the Mob-equivalent in this fantasy world but had to change jobs after killing someone important. I used to love this series, but I’m having trouble reading this book now because this particular book is about Taltos before he had to change jobs and grow. I’m finding it hard to read about an assassin these days. Too much violence and selfishness from the protagonist.

    So, I re-read Dick Francis’ “High Stakes” which was, as always, throughly enjoyable. It did cause me to go out and buy some e-books of my favorite Dick Francis novels.

    I also read “Burn” by Patrick Ness which was pretty interesting. It’s about a world inhabited by dragons and men. Apparently, there’s a prophecy about a someone who will either cause the death of the world or save the world and it’s an interesting look at how people react to it. There is no real romance which I liked.

  27. Just returned from vacation — missed you guys! My husband brought my birthday presesnt along on the trip, so I had something to read on the flight home: The Wife of Bath: a biography by Marion Turner. Turner wrote a biography of Chaucer and apparently felt that his character from Canterbury Tales deserved a biography of her own.

    Fantastic beginning — Turner tells about lots of women who were business owners in Chaucer’s day. As a result, there were women who had the money to go off on pilgrimages, and they did. Also, the issue of serial monogamy was common; in other words, women often lived through 2, 3, or more husbands. A woman could inherit from each deceased husband and become wealthy that way. So, the Wife of Bath was a more plausible character than I’d realized. (I’ve always loved her.)

    Unfortunately, Turner’s organization doesn’t hold up and the remaining chapters wander through opinions of and treatments of the Wife of Bath over the centuries. Turner seems to have lost an overarching idea.

    But it was a good airplane read for me. The trip itself wasn’t so good, but my husband wants to return to East Anglia in England as well as western France later this summer in order to take the trip we’d intended. That’s certainly fine with me.

    Did Jenny ever tell you guys more about her move to southern Pennsylvania?

    1. When my family lived in England for a year I went to Dame Alice Owens School for Girls. It was founded by a woman who had been milking a cow when someone practicing archery accidentally shot an arrow through her hat. Three husbands (and 12 children) later she was a wealthy widow who endowed a school in commemoration—this was the late 15
      00s or early 1600s. And because they didn’t have trusts back then, she left the school in the hands of the merciful company of brewers (the brewers guild) and every year the students would go to church to pray for her soul and the brewers would inspect the school and give all the children beer money. So yeah, serial monogamy as a wealth building technique worked. At least if you were sturdy and could survive childbirth over and over.

      The school is still extant in a different location from my day but I don’t know if they still get beer money.

      1. Debbie — I looked up the Dames Alice Owens School because your story was so cool. It’s now coed and located in Hertfordshire. There’s an opening for an English teacher — maybe I could run away from home and return to teaching. Interestingly, the arrow through the hat still rankles — the post is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act of 1974 and applicants undergo child protection screening. I wonder whether they ban archery or, more to the point, ban hats?

        1. Isn’t it a fascinating story ?

          She actually founded a boys school and then later there was enough money for a companion girls school. I guess they merged them.

    2. Jenny hasn’t said much about her original decision to move, but she documented each new dumpster, which had to have involved SO many individual decisions. She said she was heading to live near her old pal Pat Gaffney in southern Pennsylvania somewhere. In a location without many bears, we were happy to realize.

      1. Yep. But I’m throwing out decades of stuff, so it’s taking forever.
        And at the same time, Bob is moving. So our conversations now consist of saying, “I’ll be back later tonight, a dumpster is coming” and “I have to take stuff to the dump,” interspersed with publishing talk and, amazingly, writing the book.
        We’re not going to breathe until July and we’re both settled in new places.

        1. Jenny, your new photo is full of sass!

          I’m impressed by your ability to juggle moving, writing, and collaborating, as well as handling everything that needs to happen on a regular basis.

          How are the dogs and cat taking the preparations for moving? Do the dumpsters interest the dogs?

      2. Yes. I am glad she will be freed from both dumpsters and bears. I’m thrilled to know that she’ll be near an old friend.

  28. I loved R Cooper’s A Suitable Consort, so had high expectations of A Suitable Bodyguard. Cooper clearly has a favourite trope of a small fragile protagonist who doubts his own worth, falling for a big muscly warrior type and not believing that the warrior can love him. It worked well in Consort.

    But the protagonist in Bodyguard is SO NEUROTIC. There’s a bit of plot, which was good. The rest of it is him being neurotic, then apologising for it, then being neurotic, then apologising, then being neurotic, etc. And it’s really repetitious. Somewhere in there there’s a decent novella.

    I had the same problem with Cooper’s My Man Godric. So maybe Consort is the only one of theirs I’ll end up liking.

    On the other hand I loved Secret Lives of a Country Gentleman. It’s as good as everyone said it was.

    1. R Cooper wrote an AU version of A Suitable Bodyguard and said something like when she took out all the fighting and politics and drama…that she realized both her MC’s needed therapy.

      1. What’s an AU version? And I really like fighting and politics and drama, but I want it to move – not repeat. And of course she’s right, they both need therapy desperately!

        1. I’m guessing AU is Amazon Unlimited. But I could be dead wrong, lol. Maybe it means Aardvarks United?

    2. You’ve nailed it, Lian. I didn’t pin it down, just felt A Suitable Bodyguard was the weaker book. And I got caught by another of her paper-thin novellas, which she really shouldn’t charge for. So I’m feeling wary. It’s a pity, because she has great potential. Needs a good editor (though I would say that, wouldn’t I?).

      1. I agree completely on her needing a good editor, Jane. Bodyguard actually feels as if it was written before Consort, and that she’s learned more in the meantime. But apparently this is the later book. Maybe she’s trying to write faster? Who knows. But I too am feeling very wary about buying anything more of hers.

        I will however keep rereading Consort!

        1. Consort is definitely her best book. There are a couple of her Magical Beings and Familiar Spirits books that I like and a couple of others but…Consort is the best.

    1. They’re really a trilogy: Arresting Anna, Stealing Nadine, and Haunting Alice, although probably not in the order. And then a rewrite of Nita.

      Everything but Rocky Start is on hold until after the move. I’m losing my mind here.

  29. I re-read Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie and really enjoyed it, possibly because I’ve also been on a Chalet School kick.

    The Chalet School series was started by Elinor Brent-Dyer in the 1920s and continued until her death in 1969, with the final book published posthumously. There’s also some very good fanfic, mainly published by Girls Gone By Publishers who also reissue various titles without all the cuts inflicted on the stories by the original paperback publisher.

    1. I did enjoy the Chalet School stories as a child, though I think there were gaps in the series – or maybe in the books, as you say.

    2. Oh, the Chalet School! I had almost all of them when I was little, gave them all away when we moved house, then have spent the past ten years hunting them down again on eBay and in second-hand bookshops. I need about eight of them to complete my collection but, of course, they’re the rare and therefore expensive ones. It’s going to take a while.

  30. Okay, I want to join the official Argh Ink Book Club, but I can’t find the sign up sheet. SO. MANY. GOOD. BOOKS.

    Maybe that should be the $3 level of the Patreon? (kinda joking, kinda not)

  31. I am reading the new Diana Biller novel, Hotel of Secrets. It’s set in Vienna just prior to WWI, and it reminds me in flavor of Eva Ibbotson’s The Magic Flute. I am really enjoying it!

  32. This week I reread Kristen Ashley’s Sweet Dreams. I love her despite skipping through graphic (for me boring) sex. Tate and Lauren are such complete real characters and their romance is sweet despite something really ugly happening plotwise.

    I also reread Susan Elizabeth Phillips Match Me If You Can. I was remembering the epilogue where Heath is with the little girl Pippi. I started to just reread that and then dived back in to the whole book.

    I have been reading Bob Mayer’s Novel Writers Toolkit because I am starting something new.

    And Elmore Leonard’s Raylan & Ten Rules For Writing.

    1. “Match Me if You Can” was always my favorite SEP! I just love Heath and Annabelle and they are so solid together.

  33. Confession: I planted Arugula in my hydroponic gardens because of Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven. Also because it was one of the packet of seeds that came with a kit. Green Chard was also in the kit, with four kinds of lettuce.

    Carry on. 🙂

  34. Have you read, Hot Art, Cold Cash by Michel van Rijn? I read an interesting story about his life of crime (he was an art smuggler) in Vice magazine, and I bought his book. I have not read it yet, but I wanted to recommend it in case it is helpful. Lol, you probably do NOT need more books. He is a shady character, so I expect the book to be full of fibs. However, it may also have good insights into that shadowy world.

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