This is a Good Book Thursday, May 4, 2023

I’m swamped this week–houseguest coming today, Junk Doctors coming tomorrow, nervous breakdown coming Saturday–so I haven’t been reading anything but Bob’s e-mails on the collaboration–he asked if the bears are helping with the clean-out–and the contracts on the new place in PA. And pieces of Murderbot whenever I start to scream. Things will be back to almost normal next week. Probably. Argh.

What did you read this week?

144 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 4, 2023

  1. I’m still reading the Washington Post “Daily 7” headlines via email.

    The Variation on a Theme serial continues to continue. Chapter 99 tomorrow.

    The Loralynn Kennakris Series Boxed Set: Books 1-3 by Owen R. O’Neil and Jordan Leah Hunter. I’m into the third book. Getting a little bored. First book was better.

    Last week was A Matter of Security by Bjorn Hasseler, a reread, part of the Ring of Fire series. Another of those “I lost track of how many times” rereads. This week I reread the two sequels. Then I moved on to A Holmes for the Czar by Goodlett and Huff and the sequel, Two Cases for the Czar.

    I found an archive and downloaded all 2554 pages of the Too Much Information webcomic, and binge-read it. Sad that it will never be completed.

    Also, more Netflix.

    1. Gary, I also read the Washington Post headlines daily via email, with an occasional jump into an in-depth story. The real question is… do you do the Daily Quiz? And then do you bet all your points to try to win at the end of the week??

    2. That’s how I felt when you posted that link to a Shoe comic strip. I am sad that there will never be a new Jeff MacNelly comic to start my day.

      1. There are several strips I follow like that. They still post daily, recycling the old posts. Others I’ve just given up on. I used to read Sluggy Freelance religiously. Now I am a Sluggy Freelance agnostic.

      2. I adore Calvin and Hobbes. I have the boxed set, which I pull out occasionally when I need the boost.

        1. I put the “Sorry Song” to a tune and I do it in a duet with my husband.

        2. The other day I found most of a year’s worth of Washington Post Comics sections that I’d saved because I loved them. Calvin & Hobbes sunday comics spreads were so amazingly beautiful. The compilation books, while I cherish them, just don’t give you that same experience, or the full color.

          1. I was too young to read them in the paper, but the boxed set is glossy and full color for the Sunday spreads, so I can live vicariously through them.

        3. My South American friend calls it ‘Calvin and Hobb-ess’, as it would be pronounced in Spanish. It was his favourite comic after immigrating to Canada. I think it was a blow to learn we pronounce it Hobbs.
          His mother got her groceries at Saff-e-way.

    1. Okay that was hilarious and now I need to buy his book. Thanks for sharing it!

    2. That is so funny. And I’m not surprised he got a book deal out of it. “You know when the roof of your mouth starts politely folding your brain in half, and your chest flutters like a cathedral filled with bees? I was holding it together but knew if I stopped concentrating for one second, I would become time itself.”

      I want to read his book now.

  2. Mainly reading Scholomance commentary this week – I’ve been trying to work out why I didn’t love book 3 as much as books 1 & 2. I actually quite like how El and Orion ended up, I don’t mind the poly thing, and I really like the themes. I think maybe the pacing bothered me.

    Managed to focus on something else long enough to read “Stealing Heaven” a 2002 medieval romance by Madeline Hunter. Solid historical basis, set along the Welsh border, high emotion and two people on opposite sides who remind me of that quote along the lines “I could not love thee so well, if I loved not honour more”. I do miss medievals

    1. ‘I could not love thee, dear, so much, loved I not honour more’ (The missing beat bothered me.)

        1. Don’t blush! JaneB has a proofreader’s eye. I do too, but only somewhat, so I added the beat mentally. Your quote had the whole gist of the idea — that “dear” was just a syllable with the connotation of loving, but the main point of making the rhythm of the line work right.

          And I felt the same about Scholomance vol. 3, only moreso. I couldn’t finish it. It was so lacking the whole place of the school itself, which had been so important to vols. 1 & 2 that she inserted maps in the end papers. And I found the apparent breakup/loss of Orion almost insulting to the reader. Those two things really brought alive the sense I’d had at the beginning of the series that there was someone with some really bad intentions in overall charge of that world — the Big Bad who made a place with dorm rooms like prison cells and clubs and brownie points and secret passages & wicked things in the stairwells. By volume 3 I decided that Big Bad was the author, using her authorial powers for ill, which is something that always disappoints & annoys me.

          1. I get why you feel that way, and you’re certainly not alone.

            I still liked book 3 a lot. I guess I thought of it as fantasy so any love story was going to have a 50/50 chance of being tragic. Plus Orion was exposition guy – he enabled El to tell us everything that was so wrong with the world that the Scholomance was a rational option – once we get out in the world we can find out directly. And I really like Novik’s take on the Omelas themes. I think the first two books were so exciting and built tension so effectively to their climaxes whereas book 3 wandered and I found the climax confusing. Huh, I think that’s the clearest I’ve been about the book all week 😉

      1. Although in the case of “Stealing Heaven” its more appreciating that the other person will choose the honorable course of action over your love for each other, and that’s part of why you love that person even though you have conflicting pre-existing loyalties. But that doesn’t come with a neat quote 🙂

  3. Attention all hockey M/M romance lovers: Catherine Cloud’s newest is out, Caught Off Guard, and it is good! She is definitely in what I call pantheon two of this genre, the first pantheon being Taylor Fitzpatrick way above the clouds all on her genius self ownsome, and the second occupied by Rachel Reid, Avon Gale and Catherine Cloud (with Cait Nary edging her way in here). Anyway, definitely was worth the wait.

    And in other hockey news I read the fourth in the Hannah Henry series, Empty Netter, and Rental by RJ Scott and VC Locey, both enjoyable – and not in the upper levels, see paragraph above.

    Continued the MCA Horgarth series with In the Court of Dragons, short stories in Chatcaava and I’ve finally started Mindtouch. LN and Lian, I took your recommendation and started listening to Linesman; it’s captured me already.

    Definitely a good time to be alive and a reader.

    1. Well, I took your recommendation and read Lisa Henry’s dark space trilogy and enjoyed it. It is harrowing at times and there is a bit too much explicit sex in the first one for me but I loved the characters and the ending is great.

      1. I should start putting explicit sex ratings on my reco’s – like S or SS or SSS…

        1. But is it boring explicit sex? This is what bothers me. “Yes, yes, I know how this works; is it advancing the plot? Revealing character? Not…noticeably.”

          1. I’m totally with you – that’s my only real criteria. And I would say in the case of Dark Space, the sex both advances plot and character.

            And explicit doesn’t even necessarily mean sexy. Nothing worse than boring explicit sex, as you say.

          2. I agree that the sex in Dark Space is necessary for the story. And for me, I want them to have the good payoff. Parts of the story are harrowing.

            And sometimes it feels like a story needs explicit sex. It’s just right for that story, you know? Other times it feels cobbled on and would have been better with an allusion or fade to black.

            Of course, I like explicit sex scenes when I am in the mood, so that’s me.

          3. Did you read A Suitable Bodyguard yet? Definitely some explicit, non-boring sex there. Forwards character more than plot and maybe a teeny bit gratuitous…but what the heck.

          4. Lupe,
            When I am in the mood, I do like well written explicit sex scenes but I find at the moment that I am not often in the mood. I blame it on being on the cusp of the menopause and I hope that when I am truly on the other side (not quite there yet) I will enjoy them again.

          5. Tammy, I haven’t started it yet. I blame it on being such a slow reader. And I had started the Touchstone Series by Andrea K Host. I am having trouble getting through the introductory survival part, but I am determined.

          6. LN, I think that this is a widespread problem. A lot of us are just warn out and still dealing with the emotional trauma of the last few years. I saw an article to that effect somewhere…

          7. Whereas menopause did absolutely nothing to my sex drive, one way or the other. It did lots of other stuff but not the two classics: hot flashes and sex drive reduction. So I’m still reading trash without fanning myself.

    2. LOL
      Thanks, Tammy.

      I’m enjoying the playoffs irl and have the advantage of being able to wach the highlights on insta as I wouldn’t be able to watch them due to being overseas and all. Following my two compatriots (with the Oilers and Kraken) eagerly. Gosh, Who would have known. DH (who played for some time as a boy) is amused and joins in.
      Also: looking forward to the World Championship starting on May 12. My country’s team will miss out on some very fine players thanks to – hopefully – them being still needed with their teams.

      On the reading side: still waiting for the Rachel Reid Heated Rivalry. Unpredictable postponement of delivery for whatever reasons. The publisher can’t deliver. Grrrr.

      1. In my town, there is a huge expectation that the Leafs will finally (after 56 years) again win the Stanley Cup. Toronto is a bunch of hockey optimists and every year they think the Leafs will win the Cup and every year our collective hearts are broken but…maybe this is the year?

        1. 56 years really is a long time…
          I confess, I can only cross my fingers for you and the Leafs after the Oilers and Kranken are out which I really hope will not be too soon…

        2. Tammy — can you clarify for me why the Maple Leafs have purposely not pluralized their name to “leaves”? Even reading it makes my teeth hurt somehow.

          1. Because they were named after the Maple Leaf regiment of the Canadian Army. Since Maple Leaf is a proper noun, the correct plural is Maple Leafs, not Maple Leaves.

          2. Like the plural of Proudfoot is Proudfoots, not Proudfeet! Bilbo was right.

          3. Well, I guess my teeth will just have to keep hurting. I think I’ll blame the Regiment. 🙂

          4. Besides, you want the stronger, tougher sound of “Leafs” as a hockey team. You wouldn’t want a bunch of Leaves – sounds like a fluttery bunch of fragile plant creatures skittering randomly across the ice….oh wait…

          5. Well, maybe if they’d just change the spelling a bit — they could use “Leif” instead of “Leaf” — wasn’t he a tough Newfoundlander? I wouldn’t mind hearing about “The Leifs” — easier on the teeth, you know?

          6. I’ll make that recommendation to the owners. I can imagine it now…”Hi you don’t know me but I represent a group of grammar-conscious, gay hockey romance reading citizens and we’d like you to change the name of your team so that you’re more like rampaging Vikings, sound good?”

          7. Tammy, I dare you to do just that. I double-dog dare you!
            Send the name suggestion by registered mail or if they have a website, take a screenshot of the suggestion and share it here.

          8. Gary, I am not brave enough to risk the hellfire and retribution that would rain down on me. I have to live in this town.

    3. Yes!! I have it waiting in my kindle and have been saving it for my vacation which starts TODAY. Catherine Cloud is one of my autobuy authors and I’m so looking forward to this–especially now that I know it has the Tammy seal of approval.

    4. Tammy, the excerpt was intriguing.
      The name of the main protagonist in Caught off Guard, indicates that he’s from the southern parts of Germany.
      Whats funny: there’s actually a hockey coach working with the juniors in his team 🙂
      From what I saw on the pics, both coaches are young and rather good looking.

      LOL, if only he knew his namesake is hero of an mm hockey romance…

        1. ROTFL
          I’m a wuss and would have to confess why I’m aware of such an MC in a mm hockey romance…

  4. I hope your move goes as painlessly as any move can. I’ve been doing a lot of reading until I hit something I just can’t with and putting the book down but I am enjoying A Walk Through the Forest of Souls by Rachel Pollack, fantasy author and tarot card designer. I took a class forever ago on storytelling with tarot and this is a great book to build on that.

  5. I hope when the Junk Doctors leave with ask the stuff you have thrown out that you will g feel a huge sense of relief and lightness.

  6. Getting Rid of Bradley, oddly enough. I wanted a break from the ARC reviews, which have been challenging the last few books.

    Good luck with G-day!

  7. Only read two books and a very very short novella this week – Cloud Nine by Fearne Hill and Confetti Hearts by Lily Morton.
    Had very high hopes for the former and found too much of the story happing off the pages, especially the two MCs in their work environment. One gets to know a character a lot in his/her interactions. I liked one MC a lot and would have liked to spend far more time with him. I couldn’t get a grasp on the other because – not enough insight into his background/every day stuff.
    Nevertheless I like the author a lot and will certainly read the next installment in this series announced already.

    I had no expectations at all for Confetti Hearts by Lily Morton. Which certainly is a far better starting point to enjoy a story.
    Joe, the main narrator, is a side character in Vow Maker as he’s the wedding planner for the couple there. What I really liked is that we meet the two MCs Joe and his almost ex Lachlan on the way to divorce (they hit it off sexually at first, never took the time to get to know each other, jumped into marriage in Vegas, then circumstances kind of ended their impromptu marriage). How they mended their rift (no spoiler her, it’s a romance after all) makes for a delightful little story with two very likeable main characters.
    It seems to be the start of a new series around the guys from Joe’s wedding planning agency. I very much like Lily Morton’s way to introduce the characters of her future stories. Subtle enough, so I already look forward to the books about Arti, Rafferty and Jed 😉

  8. I’m ploughing through the unsorted books on my Kindle – mostly from before they allowed you to make collections. Most are Rejects, but there are some Keepers (I went through all the titles on my Paperwhite when I first made this collection, but there are a number I’d bought before that stayed in the cloud until now). I’ve had to add a Good, But for those like Angel of the Crown that aren’t my thing but I might possibly want to read again. (I’m thinking I might permanently delete my Rejects; though not if I have to to this one at a time, as I suspect I would.)

    This is partly in anticipation of having to replace the Kindle, which is ten years old (it was my mum’s). The battery’s not lasting as long, and if it starts to nosedive I’ll call it a day.

    I do wish there were better management tools in the software – especially flags, so I could tell at a glance whether a book was a keeper or not. I’m hoping I’ll be able to just download certain collections to a new device, but the Kindle manual’s pretty opaque.

    1. One thing I line about the Nook is that it’s essentially an online library so I can download all my books on my laptop and phone in the Nook app. I only have the Amazon books on a kindle app on my phone so I don’t know if I could download them to a different device but it seems like it should be possible ? You could test by putting the kindle app on your computer

      1. I’ve got the app on all three computers – iPad, iPhone and Mac; but the Mac version doesn’t acknowledge the existence of my collections. I’ll probably try and sort that out once I’ve finished the sort-out on my Kindle, which is of course the one I use most.

    2. If you import the books from your kindle to Calibre you can tag them from there. You should then be able to export whichever ones you want to your new kindle. Although I haven’t tried Calibre with an Apple device …

  9. Listened to Terry Pratchett’s The Truth in the new recording series. This is the first Pratchett I read, so I have a sentimental attachment to it. It’s a pretty good version!

    Now I’m listening to some short Chronicles of St. Mary’s stories as I putter around.

    I’ve checked out The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix, but haven’t started it yet.

  10. I’m reading Sorry I Missed You by Suzy Krause, which I think my agent recommended to me. I’ve got mixed feelings about it. The storytelling is good, but I’m kind of meh about all the different characters. There isn’t one I particularly like. I can sympathize with them all, but I don’t like them. Has anyone else read this one? Am I missing something?

    Also continuing my Gin Jones read (the Helen Binney series). Always satisfying.

    Jenny, did I miss you saying you’d found a new house? Congrats!

  11. I just finished reading an exhaustive list of side effects and medications and drugs not to use while taking hydroxyzine, which is what my doctor prescribed for my White Coat Syndrome. It turns out the “sudden death” incidence is only for people who already have an irregular heart rhythm, which the medication exacerbates. Whew! I did not sleep well last night, worrying about that side effect in the pharmacy handout.

    I am about to finish the second reading of The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches. I read it so fast the first time that I must have skipped some of the back story. It’s making a lot more sense, now, and I don’t have to rush to the end, because I know how it ends. The little witches are just adorable, especially as they begin to trust and love Mika. All the characters are lovable in their own way. I like that there is a gay couple in a long-term relationship. The setting near the sea is so appealing. It’s just a very good read.

    1. Jan, I liked it too, but there is one thing that bothers me about it. If Mika and James (I think, I don’t have the book in front of me to double check his name) decide to have any children, because of the curse, they are basically committing suicide, since all witchy children become orphans at a very early age. I think the author needs to write a sequel where the witches try to correct this situation.

      I just finished rereading The Shuddering City by Sharon Shinn. I really like a lot of her books (not all, but most) and this one is high on the list of those I like.

  12. There are many things about ebooks that make me envy those of you who read them exclusively, but then Jane puts her finger on one of the things that made me leave them behind without one regret. Can’t categorize them. I want shelves to put things on –good, great, or ‘maybe someday’ shelves, specifically. Discarding books I didn’t like (luckily) comes easy to me.

    This week I finished “Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen” and liked it a lot. It’s a re-read book, I think. Then I read “Ms. Demeanor” by Elinor Lipman, which wasn’t. The author’s voice made me realize exactly why I’ve never felt comfortable among well-to-do New Yorkers — it’s a self-confident, privileged, in-your-face style of interaction that makes me ill-at-ease around them, so I felt that way when reading about them/by them as well. The close relationship between the twin sisters was particularly grating to read (for me, at least). It didn’t read as warm supportive love so much as invasive in-your-business “I know EXACTLY what you’re like, sister!”

    The love interest of the MC was the only person I would have felt okay around, which makes me think hard about the whole phenomenon of M/M romances written by women. This guy was an introvert, in some ways a people pleaser, and he had both psychological depth and consideration for others, all of which seem to me to be part of the classic “women’s role” thing. Why is it that so many M/M romances involve two leaders or people otherwise important and independent, while most of the female halves of relationships depicted in romances are much more constricted? I still feel that for us female types, writing from the viewpoint of an unfettered male personage has got to be psychologically freeing in some important way.

    The unfinished arc of modern feminism, I think.

    1. Oh but you can categorize Kindle books now – you can create ‘Collections’ – and books can go into multiple connections which is something you can’t do with a hard cover/paperback unless you buy it twice.

      And you are putting your exact finger on why so many of us mostly read M/M romances now…

      1. Yes – I’m assigning all my books a collection, since some of them predate that system. (And I do still read print books; it’s just most of the stuff I enjoy is only available in ebook – or, at least, is only affordable that way.)

      2. It is nice to read a contemporary romance without all the baggage I, as a reader, bring to traditional m/f. And all the tropes that seem to be accepted as cannon.

        That’s why I have mostly made the jump to monster romance for contemporary m/f. Getting over the species difference is enough of a conflict without the Big Misunderstanding. And the female lead can be mostly normal, often nuanced. She isn’t klutzy or has vowed to never love again. She just meets a nice mothman at the grocery store…

      3. Question: How do you organize your collections? Do you just do it by author, or would you have xyz books by a specific author entered a second time in some other category? And then how do you look over the different collections you’ve set up?

        Just curious…

        1. I do it by category – e.g. “Escapist Faves” is for any book that I know I’ll enjoy reading multiple times.

        2. When I buy a new kindle book it goes straight into ‘Unread’. But it also goes into whatever other collections are relevant. So the one book might go into ‘Unread’, ‘Romance’, ‘MM Romance’, ‘Historical’ and ‘Fantasy’. I really like being able to do this.

          1. My approach is very similar. I need a new collection called Hockey. I do have a collection solely for Taylor Fitzpatrick. Also I have a DNF collection.

          2. I have a Kindle Ap for the computer, and Mobipocket Reader, and Calibre to move between them. As far as things one can do with Mobipocket Reader, You can Rate the book (1-5 stars), assign it one or more genre, or add it to a reading list. You can sort by title, author, genre, rating, file size, last read date, read count, and reading time. I think Kindle displays the library by icon or detail. Mobi displays by icons or detail or bookshelf or cover list. The problem with Mobi Reader is that Amazon bought them and does NOT make ebooks backward compatible to them. Calibre and Uncle Alf can deal with some but not all Kindle ebooks.

            MobiReader lets you rename books, so Penric and the Shaman became Bujold – Penric and the Shaman. And Maybe This Time became Crusie – Maybe This Time. That way, when I sort by title I’m also sorting by author. In a way, that helps because some publishers are very lax about the lastname, firstname metadata. Sorting by author used to put half of Bujold under B and half under L. (You can fix that, too.)

          3. Mobi Reader sounds ideal, Gary – if only Amazon hadn’t hobbled it. Why can’t they learn from it instead?!

          4. Sadly, nobody updates MobiPocket Reader since Amazon doesn’t. Given that, I wish Amazon had incorporated all the features into their Kindle readers.

          5. Tammy, I delete the DNF. If I can’t bear to finish them, I get dreadfully offended by them taking up space on my kindle.

          6. I can’t bear to delete them. I paid for them; I’m keeping them. And maybe some day I’ll read them? Or maybe my husband or mother with whom I share the Kindle will read them. Then they can despise the books as much as I did.

        3. My two main collections are Keepers and Rejects. I’ve also got a Christmas Stories one. Plus Good, But – as described above.

          It’s tempting to make genre collections, but I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. (My print novels are just A-Z by author, with non-fiction organized by subject.)

          1. Oh, and I also keep a list on my iPad of Authors To Avoid, with one-line explanations of why I dislike them.

          2. One person’s treasured reading material is another person’s garbage. I think we all understand that.

      4. I have categories for finished and liked, DNF, M/M and Meh, for finished but didn’t really like.

  13. I listened to The Cinderella Deal, because I am struggling with my art making mojo and then went on to Faking It, which is my all time favorite JC. I go to it whenever I need the reminder that art is supposed to be fun and make me happy. Up next may be Welcome to Temptation because I love Davey, but that one doesn’t give me the same artist buzz. I really need to find more books about artists.

    1. One of my favourites is Katie Fforde’s first – Living Dangerously – about a potter who opens up to more creativity as well as love. It’s also very funny.

      1. I read her in college with mixed results. Will give this one a try. And of course I am a different person now. Thanks!

        1. Deb disagrees, I know, but for me only her first three books are keepers (Living Dangerously, The Rose Revived and Wild Designs; and LD is my fave). Her books have gone downhill so much I find the new ones unreadable.

      2. Jane, that’s my favourite Katie Fforde! I think her early books are her best really.

      3. Always love a Katie Fforde, a few are hard to get here in the US. I re-read Second Thyme Around about once a year and always take away something new.

      1. Yes, but I am almost through it and can’t do back to back rereads anymore. I miss that about my youth. Sigh.

        1. Of course Mab is a working artist, but I usually save Wild Ride and Maybe This Time for October.

          Elizabeth Lowell has some artists and jewelry makers that I revisit from time to time, but I am not often in the mood for murderous suspense. Same with Linda Howard’s Now You See Her. But still very fun.

          1. There’s always Nora Roberts’ Born In trilogy. Plus Jewels in the Sun, though that’s about writing (the rest of the trilogy’s no good, but this first one’s a favourite).

    2. Cinderalla Deal is my second JC re-read favorite too! And Faking it is my all-time favorite. I think it’s because Tilda is so resolute from the very first chapter about not doing something that she knows would go against all her values. And being surrounded by all the “oh well, what the hell, just go with things” vibes of so many others in the family and also, only worse, of the opponents in this story, just makes that more vivid. She became the knight in combat saving everybody else. And for me, the art was just the icing on the cake of that.

    3. Amy Jo Cousins wrote a lovely m/m Christmas novella with a glass artist “Glass Tidings”.

      Josephine Myles’ “Stuff” is delightful with an MC who’s really making art for himself (m/m contemporary) and is eccentric and fussy and kind.

      Abby Jimenez “Happy Ever After Playlist” is a good m/f contemporary with a female artist MC and a musician.

      Some older books which I remember enjoying were Liz Carlyle’s “My False Heart” (world-weary rake walks into a warm artist household, m/f historical), Joey W Hill’s “Rough Canvas” with an artist and gallery owner (m/m D/s contemporary), and Mary Jo Putney’s “River of Fire” between two artists (m/f historical).

  14. Coming out of lurk after a very long time (years!). Thanks for all the great reading suggestions. I’ve found some really good books and author recommendations here.
    I read Love Lettering (Kate Clayborn) which has been recommended here a few times. I really enjoyed it. Great for a weekend when I was trying not to think about hassles in the day job. After that I went back to reread Beginners Luck and I listened to Luck of the Draw. I liked the first best, including the science stuff and house renovation. Characters less appealing in the second and the premise a bit off. I’ll get around to the 3rd Chance of a Lifetime at some stage.

    I’ve just started listening to Paladin’s Grace – T Kingfisher. I’m really enjoying that. I like the reader too.
    Hoping to stay out of lurk and contribute to the lovely community here.

  15. Lupe, Man Hunting has a very artistic cake baker in it. Nora Roberts’ Sullivan’s Woman novella is about an artist and his muse.

    1. Thanks! Man Hunting is fun, but not the same. And I don’t care for Nora Roberts depictions of artists. Too much wild creation and amazing skills, not enough hard work. It annoys me.

      1. In a different vein, Dick Francis’ To The Hilt has a painter as a hero. Dorothy Sayers’ Five Red Herrings is full of artists, albeit not necessarily likeable ones.

        1. Five Red Herrings seems to be everyone’s least favourite Sayers. Too much of time tables and such.
          Artists in Crime is very nice, a bunch of painters, a studio, life model, and it is the one in which her detective, Roderick Alleyn, meets his love, Agatha Troy.

          1. Herrings is definitely Sayers but I believe the Roderick Alleyn series is written by Ngaio Marsh? I really enjoy reading both these authors!

      2. Oh, sorry, Lupe – I commented above before seeing this. You’re right – Nora requires extra suspension of disbelief.

  16. I just finished the last story from Old Babes in the Wood (the title story). I’ve been eking them out since I bought Margaret Atwood’s latest collection the day it came out (early March).

    The best for last. I’m such an old babe in the wood myself.

  17. I read Half a Soul, which so.eone here reccomended. I really liked it. I started one of the others in the same world and it didn’t grab me so it has been slow going.

  18. I think I’m getting old. It has been weeks since I read more than one or two (such as At the Feet of the Sun) new books where I was really engaged with the characters. Even the ones I didn’t DNF had me asking why I should be interested. Having no such problem with what I’ve been rereading: Witness for the Dead, and now Grief of Stones. Which brings up the question I have failed to answer: what changed in her writing when Sarah Monette started publishing as Katherine Addison? I’ve never enjoyed Sarah Monette books much. Katherine Addison is un-put-down-able.

      1. Is that the Sherlock Holmes retelling? I didn’t love that one either. It was a very imaginative premise, but I found the story to be cold and sad. Otherwise, I love her work. But the Goblin Emperor and the other books in that universe have strong elements of comfort, which is what I am really showing up for.

    1. I did enjoy Monette’s Doctrine of Labyrinths series (not so much her Iskryne series) but wow it is a completely different voice and vibe than the Goblin Emperor series – so dark and dense. My theory is that wanted access to a larger audience and knew she wouldn’t get it with her Monette name so took the Addison one to start over. I am of course completely speculating.

      1. She says somewhere that it was the publisher’s decision.

  19. I read The Lending Library, a first novel by Aliza Fogelson. As a retired librarian I find the premise unlikely. (The public library closed, so an avid reader turns her sunroom into a library with her own money but chaos does not ensue, though there’s some angst.) Setting that aside, Fogelson did a good job weaving three additional story strands (boyfriend, desire to adopt a baby, baggage over Not Dad abandoning the three girls) into the narrative. And there’s lots about books and food.

  20. I’m half way through A Darkness At The Door (Intisar Khanani), the last in the series. Not sure if the series has been mentioned, but I’m really enjoying it.

    The first book is Thorn; the series is now complete, which is great, because the cliffhanger at the end of book 2 is AWFUL.

    It’s really nice to read a book where the female protagonist isn’t an orphan.

  21. I read a regency romance by an author with over thirty years and several dozen books under her belt and was frustrated. In some cases it was historically accurate —I was interested in the inclusion of “camping” as a historic game ( .
    And yet she made so many basic errors about the period:
    —a young widowed duchess didn’t have a companion to serve as a chaperone
    —she had custody of her son and control of the dukedom (and the writer notes if she marries that will go to her husband so a weird mix of accuracy and inaccuracy on women’s rights )
    —the hero belongs to both White’s and Brooks when those were the big clubs for opposing political parties
    And so on.

    Everyone makes some mistakes but what is the point of writing romance about these periods if you don’t try to capture how it affected relationships? Grrr.

    In addition to finishing my rereads of Michael Gilbert I started Anna Quindlens book Imagined London because it talks about how different parts of London are included in different books of fiction and I will be there in June. I started “Growing up Human” which is about the biology of childhood, because my history thesis as an undergrad was about childhood. And then I realized that my wonderful advisor (Natalie Zemon Davis, see the return of Martin Guerre) is still writing in her 90s and so I downloaded her most recent book and samples of books she wrote introductions to since if she wrote introductions for them they are probably worth reading.

    Several months ago on Twitter a professor asked which authors were foundational in social history and the responses included most of the books I read as an undergrad including hers and gave me a good reading list of more modern things . I despise Musk but Twitter certainly had its uses (although why a college prof felt they needed help with that list from Twitter is a little worrisome ).

    Hm. This has been a very history focused comment!

  22. I managed to get here on a Thursday so that I could report reading book one and two of the Veiled Magic series – thanks Deborah! Then I had to stop and read book for our mini book club.

  23. Still in a reading funk. For two weeks now, I couldn’t read anything new. I start, but nothing works. Only re-reads for me recently. At the moment, I’m going through some Bujold’s books, one by one, both Penric and Miles.

  24. I started the week with A Psalm for the Wild-Built, which was a beautiful and gentle read, as well as a very optimistic slant on the distant future.

    Then a Victorian murder mystery by Kate Saunders, The Secrets of Wishtide. It wasn’t brilliant but I enjoyed it, and will read another by her.

    Finally Freya Marske’s A Restless Truth, the second in The Last Binding trilogy. I didn’t like this one quite as much as the first in the trilogy. It focuses on Robin Blyth’s sister Maud, and the whole thing takes place on board a trans-Atlantic voyage. It’s more melodramatic than the first, and the plot is less coherent. But I’m still looking forward to the third, which will apparently be Lord Hawthorn’s story.

  25. I spent the week with Judith and Renie, finding bodies at and around the Hillside Manor B&B and griping at each other, at their husbands and Judith’s crabby mother. Mary Daheim.

  26. My reading week started off with 3 F/M historicals by Loretta Chase. All enjoyable with caveats ranging from minor to major. Probably not to be re-read.

    Then 2 non-fiction things: ‘Mad & Bad: Real Heroines of the Regency’ by Bea Koch (co-owner of The Ripped Bodice bookstore here in LA), which is a collection of biographical sketches, followed by an anthology of autobiographical essays by writers, which I finished mostly out of inertia as it most definitely did not speak to *my* life.

    Then my discovery of the week: whole-hearted, two thumbs up, 5 stars for ‘Something Wild & Wonderful’ by Anita Kelly. M/M contemporary set on the Pacific Coast Trail. The MCs, who have very different backgrounds, are hiking for essentially the same reason, i.e. to put in a pin in a period of major life change and use the experience to mentally organize their next phase.

    Next, another 5 star book, ‘Finding Mr. Fabulous’ by Con Riley, which begins with a hookup so those of you who hate that kind of thing should steer clear, except the entire rest of the book is about the blue-blooded man-slut of the title coming to terms with how many things in his life aren’t working. Fairly high on the angst scale, with present losses (and fear thereof) in addition to adolescent traumas.

    1. Already downloaded Mr. Fabulous, chachal: thanks for your wonderful mini-reviews. I’ve always liked Con Riley, have read the excerpt and the mix of London-Cornwall is enticing, too.

  27. Finally!!! I think my slump is truly over! I’ve been rolling through all of Sarina Bowen, thanks to someone’s recommendation here a month or two ago. (Sorry that I don’t remember who it was, since you have my eternal gratitude!) Plus a few random mysteries/psychological thrillers thrown in…

    1. I think many people like Sarina Bowen here, including Jenny, so we end up talking about her randomly once every few Thursdays 🙂

    2. Seppie, I’d read Sarina Bowen years ago and rediscovered her this year. The great thing: now there’s a really huge back catalog and though I don’t fancy all of them, I’m hooked on her hockey-related ones.
      I’ve also subscribed to her newsletter – whenever there’s a give-away by her and author colleagues of books either for free or very little, I’m alerted. Which makes my to-be-read pile skyscraper high. A good thing I nowadays read mostly e-books, otherwise life would get risky… (being buried under books??).

      1. The back catalog is what made this such a good rec for me! I started with the Ivy Years series and just keep downloading the next book and then the next series. I’ll be sad to finish, but it’s great while it lasts!

  28. I wanted to lose myself in a story for a couple of evenings. First I pulled The Big Four (Agatha Christie) off the shelf but abandoned it after a couple of chapters – it’s not one of her best IMHO.
    Next try (same bookshelf) was Wild Horses by Dick Francis. Perfect choice, utterly absorbing, love the detail about film making plus the characterisation. I always enjoy the bits about Ziggy the stunt rider and the wild horses; this time I was also really struck by the story of Alison Visborough, in particular the scene where she reveals that she owns the house and land where she lived with her mother and brother, as her dead father left it to her rather than them.

  29. Checked out Loretta Chase’s website, blog post May 2 – the third book in her Difficult Dukes series is finally cooperating, Blackwood’s story.

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