This is a Good Book Thursday, August 24, 2023

I’ve been reading books and getting halfway through and giving up, fast forwarding to the end just to see what happens which is never a surprise. And then I hit the jackpot: Connie Willis’s new book, The Road to Roswell, is fantastic. It starts a little slow, and then it hits the ground running and it’s wonderful. A maid of honor who needs to talk her best friend out of marrying a UFO nut gets abducted by an alien who looks like a tumbleweed made of tentacles, and they start a road trip that gets more and more crowded as the alien picks up others along the way–a smart con man, an annoying UFO nut, a sweet little old lady, a cowboy–and it’s just flat out wonderful. Of course, it’s wonderful. It’s Connie Willis.

What did you read this week that was wonderful?

149 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, August 24, 2023

  1. Wow that sounds like a great book. Putting it in my TBR near the top. And who knows, maybe I’ll finally understand those arghers who start to salivate at the thought of tentacles.

    I was hoping to be in the first few commenters because I have a question to ask.

    Do Arghers or Jenny or Bob think that the only good source of conflict for novels involves someone being a victim – someone being a victimizer – someone being a hero/ine?

    I would love any examples of good books where that is not the dynamic.

    As far as reading – finished up an Amanda Quick reread so I could move on to –

    Reread Lavender’s Blue – loved it – again.
    And read Rest In Pink – in deep and loving it.

    1. Re: your question about conflict… I think that it depends on genre to some extent. Murder mystery, action/adventure tend to revolve around there being a bad guy to discover and defeat.

      Part of the reason that I like tentacles/ monster romance so much, aside from the fact that it is ridiculous and fun, is that it tends to rely on a communication barrier or cultural one as the main source of conflict and the two main characters have to be invested enough to work together to overcome it. C. M. Nascosta is very good at avoiding Big Misunderstandings and grand gestures, which I really appreciate. Her characters want to be together, want to learn about each other, and are willing to work at it.

      Another example is Jenny’s Faking It. I don’t think of anyone as a victim in that book. It’s just a bunch of people trying to survive. Some are better than others of course and Mason is a horse’s rear end, but he is not actively trying to harm anyone. He just want to get away with his misdeeds.

      But that is romance. I don’t read enough mystery to chime in on that genre.

      1. One of my favorite historic romances is Connie Brockaway’s “My Dearest Enemy” where the initial conflict is over whether the heroine can make a go of an estate or the hero will inherit it, and the ultimate conflict is whether they will marry —protecting their children from the legal problems of illegitimacy—or not, protecting the heroine from the loss of any rights to her own children.

        No victims in the sense you mean, and the conflict is firmly rooted in the laws of the period.

    2. That’s not how I think of conflict. I think of it more as two dogs, one bone, rather than victim/abuser or anything related to what we think of as heroic/villainic.

      So, the protagonist and antagonist each want something (could be the bone or could be something incompatible with the other person getting the bone — e.g., the mother-antagonist wanting the daughter-protagonist to get married, while the daughter prefers something that makes her unmarriageable), and they both act toward their goal, which necessarily means preventing the other getting their goal.

      In my genre (cozy mystery), I have a goal for the protagonist apart from solving the mystery (e.g., in the Helen Binney series it’s generally something to do with her maintaining her independence, like in the second book, it’s buying a car), but then there’s also the goal that makes it a mystery — the protagonist wants to identify the killer, and the antagonist wants to get away with murder. I picked up this structure (overarching non-mystery goal for each book, as well as the murder-solving goal) from Donna Andrews, who has had some really fun non-mystery goals.

    3. My take – conflict is someone wanting something that is being thwarted. The something might be their life, freedom, success, money, happiness, etc. The protagonist does not have to be the “victim.” They might be the thwarter instead of the thwartee (Autocorrect accepted the first, but not the second) if they are in the way of the antagonist.

  2. I am listening to Nalini Singh’s newest. Resonance something. It’s fine. I am much more invested in the long arc of Silence than I am in her main couple and their romance. She has gotten too formulaic there for me. But the audio book is free on hoopla, and makes for a good enough background soundtrack.

    And I am 80% of the way through The First and Last Adventure of Kit Sawyer. It’s a M/M Indiana Jones style romp. It’s not amazing, but it’s well written and fun. It definitely gets the adventure vibe and the pining between main characters is sweet. I put it aside for Rest In Pink, which is my weekend plan. I will come back and finish it, but most of the character stuff is resolved anyway. Just action conflict to get through.

    1. Kit Sawyer is SE Harmon yes? I just finished the Chrysalis series but didn’t like it as much at all as the Spectral Files series, with the silly titles and all. As close to Charlie Adhara as I’ve read yet.

      1. Yes! I was looking at Harmon on Amazon because of your recommendation and had to try that one. The premise was so unusual. I will read this author again.

  3. I started the DiCarlo Bride series written by Heather Tullis and I have really enjoyed them. I think there are six books and I’m on Book 5. The first is titled A Perfect Fit.

    It’s about 6 sisters… 2 legitimate daughters and 4 illegitimate, and none of them were aware of the others until they are gathered together at the reading of their hound dog dads will.

    I got the first book because it was free and I’m enjoying the characters enough to stick with it.

    But I need to get through them so I can read Pink!!!

  4. I read Confessions of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell. It’s a daily note, some shorter, some longer, about his activities. There are of course continuing characters, sometimes so many that I lost track of them. If you ever wanted to run a bookstore, I think this would be something you should read.

    Now I’m into Pink, and loving it so far.

  5. I’m reading Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros. It was on the NYT bestseller list for a good reason. I would classify it in my mind as a young adult read, but there’s lots of death (mostly dragon related), but an interesting premise.

    1. Wow, my library says “0 copies of 28 available. 12 hold on each copy”! Her other four books the library has are also unavailable. On my list.

      1. Fourth Wing has 262 people on the waiting list for my library system. Not as extreme as Lessons in Chemistry, but good golly that’s a lot of waiting.

    2. The amount of people being killed in 4th Wing spoiled it for me. (Think Harry Potter meets Lord of the Flies.) It seems incredibly wasteful if this country has been at war for so many years for cadets to frag each other and the instructors to be cool with that. Sending the ones who can’t make it to the infantry and let them be cannon fodder, okay, I could see that. But these people spend more time trying to kill each other than the enemy.

      Also, I was shocked when I found out, late in the book, how old the characters all were. I’d have thought they were 12 from the way they talked/acted.

      That said, Yarros does a great job at keeping the tension high. The constant prospect of impending death does make it a fast read.

  6. I just finished The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. (I’m a little behind.) I really loved it, but it weighs heavily. At the end of the book, my Kindle version had a teaser from the sequel, and I don’t think I can go there yet.

    Started Rest in Pink. Ahh…

    1. I remember reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. I didn’t know there was a sequel and went right to my library and it was available so yay to you for mentioning it. Thank you!

  7. To all you hockey book lovers, Jen+B discovered an author that she’s got me onto – theundiagnosable, unpublished, only available on AO3, has that plain style that I’ve come to associate with hockey writers. A place to start is with four related but stand-alone stories:

    The third one, Two Types of Sacrifice, was my favourite – M/F, no sex, sweet without being saccharine, I loved it. The others, all M/M, also no sex, sweet, etc.

    I also finished listening to The Janitors of the Post Apocalypse – about a human cleanup crew on an alien-run ship who are left to fend for themselves against a Big Problem. So good. I especially enjoyed some of the amusing world-building, based on the premise that humans all became zombies and were ‘rescued’ 100 years later by an alien society who tried clumsily to rebuild human culture based on what’s left in written records. So ships are named after the most dangerous earth animals such as the Mosquito, the Pufferfish and the T-Rex. Restored humans get to pick their own names based on past admired humans in history so have choices like Gandhi, Roselind Kennedy and Beyonce. I’m onto the next in the series.

    1. That series is by Jim C. Hines, and they’re all wonderful. The name of the first book is Terminal Alliance. And there are a few tentacles in there…

      1. I’m a fan of Jim C. Hines. He’s a graduate from the university I work at. We’re featured in Libriomancer. I heard him at an ALA annual conference once explain the reason he blew up the library that employs me because of our wayfinding system used when he was a student. It wasn’t intuitive. We have since removed it.

        1. Now I am wondering what a wayfinding system is and how one blows up a library with one.

          But from what I’ve seen over the years, Jim Hines is not only a good writer but a good person as well. Library explosions notwithstanding. 😉

        2. The wayfinding system was colored tape on the floor that would lead you to a particular call number. Jim said he was trying to find a book and got lost in the basement and reluctantly had to ask for help twice to find it. There were also signs hanging from the ceiling with the color code.

          As to blowing up the building, if I remember correctly, it was more of a powerful robot that destroyed it. In the basement of the library, there is a vault. On campus, there are steam tunnels that connect the different buildings. For the purpose of the plot, special books were kept in the vault and a villain used the steam tunnels to escape.

          I highly recommend reading the book!

          1. Thanks for clearing that up. I was thinking an explosion in real life, not in Libriomancer. So glad it was imaginary! Hee hee.

    2. Tammy, you are terrible. I am already following Catherine Cloud and Taylor Fitzpatrick on AO3 because of you! My kids think it’s hilarious I read on there 😀

      1. Tammy the Terrible – that’s my name; don’t wear it out. LN, I still have more Taylor Fitzpatrick to inflict on you some time from being on her Patreon. I have been reorganizing some of her stuff over time into Single Documents – like Everything David and Jake, or Mike and Liam…

        And you think I’m bad – Jen+B is trying to lure me over to Discord – so far, I’ve resisted.

    3. I loved the janitors of the post apocalypse series (and the SS Conesnail and Blue Ringed Octopus)

    4. For everyone following m/m hockey, I stumbled across Like Real People Do but EL Hassey and it was lovely, sweet romance. All the feels.

      It’s not typically a go-to genre for me, although Rachel Reid’s Heated Rivalry is still one of my favourite reread romances (excluding Jennifer Crusie and KJ Charles’ entire catalogues, which reign supreme).

  8. I reread Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Spell Sword. It’s a SciFi novel about an earthman who gets stranded when his survey plane crashes into a mountain. A psi-gifted woman being held by cat-people comes to him in the ether to help him. Their relationship builds over time, and he finally meets her family and helps them rescue her. The sequel is The Forbidden Tower. The whole world of Darkover is interesting, because it is built on the crew of a ship that crashed into the planet, and how that society then evolved.

    I will happily put that aside when Rest in Pink arrives tomorrow!!! A day early!

  9. I finished Meet Me in River’s Edge by Nan Reinhardt and loved it. Lovely believable romance and an interesting twist to the male protagonist.

    Also read The Only Purple House in Town by Ann Aguirre. Fabulous paranormal romance with lots of quirky characters. Much better than I expected. (I think I had read one by her years ago and was kind of meh about it, so this came as a pleasant surprise.)

    Currently reading the new Donna Andrews, Birder She Wrote. I’m loving it of course, but one of the things about her that amazes me the most is that this is (wait for it) book #33 in the series! And she hasn’t slacked off at all. Usually the later books in most series start to lose something. Or become repetitive. This is still a joy to read.

    1. That is pretty amazing! I was hooked on the Sara Paretsky murder mystery series, and the Alphabet murder mystery series at one time, and they seemed to get more and more grim and bloody toward the end. I finally couldn’t take the darkness and quit those books.

    2. I started the Meg Langslow series a couple of years ago due to your recommendation, Deborah. Once I surrendered to reading them out of order, I was totally hooked and have read a dozen or more. The series is now a go-to for fun and lighthearted fare, a special treat whenever they go on sale.

      I’m currently listening (each is marvelously narrated by Bernadette Dunn) to an early book, set before Meg and Michael married, No Nest for the Wicket. And I actually think that Donna Andrews is writing even better now that she was at the beginning of the series. I’m looking forward to Birder She Wrote and this year’s Christmas installment.

      Thanks to you and other Arghers for recommending.

  10. I read Night Flight to Paris by Cara Black. Quick read. Same main character as Three Hours in Paris, which I loved. The sequel is fine but narrative was less substantive and compelling as the first book.

    Also read The Benevolent Society of Ill-Mannered Ladies by Alison Goodman. Set in Regency England, MCs are twin sisters who are amateur detectives helping women in difficult circumstances. It’s a good read – on the light side but offers commentary on the position of women in various classes at the time. I’m looking forward to the sequel .

    I’m working my way through Edward Rutherford’s Paris. Not sure what my book club was thinking to put a nearly 1000 page novel on our list. Paris is one of my favourite cities and while it’s slow going, I’m enjoying it.

    1. I loved Benevolent Society, but I wouldn’t call it light although there is occasional humor. It’s definitely not typical regency stuff, but I enjoyed it very much.

  11. I started the week badly, with a series of samples I didn’t like enough to buy. Then I foolishly gave Katie Fforde another go, even though she stopped working for me a long while back. This one – A Wedding in Provence (from the library) – was set in the early 1960s, and started quite well, but then meandered for hundreds of pages with really no plot, and no actual relationship between the heroine and the hero. He just rescues her once. The setting – Mediterranean, mid century – made me think of Mary Stewart, and my week got MUCH better when I reread The Moonspinners. Really, a master storyteller – succinct; vivid world; characters you care about, with real problems; and fun.

    Followed that with Rest in Pink, which I liked even more than Lavender’s Blue. I think the trilogy format is ideal for the story. Each episode works on its own, but I loved the deepening relationships and the arc of the community. Plus it’s so much fun.

    Finished Pink this morning and am now back in Greece with Mary Stewart – this time This Rough Magic.

    1. I love Mary Stewart and have also given up on Katie FForde. I wanted to slap her main character repeatedly in the last one I tried. Trisha Ashley has a similar vibe without her heroine being tstl.

          1. Thornyhold, absolutely love it!

            Ok, so I’ve been out of commission with work/health issues for months, and when I come back, there are 2 new Crusies with a third ready to drop soon?!? Have I died and gone to heaven?! Loved Lavender’s Blue, starting Rest in Pink, at 2:42AM. Thank you, thank you, Jenny!

        1. Tricky. I’m not into Arthurian stuff, and I don’t think Thunder on the Right works, but otherwise they’re all pretty good. Kind of depends if you’d like to visit Skye (Wildfire at Midnight), France (Nine Coaches Waiting; Madam, Will You Talk) or Greece (the two mentioned above plus My Brother Michael). Then there’s the later one, on the Welsh Border: Touch Not the Cat. And a few more.

          1. I have no favorite Mary Stewart, an impossible choice, but I have a special fondness for Wildfire at Midnight because it’s the first one I read. For a while in high school I hunted for books that were published the year I was born.

          1. For me, too. My sister spent a summer in that area studying French and she kept saying, “I was there. It looks just like that!” And of course we both wanted to name our hypothetical sons Raoul.

        2. I really like the one with the female fantasy writer but I can’t remember the title! Anybody knows the one I mean.

          1. Really stumped, LN. Sorry. Only writer protagonist I can think of is the elderly narrator in the late novella, The Wind from the Small Isles, set on Lanzarote. Can you remember where it was set?

          2. Are you sure it’s a Mary Stewart? She did write a few for children that I haven’t read but for adults I don’t think any of them fit that description.

    2. I love Mary Stewart. Her settings are so evocative (I think of them more by their setting than their titles or heroines), also good action and believable heroines. They are, of course, pretty dated but that gives nice historical insight into those times!

    3. I love Mary Stewart’! Thank you for the reminder; I’m about due to reread her. Started with The Moonspinners in my teens (because of the Hayley Mills movie). I never got into Stewart’s Merlin series, but still have all 10 of her adventure/romances, and still reread them from time to time. Yes, they’re dated, but she’s such a good writer that the books are highly enjoyable and they’re an accurate reflection of those times. In spite of the sexist attitudes that still prevailed in the 60s and early 70s, her male characters are quite decent and the characters, the stories, the interactions are just terrific. I’m also thrilled to know about a new Connie Willis. Some of her books get to dark for me, but this one sounds perfect for my tastes. Already requested from the library, along with the new Donna Andrews! Oh boy.

        1. My Brother Michael is my absolute favorite. Simon Lester is my forever book boyfriend and I’m pretty sure I have like four different copies of that book.

    4. I agree with you about the trilogy being a great idea for the overall story and for the characters. I’m looking forward to Vermilion.

  12. I finally read the first Murderbot after hearing chat about the series here for ages. Looking for number two. I was at first bothered and then intrigued that the gender of Murderbot, if any, is left unspecified.

    1. Read on! I would call them Non Binary, but things change as time passes and they try to pass themselves as human.

    2. Yes! It makes for an interesting dynamic and commentary on personhood. I am hoping that Murderbot will change their preferred pronoun as they grow. I don’t like “it”.

    3. Murderbot is agender, preferred pronoun “it”. And Murderbot is quite uncomfortable when people try to force it into human norms.

      I love that about the series, gender is so wrapped into our ideas of personhood that I find myself misgendering Murderbot all the time, and Wells is really playing with those ideas although I’m not sure she realized how difficult readers would find the notion of an agender person. I’ve heard interviews with her and she seems quite bemused at all the fuss.

    4. I just re-listened to All Systems Red and am waiting for the next audiobook to become available in my library system. The narrator is wonderful.

  13. Ooh! I’ll get the new Connie Willis. I loved Blackout and All Clear so much that I refuse to read the last part of All Clear because I don’t want to say goodbye to the characters.

    Last night I started the first in Grace Burrowes’ Lord Julian Mysteries — A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times. Her romances are very good–her writing is truly lovely–but I’ve had enough of romances at the moment so I was overjoyed to see she had published a mystery. I had to put the book down halfway through only because I really needed some sleep.

  14. I stayed up too late reading Pink. Worth it, but I am tired!

    Forced myself to get through the audiobook of Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold. I’m glad I did—I was so horrified by the first 25% or so that I almost quit. However, the series gets such consistent rave reviews that I persisted. I’m glad I did—I like competence porn and team-building stories (hence my love for Leverage). Thumbs up from me.

    I also read a two-story anthology by an author I will not name. I hope it was free, because I will have to smack myself if I paid even 99 cents for it. I’ve read the author before and had the same reaction. I apparently don’t learn.

    Also rereading Murderbot, because, well, Murderbot!

    1. I encourage you to keep trying LMB as Falling Free, IMO, doesn’t really showcase
      her talent to best effect. The elements are there, but she hasn’t quite found the rhythm of the later books.

      1. It’s funny, I’m positing that (per the comment by KarenB above) Falling Free is part of the Vorkosigan series, even though I don’t see it as such. I guess it’s set in a shared fictional universe, but not really part of that continuing story.

        KarenB, if you haven’t read any of the series based on Vorkosigans themselves, I suggest you try “Shards of Honor.” My start point and that of a lot of others. It’s addictive.

        1. It’s in the Vorkosigan universe and worth reading for that. Shards of Honor is a better starting point, I agree. But for me it really all kicks off with Warrior’s Apprentice. If I hadn’t read that first, I don’t know that I would have read the others, enjoyable though they were. That’s the one that really pulled me into that universe and made me want the backstory.

      2. Totally agree – Falling Free was her weakest book. I recommend starting with Cordelia’s Honor.

        1. Although it’s midway in the series I suggest starting with memory. It’s the first one where you get away from the military stuff and while the really fascinating psychological stuff is in the military ones too I think it’s easier to take after you have ready the more civilian ones.

          But i really don’t like military books. Except hers. And so I tend to think that the best way to get in the series is when Miles is out of the military and read the earlier books later.

          Although I will say LMB has the best end to a war ever in Barrayar.

        2. One of my friends loves “Falling Free” and the quaddies but I think I only read it the once.

          “Cetaganda” might also be a good place to start. Its early chronologically but published later so more polished. A murder mystery caper rather than military sci-fi.

        3. The thing with LMB is that you can start in lots of different places but going chronologically from Shards of Honor gives you the whole of the story which is very satisfying.

    2. Thanks for all the comments! I’m going to try for chronological, but will recalibrate if whatever the next book is doesn’t grab me. (It’s on hold at the library.)

  15. Just finished The Love Hypothesis which I enjoyed. I liked the strong science/academia element and some of it was quite funny.

    Before that i gave up on a ballet romance (was supposed to be romance but there wasn’t a lot of it) about 60% in. It started very well but didn’t really go anywhere after the first third and I didn’t want to wait around till everything miraculously sorted itself out.

    Now I’m ready to start Pink which I’m excited about!

  16. Reread Lavender’s Blue. I missed some things, so glad I read it again. Started Rest In Pink. Stopped bc I want to read Vermillion immediately after reading Pink. Flying to Spain in September, rarely sleep on the plane, need books. Or I may just finish and reread Pink bf Vermillion. Probably.

    Read Stephanie Lauren’s Miss Prim…. A lot of extraneous explaining. Finished it, many pages skimmed or skipped. Moving on to Allingham. Always good.

  17. Another Good Book Thursday. I have That Serial and Rest in Pink and Wickedly Wonderful in progress. Also lots of YouTube and Netflix, especially Soon May the Wellermen Come. I’ve watched or listened to a dozen different renditions of the song my male and female singers and groups. It’s an earworm, for sure.

      1. Thanks for that. Oddly, it has NOT displaced Wellerman as my current earworm. Worse than searching for different singers is researching the song itself.

        There once was a ship that put to sea
        And the name of the ship was the Billy of Tea

        Different sites will print that as Billy O’Tea which makes me wonder if it was named after William O’Toole (for example), or if a billy is a unit of measure or of transportation. So I found this:

        The word “billy”, though, is interesting in terms of the song’s cultural context. Used mainly in Australia and New Zealand, it refers to a metal pot with a lid that is used outdoors for cooking over a fire.

        at The Marine Cafe Blog. Whatever. Wellermen is any man or ship working for the Weller Brothers, underweigh replenishment specialists. Tonguin’ isn’t as sexy as it sounds – it’s ripping strips of blubber off a whale carcass.

        I just listened to the bagpipe version.

  18. I listened to The Summer Skies by Jenny Colgan on Deb’s recommendation. Thanks, Deb, it was great. Very Jenny Colgan about the wonders of Scotland with lots of stuff about flying. Not my favorite of hers but solid.

    I also read The Undomestic Goddess by Sophie Kinsella inspired by all the talk of Kinsella here. Fun light read.

    I have started Rest in Pink. Thatcher is delightfully infuriating. Also enjoying Liz trying unsuccessfully to resist becoming part of a community.

    Also working my way through Colson Whitehead’s Crook Manifesto. That man can create vivid characters.

    1. I reread The undomestic goddess because I found out I had repurchased it on my Kindle back in 2013 as well as Twenties girl. I liked it well enough this time round but I really enjoyed Twenties Girl. The romance is what it is but the relationship between the Twenties Girls is absolutely lovely.

  19. Just finishing rereading Katie Macalister Dragon series. Rereading Lavender next so I can start on Pink.

  20. I finished Lavender with much enjoyment and sent it back to the library without rereading it again. (Though I will.) Now waiting for my library to acquire Pink. Then I had a powerful urge to read McKinley’s Blue Sword. I figured out this is because almost all the characters in it, even the obstructive ones, are pleasant. So many characters in LB, while fun to read about, would be extremely unpleasant to spend time around. I needed a palate cleanser.

  21. I am listening to Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. I am 3/4 of the way through and it is great. I am thinking about doing house cleaning or yard work just so I can finish it tonight instead of waiting until I walk tomorrow morning. 🙂

    I have Rest in Pink and I am really excited about it, but I am saving it for the weekend when work is not irritating me.

  22. Kinsellathon bulletin here: I read “Wedding Night” thoroughly this time, and based on this read, can see the virtues of it. The MCs are two 30-something sisters, and I found that it’s actually interesting to consider the relationship structures of sisters, which was the crux of this particular novel. The younger one is in a misty dream expecting a proposal from her long-term boyfriend, and when it doesn’t materialize, she basically consigns the relationship to the wastebasket, and gets caught up in a renewed friendship with an old flame.

    Meanwhile, the older sister, divorced from her young son’s dad and concerned for her sister’s wellbeing, starts interfering with the whole New Guy situation. Is she that concerned for the sister or kind of regretting her own lost marriage? Why is the younger sister so stereotypical and so lacking in self-awareness? Is the old flame a worthless unevolved hippie or a good guy somehow? Why was the younger’s long-term boyfriend so clueless about what his girlfriend was longing for? Is anything worth the scumbag act of reading your sister’s diaries to figure out how to foil her (stupid but well-intentioned) life plans?

    It’s a story that, in the end, did make me think, although I never came to any clear conclusions. It’s not the ‘Happy Ending of the Nice 20-Something’ that I’ve come to associate with Kinsella, but it did end happily for at least four of the five main characters eventually. Which is a pretty nice way to end a book that had kept me stopping mid-sentence over and over again for several weeks.

    1. But just wish to say, again, thank you to former lurker Hannah for setting me off on this reading path, because without her suggestion I don’t think I would have done it so thoroughly.

  23. I finished Lavender’s Blue. Pink arrives tomorrow when I will start reading it. (I prefer paper to ebook.)

    Because the post for spoilers for LB is closed, I’m going to make a few, hopefully non-spoilery comments here.

    Of course, I loved it! It was super helpful in providing me with a pleasant distraction when I needed one. I think my favorite parts were any conversation that included Anemone, even though I struggled with my sub-vocalization in trying to pronounce her name. Thank you for providing a clue in the book. I also loved Vince’s competence.

    I wondered why Liz doesn’t lock her car doors when she’s working, but it probably wouldn’t have made a lot of difference. Just a lot of pounding on the windows by her visitors.

    I did remember quite a bit of it from the postings here. I distinctly remember the bridal shower scene and had been anticipating it, but I saw in the other post it was one of the cut scenes. It was delightful to read the book straight through!

    One nit-pick, when Liz goes out to look at the front of JB’s and Peri asks about “Attempted Murder” (fun t-shirt!), I wondered how Peri would’ve seen it. Liz was outside wearing her hoodie, which she unzips in the next scene in the bar, so the t-shirt would’ve been covered plus Ohio in April was noted to be chilly. Not a deal breaker because maybe Liz had unzipped and rezipped it while outside.

  24. I have The Road to Roswell on hold at my library. Have been having it there for a while, but there are still people in front of me.
    Amanda Quick’s Wait Until Midnight – a part of my AQ re-reading project – was enjoyable. She always delivers.
    S.L. Prater’s Court of Tricksters (#1 in a series) and King of Tricksters (#2 in the same series) disappointed me. They were actually one story, arbitrarily cut in half in the middle of a scene and sold as two separate books. I dislike such practices, and consequently, disliked the story. I felt cheated.
    Sarina Bowen’s Bountiful was a solid contemporary romance. The guy was a professional hockey player with pots of money. The girl was a bartender. Of course, love bloomed between them. The story was as unreal as a fantasy tale with magic and dragons, but nice to read anyway. And a limited number of sex scenes kept it inside the bounds of good taste.
    Mimi Mathhews’s A Modest Independence was a Victorian romance. I was unusual for this writer: a road trip novel, in both literal and metaphorical senses. The heroes travel from England to India and back again, while embarking on an inner journey of mutual attraction and self-discovery. At some points, it was a bit boring, reading like a tour guide to India for Victorian travelers. At other points, it was heart-breaking, when the author delved into the characters’ emotional turmoils. The author hasn’t quite achieved a balance between the two, but she came close. I’m glad I read this novel.
    Mimi Matthews’s A Holiday by Gaslight was a sweet romance novella, very Christmas-y.

  25. I plan to put the road to Roswell on my library list. This week I finished Georgette Heyer’s false colors. Which I love. I have no idea how many times I have read it. I was waiting for rest in pink. Then it got here and I so wanted to start it but I’m having knee surgery on Monday and I thought that would be a great book for my recovery. So I finished Deb Blakes Baba Yaga short stories, also so much fun. Last week I read the only purple house in town and loved it so much that I picked up another one of her books. But it was nearly as much fun. I also read RB Dominic‘s the attendant physician, a re-read, but a much loved one. Then last night after I finished Deb Blakes book I started the Lord fine book from Ali THERIN. I didn’t think I was going to like it, because Lord fine had been a villain in her other books, but I do like it and I got halfway through it before I gave up for sleep. She has a sequel out and now I have to buy it. Yesterday was my free day, and I spent it trying to write a blurb for the witches garden good Lord, I suck at writing blurbs. Six hours and a very lame result. I’ll try again today , happy reading everybody

  26. I also just started the Road to Roswell. I read about 100 pages the first time I picked it up. It’s delightful. I hope nothing bad happens to Indy.

  27. Just looked for The Road to Roswell on Amazon UK, assuming there’d be an ebook version. No – it’s only available in hardback at £21.79. Lost me as a potential customer.

      1. Probably. But it’s bad publishing. There’s an ebook version for two-thirds that (still very expensive!) available in the US, and they’ve lost the initial publicity by delaying publishing over here. Plus I wouldn’t have thought Connie Willis’s market was into expensive hardback editions.

        1. I was curious so I checked Barnes and Noble and there’s an ebook there for $13.99. Which seems kind of steep to me. Sorry.

  28. I didn’t think it possible, but I have to say I love Rest in Pink even more than Lavender’s Blue. I won’t spoil it for anyone else, but the chapters with the car and garage made me weepy. And “porcupines in love” … snort.

  29. It’s been a good week for reading.
    My Kindle states that I’m 50% through Rest in Pink. Loving it and wondering What IS Faye’s problem? Looking forward to finding out.
    I also read Sharon Shinn’s The Shuddering City, Donna Andrews’ Birder, She Wrote and C.S. Harris’ Why Mermaids Sing and enjoyed all three very much.
    I echo Deborah Blake’s comment on Birder, She Wrote. It’s hard to believe this is the 33rd in the series!
    I can recommend the Sebastian St. Cyr books by C.S. Harris; Why Mermaids Sing is the third one in the series. The library hangs the labels of Mystery and Historical Fiction on the spines and I’d definitely agree with the mystery part. Historical Fiction seems to often describe “bodice rippers” at the library and praise be, this is NOT one of those. They are good reads.

    1. I enjoy them but there are some where the only way he solves the mystery is by finding dead body after dead body. A little more detecting would not come amiss.

      1. But it does seem to be the basic mode for lots of fictional “detectives” 🙂

        A few of authors have lampshaded this by having the MC confess they just blunder around until someone tries to kill them, thus revealing themselves – I always like that notion.

        My understanding is that IRL if the murderer isn’t obvious, the process of catching them is half painstakingly tedious work which probably wouldn’t make an enjoyable story, and half having the trust of the local community so that witnesses come forward.

        I like the St Cyr mysteries too, but was always grateful I started with #4 and worked backwards. My favourites are #1 “What Angels Fear” and #11 “When Falcons Fall”.

  30. Last week I mentioned Cloud White which I loved.
    It triggered am (incomplete) re-read of Could Ten and Claud Nine. I love staying in a community and the group of friends there feel nice. Particularly the realism that with partners, the dynamics change.
    On our cycling trip (we came back on Sunday) I didn’t really have the energy to read a lot, instead dh and I watched Heartstopper together: it’s educational for the teacher in him 😉
    Back home I dipped into a number of samples but dismissed most (e.g. one hockey romance where the NHL pro repeatedly couldn’t find the net when training shots on the goal? Most of the reviews on Goodreads were not promising, I felt confirmed in my feeling to delete the sample from my phone).
    On Tuesday, the new Lily Morton (French Fancies) dropped, so now I’m currently reading the story of Pip: He’s the PA of Jonas, the MC in book 1 of Lily Morton’s new series Model Clinic (FF is book 2). Pip is hilarious and “sassy” (read: talks without filter). He can come across as very annoying, but is meant to be lovable. In his own story, he’s recuperating from a long-ish illness, so his hyperactivity and formula-1-fast mouth are dimmed to readable levels. As the story takes place in the south of France and it’s even hotter in my city right now, it feels like the perfect summer read. Light and fluffy. Perfect to read near the public swimming pool (yes, I’m still on vacation and the cold water in my favorite swimming pool is the only thing that keeps me alive in this weather).

    1. Thanx, Jinx!! I always thought books for kids and teens had to be better written because of a tolerance towards pretentious BS. This might not hold true with every book. After immersing myself deeply in “high literature” for my advanced German lit class (A-levels) I stopped /actively refrained from reading “Literatur” for adults (at least in my own language).

      1. I did the same, Dodo, only it was for English language lit. (Never got beyond basic Kinderdeutsch as far as German went.) The older I got, the more conscious I became of the personality of the “Literature Author” trying his best to out-erudite everyone who might be reading or reviewing his extremely Serious and Important Work of Literature, and I found I didn’t like that personality and didn’t want to do him the courtesy of trying to believe in his persona. (I say ‘he’ because in my university days all high literature was by male authors. Writers like Jane Austen were little books to be read by girls in flowered armchairs — not important stuff at all.)

        1. I can’t believe you’re that much older than me! – and though the Oxford Eng Lit course was very old-fashioned (it stopped at 1945, and American Literature was only an option for one term; I chose the C18 novel instead), it definitely did not denigrate the few women writers. Of course, I was at a women’s college, but I don’t recall any misogyny in the university lectures.

          Totally with you on disliking modern (esp male) literary writers, though.

          1. Makes me realize how lucky I was to be taught by women, ten years later. But with you on the modern canon. Something happened from the later C19 on, I think, that introduced a ton of elitism and pretension into art, music and literature that until then had always had a basic intention to entertain: crafts were ‘elevated’ to high art.

        2. Very well put!
          Is the same for German authors (even though nowadays there’re pretentious females active, too).

          1. I guess I am talking about a combination of books and the attitudes of people who were writing or teaching about literature — my college professors (all male — and I was at a women’s college also); the literary masterpieces they steered us toward; and the Serious Fiction that was emerging at that time (the 1960s) and since that time. Grimness seemed to be a requirement. Humor was suspect. Wars and conflict and life-or-death situations were the norm, and I had the sense that they were considered the ONLY acceptable kinds of subject matter, at least if we wanted to continue our studies or teach others. Don’t get me wrong — I loved Tolstoy, admired American authors like Mark Twain, British authors like Dickens, and the artistry of some highly depressing poems like Eliot’s The Wasteland, but after my student days I was no longer motivated to read much of it. I wanted love and laughter and books that made me think about relationships and deep values and making things better. Which is why I’m here, with all you wonderful people! Sponsored by a writer I admire and love reading. What could be better really?

  31. This week I re-read ‘Hard Sell’ by Hudson Lin (one of the authors I met at Steamy Lit Con); M/M contemporary featuring best-friend’s-brother trope + a lot of Asian family drama + the MCs are both involved with a problematic tech company – one as a venture capitalist proposing a takeover, the other as a consultant proposing to fix the mess the company’s in. A solid book.

    Then there was new discovery M.A. Wardell and his debut, ‘Teacher of the Year,’ which I really loved. It’s a genuinely funny M/M rom-com featuring a kindergarten teacher and an aerospace engineer who happens to be the parent of a new student. If you read and liked ‘Charles’ by Con Riley, this one is similarly invested in the art and craft of teaching. Content alerts for anxiety and alcoholism.

    Then ‘Sounds Complicated’ by Frances Fox, a M/M rock-star-adjacent short; abuse/stalking backstory, D/s sex, I would have liked about 3x as much book but was content with what I got.

    Re-read KJ Charles’ ‘A Thief in the Night’ for about the 10th time.

    Re-read ‘Lavender’s Blue’ and then read ‘Rest in Pink,’ which I liked a lot. Was delighted with Molly’s big announcement. This one was quite suspenseful and while I said “oh honey, no” when Liz defied Vince about going to the place, I was glad she got her Wild West moment. The intro for book 3 put me in a small-town-politics rage but I trust Jenny & Bob to solve that shituation. 🙂

    Wrapped up the reading week on my lunch break with ‘Beyond the Gender Binary’ by Alok Vaid-Menon. A useful, short, Own Voices discussion of the subject.

    Part of me wants to stay on the computer and write, but a bigger part wants to go sprawl in the den enjoying the cool afternoon and reading another book.

  32. I really enjoyed Rest in Pink, great book. What a great collaboration. Molly’s opening up to Liz was great, in part because it all the characters’ reactions were so in line with their personalities. LOVE the postings from beyond the grave in the Burney Community News.

    My book club read was non-fiction read, Rough Sleepers by Tracy Kidders. It focuses on dedicated doctor doing outreach to hard core homeless in the streets of Boston. Interestingly he found the skill for non-judgmental listening that he gained working his way through medical school more useful than much of his technical training. I wanted insight for possible solutions (this is not that book), and more sympathy and understanding for a rapidly increasing problem (definitely achieved that). Think it will inspire interesting discussions, which is the main point of our book club. (plus food and wine, of course!)

    Reread Sheila Simonson’s Bar Sinister for escape romance and relaxation after Rough Sleepers.

    DNF the new T Kingfisher book (Thornhedge); I usually love her. This one, not so much.

  33. Maybe it’s time for me to reread the Sheila Simonson books . And Mary Stewart.

    I reread LB and read RIP and await a spoilers page.

    I reread Deep Magic and The Merlin Conspiracy and am now rereading Dark Lord of Derkholm.

    I haven’t started Thornhedge yet but I plan to.

    And I am dipping into various Josephine Tey books from time to time.

  34. Have been glomming “Person of Interest” so haven’t read much other than some meh and dnf.

    Exception was a good MCU fanfic on Ao3 which is about how history is written called “Steve Rogers at 100” by eleveninches et al. The conceit is that, in the 100 years that Captain America was on ice, people made films about his life because of course they did, and so its a bunch of film reviews, posters etc. It made me wish for a screenplay, and a French movie that never existed. Enjoyed it.

  35. SPOILERS for The Road to Roswell and Lavender’s Blue.

    I read Lavender’s Blue twice as soon as I received my paperback.

    I read The Road to Roswell twice in early August. Then my husband and I started our road trip from Massachusetts to a train convention in Denver, CO, that starts next week. (We’re currently in Silverton, CO.) I read The Road to Roswell aloud to my husband over the first week of the trip.

    Before I read Road to Roswell aloud, I thought it was a better organized action-adventure-romance than Lavender’s Blue was a small town romance murder mystery. However, I learned a lot from reading aloud. Now I think Lavender’s Blue’s strength is that it attempts to accomplish a lot more than Road to Roswell. Both books are great, but Lavender’s Blue goes farther in making its female protagonist develop and change.

    Francie in R to R is instantly appealing because she takes responsibility for others, beginning with Serena, then extending to Indy. Francie’s ability to respond to someone/thing needy and do her utmost to help her/it drives her actions through the story. Ultimately, Francie convinces the alien officials that a happy ending works for them, Indy, and the Earth Humans.

    Liz Danger, like Francie, is a fixer. Lavender’s Blue starts as Liz approaches her home town to resolve an undefined problem concerning her mother. But Liz has a personal history which is complicated and unresolved: all the strength she has gained by leaving home years earlier is threatened if she returns to the people of her youth.

    Francie doesn’t change from the beginning to the end of R to R. In fact, the story ends abruptly, leaving the reader to decide whether or not Indy will cause everything that has been achieved to be ruined. Personally, I think Connie Willis couldn’t decide how to end the story, so she left it hanging. Most readers will anticipate more adventures that conclude happily. Yet, another interpretation could be that Indy is like a willful child who needs controls on its behavior; Francie has not fixed things for Indy, she has only raised the stakes.

    Liz Danger can only fix things if she learns some truths, if she takes responsibility for who she has been and who she is, and if she finds new ways of interacting — whether it means setting boundaries or opening herself up to new possibilities. Liz’s story is much messier than Francie’s, but Liz’s is more satisfying.

    Finally, Connie Willis’s stories are magnificent, yet, of the ones I’ve read, those that handle romance better are the ones with a male protagonist, such as To Say Nothing of the Dog. Willis likes to tell stories in which a young woman can’t tell a young man that she’s romantically attracted to him. Take a Look at the Five and Ten, like Road to Roswell, denies the young woman the possibility of expressing herself.

    I think Francie is hampered by her lack of change. On the other hand, Liz is rewarded for taking risks, making mistakes and learning from them, and, at least as far as book 1 of the series goes, being herself in her attraction to Vince. Maybe Jenny Crusie has an easier time than Connie Willis in making the romance happen in LB because Liz seems far older than Francie — certainly, Liz has more life experience.

    Hey, thanks for letting me go on about this. I’m so obsessed with these two great books that I’ve been dreaming about the characters from both. My husband and I have concocted what we feel is a better ending for Road to Roswell. Fun times!

    1. I think I just liked them all crammed into that camper with Lyle. And an alien that looked like a tumbleweed.

      One of the things you have to do when you write a novel is, at some point, ask yourself “What the hell is this novel about?”

      For me, for Lavender, it was Liz coming to terms with a past that was too painful to think about, which she can finally do over the course of three books because she has Vince back her up. Without Vince and the romance, Liz doesn’t’ grow or change.

      I bought that Francie and Wade were falling in love, but it was peripheral to the main story, which wasn’t really a romance at all. For me, the story was about Francie and the alien, trying to get to where Indy needed to go. The characters were all interesting, the places they stopped on the road were all colorful and exciting for one reason or another, and it was always colorful and moving. That was enough. It didn’t have the emotional depth of the Five and Ten, but it was a lot of fun. I’ve written enough lot-of-fun books without much depth to understand that sometimes, that’s where you’re going.

      But another aspect is that I’ve had three books to arc Liz and the Liz-and-Vince relationship, and that’s a lot of room to stretch my writing chops on. Sometimes you don’t have the page real estate to really dig down into the story, but in this case, I had acres of it. That makes a big difference.

      1. Thank you, Jenny. I like your point about paying attention to what the author is doing. Yes, Willis was taking me on an hilarious roller coaster ride.

        I can’t wait to read Rest in Pink — having some issues with Amazon, so might use my daughter’s account to buy it.

  36. Do any of us need reasons to reread old books?

    If you said “Yes.” or are just curious about what James Davis Nicoll of Tor Books has to say on the subject, cjeck out Why Read Old Books on the Tor/MacMillan web site. The summary includes:
    Remembrance of things past

  37. I love Good Book Thursday threads, there’s always so much good stuff. I’m reading along going “hooray, Jenny loved Roswell as much as I did” and “huh, I just picked up My Brother Michael to re-read” and also “why have I not read Libriomancer when I loved Space Janitors so much?”

    I am late posting because it took me this long to finish Rest in Pink (thanks back to school). I loved so many things in that book, the way Vince acts on the things that are important to Liz made for multiple stand out “this is how you show romance” moments. Then I had to go check the release date to see how long until Vermillion. Very glad you guys plan to revisit Burney after that, too.

  38. Connie Willis is the best! I can see how you like her books – you both write good stories with your tongues firmly planted in your cheeks. The Road to Roswell is lots of fun, and the ending after the resolution is a hoot, IMO. Some of the comments’ criticism is probably correct, but when it’s her, I tend to overlook issues.

    I’m so glad I found Rest in Pink, then squirrelled my way through the internet. I didn’t realize you had new work being published. A couple weeks ago I read Manhunting and was mourning the lack of new books from you. I was excited to find I was wrong.

    1. I just finished Riad to Roswell, and I’m going to need some help to understand the ending? Was it meant to basically open up ANOTHER can of worms regarding…SPOILER ALERT: time travel?

  39. hi, sorry I was gone so long, I kept reading but sorry to say I turned out to be a robot. I hope this works

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