This is a Good Book Thursday, September 28, 2023

This week I am still reading How Magicians Think by Joshua Jay because I am mostly working until I drop and then I sleep. But it’s a great book and I’m underlining like crazy, not just because it’s going to be so useful for both Rocky Start and Haunting Alice, but because the analogy between how magicians think and how writers think is strong. Probably more on that later since I’m fascinated by that.

In the meantime, what good book did you read this week?

139 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, September 28, 2023

  1. I enjoyed/loved the hockey trilogy Hockey Ever After by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James – finished Scoring Positions and Winging it. Looking forward to book 4 to come out sometime in 2024.

    Since last week I got the chance to “Stuff your/my Kindle”, a huge number of ebooks have been added to my tbr pile.
    One dud (a Western romance) among them was skimmed and deleted fast. The language was interesting (very drawly): one thing that put me off fast was the insta love among the MCs, an ex-con and a deputy sheriff. It riled me up because – talk aobut imbalance of power! How could the ex-con on probation stop the energetic advances of the person of authority?

    Also a meh was the new Brigham Vaughn. Yes, Tammy, you were right in being sceptical. I didn’t like the writing style from the start. Too choppy for my taste, also I didn’t like any of the MCs. But tastes vary.

    Now reading the new Lisa Henry (Amazing Alpha Tau BF Project). The start was less enchanting (I don’t get drinking to excess), but I’m not far enough into it to judge. A friend was underwhelmed though I liked the prequel novella she didn’t like at all, so I’m curious if my experience will be different to hers too.

    Also, will likely get the audiobook of Rachel Reid’s new one Time to Shine. Another hockey book, so likely most of you other Arghers will have got allergic to my posts already.

    Kid no. 2 has been sucked into sports books by her evil mom, but would like to get less recs for hockey and more for football (i.e. soccer). I’ve found only two YA novels (I like me better, Don’t hate the player) so far.

    So: if any of you have recommendations, please help!!

    1. An older one is “The ABC’s of Kissing Boys” by Tina Ferraro. Its been years since I read it so I’m not sure how it holds up but I thought it was cute and engaging at the time.

    2. I haven’t read the new Lisa Henry yet but don’t give up on her if this one isn’t to your liking. She basically writes something for everyone who reads M/M romance. A wide variety of content and style.

      1. That’s true: when I first tried Lisa Henry, I was rather turned off due to the amount of violence and suffering she put her MCs through. Then a friend steered me towards the 2 Men Station which was lovely.

        So far The Alpha Tau is not bad: reading the prequel smoothed me into the book itself.

        1. Her faux regency series is also lovely without all the violence and suffering. Or her fake dating series which is quite fun.

        2. Also, just wanted to note — NOT allergic to your posts, even though I don’t think I’ll ever read a sports-oriented book. Allergic to sports, basically.

          1. That’s sweet, Jinx!
            I’m often fascinated by activities totally outside my skill set/abilities. Hence former passions for – reading about/watching – ballet, horse racing (thanks, Mr. Francis), circus acrobatics, acting, etc. now hockey

      2. That’s sweet, Jinx!
        I’m often fascinated by activities totally outside my skill set/abilities. Hence former passions for – reading about/watching – ballet, horse racing (thanks, Mr. Francis), circus acrobatics, acting, etc. now hockey.

        1. Tammy, I’ve finished Tau Alpha, the new Lisa Henry. Totally unrealistic, very unbelievable, but I found it charming nonetheless. A friend of mine was very disappointed, but I wasn’t too much.
          Reminded me a bit of the Frat vs Nerd series by Easton/Lain, which I liked a bit better b/c more drive.

    3. I just saw a B&N email promoting what I think was a YA romance between 2 young women that were playing soccer. Unfortunately I don’t remember the title, etc. I tried searching for soccer romance on the B&N website and got 20 results, none of which was the one that I recalled. But clearly they are out there.

      1. Oh I finally found it! It’s Cleat Cute by Meryl Wilsner. It’s billed as a “rival to lovers rom com for fans of Ted Lasso and A League of Their Own.” No idea if its any good. If you read it, let me know! Lol.

    4. I read, and enjoyed, “The Year We Hid Away,” which is a F/M hockey romance that I’m fairly certain someone here recommended. Thanks!

        1. Her first book in the series “the year we fell down” m/f between two injured hockey players is even better

          1. I loved them both. The third one is really good, too, and then she did one with a guy who was accused of rape and didn’t do it, and rape is one of my nopes, especially if it undercuts the vast majority of rape accusations that are real. I couldn’t even start it.

            But the first three are great.

          2. Jenny, I was hesitant about the rape book, bit I think she handled it well. Why it came to the false accusation and hiw inept handling by the authorities can be harmful to anyone involved.

          3. Jenny, A former student of mine was accused of rape in college. The school’s process was brief, did not allow any legal representation, and did not reveal its evidence or the reason the decision was made against him. It really destroyed him. So, while I agree that women are only newly being taken seriously with rape claims, I believe that private institutions like colleges (and churches, among other places) need to have such matters handled by the state judicial system. It’s too easy to automatically blame the guy, just as it was too easy in the past to automatically blame the woman.

          4. I also liked book 4 “The Shameless Hour” and Bella’s joyful attitude towards sex. Books 1-4 were great, plus the novella collection “Extra Credit”.

            Agree with all the comments about book 5. Its interesting to read about the exception, but it feeds into rape myths and I didn’t think she quite pulled it off.

          5. That one worked for me as well, but maybe it was because I am a millennial and the fake rape accusation was a new perspective for me. Also, I don’t remember knowing about it when I started it.

            I tend to be militant in my beliefs and it was a good reminder to try to keep an open mind. I knee jerk to automatically support someone claiming rape.

            And my husband had a similar situation with an ex after a bad break up, though not as extreme. It took him years to tell me about it and explained several fights we had. Anyway, it’s not something I would pick up, but Bowen did it with care.

        2. This whole discussion is reminding me on an excellent series I watched a little while ago, “Unbelievable” with Toni Collette and Merritt Wever. I wonder if I still have access to it …

      1. I know there are people who falsely cry rape but I don’t want to read about it while it is still excruciatingly painful for true victims to get justice.

        I threw The Art Of Racing In the Rain across the room & will not pick it up again because of that.

  2. I am still reading Vermilion, because I am slow and my life isn’t conducive to finishing things. Love the murderbot reference btw.

    And I have wandered off from several audiobooks. It’s probably me, not them. I can’t seem to settle into anything.

      1. I generally prefer the ‘why choose’ trope and go full reverse harem. But honestly it might be them. I am just not connecting…

  3. I finished listening to Janitors of the Apocalypse. A thoroughly satisfying series. One last anecdote: I love the Prodryans, a war-loving alien race who have never learned to lie well, and say things like: “We are exploring the galaxy on a science mission. We are not here secretly to learn about your weapons your fighting capabilities so that we can conquer and enslave all your planets to our will.”

    I read another of theundiagnosable’s books on A03 – holy heck this was well written, totally free to all readers and really should be published – not fanfic, original characters – bittersweet with an HEA, two lovely characters and a totally different take on the betting trope:

    Also still chasing down the fix for my Charlie Adhara addiction and tried Temporary Partner by Nicky James. I take back everything I said about Canadians not being sexy; it really wasn’t half bad. I’ll continue this series.

    I read The Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel by KJ Charles – nothing to add to what everyone has said here; it’s another winner by this oh so dependable writer.

    And finally – I was about to read Bob and Jenny’s book when…one of my favourite hockey writer’s book was released, A Time to Shine, and I could not help myself! It’s hockey! Rachel Reid self-identifies as “writing cute smut about hockey” and that pretty much describes this one. Utterly delicious. Okay Vermillion is next, I promise.

    1. I’m still pondering if I should dish out 20 Euro for the paperback of Time to Shine or get it as audiobook. Both would be available to kid no. 2 (yes, I’d like to get the hockey hook deeper into her…).

      1. It’s that good all the way through. It was being released chapter at a time and Jen+B said Discord were losing their minds over it.

      2. Two types of sacrifices also recommended by Tammy is very good too and for a change, it is m/f instead of m/m!

          1. Anyone of you read “Icebreaker”? It’s a romance between a hockey player and an ice skater (m/f) and it has flooded the bookshops here.

            After reading the sample, I was rather turned off.

            Am curious if anyone here has read it and what you thought.

          1. Wow, and I was complaining about the prices on… but 5,40 Euro for the ebook is reasonable compared.

  4. A couple of good books this week. “Strange Practice” by Vivian Shaw: Good fun urban fantasy with likable principals, even if I missed half the references. Thanks to Lian Tanner & Fretful Porpentine for the recc.

    “Running With Scissors” by LA Witt: an m/m rock romance, one of the better rock romances I’ve read. I rather liked that this band manages to both have and manage conflict, and that AJ and Jude manage to have adult conversations. Ms Witt doesn’t always work for me but this one left me feeling happy and wishing it wasn’t a stand-alone. (And that it didn’t include smoking – why do authors do that?)

    Also read “Some Deaths Before Dying” by Peter Dickinson. I’ve only ever read his sff before so I was quite surprised to find myself reading a crime novel. The protagonist being paralyzed with MND and under palliative care was also surprising but I think it worked as she was very strong-willed and not at all tragic. I was less sure about the original crime.

  5. I was inspired by Lavender’s Blue, Rest in Pink, and One in Vermillion to try some new books mentioned here. So I ordered Thus Was Adonis Murdered, In Calabria, Bellwhether, and a new copy of Doomsday Book (can’t find my old one). Also, the new Bruno, Chief of Police, book came out a couple of weeks ago. (My husband grabbed Bruno and is now seriously over-eating.)

    So far, Thus Was Adonis Murdered was not my style: too cutesy with over the top writing involving an in-group of dumb lawyers.

    On the other hand Bellwhether was lots of fun: a quick read in which Connie Willis’s eye is on what causes a fad. The answer involves a riot of fads and the history of fads with some chaos theory thrown in. Management is my favorite bad guy right now. Not her best — Doomsday Book, To Say Nothing of the Dog, and several of her short stories — and not as good as Road to Roswell — but a much faster read and definitely satisfying. If you’ve ever been stuck in a meeting where Management is determined to ruin you life and livelihood while calling it “sensitivity training” . . . .

    1. Same! I was up until 1 am. I just finished reading and posting on the spoilers post and writing and posting reviews for Vermillion on Amazon and Goodreads.

  6. I’m reading my last library book before starting the Jenny/Bob trilogy. Started it last night –“Witch King” by Martha Wells. I really like it, but the persistent danger/violence makes it hard to read at night before sleeping. My last-thing reading for awhile before that was a re-read of “Lake Silence”, which always delivers peace and quiet before sleep. Even though the protagonist is consistently in danger from the Bad Guys, she has very very powerful allies in the background — allies she doesn’t even know about at first, but who save the day over and over.

    Only 341 pages of Witch King to go before Lavender. Can I hold out? is what I’m asking myself these days.

    1. Thanks for that review, Jinx. I had that on my list, but I do not do well with “persistent danger/violence”

        1. (which is why I haven’t finished Vermillion. I keep having to go read something less tense.)

          1. Deborah below, it doesn’t help a bit to know how it ends (I read spoiler threads). Jenny and Bob are such good writers the tension is there anyway.

      1. The main character is in the process of rehabbing a Victorian lake vacation spot in an imaginary Finger Lakes-region small town. She received the property as her share of a crappy divorce, and her first lodgers turn out to be shifters who are trying out the human form but who are actually crows. Whose naivete is heartwarming. And she’s formed human friendships in the town which are very sustaining, plus more and more of the otherworldly shifter population who are behind her 100%, even though she only gradually begins to realize how many of them there are. So she’s safe throughout the book and the only violence happens to people who turn out to be self-centered villains. I find “Lake Silence” very comforting.

      1. Well, I decided not to finish Witch King, because after the nice impossible escape of allies in the first chapter, I could see what people mean about the jumping around in time periods. Plus, the setting is really really complicated — a series of different nations/clans in a middle eastern-type locale, the demon layer, the airwalkers, the Hierarchs, the something-something…Expositors? Compositors? Sentient tortured whale-gastropod floating ships? There is just too much work to follow and understand the context of what is there to be read, and I can’t focus that hard and continuously at night in bed after work. Has not exterminated my huge admiration for Martha Wells, though.

  7. I’m reading Peter S. Beagle’s SUMMERLONG. (In my search for magical realism books I came across this one.) It is really well written, but I’m not sure I’m enjoying it, if that makes sense. There’s something about it that puts me on edge. I suspect it is supposed to.

    1. I started Summerlong, but was also unsettled. To be fair, I love his work and he has never left me somewhere I didn’t want the story to go, but I was faint of heart and didn’t finish it. Tamsin is good spooky fun though. More of a modern ghost story than magical realism though.

  8. I’m in the middle of Lavender’s Blue right now. Unfortunately it’s a work day, so it will have to wait till later.

    I just finished Lady Tinbough’s Dilemma by Clare Jayne — historical mystery, free! on Amazon, Edinburgh, late 1700s. I thoroughly enjoyed the two main characters and just bought the next one.

    Also am reading The Regency Underworld for research. I don’t usually have the patience for much research, but this one is an interesting read. Just found out, for example, that there was a kind of bull run in Bethnal Green in the 18th C. It would make a great scene for a book, except that I wouldn’t be able to write the horrible way they treated the poor bullock. Ugh. Humans are so barbaric.

    1. I usually look in index for research but I am reading Mayfair (History of) by Carol Kennedy like it’s a novel. It’s delicious! The research is very different from the Regency romances!

  9. I’m still working on Vermillion, as well as a re-read of The Two Towers, by JRR Tolkien. I started re-reading LotR a few weeks ago, along with listening to The Prancing Pony Podcast. They (the hosts) are fun to listen to but they only cover a few pages at a time so I am always way ahead of them.

    1. Oooh. We rewatched the movies lately. Maybe I will listen to the Fellowship of the Ring. That has a good autumn vibe.

  10. I just finished Grave Expectations by Alice Bell in which the main character attempts to solve a murder mystery aided by her best friend who is a ghost. It’s on the humorous side (think shades of Scooby-Doo) with a touch of pathos because among other things the MC is having trouble adulting and is also somewhat inept at sleuthing. This is a debut novel which I enjoyed it enough that I will be looking for the author’s next book.

  11. My earlier recommendation of Neil Sharpson’s When the Sparrow Falls struck no resonance, but: The jacket bio mentioned his blog, The Unshaved Mouse, which I checked out . Not a book, but by now more than book length. He started out by reviewing all the Disney animated feature films, and when he ran out of those, started in on the DC Cinematic Universe. I read backwards on the DC films for a while and then went back to the beginning and started on the Disney. He has a snarky style reminding me of John Scalzi. I can only read a few in a row at a time, but they are amusing and entertaining.

  12. My own editing error: I meant to conclude my Sharpson comments with “informative and entertaining.” (They’re amusing too, but not what I meant to say!)

  13. I’ve discovered audio nonfiction books – I don’t fancy listening to fiction (I want to hear it in my own head), but I’ve found that listening to nonfiction that I keep borrowing from the library but never get around to reading is perfect!

    So, this week I listened to (I’m also reading fiction, don’t worry) 488 Rules For Living by Kitty Flanaghan. If you have watched Fisk, you already know her. If you haven’t watched Fisk (set in my home city, complete with trams), you’re missing out.

    Anyway, her Rules are funny, like hanging out with a friend and complaining about all those people who just don’t do things properly :-). Reading the book means you miss out on her voice and comic timing; go for the audio! There’s also a follow up for enthusiasts, with additional rules for the pandemic.

  14. I read Elon Musk, which explained a lot. I have a bit more empathy for him now, even though he has zero empathy for anyone. There are reasons for the way he is, but I’m still not going on X. The book was highly readable and made me think about real world problems. Then I (re)read The Talisman Ring by Heyer, a rec here last week, as a palate cleanser. It was wonderful. Again.

  15. I can recommend Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, which is a delight to read. Vera sounds like she’s going to be a pain in the ass in the beginning, but keep reading because she adopts a pack of potential murderers as new family members and it’s adorable.

    I read Birds of California, which wasn’t bad, but really needs to openly drop its Big Plot Bomb earlier than the last few pages of the book. Good read but not quite what I expected.

    Good Fortune by C.K. Chau (NYC Chinatown 90’s (?) version of Pride and Prejudice) was just okay, I can’t really explain why.

    1. Oh man, I just started Vera Wong, and so far I already love her. The author’s hilarious, and the way she writes Vera’s mindset really jives with a lot of the elderly East Asians I know (you can’t tell from my name, but I’m half Asian myself)

  16. I finished To the Hilt (Dick Francis) on audio. To my surprise I liked it less than I remembered. The hero was a bit too perfect and there was a bit more political option than I like (or maybe i just didn’t agree with it!).
    As remembered though, I liked the painting bits, and the Scottish scenes and most of it was fun enough. Oddly, though published in 1996 I felt it had more of a 1970s feel despite ‘portable’ phones and electronic money transfers.

    In actual reading, I managed a few more chapters of Vermillion and I’m hoping i can get a good chance to read it (and maybe finish it) at the weekend.

  17. I finished my chronological reading of Mary Wesley’s books and then reread Patrick Marnham’s biography of her, « Wild Mary ». I remember it as being very good and, this time, having reread her adult novels just before (apart from the first one « Jumping the queue » which I remember as way too depressing to reread), I found it even more engrossing.

    So I am happy I reread all these books, they really made me think and it was interesting to see how differently I read them this time round.

  18. I read A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel and really enjoyed it. Including the tangential riff on the set-up of The Unknown Ajax (unknown heir, low-class mother, major in the army, etc, etc – and, of course, the same location). They’re completely different in atmosphere, even though they’re both romcoms with mystery plots.

    I’ve been rejecting loads of samples since, so happy to have found Tammy’s AO3 recc, especially since I’m feeling nesh. And still struggling to see the wood for the trees in the research project I’m trying to organize.

  19. I got reminded of a paperback I read in my childhood called Dancer’s Luck (which, owing to the font on the cover, I frequently misread as Danger’s Luck). It was a space opera with elements of romance, and I remember enjoying it immensely. I also remembered that it was clearly a sequel to another book, which always bothered me because I picked it up at Half Price Books and so I never found the first one in the series.

    Turns out it’s the second in a series of four: The Concord Series, by Elizabeth Lowell, and the whole series is available on Kindle for about $20. So now I *have* read the first one, I’m re-reading the second one, and I have two more to look forward to!

    1. The Fire Dancer series was originally written under her Ann Maxwell penname. I really liked that series back in the day. Not sure if it would hold up now because, from what I recall, the young female character’s relationship with the older adult male character’s relationship could be construed as heading for problematic waters. Will need to reread to see if I’ve got it all wrong. Maxwell also wrote a couple of other standalone fantasies as well as a mystery series, the Fiddler and Flora mystery series, which I really liked too. Will also need to reread that to see how it holds up. Thanks for the reminder!

      1. If I remember correctly, she wrote the Fiddler and Fiona mysteries with her husband. A. E. Maxwell stood for Ann and Evan Maxwell. I think I read all of the mysteries under that name, but only the Fiddler and Fiona series stuck in my memory.

        1. You are right about Evan Maxwell being a co-author. I forgot to give him the credit due. Thanks for remembering! 🙂

    2. I read those years ago and re read the trilogy recently. There were some problematic parts but overall still good story. However there really isn’t a resolution to the series. According to reviews book 4 doesn’t change that so there are lots of unanswered questions.

      1. I always hoped there would be a sequel. The Maxwells certainly left a large number of plot lines dangling.

  20. Read The Holiday Heartbreaker (Maisey Yates) and I don’t even care how many holiday romances I’ve read before it was even officially fall, it’s that kind of year. Wonderful book, loved it, 12/10 would go on a sleigh ride with it.

  21. I read John Scalzi’s new book, Starter Villain. It was moderately amusing. I liked the main character, and the cats.

      1. It’s hard to say without committing any spoilers. I just thought the plot was a bit weak. And while I did like the main character, and the cats, the rest of the characters I found rather weak as well. It’s not bad. I just didn’t think it was up the the standards of Scalzi’s other books. Your mileage may vary of course.

  22. I read Melt for you by J. T. Geissinger. It was pretty good till 50% & then it got into a meandering mode. The dialogue was fun, the MMC was wonderful but the FMC was forgettable. Her inner monologue had a lot of constant self hate and the MMC was determined to put a stop to this. The best way to describe the FMC is Grumpy cat.

    I also read Always Practice Safe Hex by Juliette Cross & it was fantastic. The world building was unique. The story was fast paced and all the supporting characters were great. The story had some unexpected sequences and the trope of found famiky was done really well. The MMC was a grim reaper and a mysterious creature.. He was strong, smart, wicked, protective…all the good stuff. The FMC was perceptive, caring, strong & driven. The banter between these two was excellent.
    I’m looking for other books in the series.

    1. Safe Hex sounded intriguing. I think the paper copy comes out in January and I will check it out then! Thanks for the recc.

  23. Been a, life/work…..reading!

    Wedding Toasts I’ll Never Give/Calhoun…I want to give this to anyone who is married/partnered…or thinking about getting married/partnered…Short essays from a columnist about what living with someone longterm and committed means…in the wittiest way ever. Gems such as “You Pay for Their Mistakes…They Pay for Yours” and “The Boring Parts” All ultimately positive and So enjoyable!

    A short fantasy oldster: Black Unicorn/Tanith Lee. Desert princess, daughter of a witch coming of age through a road trip. Super rich world-building and writing. First of three novellas. Quick read. I also like Lee’s fairy tale retellings.

    My Fair Captain/Langley. This was a rec from this group ages ago – so thank you. I was finally in the mood for it: M/M exiled lord now space captain and youngish artist. It was light and fast and a nice space/regency planet romp.

    Christie Re-Read: A Murder is Announced. Marple. Perfect. The 2 television adaptations also great.

    And I re-read some Megan Derr M/M shorts in her Once Upon a Dream. Which brings me to my request – the run up to the holidays is going to be brutal work wise and reading time short.

    Does this kind group have any great recommendations for novellas and/or short story collections, M/M, M/F, F/F, not necessarily holiday-themed, in fact preferably non-holiday themed? Thanking you in advance 🙂

    1. I’m sorry, this ended up in the spam folder and I just found it. NO idea why it ended up in there.

  24. Mercedes Lackey’s Boundaries (2021) was one of the better Valdemar anthologies. I liked many stories in it, although none of them were truly outstanding.
    Jessie Mihalik’s Capture the Sun didn’t work for me. I wanted to read this book so much (I generally enjoy this author), but my expectations were totally thwarted. Too much sex, too much nasty politics, not enough story. And the heroine is a thief, mean and cold. I abhor thieves on principle. They are all villains in my view. I don’t understand why some writers try to portray them as noble sufferers or some such. They take what doesn’t belong to them. Robbing people is a filthy crime and should be punished by law, not rhapsodized about in fiction.
    Malka Older’s The Mimicking of Known Successes was a strange book, a mush-up of genres. The main line is mystery. The place setting is scifi – a human colony on Jupiter, hundreds of years after Earth became uninhabitable and humanity was forced to abandon it. The two protagonists are two women: the investigator Mossa and the scholar Pleiti. They have been lovers once, but parted years ago. Their complex relationships (current and former) color this short book, put it into the LGBT category, although they don’t add anything to the plot. And to stir the mix even more, the story has a distinct Sherlock Holmes vibe. It should’ve worked, but it didn’t, not for me. It might work for someone else though.
    In between the new books, I re-read Michelle Diener Class 5 series. Those were predictably delightful.

  25. I’m still reading Ed Yong’s An Immense World, and recommend it highly to anyone who is interested in the natural world. It’s all about the way different species use different senses, and there’s mind blowing stuff on every second page. One of the reviews says, ‘A stunning achievement – steeped in science but suffused with magic’ and that’s exactly what it is.

    I’m also currently besotted with RJ Barker’s The Bone Ships, an exquisite fantasy set in a world where two perpetually warring sets of islands build their ships out of the bones of dead dragons. (Which makes it sound a bit like Robin Hobb’s Liveship books, but it’s nothing like them.) I found it a bit slow to get into, but had such strong recommendations that I kept going, and now I’m repeating those recommendations. The world building is wonderful, as are the characters, particularly the bird.

      1. Sadly, it’s almost 10 Euros for the ebook on

        Oh well, there’s always the reading sample.

  26. Okay, I saw this this week and immediately thought of you guys. (And why might that be?) Hunter Hammersen has published a pattern on Ravelry for knitted tentacles. You really should check them out. (Here: )

    I really love two things about this pattern. First, she has named the pattern “Gripping”. Second is the following description she gives on the pattern page:

    “Nope. Nope I cannot bring myself to try to convince you that you need knitted tentacles in your life. This is not the sort of belief anyone is persuaded to hold. Either you come to know of the existence, nay the mere possibility, of knitted tentacles and you are instantly and inescapably gripped by the urge to make an entire swarm of them. Or you are not.”

    Plus, they are kind of cute. Note that unlike previous tentacle mentions on this blog, these are completely PG.

  27. I mentioned I finished Vermillion.

    On audio, I’m listening to Four Thousand Weeks by Oliver Burkeman. I’m 40% done. The premise is on average a person has only 4,000 weeks to live. So, we need to accept that even though we’re told we can have/do it all, we really can’t and we have to make decisions. Once decided on a route, let go of what you won’t be able to do so you can enjoy what you’ve chosen to do.

  28. I read Vermillion and also The Thursday Murder Club. I had tried the latter (on audio) when it first came out and had DNFed it. I can’t imagine why. It is really delightful and very witty.

    1. I also read Vermillion and listened to the latest Thursday Murder Club, The Last Devil to Die. I found both to be the best of their series so far.

  29. I’m listening to the second book in an epic fantasy series, even though I don’t particularly like epic fantasy, but it’s narrated by the woman who narrates the Lady Sherlock series and her husband, and I find their voices soothing even when they’re describing battles. Plus, my head is foggy from allergies, and the plot moves so slowly that I can zone out for half an hour at a time and nothing important has happened (or if it has, it’ll be cogitated over a dozen more times, so I’ll get the gist of it before long), so I don’t have to rewind and start over. Perfect for my current state of concentration (or lack thereof). So, not what I’d normally call a good book per se, but it’s good for me at the moment.

    1. Sounds perfect for your current less than ideal state (I hope the allergies get better soon and you’ll feel fine again!), but the series doesn’t sound great if it sloggs that slowly…

  30. I finished “One in Vermillion” and really liked it. It was a satisfying conclusion to Liz’s and Vince’s story. I’m now eagarly anticipating “Rocky Start”, especially after the teaser chapter.

    After reading someone’s recommendation for “The Perfect Crimes of Marian Hayes” by Cat Sebastian, I got the series and finished the first book in the series – “The Queer Principles of Kit Webb”. I loved this book! It’s a M/M romance set in ? what Georgian London? Kit and Percy – the protagonists of this story – are just perfect. I loved their sense of humor, underlined by the real sense of sorrow felt by the heroes.

    The recommended story, however, “The Perfect Crimes . . .” is, for me, a little harder going. I do not like the hero, he seems shallow and arrogant. Of course, this may be just a facade, but, the early impression is not good.

    I DNF quite strongly “Exadelic” by Jon Evans. It seemed quite interesting on reading the synopsis. A super-intelligent computer manages to find out how to hack into the universe to give people who are drugged AND sexed out to the max access to real magic. Although, the synopsis doesn’t mention that drugs and sex are required before obtaining magical powers. Anyway, I really did not like the viewpoint character. He seemed to be a selfish, incompetent person who really didn’t know what was going on. You could tell that the character won only because that was how the writer wrote the story. It wasn’t certainly anything the character did on his own.

    After the bad taste left by “Exadelic”, I am just reading AO3 for now to cleanse my palate.

  31. I read another ton o’ books this week. Should I waste your collective time blathering about all of them? Well, that’s a great thing about the internet, if you’re bored you can simply scroll or click away!

    1. ‘Draft Bust’ by Hannah Henry, another M/M hockey romance with very little hockey, yay! MC1: a journalist hired to ghostwrite a memoir; MC2: the soon-to-retire-and-come-out injured (the guy’s a wreck!) hockey pro who hired him. I liked it.

    2. ‘Night-Blooming Hearts’ by Megan Derr, one of the Carnival of Mysteries M/M paranormal romances, feat. a vampire and a, IDK, witch kinda guy? Didn’t love this one. Distracting editing fails throughout, and not just the typo kind. Also, the POV vampire is legit traumatized but for being hundreds of years old acts like he’s 15.

    3. ‘Fire & Sand’ by Andrew Grey, M/M romantic suspense feat. a state trooper and a single dad and OMG was there a lot of baby, which is totally realistic but me and babies are a NOPE.

    4. ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ by Steve Kluger. Enthusiastic 5-star 2-thumbs-up on this one, but go in knowing it’s not a traditional narrative so if you have low tolerance for literary styling you may hate it on principle. M/M second-chance quest romance in which everyone gets what they need.

    5. ‘Big Gay Wedding’ by Byron Lane, which I have mixed feelings about. Inconsistent tone, many points of view, in present tense which I like less the more of it I read. Rustic Southern bullshit & religious homophobia is not something I want to live through again, so big emotions notwithstanding I’d rather have read about these two sweet guys’ big gay Hawaiian honeymoon.

    6-7. ‘Marty and the Pilot’ by Harper Fox, a meaty novella feat. a teacher/botanist and a RAF pilot with hidden epilepsy, very good; and ‘All Roads Lead to You’ by Harper Fox, a novelette feat. a model turned escort and a Mafia heir. Angst galore, stops just as they’ve found each other after years apart and decided to run away together. I want *that* story, but big feels in this one.

    8-9. ‘Doctor’s Orders’ by Diane Duane, another big happy book squeal for this Star Trek original series novel in which Dr. McCoy is handed command of the Enterprise almost as a joke, then finds himself having to solve big, serious command problems when Kirk goes missing. Cracking good first-contact adventure, very sciency, big competency moments for all the regulars, super satisfying. Then I DNFd Star Trek ‘Black Fire’ by Sonni Cooper, which is Spock-centric and I love me some Spock but this book was WTF in the worst way.

    10. ‘Clanlands’ by Sam Heughan & Graham McTavish with Charlotte Reather; if you like Outlander you’ll like this. I have no desire to see Outlander and I still liked it. Think Michael Palin’s travelogues, with more drinking.

    11. ‘You Never Forget Your First’ by Millie Perez, F/M contemporary set in NY with a Dominican American FMC and billionaire MMC. I enjoyed much of this but cringed more than once at controlling men (more than one) who do not respect boundaries.

    1. I’m glad you liked Draft Bust. Her other ones have more hockey so I won’t recommend them to you…but you might like Irish Exit on AO3 – link above – not a ton of hockey although Very Hockey Players. What do you mean by traditional narrative? or non traditional? Trying to figure out if I might like the Steve Kruger one. And – are you watching Strange New Worlds? I have been loving the most recent season! So many fun things they’re doing.

      1. I *adore* Strange New Worlds. We watch all the Star Trek stuff but I predict I will actually re-watch SNW. The musical episode was LIFE.

        Re: Steve Kruger and nontraditional – there are alternating points of view, some of them are as-it-happened, some of them are journal-style, and it’s a woven timeline so it’s not Start Here, Finish There. I thought it was very well constructed and readable. Both MCs have some blind spots, but they are totally credible blind spots. Come to think of it, since you liked ‘Bros’ I’m pretty sure you’d dig this book.

        1. I loved the Lower Decks crossover episode – wish those two characters had more on screen time not just voice time! I’ll put the Steve Kluger on my list – although I’m giving the Kindle price a bit of side eye…

  32. Love reading all the comments in the “One in Vermillion” spoiler thread. (And I loved the book).

    This week my favorite book was “Starter Villain” by John Scalzi, very fun easy read, featuring a protagonist who unexpectedly inherits his villainous uncle’s myriad businesses. My pre-retirement career was in labor relations, so I particularly enjoyed the union negotiation with the genetically engineered dolphins. (Also really enjoyed the uncle’s funeral, attended by all his villainous foes’ henchmen, who all hate the dead uncle and want to be sure he is really dead).

    I am also midway through reading “Tom Lake” by Ann Pratchett (mom reminiscing with her daughters about an earlier romance with a now well-known actor). It’s enjoyable enough, but I’m not racing through it like “One in Vermillion” and “Starter Villain”.

  33. Haven’t got to read the comments but wanted to let AUDIOBOOK people know – if you haven’t heard Susan Elizabeth Phillips book Dance Away With Me – it is 4.99 with Chirp Books. Will put link in comments.

    I read & reread it – loved it. The hero is a Banksy-type artist and the heroine is a midwife.

  34. I finished Humanly Possible, Sarah Blakewell’s history of western humanism. Enjoyable read for the most part. What’s depressing is how long it takes for ‘women as humans’ to enter humanistic thought. (Wollenstonecraft in 1792, otherwise pretty much white male all the way.) Also unnerving is how often the humanistic embrace of tolerance and rationality invites autocrats into power. We’re gong though another period of that now. What’s great is that the history of humanism is brought forward in counterpoint to the prominence of religion. There’s a good bit of sarcasm along the way, too.

    And then I went back to fiction with the third Thursday Murder Club, The Bullet That Missed. These books are all so enjoyable and just plain fun.

    Now, on to Vermillion.

  35. I’ll start with the serial, Variation on a Theme, Book 4 by Grey Wolf. Chapter 159, the final chapter, came out on schedule. It’s done. Four books of Word Opera. I mean, the author is quite proud of having written four books equivalent to a 2.2 million word Gen Z FaceBook page. I have freely admitted that I was hooked, but it’s questionable whether I open Book 5 in six or eight weeks.

    One in Vermillion is done. I loved it.

    I finished Deb’s Baba Yaga Collected Novella and moved onto Dangerously Devine. I’m 14 chapters in.

    I finished Rewind by Don Pendleton. Now I’m rereading his Dance of a Lifetime for the nth time.
    When I typed the above, the computer connection went out. It was still Thursday. Now it’s Friday. I spent several hours assembling furniture and adding wheels to my baker’s rack. Then I moved stuff from shelves to other shelves. Too soon for more pictures.

    1. Still barely Saturday, after 11 PM. I just finished Dangerously Divine and started Dangerously Fierce. I’m expecting wheels and power strips tomorrow to finish setting up the furniture in the owner’s suite. I’ll still need to move everything around and move one or more of the old bookcases to the garden room.

  36. I re-read “Maybe This Time”, which I found really powerful. Lots to think about. Also reading the third book of the Midlife in Gretna Green series (the Recorder) which continues to be interesting, if a lot of information to retain to keep hold of the various realms and plot strands. Goodness, the Recorder does have an exhausting life, though, even with the ability to time-travel to get some time back. Might read “Begars Alley” next – a “sinister, gothic delight”, apparently, set in Yorkshire in 1953.

  37. I finished the magnificent lives of Marjorie Post. I like the facts but not the writing style. Then I have a line in the witches garden that I thought needed improving and I know Nora Roberts does meticulous research so I will read private scandals till way later in the night. She really is wonderful story teller.
    The e-book of her latest,Identity, was on sale, so I bought it.
    I no longer automatically by Nora Roberts because she has some books that I don’t want to read. And I’m truly tired of serial killers.
    I also bought the Jude Deveraux that was on sale. And Jill Shalvis’ the sweetheart deal.
    Last night I started The Misfits, save the world by Therese Gilardi. It is YA novel set an Ireland. And I’m enjoying it so much.
    I have all these books say want to start. But I think I really want to go back and reread the Liz Danger series.

  38. Just finished One in Vermilion and am both sad and happy to say farewell to Vince and Liz. Really looking forward to Rocky Start, the opening is terrific.

    Currently reading Fellowship Point, by Alice Elliott Dark, it is absolutely gripping! You wouldn’t think a tale about a pair of 80 year old Quaker ladies from Philadelphia would be so intriguing, but the story of the long-standing friendship between Agnes and Polly is immersive, and because Agnes is a writer, there are meditations on how and why we write that are fascinating.

  39. I’ve been meaning to mention rewatching Miss Congeniality on Netflix. The soundtrack includes One In A Million, written by Staffan Olsson, Performed by Bosson. I substituted “One in Vermillion” throughout.

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