160 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, Nov. 16, 2023

  1. I was on annual leave last week and spent a lot of time reading – roll on retirement this time next year and I can do it full time!

    I finished Time for Justice by Susan C Muller – the third in a trilogy but would probably stand alone. Two cold cases very well told.

    The Liar by Nora Roberts – one of my all time favourites of hers, that I return to annually. I want this supportive family for my own.

    South of the Buttonwood Tree by Heather Webber – just a lovely story about family and what it really is. I love almost everything Heather Webber has written (and also written as Heather Blake) except the Nina Quinn series which I didn’t like because Nina was a gardener and forever falling over dead bodies which got tedious.

    Then three recommendations from Argh blogs – Get A life Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert, which I adored and have the next two of trilogy on my library wish list.
    The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins which I did not want to end and have ordered the rest of the trilogy (not available in the library) Just a lovely story. Then Matchmaking for Beginners by Maddie Dawson – again such a great story about finding your own way, and feeling like you do not fit in with your own family (true story for me).

    Thank you so much Argh for giving me a whole new list of authors and books to enjoy.

    1. I do not know The Liar, but I will get it on your recommendation. I loved your description of the Nina Quinn series. LOL

    2. I love Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters series! I thought her Princess Trap and Wrapped Up In You were great too. (I can’t remember now if they were shorter or not, maybe novellas?)

    3. Agree about the Nina Quinn series. My favorite Heather Webber are the Lucy Valentine books, starting with Truly, Madly. She inherits her parents world renowned matchmaking agency, but her father could see auras and tell which ones were compatible and Lucy can’t, she has her own talent but finding lost objects doesn’t help someone find their one and only. Or can it?

  2. I finished my Victoria Goddard reread, but though I enjoyed At the Feet of the Sun, I was left dissatisfied with the central romance: it didn’t gel, despite the absurd length of the book. She also left other threads, which she really should have taken further (Ludvic and his father, e.g.). I get that she wants us to buy the next book, but I felt short-changed.

    So now I’m on my Muderbot reread, which is even more distracting – and absolutely no complaints about the storytelling. I’m not getting much done on my fiction project.

    1. I read Horse by Geraldine Brooks for my book club and it’s excellent. Historical fiction. I was amused that Brooks has her own horses, Valentine and Screaming Hot Wings. Gotta be a story there!
      I also enjoyed an ARC of Family Family by Laurie Frankel. A little slow to start, like a roller coaster climbing, but once the kids get involved it careens madly, in a good and funny way.

  3. I’m listening to Oceans Echo by Everina Maxwell. So far I like it even better than her first.

    I’m trying to decide whether to start Murderbot or not. I Want to read it NOW, but realistically I should wait until after the holidays.

  4. I read the new Murderbot and there’s enough action, snark and techno-talk to satisfy all. It’s quite dense so takes some slowing down to read properly. Also very connected to the last book which I should have re-read before starting on this one…but I like my instant gratification now. Best line: “It should be reassuring that humans don’t get what other humans are thinking, either, but it just highlights how fucked up human neural tissue can be.” It wasn’t my favourite Murderbot book, that’s the first one, but any Murderbot book is a good one.

    I also read Travis Baldree’s Bookshops and Bonedust, his prequel to Legends & Lattes, and it was delightful. I mean Viv, warrior orc woman, learning the joy of books, and the revitalization of a declining bookshop – what’s not to love about all that? With stabbing and baking.

    For you hockey lovers, I read Hayden Hall’s Scoring the Keeper. Meh. Hard to respect a book where the goalie is complimented on how fast he skates – goalies don’t skate; they stretch.

      1. Network Effect. I would recommend reading them back to back. System Collapse is a Part II. Also works well as an aftermath while still having plenty of action/character work, etc.

        1. Agreed. I definitely wish that I had reread Network Effect before reading System Collapse.

    1. Thanks for the review of Books and Bonedust. When you say stabbing and baking, does that mean there is a lot of violence in it? That is disturbing to me.

      1. I don’t know what your tolerance level is but I personally don’t think there’s a lot of violence, nor is it gratuitous. There’s an opening battle scene but it’s not terribly gory and it’s also relevant to explain how Viv ends up at the titular bookshop.

        1. Thanks. That is similar to the violent prologue of Legends and Lattes, which sets up the placement of the shop, with the possession of the Scalvert’s Stone. I can live with that.

          1. What Jeanine said. There is a little but not a lot of violence. There is a lot of baking though so prepare to have your appetite inflamed.

    2. I finished the new Murderbot yesterday. I intend to slow down on the next read; I kept finding myself turning the page before I had actually finished reading it.
      That was one of the best lines, but not my most favorite. Which I failed to write down. I should make a list of quotations on my slower reread.

      I am managing to go slower with Sharon Shinn’s Whispering Wood. It’s so nice to be back in Welcin that I want to spend a lot of time there.

  5. I’m on my first week back to work (remotely only this week) after a week down with some dam flu of some kind. Towards the end of last week, I got a toe caught in a sheet on my bed and tumbled my way off the bed, and down the hallway to the bathroom in the middle of the night, so I have stubbed toes and a pulled torso muscle on top of making a heater fall over at the end of the tumble. When you’ve fallen like that in the middle of the night, you’re groggy, it’s dark, and you’re suddenly awake wondering what the heck just happened…. I had to piece together the whole scene like a half-drunk crime reporter the next day.

    Thank you all — tales of woe from the suburbs here. :}

    That all said, it was re-read week last week. Finished re-reading the Mary Balogh “Westcott” series, which improved with age. Of the seven volumes, the outstanding one for me was “Someone to Cherish” about the romance that finally caused the Peninsular war vet Harry (who was badly wounded at the battle of Waterloo) to find his happy ending. With a very shy girl who’d been dominated all her life by father, brothers, and then first husband, into protective submissiveness.

    The book was half about her really admirable journey back into resolute independence of life and spirit, and half about her romance with the quiet, aristocratic Major Westcott at the estate nearby, all in the midst of 1820-something British village politics and gossip.

    So, quite a rewarding (but not new) reading week for me as well.

      1. Thanks, Jan — I think doing strenuous dangerous things when you’re 3/4 asleep makes you both limber and relaxed. Which is always good for the gymnastics. 🙂

        1. Well, that’s good, but I don’t think I’ll be trying that, despite your analysis. LOL

  6. More time to read is always good. I always love that Bill Nighy’s character in “About Time” uses time travel to read 🙂

    Best thing I read this week was a MCU/Gotham fanfic, “Do Every Stupid Thing” by thepartyresponsible. Jason aka Red Hood attempts to stop the Winter Soldier from killing the Starks and ends up in a menage a trois with a youngish Tony Stark and Bucky Barnes (https://archiveofourown.org/works/10593966). Lots of fun, very sweet, with lots of hurt/comfort.

    Also good was a historical mystery “Atonement of Blood” by Peter Tremayne. The fascinating history of seventh century Ireland’s law and politics made it easy to overlook a slightly stilted opening. The story soon picked up and I had no problems following along despite this mid-series book being my introduction to Sister Fidelma. I then picked up “Behold a Pale Horse” in the same series, set in Lombardy, which was equally interesting.

    1. I too found the Sister Fidelma series quite interesting. Would be funny to see a crossover novel where Sister Fidelma meets Brother Cadfael.

    2. That was my favourite part in About Time, when he said “he had read everything a man could wish to twice” Sigh such a worthy goal

  7. I finished the 2nd book in the Janitors of the Apocalypse series, Terminal Uprising by Jim Hines. It was so very good. There were our old favorite characters, doing new things and stretching themselves, and there were new characters that held their own. I stayed up too late to finish it Tuesday night, so I could start Murderbot last night.

    1. Just finished Terminal Alliance and looking forward to the next two. But first, Murderbot. As suggested, I’m starting with a reread of System Collapse.

      1. Starting with Network Effect-I’m punchy from reviewing ballots.

        We’ve had write-ins for ‘The Washing Machine”. Larry, Moe and Curly have made an appearance along with Archibald Bunker. Free Palestine was frequent. The phrase “Tony loves Carly” was puzzling. It showed up more often than Free Palestine.

        That part of the process is finished and it’s the weekend. I can spend more quality time with Martha Wells.

  8. this was a GREAT week in reading because hello new Murderbot!

    1. Finished reading Bookshops and Bonedust, and I did like how it brought in L&L at the end and set things up for a book 3. Also a good stand-alone.

    2. Super fun hockey fake romance Blind Pass, Teagan Hunter (Carolina Comets). The whole series is in KU and I will be reading more.

    3. System Collapse AAHHHHHHH Murderbot and ART return and I will spoil no spoilers but Martha Wells is amazing and you will not be disappointed.

    4. My Fake Bad Boyfriend Sara Whitney, if fake holiday rom is your crack grab it.

    am now reading Tessa Dare’s The Scandalous Dissolute No-Good Mr. Wright. Extra time to read this week because we’re done moving 2 kids out and Thanksgiving prep starts next week. : D

  9. I’m trying to finish a romance that just isn’t working for me. The man is perfect – gorgeous, kind, wants kids, is a firefighter and a carpenter. The woman is great – beautiful, snarky, runs her own business. The conflict is that she can’t have kids and he wants them. She hasn’t told him and is trying to avoid a serious relationship to protect him from a life of not getting the family that he really wants. It might be because I am an adoptive parent, or it might be because it is a variation on a big misunderstanding, but it is irritating me.

    I also just finished listening to Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. It was a slow start – lots of explaining about the importance of stories, but once it got into the story it was great.

    I have my Murderbot unopened on my table. I’m waiting until I can read it in peace, hopefully this weekend.

    1. That sound like an excessively irritating conflict, and so easily solved by an honest conversation! What’s keeping you reading?

      1. Right? If you are worried that he doesn’t love you enough to be with you if you can’t give him everything he wants then you should probably break it off and/or go see a therapist. And if he really doesn’t want you because of something that is biologically beyond your control, you are better off without him.

        I could see this as a possible plot for a regency Duke romance where succession is a thing (don’t get me wrong, they should still overcome it together), but in a modern setting there are just too many options for a couple that want children.

      2. Right! My friend who is infertile was divorced by her husband because he didn’t want to adopt, which I thought was awful. Two decades and a second wife later he still doesn’t have children which I think is really best all around.

  10. I started re-reading the Murderbot series a little while ago and was three-quarters done Book 5 when Book 7 came out – I figure my timing was perfect! So I am just starting the new one.

    I know there’s a “Book 6” but it’s the short novella that I can’t remember if I’ve read or not, but it doesn’t seem to matter as Book 7 starts immediately after the end of Book 6.

    1. I’m reading the one she wrote out of order, which I think is the one you mean: Fugitive Telemetry. It takes place before Network Effect, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be fine skipping it, so far as the through storyline’s concerned.

    2. Definitely don’t need to have read Fugitive Telemetry before System Collapse. You can always go back and re-read it later if you want to!

    3. 0. Compulsory
      “My risk-assessment module predicts a 53 percent chance of a human-on-human massacre before the end of the contract.” Originally printed as an short-short in a magazine.

      1. All Systems Red
      On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

      2. Artificial Condition
      It has a dark past — one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot.” But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more. Rogue Protocol The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is. And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

      3. Exit Strategy
      Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right? Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

      4. Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
      This short story is told from the point of view of Dr. Mensah and follows the events in Exit Strategy. Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory was originally given free to readers who pre-ordered Martha’s Murderbot novel, Network Effect.

      5. Fugitive Telemetry
      Set before Network Effect. When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

      6. Network Effect
      Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

      7. System Collapse
      The long-awaited follow-up to Network Effect.

      1. CORRECTION (oops. sorry)

        0. Compulsory
        “My risk-assessment module predicts a 53 percent chance of a human-on-human massacre before the end of the contract.”

        1. All Systems Red
        On a distant planet, a team of scientists are conducting surface tests, shadowed by their Company-supplied ‘droid — a self-aware SecUnit that has hacked its own governor module, and refers to itself (though never out loud) as “Murderbot.” Scornful of humans, all it really wants is to be left alone long enough to figure out who it is.

        2. Artificial Condition
        It has a dark past — one in which a number of humans were killed. A past that caused it to christen itself “Murderbot.” But it has only vague memories of the massacre that spawned that title, and it wants to know more.

        3. Rogue Protocol
        The case against the too-big-to-fail GrayCris Corporation is floundering, and more importantly, authorities are beginning to ask more questions about where Dr. Mensah’s SecUnit is. And Murderbot would rather those questions went away. For good.

        4. Exit Strategy
        Murderbot wasn’t programmed to care. So, its decision to help the only human who ever showed it respect must be a system glitch, right? Having traveled the width of the galaxy to unearth details of its own murderous transgressions, as well as those of the GrayCris Corporation, Murderbot is heading home to help Dr. Mensah—its former owner (protector? friend?)—submit evidence that could prevent GrayCris from destroying more colonists in its never-ending quest for profit.

        5. Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory
        This short story is told from the point of view of Dr. Mensah and follows the events in Exit Strategy. Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory was originally given free to readers who pre-ordered Martha’s Murderbot novel, Network Effect.

        6. Fugitive Telemetry
        Set before Network Effect. When Murderbot discovers a dead body on Preservation Station, it knows it is going to have to assist station security to determine who the body is (was), how they were killed (that should be relatively straightforward, at least), and why (because apparently that matters to a lot of people—who knew?)

        7. Network Effect
        Murderbot returns in its highly-anticipated, first, full-length standalone novel.

        8. System Collapse
        The long-awaited follow-up to Network Effect

  11. I’m finishing At the Coffee Shop of Curiosities by Heather Webber, since I’m still on a magical realism kick. Will make an exception for Murderbot, of course.

    1. I’m never sure whether something’s magical realism or not, but I just finished reading “The Library of Legends” by Janie Chang, which is about a university group in 1937, escaping across China in advance of the Japanese occupation, carrying priceless books about Chinese legends. The story is based on the author’s family history, and while it doesn’t have a strong romance, I really liked the way she weaves gods and spirits into the landscape. It’s a little sad but also wonderful.

  12. Good morning all:

    I hope you’re recovered, Jinx! That could/would have been disastrous!

    Have Murderbot and Bookshops and Bonedust on hold at my library and they should be in soon.

    Starting Terminal Uprising (Janitors) and absolutely loved the first one, so I’m hoping to love this one as well.

    I’m babysitting my 7 and 5 year old grands while Mom and Dad recover from a fairly stressful (work-wise) early fall. They’ll be back very late on Saturday night. I am barely restraining myself from counting the hours. 😉

    1. In case it helps the time pass, I’d recommend the Harriet Hamsterbone books by Ursula Vernon that Jeanine is reading below as great funny books to read aloud to these ages! (I’m a former children’s librarian.)

  13. I read Ali Hazelwood’s Love Theoretically and loved it. I’ve really enjoyed all the books in the series: they’re smart and funny with really enjoyable dialogue. Each one has provided the “feels” I’m looking for in romance novels.

    I reread (again) Josh Lanyon’s Come unto These Yellow Sands about a professor with issues and the local police chief. Truly excellent little gem.

    I’m now reading Rachel Reid’s A Time to Shine and loving it. For someone who has never even watched a full hockey game I am amazed to have become addicted to these romances. I’m going to go back over previous Good Book Thursday posts to find recommendations for more hockey series once I’ve finished this one.

    1. Welcome to my life 😀.
      Got hooked around new year’s and now even follow real hockey…
      There are msny good titles out there by now. Tammy knows which one to pick 😉

    2. Isn’t there a new Ali Hazelwood just out or just about to be out? Think I ordered it but have not yet gotten it.

    3. I did post my tiered system of M/M books at one point so I could dig that up for you if you like. Or just recommend you read the rest of Rachel Reid’s books…

      1. A tiered system of M/M books would be so useful! My gateway was Josh Lanyon (whom I read and reread) but from there other M/M authors have been hit or miss. I quite enjoyed Sarina Bowen’s M/M books.
        And of course, I’m checking out Rachel Reid’s backlist.

        1. Here you go (with some recent updates)
          Pinnacle – Taylor Fitzpatrick
          Tier One – Avon Gale, Cait McNary, Rachel Reid, Catherine Cloud
          Tier Two – Samantha Wayland, Michaela Grey, Hannah Henry, Marina Vivancos, EM Lindsay, RJ Scott, VL Locey, Sarina Bowen, Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James, Eden Finley & Saxon James, EL Massey, theundiagnosable (A03)
          Tier Three – Amy Aislin, Kit Oliver, NJ Lysk, Ariel Bishop, Ari Baran, AL Heard

          Everyone else is Tier Four – either I wouldn’t recommend or they’ve only written one okay hockey book and need at least one more to create a track record.

          1. Thank you! I’ve taken notes and will choose accordingly. One of these days I’m gonna watch an actual hockey game… 🙂

          2. Christina, to ease yourself into the games you might want to try instagram and follow the NHL: highlight reels of the games with repeats! The game so incredibly fast that seing goals from various angles and multiple times makes it easier for us novices.

          1. Most of her books are M/M mysteries/cop stories. Lots of emotions packed into them, and all without any character having pages of introspection. Some are very angsty. Her Adrien English series (6 books I think) are the ones people keep raving about and that’s where I started. The first novel is essentially the set up. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve reread them.

  14. Have any of you read Martha Wells’ Witch King? It just popped up on my ‘recommended for you’ list and wondered if it was as good – as if anything could be – as her Murderbot series.

    1. I found it confusing and, maybe because I spent all my time trying to figure out how the world worked, I was not that invested in the characters. But I think others here liked it. It might help to have read some of her other fantasy which I haven’t done.

    2. I read it and enjoyed it. It’s very different from Murderbot though. Murderbot is straight SF and Witch King is more fantasy.

    3. It’s more similar to her other fantasy books (like City of Bones, The Wheel of Time, or The Wizard Hunters) than to Murderbot, but I enjoyed them too. But, I tend to like puzzling worlds out as I go and characters who don’t know everything either, and I love found family and characters who try despite everything, so a demon with a touch of Murderbot snark worked great for me.

      If you’ve never read her fantasy books, one of her recent short stories is available online — here’s “The Salt Witch” at Uncanny Magazine https://www.uncannymagazine.com/article/the-salt-witch/ (just be aware this isn’t the world of the Witch King novel at all)

    4. I loved it, but it is, as Sara C. says, confusing. It hops timelines constantly, which the second time you read it makes perfect sense in telling you what you need to know next. It is full of snark, but also very serious.

    5. It’s very different from Murderbot, in terms of voice and themes. It’s more serious than funny too. Still excellent pacing and characters and worldbuilding and action. You might want to try one of her earlier books (Fall of Ile Rien series perhaps), to get a feel for her fantasy storytelling before diving into Witch King, which is a little challenging because of it’s dual timeline. Her other books (as I recall, read them long ago) are more linear.

    6. I love all Martha Wells books, but the Witch King was my least favorite. I just did not get caught up in the world, and I found the story disjointed and confusing.

  15. I read The Wizard’s Butler, which is not “exciting”, but has its moments. You wouldn’t think reading about a new butler’s daily tasks and learning curve would be interesting, but I never thought of putting it down. I loved the idea of pixies and fairies and the deviousness of the wizard every time his niece comes to check on him, hoping his health and mind have deteriorated enough that she can take conservatorship of his wealth. I did not see the unusual ending coming. But it worked, and was plausible, and was not a deus ex machina thing. I will reread it sometime soon, to catch the hints I missed the first time through.

    I started The Cinderella Deal, and am counting the times Lincoln calls Daisy “Magnolia”, per a discussion on Liz Magnolia Danger a while ago. Nice comfort read, as I wait for my truck to be repaired, yet again, so I can walk over a mile to pick it up. I changed shops, since the previous shop bid $900 for a job my mechanic son said should be $600. That was the third time the former shop owner tried to take advantage of me. Strike three, and you’re out! I gave him the benefit of the doubt. No more. The new shop bid a bit under the $600. Yay!

    1. I love the Wizard’s Butler. Competence porn at its best. He’s writing a sequel called the Wizard’s Cat I think?

      1. Just looked it up because I thought it was coming out soon. Apparently it was supposed to be released in Dec., but according to his website he got a bit stuck and needs more time to get it right. No release date yet.

      2. I could envision a sequel to that book, with maybe a love interest for Roger, or even Shackleford. A cat sounds really intriguing!

        1. I may have read your post incorrectly but…you’re not suggesting a cat as a love interest for either of them, are you, Jan? If so, you are a hidden tentacle friend.

  16. I read the latest Elemental Blessings book by Sharon Shinn, Whispering Wood. I liked it but will have to re-read it before I finally decide how much. I find that’s the way it is with many of the books I read; some I love right away, others take an extra read (or 3) before I decide for sure. That’s how it was with Jeweled Fire (Sharon Shinn); I liked it more after re-reading it a couple of,times. I also read Bookshops and Bonedust. I like it, but need a second read. I have to admit, frequently my first reads are more skims, to make sure nothing too distressful happens, if it’s bearable, I can then read the story more slowly.

  17. Finally finished Time to Shine and finished listening to 10 Things.
    Both solid 5 star books for me.
    Back to back – something that hasn’t happened since forever.
    Found a genius narrator in Will Wattt who managed to put John Jameson in second place which I’d thought impossible.
    The I found books narrated by both of them: heaven!!!
    So now I’m reading Becca Steele just for the delight to listen to both of them.
    Big sigh if pleasure.

    Also, the new Con Roley xmas story and the new Fearne Hill novella dropped.
    Need more time and less work.
    Like Jenny said: simplify to make time for reading.

  18. The reread I can’t forget is The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. It was a million times better than I remembered it, even though I remembered loving it. Yes, it’s about simultaneous plagues in 1348 and in the late 21st century. But what it’s really about is humanity and how we try our best to care for others. Also, it’s written far less frantically than her later stuff.

    After Doomsday Book, I reread Christmas at the Five & Dime. Then, Even the Queen. Now I’m rereading To Say Nothing of the Dog.

    1. That book holds up so well. Even after multiple rereads it still affects me emotionally. I think it’s her best.

    2. I adore The Doomsday Book, despite how hard it is in places. I read it during covid lockdown, and she was spot on as to how different groups of people react to a plague in the modern world.

    3. Christmas at the Five & Dime I loved the title, and I could not find a book anywhere by that name. Could you tell me who the author is or where to find it? I’m reading Connie Willis at the moment her Christmas stories. But I can’t find one anywhere called Christmas at the five &dime. it sounds like a wonderful read. Sueberger3@gmail.com

      1. I’m pretty sure that ‘Christmas at the Five and Dime’ is actually ‘Take a Look at the Five and Ten’ a Christmas novella by Connie Willis. Susan – I’ve emailed you in case you don’t see this reply.

  19. I started “10 things that never happened”, by Alexis Hall, before going to bed yesterday.
    I switched off the reading light smiling (=going very well for the time being)

  20. I indulged myself in a reread of the Harriet Hamsterbone series by Ursula Vernon. A brave and bold and feminist hamster princess enjoys all sorts of adventures that are loosely based on well known fairytales. I think it’s probably categorized as MG but it’s so snarky and smart that it’s a pure pleasure for adults to read.

    As previously stated, I read Bookshops and Bonedust and am able to fourth, or is it fifth, all the recommendations here!

    I also read My Roommate is a Vampire. It was a gentle and mostly low stakes (ha!) romance.

    I’ve been getting bored with cozies. But I found some I liked. 1) the Whistling River four book mystery series by Irene Radford about a resort manager who solves murders. The MC is smart and no nonsense, and happily NOT TSTL. 2) Twilight Falls by Juneau Black, the fourth book in a mystery series set in a small town populated entirely by intelligent animals. The MC is a vixen who is a journalist and a mystery solver who has to step in after her bear boyfriend erroneously arrests someone for murder. 3) Bulletproof Barista by Cleo Coyle. The MC owns a coffeehouse in NYC and has been hired to cater a television shoot on the streets of NYC and, of course, there are an unusual number of “accidents.”
    Finally, I read A Power Unbound by Freya Marske, the last book in her fantasy series about an alt-England where some people have magical powers, and some people are greedy for more, and the ensuing struggle has the potential to cause mass destruction. It’s hard to read about the evil the bad guys perpetrate on the good guys, but it’s nice to see the bad guys finally get their comeuppance, and it’s also nice to see romance develop between some of the MCs.

    1. I love Harriet Hamsterbone and her battle quail too! Yes, it’s middle grade (so is her Castle Hangnail, which I also love), but I agree, it feels like the lighter, funnier part of the spectrum she writes as T. Kingfisher too, not something completely different, and if you like the funny parts of that you might enjoy these too.

    2. Finally, FINALLY, my library has acquire Bookshops and Bonedust and therefore I am finally on the hold list. I kept checking, but not often enough, because I’m number 27.

    3. Good to see continuing series holding up – am looking forward to the new Marske, Baldtree, Shinn and Murderbot! Glad to hear they hold up 🙂

  21. I read a fantastic graphic novel for teens: Brooms! by Jasmine Walls and Teo DuVall, set in an alternate 1930s Mississippi with magic, about a group of girls who fly in illegal broom races to earn money (based on backwoods racing culture.) I really loved the characters and how deep and rich the world felt, even the parts that aren’t on the page. Preview pages are here if you’re curious: https://gizmodo.com/graphic-novel-preview-brooms-queer-witches-1930s-south-1850454724

    I also re-read the Liz Danger books. This time through, I followed Peri’s subplot closely and really appreciated how Jenny wrote her character. I always love that kids in Jenny’s books are always real characters (that’s probably part of why I’m so excited for Alice and Nadine’s books someday!) But it’s really tough to write about a kid stuck in an addiction situation in that shows she has support and hope but is also realistic — and that understands that humor is a coping skill.

    I haven’t read System Collapse yet, but am going to see Martha Wells tonight at my local bookstore, yay!!! I love seeing her career soar like this.

  22. I re-listened to Venetia by Georgette Heyer, an abridged (so sad) version performed by Richard Armitage. Worth the abridged version because…Richard Armitage. What a voice.

    I’m reading the most recent Beatrice Hyde-Clare cozy by Lynn Messina, A Murderous Tryst. This series is quite satisfying and I am always eager for each new installment. The current one is #11. The charming connection between Bea and her husband, Damien, is delightful.

    I started re-listening to Trisha Ashley as life is getting hectic. The Christmas Invitation. My stress level lowered in about 10 minutes. Isn’t wonderful to have reliable emotional support books?

    1. Trisha Ashley is definitely one of my happy place books. She calls it “TrishaWorld” and reading her books really is like taking a vacation to someplace lovely.

    2. I dnfed two audiobooks that I was enjoying because I couldn’t handle the final climax sequence. I saw it coming and just went “nope”. So I just started Trisha Ashley’s One Last Christmas at the Castle. That is about all my poor battered brain can handle.

  23. I’d never read any of Murderbot until last week … so from Thursday till Tuesday I was listening to that. All of them. Well, the first six. Which was maybe a bit much, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. (I mean, people watch full seasons of shows all the time, right?)

    Now I’ll get to the new one soon, but it’s probably going to wait till after Thanksgiving. From now until then, I mostly get to read up on GD&T practices before a class (and if you know what I’m talking about, we should talk!).

  24. FYI About Murderbot reading order: I’m doing a complete Murderbot reread before I read System Collapse. I was planning to read them in chronological order (Fugitive Telemetry before Network Effect). I probably still will, but I did find these comments from RandomsComments on Reddit:

    “You should read them in publication order. There’s a detail in Network Effect that’s a twist but which Fugitive Telemetry (set earlier) expects you to know. It won’t break anything to read them in the other order, but it’s IMO not ideal.”

    “We learn some things in Network Effect (particularly in flashback) about the work Murderbot has been doing, its relationship with a few new-to-us characters, and about what’s happened to Mensah recently.

    Fugitive Telemetry expects us to know these things, and variously plays with them for tension or takes them as givens.

    If you read Fugitive Telemetry first, both books will still function, but it’s a distinct experience from the one the author was creating.”

      1. I know! The + is gone, hopefully forever, hallelujah and good riddance. That was not me; at one point, the site added those all over, and they were impossible to remove (and I tried).

    1. Thanks. I put away my Murderbot books to reread later, and I will print and file this post with them as guidance.

    2. I disagree with publication order. I think that Fugitive Telemetry works better in chronological order. It was jarring when I first read it and realized that it was set prior to Exit Strategy. Also, I can’t think of a twist that has baring on the other books particularly.

      For me, FT deepens my understanding of why Murderbot has such a contentious relationship with Tiago and makes sense in it’s development with relationships towards humans.

      1. Yes, having just read Fugitive Telemetry followed by Network Effect, I can’t see a compelling reason to read them out of timeline order.

  25. I have mainly been reading students work this week as I have a big pile to go through in a short time. I asked them this time round to write a love story (a good way to check if they can use the past tenses accurately). The stories are pretty terrible, and that’s not just because of the bad French. Once in a while I get a fun one but mostly I am plodding through cliches and banality.

    As a palate cleanser, I have enjoyed reading the new Sharon Shinn, Whispering wood. It’s not the best in the series but it made me want to reread the whole lot which is usually what happens when I read a new book of hers.

  26. Speaking of reading order, I still haven’t read Legends and Lattes. Should I read the new one first?

    1. I actually would read Legends and Lattes first because there’s a bit of a spoiler at the end of the new one. But not a huge deal if you do it the other way around. The prequel is really an ‘origin’ story for Viv.

      1. I suppose you could read B&B but hold off on the epilogue, until you read L&L, then go back and read the epilogue. It’s a little awkward no matter what order you read them in though.

  27. After being so impatient for so long for the new Murderbot, I’m now resisting reading it so as to stretch it out as long as possible. I only have about a quarter of it left. Sigh. On the plus side, I’m reading it on the screen this time, so I’ve still got listening to the audio version to savor later. Kevin Free really brings a lot to the performance, adding nuances that I might not have read into it myself.

    I definitely agree with others who have said it’s a good idea to have read Network Effect fairly recently unless you’re good at remembering book details (which I’m not). There are a lot of characters thrown at you all at once, who were in Network Effect, but might be a bit much if you don’t remember who’s who. They characterize themselves through their actions, but if you’re as bad as I am with names, it might help to remember them from the prior book.

  28. Thanks to all the Arghers who recommended Alexis Hall’s “10 Things That Never Happened”. I loved it, it was funny and poignant and all the feels. I am now trying to read “Husband Material”. I had tried it earlier, but just could not get into it for some reason.

    I’m also bouncing off Mur Lafferty’s “Chaos Terminal” which is the sequel to “Station Eternity”. It’s frustrating as heck that there is something wrong with Mallory – the protagonist – which some of her friends notice, but so far no one is doing anything about it because way too many other bad things are also happening on the station.

    After a strong recommendation from another book reviewer, I’m reading TJ Klune’s “In the Lives of Puppets”. It’s about in the far future, robots have taken over the world. One android raises a human boy, far from robot society until the android is taken by other androids. The human boy gets together a team of robot friends to take back his father. Per the reviewer, this is a gentle story about how love does not necessarily mean sexual love, but other forms of it. It’s pretty good so far.

    1. I love Husband Material, but it’s not for everyone. It’s written as spoof of the Hugh Grant move Four Weddings and a Funeral from the 1990s and definitely has that very British, dry understated sense of humor. It is also not a regular storytelling arc. But as someone who has issues with society’s expectations surrounding marriage, I really loved the ending.

      But it is a stressful book. It builds with the chapters. And it is farcical. The supporting characters are complete caricatures. I listened to the audiobook and the narrator did a great job.

  29. I finished The Future by Naomi Alderman and it is one of my books of the year. It reads like a sci-fi thriller but it is a deeply thoughtful look at the billionaires who control our lives through their algorithms and those who would like to tweak those algorithms to improve our various global crises. Lots of twists and turns in the plotting and it moves fast! I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.

  30. Sharon Shinn’s latest, Whispering Wood was a darn good yarn. I got to spend time with several of my favorite characters from the other books of the series. And I met a new one, the new protagonist – Valentina Serlast, the sister to the king of Welce. She is a complex, multifaceted character, and although she isn’t as captivating or charismatic as some of Shinn’s other female heroines, she is worth reading about. I enjoyed her story.
    Carpe Diem was an old episode (1989) of the Liaden universe series, but this was the first time I read it. I have a complicated reaction to this series. I read it out of order. Some novels, I can’t even finish. Others seem OK. Still others I read to the end, but it is a struggle. This novel belonged to the latter category. I didn’t like the writing (I don’t enjoy these authors’ voice much), but the story kept me reading. And I wanted to know what happened next. I already ordered the next couple books of this sub-series about Val Con and Miri from my library.
    It is like a game I play with myself, betting whether the next books would work for me. I really want to know what happens next.
    Now I’m waiting for Amazon to deliver the paper format of System Collapse. They promise next week. Meanwhile I re-read all Murderbot books. Such a treat.

    1. I am valiantly resisting reading the new Sharon Shinn because if I start I won’t put it down until I’m done and I won’t be able to finish an important day job task.
      Whereas I can bop in and out of a reread easily so I am rereading Spindle by W.R. Gingell.

    2. Some of the Liaden books can be read out of order, but I’d suggest “Agent of Change”, “Carpe Diem”, “Plan B” and “I Dare” need to be read as a set. I hope you enjoy the next books – they are some of my favorites, so funny and exciting. And turtles! But then I love almost all their books and if an authors’ voice doesn’t work for you then it doesn’t.

      I’m looking forward to the new Shinn, glad to hear its good. I like almost everything of hers as well.

    3. Lee and Miller write some of my favorite books but I think Agent of Change is their first book from back in the 1980s (and Carpe Diem follows that arc) and like most authors, they’ve gotten better as they go on. I have particular characters who are favorites and others I’m just sort of meh on. I thought their latest, Salvage Right, was one of their best and closed off a very strong arc for major characters.

      I’d recommend some of the omnibus versions as they group characters and story arcs together across novels. Their short stories in the Constellation collections are also very good and fill in some gaps. Huge respect for them as authors for being able to sustain their careers over such a long period and still be producing excellent books.

  31. I finished and adored the benevolence Society of ill mannered ladies. Also finish the advice Columnist by Janie Emaus, which I enjoyed very much. I am now reading Beverly Jenkins a Christmas to remember. I her books about Henry Adams.
    Having read this, I put some books on hold at the library. Not legends and lattes or bookshops and bone dust. I want to read them but I think I’m gonna have to buy them because there’s way too many holds in my library when you get over 250 holds, it’s discouraging.
    I’m looking for Christmas at the five & dime

  32. I also read the new Murderbot. Also Bookshops and Bonedust, which I didn’t enjoy quite as much as Legends and Lattes but that’s probably just me and my dislike of prequels. If I start a book and am enjoying it and then discover that there was a previous book, or books, then I have to go back and read them starting from book one. Although not if it’s actually about different characters, for example if this one is about the snarky best friend from an earlier book, I often discover that the main character from the first book I find tedious and would prefer to just read about the snarky best friend.

    I am currently reading The Proof of the Pudding, the new Her Royal Spyness mystery, by Rhys Bowen. Halfway through and I’m not enjoying it as much as the previous ones.

  33. I tried reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles on the recommendations of Mom & a Cousin, but Mom had to take it back to the Library before I could get into it past the very slow first third. Will have to revisit some other time.

    Good Girl, Bad Blood is still floating around the house somewhere (enjoying it), I have a Lindsay Buroker on my phone (a good alternative to doom scrolling), and I’m listening to The Three Musketeers while I climb stairs (which makes the time fly).

  34. I continued my hockey thing:
    Contract Season, Cait Nary, MM Hockey/ country music. Good take on fake dating! I really like her writing.

    Then back to MF with Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn hockey series. I skipped on a bit to get some female hockey players, (Bombshells, nice, fairly traditional stuff) and Shenanigans (accidental Vegas marriage. Really fun to begin with then slowed down and got a bit more serious). Neither had as much hockey as I’d like. But good stuff on women’s players pay vs men.

    Then read Him (Sarina Bowen/Elle Kennedy). This is fairly old (2015), so it might be an early MM Hockey, though I actually don’t know how long the genre has been around. Enjoyable, though doesn’t feel too original, it probably was at the time it was published.

    In the middle of Legends &Lattes, which is sweet and makes me want cinnamon buns!

    Listening to Cotillion (Heyer). Freddy is adorable. Hadn’t read it in ages

    Got stuck in Lily Chu’s The Breakdown. Not enjoying as much as the others. Hoping it will pick up but it’s not calling me

  35. “What You Are Looking For Is in the Library” by Michiko Aoyama.

    Very quiet and encouraging stories.

  36. Still in a reading slump, but have managed to finish a few things. Read Cat Sebastian’s new novella Luke and Billy Finally get a Clue which was great, just wish it was longer. Also read and enjoyed Ari Baran’s ab+huth–a free novella that you can get if you sign up for their newsletter. I liked that one a lot and need to read Game Misconduct soon. Also read several of the undiagnosable’s stories on ao3. My favorites were: Here be dragons, Like the back of my hand, and Don’t gotta stay the same. Also did my annual re-read of Roan Parrish’s In the Middle of Somewhere. But my favorite read this month is Cait Nary’s Season’s Change. I have no idea why I waited so long to read it, but I loved, loved, loved it. I think it’s up there with We Could Be So Good as my favorite book of the year. Re-reading it again now as I wait for my copy of Murderbot to arrive.

    1. I’m reading the new Ari Baron now – I didn’t know there was a novella – thank you! I will sign up.

      1. Ari Baran, Cait Nary and Rachel Reid all have the same representation – Deirdre Kelly – she can sure puck ’em…I mean pick ’em…

        1. Oh interesting–wonder if there’s a way to follow the agent and just read whoever she signs.

  37. Starting off this reading report with one I finished actually before last week’s GBT but saved for ‘keep with same’ reasons.

    1. ‘The Spare’ by Miranda Dubner. A novel with central M/M love story, but featuring numerous points of view among an entire troubled alt-reality royal family. Its bisexual spare is in love with his bodyguard. Very polished for a debut novel, in tone this falls between Red White & Royal Blue and the His Royal duology. I liked it a lot.

    2. started another M/M royal romance but bailed out at 13% bc hated the POV character. Next up: ‘The Unlikely Heir’ by Jax Calder, which was a nice antidote. In this one, American 11th-in-line heir ends up as Prince of Wales because everyone in between goes to jail for various fraud & corruption; Parliament removes them from succession. The new PoW is not trained for it and struggles a lot; makes unexpected friends with the (gay) Prime Minister and, whoops, they fall in love. Believably. The conflicts are substantive. Some drama and trauma but they get their HEA and I approve.

    3. [re-read] ‘Red, White, and Royal Blue’ by Casey McQuiston, which I liked every bit as much as the first 2 times I read it. I also stand by being a big fan of the movie adaptation, which centered the romance storyline and gave us some gorgeous visual storytelling.

    4-5. [re-read] ‘His Royal Secret’ and ‘His Royal Favorite’ by Lilah Pace, which collectively remain my favorite M/M royal romance to date.

    6. ‘A Midwinter Prince’ by Harper Fox, which is not a royal romance. A fairly dark New Adult M/M featuring the son of a rich Sir and the undocumented refugee son of a Romanian drug lord. There is a sequel which I will surely read.

    7. ‘Better Latte Than Never’ by CC Bridges, M/M feat. a barista / artist and an older bestselling author, having fled Los Angeles, hiding out in small-town New Jersey and trying to beat writer’s block. Not terrible, I finished it, but there were things I didn’t like about the MCs that didn’t improve over the course of the book. And I find it very difficult to believe that having turned in a complete manuscript past deadline to fulfill a contract for F/M love story with tragic ending, the writer could then withdraw it, submit a completely different version being M/M love story with happy ending, and the publisher would say Sure! No Problem! Yeeeaahh I haz doubt.

    8. [re-read] ‘The Black Stallion’s Blood Bay Colt’ by Walter Farley, which I treated myself to because a work in progress refers to harness racing and why not.

    9. ‘Emmett’ by L.C. Rosen. A sweet & satisfying queer Clueless in which the Emma character is gay, the Knightley character is his not-so-straight longtime frenemy / crush, and the understory is grief. I love this author, which explains

    10. ‘Lion’s Legacy’ by L.C. Rosen, YA queer Indiana Jones adventure series starter, a bit of magic, 100% adored it.

    11. ‘The First and Last Adventure of Kit Sawyer’ by S.E. Harmon. A grown-up queer Indiana Jones adventure, also with magic, which was great fun. I liked that the MCs have the same snarky sniping relationship all the way through instead of getting personality transplants when they both admit to being in love.

    12. ‘The Fantastic Fluke’ by Sam Burns, M/M fantasy in which there is a love story but it looks hopeless for a while because one MC is a living bookstore owner whose magic was misidentified and whose life has been the definition of ‘downtrodden,’ and the other MC is a ghost chucked into action by the well of ley line convergence magic to train MC1 how to handle his shit. This is book one of 5 and I’m pretty sure I’ll read them all because I liked both MCs, the world-building is solid, there are allies and meaningful problems to solve, and the titular Fluke is a fox familiar who is valiant, sneaky, and generally totes adorbs.

    1. I just searched for Harper Fox in my library….and the search returned a vegetarian cookbook whose authors have neither Harper nor Fox among their names. Er, what?

      1. Sometime search results are very odd. Occasionally I find the author I’m looking for buried in the blurb – “for lovers of foxes and Harper Lee” – but sometimes nowhere I can see!

  38. II finished rereading the Liz Danger trilogy.

    I’m still rereading the “Wearing the Cape” series. I finished Wearing the Cape, Bite Me, Villains Inc, Omega Night, Young Sentinels and moved on to Small Town Heroes. I love Astra and her bff, Artemis.

    I was reading I’m Just a Small Town Shifter by G.S. D’Moore. Murderbot came out and I switched. I’m only a page deep into it.

    I’m also rereading Once More With Feelings by The Night Hawk. It’s at StoriesOnline.Net. I’ve reread and mentioned it before. It’s a “Do-Over” story. I like do-over stories.

    1. Friday night of Good Book Thursday. I’ve purchased four Monthly Bundles from Baen Books. A monthly bundle contains six to eight books scheduled to be published for USD20.00. I was just looking to see if the soonest of the four had reached publication date – nope, 17 more days – and noted that one of the bundles contained an Eric Flint book, which must have been scheduled before he died. Given the routine delays in traditional publishing, posthumous publication is a thing. The new book is part of the “Assiti Shards” series, which is a superset of the “Ring of Fire” series. An excerpt from the Book that started it all said:

      In reality, the Grantville Disaster was the result of what humans of the day would have called criminal negligence. Caused by a shard of cosmic garbage, a discarded fragment of what, for lack of a better term, could be called a work of art. A shaving, you might say, from a sculpture. The Assiti fancied their solipsist amusements with the fabric of spacetime. They were quite oblivious to the impact of their “art” on the rest of the universe. 

      Eric Flint. 1632 (Kindle Locations 54-57). Baen Publishing Enterprises. Kindle Edition.

      For that book and the entire “Ring of Fire” series, the main conceit Is that on May of 2000 a sphere approximately six miles in diameter containing the town of Grantville, West Virginia was transported back in time to Thuringia, Germany in May of 1631. The rest of that series deals with the changes to history caused by the infusion of “up-timers” into the politics and culture of the 17th century. I love that series. I love that Mr. Flint invited many, many authors, professionals and amateurs, to play in that sandbox.

      The thing is, having established a science-fictiony macguffin to transport people and places back to the past, Eric couldn’t just leave it. Another “Assiti Shard” sent an Illinois prison back to the Jurassic (Time Spike with M. Kosmatka) and spawned a series of stories having nothing whatever to do with the Ring of Fire series.

      Being on a roll, He and my favorite co-conspirators wrote another series starting with The Alexander Inheritance (Flint/Huff/Goodlett). Yet another shard sends a cruise ship and a fuel ship back to the time shortly after Alexander the Great’s demise. Three novels, so far.

      The new book? An Angel Called Peterbilt (Flint/Huff/Goodlett). This time, a long-haul trucker, his wife, their daughter, their truck (guess what kind) and the fuel rig it was hauling, half a convenience store, a customer and her two kids are all that were sent back “about a thousand years.” I don’t know where to. I just finished chapter one. This bumped Murderbot down one in the queue.

        1. The year 1005 C.E. in the vicinity of the Mississippi River near the mound people.

          Picture Cristiforo Columbus five centuries later being intercepted by the Coast Guard in their turbo-electric catamarans, because the native Americans got a head start.

          1. For a group that small, an outcome as in Poul Anderson’s “The Man Who Came Early” sounds distinctly possible. If that is avoided and the uptimers were healthy enough not to bring back devastating disease, I still wonder about the disease the Europeans would eventually bring. But alt hist sf about the Native Americans is often very hand-wavy about disease and the attainable speed of cultural advancement. (Assuming it is advancement, which some dispute.) But I’ll look for the novel at the library. I think I’m behind on Shards books as it is!

          2. The book is scheduled to publish in February of ’24. The bundle contained 1/2 of the ebook. “W202402 February 2024 Monthly Baen Bundle Only 75 more days to purchase.” as of 2023-11-23.


            There’s a link to explain how monthly bundles work, which can be confusing. I bought four bundles. On publication day, I can download and read all seven books in any or all formats of

            HTML Format Zip
            EPUB/Kindle/Apple iOS/Nook Format Zip
            Mobi/Palm/Kindle Format Zip
            RTF Format Zip
            Ebookwise/Rocket Format Zip
            Microsoft Reader Format Zip
            Sony Digital Reader Format

            One month before publication I can read 3/4 of any new book and all of any previously published book. In the case of previously pubbed books, they were previously hardbacks. This pub date is for the trade paperback or the mass market paperback.

            Two months before publication I can read 1/2 of any new book and all of any previously published book. In this case, I bought January through April, but not December’s bundle. I’ll be able to read the whole book come February, but only half for now.

      1. I think she was ok with it—her sister finished one when she was too sick to do so and they published another since.

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