186 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, December 21, 2023

  1. Phew you’re there! So grateful for that.

    I read three drastically different holiday romance books: 1) A Jolly Jolly Mess by C.M. Nascosta – for anyone who likes their Christmas books deliciously smutty – the arc of several human/non human relationships lightly intersecting during the season in her Cambric Creek universe. This author is always reliable. 2) All I Want for Christmas is Tentacles – M/M alien abducts human trope – a bit fluffy for my tastes although I did appreciate the tentacles having a mind of their own. 3) True North by T.A. Moore – this is the darkest Christmas book I’ve read which isn’t a surprise given that this author writes truly edgy M/M romances – Santa dies and needs to be replaced and different parties are trying to secure the outcome with some bad magical behaviour. It’s like Stephen King decided to write a holiday romcom.

          1. I know; that’s why I mentioned it. Fluffy and present tense don’t seem to go well together, unlike gritty and present tense.

      1. Christina, since you like angsty you’d probably like a number of her books – I’d recommend the Bones duology.

  2. Unlurking for a moment. I’m rereading Any Old Diamonds by KJ Charles and appreciating the plotting and foreshadowing. I’m looking forward to the murder mystery she says is for next year.

  3. I didn’t get a chance to read quite as much as usual this week what with running around doing holiday stuff. I did finish books 4 and 5 of Cordelia Kingsbridge’s 7 of Spades series. I really enjoyed the first 3 books in the series but book 4 and 5 were very action-packed with lots and lots of violent scenes which began to go beyond my abilities to suspend my disbelief. Loved the romance aspect though: a Las Vegas detective with issues and a PI with even more issues; the chemistry was good and the romance arc was very satisfying. I’m glad I read it. Oh, Tammy, I was right in my guess about who the 7 of Spades was. But guessing it didn’t ruin the ride at all. I liked the way it was resolved.
    I also read “Thrown off the Ice” by Taylor Fitzpatrick. This was a truly moving and thought-provoking and heart-breaking love story. I was pretty much destroyed after reading that story. Hockey enforcer and younger up and coming hockey phenom. I won’t say more other than that I think this author is phenomenal. It took days to recover from that story and the book hangover was intense. And when I say I recovered… I will never forget that one.
    I worked through the book hangover by rereading Heyer’s The Convenient Marriage, for the umpteenth time. This one always helps recover from book hangovers.
    Finally I read Avon Gale’s “Breakaway” which I really enjoyed. In hindsight I probably should have taken a bigger break between hockey books as this one had a very similar story to Thrown off the Ice just with a happy ending. Still I’ll definitely continue reading this author’s stuff!

    1. I didn’t have a clue who it was so good for you! And totally with you that there was a lot in the final book especially that required some suspension of disbelief. And yes the romance arc was so good!

      And I had exactly the same hangover after reading Thrown Off the Ice. I cried.

      Enjoy Avon Gale, whenever you get to the rest of hers. And if you like fantasy with an edge, try her as Iris Foxglove (with a writing partner) – their Staria series is on my auto re-read list.

        1. I know I’m going to go back and reread it at some point but I’m still at the point where I start to cry — or at least tear up — when I think about it! I’ll have to wait a while.

        2. Okay, I’m putting Thrown Off the Ice on my wishlist for the day when I need to have my heart broken. Maybe I’ll read it after I watch ‘Fellow Travelers.’

    2. I really enjoyed Thrown off the Ice, although it breaks the romance genre contract with the reader, so I say it’s an important book, but not primarily a romance.

  4. I too ready A Holly Jolly Mess and greatly enjoyed it. The only problem is that it left me wanting more. Thankfully CM Nascosta is writing Christmas Ghosts, short stories with some of the same characters that she releases weekly on her Patreon. It’s fun, comforting and undemanding.

    Then I dnfed a book that was perfectly fine, but added another complication to the plot and I was just done. I can’t handle it right now. I have Christmas brain, meaning I am fried every night. So I started The Book of Firsts again. I wish I had started it sooner because I would like to get to Four Kings, as I consider it a Christmas book, but I am too slow and that is just not going to happen.

    I will try reading new things in the new year.

    Now for a question. My aunt recently got a smart phone and she is loving it. But I want to load my Audible account on it so that she can wander through my library. Is that something that can be done?

    1. I also love when we run into other characters from former books in the Cambric Creek ‘verse – like Gray. Did you ever read Nascosta’s regency/monster/sailing romance – too lazy to look up title?

      My husband and I share an Audible account but that’s because we share an Amazon/Kindle account so we don’t care who buys what.

      1. I haven’t read that one yet. Or the gargoyle. I just haven’t been in the mood for historicals but I will try to read them in the new year. And yes, it is nice to see snippets of other characters.

        I’m not worried about my aunt buying anything, but her phone will live at a different address than my house and I wasn’t sure if Amazon would care or notice that.

        Not sure that she will appreciate all of my taste, but I have some that she would like.

        1. I share my Amazon Prime account with a friend who lives at a completely different address. It’s apparently something they offer. She can read anything on my Kindle list. Don’t know if it works for Audible.

          1. It’s something they recommend, to add value to your Prime account. Having dealt with them as a vendor, my jaw dropped when I got the message encouraging it.

            It would be nice if they would direct some of their value for their customers to the vendors who provide what they sell.

          2. I like that they let readers share, but I really wish they would provide some kind of payment for the authors either on this or on rereads. I don’t share for this reason- I feel like a lot of ebooks are super affordable. Not all, but many.

      1. Thanks! That was what I found as well, but thought I would ask here incase there are any problems or work-arounds.

    2. You can share anything you purchased, but not the titles from the Audible Plus catalog. My Mom and I share.

    3. I know Amazon allows you to share your Kindle library with a family member. I don’t know if that extends to audible it’s worth asking it is possible to get hold of Amazon.

    4. Yes indeed, download from app store (free) and input your account info. I use the classic Apple earbuds with it (the one with the cord and the usb connector) which is fine. But lots of people use the earbuds without.

  5. I finished off the last Janitors of the Apocalypse book. As someone here stated, it was a fitting finale to the series. It’s always fun when underestimated folks use their specialized knowledge against powerful antagonists.

    Last night I picked up my copy of Santa Baby, novellas for Christmas, the first of which is Hot Toy by our own Jenny. I’m enjoying it.

    1. I read the first book (or two?) in the Janitors series a while back. I really should get back to it. More for the To Be Read queue! (I think I also read Santa Baby! but am only positive about Hot Toy.)

  6. I reread Hot Toy and loved it again.

    I read the latest in Aurora Rose Reynolds Until series: Until Hanna

    The Until series is formulaic but it’s a formula that works. I skip the steamy sex scenes but some here might like theme.

  7. The only new book I finished this week is Rebecca Yarros’ Fourth Wing, which I enjoyed greatly in spite of the present tense, which makes my brain itch, and now I am 256th in line for Iron Flame, so I should be reading it in a few months. (I was 536th for Fourth Wing when I first put a hold on it, and the library now has 32 copies….Moving up here.)

    I didn’t manage to finish Greenglass House before it was due, but I will when my hold comes up again. I couldn’t read much of it at one time because it seemed to move so slowly, which meant I was reading it slowly, but I was enjoying it. I always enjoy books where a house is an important character. I will be reading more of Kate Milford.

    I reread Paladin’s Faith, which was very satisfying.

    I am in the middle of 1157 BC. Reading about the collapse of Late Bronze Age civilization feels strangely appropriate right now. I cannot take very much grimth in my fiction, but historical grimth is fine.

    1. Assuming you mean Eric Cline’s 1177 BC, I read that, although I could not say if in the original or the revised edition. I see he has a sequel, After 1177 BC, scheduled for 2024. I could have sworn I read and enjoyed something else of his, but none of the listed titles rings a bell, so maybe not. Like you, I can handle grim better when it’s not portrayed as up close and personal.

  8. I’m reading “Black List, White Death: Two Holmes On the Range Novellas” by Steve Hockensmith which is the latest tome in his series about Otto and Gustav Amlingmeyer who are cowboys turned private detectives in the Old West. I really enjoy this series and am glad he seems to be finding an audience enough to self-publish.

    I’m also slowly reading and savoring Michelle Sagara’s latest book in the “Cast in …” world. This book features a new protagonist in Robin, the student who was an important character in the book “Cast in Wisdom”. I really love all of Michelle Sagara West’s books.

    I finished “Paladin’s Faith” and now I’m also starting to re-read “Clockwork Boys” as that is the story about the Dreaming God paladin who became host to a demon. I wonder if Kingfisher will start to merge some of these story lines. I’m really looking forward to her next story in the Paladin series.

    1. I reread the Clocktaur books for the same reason — those mentions make me very curious about future connections! My brain also insists that something about Judith and something about the sword books could be related someday, but I can’t see anything in-text to point to, so that may just be wishful thinking.

  9. I read my first three keepers in Kindle Unlimited: Lisa Henry & Sarah Honey, The Amazing Alpha Tau Boyfriend Project; Briar Prescott, Project Hero; and Sarina Bowen, Roommate. They’re all m/m romances, and the first two had similar storylines – one guy’s helping the other to attract the man he has a crush on – but they both worked well; the first one had the edge for me, but that might be because I read it first. Sarina Bowen can be hit and miss, but Roommate is good – I liked the world as well as the characters. Wasn’t 100% convinced by the ending of the family background storyline, but that’s not a major flaw.

    Unfortunately, I baled out of the next in the Vino & Veritas series, of which Roommate’s the first story – they’re all by different authors and that one was too shallow and saccharine to stick with.

    1. V&V is pretty mixed. I enjoyed Roommate and it got me started on the series. I do like the world.

    2. I’ve read some books in the V&V series – I very much like the setting. But it’s really a very mixed bunch of books.
      Otoh I really like the idea that a place created by one author is opened up to more than one storyteller, which makes the place and population come/stay alive in our imagination for much longer than your usually.

  10. I’m still in Covid-recovery so I’ve read a lot of books in the last week. Atypically, I switched back and forth between multiple books on different devices and apps. I attribute my shorter-than-usual attention span to Covid. The memorable/notable books:

    – System Collapse and Witch King (Martha Wells). My first Murderbot but #7 in series. While I enjoyed it, I felt like I was missing a fair amount of backstory by starting with the most recent in a series. Not intentional but it was available on Cloud Library, the electronic 7 day borrowing system from my library. Followed with Witch King and realized that Wells’ writing style required that I read all the words to catch the meaning. Highly recommend but interested in views of stalwart Murderbot fans.

    – How to Fake it in Hollywood (Ava Wilder) – much less fluffy than title suggests. Both MCs are actors, engaged in a fake relationship for different reasons. Male MC is very famous but also a reclusive alcoholic. Female MC is younger, less famous and anxious about her career. They get to HEA but not without a few bumps and therapy.

    – Three Holidays and a Wedding – takes place in 2000 when Christmas, Ramadan and Hanukkah coincided. Popular pick on Cloud Library and prominently displayed at big box book stores. It has promise but was too light and fluffy fir me. I guess I line a little more angst with my Christmas romances.

    All the Demons Are Here (Jake Tappet) – not my usual genre but I was desperate and this was available on CL. Checked a couple of reviews and generally not seen as his best book. Found the footnotes to each chapter “written” by the character to be annoying.

    1. Cloud Library clearly has features more specific to each library using it than I had realized. I had thought it was a more unified resource. 3 Holidays sounded sort of interesting (I think I could use fluff) but is not in my local CL. It’s at Libby (another ebook borrowing system) for me, but with a hold queue.

      1. Makes sense that Cloud Library is specific to a particular city/region. I always max out my Libby holds and usually get my books in clusters as they become available. They seem to add new book to my CL every few days so maybe keep checking yours? I hope you enjoy Three Holidays when it becomes available.

        1. Perhaps my library only subscribes to the bottom tier on Cloud (or something). What I’ve found on it to date are older titles, although it’s a valuable (if patchy) resource for those. I’m in no particular hurry on 3 Holidays, considering my current To Be Reads. I put it on hold on Libby.

    2. Longtime Martha Wells fan here (especially but not exclusively Murderbot!) I agree, I need to pay attention to really get the whole story, at least the first time through. I find following Murderbot’s character arc very satisfying, and it’s both gradual and subconscious at times, so I do recommend reading that series in order if you can.

      I enjoyed Witch King, and since you did too, her City of Bones and Wheel of Time are two other older standalone fantasy novels. (City of Bones just got a new edition.)

      1. I have a mad fondness for Wells’ Wizard Hunters/Fall of Ile Rein, and a friend loves the Raksura books to distraction. So yeah, Wells is delightful and has a fantastic deep backlist.

        I imagine Murderbot #7 was mystifying! It is one of few series I really recommend getting in order, at least the first 4 – they are novellas, and go along pretty quick, so overall it is more like one giant doorstop book, but the backstory will add depth and character to the one you just finished.

        1. If you love the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, and haven’t yet read the Death of the Necromancer, you’re really missing out. It is the original tale of Tremaine’s father Nicolas and Arisilde. It’s an amazing book.

    3. Nooooooooo! The end of book 7 was so satisfying, but possibly ho-hum without knowing Murderbot’s character arc. You know how you said she makes the most of every word? All those missed words!!! I feel so sad!

  11. I reread Welcome to Temptation and marveled at the very complicated plot which somehow got resolved at the end. I’m rereading Faking It, now, which is kind of a sequel. It also has a very complicated plot, and hilarious lines. My very favorite, that makes me laugh every time, is when Clea’s hired help is rooting though her closet while Davy and Tilda are hiding in it, and he grabs Tilda’s ankle, causing her to panic violently by kicking him in the head. Davy says, “… he’s unconscious. You have a kick like a mule, Matilda.” She replies, “I was tense. He grabbed my ankle.” And Davy says, “Something I must remember not to do…” That cracks me up every time.

    I really enjoy the movie allusions in these books, too, even though some of them are not in my repertoire of film viewing.

    Happy Midwinter Solstice, everyone! From now on, the days will get a little longer!

  12. Murderbot on the flights home. Very cold up here in the Arctic. Sunrise is about 9:30 to 10:30 ish, the sun travels sideways along the horizon until sunset at 3:50 to 5 ish. The colours are amazing. If we were in Inuvik, colder and darker, almost at the Arctic Ocean. It is a unique beauty in the north. Two little foxes were playing by the side of the road, popping up and tumbling down a ditch. Cute.

    1. Summer is 24 hours day light. The best sound I ever heard were the chunks of ice floating in the MacKenzie river in the spring, it was like a crystal chandelier in a slight breeze. We’ve
      come home to 10 for Christmas Day, up from 4. Now I really have to put up the tree. And three dogs coming too.

  13. I also read the latest Michelle Sagara Elantra book. It’s a spinoff of the Cast In … series, which you can tell because it not only doesn’t have Kaylin Neya in it it isn’t even titled Cast In . It’s about Robin and the Collegium, and Teela and the cohort show up to investigate some mystical murders. I missed Kaylin but it was still pretty good.

    When everyone here raved about The Fourth Wing, not just here but other people I know, I downloaded the sample and did not like it at all. When my mother, who’s read possibly two fantasy novels in her entire life got it out of the library I decided I would have to give it a longer shot. And it did get better. The general awfulness didn’t go away but it became more spread out, and some good and interesting stuff started happening and as we got to know the main character better I liked her a lot. I’m in the middle of the sequel now.

    Someone here recommended His Convenient Marchioness by Elizabeth Rolls, which turned out to be pretty good.

    Someone else recommended Grave Expectations by Alice Bell, which sounded right up my alley, it wasn’t your typical urban fantasy. It had a much more realistic air, and you felt like you were really reading about what would happen if a lower middle class English girl in our real world suddenly started being able to see ghosts, in particular the ghost of her best friend who disappeared when she was seventeen. 10 years later life would have not gone particularly well but she manages to get by as low rent medium without any people skills (she’s an introvert), and then she runs into a ghost of a possible murder victim at the house of an extremely dysfunctional but wealthy family. It was pretty good.

    1. “General awfulness?” Can you say more? I’ve been considering it but hesitant to invest in a series that sounds polarizing…

      1. Okay, in the sample, the students who want to enter the dragon riding military academy have to cross The Parapet to get into the school and be accepted as students. The Parapet is an extremely narrow ridge on the side of a mountain where it is raining, cold and windy above a 1000 foot fall. Usually about 2/3’s of the candidates make it across alive. Also, since there are fewer dragons available to bond then students, it is allowed to murder the other students to eliminate competition. So if you go slow and careful across The Parapet another student might come up behind you and shove you off to you death, and indeed one candidate murders three other prospective students before trying to do the same to the main character. And that rule doesn’t change after you get into the academy, although your own squadmates aren’t allowed to murder you, everyone else is, and usually only 25% of those who make it across The Parapet survive until graduation three years later.

          1. No. In Ender’s Game very few of the kids died. Though they’re 20 when they enter the Riders Quadrant. It’s more like A Deadly Education by Naomi Novik. But instead of astral monsters killing the kids so that only 40% survived, it’s the other students and the instructors who are killing/murdering them, so that only 25% survive, because you know they’re just ‘eliminating the weak’.

        1. And the annoying thing, none of this violence makes any sense. This is a country perpetually at war with a strong enemy, so you’d think they’d be taking care of their best and brightest so they could send them off to war. Like, fail at dragon riding? No problem, let’s pop you into the infantry.

          But no. They have to die.

          1. They act like a super rich country. But they’re not. I kept slamming up against that.

          2. All of this is very helpful. I was just about to borrow it from my library but I will now give it a miss. Thank you!

        2. Sounds like I should cancel my hold on Fourth Wing. I had actually gotten a few pages into it, but I had too much of interest out at once and it went back to the library. I do not enjoy the trope of having students free to murder each other, which has come up repeatedly in fantasy lately. Perhaps it seems a natural extension of Hunger Games (or of actual gladiator fights), but it isn’t really. (Of, course, there was dueling in German universities. But usually not fatal.)

          1. I see it as a cheap trick to raise the stakes, Patrick. It worked in Hunger Games because it was an integral part of the plot, and the world was believable. For me, there are too many internal contradictions in Fourth Wing. I was glad I got it from the library rather than buying it.

          2. The dragons, once we get to them, make it worth putting up with the evil and the senseless. I think I want to read the next one in hopes of figuring out WTF is going on. Because something obviously is, much more than is revealed at the end. Of course maybe the author is simply bad at world building and plotting.

          3. Reminds me of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s excellent Final Architecture series and one of the characters is a lawyer from an academic tradition where disputes can still be settled by dueling, not usually to the death mind you. Its a minor part of the books but there was something delightful about a scholar who’s deadly with a weapon.

    1. Oooo!! I grew up on the Nero Wolfe books! (I’m 70.) Ran and read the sample and bought it right away. Thanks for the req, Diane!

  14. I didn’t like Fourth Wing at all. I did finish it, so there were elements of the story that were appealing, but it felt very unoriginal. All the usual YA tropes, including taking itself way too seriously. It read like a first novel – a decent try, but very derivative. Then I discovered that the author had written a stack of novels before it. I couldn’t help comparing it unfavourably with A Deadly Education, which was so original and unexpected.

    In contrast, I adored The Last Devil to Die, the latest Thursday Murder Club book. Heartrending in places, hilarious in others. This is such a strong series.

    I also really liked Time to Shine by Rachel Reid, one of the MM ice hockey books. The whole story is very sweet in a non-sickly way, and Carey is hilarious.

    Now I’m rereading A Strange and Stubborn Endurance.

      1. It felt to me that it was trying too hard to fit all the current YA tropes in; my coworker who introduced me to The Red Queen thought it was almost plagiarizing that series (though she loved it) but I thought she hasn’t read as much fantasy as I have (I’m 70; she’s 18.) But despite that, and my loathing of present tense, I enjoyed it.

          1. I used to loathe present tense, but now I don’t mind it. I think one of the reasons I disliked it was because so many really bad YA novels are written in present tense, which somehow seemed more offensive than past tense. But when it’s done well (Thursday Murder Club) it’s quite gorgeous. And I’ve discovered that it’s fun to write in present tense too, so all my previous objections have fallen away.

            (I know you weren’t aiming that question at me, Tammy, but I’m always happy to jump in uninvited!)

          2. My brain keeps stuttering and trying to reinterpret it into “normal” patterns. It knocks me out of the story over and over. No flow.

    1. I found Fourth Wing quite a compelling read even though I disliked a lot of elements. I did like the heroine. I didn’t like Iron Wing at all. Can’t quite remember why and I read it not long ago since it just came out 🙂
      I think it has to do with some of the idiotic emotional reactions. It didn’t read true to me.

      1. Does Fourth Wing end on a cliffhanger so that you need to read the sequel? Or is it satisfying as is?

      2. “Idiotic emotional reactions “? More so than Fourth Wing? That was part of why it felt stuffed to the gills with YA tropes.

        And yet, I enjoyed it. [side eyes book]

  15. Happy Winter Solstice, everyone! It was generally believed amongst commonfolk and critter-caretakers in Sweden back when that animals could speak on the night of the winter solstice. One better give them something extra tasty to eat to make sure they didn’t say anything bad about their masters. I think it sounds incredibly useful and practical – let’s hope our kitty-girls start talking in Human tonight so I can ask them all the important questions.

    Reading isn’t going very well. Since many of you often recommend T. Kingfisher, I picked up “A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”…must be two weeks ago. I really liked how it started, but I just can’t focus right now. At least it gives me hope that Ive found a new author to read more by, as soon as my brain can handle new. Except the horror stuff. Can’t read that.
    Back to rereading old brain-soothers then, I guess. At least they help me fall asleep.

    1. I wonder if you might enjoy some of T. Kingfisher’s books for kids (by Ursula Vernon) right now? Castle Hangnail and her Harriet Hamsterbone series (#1 is Harriet the Invincible) are such wonderful, funny, kind comfort reads for me. They’re short and there’s less to keep track of than her adult work, but I enjoy them just as much.

      1. I will look them up! Thanks loads for the tip. Children’s is indeed what I often fall back on when the brain really can’t handle anything. Always good to have more options! 🙂

  16. I just finished reading a book I read in 2010/2011, The 1000 Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which I absolutely loved. It did not make me cry this time, but I still gasped and held my breath at the exciting bits and am really excited to be getting podcast together for this amazing novel.

    If that whets your whistle, the podcast is called 60 Weeks, 60 Books and yes, of course it featured J. Crusie, some weeks back.

  17. I continued in the Vino &Veritas series (MM mostly, Different authors, set up by Sarina Bowen).

    I thought Aftermath LA Witt (V&V) was really good SUPER angsty (life altering injury, chronic pain, divorce among other things). Really good and thought provoking. Would highly recommend but avoid if you don’t like angst.

    As light relief from that I read Book lover JE Birk (also V&V). Sweet, young MCs, low angst, fun discussions of the romance genre. Definitely a contrast to Aftermath.

    1. Have just put Aftermath on my TBR list. I enjoyed Bowen’s Roommate but found others in the V&V series to be too sweet for my mood when I tried them. I missed Aftermath — angst is my thing! 🙂
      Thanks for the recommendation!

  18. I’m still reading that serial, VARIATION ON A THEME BOOK 5 by Grey Wolf. Which reminds me, Q: What is the difference between Grey and Gray? A: Grey is a colour, but Gray is a color.

    In the “Wearing the Cape series reread, I finished REPERCUSSIONS and moved on to JOYEUSE GUARD. Last GBT I had finished RECURSION and started REPERCUSSIONS. Those are labeled books 7, 8, and 9 of the series.

    I also reread Vincent’s EVERY SINGLE LIE. I suspect I’ll read it again, but not soon.

    “Raw, real, and utterly gripping, Every Single Lie is part page-turning mystery, part heart-rending character study. A staggering portrait of family trauma and resilience in small- town America.” —Jennifer Lynn Barnes, New York Times bestselling author of The Inheritance Games

    “A razor-sharp mystery that speaks critically about the cruel corners of social media and small-town biases.… Enough twists and turns that there is no way to stop turning the pages.” —Booklist, starred review

    “A carefully detailed portrait of a fraying family, a scathing look at small-town rumors, and a blunt critique of social media’s rapid, rabid tendencies.” —Kirkus Reviews

    “Vincent’s thriller is an action-packed yet emotional novel that demonstrates just how toxic rumors can be.… A realistic and gripping contemporary novel that many teens will thoroughly enjoy. A worthwhile selection for high school and YA public library collections.” —School Library Journal

    “Beckett’s nonstop sleuthing and memorable voice—alternatively witty and vulnerable, coolheaded and fiery—keep the pages turning.” —Publishers Weekly

    “A compelling story about how much we can miss about people, even those we love, and the price that can exact.” —BCCB

    Vincent, Rachel. Every Single Lie (p. i). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.

    Other than that, movies and TV shows on Hulu, Paramount, and Netflix.

    Seasoned greetings!

    1. Yes. Every Single Lie might be listed under YA (high school sophomore), but it’s way too intense to reread very often.

    2. I wondered that, too. Grey is the British spelling of the color and gray is the American spelling of the color. I trip over judgement when I see it, too. American writing does not include the “e” after the “g”.

      1. I read so many books printed in the UK during my childhood that my spelling is quite random—except, oddly, for color, which I never spell colour.

        1. Also, I grew up with people whose last names were Grey, and Gray. Picky as I am about names, I never could keep them straight.

  19. I’m almost done with my reread of Network Effect and looking forward to starting the new one. Finished Never Meant to Stay by Trisha Das on my Kindle. Good romance with interesting Indian characters and culture. I liked it a lot.

  20. I’ve continued the Scorung Chances series ny Avon Gale. I jumped from book 2 to 4, Empty net and liked it a lot, the MCs start out as ebemies, not my usual fav trope but very well executed here. The one MC we get to know in book 3 (I had started before book 4 seemed more appealing), Drake the goalie is fiery but very perceptive. Laurent, his new back up, comes across as an a*hole, but for reasons. The story os not only about MC1 being attracted to MC2 and vice versa and doing stuff endlessly plus falling in love, but in Laurent’s case working through what made him the way he is. And Drake, his captain, then friend, than more is essistential for that journey. Satisfying read!

    The I read book 3, Power Play, which I grew to like after a not quite thrilling start. The insta lust is always difficult for me, but the author does write interesting characters and likeable/loveable ones indeed!
    I’d started book 5, but the insta attraction there is a bit too much for me right now.
    I don’t know why all those guys habmve the sex drive of heavy duty power drills … and they are always rather talented or at least very enthusiastic learners. While I actually prefer it when it’s a tad more realistic with a less glorious scene once in a while. Like in Cloud White when the one MC finds himslef in a role he’s usually not into but wants to do something good for the other MC and it’s spectacularly not great. But the connection is there anyway.
    Now I’m rushing through a book that seemed interesting from the blur, but the setting, plot and the language of the story are too crude for my taste. It’s not written badly, but I find I don’t like spending time with the cast of characters, no connection either.
    Not sure what to read next, probably “next season” by Avon Gale which I’d read some years ago, before I’d got bitten by the hockey bug…

    1. I love Power Play so much – because I love the relationship between the sunny-natured Max and the forbidding Russian coach. And I really like Empty Net quite a bit too.

      Dodo, why are you a different colour this week?? It took me a while to figure out who was writing about hockey books for the first time on this site…*:)

      1. Yes, Max grew on me a lot – the xmas visit at his brother’s was such an endearing insight 🙂

        The avatar is different this week, though why I don’t know for sure. I had to enter bame and e-mail. Usually I don’t…

          1. It doesn’t look like you any more: the blue was much calmer and more sophisticated. Now you look like you’re about to fall off that narrow bridge Gary was describing above.

          2. Jane, I guess in the midst of the move we’re in (we still have lots to do) and the recent death of my father in law (went into the hospital to re-gain his strength, which did not happen), I feel like the orange/red and lack of calm is actually quite fitting.
            Reading, esp. my favourite genre, is a well needed escape right now…

  21. Not doing any new reading these days (except my own manuscripts that I’m editing), but I’ve got a GBT question for Arghers who like Christmas stories. I’ve got an idea for an urban fantasy series that’s basically cozy mysteries but with a mix of human/non-human characters (ergo urban fantasy), all set at Christmas (because reasons), and novella length for a quick read at a busy time of year. And it sort of has the feel of Legends & Lattes, in the sense of being not dark/scary the way some urban fantasy is, and instead is more of a light, comfort read. (At least that’s my goal.)

    It’s a kind of weird idea, so I may end up writing them for myself and self-pubbing, but I’ll run it past my agent first. I don’t even know if there’s a market for the genre/length, so I figured I’d ask if anyone here run into something like that in novella length? Especially stories that aren’t linked to longer works? I know the major UF publishers do anthologies of novellas sometimes, but those are by invitation only, generally connected to longer works. I’m wondering if the big publishers ever do either novellas, or perhaps a collection of 3 novellas to make up a novel’s number of pages, for Christmas stories, or even not Christmas stories, just series of novellas w/o a longer book. I’m not even sure what terms to start searching with, so I figured I’d ask here, since as a group we read quite widely, so maybe someone’s run into something similar.

    I’m not in any way comparing myself to Martha Wells or Lois McMaster Bujold, but it seems like they’ve both established that there is a readership for novellas, apart from novels (because remember Murderbot started as novellas that sort of combine to form a larger work, and only later included a novel), when standard wisdom before that (I believe) was that novellas didn’t have much of a readership in popular fiction. I know LMB’s novellas are self-pub, but they’ve obviously been successful and are being reprinted in collections. Just wondering if the major publishers are more open to series of novellas now than in the past.

    1. No idea, Gin, but I’d expect them to be a bit behind the curve – cautious about the financial risk. Not sure how well novellas work in print – might be worth asking a few booksellers, since that’s who publishers sell to in the first instance.

      As a reader, I’m definitely into the idea, and it’s a format I’ve thought about for my fiction project, if I ever get it off the ground. But I’m assuming I’ll be self-publishing ebooks.

      Good luck!

      1. I really enjoy writing novella-length, which I remembered while working on Secret Project #1 (the UF series is Secret Project #2). I avoided the length, with a few exceptions for anthologies mostly, in the past, because everyone said it was an unmarketable length outside anthologies. But I think that may be changing, for both traditional publishers and self-pubbers. A friend who writes romance tells me it’s becoming very popular in the romance genre, but she doesn’t know about UF or mystery. I’ll let you know what I find out, in case you find it useful for your writing.

        1. Gin, there’s a ton of urban fantasy (all kinds of fantasy) at all lengths – shorts to big-ass novels – in the queer self-publishing circles but I have no idea about ‘straight’ romance. My publisher JMS Books takes a lot of that kind of thing but they focus on not-straight story frames.

          My sense of romance in general is that e-book novellas are very popular. I read a ton of them. 🙂

    2. No knowledge about publishing, but I would read this series and i hope you try it. I really liked your crazy cat lady chronicles.

    3. AFAIK, the major SFF imprint publishing standalone novellas right now is the TorDotCom imprint of Tor (part of Macmillan), which published the novella and novel-length Murderbot books, as well as a whole ton of others. I find they have a wide range of tones and sub-genres, and I’ve enjoyed most of the ones I’ve read (including Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire, Comeuppance Served Cold by Marion Deeds, The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho, A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, Battle of the Linguist Mages by Scotto Moore, and The Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo, in case any of those ring bells here.) (They’ve also published a bunch of novels I love, including ones by P. Djèlí Clark and Tamsyn Muir.)

      I’m a traditionally published author, but for children, not adults, so I haven’t researched them as a writer. I don’t know if they’ve done any holiday-related books. I believe their sub guidelines are on their site. I’ve noticed ongoing conversations about the price of their novellas for years now, so you may want to look into that if it’s a factor for your decisions.

      Hope that helps!

      1. I forgot to mention that the Hugo and Nebula (major SFF awards) both have award categories for novellas, so it could be interesting to see who’s publishing their finalists in recent years?

    4. I like novellas, both as a reader and as a writer. I think it is my favorite format, length-wise. Sadly, the big publishers don’t seem too concerned about their readers’ opinions. Maybe because you can’t charge as much for a novella than a novel, although they sure try. The prices for the print novellas of Murderbot are ridiculous.

    5. I have just been rereading Thea Harrison’s Elder series and a lot of them are novellas. In fact, I think the novellas are better than the novels in that series, the tarot ones especially.
      So go for it!

    6. I think the rise of e-readers has made novellas more popular. They allow for a full range of lengths with adjustable prices to match. I used to chafe at the necessity of buying an anthology with multiple things I didn’t want to read just to get the one I did.

      1. Good point! I do think the whole concept of reading has changed a bit in recent years, between ebooks and audiobooks and the rise of podcasts, which aren’t books, but sort of scratch the same itch.

      1. Oh, my, thank you Gin! I recognized many of the novels, but some of them were to new to me! Spending money on myself, early Christmas gifts!

  22. I only managed to read one book in the past week, Wrapped in Ink by Carrie Ann Ryan. Part of a series, it has extended family shenanigans, warm fuzzy kind of story, heroine with lupus. It was a cozy sort of read which I picked for my post flu and tetanus shots fatigue, took my mind off it nicely.

  23. I went on a Georgette Heyer reading kick and read Black Sheep as well as The Toll Gate. Now I am rereading A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters.

    1. I think I’ve read all the Cadfaels and at least one other Peters novel, plus a biography of her. She had some odd quirks, like being incredibly naive about Communist Czechoslovakia in a contemporary-set novel. (She translated Czech novels too, but I have not read her translations.) Not an issue with the Cadfaels, obviously. She had the habit of using “judicially” to mean “judiciously.” That sense is in the dictionary, but I’m not sure I’ve encountered the usage elsewhere. And sometimes Cadfael comes across more like a Buddhist monk who has transcended human emotion than like a Catholic one who ideally should feel for his fellows (as should Buddhist monks in some traditions!). I did visit the Foregate Church in Shrewsbury, almost the only part of Cadfael’s surroundings to survive. Peters recreated almost everything else in her imagination, an impressive feat.

      1. I think you mean the Abbey, on Abbey Foregate. Unfortunately Thomas Telford built his improved London-Holyhead (= the route to Ireland) road through the old abbey site, marooning the church. I used to live a few hundred yards away, on the other side of the river, with a good view of the Abbey. I tried to watch the Brother Cadfael series, but the one I tried seemed to be showing my location as a marsh, and no one had an accent remotely related to Shrewsbury or the Welsh Border: the dislocation was too much for me.

          1. Jane, I stand corrected on the name of the church. It’s now of course Anglican. Since Telford came along centuries after the dissolution of the monasteries, I doubt if there was much left of the Abbey anyhow. I think I visited before the TV series, but the books were already enormously popular, and at the church I lifted eyebrows at finding them sold not merely in an attached gift shop or at a literature rack in the very back of the nave, but prominently in the nave. The smallish church was clearly larger than its current congregation needed.

            The question would seem to be whether your location really had been a marsh in the 1100s. (I am told that what was a marsh near some relatives’ house, which marsh I remember well, is now a shopping mall.)

            Similarly, what people spoke in the 1100s probably would not even be comprehensible as English today (and maybe would have anyhow been Norman French for the nobles and Latin for the monks), never mind present-day local accents.

            For that matter, I have gotten used to the fact that US television rarely even attempts local accents for contemporary shows, except maybe for New York City. Everybody else mostly speaks General American. (There are “ethnic” accents depicted, but even those are rarely shown as specific to cities even where they really would be.)

          2. Good point Patrick re the marsh – its amazing how much our landscape has changed and we just think of it as “natural”. But there were massive drainage projects, plus deforestation (for salt and agriculture), mining and the little ice age, all of which change the ecology and hydrology. Most landscapes 1000 years ago must have looked fundamentally different.

            The city I live in now used to border a large marsh up until the 1880s when they changed the course of the river, dynamited the waterfalls, put the streams in pipes under new roads, and by 1930 drained all the wetlands and put housing on them. I lived in those houses for 15 years and never knew until I met someone who was a local history buff and showed me all the old maps.

  24. I am so grateful to all of you for being in and contributing to this wonderful blog. You have helped introduce me to lots and lots of fiction I might never have chanced upon, and the bonus of reading all the other discussions — the hockey lore, the shoe shops, all the gardening that goes on in basements…. It’s been amazing, and fun, and even educational!

    This week, I was able to read the fifth Mary Balogh book in the Huxtables series — this one was “The Secret Affair” — and it probably makes sense that someone who skims through the sex scenes to get to the relationship ones would hesitate to pick this one up when given a choice in a library or bookstore. But JaneB said it was a keeper, and JaneB was so right.

    But it was presented kind of oddly for a Balogh novel: she started out by describing each of the main characters and their back stories in terms of what society knew and thought about each of them. Which gave the impression in both cases of someone without much in the way of morality, generosity, or sensitivity to the feelings or needs of anyone else. After 60 or so pages of this I almost felt like sending the book back to the library without finishing it. What self-centered creeps these people are! is what I was thinking.

    But the book really changed for me when she gave some attention to how the characters were thinking and feeling inside, and a bit more about their relations with their close friends and loved family members. This is Balogh’s strong suit, and her depiction of both characters’ growing attraction to one another and more about the experiences that shaped them was flawless. I loved her portrayals of the things that threw them off guard and off balance, and the challenges they were up against, which included the initial reactions of those they were closest to. Now I have to buy this book, because…. it’s a keeper. 🙂

  25. Apart from audiobooks… haven’t been reading lately, despite resolution of reading more books for this year. Then my library copy of Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for surviving Medieval England got reserved, I managed to read it in a day and a bit, since it was hard to borrow. I’ve read better versions of the time/dimension travel premise, but still it was an easy to read, enjoyable story and the guide illustrations are cute and very relevant. Now I have 9 days to the end of the year and a neglected TBR pile. Time for a reading spree methinks

    1. Audiobooks are also books, so you have been reading!
      A book is a book, no matter the format. It doesn’t matter with which bodypart you take it in; ears, eyes, fingers, toes, elbows, telepathically, it’s all still reading.
      What audiobooks did you read?

  26. Elizabeth Rolls’s Lord Martin’s Scandalous Bluestocking was a decent historical romantic thriller. It read well, but I’m not in love; neither with the characters, nor with the author. It is the sequel to His Convenient Marchioness, but I liked that one better.
    I’m continuing my re-reads of Anne Gracie’s regencies. Just finished His Captive Lady. Gosh, I love this author.
    I also finally started the latest Murderbot: System Collapse, and it is not going well. I adored the other books in the series, but this one feels like the author is getting tired of her hero and struggling with the story (sorry, Murderbot fans). I’m not even sure I’ll finish it. It makes me so sad. I truly enjoyed Murderbot before this book.

    1. I have wondered whether System Collapse was written with an eye on a future TV adaptation (which we now know is in the works). I agree that it isn’t as compelling as the earlier stories, and there were bits I didn’t entirely follow, despite having reread the earlier stories before reading it.

  27. Finishing up Bookshops & Bonedust. It’s a lovely prequel to Legends & Lattes.

    I finally got a Kindle because I just have to cut back on the physical books. Too much stuff!) Now I have to set it up. I hate setting up tech.

    And I’ll go back to my TBR pile for something probably recommended here.

    Happy Solstice, everybody!

    1. Me. I’m finishing up bookshops and bone dust and thoroughly enjoying it. I finished red white and royally blue and that was fun. Happy solstice everyone merry Christmas. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy whatever gives you joy to celebrate.

    2. How much setting up is there? I am thinking of starting the new year with one, and weeding out the physical books. I have bookshelves in every room in the house, except the bathrooms.

      1. I think it’s pretty simple, Jan – you just need to enter your wifi password and Amazon account details, so you can go online and download books. The built-in browser’s very slow, so I usually use my iPad or Mac to browse and buy, having told the website to send books/free samples to my Kindle.

        1. Thanks, Jane. That shouldn’t be too difficult. I think I will probably choose books online, too, and then send them to the Kindle.

          1. In which case you don’t even need to register the kindle – just connect it to your computer etc and copy across.

  28. Christmas reading continued.

    1. [re-read] ‘This is Real’ by Barbara Elsborg, M/M contemporary that was a favorite of mine from last year and still works. Features a closeted actor and an out Harvard math instructor who meet-awkward, have to work together, etc etc. The actor is filming a Hallmark-type holiday movie and the instructor’s Oxford BFF is the movie’s assistant director, precipitating the meeting. Great banter, great chemistry, great conversations + doing things together + reasons to fall.

    2-3.5 ‘A Very Quest Solstice’ by E.J. Russell, a free short, Gift of the Magi riff that didn’t quite work for me because a whole bunch of alleged friends are deceiving the POV character. They mean well. Eh. Next: [re-read] ‘A Demon for Midwinter’ by K.L. Noone, which I still like a lot, especially the half-demon MC’s wonderful family. Next: ‘All I Want for Christmas is Tentacles’ by Chloe Archer, which I enjoyed on its own terms as slightly bonkers, only mildly smutty, sparkly holiday fluff. Then I read ‘The Bogeyman and the Schoolteacher’ by Chloe Archer, which is a prequel story in her Monsters Hollow series, a bit too short and abruptly over. Some boundaries were crossed by both MCs that I would’ve liked to see addressed.

    4. [re-read] ‘Snowed In With Benefits’ by Misha Horne, which presents like holiday smut but is actually a pretty deep look at a very troubled rock star whose acting-out is taking him down a dangerous path and the less troubled but deeply conflicted pop star who takes the time to figure out what the other guy needs. There is spanking and sex but not until the relationship progresses.

    5. re-read my own novella ‘Our Revels Now,’ the one set at a Ren fest.

    6. ‘Troublemaker’ by Sean Ashcroft. I can always count on Ashcroft for a very tropey, essentially sweet, nice guys figure out they belong together kind of book. This is a fake boyfriends for a wedding scenario.

    7. ‘A Dragon’s Fortune’ by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes, a Magic Emporium novella featuring a dragon shifter who runs a bakery, his brother who’s running for Senate, his crush who’s a college senior / figure skater who doesn’t realize his family history is a long line of dragon slayers, sundry attempted murders, two awkward guys trying to get together. I liked this but it left a thread or two untied.

    8. ‘The Muffin Man’ by Kim Fielding, a Magic Emporium novel feat. a lonely graphic designer during lockdown and the other-world prince who appears naked on his back step after having painfully died in the other world. A lot goes on in this book! I loved it, no surprise, I’m such a Fielding fangirl.

    9. Two shorts from the JMS advent calendar, one of which I really didn’t like so won’t mention. The other was ‘Coffee and Tea Epilogue’ by K.L. Noone, which *might* work as a standalone story. It features her recurring characters Jason & Colby (of ‘Character Bleed’) and Ben & Simon (of ‘Leather and Tea’) having dinner together and then doing sex things together. Not a foursome but all in the same room having satisfying filthy fun. I’d call this erotica.

    10. DNF at 30% plus skimming to the end to confirm my discontent, ‘Pride and Protest’ by Nikki Payne. If you are looking for a Pride & Prejudice pastiche featuring a Black activist and a Filipino American property developer in Washington D.C., and you like a huge complicated supporting-cast soap opera going on behind your MCs, you might be interested. I couldn’t get past the FMC’s inexplicable failure to spend ten minutes Googling the people who run the company she’s planning to protest and her offensive behavior to the MMC before she realizes who he is. As of 30% they had pants feelings but she still hadn’t even acknowledged that MMC is only the CEO because his parents and older brother died, quite recently, in a car accident; he never wanted the job; the company’s current gentrification project is not something he supports; and oh by the way how about an apology for that behavior. Y’all, I could rant for days.

    New book rec of the week: Fielding again.

    1. Got both the KL Noone’s, thank you – and a shoutout to the Argher formerly known as Jen+B – there’s a short story featuring Jason and Colby.

  29. I’m glad my mom died by Jeanette McCurdy. Excellent and troubling at the same time. I also binged all The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer. I adore a good fairy tale retelling/ inspiration and Cinder, Scarlet, Cress and Winter are all excellent ones.

    Beauty by Robin McKinley is also wonderful

  30. Best reads this week were three Christmas novellas, two m/m by Harper Fox:

    “Out” refers to the MC’s agoraphobia, and was done well I think. Set in a grand hotel all decorated for Christmas, and I really liked these two as they try to find out what’s happened to the MCs partner. My favorite of the three.

    “Nine Lights over Edinburgh” was a romantic suspense featuring two mid-career LEOs, one an undercover cop struggling with alcohol post divorce, and a Mossad agent grieving a lost partner, and it was lovely watching them come together. I had to suspend my disbelief a little for the HEA but still enjoyed it, particularly the Channukah references.

    Then “The Wise Virgin” by Jo Beverley, an m/f medieval romance. I really liked the FMC who was clever, practical and sharp-tongued, and I loved that it focuses on the Christmas peace.

  31. I’m reading (well, re-reading) the Matt Wallace Savage trilogy. Unfortunately, I found it at the end of Book 2 so, by the time Book 3 came out, I had to re-read the first two to know what’s going on.

    Very interesting world building and some FF romance toward the end and an ‘undeclared’ character (male/female) center stage.

  32. My favorite recent read was Unholy Night by Karpov Kinrade—a romance about Satan responding to misspelled letters to Santa and falling in love with a single mom. It was absolutely delightful! It had me at the blurb and stuck the follow through and landing—a great surprise.

    1. I love it that “O Holy Night” with Ann1ie Lennox was playing when I read this exact post. 🙂 Must be a sign. Added to my to-read-list!

    1. The follow up book to Mr Fixer Upper, The Christmas Fix, is equally charming if you don’t mind small town romances.

  33. Yesterday I managed some ad hoc replies, but did not have (or did not make) time to figure out what I’d finished and whether it was recommendable. I read Legends and Lattes, already recommended here. I seem to have bogged down on the appended bonus story, which seems to be an excerpt from the prequel, now published in full. I’m much more interested in what could happen next than in what happened back in Val’s adventuring days. I finished Starter Villain, which got very readable once I passed a place where it had bogged down for me, so that I finished it nearly in one sitting. But I found it very lightweight, and not particularly plausible if viewed as science fiction. I think it’s still worth reading since, hey, it’s John Scalzi, but not among his best works. (Many people rate it higher on the Scalzi scale than I do.)

    I also read the latest two novels (perhaps really novellas?) in Jerry Boyd’s series Bob’s Saucer Repair. If anyone decides to try these, start at the beginning, with the novel of that name. It’s a light comic ebook series, not hugely plausible but pretty faithful to the genre rules of science fiction. Not to everyone’s taste, but the first volume is a reasonable sample of the rest. It’s ingenious and original in some ways, while making full use of old sf tropes. A few of the later volumes contribute little, but Boyd recovers afterward. I don’t think it’s sliding downhill as a whole yet.

  34. In the middle of Stephen Spotswood’s MURDER CROSSED HER MIND, the fourth in his Pentecost and Parker mystery series. It’s a queer, gender-swapped version of Nero Wolfe, set against the background of the Red and Lavender Scares, and very, very good–and I grew up reading Nero Wolfe. My dad knew Rex Stout slightly from his days as a celebrity manager at the Stork Club. (Stout used to have lengthy chats with the chef about food.) He remained a fan all his life, considering Stout and Damon Runyon “nice guys”, unlike Hammett and Hemingway, who were always starting fights.

  35. Jenny, if you’ve made it down this far – can we request that next Thursday be a What Are the Best Books You Read This Year Round-up?

    1. Oh, that would be easy to answer, don’t you think? There’s a nice trilogy on my mind 😀
      Maybe it should be called « what were the best books you read, apart from mine and Bob’s, this year? » 😉

    2. But there will be three more reading days at that point! What if we read the best book of the year on Saturday 😉

  36. So I haven’t read this yet, because I just purchased it 5 minutes ago, but A Matter of Secrets and Spies (The Case Files of Henri Davenforth Book 10) by Honor Raconteur just came out.

      1. It’s not really a cliffhanger. No one is in danger. But the case isn’t over/completely finished yet.

  37. The Tea Princess Chronicles, by Casey Blair, beginning with A Coup Of Tea is a delightful cozy fantasy trilogy featuring a diverse cast of characters in a complicated society still recovering from a magical disaster. The heroine manages to be simultaneously intelligent and capable, and also completely unprepared for life outside the palace. The world and family building are both solid, and the stakes escalate nicely with each book to “save the world” proportions by the end. I meant to recommend this weeks ago but forgot.

    1. I might need to read this right away. Pleasepleaseplease Audible have it pleasepleaseplease. With a good narrator pleasepleaseplease. #AllIWantForChristmas

        1. I found it! Have started reading it too and really like it so far. Thank you for the recommendation!

  38. I read my daughter’s PhD again. One of her friends did a great edit to organize it and it was much improved, but my proofing still caught stuff.
    She turned it in! With any luck they will only require minor revisions and I won’t need to read it a third time!
    And DS first physics paper was accepted. I am, if I say so myself, pretty good at proofing things I don’t understand at all.

    I also reread a set of Michael Gilbert short stories I found on my shelf that are not available in e books.

    I am hoping to read something new this weekend now that the PhD is in and mom for five days is visiting my sister and away from the SDW so I can relax a bit.

  39. I’m breaking off from decorating (found my window ornaments – no tree), baking and all-around Christmas stuff to read My Darling Bride by Ilsa Madden Mills, intermittently. It’s a story about a NY football player (Graham) who dies on the field and is brought to life quickly and months later still recovering is on a cross country journey. He meets Emmaline in Arizona. She has taken off from her abusive boyfriend (finger marks on her neck). When the boyfriend catches up with her, she steals Graham’s car to get away, leaves it in an airport parking lot and flies home to NY. I know it sounds kind of antsy, but the main characters and side characters make up for it. He is trying to help his brother out from a crappy inheritance that to receive it only limits marriage between man and woman. Emmaline works at a bookstore that is about to close and is also raising her siblings. If you can get past my rambling explanation and read the book, I hope you make it to the two teenagers who come to the bookstore asking for an autographed copy of Shakespear’s Romeo and Juliet. Because that is where I’m at. I’m all for side characters.

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