156 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, December 28, 2021

  1. Yay audio versions!

    My good books for the week; Maisey Yates’ Ranchers Snowed-in Reunion (aka All Too Well with a happy ending for Swifties). Also read Nora Roberts’ Gabriel’s Angel. And Santa brought me the Zingerman’s Celebrate Everyday cookbook and I’ve been reading that.

    1. That’s an interesting comparison. I was crazy about Heinlein in my younger years and gradually became somewhat disenchanted, although secretly I still love Stranger in a Strange Land and Podkayne of Mars, for different reasons. Starship Troopers was never a fave although the movie (spoof?) had its moments. Anyway, I appreciate the straight line drawn between these two books.

      1. Podkayne of Mars was my favorite too. I read all of Heinlein from about 10-15, and thought they were great. When I tried to reread as an adult, I was amazed by the things I missed. Most of them were…disturbing, at best.

          1. Oh, there are a number of other words that you could use to describe Friday, but only in addition to ‘offensive’. It was quite clear that the braineater had gotten Heinlein at that point.

        1. I was a big fan of Heinlein in my youth too. One title stuck in my mind -I read it in French but looked at the English title which was at the back of the title page- Have spacesuit, will travel.
          I am too scared to reread any of his titles in case of massive disappointment!

          1. LN, Per Wikipedia, the French title is Le Jeune Homme et l’Espace, which as far as my minimal French goes, is just The Young Man and Space. Is there some sort of allusion there? It sounds remarkably flat in comparison to the English title (which, however, is very confusing unless one knows the allusion there).

    2. Well, THAT was enlightening! Thanks, Patrick, for posting that. I’ve wondered why I found myself strangely reluctant to even borrow Fourth Wing from the library — something about the summary sounded violent and Trumpian to me, and now I know why. I shall avoid it without any regrets.

      And I remember thinking that Starship Troopers was my least favorite Heinlein as a teen. All “I’m tougher than you and proud of it” — exactly the attitude of the boys at school I couldn’t stand. My favorite Heinleins were “Door into Summer” and “Citizen of the Galaxy” — the first because of the cat and the comforting future view of 1970, when everything was going to be just peachy, and the second because I loved the sacrifice and warm intelligence of the character who was ‘Baslim the Cripple’ on another (and dangerous) world.

      1. Hmm. My favorite Heinlein’s were The Star Beast and Have Spacesuit Will Travel as well as Citizen of the Galaxy. I also really liked The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, but that does not hold up as well on rereading as an adult .

      2. Me too. I reread citizen of the galaxy every couple of years. Also Door into Summer and Double Star. Also Beyond Theis Horizon and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress which is a blueprint for revolution and a lot of fun.

    3. I don’t think I’ve ever written even an entire formal essay about Heinlein (a well plowed field already), but I’ve certainly made more than my share of passing comparisons and allusions to him, and have written short pieces in fanzines and in web comments. My view is that once he got too big to edit, his work fell apart (I regard 1966 as his last good year), and even before that point a lot of the cracks show, especially as seen from here in The Future. On the other hand, here we are still talking about him. Of course a lot of that “we” consists of us folks well up in years. The true test of time will come later.

      1. “My view is that once he got too big to edit, his work fell apart…”

        That’s a view I can get on board with. I apply that to David Weber and the Honorverse, too. It didn’t stop me from reading the rest of their stuff, but it just wasn’t the same.

        I liked all the “juveniles,” and Starship Troopers was intended to be one of them. Does everyone that read Podkayne of Mars know that there were three endings? Heinlein’s original, the publisher’s and Jim Baen’s? In the original, Poddy dies. My favorite Heinlein was The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and the follow-on, The Rolling Stones.

        1. “My view is that once he got too big to edit, his work fell apart…”

          So many authors. *sigh* A good editor is like a safety net. It’s all too easy to crash and fall without them.

          1. I stopped reading a series cause the author stopped writing a coherent plot, pretty sure she lost the editor who kept her on track, over half way through the series

          2. This is true. Not unlike major directors and producers who make ridiculously long movies. There’s another big name author who I won’t name but whose new work I can’t enjoy. He was a big favorite once, but his books have a lot of words these days that don’t move the plot. I have even lost track a few times.

        2. Gary, The two endings I’m aware of for Podkayne are the long-unpublished manuscript ending, in which Poddy dies, and the first-published ending, which Heinlein wrote after everyone, including his agent and the editor, objected to killing her off. I know that Baen, in another of his dubious decisions, published an edition with both endings and announced a vote, after which he declared the death ending the winner and the one to be used henceforth. I’m not sure that this policy was executed, however. If there is a third ending that Baen wrote, I’m unaware of it and would like to hear more.

          1. From Wiki:

            In Heinlein’s original ending, Podkayne is killed. This did not please his publisher, who demanded and got a rewrite over the author’s bitter objections. In a letter to Lurton Blassingame, his literary agent, Heinlein complained that it would be like “revising Romeo and Juliet to let the young lovers live happily ever after.” He also declared that changing the end “isn’t real life, because in real life, not everything ends happily.”

            In the original ending, after they escape from the kidnappers to a safe distance, Podkayne remembers that a semi-intelligent Venerian “fairy” baby has been left behind, and returns to rescue it. When the bomb that Clark leaves for the kidnappers blows up, Podkayne is killed, shielding the young fairy with her body. Clark takes over the narrative for the last chapter. The story ends with a hint of hope for him, as he admits his responsibility for what happened to Podkayne—that he “fubbed it, mighty dry”—then shows some human feeling by regretting his inability to cry and describes his plan to raise the fairy himself.

            In the revised version, Podkayne is badly injured by the bomb, but not fatally. Uncle Tom, in a phone conversation with Podkayne’s father, blames the parents—especially the mother—for neglecting the upbringing of the children. Uncle Tom feels that Clark is dangerous and maladjusted, and attributes this to the mother giving priority to her career. Clark still takes over as the narrator, and, again, regrets that Podkayne was hurt and plans to take care of the fairy, this time because Podkayne will want to see it when she is better. This is the ending that appeared when the book was published in 1963.

            The 1993 Baen edition included both endings (which differ only on the last page) and featured a “pick the ending” contest, in which readers were asked to submit essays on which ending they preferred. The 1995 edition included both endings, Jim Baen’s own postlude to the story, and twenty-seven of the essays. The ending in which Podkayne dies was declared the winner. Among the reasons readers favored this ending were that they felt Heinlein should have been free to create his own story, and they believed the changed ending turned a tragedy into a mere adventure, and not a very well constructed one at that. This ending has appeared in all subsequent editions.

            I think I owned the 1995 version. I wanted Poddy to live, and in Baen’s postlude , she did.

          2. Gary, Aha! If I had read the bit about the 1995 edition, I probably had failed to interpret “postlude” to mean a new ending version, as opposed to some sort of summary statement.

            I’ve read the death ending and of the two I prefer the one in Heinlein’s rewrite, but then I’m almost invariably in favor of happy endings. (Something similar happened to Dickens’s Great Expectations, except that Dickens himself was talked out of the unhappy end by a friend.) I haven’t read Baen’s ending. The main problem with the Heinlein rewrite is that it advocates something approaching a “barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen” ideology, but a friend pointed out to me that Uncle Tom carries a lot of the responsibility for Podkayne’s injury and could be seen as trying to unload the blame onto someone else.

        3. Gary, John Scalzi once declared that he hoped he stopped writing before the Brain Eater got to him as it had to some (unspecified) writers. However, a lot of writers (even some too big to edit) produce very good work into extreme old age, so there is no iron rule.

          I have read only a little Weber beyond the Honorverse (the rest does not much appeal to me, it seems), but within the Honorverse, I see his problem to be bloat. There is still a coherent story there, Weber just uses twice the word count he needs to tell it. Even this bloat appeared a long time ago, as noted in this 2011 parody:

          https://boards.straightdope.com/t/how-david-weber-orders-a-pizza/606473

          1. Ultimately, brainworm or not, his books still sold, and publishers still published them. Same with Weber, and if you hadn’t linked to Weber Orders a Pizza, I would have. :D.

          2. Oh good lord…. That was a hundred and eighty-five mouthfuls. The lost editor deserves a pension!

      2. There are ongoing discussions on the reddit reader’s threads about Heinlein. He has such a reputation, and then the younglings pick him up and are horrified.

        It’s kinda like reading Georgette Heyer for the first time because so many authors I love name her as their favorite, and then coming across the really blatant and agressive antisemitism in her books.

        Really upsetting to realize that people you adore recommend that kind of content. I have a mental note to reread my favorites every few years, if I want to keep recommending them.

        1. I had the same revelation about David Eddings. I discovered his work as a 14-year old and was absorbed by it for years. Once I discovered his and his wife’s horrible treatment of their adopted son I couldn’t go back. I naively believed his world building was unique but as I look back at it now I see a lot of troubling racial and sexist themes. It’s hard to find that people you admire have feet of clay.

        2. Could you give examples of ‘really blatant and agressive antisemitism’ in Heyer’s books? Because the only example I can think of is the oft-mentioned moneylender scene in the Grand Sophy, and I wouldn’t describe that one as aggressive.

          1. It’s more of an insidious “Everybody knows the Jews are like this” kind of assumption than it is a call to aggression. Which almost makes it worse. I don’t recall any other time in my reading of her that she did anything like that but I could have missed it since she wasn’t aggressive, just assumed her anti-semitism was the norm. Which, to be clear, does not make it any less appalling.

          2. There is no possibility to reply to you, Jenny, so I’ll just reply to myself. The main characters in Heyer’s books see themselves as elevated above most other people. This comes across as snobbish now, but it was how people with money felt at the time she was writing, and no doubt it was the same in the time she was writing about. And her aristocrats see themselves as much better again than the people who merely made their own money.
            Have you tried re-reading Christie lately? Servants are practically sub-human in her books. I know where I would have been in one of their books: cleaning up after the main characters and being invisible. My grandmother and all my aunts were servants. My mother was lucky enough to make the jump to office work.
            The description of Mr Goldhanger is objectionable, of course, but on the other hand Sophy can easily imagine herself as his daughter:
            ‘ You would be very proud of me, and would have taught me how to pick pockets. And if you had a daughter like me she would have scrubbed your floors for you, and washed your shirt, so you would have been a deal better off than you are now.’ (ch. 11)
            She also gives him his 500 ponds back, so she does not leave him out of pocket, which she could have easily done if she had wanted.
            Really, I cannot see that anyone who read a book by Heyer for the first time would reel back at the antisemitism, even if they started with The Grand Sophy. And with the antisemitism rife in our own time just now, who are we to criticise!?!

          3. I do think it’s important to call it out.
            But there only seem to be three approaches:
            1. Read the books because the stories are great and skip the awful parts.
            2. Stop reading the books because you’ve lost faith in the writer.
            3. Amend the books, rewriting the parts that are offensive, aka bowdlerizing.

            I’m in 1 or 2, depending on the author and the crime. I still read Heyer because she hits my sweet spot for romance, although I skip over the hateful parts. Same with Wodehouse. But I don’t read Dailey or Orson Card, so I’m not consistent. Thank God Terry Pratchett never did anything horrible.

            Method 3 I reject with fiery passion.

            So I’d say we keep reading but we keep criticizing, too. Heyer was just reflecting the bias of her time, but given the bias of our time, particularly the violent bias, I think we do have to keep calling it out.

          4. Like you I’m absolutely opposed to bowdlerising books. I will go on reading Heyer’s books as I have done since the seventies when I was a teenager, even though I do notice the whole class thing more and more, as I already mentioned.
            But will her readers die out with us? From what Kat writes, I get the impression that she’s never even tried Heyer, having been warned off by these warnings of books full of blatant and aggressive antisemitism. And as I said, I can still only think of that one scene in the Grand Sophy.
            Are young people being warned off books they might enjoy a lot if they made a few allowances? And one usually has to. It seldom happens that I agree 100% with everything an author and her characters say.

    4. Isn’t she the one who basically scrolled through bookstagram and then mushed all the favourite tropes into a book without care or regard for anything vaguely resembling originality? The passages quoted in the article are just a little cringey, so is the description of the MMC.

    5. Well, I have been ambivalent about Heinlein since I started reading him as a child, both due to violence and his incest themes. Now Patrick’s post led me to his comfort with the Walter Breen child sexual abuse activities, so that’s pretty much made me unable to reread him. And the Breen stories led me to the horrific child physical and sexual abuse of her children by his wife Marion Zimmer Bradley and now I’m deeply grateful I never read her books.

      I don’t confuse the quality of the books with the morals and actions of the authors, but some things an author does get between the reader and the book, and this is one.

      1. Debbie, I long ago soured on MZB after the revelations (not that I ever was a huge fan). I’m not sure how much Heinlein knew about what Breen was up to, beyond simple homosexuality. Heinlein was a sucker for smooth-talking liars, and despite his naval background does not seem to have cottoned on to L. Ron Hubbard’s tales of his wartime naval heroics. The Wikipedia article on Breen does not mention Heinlein, except to footnote a link based on the Patterson biography that shows he believed a version from MZB. The Wikipedia article does say that “Nevertheless, prominent fans of the era (such as John Boardman and Ted White) dismissed the allegations as hearsay and “character assassination,” and the scandal blew over,” so Breen convinced a lot of people. If new evidence has emerged showing Heinlein to be worse than a credulous dupe, I am unaware of it.

        1. Debbie, As far as I recall, there are no overt incest themes in Heinlein before his late, or brainrot, period. I can’t think of any foreshadowing in the work of 1966 or earlier, outside of perhaps a statement or two in Methuselah’s Children. That has not so far been enough to poison the earlier stuff for me. I won’t attempt to defend any post-1966 Heinlein, or to reread it outside of scholarly necessity, if any. I haven’t held a particularly high opinion of Heinlein as a human being since at least college in the late 1960s–early 1970s, when I learned from the publisher of Heinlein’s antics with regard to Panshin’s Heinlein in Dimension.

          1. There are references in Farnhams Freehold too. It’s possible that it’s all post 66 brain rot — but it’s equally possible that it was there all along and he just got to a point in his career where he could write about it. Given the earlier brief positive references to it, the second interpretation seems at least as likely. Also, there is a lot of sexual interest in young girls even in the earlier books which I also found problematic.

            I have a post in moderation showing everything I can find about Heinlein and Breen. The bottom line is we can’t tell from the one known Heinlein statement what he actually believed, but it seems to have been widely known that Breen was a pedophile, publicly acknowledged by Breen who just said the kids seduced him and it wasn’t forced sex. It’s possible Heinlein got all his info through Bradley and didn’t know that Breen acknowledged it, but even that is damned cavalier about the well being of the kids. And it seems very likely that he would have heard from someone that Breen acknowledged it.

        2. Warning: details below about child sex abuse .

          Patrick:
          This is the link I found about Heinlein writing about the Breen pedophilia accusations .
          https://deirdre.net/2014/robert-heinlein-on-the-breendoggle/

          Heinlein writes Bradley about “ The fan nuisance we were subjected to was nothing like as nasty as the horrible things that were done to you two ” with no further details on what he believes those were.

          And this is the wiki on what was public at the time
          https://breendoggle.fandom.com/wiki/Breendoggle_Wiki

          If you read the wiki it seems pretty clear that Breen was very public about having sex with post puberty kids and sexually cuddling pre puberty kids and the debate Heinlein was dismissing as fans getting upset was actually a significant debate inside the sci-fi conference about whether banning Breen was a financial risk. There was no question at all about the pedophilia.

          The best interpretation here is that he got all his information through Bradley and that she denied he was doing any of it, and he chose to completely disregard the accusations based on what she said. That’s troubling enough to me that I can’t read his books without thinking about it. And it’s possible, given that Bradley used children the same way and worse.

          But it’s also hard to believe that he didn’t hear from anyone else that Breen admitted it but said the kids were seducing him, or that parents walked in on him naked in bed with their 13 year old. Because it seems really widely known in the sci di world.

          And clearly some people thought so long as it wasn’t forced sex the kids weren’t hurt, but again, if he agree with that, that is troubling to me.

          And what Heinlein wrote to Bradley could mean either of these things.

          1. Debbie, I’m not out to defend Heinlein as such, merely to explain why I feel much less squick in rereading most of his pre-1967 work (Freehold excepted) than I do in reading anything by MZB. Heinlein had deliberately cut himself off from fandom. I was PART of sf fandom from the late 1960s, and I had never heard of the Breendoggle until this century, nor of various other fannish scandals that were supposedly open secrets. Information flowed a lot less freely before the internet. Most people (unlike most journalists) knew nothing about JFK’s womanizing until after he was long dead. Even MZB’s career reached new heights long after the the 1960s.

            But your interpretation and reaction can certainly validly differ from mine. Anyway, we are getting pretty far afield for the Crusie site, so I’ll wait for new topics and get back to trying to finish off end-of-year stuff. Happy New Year!

  2. Happy to see the audios coming. When I take breaks from writing for reading time, I do most of it in audio these days.

    On this short break I got in two audiobooks by Leanne Slade that were free on Audible Plus: The Rebound and Told You So. Both light, romcom reads–just the right tone given my headspace lately needed to take in a boost of positivity in the world. Even if that world is fictional:)

  3. Books:
    MAYBE THIS TIME A Second Chance Romance. I can’t help comparing it with every other time travel story I’ve read. That serial below is a time travel story, too. But in this case, I have to agree with the FMC:

    She pressed her fingertips to her temples. “I bloody well hate time travel. If we get out of this, I am never going to do it again.”

    James, Susan B.. Maybe This Time: A Second Chance Romance (p. 189). Susan B James. Kindle Edition.

    My “Wearing the Cape” series reread is complete. I finished JOYEUSE GUARD by Michael G. Harmon. This book was an anthology with interludes.

    VARIATION ON A THEME BOOK 5 by Grey Wolf. Still publishing serially. Or possibly surreally. Chapter 11 started with the recounting of a breakfast, so even cereal-ly. Chapter 12, due out today, seems to be running late. Very annoying.

    AN ANGEL CALLED PETERBILT by Flint and Goodlett and Huff. The Monthly Bundle for February has advanced to 3/4 of the book, so I’ve read some new chapters. I get the whole book on 2/6/24.

    Netflix:
    She’s the Man, 2006 American romantic comedy teen sports film directed by Andy Fickman and starring Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, and David Cross. Inspired by William Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night, the film centers on teenager Viola Hastings, who enters her brother’s new boarding school, Illyria Prep, in his place and pretends to be a boy in order to play on the boys’ soccer team.

    Lucy “2014 French science fiction action film written and directed by Luc Besson for his company EuropaCorp, and produced by his wife, Virginie Besson-Silla. It is an English-language film shot in Taipei, Paris, and New York City. It stars Scarlett Johansson, Morgan Freeman, Choi Min-sik, and Amr Waked. Johansson portrays the titular character, a woman who gains psychokinetic abilities when a nootropic*, psychedelic drug is absorbed into her bloodstream.”
    Based on the idiotic fallacy that humans only use 10% of their brains. See “Ten percent of the brain myth” on Wikipedia.

    We Can Be Heroes 2020 American superhero film written and directed by Robert Rodriguez. It is both a standalone and legacy sequel to the 2005 film The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D. I suppose I need to look up Sharkboy and Lavagirl… and there it is on Netflix. To be watched list.

    Family Switch 2023 When a chance encounter with an astrological reader [Gypsy] causes the Walkers to wake up to a full body switch, can they unite to land a promotion, college interview, record deal, and soccer tryout?

    Paramount+:
    Daria Season 3 and Season 4 of five, 13 Episodes each. An American adult animated sitcom created by Glenn Eichler and Susie Lewis Lynn. The series ran from March 3, 1997, to January 21, 2002, on MTV. It focuses on the title character, Daria Morgendorffer, an intelligent, cynical high school student. This is a rewatch – I’ve seen all the episodes at least once, but never on MTV.

    Star Trek: Strange New Worlds The Star Trek between Enterprise and Shatner’s Star Trek. Season 1. Captain Christopher Pike. Young Spock. Younger Uhura. Plays havoc with continuity, especially the reboot movies, which obviously took place in an alternate universe. Obviously.
    =================================================
    *Nootropic
    Drug, supplement, or other substance that improves cognitive function
    Nootropics are numerous natural, semi-synthetic and synthetic molecules which purportedly improve cognitive functions

        1. Totally – if you like space & astronauts stuff. It’s an alt-history of the US space program, starting with the premise that the Russians stepped on the moon before the US did – so it turned the space race into a suped up competition. Told over many years, with a combination of real life people and fictional characters – the live people get different arcs in this retelling. And women end up playing a huge role in the program, which I love.

  4. I read A Suitable Captive from the same author/universe as R Cooper’s A Suitable Consort for a King and His Husband – was okay and not as strong as that one or even the second one, A Suitable Bodyguard.

    Then I read the two KL Noone’s that Chacha1 recommended – Coffee and Tea Epilogue and A Demon for Midwinter – enjoyed both although I thought Demon would have been better off in a novella length IMHO.

    Read two holiday epilogues/series by Cat Sebastian – I adore her stuff and these epilogues were the best – the one for We Could Be So Good is…really good.

    And in the Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling in Love genre, I read Disrupted Engagement in Nicky James’ Valor and Doyle series, Fair Chance in Josh Lanyon’s All’s Fair series and the first in her Art of Murder series – all good and the latter was super good so crossing my fingers that the next two in the series are that yummy.

    1. I love the Lanyon Art of Murder Series! It’s a many time reread for me, specially volumes 2 and 4 of the series. The good news is that there is another one still to come. When you’ve read the whole series you might want to check out the codas for that series too.

      1. Yes! Thank you, Christina, I will. I’m also trying to get through Bedknobs and Broomsticks but having a tougher time with its cozy nature.

        1. I agree that her cozies are not as compelling or as memorable as the Adrien English and Art of Murder stories. She doesn’t have that many cozies; her “Secrets and Scrabble” books are also “cozies”. They are fun but not my preferred ones by any means. That of course is what is fun about this author cause she tries all sorts of things.

      2. Love the Art of Murder series too, although book 4 was a struggle for me as it hit some of my hot buttons, and really needed the coda to bridge to book 5 which is also good. I love the details on art history in these as well as the relationship.

        1. Yes, art history is a big part of the fun of that series. Good point about the need to read the coda to bridge to book 5!

    1. Sure.

      And it’s set to go up next Thurs. For a minute there, I published it on Jan. 4, 2023, so if it flashed before your eyes it was a mistake. (Hey, it’s 3AM.)

  5. I just finished Divine Rivals and LOVED it. The sequel just came out and I had to get that too. Secret pen pals, war, rivals to love. Amazing.

    Also enjoyed “The Light We Carry” and Amy Schneider’s book.

  6. My old Ipad came back to life, so I finished two dissimilar reads that were stuck in there — How to Fake it In Hollywood by Ava Widler, and Enough by Cassidy Hutchinson. Both quite satisfying because they delivered on their promises.

    Thank you to whoever recommended Wilder here. I also read her latest, Will They Or Won’t They. So grateful for a writer who doesn’t head-jump, writes themes inside thorny plots, keeps the action moving and dialogue snappy.

  7. I read A Matter of Secrets and Spies by Honor Raconteur. The latest Casefiles of Henri Davenforth book. Henri tries to propose but someone steals the ring before he can. This leads to getting involved in investigating an international jewelry theft ring.

    Someone here recommended His Convenient Marchioness by Elizabeth Rolls, which I quite enjoyed. A Marqess’ wife children and now younger brother have all died, so now at the age of 50 he finds himself needing to marry again in order to beget a new heir, but the thought of marrying an 18 year old virgin is distasteful to him, so he decides he needs a widow, but the only one he finds interesting is tainted by scandal.

    1. I really need to get caught up on that series. I’ve only read the first two books but they were so much fun. Glad to hear that the series holds up through book 10.

  8. Yay audio!

    And we don’t care if the posts are on time. We just worry if we don’t hear from you because you are so consistent.

    I’m almost finished with a relisten to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up in preparation for my new year’s purge. Up next is The Artists Way. And I have The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning on hold.

    Cm Nascosta’s How To Marry a Marble Marquis just came out on audio as well. I haven’t read this one yet and am waffling about what format I want to go with. Her Morning Glory Milking Farm got banned from Amazon for 24 hours which had me enraged, but it got reinstated and I went on a buying binge for anyone in my life who I thought might possibly read it.

      1. I’m not sure. The thing about Amazon by all accounts is that they don’t tell you, are hard to reach and are hard to work with. It might have been a mistake, a bot flagging things with certain parameters, or a series of complaints. I’m glad it’s back. It’s scary how much power they hold over indie authors.

        1. They outsource responding to author complaints and there’s no connection between the outsource company and anyone who can actually do anything to fix a problem.

          (I know this because I have a friend who got slammed with a ton of one-star reviews on a single day. The book was published through Soulmate and they were actually able to talk with someone at the Zon and get them taken down.)

    1. Lupe, I hope you enjoy scribbling your thoughts. I loved The Artist’s Way and wrote the three pages every day, but I’m not sure I could do that again. However, the insights and quotations, and inspiration of the book are timeless.

      1. It will be my second time through the Artist’s way. I tried morning pages and they do help me when I am upset, but after a while they become a punishment and I stop. I am more wanting to revisit the concept of artist dates and such.

        1. I wrote Morning Pages for a number of years in the mid-90s, just the brain dump that Julia Cameron recommends. Turns out my brain is inclined to be, uh, negative.

          Then I switched to writing positive thoughts for 15 minutes each morning to get ready for 15 min of meditation. Simple, good things in my life right now. Isn’t that a pretty bird? I’m so glad I have a good job. I’m looking forward to my yarn coming in the mail. Isn’t it a treat that I emptied the clean dishwasher last night? I loved getting back home from the holiday. Doesn’t Jackson have the cutest whiskers? Just anything that feels good…

          Changed my life.

          1. I am definitely negative, and when I am upset the pages are very helpful in trying to release some of that. But when I get back to day to day they just became laundry lists of tasks or notations of things that happened the day before and I found myself dreading the task each morning. So I stopped.

            Maybe I can try your positivity trick.

    2. OK now intrigued by “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” – eagerly awaiting your review!

      1. I have listened to it before and it is delightful. It has been several years however and I need a refresh. But really. it’s gentle and humorous. I would recommend it to anyone. The narrator was also very good.

  9. Another slow reading week because I’m spending all my time writing (I’m going to be so happy when this damn dissertation is done). I did read Rachel Solomon’s Business or Pleasure and had a fun time with it. It reminded me a little of Welcome to Temptation when the attraction is there but the sex execution is dreadful and then it gets better.

    Fun book.

    My Goodreads reading goal is shot to hell but there is always next year.

    Happy New Year everyone!

  10. The Year of the Griffin. This was a reread and a delight, as is the case with pretty much all of Diana Wynne Jones’s books. Also lots of chaos, which I love.

    10 Things That Never Happened. Alexis Hall’s books are a mixed bag for me; some I love and some I find pretty unsatisfying. This was one of the ones I love.

    Gillian McAllister’s Wrong Place Wrong Time. A woman sees her 18 year-old son kill an older man with a knife, for no apparent reason. The next morning she wakes up planning to find lawyers, only to discover that she has slipped back a day, and it’s now the day before the murder and she’s the only one who knows about it. As she slips back in time, sometimes one or two days, sometimes a year, she begins to discover what lies behind her son’s crime. I found this quite fascinating. The gradual revelation of the truth is really well done, and I’m still going over it in my mind, trying to fit it all together.

    Bookshops and Bonedust. I’m not feeling the love for these books. Theoretically they’re the sort of thing I should love, and I quite liked the first one but didn’t find it tremendously engaging. Same with this one, only more so. There’s something missing for me, and I can’t work out what it is. Maybe something about the characters? I did like Satchel, but found the other characters unconvincing. Apparently the author used to create computer games, and that kind of makes sense to me, in that it feels as if there’s a dimension missing from the characters, as if they need the addition of a player or an actor.

    1. I struggled with Legends and Lattes as well and eventually gave up. Like you, I can’t tell you why. I just didn’t connect with anyone.

    2. I enjoyed Legends and Lattes. My son gave me Bookshops and Bonedust for Christmas so I am dutifully plodding through it but I am not feeling it at all.

      1. Bookshops and Bonedust has a different feel, and I didn’t like it as much, but it grew on me. I have reread it twice. He uses such interesting descriptive words.

  11. Some re-reads last week, but only two new books:
    Martha Wells’s System Collapse didn’t quite work for me. I expected an exciting Murderbot story, like the other books in the series, but this novel left me cold and disappointed. It seemed the author has gotten tired of her hero and his series. There is no excitement, no sizzling amazement, no living contradictions, no ‘Aha’ moments. Just words on the page.
    K.M. Shea’s The Lies of Vampires and Slayers is the first in the new trilogy. I was very glad she started a new series. I read her previous 4 trilogies, all set in the same city of Magiford, and enjoyed them all.
    Magiford is a city in the American Midwest where lots of supernaturals interact. There are werewolves there, fae, vampires, wizards, and some other non-human creatures. There is humor and romance too. I grabbed this one for my kindle as soon as I saw it published.
    The story follows a powerful, millennia-old vampire, bored with life, and a rebellious young vampire slayer who wants to escape her family legacy. Their adventures, which just start in this book, are proving wildly entertaining. Like Shea’s other books, it was a light and engaging urban fantasy. I can’t wait for the second book. It should be published in January.

    1. Oh, good. I thought I was the only one that was disappointed in the last Murderbot. It wasn’t bad, but I did struggle to finish it.

      1. I found myself just reading a chapter or a section with breakfast then putting it down willingly, instead of eagerly devouring the entire thing. (I had to force myself to put down the new Donna Andrews this morning, so I have some chance of doing my own writing. That really showed me the difference.)

        I wonder if she only wrote it because people wanted her to, not because the book called to her.

      2. I was looking forward to a completely new adventure with Murderbot with Perihelion, and instead got this kind of bland continuation of the prior story. Not bad, but bland.

  12. Olga, I have to agree with you about System Collapse, at least partially. I reread the one before it, Network Effect, as people suggested. Would have been completely lost without it. I enjoyed the book, but I liked the novellas much more. It didn’t really seem as though as much of Murderbot’s personality came through in System Collapse, and I kept getting confused by all the characters. It definitely seemed to be missing both the excitement and the humor of the first part of the series, as well as any connection with the characters. Sigh.

    1. I just started reading Donna Andrews’ new Christmas mystery, Let it Crow, Let it Crow, Let it Crow–I’m more involved with the story at the end of the first chapter than I was at any point in System Collapse.

    2. I’ve gone through System Collapse twice now and it’s getting better for me. Part of the problem is of course that Murderbot is not it’s self. At least not until the end. The second time through I knew what redacted was from the beginning and that helped me jive a bit better.

      I guess I just think of it as a transition book, like the third movie in a trilogy. It really doesn’t stand on its own but you need it for the long emotional arc. Like fugitive telemetry. It’s the kind of character growth that is messy and usually behind the scenes, but if Murderbot had jumped into the next adventure I think that it would eventually flatten out the character.

  13. I’m busy rereading books and crocheting. I just bought a Kindle Paperwhite, and it will arrive on New Year’s Eve. I also pre-ordered Rocky Start. I’m deciding what else to order on Kindle. Hot Toy is available as a single, and I would read that again anytime. This is a whole new world. It would be easy to overdo. Thanks to all who shared insights into what to buy, and how that works.

    1. I just got a Paperwhite and I really like it. It was easy to set up and figure out how to use. I thought holding it would be different than a book, but, since I got a cover, it really is about the same.

      1. I ordered a cover, and it came right away. It’s good to hear that it helps. I tend to drop things unexpectedly, at times, and that will keep it safer.

  14. A slow week for me due to all the moving and family sadness.

    I read a bunch of xmas bonus stories – Con Riley sent out two Charles Heppel stories from this and last year that were sweet and reminded me to read book two in her Christmas-London-series We only kiss on Christmas: I was rather tired and thus impatient enough to skip from about 30 % to the end (as if her romances would end with the MCs not getting together…) so have to catch up with the missing 60 % still. I like her protagonists though there’s definitely a statistical overabundance of queer folks.

    I also read/dnf “Risk the Fall” which might be a good story or well written but i simply didn’t like the scenery/larger group of protagonists/MCs enough to stick around. I found that I have to like to spend time with the main protagonists – either because they are nice/ interesting/ intriguing/ are fascinatingly competent at what they do/ endearing etc. Which in this case wasn’t the case. Also, I’m not so big on smut when it feels gratuitous and sometimes I’m just a prude. Says the one who LOVED Heated Rivalry which – according to the author in a podcast interview lately – consists mainly of sex scenes.

    I also discovered said podcast thanks to Rachel Reid – The BigGayFictionPodcast features interviews of so many interesting authors! After listening to the episode with Ari Baran I went and bought Game Misconduct even though I didn’t like the sample. But I loved loved loved the novella, so I trust in Tammy and so many more raving about the book. I’m very very curious about book 3 in the series about two coaches. Also very keen on book 7 of the Game Changer series currently being written by RReid.
    The podcast surely provided me with plenty of book recommendations.

    Does anyone know the feeling that you don’t find the peace to read because you don’t know with which book to start? Like too many titles get stuck in your mind linke in a bootleneck?

    So I watched films/series on Netflix etc. instead… Odio il Natale, originally the Italian remake of a very very nice Norwegian xmas series set in Chioggia. It got a second season and the very beautiful FMC thankfully chose not the beautiful but far too young f…boy she dated in season 1 nor the doctor but the cinnamon roll neighbor – a lovely ending. Lost City with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum which I missed at the cinema. Watched it with kid no. 2 and it was sooo refreshing that we reacted to major plot points like one person and had a blast because of it. Though – Bullock’s facial muscles seemed continually frozen: a pity!!! Also watched the first two episodes of Percy Jackson. I had such high hopes for the re-making into a series with RR as exec producer. All four of us have read the book which I guess was a disadvantage to enjoying the adaptation. We didn’t get why the changes were made that were made. Also it felt so stilted. I’m not sure I/we’ll continue watching. Or we’ll watch later after more of the weekly episodes have dropped. Or not.

    But there’s always hockey!
    Kid no. 2 wants to start book 2 in the Puckboy series, one that I love, so I had to refresh my memory 😉
    There’s not that much hockey in there, though, so I try to follow the U20 tournament currently on in Sweden.
    Our team defeated Finland in their first game. For the first time after 25 losses! I don’t think they can follow up this feat against Sweden or Canada though…

    Sorry, rambling again.

    1. I call that bottlenecked feeling you are having a book hangover. Sometimes it happens after an especially good book and I am paralyzed against starting something new that won’t be as wonderful. And sometimes it happens after I have read too many meh books in a row and I don’t have it in me to take a chance on another one. And sometimes I am just too tired and it is all me and not the books. I usually dive back into comfort rereads then.

      And I am similar about how much sex is in a book. Sometimes I want nothing but smut and sometimes I want rate g or pg. What can I say? My moods are fickle.

      1. Yep, I also know book hangovers.
        After a particularly great read it’s difficult to get into a new book. If possible I tend to listen to the audiobook of same book. Only I’m so very picky about narrators…
        Book 2 of the Rossingley series by Fearne Hill is out in audio and the author is very pleased, but I just don’t “hear” Freddy, the main protagonist, in the narrator’s tenor. Oh well, good for my purse.

        If the great book in question is part of a series, it’s great to stay in the universe and keep on reading.

        The bottle neck is a bit different for me: if I’ve got too many books in my tbr pile I’m too adhd-ig to be able to decide which one to read next. One reason whey I then don’t really stick with a book like We only kiss on Christmas which is a pity ’cause it’s a nice enough story.

      2. About smut: I usually stick with what Jenny said ages ago: It must have a reason to be on the page, must bring the story forward. I don’t need to read about each tumble in extensio, I want to get the ones that are important for the MCs. If like in Heated Rivalry sex is kind of how the MCs communicate then that’s fine. If it feels gratuitous and just to show what stamina and appetite the MCs have for each other, it’s too much for me. But I can skip and should do more often…

    2. I don’t think I recommended Game Misconduct to you because I think you’re going to find it too edgy. But Baran’s other one, Delay of Game, is the one I mentioned that you might like, although it is not as sweet as the novella. And overall, I suspect you will like Avon Gale’s other novels best.

  15. I did manage to finish a few books this week, but of them the only one reportable here was nonfiction, Bill Bryson’s short biography of Shakespeare. Bryson is not a Shakespearian scholar. The series he is writing for, Eminent Lives, aims at giving readers concise, well-grounded biographies. Since there is not a great deal of surviving facts about the playwright and the series format forbids airy speculation, Bryson spends a lot of ink on the theater environment and the times in general. I’d read other, longer, biographies, but this was a useful refresher and updating (to 2007, anyhow). Bryson’s last chapter pretty deftly punctures the various theories that Shakespeare was fronting for someone else.

    I know that Gary J is a big fan of Eric Flint’s 1632 series. One of Flint’s less successful moves, already in the first novel, was to posit that to downtime contemporaries it is an open secret that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays. Somewhere recently I saw some author of a work late in the series trying to walk that back, I presume because it is historically nigh-indefensible. (I can’t, alas, remember where I saw the walking back.)

    Otherwise I’m still in the middle of reading multiple other books, as due dates and whim take me.

    1. In a post on Baen’s Bar, Eric Flint admitted that he didn’t agree with the Earl of Oxford theory, but he put it in the book at the insistence of Publisher and close friend Jim Baen. Both Jim and Eric are gone, so if the estate wanted to excise that from the book…

    2. I think the “walking back” was in the Grantville Gazette.

      virginiaeasleydemarce_yah wrote on Sat, 27 August 2016 21:59

      I’ve done two stories featuring Shakespeare’s grandsons, who are in Grantville when not touring.

      Virginia

      ehrbar wrote on Sat, 27 August 2016 19:53

      Wasn’t there a story in the Gazette that had some of Shakespeare’s younger relations come to Grantville to pay off a debt he owed to Balthazar Abranel so Balthazar would stop claiming the plays were written by de Vere?

      1. That doesn’t ring a bell with whatever I read (where some character in a story merely brushed off the Oxford version as just one theory rather than solid fact), but it seems an ingenious explanation. When caught contradicting the facts, blame an unreliable narrator.

        1. If Doctor DeMarce said it, in the Ring of Fire series, it’s so. And you can bet if she wrote it, others used it as background in their own stories. That universe is very interactive that way. 🙂 ‘s’why I love it.

          Also, the old “editorial board” seems to have worked things out with the Flint estate so new stories can be published and old stories from Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press can be republished elsewhere.

  16. JENNY! I very literally shouted out loud with absolute happiness when reading this audio-news! I can’t remember last time that happened. I even felt myself blush with it. Thank you so so so so sooooo much for making these books available in audio. I can’t wait to read them! This is a great gift: Something to look forward to in 2024. <3

    Mostly I am rereading still, but I also try to enjoy bite-sized pieces of "A Coup of Tea" by Casey Blair, which Georgia recommended last week, when I feel I can manage to step out of the comfort-zone. Being a tea-nerd myself, I love all the tea-geekery in this book, and its gentle pace, and how the author is weaving a complex world without making it an incredibly dark one. Despite all that's happened there, it seems like there's a lot of hope to find.

    I'm also reading the unofficial The Good Place-cookbook "Forking Good!" by Valya Dudycz Lupescu. Not sure how or where to find substitutes for some of the ingredients mentioned that I suspect we don't have here in The Netherlands, but I might have to try some of these recipes at some point.

    1. You were the first person I thought of. I almost put your name in the heading just to make sure you read it.
      Let me know what you think of it. I know zip about audio, so you’re my expert.

      1. Yess’m! Will do!
        I can’t remember when I last waited eagerly for the release of a book. Must’ve been a couple of years. It’s a very refreshing feeling!

  17. Just re-read The Twelve Jays of Christmas by Donna Andrews… I needed to read at least one of her books. I love her Christmas books

        1. It’s true. I think this is number 34 or something like that, and it is as fresh and interesting as it was in the beginning. I find that absolutely remarkable, because most authors can’t sustain a series for anything close to that long.

        1. So many crows!!!!! And lots of great, accurate info on how smart they are. You’re going to love it. (I love crows too, and did research on them for a book of my own once.)

  18. Great news about audios for the Liz and Vince series!
    This week I read Cait Nary’s “Season’s Changes” and “Contract Seasons”. I loved Season’s Changes — two hockey players with very different characters, one sunny and optimistic, the other traumatized from past experience. It had all the feels and I loved it. “Contract Seasons” was about a hockey player and a country star and has an interesting twist on the fake dating trope. It had a strange pace to it and took a long time to get going and lacked the intense “feels” of Season’s Changes and I wasn’t convinced by this relationship. That said, this author will go on auto-read.

    I read Ali Hazelwood’s “Check and Mate” which was lovely. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all her books. This one is is essentially YA — two chess phenoms. Lot of fun!

    For some reason that put me in the mood for a reread of Jenny’s “Anyone but You” — I must have reread this one a bazillion times. Such a lovely story.

    Next on the list is TA Moore’s “Bone to Pick”.

    1. Season’s Changes is in my top five hockey books list. She has another one coming out in January. I suspect we would all have liked Contract Season better if it had been her first book. By comparison, it was a bit of a letdown, but it’s still a good book on its own.

      1. I agree absolutely, in fact I just recommended to a friend that she read Contract Season before Season’s Changes for that very reason.

  19. I was gifted the first mystery in a relatively new (2022) series, featuring librarian Greer Hogan, An Unkindness of Ravens. Gobbled it in two days and got the second book, Shadow in the Glass, from the library and started it today. It’s fun for me, a retired librarian, to find the allusions to working at a library. This second book isn’t set int he town or the library–Greer has gone off the Lake Placid for a friend’s wedding. I expect I’ll read all four currently available.

  20. I inaugurated my Kindle with Brian Carso’s Gideon’s Revolution. It’s an historical about a failed plot to kidnap Benedict Arnold so that he could be tried, convicted and hung for treason. Not a genre I usually read but a local author I wanted to support. It was well written, compelling and not happy. Well, war and treason up close and personal…first person.

    Now reading Ejaculate Responsibly (palate cleanser?) And maybe 10 Things That Never Happened next. Or maybe another book for the Kindle. Like Jan Kindwoman, I have to pace myself because it’s so eay.

  21. I am currently rereading a book from Kristen Ashley’s Burg series – the second book; At Peace.
    Sometimes memories of a scene in a book will pull me into a reread. This time it was a scene where the protagonists daughter finds out that her mom’s love interest was actually the one who bought her dog for her. It’s a touching scene.

    I have reread Tell Me Lies by Ms Crusie many times because a scene between Em & CL comes into my brain.

    Another reread – Kristen Ashley’s book; Bounty. the 7th book in her Colorado Mountain Man series. I was pulled back into that one remembering the love interest going to the police station and yelling the protagonist name until she heard him and made her way to him. Again, a sweet scene.

    And a reread of Rachel Gibson’s book; Truly, Madly Yours. I was drawn back into that one remembering a scene near the end when love interest gives the protagonist a tiara for xmas. Pulls at the heart strings when you know why.

    Otherwise I have been trying to fit some writing and rewriting into my crowded holi-days.

    1. Thank you for reminding me about Rachel Gibson’s Truly, Madly Yours. I remember I loved that book. It is now back on my reread pile!

  22. I’m reading Eve’s Herbs, a nonfiction book about the use of contraceptives in ancient and medieval times. I’m just starting it and I can’t quite tell if the author’s goal is to make the case for restoring Roe v Wade by arguing that contraception was accepted until quite recently, or to suggest to women some herbs they can use if they can’t get an abortion, or something else.
    And the author writes relatively disorganizedly. But his examples are fascinating and he makes a strong case that for many periods of history people were using birth control effectively enough to affect population size significantly.
    I may have learned of it from someone here ?
    Alternating with Loretta Chase rereads.

      1. You are right Yuri it’s the original edition so it was when Roe was still in effect but legislatures and courts were whittling away at it.

        And that short story is amazing and terrifying.

      2. Glad people liked the story – it made me think a lot. There’s a story from a regency regency era redevelopment in London that with a few weeks of people moving into the houses all the pennyroyal in the park opposite was gone. Don’t see that very often in a historical romance.

          1. Comment on a history podcast “The Rest is History”, so non-fiction but it was an aside (ep 24 I think) so not sure how well substantiated it is.

  23. Still reading Christmas books, through to 5th Jan aka Twelfth Night, and most of them seem to be anthologies which can be a really mixed bag. Picked up a historical anthology “A Scandalous Regency Christmas” which had two stinkers, and two enjoyable stories which intrigue me enough to seek out the authors again. “To Undo a Lady” by Christine Merrill which was refreshingly sex positive (in contrast some recent dnfs) and “A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction” by Barbara Monajem, which breaks a number of romance tropes, with a fairly amoral MMC and some rough justice, but I liked the theater world, the unapologetic FMC, and the cultural diversity. Trigger warnings apply.

    Continued my Harper Fox glom with another novella, “When Christmas Lights are Blue” featuring paramedics, a near-death experience, a possible ghost, and a sensitively handled look at Brexit and racism, and two men in an established relationship who are going through a crisis. Lovely.

    “I Heard Him Exclaim” by ZA Maxfield is contemporary m/m age gap novella with an MC with a red muscle car who loves Christmas and playing Santa, and a younger MC who’s acquired custody of his niece and is struggling. Really enjoyable.

    “One Enchanted Moment” aka “Christmas Ever After” is the last category by Sarah Morgan before she moves into single titles and I really liked the m/f couple who have both been burned by relationships, particularly the FMC who has a refreshingly positive attitude in contrast to the grumpy MMC. Nicely Christmassy, with a family Christmas in the Cotswolds and a friend Christmas in Maine.

    1. Yuri, the author of one of the enjoyable read, “A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction”, Barbara Monajem, is a fellow Argher and active her every now and then 🙂

  24. Oops, somehow swapped my regency novellas, “To Undo a Lady” by Christine Merrill was the one with the amoral theater manager, and “A Lady’s Lesson in Seduction” by Barbara Monajem was the manor house Christmas with the sex positive MMC.

  25. I’m listening to Dr Greger’s latest book How Not To Age. It’s very dense so far, as expected, and will not appeal at all to anyone who can’t listen to a lot of science without zoning out. Having been raised by doctors, it appeals to me.

  26. Read several great books over the festive season:

    Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan was absolutely enchanting. Full disclosure it is set in my home town of Edinburgh and perfectly encapsulates my city at Christmas (though not sure we get that much snow!). The “baddie” is a purveyor of what we call here “tartan tat” and it is great fun. It helps that I used to work at the top of Victoria Street where the bookshop is – there is a real bookshop on the street but not where she placed it. Most of the other shops have existed at one point on that street too – though not are all still there. Pre-pandemic there was a macaroon shop, a hog roast shop, and a cheese shop that you could smell before you saw, all of which made for a fun lunchtime food choice. However, it a quite a steep street and I am waiting for a new hip so can’t cope with the slope, so not sure if they are still there either.

    The Sunset Years of Agnes Sharp by Leonie Swann was a great recommendation and I loved it. A story about a bunch of elders living together in a big house, and a murderer in the village.

    As was Sophie Kinsella’s The Burnout, which I identified with a lot – overworking flipping out then escaping to the seaside. Something a lot of us could identify with I am sure.

    Just finished Game of Hearts by Cathy Yardley (4th in the Fandom Series and my favourite so far) – strong heroine and conflicted hero.

    Now reading Kerry Greenwood’s Devil’s Food and loving this series.

      1. Near as I can tell, our comments are in moderation – all comments are moderated. But I got an email alerting me to your comments, so I expect they’ll show up by and by.

        “Author: Deborah Blake
        “Comment:
        “I’m going to have to disagree here. I actually enjoyed the book a lot. I’m a huge Jennifer Crusie fan (and loved Agnes and the Hitman, her first collaboration with Bob Mayer). I’ve read all three books in this trilogy and found them to fun and witty. I love the snappy dialogue and the town doesn’t bother me. Of course, that’s just me, but still.”

        I checked “Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail. “

      2. I added a comment too, today New Years Eve, and saw yours Deborah so we will see if mine appears later – as I disagreed too.

    1. I almost never agree with the SBTB reviews (in fact I stopped checking them out because of this) and this one just made me roll my eyes. I tried to comment but the comment has not showed up. Nor did I see yours Gary. I saw Deborah’s but was not able to “like” it. Are they screening alternative views?

    2. Oh man. I probably shouldn’t know this. I had a baby road rage incident earlier and am clearly not over my holiday grumps. I don’t follow them at all but now I have the urge to make a little mayhem.

    3. They’re just looking for different things in a romance than I gave them. Happens all the time. It’s impossible to write a story that everybody likes.

      1. Should also have said:
        They have a community there just like we have here. The fact that the communities might disagree on things isn’t that much of a surprise. And that’s fine. Don’t feel obligated to disagree or defend me. You write a book, some people won’t like it. Moving on . . . .

          1. If you go on to the Smart Bitches website you would think your comment had no likes Deborah. But if you press on the heart, it shows that eight people have liked your comment. I think they have a fault with their hearts so that is not the correct number either.

        1. Agreed. I understand that not everyone likes the books that I like ( they are wrong, bless their hearts) but I take exception to the tone. “I didn’t like it, it’s not my book” is fine. “I didn’t like it, it’s a bad book” is, well, bitchy. And it seems rude. Which is why I am here and not over in their blog. Tone.

  27. I didn’t bring my reading journal along on this trip so I don’t have the full week’s summaries at my disposal, but suffice to say I read a lot. Including many Xmas stories, including several re-reads.

    I do have some Good Book Noise to report, though. This is probably outside a lot of my fellow Arghers’ parameters, but I loved it, thought it was exceptionally well researched and written, and best of all I discovered it *after* two sequels had been written and volume one revised accordingly (so now I can glom everything. Vol. 1 had an acceptable resolution but I want A Lot More of the MCs). And the book is:

    ‘The Seventh of December: The Czarina’s Necklace,’ by Garrick Jones. M/M historical set during WWII and starring two active military intelligence officers. One is American, one is Australian, both are in Europe, both are multi-talented and very engaging.

    The reader cautions would simply be: it’s set during wartime, unflinchingly so, 1940-41. People get hurt and die. There is some sex but not graphic, in fact mostly off the page. The two sequels will certainly be read in January, only my embarrassing TBR keeps me from downloading them right now.

  28. Ratings for the book list – The first read is experimental, the 4th and 5th are the best. The 2nd & 3rd books are good but not great. I prefer the older books by Nora Roberts.

    1 365 days by Blanka Lipinska
    I was confused about the genre when I started this. Was it in the Twilight/Fifty shades territory or a dark romance? I’ll save you the suspense. Its neither. This book is relationships set in the middle of Stockholm Syndrome.
    Girl is kidnapped by powerful mobster. His offer – she gives him 365 days to make her fall for him. If he fails, he lets her go after a year.
    This book had seriously unlikeable characters set in a harsh world. Book 3 is where everything goes to hell and it has all the triggers one can think of. But this is also where the story has a huge twist and things get a little better, a little saner.

    2 Identity by Nora Roberts
    I liked it but I didnt love it. Its not a page turner, you can walk away & forget about it. The book has a haunted house, murder mysteries, a wonderful dog, assorted ghosts and a curse. But the romance is weak. The story gets going after 60 % and a lot of the book is reading about the lead living alone in the haunted house. It gets better after the rest of the Ghosthunter crew arrives.

    3 The Witness by Nora Roberts
    This was fun on a medium level. Abigail is on a run from the Russian mafia & she’s hiding in a remote town. Brooks is a smart, kind cop who develops curiosity, protectiveness & a soft spot for the lady with a secret. Abigail was strong, gifted, secretive, socially awkward and was a weapon collector. The book had a cold, ruthless villain with great presence. Sadly he has 3 good screnes and he’s off screen for the rest of it. Very sad.

    4 Speak of the Demon by Stacia Stark
    This one was amazing. Danica wants to investigate her mom’s mysterious murder and she works for the Mage council. She is registered as a low level witch and ends up bonded to an ancient demon. Samael is a secretive, anti hero demon with complex agendas & shifting alliances. The story has a great mix of banter, romance, action, twists, myth and different paranormal species.
    I finally found an urban fantasy series similar to Kate Daniels.

    5 Love vs The Ooze Monster by Cassandra Gannon
    This was such a fun, fast paced read. Cassandra Gannon always delivers.
    The book is set in the 1920s. The leads are a ambitious gangster and his mysterious book keeper. Things are going well till someone sends a anonymous letter to drive a wedge between them. As they try to sort things out, a ooze moster is attacking the people and the town. Its a monster that grows with every kill and disappears. Somehow the ooze monster is fixated on the book keeper & starts hunting her.
    The vibe is Scooby Doo and its a nice, relaxing read.

  29. I’m a little late to the party but here are my reads…all rereads, in fact. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, A Morbid Taste for Bones by Ellis Peters (I just love Brother Cadfael), and, in honor of the latest in the series which just came out, Beyond by Mercedes Lackey. I am about two thirds of the way through the second one, Into the West, which I should finish today before I begin the new one, Valdemar. For those who are interested, these are about the founding of the Valdemar world she has set so many of her book in.

  30. Guys! I’m so happy, the audiobooks are on audible (and available in the UK). I’ve preordered all three.

  31. I read a sort of meh Christmas romance I’m not going to name because I can’t remember the name of it. And then I decided to reread I am reading dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana, Wynne Jones that and its sequel are two of my favorite Jones books. Happy new year everyone.

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