169 thoughts on “This a Good Book Thursday, January 25, 2024

  1. Not lousy! Just busy – writing books for your insatiable fans!

    I finished up Balogh’s Someone to Hold. It was a sweet romance, and I liked that the MCs didn’t really realize what was happening, but those around them did.

  2. No grumpiness from me this week! Just more MM hockey though I keep thinking I should move on.
    I read the Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James Hockey Ever After series. Winging It, Scoring Position and Unrivaled, and also the Holiday Special. Enjoyed them all. They were different enough from each other to not matter I read them in one go.
    Then I started the Avon Gale Scoring Chances Series. Really liked Breakaway (no. 1). Sweet, not angsty but enough meat (depth) to be worth reading and am enjoying Save of the Game (No.2) now. Both are pretty funny at times, and are set on a minor, minor league team in Florida so it is all pretty basic, and no one has any money, which makes a change from NHL.
    Finally, both series have good female characters and neither of the series (so far!) had the standard cliché WAG stuff (beautiful women who seem scary but turn out to have hearts of gold and welcome the new boy with open arms). I’m really over that particular trope and am hoping for a crazy, less than beautiful WAG who hates the new boy (for better reasons than some inane jealously or protective thing). One day maybe.

    1. Oh don’t stop now! The next in the Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James is coming out Feb 6th. And Power Play in the Avon Gale series is my favourite in that series. Plus read her novella, Next Season.

      1. Don’t stop, there’re so many good hockey books still waiting for you!!

        I’m sooo looking forward to the next installment in Kane/James’ series: Crushed Ice. Will be available on KU, too.

        I really liked Avon Gale’s ECHL series, too: It’s interesting to go “down” into the basement of pro hockey. And they are really good, too. Breakaway and Empty Net were my favourites, but all titles were better than the average hockey titles that have cropped up like tribbles on Star Trek now that hockey seems trendy.

    2. I laughed at your comment about thinking you should move on. I have that thought as well and yet I keep going back for more. In fact I have devoted a fair amount of time trying to analyze why this genre is so addictive even to people who aren’t hockey fans, not that I have come to any cogent conclusions.

      1. Definitely strangely addictive and I often wonder why, as a good feminist (!), I find MM romance more interesting than M/F.

        I know we have mulled over it a good bit on GBT but there’s plenty to think about

        1. Same here — why do I find this more interesting than M/F? Being pretty new to GBT I missed that “mulling” over this topic. It really interests me so I will go back and check out people’s thoughts on this. I bet someone out there in the real world is studying this phenomenon.

          1. For me, I think it is about baggage. I bring a lot of baggage as a reader to M/F romance. I’m straight, in a very happy relationship with a man, and still very interested in stories about women. I just don’t find many that I like. M/M seems less bogged down with traditional tropes and dynamics.

          2. See Lisa+ATL’s comment down below about contemporary authors’ seeming need to humiliate their female main character in the first chapter. Off-putting, I call it.

          3. Repulsive, I call it. It’s also I always hated The Princess Bride, despite so many people enamoured with it.

          4. Come on. The eponymously names princess is the dopiest person ever. The other characters actually make fun of how dumb she is. Her boyfriend is being attacked in the forest by giant flaming rats and she’s like all oh no what ever shall I do? Pick up a branch and hit the f**ing thing over the head, that’s what you can do. If that’s what it takes to have a movie named after you I’m having none of it.

          5. Have you tried the book? Because she is a dumb dumb, plus selfish and rather greedy, but everyone loves her anyway and she ends up saving them all in the end.

            And I don’t think it bothers me because they are all rather stupid in various ways.

      2. Ey, come on, it’s obvious:

        Hockey itself is incredibly fast, dangerous, the players need to have SKILL, incredible stamina but not bulk (so far sexier than your average typical alpha jock/footballer), also have dedication to their craft, passion, concentration, recklessness and courage. Not to forget insanity when it comes to pain tolerance. Bravery. They have indurance, play so many more games than all the other sprots teams. And unlike in soccer, there’s win or lose, no “unentschieden” – you fight until there’s a definite result.

        They defend their team mates (just look at one of the last Minnesota Wild games where an opposing forward couldn’t avoid crashing into Fleury, the goalie legend, and Brandon Duhaime instantly dropped the gloves to defend the goalie (with which he had a prank-feud the weeks prior, chirping like crazy).

        Also: just look at how they celebrate, often in one huge heap of men, the hug, cuddle, tap their goalie’s head – often have intensely great chemistry as a team / brotherhood.
        I might idealize the sports, but compared to e.g. soccer, everything is more intense, faster, more tactile – more dense, more concentrated.

        Plus: there’s no guarantee that a super team with great players win easily. The salary cap makes it far more difficult for one team to dominate the sports too much.
        When I look at my fav soccer club – they are financially sound, very well managed, have great players, the team is expected to win every game and if they don’t accomplish that – catastrophe. But too many of the other teams don’t have the same possibilites, so it’s not very fair.

        Sigh.

        1. And see, I thought it was because hockey is a Canadian sport and everyone knows Canadians are sexier.

          1. Don’t you remember all the years the Russian teams won all the Olympics? You guys hardly have an exclusive hold on the sport.

          2. Aunt snack, I just watched Miracle the other week – about the 1980s Olympic Hockey tournament. When the team USA won against the Russians for the first time in what felt like forever. Didn’t happen again for a couple of years.

          3. Aunt Snack! What a horrifying thing to say! We put those years out of our collective memory. The Canada-Russia series of 1972 is so well known in our country that there was a 20 page spread in the national newspaper for its 40th anniversary; Paul Henderson who scored the winning goal is was deified (there’s even a movie called Bless Me, Paul Henderson), and there’s a four part documentary series about it that says it was ‘the most transformative hockey series ever played’. These are the only things we remember.

          4. Replying to Aunt Snack: I slightly oversimplify, but as best I recall, basically: Back when the Olympics were trying to maintain an aristocratic superiority by not allowing in those lower class types who actually got paid for sport, various Communist countries such as the USSR and East Germany often dominated by effectively paying “amateur” athletes under the table. That bar on professionals in the Olympics stopped even before the USSR fell, and suddenly that dominance disappeared. (And, as others noted, even before that the North American more nearly genuine amateurs sometimes won.)

          5. No idea about hockey, but the Soviet Olympic machine was pretty sinister – athletes didn’t really have a choice about participating, often training regimes were brutal, drug regimes were non-negotiable, the rewards for success was lifting your family out of poverty – the penalties for failure were not to be thought about.

            I watched a documentary a few years about the ways their training model was exported to the West particularly in gymnastics and the way it acclimates the athletes to abuse. There was footage of Nadia Comaneci who is remembered as this amazing competitor but she was 14, still played with dolls, and in some of the video she looks so scared.

        2. I’m curious now. Exactly how many Argh Inkers are on the hockey team, anyway? I’ve always known about Tammy, plus Dodo her hockey student, but are there actually hordes of you hockey readers? It’s like you speak another language, but it’s contagious. I’m almost afraid to try reading one….

          1. I’ve read quite a few hockey romances, but the truth is … I hate professional sports, and I deeply hate the sports where the players are expected to take infinite damage. I don’t care if the league is then ‘oh we’ll take good care of you now that you’re permanently disabled and forcibly retired with your life expectancy cut in half.’ They can choke.

            I’m really pretty much over these romances, because the structure of the professional sports leagues is just f**king awful and abusive and I don’t like my MCs being in awful, abusive situations.

          2. I have read several and if the writing was good and I didn’t have to endure too many and/or too tediously long sex scenes, I didn’t mind them. But I am not a big fan.

          3. The Argher formerly known as Jen+B is actually ground zero here and she’s the one who got me onto hockey romances. Ha Nguyen I think reads them sometimes, Frozen Pond is a recent convert and there are a number who read M/F hockey romance, although I don’t. Plus I think there are a number of Sarina Bowen fans on this site, who read all her books, including the hockey ones. Not that I’m tracking all this or anything of course.

          4. I read them on occasion, but I am not a devotee. They didn’t quite hook me the way some other tropes do (tentacles), but I still enjoy a good story and good writing. And sometimes I am in the mood.

          5. I’ve no intention of ever reading a hockey romance, but I long ago knew they were a thing because Tasmanian author Tansy Rainer Roberts (who writes mysteries too as Livia Day) used to enthuse about them on the Galactic Suburbia podcast. The podcast died in 2019, and for covid-related reasons I did not listen to the final episodes, so I’ll bet I knew of hockey romances by 2018.

          6. I’ve been a fan of sport romances for years. Hockey has always been my favourite (yes, I’m Canadian). Happy to have a new list of authors to read thanks to Tammy, Dodo and other Argh readers.

        3. Speaking as someone who has no interest in sport of any kind, I still like these books. Every now and again I look at ice hockey on youtube, and it’s SO much faster than any other sport, to the degree that it looks to me as if there’s no thinking time, as if they have to react automatically. It also seems to ride that line between utter chaos and control – which is where all the interesting things happen.

          1. Agree absolutely on the speed and chaos/control of hockey which I find highly interesting too, Lian.

            I usually have to watch the repeats from various angles to get how the puck went into the net, I don’t understand how they are able to follow the puck in real time.

            And usually what is totally out of my skill set/ physical ability / amount of bravery and dedication needed is what fascinates me.
            Which is true also for horse racing (thanks to Dick Francis), ballet,
            Strangely enough, all those sports are in a very grey area when it comes to work environment (treatment of horses and people involved). Which I will not analyse.

          2. I saw an ice hockey match when i was in Sweden years ago (didn’t have a clue about rules so we were guessing) but I thought it was most exciting sport I had ever seen live (in person). I was lucky as I think I saw a particularly good match but it certainly made me keen to see more (though I never again had the opportunity). So when i discovered the hockey books I was already interested.

            Occasionaly I look on YouTube and the NHL site. Interestingly (or more depressing really) recently when I was on the NHL site and the video wouldn’t show I changed cookie preferences and immediately began to get online ads elsewhere about hot young women who were interested in older men (!). Needless to say I changed cookie prefs again and luckily the ads went away.

            The new PWHL (prof womens hockey league) has their matches live and free on youtube, if you are outside the US and Canada, so i have caught a couple of them (time zone dependent), I can usually only watch ones on during the day (in US/ CAN )

        4. Like Ginger Rogers danced with Fred Astaire hockey players move backwards and forwards balancing on shiny skates. I’ve watched hockey off and on since the seventies and can remember sitting on the edge of the sofa watching the USA team vs the Russians on TV in 1980. Mesmerizing!

          1. What was so riveting about the 1980 Olympics was that the Russians were professionals (almost exclusively an army team who played together full time) while the other teams were amateurs. And prior to that, the American teams were so much worse than everyone else. It was the beginning of a sea change for hockey in the US because after that the NHL really began to expand. There are now pro teams in San Jose and Dallas, for crying out loud and those are places people go to get away from the ice.

            I didn’t really start following hockey until I lived in Chicago and the Blackhawks started winning. Then I finally noticed that it was like Soccer on steroids because it was so much more compact and SO MUCH faster. And Patrick Sharp made wonderful eye candy.

    3. Why move on if you are enjoying it? I am trying to work on that this year, identifying the weird expectations that I have for myself and the limits I put on what I enjoy. Again, I ask, Why? It’s not like I spend to excess, or anyone is monitoring how many times I reread The Book of Firsts. So why do I keep reprimanding myself? Must be the Catholic upbringing.

      1. Good point about ‘weird expectations that I have for myself and the limits I put on what I enjoy’. Very similar for me -including the catholic upbringing!

      2. My husband and I were both raised in the Irish/German branches of Catholicism. Maybe it comes from generations of hardship and eating bland food…

        1. This here is where I tattle on my sister. I found out recently that she used to stuff mashed potatoes in her pockets. As part Irish I found it appalling considering the potato famine and don’t get me started on the No Irish Need Apply signs I read in history books.

  3. Books of note this week: the first in the Holmes and Moriarity series by Josh Lanyon – fun, mystery, action, sexy. And Broken Ice which is the fourth in the Marina Vivancos series about M/M hockey set in an a/b/o ‘verse – a mashup I’ve totally enjoyed – really lively MC in this one – totally smutty. Also R Cooper’s Play It Again, Charlie, which I’ve found kind of slow. I’m still listening to Ink Blood Sister Scribe which has been gathering more and more momentum as it goes along.

    1. Dear Tammy,
      This comment is about The Princess Bride because I couldn’t find a reply button where I needed it to be. The reason Princess Buttercup is so dopey is that the whole thing is a send up of all the stories where the princess only had to be royal and beautiful. Her name is Buttercup, for heaven’s sake! That alone should clue you in to the idea that this is a hyper realized fairy tale. They didn’t start publishing books where the princess saved herself and the prince for at least 20 years after the movie.

      1. But it was made in the ’80’s when Signourney Weaver and Linda Hamilton both kicked ass against their monsters!

      2. But she does save herself, repeatedly. And saves all the rest of them too. Which is why I think that it is a subversion of the dumb blond princess trope. You get led in believing that she is stupid, but she decides to make herself the most beautiful person in the land by working on herself to be worthy of Wesley’s love, tries to escape multiple times when she is kidnapped, keeps Wesley from getting killed by his own machismo when they get out of the fire swamp, figures out that her fiancé is lying to her and gets them all out of the castle at the end when the guards try to stop them. Really, she is a powerhouse. I think that Goldman is being tongue in cheek, telling us that she is dumb because that is what fairytales teach us to expect.

        1. I’m going to rewatch the Sure Thing and enjoy Daphne Zuniga sneer at John Cusack’s shallow desire to sleep with a beautiful girl he hardly knows. Now that’s a feminist romance.

          1. Imma go buy a Princess Bride tshirt on T-public. 😛

            And yell “I AM THE QUEEN” really loud when people thwart me for the rest of the work day. So there.

        2. The princess bride was published in 1973
          The original hardback had all of the comments that William Goldman made about it, being the” good book version” in red. I love that book so much one of the things I thought was a joke is him referring to his publishing company was as Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. I thought that was a joke because when I worked at that publishing company, it was called Harcourt Brace and World. (I worked there when the Mets won the pennant and we shredded everything we could find and threw it out the window very happy memory.)
          William Goldman wrote so many different things, and so many different genres but that particular book is hands-down, my favorite. Oh, and his script for Butch, Cassidy and the Sundance kid.

  4. I got tired of disappointments, so I listened to Welcome to Temptation. I forget from time to time just how much I love Rachel and Leo.

    After that, my hold on Code Name Charming came in, so I am listening to that. The narrator isn’t great, and I am a little disappointed in the story so far, which is a shame because I usually like Lucy Parker and was looking forward to this. I’m not in dnf territory yet, but the male lead, hot shot ex-military bodyguard keeps making silly mistakes and the female lead, PA to the prince, keeps suggesting activities that are clearly outside of safety protocol. And they should both be smarter than this. We shall see.

    1. I so wish I had purchased Code Name Charming on Kindle instead of Audible. I finally just gave up as the narrator was so terribly miscast. And I dearly love Lucy Parker.

      1. I will suffer through, I think, because it is free. But I am missing the charm of the settings from the acting/theatre arts and baking sets.

  5. Nothing.

    I renewed my library card. Borrowed When Women Were Dragons. Had a lovely dinner last night with Son/DIL. We discussed poetry.

    Reading gardening books.

  6. I reread Rest in Pink, this time enjoying Vince’s dry sense of humor, as I was too much in a hurry before to notice that. Then I reread One in Vermillion. All the houses, oh, my! I still miss my house in Tucson, although not the neighbors. The relationship dynamics made the book. There were so many, and some really twisted ones.

    I started Anna Karenina, by Leo Tolstoy. I read War and Peace in middle school, and Anna Karenina in high school. It seemed like a good time to reread. Anna K. had a profound effect on me. I am rereading it in nibbles, since it is a very long book, and will take some time to get through it all.

    1. I listened to Anna Karenina a couple of years ago and loved it. I’d read it as a teen but i think got much more out of it 2nd time around.
      I found the bits that weren’t Anna/Vronsky more interesting, both the picture of 19th century Russia and also Levin and Kitty.

      It does take a while to get through though.

    2. I read Anna K in high school and again in college. I don’t think I’ve reread it since. I did once read a future-set Soviet sf story by Dmitriy Romanovskiy in which, to a woman has her memories replaced with a constructed set intended to represent the fictional Anna Karinina. The woman thereafter is effectively a 19th-century woman who has to cope with the modern (or actually future) world. It wasn’t terrible but I don’t remember much about it. I don’t think it’s been translated.

      I read an abridged War and P in HS, and then the full Maude translation in college. As an adult, after my Russian had considerably improved, I started on the original on my own time. Tolstoy’s style differs from modern Russian by more than 19th-century English does from current English. (Way more participles—Russian has a whole farm of them but many are currently not much used— and a different word for “if,” among other things.) I read in short bits, looking up a lot of obsolescent words as I went, and comparing it to the Maude translation, which I still had from college. The translation was pretty good, but I found a few mistakes. (There are many newer translations out there.) I got halfway through and decided to take a break, which has now probably lasted 20 years or more. I really should finish! Tolstoy was writing 50 years after the period, so he may not have been entirely historically accurate, but it was interesting to compare Russian customs in the novel with then-contemporary English ones (known to me from Jane Austen and later fiction such as Heyer and Patrick O’Brian). In Russia you evidently challenged someone to a duel by a straightforward “I challenge you,” whereas in England one said, “Sir, name your friends!” (i.e. his seconds, who would, together with the challenger’s, arrange the details of pistols for two and breakfast for one). In England, waltzing was frowned upon and closely supervised, whereas in Russia a fresh young thing’s first dance ever at a ball could be a waltz. But Breguet watches were a status symbol for men in both countries.

      1. Fascinating!
        Duels: in Germany tjr proper way was to send a written billet. But calling your opposit certain names could be invitation enough needing instant satisfaction.

        1. I love this. Only on Argh would there be a discussion of different countries’ practices for duels.

          1. And only on Argh would you find, in amongst the romances and hockey books, a casual comment about reading War and Peace in the original Russian.

        2. Dodo, the thing that always fascinated me about Germany (or perhaps Prussia would be more accurate?) was dueling scars, and how carefully and precisely many of them were created.

          1. Lian, they are STILL created today. The brother of one of dd’s friends belongs to a student fraternaty (Studentenverbindung) in which “duels” with combattants from fellow fraternities is obligatory. She told me about his track record of fights and resulting scarring.
            My husband was also part of such a fraternity before he left and joined another fraternity with a totally different approach and distinct focus on “friendship, being tolerant/open minded, being deeply connected to their home region Allgäu, and student life”. As a historian and history teacher, he’s still following the topic and is my treasure trove for knowledge: those fraternities with emphasis on “duelling” have strict rules how those fights are conducted. Leaving a mark (=scar) is the aim and what my dh told me, some even hinder the healing process in order to create a scar. Crazy! it also takes a lot of skill to carefully and precisely create one with a sword in the first place.

          2. Yes, I liked it a lot, that he didn’t stick with the dueling fraternity (schlagende Landsmannschaft) to which hus grandad had belonged. Instead he chose a fraternity with great values. All the “Alte Herren” I met were intersting and most were charming, too. They opened up for female students relatively early, too.

            Re fraternities: is there a distinction between them? In Germany there are huge differences between Corps, Burschenschaften, Landsmannschaften – and each group is really distinct: some frown upon durling, others are that conservative and far right that they seem like caricatures (dangerous ones imo). The dueling ones even have different rule books – that e.g. define which weapon to use for fighting. Some have their students use really heavy weaponry, so grave injuries can ensue.

          3. Yes, Yuri, durling still is a strong part of some specific fraternities (“schlagende Verbindungen”), but it’s more like a ritualized fighting, a proof of your ability to stand up for your fraternity, your country. In the 1950s, such a fight (“mensur) between students of fighting fraternities had been declared to be a sport by a court, as both parties agree to it. No duel due to an infraction of honour is allowed by court. So it’s not what a proper duel would be. Still, honour is a very important concept for these fraternities.
            However, only about 3% of students belong to fraternities and many of them are non fighting ones with other scopes, like the one my dh belongs to.

          4. Wow, OK, interesting. It always fascinates me how differently people think about these things.

          5. Yuri, dueling and this fraternity stuff is quite exotic to the majority of us, I’d say. The kids seem rather baffled when dh talks about this topic.
            Imho it’s very archaic.

          6. Well its not like we don’t have violent sports too – boxing, ice hockey, football etc. Is scarring really less conceivable than repeated concussions? I mean I still find them all incomprehensible but then I am a notable physical coward 🙂

          7. Yuri, much as hockey fascinates me, I’m glad that neither of my kids have an interest in playing such a dangerous sport. They’d be too old by now anyway to start. Football (i.e. soccer) has some risk of concussion but ds is not much into headers. Knees /legs are more at risk with soccer.
            The dueling of fraternities has its roots in real fencing – to prove your skill at defending yourself and your country if need be. The tradition of German fraternities (although there are roots back into the Middle Ages) mostly date back to the Napoleonic wars and the need to fight against the French. The turbulent decades afterwards were a major factor in establishing them, too.
            Back then as well as today – and I guess similar to the US, fraternities provide entrance to a professional network on a “brotherly” level. Plus in some university cities they’re attractive because the provide housing which was one of the attractions for dh. It’s very difficult to find lodging and very expensive, not only for students. Plus all the other advantages of finding (potentially) like minded people.

  7. I’m in a ‘re-reading my own stuff’ phase as I dig into new novel that I conceived back in 2021 but haven’t much touched since; the story universe has evolved considerably, and since this one will be written for submission vs self-publishing, I have a slightly different authorial objective for it (vs simply writing whatever the hell I want). Anyway, on to what else I read.

    1. ‘London Triptych’ by Jonathan Kemp. Literary fiction featuring three interwoven M/M stories set in 1895, 1954, and 1998, all more or less unhappy, though none completely tragic or hopeless. Very well written, helpful bibliography.

    2. ‘Two Roads Converged’ by Justin Durand, M/M featuring two 17 yr olds who were misidentified at birth and thus grew up in the wrong families and whose proper identification chucks them into an extremely complicated and dangerous situation. This is a road-trip book, not quite as successful as ‘The World Before Us;’ diary style narration as in that book might have worked better here, but the non-MC POVs would have been lost, and there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Long, full of incident, and the boys (while becoming best friends and eventually lovers) are traveling with a relative who is such a useless piece of shit I was like ARGH. The characterizations and development are quite good – they did keep me reading – and the boys are resourceful, brave allies who sometimes make bad decisions because teenagers. Wouldn’t call this a romance, but for those like me who struggle with plot, there is plenty here and it’s an example of Everything Including The Kitchen Sink. Books like this make me think about how I would editorially redirect them, which helps me plot my own stuff. 🙂

    3. ‘Tribute Act’ by Joanna Chambers, M/M set in Cornwall, a recent self-release after she got the rights back. MC1 is doing most of the work to run the family ice cream parlor / cafe, MC2 turns up to see if he’s a donor match for their teenage sister with liver disease. Only they’ve just hooked up not knowing they are stepbrothers (had never actually met due to family disconnection). Most of the book is post-surgery recuperation, slow burn, angsty, with MC2’s stunted emotional development and poor communication putting their own connection in jeopardy.

  8. Like Frozen Pond, I thought I should move on from hockey. So I tried Alexis Hall’s “Paris Daillencourt is About to Crumble” which though it was laugh out loud funny in parts and had lots of great characters, ended up as a DNF because the MC’s social anxiety was just too much for me and started to grate. I have loved a lot of Hall’s books (specially the Spires series) but I just couldn’t take this one.
    I then went back to hockey with LA Witt’s Injured Reserve — M/M story about the difficulties of being an NHL (or any professional athlete) spouse and the pressures it puts on a marriage. It was interesting and quite angsty (which I like) but a bit too long for me with too much repetition — 20% shorter would probably have produced more impact. This was my first L.A. Witt and I’ll try her other books but there are so many I’m not sure where to start.
    I then re read Rachel Reid’s “Heated Rivalry” and “The Long Game” . M/M Hockey romances with the same MCs. I read them very fast first time around and enjoyed them, this time they were even better. They are firmly on the re-re-read pile!
    I also read the first in Stella Riley’s Roundheads and Cavaliers series, “The Black Madonna” which was a lovely read and which kept my interest to the end. I’ll continue with that series.

    1. I enjoyed LA Witt’s Aftermath in the Vino and Veritas series. Very angsty though, long term injury etc. One of my favs in that series though (which is mostly not hockey).

    2. Christina, you might have heard that Alexis Hall is re-releasing the Spires series and has added the second half of Waiting for the flood. There’ll be an audiobook narrated by Will Watt, so unseen I’ll order this. I LOVE his narrations.

      1. Yes! I am so looking forward to the second half of Waiting for the Flood which I’ve reread any number of times. Based on the great job he did with Ten Things That Never Happened, I too am a Will Watt fan. I must say though that I’ve really liked all the narrators of Hall’s Spires books.

      2. That’s wonderful – I love Waiting for the Flood. Hope it’s going to be available on its own; I’ve already got the others. And how come I didn’t know? I’m subscribed to his blog.

        1. Oh, I can see he hasn’t blogged about it; and it looks as if I might be able to update my ebook once the new edition’s out.

          1. Chasing the light – the addition to Waiting for the flood, is the re-telling from the perspective of the lover who broke up with Edwin (?), the MC of Waiting for the Flood. I haven’t quite understood if it’s going to be an addendum to Flood or its own publication. Well, I’ll see. I don’t own Flood so far but will, come publication day 😉

        2. He sent out an email announcing it and other things. His emails are informative and very chatty, worth signing up.

        3. He wrote about it in his newsletter which I’ve subscribed to. And mentioned it on instagram.

    3. This week I read the only Stella Riley my library has: The Parfit Knight. I enjoyed it, and the historical setting did not make me cringe (which is difficult so close to my period) but it will not be a reread, so I am reluctant to buy any of hers, especially ! since I have a very long list of Books I Must Own, starting with Ann Leckie and Martha Wells, which I am slowly chipping away at.

      1. If you can get « The mesalliance », do give it a try. It follows the Parfit Knight but it is much better in my opinion.

        I haven’t reread the Parfit Knight but I reread « the Mesalliance ». The only Regency duke I truly fancy 😀.

    4. Christina, I finished Paris Daillencourt but was greatly irritated by it. The social anxiety thing might have been realistic, but structurally the book was a failure imo. I find Alexis Hall’s books very hit and miss. Some I love, this one I didn’t.

    5. I really liked LA Witt’s “Running with Scissors” – its a rock romance I really like the mature way the group handles conflict and the MCs left me with a smile on my face.

      She also writes as Lauren Gallagher and I loved “Kneel, Mr President” which is a D/s, poly romance set in the Whitehouse. I really appreciated the careful way the MCs handled an incredibly fraught situation.

  9. I listened to Guards! Guards! Still good. Fun seeing all of those characters being introduced.

    And I read The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch which is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. I am often suspicious of retelling of old favorites but I really enjoyed this one. Lydia

    1. …is the narrator. Kitty is a cat, her familiar. Everything is seen through a different lens that recasts the whole story.

      1. I started Scandalous Confessions a few months ago, then ran face first into a reader’s block and haven’t picked it up again. I’m at 39 % in and I both want to continue and keep thinking: “But we must be close to the end now, right? RIGHT?” … If you’d give it a star-rating between 1-5, what would you give it? Trying to figure out if I should give it another go.

  10. I went back to Harper Fox and read the standalone ‘Scrap Metal’, which I enjoyed – great characters and evocative setting (Arran this time). It got darker towards the end, but came out good. Then there were a couple of duds, so I’m reading Mary Stewart’s ‘Airs Above the Ground’ as a palate cleanser. Love the way novels written in a period – the sixties in this case – can surprise you. She was completely on top of biodiversity loss (I guess ‘Silent Spring’ had come out recently, but still), but there’s still a thread of ‘the little woman’, even if the heroine’s pulling her weight and being knowing about it.

    1. I do like how her main character in that one is unwilling to wait for her husband. And that she is unwilling to lie to the kid she picks up, even for her husband and for a good reason. I guess that is why I can reread Mary Stewart when I don’t revisit Joan Aiken Hodge or any of the other gothics. Her women have agency and refuse to be cowed.

  11. Have tried the True North Series by Sarina Bowen again. Bittersweet – liked it better than the first time round, but don’t love it.
    Steadfast, title 2, I liked better though i didn#t love it either.
    I liked spending time with the protagonists, but their world doesn’t have any hooks for me to be interested in.

    But there were so many books I want to read that they functioned as a kind of palate cleanser.
    Though now, instead of tackling the “new” books, I’m re-reading the Scoring Game series by Kane-James in anticipation of the new book.

    I am not the least in the mood to move on from hockey.
    My family has succumbed and got me tickets for the local team’s game on Febr. 1. They come along.
    Also, kid no. 2 is inundated with hockey info – she’s planning to spend the next academic year in Vancouver. She HAS to be well versed in at least Canadian hockey trivia!!

    1. Ah, and I got her hooked on the Puckboy Series. She’s far too young for this kind of smut. But who am I to judge … at least I know what kind of books she likes and we can talk about it 😉
      Plus it makes her more tolerant for mum’s raving about how the Bruins, Oilers, Canucks, Kraken etc fared (yes, I have more than one team I root for, sigh).

    2. I too am ambivalent about the True North series. They were fine, but I don’t really remember them or reread.

    3. That’s so funny, Dodo – we are not far from Vancouver, and are going to be in Munich in July (which if I remember correctly, is where you are?). Is she doing high school or university?

      1. Wow, Kathryn, if it fits with your itinerary, let’s meet!
        And yes, you remember correctly, I’m born and raised and still living in Munich 🙂

        DD – fingers crossed that everything goes according to plan (still in the VERY LONG application process) – wants to spend her year abroad at a high school in Maple Ridge near Vancouver.

  12. I read several books this week but the only one I can recommend is the 5th book in Lee Goldberg’s Eve Ronin mystery series Dream Town. In the first book, Lost Hills, Eve’s off-duty takedown of an Oscar winning martial arts movie star who is in the middle of beating his girlfriend goes viral and she leverages the publicity into a promotion to being the youngest detective in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. In this latest one she has agreed to allow them to make a TV series about a fictionalized version of her rather sensational first few cases, where she nearly died a couple of times, because she needs the money. And also ends up investigating the murder of a famous reality TV star.

    1. The Eve Ronin series looks interesting. Do they need to be read in order? These look like a must for my TBR pile.

  13. Has anyone read Meet Me in the Margins by Melissa Ferguson? Is it worth continuing?

    I started it but was rather repelled in the beginning by the author’s need to humiliate the protagonist by having her fall off her high heels, then crawl around the floor with the back of her skirt over her head.

    So I shifted to Georgie All Along which begins with another humiliation though not as slapstick as Margins.

    Is all this a product of Bridget Jones? Which I did love…in 1999.
    Don’t women characters deserve more respect? Grumble grumble, get off my lawn.

    Anyway, I may be happier with a sure thing reread at the moment.

    1. I had the same reaction! It was ridiculous and the main character’s embarrassment about it made me dislike her as well. If she had popped back up and said, “well, at least I wore cute panties today,” I would have been more inclined to continue.

      We are having a bit of a discussion up above about why some of us have jumped mostly to M/M romance and this is exactly why. I don’t know why contemporary M/F romance feels this need to hedge into the slapstick territory. Ugh. Also a parent’s divorce as a reason never to get married. I’m sorry, but that isn’t a good enough reason to swear off love forever as an adult.

      1. A parent’s divorce. Just one set? This is why (parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, ALL divorced) friends of mine swore never to legally marry. They did not swear never to fall in love. They were together for fifty years until Robin died last year.

      2. I read Meet Me at the Margins but thought it was bland.

        I think in general the humiliation of the heroine in books is to get laughs which mostly comes across as mean spirited unless she’s rises above or can take it in stride. I also don’t like the hapless, can’t get anything right, struggling to make it in the world heroine. I think that is supposed to be a starting point for her turning her life around but I just find it annoying.

        1. Agreed. As I age, I find that I don’t need the main character to grow so much as just be a good person. Competence is a definite plus. Really, you can grow as a person while still having bedrock inside you.

        2. I so agree with you. There has to be a better way to begin a book than with a lot of whining and self-denigration. Women have enough to deal with, without taking on a heroines angst as we read.

        3. My rule is NEVER humiliate your heroine. She’s probably the reader’s placeholder, so the only kind of humiliation that works is if another character (bad person) tries to humiliate her and she at least tries to fight back. You want your reader laughing with your protagonist, not at her.

          This has been your Jennifer Crusie Tells You How To Write Romance lecture for today.

    2. I read Meet Me in the Margins. I finished it but it was very vanilla and I forgot it almost immediately.

  14. Aside from some AO3 M/M hockey recs delivered via Tammy, I haven’t contributed to GBTh in a while, partly because I read (and enjoy) a lot of the same books as many other commenters. However, here are two books I read last year that I don’t think I’ve seen mentioned on here.

    The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer
    Way in the future, Ambrose wakes up to find himself on a spaceship on a mission to rescue his sister, a settler on a distant moon. He eventually discovers that he’s not alone on the spaceship, and it seems like we are in a YA M/M romance in familiar enemies-to-lovers territory. That turns out to be part of a larger sci-fi mystery/drama (with humor too). I don’t want to give away any more of the plot, but this twisty emotional roller coaster ride broke my brain and my heart while somehow managing to deliver a positive ending. **Highly** recommend.

    The Language of Seabirds by Will Taylor
    This sweet coming-of-age story also has a M/M romance of sorts, but middle grade, so it’s *extremely* tame. A 12yo boy goes to spend two weeks on the Oregon Coast; his parents are divorcing, so he and his father go away to let his mother move out. He meets another boy and packs a lot of discovery and growth into two weeks. I loved this book so much, maybe because it hits a lot of my favorite things: the fantasy of living right on the beach, secret codes, private places, thrift stores, learning more about the natural world. (It also resonated with me for some not-favorite things, like parents being irrational and kids having to act like the adult.) The ending is bittersweet; obviously there’s no traditional HEA for 12-year-olds who live apart, but I wish it had been left more open-ended.

  15. Actual reading a Batman and Robin graphic novel volume 5, trying to get back into reading and changing format helps. I also listened to Murderbot 6 & 7 so yay

  16. I read Stella Riley’s A Parfit Knight, and wished my library had more of her. I finished Freya Marske’s trilogy with A Power Unbound, and enjoyed it very much, but I seem oddly disinclined to reread any of them. I read Ali Hazelwood’s Check & Mate, and was glad that it was worth the several months wait for my hold to come in. I had been afraid that, as I know even less of chess than I do of science, the background would put me off, but it did not. One of the things she is especially good at is how her characters think about the fields they love, and even though I have not played chess in over fifty years and was never any good at it, that part came through for me.

    Then I either skimmed or DNFd a number of things that started well, but then got boring. I am trying to finish one now where the characters, even the minor ones, are quite interesting, and so is the setup, but somehow–I’m more than halfway through–it just trudges ever more slowly through the plot. Consequently I have reread a lot of Murderbot and T. Kingfisher.

      1. I just gave her first book another go – I tried a sample a while back, but it’s on KU, and I’d remembered it as a near miss. Ended up skimming it, and being glad I hadn’t read more of it. Not my cup of tea.

      2. But! Happy endings, and villains foiled! And I love the houses (also the ship in #2) as much as I do the humans.

  17. It’s either feast or famine for me. I just checked the library and there are six holds waiting for me to pick them up. Among them are: The Friendship Club, The Breakup Club, Past Lying and dvds including The Holdovers, and in case my grandson comes over this weekend the new Indiana Jones. As a little guy he was once crazy over those movies.

  18. As usual, I seem to be working on reading several books without having finished much, and some of what I did finish is not suitable for recommendation. One book I finished and liked was first volume of the Keeley & Associates collection, recommended, I think, by Gary+H. Somewhat to my surprise, Google informs me that there are a lot of dragons working as detectives out there.  The only one I had previously encountered was from a series by Karina Fabian, which is more overtly humorous and not as much to my taste. Although it does get points for being almost a Catholic clerical detective series with a dragon lead. (There are priests and nuns around, but the dragon is a layperson.) I may have to give the Fabian another try just for the concept. In the meantime I’m working on volume 2 of Keeley with enjoyment.

  19. This week I read the 4-volume light novel set, The Drab Princess, The Black Cat and the Satisfying Break-Up. Our princess discovers that her arranged marriage is doomed and decides to become a High Mage to avoid it, our hero assumes the form of a black cat to act as her tutor, it is what it says in the title. If you are dealing with a crisis and need something to read that is not stressful or difficult to concentrate on, this is just the thing. Light novels are a category unto themselves and this is a cute example. I particularly loved the illustrations.

      1. Looked it up on Amazon — looks like a Japanime graphic novel series (although that might just be based on an actual written-in-words book) by Rino Mayumi, Machi, et al.

  20. I am still rereading. Inspired by Jenny, I am reading Heyer. I have just started one of her whodunits, Footsteps in the dark. I can’t remember anything about that one, let alone who did it.

    1. I’m afraid that one’s rather a dud – if you don’t like it, do give one of her later ones a go. The others are all good, apart from Penhallow, which is very dark; no romance or HEA.

      1. Once again, I must protest that Penhallow is satire and I find it hilarious. I know no one agrees with me.

        1. Update. I have finished it and I did remember halfway who did it. I did enjoy it. What’s interesting is that it was written in 1932 and obviously, even it’s only mentioned in passing for one of them, all the male characters fought in some capacity or other in the war so they all have service revolvers and know how to use them. Heyer doesn’t belabour the point unlike KJ Charles with her Will Darling because it’s an accepted reality.
          I thought that was interesting. Also the mention of Margaret’s « modernity » = she is prepared to be kissed 🙂

      2. That’s good to know. I read it and decided Heyer’s detective novels weren’t for me (though i love the romances). Must try a different one.

        1. I’m rereading Behold Here’s Poison again right now, after They Found Him Dead, and I like both of those. Envious Casca is great. And I love No Wind of Blame. The earliest one is not good (Footsteps in the Dark?) but the others are solid. Try Margery Allingham, too. I love her mysteries.

          1. I bounced hard off of Heyer mysteries, but I don’t now remember the sample size. If it was just one, possibly I picked a bad one. I’ll look for one of those you recommend.

            I did read a lot of Margery Allingham, but not everything she published. She should go back onto my already impossibly long Look For list.

  21. Some happy Murderbot re-reads in the past week, plus 3 new books.
    Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest novella, Demon Daughter was a wonderful story, powerful, poignant and multifaceted. I’m so glad the ending was happy. Some people mentioned here that the young heroine couldn’t carry the story. I agree, but I think she wasn’t intended to. The main point of this story was the conflict between Penric and Desdemona, which provided much needed insights into both their psyches.
    Jenny Colgan’s The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris was not my cup of tea. Too many details that had no relevance to the main story line. I was bored by this book.
    Miss Read’s No Holly for Miss Quinn was an old-fashioned novella, first published in 1976. I read this Christmas-y book a bit late in the season, but it was a surprisingly enjoyable story, despite being quiet and slow. There is nothing of our hectic world in there. The heroine was a woman who celebrated her solitude and self-sufficiency instead of yearning for a guy to ‘complete’ her – quite a refreshing attitude after the horde of modern female protagonists.
    I never read this author before, don’t even remember why I picked this book from my library. Maybe someone mentioned it here? I know the author was popular when she was active, but it was decades ago. Anyway, I’ll try a couple more of her books now. Happily, my library carries a decent selection.

    1. That’s interesting, about Miss Read. I’ve never read her, but she was my godmother’s favourite author. She was married to a much older, domineering man – she was extremely quiet herself – so I can see why that kind of story would have appealed.

    2. My library used to have a lot of Miss Read (aged out of the collection and not replaced much) and I found her very enjoyable, proving it is perfectly possible to have a plot and still be peaceful.

    3. Glad you enjoyed the Miss Read Olga – it was my recommendation. As was the Jenny Colgan so …

  22. Still rereading (Jenny, Pratchett and Kevin Hearne), but also sprinkling in some cookbooks when I have the brainpower. Latest was the “Garfield Cookbook – Recipes with Cattitude!”, a Gooseberry Patch-book. Lots of variations on pizza and pasta in there. 🙂

  23. This was a bad week for reading. A rhinovirus (AKA Common Cold) is practicing mixed martial arts on my derrierre. I’ve gone through a box and a half of Kleenex facial tissue. I’ve eaten (or slurped) all of my checken soups, rice, noodle, or plain broth.

    * * *

    I’m still reading that serial, Grey Wolf’s VARIATION ON A THEME BOOK 5, now 20 chapters in and still on the Monday/Thursday publishing schedule.
    For rereads, Book 3. That’s the one with 141 chapters.

    * * *

    That’s it for books. As for streaming, FaceBook’s Reels and Short Videos still eats hours. I have fallen down that rabbit hole repeatedly, watching snippets from TV shows and movies and cartoons and blogs and comedians… just like last week.

    Then there are the “normal” streaming services like Netflix and Paramount+. I have not started PICARD or DISCOVERY, yet. Instead, I watched the two REACHER movies with Tom Cruise. Over on Amazon Prime I watched tthe first season of REACHER and the start of season 2.

  24. Basically spent the week glomming T Kingfisher – “A House with Good Bones” (creepy and delightful, roses, ladybirds and vultures), “Thornhedge” (a little sad and very sweet novella), “Paladin’s Grace” (adorable and romantic), “Paladin’s Strength” (grimmer, but also gorgeously romantic) and finished up “Paladin’s Hope” this morning. Might take a small breather before diving into “Paladin’s Faith”.

  25. The Amazing Alpha Tau Boyfriend Project. M/M romance. Whoever thought I’d enjoy a book about frat boys? But this was sweet and funny, even though it was hard to believe that anyone could be quite as oblivious as Archer.

    Notorious Sorcerer by Davinia Evans. A city of alchemists and street gangs, where things are dangerously out of balance, and it’s up to a young man (who has no idea what he’s doing) to fix it. I felt as if it didn’t really get going until the last quarter, but that was good so I ended up liking it. Not sure if I’ll read the sequel.

    Murder Under Her Skin (Pentecost and Parker Book 2) by Stephen Spotswood. Such a good series. Will is funny, quirky, clever, and always has a pistol somewhere about her person. This book takes us back to the circus where she used to work, as she and Ms Pentecost are hired to discover who murdered the tattooed lady.

    1. Plus Mary Balogh’s Someone to Cherish. I would have liked this a lot better if she hadn’t spent the first and last chapters running through the love story of every single person in the Westcott family. It was both superfluous and cloying.

      1. I feel she’s rather ground to a halt; retreading the same ground over and over. Which is a pity, since some of her stories are favourites of mine. But it happens to so many authors.

    2. Lian, my ds is about Archer’s age and I look at his group of friends, it seems quite believable that very oblivious young men do indeed exist…
      Now, when I look at my dd’s group of friends, that’s a totally different cup of tea…

      1. That’s so interesting, Dodo. It did make me laugh, this young bloke completely ignoring the screaming obvious. ‘I’m just giving him a blow job because we’re good friends and this is what bros do for each other.’

        1. That makes me think of “Think of England” and Archie who thinks of himself as just a chap who enjoys the company of other good chaps. Definitely have to read “Amazing Alpha Tau Boyfriend Project” now 😉

        2. Argh, I forgot abou the BJ… I’m pretty sure my ds and his mates would not be oblivious to this degree…

  26. I’m doing my semi regular reread of a Jane Austen novel or two. I go through phases where I read one novel more than the others. At the moment Mansfield Park is the one. It’s such an interesting book – most of the characters are a bit annoying and very definitely imperfect – but Austen is very clearly having a lot of fun. She enjoys her characters’ foibles and inconsistencies and is very understanding about what drives their behaviour, even when it comes to Maria, who could be the villain of the piece.
    And then there’s Mrs Norris, who might be the most evil character in all the novels because she’s a recognisable person rather than a melodramatic rake.
    I’m reading Northanger Abbey at the moment. It’s the slightest of her novels, but is very funny. I do wonder if Henry would stay interested in someone so much less sophisticated than he is though.

  27. Started The Wicked Wallflower by Maya Rodale, but lost interest half way through. It was overly complicated and co-incidental and I just gave up. Didn’t care what happened to the any of the characters so what was the point. Don’t think it was an Argh recommendation though.

    However, I adored Fortune Favours the Dead (first in the series) by Stephen Spotswood – thank you Lain for the excellent recommendation. The library has the rest of the series so I will keep reading these.

    Enjoyed The Comeback Kiss by Lani Diane Rich, possibly not her best but still way, way better than the Maya Rodale.

    Now desperate to finish Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen, not getting enough free time to read (what with work and all the daily living stuff). Roll on the weekend when I can gobble the rest of it up, maybe in one sitting.

  28. I finished Trisha Ashley’s The Wedding Dress Repair Shop, which I loved, even though the title is somewhat inaccurate. As always, a charming romance with a wonderful setting and lots of quirky characters. It has been a rough month, and going into her world was the perfect therapy.

  29. I’m listening to the Innkeeper Chronicles by Ilona Andrews, again. The Dramatized versions from Graphic Audio (“A movie in your mind!”) They are SO GOOD in these versions. I was listening to Peripeteia by Sarah Lyons Fleming (the best zombie books out there!) but took a break to listen to the newest Andrews.

    In print, I’ve gone back to old Jayne Ann Krentz romances. I just finished the Eclipse Bay trilogy.

    Next I’ll be reading the new JD Robb.

  30. I read Night Island and loved it and then went back to Karen Hawkins cup of silver linings. After reading the book charmer, I bought the two sequels happy reading everybody.

      1. Yes it is, Yuri. It is the second in a series. Sleep No More was the first. The Night Island is fairly recently released and not available at my library yet so I don’t know if you need to read the first one before this one, sorry.

  31. Plumbing the gardens. I have ten active gardens and only seven reservoirs to feed them water when I’m not looking. I got creative with the three iDOOs and three Harvests. The tee and elbow connectors are 1/4″ air fittings.

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