This is a Good Book Thursday, January 11, 2024

I’ve been re-reading Georgette Heyer all week. It’s a nice break from writing a serial killer/retired spy book. Oddly enough, I don’t want to reread my favorites (The Grand Sophy, Cotillion, The Talisman Ring). I’ve read them so many times I can practically recite them, so I went back to rediscover some of the others. There’s a wealth of good times in that back list and reading them again after many years is almost like reading them new.

What did you read (or re-read) this week?

160 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 11, 2024

    1. I like Devil’s Cub and These Old Shades, but then I do usually prefer a rat bastard to a nice guy.

      I also really love her murder mysteries, maybe even more than her historicals. That time period is just so opulent.

      1. I like the Unknown Ajax and Sylvester. Also Arabella. I like so many its hard to decide, and it depends on my mood. Didn’t like Cousin Kate though.

          1. That sounds a bit like The Scarlet Pimpernel, also one of my favorite books/movies. It’s by Baroness Orczy.

    2. I would also suggest The Reluctant Widow. I would get R E A L tired of the hero if I knew him in real life but he seems an accurate portrayal of a good, responsible man for the period and parts of the book made me laugh out loud.

    3. I just reread Arabella and Frederica. I didn’t know Heyer existed until the summer of 2020 and now I don’t think I could get through life without her.
      Narrative voice is EVERYTHING.

    4. A Quiet Gentleman is one that grew into being a favourite of mine. I love that, when I read it again (and again) I grew increasingly aware of just how many scenes with Gervase, it turns out he’s with Drusilla. It’s subtle, but most of the time when someone walks in to talk to him, he’s playing chess with Drusilla, or talking to her, or they’re just hanging out together, and it’s never really highlighted, but I just love it that on re-reads, it’s obvious that he’s growing more and more into her.

  1. I finished listening to When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill. This is not a whimsical book. It’s speculative fiction not fantasy. What would happen if in America in the ‘50’s a ‘mass dragoning’ of over 600,000 wives and mothers occurred? It’s a coming of age novel of a girl whose aunt dragoned and mother dies so raises her cousin, as she tries to get a math education. It’s also an indictment of the ‘50’s – imagine communism tied to dragons.

    Cait Nary’s Lucky Bounce came out – a completely different tone from her first two books. No angst whatsoever – all sweetness and heat between a very grumbly hockey player and the coach at his daughter’s school. If you liked Rachel Reid’s A Time to Shine, you’ll like this one.

    I read Grace Burrowes’ How to Catch a Duke, on the recommendation of an Argher here a while back – please identify yourself because I can’t remember! A crippled but still dangerous MC and his love interest, who has her own swordstick, in pursuit of stolen letters. Charming and witty.

    I also read my BFF’s husband, Dennis Garnhum’s book Toward Beauty. Dennis was the Artistic Director of the Grand Theatre in London and took a leave of absence during the pandemic to walk the Camino and, in making sense of his past and present, resparks his creative pilot light. (I got an honourable mention in this book which pleased me greatly.). The story of how his Catholic high school teacher responded to Dennis coming out to him made me cry.

    I finished Josh Lanyon’s first three Bedknobs and Broomsticks books – I was dubious about their fluffier nature versus her other books but now I’m eagerly awaiting the next one. Also finished the most recent Art of Murder book and am equally eager for another one of those.

    1. It might have been me, Tammy. That book and the other books about that family are fascinating and consciousness-raising.

      1. Oh I think it was so thank you! And also thank you for the recommenders of the Dragons book:

  2. Well, I decided to try different things. There are free audio books available on YT, some legit, some seemingly read by someone with a love of the book. A different kind of legit, if you will. 🤔 So I picked the Lioness series by Tamora Pierce. I like the training aspects, it oddly inspires me to persevere at whatever task I’m doing. And the audio seems to create a sort of body-doubling effect. So more cleaning and organization gets done.

    During the COVID lockdown Sir Patrick Stewart read Shakespeare’s sonnets and saved them on IG. The videos are still there. Since I got the phone rechecked by the Technician, I decided to play one a day and try to recite it with expression.
    (Btw, The Techie said he’d forgotten to reinstall the aerial, and promptly fixed it. Lol. I adore how honest he is.) Anyway, I hope the daily practice will improve my voice and breathe control, apart from my understanding of the sonnets. Lol.

    The edition of the sonnets I’m using is from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete works. Will post a pic of the tome. It has the weight of tradition, indeed.

    1. I was just thinking about Tamora Pierce’s heroines! The ladies in the Lioness series and Protector of the small are so good at taking punishment/abuse from their schoolmates and using it to serve them. As I get older I appreciate more and more how they don’t lash out emotionally, but rather do what is in their power to cope with the situation.

    2. What is IG please? I have trouble remembering the meanings of abbreviations or acronyms. Patrick Stewart has a good voice and acting skills in general and would be interesting to hear.
      Also congratulations on getting great Tech Support, I was lucky myself with good e-mail support today. That is a challenging job to have and I am happy when I contact a good person doing that job. Thanks Taf

    3. Lupe, when Duke Gareth is asking her to come up with another excuse for her injuries besides “I fell down” Alanna replies, “It has so much tradition behind it.”
      I feel that it’s nice to be I spired by fiction to keep calm no matter what!

      Theresa, Lian is right, it is Instagram.

  3. Just now I am rereading Heyer’s The Foundling. It was never one of my favourites, so I had forgotten parts of the plot. Gilly is one of her sweet heroes. That appeals to me a lot more now than it did when I was young. And Mr Liversedge is a splendid villain.

    I’m also reading Barbara Michaels’ Into the Darkness. It’s set in the antique jewellery business. Someone recommend it here years ago. I came across it in a bookshop last week, and I’m really enjoying it. So thanks, whoever you are!

    1. I only read the Foundling a couple of times but remember that I developed a “crush” on Gilly’s cousin Gideon who was in the Horse Guards. Thanks for the reminder; I will push that back up the reread pile to see if Gideon has withstood the test of time! 🙂

      1. Gideon is Heyer’s mark I hero, tall, handsome and a bit prickly. He’s also very fond of his much less impressive cousin, as are his parents. Which is a very charming aspect of this book. This is one of her books where Heyer stands her usual clichés on their heads. I find I like this a lot more than I did on first reading it some 50 years ago.

      2. This made me go look to see if I’d read this one and turns out I’d put it down at Chapter 7 and never picked it back up. Must finish it now!

    2. I don’t know who recommended Barbara Michaels, but I recommend all her books since they are worth multiple re-reads. I am so sorry she is no longer with us. (“Vanish with the Rose” is one of my favorites.) I am also enthusiastic about reading all the books by her alter-ego Elizabeth Peters.
      I only met her once, but she was very entertaining while doing a speech at a local bookstore, and kind when I talked to her. I asked if she’d read Thorne Smith when she was growing up, and she said No, her parents were not that permissive. Thorne Smith wrote “Topper, “Topper Takes a Trip”, “The Glorious Pool’,”Turnabout” (husband and wife switch their bodies), and more…My father had custody of us and was permissive about reading material, though not about dating, how we dressed and so on… Taf

      1. I love how Barbara Michaels used her university-acquired research skills to learn a whole lot about a topic, whether antique jewelry, quilts and samplers, Minoan archeology, pretty much you-name-it, and then base a novel around it. The reader satisfyingly learns while enjoying a good story.

      2. I loved all Barbara Michael’s books. I especially remember Shattered Silk.
        There was another book I remember but not the author: Black is the color of my true love’s Heart. Has anyone read that?

          1. Oh, I remember reading that as a teenager. The heroine is a folk singer and there’s a murder at a music festival?

  4. I am reading The Bone Ships by RJ Barker, recommended by someone here. I am moving tomorrow after living in my current house for 24 years, so I have been reading slowly, in between packing and marveling at how much useless stuff I have accumulated. I am a little less than 1/2 way through, but so far it is great. The characters are complex, the world building is creative and the story line is fantastic.

    1. I’m impressed that you can concentrate enough to read the night before your move. I was too busy having low level panic to do anything as helpful as read or sleep. I hope it goes well.

      1. I dud the same as Diann. We moved very recently and reading provided the very necessary escape out of a very stressful time of year…

  5. After Cait Nary’s great Season’s Change, which I’m listening to since reading it once wasn’t feeling enough, I’ve read The Underdog by Briar Prescott. I really like her witty-banter nerdy MCs.
    Again friends to lovers which is totally my thing.
    The book kind of segued into the next in the series, The Inconvenient Love, which I’m currently reading. Love it so far – a variation on the friends-to-l’s trope: best friend of The Underdog’s MC and U’s little brother, who had a crush on best friend for years. My kids informed me that’s a definite no-go and were squeaked by the idea – LOL.
    Next in line: Lucky bounce by Cait Nary. And yes, Tammy, it reads very feel goody.
    Hannah Henr’s Off-ice Behavior was/is for free for one day (book birthday). Loved her Draft Bust, so am excited about this one, too.
    And last but not least, the second in Lisa Henry’s Alpha Tau series. Daltin, the serious med student and Marty, the crazy underachiever. Not sure about those two yet. Their first time happened very quickly, too quicly for me, though for Marty it’s in character I guess.
    Also watched The Miracle about the 1980’s victory over Russia at the Winter Olympics. Thrilled that the movie makers chose real hockey players over actors because it’d have been more difficult the other way round. No complainrs at all! Riveting!

    1. I’ll try The Underdog. I really liked the first one of hers I read – Project Hero – but wasn’t nearly as keen on Rare (especially as my mother had similarly rare blood, but survived without nearly as much angst, though we did have seat belts years before they became compulsory).

      1. Jane, Project Hero was my first one by her and I found it utterly charming. Haven’t progressed far with her backlist since then (it’s only been a couple of weeks). Rare didn’t make it onto my “urgently tbr” list yet. I’ll report back if I come round to reading it.

        1. I’m reading Operation Mincemeat which is a retelling of The Man Who Never Was, with a lot of information that couldn’t be in the original book because of the Official Secrets Act, in preparation for seeing the musical with my daughter. I’m having a very hard time imagining it as a musical but it is fascinating. I read The Man Who Never Was as a teen, so I don’t remember it well, but it was compelling to have the first person.
          And I think it started me on my love of nonfiction about spies.

          Also a lot of Donna Andrews.

  6. I’ve started reading Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher. So far, so good – but I’m only a little way into it.

  7. My hold on Lessons in Chemistry finally came in, so I listened to that. It’s a tough beginning, and I almost quit at one point but I finished it. I didn’t love it as some did here, but it was solid.

    I also listened to Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy. Too in-depth for where my house is at currently, but something about the pacing was very soothing. And it kept me slowly tiding.

    Then I dnfed a below mediocre M/M romance. Nuff said.

    And now I am listening to Josh Lanyon’s White Knight/Dark Horse. The voice is compelling and I am hooked, but a little confused. I seem to have picked up in the middle of the story, although goodreads assures me that it is the first in the series? Maybe there is a short story somewhere?

    For my reading book I finished the Book of Firsts and am now on to Four Kings. I will try to read something new next week.

  8. Oh! And we watched both seasons of Our Flag Means Death. A slow start, but I really came to love it. Lots of found family, everyone is redeemable and very funny dialog. It ends in a decent place, but I am sad that it didn’t get renewed for it’s third and final season.

    Did anyone here watch White Lotus? We started it but I am not sure I want to continue. Everyone involved is pretty awful.

    1. My son Christopher Corbi was in one episode of our flag means death, but because of it, he is very well-known. He played the pirate that they were trying to sell the man to. His line we could’ve made magic together which he improvised at him so many fans and a lot of fan art.
      He is so sad the cancelled it
      I am reading the dark Lord’s daughter by Patricia Wrede and loving it much more than I thought I would.

  9. I read Dirty Thirty by Janet Evanovich, which I slightly hate myself for because they are all a bit the same, and it is really something to keep a love triangle going for 30 books. It was okay and I got it out the library. Forever hoping that this will be the one where decisions are made but …

    Also read The Cat Who Solved 3 Murders by L T Shearer, and hated it. In the first book I spotted the motive and murderer quickly but the *spoiler* talking cat kept me hooked. This time the surprise of the cat was gone and again spotted who and why quickly and it was all name dropping and conspicuous consumption and I did not enjoy at all.

    A Little Night Magic by Lucy Martin was therefore great a palate cleanser and I enjoyed it.

    The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris by Jenny Colgan was perfect (even though I am allergic to cocoa beans/chocolate, I didn’t eat or smell any chocolate while reading). Just a brilliant story.

    1. She’s up to Thirty!? I stopped at #16? Ish for the same reasons.
      I do miss the funny, though.

      1. I stopped somewhere around there too, when the ghost writer came in and Stephanie started flirting too close to cheating for my taste. You gotta know when to walk away. The early ones were great fun though.

        1. I only made it to book 6… though it was rather funny, I was and am too impatient for Stephanie’s indecisiveness.

        2. This series has a ghost writer? Is that why the books are slower or less funny? Sometimes the premise is fun, but the reveal is underwhelming.

          1. I think all her series got a ghostwriter/co-writer eventually (some of those books are painful). The Plum Series is the least obvious and the best (continuity), but I am guessing round the time I stopped buying her books and started borrowing them from the library. Still they are usually an enjoyable read

        3. Ah! A ghost writer – that makes sense. There is always a trip to a viewing with Grandma and her car always gets wrecked too. Seems like it is written to a formula. May keep borrowing from the library though to see if it ever resolves itself.
          Thanks Lupe.

          1. Evanovich does write to a formula. She makes no secret of that. In her book How I Write – she says her formula starts with reading or finding a crime she likes. I think that may be one reason why her formula works.

  10. This week I took a break from hockey and went to baseball instead.
    I read KD Casey’s “Unwritten Rules” trilogy of M/M baseball romance: “Unwritten Rules”, “Fire Season” and “Diamond Ring”. I’m a huge baseball fan and had high hopes for these books: all are players-involved-with-other-players stories. They were pretty good but for me they did not live up to Rachel Reid’s blurb about “Diamond Rings” which she said was the best sports romance she had ever read. I guess sometimes a book hits you just right at the right time, but I’d still have Taylor Fitzpatrick and Rachel Reid’s books much higher on the best ever list than this trilogy. Still, they were fun and reminded me that spring training is not too far off.
    I’ll see if there are other baseball romances out there but will probably revert to hockey for a bit. 🙂
    I also finished the TA Moore “Digging up Bones” duology. I really enjoyed these M/M FBI agent and canine police officer procedurals. There were some threads left unanswered so I’m hoping there will be another volume eventually.
    Finally, because it was a stressful week I reread another Heyer: Frederica. Such a delightful comfort read.

    1. Hockey will always welcome you back, Christina. And yes, I’m crossing my fingers that TA will complete that series soon, and I”m content to leave it as a duology if that’s how it ends up.

  11. Reading my way through the Brandon Sanderson secret books. Tress of the Emerald Sea, The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England, and now Yumi and the Nightmare Painter. So much to love about these books.

    1. Heard lots of good things about Brandon Sanderson. I’ll pick up some of the cheaper ones to see if I like the writing.

  12. Reading Dead Girl Walking (#3 in a Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series) by Holly Jackson.

    Still listening to The Three Musketeers during my stair workouts. D’Artagnan is either really stupid, or really smart, or both. I think both.

  13. I read Blonde Identity. Loved it! It’s light and frothy, contains amnesia, evil twins, co-workers(?)-to lovers, inside jokes with the reader…it’s so fun!

    Also comfort reading Elizabeth Boyle’s Something about Emmeline and Love Letters from a Duke. Spunky clever heroines and happy endings. Yay!

  14. The weather being truly awful, and my having a brand new Kindle, led to a lot of reading last week. I reread Jean Auel’s The Valley of Horses in paper. I love the horses and the lion in this book, and all the things that Ayla learns to do that were forbidden to her in her life with the Neanderthals, but became a matter of survival when she was on her own. I skip the chapters telling Jondalar’s progress toward Ayla. I know what happened, and it seems a bit much, and not really integral to the plot.

    I reread Hot Toy on Kindle. Since I had read it recently, I wasn’t laughing out loud, this time. It’s still a good read. I also reread Charlie All Night in the paperback. The tiny puppy and the quirky cast of characters, especially Mark’s foul-up with the “man’s dog” he brings into the broadcast booth with him, are hilarious.

    On Kindle, I read We Only Kiss at Christmas, by Con Riley and recommended by Chachal. It drew me in, and I soon cherished the new character. It was also great to revisit the couple from His Last Christmas in London. I ordered the third book in the trilogy, which comes out in November. I love this writer’s work. However, there is a lot of graphic sex that I skip.

    I read the sample of Tinker (Elfhome Book 1), by Wen Spencer, recommended by Yuri and LN, and was immediately hooked, so I got it on Kindle. There’s a lot of action, and fascinating world-building, and it keeps the reader interested. Toward the end, there was some horrible cruelty and violence that curdled my sensibilities, so I will not be reading the next book.

    I started The Sound of Sleighbells, by Janet Dailey, on sale. It reads like a report, with lots of background information strung through the narrative, which feels very dispassionate, to me. It’s an “old love returns” trope, which is pretty obvious. Any other Janet Dailey readers out there? This is the first of hers I’ve read. There’s just something about the writing that feels wooden.

    1. Once I heard that Janet Dailey had plagarized Nora Roberts, I never had any desire to read Dailey’s work.

      1. Aha! You know. she sounds like a very early Nora Roberts, before she got the writing and description nailed down.

    2. I love Charlie All Night. The characters are quirky and endearing and the plot pure Crusie. It’s a satisfying read on all levels and leaves me with a smile on my face and a glow in my heart long after the book is finished. But then, that’s how I feel about all Jennie’s books.

    3. I loved “Charlie All Night” had lots of laughing out loud while reading it. I was also caught up in the events with the puppy, maybe it’s time for another re-read. Taf

    4. Sorry Tinker didn’t work for you 🙁

      Wen Spencer can get very dark but her heroes (of both sexes) always come through. I really like books 2 and 3, but probably wise to discontinue if the villains’ cruelty is troubling for you. Certainly I’ve done that with other series and sometimes wished I’d done it sooner.

  15. Here are a couple of nonfiction items. I also finished most of The Vixen War Bride series, recommended on this site earlier, and I found it compulsively readable despite MASSIVE worldbuilding flaws. I’ll try to get something written up separately about that and post it later, today or next week.

    Howard Blum, In the Enemy’s House.  I heard the audiobook version.  A nonfiction account of the investigation of the atomic spies of the 1940s, somewhat artificially combined with partial biographies of an FBI agent and an NSA analyst who helped catch them (very belatedly), and of a KGB officer who had run them.  Written in a slightly grating (to my ears) style reminding me of old Reader’s Digest articles, but seemingly accurate and brisk-paced.  A worthwhile listen despite the fact that I already knew the basic story, and I possibly may even have read this book once before some years ago.

    Jeffrey L. Kasser. Philosophy of Science, Great Courses DVDs.  Latest in several books and Great Courses that I’ve been through on this and similar topics, so I don’t know how well it would serve as a starting point, but I found it interesting.  It moves more by topics than by chronology, unlike other surveys I’ve consumed. Not a whole lot of connection to many of the topics that come up on this site, but possibly some relevance to sf, STEM romance, academic-set mysteries, maybe historicals regarding especially Positivism, and some other areas.

  16. I read Draft Bust which was sweet and nice, and great about really big houses! Thanks for the recommendation Tammy and Dodo (and others?). I’ll be working my way through more of your 2023 best books from last week’s post.

    Half way through Lucky Bounce, Cait Nary. Also sweet, a bit of a slow burn. Enjoying it but I don’t think I will love it as much as Season’s Change, I probably need a bit of angst…

  17. This is timely, because while I haven’t reread anything this week, Welcome to Temptation and Faking It are my go tos for this, and I was at a red light yesterday thinking I needed to reread it. Now part of that is because the four steps of a con are really helpful when you’re trying to win people over to your point at work. But I’m on my third copy of Welcome to Temptation!

    1. Maybe time to re-read those as well, woke up with the random blues this morning and those books usually do put me in a better mood. Taf

  18. My favorite Heyer books are The Toll Gate and especially The Devil’s Cub. “Having phlegm, I’m to hold the bowl” a classic line from Mary!

  19. I am pleased to be able to share that I read Bujold’s DEMON DAUGHTER. Less pleased to say I pretty much guessed the plot all the way through. It was still a great read.

    I continue to read that serial, Grey Wolf’s VARIATION ON A THEME BOOK 5. For rereads, Book 1 and Book 2.

    Also a reread, Terry Pratchett’s GUARDS! GUARDS! which was announced here as on sale, cheap. The Kindle version is much better than my old .LIT (MS Reader) copy.

    There was something else, but it didn’t stick.

    Everything else was Netflix, Amazon Prime, Paramount+, or Hulu.

  20. I read Kate Saunders’ The Secrets of Wishtide, first in a series about a widowed, intuitive crime solver in the mid-1850s. Will read the next in the series.

    I love Heyer’s Regency romances, especially any with the Duke of Avon.

    1. I’ve borrowed this one and the 2nd one, The Case of the Wandering Scholar, from the library. Looking forward to reading a new-to-me author.

  21. I also just now finished A Matter of Secrets and Spies, by Raconteur, recommended here earlier by other people, although I myself have long had this author on my read-everything list. I knew from earlier comments that things were left somewhat up in the air by the end, but was a little irked to discover that this applied not only to the backstory but to aspects of the current plot, although enough gets settled that Raconteur can’t be accused of breaking off in the middle. I recommend this book, but anyone new to the Henri Davenforth series would probably do better to start at the beginning of the series with Magic and the Shinigami Detective. (Qualifcation on read-everything: I recently learned that Raconteur writes with other pseudonyms, and to date I’ve read none of those.)

    Chores await.

  22. I’m listening to Murder Most Royal By SJ Bennett. Not much time for paper books this week.

    I got my 2023 stats from Audible this morning: 15, 142 minutes listening. Of course, that’s only on Audible and doesn’t even begin to account for the library books. That’s 252. 37 hours or 10.5 days.

    Not bad.

    Now if only I could find the novel I was trying to read on the cruise, I’d like to finish that.

      1. Lian, she is writing more Royal books but setting them when the Queen was first crowned. The next in the series is Death in Diamonds set in 1957.

        1. Thanks Christine. That makes sense. I really enjoy those books, but it feels a bit icky to have them continue with her as an old woman. Maybe when she’s been gone for a bit longer it would be okay.

  23. I got fed up with forgettable reads in KU, and am rereading E. L. Massey’s Like Real People Do and its sequel, because there’s a third one out. Great writing / storytelling: such fun, and lovely characters. It’s m/m hockey, but not too much hockey.

    I’m also reading Lost Realms: Histories of Britain from the Romans to the Vikings by Thomas Williams. It’s fairly dense history, but he writes well and his ‘lost kingdoms’ are intriguing. I’m looking forward to Powys, which evidently included large parts of what’s now England, including where I live.

  24. Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen, recommended by someone here. I’ve looked back on GBT for you. So…thank you. First book purchased for 2024. Well written. Older MC. Struggles financially, elderly parents, moves to small town to cut costs. Not a downer story. The cover is lovely.

    Anyone else notice the jump in price of books?

    1. In price of paper or ebook? I have definitely noticed that a paper hardcover is all tbe way up to @ $30, which is far too rich for my taste. Don’t know if that’s actually based on an increase in the cost of paper and publishing, although I seem to remember that one of the self pub authors I follow recently said that the cost of paper had increased so the POD prices had also increased. The other thing I noticed is that it seems like AZ has cornered enough of the market that they no longer feel the need to discount books very much or often. Regardless, it’s getting expensive enough that I’m cutting back on buying new books and trying to borrow them instead.

      1. Across the formats. Hardcovers are out for me. Space and cost. Paperbacks are up to 14.99+ US & Cda. The new Mary Balogh ebook preorder came in at 14.99 on Nook! The exchange would add 30%. I checked on other providers, one (which I would have to look up again) was 8.99. I checking with the library here in Vancouver, how I get ebooks and what ereaders it will lend to.

      2. I saw an article recently that looked at the average price of Hardcover increases:
        “Whereas the general cost of goods in the US has increased about 115% in the last 30 years—that is, a product that cost $1 in 1993 now costs about $2.15—the price of hardcover books has only increased about 8%”

        So it’s sort of a luxury item (and may be under priced). I’m not sure what the comparison for paperbacks is.

        1. The trouble with paperbacks is that there is now very little available in mass market and Trade, although it lasts longer, is expensive and takes up more room.

  25. I read a couple of Christmas books, a little late because I had to finish library books first. Finished Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan. It got off to a slightly slow start (and her head-hopping makes me twitch a little) but it ended up being a lovely book.

    Now I’m reading The Twelve Dogs of Christmas by Susan Wiggs. Susan is one of my favorite authors, but I’ve been finding her Women’s Fiction books to be too progressively too grim for me. This book is a lovely return to her contemporary romances, and so far I am just loving it. Plus, you know, dogs.

      1. The Lakeshore Chronicles are as series of contemporary romances, all very good. (They take place at Willow Lake, so that’s in some of the titles.) Summer at Willow Lake was the first one.

        The Apple Orchard is another good one, as is The Lost and Found Bookshop, although these are more women’s fiction. Really, all her writing is excellent, but some of the more recent books (most notably Sugar & Salt) can be really brutal to read.

  26. I’m reading Over My Dead Body by Maz Evans, which is a mystery where the ghost of a murdered doctor is investigating her murder with the help of her next door neighbour. The neighbour hated her when she was alive, but is close to death herself so can see ghosts and is one of the only people who can see Miriam. There’s a lot going on, but it’s funny and I like the author’s voice. I’m looking forward to seeing where it’s going and I have ideas as to who killed Miriam but no idea if I’m on the right track.

    I’m happy that I’m reading a good book, as I just hate-finished The Graces by Laure Eve. It’s been on my shelf for years without my really wanting to read it (I was gifted it by a friend who hadn’t exactly showered it with praise). Someone on Goodreads described it as Twilight-lite and they certainly weren’t wrong. I found the Twilight series to be compulsive reading, even though it was written well, whereas I hated all the characters in The Graces (the main character had the worst case of Not Like Other Girls syndrome I’ve ever read) and did not vibe with the writing style at all. Do not recommend.

  27. I read Jim C. Hines new YA fantasy novel, Amelia Sand and the Silver Queens. A goblin girl tries to activate a portal to another world where hero’s come from to find some hero’s to fight the current rulers who have very bad plans for her people. It’s Earth of course, but instead of Hero’s she gets a couple of sixty-something grandmothers who know nothing about fantasy realms or heroing and just want to go back home. It’s okay. Along the lines of his Princess series, which weren’t my favorites of his.

    Someone here recommended the Countess of Harleigh mystery series, and I read the first two, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder and A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder, by Dianne Freeman. The American born Countess of Harleigh’s philandering husband dies, in another woman’s bed, and she moves out of the estate to prevent the new Count and Countess of draining her bank account to support themselves (the late count married her for her money). Then after she gets to London her sister and aunt arrive needing introductions to Society, stolen jewels and murder ensue and it gets a bit complicated. I liked it, and it’s sequel, enough that I will be reading the rest of the series.

    I also read the Keeley & Associates urban fantasy mystery series, starting with Dragon & Detective, where a Dragon, named Ozymandias, hires a private detective to discover who stole a car from his classic car collection. I read the whole series through Kindle Unlimited in the collected versions, Keeley & Associates Collection volumes 1 and 2. It sounds kind of silly where a private detective ends up with a dragon for a partner/intern, but it’s quite well done and the individual stories are fairly short.

    1. Gary, based on your mention last week, I read The 13th Witch, first in The King’s Watch series by Mark Hayden. I really enjoyed it. I’m now half way through the second book while my husband is happily reading the first. Thanks!

      1. I’m well into that series (I think I saw it recommended on another site as well as by Gary), but have found it less interesting, including some total dud volumes, as it goes on. I’m now on Third Eye (Book 11) but not getting through it very fast. Some of the delay could be my mood. Nothing in this volume to tempt me to bail out. Speaking of the series as a whole, as I may have already mentioned here, I thought it was an interesting and drastic turn to have preexisting characters with backstory discover magic after multiple non-fantasy novels featuring them. If you haven’t read the mundane books preceeding 13th Witch (and I haven’t) you face a bit of a scramble to catch up on the backstory from dropped hints, but its preexistence adds a feeling of depth.

        1. I was going to ask if it kept up. I rarely make it to the end of a long running series. Even the really good ones start to drag on me. I am super jet lagged this week and found it an entertaining read in the middle of the night, for which I’m happy. And I had a good giggle regarding ’emole’.

        2. I didn’t realize there were mundane prequels to it until a couple of books in, initially I thought it had just a rich back story. I did go back and read them afterwards, and they were interesting, but I don’t feel they were necessary to read first, and I personally am glad I didn’t read them first. YMMV of course.

    2. I may have been the person who recommended the Countess of Harleigh mysteries. I’ve listened to the first 5 books in the series.

  28. After watching the available episodes of the Percy Jackson series on DisneyPlus, I re-read the Percy Jackson and Olympians series, read the Heroes of Olympus series and am now stalled on the Kane series. I don’t like the protagonists of that series as much as the Olympus series. For one thing, I can’t buy that Sadie Kane is only 11 years old, she seems to be too mature. Although, I guess I really don’t know any 11-year old girls these days. Maybe they are that mature when dealing with a guy they want as a boyfriend?

    I’m also reading the Babysitters Coven series mentioned on this blog earlier. The first book went fast, it was interesting and I liked all the characters, except, of course, the villain. However, the second book is starting to delve into the underlying problems of a world where only the select few have magic, and it’s no longer so much fun.

  29. Game Changer by Rachel Reid – nowhere near as good as Heated Rivalry, imo.

    Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spotswood – Diane recommended this, with the comment that it reminded her of the Nero Wolfe books, with a somewhat disabled older detective and her young assistant. Thanks Diane, I loved this so much. The voice is so strong and interesting. And to my delight there are more books in the series.

    1. Reid’s Heated Rivalry is her best book so a tough act to follow. The Long Game, which is its conclusion, is pretty darned good though, if only to revisit those two characters.

      1. I really liked The Long Game, Tammy, plus it gave me an excuse to go back and reread Heated Rivalry. Game Changer just wasn’t in the same class.

        1. I don’t think any of her others are, although I am very fond of Tough Guy. And A Time to Shine is a complete reset in a different direction for her.

  30. I have decided to just reread this month and not buy any new books (except Demon’s daughter because Bujold).
    So I have been reading Andrea Höst’s Stray series which is my go-to comfort read. I am on the third book but I am going to take a break from the series to read Demon’s daughter.
    I can see some Heyer on the horizon though 🙂

    1. I read and enjoyed as much of the Stray series as was out when I discovered them some years ago. Höst added more volumes since I last looked, it seems, and also started new series. More reading for whenever I get through with my current queue!

      1. Book 4 is a gratuitous epilogue and that’s the title and it totally is but isn’t it great to know what happens after the great battle. Very similar to Four Kings (same obsession with building things).
        Book 5 is a romance between Cassandra’s mum and someone unexpected, I won’t spoil it if you haven’t read it yet, but it totally works. The resolution is brilliant and Cassandra’s mum is lovely. Cassandra’s aunt is great too and I so want to know who she ends up with!
        Book 6 is a short story I love to bits. I so want to know what happens to the 2 main characters next.

    2. Just a quick note — I looked up “Demon’s Daughter” and found nothing by Bujold by that name, which I discovered was because the title is actually “Demon Daughter”. Which is more exciting, and interesting because of Penric. Thank you for mentioning it, though, because I didn’t know it existed before you did!

  31. Penny Reid’s Neanderthal Seeks Human was a mediocre contemporary romance. I finished it, but I have nothing else to say about it, except there are no Neanderthals in the story.
    Tasha Black’s Alien Pilot Needs a Nanny was a perfectly trashy romance. I don’t read many of those. Silly, with no whiff of reality, it was just what I needed. No deep issues, no 3D characters, just lots of lust and smut and a hint of a plot. The sci-fi aspect was simply a device to get the author even farther away from the technological and psychological limitations of real life. Despite the amateurish narrative, I actually enjoyed reading this short book.
    But Travis Baldree’s Bookshops & Bonedust was the best read this week, sweet and enchanting. I finally read it and enjoyed the book tremendously, couldn’t stop reading once I started. The story is deceptively low-key. The young orc mercenary, Viv, is wounded. She stays in a sleepy little town Murk to recuperate, while her mercenary company moves on, pursuing their contracted enemy.
    Viv meets people, makes friends, visits her doctor. Nothing much happens on the surface. But inside Viv’s heart and mind, the changes and controversies her new friends inspire in her are prodigious. One of the most profound changes: Viv discovers books and the joy of reading. I couldn’t help but sympathize: reading is my biggest pleasure.
    I know this book and Legends & Lattes don’t work for some people, but for me, both books were pure delight.

    1. This is encouraging. The prequel goes in a more interesting direction than I had supposed, so it will have to go on my look-for list.

      1. Oops. If it wasn’t clear, that’s Bookshops, the prequel to Legends, that I was referring to.

  32. I’m listening and reading books on the same topic (metabolism) by the same author, Jade Teta.

    Listening to: Next-Level Metabolism: The Art an Science of Metabolic Mastery (2022)
    1) The New ME Diet: Eat More, Work Out Less, and Actually Lose Weight While You Rest (2010)
    2) The Metabolic Renewal Roadmap (2017)

    I’m going to say that the information doesn’t change much between the books. The one I’m listening to was published in 2022 but seems to contain a lot of the same content as his other books. While I may believe the information he’s sharing about fat loss, I’m not sure I’m going to be willing to give it a go. It will be a lot of work and I’d have to give up a lot of tasty foods. We’ll see after I get a fuller grasp of his method and premise.

    While I haven’t read anything fun, I did finally watch the Barbie movie with my hubby and we both thought it was great!

  33. Re-read “Mystic Tea” and liked it again.

    Also reading Georgette, because DH is, and kept making comments that inspired me to do “Black Sheep”again. One of my favorites. He keeps pointing out to me how many of her Regency’s have an Augusta and/or Louisa in them. It is positively shocking, and I never noticed!

      1. I take that back, the travel bundle is over. But the Pratchett 38 ebook Discworld bundle is good for a few days more. Be warned, you have to access them through Kobo.

        1. Ugh, I just looked in the software section and the travel bundle is in there for some reason. It’s a combo 30+ Lonely Planet guidebook and a uTalk 12 month subscription for learning 24 languages.

          Both bundles support charity.

  34. It’s snowing, lovely silence and pretty. Second new author to me, Jenny Colgan’s Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop. Thanks, Christine Edinburgh.

  35. Hi y’all. This week:

    1. ‘Changes Going On’ by Kaje Harper, 2nd of 2 featuring a M/M/M relationship in Kansas, in which M1 is a rancher, M2 is a sheriff’s deputy (having lost re-election for sheriff in previous book), and M3 is a pro hockey player. Love story yes, romance no; and aside from changes, other stuff going on including murders, drug dealing, homophobic harassment, and a couple of violent showdowns. There’s a lot I liked about it but the balance of relationship to mayhem didn’t work for me.

    2. ‘Farrell Covington and the Limits of Style,’ by Paul Rudnick, which gets all the stars. A 50-year love story. MCs meet as freshmen at Yale; one is a New Jersey Jewish boy and the other is the glamorous son of a very, very rich industrialist. Many, many things go wrong for them but they stay in love despite years apart, at various points. All in one POV, the book concludes after Farrell (the non-POV partner) dies. Plenty of big feelings in this book, it’s also a thoughtful social document.

    3. [re-read] my own M/M novella ‘Sugar Daddy,’ the one about a 55 yr old who falls for a 30 yr old who’s a doppelganger for a first love.

    4. ‘Thrown Off the Ice’ by Taylor Fitzpatrick, since my heart was already broken by Farrell. Definitely effective as a chronicle of a player’s decline, and I definitely had feelings in the final chapter and epilogue, but to me this failed as romance because I didn’t actually *like* either of the MCs very much. 🙁 It was an abstract sadness at the end because unlike Nate & Farrell of #2, I didn’t see the love on the page.

    5. ‘X for Extortion’ by Garrick Jones, 2nd of 3 books featuring military intelligence officers during WWII, action packed, densely plotted, superb group of friends & allies, with committed lovers.

    6. ‘Farewell, My Boy’ by Garrick Jones, 3rd of 3. I was afraid of this book because of that title, and it’s war, and I didn’t want to say farewell to any of these characters, but *whew* all’s well that ends well (bearing in mind war). But damn, I want some more of these books.

    7. ‘The City and the Pillar’ by Gore Vidal. A 1948 classic of queer fiction, I read the revised edition with Vidal’s very interesting introduction. Suspect I liked it more than I would have liked the original edition. This one ends badly, but not as badly as before. A time capsule slice-of-life with a main character who is an unreflective surface – flat and opaque. He has no context for his feelings, is not very intelligent, and frankly not very nice. Read as part of my midcentury research, grateful for Vidal’s satirical humor.

    8. ‘Fiorenzo’ by Sebastian Nothwell, a review read. M/M alt-historical featuring an aristocrat and a courtesan in a city-state much like Venice but instead of Christianity it’s the polytheism of the Roman Empire, with substantial gender equality and a few medical advances beyond the late-18th-century-ish setting otherwise. Excellent world-building, deep characterization, realistic conflicts, and some fairly graphic mortal peril. I would have liked the aristocrat’s family business tied up a bit more neatly, but the book ends with the lovers in a good place and looking ahead to better. Liked this a lot.

    Rec of the week: ‘Farrell Covington.’

    1. Gasp! There’s an m/m/m book featuring a hockey player and I haven’t heard of it?! I can’t even.

    2. I also really liked Farrell Covington, the supporting characters, the evil but not too over the top evil rich relatives, the descriptions of clothes and furnishings. Good in so many ways.

  36. I received a new Pratchett book for Christmas — “A Stroke of the Pen: The Lost Stories.” It contains quite a few short stories and/or filler pieces that Pratchett wrote and published anonymously or under a pseudonym in the newspapers published by his employer at the time. I’ve just begun it — the first story is about Og, a caveman who brought home to the cave something he found eating a tree. He called it “fire” and said that it kept you something he called “warm” if you kept it in a circle of stones and fed it tree parts regularly. Later he dropped a piece of a wild boar into it and accidentally invented “cookery.” And so it went. Just a lovely story with all the feel of a Discworld opus, but short. The stories were found by Pratchett fans going carefully through the archives of the publishing company, which is an interesting story in and of itself. Both Neil Gaiman and Colin Smythe did intros to the book — another nice plus.

  37. I read Martha Waters ‘To Love and to Loathe’, ‘To Have and to Hoax’ and I just saw that there are a couple more. Pretty good regencies with some humour, could have used some tightening up via editor but enjoyable couch reclining reading.
    I almost feel guilty reading another Martha than Wells as I am pretty Murderbot obsessed thanks to this group. Not sure what it is about being in Murderbot’s head… it’s a safe place. I think of Murderbot as a bit ‘on the spectrum’- no eye contact and please don’t mention feelings- and sometimes as a variation on the Pinocchio theme- becoming a real boy. Or girl. Or it. I hope there will be more novels.

  38. I finished Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead. The primary MC is a female pilot who attempts to fly pole to pole in 1948-49. It was the book for my book club’s Jan meeting and generated an interesting discussion.

    I also read Powerless by Lauren Roberts. First book in a trilogy and while it was a bit derivative of Sarah J Maas and Jennifer Armentrout, I enjoyed it. The two MC’s spent a bit too much time gazing adoringly at each other for my taste and female MC constantly refers to male MC as a “boy” when he’s clearly at least 19-20. By the end of the book, their sworn enemies, so there may be much less eyeball angst in Book 2.

  39. I read The Bookseller’s Apprentice by Amelia Mellior, and loved it so very, very much – it’s an award-winning children’s book about magic and Melbourne and Edward Cole who wrote Cole’s Funny Picture Book and owned the Coles Book Arcade in Melbourne. And The Big Meg by Tim Flannery, about megalodons. I’m also excited, because Emily Wilde’s Map of the Otherlands has just come in, and Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries was one of my favourite books that I read last year.

  40. I finished the Deals with Demons series by Stacia Stark. Loved it all except the finale book.
    The series revolves around a demon and a witch with the enemies to lovers tropes done really well. Samael & Danica are crazy fun. The story has several different paranormal factions – their politics, their magic, their crimes add to the murder mystery investigations. We also meet some interesting mythical monsters.

    I was excited about a book that featured a haunted castle in Scotland and a cursebreaker but had to DNF. Just couldn’t get into it.

    Is contemporary the toughest genre to crack? I read and gave up on so many samples, I’ve lost count.

    The contemporary authors I like – Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, N M Silber, Janet Evanovich and Jenny.

    1. That’s a really interesting question. That would be worth a post. I can’t help notice that your list of authors is more vintage than contemporary :).

      1. I agree LN. I’m experimenting with the contemporary genre, trying to find new authors I like but the books start so slow and the story is wafer thin at times. At times you get less than what you read in the blurb. The constant thoughts in my head – Why is nothing happening? Is this all? Another inner monologue or repetition…

        The only current contemporary authors I can think of are Lyssa Kay Adams and R L Mathewson.
        Im perfectly fine with the newer Mills and Boons books though.

    2. I think one of the reasons I like to many American authors of contemporary stories is that for me they’re exotic. British authors are more likely to rub me the wrong way.

    3. Do you call them vintage because you like their earlier books better? Because SEP and JAK both have new titles coming out soon.

      1. I am calling them vintage because, apart from Silber whom I don’t know, they have been writing for a long time and a lot of their books are now classics of the genre.

  41. I also read webcomics. This is from FREE FALL by


    Sam: Florence. After work, I’d like to talk with you about turning this station into an aldrin cycler.
    Florence: We’re not sure that is possible yet.
    Sam: I have gigabytes of data showing it is possible.
    Florence: How?
    Sam: I went on commnet and loudly insisted it couldn’t be done. You’d be surprised how much effort people will put into proving you wrong.

    This NOT the first time I’ve seen this meme.

  42. I’m currently enjoying Maybe This Time by J.C. In the past year I’ve been interspersing new books with those I’ve missed by favorite authors. Great fun!

  43. It’s Saturday evening (which would make this a Saturday Evening Post, hur, hur, hur.) I was just thinking about a Sunday Happiness post, and while I might be able to riff off whatever Jenny posts, there won’t be much to write.

    The gardens kept me occupied… a little. In actual fact, I retired an Aerogarden Harvest (Harvey) and an iDOO unit (Louise), and I re-plumbed the reservoirs so that two reservoirs provide water to three units. Two for the three active Harvests and two for the three active iDOOs. the Lyko/QYO gardens – four of them – share three reservoirs. Their plumbing needs to be redone as well.

    I suppose I could peg happiness to harvesting 75 grams of cherry tomatoes which went into a salad, but to get 75 grams, I had to have a dozen tomatoes. For comparison, I ate a sandwich with a medium store-bought tomato that weighed 111 grams.

    I’m not unhappy. I just don’t remember anything this week that really boosted my endorphins. Maybe tomorrow…

    1. Gary, for Christmas I received a mushroom growing kit from Cascadia Mushrooms out of Bellingham Washington. I jury rigged a humidifier container so that I wouldn’t have to mist them as much ( a plastic foot basin, wax candles laid sideways to make a support platform, a plastic sheet to make a tent over the whole shebang and plastic bendy straws to hold the plastic tent off the mushroom kit.) I had a really generous first crop and now have a significantly smaller second crop about 3 weeks after the first harvest. I am trying to figure out if I bought the substrate and spores if I could create my own indoor mushroom garden or if I would just end up with a mess. My kit was the shiitake mushrooms but I am really tempted by some of the different colored oyster mushrooms. I hesitate to tell you this since I remember what happened when I mentioned my Smart Garden but I really am having fun with the mushrooms.

  44. I was concerned that my gardens had exceeded my capacity. I have, so far this year, retired a dozen mason jars, the six Click&Grow gardens, an Aerogarden Harvest, an iDOO 12-pod unit, and a QYO. Actually, the QYO was replaced by an identical Lyko unit. At some point, one of the Lyko/QYO units will do something off, like the tomato plants falling over, and I’ll retire one more of them. They take up too much space and require more attention than I care to spare.

    Enjoy your mushroom habitats! No way will I follow down that rabbit hole. 🙂

    I left out the bucket-shaped iDOO unit that grew the fabulous crop of cherry tomatoes, because its electronics died. It made a marvelous lamp.

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