237 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, January 18, 2024

  1. I finished Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher on my flight yesterday. I really enjoyed the characters and setting. And Im thrilled there are more of these.

    Its a gentle, somewhat cozy fantasy/romance with two broken people who find each other. There are some fantastical elements, and the big bad is still out there for the future. I very much enjoyed the HEA arrangement the two MCs come to at the end.

      1. Me! I do! And if you haven’t yet read “A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking”, it’s set in the same world.

  2. I re-read Cait Nary’s Lucky Bounce. Still sweet without being saccharine.

    I read two Josh Lanyon series (all novellas) – I Spy and Dangerous Ground – enjoyed both series. She really is such a reliable writer and thank you to Christina for putting me onto her. Her Patreon is quite fun too – she posts ‘interviews’ with her MC’s. Sometimes they’re even hostile to her as the ‘journalist’.

    Chacha1, I read Changes Coming Down by Kaje Harper and you’re right – there’s just a lot going on there – a sheriff election, an inheritance, a murder, hockey drama, etc.

    I think Project Hero was another Chacha1 recommendation that a number of Arghers also read? In the jock-nerd makeover trope (weird that this is a trope btw) – really fun.

    But speaking of hockey, I also read two books by Lane Hayes. I don’t think I’ll continue with this series. I couldn’t quite get interested in them, although all the right elements were there, don’t really know why they didn’t grab me.

    I also read White Cat, Black Dog which was a Pulitzer Finalist – a series of modern day, kind of grim (pun intended) fairy tales. Creepy and provoking.

    And finally, I listened to Sherry Thomas latest in her Lady Sherlock series, A Tempest At Sea, which is really a drawing room mystery – set at sea clearly. So solid, and read again by the incomparable Kate Reading.

    1. Tammy, I also loved Project Hero, read some weeks ago. So thanks, Chachal, from my side, too!
      I then read another Briar Prescot title last week – The Underdog – which I liked a lot, too. But the following title – Inconveniant Love – was a let down: MCs are Isac, the younger brother of Anders, the underdog of said former book, and Max, Anders’ best friend. They were close friends in spite of the age gap and Isac was in love with Max until being rejected for being too young and inexperienced. So he went off and got older and more experienced and tried to get over Max. But after his return, Max realized Isac got older and hot as f*ck, so – bang – insta attraction and lust. That’s so not my favorite trope or whatever. They were friends, then only very superficial friends. Could they not have re-acquainted and become friends again? I don’t buy it that 6 years of growing up don’t have an impact on who you are…
      Also, I need a bit more content to a story than sexual attraction. DNF this one.

      And because of there are a number long awaited titles in my pipeline I couldn’t decide with which to start (Lucky Bounce is one of them), so started to read a completly different book – NOT ABOUT HOCKEY, what a shame!!
      Must love Demons by Meghan Maslow, a rec from the Big Gay Fiction podcast. A sort of cozy mystery with Nico, an incubus whose magic runs to love instead of sex and Flame, a phoenix shifter sort-of-detective. I’m more than halfway in and love it so far. Very gentle, Nico is a cutie and sooo loveable. A 7 foot shy and kind guy training to be a cherub… plus wearing a toga (though it seems he wears more a kind of tunica). The mystery must be solved by both of them because they are magically tethered together due to a cherub experiment gone wrong.

      I guess, afterwards I’ll start with Lucky Bounce and I’m very looking forward to the new Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James’ title Crushed Ice coming out on Feb 6th.

      Also on my tbr list: Lily Morton’s new Black and Blue title, the Alpha Tau Self-Improvement Pruject by Lisa Henry and the new Finley/James title The Bastard and the heir although I find the cover slightly repulsive. I’ve also downloaded the Spencer Cohen Collection by NR Walker.
      Lane Hayes’ Holiday Crush is also in this pile, but not high up in the lsit.
      AND I want to get on with Rachel Reid’s backlist, seeing as there will be quite some wait for a new book by her since she got less than thrilling medical news.

      1. I read The Underdog and enjoyed it, but didn’t fancy the age-gap premise of the next one. Also read The Amazing Alpha Tau Self-improvement Project, which was also fun – though in both cases, I liked the earlier books best.

        I’m nearing the end of Ali Hazelwood’s Check & Mate, which I’m warming to as I go; but I’ve decided she’s not quite my cup of tea in fact. And the heroine lies a lot, which I dislike. Am thinking of some Heyer to follow, though my KU trial ends next month, and I’m keen to make the most of it. Just too many similar stories, though.

        1. Yes, lying is a no go for me, too. White lies might be in order sometimes but I do prefer honesty even in minor stuff.

          I haven’t read Ali Hazelwood yet, just tried the sample of her first success. When the heroine had eye issues because she – as a scientist – used contact lenses WAY past the expiration date I didn’t want to proceed. A minor quibble, but as a very shortsighted person I would not want to risk my eye sight for anything.

      2. Dodo, now I’ve had to put some of those books on my wish list! And yes, super bad news about Reid’s Parkinsons diagnosis.

        1. An acquaintance of mine got the same diagnosis at roughly the same age but the syptoms were not that obvious with her. A real blow.

      3. Thanks for the list! I’m updating my TBR list as we speak.
        I am looking forward to your review of the Bastard and the Heir — I found the cover so off-putting I passed over it quickly when browsing. It was both loathsome and yet when I went to look at it again this time, hilarious.
        So sorry about the Rachel Reid news. I feel terrible for her.

        1. I found the cover for System overload even worse. The MCs appear in one of James’s earlier titles and the older one didn’t look that creepy.
          Grgh.

          1. Dodo, you keep ending up in Pending Approval because there’s a s in front of your name now: sDodo. No idea why, but I’ll keep getting you out.

          2. Thanks for getting me out of moderation, Jenny.
            It’s my fault: I somehow messed up the line of my name with my clumsy fingers typing into the mobile phone.

            Back on the stationary computer = less likely to type wrongly.

          3. No worries. I try to check the Pending folder on here every day, but sometimes people wait for hours to get out there.

          4. Tammy, whenever I comment from my mobile phone, I seem to get the pink avatar.
            When commenting from the computer, all my cookies make me be the calm blue one 😉

            I’d love to change my avatar and add a photo/picture/drawing whatever like Jane and Jenny do, but as the tech neanderthal that I’m known for being, I have to read up how to do it but time is scare and so I prefer to read up on what my fav authors have written.

      4. Addendum on Must Love Demons: finished it and was a tad disappointed. The MCs are lovely, but the pacing and suspense was not. There simply was no arc to speak of. Not much world building either. The book belongs to a sort of series like the Vino Veritas, but the connectiion is VERY flimsy. Not well thought through.
        Also I realized I don’t much like it if the next couple’s book is too obviously set up. Feels too much like a hook/manipulation.

      1. Thank you for asking! After an emergency trip to the vet – my husband was way too stressed to see if things settled out overnight – an injection of antibiotics, special dog food, a blonde diet, fibre for her food, blood & stool tests, antibiotic pills and $600 later…she is much better. You can’t put a price on furry love.

        1. Oh hurrah. I am so glad. We had a similar situation with one of the cats and a uti that we googled and were terrified was a blockage that would require surgery. It’s nerve-wracking and budget-wracking. Fancy expensive prescription food, several weeks of squirty antibiotics and a cat fountain later all was well. But we had to have the discussion about how much we were going to spend. I had a number in my head, my husband not so much, and I would do just about anything for him, so we ended up feeling like we got off lightly.

          1. I feel like I’d spend more on the dogs’ health care than mine, if given the choice. It’s so upsetting to see them sick because they’re really so patient about it but they can’t tell you what’s wrong. Seeing Sparkle sitting there shivering was awful.

          2. Oh definitely. I’m the rub dirt on it and cover it with duct tape if at all possible type. It’s different for those who are dependent on us.

          3. I notice I’m more sympathetic toward my dog than my husband who caught COVID somewhere in our trip to London. I was thinking to myself that if he was going to be sick all the time, I’d hire a caretaker pronto.

          4. Well, I can’t speak for your husband, but Kevin is a real baby when he is sick. Sympathy only goes so far.

          5. I am thinking 400 for an emergency vet bill is small change. Our last one for our two idiots was 4500.

          6. I lived with three of them now, Lupe – men not dogs – and from my deep statistical analysis I’d have to say you are right.

          7. One of the silver linings of Covid is that the sufferer must be in isolation
            And therefore cannot make life too hard on the caregiver.
            Dh is exiled to the basement bedroom as I type …

          8. Debbie, my husband has had COVID for the past ten days and it didn’t even occur to me to isolate him. I have slobbered all over him, like usual. A missed opportunity.

      1. Oh, it’s so extremely light on hockey (one MC is a former player, now assistant coach) that it could easily be baseball, soccer, football, name any sport. He needs his team get their grades up, that’s all 😉
        So for anyone who can stand the jock-nerd trope 🙂

        1. It might indeed have been me. Though, as I’m usually very tempted to read everything Chacha! recommends, your guess seemed very likely to me.

          1. I’ve probably just been lazy by assuming that any contemporary M/M romance that is not hockey comes from Chacha1.

  3. Speaking of complex relationships, I read “The Lords of Misrule” by Stella Riley, the most recent book in her Roundheads & Cavaliers series (#1 The Black Madonna). I think the romance stands on its own, but having read the whole series it’s very satisfying to see Eden Maxwell finally get his HEA and find this marvelously sensible generous woman in Lydia Neville. Plus Riley’s history is always excellent and it so nice to get a) good historical detail, b) something a bit different.

    Even more unfamiliar to me was the 12th century Indian Ocean setting of Shannon Chakraborty’s “The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi”. The adventures were great, the history was great, and although its a straight-up historical fantasy, my romance reader brain couldn’t help but mentally tag it as a Secret Baby story amongst demons and sea monsters and swashbuckling. Really refreshingly Amina is a mother over 40 and her internal conflict is all about her identity as a seafarer, her dreams to explore and her need to keep her daughter safe. Thanks to Kelly J for the recc!

    “Bring on the Dusk” by M.L. Buchman is a military m/f romance coincidentally also mostly set around the Indian ocean. Buchman’s romantic suspense always has a hefty dose of competence porn, and while the technical aspects are plausible although I have no idea if they’re right. I could see the flaws but I loved that the self-contained MMC is attracted to the FMC when he sees how competently she flies a helicopter and gradually comes to think of her as the most impressive person he knows. The section where they tree climb is just gorgeous.

    And finally I completed my Murderbot re-read right through to “System Collapse” which I enjoyed, even if it didn’t quite match the utterly marvelous “Network Effect”.

    1. I don’t think I have read any military romance since Jessica Scott’s Coming Home series. Which goes back aways. So, I’m going to give M.L. Buchman’s Night Stalkers a try starting with the first in the series, The Night is Mine. Lately it has pick up and put down as far as reading goes and I’m tired of bakery owners as opposed to helicopter pilots. Not that there is anything wrong with owning a bakery, but I want a heroine with a bit more oomph. That’s why I like GBT there’s always something to look forward too around the corner. Thanks Yuri!

      1. Buchman’s heroines have oomph in spades – even the occasional chef! Hope you like them, they’ll keep you busy for a while 🙂

    2. I haven’t read the Stella Riley Roundheads and Cavaliers series, am not sure how I missed them as I read all the Rockliffe ones and greatly enjoyed them. Thanks Yuri, you may have solved today’s dilemma of what to read next!

      1. I haven’t read those either — I’ve read her other series and loved them, particularly the book about the musician. Cadenza, I think? I even looked up Jean Rondeau, the harpsichordist who inspired it, and listened to him on You Tube.

      2. They are very good and as Yuri says it is nice to learn about a different history period even if it is all terribly complicated.
        I really like her Colonel Brandon. There are genuine issues with a marriage of convenience when you are on opposing sides of a Civil war.
        The first one is also great. Kate is such a great character.

      1. Just in case you (or anyone else here!) might enjoy them: I think P. Djèlí Clark‘s mysteries set in an alternate 1912 Egypt (with djinn and other magical beings) have a similar mix of fantasy and a fascinating historical setting.

        “A Dead Djinn in Cairo” (the novella that kicks it off) is available to read on Tor.com here: https://www.tor.com/2016/05/18/a-dead-djinn-in-cairo/ (it’s also available from Kobo, etc), or I think you could jump into A Master of Djinn (a novel.)

  4. The book that I was reading did that thing where both main characters make stupid to the point of incomprehensible choices for the sake of furthering the plot and it made me mad. So I quit. Grrr. Then I tried Marie Kondo’s book about joy in the workplace, but my desk is already tidy, so I don’t think that it is going to help my work related issues. I’m not sure what to read next.

    We did finish both seasons of White Lotus. The first one is brilliant, if dark. The second season is less so on both counts, but still thought provoking. Both have a large cast of layered characters who influence each other both subtly and overtly. It’s interesting.

    We are trying Succession next.

    1. What was the book? That by the way was the precise reason I gave up after four seasons of Sopranos; I couldn’t bear it that Tony kept making terrible decisions. You’d probably hate a series I’m reading now called Bad Decisions.

      1. It was The Ghost Had an Early Check Out or something like that, by Josh Lanyon. I liked the first one, The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks, but this one…. Spoilers below.

        So, the premise is that the main characters meet an old horror movie actor who is being stalked/gaslit/haunted every Halloween. He has this decrepit falling down hotel with a cast of quirky renters as suspects and scary/dangerous things keep happening. So the cinnamon roll character with acute asthma offers to help and brings his grumpy PI partner along. Things happen. The dirty old house makes it hard for the cinnamon roll to breath and bodies start dropping. The grump wants his partner to leave and be safe. Cinnabun won’t because the old man needs help and he promised and “it’s the right thing to do.” So they fight. And grump leaves his fragile, optimistic partner alone on Hallween night the day after a murder/accidental death because… I have no idea. And then in the middle of the night, Cinnabun leaves the old man alone to go poking around in a dark, dusty attic at midnight on Halloween when he is supposed to be keeping him from getting murdered. Throws hands in the air dramatically. I have no idea what these people are thinking. They were sane and sweet in the first book.

        Anyway, according to Goodreads, this is early Lanyon and an unusual miss. I have enjoyed the others I have read by same and will read again, but I am taking a break.

        1. I am a super Josh Lanyon fan — I have read and reread so many of her books, but imho The Ghost Had an Early Checkout is one of her very few (and worst) fails. I remember that drawn out scene where Perry goes alone to the spookiest, darkest corner of the big old disintegrating hotel in the middle of the night… I had exactly your reaction. This book spoiled the first one in the series for me because suddenly the same MCs were TSTL.

          1. Weirdly, after “discovering” Josh Lanyon with your help last year, I found Puzzle for Two on my Kindle and realized I’d read it earlier that year but had not liked it at all. So I’d call that a later fail. But given the size of her back list, I think that’s a pretty acceptable rate.

          2. Exactly. I mean, was Perry also wearing a sheer nighty and carrying a candle? Because that would be the only way to make that situation more ridiculous, especially when we know that bad actors were entering the house from points unknown and expected on that particular night…

    2. I know many people rave about Succession but I couldn’t get into it because all the main characters are so unremittingly awful. I need one decent character at least in whatever I watch or read!

      1. I have the same feeling. I just don’t wanna watch it. I felt the same way about sopranos and the Godfather

      2. I’m holding out hope for them. I could see redemption for them, at least a little. And right now I don’t care about them enough, so it is kinda fun watching the train wreck.

  5. I’m rereading. It’s been a lot of Pratchett and now it’s Jenny. Inbetween rereads, I’m reading cookbooks. It’s been a few over the last weeks, and most of them were nerdy ones (official or no) inspired by videogames, books or TV-series/films. My favourites have been the Hearthstone Innkeeper’s Tavern-cookbook, the unofficial Ted Lasso-cookbook and two matcha-cookbooks (the tea in this case, not our cat!), plus one called The Witch’s Cookbook, which included recipes from a whole bunch of TV-series, books and films like Charmed, Wicked, Bewitched etc. The biggest dud was the Official Harry Potter Cookbook with recipes inspired by the films. Think there was one(!) recipe in there I consider giving a go. Not impressed. The unofficial/fan-made cookbooks I’ve read previously have been more charming and inspiring than that one. BOO.

    I want the official Jenny Crusie cookbook. Food plays such a vital part in Jenny’s books, and knowing how Jenny wants to know what she’s actually writing about, I’m sure she knew exactly how the different dishes and snacks tasted when she wrote them down. I know there are a few recipes on the website, but not nearly close to everything ever mentioned. I will now go ahead and dream about this cookbook until it becomes reality. <3

    1. I got an unofficial Princess Bride cookbook and Hobbit cookbook for Christmas. I haven’t tried them out yet, but they look good, plus fun titles for the dishes and good pictures!

      1. I got my son a Gladiator’s cookbook last year. He loves cooking. But as with most christmas presents did not even peek into the book.
        Oh well, at least I got him something I myself am very interested in (Roman history)…

          1. I wish… no, it’s called “Gladiatoren-Kochbuch” by Christian Eckert.

            Here’s the blurb:

            When we hear the word “Gladiator,” a specific image immediately comes to mind. However, Roman gladiators were more than just war captives or slaves slaughtered in the arena – they were the superstars of antiquity, celebrated like today’s football players. Naturally, they paid careful attention to their nutrition. In the course of an experiment on ancient gladiator life conducted by author Christian Eckert in collaboration with the University of Regensburg, it was revealed that the basic diet of gladiators was quite comparable to our modern sports nutrition. Eckert entertainingly explains why this is the case in his book and introduces the nutritious diet of Roman sports heroes through delicious recipes.

            As my son is keen on sports (playing soccer) AND on cooking, I presumed it would interest him. Yet, the abundance of presents at christmas always results in my kids not seeming to be interested in their presents. BIG SIGH.

        1. Here’s an article suggesting a rather different picture of the gladiator diet. It concludes that they ate a not particularly tasty, high carb, low meat diet designed to give them a protective layer of fat rather than a sculpted look. Not quite a sumo wrestler’s diet (which, oddly, includes a lot of chicken for protein), but one producing something similarly distant from a fashionable “healthy, athletic” look.

          https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-did-gladiators-eat#:~:text=The%20evidence%20suggests%20gladiators%20carbo,and%20low%20in%20animal%20proteins.

      2. My Mom gave my brother Peter a copy of The Boy’s Cookbook by Helen Evans Brown & Philip S. Brown , circa 1959. I think he was about 12 at the time. It didn’t have a particular theme other than,”You know that stuff you like to eat? You can make it yourself.” It has a lot of dated recipes in it, but it also includes recipes for 2 different kinds of souffle. My sister and I learned how to make our first Cheese Souffle from that book and my brother grew up to be an very good cook. (Of course living for a few months in France and several years in Denmark didn’t hurt, either.)
        When my Mom died, I made sure that that book came home with me.

        When I look at all the specialty cookbooks published now I always wonder if the recipes inside are any good. I am less interested in the theme of the cookbook than I am in how many of the recipes I would want to eat more than once.
        When I look at all

      1. I will read this one as soon as I can find it in a format I can read! Can’t wait to read Nanny’s wise words about….cooking. 🙂

      1. One thing it most certainly would include is jalapeno poppers. She stole one from Sven yesterday and LOVED it. Also jalapeno cream cheese (although home-made ones we haven’t tried, guess I gotta then), salted caramel biscuits and custard creams. Dangit Mary Anne, you’re giving me silly ideas now!

    2. I actually thought about that at one time because my cousin, Russ Parsons, is a huge foodie, former food editor for the LA Times, writer of books, it seemed like a no-brainer. He’s living in Ireland now and writing for a newspaper there, but if I could talk him into it, I’d do it. Except there aren’t enough food things in the books to fill a cookbook. There’s usually one thing or maybe two, and they’re all easy to find or make, so I don’t think it would work.

      If it helps, Rocky Start is Ina Garten’s lasagna and variations on mustard chicken so far. The lasagna is the key, so I have to actually make that before the book comes out, but it’s Ina Garten, so I feel relatively safe. The mustard chicken is a standard here. So good.

      1. I don’t think we care if they are easy to find, as long as they are all gathered together with a pretty cover and cute illustrations.

        Or this would be a fun thing to share in a news letter/facebook/patreon.

        And it wouldn’t need to be book related. Talking about food is fun and I struggle with trying to bring new meals into our rotation.

        Let’s see.

        Bet Me:
        Chicken Marsala
        Bread
        Salad dressing
        maybe Cal’s mother’s dinner menu?
        Donuts
        Brats

        Faking It
        Pinapple orange muffins
        cinnamon buns from Davy’s memory

        Welcome to Temptation
        Ham Sandwiches
        Lemonade
        Cherry Pie

        Man Hunting
        Mashed Potatoes
        Fish?

        Cinderella Deal
        Mushroom Stew
        Bread
        Dog biscuits? Daisy seems like the type to make her own.
        Soup

        Maybe This Time
        Banana bread
        cookies
        cupcakes
        rolls
        French toast

        Agnes
        too many to list

        Lavender/pink/vermillion
        Tenderloin sandwich
        fried diner goodness

        1. Good grief.
          The stew in The Cinderella Deal was coq au vin, but my editor said nobody in the Midwest would know what that was. That was a Bantam book, I believe. Yes,I wan annoyed.

          1. Like I said, slow day. I usually average around 100 transactions today. It is still snowing and I am at 13… Finished all my online training and scutt work…

            And that is very annoying. People would look it up, I would think. Argh.

        2. Are you expecting a recipe for Krispy Kreme Donuts? Just buy them!

          I am a Krispy Kreme Konvert. I grew up on Dunkin Donuts. I still love them, but KKs are easier to find in Virginia.

          1. When my sister was trying to teach me to drive she made me drive to the first Krispy Kreme on the other side of town. A fresh doughnut with the glaze still warm did a lot to assuage the terror I felt at our first long drive.

          2. See, I grew up in Amish country. When my grandmother didn’t make us fresh donuts from her bread dough, we still had access to a plethora of fried goodness and Krispy Kremes don’t quite measure up.

            My wedding cake was a selection of filled homemade donuts instead of cake at my wedding.

        3. Getting Rid of Bradley – Chili, nachos, onion soup pot roast
          Don’t Look Down – Gator burgers, something with apples
          Tell Me Lies – Brownies
          Crazy For You – Pizza
          Dogs and Goddesses – Butter cookies, temple tonic
          Charlie All Night – Chinese food?
          Wild Ride – wasn’t there some kind of fairway food like funnel cakes?

          Throw in some Agnes style intros or funny book quotes and I’d definitely buy.

        4. Oh, the extranot to forget the Reunen Sandwich in Fast Women and its Stir Fry.
          The sandwich became a winter staple of ours for years! Had to look it up first tho. Never heard of it before (here in Europe).
          The fast stir fries also just spoke to me.
          I LOVE how Nell’s healing process is reflected in her approach to food and eating.
          Btw: dh got into being curious about whisky thanks to Gabe’s first aid bottle of MacAllans…
          And reading Dick Francis’ “Wine seller” shortly afterwards.

          1. I think the Dick Francis novel was sold as “Proof” in the US, but I may not remember correctly.

        5. I actually started writing all foods down I come across in Jenny’s books, that’s why I went on the reread. Only a pie mentioned in… Getting Rid of Bradley, I think it was, I couldn’t for the life of me hear what the narrator said. French Silch Pie? French Soup Pie? French WHAT pie?
          I don’t know who gets to decide what’s “enough” recipes for a cookbook, but after only 4 Jenny-books, I’m already on a count of 23, and then I didn’t write down the Chicken Marsala with frehs peas Agnes cooks because Min’s one is the one we all remember.
          Jenny, I dare say you’ve got recipes enough. And easy to find or easy to make is not a reason not to include them. I’d read the thing rom cover to cover – I’d even buy the hardcover to put on my shelf just because, even if I can’t read it with my eyes. I’m about 100000 % sure all your fans would love it.

      2. What a small world. I just pulled a cooking method by Russ Parsons for baking dried beans in the oven instead of stove top off the Rancho Gordo site.

        1. Yeah, I ordered 2 Russ Parsons books on the strength of Jenny’s recommendation, but I haven’t test driven either of them yet.

  6. This was a week of good books with the exception of one which was a DNF within two chapters: sentences that start “Her and I walked down the street” are auto-DNF for me.
    But apart from that false start, it was a week of good books! I read Catherine Cloud’s “Caught off Guard” and “Love and other inconveniences” both of which I really enjoyed. Catherine Cloud definitely belongs at the top of the list of Best Hockey M/M Romances I Have Read! Just the right amount of angst and all the feels. Her stories do end very abruptly, practically in mid-scene which was a bit jarring but the rest was so good I rationalized away that flaw. I only have one more published book of hers to read so I will hoard it for the moment. Again, Tammy thanks for the recommendation!

    For a change of pace I read the latest DCI Karen Pirie novel by Val Mc Dermid — Past Lying. Just wonderful. This author is so reliable. Interesting plot, character depth, satisfying and plausible resolution, just the right amount of procedure and always some great sense of the place and time in which the events are taking place. Now to wait for her next one.

    Mentioning Heyer’s A Civil Contract last week put me in the mood to read it yet again. Such a good book. So different from my other favorites of hers. This one goes near the top (it’s a crowded “top”).

    Not sure what to read next after such a lucky reading week but the TBR list is long thanks to GBT.

    1. I’m glad you like Catherine Cloud – she has two other published books by the way, and on A03 she has a couple of complete series plus is working on another.

    2. Christina, did you find the BBC or ITV version of DCI Karen Pirie lived up to the novels? I enjoyed it a lot but I haven’t read the series.

      1. Beth, I can’t really give a good answer to that because I saw the tv series before I was even aware of the Karen Pirie books, so I didn’t read the first one (as the show was based on that one.) I was too impatient to wait for more of the tv series (which I loved) and I’ve now read or listened to the 6 books that follow and loved every one of them.

  7. Snowed in so lots of reading this week. Read the new Penric/Desdemona tale, Demon Daughter. Always fun to revisit old fictional friends, and here’s an interesting new character! Also read Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries and Map of the Otherlands back to back and it ends with the announcement of book 3, so more crazed academics and adventures ahead. Somewhere in there I also read Amelia Sand and the Silver Queens by Jim Hines which I got for the middle school kid and then read myself because it was too fun not to.

    1. I think you put your finger on why I didn’t particularly enjoy Demon Daughter — it felt like it was just an introduction/backstory for a new character, and while I can see how she could be interesting in the future, I didn’t think she was interesting enough to carry a whole novella, pretty much on her own. It’s also because I’m just not into precocious kids’ POVs (and that’s a me problem, not a story problem), but the story itself didn’t really do anything except introduce her. And everything resolved without anyone doing anything. So, backstory, not current story. I am looking forward to seeing her cause problems for Penric/Desdemona in the future though, and I did finish the story, but skimmed a lot of it.

      1. Hi Gin, I agree with your thoughts on the Demon Daughter, except that I really liked how Penric’s world looked to her. It was another view of one of my favourite characters.

  8. The Vixen War Bride series by Thomas Doscher (6 books) reminds me in certain ways of some works by Bujold and Cherryh:  Bujold because of multiple layers of intrigue and of the postwar problems of military occupation (in the Vorkosiverse, both the past one on Barrayar and the current milder one on Komarr);  Cherryh, both because of military conflict and because of the depiction of aliens who, if not always plausibly extraterrestrial-level alien, then who at least clearly do not belong to Western civilization. 

    In War Bride, as the story opens, our human hero, after a messy but victorious war, ends up heading the unit occupying a small town on a planet of of fairly humanoid aliens evidently descended from some animal approximately resembling foxes.  Human civilization is not unified (which is why they had the interstellar military to fight the newly encountered aliens in the first place).  Instead, the humans fought only as a coalition.  Our hero, although hailing from a destroyed colony planet, is an American Army officer.   One relatively highly ranked alien female has, by local custom, among her duties that of serving as the designated scapegoat, responsible for taking the punishment deserved by any member of her community.  Naturally this would make no sense to a typical American, and the situation is made worse because human interpreters have only a weak grasp of the alien language. The upshot is that our hero finds himself married by local custom to our heroine (in their no-divorce culture) while he thinks that all he has done is to “punish” her by naming her as his liaison to the locals.  Complications, naturally, ensue, eventually including romantic ones of the “marriage of convenience turns to love” school.

    Doscher is a retired Air Force journalist with multiple deployments to the Middle East, and also is a lover of history.  Despite having served in what was long regarded as the most technical of the military services, Doscher does not display much love of science.  This will not bother some readers at all.  In my case, although on balance I recommend the Vixen War Bride series, I hold that (as the saying goes) disbelief should be suspended,  not hanged by the neck until dead.

    Bujold started off with a weak grasp of science, but she improved.  In some respects Doscher just gets worse, at least over the course of this one series.  Space permits only one example.  In the first book,  we are given no name for the aliens’ star.  By the second book, we are told it is Bellatrix.    Bellatrix is a blue giant.  Stars that big live fast and die young, and Bellatrix is only 25 million years old.  The dinosaurs were long gone by the time it switched on.  Current families of mammals had already evolved!  There is no natural way that Bellatrix could have a habitable planet by our time, much less one with higher lifeforms.  Granted, there are Elder Races lurking in the background of the series,  and possibly one is much powerful than we suspect and could have moved the planet from another star system to Bellatrix.   But even that would not give it a year only a little longer than Earth’s.  Bellatrix is a blue giant and thus hot, and the habitable zone would be much farther out with a correspondingly long year. The only way I could think of to head-canon this would be to posit that in the future the name Bellatrix has been taken away from its current holder, Gamma Orionis, and given to some other star.  (This switch did happen once, in the 15th century, so there is precedence.) I could go on. There would be a lot to go on about.  On the whole, the science is better than Star Trek’s, and that’s the best I can say. 

    I have read the entire series except for part of Book 5.  In that book the author kept very heavy-handedly foreshadowing that something ominous was coming.  I don’t enjoy being toyed with that way, and I jumped ahead to see what it was.  I do intend to go back, but I think this excessive foreshadowing was another flaw.

    So I  recommend the series,  but in the face of serious flaws.

    1. I thought one meaning of “precedence” was “the existence of a precedent,” but I can’t find that as a definition, so “there is precedence” above would better be “there is precedent.” Even native speakers can’t always speak proper English!

        1. I figure there’s no “proper English.” There’s generally good English which works for me. And allows exploration into uses of the word “precedence.”

          I haven’t read Doscher or Cherryh. Patrick, I’m curious that you say “Bujold started out with a weak grasp of science, but she improved.”

          Where was her science weak? How did she improve?

          I’m accustomed to think of her as a lover of biology. Is it the technicalities of space travel/living/aliens that you’re referring to?

          1. Weak science: (1) incorrect description of the effects of nuking whatever the original Vorkosigan seat was called. (Bujold later tried to fix this by asserting that some of the supposed effects we were told of by Miles were only folk exaggerations, and also that the site had been deliberately sown with slow-decay radiotopes.) (2) Sergeyar has wildlife that HUMANS CAN EAT in Shards of Honor. Bujold later directs attention away from this by depicting wildly exotic lifeforms. No such biochemical coincidences later on Barrayar or Komarr (or elsewhere, as far as I recall). (3) I’m not sure how long it was before we learned Barrayar has a roughly 27-hour day. I think that before it was just taken to be about an Earth day. To this day we have not been told how long a Barrayar year is, but it’s amazingly close to an Earth year, because ages in Earth years go up after Imperial birthdays tagged to Barrayar years. (4) Well after our first visit to Komarr we are told it has a 17-hour day, whereas hitherto no adjustment has been depicted for people arriving from Barrayar. We have even been given times after 1700 hours, which we would have to rationalize by positing that Komarr uses short hours, although Barrayar (which has annexed Komarr) uses Earth hours despite having only 47 minutes or something in the final one of the Barrayar day. I could go on. As I said, Bujold does get better about such things over time.

  9. I read Proper English, by K J Charles, a Chachal recommendation. It was good. There was a villain, two (yes, two) homosexual romances, and a mystery. Plus, it was only $3.99 in Kindle!

    I’m rereading Lavender’s Blue on the Kindle, and it is so much easier on my arthritic hands to hold. There are some hilarious lines in there, and it’s much easier to follow, now that I know the characters, already. I will keep my paper editions, because- Crusie, but I think I’ll get Pink and Vermillion in Kindle, too.

    1. I have paper editions of books I love because they make me happy, but I don’t read them. I can’t bring myself to bend their precious spines now that they feel rare and magical to me. I double up on the Kindle version as well.

    1. Thanks for pointint this out, Gin!
      Have registered already and realized, there’s an event also this coming Saturday with Lex Croucher. Have signed up for that as well – now I only have to finish the book it’s about “‘Gwena and Art are not in love”. I got it as paperback which I don’t read often anymore.

  10. I read Jenny Colgan’s The Island Wedding (part of the Mure series) and loved it, just the right amount of pathos and heartbreak as well as laughs and love.

    Charlaine Harris’s A Longer Fall (the second of the Gunnie Rose series) was also good. The first one took some getting used to as it is a bit of an alternative universe – the USA no longer exists. The Holy Russian Empire are where California and Oregon used to be, for instance, and there the last Tsar and is family rule (though he is dead and Alexi is now on the throne). But now I have the hang of it I will definitely be reading the next one.

    Enjoyed Maybe Baby by Lani Raine Rich, though it had the feel of a farce (which I do not dislike) which was unexpected.

    And on Jenny’s recommendation I got Miss Reed’s Christmas at Fairacre and loved No Holly for Miss Quinn and Christmas at Fairacre School. Stopped there because books came in at the library and am now reading, and thoroughly enjoying, A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman. Thanks to Gary+Hayenga for the recommendation.

    I also usually have a non-fiction on the go and am enjoying a book by zoologist Lucy Cooke about “what it means to be female” (that is the subtitle- but the title would probably not get printed here!) It is fascinating and also very funny.

    I have not managed read any Heyer yet. I started one a while ago but while it was slow and measured, my mind was racing and I couldn’t slow myself down enough to enjoy it. So it went back to the library. I have plans to slow my life down somewhat so hopefully I will be able to give her a go then.

    1. Christine, is the Lucy Cooke one ‘Bitch : a revolutionary guide to sex, evolution and the female animal’? Or does she have another one on this topic?

      1. Yes Lian, that is the one. I am half way through and amazed at how much I am enjoying it.

    2. That Jenny wasn’t me, right? I’ve never heard of those books (of course, I’ve never heard of a lot of books).

      1. That’s a relief: I was windering if you were posting book reccs on Facebook now, and I was missing out because I don’t do Facebook,

        1. As if.

          Facebook is mostly about letting people know I’m still alive. I think there was a rumor that I’d died.

      2. Obviously could have got the person wrong – I did think that you (Jenny Cruise) had referred to Miss Reid – who I had never heard of. Clearly not you but I did enjoy them. 🙂
        Apologies for taking your name (and recommendations in vain).

  11. I haven’t yet read Network Effect by Martha Wells, although I have intended to read it for quite a while so I am , once again, starting the series over with All Systems Red. I am also listening to the Queen’s Thief series because MWT!

    On my tbr pile from the library are: Something Close to Magic by Emma Mills, and Fortune Favors the Dead by Stephen Spotswood.

  12. The setup to the Gunnie Rose series sounds a bit like MaryJanice Davidson’s Royal series, where Alaska seceded from the Russian Empire but is independent and still has a Russian-descended royal family. But the development appears to be completely different. No magic exists in the the Davidson series, and it’s a light romance series, where Gunnie Rose sounds pretty grim from the blurb for the first book.

    1. I wouldn’t say grim exactly, but not a bundle of laughs. It was interesting and kept me turning the pages – also because I have enjoyed so many other Charlaine Harris series I kept going. I will keep reading this series as it has me intrigued so far.

      My favourite Charlaine Harris is the Harper Connelly series, and that ain’t all laughs either.

      1. I love Harper Connelly, but it’s just not as violent and uncivilized as the first several Gunnie Rose books.

        My favorite Charlaine Harris is the Shakespeare’s Landlord series, straight mysteries set in a small town in Arkansas where the MC cleans houses for a living while recovering from traumatic events in her past. Which sounds really dull when I write that but Lily Bard is a terrific character who gets thrust into investigating some mysteries when no one else will.

      2. I enjoyed the Harper Connelly series best too, @Christine Edinburgh. I wish she’d write more of them.

  13. I’ve been reading a lot of Mary Lancaster lately. My favorites so far are the Lord Petteril series, but the others are good, too.

    Also, Grace Burrowes’ Lord Julian mysteries are excellent — three books so far and another coming out in February. The first is A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times.

    I’m reading the fifth book of the Masked Man of Cairo mysteries by Sean McLachlan– Egypt after World War One. Lots of interesting history, plenty of action and adventure, and wonderful characters.

  14. I, too, was going through my Georgette Heyer novels and found a 1950 movie of The Reluctant Widow on youtube…and no wonder she refused to allow any other movie versions of her books to be made! (Apparently she included that in her will…)

    1. If memory serves, These Old Shades just came out of copyright (in the US at least), and presumably other early Heyer will soon follow. Can we expect Heyer dramas now on PBS or the Hallmark Channel?

      1. I think “These Old Shades” would be a tad problematic to film, but if its in the public domain with a pub date of 1926, then Heyer’s has earlier books “The Black Moth” and “The Transformation of Philip Jettan” (the first version of “Powder & Patch”) would also be in the public domain and I think you could make quite a decent historical rom com out of the latter. The costumes would be gorgeous!

        1. I checked, and those 3 all are said to be public domain in the US. Of the 3, These Old Shades is not in Gutenberg, although it reportedly lost copyright in 2022. Copyright is such a tangle (thanks, Disney! ) that I don’t know about further progress.

          1. Sorry, Patrick – didn’t see this later comment of yours. But I’m surprised to learn this; certainly not the law as I understood it. Maybe different in the UK, of course.

      2. Is it 70 years since she died? Surely not – she was still publishing in the seventies. Copyright in authored works lasts for 70 years after the author’s death, so far as I know. (All down to Disney lobbying to protect his profits from Mickey Mouse, but I think for a cartoon or film it would date from its release.)

        1. Jane, US copyright indeed differs from that in the UK and many other First World countries (elsewhere in the world, terms tend to end sooner). The most usual situation seems to be that anything published before 1929 is public domain here, and then for many years after 1929 the copyrights expire after 95 years. But there are messy exceptions.

          https://guides.library.cornell.edu/copyright/publicdomain

      3. For those who are interested there was a really fun podcast called “Heyer Today” by a group called FableGazers and the central theme is why Heyer’s books never seem to make it to the screen, despite the fact that they seem tailor-made for it. Her estate is not opposed to her books become tv dramas but somehow the deal never gets done. This podcast was my companion during covid era walks and were a lot of fun. Lots of other Heyer info is included and there are interviews with big Heyer fans like Stephen Fry.

  15. I caught up on the Innkeeper books by Ilona Andrews. I’d been saving them up for a nice book binge, and it was excellent! Thanks, past me!

  16. I finally read ab+huth (Ari Baran Hearts under the Hill short, free with sign up) which quite a few recommended here. It was really nice, sweet and well written and edited (sometimes the free stuff isn’t (!))

    I also enjoyed their Vampire short ‘despair has its own calms’ (same place).

    Another Tammy recommendation Caught Off Guard, Catherine Cloud was very good too, characters realistic. I’ll check out more Catherine Cloud soon.

    Making my way through Hannah Henry’s Delay of Game (MM hockey), after enjoying Draft Bust last week (no. 3) and getting Off Ice Behaviour (2) which was good, and then Empty Netter (4) which was ok though it could have ended a bit earlier.

    Unfortunately, I found Lucky Bounce (Cait Nary) a bit underwhelming which is a pity as I really liked her first two. There were a few things, but I had an issue with the ending which, if it had been M/F would have really annoyed me, so I was surprised, and disappointed, to see it in MM. Sorry, that’s a bit cryptic, trying not to have any spoilers, though it isn’t a big thing (well it is for me but its not a major plot piece so isn’t particularly obvious).

    A couple of other things:- I need to learn to give up sooner! Something has to be quite bad for me to DNF but then by the time i finish I am sorry I spent the time on the book …my own fault I know.
    Also, I have read a few books recently where everything was pretty much resolved 80% but they just continued and I’d be wondering if another conflict/issue was going to crop up but it never did. For these books I would have been left with a better impression if the last 20% had been cut out.

    1. Hmmm, I’ve read Lucky Bounce twice now and I don’t know what issue you mean at the ending. I did think this would not be a book for you since it doesn’t have a lot of – or any – angst.

      1. Basically (SPOILER?) I really didn’t like that Zeke was going to end up doing the cooking, minding the child, walking the dog and running the household while being financially dependent.

        I know it’s supposed to be true love but it seems like a very old fashioned HEA. I like there to be some level of equality in a relationship. Or at least some discussion of the issues. Or have the other MC conscious of the issue or something.

        Probably relates to my own need for independence.

        1. Haven’t read the book, but speaking to the issue, financial dependence is always scary. But I guess I believe that in a well balanced, healthy relationship one partner can go out and earn the bread while the other stays home to bake it. If we value the work of living as much as the traditional job, then the relationship is in balance.

          Of course, I am biased. I’m the one working right now while my partner goes to school online and does the lion’s share of household chores. Sometimes I feel guilty for the amount of laundry and vacuuming he does. And sometimes he feels guilty about putting the financial burden on me when I am struggling with my workplace. But I am not upset with him for not earning a steady pay check. I would trade places with him in a heartbeat though ;P

  17. I’m slowly reading Martha Wells’ Witch King, the world is complex so I can’t just listen while I do other things. I gave in a bought From a Certain Point of View (Star Wars), 40 short stories from 40 characters that appear or are referenced in the movie. It’s a 40th anniversary celebration set. Many excellent readers and writers having the chance to let their imaginations play with all the possibilities when giving minor characters their full lives.

    I also re-listened to Howl’s Moving Castle. Also reading The End of Your Life Book Club (Will Schwalbe), a memoir about the author’s mother and their common reading, as she spent a year in treatments for cancer.

  18. Started a new author, contemporary novel, but, concentrating on the story was a failure. Characters bugged me. Will try again another day. Dug out and charged my KOBO for the Heyer books. Reread of The Reluctant Widow. Did not remember the story. Slow and steady. Not a favourite.

    Limiting screen/computer time. I’m getting silent migraines and crazy auras in right eye. No evidence of stroke. Waiting for neurologist appointment. No glaucoma.

    Snowed in on the west coast. Will read a paper book or listen to audiobooks.

    And, keeping the hummingbirds alive, trading out feeder nectar every hour. A triangle of three neighbours making sure they live. Will get some bird seed for the other birds today.

    1. Bless you for taking care of the hummies! They just can’t cope with freezing temps.

    2. I have been doing the hummingbird bird feeder shuffle too! Considering my deck is an ice rink and has been for days, it is a miracle that I could do it without breaking something.

  19. I’m only a few pages from finishing Freya Marske’s A Restless Truth, which I have enjoyed a lot, and will be going straight to A Power Unbound if no one checks out the library’s one copy before this afternoon.

    In rereading, I just went straight through all of Jessie Mihalik’s books, which made the tropes and cliches stand out a bit, but also made a great reading experience. Kind of like downhill skiing rather than cross-country (neither of which I have ever done; I just listen to friends talk about them.)

  20. I’m still reading that serial, Grey Wolf’s VARIATION ON A THEME BOOK 5, now 18 chapters in. For rereads, Book 2. That’s the one with 160 chapters.
    * * *
    UNIVERSES FOR SALE Gorg Huff & Paula Goodlett. It’s essentially an anthology. It contains ten stories, chosen from the 1632 Universe, the Warspell Universe, The Demon Rift Universe, and the Star Wings Universe. Please allow me to quote from the fifth story:

    WISH BOOK“Gary Jordan!” Gary Jordan Burke flinched. He almost always flinched when Joyce got to screeching. It was an automatic response to her high-pitched, overly-loud voice. You’d think the woman thought everyone was deaf. “Gary Jordan!” “Yes, dear?” “Go downtown and get some more paper scrap. We’re nearly out.” “Yes, dear.” Gary suppressed a sigh. Still, he’d best get downtown and do as Joyce wanted. If he didn’t she’d get into his garage again, looking for non-glossy paper. She mostly left the glossy stuff alone, but any thin sheet of print was in danger around Joyce. Of course, so were ear drums.

    Huff, Gorg; Goodlett, Paula. Universes for Sale (p. 221). Kindle Edition.

    There was a call for volunteers for Tuckerization and Red Shirting, see…
    * * *
    That’s it for books. As for streaming, FaceBook has Reels and Short Videos which are an even bigger rabbit hole than browsing YouTube. I have fallen down that rabbit hole repeatedly, watching snippets from TV shows and movies and cartoons and blogs and comedians…

    Then there are the “normal” streaming services like Netflix and Paramount+. Have I watched two seasons of STAR TREK: LOWER DECKS? Yes I have. Have I watched two seasons of STAR TREK; STRANGE NEW WORLDS? Almost. Season 2 Episode 8 was a crossover with Lower Decks, partially done as a cartoon (Lower Decks is animated.) Now I’m looking forward to the musical episode.

  21. I finished the available Countess of Harleigh mysteries, there is another one scheduled for publication in the next few months. And I once again thank the person who recommended them here, who’s name I can’t remember even after they identified themselves after my previous seconding of their recommendation (Lian?)

    I also read the first two Pentecost and Parker mysteries (recommended Patrick M!) which I enjoyed a lot. I can see the similarities to Nero Wolfe and Archie, but I’ve never really been a big Nero Wolfe fan.

    1. I’m not sure if the implied preposition before my name is to or by. If by, it wasn’t me and I don’t want to hog somebody’s deserved credit. If to, thanks!, and I’ve downloaded a sample but haven’t read it yet.

  22. The Ali Hazelwood book (“Check + Mate”) I read last weekend was so good, I didn’t want to start one of my other library books — for some reason, it felt disloyal — so I’ve been re-reading (for the 5th or 6th time) Anne Stuart’s “Lake Silence.” A wonderful book, which on re-reading, doesn’t even annoy me when reading about the horrible meanies club, because I know they’re about to get their comeuppance and meet their well-deserved
    fates. Vampire attorney & sympathetic vampire CPA, talking shifter crow people (adorable & loyal), and nice police. With a lake goddess. What’s not to love?

  23. Popping back in to say that there is a Terry Pratchett Humble Bundle for $18, 38 titles.

  24. This past week was uninspiring, reading-wise.
    Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Business or Pleasure was not for me. This contemporary romance was saturated with sexual scenes and innuendos. The main premise: the heroine teaches the hero how to please her in bed. Everything else – the meager plot and the artificial conflicts – was fluff, subjugated to the subjects of sexual bliss and orgasm. I’m obviously not this novel’s intended reader.
    Samantha James’s A Perfect Bride was even worse. I had trouble finishing it.
    Maddison Michaels’s The Heiress Swap was also blah. The story was promising, but the writing was … well … Let’s say: don’t pick up this book. You won’t enjoy it.
    In the end, I decided to indulge in Welcome to Temptation, and it was such a cleansing joy to read it (for the nth time) after all the above-mentioned mediocrity.

    1. thanks for the comments on ‘Business or Pleasure’ @Olga – I had this on my wishlist based on a review somewhere but now I think not.

  25. I read and listened to Abbi Waxman’s Adult Assembly Required. Some strong points that were nearly sunk by the “Will they? Won’t they?” romance that continued for so long that it functioned as a big misunderstanding. I forced myself to finish.

    Then I settled into a reread and listen of Tom Hank’s recent novel as I wanted a guaranteed winner. I still love this story with excellent narration and heart.

  26. My two favourites this week were:
    A Lady’s Guide to Scandal by Sophie Irwin. Regency MF. A young widow is bequeathed a fortune as long as she can avoid scandal. But she’s gradually coming out from under the shadow of her very critical late husband, and scandal seems to be just where she’s heading. I really enjoyed this. It felt like a good take on Regency with delightful characters.

    Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Torzs. SOOO good. Deadly magic, estranged sisters and a young man who’s a pampered prisoner in his own home. It reminded me a little of Natasha Pulley or Alix Harrow.

    In non-book news, I broke my little toe yesterday, which was incredibly painful. Not wanting to spend hours in A&E for something that would be understandably low on their list of priorities, I iced it, elevated it and strapped it to the next toe with sticky tape. I’m doing okay, but am going to have a LOT more time for reading and writing over the next few days.

    1. As you likely found out, per the Internet this is reasonable treatment. Evidently one needs medical help only if the pain persists. Good luck, and I hope the imposed inactivity is not too disruptive of your life.

      1. Thanks, Patrick, the internet really comes into its own for things like this, doesn’t it. It’s going to be a few days of inactivity but I can still write and read, both of which bring me joy.

    2. Lian, you poor thing! That sounds painful indeed. By the way, I just started listening to Ink Blood Sister Scribe so looking forward to it even more now.

      1. It’s actually feeling quite a bit better this morning, Tammy, probably thanks to the painkillers. But I’m very paranoid about bumping it against something, and it has put a definite dampener on my early morning walks and swims.

        I look forward to seeing your response to Ink Blood Sister Scribe. I wasn’t expecting it to be so good.

        1. When I tried to get an appointment at the clinic for a broken toe, the soonest they would give me is two weeks out. I treated it the same way you did. Only after a day I was tired of the tape and took it off. The toe now has a big bump in it. But I know no one with a foot fetish so I’m good.

          1. I am taping faithfully every morning, Jessie. The break is sideways – I caught my toe on something as I walked past and it jerked it out at an angle that a little toe is definitely not supposed to go. So I have this vague terror that if I don’t tape it, the toe will kind of … fall off.

    3. I’ve twice broken a toe – yes! Very painful!
      the one time I sought medical attention they did *nothing!!* Didn’t ever wrap it up or anything. Arnica cream was my best friend. Someone told me about that. Not the medical people. Ha. Good job you didn’t waste time going to A&E.

    4. When my niece was in her ballet phase the whole extended family kept reciting , “Rest. Ice, Compression, Elevation!” I hope it helps you and you feel MUCH better.

    1. I haven’t read this in a while, but I recall thinking that Belinda was treated rather insensitively. Still, marrying her off to a kind man might have been the best possible outcome to be found in the early 19th century and better than what many people of limited mental capacity face today, even in the First World. The tor.com article was interesting, but seems to assume that Heyer was (or should have been) consciously writing genre romance. I believe the genre was less well established at that point, and that Heyer would have said that she was writing historical comedies of manners with a romance element, just as most popular novels of all sorts included some romance.

    2. I have just finished re-reading The Foundling as well, a comfort read. Gilly is certainly not the usual romance hero, Regency or otherwise. The Quiet Gentleman also has a hero who is less typical alpha male. They are very decent types, thoughtful and humble— especially when compared to her more common jaded rake hero, whose interest in life is revived when he falls for the young heroine, in a sort of ‘virgin cure’.
      I enjoy reading Heyer, but don’t entirely approve of her!
      As someone with some medical background, the suspension of disbelief is sometimes difficult for me, when in truth sexuality for women in those days was extremely risky, married or not. Jane Austen’s maiden aunthood was much safer.

  27. I just spent 20 minutes trying to find Christmas at Fairacre, Miss Read. my library doesn’t have it and apparently there is no Kindle edition.
    I borrowed the Hexogists on a recommendation from this group, but I returned it after two chapters. Just not my thing. I read and loved Castle hangnail, which is a midgrade novel. I am reading a Joanna Lindsey.once a Princess and looking forward to speed finishing it and going onto something else. I have four books piled on my book stand, and I need to get reading those. to Karen Hawkins books, the secret recipe of Ella, Dove, and a cup of silver linings, Nora Roberts, inheritance, and Jane and krentz the night island. I find what I really want is a nap, but there is no time right now. Blessings all.

    1. I love Castle Hangnail so much! The shock at how much boilers cost to replace just grounds all the magic so perfectly for me.

    2. Possibly what was meant was Christmas at Thrush Green by Miss Read? Kindle does have that. I have read nothing by Miss Read, but the Thrush Green series is separate from the Fairacre one. I don’t know if there is some overarching connection.

      1. No idea if they are linked Patrick. The book I have is Christmas at Fairacre and it contains 3 short stories (I still have The Christmas Mouse to read).

        I had never heard of Miss Read before, and have no idea now who recommended her. They are set in the 50’s and 60’s in rural England and I found them to be evocative of that age and area (I grew there and then!) Quite gentle reads,which I found pleasing given the state of the world.

        I got the paperback book second hand on-line, if that helps anyone.

  28. In other non-book news, by the time I was about ready to go shopping, it would have been rush hour(s) and possibly dark by the time I finished, not conditions I cared to face in this weather, although I would do so if I had a more pressing need. I’ve got to get going faster! Retirement can do this to you, especially after two years of little going on because of covid. We’re getting past that, but my habits are not! Snow forecasted for tomorrow. I may be on the road for non-shopping purposes on Saturday, weather permitting. Shopping and other errands can wait into next week, when weather should improve.

    1. I shopped last night (Walmart+) and reserved a delivery time between 2 and 6 PM. The tracking ap says, “DOUGLAS is on the way over. Estimated Arrival – 4:45 PM.” I know the ap lies to me – I don’t expect Douglas before 5 PM, and then some. It shows he still has four other deliveries to make before mine.

  29. This week I enjoyed Casey Blair’s cozy fantasy novel A Coup of Tea (thanks, Georgia and Shass for recommending it!) Without spoiling anything, I love how the quiet protagonist uses the skills she has, and how and why she stands firm in some situations.

    I also started Three Bags Full by Leonie Swann (mystery from the POV of a flock of sheep) (thanks, Lian!)

    1. I read Operation Mincemeat, a nonfiction book about the great world war 2 intelligence operation that convinced the Germans that the Allies were not going to invade Sicily when it was the obvious target. It’s the same story as The Man Who Never Was, which was written by one of the two original lead planners of it all, so I was doubtful that it could be that much more detailed, but it is—it includes a lot of stuff that the original author didn’t know, or couldn’t write about back then due to the official secrets act, and it covers how the Germans reacted and also how the actual Sicily invasion went. I really enjoyed it. I’m still dubious about it being a musical, but DD got us tickets for Feb 3 so I will report back.

      I DNFd Check and Mate which should have been my catnip but wasn’t.

      I read a lot of Donna Andrews. I really wish her books would end differently —she always gets attacked by the villain and just once she should catch them before they catch her. But I am enjoying the characters and her humor and I need something light when I can’t focus on my nonfiction book.

      Next up is The American Census by Margo Anderson for a reading group, and trying again on Doppleganger before I go to London to see my daughter since she loved it. Also What is Your Race by a former Census Director.

      1. A musical???? I can see it as opera, somehow, but with very little chorus work and certainly no big dance numbers.

      2. I went back to check and mate. It is good but I really dislike the way the author hides the protagonists’ sources of trauma until really late in the book. And I’m not convinced that the FMC has no idea that the MMC is interested in her for so much of the book.

        1. I went back and liked it a lot better on rereading, but I didn’t really get invested in the relationship the way I did with her non-YA romances.

    2. Where did you get Three Bags Full? It is out of print and is insanely expensive wherever you can find it.

      1. The ebook is available from my local library system (via Libby), though I had to wait a couple months for my hold to come in.

  30. My book Time and Forever is listed today in The Girlfriend an AARP newsletter along with one of Jen’s Anyone But You. Being listed with Jen is an amazing honor. I feel like I;m in a fairytale.
    https://www.thegirlfriend.com/lifestyle/turn-up-the-heat-with-these-7-spicy-romance-novels?cmp=EMC-DSM-NLC-OTH-TGF-1767600-1949001-7949503-NA-01182024-Girlfriend-MS4-7SpicyRomanceBooks_Lifestyle-BTN-CTRL-Entertainment&encparam=8ZMNLioQ3vRTRmdbYRVifQzgbIgfEv8UyO17HJ5qXp4%3d

  31. Reread the sublime Winter’s Orbit. Originally re3commended to me my Jenniferninnifer. Thanks, Sis! Even better the second time. Two excellent characters who are not aware of their own excellence, but see each other’s. I common trope, I know, but uncommonly well done. It’s is gripping, in a good way. Other interesting characters too. Scifi at its best, I would say.

  32. One of my all-time favorite YA reads is ‘Fox Running’ by R.R. Knudson, which is lamentably not available for Kindle so I am hoarding my old Actual Book. Anyway, it’s about a young Mescalero Apache woman joining a track team to train for the Olympics. And I mention it because:

    1. ‘The Front Runner’ by Patricia Nell Warren, a really good, really heartbreaking sports love story. M/M published 1975 and set 1974-78, featuring a 22yo long distance runner and his 39yo coach who fall sincerely in love despite the infinite complications. Their entire relationship is on the page, along with enough of each MCs’ back story to explain why they do what they do both in and out of the relationship. Cannot call it a ‘romance’ because tragedy, but a 5-star book for me.

    2. ‘The Charioteer’ by Mary Renault, another 5-star book. 1953, billed as the first British novel to tell a gay love story without euphemism. Both MCs are military, one is 23 and the other 26, it’s 1940 and they’ve both been seriously injured. They knew each other at school. I was in state of advanced anxiety / suspense toward the end when it looked as though more tragedy was in store, but WHEW no. Though damn, Mary, you could’ve given us a post-reconciliation recovery scene. I will call this one a romance because the ending is as happy (implied) as can be for two young injured gay men in 1940 England. Call it hopeful, anyway, steering away from that tragic cliff by a whisker.

    3. ‘The World Before Us,” by Justin Durand, which I picked up on a whim because cheap and was very pleasantly surprised by, to the point of buying another of his. MCs have both, in their own way, hit rock bottom and are being rehabbed by Deus Ex Grandpa. It’s a road-trip story full of adventures (not all fun), sex, bonding, friends, families & allies. Diary-style narrative worked for me. The cover is terrible, but don’t let that put you off if you’re in search of early-20s M/M set in the present day. I suspect I liked it so much because it treats my own recurring themes of loss & reinvention.

    4. [re-read] ‘Charlie All Night’ by Jennifer Crusie, because some people were talking about it last week and I was all ‘yep, time to read that again.’ 🙂

    5. [re-read] my own novella ‘Screw Your Courage,’ the one about a private-school teacher who outs himself at work so he doesn’t have to hide his new relationship with a ballet teacher.

    6. ‘Let Sleeping Foxes Lie’ by Sam Burns, sequel to ‘Where the Foxes Say Goodnight’ which I really liked last year. This one is a good wrap-up to that book but would probably baffle anyone who hasn’t read it. Hollywood-adjacent cozy-ish mystery.

    7. ‘Pas de Don’t’ by Chloe Angyal, F/M contemporary featuring a New York ballerina who takes a 4-week guest artist gig in Sydney after a messy breakup from 7-yr relationship with her company’s controlling, gaslighting asshole of a star and an Australian dancer coming off a year of rehab for a snapped Achilles tendon. His company has a very strict no-fraternization policy which of course they break because they fall passionately & believably in love. 5-star book for me.

    8. [re-read] ‘Death and the Dancing Footman’ by Ngaio Marsh, 1940-set English country house mystery in which the host has deliberately invited people guaranteed to produce drama and two deaths ensue.

    9. ’10 Dance (vol 1)’ by Inouesatoh, graphic novel / manga, M/M feat. a Standard champion and a Latin champion training each other so they can compete in 10-dance, and slowly falling in love. Vol 1 doesn’t quite get to that point (one is gay and the other bi, both are still in denial by the concluding scene), and I probably won’t continue because I find this format quite hard to read, but I loved the setup and had to give it a try. It’s well done and chock full of ballroom nostalgia for me, even though DH and I were never on track to compete at Blackpool. 🙂

    1. I had completely forgotten about The Front Runner — to the point where I didn’t recall it was a tragedy.

    2. Its been a long time since I read “The Charioteer” – all I remember was feeling like the MC had ended up with the wrong man. Sounds like I should re-visit.

    3. Huh. I had not heard of the Charioteer until I listened to Josh Lanyon’s Dark Horse/White Knight shorts where the main character wants the lead role in a movie adaptation. Funny to see it pop up again so soon.

      1. The Charioteer plays a role in Cat Sebastian’s We Could Be So Good. Which you would know if you EVER READ HER BOOKS.

  33. I’m enjoying the online comic KiddCommander.com quite a bit. It’s an adventure saga, with a protagonist collecting a team as she pursues a quest. There are a few *very* background romantic elements, but mostly it is adventure and mystery and daring deeds and subtle clues. Lots of fun for when you want something to engross attention.

  34. New read: Too Good To Be True by Kristen Ashley

    It is a contemporary romance but it reads like a hybrid with historical because the setting is a castle in Scotland and there is a lot of history that explains the present shenanigans.

    It was good. I always love her books. Quirky lovable characters. And she is an excellent plotter & community builder.

    I have to overlook the alpha males and the gratuitous graphic sex. Some of the readers here might not be bothered by that, though.

    Lot of rereads. JC &BM’s Lavender’s Blue. JC’s Crazy For You. I adore the way that book falls together. Genius. Crusie genius.

    Speaking of genius – I reread Sarah Addison Allen’s Garden Spells & the sequel, First Frost. I am amazed at all her magical realisms and how her story comes together, also.

    And I reread one of Rachel Gibson’s – It Must Be Love. It’s one of my favorites of her books.

    TV has been Dr Who – love Matt Smith & Peter Capaldi – & Northern Exposure. It’s reminding me of all the things I loved first time around.

    1. I liked Too Good To Be True as well. It reminded me of Maybe This Time. I will put it on my October/spooky reread list.

  35. Christina – “sentences that start ‘Her and I walked down the street’ are auto-DNF for me.” Good heavens!!!! where was his/her editor?????????

    I read the new Penric, which was a little light on plot, but fine for a pleasant visit with people I like.

    I was another person who read and liked “Fortune Favors the Dead: a Pentecost and Parker Mystery” by Stephen Spotswood and have bought the second one, so I also say thank you to whoever suggested these. The Archie Goodwin parallels are particularly delightful.

    My only other “new” book was “Isn’t She Lovely” by Lauren Layne. Another Argh suggestion from a while back. Very lightweight, but the fake relationship trope was done much better than is usually the case. I liked the first 3/4 better than the end, but this is often the case with romances for me, so I don’t hold it against her, and would recommend.

    1. I agree — where ARE the editors??? This kind of sloppy grammar and the lack of editing shows up quite a bit in the self-published stuff on Amazon. I find a lot of it in Kindle Unlimited books. That said there are a lot of good reads in there so it is easy enough to DNF the duds.

  36. A sentence with “I” in it is automatically that of a character, whether a first-person narrator or someone else, either in dialog or a secondary character narrator like John H. Watson. If use of non-standard grammar is part of the characterization, “Her and I walked down the street” might work.

    1. I think Aaronovitch has Peter Grant do this for characterization (and to bug his supervisors) .

    2. “Her and me walked down the street” would be a bit more true to how people speak, though.

      1. Which would make the I more distinctive. Possibly some odd dialect or someone unconsciously trying to correct to standard English and not making it. I think actually I would have said “me and her” before schooling got to me; putting the other party first had to be taught.

  37. I read Emily Henry’s Beach Read and enjoyed most of it, but could have done without the formulaic end scene.

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