This is a Good Book Thursday, February 15, 2024

Because of something Strop said, I have been reading my way through Margery Allingham’s Campion books. Some of them I hadn’t read in decades so I couldn’t remember the murderer; that was fun. Actually, they’re all fun. Mollie’s middle name is Amanda because of Amanda Campion (and because it means “must be loved”).

What did you read that you loved this week?

147 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 15, 2024

  1. Finished rereading Gatsby for podcast, can’t remember how many times I’ve read it but it’s better every time. Listened to Othello, with Chiwetel Ejiofor in main role, ewan mcgregor as Iago and Tom Hiddleston as Cassio, from 2005 theatre production: it’s brilliant. Comfort reread if EFBenson’s Mapp & Lucia books nearly over😢, and for work am reading a book that is fascinating but written in a style that grates on ne. It is called Street Data and is basically about hiw to listen harder and better to marginalised people. Looking forward to getting that done.

  2. I’ve finished Crushed Ice by Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James and loved it. Not quite as much as Unrivaled, probably because it lacked a bit of conflict. And I would have loved to spend more time in the pov of the joyful rookie instead of the veteran player.

    Now, thanks to Tammy, I’m deep into Blindside Hit. I had to read the end when one of the MCs had suffered a blinding concussion – eye problem’s are my weak spot. Yes, you might say there will be a HEA or HFN since it’s a romance, but in other books this still included forced retirement, so there… dd cannot understand her wimp of a mom, but now I can relish reading the story. I really, really love the MCs although the handsome one falling almost instantly for the other one is a bit much insta-y, but hey, at first it was a drunken hook-up followed by very great s*x and THEN a prolonged period of becoming friends (also my weak spot: being friends AND then becoming lovers). One point the story dwells on is how differently someone “ugly” is perceived in comparison to someone “beautiful”. Also a weak spot of mine – strangely enough, though I like beauty as much as anyone, I was more intrigued by “character” from a very early age and prefer big noses to perky ones, esp. in men. I usually refrain from using real people for any “casting game” (exception: actors because on a professional level they are foils for fictional characters), but there’s one player in one of my fav teams (yes, shoot me, I’ve got more than one in the NHL, only one in the DEL) who kind of fits the bill for Etienne (soft spot for the name as well) although I never found him “ugly” at all…

    So, thank you, Tammy!! Your recommendations are really spot on!

      1. I’ve also downloaded the excerpt of Goalie tandem. Reading KU is easier – no risk at all involved if I happen to not like a book as much. But… goalies, sigh.

        1. Did you read Catherine Cloud’s Caught Off Guard? That was two goalies – and one of them is German. We like those. On my re-read list. Hella hockey.

          1. I’ve read the excerpt. IIrc the German goalie is even from the South and reads very authentically. The book is on my tbr pile quite somewhere on top. Thanks for bringing it back to my attention 🙂

  3. I got a KU membership this months because I have accumulated quite a few recs from people here to make it more than worth it.
    I read the Tea princess trilogy which was cute. I could sort of see the manga drawings in my head whenever she blushed around Deniel.

    Then, I read half of a dud before returning it. I am really not into vampires, apart from Patricia Briggs’ Stefan and Constantine in Robin McKinley’s Sunshine. I love that book and that world.

    I am now reading Honour Raconteur’s Human familiar series. I don’t know what it is about that author’s books that I like so much, the plots are not outstanding, neither is the language but somehow I always end up deeply invested in her characters. Not as good as the Henry Davenforth case files but pretty good nonetheless.

      1. Same here. Thanks to you Arghers I’ve discovered that I can share my Kindle-Library with dd – which helps to drastically decrease her spending for e-books that are mostly available via KU (most of them I’ve read before or want to read, too).
        I love real books, but my shelf space is not what it used to be and I hate keeping books stored in the underground space, so e-book is an option.

          1. I have (by now) three large boxes of books culled from my bookcases. It’s really difficult to do. But knowing we have to move again in the near future helps me to be more ruthless.
            By now I’ve found a platform that accepts books and other stuff and pays a little bit (most important: the postage). They also re-sell and since I have bought a lot from their re-selling platform and they don’t charge a lot there for very good quality (and items are very aptly described, too), it makes parting with books slightly easier.

            I try to stick to what Helene Hanff proposed in her classic (iirc the Charing Cross title): If it’s unlikely that I re-read the book again or even re-read often, then I can let it go. Easier said than done.

          2. I have always had a hard time letting go of books. Maybe it is because they were so precious and hard to come by when I was young.

            Then I got access to a vehicle, the internet and a credit card and suddenly I could find almost anything I wanted. I hoarded a little less then, because I could probably find anything I wanted again.

            And now I have gone back the other way. Some of it, I think is that I am trying not to put artificial limits on the things that make me happy. I have an odd tendency to do that. And I think that some of it is that books in print feel a little scarce again. I am back to hoarding them against the eventual zombie apocalypse. Because I will be sitting in my house reading and taking pot shots at passing monsters from my machine gun turret.

          3. Lupe, I can relate!
            If the next move weren’t pn the horizon, I wouldn’t part from them.
            If anything, books are also great fof soundproofing, insulation etc. A home without books can’t be home!

          4. Fun fact, books are also great at stopping bombs and bullets. They make a library a bad target for an active shooter because they are dense enough to stop bullets and shrapnel and often fall in on a bomb, smothering the worst of it and stopping a fire. Books save lives. Books are the best.

      1. Lian, I thought the same thing – my favourite vampire book. Which reminded me that she also wrote my favourite dragon book, Dragonhaven. It’s like she poured her whole heart into a one-of-a-kind in that sub genre each time.

        1. And now another book for the list… I didn’t know about this book. Argh as usual delivers the recs!

  4. I finished Lavender’s Blue and then still had an Adriane English mystery to go in the audiobook I borrowed, so went back to that. And my hold on the Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning came in, so that is next. That is all listening.

    For reading, I finished Suuzu and the Nine Nippets of Legend, which was sweet and lovely and have been hopping around through short smut since. Nothing really to recommend, but it feels nice to be experimenting with new authors again.

    1. A friend told me they are doing Scottish Death Organizing instead of Swedish Death Cleaning. You don’t get rid of anything, just put everything on a list so you know what you have and where to find it! LOL – despite what my ancestry chart says, I must be more Swedish than Scottish!

      1. My Ex-MIL was a highlander and never let anything go even if it was broken so there may be some truth in this. She also knew everything she had and where it was. Plus there were wardrobes in front of the built in wardrobes – all of them stuffed. Glad I was an ex when that lot had to be cleared out 🙂

  5. The best book I read this week was Ali Hazelwood’s newest, Bride, where a female vampire marries an alpha were to keep the peace between their two species. Definitely the Rebecca trope of moving into a household of hostile companions, plus the marriage of convenience, and forced proximity, etc. And clearly Ali has been reading the paranormal genre and taken some of the juicier bits and made the rest her own and wrote the book of her heart. The hero is big, stalwart and sexy and the heroine is brave and sassy. Loved it. She should write more of these.

    I also read Crushed Ice by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James and echo Dodo’s comments. Lots of sweet hockey books to chose from these days, a great trend. And speaking of…I read Catherine Cloud’s A Different Point of View, collection of outtakes, short stories, and alternate p.o.v’s of her novels – really only for someone who has read all her stuff.

    1. A Different Point of View was fun — I was able to prolong the stories in her previous books. Made me happy! That said, definitely only for someone who has read her stuff. I still have one to go and just didn’t read the story that accompanies that book.

  6. I lurk on this blog without posting but I wanted to recommend The English Air by DE Stevenson which I re-read this week. It’s about a Nazi visiting English cousins in 1938 on a fact finding mission. She published it in 1940. She was characterised as’mistress of the light novel’ but I find her work quite subtle. It’s on KU.

    1. Can I just say “Hooray for lurkers”? They’re like our invisible colleagues, out there reading suggestions, following up on ideas, and just being an underseen (or do I mean undersea?) part of this community.

      1. As an ex-lurker, I love it when they start participating actively!
        Be careful though! Participating is addictive… 😀

    2. Thanks for recommending the book by DE Stevenson. It led me to look for Miss Buncle’s Book, which I dearly loved many years ago. I’d been unable to find a copy of it, but it’s available on Kindle!

  7. I have just finished all three audiobooks in the Liz Danger series. Pure entertainment from beginning to end. Thanks Jenny and Bob.

  8. There were several duds that I gave up on this week, but I’ve just finished Fail Seven Times by Kris Ripper, which was good. Intense and erotic BDSM, even though the focus is on romance, so the author’s just an occasional read for me. It was on Alexis Hall’s reccs on Goodreads.

    I’ve also been reading a couple of guidebooks on Ireland, researching a possible trip with a friend in May. (The one to Cardiff or Glasgow I researched doesn’t look like it’s going to happen.) The Lonely Planet series is available on KU, and I also have the Rough Guide to Scotland as an ebook. But I borrowed the print edition of LP Scotland from the library, and found that much more user-friendly. So if we do go to Ireland, I’ll probably buy a print edition.

    1. I downloaded Fail Seven Times by Kris Ripper — cause of Alexis Hall’s recommention list. So glad it was good. Will head to that one next!

  9. I finished Song of the Sea, the second animation in Thom Moore’s “Irish Folklore Trilogy,” although I’m still rewatching it with the director’s commentary on.  I didn’t like it as well as the first film (The Secret of Kells), because the mother’s abandonment of her family seems completely unmotivated.   Yes, evidently it’s always unmotivated in selkie folklore, just part of selkie nature, but this is set in modern times.  It wouldn’t have been that hard to supply an acceptable reason, but it would have to be a very weighty one.  (Allegorically the abandonment may symbolize death or severe mental illness or something, but this story is not a pure allegory.)  Even an irresistible call of the sea as part of selkie nature might have worked, if it had been highlighted and if there had been an explanation of why that came as a surprise to the mother.  So my verdict is worth watching, but not fully satisfying.

    The selkie daughter is named Saoirse, pronounced Sirsha or maybe Sirsheh (either a schwa or a nonsilent terminal short e).  Irish spelling is perverse in the extreme!  At least from the perspective of an English speaker.  Textbooks say it’s really no worse than English or French spelling.  The ao is silent and serves only to isolate the S from being palitalized into Sh by the i.  The second S is unprotected from the e. 

    I went on long enough to make this a separate post.  More later.

    1. To be more precise, the film is set in modern times but not the exact present day. Per the commentary, much of it takes place on Halloween 1987. I generally wasn’t sure how much was a setting in the past and how much was Ireland being old-fashioned or just foreign, but the best clue was the cassette Walkman, once that shows up. The old-fashioned 2-color 3D glasses point to an older time but not necessarily the 1980s, and anyhow could have been something protagonist Ben unearthed for his Halloween superhero costume.

  10. I read a few duds but hugely enjoyed The Fortune Quilt by Lani Diane Rich – magical realism and small town living two of my favourite storylines.

    Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen was well worth the wait (I had trouble purchasing it on-line). I love all her books, so I knew I would enjoy it.

    The Last ‘Devil’ To Die by Richard Osman finally arrived from the Library (feels like about 6 month wait). It was as fabulous as I expected, but I forgot where one of the characters came from so… I bought paperback copies of the previous three – having promised myself I was going to read from my library list and my overstuffed keeper shelves and TBR pile this year.

    Thank you to whoever gave me the recommendation of Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn I absolutely adored it. A retired quartet of female assassins find they are on a hit list and decide to go on a mission. Absolutely fabulous.

  11. A slew of library holds came in at once, so I’ve been racing through things. Some good, some horrible. First came “A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting” by Sophie Irwin. I’d really liked her ‘ALG to Scandal” but you Arghers were so right — this one was awful. Regency Londoners sounding and behaving like contemporary American teenagers. So, skimmed and put aside. Then “A Lady for a Duke” by Alexis Hall, which was touching as all get out. Unusual plot, unusual character arcs, very unlikely but sweet eventual HEAs.

    Then opened Rothfuss’ “The Name of the Wind,” mentioned by Jo Walton as a Book That Grabs You. I read the first chapter, and realized as I was reading that there are books written by men for men that I simply don’t get. There was violence and there were threats aplenty, and terse men staring at silent men, and horrible deadly horse-killing nightmare creatures, and the prospect of two more volumes of the same, and I just couldn’t face it — back into the library bag for me.

    Then I half read, half-skimmed John Scalzi’s “Starter Villain” which was kind of charming. But as I got into more threats and violence I began skimming. It’s a book I’d recommend, but with the caveat that it’s not for everyone. Good depiction of cats, though. And so then I read and enjoyed Mimi Matthews’ “Siren of Sussex” — the first Victorian period historical novel I can recall reading. Nice dialogue, good characters, and an awfully nice book.

    Finally, I rewarded myself by starting the book I’d saved for dessert: “Ten Things That Never Happened” by Alexis Hall. Quite unexpected so far — one protagonist seemed really kind of detestable at first, but he improves a bit as things go on. I’m really looking forward to reading the rest of it.

    And thank you all, Arghers, for recommending the good ones and warning about the ones that threw me. I don’t know any of you, but you’ve improved my reading hit/miss tally so very much, and I feel like I’m sort of part of maybe in a community here.

    1. Patrick Rothfuss “The Slow Regard of Silent Things” is set in the same universe . The main character Auri appears in “ The Name of The Wind”. It is absolutely one of the most fascinating explorations of a particular obsessive/compulsive mind set. She has almost completely retreated from the world because of some unnamed trauma but has created a life that she finds satisfying. I would not call it a book written for men. I love Auri.

    2. Just out of curiosity, which Hall character did you not like at first? I can’t remember their names at the moment.

      I started out not liking the wannabe amnesiac at first, but he grew.

      1. Of course you didn’t. Whereas I started out not liking the bureaucratic mean boss but he grew.

        1. They both grew. I guess I just assumed from the get go that the ‘mean boss’ was a front. My husband has certain traits and people make assumptions, but really he is just deeply reserved and shy.

          1. My husband is deeply reserved and shy, and people think he’s boring. He’s actually the funniest person I know. But to everyone else he is the singing and dancing frog who doesn’t perform in public.

          2. Tammy was right — it was the uptight mean boss I didn’t like at first, but I just finished it, and now I think this is my favorite Alexis Hall book. It was all about the back and forth of relationships, which is the thing I enjoy most in romance novels. And a cat is a major character, plus a great comedy range of minor characters — best book I’ve read so far this year. 🙂

      2. I liked both MCs to some degree from the start though couldn’t understand why Sam (the pseudo-amnesiac) was so adamant on keepint the useless staff in his shop and would have been rather impatient with him. I wasn’t, because I loved Will Watt’s narration of Sam so much.

        10 Things is one very rare example that the audiobook made me fall in love with a story I would maybe not liked from the start and may not have tried at all. But listening to the sample on audible made me pre-order instantly. Same with the Waiting for the flood/Chasing the light audiobook – narrated also by Will Watt.

        1. I had a similar reaction. The narrator was fantastic and got me through a beginning that I might have decided to DNF on if it hadn’t been an author I trusted. It’s not my favorite of his, but then I have never been much for Christmas. And I like complicated characters and problematic situations… But I still enjoyed it.

          1. What is YOUR favorite A. Hall book? Just curious. In fact, what’s the favorite of the others who have commented? It was such a complete improvement in the human relations skill of the business owner, and the path to a new start in life for the initial MC that I was blown away. Others by A. Hall have also been great, but didn’t impress me like this one did.

          2. Jinx, I guess, my fav book by Hall is 10 things, it had such a punch for me. Sam (since it’s told from his pov) is someone I’d love to have around. The warmth in the narrator’s voice worked magic.
            Gollum, sigh. Jonathan, jep.

            Before, I’d have said Boyfriend Material, which is still a close second. Love the complexity and the mess that is Luc (and Oliver).
            Both books I’ve listened to, both hsve fantastic narrators.
            Which might have been a decisive factor.
            Some books by Hall I didn’t like (for real, something fabulous) I might have liked much better but for the narration. I react strongly to voices and you never really know just from a sample.

          3. So, I am a pretty big fan, even of his less than perfect works. I am always impressed with all of the things he tries to do and all the emotions he really nails.

            Arden St. Ives of the billionaire trilogy is probably my favorite. BDSM really isn’t my thing, and I didn’t care for 50 shades of gray at all. But I was gobsmacked by how he made that entirely improbable situation work, made me like both characters, while correcting all the things that annoy me about 50 shades.

            I miss that rawness in his more mainstream works, even though I recognize that they are more polished stories.

            Same with For Real. It’s not his best book, but man, all the stuff in there…

          4. I listened to 10 Things as well and I think that the fantastic narrator made me love it whereas if I’d read it, it might have been only just okay for me. I like the more complicated ones as well. His more mainstream stuff is excellent and I’m guessing the “gateway” book to Hall would probably be Boyfriend Material. But my favorites are still For Real, Waiting for the Flood and Pansies. Not perfect, but the emotions…

    3. It’s funny how different readers get very different impressions. I read Name of the Wind and Wise Man’s Fear a few years ago and really liked them both, as well as all of the NOTW novellas. But maybe I missed something there. One of these days, I will reread NOTW and see if I have a different take in light of your thoughts. I am certainly more sensitive to some things now that I was not sensitive to before. Or maybe it’s just a case of different strokes for different folks. Having said that, I liked Sirens of Sussex as well, so we are not completely different, lol! Happy reading, Jinx!

    4. I saw an IG post from Alexis Hall that Ten Things That Never Happened is on sale via Kindle for $1.99, today only, Feb. 16.

      1. In Europe, too: 1,98 €.
        Now I’e got the audiobook, zhe paperback AND the ebook.
        I guess I really like the story…

    5. Jinx, I could never see the appeal of Rothfuss’ “The Name of the Wind,” either. So many people love it, I couldn’t get past the first few chapters.

  12. I read Scaredy Cat by Sofie Ryan, a recent addition to one of my favorite cozy mystery series. Liked it a lot.

    I’ve forgotten to mention the series I’ve been reading on Kindle at night. I’m on the 3rd book by Linzi Day in the Midlife Recorder series. This one is Ties that Bond in Gretna Green: Paranormal Woman’s Midlife Fiction — as the title implies, they’re all set in Gretna Green, with some Britain, Scotland, and fairy lands included. They’re good enough that I immediately get the next one in the series as soon as I finish the one I’m on. I think there’s only one to go. They’re on Kindle Unlimited, for those who have that. The first one is called Midlife in Gretna Green. Lots of fun.

    1. I love the Sofie Ryan books, got them all on the keeper shelf. Got really hissed off with the Sofie Kelly one’s she rights though – small town librarian who always finds the body, and solves the murder, even though her boyfriend is a policeman! Got too samey, even though the cats were adorable.

      1. Apologies I am repeating myself – I should not be have got out of bed today! Mind totally on other things.

    2. Deborah, On your recommendation I started the series. Very “grabby”! Linzi Day also seems to have an animus against overbearing incompetent bosses or others in responsible official positions who are not pulling their weight. She shares this with Alexander Wareham, who I mentioned I think last week. Most of Wareham’s incompetent officer characters end up either dead or imprisoned and disgraced. (Counter to form, one young example actually shapes up and reforms.) Day’s seem to get a similar fate. I’m not sure if this is a particularly British peeve or if I’ve been reading a skewed sample. (On MASH, American incompetent Henry Blake flourished throughout his tenure and his death at its end was seen more as a sad shock than his just comeuppance.)

  13. Besides the usual books in progress and books (and one Great Course) that fell due and I’ll have to borrow again to finish, I  did finish off the final two books so far published in Matteson Wynn’s Housekeeper series.  As I said last week, there are similarities to Ilona Andrews’s Innkeeper Chronicles, but the differences show up clearer as the series continues.  The fourth book came out only in late 2023.  An afterword explains that although other writers made great progress during the covid lockdown, Wynn found herself unable to write, and made progress only after some normalcy resumed.  I enjoyed the two novels, although I wasn’t entirely thrilled by an extended dream-slash-virtual-reality sequence that reminded me unpleasantly of a Star Trek holodeck episode.  There have been new developments by the ending and I’m curious to see where things go, but I may have a long wait, since book 4 is recently out and Wynn is a self-confessedly slow writer.

    To my surprise, those seem to be the only books I actually finished during the week.  I did do a lot of reading and audiobook listening,  and did not even bail out of much, but I seemingly brought nothing else to an end. Maybe next time!

    1. Not sure how you’re reading, but if it’s on Kindle and you haven’t finished a library book, just put your kindle on airplane mode and you’ll keep access until you reconnect. It still auto-returns, so you won’t keep anyone else from borrowing. (Apologies if this seems like basic advice, but it came up at one of my book clubs recently and I was shocked at how many voracious readers didn’t know this one simple trick!)

      1. Seppie, Good to know for future reference. For present purposes, some of the books are physical and the others are on Libby. Since I currently read Kindle on my tablet rather than a dedicated reader, prolonged airplane mode would not be an option for me even if I chose to read Libby books through Kindle. On the other hand, Libby makes it easy to put a hold on books I can’t renew, so they’ll get back to me eventually.

  14. I read Pineapple Street – didn’t hate it, but wouldn’t recommend it. And for my bedtime re-reads, some of the Moo U books – they are fine but not my faves. Guess it was a bit of a meh reading week for me, but the rest of my life is fairly intense right now so maybe that’s fine?

  15. No new books. I’m falling behind.

    While rereading book 4 of the Variation series, I discovered that I had not read the last three (of one hundred fifty-nine) chapters, so I suppose that was new. Book 5 is up to 26 chapters and if anything, the pace has slowed compared to the high school years. I may just set it aside until summer, then catch up all at once – or throw it against the wall. This Facebook Page of a story is beginning to bore me.

    I watched a couple of episodes of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a sort of Mission Impossible setup. Interesting. Violent. Since the series starts with a Mr. and Mrs. Smith being terminated with prejudice, the new couple (same names) have no idea what they’ve gotten into.

    1. I finished that series and, if you finish it, I’m curious to see what you think. I don’t want to share my thoughts and ruin anything. I’m pretty ambivalent and don’t know if I would watch the next season if it continues.

        1. Agree! It just wasn’t the flavor I expected with how their relationship and the focus of the show shifted.

  16. I didn’t read much this week, but I did enjoy some Woodland Folk Tales by Lisa Schneidau, which was a 99 cent Kindle buy. I will read on in segments, since there are stopping places after each tale. The stories are based in the British lands and give the background and historical connections for each legend. It adds to my appreciation. It was on BookBub.

    I started Strange Bedpersons, and will read on. I was busy doing some cleaning and wardrobe sorting this week.

  17. I read Barbara Hambly’s Scandal in Babylon and One Extra Corpse and enjoyed them both, Then perusing her back list I found Bride of the Rat God. The 3 MC’s names have been changed but it was the same characters in a different genre. A lot of the other secondary characters have not even been tweaked. It was written prior to the other two. And the dogs are more developed as characters and have a more prominent role.

    1. Jessie,

      Thanks for the clarification. I read Bride of the Rat God, but so long ago that I remember little. I think I may have confused it with A Scandal in Babylon and assumed I had read the latter. I now have One Extra Corpse out from the library, but I’ll return to Scandal when I finish.

    2. I remembered some similarities, and was compelled to go look at Bride of the Rat God and was amazed that the dogs’ names (and the late husband’s) were exactly the same, although her Jewish cameraman suitor has a completely different name. I haven’t gotten far into it because it’s a paperback and I can’t read black print on increasingly dark brown paper for long these days. It’s just as fun to read, and I want to see if the plot differs significantly.

    3. Bride of the Rat God is one of my favourite books. Love it. But when Hambly tried to get a publisher interested in sequels they didn’t want the fantasy stuff. As a result, she re-wrote it without the fantasy aspects as Scandal in Babylon and then moving on to the sequels. I do like the new series but rather sad they didn’t go with the fantasy stuff.

      1. Ah. I was always puzzled that there wasn’t a series. The ways of publishers are inexplicable.

  18. this week’s good books; the Sworn Soldier returns in T Kingfisher’s What Feasts at Night which I found delightful but might give you nightmares, YMMV. A Coup of Tea, tea princess chronicles 1. Tea, baby dragons, royal intrigue, romance. There are 2 more books, hooray. The Other Side of Midnight by Simone St James because I was in the mood for a good haunting romance, and Rainbow Valley to revisit Anne and the Avonlea/Green Gables crew. Really interesting to read it from today’s perspective in so many ways. I didn’t actually know there were books beyond Anne and Gilbert’s HEA. I’ve read about 1/3 of Have Sword Will Travel by Garth Nix and will probably vary that with Tea Set and Match (tea princess #2) so I can switch between adventure and intrigue.

  19. In addition to finishing Scandal in Babylon I also finished two more Mimi Matthews, which I am enjoying but somehow wish they were novellas instead. I get impatient in the middle. I can tell I will be working through her backlist for quite some time.

    1. I love Mimi Matthews. I’ve read everything by her, and only one of her books didn’t work for me. I think it was her first. Otherwise, she consistently delivers good stories.

  20. I listened to the Liz Danger books, and really enjoyed them. I have about 7 books that I’ve started, haven’t given up on, but haven’t progressed with. I’m listening the Pratchett’s Making Money, in the new version. Good old Sir Terry.

  21. Read through Robin Mckinley’s Shadows and really enjoyed it. No one writes quite like her (this one like Sunshine was a sort of a narrative stream of consciousness ) and she captures ridiculous dog behaviour perfectly.

  22. I reread the Campion books a couple of years ago, and totally agree with you, Jenny. I think my favourite is probably the one where Campion has lost his memory, has absolutely no idea what’s going on, but knows something terrible is going to happen and he has to stop it.

    This week I read Getting Rid of Bradley because someone mentioned it last week and I needed a book that would make me laugh. It did, very effectively. I love the relationships in this book, especially between the cops, and between Zack and Lucy.

    Also Mark Billingham’s The Last Dance, which is the start of a new crime series. Not quite as dark as his usual stuff, and I really liked it. Unfortunately there’s only one at the moment – the next one is coming this year some time.

    Now I’m wallowing in Sherry Thomas’s A Tempest At Sea, which of course is a splendid read, with Holmes at her best.

  23. I tried several new books this week and DNFed them all. Them I indulged in re-reading some of Michelle Diener’s sci-fi, and that was a pleasurable ride. Now I’m in the middle of two new for me books, and I’m sure I’ll finish them both.
    Elizabeth Rolls’s In Debt to the Earl is a solid historical romance. I read her other two romances in this series and liked them both, but of course, I was out of order. This book is #1 in the series, and I’m liking it too. Interesting characters and lots of tension because there are some really bad guys involved.
    Laura B. Weiss’s Ice Cream is a non-fiction about … ice cream. Its history is fascinating. As soon as I started it, I had to go to the grocery store to buy some ice cream. It was an urge impossible to resist. If you decide to read this book, better buy your ice cream in advance.

  24. Unfortunately not reading, am having silent migraines. Who knew that was a thing. Nothing is catching my interest. Probably a reread.

      1. Having headaches for quite a while then I had vision fracturing in one eye, best way to describe it. My vision pixilated for about 10ish seconds. ER to check for stroke. All good MRI normal. Or unremarkable is the term. That was a Monday. On the Friday same eye had flashing, spiky lights, eye open and closed. 10 minutes. Neurologist says it is silent as in no terrible pain. So horribly Disconcerting!

        Then She gave me a dementia test. Really!? Not even on the scale. Should have drawn a melting clock.

  25. I read Roxy and Coco by Terese Svoboda. Two harpy sisters have been spending their many-centuries-long lives trying to save abused children. The story begins in the “now” as one flies to the US from France to visit her sister who is a social worker.

    Excellent writing. This book was recommended by a friend in a writing group. I’m currently trying to keep up with a writing group. The style reminds me of Hammett, Hemingway, and Chandler. X out the adverbs and find the one word that means what you’re trying to say.

  26. I can’t remember if I saw it mentioned here or elsewhere, but I enjoyed The Monsters We Defy by Leslye Penelope (historical fantasy heist in the Black community of 1920s Washington, DC). A really interesting magic system that had fascinating effects on the characters (a variation on being careful what you wish for.)

  27. Busy week. Finished Crushed Ice (Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James). Enjoyed it, esp the beginning, but felt it tailed off a bit.

    Am now working my way through the Puckboy books ( just started no 3). Enjoying them as a distraction but I think I need to go looking for a bit more angst.

  28. I’m read Canadian Boyfriend by Jenny Holiday. Male MC is a hockey player and female MC teaches dance. It’s a pretty good read with just enough angst to make it interesting. Also read Crushed Ice – not my favourite of this series – but an enjoyable read.

    My most enjoyable read of week was Sarah J Maas’s House of Flames and Shadow, last book in her Crescent City trilogy. It took me a few chapters to recall the pertinent details from the 2nd book, but it didn’t detract from my reading binge (I woke up a couple of times during the night and read a few pages before falling asleep again.

    I’ve read several of Mass’s series but wasn’t aware her books are considered “romantsy”. Learned this through a radio discussion and a newspaper article in mainstream Canadian media in the last couple of weeks. Apparently, TikTok has contributed to the increasing popularity of romantsy. The article noted that many of the books in this genre are considered YA, especially if they are written by women. Books by male authors are less likely to be YA. There was no explanation as to whether is applied just to the fantasy genre or why books by female authors in this genre are categorized this way. I have my own theories as to why this occurs – I find it amusing that the “romance” novels are not considered “serious” books but outsell many others genres.

  29. I diversified a bit this week and read Book 2 of Lee Goldberg’s Eve Ronin series “Bone Canyon”. I am really enjoying these LA based procedurals. Yuri, many thanks for the recommendation! Sort of has a Michael Connelly feel with a woman detective heroine working homicide cases in the sheriff’s department. Lots of acting-adjacent stuff, you can tell the story is taking place in a town where acting is a main focus. Good plots. I’ll continue with this series.

    Reread Josh Lanyon’s “Cards on the table” — FBI agent and reporter/writer. Has a nice old Hollywood feel. One of my favorites.

    I also read Sophie Kinsella’s Burnout. Two people totally burned out in their careers are forced to take a break and find themselves in an abandoned-for-the-winter-season rundown hotel sharing an abandoned beach beach. The first third was amusing and had me laughing a few times, then the story totally seemed to lose steam and it was all over the place and totally lost my interest. I just skipped over the rest and read the end. Disappointed after that promising start…

    Finally I read book 2 of Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James’ Hockey Ever After series, “Scoring Position”. Loved this one. Teammates and roommates. It was a tad too long but still kept my interest and I am looking forward to reading book 3 next.

  30. This week I read and enjoyed Sweetwater and the Witch by Jayne Castle, A Gambling Man by David Baldacci, Cooper’s Chase by Lori Foster, and devoured Simply The Best by Susan Elizabeth Phillips in one day. I am currently reading and enjoying The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman.

    1. Carrie – Jayne Castle has a new one coming out in the series Sweetwater & the Witch is in. I’m gonna look up details when I comment. And I want to post a picture of her with SEP & 2 other writers that was taken in the last month. You would never know she’s 75.

      I didn’t know SEP’s book was out. Good thing it’s payday!

      1. Judy, I have the date marked on my calendar for Jayne’s new book. I was late reading this one.

        I had a B&N gift card that I was saving so was able to pick up SEP’s book the day it came back. We were traveling back from visiting our son in Hawaii and I read it on the plane and during airport layovers.

  31. For no particular reason, I am embarking on a comprehensive re-read of all the Discworld novels. The plan right now is to read them in chronological order, but I think I am probably going to figure out something else toward the end (for the obvious reasons, the very last handful of books are a tough read, so I may rearrange my chosen order once I get closer to that era).

    This week, I read The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, and Equal Rites. The first two are so far down my usual list of favorites that I don’t think I’ve read them this century. And you know what? They were lovely! Mostly because I started by snuggling into bed on a chilly February evening, pulling the covers up to my chin, cracking open my old copy of TCM and reading, “In a distant and second-hand set of dimensions, in an astral plane that was never meant to fly, the curling star-mists waver and part…”

    And just like that, I got that sudden, deep thrill of feeling like I was starting on a practically-new-to-me Pratchett novel. Although after reading, I have to add that one reason that TCM fails to stick in my memory is that there really isn’t any plot, and certainly nothing like character depth. It’s basically a series of short fantasy genre parodies, kludged awkwardly together into a novel. Starring Rincewind, who I am fond of in the sense that he’s someone I’ve known for almost forty years, but who is not the easiest character to really love. Although I do have a deep, inexplicable soft spot for The Luggage.

    TLF is more cohesive as a novel, but repeats the “only Rincewind can save the universe from total destruction” plot. And the way women are written in these first two books gets tiresome — I know it’s meant to be satire about how women get written in fantasy as scantily-clad distractions, dangers, or damsels-in-distress, but it doesn’t exactly succeed in subverting the trope. It’s still not a bad book, but not quite the Discworld I know & love.

    Then suddenly we arrive at Equal Rites, and Granny Weatherwax shows up in all her ferocious, sarcastic, vehemently-well-clad glory. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s just a joy in so many ways. I could live without the romance (such as it is) and the plot sort of fizzles out (and is, once again, a flimsy business about saving the universe from total destruction and/or the creatures from the dungeon dimensions). But I love this book, which I re-read frequently when I was younger and more fond of simplistic exceptional-young-woman-fights-against-a-violently-sexist-system plots.

    Overall, the Discworld is still being fleshed out in all of these. Most of the characters aren’t particularly likeable (at least until we get to ER), the rules are a little different, and the feeling of a writer still figuring out his craft is very present. But the puns are flying thickly, there’s a lot of energy & enthusiasm, and I’m very happy to be here.

    Onward to Mort!

    1. Oh, the wonderful Granny Weatherwax! When I was first reading Pratchett (out of order, actually) I was convinced that Lady Sibyl was going to be my favorite. I loved her unswerving devotion to dragons, and her commanding voice and appearance, mixed with personal shyness that was so endearing. But then the three witches appeared and I was just blown away by Granny W.

      1. Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg pretty much define what I want to grow up to be.
        ( Never mind that I can start Medicare in a little over a year .)

    2. I do adore the Luggage! That said, my fav Discworld subseries is the Tiffany Aching books, beginning with The Wee Free Men. They feel the most consistently layered to me, and I love the very practical witch’s approach.

      The Wee Free Men is also a fantastic audiobook, narrated by Stephen Briggs, and one of my most-recommended ones for people who want to try audiobooks for the first time. (He narrates this whole subseries, and they’re all fantastic.)

      1. I love the Tiffany Aching books too! At the moment, I am thinking I may end the re-read there (leaving that whole set for last, despite it not quite fitting into my plan to read in order-of-publication). They have so much of Pratchett at his very best.

    3. Equal Rites was my first Pratchett, way back in the 1980s, and is still one of favourites. I was very happy when Esk reappeared in a Tiffany book. My baby brother wanted to call his daughter Esk, but had to compromise on Alice.

    4. I started a reread in order a few years ago. I got to The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents and stopped. Whatever was happening in my life I just couldn’t face the rats. And it’s a great book. It balances the creepiness with the wonder of rats. Anyway, I will probably get back to it someday.
      I have a soft spot for Carrot and covet Luggage.

  32. Reading and enjoying Nettle and Bone (recommended here a long time ago). Doing and not enjoying my taxes.

  33. I read Canadian Boyfriend by Jenny Holiday, Crushed Ice and House of Flames and Shadow by Sarah J Mass. First 2 are hockey-adjacent romances. The Maas book, according to two features in mainstream Canadian media last week, is a “romansty”. Popularized by TikTok, which was less interesting to me than the observation that many books in this sub-genre are written by women and considered YA – books by men are less likely to receive this designation. No explanation was provided, nor was it clear if this was limited to romantsy or fantasy more broadly. Enjoyed all 3 books but House of Flames and Shadow, as the last book in the Crescent City trilogy was a binge-worthy read.

    1. This is like Tracy Chapman’s original Fast Car being nominated in the folk music category but Luke Coombs’ version being in the country category…

  34. Happy Valentine’s Week! I hope by the time I get out of the house (Saturday) there will still be some cheap Valentine’s candy on the sale shelf at the drugstore. This week’s reading:

    1. started with a DNF at 26%, then a DNF at 3% (yes, I hated it early), then HURRAH a 4-star M/M/M, ‘Stable Hill’ by Jodi Payne. Features a widowed single dad, his stable manager, and a realtor. The first 2/3 is all really solid, putting more into the evolution of the actual relationship and the logistical difficulties thereof than just sexy sex (which, as you know, I do not disapprove; I simply prefer books with more story). The last 3rd gets a little wonky with POV – sometimes difficult to follow who’s talking/thinking – which is always a challenge when you’re writing a scene with more than two people, no matter what kind of scene it is. Anyway, I liked the book.

    2. next up, a 5-star showbiz romance, ‘Star Bright’ by Shelly Greene. The MCs are a 21 yr old movie star and 25 yr old rock star who meet awkward but quickly slide into a fake dating scenario because they’re both embroiled in scandals. I found the problems in this book very realistic (meaning systemic & enraging). The solutions take work, pain, and a brief disconnection due to miscommunication. The movie star’s back story is All Trauma, so approach with care. The climax is suspenseful, action-packed, and violent. Both characters are smart, talented young men who choose trust & loyalty at critical moments.

    3. ‘Boyfriend With Benefits’ by Allison Temple, a cute M/M novella with another fake-dating scenario, only this time the oblivious POV character realizes that his obliging but opaque roommate is actually the man of his dreams. More realistic problems here as a corporate merger / takeover / layoff drives the conflict.

    4. ‘Catering to Love’ by Joshua Ian, a pretty solid M/M historical set in a grand Edwardian London department store, featuring the tea room’s head chef and a waiter with culinary aspirations. Lots of setting-specific detail in this longish novel. A bit too much (for my taste) back and forth as the chef, practiced in denial and justifiably terrified of exposure, waffles over his attraction to the confident waiter.

    5. ‘A Boy Called Rainbow’ by Robin Knight. I have very much liked some of Knight’s books but this was a miss for me. Read it all, didn’t hate it, didn’t believe it.

    5.5 [re-read] my own M/M novella ‘Overboard,’ the one featuring a cruise ship sommelier and a salsa dance champion (available on Prolific Works, see Free Reads page on my blog for a link if you’re interested – content alerts on this one).

    6. ‘You & I, Rewritten’ by Chip Pons. I, gaahh, I wanted to like this. So many I/me errors. Most egregious: “Graham and I’s” noooooo no no no, I cannot. And both MCs are book editors. SMH Ultimately though my biggest problem with the book is that it’s explicitly about dealing with trauma from alcoholic / addicted family members, and yet both MCs self-medicate with alcohol throughout and it is never recognized, much less addressed. (I ranted about this book for two whole pages of my journal. Argh.)

    7. [re-read] my own M/M novella ‘Make Me,’ the one featuring a physical therapist and a lawyer, which is about what it should be about, dammit.

    8. [re-read] my own M/M novella ‘Hush,’ the one featuring a translator and a lawyer who were briefly fraternity brothers and meet a dozen years later not knowing that they’ve been anonymously chatting each other in a forum for queer romance readers. 🙂

    1. Immediately after reading your post I went to Amazon for a reco that intrigued me…apparently my short term memory is poor because I ended up searching for Stable with Benefits.

        1. I think it could be a real book. Maybe you could write it? The plot is vividly leaping to mind…

          1. I have four Aerogardens. Does that make me a pervert? (Fourteen if you count the reservoirs separately.) ((Twenty-four if you count the Aerogarden bamboo drawers. “Gary, your soul is a corkscrew!”))

      1. M/M showbiz novella, setup was so clunky & obvious I thought ‘this is basically porn and these two characters don’t make me want to watch them have sex.’

  35. I read, but DNF “So Let Them Burn (The Divine Traitors #1)” by Kamilah Cole. It started off well and I liked all the heroines – who are two sisters trying to solve a new major problem after they managed to help free their island nation from oppression. Unfortunately, I can’t deal with too much tension and with the main villian going “Aha! They’re falling into my trap!” all the time, I gave up and read the back of the book. And, was not happy. I guess it figures that since this is only the first book in the series, I should have expected it, but the book does not end with a win. It actually ends in a kind of stalemate. But, again, with the tension. So, I don’t think I’ll continue on with Book #2.

    I also DNF “Curious Tides” by Pascale Lacelle, Gary Furlong and et al. I hated the female protagonist. I think the writers are trying to start off with a traumatized person and show growth throughout the series since this is also the first book in a planned series. But, from what I was reading, it was clear that the female protagonist was selfish from the very beginning. And, from what I read at the end, she was still selfish, even as she came to terms with what she had done and was doing.

    I am now reading “This Woven Kingdom” by Tahereh Mafi which is Book #1 in a series. The heroine is starting off as a Cinderella-type – an orphan girl who is being massively overworked by her employers. Actually, all of her people are being basically enslaved and/or massacred because they don’t really fight back against their oppressors because they think God turned away from them.

    I’m reading this because I read a review of the 3rd book and got interested in a description of the hero of that book. The description of a silent hero suffering from an evil reputation while actually being a noble hero is just my jam. Unfortunately, I am also now cringing a bit because it seems that this series is going to feature a love triangle. I’m really hoping not and that it all ends happily in the 3rd book.

  36. I am going back through Jayne Castle’s Harmony series. There are 15 books so far with #16, People In Glass Houses, coming out May 7, 2024. I just finished rereading #5 Dark Light.

    These books are such fun. The main characters have pets that are “dust bunnys”. Sierra in this book has a dust bunny named Elvis who has a cape & dark glasses and eats peanut butter & banana sandwiches.

    They are futuristic paranormal books.

    I am going to link an IG picture of Jayne Ann Krentz aka Jayne Castle aka Amanda Quick. She is with Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Megan Chance & Christina Dodd.

    You would never guess by looking that she is 75yo. She is amazing.

  37. I was lucky enough to attend lecture that Susan and Jane gave together at the same convention where I got to meet Jennie for the first time. 2014 RWA in New York that’s my first and only RWA meeting conference. I had a ball and my editor introduced me to chocolate martinis. Yes they are still gorgeous, this week I read Delemhach’s the burning witch, books, one and two. The third one does not come out till May. That gives me two books I need to buy in May because I always buy Jayne’s books.
    For Valentine’s Day I bought myself the new Susan, Elizabeth, phillips and I stayed up two nights in a row waiting way too late and I have not finished it. But I need to get up in the morning so I’m going to bed now. Simply the
    Best is wonderful and I’m having a lovely time reading it. Rory, the heroine is a chocolatier
    So Jennie, you might want to avoid it. I had it directly to See’s Candy after the gym.

  38. Rereading Murderbot, in preparation for System Collapse, which I found at the library. My retention is shit, so I pretty much always reread any preceding books in a series whenever a new one comes out. So good! As you all well know. 🙂

  39. As much as I love Margery Allingham, I’m doing too much rereading and could really do with some new authors – I feel a big bookshop trip coming on. Some good fantasy or SF would be great.
    I read a new author earlier last year – Sarah Painter? Set on an island in Northumberland near Holy Island – and am looking forward to the sequel.
    Recent reads include non-fiction by Sally Unwin, aka the pint-sized farmer on Twitter, and A Death in Diamonds by SJ Bennett. I’ve also got a couple of Chalet School reissues on order.

  40. I’m halfway through To Shape a Dragon’s Breath. It’s an historical fantasy, set in a 19th century America that was colonized by Scandinavians. The main character is an indigenous young woman who is chosen by a dragon and has to go to the colonizers’ school to learn how to care for her dragon. Very good. The explicit racism against the MC is infuriating and may be challenging for some folks to read.

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