This is a Good Book Thursday, February 29, 2024

Welcome to Leap Day, your extra GBT for February. I’m not leaping, just re-reading because I can do that in snippets without losing the plot, most Aaronovitch this week, but also Pratchett’s Mort because it’s on sale for $1.99 right now. I already had it, but once I saw the cover, I had to read it again.

What good books did you follow the plot on this week?

129 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 29, 2024

  1. I have been discovering D.E. Stevenson books, seventy (?) years being everybody else… I feel a bit stupid about it just like when I finally got round to reading Dick Francis last year.

    I started with the English Air which was recommended last Thursday or maybe the Thursday before since it was on KU and enjoyed it. Now, I am deep in the Miss Buncle books.

    Most people say that the first one is the best but I really enjoyed the second one too for its depiction of writing as a furious and dangerous process among other things.

    Plots are probably not D.E. Stevenson’s forte, they seem to be resolved halfway through the book and then you have a meandering succession of chapters to tie loose ends but it doesn’t matter, it’s all about the characters, the astute observations and the lovingly rendered settings.

    1. To paraphrase a song “There’s more to be read than can ever be read”. I find it reassuring to know that I will never run out of good books!

  2. I read Mad Honey for my Disorganized book club. If you’ve read any Jodi Picoult before, you’ve basically read some version of this book, but I enjoyed it.

    Still in the Sinful, Montana series for bedtime rereads.

          1. Hey, the link works. There’s probably a way to clean it up but that’s mere esthetics. Why fix what’s not broke?

      1. It’s not my favorite Rosalind James series, but it serves the purpose ( I MUST read before I sleep, and I CANNOT read a new book at bedtime.)

        If you haven’t read any of her books before, start with the Escape to New Zealand series or the Kincaid series.

        She also has an Almost a Billionaire series that plays with the rich-guy romance tropes in a less toxic way.

        1. I have gotten to sleep without reading during power failures and such, but it’s a near requirement for me too. If, I have a choice, I also like to cushion the start of a day by reading in bed for a while. (I think I first realized some other people did the-can’t-sleep-sans-reading thing too when the hero of Heinlein’s Glory Road [which novel I do not particularly recommend] was depicted with the habit.)

  3. I read Hello, Stranger by Katherine Center and absolutely loved it. It may be her best book yet. Highly recommended.

    Right now I’m reading The Burnout by Sophie Kinsella. I’ve had mixed responses to her books in the past, but I’m very much enjoying this one. Two wins in a row. I may faint.

    1. I just finished The Burnout and really enjoyed it. I had read a book of hers years ago, but the experience was so stressful that I haven’t tried anymore until now.

      I’ve just put a hold on Hello, Stranger. Thanks for the rec.

      1. I had been disappointed with the first few of hers I tried, years ago. But I loved the description of this one, so I got it from the library. Happy I did.

    2. I loved The Burnout. Less cringeworthy than a lot of Kinsella’s work, and although I haven’t gone as far as begging to join a convent, I could empathise with Sasha’s stress and need to remove herself from a toxic work scenario.

      1. I’ve had mixed feelings toward Kinsella too – but wouldn’t you know it, my hold on The Burnout just came up! Fortuitous timing!

  4. I stayed up too late finishing Good Deeds by Kathryn Moon. It was good, but not that good. I was just being stubborn. An interesting take on a reverse harem with a female humanoid alien and 5 androids. Shades of sex bot life from Murderbot.

    I listened to Waiting for the Flood, which was lovely as always and then started Marius’s book but he was annoying me so I set it aside. I will come back later.

    I kept wanting to come back to Adrien English, but I finished all his stories, so I borrowed Dangerous Ground by Josh Lanyon. It’s another saga about two guys falling in love and solving crimes. I appreciate how the author skips all unnecessary exposition. I think Jenny would approve. And I appreciate the switching viewpoints this time around.

    1. Good Deeds sounds like a tentacle friends book, sans tentacle, so have added it to my wish list. The Dangerous Ground books are all good – and I think you’d like The Art of Murder books.

      1. Good Deeds is solid and sweet, but not amazing, you know? I skipped a lot of the sex scenes, but it was a still a cute story and I was impressed with how the author differentiated very clearly between the androids. That is usually my complaint with reverse harem. It’s hard to fit in multiple main characters into the space of one book and have them not be caricatures.

        I liked all of them but especially Gloss. He is such a little shit.

        Also, I got the book for free.

      2. With Lanyon, I am working through what is available in audiobooks. Thankfully that is a lot, but I am not sure if The Art of Murder books are on Hoopla or not. I have been going for the anthologies because they only cost me one borrow and I only get 5 per month. Rationing. I will jump to reading reading if I need to, eventually.

    2. Lupe, there’s a reason for
      Marius’s annoying behaviour. Do pick it up again when you feel like it.

      1. I will, before my loan expires. Sometimes I just need a break, to mentally fortify myself, you know? Besides, I like to switch between authors. Too many books by the same on in a row and I get a little meh. So after the Lanyon, I will go back to Hall.

    3. If you liked Adrien English series, try the Art of Murder series. Almost as good (at times I think equally good)

  5. This week I read Ashlyn Kane’s Crushed Ice which didn’t work for me. A team mates hockey M/M. I was not convinced. But others loved it so maybe it was just me. I loved the others in the series.
    I read the first book in the Big Bad Wolf series by. Charlie Adhara. Two guys solving crimes and falling in love. With the twist that one is a werewolf Fun! I’ve downloaded the second in the series. thanks to Lupe and Tammy for the recommendation!
    Also read Power Play by Avon Gale and loved it.
    Would have had more time to read if I hadn’t watched so much NHL channel this week!

    1. The whole Big Bad Wolf series just keeps getting better. Also, the next one in the Avon Gale series is also good, with more angst which I know you appreciate – but the last one is kind of meh.

      1. They do get better, although I have a special place in my heart for the part where Cooper is down in the cave/well thing and is trying to guess Park’s name. Pretty Eyes Park. Heh. I feel a reread coming on.

  6. I re-read CS Pacat’s The Captive Prince series, which is hands-down in my top three M/M books – although whole lotta horrible behaviour not romance for most of it. Great political intrigue, action in an alt-history (?) context with an overall romantic arc.

    I also read Josh Lanyon’s Winter Kill, which is a character spin-off from The Art of Murder series.

    And I returned to a series I’d put down for a while, MCA Hogarth’s Dreamhealers, a gentle sci fi series about the long term friendship between two members of different alien species, who discover early on that they share a ‘mindline’ which they use in their healing profession. It was like coming back to old friends that you haven’t seen in a while. Onto the final book now.

    1. The Captive Prince series is amazing and iconic. I happened to pick it up by accident in a bookstore, read the first one in one sitting, went back and bought the next one, stayed up all night reading that and despaired when I realized that the third one wouldn’t be out for another year.

      I’m sad that I don’t like Pacat’s later works as well. I had hopes for Fence, but then the art took a dive and I wandered off.

          1. You’re really not missing anything. When I read the Captive Prince, I read it in a white-hot intensity of back to back reads of those three books. Then I turned around and immediately read them all over again so that I could savour every paragraph. I had to drag myself through both the Dark books, searching for any sign of light.

    2. “Winter Kill” was my first Lanyon and still one of my favorites. I usually like more fulsome endings but it works given they’re basically strangers but I have a really good feeling about them. Plus I love the winter landscapes.

  7. The last week I’ve reread almost all of Lani Diane Rich’s books. This will be 4 rereads for some of them. I just started Ali Hazelwood’s Love On The Brain. So far, very good.

  8. Ironically after the mention of Leap Day, a the typoed date in the topic name is February 20. I was happy to see that my digital watch knows about leap days, so it must have a 4-year calendar, not a 1-year one.
    I must eat my already belated soft-food breakfast before I post my own reading, so more later.

  9. I finished Very Sincerely Yours, by Kerry Winfrey, last night. There are so many books out there with a similar title! This was recommended by Jinx, Chachal, Aunt Snack, and my brother. It’s a slow-starting, sweet book about two people who have relationship issues, who gradually figure out who they are and what they will do with their lives. The woman has been somewhat emotionally abused by her family and an ex, and the man has been Johnny one-note all his life since he was four years old. They manage to connect, and they save each other.

  10. I’m listening to Waiting for the Flood/Chasing the Light by Alexis Hall and liking it very much.
    Didn’t get much reading done as being sick is not very kind to my eyes.

    1. Hope you feel better soon, and that you have enough audio to keep you company meanwhile!

      1. Thanks, Yuri.
        I’ve been a zombie for 3 days straight with the attfntion span of a drosophila fly for most of it. Podcasts towed me from nap to nap. Eventually, I got well enough to listen to and finish Alexis Hall’s new one. Very poetic. Like a narrow boat journey through Wales ;-).
        Liked the style a lot, not sure I got enough story “meat” to love the MCs (Marius is a tad too complicated for me, I prefer Leo, Edwin and Adam). But a worth while contrast to the books I read last.

  11. I checked all the usual places, and my ability to be reading multiple books without actually finishing any seems to be reaching new heights.

    It seems the only one I’ve actually finished is a Modern Scholar audio course, Islam and the West by Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 2004.  There’s an interesting article on Nasr in the Wikipedia.   He is a prominent Iranian scholar, born 1933, who enjoyed a successful career in Iran and other Islamic countries, but ended up in the US in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution.  He had been educated in the US from part of high school through his doctorate, and, although very fluent in English, has (or had in 2004) a remarkably strong accent for someone first working in an Anglophone environment that young. Presented so soon after 9/11, in this course Nasr is eager and perhaps overeager to dispel what he perceives as Western misconceptions about the Islamic world.  He also overreaches in surprising fashions, for instance in stating that it was through Islamic architectural influence that European monasteries, universities, and other buildings came to center on courtyards and cloisters.  This of course had been a feature of Roman and other Mediterranean architecture long before Islam. I could list other instances of why this course cannot be listened to uncritically. On the other hand, there certainly are many misconceptions about the Islamic world prevalent in the West, and this serves as a useful counterbalance.

    Possibly I can blame some of my lack of book closure on medical and dental visits and on jigsaw puzzles.  I’m getting close to finishing some additional books, at least.  Maybe next week!

    1. What shape do you choose in puzzle pieces, or do you go along with whatever the puzzle starts with?

      I’ve switched to changing every puzzle’s piece shape to the 4-sided shape shown as a square in the choice of pieces list. It lets me concentrate on the image I’m collecting rather than getting hung up by the curly or pointy projections on the sides of pieces.

      1. So far I’m sticking with the usual default shape unless the puzzle creator specified another. Maybe later when I get better, but for some puzzles I’ve had enough background left after I’ve recovered the main image that most of what I’ve got to distinguish one green blob from another is its shape. But I’ll try out the square, probably on a small and easy puzzle.

  12. A few DNFs for me this week. I get to 50%, the MCs get it together and then it runs out of plot. At least I’m learning to stop when it gets boring.

    But a few good ones too:
    Top Secret, Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy MM. Despite liking their others this hadn’t appealed, set in a frat house which wouldn’t be my thing, but it was fun with enough plot. Likely reread

    Nora goes off script, Annabel Monaghan,. This was recommended here a while ago. Can’t remember who, but thanks. It was both funny and serious. Not totally sure about the ending but enjoyed. First MF I’ve liked in a while. Likely reread.

    Finally, suffering a bit of hockey withdrawal I started Like Real People Do (EL Massey). It is sweet and I like it a lot. Only at 50%, though so fingers crossed it stays the course. Will report next week.

    1. I’m wondering which is worse: too little plot or an excess of plot. I’ve been DNFing some lately that are so packed with events there’s no room for character development to show, and saying “I don’t care what happens next if it’s boring!”

      1. It is a bit of a dilemma! but then when I read one the author gets right, with the Goldilocks of plot, I really appreciate it.

        That said I probably prefer too much plot to too much agonising about feelings…

      2. I am pretty much all about character. I skip fight scenes, skim dramatic climaxes, etc. just to get to the “good bits”, which for me is dialog and character development. Part of what I like so mush about The Book of Firsts and Morning Glory Milking Farm is that not all that much happens and everyone is a really reasonable adult about possible conflict. These should be really boring books, but they are like catnip for me. Kinda like reading The Wind In the Willows, but an adult story.

        1. I’m exactly the same, Lupe. If a book doesn’t show two people getting to know one another, or groups of people interacting with the help of actual language, I just don’t enjoy it. Every minute doesn’t have to consist of talking, but the book needs to tell the reader about the interaction and some indication of the inner reactions of each character to people and situations that are part of the book’s core. And it needs to change as the relationship changes and evolves.

          1. That’s mostly me. But I just reread the scene in Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance where ImpSec’s building sinks slowly into the ground so clearly I also love truly inspired humor.

          2. Books with an emphasis on plot vs character are like popcorn flicks for me: bearable every now and then, in rare cases enjoyable.
            I do, however, like some action and a rich plot with a story focused on character (see Dick Francis, Dunnett, Bujold’s Vorkosigans etc). I’d also count Jenny’s book in this category ’cause usually, there’s a lot of “meat” to the story (for a -mostly- vegetarian I sure have a positive connotation to meat…).

  13. My reading week:

    1. [re-read] ‘Pansies’ by Alexis Hall, my goodness these young men are a MESS.

    2. ‘The World Crisis: The Eastern Front’ by Winston Churchill, for which I’m giving myself full book credit even though I skimmed a lot of it (not much interested in the minutiae of troop movements, more in the actual experience of combatants). Squinty side-eye at WC for backing away from the hideous disasters of the Dardanelles & Gallipoli as if he had nothing to do with those.

    3. [re-read with new chapter] ‘The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting’ by KJ Charles, which I totally loved all over again. (and then followed up with re-read of ‘A Thief In The Night.’)

    4. ‘World War One: The Unheard Stories of Soldiers on the Western Front Battlefields’ a compilation of first-person as-told-to narratives compiled at hospitals in England circa 1915, furnishing some terribly vivid descriptions of life under fire by infantry, officers, a gunner, a motorcycle messenger, etc. Superb primary source.

    A Movie: ‘All of Us Strangers’ which was a sweet, sad mind-fuck.

    5. [re-read] my own novel ‘Beat,’ the one about a draftsman and an ex-fighter who hook up, don’t see each other for a year, then embrace love.

    6. ‘The Cricketer’s Arms’ by Garrick Jones, 1st of his Clyde Smith mysteries set in 1950s Sydney, feat. an ex-cop ex-soldier journalist / PI and a cast of dozens, incl. several love interests. It takes the whole book for Clyde’s sex life to resolve, and when it does it’s by way of a serious betrayal. (Open relationships only work when everyone’s honest, is the takeaway.) Along the way, a complex plot involving several different crime threads. This book is deeply researched and densely written, the central character leaped off the page for me, and also I loved the cat he rescues. Will be reading the rest of the series for sure.

    7. ‘The Love Talker’ by Elizabeth Peters, somewhat dated and not too surprising mildly Gothic mystery set in rural Maryland in the 1970s.

    8. ‘Burn That Bridge’ by J.R. Gray, a very good YA trans/bi romance set in Alabama during the Orange Presidency. Full of angst + pain + fear but also sweetness and allyship, with a satisfying HFN ending.

    9. ‘Broken Wings: WWI Fighter Ace’s Story of Escape and Survival’ by Daniel Wrinn, which I acquired thinking it was nonfiction (description: With an engaging and authentic retelling of his experiences as an escaped prisoner of war, this gripping account details the life and struggles of a captured pilot in 1917 war-torn Europe) but is only ‘based on true events,’ thus the dire need of an editor is a lot less forgivable. The bones of the story are actually great. If based on true events & people, an author’s note telling me WHICH true events would have been helpful. It was in a series misleadingly called War History Journals.

    palate cleanser: my own F/F novella ‘Stripped,’ which I’ve just taken off sale and am polishing for the giveaway store.

      1. Chachal, it took me a second to get the reference, I just like oranges too much to connect something positive to something decidedly not positive. But apart from the injustice towards the fruit it is such a great descriptor.

    1. If you are interested in WW1 stuff I read ‘Not So Quiet’ a few years ago. Fairly contemporary account of a woman’s experience as an ambulance driver on the front. Pretty grim experience and very little understanding at home of what the women had to face. Worth a read.

      Can’t remember the author. Google should help. If not let me know and I’ll try and find it.

    2. There’s an extra chapter for “The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting”? Is there a new edition?

      1. There’s definitely a new edition with a gorgeous new cover. I wish we could get the updated version after having bought the older one, sigh.

  14. This week in reading: Assistant to the Villain which is awesome but I’ll warn you all ends on a cliff-hanger so you’ll want to immediately pre-order Apprentice to the Villain. If you appreciate T Kingfisher fantasy romance with severed heads, this is for you.

    Also read Maisey Yates’ Silver Creek cowboys which I’d had for years and somehow hadn’t gotten around to. Sometimes you just want to cowboy up. Untouched was my fave, I think, for how hopelessly hard he falls. (“What do you want?” “You. Always you.” My heart, you guys, my heart.)

  15. I have never read as little as I have this week. Gave into exhaustion and busyness
    One short story from Amazon first breeds. Legends and lattes came in my library so I think I’m starting that next but I have a pile of six books hardback that I need to read.
    Today I am working on an AFI film set in an old age home and what I’d really like is a nap. Happy leap day.

  16. I continue to read Mimi Matthews and also Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity, and will until the library runs out. I have finished nothing else. I DNFd a lot, though.
    I am in the middle of Martha Wells’ Element of Fire, which is one of her Ile-Rien stories I’ve never read before, and am loving it.

      1. I loved Death of the Necromancer too, when you’re ready to move on! (I can’t remember if you’ve said whether you’ve read that one yet or not.)

  17. Over past couple of weeks, I read and listened to the Liz Danger series. I had read the series when they were first published and then reread/listened. The narration is solid, especially the female performance. The male reading the Vince sections was weaker IMO but certainly more than adequate. YMMV. I definitely enjoyed the visit to Burney again and will add them to my relisten queue.

    I had a terrible time finding anything else to engage me after Crusie/Mayer. I finally landed on Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez which is quite funny. I’m sure someone here must have recommended it and I have decidedly laughed out loud more than once. I got the Kindle version on sale and added the narration which is top tier with Julia Whelan and Zachary Webber. I’m delighted to be so thoroughly enjoying an author who is new to me.

    1. More about Part of Your World…I skimmed a lot last night in the 50-75% range due to too much “Big Secret” frustration. Argh. Painful but I anticipate a happy ending which could redeem it.

      I have a low tolerance for Big Misunderstanding and Big Secret kind of plotting. Creating angst for stupid reasons. That said, great humor at the beginning of the book.

  18. February has been so much better for reading than January was. I at least liked everything and no re-reads!
    Richard Osman – The Last Devil to Die
    Osman improves with every book. I loved it. The balance between the moving description of a character’s descent into dementia and the often comedic narrative of the crime is exquisite and must have been very difficult to achieve.
    Loretta Chase – Not Quite a Lady
    Generally speaking, the Carrington books haven’t been top favourites for me. But, for me, this was the best so far.
    Nick Harkaway – Titanium Noir
    I have been collecting Nick Harkaway books for quite a while though I only recently realised he is John Le Carré’s son. There’s been a bit of a buzz around this one so I finally I read one. It’s described in the blurb as Philip K Dick meets Raymond Chandler and there’s a lot in that. It’s set in a world where the ultra-rich can buy longevity/maybe immortality at the cost of an increase in size with each treatment. I was sucked right in and will have to start reading the others.
    Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Gods of Jade and Shadow
    Basically, this was a standard quest fantasy, but the novelty of the Mexican setting and the beautiful writing made it so fresh and different! I’ll definitely be looking for more.
    Jean-Emmanuel Deluxe – Yé-Yé Girls of ’60s French Pop
    So I love the Yé-Yé Girls and this is the first English language book I have found on the subject. There is room for a better book but meantime I lapped this one up and learned a lot.
    Mimi Matthews – The Matrimonial Advertisement
    Big thanks to all of you who recommended this author. Since I can be a fuss-pot it’s a mark of her skill that I was able to excuse the occasional anachronism and carry on with the story which I thoroughly enjoyed. I will be reading more.
    Delia Sherman – The Great Detective
    This was a rather cute mashup of Sherlock Holmes and steampunk. I enjoyed it despite the main character’s comedy Welshness – a few too many “look you”s for me…

  19. I DNFd at least 4 samples: Hero takes advantage of drunk heroine=nope, sounds like written by someone with elementary school vocabulary and writing skills=nope, characters are cardboard and/or unlikable=nope. Sometimes I feel hard to please, but then I re-read something good and am delighted….. definitely pickier/more discerning than I used to be, part of which is Jenny’s fault for educating me about good writing and plotting such that I have less tolerance for bad.

    About to use my kindle which is tied to dear sister’s account, and see what she has bought lately that might be good. We have learned to check with each other before buying things recommended here, in case the other one has already purchased!

    1. Jenny has spoiled me for the same kinds of things. I also expect more interesting dialogue, more humor, and more complex plots. I will read YA books, if they are well written, but not if the vocabulary is scanty.

  20. I hope it’s ok to recommend a good podcast today instead of a good book.

    I just finished listening to a recent On Point episode about the Menopausal Brain and as a “geriatric millennial” I started listening with trepidation, thinking I was staring down the end of the barrel of the aging shotgun,…but I emerged from the episode feeling like I’m actually just getting ready to become an evolutionary super hero.

    Because (not so) spoiler alert: turns out Darwin probably had some super misogynistic thoughts and that there is significant evolutionary value in outliving your ability to procreate …and that humans are in a very select group of organisms that can do it.

    I knowin the past Jenny’s talked about the brain changes she’d experienced when she underwent menopause and how that changed her writing, and so I thought this would be ok to mention and an interesting listen for many in this community:

    And now I’m off to read all of Lisa Mosconi’s books to learn more & potentially be able to actually mention a book in a future “Good Book” post…

    1. We do diverge into recommending films, TV, podcasts, etc, so no need to hesitate in future. You’re free to take a side trip almost anywhere, in fact.

      1. Yep. The only thing we bar here is personal attacks, which for some reason never happen. Must be the population.

  21. I’m off work this week and next, and am celebrating by reading ferociously. Highlights include:

    Paladin’s Hope by T Kingfisher. I love the world she’s created, Galen, Piper, and most particularly the gnoles. I found myself wanting to lay down my life for Earstripe during most of the book.

    The Cornish Cream Tea Summer by Cressida McLaughlin. Like a giant hug in book form. Cornish cottages, a taciturn man with a heart of gold, and a librarian heroine who wants to open a bookshop in a Cornish village.

    The Party Season by Sarah Mason – I’ve read this about seven times but I haven’t re-read it for ages. The two main characters were brought up on a country estate together but haven’t spoken for years until they’re forced to work together to save the estate. Mason hasn’t written anything for years and it’s such a shame, she had a particularly hilarious turn of phrase and wrote ditzy characters well without making them too stupid to live.

    1. Oh, I liked Sarah Mason, especially Playing James. I haven’t read them in about a decade and really can’t even remember the plot. I will have to look around for her.

      1. I have such a soft spot for High Society. I bought it in WHSmith in Lancaster and spent a rainy afternoon and evening in bed reading it when I should have been revising for exams. I stand by my decision and would 100% do the same again.

      1. Well, that’s annoying. On Amazon, the book is broken up into four different parts on Kindle, each of them the price of an entire book. I could buy the paperback, but now they’ve pissed me off, so I don’t know that I will.

        1. I’ve inadvertently led everyone astray… the one I read was Cornish Cream Tea Holiday, not Summer. I’m sorry! Same series, later book.

          Having said that, it looks as though Holiday is available as a full length kindle book. I have no idea what Amazon are thinking dividing up the Summer book, that makes no sense whatsoever.

          1. It looks like all the used print copies of Cornish Cream Tea Summer (all as a single book) offered on come from UK sellers (with a shipping charge around $6). Very strange, especially since as a new book it’s carried on the HarperCollins site with a dollar price and no indication that it’s imported. But the used copies go for about $1 plus $6.06 shipping, which is still way cheaper than the Kindle way.

          2. Maybe it was on Kindle Vella? I hate that concept like poison and refuse to participate.

    2. Ooh yes Earstripe is wonderful. Both doleful and absolutely determined to do right by his(?) duty. Kingfisher definitely creates something wonderful in the gnole society.

  22. This week was strange. I read Foz Meadows An Accident of Stars (Fantasy) and really enjoyed it then went onto the second book in the series A Tyranny of Queens and DNF. The weird part was the second book was equally well written but there were too many characters who seemed to be MC’s . In AAofS there were basically two main characters and a host of secondary characters, all interesting with an interesting world and interesting action. In ATofQ everybody seemed to be a MC so you were bouncing from one character to another constantly. I lost interest with so many plot lines weaving back and forth. For those of you who have better focus than I do, I recommend this.

    Another well-written fantasy series I gave up on is Rebecca Yarros Fourth Wing (1st) and Iron Flame (2nd). I really liked Fourth Wing. To inaccurately describe it, the MC has to overcome horrendous disadvantages to win through and become a dragon rider. The world is bizarre but well thought out. The romance is secondary but works. I should not comment on Iron Flame because I did not read enough of it to get a feel for how it was going to develop. It opens with the MC totally conflicted about relationships with everything else secondary to her emotional state, which I found boring so I DNF.

    Mostly this week I worked on finishing the woodwork molding on the arch between the sunroom and the bedroom. Which is what I will be doing once I finish this.

    Oh and Duolingo French. I have really been working on that this past week and have seen some improvement. After 1-1/2 years of college French 55 years ago and Duolingo continually for the past year, I can now babble in French almost as well as a 2 year old French toddler.

    1. I’m glad the French is coming back a bit. My Spanish instruction was 6th grade (in small doses) through junior year of HS, 58 years ago. My listening comprehension was never great, and I can only understand snatches from Spanish language TV, but I can still read it fairly well, although I am vocabulary-challenged, so it involves a lot of look-ups, or, when reading labels or the church bulletin, looking at the parallel English text for the hard words. Last time I tried speaking with a Spaniard, I successfully managed a few sentences to prove I still could, but she and I had other languages in common. I’d have opportunities to improve more if it was a high priority for me.

  23. Jayne Ann Krentz’s latest, The Night Island, a paranormal thriller with romantic elements, didn’t work for me. Pity. I had such high hopes for it. This might be my first DNF by this author. Usually, I enjoy her books, but the characters left me indifferent, and the thriller plot felt cold and remote, nothing to induce my sympathy. I stopped reading at page 106.
    Elizabeth Rolls’s historical romance The Unruly Chaperon was also meh, although I finished it. Skimmed mostly. Too much sex and desire on the page, much more than I’m comfortable with. And the conflict was artificial, arising from misunderstandings on both protagonists’ parts. If they just talked to each other instead of making the wrong assumptions, this book could’ve been dispensed with altogether. There was nothing else there.
    Then I re-read Fated Blades by Ilona Andrews. That short book was quick and furious and entirely satisfying. These writers can sure deliver a great story.

  24. I’m re-reading Theodora Goss’s Victorian fantasy Athena Club series (starts with The Strange Case of the Alchemist’s Daughter), one of my very favs! It begins with Dr. Jekyll’s daughter discovering that his former assistant, Mr. Hyde, had a daughter. So do some of the other scientists he corresponded with — Dr. Rappacini and Dr. Moreau — who were apparently experimenting on them.

    I love seeing those classics from these young women’s POV, and I also really love the unusual structure: one of them is writing this novel (because of course they need money!), but they all comment on it throughout, much to her annoyance. I’m sure for some readers it breaks the suspense and momentum, but it really works for me, and always reminds me of a post Jenny did ages ago on how women tell stories vs how men tell stories. Its very structure is a community effort, in a way the originals were not, and that too is a deliberate commentary. (Although, it did make the audiobook trickier, even though it’s read by the incredible Kate Reading!)

    It isn’t cozy — they investigate the Whitechapel Murders, among other things — but it’s one of my favorite found family stories. I don’t feel like I’m doing it justice at all, but hopefully it’s enough to know if you might be intrigued or not!

    1. Sounds interesting, and I just borrowed it, adding to my list of books being simultaneously read. The setup resembles, among other things, Andy Weir’s Cheshire Crossing, which has both a graphic and an audio incarnation. I enjoyed both versions. There is or recently was a link to the graphic story on his website, for free. It takes the idea of getting girls together (Alice Liddel, Dorothy Gale, Wendy Darling) in a different direction from the Goss. Weir evidently meant to write sequels, but was distracted after the success of The Martian and his later sf. The commenting on the text as it is being written reminds me of Raconteur’s Henri Davenforth series, discussed here earlier.

      1. See what you think!

        One of my fav bits of commentary is when the author retorts that she’s trying to write a novel, not a book of household management for monsters — and Mrs. Poole, the housekeeper, immediately says how helpful she would have found that in the beginning.

        I will always love how the mundane grounds the fantastic, in Kingfisher, Murderbot, Wild Ride, and here.

  25. I’m re-listening to the Sunshine Vicram trilogy by Darynda Jones, mostly because Jones outs in great humor with her characters, but also because Lorelei King is a fantastic narrator. Stressful weeks at work require familiar voices with humor to keep me going.

  26. I am still rereading the books in the Harmony series by Jayne Ann Krentz writing as Jayne Castle. There is a new one coming out in May.

    I found 2 lists of books in the series. 1 list had 10 books on it. I’ve finished those. The other list had 16 books on it. I am going back & reading those.

    I read Canyons of Night, The Lost Night, Deception Cove.

    I am reading The Hot Zone now. Cyrus Jones meets Sedona Snow & her dust bunny Lyle.

    Next up is Siren’s call.

    Loving them. Will try to find the links to the lists & put them in replies. Harmony is a series in which she uses 2 or 3 of her ‘formulas”. For me she is a writer whose formulas work. YMMV

    Incidentally – Sedona’s paranormal abilities are gatekeeper & fire started. Cyrus’s paranormal ability is icing people / places / things. A fire starter & and an icer – classic Jayne.

  27. I finished THE CROSSING by Kevin Ikenberry. It was okay, but it won’t be on any of my favorites lists. Part of the reason, I think, is the multiple viewpoint characters, some of which are historical characters like George Washington, the British and Hessian officers around Trenton, and the like. It just doesn’t feel quite right. Worse, none of the historical viewpoint characters are sufficiently developed to make them worthwhile viewpoints. Geo. Washington comes across as a right bastard, the Brit commander of dragoons is an entitled rapist. Three stars.

    I also finished AN ANGEL CALLED PETERBILT. Much better than THE CROSSING. Both stories are written to permit sequels. There’s even a recent podcast on the Baen Free Radio Hour that features Peterbilt. Gorg Huff explains how he and Paula Goodlett were tasked by Eric Flint on his deathbed to follow his outline to expand a completed unpublished 30,000 word story into the novel. Also, Paula explains why Gorg isn’t George (dyslexia). Five stars.

    I re-read DEMON DAUGHTER by Bujold. It was still excellent. Five stars

    Finally, there is that serial, VARIATION ON A THEME. Book 5 is up to chapter 30. I still haven’t weened myself from it yet. Two point five stars.

    1. Huh. I had assumed that Gorg was from some exotic ethnicity of an ancestor. Truth stranger than fiction?

      1. Watch the podcast and listen to Gorg’s accent. A true Son of Texas. Gorg and Paula may well be my favorite writing team, the Bob and Jenny of science fiction.

        1. Gary, I haven’t heard the latest one, but have heard Gorg before. I knew he was US raised. I said “ancestor.” Would have been clearer if I’d also phrased it, “The name Gorg …”

          I’ve read quite a few of the Hoff/Godlett collaborations, but don’t personally rate them as high as you.

          Your verb “watch” caused me to wonder if the podcasts were also on YouTube. There’s a lot of BFRH material there, which I likely will investigate further, but not the current podcasts unless I missed something. I don’t listen to every Baen podcast, in part because they have seemed very amateurishly produced (more so than many actual amateurs manage), but I’ve listened to many and will make a point of this one.

          1. WRT watching vs listening, they usually have two podcasts with the same name. One is video and downloadable as MP4. The other is the audio of that video, downloadable as MP3. I prefer the audio only. Less bandwidth and sometimes the video is even more amateurish than you describe.

            WRT ethnicity, you’re right. My father’s side of the family are all from Texas, right back to when they arrived from Germany in 1848, via Galveston. SO Gorg could have interesting ancestry.

  28. My main reads this week were The Burnout, which was OK but not a keeper. I like the version of the story in The Undomestic Goddess better, even if its structure is all over the place. Then I read the new edition of Waiting for the Flood, which was definitely worth buying again. The additional novella is twice as long as the first one, and a good story, though I still love Edwin & Adam best. And the whole thing ends in Chirk, just five miles up the road from me! I didn’t love the annotations, though: they kept distracting me from the story.

  29. Thanks to your recent post I remembered I had read and liked Susan Elizabeth Phillips and liked her. I read Ain’t She Sweet? Lovely book.

  30. Due I’m sure to the stress of mom, I’ve been reading comfort reads. The last Donna Andrew’s books I hadn’t read, the most recent In Death, and rereads of Lois McMaster Bujold. Currently rereading Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, which may be her funniest book.
    I have also been making serious inroads into the New Yorker backlog. And it’s funniest article may be the one where their shopping writer tested taking emotional support animals places —llama, pig, turkey, snake, and I think a turtle ?

    I’m pretty sure her article led to the restrictions on emotional support (as opposed to service) animals.

    Yes it’s an old piece —we couldn’t bear to throw it out.

    1. I agree on Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, which I could not convince my book club to discuss, alas. However, as I have mentioned several places and perhaps already here, previous books clearly established that the Impsec Building does so have external windows. Miles specifically looks out of one once. And Bujold conflicts here with elsewhere on whether time in the service academy counts in your length of service (twenty years for normal retirement).
      I _hate_ worldbuilding inconsistencies like that, although other virtues in a book can outweigh them.

  31. I am not reading much of anything because I can’t find my glasses and reading in my back up pair is uncomfortable. Just after that I dropped my phone and the battery fell out. After I replaced the battery, the phone didn’t light up, so I couldn’t call around to see if I had left my glasses somewhere in the neighborhood. So reading is difficult this week.
    What I am managing to read, in bits and pieces, is The Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen by K.J. Charles. I’m only halfway through, but I am enjoying the 2 MCs and watching their relationship grow.

    1. ETA: I found my glasses and now plan to go back and reread the parts I read with my painful glasses. For some reason, the story just got a lot easier to follow.

      1. Aunt snack, Glad you found them! I feel your pain! Before my cataract operation over a decade ago, I needed my glasses for *everything* except reading tiny print by bringing the text very near my nose. So I never got into the glasses-search game that my father did. My new artificial eye lenses correct enough that I don’t need glasses for reading, only for everything else, so now I too have entered the glasses finding game (as I mentioned here back when). And now I can’t read that tiny print at all without a magnifying glass!

        1. This is why I have no-line bifocals: watching my parents search for their glasses during the period before they got bifocals made a big impression. They were both avid readers living in a 4 bedroom house so the glasses could have been anywhere. The only thing that helped was that he was farsighted and she was nearsighted so the searches they did together were less frustrating.

          1. I have progressive lenses, but if I take off the glasses I don’t have to hold my head so I’m looking through the bottom part of the lens. My father did have bifocals, I think the old kind, but still took his glasses off a lot. I think my mother kept glasses on most of the time, but she did not have a cataract operation until very old, so got no vision correction from that.

  32. I am having a bit of a struggle week, but finding comfort in the Pratchett re-reading project. Getting into some good territory now with Guards! Guards!, Eric, Moving Pictures, and Reaper Man.

    Guards! Guards! is, of course, the first in the night watch books. Which I think must be Pratchett’s most popular sub-series? It’s certainly the most accessible subset of books. This first one has its flaws, but is also pretty great. Vimes’s fury about the monarchist tendencies of his fellow Ankh-Morporkians is especially good, and I like pretty much everything having to do with secret societies & dragons & general silliness (though the running joke about “million-to-one chances” has never really worked for me).

    Eric is a weird follow-up. It really seems like it fits better with the earliest Discworld books; now that Pratchett is writing at the level of Guards! Guards!, Eric is frustrating in its lack of substance. But it’s so short that it doesn’t really matter. I think it might have originally been a graphic novel, but I’ve only ever read the version without pictures. Anyway, not much to say about it, other than it can be read in a single evening.

    Moving Pictures. Pratchett will do a lot of these books much later in the series, but this is the first Discworld book where the plot basically revolves around exploring a single industry/idea within the Discworld context. To be honest, most of the movie references fly past me, not so much because I don’t get them, but because I don’t find the payoff worth slowing down to puzzle out the more tortured puns (an issue I expect to have again when we get to the band names in Soul Music).

    The main character of this book is entirely forgettable, but the real stars of the book are the UU wizards, who we meet here in the general embodiment they’ll retain for the rest of the series – Mustrum Ridcully, the Bursar, the Senior Wrangler, and so on. I am tremendously fond of them. The other thing that works for me is how creepy and dramatic large portions of the book are, even though the evil force turns out to be (once again) the creatures from the Demon Dimensions. Pratchett even makes a “Cthinema” joke to hammer the Lovecraftian reference home. On the whole, the DD monsters are not the most interesting villains, and I found this book pretty uneven.

    Finally, Reaper Man. Like Pyramids, this was one of my early favorites. Unlike Pyramids, I loved this book this time around too.

    In some ways, it is a retelling of Mort. Pratchett tends to revisit ideas & plots, and this is neither the first or last time that Death will go on holiday. But I think it’s a much deeper, richer, and more satisfying book than Mort. Death gets to be the main character, and becomes deeply empathetic as the book goes on. I love Miss Flitworth, and the warmth & sympathy with which Pratchett writes her. The Auditors of Reality are about a thousand times more satisfying as villains than the DD creatures, and the book has far more urgency & focus to the narrative than Mort ever managed. There are even HEA endings (of a sort!) for several couples. Glad I managed to fit it in this week, since I needed it.

    1. I loved Miss Flitworth too. Favorite quote from that one – “For what can the harvest hope for, if not for the care of the Reaper Man”

  33. I just read today Martha Wells, Murdebot Diaries and would not have know about them if not for you wonderful cherries! Thank you for doing these blogs and sharing good books, because I love love love this book.

    1. It is addictive. I reread it when I cannot settle on anything. I’m at about my 6th reread now and I am sure there are people here who can top that.

  34. Best things I read this week were some 2023 sff short stories:
    – “Saturday’s Song” by Wole Talabi (free on lightspeedmagazine) about the nature of story and forgiveness
    – “Silk & Cotton & Linen & Blood” by Nghi Vo in the anthology “New Suns 2” about textiles and resistance, lovely and fierce.
    – “Zeta-Epsilon” by Isabel J Kim (free on clarkesworld): a universe in 5200 words with the story of a boy and his AI sister, gorgeous

    Also read “Bitter Medicine” by Mia Tsai, which was a thoroughly enjoyable paranormal romance (or I think we’re calling it romantasy these days??) with complicated family dynamics. Thanks to Cassandra & Gary for the recc.

    And continued making my way through Penny Reid’s Green Valley series with “Marriage & Murder” and “Beard in Hiding”, both of which were solidly satisfying.

  35. This is late to the game, but I just finished reading “Waiting for the Flood/Chasing the Light” by Alexis Hall. It just became available in my library as a paper book, which is the only thing I borrow, because I need something solid and non-electronic to put down when I begin to nod off (I do all my reading in bed at night).

    I was interested in starting the second part, about Marius (after reading Dodo’s suggestion to Lupe) because I found him fully dislikeable in the first part. But it was interesting to go into it, because I wouldn’t otherwise have known how aware he was of the badness of his bad treatment of those he cared most about. I still don’t grasp what could be the origin of that in his life. His mother was quite wonderful, when she shows up, but I can sort of see how hard it would have been to live with that level of smothering love.

    The mystery of the red stars sprinkled through the text was solved when I read the last section, where he expands sequentially about how various bits of the books were inspired. (Or, sometimes, embarrassing bits he removed for this edition.)

    A nice book full of the kind of interactions that Lupe likes (and me too).

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