150 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, February 8, 2024

  1. There’s a debate raging on my community Facebook page about the council installing (allegedly ugly) LED streetlights in place of pretty vintage style lights. Apparently I’m living in Temptation.

    Inspired another reread. Such a good book.

        1. They are also designed to reduce light pollution, which would be harder to achieve in the pretty designs.

          Aside from the fun times watching people getting worked up about it, it’s quite a cool and low-ish stakes example of having valid arguments on both sides.

    1. That is such a “first-world” problem! Third-worlders worrying about clean drinking water and food, us worrying about aesthetics of streetlights.

  2. Dashing by to drop: http://hurog.com/
    Patricia Briggs is giving away a pair of valentines hardcovers, International addresses included! It is clearly a way to encourage social media followers. For her, I would, but not enough to get accounts to time sucking social media. I’m interested in instagram, mostly because of working wenesday but someone used my email(?!) I’ve deleted the account, they hadn’t used it, but instagram waits 6 months before final deletion, you might change your mind. Or you might forget and log in. Then if you really did want to delete the account you have to wait another 6 months. Guess how I know. argh.

    Since I’m here, I’ve been listening to The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab for several weeks now. That could be “not gripping” but I’m pretty sure it’s heavy duty procrastination. I listen while I clean or other hands but not brain tasks and I’m in full on “don wanna!” I have been thinking about the tale. The book is from the point of view of a village girl who didn’t want to marry hundreds of years ago and is now immortal. She doesn’t die but no one remembers her and her actions are undone. Really interesting premise. I can’t judge writing well by listening, my brain doesn’t do that, but nothing at all has thrown me out of the story so probably at least pretty good, narator same. Reccomended. It is a young woman alone a long time ago so … sad bad bits but it gets better

    1. I really wanted to like The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, and I kind of did but yeah, also gave up and just read the end part way through before putting it down. Saggy tightrope. (that’s showing my argh-age).

  3. What a coincidence, I am listening to some new Crusie-Mayers.

    Before that, I skimmed some paperbacks that have been taking up shelf space forever and consigned all of them to my blind date with a book display. Those are still selling, but I don’t know if I will continue with them after Valentine’s Day. I don’t have anything planned for spring, but change is good in my retail space.

    And I listened to some Josh Lanyon. A Vintage Affair, set in the old South with a Master of Wine and a PI and then the first two Adriane English mysteries. I’m enjoying them but it’s time for a break. I’m happy to be heading back to Burney.

    Last, I am reading Suuzu and the Nine Nippets of Legend by Forthright. Its a good short comfort read and I have been saving it.

      1. It was fun. I see shades of The Ghost Wore Yellow Socks and Adriane English in the plotting, but the setting adds flavor and I always enjoy an interesting profession that I know nothing about. It’s short.

  4. As usual, I’m reading that serial, VARIATION ON A THEME Book 5 (24 Chapters in) and rereading Book 4 (72 chapters in of 159).

    Flint/Huff/Goodlett AN ANGEL CALLED PETERBILT Still at 75% complete but I have the full book, now.

    Ikenberry, Kevin. THE CROSSING (Ring of Fire – Assiti Shards Book 4 up to chapter 5. I’ve been preoccupied. My TBR list has grown another nine books.

    Amazon did the “Because you read…” thing to me and suggested roughly a dozen alternate history series to me. Yes, okay, everything listed above is alternate history of some sort. Even so, I like mysteries and romances and fantasies, too. Also regular science fiction. Sheesh.

  5. I finished my reread of Georgette Heyer’s detective novels in publication orders. A good few of them were already on my kindle but some weren’t including Penhallow which is an odd one. I am pretty sure I did read it in paperback back in the day but I didn’t remember much about it.

    It is emphatically not a detective novel, there is no romance and the ending is very sad. Very gothic. It is commonly said that she wrote it to get out of a publishing contract but her approved biographer says not and that she was very proud of it.

    What struck me though were the two unashamedly gay characters at a time when homosexuality was still a criminal offence. I couldn’t help seeing Charmian and her « pink fondant » (sadly only mentioned not seen) as the inspiration for KJ Charles’ Proper English.

  6. I’m reading Crushing Ice by Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James. 61 % in and absolutely loving it: both MCs are great and characters from earlier books pop up (Baller from book 1 ’cause he’s been traded to the MCs team) but in a very logical way and not overwhelmingly so.

    For anyone interested in this series: as part of publication day celebration, title 1 Winging It is on offer for ,99 ct until Feb 20.

    After last weeks dubs (Tammy, I dnf Off the Ice and will not dish out Euros for book 2 and 3; book 1 it kept getting more and more boring and I couldn’t get persuaded to like the kinky prof-student relationship), I had a great palate cleanser with Skin and Bones by Sophia Soames: NO HOCKEY, grey characters (whatever the “grey” means), very angsty story due to one MC scarcly surviving an abusive relationship, very damaged but highliy likeable MCs. Not my usualy cup of tea (see: no hockey, LOL). Not sure I like the writing style, but I liked the characters a lot, so I must somehow like the writing, don’t I?

    Also, the author liked my review on Goodreads. Wow.
    This has NEVER happened so far. Hardly anybody “likes” my reviews on GR (apart from dd and a dear friend), I treat my GR site as personal reading diary, but it seems it’s not that private after all.

    1. Yuk, hit “send” too fast, as usual.
      Skin and Bones: ace grey characters. “ace” – here at least I know what it means.

    2. Hey I’m with you on the Avon Gale/Piper Vaughn DNF – and that first one, Off the Ice, is actually the best of the series so. The other Off the Ice, by Michaela Grey, is the one I liked a lot more.

    3. Grey ace? Mostly ace, but can occasionally feel attraction, often ,(but not necessarily always) requiring an emotional attachment first.

        1. Ah, I’m not sure here, but I think the grey refers to not getting sexual attraction, except occasionally (unlike ace who never do). Demi feels sexual attraction, but only with emotional attachment? Maybe a scale?

          It’s not personally relevant to me, but I do like being in a world that feels safe

  7. Best this week was Catherine Cloud’s Love and Other Inconveniences (m/m ice hockey), though it was a little slow. Otherwise it was so-so rereads, and I’m vegging out today after my computer dramas with The Reluctant Widow by Georgette Heyer.

  8. I read Someone to Wed by Balogh. Apparently I’m getting quite interested in the Westcott family dramas. Lots of HEA, and people finding their partners outside of the norm.

    So as to not binge too hard, I’ve now started Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty. Just a little in, and there is death and mystery and space ships, so quite different from my previous read – and so far so good.

  9. The best book I read this week was Jen B’s recommendation, The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer – actually I listened to it but I don’t recommend the audio book because the reader had an irritating style although he did differentiate the accents between the two MCs so that was helpful. Anyway, it’s science fiction set far in the future with two male cosmonauts, each representing remaining powers on earth travelling on a lengthy mission. I thought it was going to be all about them falling in love, etc. but it turns out to be far more interesting than that. I won’t ruin it with spoilers but highly recommend. No on-page sex. Lian, I think you might enjoy this one.

    I read another Josh Lanyon’s Holmes & Moriarity series, The Boy With The Painful Tattoo – where there’s a cameo appearance from the MC’s in the Adrien English series so that was fun.

    I also read Goalie Tandem by Tierney Rose, Michaela Grey’s new nom de plume, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Two Swedish goalies, rooming together – the backup goalie is a rookie who has a long-time case of hero worship for the other one. Ah, hockey love, my favourite.

    I read Shadows and Light by C.M. Nascosta. Thank you for the recommendation, Lupe, solid as always. I also have to confess I led you astray by promising the near publication of Charlie Adhara’s next book but turns out it wasn’t February 2024 – it’s February 2025. Arggghhh.

    1. Oh, Tammy. My tbr is so high already that I completely forgot that I ordered Jen B’s rec sf immediately after reading. Then was happy to receive it, put it in my shelf and completely forgot about it. Sigh. Seaweed brain without the demigod talents…

      Must check out Goalie Tandem! What’s better than a hockey book about a goalie? One about two goalies!!! Cool weirdo galore 🙂

    2. Nooooooooo!!!!!!! Sadness.

      I’m glad you liked Shadows and Light. I always enjoy a morally gray hero and Lux is sweet once you get past the possible murders.

      I’m thinking of going back to Two for Tea next, as my clean out of my wardrobe has stalled and I could use Harper’s outfits of the day as inspiration.

      1. I’m so sorry I misled you. If it helps, I misled myself too and was devastated to see that it’s A YEAR FROM NOW until we can read her next book. Sigh. And hey, I have no problem with possible murders, being morally grey myself.🤣

          1. I’m surprised that comment didn’t put you into remediation lol! I once went into Facebook jail for a similar comment.

          2. Jenny understands. Or will ban me when she reads this later… But then she would probably have to ban Bob too. I am in good company.

          3. I rub my hands together in glee, imagining a coven of middle-aged women/women friendly bookworms plotting to cosh badly behaving people on their heads with quilts, shoes, pucks and tentacles.

          4. Tammy, don’t underestimate the deadliness of quilts, shoes and tentacles nor pucks (see hockey players teeth or lack thereof)…

        1. I don’t think it’s you, Tammy. IIRC, the Adhara book was going to be coming out in 2023, then it was Feb 2024, and now, Amazon is showing it for Feb 2026! So there is something going on with that book…

    3. Thanks Tammy. I find that The Darkness Outside Us is already on my holds list at the library. It must have sounded v appealing when Jen B recommended it, so thanks for backing that up.

  10. This week I took a mini break from M/M hockey and read Ann Patchett’s Tom Lake which I found tedious. A friend absolutely loved it so I forged through it in order to discuss it with her but it never worked for me.
    So I went back to M/M Hockey and read Winging it by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James. Loved this one. It was just a tiny bit too long and probably needed a fraction more angst for me but I will definitely read the sequels.
    Also read Lost Hills by Lee Goldberg and liked the pace and will definitely continue with this series as well.
    In preparation for the sequel, I reread (again!) Alexis Hall’s Waiting for the Flood. Such a lovely story. Chasing the Light (accompanying novella) comes out in a couple of weeks – Yay!

  11. I enjoyed The Secret Book of Flora Lea. A young girl disappears during WWII. Twenty years later, her older sister works in a rare book shop and opens a package, finding a story inside that the two of them made up as children.

  12. Reread Rachel Gibson’s It Must Be Love. Good again as usual. Heroine has a new age shop and paints. Love interest is a policemen. RG always has good plots and lovable characters.

    Otherwise I’ve been spending my time on a workbook I found on Etsy: No Plot Just Vibes: How To Write A Story.

    I think it’s working.

  13. Re-reading first two of Karen Robards series: Ultimatum and The Moscow Deception in order to read the last (2019, so who really knows) The Fifth Doctrine. Bianca St. Ives is a trained thief/operative and spends the first two books running for her life.

    I’ve read the first two before, but needed to re-read so I can figure out who’s who in the latest/last book of the series. Very much Jason Bourne-ish with a female lead.

  14. I reread Mary Kay Andrews’ Hissy Fit in paperback. It’s a complex story that begins when the MC finds her fiancé and Maid of Honor having sex in the boardroom of the country club where her wedding rehearsal dinner is being held. That leads to the hissy fit of the title, and her catching a ride home with a man who turns out to be her next client, for redecorating a historic old southern mansion. There are many twists and turns, and some very interesting characters. I liked it.

    Then, I read the trilogy of novellas, Baba Yaga, by Deborah Blake, on my Kindle. There are actually three Baba Yagas, who each have a problem to solve. There are trips to an alternate world. The three are connected and supportive of each other. There is angst and love. It was a good read.

    I bought a Crusie Bundle, so I reread the first one, Getting Rid of Bradley. I love the characters, and the way the cop becomes enamored of the MC, and learns to be a grownup during the action. If I have already mentioned it, I apologize, but I love the line where her car exploded, and the neighbor’s vicious cat ” hit high C and disappeared under the porch”. It makes me laugh every time.

  15. I’m working my way through a library book, Something Close to Magic by Emma Mills. It’s not bad, I’m just not in the right mood for it but I have to finish it as it’s due back in a couple of days.

    I am also finishing the Murderbot novellas prior to reading Network Effect. I have to admit, I am hesitating reading it as it’s a full length novel and I really like the novella format for these. I don’t like a lot of suspense and am concerned there may be more in this one than I like, but I am determined to give it a shot.

    1. I was worried about the jump from novella to full length as well, but made the jump just fine to Network Effect. I didn’t even notice the added length the pacing was so smooth.

    2. I looooooove Network Effect. And if it helps, I think the novellas are one of the reasons that Network Effect is so good, because Murderbot is in a place that allows the action and development in Network Effect, and it needs the time. Oooh, I hope you like it.

  16. I read The Secret Recipe of Ella Dove by Karen Hawkins. It’s Southern magical realism, the third in a series about seven sisters. I think the first one was recommended by someone here (The Book Charmer and A Cup of Silver Linings were the other two.) Loved it just as much as I did the other two. Highly recommended.

    1. I read the first part of the sample of the first book, and I put it on my wish list. It reminds me of Garden Spells, and the special Waverly family.

    2. Oh good. I finished a cup of silver linings, and the secret recipe of Ella. Dove is sitting here on my bedside table.

  17. I’m listening to the lone title I haven’t read in the Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow series. Now I’ll have to wait until August for another fresh visit to Caerphilly. Sigh.
    If anyone can recommend a similar humorous, very light cozy series, I would greatly appreciate it.

    But yay! I have the Liz Danger audios that I will begin shortly. I truly hope I will be happy with the narrators. These recordings are very nicely priced with the Whispersync deal on Audible.

    Thanks to a recommendation here, I finished the first Lord Julian mystery by Grace Burrowes. The beginning was a bit more serious than I wanted at the time, but I was engaged enough to continue. I plan to try the second of the series as well.

    1. Jana DeLeon has a couple of humorous mystery series. I think the first ebook in the series might be free or cheap to try on Nook if you want to take a quick look to see if they grab you. She’s not Donna Andrews, but then who is?

  18. Stuck with MM Baseball this week and read the Men of Summer series (L.Blakely). its a trilogy with same MCs. Really liked the first (Scoring with Him) and half the second (Winning with Him) but the second half of that and the third were a long HEA with occasional bumps along the road and padded out with lots of sex, so kind of boring.

    Just finishing another MM baseball, Bat Boy (Christina Lee) , i don’t think the writing is great, but the MCs are nice and it has kept me interested enough to keep reading, but that is not a strong rec.

    Finally, in the mix I read The Best Men, Lauren Blakely and Sarina Bowen (MM). I did enjoy this, though the set up isn’t one that would usually appeal to me. It was a fun read. Started being funny with good banter and then went on to be quite sweet. And the story continued right to the end rather than the last 20% as padding. So that’s a rec for a light read.

  19. I actually got through several novels this week (and read further in other fiction and nonfiction).  I finished Alexander Wareham’s Innocents No More series (historical adventure RAF WWII novels, tying in with an earlier WWI series of his), with volume 7.  Wareham seems to have gotten bored with the series.  The novel itself is up to his standard, about defending India from a Japanese thrust out of occupied Burma, but the series ends rather abruptly with the war still on but our heroes forcibly retired home to Australia.  (He similarly cut off an unrelated series earlier. )   As usual, lots of Wareham’s opinions on the British class structure and other social and historical topics.

    My book club book is Becky Chambers’s The Galaxy and the Ground Within, already recommended by others here.  I liked it and may have more to say about it after the club meeting.

    My other completed reading came from an article from 2020 about “grabby” novels  that Jo Walton recently reposted:
    https://reactormag.com/finding-the-books-that-grab-you/  . Jennifer Crusie is on the list, but I’d read that, so what struck me was a recommendation of Nina Kiriki Hoffman.  I had earlier gotten the impression that Hoffman was an offputtingly “literary” writer, but that was not what Walton conveyed.  I couldn’t easily find the starter book Walton recommended,  so instead I read The Thread That Binds the Bones, which I liked a lot.  I followed up with a sort of prequel (same fictional world but different characters), The Silent Strength of Stones,  which I part read and part skimmed.  Did not really grab me, although it created more buzz when published than Thread had.  I’ll try more Hoffman at some point.

    Walton had described Hoffman as writing something resembling Zenna Henderson’s People stories.  I found that only partly true.  The People are on average a bit closer to God than we are.  Hoffman’s clans seem as distant as us, if not more so.  Out of curiosity I pulled on Zenna Henderson in Kindle to see what works by other authors the algorithm turned up.  One suggestion was Matteson Wynn’s Housekeeper series.  That turned out, unsurprisingly from the name, to be closer to Ilona Andrews’s Innkeeper Chronicles than to Henderson, but I quickly got into it, finished the first two novels, and am working on the third.  Light, but “grabby,” even if not on Walton’s 2020 list.  I’ve only got one novel to go after the third, but I’d be surprised if Wynn wraps it up in one more, so I would guess more are to come.

    I finished the Barbie movie.  I thought the last parts were rather hand-wavy,  but worked pretty well in context, so my impression from last week stands.

    1. @PatrickM: Thank you for the link to Jo Walton’s Grabby list. I read her regularly in Tor, where she posts a list of the books she’s read that month. I hadn’t read the two John Dickson Carr’s books nor the Hoffmans but otherwise her adult grabbies match mine. And she too is a Montrealer!

      1. Beth, As you may have figured out, reactormag.com is the new site for tor.com features. So far my links are redirecting there automatically. As a *publisher*, Tor.com is somehow distinct from Tor Books and will continue as tor.com.

      2. I’m aware of all the authors in Walton’s sf/f section but have not read all of them. In her Mainstream and Other Genres section, I’ve read some of all except Streatfeild and possibly Donna Leon (latter sounds vaguely familiar), but not all of them grabbed me.

        I hope that as a Montrealer you’ve had a chance to meet Walton. I’ve heard her speak and participate in panels at sf conventions and I’ve briefly spoken with her one on one. A good speaker and personable.

        1. My husband is a big fan of Donna Leon mysteries. Her MC is with the Venice police and goes home every day to absolutely amazing meals. This is for people who love Venice. I like mysteries and have read three or four of these. They are interesting because they address on going contemporary problems. My understanding is that the Italian government is less than thrilled with them. However, none of the ones I have read have a happy resolution. The endings always seem to me to be the creeps getting away with stuff because of corruption or gaming the system, sort of like Trump.

          1. Jessie, Somewhere I read that Latin American detective novels tended to be like that: the perceived pervasive corruption meant that justice never prevailed.

            Oddly enough, when Russian genre mysteries emerged after the demise of the USSR, they took a different tack (at least in what I read and have seen in TV series on recording media). They pretty much played out in an imagined universe where Russian corruption did not exist or could be overcome. I’m not up to date on what has happened in the genre since Putin tightened the screws.

          2. I don’t think I have ever read a Latin American mystery novel. I do remember reading a series about a Russian police detective in the USSR many decades back but I only remember that I enjoyed them and nothing else.

          3. Jessie, I don’t think I’ve read a Latin American detective novel either. (I have read a few novels of other genres in the original Spanish. Even one genre romance) Comment about mystery novels was a generalization I read somewhere.

            In the Soviet period there were some detective novels by Westerners featuring Soviet detectives, notably Gorky Park. In the late Soviet period there were also a few Soviet mystery stories of a restricted sort. Heroes had to be from the official organs and viewed positively. Some of those were translated. The full Russian mystery genre really got going only after the fall of Communism. Some have been translated.

          4. Correction: I now do now vaguely remember reading the translation of a *Brazilian* Sherlock Holmes pastiche, not central to what I was thinking of, but it counts . I don’t think corruption and lack of justice came into it, but it made more fun of Holmes than these days is common in the Anglosphere (although early pastiches such as Mark Twain’s were sometimes like that).

    2. Patrick, I love Zenna Henderson’s People series. I may give the Hoffman books you mentioned a try and see what I think of them.

    3. I found Nina Kiriki Hoffman to be spooky and ghostly and still quite grounded, I also like them a lot, and went through a bunch of them in a row. They felt like they were aimed at someone younger than me, not quite YA but closer? Centering on teens, at any rate.

      I look forward to seeing how you like them!

      1. I like Hoffman a lot but have not read her in a while. Will have to go back and see if she still grabs me.

  20. I read Maybe this Time by Jennifer Crusie. I read it when it came out, but that was long enough ago that I didn’t recall most of the plot. I love when I can “discover” a book by a favourite author. Thus may become more common as my memory ages:)

    Also read The Plus One by Maizy Eddings. It’s an enemies to lovers plot line but both MCs are dealing with mental health issues. The female MC has generalized anxiety and fears of abandonment, while the male MC has PTSD due to his time as a doctor with an international aid organization. I’m always skeptical about the power of “true love” to fix mental health issues. However, I know from experience that a supportive partner can help with the wellness journey (I was happy that the male MC finally decided to seek professional help). Overall, it was a good read.

    I power read my way through The Magician by Colm Toibin for my book club meeting tonight. Unlikely that I would have read it otherwise. My book group prefers literary novels (as opposed to popular fiction) and this certainly fits that description as it’s a fictionalized account of the German author, Thomas Mann. I liked it but expect I’ll be in the minority – I’m usually the outlier in my group.

  21. I just finished Mimi Matthews’ The Matrimonial Advertisement that somebody mentioned lately, and I liked it enough that I’m now reading the next in the series. Other than that, my week has been one DNF after another. I DNFd The Darkness Outside Us, which seemed really promising, but I got more and more bored, and the level of angst was more than I could stand. (Apparently I don’t do angst At All any more, and it was never my thing.) About halfway through I skipped to the end, and thought “Well, that sounds even more complicated than I thought” but was not motivated to go back and read more. The others I DNFd I didn’t get farther than the second chapter.

    Despite the angst, I finished Foz Meadows’ All the Hidden Paths, for the sake of the characters and the world-building and the excruciatingly convoluted plotting, and the hilarious fact the every.single.time. someone enters a room their clothing is described. And I actually care what they’re wearing.

    I’m almost finished with Rebecca Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me, and my eyes hurt from rolling so much. She’s an excellent essayist.

    I also reread a lot in the midst of all those DNFs, but I can’t seem to remember what, except The Physicians of Vilnoc, which was briefly on sale, so now at last I own some Penric and Desdemona.

    1. I think that was me who mentioned Mim Matthews. It was a freebie. I’m glad you are reading the next one. I will look for your comments on it, since I am tempted to get it, too.

      1. I’m more than halfway through. Get it! There’s a larger cast than in Matrimonial Advertisement and they’re all vividly rendered, and the background, traveling to India, is just marvelous.

  22. I read Lavender’s Blue(!) and Rest In Pink(!!) AND One in Vermillion(!!!), so I’ve been one happy girl for a chunk. It’s been great because life has been life. Jenny is a sanity-saviour. I hope she knows how much sanity she saves in this world! I thought the narrators were a good choice for these books, even if I did a double-take and had a 1-sec heartstop when I first hear the male narrator – he sounded SO much like the husband of a friend of mine. Spoiler: It was not friend-hubby. I was a bit worried the first-person perspective would throw me out of the story since that’s not “how Jenny writes”, but it clearly is exactly how Jenny writes because it wasn’t even a thing. And Bob, mustn’t forget Bob! Bob, Vince is my favourite of yours so far. The first-person-thing really does good things there. I loved it all. Thanks, Jenny and Bob. <3 I now also have 23 more mentioned dishes added to my food-mentioned-in-Jenny-books-list, and that's only from the last 3 ones, so if Jenny EVER says again: "I don't have enough recipes for one cookbook", don't listen. I still have a whole bunch of books to go, so there will be even more of them!
    ALSO, I need t-shirts. Thanks to Liz. Okay not only thanks to Liz, because I've always liked me some neat tees with text, but now I need it more.

    I also read Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood after everyone's recommendations on here, and yes. It is really, really good. Some moments in there were just so tender, and so painful, and so endearing and . . Yeah. It was a great read. Thanks to everyone who mentioned it here!

    Now I'm having headaches and stuff, so will rest my brain with rereads until I get a newread urge again. So tired.

    1. The male narrator gave me pause too. I thought of Vince as younger, and this reader gives me an older vibe. But I am getting used to it.

      1. He wasn’t what I would’ve imagined for Vince either. That said, he grew on me pretty quickly and now I wouldn’t want him any different.

  23. Somebody mentioned The Road to Roswell recently, which reminded me that I still hadn’t read Crosstalk — mostly because it’s a huge hardcover, and I’m pretty much stuck on ebooks. But I really needed something different to read (i.e. not Regency romance or mystery). Anyway, I’m more than halfway through and loving it.

    So now I’m trying to decide whether to buy The Road to Roswell (second-hand hardcover), or wait for the next time the ebook is on special. Or try the library, which is the sensible thing to do.

    1. In case it’s an option for you: I read The Road to Roswell as an ebook from my local public library system, via Libby!

      1. Thanks, I’ll have a look — or my daughter will, as she’s the one with the library card. I used to have one, but since she goes to the library at least once a week and keeps track of everything, I ask her to reserve books for me. She is super-organized, which I’m definitely not.

  24. I finally read a book that’s been on my Library HOLD list for a long time — “When Women were Dragons” by Kelly R. Barnhill. What an odd book! It really brought back the atmosphere of the 1950’s here in the US, although I’m not quite sure where or when it was supposed to be set. I enjoyed the perspective of the main character as she went through elementary, middle, and high school experiences, as well as dealing with her odd, partially loving family.

    My favorite thing about the book was the way the eventual Dea ex machina was a librarian, very senior and self-aware, with lots of clout in a difficult world.

    I recommend it, although not if you prefer to avoid really Odd Books. 🙂

  25. I’ve hardly read anything this week! I mean, for me. Vacation = tons of lounging in front of TV, mostly reality TV (home improvement … I finally get to see a few episodes of Bargain Block!), and fiction TV works better for me as a background to reading. Oddly enough, I have *written* quite a lot. Anyway, the list:

    1. started off with a novelette / short story, M/M set in 1779, which was nothing but sex & lies & setup for a novel. Nothing to see here.

    2. ‘Scandal in Babylon’ by Barbara Hambly, an excellent Hollywood mystery set in 1924. The POV character is an Englishwoman working as personal assistant to a silent-film star, sister of the POV gal’s husband who was killed in WWI. Have wishlisted the sequel.

    3. [re-read] ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’ by Oscar Wilde. The first time I read this (long ago) I knew nothing of the historical /social / legal milieu; it reads as blatantly queer to me now. And deeply sad, not for the godawful title character or his enabling friend but for their world and the damage they do.

    4. [re-read] my own novel ‘Drama Queen,’ the one about an actor and a physician assistant; and novella ‘A Secret Chord,’ the one about a jazz singer in love with her gay tour manager.

    5. ‘To The Last Ridge: The World War One Experiences of W.H. Downing,’ a self-explanatory title. The Australian author joined up as a teenager and served 1916-1918. His first major battle was an action in which 1000 soldiers engaged the Germans and only 59 survived. 🙁 Some vivid writing within a pragmatic travelogue, sense impressions that clearly recurred to the author long afterward, though that generation of men had only the term ‘shell shock’ to describe what we now call PTSD. Love primary sources like this.

    1. I read and enjoyed Scandal in Babylon. I hadn’t known about the sequel (One Extra Corpse) and just downloaded the sample. In general, Barbara Hambly is an underappreciated writer. Her high fantasy doesn’t do much for me, but she seems to have tried out, or created, almost every subgenre of both sf/f and mystery fiction. She wrote a software-and-sorcery novel before that became a thing, and I believe had a magic academy novel before Harry Potter. I really liked the early works in her Benjamin January historical mystery series. The later ones, not quite so much.

        1. She also wrote my favorite dragon story ever, and a series about dark scary things that haunted me for a couple years – prolific and underappreciated!

      1. I pretty much love all of Hambly’s work. I go back and read the Sun Wolf and Starhawk trilogy every few years, and I’ve got most of her other fantasies. I haven’t read these new ones yet though.

        1. I used to really like her. There’s one book I totally loved. It was a sorcerer/magician who ends up in Los Angeles who is battling a desperate battle in his world (underground?) and the woman he meets gets sucked into it.
          Does that ring a bell?

          1. Thanks! That could be it but unfortunately it is only available as an audiobook.
            I am going to reread the Sun Wolf one instead. It also rings a bell 😀

          2. I am in the UK, so that won’t work for me! We do have World of books though so I may give that a try…

    2. Thank you. My husband is particularly interested in WWI (his uncle became an ambulance driver in France because he was a farm boy who knew how to handle a team of mules) and he has already noted The Last Ridge and is planning on checking it out or buying it.

  26. I think I did the library for Rhode to Roswell because I didn’t want to wait. Now I need to read cross talk.
    This week I am working on a show called The Connors. Live audience comedies shoot all week. And Tuesday I had a lovely conversation with the costumers. They recommended. Remarkably bright creatures.https://www.amazon.com/Remarkably-Bright-Creatures-Shelby-Pelt/dp/0063242400/ref=asc_df_0063242400?nodl=1&tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=544481032778&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=12144036339087295856&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9031201&hvtargid=pla-1463866760586&psc=1&mcid=64ef5f51cfbd3dbc9498fa7ddefd5073&dplnkId=8f2662b6-9060-4de6-935e-990e8034bc94
    And Geek Love
    Both books sound really interesting.
    I am reading Delamhach again. By mistake I started the second burning witch book which sent me back to the princess book and now I’m on the first burning witch. When I finish that I think I’m going back to Karin Hawkins and the secret recipe of Ella Dove. After that I’m going to do the misfits by Lisa Yee.
    lisa is children’s book author I am very fond of. I still haven’t read Nora Roberts, the inheritance, even though the hardback has been sitting on my table for over two months.
    I can’t wait for Jen and Bob’s next Book. Which of course I pre-ordered.

    1. Remarkable Bright Creatures is on my Wish List. Several people really loved the Octopus (tentacles) Others said there wasn’t much of a plot, but loved the octopus, too.

      1. I loved Remarkably Bright Creatures. It focuses on two people who sort of live under the radar of others — thinkers living in shadows, as far as most other people are concerned. It’s wonderful to see them slowly coming to a relationship of equals that ends well for both parties. (I say two “people” even though one of them lives under water and has eight legs I mean appendages….)

  27. I finished reading Annika Martin’s Billionaires series. So fun, 8 books altogether. Also Lauren Blakely’s Plays Well With Others. Now doing the Whatever Shall I Read kermitflail. Jaci Burton’s Accidental Newlywed Game was on bookbub today so I nabbed that.

  28. Finished listening the audible version of Lavender’s Blue! Loved it, loved the characters and I definitely missed your writing! Faking it and Welcome to Temptation were always go to listens for me while working and being entertained by the back and forth.
    A great listen while getting work done on some design projects for clients.

  29. Kelly Barnhill’s When Women Were Dragons was a sad and angry book about a sad and angry girl. Also very slow. It started when the heroine, Alex, was three-year-old. It ended with Alex dying of old age. The in-between was Alex’s life, mostly her childhood and youth: tragic and miserable on the backdrop of the conservative America in the 1950s and 60s.
    There were also dragons in this novel, but they were just a metaphor for the author’s feminist views. The constant diatribes about the ills of patriarchal society and the anger of oppressed women dragged the narrative into a boring manifesto, and the interminable details of Alex’s drab existence made the book gloomy and hopeless, even if unfortunately realistic. On the other hand, the ending was unexpectedly pink and shipshape, sparkling with possibilities, and totally false. I didn’t believe it. I didn’t like this book at all.
    But my next book was a treat. Sophie Kinsella’s latest, The Burnout was one of the best novels I’ve read in a while. The heroine, Sasha, a marketing professional, has a nervous breakdown at work. She is so burned out, she tries to enter a convent just to escape her job. When her GP signs her off work for three weeks, she travels to an old seaside town to recuperate.
    The first half of the novel is so funny, I laughed aloud more often than not. Sasha’s problems are unfortunately familiar to many of us, common in our fast-moving world, if a bit exaggerated and enhanced by the talented writer. Then Sasha meets her match, Finn, also an office burnout, staying in the same dilapidated hotel as herself, and for the same reason, and their emotional friction and hysterical banter deepens the story, pushes it from a slapstick comedy towards a relationship drama. A marvelous book and a joy from start to end. Highly recommended.

  30. “Murder Crossed Her Mind” by Stephen Spotswood.

    I get very excited because someone told me that Bill Bryson has published a new book, but turns out it’s not a print book, it’s an audio reading by Mr. Bryson.

  31. I was at the local flea market for some cupcakes but happened by the secondhand book shop. I happened to buy about seven or eight books for R200. It’s not really R200 I can spare, truly. But getting out of the reading slump? Priceless.

    That said I am halfway through an Argeneu book by Lynsay Sands.

    Also, I just finished My Lord Footman by Claire Thornton – an M&B historical published in 2007. The MMC asked a supporting character why he continued on a certain path and the answer was, “Habit. At first there are reasons for the things you do. Then you forget what the reasons are, and you go on doing the same things, even when the reasons no longer exist.” That spoke to me. Need to break some habits, no matter how effective they are.

    1. I really liked “My Lord Footman” too 🙂
      Have you read her City of Flames trilogy set in 1600s England? Very good.

  32. Does anyone have any idea what happened to Grace Draven? I really enjoy her books and she’s disappeared. I hope she’s OK.

        1. It was a year end blah blah. But back in august she announced she was cancer free so I guess she was having a bad time (and it looks like it is a kind that could come back). Since then she has done an interview or two and she’s planning to go to two book conferences in 2024.
          So it looks like she’s hoping to get back into writing.

  33. I reread my favorite novella, A River Runs Through It, because it somehow came up in conversations with my DD in-laws. It’s as great as I remember and it also has possibly the best acknowledgements ever.

    I went back and reread bits of Operation Mincemeat but that was to check details of the musical (which I reviewed here on Sunday for those curious—it’s wonderful and it turns out it was created by three of the five actors). Now I’m reading Paladin’s Faith. It hasn’t entirely grabbed me yet. But it also doesn’t edge over into horror, which I appreciate, and I do love her sense of humor.
    Next up is probably Corsets and Codpieces.
    I don’t know how many of you saw this piece months ago about how often men think about the Roman Empire: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/sep/19/the-roman-empire-why-men-just-cant-stop-thinking-about-it
    Apparently both my husband (international corporate governance and social responsibility consultant ) and my son (physics grad student ) think about it every day. !!! I cannot explain this at all.
    So I have invested in books about the Roman Empire for Valentine’s Day and my husband’s upcoming birthday and also bought him the companion book to the new British Museum exhibit I went to about life in the Roman Army.
    So if I start recommending books about the Roman Empire at least you will know why.

    1. I was going to say, “Ha! I never think about the Roman Empire.” But… it is safe to say that there are numerous references to said empire all about so it’s unavoidable. Do you use Roman Numerals? I do, for outlining, though the Navy taught me a system that doesn’t, and permits deeper nesting.

      If you play with words, how many times do you use Greek or Roman prefixed words? I’d bet a gigaton of times. Or am I micro analyzing things? Just consider “et cetera.”

      Books. Okay, I like alternate history. I loved the six-book Belisarius series. Belisarius was Justinian’s General who re-conquered the western Roman Empire… for a few years, anyway. Or the Demon Rift series, the second of which is THE DEMONS OF CONSTANTINOPLE and emphasizes that while the empire was greatly reduced in size, it still existed in the 14th century. Or the Ring of Fire series, which deals a lot with the Holy Roman Empire which leads to dealing with Rome as well.

      Poly Ticks. Can you say “bread and circuses?”

      Too much Roman Empire!

  34. I’ve been reading but not commenting on what I’ve read (mostly Argh recs). There’s Ejaculate Responsibly. Highly recommended.
    And The Blonde Identity which I also enjoyed.
    And Knight of Staria: A Starian Tale; written by one the the partners. Not sure how to describe it. It deals more with the folklore world of Staria and, I guess ties up some loose ends and gives some characters a HEA.
    We of Little Faith by Kate Cohen, also highly recommended. It deals with atheists owning their atheism.I also enjoyed Gin’s My Old Kentucky Homicide. Ah, sisters. Yes, some of the interactions/misunderstandings/conclusion-jumpings ring true. Also the love.
    I’m now into The Safety of Strangers; the third of Ciji Ware’s American Spy Sisters WWII novels. Well researched and very detailed. I find it gripping. There’s a dog; both the fictional one and the dog she was based on survived the war.

    1. Speaking of Gin, I read the latest Garlic Farm book and enjoyed it. Thanks for writing it, Gin. 😀

  35. The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbie Waxman – a widow with two small children goes to a gardening class and falls in love with the tutor. It’s a bit more complex than that, and there’s enough snark to stop it being too cloying, but one of the things that always bothers me about these ‘go to a gardening class’ books (and there a few of them) is that the vegetables always grow TOO BLOODY QUICKLY. One moment the heroine is sowing seeds, the next she’s plucking armfuls of tomatoes and sweetcorn and everything else.

    Also Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. This was a reread. An American man who has always had dreadful luck discovers that his father was a god, who has just died, and that the man has a brother who is about to introduce chaos into his life. Great story, hugely enjoyable with a really trajectory.

    1. Wait —

      “….a really _____ (WHAT?)___ “trajectory.”

      I really want to read this book based on your description, but I also want to know what Lian thought of the trajectory, too!


        1. Thank you, Lian!! It left me sort of ‘itching’ to find out what you thought of how things progressed.

          Much appreciated response!

    2. Lian, do the MCs come across snails or other pests? Sowing seeds is nice, usually one has to wait quite some time, but then the bitter and devastating experience to find your whole harvest consumed by not yourself, ah woe!

      1. I’m pretty sure there were no snails, Dodo. No possums visiting the patch in the middle of the night. No aphids or whitefly or rabbits …

        Idealised gardening. I guess it’s the same with people who start a bakery in romances and don’t have to deal with real world issues.

        1. Yeah, I always love how the small town bakers never have trouble hauling the 100# bags of flour and sugar around and never have to call the exterminator.

  36. Best book of the last week or so was Kingfisher’s “Paladin’s Faith” which I found delightful and I really love wandering around this world again. So nice to see Marguerite again, although for half a page I was thinking it might be a Marguerite / Beartongue match up, and although I was very happy with Shane and Marguerite, I still also want the alternate book as well. I loved Grace’s description of paladins as apologetic furniture. I also really liked the way it looped back to Ashes Magnus, Caliban and the Clocktaur War so went back and read that duology.

    Had a disappointing read by ML Buchman, who I usually find solidly enjoyable. The book “Take Over at Midnight” contained some racial language that really jarred – I note on his website that the book has been re-edited and re-release so that might have been cleaned up but I was reading the 2013 first edition and really wish I’d skipped it.

    Cleansed my palate with “Garden Spells” by Sarah Addison Allen, which was lovely and thank-you so much for all the reccs. I particularly liked Aunt Evalina and the apple-tree.

    “Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries” by Heather Fawcett was also very enjoyable – thanks to Jennifer for recommending this grumpy/sunshine pairing. I really liked the world-building and the culture clash. I felt it ended slightly abruptly but immediately put the sequel on hold.

    1. Marguerite/Beartongue! I also had that impression and now I want the alternate version, too.

        1. I really want a Beartongue romance too. Earlier books indicate she is straight or possibly bi; she needs a really strong person to stand up to her, so I’m not seeing her match in the characters we have met so far except possibly Judith ?

    2. I enjoyed the latest Emily Wilde which just came out in, I think, January. No sophomore slump here!

  37. Hey guys, for those of you that like audiobooks, Humble Bundle is running a fabulous Romantasy audio book bundle till Feb 24. Ilona Andrews, Devon Monk, etc. BTW, I know I keep mentioning the Humble Bundles but I am not affiliated with HB, lol, it’s just that they’ve had some great ones lately and I want to spread the wealth!

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