This is a Good Book Thursday, March 14, 2024

This week I read and revised the completed draft of Rocky Start and the second act of Very Nice Funerals. And wrote the fan fiction equivalent of egg cup shorts. It’s weird: when I try to be focused and organized, my creativity dies. When I find demonic egg cups, I can’t write (very short) stories fast enough. Too bad there’s no money in egg cup fiction.

What did you read this week?

224 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 14, 2024

  1. Jenny I think there is money in everything you write. I would love to buy an egg cups collection of stories from you 🙂

    As for me, I am still reading DE Stevenson. Some of her books on KU are rather peculiar but always entertaining if only as period pieces.

    I particularly enjoyed Fletcher’s end which is about a house. The main characters meet in Bel Lamington which is a more conventional romance but with some little details and twists which are uniquely Stevenson. Fletcher’s end takes place after they are married but as in all the married books, their happiness is not in question and in this case it’s all about the house. I absolutely want to live in Fletcher’s end with a devoted housekeeper to keep it spic and span for me.

    I am pondering however one peculiarity of DE Stevenson’s books: why does one side character (off page) always gets appendicitis without any complications?
    I wonder if it is because, very sadly she lost one of her children to a benine operation (not appendicitis).

      1. Not all the books. I think it’s the ones that have not been republished conventionnally. Still, there’s lots of good ones on KU.

  2. I haven’t read anything this week apart from employment agreements for work. Jenny, I would love to read your egg stories, and i will happily pay. Any chance you could share the inspiration of your stories? Argh members find the most interesting stuff on the internet

  3. Not a very productive week readingwise: I only finished The Island by Lisa Henry. Haunting and intense.

    Am still listening to Roommate but haven’t progressed far because of reading samples.

    Have started re-reading Let’s do this by Loren Leigh which I had speed-read some time ago last year and skipped too much (cannot remember why).

    DD asked about rec’s yesterday because she finished the CU series by Finley/James and is now badly into hockey as well (bless her heart, that is soooo great). We got tickets for two playoff games of our local team – thankfully the hubby and son are into it as well (though not because of our MM romance books LOL).

    My list of rec’s for her is looooong – not all are hockey themed. It’s simply great to have my kid share my taste in books <3 and the advantage for her: no spending her money on ebooks that are already in our shared kindle library.

    Got excited this week because KJ Charles announced two new books to come out this spring/summer and some more in 2025.
    Also Hannah Henry's starter home series will launch next week.
    Good times ahead!!

    And sometime in between I should find the one extra bookshelf that has to house my "real" (as in non-e-books) fiction books.

        1. Yep, it sounds like it but I interprete it nevertheless as something positive.

          Kid 2 is planning to spend her next school year abroad in Canada (please keep your fingers crossed that we get the acceptance info soon), so I’m pretty sure it’s no disadvantage to like the national winter sports…

          1. I live in Vancouver. It has lovely weather. A bit more rain than most people are used too, but otherwise almost perfect. I’m sure she would love it.

          2. Olga, very good to know 🙂
            right now I only hope we finally get the okay to go ahead with all the bureaucratic stuff, sigh.
            It’s not as wet here but I’m glad it’s not getting as cold as someplace else. A classmate of ds’s almost list her toes to the Canadian winter temperatures (maybe exaggeration or inappropriate boots?).

          1. Wait — I don’t mean that Vancouver or B.C. are scary — they are lovely and mild and full of trees & nice, civilized people. It’s hockey rinks I was talking about.

      1. Kid nr. 2 is actively trying to spread it to her friends and it’s already working 🙂

          1. Well, not quite powerful but slightly satisfied.
            Last year they rolled their eyes and were eather amused.
            Now they (or at least dd) understands.

    1. It’s always so lovely to share an interest in books with someone. I get such a charge when a friend reads something I love and they love it too. (Waves at Tammy).

      We won’t talk about what happens when they don’t like it…

      1. Friends /loved ones not liking my books: it depends how they phrase it. Kid 2 tends to say our tastes differ somewhat, which is totally fine.
        A friend once trashed one of the early Bujolds horribly which was even more annoying because I had loaned it to a mutual friend, her roommate.
        Trashing something someone holds dear to this someone’s face is just cruel and speaks of a lack of sensitivity imho.

        1. Yes, I had someone trash something I had gone out of my way to buy her new. And the cost was very dear at the time. I was so disappointed in her behavior, not that she didn’t like the book.

          1. I might voice negative comments about a book that someone had casually loaned me, but I’d tone it down and phrase it very carefully if I knew they really liked it. And by the time I reached adulthood I had it clear that one lied through one’s teeth about any sort of gift if that was needed in order not to offend the giver. (Fortunately I did not have to thank to his face a distant relative who once passed me through my parents a Confederate-flag beach towel. Knowing their own views, I’m surprised that my folks passed it on to me without explanatory comment, but the relative was old and well intentioned, as they insisted when I squacked. I don’t remember what happened to the towel, but I sure never used it in public!)

      2. My husband finally read Murderbot and said “it was good” and that was all. Damned with faint praise. I’ve been quietly consulting a lawyer to find out if that’s grounds for divorce. Stay tuned.

          1. Accountability partners, husbands, fellow Arghers…you’re all on probation.

            Now, I have to reveal that my husband did ask me what I liked about Murderbot and did ask me to put the rest of the series into his Kindle collection. Plus asked me to add The Thief series since I talk about them so much.

        1. Tammy, divorce at the very least! Unless he habitually understates his emotions? In that case it might be possible to save the marriage – but he’s definitely on probation. We in Tasmania are watching him closely.

          1. Where my dh spent his formative teen years, ot was regarded as high praise to tell the cook “it’s eatable” after a meal.
            My mother still resents his first visit/impression (30 years later…)

        2. Well, I can’t get mine to read it. He doesn’t do fiction, so you may be a step ahead of me? Of course I would probably skip the divorce thing and jump right to killing him. I can be unreasonably protective about the things I love…

        3. Maybe you just haven’t been married long enough. My parents were definitely separate but equal readers until the last 5-10 years of their marriage when they would pass books back and forth.

    2. Dodo, for three days Lisa Henry’s fantasy novel Anhaga is free on Amazon – one of my fave books of hers.

  4. I read was employment contracts. Would not recommend.

    Jenny, I’d happily buy your eggcup fan fiction. Can I ask what the inspiration was? Argh community finds the coolest internet stuff.

    1. I found the Egg Cups of the Damned on eBay.
      I really need to do an Argh post on this, how it evolved, why it’s sudden fiction (under 100 words), etc. I think I’m going to post them on Mondays.
      Believe me, these are not deep stories. More like jokes. And so far no romance, although Howard does get his little china heart broken.

        1. I’m one of those who sometimes jumps ahead to make sure there’s a happy ending. A little hard to do in a 100-word story! (In long works, I have occasionally jumped ahead and found the unhappy ending, but then have bravely gone back and read up to it in proper order. Sometimes, with the lead-up in place, the ending does not seem so sad. But I don’t count on that, and I may just bail.)

        2. Howard is a clueless teenager. But he doesn’t give up.
          Then he gets a stalker. Seems fair.

  5. I finished Someone to Trust by Balogh. It intrigued me, because of the age gap between the MCs – something I can identify with. It is not an intense, overly dramatic romance, but rather the attraction of two people who have to navigate the social scene of the time. I love that they promise to waltz with each other at every ball they attend.

      1. Jenny, (she whines), you’re being unfaithful to us. You now have in-jokes with those Other People.

    1. It’s proof I really am ADHD after denying it for years.

      I was researching weird stuff on eBay to get some concrete examples of things that might turn up in the second hand shop in the Rocky Start novels. Among other things I found these vintage Japanese egg cups that were kind of terrifying, so I posted about them on Facebook, kind of a driveby thing. And then I took a picture of them on my kitchen counter, and all the creativity I’d lost from stress about the RS books came back about the egg cups. I called them the egg cups of the damned, and then I gave them names–Shelley, Keats, Byron, and Howard Damned, and then I found more egg cups and it escalated.

      Basically, I use FB for ideas that last a minute, and then I talk about things in a lot more depth here when I’m not freaking out. I think I’m done freaking out, but a lot of that is because I now have fifteen FB shorts (no more than a couple of sentences) about the Damned going to a family reunion and meeting an assortment of other egg cups and salt and pepper shakers and being horrible. So much fun.

      I should do a post here about sudden fiction, which is pretty much what these are–super sudden fiction, but Argh is booked until Monday, so I’ll have to think about it.

      Egg Cups of the Damned
      https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=963203868712547&set=a.296056092093998

      The Damned in the Kitchen
      https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=963258485373752&set=a.296056092093998

      1. As a semi-professional thrifter (I have two etsy shops and a small hoarding problem to feed) I would be delighted to spam you with pictures and stories about thrifting adventures. There are wonderful finds and unicorn moments when you find something ‘in the wild’ that you never thought you would get to before someone else. And then, of course there is the haunted and or cursed objects that should never exist.

        And then there are the estate sales… All sorts of weird and wonderful things happen when you wander through someone else’s life.

        1. Me too! I work part-time at a thrift store, and it’s amazing what we get. Items range from used McDonald’s bags to $4000 crystal chandeliers. The best things are those that no one knows what they are.

          1. Lol. I don’t know if I could handle working in a thrift store.

            My father in law used to collect and restore antique hand tools. And he and my mother in law would go to tool meets all across the US. When they found a tool that they didn’t know the name or function of they would put it on display asking for more information. The other vendors would do the same.

        2. After moving to an oversized midcentury apartment, DH and I spent many hours (and dollars) in second-hand shops (plentiful and rich in LA) to furnish it. We found a midcentury Swarovski chandelier, missing a strand of crystals, for $85. When we took a strand to a chandelier shop to see about getting it duplicated, we were told the new cuts were slightly different but he could get us one that would be nearly the same … for $30 or so. There are 42 strands of crystals on this thing.

          1. I always buy chandelier crystals when I find them. And then I hoard them because they are too precious to use…

  6. I read Unbound by Cara Mckenna, a difficult book to describe because it starts out on a somewhat traditional trajectory with our heroine hiking the hills of Scotland, only to injure herself and seek refuge with our heroine who has been living in splendid isolation for several years. They both have *issues* of course, but they get to know each other and become attracted of course – and here’s where it bends somewhat: he takes the submissive role with a very particular BDSM kink. There aren’t a whole pile of sex scenes but enough to provide a friendly warning. Anyway, the book was about far more than that and has left a lovely aftertaste.

    I read two books by Josh Lanyon – A Vintage Affair and The Darkling Thrust – the latter had a low key steampunk context that reminded me of Anna Butler’s Gilded Scarab etc. series.

    I also read Smash & Grab by Max Maddox, recommended by Lupe, which was fun and sweet.

    For anyone who has been following the Omega series by Eileen Glass, the fourth one is out and does not disappoint.

    I finished the Dream Healers series by MCA Hogarth, the cozy sci fi series about two friends from different species. Such an intelligent writer that it’s a pleasure to read her books.

    Finally – thank you, Yuri, for your Bot stories recommendations – yummy!

    1. The pronouns don’t seem to work out for Unbound. I’m thinking the second heroine is actually a hero. Otherwise a “he” is a typo for “she.”

    2. I feel like we have been waiting years for the Eileen Glass. Off to hoopla I go, hopefully the audiobook is out too!

      1. Because we have been waiting years. She had some serious health problems during the pandemic and wasn’t writing for quite a while. Now all of sudden, she is making up for lost time.

  7. I’m slowly working my way through the Rivers of London series. Bogged down several times during “Moon Over Soho” but things picked up during “Whispers Underground.” Love the character Abigail!

    It’s funny, though — I knew that re-reading tended to make me fall asleep easier and faster while reading in bed before sleep, but re-reading a series in order seems to do it even better and faster. Anyone else experience that?

    (Great hidden sales pitch for series writers everywhere, by the way!)

    1. Quite the opposite. When re-reading I cannot put it down because I know (or think I remember, anyway) what happens and I want it ALL. Greedy reader.

      1. I’m that way in a new book that I’ve just discovered that I love. But it’s the “what HAPPENED?” feeling that keeps me up. I know what happens to Peter, and Beverly, and the Folly, so I’m…ahh…ahhh…YAWNing….mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

    2. same Jinx – rereading a series is wonderful for my insomnia – & then you wake up in the morning (in my case afternoon) & pick up where you left off starting the day out gooood

  8. Lords and Ladies, Men At Arms, and more My Dad Wrote a Porno for me this week (note: this last is a podcast, not a hitherto undiscovered Discworld book).

    Lords and Ladies is my favorite witch novel in this re-read, and maybe my favorite overall. For one thing, it finally gives Magrat a chance to shine. She’s gotten the short end of the stick for two books previously, being frequently described as a wet hen (and also sort of deserving it). Here, she finally has to fight for what she wants, and manages to stab her way to her own happy ending, all while staying completely true to her character. It’s tremendously satisfying.

    Nanny Ogg gets more of a role here too, along with some of the extended Ogg clan. I don’t think the wizards really belong in this book, but am nevertheless quite fond of the running gag where Ridcully tries reminiscing about his romantic past only to be utterly ignored and/or rejected every time. And the elves are brilliant villains, and work far better to illuminate Pratchett’s particular brand of humanism than the creatures from the Dungeon Dimensions ever could. Well-written, smart, fun book.

    Men At Arms is the second night watch book, and a pretty good one. The police procedural format of this sub-series helps enormously with the plotting, and this also a book with a lot of heart (and with more death and near-death than I expected the first time I read it). I was a little annoyed about Sybil’s character getting reduced to a few lines, almost all of which are just her being supportive of Vimes, but it’s a problem that runs through many of the Guards books. Here, it is slightly balanced out by what might be my favorite characterization of Carrot overall – he has far more depth and intelligence here than in previous or, I think, future books. And the introduction of Angua, of course, who is generally excellent.

    I’ve hit a point in my reread where I am experiencing a little impatience with Pratchett’s tendency to recycle plots, so may need to slow down for a while. Men at Arms is the second Guards book to feature a plot to restore the rightful king of Ankh, and also one of several to feature a plot to assassinate Vetinari, along with several other recycled elements. All of which is fine, especially since we’re still at the point in the series where Pratchett writes the plot better with every iteration, it just gets to be a lot when you read them all in short succession!

    1. Oh man I love My Dad Wrote a Porno. I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard from a podcast as I did listening to that one

  9. Not a recommendation, but a question. Has anyone read ‘Infinite Jest’ by David Foster Wallace? I cannot, in good conscience, recommend it, as it is over 1000 pages, 300 of which are endnotes (and part of the story). Also it’s experimental fiction, and is chock full of unreliable narrators.

    I am just curious. It got a lot of hype, but I have yet to find anyone I know who has read it.

    1. i will be unpopular but that reminds me of Diana Gabaldon & her needs-an-editor-who-will-say-no Outlander series. i’m sorry but half of those books are the classes she teaches & if i wanted that – i would take the class

      i just didn’t even bother with the last couple of books because i love Jamie & Claire but those books are ridiculous.

    2. I started Infinite Jest. No particular reason why I didn’t continue, just not compelled to at the time. Maybe that’s the problem with it? I really like David Foster Wallace’s essay books though – Consider The Lobster, and A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again. Well written articles in that way that Nora Ephron could also do – smart, amusing and true.

  10. Finished the Jayne Castle Rainshadow/Ghost Hunter books and moved on to Amanda Quick with The Third Circle, Perfect Poison, and Burning Lamp.

    Feel like I’m in a book hangover and not sure what to read next. More JAK or something else?

    I’d pay to read your egg cups, Jenny!!

  11. I’ve been rereading a lot of my own nonfiction because of revisions, so I feel you, Jenny.

    Finished The Bright Spot by Jill Shalvis and really liked it. I think she’s one of those contemporary romance writers that I forget I like, then I pick up a book and realize I should look for more.

      1. I haven’t read her in a while because the formula got to me. The newer books were too much like the previous books.

    1. I haven’t read her for a while because the heroines are always klutzes in one way or another — lots of “I love Lucy” moments which just didn’t sit well with me.

  12. This week I decided to reread “The Line of Beauty” by Alan Hollingshurst. Not a romance. It was right at the top of my Best Books Ever list and I worried that perhaps it wasn’t as wonderful as I remembered from my first read about 3 years ago. It was even better. A social satire set in London during the Thatcher years (when I was living there,) with events seen through the eyes of a young gay man who moves to London and lives with the aristo- politician family of an Oxford school mate. So much humor and such perfect writing. Every page was wonderful and I’m guessing there will be more re-reads in the future. I’ve had a bit of a book hangover ever since.

    On the romance side, I reread Anyone but You which always helps me regain my balance after a book hangover. Never fails! Love that story.

    I then returned to hockey and read The Inside Edge by Ashlyn Kane — an M/M romance between a former NHL player and a former Olympic skater. Frankly, compared to her “Hockey Ever After” series this one was just meh for me. But perhaps it was a victim of the above-mentioned book hangover.

    I also finished volume three of the Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara. M/M law enforcement among werewolves. Fun. They keep getting better. I am really enjoying this series and have started book 4.

    Jenny, I don’t know what egg cup stories are is but I’d definitely pay to read them!

    1. Christina, I’m just about at the end of the various Josh Lanyon series (except for the Secrets and Scrabble series which looks too cozy for me) so now I’m onto her standalones. I’ve already read Come Unto These Yellow Sands. Are there any others you’d recommend?

      1. Somewhere I have a list of the series in order of my personal preference. As soon as I locate it, I’ll post it — it will be fun to compare preferences!

        As for the standalones, Cards on the Table is a pretty regular reread, as is Stranger on the Shore (though it is a bit similar to some of the others…)
        Many of the standalones are a bit hit or miss — the list below is not in order of preference but I liked them and some are re-reads though I haven’t read them for a while.

        The ones NOT listed are not on my reread pile:

        Don’t Look Back
        In Plain Sight
        Everything I know
        Snowball in Hell
        Into the Blue
        Lone Star
        Slay Ride
        Plenty of Fish
        The Dickens with love

        Finally, one I really liked was Murder in Pastel. Lanyon says she wasn’t originally going to publish it — not sure why she did. It is a tryout of sorts for the Adrien English series so lots of it will seem very similar.

      2. Oh, and I agree re the Secrets and Scrabble series. I’ve read them but they are VERY cozy. They’re fun but they’re not really my thing.

  13. I read and enjoyed Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers, recommended last week by Shass and Lian. Great characters & world, and funny.

    1. So happy you enjoyed it! I was a bit sceptical at first, but as the story progressed, I really wanted to see what would happen next. I kept hoping for the characters to find their HEAs and overcome what held them back. I was actually delighted when I realized it was more of a finding family/finding happiness-story than actual solving of murder. Got a bit of Fredrik Backman-vibes (A Man Called Ove / My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry / Anxious People) from how it all was put together and twisted and finally solved. Done with a lot of love and care, I think.

      1. It did make me feel old, though: Vera’s 61 or 2, and keeps being referred to as a really old woman. I accept I’m old (67), but don’t feel as elderly as she’s made out to be.

        1. Yes, that was one thing I reacted on as well. I don’t think that’s old – neither 62 nor 67. Could it be a cultural thing, perhaps?

          1. I concluded the author was young – or else, as you say, a cultural thing. It’s pretty recent that your sixties hasn’t been considered extremely old.

        2. I am in my 60’s also & refer to being ‘older’ rather than old. But then I can also remember having a smile to myself when my mother & her friend, then in their mid 80s) told me they only went to the community group tai chi & exercise classes as it was important to keep the numbers up for the classes so the ‘oldies’ could benefit. I am pretty sure they were probably close to the oldest people in the groups 😌.

          1. I think past a certain point its health rather than the number that determines age. I know people in their 70s who are very “old”, in attitude and physical frailty, and I know people in their late 80s who are still active both physically and mentally and don’t really come across as old at all regardless of some gray hair and wrinkles. And everything in between of course.

    2. Really glad you enjoyed it, Jane. I thought she was such a well-drawn character, who started off being really annoying and ended up sympathetic.

  14. I finished Paladin’s Hope, by T. Kingfisher. The locked rooms and various killing systems were daunting. I did like how the three characters worked together to solve the murderous puzzles. My absolute favorite line in the book was when Piper and Galen had reached the point in their mutual attraction that they were longing to go further, and Earstripe says, “A gnome promises not to shout suggestions.” The HEA was very welcome.

    As a palate cleanser, I read The Dead Romantics, by Ashley Poston. There were a lot of references to famous authors, and Easter eggs from various books and movies, and the “ghost” editor/ghost-writer-medium relationship develops sweetly. The ending had several twists that were fun.

    I started Paladin’s Faith, but refuse to get too deeply into it, because I know I won’t be able to put it down, and I have other things going on, right now. I like that a character from book one shows up again.

    1. In case anyone’s interested, Dead Romantics was on sale at $1.99 for Nook, last i checked today.

  15. I’m reading The Road to Roswell by Connie Willis. Once again, I needed something NOT Regency, and it’s so much fun. I’m astonished at how aware she is of contemporary culture. She seems to have watched every movie in existence.

    I raced through A Taste of Witchcraft, the latest in the Sir Robert Carey series by Patricia Finney aka P.F. Chisholm. It’s been a long wait for this story while she got her rights back and republished the whole series, but well worth it. I’d been dreading this book in some ways, because I knew the heroine would be accused of witchcraft by her horrible husband–and they did awful things to supposed witches in the 1590s–and although I knew there would be a happy ending because the characters are real historical people, I still had to read the ending first. Then I read the first half and had to skim the second half to see how it worked out — and now I’ll have to start in the middle to catch all the fabulous bits I missed.

    1. Barbara, you just described the way I read 90% of books. For the other 10%, I force myself to read the books as the author intended, usually for a specific reason, but it takes discipline. Pretty sure this makes me the worst kind of reader!

      1. I like to see the ends too, especially in new books. If the end satisfies, I’d go back to the beginning and read the book properly. Otherwise, I might DNF.

    2. I will check out the end if I start to think an author is going to bruise me. If it’s an author I don’t know and don’t trust – I’m just not gonna go to that unhappy ending place.

  16. A mixed bag this last week. Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance was a comfort reread. Honestly, I like it more each time, and I do think Bujold’s humour shines in this book.

    New books included The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett (of the Divine Cities trilogy), which I particularly enjoyed once I got into it, and Artifact Space by Miles Cameron. The former is a fantasy detective story (à la Watson/Sherlock), the latter stars an orphan who joins the crew on a Greatship trading in deep space. I thought of you, Gary, and Ishmael Wang…

  17. This wasn’t a great reading week for me. Too much other stuff in my head. I started something that has promise, but my kindle tells me that I have 13 hours of it to go. I don’t know if I have the mental fortitude. That’s at least a couple of weeks of reading and its so easy to lose the momentum of the plot.

    I did finish listening to One in Vermillion and then decided that I had taken enough of a break from Josh Lanyon to go back. So I started The Mermaid Murders this morning. How is it that some authors can make that instant sense of homecoming? I haven’t read/listened to this particular story before but it felt immediately like walking comforting and familiar ground. In a good way. Plus art. I am a sucker for anything art or craft related in a plot.

    We did watch Station Eleven on HBO Max, which was very good. The most hopeful take on the apocalypse that I have seen yet, with a heavy focus on the importance of the arts and story telling to society.

    1. That homecoming-feeling you describe, I have that with most of Jenny’s books. My brain winds down, my body relaxes, I can think again and I feel safe. Even new reads by her feel familiar and comforting and so welcoming and warm. Best kind of feeling.

      1. Oh definitely with Jenny’s books. And it is such a hard thing to find. And I can’t tell you what it is that makes some writing do that for me and not others.

      2. So much this. I have a few other authors who make me feel this way (oddly, most of them British, but also Donna Andrews), but Jenny most of all. Her books are my happy place.

      3. It’s so funny because I can see Dove bars at the store & think – oh I should reread Welcome To Temptation or see really badly written children’s stuff & think – that’s awful – let me reread Tell Me Lies or Maybe This Time where the children’s part is written really well.
        I just adore the relationship that CL has with Emmy in Tell Me Lies.

        1. Same here.
          Even dh is grateful because Jenny/Gabe and Dick Francis made him try Glenlivet.

    2. Lanyon is wonderful at that. I am jealous that you get to read the Art of Murder series for the first time! The art stuff is so much fun too. It has led me down lots of art crime internet rabbit holes…

  18. I have been rereading Terry Pratchett’s Jingo. Not my favorite but I’m rereading the Guard books in order and finding there was a lot that I didn’t remember so that’s fun. I’m listening to Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones after listening to Dark Lord of Derkholm. Pure pleasure. I also read Secrets of Cooking by Bee Wilson. I thought it was a cookbook but soon realized it’s a book of essays about food, eating and cooking with recipes. I really enjoyed it and will look for more of her writing.

    1. Diana Wynn Jones is so good with those two books – I mean, with anything really, but those two are ones I go back to over and over again. I like the twists in Dark Lord, and both of my kids read Year of the Griffin and tried to make their college experiences into something like that.

      1. That would be sheer fun going to college with Year of the Griffin in mind.

        Which brings me to a question. Is American ‘college’ the same as university? Or is it senior secondary, like Years 11 & 12?

        1. It’s uni.
          High school is 9-12 (or 10-12). High school diploma gets you into college or university. Colleges are generally four years and don’t have graduate programs and are smaller. Universities can be huge and usually have graduates schools and do research. Community colleges are smaller than regular colleges are usually practical, most classes are at night so people can work, improve skills etc. I’ve actually taught at all three, and at base, the good ones all do the same thing: teach people stuff.

        2. Lian, in the US “college” is the same as “university” — with the caveat that “community college” is typically a two-year program for students who don’t usually live on campus, who sometimes transfer to a four-year program for the remaining years if they want that type of degree.

          Years 11 & 12 are included in “high school” and students generally live with their parents (ages 16-18-ish.) Does that help?

        3. It’s university. Technically a university should consist of more than one college (College of Arts and Sciences, College of Medicine, College of Engineering) but nowadays everyone calls themself a university if they want to.

        4. Thanks for the clarification, everyone. I think my confusion was because of the separation that Jenny made, between college and uni. Here it’s all uni, without that differentiation.

          1. The US style of university education is very confusing. Here (Germany), you stdy a specific subject (or selection of subjects) for your degree, like Engineering, Economics, History. No need to do any course in e.g. humanitues when you study for a science degree. A very broad general education is provided in the secondary school system, so the specialization can start afterwards (professional training, university, or a combination of both).

  19. Inheritance by Nora Roberts came in from the library – I really enjoyed it, liked all the characters (except the baddie of course!) Only issue I have is waiting for the 2nd and 3rd books to come out.

    Also read My Husband Next Door by Catherine Alliott (as mentioned by Deborah Blake I think) and really enjoyed it. Have not read any of this author before but will be getting more out of the libary.

    Then started Eon by Alison Goodman. I was really enjoying it but… it was very detailed and the world created was beautiful and vivid, however my brain is going too fast for the book and I skimmed to the end. A bit disappointed in myself but know I can always get it out of the library again if my mental hamster quits the gymnastics and calms down.

    Now reading the fifth Blackbird Sisters Mystery – Have Your Cake and Kill Him Too, because I know it will be fast, intriguing and funny. Made me laugh out loud last night when there was talk about a car engine’s carburetor (described as a carb) and the narrator thought it meant carbohydrates. Knew I would love it.

    1. I loved My Husband Next Door! It’s on my re-read/comfort read loop. I think it’s one of her very best but her backlist is great. The only one that just didn’t do it for me was her latest and even that one I will have to go back and try again.

        1. I love the Blackbird Sisters and will happily second, or third, or fourth, that recommendation.

  20. I finished Mary Kay Andrews’s The Homewreckers, which I enjoyed. (Minor spoilers follow.) I presume Andrews researches these things, so I was surprised at the size of the markdown that the real estate agent estimates for the rehabbed house just because a murdered body was found on the grounds. I might have thought notoriety would increase the price. Evidently not.

    One bit that was so clichéd that I fast-forwarded beyond it is that at one point our heroine knows that 1) the police guard on the site has been withdrawn and 2) that a person of interest has gone missing. So OF COURSE she stays on site alone late at night.

    Andrews also does her usual thing of showing that multiple people are miserable human beings but only one of them is the actual murderer, with the identity coming a little out of left field.

    I thought we were going to have a secondary romance between an older detective and a reporter. But nothing develops. The author also omits her frequent six-months-later epilog, which I would have liked to see in this case.

    But I will have to give MKA and her all-too-similar Southern seaside towns and young ambitious women battling life’s setbacks a bit of a rest before I try another of her audiobooks.

    I also finished, for the book club, John Brunner’s Shockwave Rider from 1975. I would call it somewhat interesting but not good. One guy at the club meeting really liked it, however, so opinions differ. It seems to be the first sf novel whose plot involves a computer virus, although a short story of 1973 by Greg Bear had used one. If I have time later, I may come back and elaborate. I got off to a late start today (my body has decided I was only joking about DST), and I still plan a groceries run.

    1. Forgot to add that it had been established that the woman with no more sense than to stay at the site alone at night with a person of interest on the loose and no police guard is, or at least had been earlier, a steady reader of mystery novels!!

    2. Shockwave Rider was revolutionary for the time, but doesn’t really hold up very well because so many of the myriad of stories it inspired are much better than the book that inspired them.

      1. Well, Shockwave Rider could be an evolutionary ancestor of cyberpunk. On the other hand, a lot of the book derives from Alan Toffler’s book _Future Shock_. The Wikipedia says,
        ‘Toffler coined the term “future shock” to refer to what happens to a society when change happens too fast, which results in social confusion and normal decision-making processes breaking down.’
        I can’t think of a lot of later sf dealing with that aspect of things, apart from Stross’s Accelerando. I don’t recall that Shockwave Rider made nearly as big a splash as did Brunner’s earlier Stand on Zanzibar. I felt no urgency about reading SW when it came out, and I read it 49 years later only because of the book club. On the other hand, at the time I liked Stand on Zanzibar. I’ve reread that one, but not recently. Brunner (a Briton) was non-Communist but pretty darn far left, and very critical of American foreign policy, domestic politics, and social structure. I’m not sure if he set so many works in the US just because of the larger book market or because he found something else to like about the country. I rather liked his Spanish-Armada-wins time travel and alt hist, Times Without Number, and I see there is now an expanded version in e-print. I’m not sure if I dare read that or if my more recent Brunner distaste would spoil the memory.

      2. I read “Shockwave Rider” about ten years ago and found it interesting, and prescient when it came to privacy. I still at some level rather want the “Hearing Aid” to be a real thing.

        That said, it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable reading experience and although I acquired some more of his work I’ve never actually read anything else by him.

    3. My friend bought “the-body-in-the-barrel-house.” She didn’t
      know its history and did get quite a deal on it. The neighbours were very happy to have a nice family move. No ghosts, but they did have a few people try to leave a memorial on the property at first.

  21. I finished “The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennett, Witch” by Melinda Taub. I believe I was at 46 or so percent last week when pondering whether to go on or not, and that was pretty much the point where I started finding it interesting. I don’t think I’ll read it again, but it was an interesting take on what happened to Lydia.

    After that, my nightmare disorder started acting up after a few weeks of (relatively) okay sleep, so I was up a lot at night and needed comfort and sure things. Continued on my reread of Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne by breezing through first “Hunted” and then “Shattered” in, I think, about 2 days total. Good stuff that makes me laugh.

    Well, that was that and then I was too exhausted to read more, so I googled “Best sitcoms” to find something to cleance my pallet with and destress the brain. I’ve been searching for something good and fun and smart to watch ever since Ted Lasso last summer and The Good Place (3 or 4 times by now) before that, but it’s surprisingly difficult. I ended up watching “Schitt’s Creek” and I don’t think I have laughed even once, BUT I can not stop watching*! I’m almost at the end of season 4 out of 6 and I just… Send help! Also send me all good recs you can of smart and funny tv-series.
    In the meantime I’ll wait for more GBT-post replies in the hopes of finding something I can read.

    * Thankfully the actors are very good. Maybe that’s why I’m still at it.

    1. Try “Mom”. It’s a Chuck Lorre series, and often lol funny. Trigger warning: alcoholism.

      1. My son Christopher Corbin and I both did mom. I love that serieswritten. And very funny. My son chris was also in our flag means death and I love that show. Oldie but goodie is 30 rock. Also, northern exposure is back on prime. That was the first hour comedy and I love our Abbott elementary. What we do in the shadows is weird and funny.

        1. I’d love to watch the first couple of series of Northern Exposure again. I’ve got the rest on DVD, but I’ve been holding off watching them in the hope the beginning will turn up on Netflix. Looks like I’d better just buy the DVDs.

        2. I did see that you were in it! I’m rewatching, and haven’t gotten to your part yet. So fun!

    2. I adore Schitts Creek. I watched it twice during the pandemic, all the way through. It has a fabulous ending. My husband and I still say “Ew, David” to each other occasionally. Kim’s Convivence is another sitcom style show out of Canada that we enjoyed in my house, although they changed writers for the last two (?) seasons and the new ones clearly didn’t understand the prompt or what they were doing. Skip those.

      We also really liked Our Flag Means Death. The humor is campy, but the found family arc is sweet.

      The Fabulous Mrs. Maisel is a lot of fun and ends well. This is a big requirement for me because people really don’t stick the landing sometimes and it ruins the whole show for me. The Good Place has a fantastic ending, but you already know that.

      Stranger Things is a bit darker and more dire, but it still has that core of found family, everyone helps each other, no one gives up on each other.

      Lets see. Poker Face was fun and fairly light. A little murdery, but colorful.

      And we just finished Station Eleven. Not funny, but a fairly hopeful look at potential apocalypse. It also ends well, if you don’t mind a minor spoiler.

      1. Thanks for the list of recs! Will check them out!
        I’m now more than halfway through S5 of Schitt’s Creek and there really must be *something* that gets me or else I would’ve quit loooong before now, I think. I just can’t figure out what does it. Indeed, the way both David and Alexis say “Ew” about literally ANYTHING is kinda funny. I think the characters are growing on me too, the more they’re becoming real humans instead of condescending snobs. I liked Stevie from the get go. 🙂
        The Good Place does indeed have a fabulous ending. It’s thanks to Jenny talking about the series here back in 2017 or so that I started watching it. It’s good on so many levels.

        1. I think that the hook of Schitt’s Creek is that even though everyone is pretty weird, none of them are judgmental. Like, on a fundamental level no one really thinks less of the others. City or country, they think each other are weird, but they just kinda roll with it and become better versions of themselves without changing all that much. It’s so comforting.

          And the writers kept turning tropes on their heads. I kept expecting stereotypical high drama and the plot would do a 180 and fizzle out… I love stories about nothing.

          1. I think you nailed the description right there! Maybe that’s what kept me. Good thing I wrote about it here, where people get it and can put words to what I couldn’t figure out for myself. Thank you!

          2. I can’t really take the credit.

            My husband has a background in film. He used to read scripts for Warner Bros. We like to watch things together and then have long conversations about what works for us and what doesn’t. I especially enjoy picking apart something that shouldn’t work and trying to figure out why.

            It’s one of the reasons I keep reading The Book of Firsts. I adore it, but it really shouldn’t work as book. It breaks tons of rules that I have been taught.

          3. Yes, but it nails character and community, which I think are the two things that bring people back.
            Plot, while important, only works once. Character and community you want to revisit.
            Or to put it another way, if the characters are flat and unmemorable, but the events of the plot are twisty and interesting, do you reread? You already know the twists, so those are gone. But watching the characters navigate the twists is still fun. Like visiting old friends.
            I think. Could be wrong. Often am.

    3. Only Murders in the Building didn’t hit rewatch level, but the first season two seasons were cozy mystery-esqe. The last season wasn’t bad, just a little scattered. I will watch the next one when it comes out.

    4. If it isn’t too hard to find because it is from 1971, a Mary Tyler Moore marathon should fill the bill. The ensemble is truly stellar and the writing was, as I recall, really good. And if that isn’t enough, you can try the spin-offs , “Rhoda” and “Phyllis”. I particularly like the Phyllis theme song. Where the MTM theme song asks, “Who can turn the world on with a smile?” , the “Phyllis” song asks a similar question and concludes, “Phyllis, it sure isn’t you!”

    5. For me, the secret to watching Schitt’s Creek is to skip season one entirely and start at about episode 4 or so in season 2. Then all the heart comes in.

      1. Interesting. I watched the first half of season 1 when it first came out and, while I love Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara, just didn’t find any of the characters likable or funny. So I didn’t understand when I later heard about how fabulous the show was after I gave up on it. Maybe I’ll have to go back and try it from Season 2 Episode 4.

        1. I got through two and a half episodes before I gave up. Maybe I’ll try again and start with season two.

    6. I’m sure you’ve watched Leverage. there’s also Leverage:redemption – the second season was better than the first.

      Other possibilities… Chuck, IT Crowd, Great British Bake Off/Show or anything else by Love Productions…

  22. Thanks for the rec from last week for His Quiet Agent (M/M, asexual MC, spy stuff). It was the perfect length and not material that I had read before. Very sweet.

    On Book 3 of Rosemary Stevens’ Beau Brummell as a detective series. Very very light. The mysteries are tangential to the regency mores, and it portrays the Beau very favorably. Fun fast reads. Starts with Death on a Silver Tray.

  23. I reread some books, or listened to audiobooks. I watched a lot of streaming video. Nothing worth sharing. Nothing to see here, move along.

  24. My Good Books this week:
    Maisey Yates’ Lost and Found Girl went on sale so I nabbed it. It is more women’s fiction than romance with a mystery, there are a lot of threads but they all weave together in a whole that’s very powerful. It’s a deep story and not a comfortable one in many places but like all her stories there’s an undercurrent of faith, hope and love that keep it from being overwhelmingly dark although there are some hard topics in this book. There are basically 4 romances between the 4 sisters, but Ruby’s story is at the heart of it all and the story never loses its center. Which, honestly, hat’s off to Maisey for pulling this one off. Good book but if you’re having a rough week maybe not the right timing.

    And after that I needed the fun and lighthearted so I went on a Helen Hunting hockey romance bender, starting with 1st book of her new series and then the Pucked series. I really love her books, she does such a good job of showing how hard the hero/heroine fall, the intensity of the emotion, and how instant attraction does not mean problem-solving and communication aren’t required for the HEA. She makes her characters both so likeable and so human, you root for them, you want them to succeed, you believe they deserve to be happy. Seriously, good romance that’s also genuinely funny is hard to come by so I’m hoovering up the backlist while we wait for more Jenny/Bob.

  25. Mixed reading this week.
    Read ‘Always’ by Loren Leigh cos I’d liked her other one. MM college romance. Nice characters, some good writing and at times too much plot so it was a bit crazy at the end tying things up (I know I’ve complained about lack of plot before).

    Then back to baseball, Christina Lee, Home Plate which was nice enough.
    Followed by another MM baseball which had practically no baseball and less plot, held together by lots of smut (which doesn’t bother me as long as there’s a story going on somewhere) so I got bored and DNFd at 60% and felt I should have gone sooner.

    Complete reading contrast with Philip Roth Everyman for my book club. I liked it for a lot of reasons and we’d good discussion.

    On audio I’m enjoying Ali Hazelwood, Love Theoretically. The reader is great. Not sure the plot can last another six hours but I’ll see.

  26. Best reads this week:
    A Nobleman’s Guide to Seducing a Scoundrel – KG Charles is so good at characterisation, and I swear her books are getting better and better. This was a delightful sequel.

    After That Night by Karin Slaughter. This is part of the Will Trent/Sara Linton series, so nail biting and horrifying in parts, but also brilliant. She is such a good writer and storyteller, I was on the edge of my seat for the whole book. Trigger warnings galore.

    I’ve also been reading letters that my great grandmother’s siblings and mother wrote to her from Scotland when she came out to Australia in 1861. I have a huge pile of them, preserved down through the years by various relatives, and a cousin and I are transcribing them. They are fascinating reading, both in learning more about the individuals involved and in terms of social history. They were a very close family, and they clearly expected that my great-grandmother and her husband would go back to Scotland at some stage, but she never did. Her grandchildren, my father and aunts, still referred to Scotland as ‘home’ even though they’d never been there.

    1. My MIL is far from an avid reader, but she loves Karin Slaughter. Maybe I should give her books a go. Edge-of-the-seat-reading sounds great. 🙂

      1. While many people enjoy Karin Slaughter’s books I find them a little too violent, intense and gruesome for me. Your mileage may vary of course.

        1. Gary, I have so little tolerance for violent gruesome books – but somehow I can cope with hers. Maybe because the moral code in her books is strong? Not sure what it is, but I do love them.

      2. I can’t fault her books, Shass. The Will Trent series is my favourite, he’s a delightful character though the early books in the series are frustrating because he keeps going back to an abusive wife.

    2. Ooh, I envy those letters. I have bits of memoir from my paternal grandmother, but that’s about as far back as anyone seems to have kept records.

      1. They are such a wonderful thing to have, Shass. We also have my great grandmother’s shipboard diary of her 3-month trip to Australia. Fascinating stuff, and she was a talented writer, so very readable, too.

        My family on both sides was very good at keeping letters!

    3. Lian, I’m glad you’re transcribing the letters. That’s the sort of family tale that I love to hear about. To think that there’s a place that is recalled as the source of the family — even if no future generations return to it — sounds like an immigrant motif.

      1. Elizabeth, one of the things that’s so fascinating is that we’re kind of getting to know these people who we’ve never met. My dad lived with his grandmother as a boy, so we heard stories of her as an old woman, wheelchair bound, but now we’re getting – secondhand from her brothers and sister – a sense of her as a young woman. Plus of course all the family gossip about young Gracie who is in Glasgow chasing after beaux, and old Mrs McDougall who was knocked down by a horse and cart … It’s lovely stuff to read.

  27. Read W.R. Gingell’s series Shards of a Broken Sword, which consists of 3 fantasy novellas: Twelve Days of Faery (#1), Fire in the Blood (#2), and The First Chill of Autumn (#3). I liked them, especially the first two. Lots of magic, nothing was explained, the action galloped in all directions, and if a reader expected some kind of logic, she would be disappointed. I didn’t expect logic, so I enjoyed this whimsical series.
    The only novella in the collection that was actually about the shards of a broken sword was #3, and I liked it least. Unlike the other two, which read like a cheerful and slightly bizarre mix of fairy tales, fantasy, and myth, this one reminded me too much of the real world in the here and now. It was scary and disturbing. The parallels were glaring, and the charm of fiction was almost stripped from the story. Instead, real life politics intertwined with the plot to an alarming degree, despite the trappings of fantasy and magic. The ending was sad, even tragic, as if the author couldn’t extricate her heroes from the trap closing around them. Just like in real life. But if I wanted to read about the current events and get depressed, I would’ve read the news. After the first two uplifting stories, the third one was really disheartening.
    Tanya Huff’s Blood Trail (1992) was #2 in the series. A re-read, it continued the story of Vicki Nelson, a Toronto PI, her friend, a police Detective Michael Celluci, and a vampire romance writer Henry Fitzroy. It also introduced new characters – a family of werewolves. Just like Huff’s vampire, her werewolves are out of the common mold. They are not immortal, nor super-powerful. They are just people who have, besides a human form, an additional furry form. Their lycanthropy is not a virus; they are simply born this way, from werewolf parents, like any other race. They live in secret alongside humans, and someone has been killing them. So they hired Vicki to investigate. I enjoyed their story.
    Also, after several comments her about Jayne Castle’s re-reading, I decided to follow the trend. Her dust bunny novels are such a comfort read. I’ve already finished two novels and now am in the middle of the third one. Charming, as always.

    1. What with all the dust-bunny mentionings over the last weeks, I kinda feel I need to go check these books out. 🙂

      1. I’ve never tried rereading the first book in the series, Shass. It was the first by Jayne Ann Krentz that wasn’t a keeper for me. There was a long gap before the rest of the series – or that might be due to me being in the UK. Anyway, don’t give up if you don’t love the first one. (I then found the later ones too samey, but I’ve got a handful that I reread.)

      2. I read all of her pen names once upon a time Jayne Anne Krentz, Stephanie James, Jayne Castle and Amanda Quick.

        I really liked a couple of them. She has a unique voice and it was a different kind of story telling. They are a little dated when it comes to gender roles, especially the James pen name and I eventually had the same problem as JaneB. Her later books especially are very much the same. I don’t have the urge to revisit these.

  28. Mostly SF this week for me. My favs were:

    Suzanne Palmer’s Bot 9 novella series on Clarkesworld — thank you again, Yuri, for the recommendation! Starts with “The Secret Life of Bots” here: https://clarkesworldmagazine.com/palmer_09_17/ (all three so far are available for free in that online magazine) These had a bit of what I love about Murderbot and ART’s interactions, though they’re very much their own thing. I love bots with great voices.

    Catherynne Valente’s novel Space Opera, pitched as A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision, where the aliens come and insist that humanity compete in an intergalactic music competition for their survival. Yes, they have a band picked out — but it’s a one-hit wonder glam rock band that fell apart years before. I absolutely love the over-the-top absurdity of the language riffs and digressions of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and this is maybe the closest to that I’ve read (while also being very much its own thing.) Valente’s tone always fits the work, so this isn’t like her others, but I think her books are always brilliantly constructed, and I love the way she uses language. I also loved the Bowie vibe, the twists on our world, and the aliens that felt incredibly alien, and the humans who felt all too human.

    1. Suzanne Palmer has a SF series that I really liked, and would recommend. Trying to remember names. One of the books is called Finder, I think.

      1. Just looked it up and it’s Finder; Driving the Deep; The Scavenger Door; and a new book, Ghostdrift, which is coming out in May. It’s space opera-ish.

        1. I really like this series, and am delighted to hear that a new book is coming out!

        2. I had never encountered Palmer’s work until I heard her give a reading at an sf con. I was really impressed and went up and told her so afterward, and I have (off and on) been following her writing ever since.

        3. I saw those! So glad to hear some of you enjoyed those too — I’ll have to check them out!

    2. I’m so happy you like Bot 9. Makes me feel all warm inside to know people enjoy something I recommended!

      1. It’s the best feeling, isn’t it? I recommended them to a friend who enjoyed them too. And I don’t keep up with short SF and never would have found them otherwise!

  29. I read the misfits by Lisa Yee, which is a middle grade and I loved it. Now I’m on legends and lattes also loving it. I bought new books for my queue. The ban rd bookshop of Maggie Banks and The Miniscule Mansion of Myra Malone. They also had some Noel StreetField on sale so I bought that. I haven’t read ballet shoes in a long time and then there was a collection of her Christmas stories which I’m pretty sure I never read. Happy reading all. And of course I want Jenny’s egg cup stories. I love the pictures on Facebook.

  30. I’ve been re-reading the Temeraire series by Naomi Novik; although, I’ve not been reading in order. I’m hopscotching through the books as I keep being reminded of favorite scenes from the various books. In case people don’t know about this series, this was Novik’s homage to the Patrick O’Brien Aubrey and Maturin series. Only with dragons! Dragons are huge and most dragons in the British Aviator Corps fly with multiple people on their backs, or hooked to their sides and stomachs.

    I’ve also picked up and read all of Suzanne Palmer’s Bot short stories, thanks to some recommendations I found on a blog recommending Hugo nominations. I also bought several books based on those recommendations. I just need to stop reading the Temeraire books.

  31. I can feel myself slipping into self-indulgent ‘buy the rest of X series’ territory. My inner schoolmarm says ‘read what’s already on your kindle!’ My inner housecat says ‘do what you f*****g want!’ Any bets on who wins?

    1. ‘The True Love Experiment’ by Christina Lauren, F/M contemporary feat. a successful romance author who’s lost her mojo and a documentary producer whose boss demands he helm a reality dating show; he manages to recruit the author to be his star. Hijinks ensue. This was a really good book, funny & touching & in most respects believable, but the Black Moment annoyed the crap out of me and then, at the denouement, an obstacle that was insurmountable ten seconds ago is suddenly not even worth mentioning. Didn’t stick the landing, in other words.

    2. ‘The Gauntlet Runner’ by J. Scott Coatsworth, 2nd in a SF/F series, for which I was helping pitch Book 3 so I had to read Book 2, right? It’s not my genre of choice but I enjoyed it.

    3-4. [re-read] my own M/M novels ‘A Little Turn,’ featuring a 36 yr old who realizes he’s gay, and ‘Giving It Up,’ featuring an actor who comes out at 38 even though he knows it will probably cost him his career.

    5. ‘A Marriage of Inconvenience’ by M.C. Beaton, a quite funny Regency involving an arranged marriage, intentional misrepresentation, an evil X (truly evil! attempted rape), a cute secondary couple, lots of stupid shenanigans.

    5.5 ‘3 Dukes & the Tower of Time’ by Will Forrest, novelette, queer historical fantasy erotica + suspense which I thought, taken in combination with the preceding 2 stories, added up to some really surprising and thoughtful character development.

    6. [re-read] my own novellas ‘Revved Up,’ F/M Hollywood romance with a background coordinator and an actor; and ‘Here to Stay,’ M/M later-in-life romance feat. a Sinatra tribute singer and a dance trainer.

    7. ‘More Than Words’ by Becca Neil, a debut M/M that I would’ve rated higher had it not omitted what, to me, was the more interesting part of the MCs’ story, i.e. how they got to the starting point of this book. Much repetition of a certain type of scene, and not much to show how both MCs have addressed a serious case of post-assault PTSD. Good premise, plenty of research, the characters are clearly thought through, but too many questions left unanswered on the page for me (starting with: why and how did these two fall in love). If you are looking for a hurt/comfort romance that is all about the hurt and the comfort, this is the book for you.

    1. Go with the housecat. They are the happiest people I know.

      And Christina Lauren always annoys me. I have given up on them (I think it’s a two person writing team) because the go full face plant on the ending so often and it leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth even though I like that characters and the writing.

      1. I was disappointed. 🙁 The rest of it was so good. They already had this big legit obstacle that was part of the story throughout, and then out of nowhere this I CAN’T and I thought YEAH ME NEITHER.

        1. Ugh. Bleh. Argh. The near misses are the worst.

          The last one for me had drunken sex on the fmc’s part compounded by a secret/surprise baby. Haven’t had the courage or patience to try again since.

  32. I’ve been reading the Flavia Albia historical series by Lindsey Davis which is set in ancient Rome and features a female private investigator. I am really enjoying the author’s sly sense of humor, and it seems like a very painless way to learn more about life in Imperial Rome.

    1. I think I read one Flavia Albia book but don’t remember it well. I gave up on the author’s Falco series after a while because it was getting more and more deliberately anachronistic. I think the travel agency was the last straw. So I suspect other Rome-set mystery series might be more reliable guides to history than ones by Lindsey Davis. Some are written by women, but I can’t offhand think of any other Roman-Empire mysteries with female protagonists. There probably are some, though.

      To address an old question, yes, I’m a male who probably gives at least passing thought nearly daily to the Roman Empire. But apart from other things, the whole New Testament happens there, after all.

      1. Agreed. When I read, as when I Google or the like, I always look for multiple reliable sources before I tentatively accept a representation as factual. And even then I keep an open mind. But in this case, I am enjoying reading words and concepts new to me like aedile and Saturnalia. They inspire me to research them to learn more!

  33. I listened to Sharoo Izadi being interviewed on youtube & was intrigued enough to add the audiobookstore app on my phone & buy the audiobook for The Kindness Method. So far I have only gotten to the end of chapter 2. As self help books go a combination of listening instead of reading & the content itself is making it palatable for me, unlike most self-help books.

    I wrote a blogpost review of Haroun and the Sea of Stories written by Salman Rushdie. Years ago I came across a version in the library that was read by Salman Rushdie & it captured me. So good.

    I read the blogpost for critique at my writers group & it got raves. Someone told me Salman Rushdie wrote a partial memoir called Joseph Anton. I got that to read on Libby but I haven’t started it yet.

    On to Jayne Castle’s dust bunnies. There are two different schools of thought about her books written about the land of Harmony. One says there are 10 books in the series. The other says there are 15 books out and a new one coming out soon.

    I love them so I go the 16 route.

    1 After Dark 2 After Glow 3 Ghost Hunter 4 Silver Master 5 Dark Light 6 Obsidian Prey 7 Midnight Cyrstal 8 Canyons of Night 9 The Lost Night 10 Deception Cove 11 The Hot Zone 12 Siren’s Call 13Illusion Town 14Guild Boss 15 Sweetwater and the Witch – new one People In Glass Houses

    I am currently on a second back to back reread. I just finished Obsidian Prey & am started on Midnight Crystal.

    To me they start out good and get better as they go along. The dust bunnies become more animated. Harmony is flushed out. I love the heroines from book 1 on. They are fiesty and strong and intelligent. I love the heros also. They are not alpha males but they are strong.

    Even if you just read the first few – you will enjoy them.

  34. This week “Murder with Peacocks” by Donna Andrews kept me up way too late laughing. Thank-you so much to all the many Arghers who recommended this series!

    “Traced” by Catherine Jinks was a surprisingly tense thriller, and not particularly concerned with COVID despite the protagonist’s day job. Instead it was a woman trying to protect her family from an abusive son-in-law.

    And I agree with everyone else that “Bookshops and Bonedust” was a sweet cosy fantasy and very enjoyable. Nice to see Viv in an earlier adventure.

    1. I love Donna Andrews and never would have tried the series had it not been for Argh recommendations. I have read them all over the past year or so, purchased and read in “on sale” order which didn’t diminish the effect at all.

      I’m all caught up with the series and am eagerly waiting for the next releases in August and December. I am still impressed how the series had improved over the years.

  35. Maybe jumping into a flash fiction for no other reason than PLAY gives the creative side of our brain a jolt of energy. I recently watched an episode Erin French’s LOST KITCHEN where a farmer’s cows were let out & literally jogged from the barn on the first nice, spring day. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve watched bovines cavorting in the new spring grass. The joy! That’s our brains playing, writing for the fun of it instead of getting everything “right” for publication. Of course we all want to read your egg cup fictions:)

  36. I’ve picked up some interesting book recommendations from this blog and the replies so I wanted to share the book I just finished in about 1 day. I am an Audible book reader but I really enjoy the ones with excellent narrators. And these do!
    Murder at an Irish Chipper: An Irish Village Mystery, Book 10, by Carlene O’Connor. I have enjoyed all of the books in this series and typically listen to them over and over. I’ve recommended them to friends who’ve also enjoyed.

    1. I’ve read other mysteries set in Ireland, but this series does not look familiar, so I just downloaded a sample from the first one. I’m borrowed to the limit on KU and some of my ebook library cards, so I’m down to samples from Kindle and tags in Libby to mark anything interesting. (Or my look-for list for items where I don’t yet know a supplier.)

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