196 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 21, 2024

  1. In the past week, I read (and reread multiple times) the sequel/spinoff novella to the M/M fantasy romance novel, A Taste of Gold and Iron by Alexandra Rowland. It’s called Tadek and the Princess, featuring, you guessed it, Tadek, the great side character in the other book. It takes place soon after the first book ends, and it would *not* work as a standalone. However, ATOGAI is great, so I highly recommend that you read it anyway.

    Back to Tadek and the Princess: it is not a romance, but it *is* a beautifully written, gorgeously sad, heartbreaking book about fealty, devotion, and grief. It ends on a hopeful note, but the usual HEA doesn’t apply here. We get lots of insight into Tadek’s character. We also get to spend more time with Kadou and Evemer (and we do get to see some of their HEA).

    I saw that she has another novel set in that world coming out in June, and I thought this was maybe the set-up to a great romance for Tadek. However, it appears that it doesn’t feature any characters from ATOGAI.

    Has anyone read any of her other books? Do you have any recommendations?

    1. I’m reading Tadek and the Princess now. Love being back in this world. Thank you for the recommendation!

    2. I liked her first book “A Conspiracy of Truths”, although its not always a successful book. Set in a different part of the same world, very much not a romance, rather its about an old man who makes a lot of trouble. Her second book “A Choir of Lies” is a direct follow-on, featuring the old man’s apprentice. How much you like them probably depends on how much you like unreliable narrators. I also read a novella of hers “Over all the Earth” which I rather liked. You could probably read them in any order – the characters are linked but the events stand alone.

      1. Oops, belatedly remembered Rowland’s pronouns are they/their.

        And now I want to re-read “A Taste of Gold & Iron”.

  2. I was happily working my way through the Art of Crime series by Josh Lanyon, blissfully unaware that Hoopla only has books 1,2 and 4. When you finish one book in a series it cues up the next one for you to borrow and I clicked without reading the description. I got very confused. So after finishing book four, I bought 3 and 5 on Audible. 5 ended in a bit of a cliffhanger so I am a bit hungover now. I have to go research when the next one comes out.

    1. It’s not clear to me that she’s even writing a 6th book! Which would totally be a drag.

    2. I know that Lanyon hangover feeling! A while back she said there would be a book 6 in the Art of Murder series called the Medicine Man Murders (I think.) But no firm date has been mentioned … I’m on the lookout too!

      1. I still have more standalones on Hoopla, but I was in the zone with that series…

        I haven’t started an unfinished series in a while. I forget what it feels like.

        1. Well don’t read any TA Moore then. Her canon is littered with Book I’s and then….nothing.

          1. YES! I would love to read the ARC! Seriously that series did it for me and the lack of part 3 felt like when you are on the treadmill and it suddenly stops.

        2. Yes, it is NOT a good feeling. I am still traumatized by having read the first 2 of Taylor Fitzpatrick’s series “Between the Teeth” hockey series (which were truly excellent) and then discovering it ended on a cliff hanger and there was going to be a book 3. And book 3 is nowhere on the horizon. I tried to read via A03 but I get confused by A03. So I wait…

          1. Oh I can send you the ARC for the whole thing if you want – although she is making a lot of changes for the published book.

          2. Christina, send me an email at tammy at hrtransformations dot com and I’ll send you the ARC. Plus if you also want, I have my own collection of David/Jake outtakes, alternate pov’s, alternate universes, etc. that Taylor wrote about them. It’s quite the tome at this point.

  3. I finished Nora Roberts’ Inheritance and enjoyed it a lot. I also listened to Kristin Hannah’s The Women. I have mixed feelings about it, but it was a heroic project and her writing is as splendid as ever.

    1. I read The Women. The first half of the book is about a freshly minted nurse joining the army because she read her brother’s letters from Vietnam and what he wrote encouraged her to join. Spoilers, but not. Sadly, she learned from being a combat nurse what we learned over the course of her enlistment. The second half of the book is about her returning home and what she encounters.

      Over the course of a few years, I would drive by a memorial to the nurses who served in Vietnam to the point it just becoming part of my route. I googled it to make sure that it was for the nurses and over time the memorial grew to include an MIA, KIA and Agent Orange memorials. Just saying.

  4. Still very slow in reading – I’ve read a lot of samples but mainly deleted them afterwards.
    What I did read was Let’s do this by Loren Leigh which I had tried last year and dnf. Two members of a college hockey team realizing that they are not only best buddies and very close friends, but develop(ed) deeper feelings. Ends with them getting careers in the NHL and becoming the first married couple doing so. A bit like a fairy tale.

    Plus: Burkhammer and Shaw are really great characters, loving, kind, fierce. Friends to lovers trope – one of my favourites.
    Contra: not enough college (studying is not on the page), too little actual hockey (so this might actually be a plus for many readers), a bit too many pages spent on them between the sheets (I understand – early stage of getting to know each other as more than friends, but I rarely care for this unless it’s Heated Rivalry where the smut scenes are actually character/relationship development).

    Also the book was a bit too “wordy” for me – hard to describe what I mean by this. Some authors manage to convey so much (content and between the lines content) with just the right amount of word count (see Dick Francis in his prime). Which I love. Probably because that’s so not one of my own talents.

    Anyway: in spite of the contras a nice read.
    Now reading Game Changer by Rachel Reid because I wanted to read it for some time and dd was shocked that she didn’t start the Game Changer series with book 1 (she likes her reading orderly). Then she dnf. Didn’t compare well with Heated Rivalry.
    I do understand. It’s book 1, I’d guess also the debut of RR. I do like it so far 🙂 Plenty of hockey, so I’m good.

    Looking forward to many new books to be out soon (e.g. Unrivaled off season by Kane/James and a new mystery by KJ Charles).

    1. Talking about hockey: not good for reading time but exciting was going to my second ever hockey game of my local team. Playoffs round 1, game 2. Very heated atmosphere on the ice, plenty of scrums, a fair bit of fighting (the opponents got desperate when about to lose the second game in a row). The three of us with a great view of the ice/our goal post. Very, very exciting.
      Mind you, our old arena is tiny, just about 600 people if sold out. The new arena is about to be opened in September – with a game against the Buffalo Sabres.
      Keep fingers crossed that we manage to snatch tickets!! JJ Peterka /Buffalo Sabres is from Munich, very very exciting to have him come back!

      1. Last night I went to my first NHL game and am still all jazzed. My husband loved it too!! I cannot believe I have gone all these years without hockey!

        1. That’s fantastic, Christina!
          Even more so if the men in our life finally have some non-girly activity to share in, LOL.
          My hubby gets family bonus points because he usually knows about hockey stuff like rules (I don’t), and dd’s brother is a well of knowledge as well (he usually is in all things sporty, but this is rarely appreciated by dd. Here it is :-))

          Have heard that the PWHL match between the both top teams was sold out in minutes. Great!

          I’ve looked up the ticket prizes of NHL games after a clip on youtube hinted at the prices: wow, most tickets cost a fortune.

          In our rather run-down Olympic arena, standing tickets for the playoffs only cost 19 Euro each.
          Much more costly for seats, but still under 50 Euro. Regardless of where you sit. And dd is very apt at getting good tickets 😉 We’ll have almost front seats on Sunday. So pumped up!

          Now dd, who’s into collecting Merch is debating getting her first jersey. Only costs about half of what our fav football (soccer) team charges. So I’m tempted, too LOL.

          1. Yes, ticket prices are insane for NHL games. Even in the nosebleed section. Not gonna be an everyday outing in this household, sadly. But you have given me the idea that we should plan our trips to Europe for hockey season… I’m going to explore ACHL games too and perhaps incorporate them in our travels. A whole new world has opened up!!
            As for merch — I totally see that in my future.

          2. When you plan to come and see games in Europe, let me know!!
            Must also be thrilling to watch games in Finland, Sweden and Czechia.
            What I realized far too late, my cousins son was goalie to the youth/u20 team in north italy (south tyrol) until he “retired” to go to uni.

          3. Does PWHL stand for “people with hot lips” or “people with hot legs”? Those of us on the outside would like to know.

          4. Jinx, sadly PWHL only stsnds for Professional Women’s Hockey League.
            Which does not rule out the players having hot lips 😉

          1. Capitals vs Maple Leafs. Toronto trounced the Caps 7-3. Very exciting game. Of course, consider the source: I was already excited at the warmups! 🙂

          2. Yes, aren’t the warm ups terrific?!!
            At my first game we had fiest row seats and when both teams and the refs got on the ice, the speed was electrifying!!
            Sigh!

    2. I also took out Let’s Do This on Kindle Unlimited and part way through the first chapter realized I’d read it before, hadn’t loved it then – for many of the reasons you mention above – and didn’t love it now. So sent it back to KU. And reread A Time to Shine instead.

    3. I liked Let’s Do This, but I’d agree with all the cons you list. So it’s not a favourtie, but the style was a bit different which I liked.

      1. After my dd’s “verdict” I had low expectations, so I’m enjoying it now. A lot.
        And it’s fascinating how this sub-genre has taken off since the title was published!

        1. What bothers me a bit: the famous hockey player in the closet is rather trusting with the other non-celeb MC. Good gut feeling, but still, they don’t really know each other a lot.

  5. Best book I read this week was The Musician and the Monster by Jenna Keefe (PS – I love the description of the author as a “Pacific Northwest librarian”. I picture many Pacific Northwest librarians hiding away behind their counters quietly writing sexy M/M fantasy romances.). Anyway, the elf emissary from an alternate universe has been living in the US to learn about music of the earth and is lonely, so accepts the companionship of a musician who has to repay the debts of his parents. That all sounds fairly typical and has the potential to be silly, but then…it just gets way more interesting. It’s well written and plotted, great characters, fascinating exploration of music, and I was really surprised. I want this librarian to write many more books.

    I also read a collection of short stories from MCA Hogarth’s ‘peltaverse’, To The Court of Love, still a place I want to spend more time in.

    Then the second in RJ Scott and VL Lacey’s LA Storm hockey series, aptly named Second. The first was Script which I enjoyed much more – for you hockey lovers, I’d recommend that.

    From the Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling In Love genre, I tried In His Sights by KC Wells and I also tried to like it but…the MC’s simply weren’t drawn or differentiated enough. So back to Josh Lanyon’s two short stories collections and Stranger on the Shore – totally solid.

    1. Have already read Script 🙂
      Not sure about Second – there doesn’t seem to be much hockey, or am I mistaken?

    2. Was just about to post a request for what to hockey series to read next. Have just downloaded Script! Thanks!

      1. Script was fun, but I haven’t been called by the second in the series. I do like when there is lots of hockey (or baseball etc.)

        1. Yes, me too. Btw, have you found any really good baseball series? The ones I’ve read are all pretty meh…

          1. There are two baseball books by Jill Shalvis that I can recommend. Fairly long time ago.

        2. Same here.
          The book takes place in the off season.
          Actor needs hockey lessons and I could have done with more training scenes.

      1. I think you’d like it. Especially the deep dive into music of all kinds. Even I (whose best friend too me after I started dating my husband that he’d finally changed my pedestrian taste in music) can appreciate the dialogue.

        1. I’m no much of a music person either, but I used to like rock star romance, so I think I can enjoy the setting.

        1. Sorry, that was supposed to be a reply agreeing I like the sound of it and will put it on my list. That basically means downloading a sample and reading it when I get around to it.

    3. I found two books titled “The Musician and the Monster” one of which isn’t released yet and one of which is by Jenya Keefe and the book description would NOT have gotten me if you hadn’t recommended it. Added to wishlist and must try to remember why!

      1. My library is having a breakdown. My search for Musician and the Monster got me Anne Rice, Ramses the Damned.
        😊 Will try later.

  6. I can’t seem to stop reading DE Stevenson. Every time I think I have got to the end of them, I find another one I fancy reading.
    I think it is partly because I am getting to the stressful part of the University term and they are a good distraction from all that.

      1. Does she have a long backlist because I may never come back from the fifties at this rate!

        1. There are five that were written by the original author, Heron Carvic, and then Hamilton Crane took over, and people say they aren’t as good. I haven’t got to them yet, however.

      2. Thanks for tje recommendation, I’ve just added Picture miss Seeton to my TBR list.

        If you like DE Stevenson, you might also like Elizabeth Cadell. She is from the same era, writes mild romances and romance mysteries, and has an enormous backlist that has been turned into e-books recently.
        I haven’t read all of them, and some may not be as good, but I really liked these mild English romances: Out of the rain, Honey for tea, Any two can play, and Remains to be seen.

        1. Delurking to say – I’m a huge DE Stevenson fan and Elizabeth Cadell too – really lovely gentle books. And I often a consider a third author – I think just because I fell into reading her at the same time and that is Lucilla Andrews (mostly medical based).

      3. Miss Read is another “vintage” author that, like D. E. Stevenson, has a long list you can lose yourself in.

        Now I need to find Miss Seeton…

  7. We listened to The Running Man by Stephen King on our way to Grandpa’s.

    Am currently reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro.

    We will be listening to Another Fine Myth by Robert Asprin on the way home today.

      1. So far I’m enjoying it! Very well written, and fairly original. 75% done.
        A bit of a morality mind bend…

  8. Some good reading this week- with a couple of definite rereads.

    Burner Account, LA Witt. MM hockey, a nice hockey player/ordinary person story, with realistic issues. Reread for me at some point. Not angsty though it is LA Witt

    Love and other inconveniences Catherine Cloud also MM hockey. Really good, she writes in a low key, undramatic way but the books have real feelings. Will have to ration the last of her three novels that I haven’t read (Adrian Bradley’s Best Mistake). I’ll save it for a day I just want to be totally lost in a book (and don’t need to get anything else done!). Meanwhile there are rereads.

    Injured reserve, LA Witt (I’m on a roll here, currently in the middle of another one I’ll wrtie about next week). This is unusual as it is about a married couple (MM) with one a hockey player. Not really angsty but as it is about marriage break up and also concussion and injury it is not very light. Slow at times but I liked it.

    The Tammy’s rec from last year Two for Tea, CM Nacosta. I loved the setting and some of the characters, but I am not sure jumping in mid series was good. It is short and towards the end I realised there was a lot of story that was going to take place in another book… which I will check out at some point as I did like the tea shop and the characters. Also, this was my intro to tentacles!… if it can be counted that that (not sure of the definitions).

    On audio, Love Theoretically, Ali Hazelwood, I bailed with 2 hours to go. It seemed like the story was already resolved, I didn’t need to hear more, which was disappointing. As is common enough, I liked it more in the beginning than later on, and when they finally got to bed it just seemed to go on and on. It’s easier to skim written stuff than listening.

    Finally, just to note, I went to cancel my KU, cos I find I end up reading books that are there rather than necessarily the ones I would otherwise choose. However, when I cancelled it, I got an offer of 3 months for one, which I took. It might be worth cancelling occasionally to get a better deal.

    1. I’m a pretty big CM Nascosta fan, but I don’t know if I have enough of a handle on your taste to know which one to recommend.

      Two for Tea is definitely not a finished romance or even her best romance. I love it dearly for the depiction of depression which I think is more realistic than the norm and the setting and fashion. Also, I have come to realize that I really like books about nothing or almost nothing.

      She has a pretty wide range as an author. She plays with a lot of tropes and different levels of smut. Morning Glory Milking Farm was her first big hit and I really like it. It is also probably her most traditional romance. Run Run Rabbit is also strong, but with acknowledged deeply problematic scenarios. That is part of what makes it good, in my opinion, but it doesn’t hit comfort reread level, partly because of the angst.

      I come back to Girls Weekend pretty regularly, but that is at least in part because it has a certain cozy vibe. Also, that series isn’t finished yet.

      And as always YMMV. It’s nice to have someone else try these books 🙂

      1. And Lupe, I really do think you should take a look at the Dreamhealers series by MCA Hogarth – they mostly are low angst and about nothing – sort of cozy sci fi, if there is such a genre. Only ones I know of.

        1. I have the first one and they are definitely on my list too, it’s just that there is no audiobook option and I am very bad at committing time to sit down and read an actual book. But it sounds like exactly what I like.

        2. Low angst and about nothing might also describe Jerry Boyd’s Bob Saucer Repair series aka the Bob and Nikki series, which I have mentioned here before, and E.M. Foner’s Independent Living series, aka EarthCent Universe series, which I think I have also mentioned. Boyd has written little outside his long series. Foner has written various other series related to Independent Living and I think also some independent books. The related series are similar low angst; I’m not sure about the independent books. Both authors generally write light humor with some incidental romance. I like most of the Boyd books. Foner is so prolific that I’m falling behind, but I liked Independent Living and its next few sequels best among his various series.

    2. A new tentacle friend! yes! she shoots she scores!

      I love Nascosta too – Run Rabbit Run is probably my favourite.

      I have to say I’ve liked all Ali Hazelwood’s other STEM books much better than this one. And do try Bride – I think it’s a book that a lot of Arghers would like actually.

      1. Agree the depiction of depression was very good in Two for Tea and I liked the writing. I’ll check out Run Rabbit Run.

        I was tempted by Bride as I’ve heard good things, but for some unknown reason I didn’t pick it. Next time!!

        1. I did the same thing with Bride. I have heard good things but have stopped short of picking it up. Not sure why.

        2. I had been resisting Bride because it was listed as YA, but I just got a copy from the library, so I will let you know how I like it.

      2. I’m almost halfway through Bride right now and I’m going “Will something happen? Please?” Things have happened; plot and character development have been committed. And yet it doesn’t feel that way. I find myself frequently inclined to give up on the sagging middle lately.

        1. Me too, I grew up on fleet-footed, no-words-wasted mysteries, so overly-leisurely storytelling is a distinct turnoff. Like, if nothing much is happening, how about you simply don’t write this part, hmm? Skip forward? Get a move on?

          1. Things were happening. It just didn’t feel like it. I slogged through to the end this afternoon and it was worth it, but it should have been a novella.

          2. I, too, grew up on fleet-footed mysteries, but also on fat, slowly wandering 19th century classics. If there is slowness, it should be the turn in the river where interesting detritus collects.

          3. Now there’s a line! “If there is slowness, it should be the turn in the river where interesting detritus collects.”

            And hey, I’m sagging in the middle, but some people still like me. 🤪

      3. I thought the heroine in Run run rabbit is appallingly treated by the hero. I couln’t see a HEA or even a HFN for them.

        I enjoyed the Girl weekend books. Very smutty but sweet too.

          1. I’ll have to reread. I just was so apprehensive about her when I read it that I couldn’t relax. Sometimes rereading a book makes it easier.

        1. LN, I read Moon Blood Breeding Clinic first (I don’t care for either main character in that one. They are both so immature. It’s like reading Emma), which follows the younger Hemming brother and Vanessa is in there as a supporting character, so I knew she ended somewhere ok. And I read the Lupercalia short story on the author’s patreon that became this book later, so I knew that I liked her.

          It’s a tough book. I took it as the author trying to do a realistic take on the problematic trope of a workplace romance, but she is upfront about it. I think that she called both characters terrible people at one point. They are broken and make very unhealthy choices, but they do come out at a better place imo.

          I’m really looking forward to the next one, an enemies to lovers romance between competing florists with language of the flowers hate bouquets going back and forth!

  9. I had a couple of disappointments: first I followed Ada Maria Soto’s His Quiet Agent with its sequel, Agents of Winter, and felt rather conned. I enjoyed the first book, but it’s a novella rather than a novel, and I wanted to know more about the characters. But the sequel meandered and in the end I felt she should have used an editor and structured the whole thing into a single book. There were big gaps even after the second one; or rather, my disbelief couldn’t stay suspended. Which is a pity: I did like the characters.

    So then I tried another by Jesse Sutanto, having had fun with Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers last week. Tried the sample of Dial A for Aunties and bought the book even though I hadn’t taken to the heroine – since Vera had grown on me. But this time I bailed out soon after: did not like the characters or the farcical story.

    Ended up (after all the talk here) rereading Jayne Castle’s early Harmony books, starting with After Glow. Currently on Silver Master and enjoying the comfort reads.

    1. I remember His Quiet Agent as being one of my favorite reads of whatever year I read it. Also thought the follow-up was a let down.

      1. Jayne Castle is the pseudonym Jayne Ann Krentz uses for her fantasy novels. My favourites are the trilogy Amaryllis, Zinnia and Orchid. The protagonists discover they have a psychic as well as a romantic connection, and the stories are fun mysteries. Like her later, much longer Harmony series, the setting is a world where human settlers were unexpectedly cut off from contact with Earth and created rather old-fashioned societies as they struggled to survive.

        1. I just started Amaryllis. It will probably be better when I get into it, but I really hate it when an author (and Castle is far from the only offender) opens with a flatly unbelievable, “Oh, we’ve just landed on an alien planet where all of a sudden for no good reason all the laws of nature have gone out the window.” What the devil is wrong with using an honest portal to get into a fantasy world where the laws can be anything you like? FAR more amenable to suspending disbelief.

          1. These books are fun but require heavy suspension of disbelief – nothing is going to make sense 🙂

          2. Agreed, Yuri. And her naming of animals, plants, etc, gets annoying. I’m afraid it’s not going to be your cup of tea, Patrick.

  10. After finishing JAK’s Harmony series, I read her Dreamlight trilogy written by her three personas. Also read Amanda Quick’s Mistress and moved on to her Jayne Castle St. Helen’s trilogy with Amaryllis, Zinnia and currently reading the third, Orchid.

    In between I reread a couple of old Harlequin Presents.

  11. I read Paladin’s Faith, by T. Kingfisher. It stars Marguerite, a character from book one, who was very intriguing. As we learn more about her, we find that her life can be boring, at times. This book started slow, and included some sexual tension, but it took a long time to get going, and then it slowed down, again! I was not as drawn in by this book’s premise, and the ending was kind of a Deus ex Machina thing. I’m not sure I will reread it, if I start this series again. I felt meh after I finished it.

    I am rereading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in preparation for the Kansas City Symphony event in April. They will play the score while a huge screen shows Part II of Deathly Hallows behind them. This is the last movie of the series. I have only seen Part I with the symphony, and it was a very enjoyable night. It was fun to get dressed up again, and mingle in a crowd that shared several interests: HP, and orchestral performances.

  12. At the recommendation of someone her (thank you!) I bought the set of Mapp & Lucia novels by E.F. Benson and read the first one. (All Lucia and no Mapp as yet.) It is very, very funny. Not everyone’s cup of tea I am sure. It reminds me of the Provincial Lady series by Delafield. It’s about sort of useless people who produce little or nothing. Why did it engage me? Can’t tell you. While being nothing like it at all, it sort of reminded me of the Salterton trilogy. (Robertson Davies’ best, IMO) I can only do one of these at once, but look forward to the rest of them.

    Moving on to something completely different, I am now reading Lucky Me: A Memoir of Changing the Odds by Rich Paul. While I am not interested in sports I find his story compelling and up-lifting. He acknowledges his luck in surviving his early life and rising to amazing heights, while pointing out that we largely make our own luck. He shares his hard won life lessons without preaching or casting blame. Well worth reading.

  13. I’ve been reading Book People by Emily Henry. I’ve been enjoying the two MCs and their snarky interactions, so much so that I laughed out loud at several points. I’m within sight of the end, but it was already late last night, and I needed to be on my game this morning, so I put it down. I’ll most likely finish tonight.

    1. Wait — is this the same story as “Book Lovers”? By Emily Henry? Searching your title in my library system brings up a book by Phaedra Philip or other sci fi and/or bible-related books.

        1. Oh yay. My library’s acquisitions budget is so slow sometimes to catch up to the reading habits of arghers — I was afraid we were many Emily Henry books behindhand. Thanks so much, Nancy!

  14. It was a week of few but very satisfying reads: Waiting for the Flood and Chasing the Light by Alexis Hall were excellent. Waiting for the Flood was a multi re-read and Chasing the Light was lovely. Very evocative language and beautiful stories both. It was nice to get Marius’s side of the story even though I never really took to him. Alexis Hall’s Spires collection are my favorites among his work and this one stays on the reread list.

    I finished the Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara and loved it. M/M, werewolf and FBI(ish) agent working on crimes involving werewolves. Good stories, strong romance arc, had all the feels. Thank you Tammy and Lupe for the recommendation!

    I finally gave in and read Catherine Cloud’s Adrian Bradley’s Best Mistake which was wonderful. I had been saving it for when I needed a dependably good hockey M/M. It didn’t disappoint — it is a very definite reread (all her books are for me.) M/M hockey player – pop star romance. I really enjoy this author — she shows rather than tells and there is a depth of feeling that really gets to me. I wish she’d publish more!

    I also reread Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid- yet again. Now off to find my next hockey story…

      1. As we speak I am battling to figure out if I have all of “same old streets” downloaded from A03.

    1. Good to hear Adrian Bradley’s Best Mistake lives up to the other Catherine Clouds, as I’m saving it for a time I really need it!

  15. I read two of Katherine Center’s books, What You Save In A Fire and How To Walk Away. These will definitely be rereads for me. The characters have real problems to overcome and the stories are compelling. Does anyone know of another author whose books are similar? I’m almost done with hers.

      1. What you save in a Fire was my first Katherine Center and still is my favourite, alongside Happiness for beginners.

  16. Many thanks to the Argh person who recommended How to Murder a Millionaire by Nancy Martin. I’m not far into it yet, but I am enjoying her voice.

    Though I was a bit confused about some references to the pandemic as the original publication date was 2002. It turns out the author updated late last year. I hope the re-release gains her lots of new readers.

    1. I like the Blackbird Sisters series; read the original versions a while back. I wonder why she felt the need to update in that way. Seems odd.

  17. I read Susan Mallery’s The Happiness Plan and liked it a lot. Women’s fiction/romance with believable characters and strong friendships (both male and female).

    And I sadly DNF’d a new book by an author I normally really like. I only got 25% through and there were so many fatal flaws, it literally made me angry enough to keep me awake the last night. Mostly because I like the author personally and felt like her publisher and editor shouldn’t have allowed the book out into the world as it was. Sigh.

    On the bright side, I finally started reading a short book by the woman who maintains my website and sends my newsletter out. I wasn’t sure if I would like it, because the protagonist is autistic and asexual (as is the author). But in fact, it is really well done, and it is helping me to understand a world I don’t live in. She publishes under the name Dahlia Donovan, and the book is Stubbed Toes and Dating Woes.

  18. I read Soul Music and Interesting Times this week. Both are pretty far down my list of Discworld books I’d recommend to others, but I enjoyed what I could.

    Soul Music introduces Susan Sto Helit (a character I like very much) and a fairly strong minor plot about Death & grief, but welds that onto an effort to do for music what Moving Pictures did for movies. The Imp/Buddy half of the plot has never really worked for me, and exists mostly as a vehicle for limp jokes & terrible puns. Susan’s half is better, even if it’s essentially a retread of Mort. I’m very glad that Susan returns in future (better!) books, and I like the awkward fondness of her relationship with her grandfather.

    Interesting Times is a book I’ve always struggled with, in part because I simply dislike its politics. That includes Pratchett’s crudely cynical take on social change & revolutionary movements, and also the fact that the book is more than a little racist/colonialist. The inhabitants of the Agatean Empire (“Aurientals”) are largely a pastiche of stereotypes who need Western saviors to help show them how to run their country properly. The pervasive Orientalism is painful, and stands in contrast to the many books where Pratchett’s essential humanism prevails.

    At the same time, the plot is better-written & more interesting than Soul Music, and I am fond of the Silver Horde (despite the excess of rape jokes, which weren’t any better the first time I read them). All of the Rincewind books are regressive to some extent, so while I have my issues with this book, it sort of fits within the Rincewind sub-series. And although the Rincewind books are often frustrating, they tend to have a lighthearted, fun sort of energy, which is certainly true here (at least when I can get past the stuff I struggle with!).

    I’ve re-read Discworld books before, but I usually do it by selecting just a few favorites, or sometimes deciding to read an entire sub-series (the witches books, for instance). Reading them all in chronological order is making me see new connections between the books, for instance: it’s hard not to notice how many of the recent books have significant themes around memory loss, aging, grief and death.

    Interesting Times, of course, gives us the Silver Horde trying to figure out how to navigate aging bodies, fading relevance, and questions about how they will be remembered. Soul Music is almost entirely about mortality, memory, and defying death through music, with Death in particular being so incapable of navigating grief that he seeks oblivion in memory loss (arguably, for the character of Death, a version of seeking not to exist anymore). Even before that, in Lords and Ladies, Granny Weatherwax starts having memory lapses and/or remembering things that haven’t happened. It’s eventually explained as resulting from a convergence point in the multiverse, but before that, she is almost incapacitated by fear of dementia and/or death.

    Hindsight probably adds a layer of meaning here, and as far as I know these were written long before Pratchett’s diagnosis. I did look up publication dates and did the math, and when these were published Terry Pratchett was about the same age as I am now (mid-forties), so maybe it’s as simple as navigating middle-age and struggling with the finiteness of existence, the frailties of our bodies, and the general malaise of this particular age/stage. They are poignant themes on many levels, and although I struggled a bit with this week’s pair of books, added a certain depth.

    1. lynn — I’ve been enjoying your takes on Pratchette’s DiscWorld books. I head the other direction with Soul Music. I like the Buddy Holly references and Imp’s silly band. Maybe I like Soul Music particularly because it’s the first Susan book. Also, I’m not a huge fan of Mort (the book). Now that I think about it, Soul Music works for me as the first of the Susan series (Hogfather, Thief of Time). It also works for me as a music-driven plot.

      My first book in Ian Rankin’s series featuring Rebus was Exit Music. Rankin likes to weave music into his tales a lot, anyway. Recently, I sent a trumpet-player friend both Soul Music and Exit Music. He like both but didn’t see the resemblance that I see.

      1. Thanks Elizabeth! You know, I remembered Soul Music as being vastly superior to Mort (in part because I really do love Susan). It just fell flat for me this time. But Thief of Time is one of my all-time favorite Discworld novels, and I’m really looking forward to getting there!

        One thing I lament in my own life is how little I know about music. Never learned how to play an instrument, and really have an almost complete lack of knowledge (beyond knowing what I like to listen to!). So I also think that some of the book most likely goes over my head. I can totally see it resonating differently and having a lot more subtlety for someone who can make more of the connections.

    2. Someone suggested to me that “Interesting Times” is a satire of Orientalism in the same way as the Horde are satirizing barbarian tropes in 60s-80s sword & sorcery stories, but I’m not entirely convinced. Its a very thin line between satirizing stereotypes and perpetuating them. And the Horde being unfamiliar with non-rape sex is contradicted even in-book by references to them spending money on prostitutes and Cohen’s history of enthusiastically consensual relations with rescued damsels. Yet as you say there are good parts as well, such as the Luggage and I love Twoflower here.

  19. Mustard chicken?! My husband introduced me to mustard chicken when we first started living together. Great inexpensive, tasty, and easy way to bake chicken. I made it three days ago.

    I’m kind of surprised to hear that there are recipes for it.

  20. I’m re-listening to the Rivers of London books this week, too. It’s been long enough that I’m rediscovering some fun bits I’d forgotten about.

  21. This week I finished Olivia Waite’s Hen Fever, which pleased me because the chicken behavior was as true as the human behavior, and now I’m starting The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows, where I know less of bees than I do of chickens, but I can still feel competent author research holding it up.

    Moniquill Blackgoose’s To Shape a Dragon’s Breath was the highlight of this week’s reading, though. It kept pointing out to me all the ways I modify my behavior to meet people’s expectations of me–mostly in order not to hurt their feelings, but also things like wearing clothes in public in hot weather which I assure you I don’t do at home. I very much want to read more by her, but not until my hackles settle a bit. I’m sure that will happen before her next publication, though.

    I reread many things that I enjoyed. I DNFd a few things that started well, but then stalled out.

  22. I am currently listening to Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce. For actual reading I have gone back to The Shuddering City by Sharon Shinn. I like several of her books; this one, along with Wrapt in Crystal, and Troubled Waters are my favorites

  23. Finished Simply The Best, started Going Zero by Anthony McCarten and The Joan Wilder Effect by Lori Wilde.

  24. My wife read Sweetwater and the Witch and is now interested in going back and reading the rest of the Harmony series.

    Several people here mentioned Suzanne Palmer and a new book in her Finder series, and I then discovered that I had read Finder when it first came out, and enjoyed it a lot, but had no idea there were sequels. So I reread Finder and then the sequels and am now also eagerly anticipating the new release in a couple of months.

    For those of you who enjoy David Handler’s Stewart Hoag series, which wrapped up 20 years ago, he has gone back and written some new books set in the middle of the series, set right after Hoagy ghost wrote his first celebrity memoir. I enjoyed the first couple of throwbacks and then apparently missed one, so I had two new ones, The Girl Who Took What She Wanted and The Woman Who Lowered the Boom. Both were pretty good and added new depth to the series.

    For those of you who enjoyed Paul Austin Ardoin’s Fenway Stevenson mysteries (The Reluctant Coroner) he’s release book 9, The Warehouse Coroner, but I’m only halfway through that one yet.

    1. Thank you @Gary + H! I have enjoyed Ardoin’s coroner series. I will take a look at the new release.

    2. I preordered the Ardoin. Will have to go look for it in my new downloads. Looking forward to it. Hopefully, it is good!

  25. I tried to get the musician and the monster and Amazon informs me that the publication date is May seven, 2024.
    Weird. Apparently there are two books by that title and I got the wrong one. Thank you for the recommendation. If there were more reading time in my life, I would probably start another reread of Tamora Pierce. I’ve done several.
    I finished the minuscule mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burge. It enchanted me. I also read a few of Noel Streetfeild’s Christmas stories because they came out on BookBub and I love Noel Streetfeild.
    Nora Roberts identity is sitting on my shelf here along with a Christopher Healy- no one leaves the castle. I have a night shoot tonight on the commercial. I think I’ll take one of those with me. My next Kindle book will be the band bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson
    On my Kindle I just bought rich peoples problems by Kevin Kwan, Flash by JAK AND OUT OF THE CLEAR BLUE SKY BY KRISTEN HIGGINS.( I HAVE NO IDEA WHY MY DICTATION SUDDENLY DECIDED TO DO CAPS LOCK.) The iPhones been weird today.
    Yesterday I bought the little lady agency by Hester Browne. It’s an old favorite of mine and Bookbub tempts me with Sales of physical books I already own.
    I can’t wait for Rocky start. Happy reading all.
    Happy reading

  26. Sofi Laporte’s Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter was a short regency novel, light, fluffy, and irreverent, a playful romantic mix-up where none of the heroes was sure in the beginning who they were in love with. Royal confusion ensued.
    One reviewer complained that the characters don’t fit the time period. I agree: they don’t. But I didn’t read this book for historical accuracy or for first-class literature. I read it for fun, and fun it delivered, oodles of it. I’m definitely going to buy the next book in the series.
    Katherine Center’s Hello Stranger didn’t work for me. Objectively, it was really a well-written book. Professional. Compliant with all the rules of fiction writing. But subjectively, I didn’t enjoy it. I didn’t read it in its entirety either. I read about 30%, got tired of all the misery the author heaped on her heroine, Sadie, and skipped the middle altogether. Then I read about the last 30% to figure out if it ever got better. It did, close to the end. But all that suffering Sadie endured didn’t endear her to me. In fact I didn’t like her at all. She was too bitter for me. Too glum.

  27. More sad news: Major sf author Vernor Vinge just died at age 79. It turns out he had been under care for Parkinson’s for a while. (The g is soft and the following e is voiced and long: Vin-jee.) It will take me a while to absorb this loss to the genre. I never met him to speak to, but did enjoy hearing him speak at an sf con once, and I have enjoyed his writing almost from his start in the late 1960s.

    https://file770.com/vernor-vinge-1944-2024/#comments

    1. I hate it when favorite authors die. He’s not an extreme favorite but a loss is a loss. (This is why I futilely urge everyone to write faster.)

  28. I’ve been reading and listening to Gytha Lodge’s DCI Jonah Sheene’s novels (Book 1 to 5). Well-written, -plotted and character-driven British detective series. For those who like police-procedurals.

  29. I read A Grave Robbery by Deanna Chase – book 9 in the Veronica Speedwell series. Then What the Chat Dragged in and Best Served Cold in the Martha Garrett series by Cyn Mackley and also Big Break by Cyn Mackley. I’m looking forward to Rocky Start!!!

  30. This week I seem to have finished 3 trashy ebooks that I won’t mention here, and nothing else in the book line.  I did do quite a bit more reading beyond that, and I am nearing the end of the scholarly nonfiction _Stalin and the Bomb_, but I didn’t quite hit the end, so I will hold that discussion over. 

    I had reborrowed the CD audiobook of M.K. Andews’s _The Newcomer_ to finish it since it had earlier fallen due before I got to the very end, but I discovered that I didn’t much care how it actually ended, since romantically things were already settled and the authorities were pretty much convinced that our heroine was innocent.  There might be room for one more Big Misunderstanding and even more likely a Confrontation with the Bad Guy, and maybe one last plot twist, but really it was over.  So back to the library unfinished it went.  I had enjoyed it pretty well until the big matters had gotten settled, however.  Amusing characterization, likeable main characters and many likeable ones among the minor characters, ingenious plot, lots of realistic sounding detail presumably reflecting lots of research.

    On the podcast front,  I had earlier said that now that I knew it existed,  I would subscribe to Ada Palmer and Jo Walton’s podcast, Ex Urbe ad Astra.  The topics wander all over their interests, but the latest episode, the only one I’ve finished, is on the Florentine Renaissance,  with a guest academic collegue of Palmer’s.  It turns out that despite being a non-academic,  Walton can hold her own on this topic with two professors from a major university.

    I corresponded a bit with British author Linzi Day, who I have recommended here, and the opportunity arose to recommend the Liz Danger books.  Linzi replied that she liked Crusie but was unaware of the new books and had now put the first one on her TBR list.

  31. Miss Seeton Sings, which I think is probably the funniest of the lot as Miss Seeton goes international and accidentally convinces people that she is a master detective.

    The Cricketer’s Arms, set in Sydney in the 1950s, as a journalist/private detective tries to solve the murder of a well-known cricketer. Still reading this, and enjoying it a lot. There’s a MM love story running through it, plus lots of casual couplings between men who were friends during the war. One of things I’m finding most interesting is the difference (extremely broad generalisation here) between how men write about sex and how women write about it. Much less romance, much more ‘how about I give you one?’ The mystery is interesting, the post-war setting is intriguing. The dialogue is a bit on the nose, but not so awful that I can’t bear it.

        1. I finished the Cricketer’s Arms and enjoyed it, but oh my it had the longest denouement I’ve come across in ages. He really needs to work on his structure.

    1. I often wonder how male readers think about the sex scenes in MM books. No gay friends whom I’d be comfortable enough to ask about such stuff though…

      1. I have a gay friend I can ask about this. 🙂 I can throw the question in his direction if you want? If yes, what is it you’d like to know? What he thinks of M/M-sex-scenes in general, or is there anything in particular about the scenes you’re curious about?

        1. That’s soooo nice of you to offer, Shass.
          I’m endlessly curious, but I’m feeling too shy/embarassed to have you ask your friend.
          I’v always been curious. Especially on the mechanics and workings of the other sex. Also curious on how the perception and description of feelings and sensation is or might be tinted by the female mirror.
          But then, I guess there’s no really any such thing as A / one female POV.
          Also, many of female mm authors seem to be queer or have access to sound human feedback for “research”.

          I love insights into the discrepancies and differences between men and women/the male and the female stance on many things. Which for gay things e.g. “A story worth telling” (on youtube, insta etc.) provides somewhat: two Brits commenting on popular films, series and even music videos. They are both hilarious, funny, intelligent and good fun, but aim to inform, too.

          So, romances – mm as well as fm – for me are just a kind of fairy tale (= good escapism). Not to be mixed up with real life – the fictional HEA keeps being a HEA, with a strong sex drive even after x years together, love does not fizzle out due to every day life etc.)

          Language:
          Many authors seem to fall back to certain phrasing which to me as non-native speaker sounds too stereotypical but might not be? E.g. the omnipresent “want it … so bad” (shouldn’t it be “badly”? Please enlighten me, I don’t want to always wonder about grammar in s*x scenes…).

          Well, there’s one thing you might ask your friend: in romances usually no preparation whatsoever is needed. Which in real life seems to be not quite the case. I take this as part of the romance fairy tale, but does it amuse/annoy male readers? Or is this one thing accepted as typically fictional?

          Now I just reminded myself that somewhere among my bookshelves should be a book by a great Danish sexologist on the (not only sexual) mechanics of males…

          1. My BFF is gay and I ask him sex-related questions all the time. Like – “is grinding really a thing?” No. “Is rimming so popular?” Yes. It’s been an education.

          2. I don’t mind asking him at all. We talk about all kinds of things (much like Tammy and her friend, it seems!). I promise I won’t tell him who asked the question originally. I’ll get back to you when I’ve dragged some answers out of him.
            I’ve also always been a very curious person. That’s why I read books answering questions like: Do fish pee in the water? Why is a boxing ring a square? Could Godzilla exist in reality? Why do we have earlobes? I don’t care if the books are aimed at kids or adults – curious questions and the answers to them makes you grow. Stay curious, I say. 🙂

          3. My brother is gay. Several years ago I gave him a trilogy of kind of edgy romance novels. I only vaguely remember them except I really liked them. He read the first one & he was annoyed by the sex scenes. He said males, especially gay males, like to have sex but it takes 20 minutes – not all night. No one does all night even when they are young, according to him.

            I feel that way also IRL. I love Jenny’s sex scenes because they are usually funny or sweet or both.

            If you want a funny sex scene – my favorite is when Akira seduces Zane using physics in “A Gift of Ghosts” by Sarah Wynde.

            I told my brother about the m/m romance novels written by women & he found the idea very amusing.

            As far as sex scenes are concerned when I am reading – I usually read it the first time to see if it is funny or has something that moves the plot along. If not, meh.

      2. I would wonder if there was a divide between gay and straight males too. What we need is a representative sampling from all categories (including the uncategorized)! Where’s Kinsey?

      3. In my experience, men are often flummoxed by the sex scenes in books that are traditionally for women. I gave a male friend a copy of Strange Bedpersons when I was in college and he was blown away by the hot bits. Which I thought was hilarious and then gave him some of my smut. And I gave Kevin a copy of Agnes and the Hitman and he thought it was exceptionally hot. For some reason, despite the stereotype of men’s preoccupation with sex, they don’t get any of the good stuff in their written media.

        1. That’s so interesting, Lupe. Maybe they don’t get the good stuff because (a giant generalisation again, taken from the few MM books I’ve read that were written by men) when men write about sex they are more direct. Wham bam. Whereas the women writing MM for example do a whole blow by blow, draw it out, make it hot/romantic/desperate/whatever. Same for women writing MF. Women seem to be far more comfortable writing about the feelings involved, which makes the sex scenes so much more interesting.

          1. I definitely agree with you about the emotions, but I think that it is more than that. Women write more specific and creative sex. I remember when I tried a Clive Cussler in high school (shudders for multiple reasons). It was very straight forward and simple. I think that Agnes was my husband’s first brush with a fictional female taking charge… and changing positions. And you are right about the directness. But sometimes you need the detour. This is why I don’t watch porn. Too boring and they tend to skip all the good stuff. Right to the “main event.”

          1. Kevin doesn’t read much fiction. I have no idea how he survives. Really.

            Lost touch with the other. I sent him more books but he had a kid and got married and life moves on.

          2. Lupe, same with my hibby. He hardly has time to read but when he does, he reads the newspaper (we got a good one), IT stuff or non fiction. I get it that if he doesn’t have enough time to really get lost in fa book, he doesn’t want to ruin the experience.
            Different with me: me not reading = very bad sign re state of mind.

        2. Bob flatly refused to write sex scenes when we first started writing together about twenty years ago, and then when we were about halfway through DLD, he said, “Okay,” and wrote this hysterical sex scene between the hero and an actress (not the heroine). After that, he had no problem although it was his fave. I’ve never thought to ask him why. Hmmmm.

          1. Is it that when writing about feelings and sensual moments, one makes oneself kind of vulnerable?
            I guess I’d feel totally embarassed myself but then I have no muses neither in the attic nor cellar nor anywhere so any love scene would be borderline pornographic and I can’t stand porn.

          2. I have to add one more thing. I don’t think Jenny or Bob has ever done this but – I have read books where a sex scene happens 5 minutes after they finish a huge meal. Uh – no. Definite turn off.

  32. To finish up on my podcast listening:

    I started the history podcast Empire, which someone here recommended.   I’m still working on that, but the first episode also ran an ad for a military podcast, Battlefield, and I got sidetracked onto that at least for their series in the Falklands War.  I have now binged all of the Falklands episodes, surely a short book’s worth, except for listening to the bonus ones. I had followed the war with interest at the time and had later read a book or two about it, but more details have emerged since then.   An interesting and still open question concerns the degree of technical assistance, if any, that France withheld from their NATO ally Britain about the military equipment they sold to Argentina.

    As with most wars, controversy remains about the competence of the military commanders in general and about individual decisions.  The presenters make a fairly plausible case for why the US declined to do more than it did in support of the British, but I remember remarking at the time that since the British had failed to do more than be “neutral on our side” during the Vietnam War, turnabout was fair play.  The presenters never mention this earlier precedent.  Both of the presenters had written or were writing books about WWII,  and I think they made rather more comparisons to that earlier conflict than the facts called for.  I could also have done with fewer on-air interviews with participants in the war and with Falklands residents.  Undertanably, many of those interviewed were not very articulate, and using a lot of interviews interrupted the flow of the narrative. Some interviews, however, were useful and touching, such as the Falklands daughter who even at age 10 had sensed that her mother was buying her an expensive doll just before the liberation of Port Stanley because, if the fighting became fierce, it might be her last chance to enjoy a plaything.  Fortunately the Argentinians on the whole ran a relatively civilized occupation and surrendered with comparatively little harm to civilians.

    One interesting side note was that, although the podcast was entirely in English and presented the British viewpoint, several of the ads that it ran were in Spanish, so the advertisers evidently were expecting many of the listeners to be Spanish-speakers who also knew English.

    1. Belated correction! The podcast is Battleground, not Battlefield. Surprisingly, there apparently is no podcast called simply Battlefield,so at least I didn’t send anyone in a flatly wrong direction. Evidently, however, there is a wrestling podcast also called Battleground. My podcast app found the right one with no ambiguity, but if you google “Battleground podcast Falklands War,” you will be aimed at the right one. They moved onto other wars once past the Falklands, but I have not yet tried those.

  33. It as been another week of rereading. No new books.

    MAIRELON THE MAGICIAN copyright © 1991 by Patricia C. Wrede and THE MAGICIAN’S WARD copyright © 1997 by Patricia C. Wrede. The two are bound together in A MATTER OF MAGIC: MAIRELON AND THE MAGICIAN’S WARD. This is another of those anthologies I return to for comfort. Easy reading by an author I love.

    THE CINDERELLA DEAL by Herself, Our Hostess. It’s been a long time since I last read this one. Possibly over a year. I won’t call it “my favorite Crusie.” Tied for it, maybe. A twelve-way tie. At least.

    NO ONE IS ALONE by Rachel Vincent. I know I’ve reread this one several times in the past year. I not only love the story, but that it’s had me watch the Disney movie version of Into The Woods and the YouTube free version of the play. and all that Sondheim music has me thinking about rereading Jenny’s BET ME again. (See “twelve-way tie” above.)

    Bujold’s DEMON DAUGHTER also suffered another reread. There are twelve Penric and Desdemona stories. I love-love-love six of them, enjoy three, and tolerate three. I think this one is in the first category. It came out January ninth and I’ve read it four times.

    It was only last week that I completed a reread of VARIATION ON A THEME books 1 through 5 (by Grey Wolf). Or at least as far as book 5 has been published to date, which is to Chapter 36 of probably 150 or so. No, the author has learned nothing of brevity or conciseness. The series passed two million words some time back, and he’s proud of that. I just call it Word Opera, like soap opera. It’s much like reading a teen’s illustrated Facebook Page, except each picture instead involves another thousand words. I’m hooked on it. [sigh] Since it is still in progress, book 5 might count as a new read, but I’ve reread all the chapters.

    I previously mentioned rereading the NESS series by Bjorn Hasseler. I guess the series needed another reread. I’m waiting on the second half of Book 4, SECURITY SOLUTIONS, due out 4/2/24. The table of contents reads
    In Memoriam
    Acknowledgments for the previous planned edition:
    Chapter 1: Krystalnacht on the Schwarza Express
    Chapter 2: The Class of ’35

    Chapter 3: Sunshine
    Chapter 4: Shooting Fish in a Barrel
    Chapter 5: The Case of the Unconventional Umlauts
    Chapter 6: The Reussian Front
    Cast List
    The bolded parts are out now. The rest “real soon now.”

    A DIOGENES CLUB FOR THE CZAR (Miroslava Holmes Book 4) by Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett. Gorg posted in Baen’s Bar and Facebook that Paula has suffered a fall and is hospitalized. That was weeks ago. No update since. Good book. A favored author. Worried.

    The most recent reread is actually Rowling’s HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. I’m only up to chapter 7: “The Sorting Hat” (as I type this – I’ll be further along ere I post it.)

      1. I do too. I especially like the Far West trilogy, about an alt history magical settling of the American West. Would love to see another book in that series.

        1. I almost reread the Far West Trilogy instead of Mairelon, but it was a more recent reread and I hadn’t forgotten enough of it to make it more fun than the other. I think. Besides, the Sorcery and Cecilia trilogy is higher in my reread queu and I haven’t gotten to it, yet.

  34. I read the Tower of Winds series by Makiia Lucier, a fantasy duo which features characters from a fantasy island. The books were riveting, with lots of action and mystery. There was romance, but the romance didn’t take over the story, which I liked. However, I don’t think I will re-read these books because the villains in both books did such horrific things Nearly every character in these books were human, including the villains. This is one of the problems with reading new authors; sometimes I just can’t deal with what their bad guys do.

    I’m now reading a possible Hugo-nominated novella, “The Mimicking of Known Successes” by Malka Older which seems interesting so far. A man has disappeared and foul play may be involved.

  35. I don’t seem to have read books this week. Partly taxes, partly mom stuff, partly supporting DH in helping his friend with dementia, DS in his first effort to find his own apartment and DD in dealing with a problem client, partly that new years resolution to catch up with 10 friends.

    I did read old New Yorkers and then toss them so that was fun and productive.

    I spent a lot of reading time following Trump’s efforts to avoid paying the $450 million bond he needs to permit him to appeal the $350 million decision against him—or really, to prevent the AG from collecting on the judgment while he appeals. And watching AG James throw shade and either prepare to take his assets next Tuesday or scare him into paying the bond, I am not sure which. I particularly liked the list of all his properties that she can take which includes his homes and towers and golf courses . And her brief to the court opposing his effort to be protected from paying the judgment without putting up a bond—she basically said “I won the case because he lied about how much his property was worth so the court should recognize that’s why his property is not worth enough to get him the bond and you shouldn’t listen to the lawyer saying different because the judge found that lawyer lied.”

    I came here to share this bit of British humor

    https://x.com/matthew_kupfer/status/1769915616507355485?s=46&t=gafwOA2cvF3z1jCG_IUqVQ

    And to report that I am not reading this cookbook written by AI. But I did read the review which I recommend.

    https://x.com/matthew_kupfer/status/1769915616507355485?s=46&t=gafwOA2cvF3z1jCG_IUqVQ

    I am also not reading the book my library actually bought on how to use a tax loophole to claim deductions on your pets and service animals (I was looking for a good book on basic personal finance for my kids.) An entire book on how to deduct your pets (pretty sure that unless it really is a service animal and therefore a health cost it’s tax fraud.)

    1. Debbie – did you read that he says now he could write a check for 5 million but he doesn’t want to? I hope they take everything he has. He needs to put up or shut up. And go away. Far, far away.

      And someone pointed out that although the likely Republican candidate for president can’t pay his 454million dollar bond – one person who could easily write a 454million dollar check is liberal Taylor Swift. LOL LOL

      It is beyond ridiculous right now.

      1. 500 million I think.
        Which means either he is lying, his lawyers lied to the court, or when they said they couldn’t get a bond they just left out that he could put the money up himself but doesn’t want to so please court say I don’t have to.
        Meanwhile he is about to make $3 billion from Truth social but can’t access it for 6 months unless the board gives him a waiver. As far as I can tell the $5 billion value of Truth Social has nothing to do with its business and is based solely on people investing so they have his brand or who mistakenly think he is a great business man so of course it will make money. Hah!

        I know what I will be doing in Sept and Oct…

  36. Still on my reread of Jayne Castles Harmony series. Currently rereading Canyons of Night.

    4 chapters in to an audiobook – The Kindness Method by Sharoo Izadi. I won’t say I’m enjoying it because it is meant to make me examine things – & I am. I will say it’s insightful & I like listening to the author / reader.

  37. I am cheating a bit by including two books I finished reading today during my nice quiet workday afternoon, having gleefully returned my colleague’s entire docket to her. Welcome back, chica!

    1. semi-read. I jumped from 43% to 92% because this book was too slow for me, and I suspected the next 100 pages would feel like 1000, all of which would be chock full of infuriating patriarchy, racism, & sexism, with little humor and barely a breath of romance, and by the way a book shouldn’t be called ‘The Summer Before the War’ when it’s actually about the first year of the war (plus a few weeks leading up to it). Anyway, far too many appealing young men die, because that’s what happened to young men in 1914-15. I don’t think I missed much crucial storytelling, as the last 8% fills in what happened to everyone and the middle would have been mostly wretchedness. By Helen Simonson. Objectively well-written torture.

    2. as an antidote, ‘Fluke and the Frontier Farce’ by Sam Burns, 4th of the series, in which there is relationship-building, time travel, problem-solving, Mortal Peril, and a new familiar (baby raven adopted by Fluke the fox and given to cousin Freddy).

    3. ‘I’m Just a Person’ by Tig Notaro, memoir by the comic / actor, centers on a very terrible year of her life after which many good things happened.

    4. Started another of those ‘war history journals’ things that I thought was nonfiction but was only ‘based on true events’ and skimmed to the end so I could rate it 2. Then moved on to ‘World War One: The Unheard Stories of Soldiers on the Western Front Battlefields’ (Vol. 1), 1915, compiled as oral history at hospitals etc with an introduction and notes by Walter Wood. Just as good as Vol 2 which I read not long ago.

    5. ‘Mud, Blood and Bullets: Memoirs of a Machine Gunner on the Western Front’ by Edward Rowbotham, ed. by his granddaughter Janet Tucker. She did a great job!

    6. ‘Leslie F*cking Jones’ by Leslie Jones, memoir by a comic. A tough life featuring many objectively bad choices /decisions, with plenty of explanatory context and thoughtful reflection and F bombs.

    7. [re-read] my own queer Edwardian novel in three acts, ‘Sextette.’

    8. ‘The Gilded Madonna’ by Garrick Jones, 2nd Clyde Jones mystery, again featuring many interwoven plot and relationship threads. Violent and chock full of potential triggers, but none of the good guys die and Clyde’s love affair with Harry (which begins in book 1) develops well here.

  38. Best thing I read this week was “The Intimacy Experiment” by Rosie Danan – its a set up that’s usually played for laughs and I usually hate it, namely a sex educator but the FMC’s work is treated seriously and she’s made some conscious trade-offs in pursuing it. The MMC is a rabbi, and there’s a lot of thinking about science and religion and sex and the duty a religious person has to their community. Some lovely heartfelt scenes and all up very satisfying as a romance.

    I also read a near future sci-fi in an unnamed state which is basically China, “Excess Male” by Maggie Shen King who is a Taiwanese author. The story exaggerates the real gender imbalance up to 3:1 males to females, plus institutionalized homophobia and intolerance for neural divergence and looks at how the political impacts the domestic. It was a much more intimate look at the topic and very human and I liked it a lot.

    And then for light relief I read “Hearts under the Hill” (aka Ab+Huth) by Ari Baran which was thoroughly adorable and thank you to Tammy, Dodo and Frozen Pond for the new author!

    1. If you like Ari Baran, there’re two books out already with a third coming soon (the cover reveal just dropped, interestingly enough no shirtless guy on the front, maybe because the MCs are over 40?) and work on a fourth (Goalie Interference) is on the last leg.
      Tammy would know about the already published ones, I’ve got the downloaded but haven’t tackled them yet as the first one is rather gritty and for once I want to read in order.

    2. The watch out is that if you liked Hearts Under the Hill…the other Ari Baran books will be a dose of cold water because in no way can they be described as adorable. They are angsty and gritty.

  39. I finally finished The Lost Bookshop by Evie Woods. It starts slow, but was quite satisfying in the end. Multiple POVs, and characters in different times.

    Stalled out on The Late Mrs. Willoughby, a murder mystery take off on Austen characters. Unless you actually are Jane Austen, it’s hard to make dithering interesting, and there’s a fair amount of dithering.

    Since I enjoyed “Seven Souls in the Skull Castle”, (Netflix) I’ve been dipping in to Asian movies and series, and enjoying them. Watching an historical drama when you don’t know the history makes it easy to simply watch, and not argue with the story.

    1. Have you seen Extraordinary Attorney Woo? Its a Korean Drama that got popular in the last year or two. Its very heartwarming.

  40. I’m swamped with work, and when I’m not being that, I’m doom scrolling because …trauma, yanno?

    I did break the reading slump tho’ – A Lynsay Sands Argeneu novel and a Lora Leigh feline breeds novel. The letter held up more than the former, methinks, old as the two series are. Lora Leigh was Cabal St Laurent’s story. For those that want to know.

    Titles escape me for now. It’s a public holiday weekend and I was waiting at the dealer for the car to be serviced. It’s better to wait for it. I’m using the time to finally delete the chaff from the phone.

    1. I never got into Lynsay Sands, although I am sure I read some of hers. But I still have a collection of Lora Leigh and I am working on collecting her old Ellora’s Cave paperbacks with the horrible covers because its fun to collect things. She was my introduction into erotic romance and it blew my mind years ago. I don’t know if all of hers would hold up for me now, but she did create unique scenarios and storylines. Maybe that is why she holds up? Sands just sort of road the paranormal romance wave.

        1. I remember reading an earlier Argeneau novel by Sands. Where h/H attend a romance wrieter convention. Absolutely hilarious and great fun. I remember reading scenes out loud so hubby had a chance to join in my roaring laughter.

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