This is a Good Book Thursday, March 28, 2024

I’ve reached the last in the Aaronovitch Rivers series, one I’ve only read once. I was a little confused the first time I read this one, so this is a fun reread. Well, he’s always fun. It’s been interesting from the PoV of somebody now writing series to see how he’s arced his protagonist. Peter Grant has matured from a wet-behind-the-ears new cop to a ranking officer, from a guy with no moves to the father of twins, so of course the stories have changed. But Peter is still the smart-mouthed smart guy he always was, so I’ll continue to read him no matter what. Especially to see how the twins turn out since the love of his life is not exactly . . . human. So much fun.

What did you read this week?

216 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 28, 2024

  1. I read Green Money by DE Stevenson and it was great fun, a real romp.

    After that, as I am cancelling my KU subscription for now, I have decided to read a few of the KU books I have on my list until it elapses.

    So I have galloped through the Rue Hallow mysteries. After so much Stevenson, I had trouble getting into the first one but by the end of it, something clicked and I did get into it. There are a lot of unlikely plot twists and way too much repetition of how hateful her mum is but you do end up caring quite a lot about Rue and her ever expanding band of misfits. Also there is a house, which is always a bonus for me.

  2. Best thing I read this week was fantasy m/f romance “Entreat Me” by Grace Draven. A Beauty & the Beast re-telling, one of my favorite tropes, with a couple of nice secondary couples in addition to the main pairing – a self-confessed shrew looking out for her sister, and a marcher lord who took on a curse to save his son.

    I also re-read “When Falcons Fall” by CS Harris, #11 of the St Cyr regency-set mystery series. By this point Sebastian & Hero are secure in their marriage; the focus is on a small village and its tangled history, often tragic, back to Tudor times. It isn’t a happy story, with its gendered violence, but its interesting, emotive and at its core is Sebastien’s integrity and his and Hero’s love.

    Miranda Dubner’s royal soapie “The Spare” was a welcome relief, although it also has quite a bit of angst. I understand why it didn’t work for people looking for a strong central romance, particularly we only really see the second half of the Eddie & Isaac’s romance as they fell in love years previously. Nonetheless I found the romantic resolution very satisfying and as the marketing in my edition called it a family saga, I was prepared and really enjoyed it, including all the family perspectives. Thanks to Chacha1 and JenniferNennifer for the recc!

  3. I’m reading The Frame-Up by Gwenda Bond. It’s a paranormal caper mystery with romance and it is a real pleasure to read. Clever and fun. Just what I needed. (I was pleased to discover one of her earlier books sitting on my TBR shelf. Not sure when I get it, but now I am definitely pulling it out and reading it next.)

    On the Kindle, I’m reading one of my favorite go-to contemporary romance writers, Nan Reinhardt. Make You Mine is in the Walkers of River’s Edge series, and is one of those books you can read without having read any of the others in the series, but it is fun to bump into characters from previous books.

    1. My favorite of Gwenda Bond’s books are actually her three books about Lois Lane as a teenager. Yes, the future ace reporter for the Metropolis Daily Planet.

  4. I read a loosely linked Midwinter series of novellas by K.L. Noone, starting with Snowed In – you’d never know from the cover of two guys in T-shirts that this is an alt-Regency series where same sex marriage is legal and magic is pervasive. Did the cover artist or the publisher actually read this book? Anyway, it was a yummy little read. You can skip over the next two novellas but definitely pick up the last one which is Midwinter Marriage.

    I also read Tadek and the Princess by Alexandra Rowland which just made me want more of this world – she has another book coming out soon so huzzah for that.

    A short story by C.S. Poe, Curio, about the owner of a vintage shop and the man who regularly buys old photographs.

    And I read Starter Home by Hannah Henry and it took about three chapters before I noticed there’s not actually any hockey nor hockey players (yes, I’m slightly dim here). The two MC’s are a teacher and a landscaper helping him to fix up his new house and most of the book was about Two Guys Solving Plastering Issues and Falling In Love. I was enjoying it too much to notice lack of Henry’s usual pucks and nets. There’s just something I enjoy about her somewhat unsophisticated writing style. Example – the teacher’s best friend has been moping around the entire summer post divorce and whines that he’s been going through a break-up and the teacher snaps: “Yes. That’s your main personality trait right now.” Been there.

    1. I’ve got the Hannah Henry ready to go. Glad you recommend it.

      Torn between a long weekend of reading and all the stuff I really need to do. I think I am going to have to work out a reward system… “You can read for an hour if you complete this task” kind of thing.

      1. That is often my system. Or I timebox myself: “You are allowed to read for one hour and then you must write a compelling proposal that explains why this company should choose ours to solve their HR issues.” Not saying this is real today or anything. Just saying.”

      2. I get a lot of stuff done with that kind of reward system: specially for things like working out. I don’t allow myself to read until I’ve worked out — and over time I’ve discovered that it actually works!

      3. I’ve some ebooks lined up where I got the audio for a very reasonable price as well. Some chores allow me to listen simultaneously. I get much more productive that way.

    2. I’m a bit leary of Tadek and the Princess because of possible sadness levels, but I would very much like to revisit that world. Think I could handle it?

        1. Thank you. I appreciate that. I’m currently having a hard time with Stargirl and I know how that ends…

    3. Tammy, I’ve Starter Home lined up to read next in spite of it not having pucks in it (I read the blurb lol).

      1. Reading the blurb would have been a smart thing to do, yes? I just didn’t expect a seventh time writer to veer off hockey…

        1. LOL. I understand not reading blurbs. Sometimes far too much is told in the blurb. But those written by the authors themselves are better.
          I’ve subscribed to HH’s newsletter so I read what she herself said about the books 🙂
          Also, I get interested in increasingly more titles via instagram (just the shortish announcements by authors) and usually they have teaser texts.

          1. I follow several bookish accounts of Insta. It’s fun and I get a fair amount of recommendations for indie authors from there.

      2. I hardly ever read blurbs anymore. Most books come to me via recommendation or from an author I trust. It makes for an interesting reading experience for sure.

        1. I like not reading blurbs, it makes it all much more surprising. Sometimes I think the blurb gives too much away. Though of course it can go a bit wrong too but works if you trust the author.

          1. The real spoilers are the warnings these days. I swear they contain the entire narrative. It’s as bad as watching a movie trailer that summarizes the whole plot. I always think to myself, well that’s saved you the price of a ticket.

          2. And then we have the blurbs written by people who haven’t read the book. Boilerplate from the publicity department makes all books sound alike.

          3. I often don’t read the blurbs until one notable occasion recently when I was reading along wondering how the author was going to get the MCs out of some serious problems when one of the MCs got a medical diagnosis you can’t come back from. It was in the middle of the night and my poor husband was jolted awake by my spontaneous cry of: “WHAT the heck???”
            Now I at least read the category or something so I’m prepared if is it going to end badly…

  5. I rereread Heyer’s False Colours which I love for Sir Bonamy Ripple and, especially, the twins’ mom Lady Denville. My mom was exactly like Lady Denville. Not the aristocracy, the beauty, or the airheadedness, but the total inability to manage money. Heyer’s character helps me come to terms with the problems I had with Mom and her finances.

    On the other side of happiness, I read the first in a series about a Sicilian police inspector because we’re going to Sicily in May. Not a good idea. Everyone except the few good guys is trying to out-corrupt everyone else and to brutally murder anyone. I had hoped for the equivalent of the French countryside Bruno series. Nope.

    I remember preparing for our trip to Crete. The books were all about WWII and its aftermath. Contemporary Crete was characterized by revenge tales. Instead, we discovered one of the most wonderful places in the world.

    So, if you know of any fun books about Sicily — on the order of Peter Mays’ book on Province or Martin Walker’s books on the Périgord — please let me know.

    1. I do like False Colours. It is fun.

      For Sicily, I enjoy the Inspector Montalbano books by Andrea Camilleri. They are crime/police books with lots of food descriptions set in Sicily and nice characters. Nothing very graphic or horrible (except murder obvs!). I think I read about 10, including one while I was in Sicily.

      Sicily is fab. Make sure to eat a lot. The food is amazing, even by italian standards. Lots of other great stuff too.

    2. False Colours was my first Heyer! I picked up my mother’s battered paperback copy somewhere between high school and college. That one is a lot of fun.

      She also had several Jane Aiken Hodge, which I didn’t care for nearly as much…

    3. They aren’t quite like Peter Mays’ book on Provence but the Italian police procedurals with Inspector Montalbano takes place in Italy. Not too gory and fun stories in lovely surroundings. There is also a tv series and though I don’t recall sweeping scenery scenes you get the sense of heat and Italian sun.

      1. There are two series based on the Montalbano books: Montalbano, and then made later but set earlier in the late 80s/early 90s, The Young Montalbano. I like both, but TYM has more integrity and a better actor for his girlfriend. Despite the sometimes grim murders, they are a wonderful escape to the Sicilian sun, and there’s a strong – sometimes farcical – streak of comedy. Montalbano loves his food, so you’ll be longing to try arancini, etc, after watching a few episodes.

      2. We loved both Inspector Montalbano tv series and The Young Montalbano. Just don’t watch the final episode of Inspector Montalbano. It’s a betrayal.

        We loved it for the portrayal of Sicily. According to the series, people in Sicily live in decaying palaces. Sure, the roof is falling down in 3 of the 15 rooms, but it has been doing that for 150 years. It can wait. Let’s go have lunch on the terrace with a glass of wine.

  6. I got back to some more angsty MM hockey this week and was reminded why I like it.
    Brick Walls LA Witt was very good. Its about Cocaine use/addiction in the NHL and has some concussion stuff in too so it is fairly serious (and angsty). But also stuff some of you might like: lots and lots of hockey and two goalies! The MCs are exes who end up on the same team and it is their last chance to keep playing at that level, so they are competing with each other for the goalie spot as well as dealing with the above issues.

    Then I mixed in a fun short novella Love language, Jax Caulder (MM). Set in New Zealand which was a nice change. The tried a couple of other novellas but got bored (a bit of a surprise for a novella!) so I went back to some angst.

    Rebound, LA Witt is about domestic abuse (of different kinds) and I thought that was well done. Not sure the rest of the story held up so well, there was probably too much going on and stuff that never got properly explored. Also wasn’t totally sure about the appropriateness of the relationship as it was between the hockey player and the cop who was called to break up a fight. Hockey adjacent (not much hockey). Worth a read though, if like more angsty stuff.

    In the middle of all that, I finished Anne Tyler, French Braid. I usually like her a lot but this time I was less keen. Not sure if it was me and my mood or the book, but I really found it slow to get into though I decided to force myself to finish it. It picked up towards the end when it moved on to different characters.

    Now I am on Peter Cabot gets Lost, Cat Sebastian (MM) which is totally sweet, a road trip, set in 1960 I think.

    Finally on audio, needed something in a hurry for a drive and so started Holly Black The Stolen Heir (YA fantasy), which is part of a duology which closely follows The Folk of the Air trilogy which I’d liked. Enjoying it so far and the reader is very good.

    1. All Cat Sebastian’s contemporary books are ridiculously sweet. I am re-reading We Could Be So Good right now. She is one of my top five m/m authors.

      1. Probably the same as everyone’s: Cat Sebastian, Taylor Fitzpatrick, KJ Charles, and Lisa Henry. So top four. I’d say CS Packat if she’d stopped with the Captive Prince series. And if I’m adding the “would read anything they wrote” list, then Rachel Reid, Charlie Adhara, Avon Gale, Alessandra Hazard, Eliot Grayson, Josh Lanyon and TA Moore.

        What are yours?

        1. I think my list would be Josh Lanyon, Taylor Fitzpatrick, Alexis Hall, Cat Sebastian and Catherine Cloud. KJ Charles –who would normally be on that list — has slipped a bit only because for some reason historicals (other than Heyer, of course) aren’t speaking to me for the moment.
          And my Would Read Anything They Wrote list: Cait Nary, Avon Gale, Stephanie Gayle, Dal Maclean, Rachel Reid, TA Moore, and Charlie Adhara.

          1. Catherine Cloud would have made my list except I haven’t loved everything on her A03. Cait Nary – I need a couple more books from her to demonstrate sustained talent. And Eileen Glass has written one series that I dnf’d so…Alexis Hall, love his contemporary humourous books but doesn’t quite do it for me with his other ones. Oh and I live for how problematic Alessandra Hazard’s scenarios are!

          2. I have not loved everything Alexis Hall has written but the Spires series stays with me and I enjoy the contemporary humorous ones; if he puts his name on it, I’m likely to buy it/try it…
            I’ve never tried Alesandra Hazard or Eliot Grayson — they are now on my tbr pile.
            I have a lot of Ao3 material to go through (thanks again Tammy!) so I expect my list to expand/contract as I read more!

        2. I second KJ Charles, Avon Gale, and Charlie Adhara.

          I would add Alexis Hall, and I adore Pacat’s Captive Prince triology, but she has petered out pretty disappointingly everywhere else.

          Josh Lanyon is objectively not as good as my top four, imo, but I keep coming back. There is some magical comfort factor that I can’t quite put my finger on.

          I also like Eileen Glass.

          1. Oh, and I enjoy Alessandra Hazard too, although she loves her problematic scenarios that might put some people off.

          2. Lyn Gala is another great one! I have a Ginn Hale downloaded but haven’t tried that yet. And I’ve never heard of Heidi Cullinan or Astolat so will have to try those also. Thank you, Yuri!

          3. Hope you like them. Hale can rip your heart out and Cullinan can be tooth-achingly sweet, even when they’re kinky as hell. With Astolat, I think you might like her Transformer fics – think cables in place of tentacles.

        3. We’re so spoilt for choice these days it took me ages to narrow down my top 5 m/m authors so am late to the party, but apparently that’s OK :-). It was a really fun exercise, balancing really consistent authors like Josh Lanyon with inconsistent authors, whose best books are some of my favorites like Alexis Hall. And I obviously haven’t read enough hockey books 😉

          Top 5: Lyn Gala, KJ Charles, Ginn Hale, Astolat (A03), Heidi Cullinan
          Next Tier: Alexis Hall, Harper Fox, Cat Sebastian, Kris Ripper, TJ Klune, Lauren Gallagher aka LA Witt, Amy Lane, Josh Lanyon

          I think the impressive thing about Lanyon is that she is both consistently good and prolific, whereas others such as Dal MacLean and Stephanie Gayle have a small number of good books, at least as far as I know.

          1. Yes, I keep looking to see if MacLean or Gayle are still writing — so far nothing. I have never tried Gala or Hale. And in looking up Cullinan, I see I have a couple in my tbr pile. So happy to have the recommendations. Thanks!

  7. I read Amanda Quick’s Quicksilver and loved it. I read a Harlequin Presents by my friend and sprinting partner Pippa Roscoe. I also did a reread of Elizabeth Lowell’s To The Ends of the Earth but it didn’t hold up as well as Only His. So I’m rereading, as a palate cleanser, The Cinderella Deal and loving it as much as the first times I read it. I may work my way through my keeper shelf of Jenny’s books since I have every single one.

    1. One of my favorite Amanda Quick books is Deception. It’s about Jared who is the head of a wealthy though slightly shady family who passes himself off as a tutor to get close to Olympia who is raising 3 out-of-control nephews.
      It has all my favorite AQ things; lovable quirky characters, sneak up on you humor, and a spunky heroine.

        1. I used to, too, but I reread a couple recently, and they don’t pull me in as they used to. Can’t decide if I’ve read them too much, or the stories just aren’t as attractive to me nowadays. It’s definitely JAK’s best era, though, under all her pseudonyms.

  8. Two for Tea by Nascosta came out on audio this week so I listened to that. I had been wanting to reread it, so this was a win.

    Then I was talking to my hubby about childhood favorites and went on a binge on Libby, putting favorite YA novels on hold. Of course they all came in at once, so now I have Jane of Lantern Hill, Stargirl, Airman by Eoin Colfer and the first Artemis Fowl book by same all starting at me with reproachful eyes and counting down return dates.

    I listened to Come To These Yellow Sands by Josh Lanyon and as several mentioned here, it’s very good. And I can’t seem to let go of her writing so I downloaded my last borrow off of Hoopla, a historical this time about pilots during WWI or WWII.

    Last, I am about half way through I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What That Was, recommended by Tammy. Sorry if I butchered the title. I am at work and can’t double check it until later. I am listening to it in chunks because there is some hard emotional work in there and I am probably going to have to go back and listen again, maybe buy the print version.

    I was talking to my husband about it and sparked a really good discussion about what our dream job would be. I was shocked at how distinct and thought through his was. He had it ready, no hemming or hawing. He would buy old houses that deserve saving, spend time bringing them back and then find families that wanted a home and do a rent-to-own sort of program. It almost made me cry. I was getting echoes of Anemone Patterson and he didn’t even read those books.

    1. What’s the historical one by Josh Lanyon? I’ll download it.

      Title, good enough for jazz. And yes, hard, emotional work, which also can be done in chunks.

      Oh my God I am so inspired by Kevin’s dream job! How do we make this happen??

      1. It’s a great job isn’t it? I feel like I need to make it happen too. I talked to my cousin yesterday about it and we are going to try to see if there is grant money floating around for such a purpose.

        With that in mind, I am trying to think of a similar project on a smaller scale. We both like working with our hands. There is such an emotional payoff. So maybe refurbishing furniture? He used to do old watches… Something we can store in our house and that I could possibly sell out of my etsy shop. I think that we would both like to have a physical shop at some point, but I am more than a little terrified about the expenses involved.

        I just started the Lanyon this morning because I didn’t want the heartbreak that seems to be woven into most YA, even the ones that I know I like. Too soon to tell how good it is, but I will get back to you with the title. Something to do with flying, I think.

      2. I am now a big fan of Kevin’s, even though I’ve never met him. What a beautiful dream job on so many levels. The world needs more Kevins.

    2. Was the Josh Lanyon “Out of the Blue”? As I recall it is about WWI flyers. I need to reread that one again.

          1. And now that I’ve read it…that’s a tough little book. You sure you should be reading this right now, Lupe?

          2. Tougher than I was expecting, for sure. I finished it last night. But there were enough hopeful threads that I was ok. And I really enjoyed the false blackmail set up between the protagonists.

            I was also impressed with the research that had to be done. It seemed accurate.

            The pointlessness of war is definitely a factor. Bat’s grief is so strong. But I am still glad I read it.

    3. Barbara Sher’s books (I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was and Refuse to Choose) were so helpful to me in my late 20s, when I couldn’t figure out why I was drifting so much. Her concept of the Scanner/Diver personalities made so much sense, and helped me understand why I changed my major five times in college, and why I started going stir crazy at every new job as soon as I felt like I was comfortable with the work.

      My eventual answer was to get my MLIS, and become a librarian – now I get to look up random things and learn about all sorts of weird niche fields everyday, and I’ve been happily ensconced at the same public library for eleven years!

      1. Thank you. I plan on keeping him, although he keeps putting my water glasses in the dish washer before I am finished with them.

        1. I put my husband’s glasses into the dishwasher before he is finished also. I’m with Kevin on this.

          1. For a moment I was flabbergasted why you’d put your husbands glasses (i.e. occhiali/brille/tools to help us see better) into the dishwasher…

  9. I’m still rereading the Harmony series by Jayne Castle. I just started The Lost Night.

    I am listening to The Kindness Method. It’s slow going for me because I keep stopping it to take notes. Definitely good so far.

        1. Somewhere amongst my earrings is a pair of dangling earrings I made with small pewter octopus charms and pearls. I wear them in the summer and have only gotten one negative look. But dammit I like them.

  10. This week started with a reread of Jenny’s “Crazy for you”. The sudden need to reread it came in a totally Pavlovian-reaction type of way: a Fleetwood Mac song came up in my Peloton course and suddenly I couldn’t wait for the class to end cause I just had to go reread that one! 🙂 Such a great comfort read.

    Then I went back to hockey… On audiobook I DNF’d LA Witt and Ana Szabo’s “Scoreless”. This was a reminder to me to listen to the sample first. The narrator’s accents for the two M/Cs really grated and the voices sounded way too old. There was also lots and lots of repetition of each character’s perceived unrequited love. If others have loved this one, tell me and I’ll try it in print. The audio definitely didn’t work for me.

    I read Catherine Cloud’s “Miles are just an Afterthought” after downloading it from Ao3. It was lovely M/M hockey romance. If it had been in edited book format it would undoubtedly have been shorter but I enjoyed the meander through the lives of these two main characters and the way she got them to their HEA. Lots of good team and family dynamics.

    This in turn lead to a reread of Cloud’s Three is the Luckiet Number. Another M/M hockey romance. Really excellent.

    I then read the final book in Lee Goldberg’s Eve Ronan series entitled “Movieland” which was another really satisfying procedural in the genre of Michael Connelly. Many thanks again Yuri for that recommendation.

    Late last night I discovered that in honor of the fifth anniversary of the publication of Heated Rivalry, Rachel Reid posted a short, with Ilya’s POV of the “Las Vegas scene”, entitled “Heated Rivalry: Las Vegas Remix”. Its fun. She also promised there would be more of these two MC’s in the future. That’s good news!

    1. Yes, the Las Vegas story was fun/touching. Must re-read Heated Rivalry as soon as I’ve found it again in my boxes from the move (chaos!!).

    2. I just re-read Heated Rivalry this week so I am heading straight to Rachel’s site – thank you Christina for the heads-up!

      1. The Las Vegas short makes me love Ilya even more (and I’m usually immune to anything Russian).

    3. Thanks. Loved the Las Vegas Remix too. Happily I managed to send it to my kindle which made for nicer reading.

      And I have finally succumbed to Ao3 to get the Catherine Cloud you recommended :-).

    4. Thanks for the shout-out but I haven’t read Lee Goldberg so it must have been someone else *blushes*. Will put it on my tbr list though, as it obviously sounds like something I’d reccommend!

  11. I had a 12 hour drive from south Florida to middle Tennessee so I listened to the Liz Danger books and still loving the story and characters.

    It was the only bright side of the traffic hell that is Atlanta!

  12. I’m back with the Westcott family, this time Someone to Honor. I enjoyed it. Now that I’m several books into this series, it was nice that “the family rallies around” was not the positive, at first, in the eyes of the MC (although it did become a positive). And of course, everything worked out in the end.

  13. This last week I listened to It’s Not You: Identifying and Healing from Narcissistic People, by Dr. Ramani Durvasala. As overused as the word “narcissist” is anymore, I was a little skeptical about how it would go, but! She does a fantastic job of focusing not so much on the narcissists but on the things you can do to deal with them (to paraphrase her, not trying to solve a problem that might not be solvable and instead focusing on the things you can actually control).

    It also opened my eyes to what has really been going on for decades now with my partner’s family and the way he and his siblings respond to things. We’ve talked about it a lot in the last week and his physical copy will be arriving today … It’s a lot to hope, but maybe he can put a few really ugly things behind him. Not forget, but set aside so he can move on.

    1. That sounds like a great book. I worked with a narcissist and lived with another one, and there really is no cure. A Social Worker in Hospice told me she refused to even try to counsel people like that. She said they are the only mental illness she wouldn’t deal with.

      1. Interesting. I have been told by a therapist that my mother is a classic narcissist and the whole focus of my therapy has been learning to set boundaries .
        It does work. It doesn’t cure her but it makes my life a lot easier.

  14. I have also been reading old blog posts while I am at work. It keeps me from killing people, for which my cats are grateful, because I couldn’t feed them from prison.

    I don’t remember when I started lurking here, probably around 2014, when I got a desk job. Lots of fun there, plus I am starting to find people I know in the comments. The only problem is that I want to join discussions that have been finished for 10+ years.

      1. Well then, I am really enjoying reading Liz Danger’s roots. I avoid the in progress posts because I want the experience of coming to the whole story fresh.

        1. Oh, good. Yeah, I’m the same way, I don’t want spoilers ever. Unless it’s a movie I’m not going to watch anyway. Then I want to know exactly how it ends.

    1. I do that too now, read posts a few days late where I want to comment, but the tide has moved on.

      1. We have a tide? We don’t have a tide.

        I read the comments on the dashboard which means they’re not sorted as to post, they’re sorted as to most recent, so I generally catch even late comments. But not always. You can always bring something up again because chances are people here have thought about it and have new thoughts, too.

  15. I’m still getting through Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I’m to the place where lots of bad things begin to happen, and Dobby gets killed, and I’m bracing myself to read on. In the meantime, I reread The Cinderella Deal. I love how the “marriage” works its way through the differences in their personalities to the point they can live together in peace and fall in love. The ending is great.

  16. Not a very productive week when it comes to reading, because… life.
    At least I finished listening to Roommate by Sarina Bowen. For once a book that was really nice in audio and I didn’t have the feeling to not “read” it in 3D (listening often seems to provide only 2D while reading makes it into 3D for me). I liked it though I had stopped somewhere in the middle to read other stuff which usually is not a good sign. Very gentle.

    Now I’m continuing with reading Game Changer by Rachel Reid. Also a very gentle book with equally likeable MCs. The conflict is mainly that the hockey MC is afraid to come out though he feels increasingly strangled by life in the closet. Which to me feels like a rather realistic problem.
    Yes, it’s not of Heated Rivalry calibre. I LOVED HR in spite of not being a passionate soul myself so I would not have guessed that HR would captivate me that much. DD dnf but I’ve decided for myself that RR is just my cup of tea, so…

    After listening to a podcast with Suzanne Brockmann, I’ve downloaded some sample of the Troubleshooter Inc. series and am intrigued. I’ve got so many books on my immediate tbr pile that I really don’t have any reason to now long to read those.
    Which is strange because I don’t fancy military types at all. Nor FBI guys. But the samples were interesting (book 8 Hot Target and 11 where one MC gets food poisoning on the first pages).

    Anyone read her books?

    1. I’ve read all of Suzanne Brockmann’s books. Mostly, I love her Navy Seal series, Troubleshooters.

    2. Yes! I haven’t read her stuff for a while but I really enjoyed her Navy Seals books.

    3. Yes, it’s a while since I read them, but I really liked them. The only occasional issue I had was that her characters have a tendency to pause in the middle of a desperate situation – terrorists, bombs etc – to discuss their relationship.

      1. But that’s the best part! If I were in the midst of a terrorist attack or defusing a bomb, I’d love to have a discussion about my relationship – they’d be hostage, as it were. “Better talk about this now, because we’re going to die soon and I’m not giving you another chance. So. Love me? Yes, no.”

        1. You sound like one of my heroines. “No, there’s not going to be a better time, this may be the only time.” And then Bob’s hero sighs.

  17. After two meh reads by name authors I had a sobering, gob-smacking read about American politics. Everyone, please go read Find Me the Votes by by Michael Isikoff Daniel Klaidman — I’m Canadian and found it mesmerizing, fast-paced and full of new information that will help me keep track as the trial unfolds.

    And then, the perfect antidote: The Blonde Identity by Ally Carter. I think it was recommended here months ago and it finally came up on my library holds. What a HOOT! Thanks to whoever suggested it.

  18. I’m currently reading Clark and Division by Naomi Nakamura. It’s the first in her Japantown Mystery series. It takes place in Chicago in 1944. Aki Ito and her parents have just been released from the Manzanar internment camp, where they had been held since the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The U.S. government resettles them in Chicago, where Aki’s older sister Rose was sent months earlier. The day that they arrive in Chicago, Rose is killed by a subway train. Although the police call it suicide, Aki isn’t convinced and tries to piece together the full story. I’m really enjoying it, although I haven’t had much time to read this week.

    I recently finished December ’41 by William Martin, which I really enjoyed (and think would make a terrific movie). It’s set in California and points east immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The POV switches between several characters, some of whom want to kill FDR and some of whom want to stop them. It was a little slow at the beginning but picked up nicely. Recommended.

  19. I’m rereading (listening) to The Dresden Files. Talk about excellent arch in characters – this series caught me up from the beginning with the “noir” flavor of setting and dialogue added with the funny self-sarcastic way of Harry Dresden, only wizard listed in the yellow pages. Top all that off with The BEST narrator for this character – James Marsters- and you’ve got a series worth reading And listening to, over and over with the same enjoyment of the first 3 or 4 times.
    Also, I enjoy rereading favorite books when work and life are especially stressful. There is peace in visiting old friends, and yes, knowing the outcomes ahead of time.

    1. I love listening to the Dresden Files. James Marsters is SO good.
      And I love how Jim Butcher sets up plots at least 2 or 3 books in advance. I am just amazed by that level of planning.

    2. I love the Dresden Files but I was so disappointed to hear that James Marsters supported a sexual predator at a sentencing hearing. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything here because I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s enjoyment. But I wanted to ask if anyone else finds that these things affect their enjoyment of a work of art? For example, I can’t read JK Rowling or MZB anymore.

      1. I just googled to make sure I hadn’t mixed up James Marsters with James Marsden and … ugh.. I did. Massive apologies for the confusion. But I still have the same question, do these things affect you, and if so where/how do you draw the line?

        1. I find it difficult to separate an artist’s work from gheir private life/believes/behaviour as it kind of always informs ghd work.
          Re MZB and JK Rowling – I was never a fan of the former even if I loved the Catch Trap. I don’t dare to re-read it because I fear it won’t live up to how I remember the story.
          JKR – I haven’t followed everything closely, but afaik she had controversual opinions that didn’t sit well with the modern very inclusive view yet I don’t think she has supported a sexual preditor?
          It’s easy not to read/see anyghing by her anymore, which in my case has to do more with her world being to bleak for me. No boycott on my part.
          I haven’t read anything of her after the HP books (plus the Fantastical Beast scripts), as I was not much enchanted with the books after book 4. I can do without the bleakness/cruelty of her magical World. It didn’t sit well with me how love in HP was handled, never felt it, and a more diverse population was sorwly missing (colour, class, gender, sexuality).
          Didn’t much care for the school system either.
          As a whole, I very much prefer the books by Rick Riordan.

          1. Maybe this is why I never got into Harry Potter, even though I was the right age. I didn’t think about the magical world being bleak or harsh but it really is.

            I did the Artemis Fowl series by Eoin Colfer instead. Wry humor and a morally grey protagonist, plus a fun, futuristic take on magic.

      2. I think there’s making a conscious decision not to support an author/artist/producer versus simply being unable to enjoy a work. There are some artists that I no longer recommend and would only buy second-hand but I can still enjoy their work.

        There are others where my knowledge of the creator’s attitudes / wrongdoing makes it impossible to concentrate or enjoy the work. E.g. JKR- still really good on anti-fascism, but now my awareness of her opinions on gender make me hyper-aware of for instance the way Hermione is expected to do emotional labor for the boys, and the way female villains are othered through their gender presentation. But there are plenty of works where some aspects are good and some are problematic where I know nothing about the creator.

        Not sure what makes the difference.

  20. This week I finally finished David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb, 1994.  This is a scholarly exposition and analysis of pretty much all aspects of what is publicly known about the USSR and nuclear weapons during the reign of Joseph Stalin.  The volume looks to be extremely well researched, and evidently was well received upon publication, to judge from the reviews I found when looking it up.  I have no memory of having so much as heard of it at the time, which is odd, although in the 1990s, the attention even of many specialists fixed not on the past but on the many changes—largely,  but not entirely, positive—going on at the moment in a Russia that had just emerged from Communism. 

    Those same changes made much of the book possible in the first place, since Russian participants were freer to publish, some archives were opened even to international researchers, and some Russian scientists were willing to talk about formerly top-secret matters even to Americans.  (Those days are long past, thanks to Vladimir Putin.)

    I found much of the material interesting, especially the part up to the first Soviet A-bomb test, in 1949, and some of the details about the development of their hydrogen bomb.  My interest flagged on the sections about Soviet politics and foreign policy, partly because they are less usefully illuminated by the post-Communist revelations.

    This is definitely an academic book, although one written so as to be accessible by the general reader.  I would call its style workmanlike: even many academics can better hold the reader’s attention. Also, some of the Russian quotations are rendered in a lame, overliteral translation.  At least part of this is the fault of the English translations that Holloway is quoting, but my impression is that sometimes the culprit is Holloway himself. 

    Despite that, I found it a book worth reading.  The ebook is currently $11.99, stiff but far cheaper than the print price.  I think I got it cheaper than that on some temporary discount.

    I did finish at least one other item, but I need more coffee on a dim, rainy day, so I’ll post this much now.

  21. I would like to be rereading the latest Aaronovitch novella, featuring the FBI agent, but I can’t find it and my adult offspring are denying possession.
    Tried a Frost novel, abandoned it because of the sexism.
    Tried a Felix Francis, abandoned it due to the exposition.
    Bought Tim Marshall’s latest Geography book, about space, got stuck 3 pages in due to him waffling on.
    Keep picking up, then putting down unread, a British Library crime classics book of short stories set in Wales (bought when I was in Cardiff).
    Read a little bit of the Dales Pony Society yearbook.
    Managed to get all the way through Woman and Home magazine. Abandoned Homes and Gardens due to high levels of pretentiousness and extortionate prices of featured wallpaper and fabric. Made it a third of the way through Good Housekeeping but then abandoned it as too depressing.
    I may have a problem.

    1. I don’t want to make light of your reading dilemma, Strop. However the recitation of your recent woes made me laugh loudly – particularly the image that flashed through my mind of expensive & pretentious wallpaper. I can relate to these outcomes which I refer to as a Goldilocks slump. Sometimes it feels as though nothing is quite right. Better luck this week.

      1. …. & of course the one book/item that would fit the mood is MIA or the pup has decided the best place for it (given you left it beside the bath so you could read it whilst soaking ) is in the bath 😳.

  22. I just finished listening to Amongst Our Weapons yesterday, also, and am so desperate for the next book! At some point, I guess I’ll have to have a look at the graphic novels to tide me over. I read a memoir by a search and rescue person yesterday that was pretty depressing—not because of the stories about failed rescues (though those were sad), but because this person’s spouse and some of their colleagues are such jerks. I thought the real, urgent rescue situation was her marriage.

    1. You know, for me this is his weakest book, and I’m wondering if it isn’t because Peter is so accomplished at this point. I’m not much worried about him, he’s almost ready to take over from Nightingale. It also seemed less cohesive. There’s a novel about Kim Who’s in the USA I haven’t read yet. I might go there next.

      1. It does have an “all wrapped up” feeling to it—Peter’s character arc could easily end here. If not for the fact that Leslie’s thread hasn’t been tied off, I would think he was done.

  23. I read and enjoyed a mystery about a stuntwoman called Fall’s Girl by Gini Koch and Bebe Bayliss. She’s a stuntwoman on a movie called Hard Action 5, where the stunt coordinator is the top guy in Hollywood and also her mentor who basically adopted her when she was 14. A series of dangerous incidents leads up to a murder which it appears her mentor is being framed for. And then she starts getting threatening notes telling her to stop asking questions, which of course causes her to ask even more questions.

    Someone recommended Suzanne Palmer and her Finder series. When I went to look them up I discovered I had read and enjoyed Finder when it first came out but had not known about the subsequent sequels, which I then read and also enjoyed. Now I’m looking forward to the fourth book that’s coming soon.

  24. Sofi Laporte is rapidly becoming one of my favorite romance writers. Her Miss Ava’s Scandalous Secret was the second book I’ve read by her, and I’m sure I’ll read more. I truly enjoy her stories. They are full of gentle humor, absurd situations, and improbable conundrums. The masquerade embedded in the plot of this novel would’ve made Shakespeare himself proud. The emotional splash in the end didn’t hurt either. Were the tale and the characters true to history? No. Were they all delightful regardless? Yes. And the absence of bed scenes was a definite bonus for me.

  25. Adding to my earlier post:

    The Real History of Dracula.  Presented by Cleto, Sara Baer; Warman, Brittan.  Wondrium, 2023

    This course (which I’m counting as a short audiobook) surveys various aspects of the impact of the idea of the vampire on Anglophone culture.  Although there are vampire-ish concepts in various cultures worldwide, the vampire idea itself seems to have originated somewhere in Eastern Europe (but not Transylvania).  It gradually impringed upon the British consciousness, first through news reports of strange goings-on in exotic parts, and later through translations of compilations of East European folklore and adaptations in British literature.  (I mentioned here earlier that Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” already in 1843 can assume that the readers will understand Scrooge’s allusion to someone being buried with a stake through his heart.)  But the concept of the vampire assumed something like its current features only through Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897.  The Stoker novel fairly soon led to the wide propagation of vampires in print, stage, and screen. 

    In folklore, vampires were not clearly distinct from werewolves, which helps explain why Russian dictionaries regard vampires as a kind of shapeshifter (оборотень, which sometimes means specifically “werewolf”).  This had hitherto puzzled me.

    Wondrium is the imprint of the same company that issues The Great Courses, and seems to be used for their less academic offerings, the sort of things that the local community college might offer as non-credit courses.  But the dividing line is fuzzy—I could see see the material in this lecture series as forming the basis for a legitimate academic course, with the possible exception of a segment on vampire-related tourism (Bram Stoker never set foot in Transylvania, but this has not stopped the locals from cashing in) and other participation opportunities such as vampire balls.  And I could even see that segment being refocused a bit to work academically.

    For whatever reason, this is the only Wondrium DVD that my local library has.  I know the imprint has a big presence on various paid streaming services, but I can’t speak to those.

    I’m also in the middle of various podcasts, novels, and other media, but have finished nothing worth mentioning.  I seem to have developed a remarkable tolerance for not getting to the end of items.  Other other hand, in some recent weeks I’ve gone through an entire series of novels.  Just not this week.

  26. After a couple of not-exciting reads, I’m rereading A. J. Demas’s Something Human, the first of her m/m romances set in a fictional world related to ancient Greece. It’s a standalone with a slightly odd structure (in two halves), but I love the characters and their worlds.

  27. This week I read The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson. I loved the voice and I love the story. So I wanted to share.
    I am reading Nora Roberts identity right now. I’m not as into Nora as I was. I feel like I can see the wheels turning. She’s a wonderful writer but I keep waiting for the serial killer and I don’t want to read any more serial killers.
    I also also finished the Minuscule mansion book and that was lovely

    1. I enjoyed Identity and I’m struggling to read right now. A lot people were complaining about the ending being a cliffhanger and having to wait a year to find out what happens next. But like you Susan, I’ve read over 200 of Nora’s books, so I’ve a good idea what’s going to happen next. But this book isn’t as dark as her in Death books or stand alone novels. Identity is very similar to her Key trilogy if you have read those

  28. I read Burn it Down by Maureen Ryan that an Argh member recommended last year. It’s about the toxic culture and abuse in Hollywood. I’ve been listening to a podcast Who Trolled Amber Heard and Maureen Ryan is interviewed in the last episode. She talks about her own sexual assault and why she is not optimistic about Hollywood changing. A depressing read but fascinating.

  29. Whoops, forgot it was Thursday.

    Well, I read more Discworld, of course. If I’ve counted right, I believe I’ve re-read half of all the Discworld books by now…or thereabouts, anyway. This week was mostly fabulous, with Maskerade, Feet of Clay, Hogfather and Jingo.

    Maskerade might have been the most fun I’ve had in this reread so far. It is, of course, a Witches book, and a great one. This book absolutely sings, galloping along with great energy and some of the best writing in the series. Or maybe I was just having that much fun reading it.

    Part of my enthusiasm is that I really enjoy Agnes as a point-of-view character. She’s sarcastic, sympathetic, and wonderfully angry. Agnes leaves Lancre and joins the opera because she’s sick of the confining roles available to her in small-town Lancre. But when she does get to Ankh-Morpork, she gets shoved into an equally small box, sidelined by the Opera house on account of her size. It’s exactly outrageous and unfair enough to get me totally on her side from the start, plus I relate to her tendency to find herself standing to one side of the action, watching everyone and thinking witchy thoughts.

    This might be Nanny Ogg’s best book too. She drives a great deal of the action, first because she writes her famous book of cookery, and later by bustling around the Opera House creating mischief and setting things to rights in equal measure.

    But I think the thing I really love about this book is that it has style and substance. Like all the Witches books, it’s about stories (in this case, opera), stages, and the power of belief. And all of that gets written into the book’s structure, so that by the time we get to the Big Unmasking Scene at the end of the Opera, it’s also the Big Unmasking Scene for all of our characters. It’s melodramatic, contrived, ridiculous, and delightfully intentional on all counts. I have been frustrated with other recent re-reads in part because they welded their ideas to their plot so awkwardly, but here it all flows perfectly. Oh, and did I also mention that it’s funny?

    I could go on and on, but basically, this one goes into my little list of top-tier Discworld books.

    Feet of Clay is also great. Just from a writing standpoint, it’s beautifully crafted, with interweaving plot-lines and a mystery that unfolds clue by clue (and hides one of its biggest clues right where no one would look). Plot-wise, this is the third Watch book in a row to feature a scheme to kill/depose the Patrician in order to restore the rightful King of Ankh-Morpork to the throne (with a little twist concerning who that rightful king may be, in this case). I should complain about the repetition, but in fact, I don’t care – good writing makes up for a lot. In fact, I think this may be my favorite Watch book, although we’ll see.

    It’s a much more serious book than Maskerade, and I found I liked the shift in tone. One is all glittery opera & misdirection, the other takes place in unrelenting fog and danger. Angua gets more of a starring role, much to the book’s benefit, and Cheery/Cherri & Dorfl grow into deeply sympathetic characters. It’s much more tightly-plotted than many Discworld books, which makes reading a pleasure.

    Having read the first two books in record speed, I started reading Hogfather, took a break for an evening stroll, and found myself walking through a springtime snowstorm. A Hogwatch miracle!

    What I like best about Hogfather is just how creepy it is. The piles of teeth (ugh), the nightmarish creatures, the wizened tooth fairy, Teatime himself. It goes perfectly with Pratchett’s insistence that childhood – far from being a magical time of wonder – is just as hard as being an adult, and frequently a whole lot scarier. This is a Christmas book, but one firmly focused on the darkness of midwinter and the difficulties of being human.

    The writing isn’t quiet as tight here. But I love the adventures of Hogfather Death & his little pixie Albert, especially the scene where they crash a toy store. Teatime and his gang make for terrific villains, except that they disappear from the book for incredibly long periods of time. The wizard stuff feels a little tacked on to me, even though I usually enjoy the UU faculty. But Susan is magnificent – once again the best part of every book she’s in. It’s not perfect, but it’s a good book for a snowy evening anytime.

    Finally, I read Jingo while recovering from a hard day. It was…fine. I actually don’t have that much to say about this one — many of the problems from Interesting Times are back, including some awkward cultural stereotypes and clunky political messaging. Plot-wise, it feels badly underwritten. It’s not terrible, parts are quite fun, and I have a bit of a soft spot of Leonard of Quirm whenever he shows up. But ultimately, not a book I got much out of.

    Which feels like a low note to end on, so perhaps we need to circle back to Maskerade so I can say again how much I loved it? The dinner scene where Nanny Ogg serves everyone Chocolate Delight with Special Secret Sauce is a particular favorite.

    1. Of those Pratchett’s my favorite is Hogfather, because Susan. Feet of Clay is also tremendous, but my favorite Watch book is Thud. Although Thud would be even better with more Angua, because *everything* is better with more Angua.

    2. Lynn, I love all the Pratchett books that include Agnes. I imagine that she was the inspiration for Agnes Nutter in Good Omens, but I’m not even going to take the trouble to compare publishing dates to find out which came first. (To me, Agnes Nutter is the only bright light in Good Omens. But that’s me.) Back to Maskerade, I figure I’d love it even more if I’d seen Phantom of the Opera. In truth, I didn’t think much of the ending because I wasn’t paying any attention to the opera officials. Also, I was disappointed that Agnes was once again relegated to the background with the lights shining on . . . Christina? The pretty girl who couldn’t sing. But that was a true to life ending.

      Yes, to your general take on all three books. Hogfather’s (the book not the character) sheer awfulness — from Teatime to the piles of children’s teeth — surprises me every time I return to it. I hadn’t figured out what you did — that the awfulness is the point.

      I don’t particularly remember Jingo, but my sense of it matches your thoughts about it.

      1. Anyone who hasn’t see the movie of Hogfather really should. Its beautifully done and Pratchett appears in a cameo

        1. Also this is reminding me of my son’s speech at my daughters commitment ceremony where he explained that she is a book pusher and talked about three books she had read to him when he as little .
          He described the Diana Wynne Jones as leading up to “Terry Pratchett books, which were basically my whole personality for all of middle and high school.”
          Apparently he forgot that he was urging his fourth grade teacher to assign Jingo for the class …

  30. I DNFd at least 6 samples, which is sad, because I had hopes of all of them. Sometimes something that sound promising is just too far off my boundaries for the genre (I only like some fantasy for example). Sometimes it’s just not grabby enough for me to buy it, and my small library has very limited digital content.

    Now re-reading an ancient Charles Paris mystery (Simon Brett). I like the humor, though how he lives his life is somewhat excruciating to those of us who score high on the J factor of the Myer-Briggs personality analysis.

    1. Oh man, I would love to know the Myers-Briggs type of everyone who comments on this blog. Not to mention the writers whose books are most beloved here. Or in fact any author whose books I have read. I am an INFP, which makes sense in terms of my devotion to books and libraries and pondering things, but back when I was supervising people and overseeing a lot of detail work, I tested as a J. Making decisions and seeing that things made deadline with few-to-no errors was what I did all day. You can imagine how happy I was to leave that job.

      1. I’m an ENFJ – and I’m a certified Myers-Briggs facilitator so I’ve taken this test about a zillion times over the years and really tried to almost…influence it, shall we say? To no good end. As ENFJ as they come. I love making decisions and love meeting deadlines.

        1. Well, that makes so much sense, then! You and I meet at the N, but otherwise it sort of supports your ability to deal with books about cutthroat hockey guys, while I am somehow the opposite. I would rather be at the tea party where Elizabeth is calmly resisting Lady Catherine de Burgh’s rudeness.

          It’s a really interesting take on behavioral patterns and differences, though.

          1. But I like being at that tea party too! That’s the EN in me…it’s just that I want things to move along and get to the good parts sooner. With decisive victories. Over the evil people.

        1. I’ve never read anything by Norah Lofts, and my library has nothing by her. As usual, this makes me regret being stuck in the States when it comes to many British & Canadian writers.

        1. I think you might find it at a library — “Gifts Differing” by Isabel Briggs is at my local library, for instance. It’s a clear, relatively simple description of traits that can differentiate people. I/E (the first letter in any of the types) you probably already know — introversion/extraversion. When you take it in a group of people you’ll find that knowing someone who tests in the opposite poles from you will explain things immediately, since you know instinctively that you see things and people very differently from that person.

        2. Dodo, It looks like the official online test, with counseling and so forth included, is expensive ($59 in the US), but there are a variety of free online links offered less officially. I started at the one below since a university added a little credibility, but it linked to a commercial service that tries to get you to upgrade to a paid version. Resisting, I tried their free version and got my usual result (from when I repeatedly took it at work and once earlier at a church group), except with a P instead of my more usual J. But I’m near the boundary on that trait, and I’ve gotten the P before once or twice. So at least it is plausibly consistent in my case.

      2. According to the test (thanks, Patrick!), I seem to be an ISFP.
        Strage mix.
        I don’t believe in the zodiac, but being capricorn as a zodiac sign with aquarius in the ascendant I often get strange, contrary mixes.

        1. LOL! We got the same result Dodo. ISFP.
          I just did the test to see if it had changed since I did it at work ages and ages ago — and the only change is that back in the day I was borderline “Extrovert” and now I am borderline “Introvert” !

      3. Just done the test – I am currently an ESFP-T. I say currently as I’ve done it several times since I was a psychology student, and have noticed that some elements shift from time to time. For example, I got an introvert score when going through a lot of stress due to my parents’ health issues, and I’m pretty sure I’ve been EN at various times.

        1. Similar here. First time that I’ve taken the test and got a result. But the result 20 years ago would have been different, I’m sure. Have been far more introvert back then. I attribute becoming more extrovert to me having kids and growing with them. The E side has been always there but less pronounced. Overall I’m still an introvert, though 59% I vs 41 % E.

          Which came in handy during lockdown as having only my core family around was enough – not like a distant friend who really suffered.

  31. A couple of standouts:
    Ngaio Marsh’s ‘Clutch of Constables’. A lot of this is told from Troy’s point of view as she goes on a canal cruise with a bunch of strangers. So good – it kept me up far too late reading and reminded me that I really must read more Marsh.

    TA Moore’s ‘Bone to Pick’. MM romance between a snarky FBI agent and a dog squad cop as they search for a missing boy. Kind of enemies to lovers, with the FBI agent trying to persuade himself that all he wants is casual sex. A really good mystery and great characters.

    1. I really enjoyed both of Bone to Pick and the sequel “Digging up Bones”. I am hoping there will be more though no sign of any yet.

      1. She was talking about the plot of the next one a little while back but that seems to have faded recently…

  32. This week I enjoyed Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett (recommended to me by a friend who knows my taste well, but I think I’ve seen it here before too?) Historical-ish fantasy (not our world) with some very dark struggles and a fascinating magic system with programming-like specifications (something I loved about The Invisible Library by Genevieve Cogman too.)

    Now I’m reading Picture This: How Pictures Work by Molly Bang (I’ve got the revised edition from the library), which has been recommended over and over by illustrators I know. It’s a short experimental discussion with visual examples working through how things like simple shapes, colors, and area of the page impact a viewer’s emotions to tell stories. I’m finding it fascinating, and I like that I can see how the concepts she’s talking about work as she goes.

  33. I think I’d just breezed through a reread of “Shattered” by Kevin hearne last I Good Book Thursdayed.

    So, once I’d made it through all 6 season’s of Schitt’s Creek instead of reading, I reread Pratchett’s “The Wee Free Men”. I think I can safely say by now that this is my least favourite Tiffany; really, it’s the wee free men that do it for me in that book. Good thing I love them with a passion.

    After that, I reread Hearne’s “Staked” because I could. Turns out I’m was on my 5th reread of the Iron Druid Chronicles-series. 🙂

    I was looking for a nice quote to put on my Bluesky (I do this to motivate myself to post and get used to that place), and came across one from “Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares” by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn. I didn’t post it, BUT I felt motivated to read the book, and so I did. Hadn’t read it before, so finally a new read. YA, cute. I saw in the Goodreads reviews that someone was annoyed by the not very teenager-like language here and there, but I never even thought of it not being teenage-ish. Maybe because I had a friend in highschool whom threw big words all around as soon as she opened her mouth, so it didn’t seem un-teenagerish to me. Anyway, it was a pleasant read.

    Returned to the Iron Druid Chronicles again to read “Scourged”. Brain was happy.

    And, then I reread “The Flatshare” by Beth O’leary. Just like the first time it took me a while to get used to the male narrator, but I really, REALLY enjoy this book. First time I read it I thought it’d be only silly stuff, but some of the stuff in there hits me pretty hard. I think it was partly this book thatmade me realized that I’ve been gaslighted too, and that’s awful. I love me a book that makes me feel and think though, so I was happy I reread it.

    Now rereading Night Watch by Pratchett, one of my absolute favourites of the Discworld books.

    I reached out to my gay-friend re sex-scenes in M/M litterature, and he said that in his experience, it’s probably as varied as M/F in terms of quality, realism and detail. He’d recently read an anthology of erotic novellas of which some were incredibly spicy, and some were BOOOORIIING, but it’s of course a matter of taste, he said. He agreed that indeed, it happens quite a lot that they skip or are vague about things that you can’t really skip or be vague about in reality, especially when it comes to things like anal sex, which definitely needs some preparation and care rather than BAM LET’S GO unless you want to hurt one another. Perhaps authors find that unnecessary to elaborate on? He hadn’t thought about whether the scenes differ depending on the author’s gender or own sexual orientation (if known), but he is now curious to find out, so he would get back to me about that once he’d read some books and paid attention to that.
    I’ve been awake since forever and have a super-fussy brain, so I might’ve forgot both stuff you asked and stuff he answered, but I don’t mind writing again or asking him more, if you or anybody else is curious. So if I forgot, please remind me, and if you wanna know anything else, do let me know.

    1. Shass, that’s cool that you remembered!! Thanks a LOT!!
      I’m really looking forward to hearing/reading more from your friend!

      1. We talk a lot not just about books, but also about writing. He’s not an author, mind you, but we both want to write more – he’s just starting, I want to get back to it. Without going into detail I can say that *his* writing of sex-scenes is quite different from how any of my lady-friends would write, and from how I write them. It’s thrown casually in there in a way none of them or any female author I’ve ever read has ever done. Suddenly a dude just does stuff with himself or with his partner, and first time I had to go back and read it again because I was so surprised that it just… happened. I don’t read enough M/M in general or erotic litterature in particular to know if it happens in a lot of the books as well, but maybe that’s a thing? It just… happens? M/F needs the build-up, but M/M does not? Hmmmmm.

      1. Will do! Do you have any suggestions on M/M written by female authors with sex-scenes in them that I can rec him if he wants “research materials”? I haven’t read enough of it to feel that I have good tips to give him.

        1. How about the saxon james books in the Accidental love series becaue I feel the guys in there are very sexually active (mire so than in james’ collab with finley).
          Though the MCs also seem casual about hooking up. Which might be more according the “male approach”?

          1. Thinking about it, in most mm books that I read lately the MCs have a more direct approach to enjoy the time between the sheets without the sheets.
            More let’s relieve pressure/ have a good time.
            Otoh there a a few books where the MCs/one MC cannot let loose easily, are /is more reserved and thus getting intimate means more. Which is certainly more to do with personality than gender. Introvert/evtrovert etc. Which is certainly true for girls, too. Only I guess having a very casual approach is still less often found for girls?

  34. Not reading much but sorting through books and absolutely refusing to reread or I won’t make any progress.

  35. This has been a very disappointing book week. DS has been reading Agatha Christie’s so I gave him a list of my favorite books from my favorite mystery authors from that period and he downloaded samples to try them and he didn’t like any! I am crushed!
    The samples were short so I persuaded him to let me give him Smallbone deceased so he can read more of it. But this is very sad. And inexplicable.

    I have been rereading bits and pieces of other favorites trying to find one he might like. And Agatha Christie’s to see what he likes about them. She is frankly my least favorite of the big name mystery authors of the period .

    He and I have loved reading the same books of things like Terry Pratchett and Diana Wynne jones so this is depressing.

    1. The Body of a Girl might be more in his lane if he likes Christie. It’s a lot twistier than Christie but it’s a murder mystery from the start.

    2. If he likes Christie, maybe he likes puzzles more than characters? (I gave up on her pretty quickly when I went through my detective story phase as a teenager, because I found her characters too shallow.j

      1. Me too. Which is why I am going to try Smallbones a bit more. He’s gay so i suspect the homophobia in Body of A Girl is not a good place to start.

  36. I’m rereading (listening to) the YA Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud. I love the irreverent voice of the djinni and the character arc of the young magician.

  37. I am late to the party because I flexed my schedule yesterday so I could sign off work early so we could get on the road to downtown to meet up with my high-school friend (an airline pilot) who was in town for a day. Dinner at Morton’s and much highly enjoyable catching-up. When we got home, was not in the mood to get back on the computer. But here I am with another overly-lengthy reading summary!

    1. ‘The Grocer’s Son’ by Garrick Jones, 3rd in his Clyde Smith mysteries. Again densely written and deeply researched, but this one is much less violent / triggery than book 2. Still building the queer network, overtly discussing the nature of queer relationships in their late-1950s context. I suspect Jones is writing mostly to please himself, based on the 6 books of his that I’ve read so far. He’s definitely one of the most interesting ‘own voices’ writers of queer fiction I’ve come across, for that reason: I don’t feel like he’s trying to fit the mold of popular M/M romance written mostly for women. 2024 reading goal, finish his backlist.

    2. [re-read] ‘Die For Love’ by Elizabeth Peters, the one in which a university librarian goes to a NYC romance convention, decides to write a historical romance, and gets embroiled in a fraud / blackmail / murder scenario.

    3. [re-read] ‘Naked Once More’ by Elizabeth Peters, next in series. These two are forever keepers for me, I still have my hardcover first editions even after divesting almost all my collectible books, but NOM came up for sale so I … snagged both of them. 🙂

    4. ‘Fluke and the Fantastic Finale’ by Sam Burns. I give this 5-book series 5 stars, rounded up, for entertainment value, re-readability, and neat wrapping-up of many story threads with happy endings all around.

    5. ‘How To Say I Do’ by Tal Bauer, one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. SO MANY FEELS. It’s a deep dive into two very different men who need to spend a lot of time apart and thinking about things / working on things before they can truly be together. I believed every word of it.

    6. ‘The Lavender Locker Room’ by Patricia Nell Warren, a collection of essays originally published on, about queer athletes through the ages. Some really sad & infuriating stuff here, but also inspiring. Recommended for anyone who has an interest in sports or sports romance. Also for anyone who was wondering just how long the US has been a deeply fucked-up place to be queer. Did you know about Olympic gender testing? Neither did I. Of course, it was applied only to women. GRRRR.

    1. I was wondering where you were! Anyway, I’ve got to try Sam Burns. Has been on my list for a while since you first mentioned a long time ago. Likely this week.

    2. I do remember the gender testing. Does anyone remember the female athletes from behind the Iron Curtain who had very male appearances? Thanks to all sorts of illegal substances and hormones?
      Or when Caster Semenya dominated her discipline and they did testing because her looks and strength didn’t seem that of a woman?
      The effects of testosterone or not-quite-your-usual-genetics are more obvious in women. Or so I remember, but I’m neither an endocrinologist nor from thd medical field.

      1. Oh that was awful—they tested Semenya without telling her what it was for and then the results that she is genetically intersex leaked to the press and that’s how she found out. Really botched process.

        I think the Russian and German athletes also were often unaware of what was being done to them. And probably Russian athletes to this day.

    3. In some sports, such as target shooting, it’s been contended that there is no reason for the sport to be gendered. (Even now, is equestrianism a gendered sport at all?) But I can’t think of any Olympic sport in which females competing as males would actually have an unfair advantage. (Female gymnasts seem more impressive to me, but male gymnasts do different things depending more on raw power.) So I can’t think of any reason except sheer anti-gay/lesbian, antitrans prejudice to gender-test athletes competing as male. Hence, I suppose the logic for not testing males. But I’m no expert and have not gone into this issue, so I could be overlooking something. (I think I’ve seen it contended that women are better very-long-distance swimmers, but that’s not currently an Olympic sport.)

      1. Patrick, I would agree that testing for females in male sports where strength is an issue will most likely be necessary.
        Equestrianism is not gendered, you’re right.
        I’ve read that the Netherlands have a women’s national team for Darts: since a trans woman has become a member, a number of women have left in protest. I wouldn’t have thought that Darts needs to be gendered as to me skill is what seems to be needed to succeed. Most darts pros don’t exactly look as athletic as e.g. sprinters or high jumpers…

  38. Not sure how I got a hold of the Deborah Crombie mystery series, but if it was someone here, thank you. I have been reading all the ones I could find this week.

  39. I managed to finish a book – Trial Run by Dick Francis. It’s set in Communist Russia, published in 1978. I think the plot is quite weak but I loved the glimpse into a very different time.

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