143 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 11, 2024

  1. This week, I read the first three books of Barbara Hambly’s Darwath series. I actually don’t remember reading that one back in the day. It is very good. Very gruesome but not graphic. I think those first three books would make a great TV series. They are a complete series in themselves. The fourth one starts a new arc and right now I am feeling very sorry for Ingold, Gil, Rudy and Alde as they seem to be in even worse straits than in the first three books and those were bad enough!

  2. I was rerereading Jenny’s Maybe This Time on a dirt road in northern Vermont. Bundled up, sitting on a folding chair behind my car. Andi and North might be the sexiest Crusie couple.

    And then an eclipse happened.

    Perfect.

    1. A tiny bit of eclipse (i.e. only a very small bite out of the sun) was supposed show for us but, unsurprisingly, it was rainy and cloudy and none of the sun was visible! Envious of those who did get to see it.

  3. I blew through my Hoopla borrows for the month pretty much within the first week. Mostly I listened to more Josh Lanyon and now I will be going through withdrawal until May. Winter Kill was my favorite of this bunch. I also tried Murder in Pirates Cove, the first cozy one. I will probably read the second, but I didn’t like it as much as the harder edged mysteries, which is a little surprising for me.

    And I tried the second dinosaur romantic suspense by Maz Maddox. I will finish it, but I am not nearly as charmed as I was by the first one. The rest go way down on the tbr list.

    And yay, the new KJ Charles is out today, so that is probably somewhere in my near future.

    1. I love the Pirate’s Cove books–I listen to them several times a year. Total comfort listens! This week, though, I’ve been listening to the Art of Murder books again. With those, I end up skipping the most angsty parts. I remember liking Winter Kill a lot, but I haven’t revisited it in a while.

  4. THE BOOK OF FIRSTS A Very Secret Garden Book 1 and FOUR KINGS A Very Secret Garden Book 2 by Andrea K Hosth writing as Karan K Anders at Amazon. I loved these books, and loved them even more reading them like one long book. Somewhere in the Crusieverse, there are already posts highlighting things that tickled me. I probably shouldn’t warm up the Lyrical Wax© or the Eloquent Wax© now.

    STAR FOX by Poul Anderson was a revisit to last century and a reminder why I considered Poul one of the giants of SF&F. I’ll revisit his FIRE TIME next week.

    In an hour or two, the latest chapter of the word opera VARIATION ON A THEME Book 5 by Grey Wolf should be posted at StoriesOnline.net. That will be chapter 42. He’s reached the end of the first semester of college, so book 5 might not exceed 100 chapters. I’m still hooked.

    Speaking of wordy authors, David Weber has a “new” Honorverse book out called TOLL OF HONOR. The forum that called it to my attention likened it to his SHADOW OF VICTORY One source said,

    The novel was split into two “books”, with the first being a lot of recycled material about Honor’s conflict with Pavel Young following First Hancock, the political situation, and his subsequent destruction; and the second being about Brandy’s time on HMS Prince Adrian and the other known characters on board. I felt that it could have filled out Brandy’s story more than it did, and that was because of the presence of so many other already known characters. But Book 2 was a good read in its own right.

    I suppose I’ll see for myself.

    1. Shortly after Gary first here mentioned Anderson’s The Star Fox, I found a reference to it in my current book-club book, John M Ford’s Growing Up Weightless, 1993, but only recently restored to print after what I believe was an estate-rights hassle. The protagonist has just read The Star Fox (at home on the Moon) and is struck at how pre-spaceflight authors could posit that there would be aliens all over the nearby stars (which of course there are not). I figured that the coincidence might be a Sign that I should nominate it for the book club cycle currently in progress. On the other hand, of my two nominations, I try to use one for something current and I had already nominated an oldie, Vinge’s True Names, so I went instead for the Malka Older that I mentioned last week, as others had done earlier. I did suggest The Star Fox to anyone who had not yet nominated, but no takers so far. My own reading for the week to follow later.

      1. I remember that but not that it was Star Fox. The rereads just keep piling up on me.

      2. I’ve only read two Poul Anderson’s “Three Hearts & Three Lions” and “The Burning Bridge” and neither worked for me. Are those pretty representative or should I be trying something different of his?

        1. I haven’t read those two, but no two Poul Anderson’s can be representative of his broad range. He did a lot of different things, and I liked about 75% of what I have gotten my hands on.

  5. Probably too much reading this week, I should have been doing other things…

    I finished Daniel Cabot Puts Down Roots (Cat Sebastian, MM). I enjoyed the early 1970s setting in New York, but would have liked a bit more of that. Enjoyed Daniel but I think Peter Cabot is far and away my favourite of these books, I prefer the MCs and enjoyed the 1960s setting. I think the minor characters were better too.

    Then, because I was supposed to be reading my book club book and so couldn’t really start anything else new, I went back to ‘I’m Your Guy, Sarina Bowen (Hockey MM). it was my first hockey, and first MM and I was interested to see whether, given all I’ve read since, I could understand why I got sucked in. I could, it’s a nice, fun MM hockey romance with enough going on to make it interesting. I prefer more angsty stuff now, but this is a lovely read with adorable MCs and a good premise, and lots of interior design which surprisingly, for someone who never really does anything to her house décor, I enjoyed a lot.

    Then I really did have to read my book club book (tight to the deadline I read it on Sunday for Monday). It was Percival Everett ‘The Trees’. I really liked it, it was funny, bananas and very, very serious. Generally, I can’t read (or watch) violence and given that it is about lynching (and revenge killings) I was surprised I was able to read this, probably as all the violence is off page and only descriptions are of the bodies (and what happened) but the description is matter of fact and once you have read one, you can skim the rest. This was well worth reading. Also, a fast read!

    I had saw the film American Fiction a few weeks ago, and at the end saw it was based on a Percival Everett book. There were similarities, in that the film is also both funny and serious. Worth seeing, there is more to it that you’d think from the trailer.

    Finally, having read a few samples which i didn’t get into, I joined the Adrien English (Josh Lanyon, MM crime) fan club here. The first, Fatal Shadows, is good, but it really gets going the second ’A Dangerous Thing’ set on the ranch, and I’m into the 3rd now. Loving them.

    The three come together in a special offer for kindle, which has the interesting effect that for the first two, it is really unclear whether you are near the end of the book. I take it for granted when I am reading that I know how much story is left (by pages, or %). For these, I didn’t. The first was 25% of the 3 books, the second finished at about 55% (I think) and so the last is likely the longest. Anyway, it is just interesting how now knowing when a book will end plays with your expectations of plot and what might happen, and the level of tension.

    Thanks, as ever, for all the great recs here.

    1. So great that you’ve joined the Adrien English fan club! I keep rereading them — all 6 volumes AND the “interviews” and other revisits with the MCs.
      Lanyon was totally my gateway to M/M and she remains at the top of my top 5.
      But it’s funny that you went back to reread Sarina Bowen this week because I was on exactly the same track! I also went back to retrace my steps trying to figure out how I got so sucked into M/M hockey. I think Sarina Bowen might have been my start but how did I go from pleasant little romances to being willing to wrangle with Ao3 (which I find to be a counterintuitive nightmare) to get more hockey stories from my two top hockey writers (Taylor Fitzpatrick and Catherine Cloud?) And from there to watching the NHL channel at every opportunity and checking scores and the standings first thing in the morning??? I’m still not sure…

      1. My only problem with A03 is that when I search for a creator’s name, it usually comes up with “gifts” for that creator rather than the creator’s works – no idea what I’m doing wrong but I get there in the end. And I love being able to sort by kudos!

    2. Frozen Pond,
      Sarina Bowen’s Ivy Years hockey books were more or less what got me into the topic, too. Still have to read Him and Us.

      BTW, title 6 of 7 of her Vermont series (I know, the one hardly anyone loves) is up for free as a two-day-offer.

      Combined with Rachel Reid and then the CU and Puckboy series of Eden Finley/Saxon James.
      I like the Guy series of her very much, the I’m your guy a little more than the New Guy, probably because there was more interior design stuff than physical therapy in the first book (I would be a sucker for pt!!), probably because Tommaso is just my kind of guy 🙂

      So I’m slowly listening Delay of Game by Ari Baran who’s very witty when answering comments on Instagram 🙂
      I’m also skimming the Puckboy series books 4 and 5 to get up-to-speed for next weeks Bromantic Puckboy. I guess I like the Idiots-to-lovers trope, too. Delay of Game is basically idiots-to-lovers and even idiots-while-lovers.

      But this week has been rather unproductive otherwise: real life intervened and not in a good way.

      Hockey in books is soooo much less stressful!
      We went to another hockey game and it was a nightmare. I had to leave early because I just couldn’t stomach the other team’s fans anymore. Their noise, chants and esp. gestures woke very bad pictures of past times. I don’t regret following my instincts. DH and kid 2 stayed but were emotionally drenched afterwards, too.

      Tammy and you Canadian and US-hockey afficionados: are the fans in your stadiums that loud, too? The atmosphere was INTENSE during both games last week.
      The fans from Bremerhavn brought a big drum and some kind of device to make the voices louder. Since we stood somewhat near to their partition, I really felt it in my bones. The noise is easily as loud as a airplane starting. And our stadium (the old one in which we saw the last game ever before the new one is opened up with a game Munich vs. Buffalo Sabres in September) is smallish – less than 6000 fans when packed to the gills.
      Needless to say, out team lost the playoff round. The played well but the other team played better and had a mountain of a goalie – they would have needed to get a handful of Michigans in, he blocked everything else. Sigh.

      1. I liked her True North series, particularly “Bittersweet”. I haven’t read book 7 so will check it out, thank-you!

      2. I did like Him and Us, and then the novella Epic. They are nice reads.

        Not that big a fan of the puckboy series. Started well but I think I gave up after 3. that might have been a problem of reading too many in a row. Sometimes it is better to space them out.

        Season’s Change, Cait Nary is still one of my fav MM Hockey (though i have not reread it), also liked Contract season, but then Lucky Bounce put me off her a bit.

        1. Same here: puckboy 1 and 2 are dear to my heart, the others were kind of a let down, but I still hold out hope!
          I read them more or less when they came out, so not much danger to overdo it.
          With the fake boyfrifnd series I didn’t like book 1, skipped 2, loved 3 and was surprised how much I liked Blindsided (the one with 2 NFL players). Dnf the 5th one.
          Usually the authors lay too much emphasis on the smut for my taste, as if sex = love.
          When the MCs shy away from acknowledging their feelings, the intimate scenes “speak”, when they are just a reflection of the MCs stamina and sex drive (oh, how manly…), it does not work for me.
          Maybe that’s why their books with friends-as-lovers/idiots-to-lovers work better for me.

          Season’s change was great!! Read AND listened to it, loved both MCs!
          Have yet to read the other books, didn’t get sucked in as easily.

      3. Dodo, I don’t know about hockey games but at baseball games (we go to A LOT of them) we have learned which team match up to avoid (they will remain anonymous) because they their fans come to town in very large numbers and are so loud and obnoxious that they totally ruin the whole game experience for the local fans. .. The upside is when we beat that team — very sweet! The silence is then deafening.

        1. Ah, the sweet feeling of winning!!
          I’m not knowledgable enough yet about the fan groups. Neither in hockey nor soccer.
          I know that in spite of the ugly fan experience against Bremerhaven, I found it still more bearable to lose against their team than the one that won the other playoff round (Berlin) against the second southern team.
          We’ve been the defending champion but the team has chsnged since then.
          At least, the hockey fans are never that numerous that they flood the city which regularly happens in soccer.

    3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I think Sarina Bowen is way overrated and I read her hockey books but none of them are on my re-read list.

      1. She’s not on my reread pile either but no question that she is a “gateway” to hockey M/M, (and to hockey in extreme cases…😂 ) if only cause she is so prolific and has lots more exposure.

          1. Oh well, some loath it/her writing, some like it, some love it 😉
            Like with broccoli (I love the greenies).

          2. Marketing works in getting readers, but I don’t think it can make people like a book. One of the most fascinating blog posts I read was something on tor.com as was that went through how different people “saw” a book – from full on movie-style, to washes of color, to nothing. That really helped me understand how some people like books that I can’t stand, because they are literally experiencing it differently in their heads.

          3. Yes, this. You’re a passive observer of film, but you have to conceptualize a novel for yourself, and if your concept doesn’t dovetail with the author’s, you’re not going to be happy. Reading isn’t passive, it’s collaborative. It’s one of the reasons I try to leave a lot of white space in my/our books. No detailed descriptions, just enough to give the readers room to move in and make everything their own.

          4. Yuri,
            that sounds fascinating!
            I usually need a connection with the MC/mcs and I cannot even pinpoint what creates this connection.
            Genre seems to work better, most titles of Literature (with capital L), I find aestethically appealing but in most cases lack connection.

            Bujold once said iirc that only half of the book is created by herself, the other in the reader ‘s mind.

            Very true.

          5. Yes, and that’s before you get to reading speed, how your life history / culture etc forms your taste etc etc. Was listening to Robin Sullivan on the Publishing Rodeo podcast recently and she defines a “good” book as one that at least one person reads and loves. Everything after that is just how big your audience is.

            The tor.com article is https://reactormag.com/how-do-you-see-the-books-you-read/ (I think it was actually posted twice). The comments are fascinating.

          6. Yuri, what you say really resonates with me. That’s why I’d rather read a book than watch a series these days. No actor is as good as what’s in my head when I read a good book.

      2. I like her, just not her hockey books. The Ivy Years and the Leaving Paradise (?) duet still hold up for me.

        Her hockey players annoy me. I liked Man hands and man card too, but haven’t gone back to them.

        1. Lupe, one could argue that the Ivy Years are hockey books lol … all thd MMCs and some of the FMCs are hockey players/from the hockey world.
          But I get what you mean 🙂

          1. Lol. That didn’t even make a dent in my memory. This is why I am not a part of the hockey tribe.

      3. I like her. Her The Year We Fell Down is what got me into Hockey Romances. I’ve reread it several times. I like The Year We Hid Out (I think that’s the title), too. And she led me to Elle Kennedy.

        1. I like her too. the Yvy ones especially like you Jenny, including the very sweet short stories she did in that world. Some of her later books, especially the brooklin ones not so much but she can still produce really good stuff in there too. I really liked the interior designer one she did recently.

          1. I also like the sense of community in her books. That MCs of former books can pop up without crowding or overtaking, without the need for info dump by the narrator.
            That I don’t have to day goodbye to mcs I grew to like/love ehen their book has ended.

            Doing that smoothly is a rare talent imho.

    4. I’m part way through a recent Ex Urbe ad Astra podcast (Palmer and Walton with guest Ken Liu). It’s supposed to be about pacing but so far largely concerns length, a related concept. Someone makes the same comment about unknown length. I think it was specifically about an ebook where the last third turns out to be sample chapters and such, so that the story ends much sooner than expected. In scholarly books, a big chunk of the percent figure can be endnotes. The opposite situation is when a book ends mid-plot, without even a partial resolution. Even though the publisher may be to blame (by insisting on splitting a work), an author may well get a permanent downcheck from me if I encounter that from them more than once.

      Like much sf, Haldeman’s The Forever War was original published in magazines as a series of shorter pieces. I remember reading one story where it looks like the main characters are to be discharged, only to be recalled on the last page. In the novel, that story comes only maybe halfway through, so it is obvious something will go wrong. In the magazine, it could well have been the last story in the series, so the recall came as a shock for the reader (for me, anyhow).

      1. I hate the teaser chapters in e-books. At least in paper copies I can end-flip and put a bookmark at the actual end of the book. Even worse in any format is teaser chapters labelled “Epilogue” – so frustrating!

        1. I sometimes check the page number for the end matter, then I know how near I’m getting – but only with authors I know are bad about this.

  6. I listened to Hell Cop, thank you Lupe and the other Arghers who echoed that recommendation. Three M/M stories in a city set in a paranormal world where magic and demons abound, and occasionally commit crimes that require the special police division of hell cops to intervene. Good fun.

    I read two more Heidi Cullinan’s, Sleigh Ride and Santa Baby (yes in April) and enjoyed them but I don’t think she’s my jam. Sorry, Yuri, I did try!

    And in their Hockey Ever After, I read Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James’ novella An Unrivaled Off Season, which was a satisfying follow-up to Grady and Max’s romance.

    1. No apologies, I’m not surprised, I think Cullinan is just on my wavelength or something. I’m glad you at least enjoyed them, and I’m impressed gave her three books!

      “Hell Cop 2” is also worth picking up, as is “The Irregulars” by the same set of authors.

      1. Yuri,
        Heidi used to be a Crusie cherry back in the day when the lively discussions were conducted via e-mail forum.
        I remember her well.

          1. It’s getting even better – it has a Josh Lanyon story in it! Now I really want to read it! I got it through Smashwords – thank you so much!

    2. There was a mix up or something getting Unrivalled Off Season onto KU and it is still not there on amazon.co.uk, not sure if it went up on the .com one. Will try and remember to check occasionally to see

      1. Unrivales was announced to me as short time deal for 99 ct. Only, it seems to be available via amazon.com (maybe UK, too) but not on the continent/ Europe.

  7. I read Lost & Found by Brooke Davis.

    Two octogenarians help a 7yo girl find her mom.

    Wonderful insights into Dead Things and Dying, Love, Marriage, Youth, and Old Age.

    “You’re all going to die. It’s okay.”

  8. Most enjoyable thing I read this week was “Folk Around & Find Out” by Penny Reid, which was fun and sweet and when the MMC turns up to the FMC’s house where she’s dealing with a sick child and three others that need feeding and supervising and comforting and he steps up, I was gone. This is going on my re-read list.

    Mostly I’ve been reading the Hugo shortlist, including “Some Desperate Glory” by Emily Tesh. Completely different from her novellas (I loved the first one, bounced off the second), this is militaristic sci-fi with a young FMC growing up in a fascist cult. The first third dragged for me and I only persisted due to the sheer volume of recommendations, but it became the foundation for a story that interested and then engrossed me and I finished the book thinking it was brilliant. Subsequently, I’ve realized I’m uncomfortable with some of the book’s conclusions so I’m not quite so happy with it, but still good. Trigger warnings for everything.

    Also from the Hugo shortlist was the short story “The Sound of Children Screaming” by Rachael K. Jones which I thought was very good, if harrowing (https://www.nightmare-magazine.com/fiction/the-sound-of-children-screaming/)

    In the Astounding shortlist for debut authors was “The Book Eaters” by Sunyi Dean, a contemporary fantasy thriller, that took about three chapters to catch my interest. The central concept is how far a mother will go for her children, which I found interesting, and it’s cleverly written. Neither thrillers nor morally ambiguous MCs are really my thing but I’d be interested in trying Ms Dean’s next book.

    Interspersed with those, I’ve been reading Samantha Kane’s “Birmingham Rebels” m/m/f series, which are fun popcorn, with rather more time spent in the bedroom than the football field, which doesn’t bother me. I’ve enjoyed the first three, and I’ve got the next one lined up for the next time I need light relief.

  9. This week I finished TA Moore’s Night Shift series – M/M romance between a law enforcement officer (specially trained to deal with werewolves) and a security firm CEO/werewolf. It takes place in a world where wolves are the majority of the population and where the wolves lose their human minds and succumb to total bloodthirstiness upon the full moon. No one – including love interests – is safe. I was hooked when one MC was upset the day after the full moon cause he thought he’d eaten the other MC. This was a fun read. Not angsty at all. It was fun to be in this world where the divide between wolves and humans (referred to as “nulls”) is totally uncompromising, which makes a null-werewolf romance challenging.

    I also read Rose Tierney “Roughing” , a hockey M/M romance between teammates. This one did not work for me.

    I then read Taylor Fitzpatrick’s A03 story: Throw up your fists, throw out your wits” which was a really good read — very angsty. It was short. I then discovered that there is follow up with one of the MCs in other stories and I spent waaaaayy too much time trying to track this/these stories down in Ao3. I still haven’t found it/them. Ao3 is really not intuitive at all and Taylor Fitzpatrick’s Tumblr account, while less confusing, doesn’t clarify anything; I guess it will be easier to understand once I’ve read all of her work. I’m not at that point yet, so there is a lot of “GRRRRR this makes NO sense!” grumbling going on over here. 🙂

    I finally read Ari Baran’s Hearts upon the Hill — sweet story. I saw it described somewhere as “Idiots to lovers” and that fit — made me smile.

    1. To be fair, Fitzpatrick isn’t using all the tags and features she could be using on A03, probably because they’re her original characters. Usually you should be able to click on a character and see all the works featuring them.

    2. Roughing was definitely not one of my faves of hers. And may the wind be beneath your wings on trying to figure out all of Taylor’s A03 threads. That’s why I organized a few of them but wow it takes some effort. Jen B keeps threatening to ask Taylor to pay her to organize the whole thing. These days she is writing much less randomly. Is following mostly specific threads, we hope to the end.

      1. At this point, I’m close to paying Jen B to do that myself! 🙂
        The story I’m looking for is abbreviated everywhere on her Tumblr as SOTM. I am probably slow but I just cannot find what that stands for. I figure I could piece it together on Ao3 if I just had that clue…
        Its a Quest at this point!

          1. Frozen Pond,
            Same here.
            Some of her books I like, one I really like and some I cannot stand.
            I didn’t like the sample, so I avoided the duology.

        1. That means Story Of The Month. Which she doesn’t really do that anymore. And there is also the Story Of The Week. Which she still does. Please pay Jen B. I’ll chip in.

          1. Oh man. I was hoping SOTM would be a title of a work we could find easily…
            Well that’s gonna be a mess to track down…

    3. I have barely got into AO3, i am just looking at Catherine Cloud so far. Would like to read more Taylor Fitzpatrick so i’ll definitely check out Throw up your fists.

      I also enjoyed Hearts Upon the Hill, and I really liked Despair has its own calms (also Ari Baran), a vampire story.

      1. Warning re the Taylor Fitzpatrick, they do not all end happily! They’re still so good…

    4. And speaking of TA Moore…glad you and Ha Nguyen are liking her – and if you want something really angsty, try the series that starts with Dog Days. If you want something less angsty but still edgy, although it has a completely misleading title, try Every Other Weekend.

  10. I’ve continued with another John Scalzi, The Android’s Dream, which takes place in a reality where Earth is part of an intergalactic federation (not THE Federation) and reptilian aliens want to carry off a woman who is a human with some sheep DNA, to participate in a coronation ceremony.

    I’m watching Vincenzo on Netflix, a Korean series about a Korean man who was adopted by Italians and becomes a Mafia consigliore, and then comes back to Korea to dig up a pile of gold hidden in the basement of an old building. Great, great tailoring, and funny, even when you know you’re missing a lot a word play jokes.

    1. We are going to have to try this. My husband was adopted from South Korea when he was 4. His parents were no where near as exciting, however.

  11. I had a book hangover from Fast Women so I moved on to Tell Me Lies and reread Welcome To Temptation and currently rereading Faking It. Which has made me want to watch What’s Up, Doc.

    I also read a couple of old Harlequins by Paula Detmer Riggs. They held up okay.

    1. I love What’s Up Doc! It has all the standard movie suspense: car chases, robbery, spying, misplaced booty, stolen evidence, government agents, meet cutes, absent-minded professor and obsessed keeper, and on and on.

    2. I’m slowly re-listening to the CD audiobook of Faking It from the library. Slowly because I listen only when doing certain chores, but I’m enjoying it. The library only has 4 Crusie audiobooks left in the catalog (I think others have worn out) and no library that I have cards for has Crusie audio ebooks. If I get desperate there are alternatives, of course.

        1. FWIW, I often listen to books I’ve already read (so I don’t have to follow as closely) and I usually listen while doing something else with my hands (right now, scraping popcorn off the ceiling, next up peeling wallpaper — but gardening (with earphones)/dishes/whatever work too.)

          1. What Kelly said!
            Listening is a whole different experience and usually works less for me. But if I already know the story, it adds colour and brings other details into focus.

            Like Kelly, I need to have busy hands doing mindless stuff (cleaning windows, ironing, doing dishes etc). Otherwise the mind wanders or I fall asleep.

          2. Sometimes I find audio helps me to find the humor, when otherwise it falls flat on the page for me. I disliked Bryson’s “A Walk in the Woods” when I read it, but it was hilarious in audio (read by Bryson).

          3. I second Kelly J. Most of my listening is comfort rereads while I am cleaning or painting or gardening. I wander off too, but it doesn’t matter because I know the story.

            For this reason, I can’t do Jane Austen or Charles Dickens in Audio. I know the story, but they both loved words and I get lost if I wander off. Except for A Christmas Carol, but I can listen to that in one sitting.

  12. I had more time to read than usual this week, so apologies in advance for the length! Five whole Discworld books for me, though one is more of a novelette.

    Carpe Jugulum is more of a retread of Lords and Ladies than I had remembered, and it suffers from the comparison. Agnes, Magrat, and even Nanny have less to do than usual, the plotting is less tight than I could wish, and the vampires make for uneven villains. I do love the parts with Granny Weatherwax and Mightily Oats though.

    Overall, I enjoyed this book, but it’s not as great as previous Witches books. And I’m sad to say that I think it’s the last one, although we’ll certainly see the witches make appearances in the future.

    I enjoyed The Fifth Elephant very much though. It somehow remains better than I remember it, despite the usual flaws that pop up when an Ankh-Morporkian character travels abroad and engages in cultural commentary. Setting that aside, this book is fun, smart, and surprisingly moving.

    After sidelining her for the last couple of Watch books, TFE finally gives Sybil something to do, and she is absolutely wonderful. Vimes is a little less so, possibly because the Watch books have progressed him from “ordinary man faced with extraordinary circumstances” into a kind of infallible superhero (the Witch books have this problem with Granny Weatherwax too, to some degree, but it bothers me less in that context). I found the climax with Wolfgang fairly unsatisfying, with Vimes somehow being the only person who can kill the unstoppable werewolf after Carrot, Gavin, Gaspode, and even Angua(!) all fail. But the climax where Sybil sings the aria from Bloodaxe and Ironhammer thrills me to pieces, so it all balances out in the end.

    Reading these books in chronological order, I feel like we’re in a time of change – saying goodbye to Rincewind and the witches, and seeing an acceleration in the rate of technological & cultural change on the Discworld. Modernity is an explicit theme in both Carpe Jugulum and The Fifth Element, and although Pratchett seems somewhat ambivalent about it, change is gaining momentum. I’m just past the halfway point in the Discworld cannon, and I think we’re leaving the Century of the Fruitbat and heading someplace a little different.

    Of course, the fact that this is a reread helps with the prognostication! The Truth is explicitly about change, modernity, and the free press. It’s also a mystery set in Ankh-Morpork featuring a plot to overthrow the Patrician, but it’s not a Watch book (and is very much the better for it, I think). By this point in the series, I am more than ready for a counterbalance to Vimes, and journalism is a valuable addition to the Discworld. Even as personified in William de Worde, who I find fairly stuffy & unloveable on a personal level, but who I am so glad has manifested in Ankh-Morpork.

    The Truth is a very good book. Pratchett’s writing is excellent here, and his philosophizing (about democracy, journalism, truth, etc.) is nuanced enough to be interesting. I enjoyed reading this one very much, and will note that it’s just the middle of a three-book run of excellence.

    Tick.

    Because Thief of Time is my very favorite Susan book. Oh, there are a few things I don’t absolutely love (the power-chocolate-has-over-women jokes, for instance, don’t really work for me). But it’s a swooping, ambitious, romantic book that just delights me.

    It’s also a book about learning to be human through building relationships, so basically my catnip. Almost everyone in it is so lonely at the beginning: Susan (interacting mainly with children and living quite a narrow existence); Death (always); Lobsang (not fitting in anywhere); Jeremy (limited & brittle); Myria LeJean (newly incarnated); Ronnie Soak (nursing an infinity-long grudge about feeling left out). Only Lu-Tze is content, and it’s probably not an accident that he’s immediately shown as having an 800-year-old friendship with the Abbot & a meaningful place in a community.

    The lonely people come together (literally, in the case of Lobsang/Jeremy), learn from each other, soften, connect, and grow. Even Death reunites with his original gang. There’s a barely-there romance between Susan & Lobsang, sparked mainly by the way Susan begins to come to life at her grandfather’s suggestion that there’s someone ‘just like her’ in the world. There are perfect moments.

    There’s also a bit of meta commentary on the lack of continuity across the Discworld series, with the history monks explaining that time has been shattered a few times before. This accounts for wildly different technologies & eras existing more or less contemporaneously, and honestly, the explanation kind of works for me. Or maybe I just think this book is lovely.

    Finally, I read The Last Hero. This one was a surprise to me. I had to check online to find the exact chronological order for this reread, and found this illustrated short novel sitting squarely after ToT. And…I’m not sure I’ve read it before? My library had a copy, so I picked it up last week and have been waiting to see what lies inside.

    In some ways, I wish I’d figured this out at the beginning of this project, when I was feeling a lot more affectionate nostalgia for the Discworld and would probably have luxuriated in the sense of (maybe) reading a new-to-me book in the series. The Last Hero is a throwback story (actually, it’s all the best bits of Interesting Times with some of the greatest hits from pretty much all the earliest books). It’s beautifully illustrated by Paul Kidby, and has the Silver Horde, Rincewind, the UU faculty, Leonard da Quirm, and even Carrot. There’s a plot about the end of the world, themes of mortality & immortality, and startlingly few female characters.

    I keep saying I’m not sure I’ve read it before, and that’s because there’s nothing really new in this book. It repeats themes, jokes, and possibly even passages from earlier Rincewind books (but never actually uses Rincewind as a POV character. In fact, there are no POV characters, as it is more of a fable than a novel).

    Well, new or not, it was a cozy read. The sequence where they land on the moon and watch the Discworld roll past in space was particularly gorgeous. I’m glad I spent some time with it, and from the extremely well-worn pages of my library copy, it looks like I am merely one of many.

    1. Sybil’s aria is such perfection! It reminds me to see who’s already leaping onstage when I’m staring down at a gap on a story. I love those parts. (No idea how Pratchett wrote it, planned or not, but it feels like it could have been a surprise to him too.)

    2. The Thief of Time is my favorite Pratchett, which is saying something. The man was amazing.

  13. Been reading quite a bit to distract from the pre-op nerves (love to dive into some other persons world and escape mine for a while).

    Fur Love or Money by Sofie Ryan – a good Elvis the cat book, but sadly I guessed the killer before he was revealed. Love all the food mentions and the up cycling going on in these books.

    Read Murder Melts in your Mouth by Nancy Martin #6 in the Blackbird Sisters series. It was good and I did not guess how it was going to end. Half way through #7 No Way to Kill a Lady and so idea of the killer here either. Love the Blackbird Sisters series – the sisterhood (laugh, cry, support, wanting to murder your sisters). I love the clothes and the insanity of family.

    In between #6 & #7 I read Any One But You by Jenny Cruise (Fred’s story) and fell in love with the characters all over again. A lovely story about being true to yourself and enjoying YOUR life (as opposed to what others want for you – insanity of family again).

    Current non-fiction is a book of essays by Maria De Blassie called Everyday Enchantments which is the third or fourth go through for me. I read one a day and think about the theme all day.

  14. I watched Yesterday, and was caught up again in the wonderful Beatles music. The lure of fame and wealth is snarkily represented by Kate McKinnon, and Jack’s family, new manager, and friends add up to more snark and irritation. There’s a great HEA, too.

    I read Daughter of the Pirate King, a YA novel by Tricia Levenseller, that is very feminist and fun to read, as the heroine is an inventive and resourceful scoundrel dealing with lots of male scoundrels. There are supernatural powers and a hidden treasure map, too, of course.

    I bought Jenny’s Crazy for You for $1.99 on Kindle, since it’s about a woman who adopts a dog- my situation right now. I don’t reread it as often, because the abuse is upsetting to me.

    I am reading Gin’s A Dose of Death, which was free. It is oddly engrossing, since there isn’t a lot of what would be termed action in it. Helen Binney is a quirky, intelligent woman who has gone from being the wife of the state’s governor to a hermit with a debilitating illness, who decides to solve a murder the police have written off. Her daughters meddle too much, but a limo driver turns out to be a great resource for her.

    I read a free Kindle version of My Queendom for a Horse, by Bridget E. Baker. It’s a series, but the second book has a completely different cast. I may stop at one. The story revolves around a cursed Russian royal who shifts between race horse and man, with the help of the horse-crazy woman who spends her life savings to purchase him. There is some Russian history and intrigue, a huge debt to be paid to save the farm, a lot of horse racing, and an old love who turns up to complicate things. It was an interesting read, for me, since I know little about horse racing or Russian history. I liked it.

    1. Jan, picking up from a comment Patrick made yesterday about your cats and how to post pics easily – just drop a photo into Google drive and then copy the link for it here.

      1. Thanks, Tammy. I’m not sure what Google drive is. I am woefully ignorant of this stuff. I’ll search for it.

      2. Tammy, I have a Google gmail account, but not a drive account. It seems strange to create one and pay whatever fee there is for one photo. ???

        1. Hi Jan, Drive is included free with Gmail. If you’re using a smartphone, you can add the Drive app (already installed if it’s an Android phone, probably need to install it if it’s an Apple device), and use your Gmail account to sign in.

          If you’re on a desktop computer, sign in to your Gmail account as usual, and look for the grid of nine dots in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on that, and you’ll see all of the other Google products. Drive is a multi-colored triangle icon.

          Call or go to your local library, and ask a librarian to help you get started with it – we spend a good part of every day helping people navigate technology, so we all get pretty good at it!

  15. The Baker book is still free, so I grabbed it, although I’m not yet positive I’ll read it. It does sound intriguing in certain ways. I don’t think I’ve ever come across a werehorse, or at least never a were-racehorse, much less a Russian one.

  16. I just finished Queen Bee of Mimosa Branch by Haywood Smith. I really enjoyed the family dynamics and the evolution of the MC’s relationship with her mother. It was funny and touching at times. I, also, am perpetually REREADING all of the Ramona Quimby books by Beverly Cleary. Her books are a comfort read for me so no matter what I’m currently reading, Ramona is always in the background.

    Yesterday, I checked out Denise Grover Swank’s The Substitute and decided to reread The Unfortunate Miss Fortunes. It’s been years since I read it and I loved it! Have an awesome weekend!

  17. I’m reading Mr. & Mrs. Witch by Gwenda Bond. I read one of hers recently and really liked it, so I ordered this one from the library. It’s good (paranormal romance), and I’m enjoying it, but not as much as the paranormal caper mystery of hers I read first.

  18. I have library books piling up because I spent the first part of this week revising my WIP in one big push. I sent it off to my beat reader last night, so I have a big reading weekend ahead of me! First up, In The Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace, which I’ve started and am enjoying so far. I did re-listen to a couple Josh Lanyon audiobooks from the Art of Murder series while weeding and cooking this week. I ended up purchasing one of them because, although I’m SURE I’ve listened to it in audio before, I could not find it anywhere in the library’s collections or mine. Mystery! It was very reasonably priced on the Chirp app, which I’d forgotten existed…

    1. I’m a big fan of the Chirp app. They have great deals sometimes and I’ve bought the backup audio to some of my books from there – just to have them. Can’t beat a 1.99 audiobook.

    2. I am going to have to try Chirp. My appetite for audio is apparently boundless.

      And your library only rents the rights to books for a certain period of time. If they aren’t super popular, they will let that lapse and rent something else. It’s a terrible practice and really expensive and hard on library systems, but there doesn’t appear to be a way around it currently.

  19. I should be filling in my PDF tax forms since DH has offered to mail them for me tomorrow, but I’d rather do this before signing on for what is likely to be a frustrating 8+ hours of Day Job.

    1. ‘Dionysus in Wisconsin’ by E.H. Lupton, a Lambda Award finalist this year for gay romance; urban fantasy set in Madison Wisconsin in 1969 (unusual!) in which most of the world is historically fact-based but there is magic. The author gently elides the realities of racial and gender discrimination, which struck an off note for me since we otherwise have background that really happened. This is mystery with romance vs pure romance, and it works very well; the main characters are immediately engaging. I can see why it made the finals. 🙂

    2. [re-read] ‘We Could Be So Good’ by Cat Sebastian, also a Lammy finalist this year. (I have many thoughts about the 5-book slate but will address them at length on my blog sometime.) Love this book.

    3. [re-read] ‘The Art of Husbandry’ by Jay Hogan, also a Lammy finalist. I liked this better on re-read than I did first time around, when I may have tripped over a couple of Hogan’s writing tics and/or been negatively influenced by the follow-up book which I didn’t fully enjoy. This book deals with loss, grief, and reinvention, common themes of my own, and it’s very effective.

    4. ‘Suddenly Real’ by Mark Roeder, M/M with an interesting premise but a conclusion that feels like the author didn’t know how to wind it up, so he simply stopped writing. Short version, a character from a 1950s TV show turns up as a real live person in 2022 Los Angeles. Quite engaging but doesn’t stick the landing.

    5. ‘Old Time Religion’ by E.H. Lupton, sequel to ‘Dionysus’ above, in which the central relationship develops along with deeper revelations about its mystery. I doubt this would work as a standalone, but it certainly works as Book 2 of however many the series ends up being.

    6. ‘The Fancy Dancer’ by Patricia Nell Warren, 1976-set M/M feat. a 28yo Catholic priest in small-town Montana, deeply closeted even to himself, and a part-Blackfeet Nation mechanic who tears the door off. This is a coming-to-terms novel more than a romance, though the emotional development is outstanding. Bittersweet ending. Strongly recommend to anyone struggling with faith vs sexuality.

    7. ‘Just Stu’ by Merlina Garance, M/M midlife bi-awakening romance with some true-feeling emotional moments. Aside from one chapter, it’s all in one POV, and that guy is oblivious, and the other guy is opaque. Nicely written, aside from that and some lack of clarity about attribution of dialogue.

    8. ‘Cards on the Table’ by Josh Lanyon, M/M mystery (kinda) romance (kinda) short story feat. a journalist writing about a 1950s Hollywood murder and his neighbor / hookup, a cop. Not a winner for me.

    9. ‘P.S. I Spook You’ by S.E. Harmon. This, on the other hand, I really liked. Plan to read the series unless book 2 falls apart on me. M/M paranormal romance feat. an FBI profiler who can see and talk to ghosts. He begins in a state of fear that he’s losing his mind, job at risk, relationship tanked. The conclusion was completely satisfying on all fronts.

    10. ‘Nothing of Importance: Eight Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion’ by Bernard Adams, 1917. A very well-written memoir by a Cambridge-educated officer, who wrote the books while recovering from an injury, went back to the Front, and was killed. 🙁 Some really good stuff including an openly anti-war final chapter.

    10. ‘Out of the Blue’ by Josh Lanyon, M/M WWI-set short story feat. two RFC pilots in 1916. This also was not a winner for me. The writing is good, but over the titles of hers that I’ve read, the balance of crime / mystery to sex to actual relationship isn’t where I want it, so I probably won’t pursue.

    11. ‘Horses Don’t Fly: The Memoir of the Cowboy who Became a World War I Ace’ by Frederick Libby, with an afterword by his granddaughter. A terrific primary source with tons of entertainment value and a unique (to me) look at early 1900s Great Plains and Western life.

  20. I finished the first two of Anne Cleeland’s Acton/Doyle novels and am working on the third.  They’re already wearing a bit thin for me, and this is the last of the ones in KU, so I’ll likely stop there, although the local public library does have more of them as print books (although not the whole series).  As a Californian writing about the contemporary UK police and (unlike some American authors setting fiction in Britain) not resident in the UK, Cleveland clearly has done a lot of research, and with two exceptions, everything I’ve been able to check turns out to have been correct, however unlikely it seems to an American.  (In this she certainly surpasses Connie Willis, a noted Anglophile, but repeatedly called on her mistakes.) 

    One of Cleeland’s mistakes is minor, but the other is larger.  The minor mistake, as I noted in an earlier posting, is that smoking in pubs had been forbidden by the time of the story.  The larger one is that Cleeland does not exhibit an understanding of Roman Catholicism in the way that a conservative Catholic like Doyle would interpret it.  (You don’t have to be, or to ever have been, a Catholic to get things right on the page.  Patrick O’Brian was pretty accurate, as were Jane Haddam and others.)   There are a long list of Catholic gross improbabilities, but I will stick to impossiblities.  As Doyle would know perfectly well, a layperson cannot administer “last rites.”  (What Doyle does when presented with a dying Catholic is not per se wrong, but she would not call it last rites and would not likely try so hard to use the same prayers that a priest would say if present.)  Also, Catholics, especially conservative ones like Doyle, hold that it is a compounding sin to “make a bad confession,” that is to knowingly fail to confess everything that you are sure is an unconfessed grave sin, that is one that you knew was gravely wrong at the time and freely did anyway.  Better not to confess at all than to add one more sin to the list. (To explain further would require spoilers.  There are links in my chain of logic that I’m not getting into.)

    As the series progresses, Acton’s corner cutting is getting worse and worse, and the plots remain too similar.  On the third novel (Murder in Hindsight) I started jumping ahead because the impending murder of one character was being heavy-handedly foreshadowed and I wanted to get it over with, and because I thought it was obvious who one of the major bad guys was.  I was right, though I did not anticipate all developments.  Time to stop after I’ve read the intervening pages, I think.

    I hope I can manage another post later. I did get through other things this week.

    1. Thanks for the report. Looks less and less likely that I’ll continue on with this series. Too many other things higher up on my TBR.

  21. In need of brain-rest again after having read new books, I reread Faking It. I love this book. I also love this book. Plus, I love this book. I remember how when I read it the first time and we’re inside Tilda’s head during the first couch-scene was thinking: “Yes, that’s me. Also me. Also me. And me. Yep, that’s me alright.” Not because I’m an art-forger, but because I’m so much inside of my own head and being anxious about what’s in there that I can’t express. How I also want and need that safety in knowing that my partner will love me and care for me and respect me and accept me, no matter what. It was such a comfort to feel that it’s not just my head and heart doing this, even if the person I identified with is a fictional character. That’s part of how Jenny “got me”: Min and, after her, Tilda were the first characters in adult romance that I could connect with, identify with, and rejoyce in seeing falling in love, grow and flourish. If they could do it… so could I! If there was someone out there for them, maybe, just maybe there was someone out there for me too.
    So, Faking It. Love that book.

    Also read Irresponsible Adult by Lucy Dillon and liked it. Not sure if it’ll be a reread or not, but it was a nice read. I usually like Dillon’s books, and this one was read by one of my “comfort narrators” from the library, so nothing to lose. I have a chaos-brain, but the MC of this book has one about a hundred times worse, and wow, if people with ADHD have to struggle with that all the time… Whew. Much respect for how you all manage. <3

    Now reading The Vintage Dress Shop in Primrose Hill by Annie Darling. Not sure what to think about it yet (almost halfway through the book, ehum). Maybe it'll grow on me. Love interest is kinda cute.

    Might be time for some Bet Me very soon.

    Sven and I are still on our Raymond E. Feist-reading tour, and recently finished Flight of the Nighthawks, first part of the Darkwar Saga. We've now hopped onto the next book: Into A Dark Realm. These books are really getting darker for every book. Still humour in there, but it's still… different than before. 3rd reread for me and I am starting to feel the slight unease I had when reading this before. I can't even say what causes it, can't put my finger on it. Enjoying the read anyway, fortunately.

    1. Faking It was the first Crusie I ever read, and I was hooked from then on. How did I miss finding these books before that? And that offering was at the end of a children’s book catalog in a segment of ideas for the parents. I don’t think they are in business anymore, but I am eternally grateful to them for guiding me to Jenny’s works.

      1. A close friend of mine introduced me to Crusie. Bet me and Faking It were the only ones the Swedish talking-book library had back in 2009*, both in Swedish. I read Bet Me first and was hooked pretty much instantly. Faking It solidified my Crusie-love and getting to read more of her books was one of my motivations to move over to read more books in English. Welcome To Temptation was one of the first books I ever read that I hadn’t previously read in Swedish. I’m happy I took the step. 🙂 And I’m forever grateful to this particular friend for introducing me to Jenny’s books.

        * Their Jenny-collection isn’t much bigger now, only Crazy For You and Tell Me Lies has joined since (which I also first read in Swedish). But, it seems like not many of the books have been translated to begin with (NUTS!), so I can’t exactly blame them for not making them into talking books. I feel a bit sorry for all the non-English readers and secretly dream of translating the books for them to enjoy.

        1. Ha! I know that feeling. When I was in my young teens I translated half of Heyer’s The Corinthian into French because they didn’t exist in French back then and I felt so badly for my friends who couldn’t read them! I came across my effort not that long ago as I was getting rid of stuff. Sweet attempt, all in long hand written in fountain pen. 🙂

    2. Annie Darling is the pseudonym for Sarra Manning (one of my favourite authors). I really liked the series about the Lonely Hearts Bookshop that she wrote but couldn’t vibe with this one.

      1. I’ve seen the bookshop-series, think I have it on both my Goodreads-list and my library-list, but I haven’t got around to read it. Maybe I’ll give it a go if I make it through this one. It’s not bad, it’s just not… engaging me much. 🙁

        1. I would highly recommend the first in the bookshop series. Georgette Heyer is namechecked multiple times, there’s a sardonic hero called Sebastian and the side characters made me laugh a lot.

    3. I haven’t read Feist in so long but I used to love his early books. I felt when I read “Shards of a Broken Crown” that his writing had changed from noblebright to grimdark, which I don’t much enjoy. I’ll be interested when you finish the re-read about how you feel the series ends up.

      1. I really enjoy all the books up to Shards of a Broken Crown, that one is maybe the one I like the least of the Serpent War. The series after that do grow increasingly dark and grim indeed, so grimdark… is a good label. Not that the early books didn’t have bloody bits or terrible things happening, but the general… atmosphere was less ominous. From “Talon of the Silver Hawk” onwards, I experience a growing unease in my whole system – and knowing what’s to come isn’t really helping. I still enjoy the reads, but it’s on a different level, in a different way, than the earlier works. Maybe partly also because the “good guys” are also doing such atrocious things “in the name of good”. bleh.
        Have you read the “Riftwar Legacy” and “Legends of the Riftwar”-series? They’re squeezed in between the old series in chronology, but were released much later if I’ve understood it correctly. I haven’t read them, because they weren’t available in Swedish back when I did my first read-through of everything Feist (still aren’t, but the Dutch library has them), but I’m curious if they’re more like the earlier books or the later books. Sven and I will get to them once we’ve finished reading the other ones chronologically. He said he wanted to read things in the order I did, so that’s what we’re doing. (Except we haven’t read the Empire-trilogy either, which I read after Serpent War, but we’ll get there eventually.)

        1. I read the first three Riftwar Legacy books and they were fine. Didn’t bother with the fourth. I liked seeing Jimmy again but didn’t feel these added much.

          Of the Legends of the Riftwar, I thought “Honoured Enemy” was interesting, albeit not fully resolved. The next two were also fine, but I’d rather re-read the earlier books.

          The Empire trilogy are great and I re-read them time and time again, although its been a while.

  22. I’m re-reading for the umpteenth time Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold. So much fun!

    1. Oh I giggle every time Cockroach Cental sinks. And lady Alys stopping his divorce. And Simon —so much to like about Simon in it.

  23. Joanna Lowell’s Artfully Yours was a competent historical F/M romance, but I didn’t love it. The action takes place in London in the late 19th century: horses and gas lamps, bustles and typewriters. The premise is fascinating. The guy, Alan, is a famous art critic. The girl, Nina, is an art forger. Alan doesn’t know who the forger is but is trying to catch him. Nina does know who Alan is and spies on him. Of course, romance explodes, and so does the conflict, as Nina consistently deceives Alan throughout the story. And then squirms with guilt, because she really likes the man. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either.
    Malka Older’s latest, The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles, didn’t work for me, although I did finish it. Last year, I read the first book of this series, The Mimicking of Known Successes. I didn’t like it very much either, but for some reason, the book stayed in my head. Maybe because it was different enough from the rest of my readings. Maybe because of its strong Sherlock Holmes vibes. So I picked up the second book of the series at the library. Unfortunately, it didn’t exhibit any Sherlock Holmes vibes at all. A pity.
    Like the previous novel, this one featured the same two female lovers – a professional investigator and a scholar – trying to solve a crime together. Like the first book of the series, the genre of this short book is compound: a mystery + FF romance + sci-fi. But unlike the first book, I don’t think I’ll remember this one with any kind of fondness. I doubt I’ll read more of this author.
    Sofi Laporte’s regency, Lady Avery and the False Butler, was the #3 in the series. I enjoyed it. Not as much as I enjoyed the previous two novels in the series, but it was still a darn good read. Unbelievable, but good. I have always considered regency romance an honorary sub-genre of fantasy, and this book just confirmed my opinion. After all, I don’t believe in dragons or magic either, but I still find delight in reading fantasy. I enjoyed this tale too. From the first screen on my kindle, the story had a gentle grip on me. That the narrative was clean – no smut on the page – only made me like it more.
    Another Sofi Laporte – Lucy & the Duke of Secrets – was also a pleasant diversion. I’m getting addicted to this writer. Great literature she is not, but her short humorous regencies are wonderfully entertaining. I finish one and immediately logon to Amazon to buy another. There are still a few I haven’t read yet. The anticipation is a pleasant buzz in my head.

  24. My thanks to a previous ArghInker’s recommendation for TA Moore’s Digging Up Bones series. I really loved Bonaventure who is such a Good Dog! This series is M/M romance featuring a K-9 handler and a FBI agent. I look forward to further adventures of Bon the Good Dog and her human and his friend.

    I went on to try and read the Night Shift series also from Moore. The series is another M/M romance in a world where 80% of the populace are werewolves and the rest are Nulls since they cannot change. The werewolves in this world don’t keep their human consciousness after the Change; instead, the werewolf only knows hunger. So, Romeo and Juliet is a werewolf-driven tragedy where one of the lovers killed the other as a werewolf. A mother turned werewolf may kill her baby, if the baby is sick. The first book in the series was fine, but the second I absolutely turned against Marlow – the non-werewolf in the relationship. Marlow revealed himself as this big jerk, totally thoughtless and stupid with it. Bah, Cade deserves a much better boyfriend. Free Cade!

    I then read True North: Yule Lads also by Moore. It’s the start of another M/M series where Dylan Hollie who is a paramedic and doesn’t really like Christmas gets into a relationship with Somerset North who owns a bar, and is one of the Yule Lads mentioned in the series name. It seems that Santa Claus is dead and somehow Dylan is involved.

    I finished “The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi” by Shannon Chakraborty. I really liked how the main crew members of the crew felt like a found family. I also really liked Amina’s voice and how she just wanted more than just a simple life. She did try to be cautious, but events conspired against her.

    I am now reading “The City of Brass”, the first book in the Daevabad Trilogy by Chakraborty. This series seems to be in the same universe as Amina Al-Sirafi since a minor character has shown up in both books.

    1. I loved Amina’s voice too, and how her found family has plenty of family struggles (while also working together as a hypercompetent team!) Def interested to hear that she’s mentioned in City of Brass too, thanks.

  25. Follow-ups to my last week’s discussion of The Duelist:

    It turns out that The Duelist is set precisely in 1860 because as it opens a caption says so, and because (per one of the bonus features) in that year a semipermanent building was reportedly erected in the St. Petersburg city center to house a circus (curiously, it’s not mentioned in the Russian Wikipedia, although an older permanent circus building in the city is).  Although it is not terribly clear in the film, this building is where several scenes are notionally set. 

    To participate in a duel, you had to be a “dvoryanin.”  The subtitles translate this as “nobleman,” but in many ways “gentleman,” in the old sense where ladies and gentlemen were distinguished from “persons,” is closer.  The difference is that in England money and polishing, possibly accompanied by non-entailed land, could make you, or at least your children, gentry, while to be a dvoryanin you had to be born to it or promoted to it by the crown, generally through civil service or servicen as a military officer.  (Even in the US, an officer’s commission makes you a “gentleman.”)   But the status carried no special title and did not suggest you were rich enough not to need to earn a living.  Perhaps I once knew all that, but I researched it again because I was puzzled our hero, a duelist, publicly has no title beyond _godpodin_.  Before and after Communism, gospodin simply meant “mister, but it turns out it first used was only of the dvoryanin class.  (I think there was a time, when even in English, only gentlemen were “mister” and others were “goodman.”  In Spanish, Señor is still used in prayers to mean Lord. As is Herr in German, come to think of it.) 

    I may or may not finish rewatching The Duelist with the subtitles off before its due date; I’m certainly understanding less than with them on, but I’m getting some of it, at least.  I’m doing better with the Russian than the German.  I would have thought that the point of having a subtitles-off option on a Russian film distributed in the US would mostly be for Russian immigrants, but there are no Russian subtitles for the scenes in German, as I imagine there must be in the version shown in Russia.

    This may be all I have time for today.  I’ll get to Growing Up Weightless after the book club meeting. Chores are not merely calling, but are screaming at me!

  26. I’ve been reading Suzanne Palmer’s Finder series, after really enjoying her Bot 9 stories. It’s a different, human-oriented vibe, and I don’t know if it’s the same universe, but the way the story is unfolding from someone who’s improvising to see what happens feels similar, and I’m enjoying it. And I love the mindships. (It feels much grimmer than the “caper” description implied, though.)

  27. Now that I’m unemployed (through choice, hurrah), I’ve averaged a book a day but none have grabbed me. I have, however, just picked up Mrs Quinn’s Rise to Fame by Olivia Ford which is about an older lady who applies to go on Great British Bake Off (or a fictional equivalent). It comes highly recommended by a few of my favourite authors and I’m really looking forward to it.

  28. I have been listening to audiobooks on Libby.

    Otherwise Engaged by Amanda Quick. It’s been long enough between rereads that I had forgotten details. Loved it again.

    The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen. Same as the above book.

    Now listening to Siren’s Call by Jayne Castle. Loving it. Edging ever closer to the new book in the series.

    Still working my way through the Kindness Method. Learning a lot.

    Something made me want to reread Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson. Old school hockey romance- not much hockey – lots of romance.

  29. I’m not sure, but it may still be possible to get a freebie of a recent ebook reissue of de Camp’s An Elephant for Aristotle if you sign up at Arc Manor Books for their mailing list at phoenixpick.com.  In any case, in the intro Harry Turtledove has this to say about using British dialects to reflect ancient Greek dialects, as we earlier discussed:

    >>In making his people feel real, de Camp pulls what I think is a very cool stunt. Ancient Greek, like the modern English of England and Scotland (not so much like the modern English of the United States), was a language of strongly marked dialects. …
    De Camp’s characters reproduce this in their dialogue in the novel. Leon and the other Thessalians, who come from the far north of Greece, are made to speak with a Scots burr and with vocabulary to match. Ionian Greeks did not use rough breathings at the start of words; they are made to talk like Cockneys, who also drop their h’s. Attic Greek is closely related to Ionic, and Athens was the cultural center of Greece the way London is in England. In An Elephant for Aristotle, then, Athenians sound as if they might be auditioning for the BBC. And Spartans and other Greeks who used the southerly Doric dialect are given a drawl in the book. It’s a nice way to keep the reader clued in on who comes from where and what that means when he’s dealing with a person from somewhere else.

  30. Dove into my TBR pile and came up with Jodi Taylor’s The Good, the Bad and the history and About Time because I needed to spend time with St Mary’s and Team Weird. I do like her worlds.

  31. Absolutely best read this week, and one of my favourite MF romcom/caper books of the last few years was Ally Carter’s The Blonde Identity. A woman wakes up on a snowy Paris street not knowing who she is, but there’s a very good looking man urging to run, and people trying to kill her. It reminded me so much of the Crusie/Mayer books, was funny, sarcastic, tender and very fast moving. Plus a high body count. I’m sure someone here must have recommended it but I don’t know who.

    I also read another Karin Slaughter, this time a stand alone, Girl Forgotten. A dual timeline (which I don’t usually like, but she made it work) with a brand new US Marshal trying to solve a decades old murder that just might involve her biological father.

    1. I don’t remember if it was me who recommended The Blonde Identity – I don’t think it was? But I thoroughly enjoyed it and am hoping for more adventures in their world.

      1. About half a dozen people here on Argh have recommended The Blonde Identity (including me). I don’t recall who was first.

  32. Ithaca by Claire North was a gorgeous read. Penelope’s perspective…well written.
    Esme Cahill fails spectacularly by Marie Bostwick is also a great story.
    Hope this isn’t too late…I look forward to Friday library days (searching for your recommendations) all week!

    1. Isn’t Ithaca good! I haven’t read the next one yet though. Slowly making it way up the tbr.

  33. I’ve been reading Deborah Crombie and enjoying her mysteries.

    But the book I really want to read now hasn’t been written. My introverted physics grad student son, who was raised as a cultural Jew, and has been reading many Agatha Christies, announced that he wants to write a mystery set in a mega church some day . Because there could be so many interesting characters. I don’t think he has ever been in a mega church.

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