211 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 4, 2024

  1. One book. I’ve mentioned it before: Bjorn Hasseler’s SECURITY SOLUTIONS. It cam out as part of the April Book Bundle from Baen. It continues the stories of Neustatter’s European Security Service (NESS) in the Ring of Fire series in the Assitti Shards uber-series. I have four other books in progress.

    Amusing anecdote: Living in the basement and with the deep sink in the far corner still draining very poorly, I maintain some toiletries at hand rather than in the bathroom upstairs. I mounted a small medicine cabinet. It mostly contains medicine. I have a couple of toothbrushes that reside in emptied Deerpark water bottles with a cup or so of Cool Mint mouthwash and water. Most of the adhesive bandages and wraps I turned over to the dotter. She’s why I have that stuff (for the grandchildren).

    Anyway, lacking a dining space, I mostly eat at the computer desk. After a stuffed omelet, I brushed my teeth. Anyone guessing ahead? So, yes, I was drinking a carbonated beverage with lunch. When I finished brushing my teeth, I put away the brush… in the beverage bottle. I didn’t realize it until I went to finish off the drink and got a mouthful of toothbrush. No harm, and it didn’t even affect the flavor of the drink. That’s my “oops” for the day. (I hope.)

    1. I have another anecdote. Long story short – broiled jalapeños stuffed with cream cheese and wrapped in bacon give me hiccups. Dinner involved vast quantities of hiccups, the result of harvesting my gardens. They say, “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” I say, “Hate the hiccup but love the dinner.”

  2. I’ve been on a Nalini Singh kick lately, but also my book group is coming up and the audiobook will be reclaimed by the library in 5 days and there’s a long hold.

    So I’ve been listening to Light From Uncommon Stars. It’s interesting and there’s an awful lot going on. I’m liking it with reservation for how it will turn out.

  3. Read quite a few duds recently (some I didn’t even finish). Of the good ones were the last three of the Kerry Greenwood Corinna Chapman series which I absolutely loved.

    A Crazy Little Thing Called Death by Nancy Martin – still working my way through the Blackbird Sisters Mysteries – and loving them.

    Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Sutanto was a recommendation from an Argher (apologies I don’t remember who) and was fabulous. Lonely people coming together and forming a family of choice after a man found dead in Vera’s tea shop (and she thinks they are all suspects). Funny, touching, well written.

    While We Were Dating by Jasmine Guillory was outstanding and another recommendation from here. A well written and hugely enjoyable romcom.

    Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter by Sofi Laporte was another recommendation from here and just a delightful take on rake and a spinster/wall flower. I want to read the rest of the series now.

    I also enjoyed and was also a tad disappointed in the last of the Sandbar series by Rebecca Regnier – Sandbar Sunrise. It all felt a bit rushed and not as I would have wanted to leave this series. I know that Ms Regnier now has a new job so maybe her writing took second place – at least that is how it feels.

    Non-fiction I am reading No Office But : How to have difficult conversations for meaningful change by Gina Martin. I saw Ms Martin and two of the other essayists included in this book at the Edinburgh Book Festival. The book is easy to read and well researched, but it is difficult subject matters and so it is slow going.

    1. I’m also enjoying the Blackbird Sisters series and am staying up too late reading.

      Listening to Bet Me again. I so completely love the two dinner-with-family scenes.

    2. I was one of the Vera-recommenders a while ago. Think someone agreed with me, and then JaneB also read it and liked it. So there’s been at least three of us. 🙂 Happy you enjoyed it too! I’m a sucker for tea with sweetened condenced milk now because of that book. It was mentioned so casually as a comfort-drink that I just HAD TO try it, and now I’m hooked. Still experimenting with the perfect measurements on it and which tea(s) are the tastiest, but very happy I gave it a go.

  4. Several arghers recommended “Sunshine” by Robin McKinley. Thanks! I finished it yesterday, and really enjoyed it.

  5. Still in my hockey phase, so I finished Game Changers by Rachel Reid and I liked it a lot. Yes, it’s far from great as is book 2 in the series (Heated Rivalry), but I liked the the main conflict is the pro MCs fear of coming out and the non-sporty MC struggling with being the well-kept secret. The other books are on my tbr list – Rachel Reid has announced on Insta that all her Game Changers are now on KU – sadly, this seems to not be the case for KU Germany. But hey, I can be patient with so many books on my tbr Mount Everest.

    Anyone interested: RR’s next title is up for pre-order. No info on what it’s about but if you’re like me and have RR on auto-buy, you might be interested. Publ.date: March 2025. Sigh.

    I’ve also started to reading Zeus, the next installment in Eden Finley’s Mike Bravo series which I had not read before. And it’s a stupid idea of me to start with book 4 since one of the MCs is the kind-of-villain of book 3. So I read/speed-read book 3 Atlas before diving into book 4. I guess I like Zeus better than Atlas, more conflict. I’ve skipped from 50 % to 85 % to finish (too much talk in the last bit). Now I’m filling up the rest. Me being impatient is never good… But for once I really like the cover lol, while usually with all the almost naked ones it’s that the covers cannot deter me from reading.
    Anyone feels similarly?
    In general, the guys in those 2 books are so over-sexed. Like sex = expression of love when a really good cuddle or hug could function as stand-in, too. Is this me, the female? Or me, the brainy one i.e. the non-passionate one?
    I haven’t made up my mind how to rate the books, the stories seem solid.
    Yet they don’t feel very authentic, like e.g. the Suzanne Brockmann reading samples felt (haven’t read the Troubleshooter series yet, must find the paperbacks as those are easier to share them with dh who seems to be interested – as they are more with fm romances).
    Plus, (ex-)military is not my prefered type of MC (Bob’s heroes excluded). The Mike Bravo bravado and urge for adrenaline rushes is too elusive for me.
    I will never understand the need for adventure and adrenaline spikes.
    I’m such a wuss myself!
    Good example: went to see my local hockey team fight in game 2 of round 2 in the playoffs here yesterday. They played very well, but the other team wasn’t there by coincidence and had a mountain of a goalie and very good defence.
    They were tied 2:2 in regulation.
    And the 20 minutes of overtime were torture for me, the hockey fan rookie.
    I was totally drained in overtime, and no serotonin rush either as they lost in overtime. I’m glad I didn’t have to watch the other pairing that played simultaneously. Also tied, but it took them several overtime periods – about 2 hours of playing time plus intermissions – for the wrong team to win in the end (I loath Berlin, can’t stand the city, cannot warm to the locals either, very different to us Southerners).
    Then woke up to my two fav NHL having lost as well, grrr.
    Not sure what to read next – the new Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James UnRivaled Off season is out if I want to stay with hockey. Also, the new Hannah Henry might be more soothing – renovating a house and falling in love seems very nice 🙂

    1. Correction to my clumsy wording in first paragraph: I think Game Changer is very nice in contrast to Heated Rivalry which I’d say is great. HR is a very passionate story and for me it’s a sign of its quality that I loved in spite of that (yes, I’m usually averse to too much passion).

      1. I liked Game Changer, I read it and a few others before HR, as HR was about twice the price of the others so I wanted to be sure! And Yes it was worth the higehr price. I thought it GC was a good first in the series, and while it is not my fave I would reread it (unlike Common Goal which I won’t bother with again).
        The MCs in Game Changer do keep popping up, I was getting a bit tired of their reappearances later in the series but I did like them.

        1. Do tell why you didn’t like Common Goal. That’s the book about the Goalie Bennett, right? I love goalies, so I hoped it would be great? It’s not?

          1. Yes, it is about a goalies, but i didn’t really like that particular goalie. He was maybe too nice, or too one dimensional or something. So it was all fine, a farily standard romance, missed the spark of all the others.
            As HR was the last one I read (except for Long game) I was never comparing the others to it and I liked all the rest, and I even remember them which is sayign something after about 50 MM hockey books ;-).

          2. Whereas it was that the age gap in “Common Goal” didn’t work for me, particularly as it was largely resolved “offscreen” so to speak. I like to see MCs doing the work on page. I liked the goalie and other aspects though.

            Btw totally agree the Eden Finley Mike Bravo covers aren’t great, but at least they have heads!

    2. Dodo, would you have liked that live hockey game better if the two captains at the end had kissed passionately on the ice instead of shaking hands?

      And yes, all Rachel Reid’s Gamechanger series books pale in comparison to Heated Rivalry I’m re-reading The Long Game and it’s the next best one – but they’re still good especially the Roughing one.

      1. I recently started culling my “hard copy” books because a) it is totally out of hand and b) most of my reading is on Kindle anyway. But I have a Zombie Apocalypse Bookcase – and along with all the Heyers, Crusies, and a few others, I’ve decided Heated Rivalry and the Long Game belong on that bookcase. Better have the hard copies on hand Just In Case.

        1. Similar here: The Crusie’s have their spot in out living room shelves (just recently filled again), the Dick Francis and Jim Butcher titles along with a number of others.
          Heated Rivalry and The Long Game are in my own room along with some of Fearne Hill’s titles and the Alexis Hall ones.
          When I asked ds recently to stack some books in that shelf, he was slightly scandalized what titles he should stack there. I had forgotten that among those were not just my copies of Catull and medieval text books…
          Ds always makes fun of my books’ romance covers… he should have known there might be some of those in my bookshelves, too. Far from where his mates can be surprised/embarrassed should they ever find time to browse the shelves in our living room. (I would, but then I am fond of the idea of what secrets a book collection tells).

          1. Catull is Catullus in English, if the reference is to the Roman poet. Most classical Romans get their -us in English, although there are exceptions like Pliny (Plinius in German) and Tully (when used as a short reference to Marcus Tullius Cicero) just to confuse things. (I had to look that stuff up; I do not know German names for classical Romans offhand!)

          2. Christina, I found her via Dipped in Sunshine which was on KU. Book 2 about two surfer friends, this one focusing on Fifty, a lovely cinnamon roll (a description I first misunderstood as him being a bit too round, lol) with some in my pov minor, in his pov major medical problems. He used to be hopelessly in love with his best friend and now is followed around by Otto, the best friends youngest brother.
            If you like Fuerteventura, big Viking surfer dudes (the best friend), a hero that loves his Spanish tapas and low angst, that’s a nice one to start with. Also rather overlooked by those finding the other Fearne Hill series first.
            The Cloud 10, Cloud 9 and Cloud White books are nice, too: MCs in both books are related (brothers on one side, the boys in a set of triplets on the other side, no incest) and their best friends in Cloud White. Set in London with a British feel to it.
            Should be read in order (#1: Cloud 10, #2 Cloud 9, #3: Cloud White)
            #1: Franky is a passionate personal assistant and to get a certain job is cross dressing /pretending to be a girl and soon realizes he likes this rather a lot. His boss slowly falls for him, thinking he’s a girl. Conflict: the pretense AND the power dynamics of boss-employee.
            #2: Franky’s brother Tristan has cerebral palsy. The first meeting of his brother’s fiancé’s brother is a huge clutterfuck – how those two find a way to get un-hurt and sooth the family’s distress is rather nice. I expected to like it more because Tristan (the triplet) is such a great guy, but maybe my expectations were too high.
            #3: The triplets best friends, both lawyers, had bad timing: when one fell in love with the other, the other wasn’t ready. When he is, the other is in a serious relationship. Which is not quite what it seems. Serious topics. I’m usually not much into lawyers nor femme vs beards, but Milo and Mungo won me over completely. I had no expectations and wham.

            The best known series of Hill may be the Rossingley series around Lucien, an anesthesiologist and Earl and his extended family and circle of friends.
            JaneB could point out that Hill’s grasp of British nobility is somewhat off. I have no clue myself so wasn’t bothered.
            Lucien is quite the guy – in book 1 he’s deeply grieving. Has an acerbic way to keep others in the distance.
            MC in book 2 is his cousin, a model, troubled by addiction.
            Book 3 is about his best friend, plagued by a severe case of asthma.
            etc.
            Hill obviously has a thing to incorporate medical problems into her books. Iirc she’s a medical professional herself. I find it highly intriguing but then I read books about the development of surgery as a kid 🙂

          3. Patrick, Catullus is just Catull here, same as with Petron(ius), Sueton and others :-). I guess it’s one of the many little indicators that someone is not from an English speaking country. Like the sign of three – anyone remember when Michael Fassbaender’s spy blows his cover by signing for three beers with the wrong fingers?
            I could have done so by shouting Catull across the room instead of Catullus 😉

          4. Dodo, Alas, I didn’t spend enough time in Germany drinking in public to know what fingers to use. I did notice in Russian movies that if one is counting off rhetorical points on one’s hand, in English you do it by raising a finger for each point, but in Russian you start with all the fingers raised and fold one down for each point.

          5. Patrick,
            counting in Germany is starting with the thumb, index finger, middle finger, ring finger, little one.
            So when one would indicate a three with fingers, it would be the first three fingers to be raised – thumb to middle.
            Fassbaender’s character raised the three middle fingers – index to ring finger. Which feels rather uncomfortable to me.
            When Netflix announced filming season 3 they had all the actors indicate it with those three raised fingers.
            Also, recently, in a hockey locker room, most players used this version. Some indicated with the last three fingers. None iirc used the continental (?) version (my father is Italian, so it’s the same in both countries).

          6. Dodo, in the US (and possibly elsewhere in the Anglosphere), when counting you sort of use the thumb to hold down the other lowered fingers, which is more comfortable than trying to hold them down without the thumb crossed. The thumb is thus raised last to get to 5. This also, per Wikipedia, is how the worldwide Scouting and Guide movement makes the “Scout Sign” (to raise 3 fingers). In the US, and reportedly formerly in the UK, the younger Cub Scouts instead raise(d) 2 fingers

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scout_sign_and_salute?wprov=sfla1

          7. Feel I should say I’ve only known one earl: any knowledge of British nobility is mostly from Georgette Heyer.

            (Patrick’s right about the British scout salute – I was a Girl Guide. Can’t remember what we did in Brownies, though it probably involved a fake toadstool.)

        2. I really don’t trust that all my digital copies won’t disappear as soon as Bezos finds a loophole to make me rebuy them.

          So I have decided to buy more bookshelves and call it decor.

          1. And this is why my e-library is backed up on a portable hard drive. But I love books as decor – looking at physical books makes me gleeful in a “Mine-all-mine!” sort of way. E-books just aren’t the same!

            I have a wall of unpacked book boxes from the last move – now tempted to scrawl “Open in case of zombies” on them 🙂

          2. And don’t forget physical books are great for all other uses, like noise cancelling (large shelves = less sound comes through from/to the neighbours).

      2. ROTFL.

        Tammy, now I picture our tiny captain kissing the other captain (I had to look up who the Pinguins’s captain is – Jan Urbas is rather tall with 1,92 m compared to Patrick Hager’s 1,78 m).
        Must tell dd. This definitely lightens up my stress level 🙂

        Actually, I make a clear distinction between real life hockey and the hockey romances. I love that one guy, Luke Prokop, had the courage to come out (and was shoved down to the Preds ECHL affiliate). At least the Kraken seem to be be more inclusive with one of their athletic trainers not having to stay in whatever closet.
        But it feels icky to me to mix rl and fiction or objectify real hockey players. Same with any other real life person (small exception: the casting game feels okay with actors since they provide the canvas for the game, no mixing up with them as real persons tho).

        1. LOL! It would be totally icky to mix RL and fiction! Yuck.
          When watching a game the only time the fiction even enters my head is when a player does a maneuver that I know of because of the fiction! The fiction sometimes educates my viewing and vice versa (along with lots of reading about hockey online.) The other night I saw a goal scored using an absolutely breathtaking maneuver and then had to laugh when I realized that I’d only recognized it for what it was because of The Long Game! 🙂

          1. Yes, Tammy it was “the Rozanov”. 🙂 I have been kicking myself because I cannot remember who did it, but it was BEAUTIFUL! I think it might have been an LA Kings game but not sure – this would be the problem with watching so many games indiscriminately.

      1. Actually, apart from our local EHC Red Bull Minga team 🙂 it’s foremost the Kraken in Seattle (their goalie comes from nearby), the Oilers (Draisaitl is from Cologne, yet my favourite players are Hyman and esp. Desharnais – I love underdogs), and the Bruins (who wouldn’t love Ulli and Sway?).

        Yours? The Capitals?
        And Tammy’s are most likely the Leafs?

        1. Frozen Pond? Your fav teams?
          Yuri?
          Any Argher not too put off by the topic?

          Is one’s fav team also an indicator of your Myers-Briggs personality?

          1. My faves are the Canucks mainly cos i follow a you tuber who posts about them so i’d be a bit more up on them and the Hurricanes cos they seem nice. But this is all based on remarkably little info.

            I may go an visit my aunt next year in Northern California, in which case I woudl try and see the Sharks, so they would be added to the list. I have an aunt in Boston so I might get to see the Bruins sometime. For my first season looking at hockey stuff, I might as well like teams who are doing well, though I have a fondness for the Sabres who never seem to go anywhere!

            However, I can’t watch NHL, so I watch the PWHL games more and Ottowa and Minnesota are my faves there.

          2. Frozen Pond,
            I forgot the Canucks! Since dd hopes to spend the next academic year near Vancouver, we follow them. I’ve looked at the ticket prices for their games which don’t seem affordable (compared to 22 Euro for a standing ticket to a playoff round 2 game like yesterday…), yet their AHL affiliate is nearby, so dd has a chance to go there. Fingers crossed as we still have no idea if she’ll get accepted /find a guest family.
            I also keep fingers crossed for the Sabres: they come over for the grand opening of our new arena on Sept 27th!
            JJ Peterka is from my town and took his first steps with the EHC 🙂
            And yes, they could be more successful. In the latest puckboy series (Clueless Puckboy) the authors were nice enough to have them win the Cup lol.
            The second book in the series had the Vegas Knights as cup winners (the year prior to when the book starts) – wouldn’t it be great if Finley/James worked some kind of magic?

          3. Hockey players, to me anyway, all look like ESTJ’s to the nth degree. Maybe squared, even.

            Sorry. Not a sports fan, me. 🙁

          4. Oh I think there are a goodly number of ISTJ’s on those teams. Putting their shoulders silently against the wheel and do all the heavy lifting, uncomplainingly.

          5. I have to confess *hangs head* that I haven’t made the jump to watching “actual” hockey 🙂

          6. Jinx,

            I had to look up what ESTJ meant 🙂

            Strengths:
            Practical and realistic
            Dependable
            Self-confident
            Hard-working
            Traditional
            Strong leadership skills

            Weaknesses:
            Insensitive
            Inflexible
            Not good at expressing feelings
            Argumentative
            Bossy

            I would argue with Tammy, that every successful team needs the working bees (just look at the Leafs and their anonymous assist providers, right, Tammy lol).
            Just from looking at the short-cut result I copy-pasted above, the variation to ISTJ seems about summing up my dh…

            But the strength column seems about right (the traditional might be changing slowly. As does the “inflexible” in the weakness column I would guess otherwise the play wouldn’t evolve.

            But yes, who would have known you’re not a big sports fan LOL

        2. I’m still shopping for my favorite team. I know it’s supposed to be the Caps based on location (is that a rule?) but I am NOT a fan of their captain so I am torn. I love watching the Leafs and the Oilers and try not to miss their games if I can access them. But still searching. The upside is that team-shopping means I must watch all games, right? 😂

          1. Yep, I agree about the Capitals. Don’t know what to make of Ovi. I definitely prefer Crosby when thinking about their rivalry.
            Also agree on the need to get informed by gulping down a huge amount of hockey content is to be recommended 🙂
            I’ve found it helps that many teams have some good social media – some made smallish documentaries and behind the scenes. Loved also those about the work of the equipment staff e.g.
            Also one gets to connect names with faces and personalities.
            E.g I came across the youtube docs by The Minnesota Wild when searching for something about Flower.
            The Wild have some great clips when they accompanied some of their players home in the off season. And to Sweden at the beginning of the season. Now that they’ve traded three of theirs to the Jets (Duhaime who had a prank war going with Fleury), the Leafs (one of the off-season-films was about Dewar who came across as a very focused, nice guy) and the Bruins (Maroon; it’s funny to see the giant Maroon sit next to the tiny king Marchy), the spider-net of knowledge expands.

            When it comes to teams, I tend to prefer those that don’t seem like “teams” and less like the background for a few star players if this makes sense. Therefore my love for the Kraken 😉

        3. Oh yeah the Leafs for sure although they’ve been breaking our years for a MILLION YEARS. My radio station ran a funny contest today where they interviewed fans coming out of the game the other night and nonchalantly asked them if they’d seen the great assists by (insert fake name here) to see if the fans would pretend they knew who the interviewer was talking about. They all faked it! “Oh that’s the new guy right?” One of the names they used was Frank Costanza for any Seinfeld fans.

          1. Thank you for posting that, Dodo. An awesome recap of the highlights of that game.

        4. from boston originally so bruins, but in nyc now without special pay tv for sports

          last year somehow ended up seeing lot of oilers games and fell in love with them-like hyman too

          missed rangers and islanders game last night and read about the 5 simultaneous fights in paper-would have loved to see that in real time

          1. It’s been a fight between the rangers and the devils.
            Broke out seconds after puck drop. Clearly no intention to play but fight.
            Main fight between Rempe and McDermid. Backstory: the mean hits by Rempe to Siegenthaler and another Devil the two plays R vs D prior.
            The players clearly had a blast.
            Even the head coaches went at each other. Verbally.

          2. I’m guessing you will see non stop reruns of the fights at that Rangers-Islanders game. But it was a very exciting game up to the end — even with no more fighting!

          3. Dodo did you watch the game ? DH and I are not hockey fans and have been trying to figure out what happened when 8 out of 10 players were ejected and all 10 got 5 minutes in the penalty box.
            Was there 5 minutes with no one on the ice or did they play with substitutes?

          4. Debbie,
            I’m very shaky when it comes to the rules. The commentator in the following clip explained that the two players who started ghe fihmght were given a penalty (I think 2 min), all ghd others broke another rule and were sent to the locker room, including Trouba, the Ranger’s captain.
            I guess the rest of thf team got more ice time. Luke Hughes, defenceman, had mir than 33 min on the ice. Pretty exhausting.
            See here
            https://youtu.be/-Mg2KjMJidY?si=1f5ny9DM87Rbs7II

    3. Btw, re Rachel Reid’s upcoming book (in 2025) she says it’s about former NHL players and it’s a second chance story. On her blog she said she stopped writing her Game Changers book 7 cause it wasn’t working and that she’ll get back to it but that this upcoming one is really speaking to her.

      1. Thanks for reminding me!
        Ari Baran’s 3rd book will also be about two retired players tho no second chance but enemies-to-colleagues than more.
        Cover has already been revealed.

  6. I ran out of Hoopla borrows for the month so I had to give Josh Lanyon a rest while I waited for April to arrive. I tried listening to some YA favorites, some of which held up, others I am not so sure.

    But the real standout for me this week was Hell Cop, an anthology by Astrid Amara, Nicole Kimberling and Ginn Hale. Three short m/m paranormal romance mysteries and all were good. I was surprised at how well they all followed the same prompt and had a similar vibe too. Anyway, I have three more authors to explore further.

      1. I really liked them all, but I think that the professor was my favorite. Maybe because the characters had met before ad adults? It changed the pace and tone of the novella. It’s hard to do a whole arc in a short format a d I think that was a good short cut.

  7. A pretty good reading week for me, especially as I had a four day weekend and was using reading to incentivise getting other jobs done (it worked!)

    I finished Peter Cabot gets Lost (Cat Sebastian) which I was enjoying last week. Really liked it, both the MCs were nice, it was all sweet and the 1960s road trip was great (MM).

    I followed that with the earlier Cabot novella (Tommy Cabot was here) which was enjoyable but not as good as Peter which had more chance to development the characters and nicer setting. This was a 2nd chance trope.

    Then I read Hannah Henry Stater Home (MM) which was fine but it didn’t particularly grab me, though I finished it.

    The onto ‘Come unto these yellow sands’ Josh Lanyon (MM), which has been highly recommended here and not surprisingly was great. I had previously skimmed the blurb and wasn’t sure (cos I wasn’t paying attention and though it was going to be a teacher pupil thing which I don’t like), but I really enjoyed it. Very atmospheric and good MCs.

    So I then read ‘Out of the Blue’ Josh Lanyon WWI novella (MM)which I also liked, but the novella doesn’t allow for a lot of development- so I wanted more.

    Then I went regency with Cat Sebastian ‘Unmasked by a Marquess’ which I enjoyed. I usually don’t read regency unless it is Heyer as there are some bad ones, but this was fun, complex enough plot to keep it going and good MCs, it has cross dressing and non binary themes and lots of misunderstandings.

    Finally, I was back to baseball MM, and ‘Fire Season’ by KD Casey. I think this is my favourite baseball so far, with good MCs (one a star the other on a trade and in a precarious position on the team). Angsty enough for me, with alcohol addiction, anxiety, divorce themes, but nothing too grim. Well portrayed issues though. I will reread at some point and will read the rest of the series.

    1. Forgot I also read Catherine Cloud’s ‘Snippets from Seattle’ on Ao3 which I liked. there are about 45 short pieces, but they are all part of the one story so read in order, it is still in progress. I didn’t get a chance to explore any more there.

    2. Whoa, you covered a lot of ground there, Frozen. I also am not a big fan of Tommy Cabot but Daniel Cabot is great, as is We Could Be So Good. And Cat Sebastian has some other great Regencies.

    3. Frozen Pond, I am still searching for the baseball equivalent of Catherine Cloud or Taylor Fitzpatrick. I quite enjoyed the KD Casey series but they didn’t rise to that level. Have you found any other good baseball authors? Someone here recommended a couple of the old Jill Shalvis books which I found I’d read (and forgotten!) but they weren’t angsty enough for me. The search continues…

      1. I don’t think the standard of the baseball books is as high as that for hockey and there are definitely fewer. I think the hockey market is bigger. I enjoyed the KD Casey, but agree, nothing like as good (for me) as Catherine Cloud or Taylor Fitzpatrick but I’ll keep looking and will let you know.

        Off the point but one thing about baseball romance is that the MCs rarely seem to actually bat. I know they (MCs) are usually pitchers and catchers, but I had to check the rules to see that they would also be batting (or at least i think they would, since I’m only getting to understand how baseball works!).

        And not to objectify anyone, but instead to make a very sweeping generalisation, it seems to me that in real life baseball players are better looking (or more my type ?) than Hockey players. But I’ll probably be excommunicated here for saying that.

          1. 🤣
            I should be! Interestingly none of the baseball books I have read had a star batter… which is surprising given the possible metaphor…🤔 and that batters seem to get most coverage

        1. I don’t know any baseball players – only started to follow the Savannah Bananas and they cannot be called hideous lol.
          Handsome hockey players – I guess there are quite a number quite handsome ones (e.g. Svechnikov /Hurricanes, Fleury/Wild, Soucy/Canucks e.g.) but many don’t bother to put in their artificial teeth (e.g. Reilly/Preds, Ferraro looks totally different with a complete set of teeth) so they defy the standard view of handsomeness.
          Other sports will surely lead to a more balanced mass of muscle (e.g. swimming, decathlon, ballet), less of huge thighs with meagre calves. But they rarely have excess muscle mass and what I find very appealing is the combination of endurance and strength that shapes the body.
          In comparison soccer is more of an endurance sport.
          Am too un-knowledgeble about most other sports.

        2. The rules changed in 2022 re pitchers batting. Before then the American League had designated hitters to fill in for the pitchers and the National League pitchers had to bat. Now they can all have designated hitters. Hence why we aren’t seeing the pitchers at bat.
          Re who is better looking: MLB players probably have more teeth… 🙂 But without their helmets, there are a lot of very good looking NHL players. I do question the choice of so many of them to go with mustaches at the moment…

          1. In Clueless Puckboy the mustached MC tries to come across as less like a boy and more like an adult via his fashion faux pas. It looks awful on the poor cover guy, too.
            Walruses can wear it, human beings less so.

          2. I’m getting used to mustaches… But not loving them yet. Agree there are a lot of good looking hockey players, so my comment was more about the general level of handsomeness!

            Rugby players can be nice. Especially the backs. The forwards have usually been mashed up a bit.

          3. Thanks for that explanation on Designated Hitters. I thought there was only one per team so that some of the pitchers would bat. But then maybe the relief pitchers don’t count as part of the team?

            Clearly I’m a bit clueless. Thought I had worked it out…

          4. Don’t think you’re clueless, FP: this sounds like a cheat to me. I shall stick to cricket, where I can doze in the long grass with a book, and look up every so often to admire the men in their whites. (There’s absolutely no point to the game when played in coloured pyjamas.)

          5. All pitchers including relief are on the team and DHs always bat for them.
            I preferred the older rule — more strategy and it was always fun when the pitcher actually got a hit . (Usually they were asked to bunt.)

  8. I just finished Fast Women and loved, loved, loved it!!! Also read Crazy For You and loved it. I read an oldie,. Kill And Tell by Linda Howard. I enjoyed it but it was a bit dated.

    I moved Heated Rivalry by Rachel Reid to the top of the TBR after someone mentioned it last week so I may try that next. Still on a bit of a book hangover after Fast Women.

    1. Ha! I too absolutely LOVE Fast Women and often think it doesn’t get the love it deserves. I reread it a few times a year. It is definitely Crusie Book Hangover Material.

      1. Totally agree! I love Fast Women. I love Suze. And I love the scene where the MC looks around and says “good grief, I’ve realized I’ve slept with everyone at this table.” Makes me laugh every time since it kind of recreates my own life.

    2. I love Fast Women, but the violence and sadness bring me down sometimes. The love stories and the tea and cookies do help. though. And the fries with vinegar.

    3. Fast Women is an all-time-favourite of mine.
      Just great!
      BTW Expect HR to be another level of intense. Two guys attracted to each other.
      Very male (sorry for the stereotype) in that they let their bodies express what they chicken out to say in words.

    4. I really like Linda Howard at her best and Kill and Tell is a favorite. I think it was the first book where I found a male protagonist purposefully trying to seduce the heroine and there was something really sexy about that for me… I also loved the heroine and the closing sequence where she saves his butt with competence.

        1. Sorry, that “it was” is extraneous! Must have changed thought halfway through – oops.

    5. Fast Women is another reread for me. I struggled to remember violence in that book. Usually when JC writes on her own any violence is in the past, off the page or tame & doesn’t bother me.

      1. I can remember violence towards glas awards.
        Nell smashed them (her ex’s awards) with gusto. LOVELY scene. I guess I have a passionate side nevertheless. Only not directed towards love but destruction…

  9. I am still reading Natasha Madison’s hockey series. Multiples. They’re all intertwined with each other, and I’ve lost what and who goes where in the lineup. Many of the characters show up as cameos so I have a good idea of the timeline. I have three lined up along with a bundle of four on KU. Geesh!

    I also swore to myself I was never going to read mafia stories, but here I am on the eighth book of The Woman in —– series by Jessica Gadziala. I think it is the snark.

  10. Fast Women one of my favourites. Well, they are all my favourites. Usually listen to one or two while working in the garden.

    Still not reading any books. Expect to get over the slump when Rocky Start arrives.

  11. I finished listening to the second of Kiersten White’s series about the Ottoman Empire, Now I Rise, which focusses on the brother and sister who are friends with the Sultan. The marketing blurb refers to the series as “Game of Thrones if it were set in the Ottoman Empire”. That blurb is not wrong. A tougher book than even the first one, focussing as it does on the siege of Constantinople (no one ever wrote the phrase “happy-go-lucky siege”) and the separate paths of the brother and sister who are each unfulfilled in love and channel their energies into other, increasingly ruthless choices.

    I read Love Lessons by Heidi Cullinan. Yuri, I liked it but I think I needed more plot so maybe you can recommend some other ones by her?

    Plus I read Fantastic Fluke by Sam Burns which was fun so thank you Chacha1 for the recommendation.

    I finished Nicky James’ Valor and Doyle series by reading Matrimonial Merriment, which has no case – it’s really just wedding hijinks but I read it for completeness and secretly enjoyed it anyway. She’s also got an upcoming series that’s a spin-off of one of the characters and in the meantime she’s written a novella prequel (I think this is weird but who am I to judge) called Invisible Scars which I thoroughly enjoyed.

    I also started another series in the Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling In Love genre, the Daniel Owen Welsh Mysteries – love the Welsh context, totally unique.

    1. This forum is making time for sleep scarce. Sooooo many interesting book recs!!!
      The reading sample of the Daniel Owen series title one is already downloaded. Who cold resist Wales??

        1. Right? If I ever win the lottery I am spending my first million on audiobooks. And possibly then paper books and bookshelves with a ladder. And an extension on the house.

        2. Marian,
          I’m happy many of the recommendations here are available through KU, otherwise the budget issue would force me to ignore GBTs…

    2. I bounced off Cullinan several times. One was about an artist in college and a golden boy who is asexual, and another about a protagonist with autism. I really liked the characters and the inclusiveness that she weaves into her stories but she lost me at the end both times. I couldn’t really tell you why.

      1. Same here. Have tried a few with no success. I need a recommendation for a top one.

    3. “Love Lessons” is probably pretty representative tbh. I read Cullinan for comfort so the sweetness and OTT endings work for me and I know they can be a bit much for other people. “Fever Pitch” is the next in that series and the MCs have more complicated path imho.

      If you’d prefer a (much) higher heat level, try “Tough Love” – truck driver with a difficult ex meets drag queen (although avoid if you have a needle phobia), “Dirty Laundry” – PhD student falls for bouncer, or “Sleigh Ride” – lumberjack meets librarian at Christmas.

      No hockey so far, however “Dance With Me” has an ex-footballer dealing with chronic pain and falling for his dance teacher. The one with an autistic MC is probably “Carry the Ocean”, which I liked enough to read the sequel but didn’t love. Similarly “Anti-Social” I think is the one with the asexual artist, which is not on my re-read list, largely because I wanted a slightly different story than the one we got.

  12. This week I read “The One You Really Want” by Jill Mansell. It’s an old one (2008 I think) and somehow I hadn’t read it before. As always with her stories there is a big cast, frequent changes of POV and of course, HEAs. Really enjoyed this one.

    After that it was Taylor Fitzpatrick week. I read some of her Ao3 material, including Follow the North Star which didn’t really work for me— the whole situation just seemed too unlikely — BUT it had Liam from “Thrown off the Ice” and that was wonderful. It led me to do what I really never thought I’d do again (at least not this soon,) I reread Thrown off the Ice. It hurt my heart – again. It made me cry — again. It left me with a book hangover – again. A really excellent book.

    From there I did yet another reread of Rachel Reid’s The Long Game. That helped me recover from the melancholy produced by reread of Thrown Off the Ice. I see that RR’s entire Game Changers series is now on Kindle Unlimited.

    I then moved to TA Moore’s Night Shift: M/M romance/ law enforcement procedural. San Diego cop and Security company CEO Werewolf solving suspicious deaths as they work out their mutual attraction. Satisfying read but a bit short. Am now reading volume 2.

    1. Thrown off the Ice is just so good, and so heart breaking. i will read it again sometime, but I am not sure I would want to meet Liam again, though he was a great character. On the one hand he should have his own HEA, on the other…

      1. The Ao3 story Follow the North Star has only snippets with Liam and Mike, and while I loved that aspect it really was only snippets and that story is not a “must”in my view because the MCs just didn’t gel for me. I also have mixed feelings about seeing Liam as an MC again. Probably best to leave that one alone.

  13. I read Mrs. Quinn’s Rise to Fame by Olivia Ford. I can’t remember if it was recommended here or I stumbled across it on Amazon. This was a tough one. It started out slow and a bit depressing, and I was thinking it was a DNF until about halfway through the book. Interesting premise–a 77 year old woman enters (an imaginary) version of The Great British Baking Show, and to her shock, actually gets in. But she’s keeping secrets from her beloved husband, and there are lots of flashbacks that make it pretty clear what the big one is, and she spends a lot of time thinking about how horrible it is going to be when one of them dies, which I found both depressing and distracting. The book eventually picked up, and the ending was very satisfying. I liked the fact that the protagonist was older, and her relationship with her husband was lovely, so in the end, I was glad I kept reading.

    1. I just got Mrs. Quinn from the library but haven’t started it yet. I might want something a bit lighter in tone.

      I am reading The Fifth Elephant as part of my Guards series reread. I’ve just started it so it’s full of jokes about traffic policing that aren’t that funny but I think (well, I know, since I’ve read it before) it will pick up.

      Listening to Check and Mate by Ali Hazelwood. I know nothing about chess but am liking it a lot.

  14. Thanks for the responses to my query about Sicily books last week.

    I’m mostly going there for the ancient ruins (and Norman mosaics), so I rerereread My Brother Michael by Mary Stewart, which I love anyway.

    This time I recognized the tie between the beginning and end: the huge stick-shift car she can barely drive is parallelled by the gun she would shoot (if she were sure she’d hit the bad guy) at the end. For a story about a woman gaining confidence in herself, My Brother Michael works. I particularly enjoy all the humor — she may think she’s a wuss, but she is able to joke about herself.

    The other aspect that struck me was the pointedly different ways in which people offered/accepted cigarettes, drinks, and food. The theme of the hospitable Greeks/”no man is an island” carried through with how each person’s character was shown in his or her behaved with these simple items.

    Fun times.

    1. It might not be the book about Sicily that you think of but there’s a book by Ferdia Lennon called Glorious Exploits set in Sicily that seems highly interesting: two out-of-work potters recruit Athenian prisoners of war to set up an Euripidus play because one of the potters is a total addict to theatre.
      Set in the 5th century BC.

      1. Dodo, Thanks. I read the review and decided it wasn’t going to work for me. The characters speak in a form of Irish. So I figure the book is less about Sicily than other things.

        1. From what I read, it is Irish English used (English with an Irish idiom) rather than Irish.
          I checked as I couldn’t see how it could work as Irish itself would then have to be translated within the text.
          It kind of put me off, as I’m Irish and I didn’t want to be reading some sort of ‘begorragh’ stuff, though the author is Irish and hopefully beyond that. But sometimes when the spoken word is on the page it sounds odd.

          In other translations the translator often uses a different dialect (eg Austrian German in a German translation to indicate the difference).

      2. Sometimes translations of Greek plays, and modern authors setting works in Classical times, use Irish-tinged English as a way of reflecting Greek that is nonstandard from Attic. I don’t know if that’s going on here, or if alternatively, this is supposed to be sort of historical fiction as if told by, say, James Joyce. I noticed in Kindle that there is are German, Spanish, and French translations of the novel. Understandably, none of those blurbs say anything about Irish English. I wonder if the translators just translate into standard language, or use some nonstandard and probably countrified dialect of their own respective languages.

        1. Very interesting point, Patrick.
          I read the excerpt (no Irish, it seemed like standard English to me), and in the audio sample, narrated by the author himself (a no for me – it really helps to have professionals do the job), it was still English albeit with a distinct Irish accent.

  15. My Brother Michael was the first Mary Stewart i read, and I’ve reread it a lot, but never got that link between the car and the gun.
    But I am pretty dim on that kind of thing, any sort of symbolism has to jump up and down with a flag before I notice it..

    1. Frozen Pond, Hey, I first read My Brother Michael when I was in 7th grade and probably 12 years old. I’m almost 68 and just caught these patterns on the latest reading. My brain was in no hurry to notice.

  16. I finished Loretta Chase’s Silk is for Seduction. I still don’t know what I think of it. I enjoyed reading it, and I thought the characters were well drawn. They do get the HEA they deserve, but it is hard rooting for a self-proclaimed cold, calculating character. Of course, she told him up front she was that way, so there’s that.

    1. Marcelline became cold and calculating to save her family during wartime after they lost everything and everyone they knew, so I didn’t find that as off-putting as I might in other circumstances. I also think it was interesting to watch how the impenetrable wall she had erected around herself and her sisters started to develop cracks once her heart was involved.

      1. She is cold and calculating in her business. To a man she has no prior relationship with. And who frankly hasn’t treated Clara well.
        She is loving to her daughter, her sisters, and the girls they are teaching to be seamstresses who would otherwise be forced to be prostitutes.
        I had no problem at all with her.

  17. I’m listening to Starter Villain by John Scalzi, a new to me author. Man inherits his mysterious uncle’s evil empire. Very fun and witty. Talking cats!

    1. If you like “Starter Villain”, try his “Redshirts”, and “The Kaiju Preservation Society”. I really enjoyed both of those.

  18. I was going to say this week that romances where the romance is the only story don’t work for me anymore but I started reading Abby Jimenez’ new book which dropped yesterday on my kindle and I am really enjoying it :).

    I have also been reading some Magiford books by KM Shea on KU and even though they are very formulaic, there’s a fundamental decency to them that I like, plus the cats are always excellent.

      1. There is a new one coming out tomorrow. I have just read the first two in that trilogy: ancient vampire + vampire slayer.

  19. I’m a big fan of Trisha Ashley (thank you, Deborah Blake!) and was checking on Trisha World website to see if her next book is coming soon. I see that she is challenged with significant vision loss. She’s seeking private care as I think the national health service has done what they can for her.

    I have all her books that are on Audible and plan to pick up duplicate Kindle versions to contribute what I can to the cause. I think there is one on Kindle that I may have missed as well.

    Oh, and her next book is due out in November.

    1. Her books are so fun and comforting. I’m selfishly glad that she is able to keep writing.

  20. I was sure that I was going to have multiple media items completed by today, but as it turns out, my only consumed reportable prose is the novella, “The Mimicking of Known Successes ” by Malka Older,  which I think somebody here recommended,  and which also is a Hugo finalist for the 2024 Worldcon in Glasgow.   It’s basically a Sherlock Holmes pastiche set on a human colony suspended over Jupiter.  Our version of Holmes is a professional Inspector (police detective, more or less), and her Watson and off-again on-again lesbian romantic partner is a Ph.D. (or equivalent) academic, rather than an MD in private practice.    Nor are they named Holmes and Watson.  So the parallels are not exact, which is to the good.  The foreground plot is satisfactory, and the tentative efforts of Mossa and Pleiti to feel out where they stand romantically with regard to each other feel convincing to me.  (It should be emphasized that Mossa shares traits with Doyle’s Holmes, not with the sociopathic bastardization fathered by the too-clever-by-half Steven Moffat in _Sherlock_.) 

    On the other hand, I am handing Older a LOT of rope regarding the setting.  Nothing much about the setting is explained, and practically everything about it seems, from what the reader can deduce, to be scientifically absurd.  I hope that as more information trickles in, it will start to make sense and the setting will not prove to be a steampunkish fantasy.  (A sequel is already published but as yet is unread by me.)

    Enough for now.  I need more coffee.  I’ll probably continue later with items more marginal.

    1. I read that Malka Older book. I didn’t really like it, but it stayed with me. So I ordered the next book from the library. My turn will come soon.

    2. Completely agree, I liked this, except for the scientific absurdity. I haven’t read the Older’s previous work but I understand it was pretty hard sci-fi, so maybe she’s just having fun with this series and going for “cool” rather than “plausible” and the walkways above Jupiter sound amazing even if completely ridiculous.

      I can’t remember who said it, but I remember it being pointed out that terraforming another planet is always going to be harder than fixing this one, no matter how badly we’ve polluted it, so any plot that starts with abandoning a damaged but not completely destroyed Earth is always going to require heavy disbelief suspension for me. But then so do many plots I enjoy, e.g. amnesia, time shenanigans, humanoid alien lovers etc.

  21. I have also continued reading past blog posts while I am at the day job. I am up to 2017 and am definitely remembering these now. I haven’t found when I started commenting yet, but I will keep looking.

    I just ran into the post about an inclusive cast and was so happy to see it reflected so gracefully in the Liz Danger books.

    And then I was reading about Nita and not to nag, but maybe with the rise of Monster romance the readership at large would be ready for something paranormal again? I will read anything Crusie, but I think that the market being burned out of paranormal was an issue before.

          1. You’re going to have that Jekyll and Hyde thing with your avatars that Dodo has got going on, aren’t you?

          2. Well, I am trying to purge my closet and have had some latent goth urges since reading Two for Tea. There can be regular/ business casual me and goth/hedgewitch me.

          3. Thanks dodo! My life goal has long been to look like an extra from a Ghibli movie. The confidence to go darker and edgier at work is new.

  22. Thank you for all the new reading possibilities!

    I enjoyed C.J.Archer’s series Glass Library and Ministries of curiosities.

    Esmeralda Santiago’s Cuando era Puertorriqueña was a tough but good read,
    It’s something I wanted to read for a while but kept putting it off, so glad I read it. Coming of age story through poverty and love hate relationships among her relatives.

    And of course I finished Crusie’s Liz Danger series SO good. It made me a little fretful in places and I had to give myself some time to reduce the adrenaline. I love the female characters each with a little dose of crazy and love.

  23. Still working on audiobook read The Kindness Method.
    Otherwise everything was rereads.
    Deception Cove by Jayne Castle; still good the third time around.
    Deception by Amanda Quick; one of my favorites by her.
    Walk Through Fire by Kristen Ashley- loved it again with the usual skipping through most of the sex & cringing at some of the aloha male stuff.
    And Getting Rid of Bradley by Ms Crusie. Love that book.

    I’m participating in an April is national poetry month where you write 30 poems in 30 days. You can also include other poems you wrote so I pulled out my own Sweet Smell of Jasmine chapbook because there are at least 2 maybe 3 poems from there that would fit.

        1. I was imagining that it was the type of bro males who walk around in loud shirts, clapping each other on the back, and misappropriating another culture’s terms.

  24. Thought I’d swing by before Day Job, saw 82 comments already and thought ‘WTF?!’ then realized half of them are about hockey / hockey books. LOLOL

    Anyway, here’s a quick recap of my reading week:

    1. ‘Old Soldiers Never Die’ by Frank Richards. 1932 memoir by a career soldier who lived through all 4+ years of WWI and is not nearly as bitter as I would’ve been.

    2. ‘The Sleeping Soldier’ by Aster Glenn Gray. A brilliant take on Sleeping Beauty in which a Civil War (US) soldier who’s fallen into deathlike sleep after the war wakes up in 1965. Unflinching and realistic as Gray’s always are, but full of very true-feeling emotion as the soldier gradually learns how to live in a new century. The POV character is a fellow college student, and it’s a love story. The fairy-curse framing device is the only real fantasy element here. Rounded up to 5 because as much as I liked it, much of the reading was sad / upsetting so I’ll have to be in a special mood to re-read.

    3. ‘The Musician and the Monster’ by Jenya Keefe. Thank you Tammy for the rec! This is another very good fairy tale riff, source being Beauty and the Beast. One MC is the first fae to cross the veil in hundreds of years, arriving to study human music; he is protected by a new US govt agency which is somewhat shady, as most of them are. The other MC is a Cuban-American musician blackmailed into serving as the fae’s companion. Slow-burn romance, because the human character is allowed to be realistically human here, i.e. fascinated but also terrified and somewhat repelled by his own attraction to a non-human. Having read a few too many human / not romances with insta-love and complete handwaving of the evolutionary basis for fearing the Other, I thought this aspect was very well done. Good plotting, good character development, a well-produced book (aside from the blurb!) and I gave it 5 unconflicted stars.

    3. Three new shorts from JMS Books, including the two latest from K.L. Noone, both of which I liked for focus on relationship & events vs sex: ‘Midwinter Marriage’ and ‘The Merchant Witch.’

    4. a formulaic fake-boyfriends M/M set in California wine country which delivered gross porny sex scenes, grown men who act like 14 year old girls, the world’s shittiest grandparents, insta-love, and a credibility-free deus ex machina.

    5. ‘Impurrfections’ by Kaje Harper, new M/M set in a SoCal beach town feat. a homeless drifter with a cat and a traumatized house flipper with abandonment issues. I liked a lot of this, but the flipper MC did most of the emotional heavy lifting and the drifter MC did not examine / overcome his issues on the page. He needed a little more work.

    6. ‘High-Risk Homosexual’ by Edgar Gomez, a Lambda Award-winning memoir by a guy who grew up in Orlando and was 24 when the Pulse nightclub massacre happened. A valuable social document / primary source, but depressing / upsetting reading.

    And now I must sign on for ye work!

    1. Happy to hear about the unconflicted five stars. Phew. Many of my reco’s don’t end up passing your personal sniff test, Chacha1. As for book #4 I’m almost tempted to ask the title just to read it for the shock and awe of it all. But I won’t.

        1. Y’all are funny. Future Fake Husband by Kate Hawthorne & EM Denning. It’s not terrible, just … felt to me like M/M written for the F reader who does not read anything actually written by men. I picked it up based on the wine-country setting but that wasn’t used in a meaningful way. Simply a framing device. No competence porn, just the other kind. I did read the whole thing and gave it a 3 star rating on that basis.

          1. Thanks, Chacha1!!

            Sometimes one needs a less-than-stellar story to really appreciate how good other books are.

  25. A Murder of Crows by Margaret Duffy. 1988. Book 1 in a 16 book series (so far). Duffy is a Scottish mystery/thriller writer. Her books feature a husband and wife who work for a small offshoot group of MI5. Very good!

    1. If you want to write a murder mystery do not name it “A Murder of Crows”. That name has been taken. And taken. And taken.
      Yes I went to look for the book…

  26. I reread Night Watch by Terry Pratchett, because I love Sam Vimes. And I love Pratchett, too.

    Canines and Cocktails by Kevin Hearne, Delilah S. Dawson and Chuck Wendig; nice little 3-piece anthology with stories about dogs and drinks. I picked it up because the 4th Oberon’s Meaty Mystery was in it, but I also very much enjoyed Dawson’s contribution: The Bartender and the Beast. It’s a prequel to her upcoming new paranormal romance-series (which I unfortunately don’t know the title of), and now I am really looking forward to reading that! I wasn’t really in the mood for Wendig’s story, I felt after starting it, but I might get back to that at some point in the future.

    Also read Lady Ludmilla’s Accidental Letter by Sofi Laporte, which had been recommended here. I’m starting to suspect that regency romance mightn’t be my thing. That said, I don’t regret reading it, but I didn’t feel swept away or unable to put it down. Been a while since that happened though, so might be me and not the book.

    After 3 years and 350 days, I also finally finished The Book of Swords, an anthology put together by Gardner Dozois. I’ve been reading one story here and one story there over the last almost 4 years. It’s great, BUT very dark, which is why it’s taken me so long. I will definitely have to look up the authors in there whose books I haven’t read yet! (Which turned out to be most of them. Think Robin Hobb and George R. R. Martin were the only ones I’ve read books by.)

    Just before I hopped on here, I finished Into the Wild by Erin Hunter, first book in the Warriors-series. MG/YA (not sure which actually) fantasy about wildcat clans fighting against each other… and from within! Housecat ends up in the middle of it all and might just be the key to solving the deaths and disasters going on. Charming and surprisingly touching in places. Nice to read from the cat’s perspective. Kinda ended on a little bit of a cliffhanger because there clearly is a lot of stuff still to resolve, but enjoyable read.

    Might need a new-books-break again, so I’ll be off to dig up a comfort read. Not sure what yet.

  27. I just bought artfully yours by Joanna Lowell. It’s on sale on Kindle and it’s a Regency about an art critic, and an art forger. Sounded interesting.
    Right now I’m getting very little red due to the shoulder and back pain from the accident. It’s hard to concentrate.
    But I’m halfway through Kristen Higgins, out of the clear blue sky and halfway through Nora Roberts identity. I’m not usually in two books at once.
    This morning Megan Choate, our publicity go to person on Amazon sent me an article that Vanity Fair did on the show and I mentioned Jenny https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/how-jury-duty-caught-lightning-in-a-bottle
    Saturday some of us are doing celebrity family feud. And I have so many tax returns to do. Oh, and I’m filming a short film in an hour. I guess I better get going.

    1. Wow! That sounds like so much fun! I love the idea that the cast still meets regularly on the social-M, and I for one thinks it was really great of you to pitch Jenny in your update on Susan! 🙂

      Keep on trucking!

    2. Thanks for posting the link Susan!
      You’re great in those fun Nerdwallet commercials!

  28. I read The Last Continent, which I think is also the Last Rincewind Book. Going in with low expectations helped make it a pretty enjoyable read, as did the fact that this is a very silly book.

    The plot is slight: Rincewind lands in Australia (or a cartoon version thereof), and in the process of trying to retrieve him, the UU faculty accidentally travel through time & space to create a problem that only Rincewind can solve. Reasons for all of this are pretty flimsy, but none of it really needs to make sense.

    The Rincewind part involves him careening from one lazy cultural reference to another (Mad Max, Crocodile Dundee, The Man from Snowy River, Waltzing Matilda, etc.) in a series of reluctant adventures. None of it means much, but some of it is funny. Rincewind himself suffers, as always, from having no character arc (or much characterization, really). The Luggage is shunted off to a Priscilla, Queen of the Desert side story, although at least it gets its nails done.

    The UU faculty part is more fun. The wizards manage to get lost in space & time in the most wizardly way possible — i.e. through a combination of silliness, cleverness, and moving the stick with the sign on it that says “absolutely DO NOT, under any circumstances, move this stick.” They are then stranded on an apparently deserted island with Mrs. Whitlow, eventually meet the God of Creation/Evolution, and help invent sex (despite being 100% unclear on the details). Most of the better ideas are in this half of the book, but it never really gets that deep or interesting. Still, I had a good time hanging out with them.

    Too many other things going on this week to read more, but I’m looking forward to Carpe Jugulum!

  29. Only one new book worth talking about last week. Sarah Mason’s 2002 novel Playing James was a decent example of women’s fiction. I didn’t love it but I liked it well enough to finish. It was well-written and occasionally very funny. The heroine, Holly, is a journalist. Ditzy and sassy, she is also kind and gifted/cursed with a writer’s imagination. To spruce up her failing newspaper, she is assigned by her editor to shadow a grumpy police detective James for six weeks and write a diary column about it. As the two investigate one case after another, and Holly’s column’s popularity explodes, a relationship between the two grows and changes from hostility to acceptance and then even to love. But there is a snag: James is getting married in the end of six weeks. To someone else.
    Then I re-read the double feature by Crusie: Crazy for You + Tell Me Lies in one volume. Marvelous, as always, both novels.

  30. After a long hiatus from reading your work (I used to read this blog before I retired 7 years ago and then lost all my bookmarks for blogs), I just looked you up and found the Liz Danger books. Read the first two this week. Also, just finished some Gail Carriger rereads from the Parasol Protectorate and started doing a reread of Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series in preparation for for the new one in June.

  31. I read “To Shape A Dragon’s Breath” by Moniquill Blackgoose which is about an Islander finding and connecting to a native dragon. Unfortunately, the Anglish Empire which nominally controls her country dictates that all dragoneers must learn how to control their dragons or the dragon is destroyed. So, off goes the Islander to an Anglish school where, of course, she breaks boundaries, finds out secrets and gets involved in politics. I really liked this book and am looking forward to the next one. One thing, the descriptions of the native food sound most excellent and I really don’t know how anyone could eat the Anglish food – oatmeal and porridge – when they know about corn and blueberries and squash and tomatoes. Bah!

    I tried reading “The Last Dragoners of Bowbazar” and I found it rather confusing. A strange family lives in India and in order to keep their secrets, give their children a memory-cleansing potion every night. There is some pretty vivid imagery in the story – which I liked – but, the plotline contains a lot of holes as to be expected when people keep forgetting what happened before. I had to give up because I couldn’t keep track of what was going on.

    I am now reading “The Adventures of Amina Al-Surafi” by Shannon Chakraborty and it’s pretty interesting so far. No dragons, though. It’s about a female pirate who’s trying to retire, but when offered a LOT of money to do one last job, jumps at the offer.

    However, I’m probably going to put that story on hold as I just found out that Kristine Kathryn Rusch released her latest Spade/Paladin short story “The Case of The Stolen Memories”.

    1. Something odd is going on here. When I checked Kindle, I found the collection Assorted Conundrums listed at $3.99, with The Case of the Stolen Memories as one of its stories, but the stand-alone title also at 3.99 but with a later release date. A revised version or just a mistake? I bought the collection just now but have not read it yet. I’d enjoyed earlier Spade-Paladin collections and novels.

    2. I haven’t yet read the Blackgoose, but it sounds plausible about Anglish food.  Perhaps out of desperation, on our timeline English colonists in America were quick to adopt corn and squash, but, once they had the choice, used them as additions to, rather than replacements for, Old World foods.  One of the Adamses (I can’t remember which) recorded his disgust at always having to start meals at his parents’ house with corn pudding, to take the edge off his appetite before moving on to more expensive (Old World style) food.  Potatoes were popular by the 19th century, but evidently only started their acceptance in 1750 or so. Americans were notoriously late in accepting the tomato as food, despite having a climate very suitable for growing it.  Moreover, in comparison to home cooking or the fancy cooking that had started to appear in upmarket restaurants, institutional food (in boarding schools, the army and navy, etc.) was pretty boring, and likely unappetizing, by modern standards in both Britain and America—most of it was boiled and some was baked, in both cases using an unhealthy amount of animal fat, with little frying or grilling attempted.  In another illustration of culinary timorousness, Europeans also almost universally rejected Chinese food when exposed to it, whether at European commercial outposts in China or after Chinese emigration had started to California.

  32. One more item from me for today:

    I treat movies on DVD much like books, no doubt to the horror of filmmakers who have carefully calculated the buildups and pacing.  That is to say, I watch for a while until I have something else to do (or I hit a slow part) and I come back to it later.   I finished one DVD just this afternoon: I had decided to take a Russian movie out from the library (which carries nothing not released in the US in Region 1, and no huge range of choices even within that).  I hit upon The Duelist (Дуэлянт, 2016).  This turns out to be a revenge drama, perhaps a little like what one of Shakespeare’s contemporaries might have written, except that it has a semi-happy ending.  The few characters that one could consider morally good are dead, but so are all the major bad guys and most of the minor ones, and the morally flawed but not worthless hero and heroine survive.  (So it’s also a little like a lightened-up version of Kill Bill, John Wick, and that whole cinematic school.)  For some reason, what seems like half the movie’s dialog is in German rather than Russian, despite the film’s being set almost entirely in St. Petersburg.  Per Wikipedia,  it is set in 1860.  (I’m not sure what establishes the precise year, but the dress style and technology clearly put it about then.  Dueling survived in Russia much later than in the Anglosphere.  It was generally illegal but winked at, and later it was even legalized for a brief period in the early 20th century, reportedly in an effort to restore a martial spirit in the officer class.)  Even in 1860, however,  I don’t think the Russian upper class conversed as much in fluent German as is depicted here, so I wonder if the filmmakers were hoping for a large German box office.  It seems not to be a Russian-German coproduction. The film did well in Russia, but I see no indication online that it proved particularly popular in Germany. 

    Besides showing a surprisingly large range of pistol-dueling arrangements, mostly indoors, which arrangements may or may not be historically accurate, it depicts Russian roulette,  which is probably an anachronism.  The first recorded mention in English is in an American short story in 1937, although a rather different suicide game with a pistol was depicted by Lermontov in 1840.  The Russian Wikipedia says that the Russian author Aleksandr Grin depicted it, evidently without the name, in 1913.  I vaguely recall that in one of his historical mysteries, Boris Akunin depicts it as being invented late in the 19th century, but in his novel it is called American roulette.

    I may write more on The Duelist next week,  if by then I have watched the film again, but with the English subtitles off, and if I have watched the bonus features on the DVD.

    1. I never came across the Dualist in cinemas here but it got reviews by the usual media outlets. Not particularly good ones.

    2. “(So it’s also a little like a lightened-up version of Kill Bill, John Wick, and that whole cinematic school.)”

      There are reviews that show much of the movie without a soundtrack but with a Corpse Meter tallying the kill count. The extremely high kill count. I suppose the Duelist could only fill a metropolitan cemetery, not the entire underworld.

      I watched a couple John Wick movies. Also some Reacher movies and TV seasons. I’ve exceeded my quota for violence for 2023. and some of 2024.

  33. I followed Something Human with One Night in Boukos, but when I went on to Sword Dance I realized I’d read that too recently for a reread. So am rather floundering, looking for a good follow-on to A. J. Demas. In better news, I realized this evening that I’d actually got the first as well as the second series of The Young Montalbano on my hard drive recorder, so happily went back to the beginning for a complete rewatch, and will just skip the first two episodes of the second series that I watched the other week.

        1. I get that completely. There are books I can’t reread anymore because I have just reread them too much.
          Hopefully, in a decade, I can have the joy of rereading them.

  34. It was not the best reading week for me; I had multiple DNFs.

    I like mysteries so I read one of the Acton and Doyle mystery books (where they marry), and was totally creeped out by so many things, not least of all, Acton and how stalkery he is (which must be the author’s aim). And the actual murder mystery itself seemed like rather an afterthought to the relationship. It’s the first book I’ve read in the series. Has anyone else read this series, and if so can you tell me if it’s worth my continuing on?

    I also read The Unkindness of Ravens by M. E. Hilliard. It’s about a librarian who loves Trixie Belden and who, being one of the suspects, sets off to solve a murder committed in her library. I enjoyed it enough to get the next book in the series.

    Inspired by other Arghers, I also did a bit of Jayne Castle re-reading.

    But really, the best book I read all week was part of Ursula Vernon’s MG series, Danny Dragonbreath. I am more partial to Harriet Hamsterbone but Danny is fun too. Vernon is such a talented artist.

    1. That’s the first Acton and Doyle mystery, Murder in Thrall. And yes, it is indeed the author’s aim to show you how stalkery the Detective Chief Inspector Acton is behind his facade as a rich, handsome, famous, aristocratic (He’s Baron Acton) and highly respected and regarded as the second coming of Sherlock Holmes by the public and the rest of New Scotland (but they don’t know that he cheats). But he actually has fallen in love at first sight with rookie detective Kathleen Doyle, who grew up poor, and poorly educated, in Ireland. He assigns her to work as his assistant whilst tricking and manipulating her into marrying him, and succeeds! But he really does love her, and wants her to be happy, so he tries to hide all the shenanigans he’s been up to. But despite her youth and lack of education she’s very intuitive (a bit ‘fey’) and keeps catching him out. So over the course of the series she tries to reform him, forcing him to promise to stop doing some of the underhanded things she catches him doing, so he does but keeps coming up with ever more convoluted ways to continue doing them while keeping his promises. They also solve a bunch of tricky mysteries along the way. Acton is a fascinating character who is a bit hard to root for, but Kathleen Doyle is a terrific character who you can’t help rooting for. She does things like jump off a bridge into the Thames to rescue a drowning fellow detective despite the fact she can’t swim, and becomes famous, much to her horror because she is naturally shy and introverted.

      1. Thanks so much for the thorough analysis, Gary! Much appreciated. I am still not sure if I will be able to tolerate reading about Acton but I will give the next book a try once I am in the right headspace.

      2. Am trying Murder in Thrall. Doyle’s Irishisms seemed a little overdone, so I looked up the author, who turns out to be a Californian. No clear indications that the series is set in the past, up until everyone is smoking in a pub. I looked up if that was permitted, and it hasn’t been since 2007. Book copyright 2013. I still don’t know if that was a mistake or a deliberate past setting, but if the latter I think it should have been clued in better. I’ll read on for a while, anyhow.

  35. I spent the week proof-reading Sarah Lyons Fleming’s new Cascadia book (4th one in the series, due out in August). Which is just sensational, and had me both laughing out loud for long stretches of time, and sobbing uncontrollably at the end. She is a brilliant writer, and I wish she didn’t get pigeon-holed as a “zombie author” when her books are so much more than that. Her characters just come alive! I’ve been lucky enough to proofread all four books in the Cascadia series. <3

    Aside from that, I've been comfort reading the JD Robb books and comfort-listening to "The Last Tribe" by Brad Manuel. After SLF"s book, I needed some comfort reading/listening!

  36. Despite culling my books, I have managed not to reread any of them.

    I did read Neil Gaiman’s Stardust. a lovely fairy tale that rolls along until everyone receives their heart’s desire or gets their just deserts.

    And then Killers of a Certain Age, recommended here. Also a great read. Who doesn’t love justice served?

    I’ve just started Mary Stewart’s Rose Cottage, one of hers that I somehow missed reading. I haven’t reached my Mary Stewarts in the book sorting . Let’s see if I can resist the reread and keep on sorting.

    I do love my Kindle but need that apocalypse library.

  37. Happy this week to find a new-to-me historical romance author in Alison Stuart who wrote a trilogy of English Civil War romances. I read the first one “By the Sword” and really liked how she handled the divided loyalties and the history so have put the second one into my tbr.

    Also read “The Golem & the Djinni” by Helene Wecker, set in 19th century New York in working class neighborhoods. Its a very practical sort of fantasy with the MCs’ magical nature making the migrant experience even more complex. Really enjoyed it, and have the next one waiting on my shelf. Thanks to Chacha1 for the recc 🙂

    The Hugo shortlist was released this week, and even though I’ve read most of the novel category, but not so much the short fiction, debut and series categories so that sorts out my reading plans for the next few weeks (particularly as I’m feeling a re-read of the 18 book October Daye series coming on). The fancast shortlist includes the podcast “Publishing Rodeo” which is really aimed at authors, but I’ve been finding it fascinating hearing the inside details of going on submission and publicity and contracts etc. Of course everyone’s experience would be different but some of the authors are amazingly frank about finances and sales numbers etc.

  38. I have one recommendation and one piece of news. News first: for fans of the Rivers of London books, it looks as if there will be a new novella published early September 2024 called The Masquerades of Spring. It features Nightingale in NYC during the jazz age.
    The recommendation is for Between Silk and Cyanide: A Code Makers War, by Leo Marks. I gave a copy of the audio book to my brother and he said he was almost completely through it before he realized it was a memoir and not fiction. If you’re interested in the espionage part of WWII, it is highly recommended.

    1. The Masquerades of Spring is already available for preorder at Subterranean Press. I just shoved my money at them for the preorder a couple of days ago. 🙂 One thing I did find interesting when reading the synopsis was that it appears to be another book set in the USA.

      1. As Becky R already pointed out! But changing the setting to NY is a big shift in tone. (As is moving any of the stories out of England in the first place, although Germany didn’t seem that big of a change.) I’m excited to see how it all turns out!

  39. I’ve read all of the Acton and Doyle books, to my everlasting shame. I keep hoping the writing, which was pretty good in the first three books and then not, would improve. The books need better proofing and a good edit. I agree Acton is creepy, but I kind of like him anyways; he keeps trying to outwit his wife and as someone (@GaryH?) mentioned, he always means well by her. Doyle can be charming, but her endless ruminations in each book about what her husband is up to and what could be going on under the surface grow tiresome (though they haven’t stopped me reading yet another volume). The last one (Murder in Reproach?) ended so abruptly that I wondered whether the author died midstream. Sadly, books 4 through 15, are poorly narrated (accents, enunciation, prosody), imo, except those by Marcella Riordan. But @Shass you might enjoy the first three.

    I was interested in what you had to say about the Malka Older book, @Patrick M. (Have you read The Tainted Cup by Bennet, another take on holmes/watson?) My library doesn’t carry Older, so I’ll wait until I find a version I can afford.

    Any other recent SciFi you or any one else can recommend are more than welcome (please, please: in my small world, I know no one who reads sci fi/fantasy). I’ve enjoyed Nathan Lowell’s (Ishmael Wong) series, Miles Cameron (Artifact Space), Arkady Martine’s duology, Becky Chambers (all of them except the allegories), Anne Leckie, etc. etc. … Not to mention, Martha Wells and N.K. Jemisin. I need steering.

    1. I trust you have read all of Lois McMaster Bujold.
      Try Everina Maxwell Winter’s Orbit.

    2. Well it’s not sci-fi, but most people here love Ben Aaronovitch, the Rivers of London series, and also Victoria Goddard, the Hands of the Emperor series, and also Katharine Addison, The Goblin Emperor. For sci-fi, what about Suzanne Palmer, the Finder series, which Argh has been discussing recently. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone here mention Timothy Zahn but I liked the older Quadrail series, and the newer Icarus series. I also like Simon R. Green’s murder/mystery/SF series starring Ishmael Jones. I’m drawing a bit of a blank for more at the moment but I will continue to mull…

      1. Ooh and Connie Willis who does sci fi. Her latest involves a roadtrip with an alien; I think it’s called The Road to Roswell? Someone here will correct me if it’s not. 🙂

        1. I have THE ROAD TO ROSWELL in my Audible library, but have not listened yet. I have ENOLA HOLMES: THE CASE OF THE MISSING MARQUESS playing in the Audible Ap – I’ll queu up Roswell next. If I finish it, I’ll review it here.

    3. Arkady Martine, Becky Chambers, Anne Leckie, Martha Wells and N.K. Jemisin have all appeared on the Hugo shortlists in the last decade so that might be a good place for what are effectively crowd-sourced recommendations.

      I second the recommendation for Bujold if you haven’t read her Vorkosigan series, and also Maxwell’s sf romances. Lyn Gala also does excellent sf romances.

      The Liaden series by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller is another of my favorites, also space opera. You might also like Naomi Kritzer’s short or long fiction (especially if you like cats), which is cozy a bit like Chambers imho.

      If you like short fiction, try one of Ted Chiang’s excellent collections, Suzanne Palmer’s Bot 9 series, free on Clarkesworld. Or Aliette de Bodard’s loosely connected Xuya series.

      One of my favorite books of last year was AnnaLee Newitz’s “The Terraformers” which is a stand-alone hopepunk Nebula award finalist. Another good stand-alone is “Ancestral Night” by Elizabeth Bear (there’s another book in the same universe but its only loosely connected).

      Adrian Tchaikovsky has done a lot of good work recently – my favorite is his Final Architecture trilogy, starting with Shards of Earth. Another good trilogy is the Interdependency by John Scalzi starting with “The Collapsing Empire”.

      There is so much good stuff out there – have fun!

      1. Had you heard that Steve Miller died? He will be greatly missed, I fear. But his wife Sharon Lee says she will continue to write the Load books.

          1. Oh, you could check out the science fiction and fantasy magazine Uncanny at uncannymagazine.com

    4. Beth, I don’t know how far back in time you want to go. (You did specify recent sf, however far back that reaches.)   I think most of the current biggies have been named.  I personally liked Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan stories better once Miles got out of the Dendarii Mercenaries in Memory.  I find her work a little uneven, but I’ve never bailed out of anything by her in any of her works, within the Vorkosiverse or outside it. 

      Being in Quebec, you may possibly have a special interest in Canadian work.  (On which, as an American, I’m no expert.)  Probably the most prominent Canadian sf writer is still Robert Sawyer, who seems to have pitched his work and his self-publicity such that he sells very well in Canada and fairly well outside it.  I find some of his work too preachy in general and too smug (and unrealistic) about special Canadian virtue in particular, but I like much of it, such as Starplex and Illegal Alien.  Some Canadians also write sf in French,  but I know little about that.  I gather that the Canadian market alone won’t financially support Francophone sf, so some is published on a semipro basis and some is published in France, but that Canadian Francophone authors face prejudice there.   The Canadian bilingual equivalent of the Hugos is the Aurora Awards. 

      wikipedia.org/wiki/Aurora_Awards?wprov=sfla1

      Just a caution that Hugo nominations (leaving aside the 2023 Chengdu scandal) are no longer the consensus indicators that they once were, due to the fracture of sf/f into genres and subgenres and to the facts that Worldcon memberships and attendance expenses have become far steeper than in former times, and that the demographic of sf fans is skewing older and older.  There are worthwhile sf/f writers who never even get nominated, and others repeatedly nominated whose work lies completely outside my taste and that of many people I know (to be sure, we have our own demographic peculiarities).

      If you’re interested in non-recent sf that you may have missed, your fellow Quebecker (by naturalization) Jo Walton published an excellent series on Tor.com (now reactormag.com ) on Hugo nominees in the 20th century. It was later turned onto a book, What Makes This Book Great.  It hopefully is available in your public library, and may be fairly cheap as a used book. I’m not sure if the original series is still available on reactormag.com.  I found the comments by readers there nearly as interesting as Walton. 

      I may add more later, but enough for now!

  40. I read the most recent Aaronovitch, which was ok but needed more Peter. Someone here recommended Deborah Crombie’s mysteries, which I’m enjoying.

    In nonfiction I read Corsets and Codpieces, a History of Outrageous Fashion. The fashions were mostly ones I knew but the stories about the fashions were fun.

    DH is heading out of town for a week so it’s another week of old New Yorkers (because I can have the light on when I read in bed).

  41. This week I read Ally Carter’s, ‘The Blonde Identity’, recommended recently by an Argher and thoroughly enjoyed it. A fun read that reminded me a little of Jenny’s books. Went to look for more by this author but her other books have all been YA. Hope she continues writing for adults.

    1. I just started that same book! very interesting way to engage the reader almost immediately and almost deserves the overused adjective “unputdownable.”

      I am liking it, but dubious about the two main characters’ origins. Still, suspending disbelief was easy given that word above in quotes….

    2. The “sort-of cliffhanger” at the end of this book suggests she is at least writing one more with these characters. And I agree, I hope she writes more for adults.

  42. Thank you all for your suggestions everyone, a few of which I have not yet read (Adrian Tchaikovsky, Timothy Zahn ). I will try them out as I will Uncanny (thank you, @Debbie). Also special thanks to @Patrick M. for brief overview of Hugo. I too agree about Sawyer and preachiness. I lost my home library (and house) to fire some years ago and forget the names of all those early writers that I once adored. Canada does have some wonderful writers of all genres (hello Atwood, Walton, Davies etc. !). And while I am bilingual, I’m not up on recent French language sci fi.

    1. Beth, I’m sorry to hear of your house fire. Did you shift from sf writers to general writers at the end, or did Robertson Davies write sf too—he’s not in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction ( https://sf-encyclopedia.com ), or did you have a different Davies in mind? I’ve read some Atwood, but as I’ve mentioned before I’ve about had it with authors who set antiutopias in somebody else’s real country (fictional countries not on the soil of real ones are fine if you find too little to criticize in your own homeland), and also with Atwood’s protestations that she never has written science fiction.

      As you probably know, Golden Age sf writer A.E. van Vogt wrote much of his classic work in Canada before moving to the U.S. So later did S.M. Stirling, although his early work is both grim and often (evidently unintentionally) makes evil seem more glamorous than seems wise (as in his Draka series). Some but not all of his more recent work (he now lives in New Mexico) is a lot more stomachable. But I find him brilliant at spinning out verisimilar alternate histories. I particularly like his The Sky People and In the Courts of the Mountain Kings. (He also writes fantasy and horror, most of which I like much less than his sf.)

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