192 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, the Late Edition

  1. Only managed to finish Bromantic Puckboy. I liked it. Not as much as books 1 and 2 in the series, but much better than the others.

    Life is so stressful that I started to read Starter Home. Not sure about it. Tge style is rather dry. Short sentences. I don’t much get a feeling for the two MCs. Maybe my brain is just fried with too much to do and too little sleep.
    I’ll likely try something completely different soon.

    Also, hockey right now is too stressful. Playoffs. I’d love for my favs teams to win. Not gonna happen. Esp. when I got more than one fav team…

    My brain really is fried.

    At least dd got the ok for her big adventure.
    And my request für a few days off around Pentecost was approved.

      1. Yep, and the playoff final round in my country is going strong, too.
        Less stressful as my home team has been eliminated in the semi finals 😞

    1. Ou local hockey team (The Sharks) only won 19 games this season–so no playoff stress here. The coach was just fired yesterday–no surprise there.

      1. Yep, I’ve seen it, Beth. Nico Sturm, one of your Sharks, was one of our best players in last year’s world championship. With the Sharks not making the playoff, nor the Sabres and Kraken, three of or few NHL players might be free to take part again (Nico, Gru, JJ).
        It’ll be interesting to have that many good US and esp. Canadian players available for the World Ch. – imagine Crosby! Bedard and the many hyped young ones.
        Oh well, that’ll be interesting.

  2. It’s not late; there’s lots of Thursday left.
    Having finished my Murderbot reread, I seem to be starting a Katherine Addison reread.
    The only new thing of interest I’m reading (I must finish it today because it’s due tomorrow) is a memoir by Harvey Sloane who was mayor of Louisville when court-ordered busing began. It is very interesting but the narrative as a whole doesn’t flow. You can tell he spent his life writing lots of concise reports. Paragraph by paragraph it reads smoothly but as a whole it’s jumpy.

  3. As a result of recommendations here and elsewhere, I read – or rather, listened to the six books of “A Trader’s Tale from the Age of the Solar Clipper” series by Nathan Lowell. Those are QUARTER SHARE, HALF SHARE, FULL SHARE, DOUBLE SHARE, CAPTAIN’S SHARE, and OWNER’S SHARE. I also acquired the next three in a follow-on series, same main character. You may be assured that I have enjoyed what I read so far.

    SORCERY & CECILIA is still in progress. I left off while listening to the Solar Clipper series. The only time I can read and listen simultaneously is if the book is the same as the audio file. It gives me something to look forward to this next week.

    1. oh Reverend: I love to think of you enjoying (again) the splendiferous world of the Solar Clipper. Like you, I’ve read and listened to the series several times. The last volume (Hard Knocks?) is coming out in audible very soon. Yum.

    2. I really enjoyed Lowell’s The Wizard’s Butler and kept hoping for a sequel, but none is in sight, despite its having far more
      Kindle reviews (and presumably sales) than anything else of his. I bounced off of some work or other in the Solar Clipper universe, but I suppose I should give it another shot. As I think I’ve said, I read and enjoyed Sorcery and Cecelia long ago.

    1. Gary, I don’t know if you saw my belated post on an earlier topic saying that Rev G reminded me a lot of Rev Bem from the old show Andromeda. Even Rev G’s (non)doctrine sounds a lot like Wayism. Clearly suspicious.

      1. No worries! I assumed it was because I used the previously never used name, “Rev Gary” instead of Rev G or BornAgainIndoorFarmer. Those are all me, but the only obvious connection is that they are all using the same Gravitar, which is a crossstitch from Murderbot: “When in danger, RUN!”

        1. It was accepted and the storage space opened to reveal a large compressed file. Attached to it was a short instruction document with a few lines of complex code I couldn’t parse. But the instructions were clear. They said, “In case of emergency, run.” I pulled the code into the operating station’s processing area and ran it.

          Wells, Martha. Network Effect: A Murderbot Novel (The Murderbot Diaries Book 5) (p. 130). Tom Doherty Associates. Kindle Edition.

        2. Oh, dear. I don’t have time to embroider all my favorite Murderbot lines (though not in cross stitch). It would take too much time away from reading.

          1. I lack the skill to embroider anything. But there are some good cross-stitch fonts and fabric backgrounds that work in MS Paint. 😉

        3. While my BornAgainIndoorFarmer nym is displayed, let me share a picture of my Swiss Chard crop. My question is, what do I do with it? Which part or parts are useable? Do I cut up the leafy greens to add to salads? The colorful stems? Help!

          1. What I do with it is separate the stems from the leaves and cut them both into pieces. I heat a mix of olive oil and butter with garlic and cayenne and sauté the stems until soft and then add the leaves and cook until wilted. You can serve it like that or you can cook some pasta and toss it all together with some grated cheese (and I warm a can of white beans and toss it in for protein). If you make it into pasta be generous with the olive oil.
            But that may be too many different cooking devices for the owners suite —I’m not clear about your infrastructure.

          2. I can’t quite tell how big they are but if the leaves are more than a few inches long they are probably too tough to eat raw and need to be cooked . For my taste anyway. Taste it and see if you find it bitter—the bitterness fades with cooking .

  4. My library hold came in pretty quickly, and I read and finished Older’s The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles.  For some reason, I’m failing to relocate most of the earlier discussion on this site, but as I recall, Yuri (I think) didn’t much like it and thought it deviated farther than The Mimicking of Known Successes had from being a Holmes pastiche.   For my part, I liked it pretty well and thought that the Sherlockian elements, though more muted, were still perceptible. 

    My biggest disappointment with the sequel is that it does no more than Mimicking had to shore up what seems to be a scientifically illiterate physical setup.  Annoying as the handwaving invocation of Super Science in some books may be, what I find far worse is a patently absurd pretense that what we see has a justification in science as presently understood.  Since Older withholds information from us, we have not quite arrived at that point yet, but we stand perilously close. (To elaborate might spoil at least Mimicking.)  Steampunk and straight fantasy both deal with the frankly impossible,  but at an early point they clue the reader in to what they are doing.  I hope that future adventures of Mossa and Pleiti will clarify the background and move us more decisively into either science fiction or else steampunk/fantasy.  I certainly hope Older understands more science than she seems to so far, if only for the sake of her academic work in international humanitarian aid.

    1. I forgot to add that this is and Mimicking are books where the look-up advantages of ebooks come into their own, what with the projected adoption by English of many additional foreign words, and the adoption by the characters of many foods that really exist but that are not part of a typical American diet. One would probably not lose too much if one relies solely on context , but it’s nice to have verification.

      1. Unless I missed some (not unlikely) I knew all the foreign words (previously foreign words?), but it was nice to confirm my hazy memory. (I learned a great many things in elementary school by reading far above my grade level and relying on context.)

        1. Huh. I had a lot of Spanish in grade school and HS, but learned very little of even Older’s Spanish (such as chisme), not to mention the less printable words. And practically none of her Japanese. I sort of knew qibla (from Arabic), but had to look it up to sure, and I had run across it at all only recently (as far as I recall).

          1. I have no idea how I learned qibla but I’ve known it for years.
            I studied Spanish from second grade through college and try to read enough to hold onto it (by my fingertips by now).

    2. And one sort of in-joke is that in the depicted future, Older’s first novel has been made into an opera.

    3. “The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles” is still on my tbr. I think my position in the earlier conversation was that I think Older is using the “Rule of Cool” for this particular world-build, as I understand her other work is much harder sci-fi. And the imagery is gorgeous but I would abandon any hope of a scientific underpinning.

      1. Yuri, my apologies for misremembering. I get very annoyed with books that seem to me to mis-signal where they are going, by what set of rules they are to be read. I remember writing in the snailmail days to Laurie R. King about one Holmes/Russell book that seemed promise to be mystery but that turned out to be a mere adventure story. King (who was good about responding to fan mail) replied that at least she would have a word to the publisher about calling it a mystery on the jacket flap.

        1. No apologies! I definitely was in that conversation, I can’t even remember who else was.

          And I agree about expectations & marketing – but sometimes it works to get me to read a book I wouldn’t otherwise and I enjoy it so I can’t complain too much.

  5. Congratulations to Jenny (belatedly?) for having Bet Me included on Oprah Daily’s updated list of 30 Great Romance Novels to Read in Your Lifetime! Wow! Very Impressive!

    I’ve been saving up recommendations:
    Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. The best character is a wise octopus! This is a book club type book about various personalities at different life crossroads. Decisions are made and secrets are revealed. Definitely a feel good book!

    Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (and the sequel, Warrior Girl Unearthed). Hockey adjacent. This was a page turner. A story of family, tribal attachment and women supporting each other. Set near the Canadian border, Daunis is a local high school women’s hockey star who falls in love with a new men’s player. When she sees her best friend murdered, she’s drawn into the investigation. It’s supposed to be YA but OMG it’s intense. I liked it so much that I immediately read the sequel, Warrior Girl Unearthed. The sequel is set a few years later so you get to see how characters from the first novel are doing. Well written and interesting!

    Canadian Boyfriend by Jenny Holiday is also hockey adjacent. Rory was a fairly lonely talented teen, focused on becoming a ballerina. She makes up a Canadian boyfriend (based on a chance encounter with a hockey player at a coffee shop in the Mall of America) so she doesn’t feel so isolated at school. Thirteen years later she becomes his daughter’s dance teacher. He’s a recent widower and doesn’t recognize her but is drawn to her—and vice versa. This was a wonderfully feel good audio book. The male and female voices were EXCELLENT plus they did something I’ve not heard before—the male spoke all the male voices even in the female’s chapters and the female voiced all the females all the way through. I also enjoyed listening to the main characters grow emotionally with the help of their therapists. Definitely an upbeat story!

    I’m going now to reread Bet Me!

    1. Wow! Great news about Bet Me. Faking it is forever my favorite, but Bet Me vies for second place depending on the day. And it is definitely the one I recommend most often.

      1. Same here, Faking it is my favourite, but Bet Me is a better gateway… maybe (love it too but it is not quite as zany as Faking It (or Welcome to Temptation).

        1. WTT gives me chills for the sex scenes. I adore Phin. But Faking It is where I go when I can’t paint. It helped me unlearn some very bad habits from art school, and I really love all the supporting characters and subplots. Still looking for my inner Louise.

          I reread Maybe This Time every October.

          But you are right. For the uninitiated who aren’t used to more with their romcom fluff reads, Bet Me is the best place to start. And I still haven’t found another piece of Chick lit that deals with weight so well.

      2. Welcome to temptation was my first Crusie. Fast Woman sucked me in and will always be my favourite. Love most of the other ones (Crazy, Faking, Charlie, Anyone but you etc), but have missed out on some of the newer ones whole the kids were small and reading had lost its magic for while.

    2. That’s amazing about Bet Me! Congrats, Jenny. Well deserved, I might add. Thanks for telling us, Melissa.

      I read Remarkably Bright Creatures on the recommendation of my agent. It’s really something.

    3. Firekeeper’s Daughter sounds wonderful and for once my library has it, so I will soon be finding out when my hold comes in. (I am number 8 on two copies.)

      I could not finish Remarkably Bright Creatures because all the humans bored me too much. I read the last two thirds skipping everything but the octopus POV.

      1. I loved Firekeepers’s Daughter and Warrior’s Apprentice. Both of those books haunt me.

    4. Melissa – Have you seen My Octopus Teacher? It’s an amazing story of a man’s friendship, for lack of a better word, with an octopus. Netflix was streaming it. Not sure if it still is.

      1. I did! Absolutely fascinating ❤️. I was interested that the UK several years back decided that lobsters, crabs and octopuses are sentient so boiling them alive is animal cruelty. That has definitely made me look at them differently.

      2. Hulu has a new show, Secrets of the Octopus, narrated by Paul Rudd. I’ve only watched about 30 minutes of the first episode so far, but it looks promising.

  6. I read The Maid by Nita Prose, a murder mystery told in first person by the eponymous narrator, a neurodivergent employee in a New York hotel. I thought the author was kind of condescending toward her own character, and wrote her in black and white terms. The first half of the book is a tough slog, since almost everyone in the MC’s life is either bullying, manipulating or laughing at her. I couldn’t help but compare it to the The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night, also narrated by a neurodivergent character, a way more nuanced book. I’ve also read quite a few books in the past five years with neurodivergent characters which were much better done – this felt like the author was jumping on an alt-fiction trend and making it mainstream.

    I also read the latest in Finlay/James’ Puckboys series, Romantic Puckboy. Started out well but got really saggy in the middle and stayed there.

    And then…I was looking for something in my box of letters – you know, those things we used to communicate with before email – and ended up re-reading the letters from an ex boyfriend, Mark Kingwell, a Canadian philosopher and writer who’s become a bit of a media pundit up here. Our relationship was a brief flaming rocket and then we settled down for years of friendship and voluminous correspondence while he did post-grad work in the UK. We’ve since lost touch. It was enlightening to realize what a treasure trove those letters are – vibrant, erudite and unbelievably articulate prose from an incredible mind – all features that my greedy, youthful self had completely taken for granted.

    1. That is a very glamorous ex story. All of mine I was very happy to part ways with. Thankfully, my taste improved.

    2. I read The Maid based on recommendation from askamanager. I really enjoyed it, but yes the first part was really painful.

    3. I got rid of all the letters I exchanged with exes and also with my husband two houses ago. Too cringey to think of my kids reading them.
      Great literature, they were not 🙂

    4. I haven’t read either but I remember there was a huge amount of controversy about the “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night”, which attracted a lot of criticism in the Aspergers & autism community for its cliched portrayals (apparently Mark Haddon admitted on a blog post that he did not do any research on autism!), so if this less nuanced then yikes!

      1. Oh! Good to know! Nita didn’t appear to do any research either. Said the book was based on the King Edward Hotel and the doorman.

          1. I would feel like swimming out into the dark ocean at night, completely without direction. Research isn’t just fun but it gives you the torch for the expedition into the unknown.

    5. I gave up on The Maid pretty early. I agree about it being condescending, Tammy.

      As for letters, what a treasure! My cousins and I are still working our way through our great grandmother’s letters, and they are wonderful to read.

    6. Re The Maid: It’s almost like the author wrote the character based on a dictionary definition rather than developing someone who could be real. But I still thought it was a really engrossing book! Well plotted and often funny. The second half was definitely better than the first.

      I also listened to it as an audiobook with a very good narrator (the actress Lauren Ambrose), and I wonder if that helped with my enjoyment of it.

    7. Ooo- I think they made a Turkish series out of this (and there seems to be a Spanish Telenovela about to begin, too). It stars Demet Ozdemir, and it’s called,
      “ Adım Farah.” There is another one called “Maid” in Turkish, but the plot of “ Adım Farah” seemed similar to your description.

  7. I’m engrossed in “Someone to Cherish” by Balogh. I know, another Westcott novel, but I’m finding this one particularly appealing – so much so that I sacrificed some of my beauty sleep last night. Still not finished – but I doubt I can do another late night so it may be the weekend before I’m done.

    1. I’m having such fun reading your reviews of the Westcott family series, Nancy. I ran across her Survivor series first, because I was really interested in the idea of soldiers recuperating from the physical and psychological trauma of the Napoleonic wars. So, they’re Regency novels, but they focus on relatively vulnerable people and the mates they end up falling in love with. (One survivor was searching in Europe for her husband, who had been captured and was eventually killed in front of her by soldiers who were holding him captive.)

      And I continued to love Balogh’s intelligent, perceptive reading of what makes people react to things from the inside, rather than merely write about characters who are impressed by glamor, gaiety, balls and horse racing, as too many post-Heyer Regency authors seem to have done.

      And I like the way she weaves characters from book to book, without just dumping them in and then out again. Thank you for reporting on your reading of this series!

      1. Thanks Jinx. I too like the way that she weaves characters from book to book. And I always consult the family tree at the beginning of each book to see the progeny listed from the previous book’s marriage. And apparently she’s still adding to the series. I think I’ve got at least one more to read.

  8. Yay yay yay! I am finally free of my trainee so I can hang out here more.

    I have been reading so many m/m crime shorts that they are mashing together a bit in my brain. I’m still enjoying The Irregulars as my reading book. And CM Nascosta dropped the next installment in her Wheel of the Year series, featuring a neurodivergent hedge witch and her spider-person lover. Early reviews say that it is a very “feel good” read, which I am really looking forward to. I love the community of Cambric Creek. Plus it’s usually on the smutty side.

    I listened to Footsteps in the Dark, a m/m anthology. The standout authors were Nicole Kimberling, Josh Lanyon (always) and C.S. Poe, who I tried once before and wandered off, but now I am going to have to give a serious look at. Also Dal Maclean, who has three audiobooks in a series for free on Audible. I started one, and I am invested, but it is LONG. I still have 13 hours to go. And it’s on the darker side. And I think that I know who the murderer is and I am sad about it. I am not sure if I am going to finish or not… Input welcome on any of the above.

    1. Cambric Creek looks like fun series! The descriptions reminded me of the Ice Planet Barbarian series by Ruby Dixon. (That series is DEFINITELY smutty, just saying.)

      1. I started with Ruby Dixon years ago. A total gateway drug to cozy alien romance. I’m glad she made it to the mainstream.

        I think that the Cambric Creek books are a little less romance centered as a whole, but I love them dearly. There is more emphasis on community and family interactions, plus a lot of small businesses, which is my catnip. Your mileage may vary and mine certainly does from book to book, but I get the comfort vibes from pretty much all of them. Morning Glory Milking Farm is the first, and maybe the most straightforward to start with. If you don’t mind smut. Otherwise, not a whole lot happens, kinda like in the early Ice Planet Barbarians where language and cultural barriers are enough to carry the story without outside drama.

    2. I saw that the Nascosta book had dropped but I haven’t yet read the first in that series so I got that one instead. I’m listening to the second novella in the Footsteps in the Dark – really like the first one. So far, the second is…okay. Which Dal Maclean are you listening to? Christina is the expert reader on Maclean.

      1. What was the first Footsteps in the Dark? I can’t remember now. Switching back and forth between the two anthologies is messing me up…

        Will have to look up the Maclean title. Ben and Jamie. Posh cop who cut ties with his family money and the fashion photographer he moves in with. Someone is killing young women in the public eye and I think that it is the porn star who lives downstairs. I also think that he is lying about his backstory, possibly stole it from Ben, but I like him and don’t want it to be him… especially if he has a real history of abuse.

        1. The Nicole Kimberling story about the restaurant owner and the local cop was the first one in the Footsteps in the Dark. I know the Maclean one you mean – it’s the first in the series of three. I’ve only read the second one. Christina say the two stories loop back together in the third book.

          1. Oh yes. That Kimberling was very good. I’m going to have to bite the bullet and download some more of hers. She only has one audio book available.

        2. “Bitter Legacy” I liked Steggie too. Fanfic needed I think … If you persist with the book, there’s a lovely Christmas coda “King of Kings”.

          1. I am keeping on, hooked by the emotional stuff, but I am apprehensive about the end. I am tired of childhood trauma being used as emotional shorthand for the makings of a murderer. Not poking at Maclean specifically, and I don’t know if that is going to be the case with this story, but it is so so common. And lots of people survive rough childhoods without becoming serial killers. Argh.

            I think that I am frustrated with the need to give violence a reason.

          2. Well, you need a motive for a mystery. But I’m with you on disliking “I had a bad childhood so I must kill.” Much more likely: “I had a bad childhood so I must write fiction.”

          3. Yes, I articulated that poorly. We need a motive. I even like when I can have some sympathy for the bad guy.

    3. PS – you should try CS Poe’s Memento Mori series. Their other series I haven’t been so keen on.

    4. No doubt about it, the Dal Maclean books are dark…I definitely thought they were worth the read but there is lots of angst, bad behavior and good old British stoic demeanor and repressed emotions thing going on… as procedurals they are really good too. And book 3 (the best of the 3 imho) ties book 1 and 2 together. I found them worth the but I can see that the dark feel might not be for everyone!

      1. Thanks! I sometimes struggle with the darkness. Real life can get me down without more living rent free in my head.

        I do like the characters and the writing. I think that I will probably continue, unless the end really sours me. I also enjoy when I find something that is included in my audible membership. Makes me feel like I am getting my money’s worth.

  9. After finishing up all the Rivers of London novels I already owned, and waiting for a breath of leisure, I decided to check a book of Diana Wynne Jones that I didn’t recall ever reading. And, sure enough…. It’s called “Unexpected Magic: Collected Stories.”

    Apparently I bought the mass market paperback back in 2006 (R.I.P. Borders Book store), and never picked it up again. (Busy devouring other DWJ novels at the time, probably.) It used to be that I had more time for reading, and didn’t much like short stories because after you’ d spent 20 or 30 pages or so, it all just disappeared with hardly a ‘by your leave’ — much better to read books you could really get into — lots of chapters, probably a sequel or 5 or 6….

    But now I have hardly any reading time, and I can’t get pulled into a full novel unless it grabs me and doesn’t let go until I have to get up in 4 or 5 hours to go to work on too little sleep. And short stories are perfect for the work slave’s daily schedule.

    These are odd little stories — seems like she wrote them while she was grappling with writer’s block. One is about a writer who is constantly irritated with herself, because the word ‘and’ can hardly be typed four or five times on a page without numerous typos — the writer is constantly correcting ‘nad’ or ‘adn’ or ‘dan’, getting more irritated as the day goes on. At one point she hears a voice speaking to her. It says it’s name is Nad and it is very frustrated with a coworker (name is Dna, of course) who seems to be trying to take over the whole place.

    Other stories so far have involved various odd off-the-wall topics, such as the young woman who is in love with the sun, and decides to make herself change into a tree, because the sun seems to love trees the best. It’s harder than she realized, too.

    Anyway, very interesting, odd stories that are perfect for late night post-collapsing into sleep before work the next day.

    Has anyone else here read this book?

    1. You know, I have been reading the early posts on Argh and I came across one where most of us were saying how we didn’t care for short stories. It’s funny how things change. I used to average several books a week and now it takes me forever to get through a full length novel. So I too have learned to appreciate shorter forms.

      Like you, I just don’t seem to have the time anymore. A novella I can get through without losing the vibe of the narrative.

      1. I suppose it’s because I usually read five or six fiction books at a time (checking: only four at the moment but I just half an hour ago finished the non-fiction one), switching back and forth, that I don’t have a problem “losing the vibe” as you say. I also don’t like short stories, or rather collections of them, because at the end of a story I don’t want to stop, so I read another, and another, and…. A box of chocolates is gone in no time that way.

      1. I know! It has a very cute cover, too — a smug round frog or toad floating in the air above a very ancient-looking book.

        1. Thanks for the recommendation! I just ordered the book, thrilled to discover something new by her (or at least new to me!)

    2. I read it once many years ago. It was a library copy I think, since I don’t have a copy. I remember the “And” story. As I remember, all the stories were odd, but the one that made the hair rise on the back of my neck, was in the introduction where she said a story was inspired by her son showing her a box. When she asked him what was in it, he said “Darkness”.

  10. I read a lot this week – always my strategy for dealing with a funk. Plus, the weather has been cold and wet so conducive to staying inside.

    “The Rule Book” by Sarah Adam’s was a good quick read. I wish the author had stuck with one trope, rather than cramming several into the same story – college GF/BF still in love despite years of separation; scrappy female MC overcoming the odds in a male dominated industry; rich handsome football player MC overcoming injury; drunk marriage in Vegas. Still worth a read.

    I don’t read many ch non-fiction but I picked up “Burn Book” by Cara Swisher after hearing her interviewed on the radio. I liked the interview better than the book but she has lots of interesting anecdotes about key tech personalities she’s interviewed over the last several decades. As an examination of her career as a tech journalist, it was less successful likely because she was so embedded in the industry. However, she confirmed that Elon Musk is an odious as I perceived him to be.

    My two favourite books this week were “Pestilence” by Laura Thalassa and “Just for the Summer” by Abby Jimenez. The former is post- Apocalyptic and quite grim in places but still a compelling story about the power of love (largely set in British Columbia). I’ve liked all of Abby Jimenez’s books but this most recent one was my favourite. Both MC’s are struggling with a lot of emotional baggage from their families and it takes a long time for them to get to HEA. Books rarely make me cry but this one did in multiple places.

    Finally, I read “Unravel Me” by Becka Mack, third book in her recent hockey trilogy. It’s a good meet/cute story, but the author flubbed on growing peonies which really bugged me. Peonies are important to the female MC and the author has the male MC as plant them under a tree in a forest and in his garden in the fall. The peonies are still in bloom which is highly unlikely since they are early summer flowers. The ones in the forest come back the next year, also unlikely as peonies need full sun and are unsuited to growing in a forest near Vancouver, BC. I get that authors like to create their own worlds but this isn’t a fantasy novel. Plus, any gardening site will describe how to correctly grow peonies. I should note they are among my most favourite flowers and on behalf of peony lovers every where, I remain mildly miffed.

      1. Sympathy here, too. I tend to respond to that kind of thing by staring at the wall going “Wait. What???” until I lose the plot thread.

  11. I’m re-reading Martha Wells’s earlier books (Death of the Necromancer duology, and the related Fall of Ile Rien series), this time by audiobook, and the narrator of the first two was okay (except for pronouncing ingenue as in -GEN- you- ay), but the narrator of the later books sets my teeth on edge. She does this weird thing with words that end in D or ST (like anything past tense or”first”), where she adds a syllable between it and the next word. Like “He handed-duh the plate …” or “she was the first-tuh person in line.” I think it’s an enunciation trick for clarity, but it’s so distracting that I’m having trouble concentrating on the story itself. I think the stories themselves hold up to how I remember them, but the narrator is making me reluctant to keep reading.

    1. Oh dear, that is a very annoying way of narrating. I can imagine that makes you hesitate to read more.
      You also have some narrators that will do a little groan at the end of some words, or when pausing because of punctuation. Don’t know how else to describe it. Very peculiar.

  12. My reading this past week have been dominated by historical romance.
    Sofi Laporte’s Penelope & the Wicked Duke was the first book by this author (and I’ve read several by now) that didn’t leave me in raptures. In fact, it felt barely adequate. First, the editing was lousy. Lots of grammatical mistakes – missed words, wrong words, misspellings – plagued this novel. Second, the protagonists spent the entire story confused. They didn’t seem to realize it was their romantic tale. Or the author was confused. I’m not sure.
    Besides, there was a masquerade involved. For most of the story, the heroine gallivanted across London dressed as a boy, and the hero went along with her cross-dressing. He even derived amusement from introducing her into his clubs, although he knew from the start that she was a woman.
    An odd romance, to say the least. It reminded me a little of Georgette Heyer’s These Old Shades. In it, the heroine also masqueraded as a boy, but Heyer handled the situation much better.
    Amanda Quick’s Burning Lamp was a decent historical romantic thriller, a staple of this writer. The paranormal angle didn’t hurt either. I love her Arcane Society novels. It was a re-read, of course. I first read it when it came out in 2010, but it was so long ago, I didn’t remember any details, so the story read fresh. I enjoyed it. Moderately.
    Mimi Matthew’s The Lily of Ludgate Hill was a so-so book. On the whole, I liked this author’s self-published books more than I like her later Berkley’s novels. This one was lukewarm at best, probably the weakest I’ve read by her so far. In her afterword, Matthews said that she started writing this book soon after her own father passed away. She was still grieving. Perhaps, that accounts for the lusterless quality of the story. As if the narrative was grieving along with its author and couldn’t abide any color or frivolity present in Matthews’s previous books. Besides, I dislike its heroine. I don’t know what the hero saw in her, and without that understanding, I couldn’t fully accept their love story.

    1. “These Old Shades” is interesting from a modern perspective because its effectively an involuntary transition – at age 11, Leonie is forced by her brother to become Leon, and at age 19, her discovery by Avon forces her (reluctantly) back into skirts. His/her reluctance to become a girl again is very moving, and I imagine could be triggering. However she/he is very much the same person in both guise, which rather breaks down gender assumptions. An effect I’m not sure Heyer intended 😉

      This and Heyers’ “The Masqueraders” were two of the first adult books I read and I have to wonder if my love for them is one of the reasons I find people’s attachment to gender binaries so odd.

      1. Honestly I’m clueless how one feels female or male. I’m only aware how I feel myself, but I’m not sure what is so female about me?
        What I notice is that the kids nowadays – at least my dd’s generation – are spending far more thought and time and emotion on this “problem” and tend to search for labels for themselves. Yes, it’s self-discovery but I’m glad I had the freedom not to be labelled as a kid (other than very generically “female” but my parents never made me conform to the “female label” neither did those of my closest friends, e.g. one who was desperate not to have to wear a dress for first communion. She didn’t need to, wore a smart suit instead).

        1. A college friend of mine became friends with a transsexual woman at church and recommended her book to me. This was in the late 70s and I had not heard much about the subject at all. What really threw me out of the narrative was that the author’s conception of being female was so far removed from my own experiences that I found it hard to recognize. At a time when my generation was struggling for the right to define ourselves as individuals, it was hard to identify with someone who was rhapsodizing about the rush that came from dressing in lace and ruffles. This person went through hormone treatments, multiple surgeries, loss of friends and demotions at work just to embrace a stereotype that the rest of us had spent the last 15-20 years struggling to escape? Why?

          I also find the current generation’s insistence on micro-definitions confusing. From my perspective, it is just exchanging a “One Size Fits Nobody” box for a slightly more specific one. Although the label may fit better, it still implies that a single characteristic defines us as a person. Yes, the new label is more accurate and may make you feel seen, but do we really want to perpetuate the need to put individuals in boxes?

          1. I can definitely see how that would have been bewildering for you. And with the same caveat as in my comment below that I’m not transgender myself and thus might be speaking out of turn, I would argue that in some ways, you were all fighting for the same thing, even if your purposes seemed at odds with each other. All you both wanted was to be able to express yourselves however you saw fit without the tyranny of the socially-imposed gender standards and norms that were being forced on you. For a lot of women of that age, this meant moving away from lace and frills and stereotypically “girly” things, but for that woman, it meant moving towards those things because those are what she felt best expressed her identity and individuality. Both of you were moving away from what you felt you were “supposed” to like to things that had theretofore been forbidden to you but perhaps felt like the most accurate expressions of yourselves.

            I also see what you mean about putting themselves in boxes, and I don’t know a whole lot of Gen Z folks so I’m not sure what the current trends are these days, but from a psychological point of view, sometimes labels can actually be very freeing. The best analogy I can think of is someone who knows there’s something wrong with them medically but no doctor can tell them what’s wrong. So much of their brain space is taken up worrying and wondering and thinking about this mystery disease and what it could be and whether it’s fatal or what its implications could be for their life or lifestyle. But once they find the doctor who can finally give them a diagnosis, it’s such a relief, and all that brain space that was used for pointless wondering and worrying is freed up. Perhaps it’s freed up only to be used to worry about this new diagnosis and all, but having the diagnosis also gives you a path forward.

            When it comes to identity, finally having a label that you feel fits not only frees up the part of your brain that was feeling uncomfortable but not knowing why and trying to figure all that out, but also potentially gives you a new community of people who identify the same way and who can share your experiences and give you guidance on how to navigate this identity. It can also help when your peers don’t understand why you aren’t into the same things they’re into (for example, when it comes to sexual identity) or try to pressure you into conforming. The label acts as a kind of protective armor you can wrap around yourself and say “well, look at my label. I’m just not interested in that.”

            I also personally think that you don’t have to let a label put you in a box. Rather than limiting your world and identity, it can just be incorporated to be part of your larger identity, one piece of the puzzle that is you. Maybe when it’s really fresh and newly discovered it might take center stage and seem to be your all, but with time it’ll fade and just become part of the quilt of your identity.

        2. With the caveat that I’m not myself transgender and don’t know a whole lot about transgenderism, the sense I get from my transgender friends is that it stems from a feeling of deep unease and incongruity with their body, like they’re in the wrong body for their soul. It feels gross and wrong, and when people treat you like the gender associated with your biological sex, it adds to the feelings of grossness and wrongness. For a lot of them, when they find the right label or identifier, it doesn’t necessarily fix everything, but it’s a step in the right direction and helps alleviate some of the mental pressure they were feeling before.

          I think of one of my transgender friends whom I met back in college before she transitioned, and she was super awkward and didn’t seem to know herself back then. But once she transitioned after she graduated, she was so much more comfortable in her skin and confident and could then figure out the other elements in her life that made her her and her own personal sense of style and whatnot. It’s possible that this was just a natural part of aging, but it seemed to me to stem from her finally being in alignment with how she’s felt all along rather than having to try to fit into an identity that she felt uncomfortable with all these years. I also think it’s much less accepted in society for people who were born male to experiment with dresses or skirts or makeup than for women to experiment with wearing suits or doing other things that are stereotypically associated with masculinity.

          I can’t speak as to what specifically makes an identity male or female per se, but another way to explain it is that regardless of whether it’s related to gender, or regardless of how transgender people view their gender identities, being labeled something by other people that you yourself don’t see yourself as and in fact strongly disagree with is a deeply troubling and hurtful experience, especially if you repeatedly ask them to view you and treat you in a different way. This goes for any aspect of our identity, and I think we all have labels and categories that we subconsciously ascribe to ourselves. I can’t think of the specific example, but I viscerally remember the discomfort that arose in me in the past when people labeled me as something that I personally didn’t see myself as. And I think when it comes to gender, it’s just more so the case because it’s often quite baked into our daily interactions whether we realize it or not. An example I think of from time to time is how people often compliment baby girls for being “pretty” or “cute” and baby boys for being “strong” or “smart.” When parents refuse to share the sex of their child, commenters often don’t know what to say to compliment the child because so many of even our compliments fall into gendered categories, even from that age.

          Anyway, I’m not sure if any of this is helpful, and I apologize if I’ve gotten something wrong, but hopefully it sheds a little bit of light on your question.

          1. I agree with everything you are saying, but I still don’t understand why I have to have a label at all. I think the insistence on differentiating between gender and cisgender just ends up giving another reason to discriminate. And all babies are cute.

            I think that another part of what bothered me about the book this woman wrote is that it failed to address the sexism came with her change in gender. This was a time when women were having a very hard time getting jobs, equal pay and opportunity and at that time there weren’t any protections against sexual discrimination in the workplace for any women. I would have appreciated a discussion of how that affected her life along with the feeling of freedom she felt for her sartorial choices.

  13. In other news, I got through my specialist appointment today without much waiting and no new ominous signs were detected, but I now have tests and a follow-up appointment scheduled. So more annoying hassles, but so far so good.

  14. It is Thursday, I am reading, but am not convinced it’s a good book. In the middle of Damascus Station, a spy thriller which made me hope for good things thanks to all the reviews, but characters seem quite cookie-cutter. Heroine is Krav Maga expert after two years of training and a bit of practice, female boss is clearly based entirely on Julia Louis Dreyfus in her Seinfeld years and the plot is by numbers. My willing suspension of disbelief has been challenged quite strenuously, 35% in.

  15. I read Cat Sebastian ‘We Could Be So Good’ and enjoyed it a lot. I loved the detail of the NY setting and the newspaper and the characters. Towards the end I did find the short sentence, present tense prose style a bit flat. I was surprised, as I hadn’t noticed it in the others I read, but checking back to the Cabots (similar period setting) all of those were past tense. Not sure why she made the change. Present tense isn’t s deal breaker for me, and I have got used to it, but definitely think past tense is more interesting to read.

    Then, because The Charioteer (Mary Renault, 1950s) was referenced so much in We Could be So Good I went back and reread that. I first read it 40 years ago (seems crazy to be able to say that!) when I was 16 and I have re read it a lot since, but not for at least 10 years. I really enjoyed it. Good picture of WW2 (it was probably written 10 years after the war but the author had lived it, especially the hospital stuff). Crazy how much alcohol they drank in those days (and then drove!). It has some of that weird moralising about people’s characters that I associate with English books of that era but I found it well worth rereading, and I’ll go back to it again for more rereads.

    After reading it I came across this article about the book written by Cat Sebastian
    https://lithub.com/the-lesser-known-novel-of-the-1950s-that-presaged-queer-liberation/ (no idea how to do links here, but you could paste it in.

    Briefly, also read the Cat Sebastian ‘Luke and Billy Finally Get a Clue’ (loved it) and an Adrien English short (A Funny Thing Happened, Josh Lanyon) which I wasn’t crazy about.

    1. I’m just happy that you’re reading Cat Sebastian! Have you considered any of her regencies?

      1. I’ve read one and liked it, so will try some more when I’m in a historical mood. Any you particularly recommend?

          1. The Ruin of a Rake is one of my top three. The other two are the Soldier’s Scoundrel and A Gentleman Never Keeps Score. All three have two completely different and interesting MC’s.

    2. The drinking is authentic.
      When we visited the Churchill War Rooms, the underground British war center where 500 people worked (and many slept) for 6 years, there was a sign saying everyone was limited to (as I recall) 2 large whiskies and 2 large gins a day. I don’t think beer was limited.

      They won the war drunk, pretty much.

  16. As mentioned Sunday, I finished The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel van der Kolk. Recommend it very emphatically, but it’s a tough read. I’ll leave it at that or I will never shut up. 🙂

    Now rereading Soul of the Fire by Terry Goodkind, 5th in the Sword of Truth-series. It has approximately as many “happy” elements as in Temple of the Winds that I read ealrier this year, minus plague and gruesome serial killer. The end of this one is pretty dark. That’s okay. I’m happy to revisit this world.

    I got this from the Discworld Emporium earlier today, for anybody interested and enthusiastic about Pratchett (and this is why I might pick up another Pratchett as next read):
    “To honour the author’s birthday this Sunday 28th, The Terry Pratchett Estate and his publishers are celebrating Terry Pratchett Day with the theme ‘Start in the Wrong Place’ . . . 
     . . . so pick up a Pratchett – any Pratchett – and celebrate the many ways one can embark on a journey across our favourite literary landscape the Disc
    – because even starting at the beginning is wrong (according to popular, and the author’s own, opinion)! 

    Whether you read The Wee Free Men first, or Discovered Discworld through a computer game or radio play and be sure follow and tag us and the official
    Terry Pratchett Estate socials to share your story and stay up to date on all the celebrations – there will also be activities and more via the Estate’s  Terry Pratchett Day resources page!

    “There are other books to read and I hope children who start with fantasy go on to read them. I did. But everyone has to start somewhere.”

    – Terry Pratchett.”

    Here’s the link to the Terry Pratchett Day page:

    And here’s where you find all the socials:

    Happy reading! <3

    1. The Body Keeps the Score absolutely threw me for a loop. My therapist had suggested I read it, and I got about a quarter of way into it and went in to see her and said, “Fuck you, Jamie,” because all of a sudden I was looking at my life differently. I still haven’t gone back to finish it because I’m still coping with what I realized from the beginning of the book. If there are any more bombshells in there about trauma, I’m not ready for them.

      Great book, just mind-boggling for anybody dealing with trauma, and who isn’t?

      1. I read it after reading your recommendation, but couldn’t figure out how to fit it into my own life. It also brought back unpleasant memories of how my oldest brother used to blame all his interpersonal problems on the fact that our parents didn’t love him the right way when he was a child. Kudos to all who were able to use it to heal themselves, but reading it just made me feel more at sea.

      2. I just read the first few Goodreads reviews on this book and a lot of red flags are being raised about the book and its author. One reviewer suggests several more compassionate books in the same subject area with a less male, or ok, a different perspective.

  17. I read I Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella, which had a great meet-cute and a cool premise, but was very nearly a DNF. It reminded me of why I stopped reading her books. Her protagonists are SO pathetic! Wimpy and doormats for everyone around them and not very likeable. It literally took this one until the last couple of chapters to get her head out of her *ss. The ending was nice, but man, was it a slog to get there.

    1. That has been my main complaint about her books, too. Glad to know I was not alone.

    2. I also love or hate her books. One I really enjoyed was I’ve Got Your Number 😃. Poppy’s phone is stolen while she’s leaving a hotel where she was attending a wedding do and where she lost her engagement ring. When she finds a phone in the trash (bin) she commanders it. I first heard it as an audiobook which was very well done because she and Sam ( the phone’s owner) communicate by text and it’s wild to hear that orally. I had to get the printed version to see it! I’m saving it hoping to be able to show it to grandkids someday, I’m betting it will be hilariously dated!

      1. Hmm. I could have done a better job of explaining. The texts are emoji filled. Poppy is smart, energetic, positive and helpful. She’s just slightly unaware of what a treasure she is. This is a fun escape with minimal angst. 😉

    3. I don’t read her anymore. I got too annoyed, which is a shame because I like the settings and the humor. But the heroine is often too stupid to live.

  18. Thank goodness, you’re OK! Congrats on the kudo from Oprah! I wonder what that is worth? Probably a lot.

    I finished A Dose of Death by Gin Jones. It was going along slowly, but surely, until all of a sudden a lot of clues came together and a murderer showed up, and things got very exciting. It ended with a bang! Helen Binney, the MC is a very logical, methodical woman, who is also very resourceful, when needed. On to book 2.

    1. That sounds a lot like my outline process — get everything carefully lined up for the mystery, and them bam! Excitement! Chaos! Resolution!

    2. That’s actually a revision of an article from awhile ago, and Bet Me was on there then, too. Good to know they’re recycling praise (g).

  19. Ngaio Marsh is one of my comfort reads. I too am going through her books. Just finished Death and the Dancing Footman and am now onto the next. I like the mysteries, but am more interested in main characters and how they changed over time.

    1. I started with Overture to Death and Death and the Dancing Footman because they were both country house murders which I’m supposed to be researching, and then just went back to the first one to read them in order. I won’t make it through all of them, but it’s interesting to see how she progresses as a writer.

      One of the things that’s always intrigued me was how bad all the famous sleuths were at romance. My favorite anecdote–don’t know where I got it or if it’s apocryphal–is Allingham and Sayers meeting on a train and talking about how difficult it was getting Campion and Wimsey to make a move on their long time loves, and Allingham told Sayers she’d eventually just whacked Albert on the head so he saw Amanda as a stranger for the first time and loved her all over again only to find out they’d been engaged for five years and she’d fallen for somebody else. That galvanized him, but my favorite part of that romance plot (it’s in Traitor’s Purse) is when he thinks, “Five years??? What the hell was I thinking?” Exactly, Albert.

      1. But Wimsey proposed to Harriet as soon as he got her free from the murder charge and she refused, fearing it would be an unequal situation (not socially, although it was, but because he had rescued her). As I recall, we are told that he re-proposed at intervals. The problem was bringing *Harriet* up to scratch. (It also required Sayers to show that Wimsey had hidden virtues. I have elsewhere noted that Bujold, a Sayers fan, gave a similar personality upgrade to Ivan Vorpatril.)

        I’ve read some of the Allingham books and liked them, but I remember little. Not only is my reading list growing, but so is my re-reading list!

        1. Speaking of Wimsey, the Megatherium Trust, which figures there, also shows up in the Miss Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood. I believe that later in the Fisher series there is also a throwaway reference to “Peter” in a context strongly suggesting Wimsey.

        2. Well technically he proposed to Harriet the first time he met her, which weakened his cause, as she was in prison and had already receiving many proposals by letter from people interested her murder trial. He wisely didn’t approach her when she was just acquitted, only later

    2. I think I tried Marsh at some point and she did not click with me. But that was probably decades ago and I really should retry her.

      1. I’m finding the earlier ones not as good as the later ones. Overture to Death is very good. And I do like Artists in Crime, but that might just be because I like books about art. The ones set in theaters are almost all excellent. And I do like A Surfeit of Lampreys a lot.

        1. I second this because after Jenny’s rec last week, I figured might as well start at the beginning to get to know the detective, and I found the first one fairly awful. I was really bored and felt like she kept giving us clues out of context so we couldn’t actually figure anything out, and there was a ton of what felt like extraneous info, and the whole Russian thing felt kind of offensive but also like a big distraction from the main story, plus why couldn’t (spoiler ahead) the detective pop out of the chimney BEFORE Nigel was tortured with a needle under the nail? And also I’m kind of over having a “Watson” figure anyway, especially a young man who’s not entirely dumb but not the brightest either. It feels like a tired conceit to me, but I also acknowledge that perhaps when she wrote this it wasn’t yet.

          Anyway, all that to say, I reluctantly but devotedly picked up the actual book Jenny recommended (Overture to Death) and while I’m still finding myself a bit distracted with it, it’s hilarious and an excellent study in how to write characters. It’s much more engaging, and she does a great job of plopping you right in the middle of the drama of this small village before any crime even happens at all so that by the time it does, you’re invested and might even have a theory about who would most want to off the victim. I don’t know that I’ll read others of hers per se, but this one is definitely worth a read if you’re at all interested.

          1. Read one of the ones with a Shakespearean theatre theme, they are cool, Marsh was very into theatre. Killer Dolphin is the first, a murder mystery around a play about Shakespeare’s life, but I love the last one, Light Thickens, based on a production of Macbeth.

  20. Based on many recommendations here, I read Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice. Thank you! Great book. Love the humor and heart. I’m also almost done with Road to Roswell by Connie Willis and it’s worth a read but not a keep and reread for me.

    A while back I read The Bride by Ali Hazlewood and enjoyed it. It was a YA so nothing super explicit. I enjoy her writing but her characters always jump to wrong conclusions about what other characters believe/ like/ want. Normally I’d be so done since I hate big misunderstanding stories. But somehow she always makes me care about the characters enough that I can’t stop. This book was no exception except there was less of that type of plot device than usual and more IMO legit conflict to work out. It seems to be a new vampire/ werewolf series start and I recommend it even though I mostly got burned out on that genre years ago. This feels like a fun, fresh take.

    1. I didn’t think it felt like YA at all. The sex was fairly explicit, if not kinky – there was certainly a whole lot of description about oral sex.

      1. OMG you’re totally right! I got that book mixed up with her chess book which has sex off screen. Thanks for correcting me!

        1. Lol. It does make me think that a book about vampires who play chess against wolves with great oral-sex giving skills would be quite fun.

  21. Best thing I read this week was “Godkiller” by Hannah Kaner, a fantasy debut which was a bit uneven in the early sections but wrapped beautifully. I liked the found family, with a grumpy thirty-something female protagonist, and the world-building is great. It’s a duology, so I am now waiting for the second one to arrive.

    Also very good was “When the Angels Left the Old Country” by Sacha Lamb, which is a sweet friendship book about a demon and an angel migrating to 19thC New York. The author was apparently trying for a variation on a “classic Yiddish novel”, so that was interesting, plus a good cast of characters and a new bit of history for me. And despite some serious topics, almost cosy.

    And funniest book was “All the Feels”, a contemporary romance by Olivia Dade. I liked so many things about this, including that the body positivity and the MMC describing the FMC as a small-breasted Venus of Willendorf and being really happy about it. Plus I now want to walk up secret stairs in the Hollywood Hills.

    And currently reading “A Red Rose Chain”, book 9 in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye series, which has one of the most achingly romantic affirmations of love. I really love this couple.

  22. Well of course I read some books.

    1. ‘The Green Carnations’ by Robert Hichens, an 1890s satire (originally published anonymously) featuring thinly-veiled caricatures of Oscar Wilde and his shitty little aristocrat, Lord Alfred Douglas, both of whom the author knew. Not much happens, and only one character has any character, but mercifully, it is short.

    2. ‘Congratulations, the Best is Over!’ by R. Eric Thomas, another volume of autobiographical essays from this pop-culture-saturated humorist whom I love.

    3. ‘Spooky Business’ by S.E. Harmon, book 3 of the Spectral Files.
    4. ‘The Spooky Life,’ book 4.
    5. ‘A Spooky Legacy,’ book 5 et fin. Five stars for the series, I really enjoyed these; the balance of mayhem, cold-case-investigation, family & friends shenanigans, and thoughtful, well-paced development of the central love story works for me.

    6. [re-read] my own novellas ‘Come to Me,’ and ‘Triple X,’ both M/M midlife love discovered during lockdown, which happen to feature friends of a character I’m working with in a novelette-in-progress.

    7. ‘Bridge at the Beach’ by Garrick Jones, 4th in his Clyde Smith mysteries set in late-1950s Sydney. Violent, densely plotted, many characters, reading the preceding books is pretty much a necessity. This one actually got a bit too much for me even having read the others quite recently. A few too many storylines pinging off the two main ones, and I didn’t really need to know about this or that side character’s queer sexual awakening. It all took away from the central love story and didn’t add anything to the mystery. That said, I am bound to read a 5th volume, should one appear.

    8. ‘Summer Kitchen’ by E.J. Russell, Vermont-set contemporary M/M feat. an MBA student who really does not want to be a chef but is being pressured by a loved uncle into a summer of cooking classes for reasons, and the guy who owns the property. A couple of cartoonish villains who seemed to exist only to catalyze change for the MCs, who frankly should’ve gotten there on their own. Four stars anyway for pleasant entertainment that I will probably re-read because I liked the way the MCs finally put their heads together, set some boundaries with outsiders, and got the job done.

    9. [re-read] my own novella ‘Our Revels Now,’ the one set at a Renaissance festival.

    and then I removed three more WWI soldier memoirs from my e-reader because I have reached that point in my research where I’m bogging down and need to change gears. Giving myself permission to read them later, if ever.

    1. Chachal, I’ve given up on Garrick Jones. I enjoyed the first Clyde Smith mystery, but then I tried a WWII novel of his and his dialogue is just so heavy handed.

      1. I’m in a phase of being quite impatient with contemporary M/M. Well, contemporary romance of all sorts. And I can’t help appreciating a writer who puts so much into his research yet so clearly doesn’t give a shit if his work is ‘commercial.’ But yes, the occasional wince.

  23. I’ve been reading Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie mystery series (starting with Dog On It). Mysteries told by a dog who washed out of the Canine Corp training program and now helps a small time detective. It really feels like a dog narrating, not a person in a dog’s body – you miss some of what the detective is doing because Chet, as narrator, gets distracted by random smells, people, words he doesn’t know, etc and misses it. I’m really enjoying them but they get repetitive after you have read a few.

    Also enjoyed The Frugal Wizard’s Guide to Surviving Midieval England which I listened to in audio – good narrator! It’s hard to describe – sort of a cross between To Say Nothing of the Dog and A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (although not the classics that those two are.) Thanks to whoever recommended it!

    The Little Lady Agency by Hester Browne was a DNF for me. It had potential, but the author seems to see blatent harrassment, misogyny, and her heroine’s total lack of feminist sentiments to be acceptable or amusing and I couldn’t hack it.

    I’m currently reading Artifact Space, a scifi with good character development, at least of the FMC, and an interesting plot. I’m not done yet but I’m enjoying it so far. ($.99 on Kindle right now!). I’m enjoying the competency focus.

    1. Until the last third, I was enjoying “The Little Lady Agency”, then those issues got to me. The sequel was even worse – I basically wanted the FMC to run from the MMC, even though he apologized at the end, I just didn’t believe it

    2. Glad to hear someone else is reading Artifact Space. I agree with what you said about it.

  24. It’s been a rough week so I read mysteries —finished most of the Deborah Crombies and am now reading the new C S Harris “What Cannot Be Said”.

    There were several Crombies that actually had one underlying plot which is hard to do in a mystery but I thought she did it well.

    Not sure yet what I think of the Harris as a book but she sure does capture the reality of being poor during that period. Or rich but female.

    I’ve also been reading settlement drafts for DHs friend with Alzheimer’s . They are basically treating me as an (unpaid) expert consultant. I keep reminding them I am no longer a practicing attorney . But I do realize that to have the lawyers for both parties be British when the wife spent the last decade in the US and the disabled adult child health care depends on US law presents a special challenge …
    We may have gotten much of what we wanted and it might keep the daughter out of a group home so I’m …not breathing easily but getting somewhat happier.

    1. Sounds like you and your DH are being wonderful friends. They are so lucky to have you.

  25. I am still on my Jayne Castle reread.

    I read The Hot Zone. I skipped Siren’s Call because I recently listened to it because I was in the mood for an audiobook. Then I read Illusion Town. I am currently on Guild Boss. Last in the Harmony series is Sweetwater & The Witch.

    I’m pleased with my timing because the next in the series – People In Glass Houses – is out May 7th!

    I was also so happy to see Bet Me on that list! I love it as I do all of Jenny’s books. It isn’t my favorite from that era though – I think that is probably Fast Women.
    The Crusie books I reread most often are:
    Crusie Mayer collab – Agnes & the Hitman – I love Agnes
    Tell Me Lies cause I love CL’s relationship with Emmy
    WTT & Faking It because I love the Dempseys & the Goodnights
    Getting Rid of Bradley – Zac is a riot
    Maybe This Time because I love Andie’s relationship with everyone, the kids, North, the ghosts

  26. I started reading Josh Lanyon’s Adrien English series. These are my first Lanyons, and I know several people here love them, but I was a bit underwhelmed at first. But now here I am on the fifth book and totally invested in the relationship between Adrien and Jake.

    1. That’s interesting: I didn’t buy the first one because the sample didn’t grab me enough; it followed a sample I was also in two minds about, but bought, and then baled halfway through – so I was probably more wary than usual.

      1. Jane, I’ve been holding off on them for quite a while for exactly that reason – the samples weren’t particularly appealing. But the first three books were bundled for AUS$10, so I gave in and bought them. Then I bought the second bundle. I reckon it took me the first two books at least to get really engaged. The Jake/Adrien relationship has a really long arc, which I’m enjoying a lot.

      2. Lots of people love the Adrien English series but they’re not my favorite Lanyons, even though I love Book 5. They’re some of her earlier work and the pay-off takes a while.

        Lanyon has a wide back-list ranging from gritty to comic, so its worth sampling something else to see if you like her work and then maybe circling back to Adrien English.

          1. “Winter Kill” on the grittier end, and “Somebody Killed His Editor” on the cosier comic end are my favorites so far.

  27. Ellie Dwyer’s Great Escape: Book 1 of the Ellie Dwyer Series. This is just fun. A little mystery, a 61-year-old heroine who’s making her way west by camping–which she doesn’t for one minute know how to do. I think she has some TSTL moments, but I also think we all do. I’m looking forward to the next one.

  28. Also, apropos of nothing, here’s your laugh for the week. The other night I had a dream with Jenny in it. She and I, and some cute guy I didn’t know but who apparently came with her, were camping in a large encampment of Unitarians. (Why Unitarians? I have no idea. I think the tents showed up in my brain from seeing protesters on the news. Why Jenny showed up…I got nothin.) We were sharing a tent while waiting with all the others to board a flight the next day to some large Unitarian event. Our tent and all our possessions got stolen, as did some other people’s and we went around the place searching for them for ages, while I felt stupid for leaving my purse in the tent.

    Welcome to the strange and wonderful place that is Deb’s brain…

    1. I was with you until “waiting for a flight.” I’m never getting on an airplane again.
      But I’ve had those “hunting for something important” dreams. I’m sure they mean something significant but I find them annoying as hell. Especially when they happen in real life.

    2. I don’t know, Deb — I used to work for a bunch of Unitarians, and I have never known people less likely to steal a purse or watch someone wandering around without asking “Hi! Who are you? I don’t think we’ve met before! Is there anything I could help you with?”

  29. So, I woke up this morning thinking oh, no, I missed Good Book Thursday, and there was the email in my inbox, so I guess I wasn’t quite as late as I thought.

    I reread most of Ngaio Marsh several years ago. Not sure why I didn’t quite finish. Now I’m rereading some Margery Allingham — at the moment it’s The Beckoning Lady, which is one of the few books I reread immediately after reading it the first time. I was pretty sure I hadn’t understood half of it, and reading it again now, I can see why. I love how she doesn’t do much explaining (unlike romance novels, which often have too much). She just tosses you into this wacky environment and leaves you to fend for yourself. Such a great writer.

    I also just read A Splendid Defiance by Stella Riley. It’s about 50/50 romance and English Civil War history. I’d been meaning to read her Cavaliers and Roundheads series for ages, and when this book showed up on special in my inbox, I couldn’t resist. I learned a lot of history and couldn’t put it down–went for a nap yesterday afternoon and spent the whole time reading instead.

    1. All the ones she wrote before her hiatus are excellent. Those she wrote more recently are sometimes good, sometimes great.

      1. My favourite of the Roundheads and Cavaliers is Garland of Straw because Gabriel Brandon is both competent and swoony…

  30. I’m at that frustrating point where I’ve got a far longer list of books to try than I have much chance of getting through them even to sample.

    Since my travels have all been in Anglophone countries or Europe or then-Soviet Asia, it’s been a long time since I’ve been in a bookstore where I was utterly clueless about the books (some parts of the then-USSR, I suppose), but, thanks to a bookstore addiction, I’ve been in plenty of bookstores where either I could only make an educated guess about what the titles meant (faking it out from related languages), or where I knew well that I could only read anything I bought at a snail’s pace and with a dictionary and grammar book handy. It was a similar feeling of frustration, so near and yet so far. But there are worse fates!

  31. Popping in belatedly to say I’ve been reading E. C. R. Lorac, Post After Post-Mortem (1936) and I Could Murder Her (1953). The two books feature very different families, and very different deaths, the first initially appearing to be a suicide which devastates a close knit family, the second the murder of a tyrannical hypochondriac matriarch which brings up the tensions running not so far below the surface. I’m struck every time by how both books handle mental illness as an illness. It is treatable, it is not the result of some personal flaw.

    The first has a bit of the life of the mind being harder for women, but you can read that as the world making it harder than it was for men.

    1. Those are OLD books, Aella — did you find them in family bookshelves? A very well-stocked library? Or somewhere online?

      They both sound interesting to the psychology part of me. 🙂

      1. They’re both available online! Post After Post-Mortem was republished as part of British Library Classic Crime, along with a few others, and I Could Murder Her was done as an ebook.

  32. Amanda Quick: When She Dreams and Tightrope… getting used to hanging round Burning Cove. Usual comfortable easy read that we can rely on JAK for.

  33. That makes me so happy. I love Bet Me
    Agree that faking it was my favorite until recently. I had to buy the Kindle because I gave away the my paperback copy too many times.
    This week I watched the miracle club on TV on Netflix and liked it a lot. And I read nobody leaves the castle by Christopher Healey. He is possibly one of the most hilarious narrators I’ve ever read. This is a midgrade novel his first one was called the heroes guide to saving the kingdom. And I quote the opening a lot
    I wish Disney would get on the ball and unearthed boxes agreement with him to make the heroes guide into a movie.
    I went to the Los Angeles Times festival of books this weekend. I was volunteering at one booth and signing my books another and I bought a few books which I to read and review. But I really just want a comfort read.
    I don’t know if I mentioned it, but do not read Nora Roberts book “inheritance.” She did a cliffhanger. I really really hate cliffhanger. The next book in the series won’t be out till November and she will not finish the series till next year.
    I want a happy, funny heart touching read
    Happy reading, whatever you want

    1. I went to see The Miracle Club in the actual theater, wanting to support non-violent movies with decent story lines, with older actors.

      1. Hey, well done! We should all do more of that, so the torture movies and AR-15 movies will eventually feel the pain….

        Of loss, I mean. Not more gunshot pains.

  34. I’m on a re-read of Georgette Heyer. I can never decide which is my favorite (although I think The Grand Sophy, The Talisman Ring, and The Corinthian are at the top of my list). I re-read them regularly but it’s been 3 years (since the beginning of the pandemic), which is just about the right timing.

    Also re-reading some Jayne Castle because I’ve missed out on some of the newer books.

  35. Walked the Walk of Shame into the accountant, deadline is Tuesday. Still not reading much. Finished my short story this morning. Reading and editing to perfection I hope.

    1. I did buy a new book this weekend in Sidney, on the island. A really great bookstore. $97.00 later….I bought myself Till We Have Faces, C.S. Lewis. A friend who writes mythology based stories, said people either hate it or love it. Hope I love it.

      1. Well, I’m one of the exceptions who found it sort of meh, but didn’t hate it. I don’t think I particularly like any of Lewis’s “more fictional” fiction, except maybe Out of the Silent Planet, for what seems to be its parody of H.G. Wells (although Lewis denied doing one). None of Lewis’s writings is really non-didactic, but of the more didactic and less “fictional” fiction, I enjoyed The Screwtape Letters and The Great Divorce. But your friend is right that a lot of people do have strong opinions about Faces.

      2. Incidentally, a couple years after it took place, I discovered an extremely interesting “reread” (series of essays plus reader comments) on then- Tor dot com (now reactormag dot com). Between the essays and reader comments, I think it presented an extremely good and balanced picture of the strengths and weaknesses of Lewis’s fiction. First installment at the below link.


  36. Taking a break from fiction and reading Fareed Zakaria’s Age of Revolutions. Not too far into it; very well written.

    I’m going to give Artifact Space a shot soon.

    Got the last of my ‘spread the joy and set them free’ library donations out of the house. I like my Kindle. I can try so many new (or new to me) books without taking up physical space.

  37. I am a Ngaio Marsh fan but realize when rereading them that some are much better than others. I approve of starting at the beginning. When I was clerking for a judge, I wanted him to try one and chose Artists in Crime, think that would be a good one because Alleyn meets his wife. Unfortunately, he hated it and when I reread it, I realized it wasn’t a good choice at all! Since then he has asked me to focus on nonfiction recommendations, alas.

    1. I liked Artists in Crime, but I just finished Death in Ecstasy, and if it hadn’t been on my iPad I’d have thrown it against the wall. Awful homophobic crap. Basically, I’m thinking avoid the earliest stuff but that’s usually true of all authors.

  38. I finally got round to reading the first of Deborah Blake’s Catskills pet rescue mysteries, Furbidden fatality, and immediately bought the next two.
    The way the loose ends get tied up in books 2 and 3 stretched my suspension of disbelief a bit too far for my taste, but I really liked the protagonist and her circle of friends in all three books.

    I also read the first few of the Miss Seeton mysteries by Heron Carvic.
    Deborah’s stories are much more humane, while Miss Seetons is more of a humorous parody of the old English lady detective, and lightly but callously steps over a surprisingly high bodycount. I don’t think I’ll continue further with this series.

  39. Late to the party, but popping in to say that I loved Kara Swisher’s Burn Book. The audio was fantastic because she read it herself. I am nearly done with Brutally Honest by Mel B. of the Spice Girls fame. She has a wonderful narrator, and I love her non-linear style.

    I also finished two Fiona Quinn books that were good. Not my favs because the ending felt rushed but she always has great research. I skimmed almost all of the military plots this time because I am busy and it didn’t integrate enough for me to need it. I came for the romance and those were a distraction, unlike her other books that usually integrate them pretty seamlessly.

    I also am working my way through Julia Cameron’s, The Artist’s Way. It’s brilliant but I am already slammed for time. I wrote my second day of morning pages and I worry that the only time I have to write will be spent there. But I am doing it until I can get a better idea of my schedule.

    I reread one old Suzanne Brockman (that features Teri Howe as a protagonist), and I just read the party’s I like. She’s always a solid read for characters, but I couldn’t suffer too much so I skipped the beautifully written sub-plots.

    I just added Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yamato’s to my list this week. I loved A Court of Thorn and roses, and this is supposed to be good, too. I wanted to read it as research for Romantasy since I am plotting a series that could be magical or not. Trying to decide.

    I remember Jenny’s fairytale series (Petal? Petunia? The Princess and the frog spin-off and the bar – Maggie’s ear and her entire backstory explanation). I don’t think it was published, but if it dies, it might fit in Romantasy. Maybe. I have to read more to really mail down the genre. Anyway, I would love to read those if they ever get made.

      1. And… Rebecca Yaaros. I may still be spelling it wrong, but it is not “Yamato” as autocorrect insists it is!

        1. And…. “Does” not “dies.” Seriously, Auticorrect! If we were a romance novel, it would definitely be enemies with only a shred of hope to become lovers. Should I preview before send? Yup? Did I spell those words correctly in the first place? Yup!

          To quote Cool Hand Luke, “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” *Slides glasses down to glare at autocorrect*

    1. Oh, wow, you have a good memory. Paradise Park with the different fairy tale stories and Monday Street with the bar located in the bad part of the bad part of town. I love those, too. Must finish them. In my spare time. Thank you for remembering them!

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