148 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 16, 2024

  1. I have just reread the Goblin Emperor which is still as much of a delight as the last three or four times I read it.

    In fact, it is one of those books that is more enjoyable when you reread it because you know that the main character will be ok and that most of characters he forms tentative connections with will not stab him in the back, something I was not sure about the first time round.

    1. I love his fiancé so much! I skip the chapter with the ritual suicide, but I love this book. And the narrator for the audio does a lovely job. The names make sense when I hear them said. You can follow the language rules, if you know what I mean?

    2. I also love this book. I have the ebook and the Audible version. It’s a comfort read, up there with Bujold McMaster’s Memory and A Civil Campaign.

    3. I so agree. I love seeing how the MC grows, and learns, and masters the art of being Emperor. He is such a “nice” person. This is my go-to read for flying, as the book is small, but thick, and easy to pack, and hold while in a plane seat.

    4. Every time I read it it gets better, and deeper, and works its way closer to the top of the favorites list (which doesn’t actually exist or have an order.)

      1. You said that because you knew someone here would say “oh what’s on your list?” didn’t you?

  2. Work was and is still so incredibly busy that I only managed to read Second Song by Con Riley, again a story around Glynn Harber and connected to her older book True Brit which was the first one I read by her.

    While Second Song does not have the impact the first Glynn Harber title Charles had on me, I loved the strong focus on education and what PTSD has on an individual.
    Charles is Rowan’s mentor and it’s so nice to see him again. And it’s great that MCs of former books appear without overpowering the story. Same with Hayden, the main MC in the upcoming title (Second Shot): he’s already in the background, but he’s not obviously set up as hero of the next installment.
    I very much liked Rowan, also Liam, the other MC (also suffering from PTSD/tinnitus) and yes, it would have been nice to learn more about Liam as well.
    What I liked a lot: there is smut, but it’s less of a focus here.

    Ah yes, I’m also listening to First Impressions by Jay Hogan. Very nicely narrated and I’d love to been progressed further but have to wait until I’ve got some peace to do the washing/ironing and be able to listen properly.

  3. After having to read a load of books for conference gigs, I read Kate Hardy’s latest cozy – The Body Under the Stage for sheer pleasure. Some humour, a lot of emotion, a ghost or two.

  4. I read The Antique Hunter’s Guide to Murder, which was the cosy Brit crime thriller with just enough quirk that I needed. And lots of fanfiction.

  5. I read Anne Stuart’s newest, Mariposa, which was an enjoyable read in a long history of enjoyable reads.

    I read Cat Sebastian’s latest, You Should Be So Lucky, an M/M romance between a baseball player and a reporter in the ’60’s, not my favourite of hers, but still at a level that other writers in the genre can only aspire to.

    I also read Hannah Henry’s New Development, the next in her Side by Side series. It creates a bridge to her hockey books since one of the MC’s is a hockey player who is the brother to the MC in Starter Home – but there’s no actual hockey.

    For some actual hockey, I came across a book by theundiagnosable on A03 – thought I’d read all of theirs but somehow missed Here There Be Dragons – about a hockey player with hidden anxiety whose father was a hockey legend and who gets traded to a new team. So good! https://archiveofourown.org/works/29726055?view_full_work=true

    1. Funny, I adored ‘You should be so Lucky’, one of my favs of hers. It’s great how different books spark different reactions (though I know you liked it too)!

      Thanks for the AO3 rec and link. I’m not good at finding stuff there,.

      1. And I felt like the MCs combination of prickly/accommodating has been done by her already. I much preferred We Could Be So Good.

    2. Oh yay! Thank you for the link Tammy! Exactly what I’m looking for. I have a “stash” of Taylor Fitzpatrick but am trying not to read them all in one fell swoop and this will be the perfect alternative. I’m off to download it now.

      1. If you haven’t read anything by the undiagnosable, you’re in for a treat. There have other great (mostly) M/M hockey stories with original characters, including the cccu series and irish exit, as well as a lot of M/M hockey stories featuring real players (mostly Toronto Maple Leafs) that you don’t need to know anything about to enjoy. The best of these is the two-part series called not baseball.

        1. Tammy had told me about a the undiagnosable but I hadn’t followed up. Am going now to download Irish exit and not baseball now – thanks! I read some of the Hockey RPF stories today and I can see lots of fun reading in my future.

  6. I read Getting Rid of Bradley— for the first time! Somehow I’d missed it. I love the little details that make it more complex. The side characters having a story too ( like the sister’s backstory—and is there a future HEA with the smooth cop?) that I wonder about. Plus the dog who had a joke he plays incessantly. It was a definite bright spot this week!

    1. A friend taught her dog to do, “Dead dog?” I still laugh till I cry every time they do it!

  7. I finished “Sorcerer to the Crown” by Zen Cho. I enjoyed the premise – pre-Victorian England, a society of magic users, etc. However, the two MCs are explicitly different most notably by the color of their skin. They are beset with people prejudiced against them because of that. For the first half or more of the book, every time I was getting into the story, the author felt the need to remind me “don’t forget – they are different!!” I was already being reminded by the actions of the various characters, so I didn’t need the explicit commentary. I guess I’m saying that I’d prefer the story to stand for itself.

    1. Huh, interesting. For me, it worked way better than the usual outsider trope because they both really were treated differently by everyone they came across (for Prunella’s gender and how Zacharias was raised as well as their races), and I could see how that had truly shaped their lives and how they approached their magic, instead of them just not feeling quite like they fit in. But then I love this series, so clearly it worked for me differently!

  8. I was reading a bestselling light romance, thinking it was okay, then I saw an interview with the author about how she strives to put readers through the wringer so the happy ending will be more satisfying. And I was like, No.
    Back to my audiobook of Shetland murder mysteries.

  9. I am once again out of Hoopla borrows and going through Josh Lanyon withdrawal. I listened to a couple standalones, Séance on a Summer Night(?) which wasn’t my favorite, but had a definite “country house gothic mystery thriller” vibe. And I listened to the first Bedknobs and Broomsticks book, which was very engaging but ended somewhat cliff-hanger-y so I am a little salty about that. I also listened to C.S. Poe’s first steampunk/magic/western, which was short and fun, but I don’t know if I will continue because I would have to buy the next book and I don’t think these are re-read material.

    For reading, I am most of the way through Jesse Reign’s new book, Work (?)
    It’s a lot sweeter than I expected. The problematic situation isn’t as central to the plot and the characters aren’t as angsty about it. Lots of sex. I was expecting something else, with really high expectations from the previous book, but it is still a fun read.

    1. Oh! And I found The Deal by Elle Kennedy in my audio library while I was book-hangover doom scrolling. I must have bought in while on sale and forgot about it. So far it reminds me of Bowen’s Ivy Years. Probably just the setting. I like both characters and the pace is steady. I haven’t hit any major conflict points yet.

      1. I really love The Deal. It’s one of the few books where the sex scenes are crucial to the plot. I just finished a book that was interesting, but was about 75% sex scenes. I have no problem with explicit sex scenes, and these were varied, I think, I skipped most of them because nothing in the scenes changed anything. You can’t skip those in The Deal, they have a direct bearing on the plot and change things in big ways while making you really love the arrogant, smartass hero. The heroine is great from the beginning, he evolves. I think it’s the only book I’ve ever read where every single sex scene is integral to the plot. So good for Elle Kennedy, that’s what I say. And then just as you think this is a rescue-the-heroine plot, he gets his turn for trauma. One of my fave romances ever.

        1. I like the hero. You can see the good bones of his character early, the way he won’t let her home alone or sleep on the couch where his roommates might come in drunk. He is young and cocky for sure, but not a jerk.

          I also liked the bit where he tells the girl who is after him that she isn’t into him because she never bothered to ask him a personal question.

          Hanna is totally solid and I appreciate the description of what her parents are going through as well. I haven’t seen that explored before, but it feels (unfortunately) very real.

          1. Oh, and if you’re into sequels, The Graham Effect is about their college age daughter. Also fun.

        1. Honestly, that is probably my problem with Work. It’s a sweet and solid story, but Rent just blew my socks off. Also, I am a sucker for the problematic situations. The characters aren’t really conflicted about that in Work.

    2. I enjoyed Josh Lanyon’s Bedknobs and Broomstick series but it isn’t finished yet and I HATE waiting for next installments… 😁 On the other hand, when the next one comes out I will have an excuse to read them all from the beginning to refresh my memory!

    3. Lupe, do you have any other library cards? I have multiple cards and discovered a while ago that my San Francisco card came with 30(!) monthly Hoopla borrows instead of the nine I was getting with my Oakland card, so I used a different email address to sign up for Hoopla with the SF card.

      1. I have a local card, A card for the Free Library of Philadelphia and one more I share with a friend for a big city library that I am in no way entitled to. Shhh.

        So far, only my local library offers hoopla and I only get 5 borrows a month. I used my sister’s account for a while but then she moved out of state and the card expired. Haven’t figured out another work around yet…

  10. I’ve just read an anthology of murders on trains too. The Martin Edwards / British Library one. I was a bit disappointed by it – I think train murders perhaps attract writers who are more timetable-led and less character-focussed. Also just read AJ Demas’s Honey and Pepper, which was ok, little bit slight. And started re-reading Goudge’s City of Bells, which is a lovely, warm, domestic book. I have the new Tansy Rayner Roberts, Time of the Cat, about a college of time-travelling cats, but am keeping it for Friday evening.

    I really need to re-reread The Goblin Emperor, but can’t find my copy. Must … not … buy another …

    1. I just found another paperback copy of The Goblin Emperor at a book sale! Also Addison’s books under her other pen name, but I am not sure I am up for those. I hear that they are dark… Anyway, I now have a spare copy and I have to decide who I like enough to give it to…

      1. Not only are those Sarah Monette books dark (especially the Doctrine of Labyrinths series), they can barely scrape a happy ending together.

    2. Lurker, I think yours is the first mention I’ve seen here of Tansy Rayner Roberts besides my own, when I simply mentioned having learned of the existence of hockey romances from her on a now-extinct podcast. I have read and enjoyed at least one of her mysteries. I’ll take a look at the new book.

      1. I have also frequently recommended Tansy Rayner Roberts, most recently The Teacup Isles books, and her mystery series written as Livia Day.

        1. Gary, Apologies. A Google search shows some of these were indeed since I started following here, so I clearly just forgot.

  11. Here’s my one pre-written report on an item consumed. I hope to write a few more today, and should post again later.

    Steven L. Goldman, Great Scientific Ideas That Changed the World (36 lectures, Great Courses, 2007).

    Goldman offers several Great Courses series on various aspects of the history and philosophy of science.  I have now exhausted his Great Courses list (3 longish courses recorded in the first decade of the 21st century).  They do not seem badly dated yet, despite getting a little long in the tooth.  Goldman is an excellent lecturer,  and only rarely have I  caught him in even a minor mistake.  (I seem vaguely to recall that I had some issues with his account of the Galileo affair, but that was a lot of lectures back and I may misremember.)
    I enjoyed and recommend all of his Great Courses series, including this one.

    For a college professor (now emeritus), Goldman is a natty dresser and is also striking for wearing his yarmulke so far back on his head that it is often invisible when he is facing the camera.  My best guess is that this is so as to find a place on his balding head where he can pin it on with hairpins.

    Not a lot of overlap with the topics most discussed here.  Perhaps most closely with heroines of a scientific bent in the 19th century.  Women were often the science popularizers of that era, and may have been more likely than male “natural philosophers” (as the century wore on, redubbed “scientists”) to consider what we would call the broad-brush and general philosophical implications of the science of their time.

    As I probably have already said, besides purchase (they are stiffly priced, even when on sale) and library lending of discs, many of the Great Courses can be viewed with a Binge Pass via Hoopla supported by a local library, and reportedly many are also included in various streaming services.

  12. I read some Jayne Ann Krentz. The Gift of Gold, The Gift of Fire, and Sweet Fortune. I liked them but probably not enough to reread. I read two of Lucy Score’s Riley Thorn books, The Dead Guy Next Door and The Corpse in the Closet. Definitely going on the keeper shelf. Plus, I bought Blast From the Past and The Body in the Backyard, the next two in the series.

    I just started reading Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. Still at the very beginning but liking the writing style. There’s a new TV series based on the book, and they filmed some scenes near my son’s place in Chicago. An employee at a bookstore we went to said they filmed scenes there too.

  13. I was needing to do some ‘old reads’ this week also. Went back to some of my older books with authors Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters, and Janet Chapman. Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels are books that I read when in Jr High and High School. They still give me all of the same enjoyment that I had the very first time I read them.

    1. Barbara Michaels and Mary Stewart were favorites of mine during high school and beyond. I’m glad to hear they gave you the same enjoyment. I’m almost afraid to reread and possibly spoil the good memories.

    2. For more recent Mary Stewart vibes I recommend The Shadowy Horses by Susanna Kearsley. It’s set at an archeological dig in Scotland attempting to discover the fate of Rome’s ninth legion. There’s a fun emphasis on the Scots language ( the audiobook narrator is superb) and a bit of Roman history.

  14. I listened to “Agent to the Stars” by John Scalzi, his first novel. A lot of fun, about visiting aliens and a Hollywood agent.
    Reading “The Silent Patient” for book club. Starts off rather slow, but the suspense kicks in after the set up.
    Still happily consuming K-dramas on Netflix.

    1. I enjoyed the audio book of Agent to the Stars, deftly narrated by Wil Wheaton. I hadn’t realised this was Scalzi’s first novel.

      1. Yes, first written but not first published novel. He calls it his practice novel, he wrote it just to see if he could write a novel and not just non-fiction, and he posted it online for free. And it got an editor to call him and ask if he had anything else. So he sent the editor the first three chapters of Old Man’s War, which they bought. It wasn’t until several years later that he actually published Agent to the Stars, after several other successful novels.

  15. LOVED ‘You should be so Lucky’ the new one from Cat Sebastian. It is great in so many ways, on grief, NYC, being a fan, batting slumps, baseball, love and is such a sweet book with two lovely MCs. Will definitely be in my top 5 for the year. My fav of all her 20th books, probably, Peter Cabot is still strong competition.

    Also enjoyed another baseball MM romance, KD Casey ‘One True Outcome’ lots of baseball, nice MCs. In the world of Unwritten Rules but not part of that. Was glad to find another by her, but now I’m all caught up. I’d rate her with the best Hockey writers.

    I eventually finished Sunshine, Robin McKinley. Took my time and savoured it to the end. Anyone have other Robin McKinley recs? They mostly seem to be YA.

    Finally, thanks Dodo for the notice of the sale on KJ Charles ‘Secret Lives of Country Gentlemen,’ I started it last night, as I hopped between samples to find something to follow Cat Sebastian, and I got sucked in.

    1. If one knows NOTHING about baseball (apart from the fact that I find banana baseball funny), would I be able to enjoy the new Cat Sebastian and the Casey books?

      1. Addendum: baseball seems far more complicated than hockey…
        And there are less fights, aren’t there?

        Kid #2 definitely misses the fights in the current world championships 🙂

        1. I think you could read them without knowing about baseball, I didn’t know anything, though I had played ’rounders’ as a kid which seems like a basic verision of baseball.
          If you don’t mind not understanding everything it would work. It did for me, though I ended up looking stuff up but I like to learn new things (though American Football has never called me).

          Cat Sebastian is less baseball heavy.

          Pretty much no fighting. Summer is a nice time for reading about baseball, it is very evocative.

          1. Totally agree with Frozen Pond here; you really don’t need to understand baseball. Wouldn’t it be perfect if Cat Sebastian wrote a hockey book though?? Sigh.

          2. Thanks, Frozen Pond!! Will give it a try soon.
            Tammy, Cat Sebastian said on The Big Gay Fiction podcast that she reads hockey romances.
            I’m not sure if it was her or someone else who said they wozldn’t know enough in depth hockey to get the sports aspect right. Might have been someone else. But I found this a good approach. Too many seem to jump onto the hockey band wagon these days.

          3. Cat only writes historical romance and the ’60’s is as far she goes. Not a lot of hockey in American in the ’60’s. Some but …not a lot. Still, a girl can dream, right??

        2. Not much fighting in baseball — they get even in other ways. For example the pitcher occasionally will hit the batter intentionally (the slang term is “plunking”) — though they always say it wasn’t on purpose. Sometimes the players clear the benches and there is pushing and shoving. On occasion players get hurt in these melees but overall the aggression and bad blood between teams and/or players is not allowed to take over the game. Players and managers get warned and then expelled if it gets too aggressive.

      2. I love the part in the movie, Blast from the Past, where the dad is trying to explain baseball to his son, who was born in the bomb shelter they are living in, and why the hitter on third base MUST run home when the bases are loaded. “Why?” “Because he must.” “Why must he?” A lot of the things in sports are incomprehensible to those who haven’t grown up with them.

    2. I love Robin McKinley! Even the books that are usually marked YA (Hero’s Crown, The Blue Sword, Beauty) are still intricate and character-driven. Sunshine is definitely my favorite, though, followed by Spindle’s End, her re-telling of Sleeping Beauty. Chalice is excellent, and unusual. Shadows is closer to Sunshine in its contemporary setting and first-person narrative.

      1. The books now marketed as YA weren’t when they were new. At least, in those days fantasy didn’t have a YA section in the bookstore shelves. I love them all, and cannot pick a favorite. I wish she had done another one in the Chalice universe but I don’t expect it. Spindle’s End, Beauty, and Rose Daughter are the ones I reread the most, because much as I love Sunshine I don’t need to be constantly baking the whole time I read it. I keep my oven going quite enough as it is, and I’m the only one eating here….

        1. These days with my kids not leaving with me anymore, when I bake, I freeze most of it. That way, I can take a nice treat to work, by lunchtime, it is ready to eat.

        1. Lian, my favorites too, although I really like most of them. The ones that left me cold were The Outlaws of Sherwood and Dragonhaven.

          1. Rouan, I liked Dragonhaven, and haven’t read The Outlaws of Sherwood. My least favourites are Chalice, in which nothing happens, and Pegasus, which was such a major screw-up on the part of her publishers that I still haven’t forgiven them. The edition I read had no indication ANYWHERE that it was the first book in a series, so I read it assuming it was a standalone, then it ended on such a massive cliffhanger. Grrrr.

      1. Tammy, isn’t it funny, I just couldn’t get into it at the time, maybe I should give it another try.

        1. You definitely have to be in a YA mood, and you can’t be expecting a typical fantasy trope about dragons. It’s more speculative fiction.

  16. Next installment. More later, time permitting. Today’s agenda has a Zoom meeting and a brief grocery run, so time constraints.

    Jerry Boyd, Baby Ruth, #43 of Bob and Nikki (aka Bob’s Saucer Repair)  A recent installment in a long running light sf series.  Not really space opera as understood these days—the term used to have a broader reach, and even before that a mostly negative one, having been coined on the model of “horse opera.”  No epic space battles here, although some diplomacy to keep a lid on things.  Gets a humor pass on various near-impossibilities.  The loose plot in this installment revolves around the birth of Bob’s first (step-)grandchild, fathered by Nikki’s son from a previous affair, adopted as a teen by Bob after marriage.  Now living on a colony planet inhabited mainly by resettled Amish and resettled Sasquatch.  The series is best started from the first book.  The series novels vary in quality and this one is a little slow.

    E.M. Foner,  Independent Living.   A group of human retirees, recovering from a scam, work to set up a retirement community on one deck of a huge repurposed colony starship, whose owner-AI is currently performing a sort of community service, to get back into the good graces of the reasonably benevolent Galactic powers that be, by running a circuit among points that now have large human populations that generally do not lie on the subspace tunnel network.  In a parallel plot, a younger human girl is witness-relocated onto another part of the same huge ship. All reaches a resolution,  but it is still the first novel of a series.  I reread this and enjoyed it again because I was trying to get my book club to vote it onto the schedule.   No joy, alas.  Foner has taken this series off of KU, although at $3.99 the ebooks are still inexpensive.  Exclusivity is a requirement for KU.  Being off it, they are also now available from sources other than Amazon.

  17. This week I read Flying Solo by Linda Holmes: the story of a woman who returns to the hometown of her childhood in order to clear out the home of a beloved great aunt and finds herself falling again for her old flame while discovering things about her great aunt. It was an easy read with a happy ending for now. It was not memorable and I doubt I’ll reread.
    I also read C.S. Poe’s Momento Mori book 2 and am now on book 3. Luckily the final one is the series comes out next month cause I forgot to make sure the series was complete before starting it! These are M/M procedurals — detectives solving crimes and falling in love. One of the MCs is neurodivergent in an interesting way. Both MCs are quite interesting characters.
    Am feeling the call of hockey romances so I am guessing I will soon return to Taylor Fitzpatrick — I’ve been hoarding my Ao3 stash but will probably dip into it soon!

  18. Started the reading week with:

    1. ‘Sam’ by Luke Harris, a debut novel, *not* a romance, though it is a (tragic) M/M love story. New Zealand setting, giving us all the difficult / upsetting / sad parts of a decade+, including homophobia (internalized & other), family abuse & rejection, violent gay-bashing, and eventual death by cancer of one of the MCs. Reworking the structure and balancing the POVs (it’s close 3rd, but one voice dominates) would make this a more rewarding reading experience. Ambitious, not 100% a success. All the trauma would be less exhausting if we were given more of the good parts. Hopeful ending.

    2. ‘The Bell in the Fog’ by Lev AC Rosen, Evander Mills mystery #2, set in 1950s San Francisco, in which the title character is taking a few more steps toward community, connection, & possibly love while solving a difficult and risky blackmail case with roots in his own wartime past. I’m a big Rosen fan, have yet to read anything of his that I didn’t like.

    3. ‘Regency Lovers’ anthology with M/M/M novellas by Ellie Thomas, K.L. Noone, and me. Ellie’s had some nice character development, Kristin’s had her reliable long D/s sex scene, I still like mine. 🙂

    4. ‘Unacceptable Risk’ by Kaje Harper. Werewolf series starter (free!) in which werewolf MC falls for a human veterinarian just as his pack is imploding thx to a vicious ambitious bigot. Grimdark. The love story is good and the world-building is v. good (most of the time, werewolf mythology is an eyeroll for me, but Kaje makes it internally consistent). This series appears to be about the extinction burst moment, when a politicoreligious structure faced with societal / cultural change doubles down on dogma to the point of killing its own dissenters / nonconformists (and which unfortunately never seems to produce actual extinction). Too much for me to continue series (at least right now given IRL politics), but v. well written.

    5. [re-read] my own novel ‘Mistletango’ for therapy.

    6-7. The entire ‘Hollowood’ series of four M/M novellas by Will Forrest. These are also werewolf stories! And they also deal with dogma, but in a much more palatable way (for me). Three of them center on romances, each of which becomes background to book 4, in which a mystery undercurrent becomes the central plot. Well constructed, well balanced, variously sexy, and the last book is a legit thriller. 5 stars the series read as a whole.

    8. two shorts: ‘Like the Taste of Summer’ by Kaje Harper, M/M about a scholarship boy and a mechanic falling in love in a small Iowa college town in 1981-82, bracketed by scenes from their life 28 years on. Realistically angsty but sweet & rewarding. And then re-read my own ‘Fishnets & Tinsel’ because I’m working on a follow-up story. 🙂

    Also DNFd (more accurately, ran rapidly away from) mysteries by Josephine Tey and John Dickson Carr because, in the first instance, the ebook – ‘The Singing Sands’ – was produced with a nonadjustable font that I couldn’t read without my reading glasses, and the whole effing reason I read ebooks is so I don’t have to wear my reading glasses; in the second instance – ‘Fire, Burn!’ – simply couldn’t get into the story. Maybe later.

    1. Great Tey is Brat Farrar. I’ve only read it a dozen times and will probably only read it again a dozen times. And if you’re interested in Richard III, then Daughter of Time is excellent.

      1. The Daughter of Time was excellent, my Mom recommended it to me even after she gave up reading fiction. Actually I liked all the Josephine Tey books I got my hands on (eight or so books?). “”Miss Pym Diposes is also full of interesting characters and situations. Taf

  19. Having a better week this week – walked to the postbox to mail Julia Chapman’s A Date with Justice to my 93 year old Aunt who is reading the series with me. My family came from Yorkshire and the dales setting for these mysteries are familiar territory for my Aunt and the murders are just bloody enough to be almost cosy-ish. Think this might be the last in the series (and they need to be read in order) which is a shame because they have all been really good.

    Also made it back to the library again, without being in agony after, and even got to sit in the sunshine in a little pocket park nearby and eat a shop-bought sandwich which was a definite treat.

    Other books read:-
    The Moment He Vanished by Rebecca Rane, the second in a cold case podcast series with a nice little bit of menace threaded through it all as the MC was abducted as a child and escaped. This was a re-read from my keeper pile and would recommend the series.

    The Paid Companion by Amanda Quick (JAK) which is a favourite of mine. Some arcane stuff but not enough to distract from the romance.

    Tell Me Lies by Jenny Crusie which I haven’t read in possibly a decade and had forgotten about until someone mentioned here. Really good read. Particularly like that the abuser was cheating, hitting, embezzling and planning to abscond but the wife is the one that they all gossip about! Felt real, unfair but real. When I left my abusive ex (physical, emotional, mental, financial abuse, gas-lighting etc) my family thought I was wrong for divorcing him because and this is a direct quote “any man is better than no man”. I disagreed and that caused me untold further trouble.

    The Devil to Pay by Stephanie James – not a keeper, again with the 80’s men and the story didn’t date well for me.

    Don’t Close Your Eyes by Christie Craig. Another cold case series – this time police investigating. More dysfunctional families, secrets and lies. Great story and first in a trilogy. Again a re-read from the keeper shelf that I had completely forgotten the story to.

    1. Tell Me Lies is one of my favorites of Crusie’s because of the characters. It’s typical that a male son of a male politician is so revered, and his wife, who has never stepped out of bounds in her life, is vilified for finally lashing out and having a life of her own. I love CL, and the reason for his nickname, and the connection that was formed with the MC at a young age, and has held, all this time. CL’s memory trick, the dog he gives a grieving child, the caramel/chocolate turtle candy that grandma hurls at the wall, and the cheap jewelry that she cadges at every visit, and the mother of the MC who sacrificed her happiness to save her reputation, all paint a picture of small town life that takes real grit to survive.

    2. Sorry your family didn’t support you when you left an abuser. I loved Tell Me Lies! I too disliked The Devil To Pay. That hero didn’t age well. I felt the same about the hero in Nora Roberts’ Storm Warning. Both were jerks.

      I will look for Don’t Close Your Eyes. Thanks!

    3. I’m so sorry about your family’s failure to support you. Or to realize how appalling the idea that any man is better than no man really is.

    4. Gosh, what a horrible family attitude to endure! Many men are alone because they are not fit to live with other human companions. Some women are also toxic like that, but based on my jury duty experiences and work as a file clerk in a district attorney’s office, men are in the majority of the “toxic, may be fatal to live with” category.
      I hope you got a “found family” of friends and some of their friends so you had good people to be around for holidays and just for fun! Taf

      1. Thank you all -and yes, Theresa I do now have a family of choice and good people who have been there for me in the last few years. That includes friends who have come round to vacuum for me because I can’t do that just now (new hip)! They have brought flowers and cookies and I have felt cherished – which is new for me, but I am working on getting used to it.<3

  20. I’m on an Isabel Jordan bender because our garage work is finishing up and I needed the laughs. Started with You Complicate Me (romance at a trainwreck wedding) then Wrecked and Ruined following the other characters from said wedding finding their HEAs. Now on the rock star books (The Has-Been and the Hot Mess, The Has-Been and the Hot Mistake) and I am going to have to keep on going. Also now I really have to write a trainwreck wedding book, I’ve never done that.

  21. This week I finished Ann Leckie’s Lake of Souls, which I was slowly enjoying last week. Short stories are seldom rereads for me, but this one is going to be. I liked all the stories and loved several. I finished Jayne Castle’s Amaryllis, after hearing so many people loving that trilogy, and I will be reading the next two, but not in big gulps right away.
    I reread a lot, but in such a haze of exhaustion I don’t really remember what I read and what I only thought about starting.
    I am trying to read with attention the booklet (67 pages) Kentucky Board of Elections Election Officers Training Guide, which is vastly complicated and better written than I would have expected, and the voting machine manual. I went to the training class Monday and was daunted, and I have to understand all this by Tuesday when I will be working the primary. I have not believed there was much election fraud going on, and now I believe it even less!

    1. Thanks for reminding me to vote on Tues! says the girl from Old Louisville who completely forgot

  22. It has been a busy week, complicated by severe weather warnings, rain at unexpected times, and medical appointments for me and doggo. So, I did not finish any reads. Thanks to those who did finish books and shared their opinions.

  23. I found “James Herriot’s Animal Stories” at the library and read that. Herriot is such a comfort read for me, even things I haven’t even read before just score on the comfortometer. This was a collection of stories from the first 3 (or 6, depending on release) of his books, I believe; some I had read before, others were unfamiliar. Cosy.
    So, once I’d read that, which was just a couple hours read, I directly went ahead and snagged All Things Wise and Wonderful by (you guessed it) James Herriot. Even more cosy. Got a lot of knitting in too.

    Then my brain short-circuited again, so last 2-3 days or so, I have only been able to watch Disney-movies, as mentioned yesterday in the WW. Have now watched some old ones I remember actually watch-watching as a child, but now with audio-description, and it’s… complicated. Of course audio-description can never replace seeing something with your eyes, it’s just not possible to squeeze all that detail in. But, some most definitely is better than others. Like how they FAILED to tell the viewer that Lumiëre is a candelabre and Clockswort a clock in Beauty and the Beast. How could they NOT do that? I don’t recall Mrs. Pots and Chip being described either. Definitely the worst made description up until now, out of the movies I’ve ploughed through so far. Just started on The Lion King (Adventure! My favourite Disney, and never previously watched with audio description)), and a measurement on my brain-status is that it took me about 30 seconds and then I teared up during the intro-song. Well done, brain. Took a break from that to read GBT. 🙂

    And now, Triple’s veterinary adventures: I very carefully checked again this morning and found a lump on her right side, and she kept on flinching away, growling etc, so I called the vet. Got an appointment this afternoon, and they asked me to give her something calming on beforehand, since she freaked out last week during vaxxing. MIL picked up pill, so we had one sleepy kitty with us to the vet. He did find swelling on her right side, more widespread than the little lump I’d felt this morning (which had disappeared), but she didn’t react as if she was in pain. He said that could very well be because of the calming meds, them being a painkiller as well. She didn’t have a fever and seemed fine otherwise, so his conclusion was that it might be a reaction to the vaccination. He gave her a painkiller-shot, prescribed pain-meds for the coming 5 days and gave us another sleepy-kitty-pill for the booster-jab in 2 weeks. Is it safe to give her that though, if she reacted on the first one? Forgot to ask. Will have to call about that. Anyway, if pain returns, gets worse or hasn’t passed around this time next week, we should give a shout. She’s been pretty much knocked out all afternoon, but again very comfort- and snuggle-seeking (she’s on my lap right now, in fact). The love. The trust. <3 So happy she's okay. Let's hope this is all it was.

    1. I hope your kitty is okay. I had to give one of my cats Gabapentin before office visits. He was sweet and loving at home but had everyone at the vet office scared of him.

      1. Thank you! She seems to be fine. She played like a demon hurricane with the fishing-rod toy tonight, so the knocked out phase is definitely over. The painkiller-shot seems to have done good stuff too. Now we hope she’ll keep feeling good the coming days.
        The meds you mention sounds like the name the vet’s assistent said. She put the pill in a white paper bag, and I only got one, so I have no idea, no box to read a label from. But, it worked a treat. 🙂 Very (relatively) large capsule though, not something you easily hide in a glob of something lickable. Oh well.
        Hope you have a lot of fluffs keeping you company over there!

  24. I am flitting from book to book. A couple of weeks ago, tried Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard and disliked it – felt it was derivative and couldn’t engage with any of the characters. I read a great but gloomy book from 1938-39, Manja, by Anna Gmeyner. Gmeyner was fascinating – I know there are some fans of Eva Ibbotson here and I read Manja because Gmeyner was Ibbotson’s mother. The book is a look at the lives of 4 children, all conceived in 1920 and it ends in 1933 with the election of Hitler as Chancellor. Gmeyner wrote it in exile in London just before the war began, and it is fascinating – but as I said, not a cheerful book. Read some serious books about identity and inclusion, then started well with English Passengers, a historical novel about 18th century Tasmania, using many different voices. It is beautifully written, but it is going to end unhappily and currently, with international move on the cards, juggling finishing one busy job and getting into familiarisation and meetings with new even busier job, I need some light and frothy stuff.

    I was intrigued enough by enthusiasm for Goblin Emperor to take a look at the sample, but this was largely occupied by pages and pages of names of characters and places and I felt my brain would explode.

    Any recommendations? I am thinking of doing a glom of British crime writer Elly Griffiths who has written several intriguing series. I read a book of hers called The Postcript Murders and it was terrific. But am looking for suggestions for easy reading.

    1. The trick is not to pay too much attention to the names. Eventually they sort themselves out in your mind 🙂

      1. Yes, and once you get a sense of the words used as titles, like miss or lady/lord etc, it starts to make sense.

      2. I am ALWAYS put off by long complicated names in books – I just can’t be bothered with them. It’s a mark of how good The Goblin Emperor is that they didn’t worry me after the first page.

        And I had the same reaction to English Passengers – gorgeous writing but you know it’s going to end badly. (That’s pretty much par for the course with anything historical set in Tasmania that involves Aboriginal people.) It’s still sitting in my bookcase, unfinished.

    2. I read a lot of Children’s and YA when I feel I need easier things to read. Not sure if that is your cup of tea? Except that, Crusie, of course. <3 Always helps my brain to wind down and take a break from chaos.

      "Brownies and Broomsticks" is the first in the Magical Bakery Mystery-series by Bailey Cates, cosy mystery and romance with a tinge of magic in it. Think I've been through the series 3 or so times since 2016, I really enjoy it as an easy comfort read.

      "All Creatures Great and Small" and its sequels by James Herriot, as mentioned above. Animal- and human-anecdotes seen through the eyes of a country-vet during the end of the 1930s and beginning of 1940s.

      I enjoyed "One To Watch" by Kate Stayman-London, romance about a plus-size model and blogger whom ends up in a dating-show after having critisized its lack of diversity, and thus being invited to expand on said diversity, not really being the usually chosen body-type for such a show.

      Pretty much anything by Alex / Alexandra Brown – "Carringtons", "A Postcard From…", "Tindledale" – all easy reads. The first book I read was "The Christmas Knit-off" a few years ago, which is part of the stand-alone-but-connected books in the Tindledale-series. I haven't read even close to all she's written, but I like her writing very much.

      The "Bridal quartet"-series or the "In the Garden"-series by Nora Roberts are also very easy reads. If I remember correctly, the Inn Boonsboro-trilogy was also very good and easy to read.

      I can go on forever. If there are any other genres you enjoy, do give a shout. Hopefully you'll find something easy to digest soon. <3 Good luck!

    3. If you haven’t read Travis Baldtree’s Legends & Lattes, it’s good for really light reading. Not a whole lot of conflict (but enough to keep you reading), lots of community working together, and the audio is particularly good (narrated by the author who started out as a narrator of other people’s stories, as well as a game developer, I think).

    4. Can you take the goblin emperor out from the library to read a little further ?
      It’s truly a wonderful book.

      Try the Blue Sword by Robin McKinley for a more accessible but really well done fantasy.

      Or anything by Diana Wynne Jones— maybe Deep Secrets or Dark Lord of Derkholm.

      1. Yes again to Diana Wynne Jones. Deep Secrets is a winner, it’s funny and quirky and more than it seems when you start it

      2. Dark Lord of Deekholm and it’s sequel, The Year of the Griffin are wonderful reads

  25. I watched the movie “Free Guy” and enjoyed it.

    I’m reading “The Marriage Game” by Sara Desai. It’s okay. I’m not throughly comfortable with the stereotyping and some of the thoughts the characters are having about each other. I had started “The Singles Table” by Desai first, thinking it was the 1st book in the series, but no, it’s the 3rd. The series goes
    1) The Marriage Game
    2) The Dating Game
    3) The Singles Table

    Which it totally backwards in my mind. So, having started the Singles Table there were moments when it felt like I was getting a summary of what had happened in an earlier book. So, I paused reading it to go back to book 1. It probably could be read out of order, but I have a touch of OCD about reading books in a series. Being now about a third into both books, they’re very similar. I’ll finish the series, but it hasn’t really captured me. I’m very thankful for my public libraries!

  26. I finished Grave Expectations by Alice Bell, a sort of modern cozy about a medium and her dead BFF/spirit guide. It was a lot of fun and I’m enjoying finally getting back into reading actual books.

    Still listening to Murderbot though.

  27. Sofi Laporte’s Miss Robinson and the Unsuitable Baron was a wonderful story that warmed my heart. The female lead was a school teacher, and a very good one. The male lead suffered from dyslexia. His childhood memories of teachers were laced with pain and shame. Of course, their romance was bound for a rocky start, which made their HEA all the sweeter.
    Another book by Sofi Laporte, the novella My Lady, will you Dance? was an unexpected disappointment. I’ve read almost everything she has written so far. Usually I enjoy her stories, but this one was a struggle to finish. The problem is, it should’ve been a short story. There is not enough plot to support a novella. To adhere to the novella’s length, the author resorted to some gimmicks that convoluted the story, made it unfocused.
    Ilona Andrews’s Small Magics was a decent collection of shorter fiction. Some of those stories I read before, included in others anthologies. Others were new to me. Overall, a quick and easy read, a pleasant diversion.

  28. I just finished two by Malka Older: The Mimicking of Known Successes and The Imposition of Unnecessary Obstacles. They are far future, still human, mystery solving pair of people. One is rational and thinks fast, with little thought for the human element, the other is a scholar. The setting was so interesting and unexpected, and the mysteries were complex without being gruesome. The people are excellent.

  29. I read new books this time – how bout that!

    First I read and enjoyed our own Susan B. James book Maybe This Time. She is a really good storyteller.

    Then I read Jayne Castle’s new book in the Harmony series: People In Glass Houses. I loved it. I can’t put my finger on the difference but there is a bit of difference in her writing of both the heroine & the hero.

    Now I’m rereading a Tom Robbins novel I read decades ago – Jitterbug Perfume. I can’t do justice to how much I love his writing. He is amazing. I don’t generally like sex scenes – although his are usually more sensual & generally with an edge of humor – instead of graphic.

    But there is one sex scene that is pure genius. It starts out “Any protest he might have uttered was drowned out by the fluttering of the pages of the Kama Sutra…” It is 1 paragraph & a couple of sentences long & almost poetry.

    And the first part of season 3 of Bridgerton is out! 4 episodes. We watched them earlier today. Soooo good.

    1. Thank you so much my book. Judy/Clever Cherry. I’m so glad you liked it.
      I reread the Jane Castle books once a year. And that one just came when I fell. So I brought it to the hospital, but I haven’t felt up to reading
      Before I fell last week, I was reading Mona Lisa’s daughter by Belle Amie
      Her writing is rich in historical detail, She does great and this particular book has been a pleasure to read
      We were four years critique partners – something that came to the end of Covid. Although all of us got together for a reunion new Christmas.

  30. I had a great reading week, starting with Artifact Space by Miles Cameron. I adore space opera, and this fits the bill very nicely. I admit to skipping over the technical bits, but there was enough human stuff to keep me very very satisfied.

    Big thanks to Yuri for recommending All the Feels by Olivia Dade. Such a delightful romance and the growth of the relationship between the two protagonists is both funny and sweet. I thought the author was going to mess it up at the crisis with one of my least favourite tropes, but she ended up addressing it well. One of the best M/F romances I’ve read for ages.

    Impossible by Sarah Lotz was a reread, a love story set in two parallel worlds with the protagonists accidentally connecting through email. Hence the title. It’s beautifully done, and the ending is exquisitely understated and beautiful.

  31. I seem to have stumbled on a rom-com sub-genre about Hollywood scriptwriters, TV writers, actors and the like, and they’re all satisfying glimpses behind the scenes.

    The most recent recommendation is How To End A Love Story, which has added benefit of a couple who have a truly believable reason to stay away from each other.

    1. Have you tried Lucy Parker? She has a series that follows different actors and people in show business but in London. I enjoyed them. A little stereotypical in the plots, but the characters are good.

    2. I really enjoyed Jasmine Guillory’s While We Were Dating for a backstage take on the celebrity sort-of-fake (or at least very scripted) romance thing!

  32. Lead me not into temptation … follow me, I know a shortcut!

    I only finished one story this week, and it was a short story. UNWRAP PARTY by Jordan Shelbourne, linked for the curious.

    Sarah’s face was
    flushed and the roots of her blonde hair were dark with sweat. “Come
    on, Ben. We’re doing the Purity Test.”

    Ben flicked her a tired smile. “Wish I could,” he said, “but you
    know, you do the Purity Test, next thing you know you’re talking
    dirty. Pretty soon everyone’s feeling good and excited, then someone
    kisses someone else, and an orgy of mad sexual abandon follows.” Ben
    shrugged. “Well, that could lead to dancing, and I’m a strict

    The linked file is strictly text.

    Among the unfinished or partial reads is Wrede and Stevermer’s THE GRAND TOUR. Still not finished. Much interrupted. I wish it was available as an audiobook.

    More “Reels and Short Videos.” Also MADAME WEB on Netflix.

    And sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

  33. (I’m back from shopping but think I’ll have to hold over other books-read until next week.)

    I think the one not entirely forgettable book in that subgenre (sort of) that I’ve read is Shannon Hale’s The Actor and the Housewife, about the more or less Platonic relationship between a happily married Mormon housewife and a famous Hollywood actor. I remember little about it, but it did cause me to look for other books by the author. She has shifted into mostly writing YA fantasy.

    Well, I’ve also read and enjoyed Mary Kay Andrews books involving Hollywood types shooting on location in the American South. And of course there’s Bob and Jenny’s Don’t Look Down in sort of the same ballpark.

    1. Oops. That was supposed to be a reply to Helen on the subgenre of Roscommon with Hollywood types.

  34. More Dick Francis: Straight, Driving Force, Comeback and Hot Money.
    Straight is great apart from the last bit with the cocaine dealer, which seems a bit ‘tacked on’ as if his publisher asked him to add some violence.
    Driving Force is unobjectionable. I like the HGV driving stuff (my family is into haulage and horses but we don’t transport them for a living). Not his strongest book.
    Comeback is a bit strange and never quite decides what it’s about, to my mind. Vicky and Greg are strong characters, introduced early on, then virtually abandoned. The discovery of the anaesthetist’s body in the operating theatre is just weird (publisher: add a bit of sadomasochism), some elements explained but not others.
    Hot Money is my absolute favourite Francis, fabulous characters, well thought through story, no sadomasochism or other violence.

    Now into something totally different: A Future Chalet School Girl, with a really interesting introduction about how Armada (original paperback publisher of the Chalet School series) didn’t bother with the stories that weren’t set in the school, in term! And these stories are some of the most popular with longtime fans.

    1. I own a few hardback chalet school books. I used to read them regularly. I’ll have to see what’s available online.

      1. I don’t think any legal copies are available online. Girls Gone By Publishers produces paperbacks with the original text, plus some excellent fan fiction.

    2. I love Hot Money. I think it might be my fave. Ten Pound Penalty (I actually can’t remember the weight, it’s the one about the kid whose dad is running for office). The Edge or the one about the racing train (I should look these up.). But yeah, Hot Money is the tops.

  35. Hot Money was my first Dick Francis novel, and is still my favorite. Or at least the one that I reread most often. Followed by Proof and Banker.

    1. My first one was about the toymaker, and it holds up. Can’t remember the title, but it made Dick Francis an auto buy. The other ones I liked a lot were the two about the jockey who rode for a princess. I always wondered how much of that was drawn from Francis’s experiences riding for the Queen. I’m not a horse race enthusiast, but he puts you right there.

      Ah, the one about the toymaker is High Stakes. Oh and Break In and Bolt are the two about Kit Fielding.

      1. I liked all of those too…Did you read any interviews or biographies of his? He seemed to be a very interesting person as was his wife Mary based on my reading. Taf

        1. Francis wrote a memoir, The Sport of Queens, which is very good but unfortunately seems to be not available as an ebook (at least not on AMZ). Surprised his son and literary heir Felix hasn’t addressed that!

      2. It’s a good question about the Queen. I read recently that she told him she wouldn’t use him anymore because she was too afraid he would get badly hurt — that’s why he stopped being a jockey. I think he had had a bad injury.

        1. He has a great relationship with the princess in the two Kit Fielding books. Respectful but close. It’s nice to think about anyway.

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