This is a Good Book Thursday, May 23, 2024

I’ve been reading about toasted cheese. Hey, I had a Very Bad Day Wednesday and that was soothing. “Everybody knows how to make toasted cheese, here are some variations to try.” No, I will not be putting avocado on mine, but I am open to Sriacha. Anyway, it was a comfort and educational and it took me out of my VBD, so I’m fine now. So that’s a Good Book even if it isn’t a book.

What did you read this week?

155 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 23, 2024

  1. And now… I want a croque monsieur for lunch 🙂

    I have now rezd Jo Walton’s monthly reading lists posts on her blog all the way back to March 2019 when she first started them. I just love how broad her reading is and the way she talks about books.

    So obviously now I am reading Italian romances she recommended. Great fun.

    When I read romances set in France written by English or American writers, they rarely ring true so I avoid those. With Italian romances I don’t have that problem so I can relax and enjoy the scenery and the food.

    1. I also can’t enjoy romances or mysteries set in France written by non-French authors, but then I don’t tend to enjoy genre fiction written by French authors, either. It doesn’t quite hit the mark. So I’ve been reading a few mystery series set in Italy which would probably drive someone familiar with Italy nuts, but I enjoy them.

  2. I’m in two minds over whether to get the latest Nora Roberts, which isn’t being reviewed well. (Not badly, it’s Nora Roberts, but not great). Meanwhile, I’ve been reading May We Be Spared to Meet on Earth: Letters of the Lost Franklin Expedition which is heartrending.

    1. Nora lost me a couple of books ago. My friend and walking partner loves her books and she’s read this latest but warned me that I wouldn’t like it because it’s similar to the last few that I didn’t like and for the same reason.

      1. Nora lost me too. I really like some, the bride quartet and such, but I am getting tired of the need for drama and danger in the third act. Not just Nora, a lot of authors do this and sometimes it feels very contrived.

        Also, she has a tendency to make her female lead the one who is “wrong” in any relationship negotiations and it happened a few times too many for me and now I can’t unsee it. It’s a shame really, because I love reading about people who do interesting things and are good at their jobs.

        1. I’ve also noticed that her male leads have a tendancy to act in a way that the narrative presents as romantic, but I don’t find romantic. One guy watches the heroine in his field binoculars for hours when they barely know each other. In The Obsession, the hero keeps pushing at the heroine’s boundaries, including going into her house uninvited (he knows her contractor) and scaring the crap out of her, before being rude about women and their big purses. (The female lead has a tiny one, he is Amazed)

          1. I’ve read quite a few books over the past 5 years or so, where the heroine is … “behaving privately” where she can be seen, and the hero watches. In one book, he even joins her, and she doesn’t realize it at first, but she isn’t upset when she does realize it. That REALLY squicks me. It isn’t romantic, it feels (to me) super creepy. And more than a little stalkerish.

    2. Nora Roberts has written some truly great books in my view, but she lost me after I read The Obsession. It still makes me literally sick to the stomach just thinking about it, and that is not what I want from a romance-writer or novel, no matter how charming the love interest is. I don’t mind suspense, but this one went too far for me. If it was possible to un-read a book, it would classify. Now I’m hesitant to read anything new of hers.
      That said, I still love and reread The Bridal Quartet and the In The Garden-books, and probably a few I can’t remember right now. I recall very much enjoying some of her books with MCs whom are very capable at their jobs (firefighting and things), and High Noon is one of my absolute favourites when it comes to romantic thrillers. So, she has a lot of good stuff. Just, I’m a bit cautious these days.

      1. I rarely read her NR books, but I enjoy the In Death series. That being said, I purposely look for spoilery reviews before I embark on one, because some of them are entirely too disturbing for me…

  3. Jenny, I sometimes eat manchego cheese with a drizzle of honey on, and I think this may be relevant to your toasted cheese interests.

    1. I second Aella’s rec for honey on cheese:

      I had a bowl of (mostly green) salad not long ago, with cherry tomatoes and a very mild toasted goat cheese (I don’t much care for goat cheese but there weren’t many veggie options): the drizzle of honey on the cheese was the “cherry on top”.
      Really, really good.

  4. So I haven’t read it yet, but my sister in love has a niece who is severely dyslexic and has struggled with reading her entire life. She has ALWAYS loved to draw.

    She is self publishing her first children’s book that she illustrated herself and it is now available on Amazon.

    The Royal and the Guard by GraceAnne Nash. I’m going to order mine today!

    1. What a tremendous achievement – my congratulations to the author.
      I tried searching for the book on Amazon but it is not yet coming up in Australia.
      I have been an adult literacy volunteer teacher for many many years & totally admire the tenacity & fortitude required by anyone with reading difficulties related to dyslexia type issues.
      I have seen many times the extraordinary amount of mental effort it takes for persons with dyslexia type conditions to persevere until we can find a strategy/strategies that helps them interpret the hieroglyphic type notations that they confront & have to make into words & sentences.

      1. I once went to a presentation by a man who never learned to read —somehow graduated HS anyway — and then realized that he could actually get a great education using reading machines. Got a PhD. He was presenting at a conference on helping welfare recipients move to work.

    2. I love the idea that you have a sister in love, much nicer that sister in law.
      In French we say belle soeur, beautiful sister, which is nice.

    3. Coming out of lurk to say gore amazing this is. I don’t have kids that age in my life, but I ordered for donation to a little free library.

  5. I’m reading Murder in the Bookshop by Anita Davison. It’s a cozy mystery set in London in 1915. So far, I’m enjoying it. Armchair travel to a distant time and place, interesting characters, engaging mystery.

  6. As a former boarding school teacher, I wonder if you are aware of this method making grilled cheese sandwiches: put sandwich in a brown paper bag and iron it on both sides. (Using an ironing board negates the consequences of taking the finish off one’s desk.)

    1. I have heard of this but using aluminum foil. I presume that with brown paper you don’t butter the bread on the outside, as is a often recommended for toasted cheese sandwiches. I sort of think I have also heard of wrapping the sandwich in aluminum foil and then toasting it in a pop-up toaster. That ought to work as long as the foil does not tear and hit a live wire and short something out. Don’t think I’d dare try.

      1. I have helped cook frozen pizza wrapped in aluminum foil in a pop-up toaster in a friend’s dorm in 1972. (Because of my food allergies I lived off campus so I could have a real kitchen.) None of us died, not even the pizza.

    2. I actually bought a sandwich press (it arrived yesterday) which is probably the upscale version of that. Because if I tried that, I’d set the place on fire.

  7. I read Josh Lanyon’s Don’t Look Back – Christina, I’m making my way down your list of favourite standalones of hers and this was a good one.

    I read Regency Lovers Trio, three MMM’s novella, one by our very own Chacha1 – totally enjoyable!

    I also read Tempest by Iris Foxglove – I really have not been able to get into this series of gods-on-earth.

    However, for other oddball books, I read In This Shadow, Longing by Marina Vivancos – part fantasy series of sub/dom society where magic abounds – the first one is my favourite but this wasn’t bad.

    I finally finished listening to the audio version of Footsteps in the Dark, eight novellas (so a long book!) of M/M mystery romances – best were by Josh Lanyon and Nicole Kimberling – I really must try more of hers.

    And then a real find – an A03 novella by spit_kitten, Sturm und Drang – it’s an M/M regency and holy crazily good writing! Reminded me of KJ Charles’ Band Sinister. I read their other ones, also great, but this was my favourite – totally lovely – and here it is: https://archiveofourown.org/works/34583821

    1. I second the sentiment for Nicole Kimberling. I have really liked both the shorts of hers that I have read so far.

      1. I’ve got one of hers on my TBR pile so I’ll keep you posted as to how it goes.

    2. Thanks for the AO3 rec. I have sent it to my kindle… I just have to find the time to read my collection of recommendations!

      Will also check out Don’t Look Back.

    3. So glad you enjoyed Don’t Look Back — you’ve now inspired me to go back and re-read it again.

  8. Lead me not into temptation … follow me, I know a shortcut! This will be hanging on my wall if I ever learn cross-stitch.

    I listened to THE BLONDE IDENTITY by Ally Carter. It was fun, mostly. “I’m a spy?!? FMC proceeds to verbify words like “undercovering” to MMC’s annoyance. I can recommend it. Sometimes it reminded me of a Crusie/Mayer collaboration.

    I am still reading THE GRAND TOUR.

    I am still reading VARIATION ON A THEME, but it’s still publishing serially. Or surreally.

    More “Reels and Short Videos.”

    And sleep. Not quite enough sleep.

    Lastly, I attempted poached eggs on an English muffin. Needs more practice.

      1. https://www.somethingsmustbeendured.com/post/pictures-to-share

        I have pictures! As always, click on the thumbnails to see a larger version and on the up/down arrows to go even larger.

        Under the heading “2024-05-23” are four new pictures. Fourth down is “the cross-stitch.” Third down is a wall full of white-boards and markers. Second down is gardens and white-boards. Top is just some cherry tomatoes, not quite ripe.

        1. Gary, I saw the pictures of the bags on the door, wall and in a carry-all. I keep mine on the door handle. If I don’t consciously keep it in my head to grab them on my way out, I’ll leave them behind. I think it is because it is so new to me to use them.

        1. Bought one jar of Reese’ hollandaise sauce with my reward points for $0.00. Sounds like I’m making eggs Benedict.

    1. I agree, Gary, that The Blonde Identity had strong similarities to Crusie/Mayer collabs. The humour and the relationship between the two main characters felt very familiar.

  9. I finished Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and read People in Glass Houses by Jayne Castle. I liked both but probably not re-reads. Just starting Blast From the Past by Lucy Score. I bought Sunshine by Robin McKinley after reading about it here and hope to start that soon.

  10. I finished Grace Draven’s Dragon Unleashed yesterday in the aftermath of Tuesday’s exhausting fourteen hours at the polls. Before that most of my reading was studying the training manual. I am less confused now than I was Monday night but there will be changes in November.

    1. I am so exhausted, still, that I forgot to mention finishing Natasha Pulley’s Mars House. Loved it.

  11. I’m read The Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu. Dystopia Edinburgh, protagonist is a college dropout who delivers messages from ghosts to those left behind for a meager living.

    I’m only about a quarter of the way through, but I’m enjoying it.

  12. I stayed up too late two nights in a row, finishing my latest Westcott novel – Someone Perfect. I think this is the last one for now, but I’ve enjoyed the series. In this one the female MC has an initial aversion to the male MC, but is forced into continuing contact to help a friend. It all turns out well in the end.

    1. So glad there’s someone else on this blog who is reading & reporting on Mary Balogh. I came late to her as an author, and always knew that JaneB had read EVERYTHING I was discovering long before I tried any, and I didn’t want to be boring poor JaneB so many times! Balogh is such an interesting, discerning author with attention to people’s inner lives, and I love that.

      1. Balogh is one of a few authors from the ‘Signet Regency’ era that I think holds up now. She and Carla Kelly and Mary Jo Putney are the ones I still go back to.

        1. Those are the ones I still read, too. I have reread a Barbara Metzger a time or two as well.

        2. I like the first and last from Balogh’s Slightly series very much. Everything else not so much.

      2. I’m touched, but you’re a daft hap’orth, Jinx! (And I’ve veered away from Balogh in the last few years; her recent ones aren’t my cup of tea.)

    2. I love Mary Balogh. I think her Wescott series would make a great Netflix series. The only reason I read “Bridgerton” was because of the series, but Mary Balogh’s books are interesting, and the plots are wonderful. And it isn’t only the young ladies who have romances; women ‘of a certain age’ have their own stories too. As well they should. 🙂

  13. Still not finished with my to do list for the day job – first week of “holiday” almost over.
    I’m just tired.

    So I added to my level of exhaustion by reading almost through the night – were finally able to dive into Game Misconduct by Ari Baran and simply LOVED it.
    Listened to the audiobook when possible and read when convenient. I usually don’t get the same fun out of audiobooks – it seems kind of 2-D compared to 3-D. But Baran’s writing style lends itself to audiobooks, so it totally worked for me. Again (same with Delay). 100 % 3-D all the way.
    Yes, a hockey romance. With loads of hockey, so probably not quite a rec for anyone not as bonkers. But also with loads of character development. And the MCs TALK stuff out. Although both regard themselves as illiterate when it comes to feelings.

    I also finished First Impressions by Jay Hogan. Same success with the audio vs ebook. Also great story for about 85 %, then a strange resolution of the big crisis (very dangerous situation for one MC and the kid of second MC) when we sort of get info dump and off the page actions until both MCs are re-united. I’d have loved the book if not for these last 10%.

    Also watched the first episodes of Bridgerton 3. Didn’t like the smutty scenes – so far mainly between the MCs of season 2. Dear husband reminded me why I didn’t like it: “didn’t you tell me Jenny Crusie’s motto is the sex scenes should inform the story and not be gratuitous?”. Yep, that’s my problem. And what a great realization that dh listens to what I ramble! Well, I might have said it too often, but still. He listened and remembered. 🙂

  14. I re read The Singing Sands by Josephine
    Tey. It’s not her best —the second half needs editing down—and was apparently found and published after her death. But it has a 9 year old boy who is one of my favorite children in fiction. His strong personality comes right off the page.
    Also reread The Unknown Ajax. The hero is definitely my favorite Heyer hero. Best sense of humor.

      1. Yes, me too! One of Patricia Briggs early heroes, back when she was writing fantasy, was like that.

        1. I love Ward of Hurog. Of course he’s pretending so his father doesn’t decide he’s a rival and murder him.

    1. I love the Unknown Ajax, too. What I like best about it is that he doesn’t try to deceive them in the beginning, they’re just so close-minded about the lower classes that they treat him badly on purpose, and instead of getting angry, he thinks it’s funny and plays into their expectations, which makes every small revelation about him a bombshell for the family. And I love the way he becomes part of the family through the things they’re doing together as each person realizes his worth. Beautiful book.

      1. And his wonderful competence when everything goes wrong. That whole sequence is one of my favourites out of all the Heyer novels.

  15. I finished rereading Tom Robbins book Jitterbug Perfume. I read it the first time decades ago. There are short passages he might not get away with today but overall it held up well. I wrote one blogpost about him, TR, giving me wordgasms. I plan to write another blogpost about other things from the book. Click on my name if you want to read the first blogpost.

    Trying to read books about The Belly Fat Diet. I have the actual original dietbook checked out on Libby. I don’t think I’ll buy it because the basic principles are in the cookbook which I did buy. I also bought the BFD For Dummies. Surprisingly this diet coincides well with my daughters liver disease / low sodium diet.

    I have been reading some info about inattentive adhd. I think I can self-diagnose myself with that as I have 8 out of 9 symptoms. I want to learn coping mechanisms so that maybe I can finish a novel or 2.

    I DNFd 1 book from Libby. I have another book on perpetual hold & 3 books tagged to notify me if the library buys them for their Libby account. One of the books in Anne Stuart’s book Return to Mariposa – I might buy it on payday (tomorrow). She’s such a good storyteller.

    I have had some inspirations lately that lead me back into writing. We’ll see.

  16. Cheese on toast is my death meal. And my life meal.
    I am re- listening Susan Elizabeth Phillips’
    it had to be you. I love listening to southern accents.

  17. Two weeks ago, when I listed Patrick Ailett’s lecture series on Victorian Britain,  I forgot that I had wanted to comment on his regional British accent, which sounded unusual to me, and perhaps a bit comic.  He mentioned that he grew up in Dorset.  The comic associations may have come because the only previous time I recall hearing the accent was from a comedian of years back, who had a routine that I heard on a US radio show.  I tried without success to identify him from the internet.  (The routine that I remember had to do, among other things, with a proposed Ministry of Nudism.)  Even if the accent does not sound comic to a Brit, it certainly does not sound Oxbridge (despite Ailett’s Oxford degree).  Fiona Hill said she was advised that her class origins would limit her academic prospects in Britain,  which was part of why she emigrated to the US.  I wonder if the same was true for Ailett, who is a professor at a US university.

    May’s book for my book club was Robert Sawyer’s The Oppenheimer Alternative (2020), which starts off as a novelized biography centered on Robert Oppenheimer, but gradually becomes an alternate-history novel as the effects of a seemingly a small change ramify over time.  Considering Sawyer’s long career as an sf writer, the odd thing is that considered as a fictionalized biography, the novel is far superior to what it is as sf.  (Although even the biographical part is not free from mistakes and seemingly from the effects of Sawyer’s prejudices.)  The sfnal elements seem badly thought out and merely tacked on.  I thought it was on balance worth reading, but badly flawed. 

    More later, time permitting.

  18. Ha! Never did this before… I read Alexis Hall’s Looking for Group. Loved this one too, though it is set entirely in the world of online gaming – one that I do not know. I looked up quite a lot as I went, often googling on my phone to track down these elusive meanings, then after I had plowed through to the end I discovered the glossary at the back! My advice – read the glossary first! There is some very funny stuff in there too. Then… I read the whole book through again. It was even better the second time.
    He does these awkward, tender, shy, unsure characters with his usual deft sureness. Another winner.
    Also last weekend I attended the Upper Peninsula [Michigan] Publishers and Authors annual conference where I read a selection from my little fiction book on Friday night’s “open mic” event and gave a presentation on Saturday on Getting Started, Keeping Going and Having Fun with Writing. It was rewarding to do and well received. In my talk I had the very great pleasure of turning the participants on to the wonders of Jennie’s writings on the subject of writing. (Lots of people wrote down the website and where to find these excellent blog posts.) (I’d still really like to have them all in a book, hint, hint.)

    1. I would like them all in a book, too. Sigh. I’ll get to it, but thank you for spreading the word, Marian.

  19. I still have a bad case of “Look at the squirrel” brain with accompanying anxiety at my lack of direction. I stopped and started a lot of random free stuff that I had on my kindle, deleting a few, which feels like a small victory.

    I didn’t want to inflict an innocent author with my mood, so I opted for the comfort reread/listen until I settle down. So I listened to Tell Me Lies by JC and then Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews.

    1. Oh, and the last book in the Amaranthine series by Forthright is coming out and I am a little bit terrified. There is a lot that needs resolved and this series is a comfort go to for me, although the previous book was rather dire…. I will be sorry to see the end and hope it will be something that I am happy with.

      1. I read the first four I think but it got too complicated for me… should I continue. I really liked the first one.

        1. They definitely layer and connect and overlap and it gets confusing. The first three are my favorite in descending order and the ones that I revisit, but I am pretty invested in the side characters and the long story arch of catching and stopping the big bad. I listen to them, so that helps and some of the short stories are really sweet, but I can see why people wander off. They have also been getting more dire as we approach the final climax.

  20. Very briefly as I am trying to get day job work finished before going on holiday, this week I have enjoyed:

    KJ Charles Doomesday Books. (‘Secret lives… and A Nobleman’s Guide…). I liked them both, but enjoyed the first more. The setting is great.

    Fluffier but enjoyable enough Eden Finley Fake Boyfriend series. Have read the first two (Fake Out, Trick Play), in middle of 3rd (Deke). All have enough going on, with minor characters and other life stuff, so I don’t get bored with just having the romance (MM). She works the trope well, differently in each. .

    On audio, finished and enjoyed Alexis Hall ‘Something Fabulous’. This was funny and moved along quickly with plenty of action, brilliant reading. Listening to the second ‘Something Spectacular’. It’s fine, but the story is a lot slower and reading not as good.

    1. I agree with you about the Doomsday books. Both are good, but Secret Lives just has that extra special something…

      I’m glad you liked Something Fabulous. It’s a bit of a romp, or farce of homage to historical romance rather than a traditional one, but still fun. I haven’t tried Something Spectacular yet. I’m just more interested in m/m than I am in f/f.

    2. Frozen Pond,
      I’d thought I had only bought KJ Charles’ Nobleman’s Guide very recently. Then I checked out The Secret lives, saw it was less than 1 Euro as ebook, now I’ve got both books waiting for me to find the time to read them… And strangely enought Secret Lives came with the audio, too. Must check my account with amazon, spooky!

      Have you read Delay of Game by Ari Baran, too? The weaker book according to the author, yet I liked the two idiots-to-lovers that much that I didn’t care about structure or whatever. I’m soooo looking forward to book 3 and 4 (Home Ice Advantage and Goaltender Interference). No hint that my new-found-love for hockey is abating, now that Kid 2 is thoroughly hooked, too and will likely surpass me in knowledge very soon.
      Our heart bleeds though, after our team got eliminated by Switzerland in the World Championship just an hour ago.
      And one of my fav teams already got eliminated from the NHL playoffs last week and the other one will most likely get eliminated soon. And the Panthers are strong as heck, sigh.

      And now I’ll stop with my ramblings, promised. Sort of.

      1. Addendum: have you seen KJ Charles’ new book in the The Gentlemen of Uncertain Fortune series that is to come out July 18? I very much liked book 1, The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting and am torn whether to pre-order or not. One glance at my tbr-Everest and I better not…

        1. The Doomsdays were my first KJ Charles, they won’t be the last. I have a big back catalogue to get through but will try ‘Gentle Art of..’

          Also sorry about Germany in the world cup. I enjoyed their match against France. Pretty lively.

          1. Ah thanks, Frozen Pond! They played very well in the first round, I’m sad that we lost, but the competition is fierce.

            But we’re not the only ones: USA lost to Czechia just an hour ago. Zacha (a Bruin) scored. But Czechia is host, so they would fight.

      2. I enjoyed Delay of Game, but it’s definitely not as memorable as Game Misconduct, but less angsty too. I really liked the intensity Of Game Misconduct. Also looking forward to 3&4. I like Ari Barans writing style and character building.

        My teams are all gone from NHL playoffs too. Was especially sad about the Canucks but in the end not surprised.

        Happily I can watch the world championship live on you tube for free so I have watched a couple of games, but unfortunately have been too busy to watch more. Haven’t got a team I’m rooting for yet, but will see as time goes on.

        There’s also the pwhl to watch, though timing not so good for me.

        1. Which ones did you root for, Frozen Pond?
          I’ve got to see if I can find if youtube allows us to watch as well.
          It’s not the same to follow the life-ticker of our local newspaper (their sports section is top notch).
          Now that my team is out, the family has decided to cheer for Canada.

  21. I paused reading the sixth Blackbird Sisters mystery to read/listen to the latest T.E. Kinsey Lady Hardcastle, An Assassination on the Agenda. I appreciate the humorous banter and smart women so much in this English cozy series. I just wish they were a bit longer.

    Has anyone read Emily Henry’s Funny Story?
    I feel I wasted my money on Happy Place as it was a DNF due to being too unhappy for my taste, and I am feeling cautious about spending more on her work.

      1. I also really liked it. And also was disappointed in Happy Place. I say give Funny Story a chance.

  22. Well, I read some hockey books this week (amongst other things) and the conclusion is that I’m really done with hockey as a romance setting / plot device. Not that it was done badly in anything I read, but I’m just not interested in the sport, so … noping out.

    1. ‘Crushed Ice’ by Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James, M/M, perfectly competent book but nothing new here.

    2. [re-read] my own M/M novella ‘My Holiday Star,’ found some stuff to fix, grr; and my novel ‘Drama Queen.’

    3. ‘The Deal’ by Elle Kennedy, F/M New Adult (college set) feat. a 3rd-yr hockey star and a music major who bond over an Ethics class. Lots of trauma in the back stories, dealt with well; good sex as Jenny mentioned, and one very funny scene in a locker room.

    3.5 ‘An Unrivaled Off-Season’ by Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James, a short sequel to ‘Unrivaled,’ and I really liked this one because guess why? It’s in the off-season! Almost no hockey! LOL Very sweet actually, with those two emotionally illiterate guys trying to figure out how to propose to each other, and one really lovely scene involving whales.

    4. ‘Lawrence In Arabia’ by Scott Anderson, a long, detailed bio-history that is essential reading for any Westerner who want to try to understand the modern Middle East. Depressing, of course, as most books about WWI are, and especially when centering on someone whose life was really fucking grim. Followed this up with Part 8 (the conclusion) of ‘Paris 1919’ by Margaret MacMillan, concerning the peace conference & Treaty of Versailles, with a sketch of the immediate reaction and the longer-term aftermath.

    5. ‘Imre: A Memorandum’ by Edward Prime-Stevenson, published in 1906 under his pen name Xavier Mayne. The purplest of purple prose; some compare to Henry James, I’d compare to Walt Whitman; file under ‘things my early-20th-c queer characters might read;’ a gay love story with a happy ending, possibly the first ever of its kind.

    5.5 [re-read] my own M/M novella ‘Proofed,’ the one about a bookstore owner and the cafe owner across the street. 🙂

    6. ‘The Blackpool Highflyer’ by Andrew Martin. An atmospheric mystery set in 1905 Halifax. POV character is a “fireman” aka “engine man” aka the guy who feeds coal to the train engine. Clever, tons of fascinating detail, well plotted. Unfortunately the POV guys has an emotional arc of about 15 degrees, so I never truly connected, but for those into a solid historical mystery series in highly unusual milieu, would recommend.

    7. ‘Burner Account’ by L.A. Witt, M/M novel set in Pittsburgh feat. a middle-school teacher and a pro hockey player who’ve been online friends for 4 yrs and finally decide to meet. A good book I would have liked more if it had drilled into different conflicts; we get the same one over and over again, which is addressed in the epilogue. The setup – the fake identities and why they need them – drops completely off the radar. They both have excellent reasons to express themselves anonymously, but I would have really liked to see them step back and say, hey; we’re out now; what if we could combine resources and really deal with some of these political / social issues as Real World Activists? Because money + fame = a platform, and anonymous shitposting solves *absolutely nothing* vs what can be achieved by people willing to stand up and say We Should Fix This. Eh well, like I said: a good book, and the hockey parts of it are as fun as such parts could be for a non-hockey-loving reader like me. 🙂

    1. I may be imagining this but…I feel like every couple of months you swear off hockey books forever…yes? no?

      1. Hmm. I thought that was FrozenPond, but maybe it was someone else in the hockey club. If it doesn’t have tentacles, I don’t tend to write it down.

          1. I am neither a hockey nor a tentacle fan, but if there were a tentacle hockey romance, I think I would have to give it a shot!

          2. Jenny, you have no idea how often I’ve pined for that very genre to exist. So far the goddesses have remained silent.

      2. IIrc, Chacha1 never was too fond of hockey? But would give potentially good stories a try anyway?

      3. That brutal Taylor Fitzpatrick one was the first time I said ‘enough’ but this time I think I’m serious. The book would have to be generating some serious buzz and not have any of my red flags.

          1. well, it’s more like ‘tropes & settings I generally dislike’ than red flags. 🙂
            I don’t like:
            ‘retiring to small town because it’s so much better than big city.’ It isn’t, typically, for queer people.
            ‘I’ve decided never to fall in love again.’ Gimme a break.
            ‘I hate you but I want to f**k you stupid.’ Ugh, grow up.
            ‘I’m more important so you have to do all the work / make all the compromises.’ (It’s amazing how often that comes across in a book description.)
            ‘I’m a one-and-done player but your magic a@@ will make me faithful forevermore.’ No, it won’t.
            ‘I have no idea what I want in a relationship or how to be in one but your magic a@@ will sort me out.’ Probably not, actually; go get therapy.

            I have compromised on all of those because in the right hands they can produce surprisingly good books, but combined with a sport I don’t like, it’s just NOPE.

      4. I really enjoyed the Graham effect this week about the daughter of the MC of the deal.

        There is this texts chain at one point which had me in complete stitches.

        And I like that the hero is pretty much the opposite of a smooth talker.

  23. Read Lady Avery and the False Butler by Sofi Laporte – which was okay but not nearly as good as the previous ones in the series, not sure I will buy the next one. Pretty much what it says in the title, but just didn’t do it for me at all.

    For the Love of Magic by Lucy Martin – the last in a series and was really good. It tied up all the outstanding issues and redeemed a character in a really believable way.

    The Challoner Bride by Stephanie James which is the first of the re-readings of these JAK that I enjoyed.

    Don’t Breathe a Word by Christie Craig, second in a series of police cold case books and just as good as the first. A scarred hero with a tea-cup poodle, has a woman on the run and a scared, scared little girl move in next door. Great story.

    Now reading Gallant Waif by Anne Gracie – a really old book that was a RITA finalist in 1999 that is being issued with a terrible cover! Great story about a wounded soldier hiding from the world and a feisty woman who wants him to rejoin the human race. Set in 1812 after the Peninsular war.

    Went to the library on the way back from getting a hair cut (yay I look like myself again after getting 2″ cut off), and picked up three books I had ordered. Got thoroughly soaked as it is teaming down. Went on a tram to the hairdresser so really getting adventurous with my crutches. Grateful I am able to do this five weeks after a hip replacement. May pay for it tomorrow but I won’t care ‘cos I got a haircut!

      1. Thank you Aunt Snack. I am building up my stamina and testing out the trams. Next week a longer tram journey to get my spring COVID vaccine. The trams are level to get on and off and are a smooth ride with plenty seats. The buses not so much of any of that – will not be getting on a bus for a few months yet, which limits my travel around the city, however, I am very lucky to live in a city with trams 🙂

  24. I enjoyed what everybody was reading. I finished Mona Lisa’s daughter by Belle Ami. A fun read. Bell does really good historical research and makes a plausible history.

    In the resplendent glory of Renaissance Florence, Leonardo da Vinci meets Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a silk merchant, forging a friendship that transcends the conventional roles of artist and muse. Their bond yields what many consider the greatest masterpiece the world has ever known, but also harbors a shared secret that must be kept hidden at all costs.

    Fast forward four centuries to the dawn of World War II, where in the shadow of fascist rule, fear grips the city of Florence. It is here that young nun Valentina Amati shoulders the duty of safeguarding a hidden cache of letters exchanged between Leonardo and Lisa. However, as the malevolence of Hitler’s Nazis marches ever closer, Valentina finds herself haunted by her own past and ensnared in a perilous web of secrets that threaten not only her life but also the sanctuary she has vowed to protect.
    Then after reading about brownies and broomsticks here, I took it out of the library. And discovered I’d already read it, but I read it again anyway because I’m pretty much on mind. Then I took a book out, called it small medium at large that looks cute and funny. It’s a mid-grade novel.
    Good morning good luck
    I am in a skilled nursing facility. Which is pretty much a lot of waiting around for somebody to notice you. As of yet, I can’t get out of bed by myself. But when the physical therapy people come, they help me get out of bed and I have been in a wheelchair three times. And I walked a few steps with the help of walker I have a long way to go. But I see progress and I am very happy. Today’s exciting question is are they going to manage to get me to the doctor to have my staples removed and my bandage changed. Apparently they thought I should have to handle this myself which I can’t do.
    The nursing home was supposed to make a reservation for the ambulance. But I did learn there’s two kinds of ambulance transportation one is just basically gurney no attendance just a ride lying down.
    That’s what they were supposed to arrange. When I transferred to this facility from the hospital last Friday, they had an order to do that. My appointment is for three today. It is now 945 here and I haven’t heard anything yet but as of last night they had not made the reservation.
    This one really comes with a cliffhanger deadline because this is the only day I can see the surgeon. He is leaving for Vietnam tomorrow and the only way to get there by ambulance. The world is certainly full of interesting adventures. More to be revealed.

    1. Best of luck and a speedy recovery! Sending ambulance-loads of healing-vibes.

    2. Dear god, Susan, fingers crossed for you. I hate being in those situations where you’re waiting on everybody else not to screw up without any recourse. Good luck.

  25. I’ve just finished rereading The Goblin Emperor, which was great, as usual; had seriously confusing names & too many characters, as usual; and left me wanting more and rather floundering for a segue, as usual. I’ve hit on Touch Not the Cat by Mary Stewart, but it doesn’t really go. Hope I can change gears fast.

    1. PS. Evidently not been reading my booking details carefully enough, though it felt like I’d checked them umpteen times. Just discovered that I’d booked two places for our last night on Tuesday, and nowhere for tomorrow, when I mistakenly thought we started our stay on the Burren. So have been reading Booking.com and the Rough Guide to Ireland simultaneously, and have managed to book a farmhouse B&B en route (which will mean tomorrow is less of a marathon). Also in time to cancel the duplicate last night for free. But I’m worn out. Going to resist more strongly in future any friend who leaves things to the last minute, so everything’s done under pressure. (Both landladies – here and at the place I thought I’d booked starting tomorrow – have been incredibly kind and helpful, like almost everyone we’ve met here.)

  26. I like avocado and cheese toasted. with black pepper. Maybe some Ranch.

    Here is my contribution to the day –
    Is there anything as rewarding as when a guy climbs up out of your septic tank and says to you “You’re doing a great job. Keep it up. Whatever you are doing.”

    I mean, wow.
    I feel seen.

    LOL.


    I did need a pump out but when I told them it had been ten years they came prepared for a shit ton of shit and that wasn’t the case.

    Also, the pump motor was burned up but there were no roots or other problems I expected.

    Have a great rest of the week.
    And may you have someone compliment you on your shit today too.

    1. It’s funny how a comment like that can mean so much. The bloke who cleans the flue of my woodheater once a year always comments on what a great woodheater it is, and how it’s in way better condition than it should be, given its age. And I always feel so gratified!

  27. I got two Jill Shalvis books to read on the plane on the way back and forth to California (and at my parents’ house in between). The first one, alas, was a tactical error of epic proportions, because it was an earlier book and it turns out I don’t like her early books. Instant Attraction was the title, and literally the only thing in the book. There was no story in that story. Just a lot of lusting after someone, deciding they couldn’t be together, having lots of sex anyway. Rinse and repeat. DNF.

    Thankfully, the second book, Love for Beginners, is a lot better (much more recent) and I’ll probably finish that one. But having read a bunch of hers in a row, I’m starting to see patterns that make me feel like I’m reading the same book over and over, so I’m probably done with this author for now. Which is too bad, since I really liked the first few of hers I stumbled across.

    1. JS wrote some real stinkers back in the day—I find that comforting as someone who’s still early on in my own career…

      1. I am actually glad to hear you both say this because I only read her early on and I have never understood the love for her here. I’ll see if I can find something more recent at the library!

      2. Honestly, this was such a stinker, I don’t know how her career progressed at all! And yet she got much better, so I’m glad it did. From now on, I’ll make sure to check the publication date…

        1. Did you ever read Sizzle? A lot of us had trouble with the earlier books. I actually wrote one that had a prologue.

    2. I got some very early JAK and Amanda Quick books for cheap recently, but ended up begrudging even the cheap money. I’m now thinking most romances earlier than say, 2010, by most authors, are going to be a problem.

  28. After 1.5 week of only watching Disney or random silly stuff on Youtube, I’m rereading Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett. Found a quote from it in my quotes-collection on Goodreads yesterday, and that’s when I knew that was the right book for now.

    Medical report: They didn’t find anything. I’m healthy as a horse. Internist at this hospital is done too, saying either that it might go over by itself, or it might be something unexplainable, OR it COULD maybe possibly be something neurological, but she can’t do anything more anyway. She sees a lot of people with “unexplainable problems”, apparently. Not sure if that was supposed to be comforting words? If we want further examinations done, we have to go through the GP again. She said she’ll send GP a letter and write that a neurological check could possibly be done, since there allegedly *are* neurological problems that can cause these symptoms, but the GP has the final decision there and it’ll have to be at our local hospital.
    I AM NOT GOING THROUGH THE GP AGAIN. I can’t do it. I just can’t. He has already decided I’m nuts and now that he’s getting more evidence that I’m just making things up or seek attention or WHATEVER he’s decided I’m doing… No. No. I can’t. I don’t know what to do from here. I don’t have any power left to fight this. I am so tired and I don’t know how to *not* give up. I was doing so good and now everything feels pointless.
    And now I am crying. Again.
    Back to my book. Maybe, just maybe it can save a sliver of my sanity.

    1. If your GP isn’t listening to you and respecting you, Shass, I think your priority needs to be finding a GP that does. Maybe if you ask around you’ll hear of someone good?

    2. Shass, I second Jane. Time to find a new GP. My sympathies: It shouldn’t be this complicated.

    3. My firm sponsored a webinar today featuring Dr. Elizabeth Comen, author of “It’s All In Her Head,” and based on the presentation I would say everybody here? Get yourself a copy. I’m getting one for me, one for my sister, one for my BFF … .

    4. Doctors, ugh. I agree that trying to find a new GP is a priority, although I hope it isn’t as difficult where you are as it is here. (Serious medical shortages mean not enough doctors, and all the good ones aren’t taking new patients.) So many hugs.

      1. No kidding. I’ve been here nine months, no GP. I finally found one last December, and got an appt for day before yesterday. Six months wait. I show up, hand in my insurance card, she said, “We don’t take this insurance.” I said, “You did when I made the appt. in Dec.” She said, “We changed in January.”

        Change GPs, Shass.

    5. I am so sorry! This is awful.

      I don’t know your system . Can you change GPs to someone more sympathetic?

    6. Get a new GP. I have no idea how difficult that is there, but your GP is not good and does not deserve you. He should be punished by you leaving him. Possibly with some graffiti on his door, but possibly not.

      1. I am partial to glitter bombs myself. It’s hell getting hot pink glitter out of carpeting.

    7. I’ve been thinking about this news. I realize how terribly upsetting it is not to know what is going on and to have to find a way around the bad GP… I feel awful for you about that.

      But I’m happy for you that they didn’t find anything because the things they could have found were potentially really problematic.

    8. This must be so so hard for you, Shass. Please take care & try to hold on to the fact that whilst it is hugely disappointing you have ruled this out as the problem.
      I hope you can get recommendations for a GP whom you can feel is listening to and respecting you and will work with you to continue to seek answers & solutions for your health issues. Even though the cause of your health issues are as yet undetermined you deserve to get the medical care you need to identify & have them treated.

  29. I got really burned by Cat Rambo’s You Sexy Thing this week. I was promised Great British Bake Off meets Farscape. Instead, I got some really horrific violence/torture and the death of a main secondary character. I don’t know who green-lit that description, but they are OFF my holiday card list!

    I read a few okay cozies. Am currently reading and overall enjoying Nora Roberts’ Inheritance. Her books don’t often hit for me, but this one is good so far.

    1. Ew. That is not fun at all.

      Alexis hall did a GBBO spinoff. The first one is Rosaline Palmer takes the Cake, which wasn’t my favorite of his, but still decent. M/F. I haven’t read the second one yet, Paris something is Starting to Crumble. Apparently the main character’s anxiety is a lot to deal with.

      Lucy Parker has one too, Battle Royal, which I enjoyed. Cozy, fluffy romcom material. YMMV.

      1. I Liked Rosaline Palmer pretty well, but didn’t adore it.

        Paris Daillancourt’s anxiety was definitely a LOT. It’s not so much a romance as a book about Paris’ personal crash and regrowth. With romantic elements. I’ve never reread it. Alexis Hall is hit or miss for me and this was a miss.

        1. Yeah, I didn’t like Paris Daillancourt. The whole thing was about his anxiety, over and over again. Nothing even started to change until about 4/5 through the book. It was too much.

          1. I could not agree more. This one soon had *me* feeling anxious whenever I picked it up to read it! At first it was fine because there were some good humorous lines buried in there. BUT the endless anxiety just got be too much so I finally just skimmed in order to find out what happened.

    2. Back to add that I ended up finding Inheritance really tedious, and there’s a cliffhanger ending. Probably won’t bother with the next book, honestly.

  30. Sofi Laporte’s A Mistletoe Promise was a charming and heartwarming historical romance, a Christmas novella. It was quiet but enjoyable.
    Nan Reinhardt’s Home to River’s Edge, a contemporary romance, didn’t impress me. I finished it, but it was weak.
    So was Jayne Davis’s latest book, Fair Ellen. I expected better from this writer. A number of her books – she writes historical romances – are excellent.

  31. My grilled cheese sandwich of choice is American cheese and sliced tomato on whole wheat slathered with butter on both sides and either done up in a pan on the stove or I’ll take out the George Forman and fancy it up to get the grill marks. Last week we had hot pastrami with Swiss and mustard on marble rye bread made with the George. Delish!

    This week I read Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews. There was only one thing I was upset about but it is a spoiler and I’m not going to say. Could be it is just me. I got through the book even though it kept nagging me. All in all, it is a typical Mary Kay Andrews.

    1. Summers at the Saint is on my TBR. I usually enjoy hers but I’ll see. That was like Dark Matter. Something in it bothered me and was never resolved or even mentioned again.

      1. My panini maker lives on my counter since I discovered I can use it to make toast. So I always use it for my grilled cheese sandwiches (a little Major Grey’s chutney adds some zing).

  32. Listening to Funny Story by Emily Henry. I’m really enjoying it, the male main character is a funny, apparently loose, guy, without being a manic pixie guy. He’s made me laugh several times, Henry has given him a playfulness that is refreshing. I’m about half way through, and so far, pretty good. I like her, too. This while reading Patricia Rice’s third book in her Gravesyde Priory Mystery series. She makes no attempt a reproducing the language of the time, but I enjoy the idea of people bringing an old mansion back to life, and finding family and work there. It only needs more dogs.

  33. Just finished THE DUTCH HOUSE by Ann Padgett. I actually listened to the audiobook, performed by Tom Hanks. As an audiobook narrator as well as a writer, I was in heaven. Is there NOTHING that man can’t do??!! Next, I’m gonna read AGNES AND THE HITMAN, which I just pulled down from my shelf … so fun to be part of this community! Thank you!

  34. I attempted and DNF several books for one reason or another. One book had all the male characters being obnoxious as hell while the female characters were saints in the first few chapters I read and so I put it down. Maybe in later chapters, there is more balance, but I don’t know, I just get a bad vibe from those first fiew chapters.

    In another book, the protagonist who was a physically gifted athlete, rich, young, and apparently, very good-looking, was nasty to someone who was more vulnerable. And, apparently, the reader was supposed to be applaud the action because the protagonist had been emotionally abused. Bah!

    I finished “Footsteps In The Dark: A M/M Romance Anthology”. I only liked 3 authors from the anthology: Nicole Kimberling, Dal Maclean and Josh Lanyon. Dal Maclean frustrates me. I loved her first book – “Bitter Legacy”, really hated her second book “Object of Desire” and thought her story in this anthology was the best story in it. I loved that story.

    I am now reading Tansy Robert’s book that just won an award from Australia, “Time of the Cat” about time travellers from the far future. Apparently, all cats can travel through time and if a human manages to bond with a cat, the cat can take the human with it. It’s pretty humorous so far and I like it.

    1. I bounced off of Object of Desire pretty hard and I think it soured me on Maclean. That, and I really didn’t like what happened to Steggie and why. But the short in Footsteps in the Dark was poignant and well done.

    2. Tansy won THREE categories in the latest Aurealis Awards. Best Science Fiction Novel, Best Fantasy Novella, and Best Fantasy Short Story. Quite an achievement!

  35. I read Time of the Cat by Tansy Rayner Roberts. Where apparently cats are necessary to successfully travel in time, and the appropriate ratio is one human to one cat. But things are going wrong and no one quite knows why. It’s kind of fun, with some darker undertones.

    I also read Emma Jameson’s new Dr. Benjamin Bones novel, Bones Buried Deep. Their set during WWII and Dr. Bones, who is lame in one leg, has been sent to the Cornish countryside to serve as the only physician for fifty miles, and he keeps stumbling across mysteries. In this one a dead body is discovered in a storm swollen creek that came from a bigger city miles away.

    And apparently I had never recommend Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor to my wife before, which she read after I mentioned it, and immediately went on to devour Witness for the Dead, Grief of Stones and The Angel of the Crows.

  36. I finished Boys in the Boat. It was wonderful and I’m recommending it to everyone. Even if you don’t normally read non fiction or “that kind of book”. So riveting even knowing they win!

    Those I know who read it and watched the movie were disappointed in the latter so I don’t plan to watch it until the book euphoria fades and I can watch it for free.

  37. Managed to delete a long draft post in my notes app.  Aaugh!  Short version: 

    Robert Jackson Bennett, The Tainted Cup.  Fantasy mystery novel.  I thought somebody here had recommended it, but could not find who via Google.  Systematic error on my part or something is going on that I don’t understand.   Publisher calls it a Holmes-Watson story, but it’s really a Nero Wolfe–Archie Goodwin type, with an nearly immobile Great Detective and her leg man, who is both better at observation and more capable in a fight than Watson.  (He is also dyslexic, part of a recent trend in genre fiction to represent more ability ranges.)  Solving one mystery reveals a thread to another, and so forth.  Plot against the Empire itself seems to be showing itself, with more to come in presumable sequels.  I found the novel enjoyable and gripping. 

    Posting this much just in case.  In fact, I’m near my daily writing cutoff, so I’ll hold over the rest.

  38. Read a couple of Regencies which were meh. Now have started KJ Charles death in the Spires. It’s not a meh.

  39. I am rotating between more Chalet School books (six hardbacks bought for £20 from Facebook marketplace, absolute bargain!) and Mick Herron’s Slough House spy stories to get me back in the modern world.

  40. @Patrick M. Perhaps it was me who recommended The Tainted Cup, which I enjoyed as I have all those of Bennett’s novels that I’ve read. I find the Watsony/Archie sidekick endearing. I’m looking forward to volume 2.

    I’m currently reading Confessions of a Bookseller (Shaun Bythell), a somewhat acerbic, but charming, memoir set in Wiggtown (Scotland). What a business!

    Also listening to Lies Sleeping (Aaronovitch), perhaps my favourite and so well read. The scene in the oubliette with Foxglove telling her life story…

  41. Gys and gals, GLITTERLAND is on sale world wide for a day, Alexis Hall announced in his newsletter today. USD 1,99.
    Lots of love from Dodo-scrooge

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