This is a Good Book Thursday, May 30, 2024

This week I found that unicorn, a brand new book series that was wonderful, thanks to Gary+Hayenga: the Emma Jameson Dr. Bones mysteries. Also thanks to Gary, I spend two days reading all four books, they were that good. Thank you, Gary.

What did you read this week?

151 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, May 30, 2024

  1. Well, I have been reading new books too as well as old favourites.
    Nicky Pellegrino writes books set in Italy which are full of food and also some romance but I wouldn’t call them romances as the love stories are not always that central. I have been reading them in publication order as I was warned there are recurrent characters and I am glad I did. The most romancey ones I have read so far, I suppose, are the Villa girls and the Food of love cookery school but I have enjoyed all of them including the one about Mario Lanza who I didn’t know was a real person.

    In between, I have reread The Unknown Ajax and some Vorkosigan as I have made my way through the transcripts of the My word as Vorkosigan Plot Trysts podcasts. It was really interesting to see in those how each invited author came accross Bujold’s books. It was also interested to learn that Bujold started off reading SF and Fantasy and came accross Romance later, which is exactly what I did too.

    1. As I noted before, that’s what I did too, through a late 1960s thing for Georgette Heyer among sf fans, but if males are going to try romance at all, that’s probably a fairly common route.

    2. I, too, am reading Georgette Heyer, although mine is a re-read of all of my favorites. This week I went through (listened to) Sprig Muslin, The Foundling, and Cotillion — the latter two of which feature heroes who are not her typical types, and which I find to be entirely charming. Cotillion, in particular, is delightful, as it features a lovely “friends to lovers” plotline and a hero who appears to have quite a few more brains and a bit more common sense than he credits himself for! Every time I re-read Heyer, I am hard-pressed to decide which of her books I like the best!

      Otherwise, I’ve been reading the Crossroads Queen series by Anabel Chase, about a woman with some power she tries to hide who buys a big ol’ rambling house outside of a town she intends to avoid, but instead keeps getting roped into helping people despite herself. Chase writes really charming light urban fantasy.

      1. (Previously I’d read Heyer’s Regency Buck, Black Sheep, Arabella, Lady of Quality, The Nonesuch, The Corinthian, The Talisman Ring, The Grand Sophy, and Frederica.)

      2. Cotillion’s Freddy is my favourite Heyer hero. So lovely and kind and the exact opposite of the standard Regency hero which she also created.

  2. I have bought the first book in the Dr Bones series, and have high hopes for it, Jenny.

    This week I read: The No-Show by Beth O’Leary. I really enjoyed this – one man, three women, all of them falling in love with him and him apparently cheating on all of them. I couldn’t work out how it was going to end, and once I realised what was going on I had to go back and reread bits of it. I think it’s a bit of a love/hate book.

    Nancy Martin’s Little Black Book of Murder This is one of the Blackbird Sisters books, and it took me a while to warm to it, but I ended up loving it. Thanks to whoever recommended these.

    This Book Kills by Ravena Guron. YA. A scholarship girl at an elite private school writes a murder mystery and someone kills the school’s most popular boy using the same arcane method as in the story. Great protagonist, good mystery, and very little of the angst overload that so many YA books carry.

    Women, Men & the Whole Damned Thing by David Leser. A thoughtful and nuanced dive into the #metoo movement and beyond, including the tensions between second and third wave feminism. Probably another love/hate book in that women on goodreads are giving him flack on the grounds that a man shouldn’t be writing about violence towards women. And at the same time demanding that men take ownership of the problem. Damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t, I guess. I thought it was a great book.

    1. I loved The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary and also enjoyed The Switch. The N0-Show left me feeling a bit resentful of being manipulated by the author.
      But I am cautiously still interested in her books because she can write.

  3. Alright, time to hallucinate wildly staring at the tattooed shavings of dead trees.

    (Is there a better description of Good Book Thursdays? There must be! This one ignores ebooks and audiobooks.)

    I mistakenly posted my GBT post yesterday. I can only add more videos and a reread of SECURITY SOLUTIONS by Bjorn Hasseler. More “Ring of Fire” universe. The next chapter of VARIATION ON A THEME won’t post until ~08:30.

  4. After a couple of weeks of meh reads, there were some really good books in the last ten days.

    A friend, who’s a medical chemist, handed me “Ultra-Processed People” by Chris van Tulleken, which I belatedly realised was already on my tbr after KJ Charles recommended it saying “Ooooh boy. Could have listed it under horror, tbh.” Engagingly written, and I have no idea if the science stacks up but it seems to make sense. Enough that I pretty much immediately changed my food choices. Plus just fascinating.

    Speaking of KJ Charles, I read her “The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting”: Regency gentleman is suspicious of niece’s suitor, only to fall in love. Just lovely.

    Finally read the much recommended “We Could Be So Good” by Cat Sebastian, which was just as good as everyone says. Ended it with a fragile sense of hope, that the future can be better.

    Also loved “Managed” by Kirsten Callihan – m/f contemporary grumpy and sunshine meet on a plane. Excellent banter and enjoyed where it ended up.

    Liked “Saga: Vol 1” by Brian K. & Fiona Staples Vaughan. I like that this is a couple on the run, having adventures with a new baby, but the story didn’t quite come together for me. I’ve seen recommendations for the later volumes so I’m wondering whether to continue the series.

    1. Oops, sorry should be ” Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples” – not sure how I didn’t see that before posting.

    2. The beginning is very beginning-ish. I loved the whole thing, but it is very disorganized. Lying Cat is the Best. You must skip ahead to some Lying Cat if you don’t want to read it all.

    3. I read a few of the Saga graphic novels years ago while the series was in progress, but they never really grabbed me. Partly because they used language and images from sf while completely ignoring (as opposed to rationalizing away) real science. Some people can tolerate that, but I will leave them to it.

    4. Lore Olympus is quite good and almost finished if you are looking for Graphic Novels. I like the art style a lot, although it was formatted for vertical reading on a webtoon, not landscape style book pages.

      1. Mainly at the moment I’m reading the Hugo shortlist, but I’m enjoying some of the graphic novels so will definitely start adding more graphic novels to my shortlist. My previous exposure was only really Ursula Vernon’s “Digger” stories.

  5. I love Emma Jameson’s Lord and Lady Hetheridge series (contemporary mysteries). Great characters and good prose, a cut above many self published mysteries. Happy you called my attention to her other ones!

  6. Read/listened to The Deal thanks to Jenny’s rec. LOVED it. Gteat characters, very good story. As Jenny said: each intimate scene has meaning. And wow, what a great guy!!

    Warming up to audios after the successes with Ari Baran’s audios. The Deal was fantastically narrated by the male narrator, less so by the female one who sounded very dull to me (I almost didn’t like the FMC because of it).

    Of course then I had to continue with The Graham Effect and also LOVED it. The FMC is very sex positive and really an athlete staminawise. I’m rather oldfashioned so it took me a while to get used to it. But boah, that book was also intense.

    Jenny, with these books you sent me on a road of bad decisions when it comes to sleep. At least, I don’t have to work, so nights spent reading instead of sleeping only fog my brain, not work. Couldn’t put them down x nights in a row, sigh. Even got dh the ebook even though he won’t find the time to read ot. At least, it’s fm so he would read it.

    And yes, the protagonists in both books are hockey players, in the latter even both protags. But both books are fm, so brought me back from the mm reading streak.

    The Dixon Rule is already downloaded, I’m too curious about two side characters. And will definitely read book 3 in this series.

    1. The Deal seems to be a good one for guys to start with. My nephew told me recently that baseball superstar Bryce Harper had been reading it and given it a plug about a year ago.

    2. You know there are a lot more books in The Deal series, right? The first series is about the other guys in the house and they’re all different and all good. Then there’s a second series of four, equally good. And a collection of novellas that follow the relationships after college which I think is just fan service but they’re fine.

      1. Yes, there’s a wealth of stories around Briar U, so far those 2 sucked me in. And I had it already available.
        Dd is very frustrated with me that I don’t always read a series in chronological order. 😀

      2. FYI The Deal has been reissued as an “updated, edited version.” I probably don’t remember the original well enough to know what’s changed, but just reading the first few pages, it seems different.

        I hate when they do that. The most egregious case (that I can think of offhand) was Winging It by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James. I had no idea it had been “updated,” so I thought I had lost my mind rereading it, because it was so different from what I remembered. One example: in the original, there’s a whole plot point of the main characters trying to help the rookie win the Calder. It’s completely gone in the edited version, but a later book in the series refers to his Calder, which would confuse a reader who had also read the new one. Those authors said that they had gotten feedback that the book was too long, too confusing, with too much hockey. I say, use that feedback to inform the next books you write, but leave the old ones alone.

        1. Damn, now I’m going to have to check which one I have (for both of those).

          I guess its up to the authors, but I’d really like it if they were clear about what’s changed and made the old editions available. I can understand particularly if there’s something problematic (such as someone convinced them of the evils of smoking, benefits of safe sex etc etc) but isn’t hugely plot-relevant so they make some minor changes, but whole plot lines is rather much.

          1. I havrn’t read the original edition of Winging It but read some dnippet by the authors: it seems to have been more hockey heavy (imo good but probably less attractive to the average reader) and rooted in real life NHL hockey instead of a fictionalized one (I appreciate it when there’s a clear distinction from real life).

          2. If you have the Kindle edition, it automatically updates to the new one. I had the old one of both The Deal and Winging It, and they are the new ones now.

          3. Automatic updating is not good – particularly if they don’t ask. One of my friends lived in China for a while, and found some versions changed to match Chinese censorship standards.

            Its one of the reasons I try to keep my e-library offline as much as possible to prevent that sort of thing.

        2. Yes that one confused me too, Jen. I kept thinking to myself: “wow this sounds awfully familiar”. But not familiar enough to stop reading. Ah well, bake a pie, eat a pie.

  7. Nice! I am mostly re-listening this week.

    I am working my way through Rhomiko and the Confirmed Bachelor by Forthright, the last of this series. It’s mostly tying up loose ends, of which there are a lot, so I am fine with that. It’s got the signature cozy style with tons of found family, which is what I am really showing up for. But it definitely doesn’t stand alone. The author uses an interesting structure, I assume it’s a fanfic thing, where the stories overlap everywhere.

  8. The Dr. Bones books have just moved up to the top of my tbr pile and it turns out I had already purchased the first one! Yay!

    There wasn’t much time for reading this week what with lots of birding, traveling and, of course, NHL playoffs.

    I reread a few Josh Lanyon stories: “Don’t Look Back” and “The French have a word for it”. I still like them both — lots of emotion packed into these M/M short stories/novellas.

    I read Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro which was interesting. So well written but quite depressing. The story takes place in a dystopian future where human kids are genetically modified and where they have robot friends who are arguably more sentient than the human kids. I doubt I’ll reread this one but I won’t forget it either.

    Finally, I just finished Death in the Spires by KJ Charles which I loved despite what seemed to me like a slow start. This was more a mystery than a romance but it was lovely.

    Finally, as my hockey obsession shows no sign of abating, I am listening to Wayne Gretzky’s “99 Stories” which I’m loving. Each story is short and provides the history and background of hockey-related things like the Art Ross, the Vezina trophy and other hockey awards. All together the stories are an excellent way to help understand hockey, learn its history and hear some both hilarious and tragic stories. All done with a very light touch. I’m already searching for my next hockey non-fiction book.

        1. Well, the word depends on where you are in the story. I seem to recall “je ne sais quoi” “je t’aime” and “petit dejeuner” being just a few… 🙂

          1. Speaking of French and Josh Lanyon…the last novella in The Irregulars was by Josh Lanyon which takes place in Montreal. I went audio book route, and listening to the American narrator botch the Quebecois accent by turning it into a bad Parisienne one was painful enough but then…the last phrase of the entire novella was in French and I couldn’t understand it at all! Thought my limited French was the problem so played it for a bilingual friend and she couldn’t understand it either. So I downloaded the book from the library and went to the last phrase so she could read it and finally it was comprehensible – why oh why Josh approved that narrator I do not know.

    1. I read Klara and the Sun some time back. Kazuo Ishiguro is a powerful write and an original thinker. My favorite of his is Never Let Me Go where cloned people, who are most certainly people, are raised and kept around for spare parts for their originals. Ishiguro will make you think fir sure. Just realized he also wrote Remains of the Day. Didn’t read the book, though I saw the movie.

      1. Remains of the Day is one of those books that makes me tear up just thinking about it. I must have read it at a particularly sensitive time or something because it remains for me one of the saddest books ever. Such a brilliant writer.
        I agree Never Let Me Go was brilliant too.

  9. It must have been someone here who recommended this, but I don’t remember anyone saying how funny Abby Jimenez is. I read Yours Truly, where two ER docs agree to the fake relationship, and fall for each other, but don’t know whether the feelings are reciprocated. It is so much better than my description just there, with the added bonus that I was cackling out loud while I was reading it. An example, they talk about what to get for dinner – one suggesting Taco Bell, the other declining because it would cause digestive issues. The next day, a bag of Taco Bell is delivered to the first MC, with the note “the heart wants what the heart wants”. The other MC replies with a note “if you find me in the bathroom later, know I died doing what I loved.” It was hysterically funny. Added bonus for HEA.

    1. I may have started the latest round of recommendations but who cares. What’s lovely about this blog is that someone recommends a book and the week after several people have read it too and also recommend and even more people read it and then 3 weeks later someone else recommends and eventually if it is recommended enough it starts having cult status.
      An incredibly nice book club where nobody is forced to read anything but can still exchange about books they discover and love at any point in time.

      1. It’s like an echo that dies away and then somehow mysteriously starts up again.

        1. I tend to be way behind on the recommendations curve, as well as way late in my reactions to the Thursday Good Books posts, so I often don’t think it would be useful to mention that I’ve finally gotten around to reading books recommended here months ago, I don’t remember by who, and liked them too.
          Like Tess of the Emerald Sea, or most recently the first two of Gin Jones’ Helen Binney series, interspersed with some of Sophie Laporte historical romances.

          A bit “mustard after the meal” as the Dutch phrase is, to add on Sunday to a Thursday thread that I too enjoyed some of the recommendations from a few months ago?

          Anyway, I don’t chip in all that often here, but I do enjoy quite a lot of the recommendations!

          1. That’s exactly how I feel about my contributions — ‘who wants to hear about this so long after someone mentioned it?’ Thanks for saying this! Makes me feel a bit better. Just a bit….

          2. I get the impulse but it is a self-fulfilling prophecy isn’t it – if we don’t post responses on Friday or Saturday because the conversation is over – then the conversation will be over 🙂

            And I like the conversation, so speaking for myself, please post!

      2. That’s exactly why I started High Noon by Nora Roberts instead of diving into my holds. Based on the recommendation on an Argher last week I realized I had never read that book. And lo and behold I’m into it.

      3. And one of the nicest things is that if I don’t pick up on a recommendation the first time, if the book’s good it’ll come back again and again until I give in.

    2. Nancy, thanks for the heads up on this author, she is new to me. I checked my library, and it had the first book in the series Part of Your World. I’m on a wait list for it but I don’t mind. I can be patient. I do have to go over there to pick up Kristan Higgins new book, Look on the Bright Side. So, I’ll be busy.

  10. I read TA Moore’s Swipe, which starts out as one of her usual good guy/bad guy stories with doctor and bike gang member MC’s and then takes an interesting twice. Totally readable.

    Then I read Lupe’s reco, The Engineer by CS Poe, which is set in an alt-history, steampunk the US in the 1800’s. I liked both the MC’s, again with a good guy/bad guy trope, but I really liked the bad guy, Gunner the Deadly, whose low affect and surprising warmth caught me off guard. So I read the next two in the series, The Gangster and the Doctor, which were even better. Looking forward to the last two when they come out.

    Yes, also watching the playoffs. Sigh.

        1. Isn’t it great? These teams are certainly keeping it interesting! It’s definitely cutting down on time for other stuff but it is sooo worth it!

          1. Yeah, any of these 4 teams could win the Cup. Who do you root for?
            In the Eastern Conference I lean towards the NYR because of Wennberg (i.e. ex-Kraken), I don’t much like the Panthers except for Barkov who seems to be a genuinely nice guy.

          2. I’m limply rooting for the Oilers overall because Canadian. Now that the homophobic Staal brothers are gone from the Panthers, they are far more rootable (word?) but I’m all for the Rangers on the American side.

          3. The oilers don’t have a single US American iirc?
            Canadians, Swedes, one German.
            And a captain (and team members) who once in a while tapes his stick with the rainbow tape.
            I definitely root for them. A pity that the Canucks and Oilers were pitched against each other.

          4. The difference between the American/Canadian definition of ‘rooting’ and the Australian definition always makes me snigger like a twelve year old. Especially when Tammy describes someone as ‘rootable’.

          5. I love you Arghers!!
            Where else would I get from books to hockey to searching the internet for the Australian meaning of “to root”. Fascinating!!! Lol!!
            Thanks, Lian and Tammy 😀

          6. I had no idea of the alternate uses of the verb “to root”. All I can say, Lian, is that a dirty mind is a joy forever. And I hope you like the Engineer. And wow, I can’t wait until Hudson River Homicides comes out. And I’d like to see that romance pushed along a little further…

      1. Thank for the lesson in Aussie slang. Vocabulary lessons are alway so much fun on Argh.

  11. So after reading the last available Rivers of London novel (“Amongst Our Weapons”), I felt enough confusion about the plot (which I’d consumed in small scraps, late at night before sleeping) that I decided to reread it immediately. And it began to make sense. The university ‘club’, the rings, the various dead bodies, the whole ‘angel’ thing, and then there were the ancient Italians and the backdrop of Jewish suppression in Spanish history — it was a lot to put together, but I really liked it.

    Has anybody heard when to expect the next installment? Oh, and also, is it worth collecting the entire graphic novel assortment as well?

    Thank you, folks! I’m so grateful this blog exists!!

    1. Yeah, I’m still confused on Amongst Our Weapons.
      I think the thing is, when the books were Peter vs the Faceless Man (which was four or five novels at least) everything made sense as it moved along. And then that arc was over (thank you, Leslie) and the books since then have been all over the place. Leslie isn’t a good antagonist because she’ll always protect Peter and those he loves. So at this point, she’s a loose end. A great loose end, but still. And there’s all this other stuff going on with no clear antagonist, except that Something in the Woodshed that smells like fish and stares back at Peter from inside the Mary Engine. I’ll still read any Rivers of London book, I love these characters and the setting and the premise so much, but what was watching Peter trying to figure out what the hell was real once he became a supernatural cop and watching Nightingale mentor him in new powers while Peter tried to make his hopeless love life work, is now Peter, a force in the police and supernatural worlds, happily in a relationship and the father of twins and about to take Nightingale’s place. So I think Aaronovitch has to reinvent the series in some way because Peter’s arc looks to be finished.

      And this is one way he might do it, a new novella out in September:
      Masquerades of Spring
      Ben Aaronovitch
      Gollancz, Orion Books
      Publication date
      5 September 2024
      Masquerades of Spring is an unpublished novella by Ben Aaronovitch, set in New York in the 20:s.
      Meet Augustus Berrycloth-Young – fop, flaneur, and Englishman abroad – as he chronicles the Jazz Age from his perch atop the city that never sleeps. That is, until his old friend Thomas Nightingale arrives, pursuing a rather mysterious affair concerning an old saxophone – which will take Gussie from his warm bed, to the cold shores of Long Island, and down to the jazz clubs where music, magic, and madness haunt the shadows…[1]

  12. I just got the next KJ Charles book -The Duke at Hazard – from NetGalley and might have stayed up too late reading it. I mean, I didn’t get less sleep than I often do from regular insomnia.


    I’m almost done and it’s good and worth it. But I was going to start work early today and now am thinking I should finish instead and start at my usual time.

  13. I’ve been reading Sayers and Heyer. The new book I read and really liked was “Shakespeare: The Man Who Pays The Rent” which is interviews with Judi Dench about all her Shakespeare roles. Really charming and insightful.

    1. I’ve been listening to the audio of the Judi Dench book which I first heard about from an Argher here who is located in Europe. It hadn’t come out here yet. It was an immediate pre-order for me and I haven’t regretted it! So much fun to listen to. She is charming and smart and funny.

  14. I started to check out the first Dr. Bones mystery, and Kindle told me I already owned it, which I turned out to, under its original title, Marriage Can Be Murder. When I started reading, I remembered absolutely nothing about it, but I discovered that various anachronistic words and phrases (one of my pet peeves) were highlighted. I surmise that I started it 10 years ago, soon after it was published, because I liked the other Emma Jameson series, and I seem to have bailed out (except for jumping to the ending), at about the point when it appears that the ghost is for real. (Thwarting reader expectations by changing genres partway through is another peeve.) By now I remember nothing about the ending and I have pushed on farther than my earlier highlighting, so I evidently like it more than the first time, but I still haven’t finished, so even now I probably don’t like it as much as Jenny does.

  15. I also wanted to note that today’s Wordle is reportedly at least as hard as yesterday’s, but I got it in 4 tries (in hard mode) with much less fear of failing than yesterday, between fairly intelligent play and a little luck. Given that I remembered that one possible answer had already appeared, I already had a guaranteed win after guess 3, assuming I thought of all the words.

    1. I got it in four, too. But I was annoyed, didn’t hit any green letters until third try. Grrrrr.

  16. Not a lot of reading this week. I finished Blast From the Past by Lucy Score and I enjoyed it despite the antics of the secondary characters getting a bit outlandish.

    I bought several books mentioned in GBT and planned to start them but got sick and instead of reading I laid on the couch and watched numerous episodes of the French series Murder In…

  17. Has anyone here read The Archers of Saint Sebastian by Jeanne Roland? It was recommended to me recently and sounded familiar. I wondered if I had read a review of it here?

  18. This week I have finished Jayne Anne Krentz’s Sleep No More, and am waiting for the next one to arrive in my reserves, and Susanna Kearsley’s Shadowy Horses. Thanks to whoever mentioned them, or mentioned something that led me to them. I could not choose what to read next of Kearsley’s, but that’s all right because my reserve queue speeded up and I am starting or in the middle of five books that I’m lukewarm about. All of them leave me feeling “That’s nice, but can we get to the end faster?” I don’t think it’s entirely the books’ fault, but what I’m rereading–Crazy for You (I had forgotten how utterly delightful the dog is; I was remembering it as more of a 4 than 5+ dog) and one of Jessie Mihalik’s series–is just going along as fast as can be. Maybe because they’ve worn grooves in my brain. Maybe because their pacing is better.

  19. I have this problem now… Maybe some of you have it too. I would read a LOT, left to my own devices, but have limited time due to working like a maniac. I am averaging reading about one book a week. Sometimes two if they are shorter or I manage to grab more time than I usually get. Meanwhile I continue to buy 3, 4 or more books a week! Hmmm.

    1. I bet you everyone on this site has this problem…or should we call it….opportunity??

      1. Probably true. I have a long list now on my computer that I add titles to every week. The good news – we will never run out of fascinating books! And discussions.
        : ]

    2. I like to think of myself as a collector and connoisseur. Would you chastise yourself for buying a bottle of wine and saving it for later, right? And my decor style is also books. I have thrifted three smallish bookshelves so far this year to add to my living room and free up floorspace. The transformation is very satisfying.

    3. When I had that problem, I told myself I would catch up after I retired. I haven’t! Some of it gets read, but some, still not. If you humanly can, I recommend slowing the acquisition down. If not, well, books are fairly cheap. I’ve spent more money to less effect in various other ways!

    4. I have been very disciplined since I started reading on Kindle. I never buy a new book before I have finished reading the previous one (even when I reading a series).
      On the other hand I have a mammoth TBR list 😀
      I do preorder books by my favourite authors and when those books arrive on my kindle, they feel like a lovely lovely surprise gift.

      1. I’m trying to get to that point, LN. I have been trying to get my Purchased and Unread pile down to five, from 30 for two years now and…hasn’t been working. But it’s still a goal.

      2. I just acquire books as soon as I decide I want them – I have this fear that they won’t be around later, particularly if its a smaller publisher. As Patrick says there are worse ways to spend money 🙂

        1. I second this. I have started budgeting for physical copies of self published and small publisher books that I enjoy. I like having a glossy paper copy on a shelf, even if I never crack the spine and I do worry that somehow, someway, my e-copy will disappear at the whim of a vengeful billionaire. I feel a little bit like a preservationist.

          1. I too buy hard copy duplicates in order to be ready for the zombie apocalypse…

    5. You are not alone. It’s an addiction… The good news is that somewhere along the line a wise person suggested I simply put the books on my Amazon “wish list”. This has helped considerably with the family finances!

      1. That’s what I do now. Before that my list was on my phone with some cryptic things like Tammy rec or not quite a romance or dark but good…

        1. I’m trying to get to that point, LN. I have been trying to get my Purchased and Unread pile down to five, from 30 for two years now and…hasn’t been working. But it’s still a goal.

        2. And PS – I think what you wrote above is the funniest sentence I’ve ever seen my name in.

          1. Well there are people on this blog whose recs I pay particular attention to because what they recommend I often like and you are one of them 😉

  20. I read an excellent mid-grade novel called The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson. Death, loss, magic, love, and friendship. Plus a magical house with chicken legs that picks up and moves when the mood strikes.
    I am currently reading WOLFSONG by TJ Klune, the first in a series. Werewolves, romance, suspense, mystery. Really good, as all of his are.

  21. I haven’t finished it yet (about halfway through), so no final verdict, but I’m listening to NK Jemison’s The City We Became, and I can definitely say the narrator is AMAZING. Lots of different (but natural-sounding) voices, and she clearly acts the story rather than straight reading it, but for the most part, it’s not overdone. There are a few special effects spots that I found annoying for being over the top, but that’s probably the producer’s fault, not the narrator’s.

    It’s not my usual cuppa’ — more allegorical and literary than I prefer — and I bounced off it the first time I tried to read it, when it was first getting a lot of acclaim, but on second try, I’m really enjoying it, and I think the narrator has a lot to do with it. I’m not sure I’d enjoy it as much in a text-based format.

    1. That narrator is amazing! Each voice distinct which is important for the story. Reading instead of listening wouldn’t be the same experience.

  22. I listened to and really enjoyed The Shabti by Megaera Lorenz. Was it recommended here? It’s very Josh Lanyon-esque, and Matt Haynes is even the narrator. I also read and enjoyed Paladin’s Grace by T. Kingfisher (Ursula Vernon). Some very funny passages—genuinely laughed out loud. Finished Inheritance by Nora Roberts before that—gosh, that was tedious in the end, and ended with a cliffhanger to boot. Won’t be continuing with that series.

      1. It was ok for a while, then it got to where the whole book felt like filler/set-up stuff. It wouldn’t need to be trilogy if the pacing had been at all on point!

  23. There’s a new Dandy Gilver novel out, which looks like it links back to the first, set 16 years before. Now it’s 1938, and everyone is trying very hard not to discuss the war on the horizon (unless you’re Dandy’s husband, Hugh, who has been grimly predicting it for years, and is now proved correct).

    I’m very fond of the Dandy Gilver books. Interwar murder mysteries, set in various bits of Scotland. The heroine has a ‘fine’ relationship with her husband, and a male best friend, who she acknowledges she *could* have fallen for…but when they met, he was in his twenties, she was nearly forty, and they became friends instead.

  24. The one reportable novel that I finished this week (and read in what felt like one sitting,  although the reading really wasn’t quite that concentrated, was Code Yellow in Gretna Green, Linzi Day, 2024.  It’s part of an ebook series that really has to be approached from the start (with Midlife in Gretna Green, which I mentioned earlier).  This volume reminded me of the earlier part of Charles Stross’s Merchant Princes series (although that is sf and this is fantasy, and although the Stross later takes a plot twist in a radically different direction).  Our modern heroine is confronted with the problem of how to cultivate some rule of law and movement toward a fairer and, eventually, democratic order in a medieval Norse-like society.  Plus lots of other more personal stuff going on at the same time, with a significant chunk of the novel taking place in real-world Edinburgh (or a fictional one very close to ours, arguably).  Another Stross parallel, come to think of it. Plus a bit in Manchester,  and probably a little in real-world Gretna Green.  (I know that real Gretna is alluded to in this volume, at least.)  The author has some understanding of what a huge undertaking the modernizing of a society that backward would be, and puts forward some fairly plausible gradual solutions.  Inventive and interesting plot, plausible and well-drawn characters.

    My comments on non-book media consumed should follow in a bit, I hope.

    1. Patrick, I stumbled across this series somehow (on sale on BookBub, maybe?) and immediately read the entire thing. Eagerly awaiting the next one.

      1. Just read the article. OH DEAR GODS. Sigh. RWA was such a huge part of getting my writing career started. I met Jenny for the first time at one of their conferences. And multiple other authors whose friendship continues to this day. Plus my agent. It just makes me sad that other newbie writers aren’t going to have that. But I can’t be sad about RWA itself, because it dug its own grave with a teaspoon. Repeatedly.

        1. Exactly the same reaction from me — sad for the loss of potential, not sad for the end of an org that took a really bad path and then doubled down.

        2. Yeah, but they had plenty of warning. It’s not like that was the first time something like that had happened. I miss it, too. RWA is how I met so many good friends–Deb, Krissie, Pat Gaffney, SEP, Cathy Maxwell, Judy Ivory, Barbara Samuel–it was wonderful for me personally. But it had just gotten so toxic. I have no idea who’s running it now, but it appears that contracts signed years before is the crux of the problem, dragging them under now that the membership is a fraction of what it was.

          1. There is a truly and appropriately scathing review by Smart Bitches about they try to blame
            Courtney Milan for it all.
            Will try to find and post

    2. I read the first book of the series and liked it a lot, but the second stymied e for some reason. I DNFed it and never went back to the series. Maybe I should try again.

  25. Started today with my usual cruise through bookmarks which means I learned about the rage-inducing RWA bankruptcy filing at Smart Bitches Trashy Books. Gaslighting assholes put completely irrelevant (to the bankruptcy court) statements in their filing for no reason other than to double down on their bullshit, apparently. Argh. Go buy Courtney Milan’s books.

    Anyway, what I read this week:

    1. ‘The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars’ by Anthony Boucher, a Sherlockian frolic set in LA in 1941-ish. Very entertaining.

    2. ‘Gay All Year: Twelve Stories’ by Richard May, objectively well-written, not for those who want their M/M romances sweet or who require happy conclusions. For those interested in own-voices literary fiction centering on messy men negotiating affairs of the heart (and pants).

    3. ‘The Lantern’s Dance’ by Laurie R. King, a very satisfying entry in the Mary Russell / Sherlock Holmes series.

    4. ‘Stay With Me’ by S.E. Harmon, M/M feat. a Florida PI and his client; this one’s pretty messy too. I didn’t love either of the MCs and got tired of all the anal sex.

    5. [re-read] my own F/M bi/ bi novella ‘No More Words,’ the one about a project manager and an audiobook narrator.

    6. ‘Darkhearts’ by James L. Sutter, YA growing-up drama with M/M romance. MCs are former friends who started a band together; one of them left it, the other and a 3rd boy went on to become global stars, then the 3rd boy dies of alcohol poisoning. The story begins at his funeral. Hopeful HFN, but they’re still teenagers, one of them is still a pop star, and neither of them is in therapy at the end, so I haz doubts.

    7. ‘Hopelessly Bromantic’ by Lauren Blakely, don’t love the title but do love the book in its capacity of Part 1 – this one ends with the men broken up and broken about it. Their falling-in-love is really effective.

    8. [re-read] ‘Here Comes My Man’ by Lauren Blakely, the conclusion, which I liked on 1st read but liked even more as Part 2. One MC takes a bit too long to get over himself, but once he gets to the bottom of his own BS he improves fast. Both put in the work and leave nothing unsaid. Five stars the duo.

    8.5 ‘Arrows’ by K.L. Noone, her new short in the Magician universe. A sweet story.

    1. I saw that RWA bankruptcy filing yesterday too and was appalled. It’s a shame they weren’t able to successfully address the issues that caused the mass-exodus a few years back and sad that they felt the need to blame someone else for their failure.

        1. the bankruptcy filing is an attempt to get out from under some terrible contracts for their conventions, but they had to go and insert this guff about why they’ve lost members & thus money: “predominantly due to disputes concerning diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) issues between some members of a prior RWA board and others in the larger romance writing community”

          1. Yup – code for “POC authors shouldn’t complain about racism” and other awful attitudes. Allaboutromance’s blog has a good set of links to the earlier controversies if you want to dive into the rabbit-hole.

    2. Boucher wrote seven mystery novels at the start of his career. I eventually scrounged them all up (they have all been reprinted, and all seem to currently be in e-print) and I enjoyed them all. Boucher then went on to do many other enjoyable and useful things in his too-short life, but I still wish he had written more mystery novels.

  26. Like Maria Volkman, Tammy, Lupe and Patrick M I have been buying faster than reading lately and it is beginning to annoy me that my bookcases are now overflowing. Also I have a big ‘wish list’ at the library (they allow you to create one). Now that I am slightly more mobile I have been ordering 3 books at a time from the library, but that means I am not reading the ones on my shelves (sigh). First world problems really.

    This weeks reads:

    The Back-up Plan by Jill Shalvis – like the Argher’s last week I enjoyed this latest version of JS. Some of her earlier stuff got really annoying. This is part of a “series” but so far am finding no connection between the books whatsoever. Good story though.

    Like Lisa+ATL I enjoyed previous Beth O’Leary books but got The Wake-up Call out of the library and didn’t finish it. Just didn’t care enough about any of it to carry on. The beauty of getting books out of the library, rather than buying.

    Non-Fiction pick was Revenge by Tom Bower about Megan and Harry. Well researched and well written book that kinda just confirmed things for me rather than changed my opinions.

    Currently reading The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart – the first in her Merlin trilogy, and I am loving it. When I was a teen my Granny gave me an Arthurian trilogy that I adored – do not remember the titles or the author, never needed to it was always on the shelf to be re-read. However, sometime in the last 50 years and 4 moves I have lost the trilogy and that made me sad. A friend recommended the Mary Stewart and I am grateful – really enjoying it.

    Life update – GP signed me off for another four weeks so I can get fully well and restore my energy. On days I have energy I can go out for a walk, and even have a friend visit. But the next day I may not have the energy to get up, or washed or dressed! Giving me the time to be gentle with myself is a real gift.
    Tomorrow I get my “spring” COVID booster jab – so that is a tram trip and a big day out for me. Previous vaccines have left me feeling a bit low so I am planning on nothing this weekend in case. Quick aside – in England injections are “jabs” in Scotland they are “jags”. The small difference always makes me laugh. Things in Scotland can be quite jaggy (i.e. sharp), say a bush or even a material. Quite a nice onomatopoeic word no?

    1. I have noticed and been amused by the English jab, which has been picked up a little over here. In the US, I think they’re mostly shots (inexact though the term is), or vaxes. I’ve not encountered jags in that sense. I’ve been meaning to schedule my own booster. Real Soon Now. Possibly I’ll get the appointment made today.

      I’m glad your leave got extended. When I was still working in the US Federal Civil service, my supervisor could require a doctor’s note, but did not do so routinely. I never needed a multiweek chunk of sick leave for myself, but eventually the rules changed so that I was able to use a lot of it in visits to my invalid mother in Florida, which was a comfort, although emotionally strenuous at times. Again, my supervisor could have required a note from my mother’s doctor, but didn’t.

    2. Great that you have that additional time to further recover, Christine. Hopefully that time may assist with reducing any stress hormones levels which apparently can accelerate health gains. Best wishes.

  27. I listened to the audiobook of The Takedown by Carlie Walker – a fun spy romcom. Nice read about an operative who goes home for Christmas on a case that has her investigating her sister’s new fiancé.

    While still having a spy aspect, it’s low on action and high on family. Just my speed:)

  28. Spring/Summer/Fall library book sales is a thing, y’all. I am buying too many To Be Read books at insanely low prices and it’s for a cause I adore. I like the collector analogy!


    This is my year of re-reading Christie short stories, so just finished The 13 Problems. Team Marple all the way. Perfect for before Sleep reading.

    I went down the rabbit hole with author Ada Maria Soto – thanks to whomever rec’d His Secret Agent…started there and then read Empty Nests, its sequel Bowerbirds and then 2 of her short stories. Really compelling well-written stories about ordinary people (well there is 1 billionaire 🙂 ) that made me want to keep reading. M/M romance.

    Finished Book 4 of Cogman’s Invisible Library series – excellent as always. Did a quick re-read of Reid’s Role Model. Typically not everybody’s fave in the series, but first time re-read for me and I enjoyed it again.

    Read Susan Carroll’s The Dark Queen, first in a series combining history (Catherine Medici times) and light witchcraft. I loved Carroll’s old trad regencies. Like the writing as always, but for me, not interested enough in this combination to go on to the next one. YMMV, could be your catnip.

    On to…The Labours of Hercules, The Secret Chapter (Cogman), and Mary Renault for the first time in June…and whatever else comes along.

    Ditto to appreciating the group. It’s a great to get recs, find new authors, and has that book club but low stress cozy feel!

  29. Just finished Island in the Sun, British author Katie Fforde’s latest novel. (It came out there at the end of last year, but Amazon took such a long time getting it here, Katie finally sent me a signed copy. She’s so sweet. We swapped books, with me sending her the cozy mystery animal shelter series.) I really loved it, and ended up late for everything today because I was on the last chapter, and had to finish reading. Even though it is a romance, so I knew more or less how it was going to end.

    My only complaint about it (and I rarely have any, because I love her writing), it that her protagonist, a young woman of 25, came across VERY young. It reminded me of her earliest books, which were written many years ago. The protagonist was so naive and uncertain about herself, I checked once or twice to make sure the book was actually set in modern times. She seemed more like 18 than 25 (but then she would have been too young for the male love interest, who was almost ten years older). It was still a fun and fascinating book, set on the real-life island of Dominica, where Katie has family. Well worth reading.

  30. Spider-Man:  Into the Spider-Verse (2018).  I was about halfway through the DVD before being sure I had seen it before, and was not just remembering the comics.  So not high on memorablity. But it was entertaining, and did have some deep moments.  I also enjoyed the commentary track.

    Teilhard:  Visionary Scientist (2024), available on the PBS app.  This is a feature length documentary biography of Jesuit paleontologist, philosopher, and theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and interesting on that level.  I knew less about his life than I had thought I did. The film shows that he had a fair degree of official support even in his lifetime,  although it was quashed from the very top, I surmise including from Pius XII himself.  Teilhard’s one-time powerful opponents in the Catholic Church have died off, and their successors are much more friendly to his memory and his ideas; the Jesuits partly sponsored this biopic. On the other hand, the film says almost nothing about Teilhard’s actual philosophical and theological ideas.  Those are what have exerted some influence in science fiction and fantasy, among other areas of intellectual life.  Still, worth watching.

  31. After a couple unsatisfying DNFs, I finally hit on a couple of good books.
    Ali Hazelwood’s Bride was lovely. The heroine, the plot, the pacing, the secondary characters – I enjoyed everything about this book, even though I doubt I would want to re-read it. It feels strange, because I’ve tried this author twice before, and DNFed her two previous novels, both contemporary romances. Both had glowing reviews, and both didn’t work for me, but this book did. Maybe because it had the paranormal vibe, and I like speculative fiction. Maybe because the story was engaging on the visceral level, touched my deepest uncertainties. And maybe because, unlike Hazelwood’s other books, I rooted for the protagonist and empathized with her complex inner journey. Her learning to feel and to love and to trust felt simultaneously sweet and profound to me.
    Allie Larkin’s Swimming for Sunlight was another good book I read this week. I’ve read and enjoyed this author before, despite her novels belonging firmly to the mainstream genre (which is not my favorite, as a rule). I enjoyed this novel too, although it felt darker and grimmer than the books I usually prefer. The protagonist, twenty-seven-year-old Katie, just got through a nasty divorce. Her lousy ex treated her like dirt and tricked her out of everything but her neurotic dog. But Katie didn’t want anything except the dog. She loves her dog the way she never loved her husband. Now, she comes to her childhood home to live with her grandmother while she tries to find her new equilibrium.
    There are some tear-jerking moments in the story and some humorous interludes, but overall, it was a powerful, heart-warming book about friendship, love, a found family, and a dog.

  32. I am always in awe of the people on this blog who read many titles every week until I realized that if I like a book, I go back and reread some of my favorite passages until I have to return it to the library. Then I go back and reread pieces of my favorites from my shelves that the new book brings to mind and lately I am not often finishing anything.

    The exceptions this week were “A Governess’s Guide to Passion and Peril” by Manda Collins and “Practice Makes Perfect” by Manda Collins.
    Governess’s Guide is a nice blend of mystery and romance that I would have enjoyed more if I hadn’t already read the first three books in the series. The books all stand alone, but there are enough returning characters and other references to previous titles that this one did not feel completely like a new read.

    Practice Makes Perfect was successful enough at keeping my attention that after I finished rereading the HEA I put a hold on the previous title at the library. This is another big city visitor to a small town falls for an underrrated sweet resident and falls in love despite the meddling of the town’s residents. I enjoyed both of the MCs and their reevaluation of what they wanted out of life and how that sometimes conflicted with how other people saw them. I also really appreciated the fact that the biggest draw between them was the feeling of really being seen by the other person and how that gave them the courage to be more authentic in the rest of their life.

    1. Aunt snack, I like your approach of basking in the world of beloved books a bit longer!
      If I really love a book or find it highly interesting, I also feel no rush to dive into a new story! Otoh, book series kind of provide the chance to stay with the protags/in the world I grew to like a bit longer.

  33. I’m glad Jenny enjoyed the Dr. Bones mysteries as much as I did. The first three were traditionally published and then when out of print, so I was rather disappointed, but then she apparently got the rights back, self-republished them with different titles (I’m assuming the original publisher changed the titles she wanted to use) and then wrote a new book in the series. So I was very pleased about that.

    I’ve been reading more mysteries lately. Craig Johnson has a new Walt Longmire book out called First Frost, it’s set in 1964 right after Walt and Henry have graduated from college and have to report for their military service on the other side of the country. They set out to drive there because Henry wants to see some relatives on the Southern Cheyenne Reservation in Oklahoma on the way but they get lost and stumble onto a bunch of very strange and secretive people who are keeping secrets about a 20 year old (WWII era) mystery. It’s told mostly in flashbacks which doesn’t actually detract much from the story like it usually does for me.

    Also I discovered two mysteries by Hart Hanson, who is best know for creating and producing the television series Bones, which is based on a mystery series by Kathy Reichs. The first one is called The Driver about an Afghanistan veteran who has started a limo company to employ his fellow veterans but someone tries to kill the celebrity he’s driving around that day and things escalate from there.

    The second book is called The Seminarian, about a legal investigator, which is a private investigator who works for law firms who need things investigated, but then someone tries to kidnap him. And his best friends crush disappears and he has to find her, and then a 12 year old son that he didn’t know he had shows up on his doorstep. And then things get strange. I enjoyed both of them quite a bit.

  34. I reread Getting Rid of Bradley last night. It had been so long since I first read it that it was almost like reading it for the first time. I just downloaded the first Emma Jameson Dr Bones book to try.

  35. Update: I placed a hold on Emily Henry’s “A Funny Story” this week. Just learned I am #335 in line to receive a copy. 😐

    1. I hope they have a lot of copies. I feel like I’ve been waiting forever for a book that doesn’t have a very long waiting list, but the whole system only owns ONE copy. Somehow I don’t think that will be the case with an Emily Henry title.

    2. Funny thing about being #xxxx on a list is that I left a hold in place to see how long it would take to eventually get the book. Last week I found out that Lessons in Chemistry was finally available for me to read after waiting over a year. I think I was #437 when it started. Don’t remember how many books were available. P.S I had already read it.

  36. Read Death in the Spires by KJ Charles. A gloomy start but justice was served in the most realistic way possible.

    And Abby Jimenez’s Just for the Summer. I always enjoy her books. This is a couple books into a series but they all work well as a standalone. No cliffhangers although Taco Bell and other Easter eggs appear.

    I’m starting The Adventures of Amina al-Sirafi by Shanon Chakraborty. Twelfth century female pirate comes out of retirement to rescue a friend’s kidnapped daughter. Intriguing.

  37. I haven’t read much this week. Watching television mostly. & writing.

    Now I am depressed because I thought that if someone had a felony conviction they couldn’t run for president. Not true. There is no rule that says if you have a felony conviction, or 34, you can’t run.

    Ridiculous considering that if you have a felony conviction you can’t vote.

    1. Actually now I’m wondering if he can no longer vote for himself. Wonder how that will work out.

        1. I’ve also heard that since it was a New York state conviction, Florida will allow him to vote. In PA someone has to be incarcerated for a felony to be unable to vote. In prison with a misdemeanor you’re good; being held without bond on a felony charge you’re good. It’s complicated. And this is for just one state.

          1. In NY if you are an incarcerated felon you can’t vote otherwise you can. FL will honor that.
            So if he’s in jail or prison on Nov 5 he can’t vote.

  38. I’m busily re-reading Harmon’s, RISING TIDES (Capes Book 1) again. I think this makes four times. This re-read is accompanied by slurping noises of something I have mislabeled “Anorexia Stew.” I named it that to make it appear early in the food table part of the diet database. I could have called it “A Stew (Gesundheit).” That fits with my Scents of Humor.

    The stew? I took a quart of vegetable stock, tossed in a half cup of dehydrated vegetable, 3/4 pound of cubed red potatoes, 1/4 pound of sweet onions, a serving of pepperoni slices, a half pound of dice broiled pork ribeyes, and lots of seasonings. The whole thing has less than 900 calories, hence the name. It spent the night in the crock pot on low and it is delicious. There may be caffeine free Diet Coke on the side.

  39. Still on re-reads Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jane Castle Arcane series . I’ve read them many times, they are still really enjoyable.

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