This is a Good Book Thursday

I was reading a really interesting romance and then the heroine started rejecting the hero for no reason and there was a big misunderstanding, and I just couldn’t go on. So I reread a Loretta Chase and felt better. Rereading: it’s a good thing.

What did you read or reread this week?

202 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday

  1. I had a very mixed week of reading. First of all, Ali Hazelwood’s Bride. A vampyre has an arranged marriage with a werewolf, supposedly for political reasons, but she actually has her own agenda. I loved 99% of this, the snark of the protagonist, the conflict, the gradual growth of the relationship – and then at the end it descended into farce and I just couldn’t take it seriously. Interspecies sex has to be done well or it just makes me laugh, and in this case it wasn’t done at all well. The – um – knot. Dear god.

    Franny Billingsley’s A Murmuration of Starlings, published in the US as The Robber Girl. If you have any interest at all in middle grade, or even if you don’t, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I would happily give it ALL the stars. It’s kind of a western, kind of a mystery, kind of a fantasy, as a ten-year-old girl who is part of Gentleman Jack’s outlaw gang is captured and gradually discovers that the truth isn’t quite what she thought it was. It’s exquisitely written with a really original voice, and it’s so chockablock with heart.

    Shipwrecked by Olivia Dade. I didn’t like this nearly as much as All the Feels. At one point the story suddenly skipped six years, which was disconcerting. And it got dreary with all the internal angst. I’ll try another one of hers, and hope that this was just a bit of a slump.

    Find Me the Votes. Someone here recommended this and I’m so glad they did. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but this is compelling reading, and I’m learning so much more about that extraordinary episode in American political history than I thought I would.

    1. I looked the author up and she’s American. The antipodal (and British?) title seems a bit learned for middle grade and I thought maybe it had been dumbed down by American publishers, as with the first Harry Potter. I suppose it might still be the author’s preferred title. The Kindle blurb sounds very much pitched to adults, whether as readers themselves or because they’d be buying.

      1. Oops. “The author” is Billingsley (middle grade was a clue but I hadn’t meant to be confusing).

      2. As both a reader and writer of middle grade, I don’t agree that the kindle blurb is necessarily pitched to adults, Patrick. Having said that, this is definitely a book for confident middle grade readers rather than uncertain ones. It’s the sort of book I would have adored when I was a kid. And still do!

        1. Lian, I suspect you are not looking at the US blurb, which starts,

          “A brilliant puzzle of a book from the author of Chime and The Folk Keeper plunges us into the vulnerable psyche of one of the most memorable unreliable narrators to grace the page in decades. The Robber Girl has a good dagger. Its voice in her head is as sharp as its two edges that taper down to a point. …”

    2. With respect to Bride, and the sex scenes in particular: I did like the MC’s distinction between hardware and software, which I suspect is an interesting concept for sex in general and not just of the interspecies variety. Like you, I really enjoyed the snark and the character growth.

      I also have a thing for a great opening sentences, and this book has a fantastic one.

    3. I found that Shipwrecked was way over my angst limit, but I managed to enjoy most of it anyway (by occasionally stepping away to say “Ack!”). If I remember accurately is it the most angst-ridden of everything of Dade’s I have read.

      1. Yes, so much angst, Mary Anne! I kind of had to push through it, which isn’t much of a recommendation for a book. I’m glad the rest of them aren’t like this.

    4. Oh my goodness! There is a new Franny Billingsley? I adored both The Folk Keeper and Chime. Will have to find this one.

      1. She is such an exquisite writer, isn’t she? This one is brilliant. As Patrick said, it’s ‘The Robber Girl’ in North America.

    5. I liked Bride. I don’t usually pay much attention to sex scenes, so I skimmed those. The anatomical details were not important to me, but the emotions behind them were. Anyway, it was a paranormal. Anything would go.

    6. I really enjoyed All the Feels, which I think is her best, and liked Spoiler Alert – especially how it follows the same timeline as All the Feels so you hear what Marcus was experiencing that Alex is responding to. I read them in that order (not in publication order.) Shipwrecked didn’t thrill me. However, in all of them, the ‘cast chat’ is hilarious.

      1. Yes, I thought I’d give Spoiler Alert a try – and I love the cast chat. The whole community set up is really enjoyable, including how they all hate Ian.

  2. Still slowly going through Nicky Pellegrino’s oeuvre. The food and settings are always good but I liked some of the books better than others. I am still compelled to read them all because you get glimpses of past favourite characters but sometimes the heroines are very self-centred and their actions very dubious. Some are great though. I really enjoyed reading Under the Italian skies. I loved seeing Rafaella again and the Villa Rosa and there’s a lovely romance thrown in too.

    In between these Italian escapades I have been rereading the Vorkosigan saga from Memory onwards. I have got to the end now. Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen really is a very peculiar book to end the series with. Definitely not the book to start with :). Every time I read it, it gives me something new to think about. This time, I noticed more that little bombshell about the Cetagandans withdrawal from Barrayar, counterbalanced by the Cetagandan plumber merchants.

    1. I also like the later Vorkosigan more than the earlier, and I also thought that Jole was odd and I would say not an ideal place to end the series (by internal chronology), or at least to end it so far.

      1. I think the book is internally inconsistent about the past relationship between Cordelia and Oliver, in terms of Oliver’s perception of it and himself, and also about how Cordelia would have handled the threesome back in the day. I am confident she would have been open at least with Miles!

        So it’s not my favorite. But any Bujold is a good thing.

        1. The thing that always makes it hard to suspend my disbelief is the idea that a women in her fifties (or Betan seventies as is the case) would think that raising six children is a fun retirement project.
          I do love Gentleman Jole though.

          1. My vague recollection is that, having benefited from Beta Colony gene-cleaning and medical science in her younger days, Cordelia feels more like a woman in her thirties. (But I could be confusing the Vorkosiverse with other series.) It would still take a certain personality to see 6 kids as a retirement project. Another factor is that, like the traditional British upper class, she can afford to hire servants to do a lot of the work. Even so, as I said, not an ideal book to end on.

        2. I really liked GJATRQ although its not my favorite of the series, I think it makes a nice coda or bookend from Shards of Honor – to see Cordelia step back into herself. And one of the things Cordelia was excited about when moving to Barrayar was the possibility of lots of children – only to have that be politically risky. So it makes perfect sense to me she want to have lots of children now she can. And as Patrick points out, she’ll have lots of help

          I agree I don’t think Cordelia and Aral would have necessarily hidden their menage from Miles, but if it occurs mainly when he’s off with the Dendarii then they wouldn’t have necessarily raised it – especially if Jole isn’t all that comfortable with it.

          There’s a great fanfic by Dira Sudis, written before GJATRQ came out that actually works perfectly for me. The only thing that didn’t fit is that in her fanfic Jole’s personal name is Arkady. https://archiveofourown.org/series/4569

  3. Thanks to everyone who sent recs for my Sicily trip. My husband is very much into the Andrea Camilleri books. We drove through Agrigento’s port city (Porto Empedocles) because that’s Inspector Montalban’s main turf. He was able to find one at Shakespeare and Sons later in the trip in Prague, Czechia.

    (In all honesty, I read the first and couldn’t stand it.)

    1. I bailed out of the first episode of the TV series the BBC showed (don’t think it was the actual first one) – such a weird mixture of farce and straight, and Montalbano seemed to be a bully boy. But I tried another one and got hooked. Never tried the books, though.

      1. JaneB, thanks for saying that about Montalbano. I watched one and wasn’t sure about continuing but maybe I’ll give another episode a try.

    2. I’ve been told the Czechs much prefer “the Czech Republic” to “Czechia.” But you’ve been there and use the latter, so perhaps my information was wrong or at least out of date.

      1. My son lives in Prague. He has corrected me, especially when I said la tchécoslavoquie by mistake, which shows my age 🙂

    3. I got hooked on the TV series when it aired locally on MHZ. My mother’s family was from Basilicata and Abruzzi, so the mix of accents (much more standard Italian than Sicilian) reminded me of family holidays growing up. Mom’s family spoke Italian whenever they didn’t want the kids or in-laws to understand what they were up to. The series had that feel to it, only this time I had subtitles. I’ve never watched the last ep, because a part of me couldn’t bear to lose that sense of family again. I’ve read a couple of the books, but they didn’t grab me the way the show did.

      1. The last episode of Inspector Montalbano is definitely to be avoided. It broke the main character – I didn’t believe the story, and it made him faithless and horrible. I was warned off it, and should have listened.

  4. I’ve been listening to Meghan Ciana Doidge‘s Adept Universe while grinding glass in my studio because sometimes grinding is Zen but most of the time it’s tedious. It’s relaxing to listen to books I’ve read while my hands are busy & my mind is empty. I love when an author gives you the recipes for the food in their books.

    1. Lisa: I am amazed by the quality of your glasswork. I especially loved the round blue iris on a stand.

  5. I’m a bit in a (not only) reading slump. I can’t really concentrate on a book right now.
    Read and finished Un-Rivaled off season which wouldn’t make sense to anyone who hasn’t read the predecessor Un-Rivaled (Ashlyn Kane/Morgan James): a short glimpse into how the story of Un-Rivaled continued with the two idiots-to-lovers coming to grips about how to propose. I liked it a lot, but then Un-Rivaled is my favourite of the Scoring series anyway.

    Reading mainly samples right now: Birding with Benefits (rec’d by Ari Baran on Insta) starts very interesting. I know nothing at all about Birding. Also, it’s FM (it seems) and both MCs are a bit older (FMC early 40s) which is NICE. The ebook so far is horrendously expensive, but the paperback is announced for a reasonable price so if after completing the sample I’m still interested, I’ll order the pb.

    Instead of reading I watched Netflix: found a short series “All you need”, produced by German TV. Netflix only had the first season (very, very short but addictive), but I found the second even better season on ARDmediathek (for free): great to re-visit Berlin. Both seasons end on a cliff hanger which I LOATHE, but the third next season is announced already.

    1. Ah, one symptom for my state-of-mind is that before “All you need” I watched Kissing Booth 2 and 3 to the horror of kid #2. Okay, I watched it on accelerated speed, so not too much time wasted.
      What a contrast to All you need (which is far more realistic)!
      Those Kissing Booth teenagers have lives/problems like in another reality. Such luxury lives. Huge houses, all of them are so incredibly self-assured and successful. Nobody is ever shy or insecure. Pouty lips, immature guys, mom-like heroines.
      Very, very difficult to relate to. Also kind of annoying.
      Why did I watch it? No clue.
      However: Nice to realize that kid ‘2 doesn’t like this type of movies/stories, being far too down-to-earth.

      1. I remember watching it and being confused. It was fun, but where were the parents? I looked it up, and once I realized it started on Wattpad, it made so much more sense. I could then enjoy it for the reality-defying flick it was. I didn’t try 2 and 3.

    2. I couldn’t find “All You Need” on Netflix here so perhaps it’s only available in Europe? I’ll keep an eye for it. While on the topic of German TV, we recently watched (on Amazon Prime) a very amusing German show entitled: Mort met Aussicht -the English title is Homicide Hills. It is about a city detective who is banished to a small police station in the country and solves murders there. It is a satirical crime comedy which plays on all the country procedural/murder mystery type cliches as well as the cliches about town life vs country life. There are jokes about Europe and such which are very funny but never critical to the plot so not so “insider” as to be anything but an added humorous layer. My husband and I thought the series was hilarious and were really sad when it ended.

        1. Dear Christine, I fear All you need might indeed be one of those series limited to a very narrow market. It eas rec’d to me once and then I had to actively search for again.
          Also, I’ve added Mord mit Aussicht to my list – it looks like a series I’d like or might have even already seen.
          If you like films with a sort of weird humour: one if the actors in the series was one of the leads in “25 kmh”, a wonderful dramedy about two brothers who reconnect on a roadtrip on Mopeds they used to drive as teenagers. We totally loved it. Very distinctly German humour (not a contradiction), very grumpy yet heart warming. It’s available on netflix Germany. Don’t know about the availability elsewhere.

          1. It’s not available here, sadly but I will definitely keep an eye out for it, thanks for the rec, Dodo!

    3. Birding with Benefits looks right down my alley! I’ve put a hold on it at the library. I missed that Ari Baron had recommended. Will have to go back to her website!

      1. Christine, Ari had “recommended” that in an Instagram reel, so I doubt it can be found. It came just before or after they mentioned that their kid insists on listening to one of Orville Peck’s new songs on repeat. Which is a stark contrast to the music usually mentioned on their IG snd by one if my fav artists.

  6. I’ve been hit and miss with rereads. Wanted to reread Spectred Isle by KJ Charles (which was excellent, as ever), though the story before it (which is not essential to it), The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal, is just good. Wish she’d written more of her projected Green Men series, although the next she’d planned was f/f, which I’m not into.

    I was about to try an Olivia Dade sample, when I realized it too was in a series, and I had the book before, Spoiler Alert, so I reread that, but found it way too long/slow, and the characters immature victims. I reread another of hers, Teach Me, which was better (more convincing world), but again the protagonists were too virtuous/victims, and the whole thing overcooked.

    So I too have just started rereading a Loretta Chase to cheer myself up.

    1. Was thinking the same thing. A Loretta Chase book should cheer me up as I’m in a bit of a funk.

    2. I was disappointed with Olivia Dade as well. I can’t remember if that was the one I tried or not…

  7. Last week I started a contemporary romantic suspense book. The author brought the characters alive in my mind, but the smart heroine who believes that a mob boss killed her father and is after her dyed her hair, wears a hat low to hide her feature–and then goes in and out her aunt’s front door in broad daylight??? Other details annoyed me, too, so I didn’t finish it.

    I’ve just started Can’t Spell Treason without Tea by Rebecca Thorne which my youngest tells me is an excellent book.

  8. While camping on the weekend I finished How to Pronounce Knife by Souvankham Thammavongsa. Lovely collection of short stories on what it’s like to be an immigrant, and to be from Laos.

    I also read Ender’s Game all the way through. Love camping with kids old enough to fend for themselves.

  9. I had a disappointing read–almost a DNF–by an author whose previous two books I’d read and loved. I’d really been looking forward to Freya Sampson’s next book. She wrote The Lost Ticket and The Last Chance Library. But the new one, Nosy Neighbors, was really hard to get into. (And not just because the type is minuscule.) Both main protagonists, one young and one old, are bitter and difficult, and it isn’t until about 2/3rds of the way through the book that you learn enough about why to finally start liking them. The book started off very slow, and really only got moving a little past the halfway mark. I’m now about 2/3rd of the way through, after both big reveals, and have gotten caught up enough that I’m going to finish, but as an author, I can’t help thinking that if this had been her first book, and the first two hadn’t been best-sellers, this one never would have gotten published.

  10. I devoured Tessa Dare’s, Romancing the Duke: Castles Ever After. Her books are a bit on the spicy side, and I don’t usually find that a good fit for Regency romance. However, this was hands-down one of the funniest and sweetest books I have read this year. It was beautifully crafted. From the first moment when Izzy Goodnight arrives penniless and starving at a castle, it just takes off racing and never stops. The hero is a gorgeous grump who lost his eyesight (mostly), and she’s a sunshine who knows how to save herself (mostly). The descriptions and details are elevated (there is a gold motif that is lovely), and I found it unskippable (which is saying something since I can usually skim my way through anything). In addition to the funny fast-paced plot and the lovely descriptions, there are a few twists and reveals that make the bones of this book completely solid. It is crafted beautifully. So good!

      1. PS – The best gold motif (IMHO) was in Rosalind James’s Kiwi Gold, but this had these lovely moments where Izzy was bathed in golden light, and the idea repeated itself with other things or people at just right moments throughout.

  11. Thank you all! This is my favorite day of the week due to all your ‘new’ (to me) book recommendations to add to my towering TBR pile.

    I’ve hit a minor slump due to working lots of hours at my library to get ready for our next bi-monthly book sale in July. My reading consists mostly of books I’ve found at the sale which I’ve been in the habit of bringing home to read and then returning before the sale so the library makes some money (only $1 per book!) and I don’t have it added to my shelves.

    I also pick up DVDs of movies that catch my eye, so I’m rewatching films like Burlesque (love Stanley Tucci!) and Beekeeper (new one with Jason Statham who always plays the same character but I find him likeable).

  12. I’ve been working my way through the Penric and Desdemona series by Bujold. I definitely enjoy the characters and the writing. It’s very tempting to stay up too late, tomorrow morning be damned. But, I just couldn’t keep my eyes open to finish it last night. Ah well, there’s always tonight.

    1. If you are reading them one after the other, it makes for a very long book. I do understand the temptation though!

      1. My print book has three novellas – I’ve read two previous collections. The last of these is the Physicians of Vilnoc and it was the one I was trying to finish off last night.

        1. I have them all on kindle but I bought the collections for the delightful covers, especially the first one.

  13. I read Kristan Higgins’s new one, Look On the Bright Side. It called in all the feels, taught me stuff I’d never known, and made me laugh, which covers my reading bases. It’s one of my favorites of hers, for sure.

    1. Good to know. I have that one out from the library, but she has been a mixed bag for me the last few years, so I have been a little hesitant.

      1. Mixed bag for sure, Deborah. I’m reading it now and have gone from “hunh” to humor (which I’ve missed in her books, I’m so spoiled) to wondering about a particular chapter about her mother. The family bits are what I enjoy most. The characters do their own thing, especially Dr. Satan, a rude and self-serving surgeon. But, Lark, Dr. Smith an Oncologist that is bounced to the ER for reasons, is who this book is about. And I’m only at the beginning we’ll see how it goes.

    2. I stopped reading Kristan Higgin’s stuff when she went to women’s fiction which always featured at least one cold, nasty and bitter old woman. Then there was the one that was a big manipulation of the reader which just irritated me (reader was supposed to cry and cry and then be happy…) I’m glad to hear she is back to being fun and that the humor is back! I’m a bit gun shy though so I will borrow it from the library.

      1. I just finished look on the bright side. I too was hesitant because since Kristen’s been doing women’s fiction, I haven’t like them at all.As a human being, I think she’s a really lovely person and I enjoy her writing and I enjoy her blog. I’ve met her a couple of times and when her books reflect and her humor, I love them.
        I think look on the bright side is one of her best.

  14. Although I have read quite a bit in various respectable books and consumed snippets of other media, I haven’t actually *finished* any reportable books since last time, nor much else.

    Last week Chachal mentioned reading Boucher’s The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars (copyright 1940 but set in July 1939,  just before the Hitler-Stalin pact of 23 August, which timing may be relevant).  I ran across it on my bookshelf and was hooked into starting to reread it, but I’m still reading.

    Spider-Man:  Across the Spider-Verse (2023).  I moved on to the second Miles Morales animation (I discussed the first last week) without noticing that there was a 5-year gap between the release dates of the first film and it, so that this one was only a year old.  Covid?  I thought it was pretty good despite a few slow spots, but I was taken by surprise by its cliffhanger ending, with no real resolution.   By the original schedule, its sequel, Beyond the Spider-Verse,  should have been out by now, but there was a delay, perhaps because of the Hollywood strikes, and no new release date has yet even been set.  The “special features” on the second movie’s DVD, in contrast to the interesting ones on the first movie’s DVD, are all puff pieces and add little value.

  15. This week I found it hard to settle into any book. I DNF’d a number of hockey romances — it is hard to find really good ones when Taylor Fitzpatrick and Catherine Cloud set the bar so high. I’ve found that there are a fair amount of romances out there which masquerade as hockey romances but which are sort of bland romances with sex scenes and the occasional mention of hockey plugged in. Hockey is in no way a driver in these books and the very same stories could be edited very easily to be about any sport. Those just bore me. The search for really good hockey romances continues! Luckily there is still some exciting real life hockey to look forward to this month!

    Figuring a total change of focus might help, I finally settled on Jill Mansell’s The Wedding of the Year. An M/F romance which is a fun ramble through the lives of characters in a small Cornish village by the sea. It was a “feel-good” easy read. I doubt reread it but after a few books that just didn’t hit the mark, it looks like Mansell has got her groove back.

    Finally I read the first Dr. Bones mystery by Emma Jameson — thank you Jenny and Gary+ Huyenga for the recommendation. I will definitely continue with this series.

    1. Oh I’m with you on the search for good hockey romances – instead of a book where two men wear skates and jersey’s occasionally but mostly have a lot of boringly explicit sex. I’ve started and DNF’d about four different new-to-me authors in the last two weeks. Have four more to go. I’m reading one by JJ Muldur that is at least okay. Stay tuned.

    2. Agree with you on Hockey romances, I feel like I have read the best of them by now, and I do want lots of hockey. Still keeping an eye out though.

      1. Same here!
        Hockey romances are in at the moment so lot’s of authors just jump onto the band wagon it seems.
        Autocorrect (or my clumsy finger) wanted to write “hickey”… the books indeed contain more of thise than hockey.

      1. The fourth one just came out a couple of weeks ago, but beware because the first three were published a while ago and then republished by the author more recently with different names.

  16. I’m working my way through everything by Mary Lancaster. They’re the perfect antidote to depression about the state of the world. I mean, here we are on this beautiful earth with all these fascinating countries and cultures and peoples, and instead of appreciating it all, we harm each other in so many ways.

    Anyway, Mary Lancaster. She’s not only extremely prolific, but she writes well, she portrays the historical era (Regency) competently, the main characters are always worthy people, and the endings are happy. I’m totally in awe of anyone who can come up with so many different plots and characters and produce solid stories in so little time.

  17. I just reread the Brown Sisters series by Talia Hibbert. Such great characters and stories, but it is her brilliant descriptions that awe me every time. So good.

  18. Not a book, but I read a brief article about the decline of the worm population in Britain. There’s a lack of studies to indicate whether it’s broader than that. But I hope the worms in Jane’s—and everyone else’s—gardens are healthy and flourishing, and go forth and multiply.

    1. I find that all I need to do in order to discover oodles of worms (isn’t “oodles” a wonderful collective noun for worms?) in my compost bins is to bury a half leftover watermelon or other kind of melon in it. The whole thing seems to become a world of worms in days!

      And increasing the worms in my yard was helped by burying all my lawn areas in fallen leaves every autumn. No more worm shortage!

      1. I find that using compost seems to increase the worm population in my garden. They also love it when I pile straw on top of the beds as mulch.

      2. I didn’t know about “oodles”! Love that.

        I hope your worm populations are expanding, rather than just being lured away from the neighbor’s yard. LOL

        I wonder if the ever-expanding coverage of concrete will be part of future studies about worm population and health. I’m constantly rescuing the poor things that get trapped amid sidewalks and driveways.

        1. We compost and have many worms… and then my DH feeds them to his turtle.

          We got custody of the turtle when the couple across the street got divorced and DH said he would find it a good home. It took three hours for it to become clear ours was the good home which I did not want… but at least I was able to change the name from Twinkles to the Lesser A’Tuin.

          She is the most spoiled turtle you can imagine and may soon acquire a mini skateboard for faster locomotion. This had to be a big improvement over her past life —where she was so badly ignored that the various neighbors who learned we had her all said “It’s still alive ?! !!!” (Among other reasons the past family lost her outside for six months but recognized her by her scar when they found her.)

    2. I have loads of worms – there were zillions when I dug out my garden compost heap. The allotment soil’s rather compacted due to all the rain we’ve had, but I mulch the beds whenever I can, and they love that (as, somewhat less helpfully, do the slugs). But I’m with Brooke in my concern for the amount of soil that’s buried under concrete or acres of decking. It was a challenge to find a small house that still had a garden.

      1. Me too. We put in a driveway that had an open work cement pattern so that grass grows in it and water goes through it.

    3. Fun trivial face I read somewhere fairly recently. The last Ice Age killed off all North American earthworms (says one source) or at least all of them north of Pennsylvania (says another), and they did not repopulate that area until European colonization. Prior to that, other creepy-crawlies performed the same ecological function, evidently successfully.

        1. Three times today autocorrect has changed “has been” to “has be” on me. It’s in a mood.

  19. I read the second book in Foz Meadows’ Tithenai Chronicles series, All the Hidden Paths. A fantasy political/adventure, it follows up on the two M/M heroes from the first in the series, Strange and Stubborn Endurance. This one took a while to grab me but then was oh so good. There’s also a secondary romance that was delightful fun.

    Finished the second in the Sarah J. Maas series, A Court of Mist and Fury. Better than the first, especially the last 100 pages, still enjoying but perhaps not loving? Onto the third so we shall see.

    I read Nicky James’ Skeletons in the Closet, which is a spin-off from her Valor and Doyle series. Weirdly, she released a prequel novelette for this series before the first book was out – I recommend reading that first. Anyway, it’s from the Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling in Love genre – this time a PI and a police records keeping clerk. The PI has some series attachment issues – emotionally disconnected and uncommunicative and can’t bear to touch or be touched, and the records keeping clerk is a more flamboyant spendthrift. Totally love their dynamic and I’m going to follow this series closely.

    1. As I was searching for a good book to land on it occurred to me that you might know of some more Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling in Love series. And then, like magic, here you have found a new one to try! Will try this one out soonest. I love Good Book Thursday…

  20. I am doing a re-read of Wild Fire At Midnight by Mary Stewart. An oldie but a goodie. Her books were the first ‘romance/adventure’ books I read when I was 11 or so. Got me hooked on romances. It also made me want to travel and have my own adventures. Alas, due to finances and life in general that never happened in real life. But her books still let me travel whenever I want to.

    1. i love Wildfire at Midnight (I’m just back from Scotland, when someone mentioned the Cuillins I thought of it 🙂 ). Her books are so atmospheric, with such strong sense of place. I think of them by location rather than plot or character. I’m off to Vienna in the summer so i’ll be rereading Airs Above the Ground and going to see the lippizzaners.

      1. Oooh! If you find other fun things do share! I’m heading to Vienna in September with my BFF to celebrate our fiftieth friendiversary and Lippizaners are on our list but we would love good ideas.

          1. Every time I’ve tried Sachertorte I’ve been disappointed. So I’m planning to eats lots of other cakes instead.

      2. Airs Above the Ground was my first romantic suspense as a teenager, and I read it in a Reader’s Digest Condensed Book. I still remember the pastel and ink line, very spare illustrations, and the smell of that book. Found it again in full form as an adult and sent me on a search for every Mary Stewart. Then all the Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters (stalled out on the Lady Amelia series, I must admit, some while back), aa that eventually led me to Jenny and Bet Me. It’s a slippery slope. 🙂

        1. Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series changed its style abruptly twice: after the wonderful romcom of The Crocodile on the Sandbank she switched to much thinner, more farcical comedy-mysteries, but then from around about The Hippopotamus Pool the characters have more depth and the stories are much richer. The last two or three are thinner again, but there are some really excellent stories that take the characters through the First World War and into the twenties.

          1. Agree completely with Jane’s assessment. I don’t reread all of them, but I cherish that series. I finally had to get crocodile on the sandbank on my Kindle because I’d given the way too many times.
            The rest of the series I have in hardback.

    2. Wildfire at Midnight is my all-time favorite Mary Stewart. I even went to the Isle of Skye to get a feel for the setting. (And also toured the Talisker Distillery — I don’t drink, but loved learning how they make whisky.)

  21. I have been on a re reading binge, makes me so happy !
    Our own’s The Cinderella deal, Sujata Massey’s The typhoon lover part of the Rei Shimura series.
    Also first read of Emily Henry’s Funny Story I liked the MC but it took me longer to get through, but good.
    Thank you for the recommendations !

  22. A book I was really looking forward to is out! Lady Eve’s Last Con, by Rebecca Fraimow.

    Ruth Johnson and her sister Jules have been small-time hustlers on the interstellar cruise lines for years. But then Jules fell in love with one of their targets, Esteban Mendez-Yuki, sole heir to the family insurance fortune. Esteban seemed to love her too, until she told him who she really was, at which point he fled without a word.

    Now Ruth is set on revenge: disguised as provincial debutante Evelyn Ojukwu and set for the swanky satellite New Monte, she’s going to make Esteban fall in love with her, then break his heart and take half his fortune. At least, that’s the plan. But Ruth hadn’t accounted for his older sister, Sol, a brilliant mind in a dashing suit… and much harder to fool.

    Sol is hot on Ruth’s tail, and as the two women learn each other’s tricks, Ruth must decide between going after the money and going after her heart.

    That should keep me going…

  23. Had a good reading time the last fortnight! I’ve been away and was catching up on some of the recs here, especially those for Cat Sebastian regencies which I’d asked about. Tammy mostly (and someone else unfortunately I’ve forgotten who… sorry). Thanks to both of you anyway.

    Started with The Ruin of a Rake. I really liked that. The MCs are both good and very different (MM) and it was well plotted and fun. So I went back to the first in the Turner Series ‘The Soldier’s Scoundrel’ which was also great. I enjoyed the 2nd as well ‘The Lawrence Browne Affair’ but It wasn’t as strong as the others, either plot or character development wise, but I did like Georgie.

    I also enjoyed A Gentleman Never Keeps Score (Cat Sebastian, Sedgwicks). Both MCs interesting and a bit different (MM) Good setting and character arcs.

    In between all that Cat Sebastian I also read ‘Project Hero’ Briar Prescott, MM college based, which was nice and sweet.

    I read a lot on AO3. Firstly ‘Here there be dragons’ theundiagnosable, (MM Hockey) which was good, and gave a nice different version of the Dad relationship which at times seems overdone in Hockey. I also read ‘Irish Exit’ by theundiagnosable. This is really great. Full length novel, MM hockey, good characters, hard decisions etc. Really recommend it (it includes a goalie MC for those who like that!).

    Also on AO3, Tammy had recommended Sturm and Drang, spit_kitten, which was a really nice regency novella (MM) so I read a few more spit_kitten. Enjoyed ‘Oh Charlie we…’ which has an actor MC and his dialect coach and their prep for a Bridgerton type series. This was great. Also enjoyed spit_kitten’s ‘Ursa Minor, which has a bit of a homage to ‘Room with a View’.

    Haven’t time to dig out the links to AO3 but search by author works well enough. For those of you who haven’t been on AO3, I download and send to kindle so it is just like reading any other book, and all of the ones recommended here are well written and edited. Before trying AO3 I thought I would have to read on line, and that they would be a bit like rough drafts (none of the above are). I have only read Original MCs, so I’m not sure what the fanfic is like.

    On Audio I have been listening to Bride, Ali Hazelwood. Enjoying it so far. The vampire werewolf thing is a change from her usual, and the setting/world building is nicely done. The FMC is good too.

    1. Wasn’t Irish Exit by theundiagnosable wonderful? I really enjoyed that one! Good strong story. I also really liked “Here there be dragons”. Will check out the Spit_kitten stuff immediately.
      I find that I really depend on recommendations to know which authors to go to on Ao3, so many thanks! As for the fanfic…I tried some, as well as the real person stories (that counts as fanfic too, right?I’m not sure if it’s classified differently) and I read stuff I now cannot unread. I will be giving that a wide berth unless given specific recommendations! 🙂

      1. I saw there were stories with real people (real hockey players) but I thought that was too bizarre to go near.

      2. Have either of you tried superstition_hockey yet on A03? Christina, I know we talked about it – it’s an annoyingly tangled structure where the writer branches out all over the place and all back and forth in time, and also one of the MC’s is a Bit Much for me but still …not bad writing and some of the series are downright great. Here’s where to start: https://archiveofourown.org/series/413233

    2. I think there’s a Cat Sebastian e book now on sale for $1.99 on B&N. Can’t remember the name.

    3. Has theundiagnosable removed most of their works from Ao3? I can only find one work against their name.

  24. I’ve got an Emma Jameson waiting for me at the library, but it seems to be the only one in the entire state.

    Reading Georgette Heyer’s Duplicate Death and was gratified to discover that the person I most wanted to have killed off was indeed murdered, but she wasn’t the first murder.

  25. I’ve been struggling with my book attention span the past few weeks, so I’m sticking with re-reads. I’ve re-read Getting Rid of Bradley by JC, Kiss of Snow by Nalini Singh, Silent Blade by Ilona Andrews, and Devil’s Bride by Stephanie Laurens. I’ve just started a new-to-me The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. So far, so good.

    Thanks to everyone for the nice comments on my latest knitting project yesterday. This is such a supportive group.

  26. I’m back with more Discworld! Had to step away for a while after some life stuff overwhelmed me, and then inadvertently fell into the Pit of Despair (AKA a little round of depression). But am doing somewhat better now, and determined to see my Pratchett reread through.

    Luckily for me, I get to return with Going Postal. Probably one of the most enjoyable Discworld books, it hits the ground running and never really slows down. As a bonus, Pratchett really nails the ending on this one. It’s well-plotted and fast-paced, and pure entertainment all the way through.

    We get a new character, Moist von Lipwig, who begins by being hanged. But my favorite character is the Post Office itself, stuffed to the brim with undelivered letters. Pratchett has written many times about the power of words, and here we have it from yet another angle – words that are written but never read, literally groaning with frustration (and warping reality to boot). It’s gorgeous world-building, and I could taste the dust as I read.

    The next book, Thud! has a different flavor. No golden suit or razzle-dazzle here, this is another Watch book that takes place mainly in darkness, with an atmosphere of deep foreboding right from the start. Like Night Watch, it references a past historical event (the Battle of Koom Valley, which has actually been mentioned before), even as contemporary dwarves & trolls are agitating for another round.

    The issue is fundamentalism, again. Specifically dwarfish lore, which some fundamentalist grags have twisted into a kind of doctrine of dwarfish superiority (most specifically, mandating an ethnic cleansing of trolls).

    I don’t really love the subplot involving Vimes & the Summoning Dark, in part because it reduces Vimes to unreasoning rage for so much of the book. But I really enjoy the deeper dive into dwarfish culture, continuing some of the themes in The Fifth Elephant. Dwarves get introduced early in the Discworld books as hard-headed, money-obsessed pragmatists, but are eventually revealed to be deeply mystical, with a society largely ruled by religion. It’s thematically rich, and I’m happy to spend more time with these ideas.

    I skipped Wintersmith (having decided during my break to save Tiffany for later), and ended this week with Making Money. This book is, unfortunately, quite a close retread of Going Postal, and I think suffers a little from the comparison. It is very, very similar, but less tightly-written.

    As we are entering the era where Pratchett’s writing noticeably changes, I’ll say that I’m not going to dwell on flaws very much for these last few books. Making Money isn’t the high-wire act of Going Postal, but it has a good dog (Mr. Fusspot), lots of scathingly sarcastic Vetinari, and a welcome return of the wonderful Miss Dearheart. I neglected to mention how much I love her earlier, so let me say it here: she is a delight. I appreciate that she never quite lets Moist know where he stands, and her fierce devotion to the golems wins me over every time.

    Wishing you all a lovely start to summer (or winter, for antipodean arghers)!

    1. Still can’t believe that Terry Pratchett is gone, and utterly regretted trying to watch the show “Night Watch,” as it put images in my head that I did not agree with. Not terribly unusual with books translated to visual media, but seldom so far away as those were. I spent six years in England all told, and picked up his early stuff there, pre-Discworld. Once back in the U.S., I was so pleased that his work crossed over here, lost myself in the Discworld and never came out. I agree with your opinions overall and specifically, nice to meet you!

  27. In old business, Jenny rescued from moderation my longish post from yesterday on successful and unsuccessful older writers, and Patrick O’Brian as a possible counterexample to why ignoring editors’ advice is a mistake.  If anyone interested will search on the word Horace in yesterday’s comments,  you’ll end up there.

    Lesson learned:  Even though the text with a registered commenter’s email address is grayed out, it’s still overwriteable, and I probably accidentally messed it up before posting, sending the post to moderation.

    I think the resurfacing of my building’s parking lot was complete yesterday, but then the rain moved in, and so far the lot is still blocked off.  We’ll see what happens by afternoon. I’m not sure if the rain slowed down the blacktop’s curing.  The sun is out now, but more rain is forecasted for later today.  At worst, if the lot is still blocked off, I’ll do the minimum shopping and carry the bags in over a distance.

    Yesterday night, fortunately before bedtime, was enlivened by tornado warnings.  Apparently a storm cell that had generated tornados elsewhere in the area passed directly overhead, but did nothing here.  There are not even any twigs on the new surface of the lot.  There were also annoying warnings for other tornadoes farther off that we were not in danger from.  Those things are not specific enough.  The design of my condo unit does not give me an ideal place to shelter.  The least bad seems to be my small efficiency kitchen. We do get tornadoes in this region sometimes, but it’s not like the Plains States.

    1. Are you in the Maryland suburbs of DC? I live about 2 miles from where the tornado touched down. No damage at my house, but it was quite close.

      1. Me too! I live in a suburb on the Route 270 corridor, but south of all the tornado ruckus, so watching the local news programs take over programming so they could follow the path of the storm was the closest I got.

        I’ve never been near a tornado, but I was driving locally when a very strong storm went by not too far away, and that was enough for me. I learned later that the same storm had wreaked havoc on a piece of land that was messed up so badly that the owner sold it to the Swedes — IKEA eventually built its new store there, just off the Washington Beltway.

      2. Two miles! That’s scary close. No touchdowns particularly near me, as far as I’ve heard.

  28. My non-fiction this week was the very excellent Unruly by David Mitchell. David is a British comedian (Radio 4’s The Unbelievable Truth is well worth a listen), and this is a book about the English Kings (and Queens, but let’s be honest mostly Kings) from the end of the Roman Empire until the end of the Tudors. I devoured it in two days – it was very funny, well written and from what I did know of some of the history, accurate.

    I finished The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart (first in the Merlin series) and really enjoyed that.

    Then came a complete change of pace with Mrs Winterbottom’s Gap Year by Joanne Nell. I have read three of her four previous novels and loved them. They are usually about little old ladies kicking off! This one was brilliant, about a couple of retired doctors who seem to have drifted apart as a couple. It has a HEA and I really enjoyed this one too.

    Last night I re-read The Laird’s Wife by Anne Gracie – a novella set in Scotland and a bit different from her usual Regency novels, but very enjoyable and fun.

    1. As soon as I saw your recommendation I used an Audible credit to get Unruly – I’m not sure I would have found it otherwise. Have already started it and it is great so far. Mitchell is a favorite in this household and quotes –specially from Mitchell and Webb — are frequent in this household. Thanks!

  29. I was stalled on As Long as I have You, by Bella Andre, a 99 cent sale book on BookBub. I was also very busy, so could only read a little at a time. I finally finished it. From the very beginning, it was predictable. There were no surprises in the entire book. It was a sweet story about a daughter abandoned as a toddler, later finding out about her deceased father and his friends in England. From now on, I will not be tempted by those sale books unless I know the author or someone here has recommended the book.

    I rewatched The Lake House with Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. It’s a time-out-of-sync story where he lives in 2004 and she lives in 2006. There are some accidental meetings and even a kiss, and the urge to meet is nearly spoiled by death. I watched it twice, because keeping track of what happens to the MCs in each year is complicated. It’s a sweet epistolary love story. It starts when she leaves a note in the mailbox at the lake house with her forwarding address. As it progresses, the viewer watches with bated breath as the flag on the mailbox goes up or down, to see if they can communicate in time to avert a disaster or plan a meeting. At one point, she writes that she misses the trees at the lake house, because she is living in a high rise apartment building. He plants a sapling in his time, which suddenly appears in a rain storm, fully grown, in her time.

    1. I’m a bit of a Sandra Bullock fan. Obviously only a bit, or I would have seen this already. But my local library supposedly has the DVD and I just put a hold on it. The timey-wimey elements obviously present huge problems if one attempted to take them seriously.

  30. I am hovering around the 60 percent mark of the Forthright book. It’s a lot of tying up loose ends, more episodes than a cohesive narrative, which is fine. I just don’t have a lot of focus at the moment either to sit and read.

    So, I listened to The Goblin Emperor, which was excellent as always. It’s somewhere I could sink into and live forever.

    And then my hold on the audio of The Way Home by Peter S. Beagle. Two short stories in the world of The Last Unicorn that take place years later. So I am listining to that. And I have Hoopla borrows again, so I will be returning to Josh Lanyon soon!

  31. To finish up the old business, I did unload the dishwasher but have only started to reload it, and the kitchen is still a mess. And I haven’t quite made up the slippage in my reading page quota for the book-club book, although I anticipate being ready for Saturday. Still, progress. And I partly blame the tornado warnings.

  32. I read the first Dr Bones, and will probably buy the next one since my library only had them in audiobooks.
    I liked it but wasn’t convinced by the pre wartime setting details.
    I reread Josephine Tey’s To Love and Be Wise and The Franchise Affair—two really excellent mysteries where there is no murder—and now am rereading Brat Farrer.
    And I’m probably going to read next a nonfiction book “Empress of the Nile” about the archaeologist who saved the temples of the Nile. What I really want is another book by Lynne Olson about a hero of the French resistance Madame Fourcade but it’s still on hold.

    1. I didn’t finish the sample of the first Dr Bones: like you, I wasn’t convinced by the story world, and the odd Americanism didn’t help.

      1. Authors from elsewhere in the Anglosphere, especially the ones outside of North America, often choose to set books in the US, I think largely because it’s the largest book market. (I’m thinking not only of Brits but of significant numbers, especially of Independent authors, from Australia, and no doubt some from more exotic parts. Canadians can usually get away with a US setting, although SM Stirling once slipped and used Girl Guides of the US. ) It’s often hard to tell from where the non-US authors write, since many use pseudonyms and post pretty minimal bios. But there is a lot of “ginger” hair, “lounges” instead of living rooms, and such going on. Decidedly annoying. In a Kindle review I advised one particular fantasy author either to stick to his own country, make the hero an expatriate from outside the US and tell the story in first person, or to set his novels in fantasy countries. (His books weren’t bad, just annoying on that score.) Mystery author Jeanne Dams wisely made her narrator an American living in Britain. A lot of other non-US authors are annoying but less so, including some talented ones like Charles Stross.

        1. I don’t know why autocorrect capitalized independent. Or maybe I’m blaming it unfairly, since it did not try to change the word in the preceding sentence.

  33. I’m reading How to Start a Fire, recommended by a friend. Found the first chapter annoying enough that I almost DNF. As the author is saying to us, “Oh look at my quirky characters! Look what they are doing now! Aren’t they interesting?” (sigh) But then it started to get more interesting… It jumps around in time to what I find an irritating degree. Don’t like most of the characters but there are a couple I am interested in enough to finish the book. We’ll see.

    Before that I read another Alexis Hall, How to Bang a Billionaire. As we know, I am a big fan of this author and there were some deliciously funny parts. I’d say that this one was not one of my favorites of his and that is largely down to the prologue. There are two main characters, in the book, with the viewpoint of the story coming from one of them. He is the more interesting, compelling character of the two. The prologue was about the other one, setting us up to understand exactly how messed up this guy is. The problem was that I somehow missed that the main, main character doesn’t show up in the prologue at all. It was another guy. So I spent the book waiting for the bad stuff in the prologue to happen to the main, main character and it doesn’t. (A relief, actually.) I think the book would stand up on its own without the prologue and in fact be better without it.

  34. Based on your recommendation, I have started Bones in the Blackout by Emma Jameson. I am enjoying it but haven’t had a lot of time to read, so haven’t finished it yet.

    Over the weekend, I read Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez and Out of the Clear Blue Sky by Kristin Higgins. I enjoyed both of them and they were exactly what my weekend needed. Lighthearted with smart women, sexy men and fast paced stories.

    I’ve also just started the audiobook version of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. I’m only still in the first chapter, so have no comments yet, except that I like the reader.

  35. Of the five books I was starting or in the middle of last week I am still in the middle of three, constantly tempted to DNF, and yet not doing it. They are boring me, yet something in all of them is keeping me wanting to finish them. I finished one, and it was…pretty all right. I’m almost finished with another, and really may DNF that one, because of the constant feeling that this has been done before, and better, too. The other three I’m still plodding through and it’s not just a saggy middle. They sag all the way through. But something is keeping me reading, although in short bits. Partly the desire to analyze what is wrong with them, which I am failing at.

    To cleanse the palate I have been skimming through Patricia Wrede’s Rose Red, Snow White (or is it the other way around? The book is on the other side of the room.) I always skip the Doctor Dee parts, which don’t interest me now that I know what’s happening, but this time I’m just reading little selected bits of my favorite scenes. The bear is about to burst in from the snowstorm.

    Also I bought Lee & Miller’s Ribbon Dance on the release day, which for me is a bout of wild extravagance, not waiting for the library to acquire it, and I’m two-thirds of the way through it and enjoying it greatly, as I expected.

    1. Finished another one of my meh books. Very meh. I had to know how it ended, but not by skipping to the end, which would only have told me the what, not the why. What I didn’t figure out is why it was so borderline boring.

  36. RISING TIDES (Capes Book 1) by Harmon, Marion. Fourth re-read. I like superhero stories. Strange fact: I never equated reading the “Wearing the Cape” series nor this one with DC or Marvel superheroes. DC/Marvel is comic books and television and movies – WtC is literature. At least, that’s how I saw it. Of course, having said that, I will find plenty of people who can point out novelizations and original fiction (and fan fiction) for every superhero known to mankind. I don’t care.

    Of course, with Disney+ I have been watching way more Marvel Universe. I’m with Patrick M on the Spiderverse and cliffhangers. It will take me forever to get through the canon. So many unwatched movies!

    1. A long time ago I read and liked the first Wearing the Cape novel and possibly a few more, but not well enough to stay with the series. I’ve also tried other series in the genre. Often I found them readable, but I decided the genre really wasn’t my thing. I agree that original superheroes in non-graphic novels by independent authors are a different, and often better, thing than novelizations of comics superheroes.

      1. I should mention PRINCESS HOLY AURA by Ryk Spoor. It’s a story about a Sailor Moon type superhero… except more different than usual. He’s also writing a sequel apart from traditional publishing using one of those Go-Fund-My-Patreon dealies.

  37. Funny you should ask. I am on my gazillionth Audible listen of Agnes and The Hitman. It is a favorite Go-To for times when my brain needs comfort, laughter, familiarity. Thank you to you and Bob for giving me that.

  38. I read Sage Empress II by Sherwood Smith. Basically part of a prequel series set before the Phoenix Feather series. The first one was Tribute, and then Sage Empress I and Sage Empress II. Tribute was set an undetermined number of years before The Phoenix Feather, but it felt like about 1000 years, and then Sage Empress I and II is set somewhere in between, with no time gap between them, maybe 500 years before The Phoenix Feather.

    I also read Ghostdrift by Suzanne Palmer. Someone here recently mentioned Finder, which I had read, and it’s two sequels, which I had no idea existed and was very grateful to discover they did. Now she has published a fourth book in the series which takes place about 3 1/2 years later. Fergus has been in hiding but then he gets recruited to Find something by some not very nice people who make him an offer he can’t refuse.

    1. I have been eyeballing the new Sherwood Smiths. Do you recommend starting with the Empress or Phoenix Feathers?

      1. I think that you could start with Tribute, which is the first book chronologically, and that you should definitely read that before you read Sage Empress I and II, but I suspect that reading them in publication order, reading the four Phoenix Feather books first, will likely work best. Not in terms of spoilers, because the three stories are so many years apart, but some of the world building done in the Phoenix Feather books gets less attention in the prequels because the author has already written about it. But reading it in chronological order wouldn’t be a big problem.

    2. I just read Ghostdrift myself. Enjoyed it. Very sorry to find out it is the last book in the series. Locking forward to what she writes next though.

  39. I’m reading “Moonstorm” a new YA novel just out by Yoon Ha Lee which is about an orphaned girl who was picked up enemy Imperial forces after her family was killed by them. However, during the pickup, she becomes absolutely fascinated by the Imperial Lancers and is determined to become one of them, which, of course, is going to lead to angst down the road where she has to confront her past as an enemy of the Empire and her desire to be an Imperial weapon. I am now in the angsty part and it’s slowing down my reading.

    I finally finished “Tsalmoth” from Steven Brust which is the book in the Dragaeran Cycle series just prior to the one which came out recently. Talk about angst! “Tsalmoth” is set in the days when Vlad Taltos is preparing to marry Cawti so there’s all this love and understanding and ugh. Knowing what is going to happen to their relationship in the future makes everything they do so bittersweet. I don’t know what stopped me from finishing the story before. Huh, now I remember. I think it got to be too violent for me at the time since I was trying to read it during the aftermath of the October 7th surprise in Israel.

    1. Moonstorm sounds a little like the backstory of Rey in The Force Awakens, of the Star Wars movies.

    2. Ha Nguyen: you mentioned Yoon Ha Lee. I adored her Hexarchate trilogy some year ago (Ninefox Gambit, Raven Strategem and Revenant Gun). When I can afford them, I will buy the trilogy in paper (as opposed to ebook). I will try Moonstorm, and anything by the author that you recommend. Thank you.

  40. This week’s book was something of a surprise: THE TAINTED CUP by Robert Jackson Bennett. The reviews were so good, I requested it from the library. It’s an extreme secondary world fantasy, with compounds drawn from plants and animals to “graft” special talents and abilities on people, with consequences as well as benefits. The premise, plus the kaiju-like creatures menacing the coast, sounds dire. But the voice and the characters sucked me in from the first page. And when I realized it featured an over-the-top, genderswapped Nero Wolfe, I was totally hooked. Still am, 170 pp. into a large, 410-page book.
    If anyone else is a Nero Wolfe fan, I highly recommend Stephen Spotswood’s Pentecost and Parker series. Only four so far. We have to wait until February for the next. Argh!

    1. Jean Marie Ward: so glad you enjoyed The Tainted Cup. A new one will be released soon, I’m told. I look forward to trying the Spotwood books you recommended.

      Not at all the same, very different (!), the Confessions and the Diary of a Bookseller (two books) by Shaun Blythell has been keeping my attention the last few weeks. Also The Remainders (same author). Curmudgeonly but I think charming man running a (I imagine) dilapidated second hand bookstore (touted as the largest in Scotland) in Wiggstown Scotland. He records with understated humour his prosaic daily life, and eccentric customers, with an odd precision…not pretentious in any way (to my ear).

      1. It didn’t seem any more dilapidated than normal for a secondhand bookshop when I visited last year. I steered clear of the guy on the till, just in case.

  41. Have others before my time remarked upon the fact that Captain Huggy-Face appears to be hanging upside down in the Arghink heading at the top of the site? I suppose that’s appropriate in that we word up a lot.

  42. I’m reading Randy Wayne White’s “Everglades.” I recently finished reading his “Shark River” and love the way he writes about Florida’s natural world along with twists, surprises and lots of action. I just re-ordered an old favorite cozy, a Black Cat Bookshop Mystery, Ali Brandon’s “Double Booked for Death.” Love me a cat mystery! Since I write a paranormal series, people have asked if I watch “Ghosts.” I hadn’t, but caught the last one of the series for the year–and now look forward to it resuming in the fall.

    1. If you like books set in Florida I hope you have read at least a few by Carl Hiaasen. His writing is excellent, he has some great situations and characters, descriptions of Florida landscapes changing over time, and plots that kept me turning pages at a great rate… Taf

  43. I read Courtney Milan’s “The Devil Comes Courting” this week and highly recommend it . It manages to combine issues of cross-cultural adoption and achievement by women and mixed race characters, in the 1865+ era primarily set in China. The issues are powerful but character based so their experiences and choices arise out of who they are. I found this book profoundly moving and touching because of the characters. It is part of a series which I am now reading and enjoying as well. It was published in 2021.

    1. She was one of the authors recommended for Georgette Heyer lovers so I may check her out!

      So hard to find any authors I like as much as Heyer.

      1. I started with The Duchess War, which impressed me by being set in middle-class Leicester rather than upper-class London, as well as being a great read.

  44. I finished Emily Henry’s new book, Funny Story. I’m a sucker for a good character arc and this book had a great one.

    Also reading a middle grade novel, Laura Ingalls Is Ruining My Life, by Shelly Tougas. Because who could walk away from that title?

  45. In the middle of Emily Henry’s Funny Story, still enjoying the characters. Just received the Audible recording of Jody Taylor’s new Time Police novel, Killing Time. Trying not to rush it, since I still need to read The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store, by James McBride. The plot is not pulling me along (yet) but his writing has so much to chew on, I’m happily reading.

    1. A friend highly recommended The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store; I’ll have to give it a try.

  46. I read Look On the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins. Absolutely loved it. I laughed and cried, then laughed again.

  47. I also re-read, re-inhaled, three Vorkosigans this week. Gentleman Jole, Captain Vorpatril and Mirror Dance. Though I had to start the latter halfway through and then go back to the action of the first half afterwards. Bujold’s male characters do seem overly attracted to a particular female body type, which slightly squicks me. Agree that Gentleman Jole is an odd book, though the retconning it makes one do is an interesting exercise. The 18-month jump is a bit odd too. Started re-reading them because I listened to Jo Walton talking about Memory on the My Word As Vorkosigan podcast.

    Also read A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch, which was almost a DNF but picked up for me near the end. It’s very dully written to the point where I wondered if it’s deliberate. It can be quite relaxing when it doesn’t wind one up. Seems unusual to have a hero (Charles Lenox) with the same first name as the author.

    And read and enjoyed You Should Be So Lucky by Cat Sebastian. It is a bit read-with-hands-over-eyes with the stress of will the couple be outed. And the baseball averages stuff was completely lost on me, but I liked the general point about failure.

    Not sure what to read next – need something a bit familiar but not too much so.

    1. I love Gentleman Jole. It is one of my favorites in Bujold’s Vorkosigan series. Not a sci-fi adventure, per se, but a sci-fi love story.

      1. LMB has such a turn of phrase. One of her loveliest in this book is linked to that very tender love story:
        « What is love but delight in another human being? He delights me daily ».

        Well it made me think of my husband. He infuriates me and I infuriate him but he also delights me which explains why we are still together after 31 years together!

  48. I’m alternating between two audiobooks this week, and it’s been slow going for different reasons with each. One is NK Jemison’s The World We Made (after finishing The City We Became). The narrator is just fabulous (although I still don’t like the occasional special effects, which are probably not the narrator’s choice), but the stories are intense for right before sleeping. I also keep wondering how much of them readers will understand in fifty years, since there are so, so, so many references to current political events. I’m guessing the basic stories will hold up, but much of the political references will be missed by future readers. Or will make them scratch their heads and wonder what on earth the author was talking about.

    The second one is the first Dr. Bones, and the narrator is solid but suffers in comparison to the Jemison books’ narrator’s fabulousness. The story is also starting slowly, which I think feels worse in audio format, where I can’t just skim all the setup. I could increase the playback speed, but that, like the intensity of Jemison’s stories, isn’t really conducive to the relaxation I’m looking for when reading before falling asleep. So I’m plugging along, enjoying Lady Juliet, but a bit impatient for the story to really get going.

  49. I don’t know if it’s budget-consciousness, laziness or something else completely, but I just can’t bring myself to venture out into new fiction right now, I’m purely in re-read mode. Just re-read the Cecilia & Kate novels by Stevermer & Wrede, and next up are a re-read of the Ile-Rein books from Martha Wells. I found the MurderBot books a bit dark for me, but might break the “no new fiction” cycle, since she’s returning to fantasy with her newest, Witch King.

    1. Witch King is rather dark, but also full of the best snark ever. I love it. Have already lost count of how many times I’ve read it.

  50. Emma Jameson’s Ice Blue was a delightful discovery. I learned about it from this forum – several people talked about this author’s different series last Thursday. Thank you, Arghers. I don’t often enjoy mysteries, but I enjoyed this one. Perhaps because it was a police procedural, not a cozy, but most probably because it was written and edited superbly. It is the first in a series, and it was free on Amazon, and because I liked it so much, I already bought the next book in the series. I look forward to reading it with tingling anticipation.
    This novel also invited some musing I’m going to share here. Its character dynamics bear a striking resemblance to the leading characters in the Inspector Linley series. Like in Elizabeth George’s novels, here the hero, Anthony Hetheridge, is a British Lord as well as a chief superintendent of Scotland Yard. The heroine is a working class girl Kate, a detective sergeant assigned to Hetheridge’s team. Together, they solve crimes. They also develop feelings for each other, despite their class and age disparity, but those feelings, the mutual attraction growing between them, are only hinted at in this book. I suspect I’ll get more of it as the series progresses. Yummy.
    Kate’s complex family situation is also reminiscent of Inspector Linley’s Sergeant Barbara and her family problems. But despite the similarities, I don’t think anything nefarious is going on. I’ve encountered this phenomenon before, when two different writers independently write stories with the amazingly similar premises. I think the explanation is that both writers at some point in their writing career studied under the same teacher or participated in the same workshop and were offered the same writing exercise. Their stories stem from that exercise, but unfold differently, according to each writer’s style and preferences.
    The second book of the series, Blue Murder was as good as the first, as was the book #3, Something Blue. I read all three back to back, but now I’m ready for break. I need something else – a romance or a scifi flick – before I return to Jameson’s grisly murders. But I will return, no doubt about that.

  51. I’m reading the burning witch part three from Delemhach.
    This is the second trilogy. The first was the house Witch. The plots are Complex, and the characters great except for their names.
    I love their work. The naming makes me crazy, but I still love their work.
    I have half a book to go and then I have to look for something else to read. Not sure what I’ll be in the mood for.
    My friends recommended me a series on Netflix, eight part series called Deadloch.
    As I understand it, it’s a mystery with humor. You might want to look at the preview.

    1. We thought Deadlock was very funny as well as a good story. It’s really well done.

    2. Deadlock was great. One of the characters was so over-the-top that it was cringe-worthy, and I almost gave up after the first episode. So glad I didn’t because the series is hysterical and there is good character growth.

  52. Finally Reading, a new book and new to me author, Ice Blue written by Emma Jameson. Chapter five already. The grass will be cut later.

  53. Just a couple books this week. After finishing Georgette Heyer’s “Sylvester” (one of my less favorite Heyer books but still good!), I took a break from my Heyer marathon and checked out of the library a couple books recommended for Heyer fans, starting with Garth Nix’s “Newt’s Emerald” (Nix is apparently a big Heyer fan!). I enjoyed it… but it was no Georgette Heyer!

    Also read the newest Annabel Chase Crossroads Queen book. I’m enjoying the series. Also, “The Vampire and the Case of the Wayward Werewolf” which is the first in the “Portlock Paranormal Detective” series by Heather G. Harris and Jilleen Dolbeare. It’s sort of a cozy mystery/urban fantasy hybrid. I’ll probably read more of the series. I really enjoy Heather G. Harris’s books.

    Also, listened to the new Graphic Audio production of Ilona Andrews’ Kate Daniels series, “Magic Gifts”. I just LOVE GA productions, particularly the modern ones where they have upped their production values. I followed that up with the audiobook of the Andrea Nash book that occurs simultaneously, “Gunmetal Magic”. Ilona Andrews is definitely one of my favorite authors, and I re-read their books every few years.

  54. My reading week:

    1. [re-read] ‘False Scent’ by Ngaio Marsh, a theater-adjacent story, published in 1960, featuring a quickly-solved domestic tragedy.

    2. [re-read] my own M/M novel ‘Be Mine,’ the one about two private-school teachers negotiating their relationship after one is assaulted.

    3. [re-read] ‘The Danger’ by Dick Francis, the one about kidnappings in which the hero uproots a tree to escape.

    3.5 ‘The Joy of Fishes’ by E.H. Lupton, a literary novella about grief, featuring a doctoral candidate in physics and her long, conflicted recovery from a car accident that killed her boyfriend, whose ghost she sees and speaks with. Memorable.

    4. ‘The Science of Attraction’ by Jay Hogan, 3rd of her Mackenzie Country M/M romances, featuring a sheep station manager and the occupational therapist on site to treat the manager’s homophobic stroke-victim father. Not a lot new in this book but the MCs take their relationship seriously from the start, knowing big conflicts are inevitable, and say things that other people really need to hear.

    5. [re-read] my own M/M/F novel ‘A Braid of Love,’ the one about a tour manager, a novelist, and a jazz singer.

    6. ‘The House of the Red Balconies’ by A.J. Demas, a slow-burn standalone in her Bronze Age world, featuring an engineer and a courtesan. The engineer’s work could have been more present on the page; there are fairly high stakes for both MCs and a bit more urgency would have suited me, but it’s lovely anyway.

    7. ‘Napkins and Other Distractions’ by M.A. Wardell, his new and very sexy M/M rom-com featuring a school principal with terminal klutziness and a software consultant with clinical OCD. Unreserved 5 stars. They are so accepting of each other from the start, dealing with their mutual issues kindly, acknowledging their own triggers and their own failings, taking action to correct their mistakes before things can escalate.

    8. ‘Rattlesnake’ by Kim Fielding, M/M hurt/comfort set in the Sierra foothills (in a fictional town that feels extremely familiar to me, having taken several terrific vacations up there) featuring a drifter and a bartender who both have serious damage. Another 5 star read for me.

    9. ‘How You Get the Girl’ by Anita Kelly, yet another 5 star, F/F set in Nashville TN feat. a high-school basketball coach with a depressing day job and a former college bball star likewise. Slow-burn slice of life with lots of family, career, identity, and mental health obstacles to negotiate. References some other books & includes crossover characters but in a holistic way.

    So yeah. Some good books this week. 🙂

  55. Can highly recommend Be Mine – one of my top three of your books.

    PS – How did you score House of Red Balconies?? According to Amazon.ca it’s not available until June 24th.

    1. Not sure how Chacha1 got her ARC, but Demas usually announces in her newsletter that they are available. I scored one way back ebven though I don’t have a website and not much outreach. She’s lovely that way.

  56. I’ve fallen down the Jagger Cole rabbit hole. OMG these books are insane. Evil twins, amnesia, six months to live, lots of arranged marriages (Toxic Love features six months to live AND an arranged marriage) and one of my favorites, the two killers who fall in love; she stalks him in a sex club and stabs him, he marries her (Vicious Hearts). The books all have a shared world and connected characters, over the top crazy melodrama, twisty plots, and “I will die for you” true love. GREAT stuff if you want a hot sexy escapist read with a happily ever after and heroes who will literally do anything for their heroines.

  57. I reread Jayne Ann Krentz trilogy – Eclipse Bay. 3 good reads!

    I read Emma Jameson & I finished a new to me book by a new to me author. And I bought and started book 2.
    Bones In the Blackout
    Bones In the Manor House
    Enjoying the series & expect to read all 4 books out so far.

    When I read fiction – I expect it to be just that – fiction. If an author can come close to real live setting & that is appropriate – good. But I definitely do not expect fiction to equate detail per detail to reality. If I wanted to read non fiction – I would.

  58. “Brains do brain logically, but when English doesn’t logic Englishly, the brain brains by itself to logic that English.”

    I just felt this needed sharing. (Why should I have the only headache?)

  59. Can anyone recommend some newer funny books?

    I’m needing to distract myself from some life stresses and laughing is usually the best way to do that for me.

    Thanks!

    1. Funny is hard because it is so subjective. Murderbot always makes me laugh, for example, but I really like dry, sarcastic humor.

      Conversely, I find a lot of “funny” books to be farcical and distasteful.

      I like Trisha Ashley for gentle, self depreciating humor. I think Alexis Hall can be very funny as well, especially the Boyfriend Material/Husband Material books. And a lot of people liked Ten Things that Never Happened, but that is a Christmas book.

      1. I also think that Ilona Andrews writes very funny dialog, if you don’t mind fantasy/scifi.

        1. I like Lucy Parker for contemporary M/F, just not her latest one. But the rest are good.

    2. How about the Honey Badger Chronicles. Lots of violence but I found them hilarious. Starts with Hot and Badgered: A Honey Badger Shifter Romance (The Honey Badger Chronicles Book 1) by Shelly Laurenston

    3. The Frugal Wizard’s Handbook for Surviving Medieval England made me laugh; it was just published last year. I also found the Blonde Identity and The Road to Roswell, both recommended here, to be funny. My go to “make me laugh” books are all old, sometimes decades old, like To Say Nothing of the Dog.

  60. I finished my read/listen of the latest Lady Hardcastle by T.E. Kinsey, a series that I adore as much as Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow. Funny, well-researched, early twentieth century historical with a smidge of derring-do. Charming.

    Almost finished with SEP’s When Stars Collide which reminds me that when SEP is good, she is just great. It feels something like Breathing Room which I read based on JaneB’s recommendation after I had rather given up on SEP as a good match for me.

    I’m listening to a time travel romance by Cara Bastone called Maybe This Time. Included with Audible membership. It has an excellent full cast recording that includes Noah Reid from Schitt’s Creek as the MMC. Very charming and I’m not generally a fan of time travel stories.

    And I started watching Leverage. Great fun.

    1. I loved Breathing Room by SEP. & it has that dreaded thing – an epilog – like only SEP can do. I reread her epilogs when I want to cheer up – including this one.

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