This is a Good Book Thursday, June 13, 2024

Last week, I read Jennifer Smith’s Field Notes on Love and really enjoyed it, although it was a little weird reading something by Jennifer Smith since that’s my real name. I felt a twinge, wondering what it would be like to see my real name on one of my books, which was dumb. I’ve been Jennifer Crusie for so long, that most people don’t even know my real name, and if they do, still yell, “Crusie!” across the room when they want me. The point is, I would have been very happy to have my name on this book. It’s just a lovely, low key, YA romance between two strangers who are about to start college and end up traveling across the US by train together. No billionaires, no brother’s best friend, no fake dating, just two people on a train talking to each other and falling in love. Pure romance.

What did you read this week?

198 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 13, 2024

    1. Yep. I’m reading my way through Doctor Bones and loving it too. Thanks to those who recommended the books.

  1. I finished all the Pellegrini books. I really enjoyed the Montenello books, A dream of Italy and To Italy with love, vey cheesy titles but I suppose it’s for marketing purposes. They are about the one euro houses and now I want one of those too, except really I’d rather have a house in Normandy, much much less hot in the summer and if you go inland, the houses are pretty cheap and it’s beautifully green.

    I have also read some Kristan Higgins books and I have enjoyed them too. Some people last week said they preferred the older ones but I liked reading the recent ones set in Cape Cod. I especially liked Lilla in Out of the clear blue sky and Look on the bright side. I am hoping Lorenzo gets his own book. She is very good at making the « villains » sympathetic. I am rooting for him to get someone.

      1. I have a cousin who is a doctor. He was diagnosed late in life with Asperger. When we were young we just thought he was very odd because in those days, it wasn’t something that was commonly known.

        He has no bedside manner whatsoever but he is a good guy nonetheless.

        1. I had a retinologist with Aspergers syndrome. He didn’t introduce himself, although there were multiple docs in that office and I was a new patient, and since I was reading a book while waiting, he pointed to it, and said “Put that down.” He pointed to the exam chair and said “Sit.” I was in shock. He eventually quit and took his wife to California, where they competed in ballroom dance contests!

    1. I would love one of those 1 Euro houses too. Of course, after watching the TV series My Big Italian Adventure about Lorraine Bracco buying one in Sambucca Italy, I’m not so sure.

  2. The Jennifer Smith book seems just right my alley right now, must check it out!

    Since real-life hockey currently is far too stressful with my fav team about to lose (ARGHHH), I stuck with the new Franklin University series that kicked-off last Friday with The Hook-up Mix by Riley Hart. Sweet, very very low angst (and thus probably not very memorable), but with kind and nice protagonists.
    Since all of the books of the FU1 and FU2 books seem to be interconnected, I then tried one from last year – The Dating Disaster by Saxon James which is the very first book by this author that I really really love. Well, I’m not finished yet, but 63 % in it looks promising that I keep on loving it. Also a very sweet, low key romance but this time between on smart little twink (with a big personality but heavy self esteem issues) and his big demi roommate. I guess what I like so much about it is that they don’t tumble among the sheets constantly due to the underlying issues – they get to know each other as friends first, the tension is interesting and so spending time with those two is fun and just what I need right now.
    Tomorrow, the next installment by Saxon James is due (KU), so I will not run out of reading material of the fluffy kind.

    1. Stop stop – they’re not going to lose! They’re on home turf tonight so they’ll be psyched up and maybe have figured out how to get a goal past that WALL of a goalie the Panthers have.

      I downloaded Dating Disaster since that’s totally my jam plus I like Saxon although I usually prefer her with her writing partner, Eden.

      1. I try to visualize the Oilers winning, I do.
        And yes, Bobrovsky is a wall, but the offense has run over the Bruins and the NYR, too. They are on a mission after losing out last year due to so many injuries in the team.

        I do so hope that this year a Canadian team (that seems so down-to-earth, too) finally ends the drought.

      2. BTW, the next collb of Saxon James and Eden Finley is in the works – the idea of a writing retreat to finish Forbidden Puckboy seems nice. Publ date set for September 19.

        I really don’t get how these authors manage to complete their books so incredibly fast. Eason/Lain said in a podcast that it took them only 3 weeks to finish their first Jocks vs Nerds book. Yes, those books read like fast food compared to Jenny’s slow food feasts (and Bob and Jenny have quite some speed as a duo), but still. How???

        1. This is something I don’t get, too, Dodo. A book takes me a solid 9 months. And that’s for a kids’ book of 40,000 words. I understand how the crappy writers churn them out in a couple of weeks, with no concern for anything regarding credibility or decent writing, but how do the good writers do it????

          1. There is this well known French 19th century writer, Stendhal, who wrote incredibly quickly. Apparently, he would dictate his books to a secretary. I think he wrote one in 51 days.

          2. Lian, I heard some authors praise collaboration with a like-minded author as a key to this speed and for Bob and Jenny it seems to be working similarly – the ping pong effect. Some said that it helped that they were so much apart geographically that one worked while the other slept and so on.
            I also get it that with a 2-pov-story one writes one MC, the other the second one. But for some it worked to write e.g. 500 words, then the other took over etc.
            I can remember the podcast Jenny did years ago with Lani Diane where they picked up a random idea for a storyline and ran with it, brainstorming aloud. Very quick witted, but afaik they only used it as mental juggling.

            Fascinating.
            Still, on a re-read those stories produced very very fast tend to lack the x layers that make other books so re-readable.

          3. I went to a Q&A with Mo Willems, who writes and illustrates picture books. He says it takes him 9 months, on average, to finish a book. At the end of the first month he pretty much has the story and illustrations planned out. Then it takes him the next 8 months to remove any word or line that isn’t absolutely essential.

    2. Nonononono!! They haven’t lost yet!! We don’t know what will happen and we’ve seen them pull some amazing things out of the hat; it’s not over yet! They’re on home ice tonight which is sure to set a different tone altogether! Also, surely they have spent the last 48 hours trying to figure out how to get around Bobrovskiy!

      I’ve put Dating Disaster on my tbr for when I am in the mood for “lighter” fair.

    1. I love Cotillion so much! I really enjoy Freddy’s father coming to realise that there’s much more to his son than meets the eye. Plus the disappointment of the Elgin Marbles!

      1. One of my absolutely favorite scenes in “Cotillion”! Along with the scene where he brushes lint off his jacket before clocking Jack. Such a lovely lovely book…

    2. I re-read (listened to) The Grand Sophy last week. Have never tried Cotillion, I realise I have to, right now…

  3. I finished listening to the last in the Kierstin White series about the Ottoman Empire, Brightly We Burn (And I Darken series), and the long arc of the relationship between the emperor and two siblings – all historical figures except she’s changed one of the siblings from a boy to a girl – or she has better information than I have. One of the clearest writers I’ve ever read. Super intense books. Can’t say it ended exactly happily for everyone but way more happily than I’d expected, given all the brutal things that happened along the way.

    I also read the three Offsides books, MM hockey by JJ Mulder. I’d have to say this author is a keeper although probably tier three in the hockey pantheon. Their books are low key, low angst, too much gratuitous sex but enough plot to keep me interested, plus a sweet vibe. Most similar to Hannah Henry.

    Send good vibes for the Oilers tonight please everyone.

      1. On another note I find it most refreshing to look towards Seattle and Coachella with the Firebirds competing for the second time in the Calder Cup finals in their second year of existence!!

        And the Kraken might get their first ever female assistant coach. Or the Firebirds their first ever female head coach next season. Soooo excited about that tidbit!!

        1. I read the new Anne Gracie which was exactly what you expect from her. I finished the Dr Bones books which I liked but didn’t love. I am now rereading Romancing Mr Bridgerton because my DD wants us to watch season 3 of Bridgerton (I haven’t watched the first two) and after the first two episodes I’m trying to figure out what dialog they kept. I’m really sad that apparently they didn’t keep how Penelope handled overhearing Colin say he would never marry her because it’s such a lovely moment of dignity and courage. I am so impressed by the actress playing Penelope.
          I am also on a read about Shakespeare kick after our visit to the Globe and really enjoying Bill Bryson’s short biography of him. Bryson’s eye for detail is wonderful —he mentions how random Shakespeare’s spelling was and points out that it was so typical of the age that a dictionary published in 1604 “A Table Alphabeticall of Hard Words” spells word two different ways on the title page.

          On a related note DH and I went back to watching Only Murders in the Building and were very impressed by the way an entire episode that is seen through the eyes of the deaf character doesn’t have anyone speak out loud until the final scene.

        2. Dodo, I’d LOVE to see a female assistant coach – thin end of the wedge. At least Canadian TV coverage has a female hockey player as one of the broadcasters.

        3. Inappropriate to share (and yet I’m sharing nonetheless) – my husband and I have a joke where one of us will say, “Release the Kraken!” whenever I take off my shirt and bra, so I cannot take that team name seriously (or think of them without thinking of boobs.)

          1. LOL
            Well, this list is known to embrace tentacle lovers, why not see creature lovers with inappropriate thoughts 😉

  4. I finally read Romantic Comedy (first checked it out of the library at the beginning of November!) and liked it. Reread the first 5 books of the New Zealand Ever After series by Rosalind James, and started the 6th for the first time.

    Today I’m picking up Agnes and the Hitman from the library. It’s been years and years since I read it and it wasn’t my fave so I’ve never reread it, but y’all have convinced me to give it another chance.

      1. “Violence isn’t the answer, Agnes.”

        “That depends on the question, Dr. Garvin.”

        I think that Agnes holds a special place in my heart partly because of the time I spent working in the wedding industry. Weddings get crazy pretty fast. And I listened to it in the week before my own wedding. Though it was small, there was still lots to do and Agnes helped me keep perspective. Uh oh, I feel a reread coming on.

          1. Well, after four years of almost continuous rereading, I have finally been feeling well enough (in the mental health sense) to try new things with some consistency. I hate to break that streak, although I already did it for The Goblin Emperor and Tell Me Lies.

        1. My family specializes in whacky/horrific weddings so I’m sorry you missed them.

  5. Had a really good reading week – mostly because I stuck to trusted authors and knew they would all have HEA, not necessarily cosy but not getting out of my comfort zone either. Been trying to push myself a little further everyday to get fit again after 2+ years on the waiting list for the new hip and then the operation. Don’t have the stamina or much left in my tank – even though my physical mobility is improving. Hence the relaxing and good reading. Went on a 3 hour round trip to see the Consultant yesterday, for a 10 minute appointment! He is really happy with me and me with him so that was good. He also said I can now get back on my static bike and rebuild some of the aerobic fitness I have lost, which is great because it has been cold and raining here (so not June weather) and I have not wanted to go down the 30 steps to the pavement for a walk – not that I can walk too far yet anyway. Hence all the sitting/ lying on the daybed and reading 🙂

    Re-read Trust Me On This By Jenny Cruise and forgot how much I enjoyed it. I do so love the screwball comedy of it all and the relationships formed despite the misunderstandings, mistaken identities etc. Also loved the dog, who was a character that was mentioned but never arrived until the last chapter.

    Mad About You by Mhairi M Farlane. This was out of the library and I think was on the library list because it was recommended here. It is two flatmates learning each other and falling in love after coming out of terrible relationships. It was great.

    Don’t Look Back by Christie Craig – the third in the Texas Justice cold case team trilogy. Brie is FBI and undercover to try to discover her sisters killer and Detective Connor only knows her as a waitress in a strip club. Great story that and how he expresses his love at the end non-verbally was just lovely.

    Open Season by Linda Howard, a real blast from the past from my keeper shelf. Forgotten how good this was. Daisy is a 34 year old small town librarian who has an epiphany and decides she wants to shake up her life and stop living like a nun. Jack Russo is the Chief of Police in their small town, trying to save Daisy from herself. There is a menacing background of date-rape drugs, and sex trafficking flowing through but its mostly the bickering, the snark and the wonderfully naive but intelligent Daisy that kept me laughing – especially when she causes a riot in a bar. Also there is an adorable puppy. Just really good fun.

    1. I bought the 3 Texas Justice books and hope to get to them soon. I also remember Open Season and how much I enjoyed it. I may have to reread soon.

    2. I remember really liking Mad about You — in fact I think most (can’t remember the exceptions offhand) of Mhairi McFarlane’s book, specially the first ones “You Had me at Hello” and “Its Not Me, It’s You” Thanks for reminding me that I need to do some rereading there!

    3. Open Season was my first Linda Howard’s book, and I loved it. I since read a few of her other books, but that one remains my favorite.

  6. Should I have time to read this weekend, Field Notes… sounds perfect.

    I will more likely be reading CRA rules while filing taxes for a late client.

  7. I’m in the midst of Finley Donovan is killing it. Not quite what I expected – for example, it is set in the DC suburbs, rather than NYC (don’t know why I thought that). And I’m not quite sure how things are going to be resolved.

      1. It’s billed as a mystery, rather than a romance. So far it is living up to the mystery vibe.

      2. I wanted to like Finlay Donovan more than I did. If I’m remembering right she was oddly passive considering the storyline, always reacting to events.

        1. I’ve enjoyed all the Finley Donovan books so far, but I always have to remember the character is morally flexible. Mostly the books seem like Stephanie Plum crossed with Lucy and Ethel. Lots of wild shenanighans and improbable situations.

          1. Exactly – the Stephanie Plum vibe. And yes, she doesn’t *do* a lot but react to various situations.

  8. Best thing I read recently was “Tadek and the Princess” by Alex Rowland, but then I love stories about fealty so was a perfect coda to “A Taste of Gold & Iron”, which I don’t see nearly often enough in romantasy lists. Thanks to Tammy for the recc.

    “The Love Hypothesis” by Ali Hazelwood was delightful – m/f fake dating between a science nerds. Made me laugh. Warnings for harassment but I thought it was well-handled.

    I haven’t read a medieval in a while and then I read two in a week. “The King’s Man” by Elizabeth Kingston was a solid romance dealing with 13th century politics. I was a bit worried when the FMC was a swordswoman that the HEA was going to be compromised, but she was fulfilling her mother’s ambitions and was happy to set them aside. Particularly appreciated that the FMC considers abortion at one point, gathering tansy – very unusual to see in a romance and a historical at that.

    Then I read “For My Lady’s Heart” by Laura Kinsale, a 14th century m/f sweeping across French, English and Italian politics. I really appreciated that the e-book had both the original 1993 version, which is what I read, and the 2011 condensed version. The language was wonderful, as Kinsale really tries to give the reader the flavor of the age, and this portrait of an empty and wild land after the Black Death. I didn’t like the climatic Big Lie towards the end, but it resolved well enough and I loved the intensity of the MCs.

    Really good reading week 😊

    1. Back in the 1990s, when I was reading a lot of medieval historical mysteries, there seemed to be quite a lot of abortion advocacy in them from some authors. I see that this is a 2015 book, however.

      1. Not so much abortion advocacy, just mentioning as an option is really rare. And there’s this impression that women didn’t have any options before say the 1900s.

        Something I liked about both books was how far from wallpaper they felt – I don’t know the era very well, but the gender constraints felt realistic, the FMCs found agency and happiness while working with those constraints. And the religiosity felt authentic – in both cases the MMC was more religious and the FMC more skeptical.

        1. To tell the truth, I’m not sure I’ve ever read a medieval straight historical genre romance, although I’ve read many historical mysteries and some medieval adventure novels, both of them often having strong romance elements. I think the adventure novels were from the 1950s (when they were commercially popular) and did not mention abortion, but it came up enough that I noticed in the mysteries of the 1990s or so.

    2. And you can thank Jen B for the recommendation to me of Tadek and the Princess. Rowland has a new one out now by the way – completely different from those two…rollicking farce.

      1. I was looking at the new one, but I have been very spendy this month. I am hoping the audio will come to Hoopla or the library.

          1. Somewhere between ruinously extravagant and piously restrained. I didn’t buy any expensive shoes, so that is good, but I have been looking at linen dresses. They are on sale for summer, but not that on sale, you know?

          2. Remember, that linen dress will only look good for five minutes each time you wear it. Then it will be a crumpled mess the rest of the time. Then you will have to steam clean it in between wearings and store it in your closet away from the crush of any other clothing. High maintenance is not a good summer vibe.

  9. I’m sick which doesn’t happen often. I can read and sleep a lot. I bought the Lord and Lady Hetheridge dectective series by Emma Jameson. I read the first two before the death grip of flu/cold laid me out. They are real dectectives working for New Scotland Yard. There is an evil murderer who has gotten away with a horrific triple murder who plays a cat and mouse game with them. Also includes another detective who screwed up by having a relationship with a witness thus allowing the evil murderer to be acquitted. And the stories procures with EM circling until Blue Blooded book. I skipped to the end. I’m reading the middle part now as the brain fog/pain has lifted. I like the character arcs of the main protagonists including the police and family supporting characters. The series can be read as stand alone. I’m fading fast so will close by saying I like the series very much and I’m reading again so that’s a real plus. Think I caught all the spelling errors. I typed some big words but alas looked inaccurate.

    1. Ooooh! I opened the first Lord and Lady Hetheridge book on my Kindle last night. I finished THE TAINTED CUP by Robert Jackson Bennett–which I loved–earlier this week. But the next two books I tried to read (different authors and different genres) were duds. Then I found the first L&L Hetheridge, BLUE ICE, on my device and decided to give it a whirl. The next thing I knew, it was 3 AM and I was a quarter of the way through. I love it when that happens. 😀

      1. Thank Lian, On top of the world yesterday, able to go to my sister’s big 88 birthday dinner last night. Now, I’m a little faded flower. Have high hopes for tomorrow.

  10. I’ve just finished a re-read of Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer. I remember loathing it the first time around, but it’s one of my cousin’s top five Heyers so she pressed me to give it another try. I can freely admit I enjoyed it a lot more this time around! It helped to remember just how young and sheltered Hero was before she married Sherry – I think I’d become hung up on her (to me) ridiculous behaviour on the first read and hadn’t stopped to think why she was behaving that way, or appreciated that she learned very quickly from her mistakes. It had a great group of male friends in Gil, Ferdy and George, too. Not in my top five, but it’s definitely moved up my ranking.

    I’m now reading The Accidental Odyssey by KC Dyer – in the very early stages but I like it so far.

    1. I didn’t like it on my first read either (years ago) but looks like it should revisit it.

  11. I finally finished Rhomiko and the Confirmed Bachelor. All loose ends tied up, just this side of sugary sweet. I am feeling the need to revisit the whole series from start to finish.

    I also listened to a Josh Lanyon stand alone. It was short, and the romance didn’t have a whole lot of time to blossom. Still fun, but could have used a bit more.

    I tried Emma Jameson, but I don’t really think that she is my cup of tea. I don’t pick up historical fiction much anymore and I was frustrated with Lady Juliette in the past act. I can see why people are enjoying the characters and the gentle pacing however.

    I’ve got a Nicole Kimberling from the library to try next, and audible is running a sale, so I have been doing some splurging there, old favorites and new hopefuls.

      1. The Kimberling is a collection of shorts about the paranormal investigators. The chef and the goblin. I don’t recall the titles.

        The Lanyon was about a museum curator who stops a robbery but sustains a head blow and looses his memory. He forgets that he had a failed relationship with the cop who is investigating him. I see shades of Adrien English in here. It’s not a bad story, but could be more developed.

        1. Was it Don’t Look Back? I really liked that story. And though it was short, to me it felt emotionally packed.

  12. Ali Hazelwood,  Bride (2024).  This was recommended here by someone earlier.   I read it through nearly in one sitting, so it was decidedly gripping.  Whether it is “grippy” in Jo Walton’s sense, requiring that it stay in the memory, remains to be seen.  Characterizations were good, and it displayed a few new variations on the usual humans-vampires-weres setup, and on the “marriage of convenience turns into true love” trope—and all of this was explained without annoying infodumps. And we have a cute little girl and an amusing cat.  But I found it to be something of a cotton-candy book:  it went down pleasingly, but apparently did not leave much nourishment after itself.  It’s set in a parallel-world US, where vamps and weres are out in the open. And it refers to redheads as “gingers,” a non-US usage that I have called out before.  That caused me to look up the author.  Ali Hazelwood is the pseudonym of an Italian-born neuroscientist who evidently knew no English before high school, then came to the US for graduate school and seemingly has lived here ever since.  Except for the gingers, the book reads like native-speaker American English  In an interview, Hazelwood said that that her books go through beta readers who help to turn them into idiomatic English.  But it appears that they let “ginger” pass, for some reason.  Cotton candy or not, I will read the sequel if there is one.  The ending does seem to install the hook for one starring a different romance pair.  I’m not sure if I would enjoy Hazelwood’s earlier non-fantasy romances as much.

    Charles Stoss, Halting State (2007).  An sf novel with elements of mystery story, romance, and cyberpunk thriller, set in 2018 in an independent Scotland, as seen from 2007.  Stross describes a plausible way that Scottish independence could have effectively worked (although it would have required a lot of handwaving to get there by 2018 from 2007):  England and Scotland stay in the EU, run a joint Ministry of Defense, and work closely together on foreign policy and intelligence.  At the book club meeting for the book, I suggested that Stross describes something rather like the arrangement between Britain and Australia and Canada, soon after the latter two attained Dominion status, and before their later drift away from the mother country.  In alt-2018 Edinburgh,  a criminal hack inside an online game spawns ramification inside ramification, until at last the security of the British Isles, if not of all the EU, seems under threat.  And nothing is as it seems.  One plot strand features a romance between quirky but sympathetic characters.   Stross gets a strikingly large part of his technological extrapolation right, but is too optimistic about some things that we lack even in 2024, such as quantum computers, self-driving cars, and practical smart glasses.  He also posits other optimistic but unrealized features that I lack space to cover here.  I think he also goes several levels too deep for utility in his wheels-within-wheels plot.  But it’s a good read despite its flaws, and I plan to read the single sequel, Rule 34.

    I also finished my reread of The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars (1940),  but only late yesterday,  and I’m holding that over for next week.

    1. Bah! At first mention I called him Stoss. Typo! Stross, as I later use, is right.

    2. I’m not so sure ginger is an exclusively UK terminology. (I’ve been reading UK books since I learned to read, so it’s hard to tell.) We definitely have ginger cats in my part of the country, and it’s the same hair color as some humans.

      1. I think younger people use ginger to refer to redheads in the U.S. I blame exposure to Harry Potter, at least in my children’s case.

      2. Even the online dictionaries still mark as “chiefly British” the meaning of ginger as synonymous with redhead. As I understand it, if applied to animals or to a hair color in the non-Brit sense, it means “a light reddish or reddish-brown color,” and is not fully synonymous with red (hair), not with flaming red hair, for instance.

        But perhaps the British sense is being used more in certain demographics or regions and will go on from there to become a US standard sense.

        1. Well, ginger does mean a light shade of red. I guess it’ll depend on the speaker how accurately it’s applied.

        1. Yeah, but you’ve had proportionately more recent immigration from Britain than we have, and you still spell color “colour,” and you can get properly made hot tea even in restaurants. Even so, I haven’t noticed the usage in works written by Canadians but set in the US, so perhaps authors know to avoid it in a US setting. (Or I just haven’t paid enough attention.)

          1. Tammy, Not in Canada, but in England, I was once dumbfounded to order tea in a restaurant and find they didn’t serve it! I asked a Briton about this afterwards, and he told me that in the evenings some places did not, instead serving coffee after the meal. Travel brings new experiences!

    3. Thank you Patrick, Hating State sounds interesting. Independence was a hugely dividing issue here in 2014 and has continued to be since, so really touchy subject and maybe that is why I hadn’t heard of this book. Will see if it is in the library system. Thanks again

      1. Christine, Stross lives in your city and has for many years, although he was born in England. He’s fairly prominent in science fiction circles.

  13. The House on the Cerulean Sea, which might be YA but keeps bringing up philosophers so maybe not. It’s strange & sweet. (I have a horrible head cold so I’ve been foggy & this is just right.)

  14. I just finished Look on the Bright Side by Kristan Higgins. I have found her later books to be something of a mixed bag, but this one was terrific. I ended up reading for an extra hour this morning when I should have been doing things, because the ending was so good. (And I really didn’t see how she was going to get there.) It had some really sad moments, but all of them were tolerable (although trigger warning for cancer issues) and I loved the characters. One of her best, I think. Highly recommend.

  15. I had a few more KU DNF’s this week before I finally settle on “Skeletons in the Closet,” the first installment of new Nicky James series “Shadowy Solutions” Its a very satisfying two-guys-solving-crimes-and-falling-in-love story. This series is very different from the Doyle and Valor series (also very good) and the characters very distinctive. Thanks Tammy for the rec! My only complaint is that now I will have to wait for the next installment (september 2024.)

    I unintentionally reread KJ Charles’ The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting” — I was half way through before it started to feel very familiar. Turns out I had indeed read it before — lovely story.

    I reread Catherine Cloud’s “Love and other Inconveniences” which was just as good this time around (3rd time?) Hockey M/M romance between players.

    And because I’m still hockey-obsessed, I watched a great YouTube documentary movie called The Russian Five about how the Red Wings turned their fate around to win the cup in the 1990s. I was riveted to this one and may even watch it again. Lots of very intense hockey drama and Cold War drama as well.

    1. Thanks a lot for the hocke docu rec’, Christina!! Will try to find the Russian Five!

      The Gentle Art of Fortune Hunting is one of my favourites as well – the next installment (Duke of Hazard iirc) is about to be published in mid-July!!

      1. Christina, have you read Ari Baran? Probably yes, as this is almost a requirement for anyone hockey-obsessed. Book 3 is about to come out in mid-July, too: Home Ice Advantage (which I do soooo hope the Oilers will have tonight) is garnering very good reviews already.

        1. Yes! I really really like everything I’ve read from them so far and I have pre-ordered book 3.

          Like you, I am hoping home ice advantage will work out tonight! 🙂

    2. I’m so glad you liked the new Nicky James, Christina! Did you read the pre-novelette too? If not, I highly recommend but…I can’t exactly remember how I got it – it’s not on Amazon and not on my Kindle – think it was on her website? If you can’t find it let me know and I will go digging.

  16. First, was so happy to find Agnes and the Hitman. I had never been able to get hold of it, I think it wasn’t on kindle in my area before and second hand books were exorbitant. Last week someone mentioned it was on Audible and when I went to look I found it on KU. Only 1/3 through it, but I love the opening, the raspberry sauce, the cooking, Rhett the dog, the setting, the feeling of heat and humidity… Looking forward to the rest.

    Following Tammy’s rec I read Nick James Shadowy Solutions (the Prequel and book 1). I really liked them, thought the characters were interesting and the plot/investigation worked well enough in both the prequel (which was really like a first book) and the actual first book.

    That led me to Valor and Doyle (Nicky James). The prequel was ok, not very believable but a good introduction. I know there are a lot of fans here, but I am in the middle of book 1 and I find the investigation to be pretty unbelievable. I don’t read a lot of police procedurals, but I find it frustrating that these guys just seem to drive around following whatever leads they feel like, there are no senior officers (to this point) no records and its all a bit haphazard. It might be ok if it was a rural setting, but not for Toronto. I know it is not really the point of the book but I find the lack of realistic (or even sort of realistic) portrayal of an investigation a bit distracting! Not sure if that improves as the series goes on. if not, I should probably bail now.

    Finally, I read Hello Beautiful, Ann Napolitano, which is a family saga with four sisters and one husband as the main characters). It is set in Chicago 1980s to 2010s. I found it readable and enjoyed it mostly, but quite a few of the characters actions seemed a bit unlikely.

    On audio (Spotify) I’m listening to What Abigail did that Summer (Ben Aaronovitch, A Rivers of London novella). It’s fine. I miss Kobna Holdbrook Smith’s narration, but the narrator does a good enough job.

    1. I’m really interested in your take on Valor and Doyle because I have been known to put down more than a few books (and to stop watching tv police dramas) if believable procedure isn’t followed, and yet I didn’t notice this in these books! It might be because I was listening to the audiobooks vs “reading” reading and didn’t catch these slip ups. Usually the relationship arc doesn’t overshadow the investigation for me but it must have in that series, so I can’t say for sure whether procedure tightens up or not…

  17. I was in the mood for a reread, and picked up The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. It does not disappoint. Despite all the weird words and names, it holds my interest till the satisfying end. Maia grows into his “job” and becomes a wonderful leader.

    I read The Book Charmer, by Karen Hawkins, recommended by Deborah Blake. It was a little confusing, at first, because it begins with a character who is not a member of the Dove family. It’s a lovely story about Grace, a woman who grew up in foster care, ending up with a loving foster mother, who understood her anger and helped her to deal with it. Grace moves to Dove Pond with her foster mother, who is now fading with dementia, and her niece who is her responsibility since her sister died of an overdose. Sarah, the Dove family member who can hear books talk, takes her in hand, and also expects her to save the declining town, because the ancient history book about the town told her she would. As it all unwinds there are other neighbors who befriend Grace, and a plan is hatched to save the town. The other six Dove sisters have special powers, and I will enjoy reading the books about them.

    1. Jan, if you didn’t see it (no added comment from you), I and others had some suggestions on Sunday that might fix your problem of not seeing how much of an ebook is left.

  18. Working on Witch King by Martha Wells (thank you Mary Anne in KY for the recommendation). Will have a whole hour during my infusion tomorrow where I’m forced to sit still–not my forte these days–and be unable to do anything else, so I’m saving it for that.

    Am contemplating extending my foray into new fiction with the Richard Osman Thursday Murder Club series. My not-exactly-OCD is kicking in, though, and I can’t bring myself to get the only one on sale because it’s not Book 1, and I just can’t read Book 3 first, but Book 1 is $12.99 and Book 3 is/was $1.99. Lordie.

    I know someone will suggest checking it out, but my tiny little local library has only apparently opened a tiny little opening into the tsunami that is e-books. They only have Book 2. See above.

    Any recommendations for Osman’s books? They get good reviews, and I really enjoy him on the British talk show/game show scene.

    1. I loved The Thursday Murder Club!! I haven’t read the others because I couldn’t get a decently priced copy of book two. I had book 3 but, like Lisa, didn’t want to read it before 2. I finally picked up a copy of book 2 so I’ll probably finish reading the series. A friend of mine loved books 1&2 but not so much 3&4 but I’ll give them a try. I see he has a new series coming out in September and I’m on the fence about pre-ordering.

    2. I liked the Osman books a lot and I recommend reading them in order.

      Is there a larger library system near you that you can get a library card from? My library was recently hit by a ransomware attack. You can check out physical books but can’t place holds and ebooks are unavailable, although ebooks are supposed to be working soon. So I got a card at the larger county system. I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.

    3. I can recommend the Osman books, thoroughly enjoyed them. They are set in a retirement community and they feature four elders not going into retirement quietly! I so want to move to that retirement complex (but probably couldn’t afford it).

      I am lucky enough they were all from my library system (you can order any book from any city library here and they deliver it for collection at your local library).

      When I read the latest one I realised I had forgotten who someone was, so I decided to do re-reads of the series and got a good price on-line and bought the first three. Still on the TBR pile but I know they are there.

      Fingers crossed you are able find reasonably priced copies and be able to read in order.

  19. I finished Detection Unlimited, the fourth Inspector Hemingway mystery by Georgette Heyer. Read what I didn’t realize was the 5th book in a series by Martha Waters, Too Woo and to Wed. Not sure I”m going back for the rest, though for contemporary writer doing Regency, it wasn’t awful. Just finished Ice Blue–thanks to whoever recommended Emma Jameson!

  20. Still doing rereads while getting over having some sort of flu. I tested negative twice for COVID so not sure what it was but I’m grateful to get my sense of smell and taste back.
    I reread Treasure on Lilac Lane by Donna Alward and still enjoyed it. I also reread Rescue My Heart by Jill Shalvis plus a few older Harlequin Presents.

    I picked up The Stormy Petrel by Mary Stewart at the used bookstore. I think someone mentioned it last week on GBT.

  21. Like everyone else here (slight exaggeration), I’m reading the Dr. Bones series and enjoying it (finished the first, about a quarter through the second, both in audio format), although it’s not something I’m likely to re-read. Then again, hardly any books are.

    Mostly looking forward to two upcoming releases: Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson series) next week and Sherry Thomas (Lady Sherlock series) the following week. And someone said that there’s a new Penric/Desdemona book coming in July. I’m also looking forward to the next Aaronovitch release, a novella of Nightingale’s backstory, but I’m not sure when that’s coming out. Ditto the sequel to The Wizard’s Butler, but I just checked, and the author is still struggling to write it.

    Also looking forward to the summer Masterpiece Mystery releases (not books, but story nonetheless), especially Grantchester, starting this Sunday. Oh, but if anyone is looking for a charming little procedural mystery available now, check out McDonald & Dodds on Britbox. Just watched the latest three-episode season and enjoyed it.

    1. I second the recommendation for McDonald & Dodds. I was really glad I found it.
      On the other hand: we watched “After the Flood” (also on Britbox) and we’re still kicking ourselves for having watched all episodes. What could have been a really interesting mystery was ruined for us by a total lack of self-control and common sense on the part of the main character and a totally crazy disregard for all procedure. It was so bad that my husband and I still make jokes about it…

      1. I love McDonald & Dodds! I was debating on After the Flood but may skip it after reading your comments. I also love Harry Wild and The Brokenwood Mysteries and have watched the NZ series twice now.

        1. Haven’t watched Harry Wild so definitely will do so with your rec! Thanks.
          The Brokenwood Mysteries are a lot of fun and have seen them but its been a while so I’ve certainly forgotten most of them so it might be time to watch again.

          1. We love Harry Wild and Brokenwood. BBC America channel is running another NZ series starting Monday evening, My Life Is Murder, starring the former Zena, Warrior Princess. This will be season 4, I think. Terrific. Check your library system for these series. Also Whitestable Pearl and Vera, both set in England.

        2. Harry Wild never fails to make me laugh. I saw the first season in 2022 when Xfinity was offering one of its “freebie weeks,” but didn’t want to pay for another streaming service. But now that BBC has picked it up, I don’t have to. 😀

      2. Second, third, and however many votes are available for McDonald & Dodds and the Brokenwood Mysteries, all seasons so far of both. Really enjoyed the Beyond Paradise seasons, as well. Trying to wade through the many years of Death in Paradise from Season 1, but finding it a hard go so far.

        1. We’ve been re-watching Death in Paradise from the beginning. On season 11 now, so almost through. I’ve never been able to glom anything, so we watch an episode here and there. It’s very good to watch while knitting (me) or solving chess problems (my husband).

          1. We watched the whole series from the start and enjoyed most of them though, there again, there are definite lapses in procedure. But the humor keeps it going. And I totally agree: perfect for knitting or needlepoint projects!

        2. I like Beyond Paradise much more than Death in Paradise, which is much more variable. I’ve kept BP on my recorder for rewatching, unlike DiP.

    2. The next Rivers of London novella (Masquerades of Spring) is due out Sept 5 in UK. Not seeing any listings in US so far.

      1. Subterranean Press is releasing it in US supposedly on the same day that it comes out in the UK. You may have to go directly to the Sub Press website to obtain a copy though.

  22. Imagine my surprise to find a book by David Weber and Jane Lindskold about Treecats that I had not yet read. A NEW CLAN takes place in the early years of the Kingdom of Manticore. The Stephanie Harrington years. Weber benefits greatly from collaboration. Lindskold keeps the book from running to hundreds of thousands [Insert Carl Sagan “Billions and billions” joke by Johnny Carson here.] of words (or so I assume.)

    For some time, Mark Wiseman wrote under the pseudonym Wiseguy. When he went pro, he started using the Wiseman name, but I have no idea if it is any more real. Anyway, one of his stories was CROSSROADS, and I reread it this week. It’s quite good, if dated. A Network Admin in a Novell shop in DC is lamenting that his old boss retired and the new boss is a douchebag. (I hope that isn’t too sexist.) He pays his own way to a convention in Salt Lake City, meets an attractive fellow computer geek, and gets offered a job OR a relationship. It has a happy ending.

    If you search hard enough, you can find Michael Dalton’s ORANGE COUNTY BABYLON somewhere on the Net. Michael doesn’t post or sell his early works, and there used to be a blog post on his website that named them all and explained that. Recent revisions eliminated that post. I found OCB on one of my laptops and reread it this week. If you check out his website (by following the provided link) you’ll find stories with witches, goblins, alternate universes, shifters, and other fantasy tropes.

    Searching that laptop, I located a story and a sequel called PLAYING THE GAME by “Reverand Cotton Mather”. Everyone is aware of Hockey stories. I’ve mentioned ONCE MORE WITH FEELINGS in which the FMC and friends play high school volleyball in Canada. OCB above is crammed with high school football. PTG rounds things out with the other football, aka soccer. It turns out that PTG is a trilogy, and I have a new book on my TBR pile. Oh, and VARIATION ON A THEME books 1 – 4 were full of Debate and Performing Arts as the ‘sport’ in question.

    Jennifer Smith’s FIELD NOTES ON LOVE is now queued up in the Audible Ap.

    1. I left out a book by Jack C. Lipton (he no longer uses that pseudonym) titled ECSTATIC CLING. It’s about an… unusual… experimental marriage therapy retreat. It takes place at a Carribean nudist resort rented solely for the therapists and therapy victims. Handcuffs and hypnotherapy are involved. Jack’s nickname and email were “cupasoup,” and all of his story titles were puns. We exchanged emails last year, but his health is declining.

  23. Still sick, still cranky, still reading.

    1. ‘A Place for Us’ by Brandon J. Wolf, memoir by a survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre who is now an activist & commentator. The book is also a heartbreaking love letter to two of his best friends who didn’t survive.

    2. ‘Theatre Movement: The Actor and His Space’ by Nancy King (1971). I think I snatched this out of the hoard when DH and I were cleaning out his father’s things. It’s mostly exercises and takes some thinking-about, but def. useful to an aspiring performer with the patience to do the thinking.

    3. ‘You Should Be So Lucky’ by Cat Sebastian, who won the Lambda Literary Award for ‘We Could Be So Good.’ I actually loved this one even more, despite its being about baseball.

    4. ‘The (Fake) Dating Game’ by Timothy Janovsky, in which there is a lot going on. Starting with a breakup, proceeding to a hookup, then to MC & new lover competing against the ex on a TV show. Mixed feelings but rounded up to 4 stars.

    5. ‘Across The Line’ by R. Frank Davis, M/M set in the early 2000s and hinging on the true-life ‘bounty’ scandal in pro football (American). A long novella / short novel feat. a journalist and a pro player whose one night stand can’t be walked away from. I really liked it.

    6. ‘My Fair Brady’ by Brian D. Kennedy. YA M/M, Revolves around a high-school production of ‘My Fair Lady,’ rounded up to 5.

    7. ‘Lose You to Find Me’ by Erik J. Brown, also YA M/M, another round up to 5. Revolves around a retirement community dining room where several of the main characters work. Realistic dilemmas over college, relationships, etc and an unusually promising HFN conclusion.

    8. ‘A Little Bit Country’ by Brian D. Kennedy, yet another YA M/M. In this one an aspiring country singer from Chicago gets a summer job at a Dollywood-like theme park where he falls in love with a deeply closeted aspiring chef. The HFN is not especially promising here, but the big questions have at least been asked.

    8.5 ‘Swept Away’ by Keira Andrews, a sexy short featuring an Australian lifeguard and a surfer.

    9. ‘Crown of Hearts’ by Judith Lynne, which I think is the first M/M historical I’ve ever seen turn up in my BookBub recs. A solid 4 star book, set 1813, unwilling allies + forced proximity on road trip + lots of talking = love.

    9.5 ‘The Golem of Mala Lubovnya’ by Kim Fielding, a sad story with a happy ending, for those who can take the brutal reality of being Jewish in early-modern Eastern Europe.

    1. I read Kevin Kwan’s latest, Lies and Weddings. If you ever wanted to vicariously experience the lifestyles of the uber rich, titled (and entitled), and Eurasian, this is the book. It’s Cinderella and Pride and Prejudice and rich people behaving badly all in one with a mystery, family drama, and an HEA.

      1. Helen, so would you recommend Lies and Weddings? I loved Crazy Rich Asians but was very disappointed in Sex and Vanity so I’m skeptical about this one.

        1. I enjoyed it. Once I learned how the past/present timelines worked, I was engrossed in finding out what would happen next. My only quibble is that I hoped the villain of the piece would show more remorse, but I guess when it comes to family you have to take what you can get and move on. Definitely a Cinderella fantasy.

    2. “Still sick, still cranky, still reading.” You should put that on a T-shirt. I would buy it.

  24. I read A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett about a widow who starts a Lady’s Club for female scientists in 19th century London and the bodyguard who is hired to protect her after a series of accidents at the club. I enjoyed it. But I think there is a kind of historical novel that is really fantasy set in a time and place that strongly resembles the actual past but a sanitized version of the past that is more in line with a modern world view. And this book was definitely that.

    I also read True Biz by Sara Nović about three kids who go missing from a school for the deaf. This was very much rooted in the real world, full of rage about how deaf people are treated in the hearing world but hopeful at the same time. I wanted to learn ASL when I was done reading.

    1. Yes, the sanitized version of the past … At some point it goes so far that they have lost the point of having a historical setting at all.
      Whereas some of the best historical fiction has the characters dealing with the challenges of the period. It’s why I love “My Dearest Enemy” for example—she won’t get married because any children could be taken away from her if she leaves her husband, he won’t have children outside of marriage because as an illegitimate son he knows how they are discriminated against. It’s a beautifully done book.

    2. Sara, I’m going to try a sample of a Lady’s Formula. I’m a sucker for the bodyguard trope.

    3. It’s one thing to have viewpoint characters whose views are at the edge of the bell curve but within those known to have been expressed at the historical time. (Even that can get rather boring after a while if the author keeps repeating the practice.) But it’s another matter when authors go beyond that into straight make-believe sanitization.

      One way out is to set the story in a frankly alternate world. This is more frequent in genre fantasy but has been done in works that are, say, genre mysteries, with no magic or large historical changes, but where, say, a woman can openly function as a private detective during the Regency. I think that for this to work, the author has to flag clearly at the start that the setting is in a history not quite our own.

  25. I’ve been sick with the flu, and have tried listening to different books. Nothing worked, until I started with Heyer’s “The Quiet Gentleman” for the 13th time. Nothing like the travails of the elite, in the castle, with the balls and the horses and dressing for dinner to help me relax.

  26. Thanks to the ArghInker who mentioned the Dandy Gilver mysteries. I bought the Dandy Gilver e-books and am really enjoying the heck out of them. Unfortunately, I have to read them out of order because Books 2-4 are not in e-book format, so I need to wait for the paperbacks to arrive. And, I can’t wait, so I’m on Book 7 now. This is why I love ArghInk so much!

    I also read “Lyorn” the latest novel by Steven Brust in the Dragaeran series. I need to go back through this book more slowly. Vlad – who hates musicals – needs to hide out in a theater which is rehearsing to put on a musical. There are a lot of songs written in the manner of familiar songs from famous musicals. So, I want to go through and see if I can’t connect the written song to the real musical number. For instance, there’s this number:
    I am the very model of a Fourteenth Cycle dramaturge
    I can tell an epic from a canticle or from a dirge.
    In Landza and in Ekrasen I’ve studied all the references
    And if you give me time I will expound upon many preferences…

    I just finished “The Stardust Grail” by Yume Kitasei which just came out. Maya Hoshimoto is a student at Princeton where she is attempting to get a degree in Comparative Cultures. She used to be a thief, part of a team bent on retrieving and returning artifacts taken by explorers from their native cultures. Unfortunately, on her last mission, a lot of people died, so she’s majorly depressed. Her ex-partner who is an alien shows up along with a major clue to an extremely important artifact and they’re off to the races. The book moves along at a nice clip, shots are fired, secrets are uncovered, interesting stuff happens. The book looks like it might be the start of a series, but if nothing more happens, well, the story ends in a good spot. Would I read or buy the next book? No, I would not. People are too stupid. It didn’t bother me while reading, because I was racing along with the team. But, afterwards, when I had time to slow down and think, I realized that everyone in the book was too stupid to live. Mistakes were made and no one talked to anyone else except in the most superficial way. Bah!

    1. “I am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” from The Pirates of Penzance, by Gilbert and Sullivan is the song that’s based on, I believe.

    2. I think Brust is part of a band so I knew he was musical but I had no idea until I read this book that he was into G&S. I laughed when I saw it!

  27. Anne Gracie’s The Heiress’s Daughter, her latest release, was a disappointment. I never thought I would say that about any of Anne Gracie’s novels, but this one was boring. I could only read it in short installments. I finished 3 other books in the same time frame. Still, Anne Gracie is one of my favorite romance writers. I own most of her books and re-read them occasionally. She has been on my ‘auto-buy’ list whenever she published a new book. I hope the next one will be up to her usual flair.
    Emma Jameson’s Black & Blue is the #4 in the series. The personal character arches of all the main characters – Tony, Kate, and their teammate Paul Bhar – continue, while they solve the next murder. Like in a TV soap opera, which this series increasingly resembles, all the personal stories intertwine to create a complex tapestry. The murder investigations, that are the surface reasons for these murder mystery novels, are repeatedly pushed into the background, while the personal turmoils and joys come to a sharper focus. I really enjoy reading this author. Fortunately, she has many more books – more delightful reading in store for me.

  28. Just two Discworld books for me this week.

    Up first, Unseen Academicals, which is another modernization-of-Ankh-Morpork novel, this time focused on (re)inventing football. To be honest, the sportsball part didn’t really hold my interest; for the most part, I preferred spending time with Mister Nutt. This is another “new species integrating into Ankh-Morpork” plot, but (for once) he isn’t a new Watchman. Instead, Mister Nutt works as a candle dribbler in the lowest basements of Unseen University.

    Nutt is one of several new characters, though the only other one that really stands out is Glenda, who reminds me of many of Pratchett’s other great women characters. We get to see lots of other familiar faces though, especially Ponder Stibbons and Ridcully. Rincewind even drops in for a cameo, although in a lot of ways the style & world of the later Discworld books has moved very far from books like Sourcery or even The Last Continent.

    What kind of breaks my heart is Nutt’s constant battle with questions of ‘worth.’ He works nonstop, throwing himself into any task required of him, because he’s been taught that this is the only way to have ‘worth.’ It’s hard not to read a lot into that, especially as you’re on the 37th Discworld novel.

    Snuff has quite a lot of sadness too. It’s a Vimes book, although he’s having a pastoral moment on vacation with his family. Unfortunately, it suffers from a bad beginning – hardly anything happens for nearly a third of the book, and the initial writing is honestly bad enough that it makes the book hard to get into. But eventually, things improve. The climactic barge chase is reasonably exciting, there are nice ideas woven into the goblin world-building, and Sybil gets a lovely chance to shine at the end (reminding me again of how much I loved her operatic moment in The Fifth Elephant).

    It is interesting to me that in two of these final Discworld books, Pratchett introduced new species whose marginalization goes far beyond what we’ve previously seen with trolls or dwarfs. Orcs and goblins aren’t simply being oppressed, they’re facing outright genocide. While the writing isn’t always as clear or sharp as it once was, there’s a tremendous empathy at play that comes through perfectly.

  29. Hello! Just a few books over the last two weeks:

    Heartstone/Katherine Ella White. I think this is YA leaning towards NA but a lovely Pride and Prejudice retelling with dragons. Had been on my TBR for ages and I just finally picked it up. M/F pairings.

    Needed some distraction so a re-read of Avon Gale’s Next Season. M/M novella about two hockey players traded at the same time to the same team both considering coming out to the league. Super quick. Love the Gale hockey stories.

    Currently reading the Autobiography of Agatha Christie. It’s unexpectedly delightful. Full of stories with lots of color commentary so I am enjoying it.

    AutoBios are normally not my thing as I find they are either the author stating a timeline, “And this happened and then this happened…and then…”, and/or they include every single minute detail rather than illustrating the events of their life with stories. Maybe I just haven’t found the right ones. Recs please?

    And..Go Oilers.

    1. I really enjoyed Tom Robbins “not a memoir” Tibetan Peach Pie. It isn’t strictly linear & he puts in what he wants & leaves out what he doesn’t.

      Also he reminded me how much I like tomato sandwiches when I can find a good tomato.

  30. I’ve been bouncing hard off romance lately–my only recent romance read was Bride by Ali Hazelwood which I really enjoyed and would recommend especially if you like snarky heroines.

    Turned to a little sci-fi and I’m halfway through the Three Body Problem. So far, it’s fairly similar to the Netflix show except for the characters all being Chinese. It’s a good book and I can see how it won the Hugo in its year.

    For nonfiction, I’m working my way through Bettany Hughes’s 7 Wonders of the Ancient World. Great writing and accessible scholarship for a general audience. I’m hopeful there will be a tv program eventually. She does so well with those history, archeology, travel pieces.

    1. I forgot to add that I think there are some Liaden fans in the group. Ribbon Dance was just published and that is my next read. I’m still so sad about the loss of Steve Miller, but I will keep supporting Sharon Lee and loving these books.

      1. It is very sad indeed. So many great books that makes you think that the authors are awesome people.

        1. I didn’t know them, but I gather that Lee is, and Miller was, each a perfectly decent person. But there really is not much of a correlation between works of fiction and the real personalities of their authors (or if there is, it’s at a deep level visible only to God). Lots of authors were, and are, perfectly miserable to their fellow humans, or at least to large segments of humanity. Other authors verged on sainthood. But even the highly flawed ones often deserved being mourned at death.

    2. Bettany Hughes has done more than one Channel 4 (UK) series about wonders of the ancient world. The latest has just aired, and was really good – it featured sites and folk traditions little-known in the West, in places like Albania, Estonia and Azerbaijan. Well worth watching.

      1. I’ll see if I can find it in the US then. I did find a YouTube talk with another historian about the book. I’m only on streaming services so I can’t always find BBC or ITV programs.

        Thanks for letting me know it’s out there!

      2. Jane – I have enjoyed a youtube vlog featuring a couple in Azerbaijan. No dialogue just the two of them going about their daily lives. The country side is beautiful. It’s called the CountryLifeVlog.

        It is filmed by their son who had a successful restaurant that was lost during covid & he started doing the vlog.

        My daughter & I both watch it when we want calm comfort.

      3. The one about Bulgaria was great. I especially liked it because we had just come back from there. What was especially interesting was that she got to go to places which are not open to the general public.

    3. Thank you for the Bettany Hughes recommendation Cassandra – it is now on my list at the library. I have enjoyed her work (written and on tv) before, and had somehow missed this one.

  31. As a Jones, I sympathize on the Smith situation! I do publish under my own name, and was excited to be able to (especially because it means my books are sometimes shelved near Diana Wynne Jones, no relation but a fav author!) But it occasionally leads to strange situations, like 1) receiving fan mail for books I didn’t write (and song requests for Stereophonics concerts); 2) having a different Kelly Jones’s bio attached to my books on some websites (my mother was quite surprised to read that she had two grandchildren!); 3) once in a while having someone else’s books for sale at my events. So, yeah, pluses and minuses.

    I joined the Argh crowd reading Suzanne Palmer’s new SF Ghostdrift, and enjoyed it too — I especially love the shipminds in her Finder series. Now I’m listening to her Bot 9 stories on the Clarkesworld podcast while painting walls and trim. If anyone has heard was’s next for Bot 9, I want to know — I heard she was working on something!

  32. Jenny, you should make a personalised book cover… with Jennifer Smith, downloadable from your website. It would be kind of cool

  33. I just binged all three books in the Marry Me, Juliet series by Jodi McAllister, which is really unusual for me right now – I’ve been finding it hard to read new stuff. Each book in the series is about the filming of a Bachelor type reality show, and I love the way you get a different perspective on the same events in each book. The third book is the best, about the season’s villain and the how’s producer.
    I also read The Tea Ladies, and enjoyed that. A good one for fans of The Thursday Murder Club.

  34. This week I read Dreadful by Caitlin Rozaikis and was amused. It’s a humorous fantasy novel about a Dark Lord who wakes up with amnesia and starts rethinking some of his life choices while trying to hide the fact that he has amnesia.

    1. This one looked interesting to me! I couldn’t tell what kind of humor it might be – can you describe it?

      1. I thought about it and I don’t have a short answer for you. But here’s the description from Penquin Canada: It’s bad enough waking up in a half-destroyed evil wizard’s workshop with no eyebrows, no memories, and no idea how long you have before the Dread Lord Whomever shows up to murder you horribly and then turn your skull into a goblet or something.

        It’s a lot worse when you realize that Dread Lord Whomever is… you.

        Gav isn’t really sure how he ended up with a castle full of goblins, or why he has a princess locked in a cell. All he can do is play along with his own evil plan in hopes of getting his memories back before he gets himself killed. 

        But as he realizes that nothing – from the incredibly tasteless cloak adorned with flames to the aforementioned princess – is quite what it seems, Gav must face up to all the things the Dread Lord Gavrax has done. And he’ll have to answer the hardest question of all – who does he want to be?

        A high fantasy farce featuring killer moat squid, toxic masculinity, an evil wizard convocation, and a garlic festival. All at once. All in all, Dread Lord Gavrax has had better weeks.

  35. Forgot that I had saved off the below link, which I thought might amuse Gary J: A brand of Korean ramen has been banned in Denmark for supposedly being dangerously spicy. No other country seems to think so, and the theory has been advanced that Danes are a bunch of wimps.

    https://www.bbc.com/news/articles/cy00gk0kr82o

    1. Dude! Jalapeños are my current limit, 2500 – 8000 Scoville units. I may sprinkle habanero powder in some dishes, but only if there’s sufficient dilution. Hot peppers are okay, but mildly hot is much better.

  36. Carol Light’s No Room to Hide, book 4 in her Cluttered Crime series. I like this series a lot, and Carol’s voice is a comfortable one.

  37. Bujold seems to be getting rights back from Baen. I just noticed that Kindle is showing radically new covers for some Miles Vorkosigan books and the publisher is listed as Spectrum Literary Agency.

  38. I listened to “Kiling Time,” the new Time Police by Jodi Taylor. It dragged, having people stuck on a train going nowhen for a long time. But, I’ll try again when I’m not recovering from this flu. I bet it will improve.

  39. I see from Loretta Chase’s blog that her third difficult Duke book will be out Jan 21 and she is working on a related book which I devoutly hope will be aunt Julia.

  40. Due to your comments I read the Jennifer Smith book, Field Notes on Love and thoroughly enjoyed it. More so since over 30 years ago I made that NY cross country train trip back to Los Angeles with my young sons. It brought back great memories though back then the train diverted in Salt Lake City. Fun character development in the book.

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