This is a Good Book Thursday, June 27, 2024

First an apology about Working Wednesday: I didn’t realize it WAS Wednesday until too late to post. So I’m putting GBT up early and it can be a twofer: working and reading.

And then Good Book Thursday: I have read nothing but miscellaneous stuff on the net and my own (and Bob’s) prose this week, so I have nothing to share except that Terry Pratchett never fails, Ben Aaronovitch is always a good bet, Martha Wells’ Murderbot is fabulous, Michael Gilbert never wrote a bad word, without Georgette Heyer Bridgerton would not exist, Dick Francis is always a winner, Elle Kennedy owns New Age romance, Mhairi McFarlane is the way I want to fall in love in London, Loretta Chase is the belle of the book ball, Anne Stuart for dark heroes, and Bob Mayer is the best in thrillers. Except for the zombies.

What do you recommend this week? (Or not.)

277 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, June 27, 2024

  1. Wow, I’m first! I wondered what happened to Working Wednesday. Nothing special to report work-wise. For GBT, I’ve been rereading WR Gingell’s Two Monarchy series. So far I’ve read Spindle, Blackfoot, and just today finished Staff and Crown.

  2. I haven’t finished THE CARTHAGINIAN CRISIS (Queen of the Sea Book 4) by Gorg Huff and Paula Goodlett, but I will.

    AFTERMATH by Al Steiner, one of those rereads without an accurate count. It’s copyright 2999 so at least a dozen. “When Comet Fenwell crashes into the Pacific Ocean one October day, it spells the end for most of humanity. Those that survive find themselves in a greatly changed world filled with different morals and the same old urges.” I have always appreciated Al Steiner since the description of a heart attack in DOING IT ALL OVER convinced me I was having one and should go to hospital. I was and I did. Good writing.

    I’ve eaten a few “C-Food” tuna salad sandwiches, because I could. Today I had a delivery which included carrot cake and chicken Caesar wraps and spinach tortillas and baby carrots and some other stuff. There’s some older stuff on my shelves, like canned green beans and Chef Boyardee Mac and Cheese in little microwavable cans. Take those last two, add a chopped up pair of slices of Canadian bacon, and heat for three minutes. Quick and dirty dinner.

  3. I’m re-reading The Epic Crush of Genie Lo, and The Iron Will of Genie Lo (a Buffy-meets-Monkey duology, with all the snark you’d expect, and a Goddess of Mercy who takes no prisoners). Also reading a whole swathe of kids’ books of varying topics and levels of attention.

  4. I’m happy to have finished reading about Augustus the Strong (the fox tossing was a low point: court entertainments included watching scores of animals being driven over a cliff, and tossing foxes and other animals in nets or blankets until they died). I’m now trying to catch up on gardening – I’ve already lost all my cherries to birds – while still unripe – and need to net my blueberries as well as sowing veg successions.

    I finished my Loretta Chase rereads, and told her that she’d got her numbers wrong – she was very gracious about it, and shocked me by saying that the American usage was drummed in by her teachers: I’ve always assumed it was a shortcut/lazy form to say ‘three hundred seven’ rather than ‘three hundred and seven’. The dressmakers series in particular has a lot of amounts of money, and it jars every time the C19 English characters use the modern American form – though Loretta’s really good on detail generally (I can’t read most American authors of Regencies).

    I went on to A. J. Demas’s latest, The House of Red Balconies (she screwed up the pre-orders for this, by the way, but the upside of that was she released it a couple of days early). Alas, it isn’t her best. Like the last one, Honey and Pepper, the structure doesn’t really work. This time it’s really slow, and I didn’t feel close to the characters. It’s still a pleasant read, but definitely don’t start here – I’d go for Sword Dance, One Night in Boukos or Something Human. I love her alt Ancient Greek world.

    1. It’s the same for me. I can’t read American regencies for exactly the same reason. I once went completely off an author because she talked about someone’s pinky.

      Nowadays I tend to I keep to British authors. So beyond Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer, I like Stella Riley’s regencies. I think they are a bit earlier so technically they are georgian novels. Her Civil war novels are very good too. And I like KJ Charles’ books set in that period too.

      1. Thanks for reminding me about Stella Riley! Yes, her books are lovely. I feel a reread coming on…

      2. Per internet, the first recorded use of pinky for little finger is from Scotland in 1808, and the word is in common use there. So it’s in period. There are lots of characters from Scotland in Regencies, so it would depend on the specific instance whether the usage was odd. Then again, fiction has to be more plausible (not more possible, just more plausible) than reality.

        1. I didn’t know that! For me, pinky is an americanism :). I can definitely say that character wasn’t from Scotland.

        2. Well, don’t forget that most characters in Regencies are upper class, so would be speaking upper-class English rather than Scots English, even though they might have more regional variation then than in Victorian and Edwardian times. (I have a Scots friend who went to boarding school, and so only has a trace of Scots if she puts it on; you’d never guess her birthplace otherwise.)

      3. I am sort of OK with people using the regency world to create a wholly different Regency universe, as in Bridgerton. What I am not OK with is a purported Regency that gets so many details wrong that it throws me out of the story. For example the Lady Ludmilla book mentioned here that I could not read without notating all the mistakes. Too bad, it’s basically a good story. Here’s an example: she “fingered the pommel of her reticule”. Oh please. Saddles have pommels. Guns can have pommels. A reticule is a drawstring bag for goodness sake.

        1. I was thinking about this in regards to steampunk and fantasy. Alternative historicals are easier for me to swallow, especially with more modern plots and devices that would bother me in a straight regency.

          1. Yes, I was thinking that too.
            I’ll even go further, I like it when the fantasy goes one step further and doesn’t use actual historical places and names.
            It’s ok if it is only a little bit different like Bujold’s world of the Five gods or AJ Demas’ ancient mediterranean, but don’t simply add magic, make it your own weird world.

          2. I can’t hack it myself, she deliberately misspelled London to make it more Regency Steampunk? It just felt like an editing error all the way through the book

    2. Anachronistic language and American usage in regency romances are why I have been unable to get on the bandwagon with some of the more popular writers of regency out there and basically stopped reading them altogether. A low point was one story in which the heroine says “I can see where you’re coming from.” I cannot remember which author it was but I remember stopping right there and DNFing that book with prejudice. There were enough such experiences that now I’m limited to Heyer!

      1. I’d definitely recommend Loretta Chase, despite this small lapse, and K. J. Charles if you’re into m/m romance. Jo Beverley and Mary Balogh were/are British originally and many of their older novels are good.

        1. I’d forgotten about Mary Balogh. At one point I’d read all of her books. I will revisit! And of course I love KJ Charles!

        2. I don’t think I have read any Jo Beverley but I did like Mary Balogh’s Slightly series quite a lot, especially the first and last.

          1. If you want to try Jo Beverley, I recommend starting with An Unwilling Bride, which is the second in her Regency Company of Rogues series – but the first (her first novel) starts with a rape and doesn’t completely gel for me. Or else Devilish, from her Georgian series; again not the first, but it’s where I started and is brilliant on historical detail, as well as featuring a hero very similar to Balogh’s duke – in fact, I think she must have nicked a lot from Beverley.

        3. I just borrowed Grace Burrowes’s A Lady of True Distinction, recommended somewhere on this page. The setting seems to be the 1820s or so. In a single sentence, a character uses “socializing” and “siblings.” I can determine from online that “socialize” had already been used in the sense of “make a child fit for their society,” but to me it sounds too modern in the sense of attending get-togethers and so forth. I could be wrong, but it threw me out of the story. And siblings, as I have already noted here, perhaps repeatedly, was repurposed to mean “brother or sister” in about 1900 from an obsolete Old English word meaning “relative.” I can’t offhand find the author’s age online, but her author photo has a gray streak and she says that she attended junior high when there was such a thing (the current US fashion is for “middle school,” incorporating also the former first year of HS). “Sibling” did not break out of anthropology into general use until around 1980, which I strongly suspect is WITHIN THIS AUTHOR’S MEMORY! Granted, the object of a historical novel is to give diction a flavor of the period, not to reproduce it exactly, but you can’t very well provide the flavor while using words that readers REMEMBER coming into the language. Despite the flaw, the novel is pretty good so far, and I won’t bail at this point.

          1. I’m pretty sure she’s the one who featured a marquess with a porch swing, at which point I gave up on her.

          2. She keeps ignoring basic social rules in wierd ways. One character said she couldn’t do something because it would be unchaperoned—after staying unchaperoned in a house with three men.

    3. This is the first I’ve heard that there is something particularly American about “three hundred seven,” although it may well be so. I myself would, I think, drop the “and” only in certain contexts, particularly when reading written figures. I would probably drop the “and” if reading out loud a page number or as part of a list of figures. Anyway, I agree in general that Americans are probably more likely to commit anachronisms in historical fiction. Then again, I once wrongly suspected Kowal of one. The British indeed had “brigadier generals” in WWI and until 1922.

      1. That’s the thing really. Having lived in the UK for 30 years, I am more attuned to British English so when I see some American English dropped in, it really jars for me. It doesn’t mean that the British authors don’t commit anachronisms, it’s just that they don’t leap at me.

      2. Never heard (or read) the dropped and before. Except in the context of “A dollar ninety-five” instead of “a dollar and ninety-five cents.”

        1. Me too. I can’t agree that dropping the “and” is an American thing. I don’t remember ever hearing this.

    4. I was taught to write “three hundred seven and 98/100” on checks, but otherwise I would write three hundred and seven. In most cases I would write 307, though.

      1. After more than fifty years of writing checks, I have to consciously remind myself to leave the “and” out. So it must not have been drilled into me!

        1. “Seventy six trombones” is followed by “a hundred and nine cornets” (or is it ten? Time to relisten) and the and is not there just for the meter.

      2. I actually write the and in on my checks. So I would write three hundred and seven 98/100.

        1. I was told not to by my first bank in 1971. They were Very Severe.

    5. On the other hand, TA Moore drives me slightly crazy by using Britishisms in books located in America.

      1. Britishisms & Australianisms. e.g. Americans do not call indoor houseplants ‘pot plants.’ ‘Pot plants’ means something entirely different to most of us. LOL We are more likely to say ‘potted plants.’

        We do not make plans ‘at’ the weekend, but ‘on’ the weekend. We do not, generally speaking, abbreviate ‘chocolate chip’ to ‘choc chip.’

        It’s little things, but that’s why I’ve gone off a few English / Australian / NZ authors when they set their books in the US – an attentive beta reader would catch all these, and I appreciate that self-published authors are typically trying to meet a self-imposed publishing schedule because they know readers want the next book RIGHT NOW, but … I mean … I still go back and re-read my shit trying to find the things I need to fix. And then I fix them. And then I try not to do the same things wrong more than once.

        1. And us non-English speaking readers don’t spot any of those details and sprout a very chaotic vocabulary eventually. Argh.

        2. And then within the US, there are so many local dialects. I’m not trying to be cute when my north-of-Appalachia idioms land in my books, I just don’t recognize them as different from the rest of the US.

          Unless they’re really out there. You don’t know how many times I’ve wanted to put “jerk you bald-headed” in there somewhere.

          1. And I’ve always read it as ‘snatch you baldheaded’. Is that difference from a particular region?

        3. I will never stop calling plants growing in pots “pot plants” as both my grandmothers did, no matter how much people giggle.

    6. Jane, I enjoyed The House of Red Balconies, but agree it’s far from her best. My favourite is still Sword Dance. She seems to have moved away from really high stakes, and into much cosier stories, which I think is a great pity. I love the way the relationship grows out of the action in Sword Dance and a couple of her other earlier books. Now they seem to be pretty much all about the relationship.

      1. Yes – it’s odd because there are high stakes lurking at the edges of her stories, but she throws them away. And I’m usually all about character, but without urgency/high stakes I’m just not as involved in the story. Really hope she gets it together again, because her worlds and characters are great.

        1. Hey, an aqueduct is high stakes. No aqueduct, no drinking water.

          And I get your point.

  5. My reading this week was mostly for work.
    So light reading stuff is needed right now, yet I wasn’t very successful with it:
    I’ve progressed with the Franklin University series 2 books: I liked book 1, had major problems with book 2, loathed book 3, so I will skip books 3 and 4 where I already know tht I don’t like the tropes (no prof-student for me, please, no daddy kinks, no huge age gap, no insta-lust’n-love). Will pick it up in July with Christian Lee and NR Walker (friends-to-lovers and acting stuff is much more my thing).

    Also dnf the newer Elle Kennedy, The Dixon Rule, when I started to severely dislike the heroine and remembered why I wandered off to MM: entitlement to an opinion based on assumptions instead of reasoning. Loving a brainless tv show doesn’t make you a brainless person but for me she came across like one of the bimbos on whatever reality show.
    Also, the FMC got the MMC on her home owners shit list because of one kind-of-rude e-mail shown to her by a team colleague that was ripped out of context – she didn’t inquire further but instantly had a verdict over the guy just because it fit her perception of him. The bullied one being a jock doesn’t make her behaviour right. But heck, those people are 20-21 years old, so they likely are immature kids, so I guess I should skip those books. Only books like The Deal and The Graham Effect had young MCs who still worked for me.
    Also voyeurism, being hung up on exes for very long into the new relationship, one side character who wants to shake off his kink of watching being made to watch his friends have sex without his consent.
    Well, lets just say this title didn’t work out for me.

    So I did what every sensible Argher does in such a situation: re-read.
    Recently, I got the audiobook of The New Guy by Sarina Bowen which I’m listening to now until I decide what to read next. My tbr e-book folder is huge, the problem is deciding on one title. Without adding more to the pile. Like the Adhara-shifter book I sampled yesterday. I MUST STAY STRONG. For the next few minutes at least…

    Looking forward to mid-July and the next KJ Charles and Ari Baran.
    Until then my devastated heart might be strong enough to follow current hockey again.
    Better to root for a team like the Kraken without much SC chances so I will not be crushed completely. Oh well, their AHL team just also lost to the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup Finals, but at least 2:4 games.

    1. The Oilers are going to come back strong next year not to worry: Connor McDavid is only 27, their very talented rookie goalie is even younger so they have their best years ahead of them, they didn’t even make it to the finals last year whereas the Panthers did and so this was their year. Plus the Panthers must have performed some kind of sage cleansing ceremony when the homophobic brothers left the team and that cleared the space for winning – obvi.

      1. True.
        Like the Panthers did – lost last year, won this year.
        I do hope Drai stays but I guess such a strong friendship and a great new head coach is a strong argument to stay.
        And I got the feeling the atmosphere in the team is really good.

        I haven’t followed the Panther’s history. If it weren’t for the Canadian Oilers losing, I’d be happy for Barkov.
        And for Okposo, being traded as captain of the Sabres to a team to be just a team member but then going home with the Cup…
        I very much prefer MCD, Drai, Skinny, Hyms etc over Tchachuk though, sigh.

        1. Right – and not only a new head coach but one new to coaching in the NHL! Quite the debut.

      2. That’s a nice positive thought about the oilers next year (though i will be hoping for more from the Canucks next year too).
        Now the playoffs are over it is time for me to get into baseball and try and follow that! Will have to find a team to root for.

        1. Finding your favorite baseball team is going to be so much fun for you! I hope you enjoy it as thoroughly as I enjoyed my hockey team “shopping”!

          1. Hannah Henry’s Offensive Edge is free today by the way – not my fave but still.

        1. In my office.
          Just ate them.
          Well, they are called “Hobbits” and are of the digestive kind, so not that yummy.
          Also, thankfully, not of the hairy cannibalistic variety.

          Ah, and I had a fruit salad.
          Thanks to the catering for our accreditation pre-visit guest.

          1. I formed a strong taste for British digestive biscuits at a time when they were locally unobtainable (now they’re in supermarkets—even in those days they probably had them in American big cities). I had to resort to bringing a lot back with me from UK trips (not that I ever made that many) and asking folks to bring me back some when they traveled themselves. Eventually I shifted my allegiance to Spanish Maria cookies, which are ultimately of British inspiration and a lot cheaper and easier to find here because of the Hispanic market.

        1. Don’t resist! Those are fun books!! (Lupe and Tammy brought me over to the dark side and I’m now all in…)

        2. What are “wolfies”, Dodo? I have never heard that term. Is that a treat for humans or dogs or someone else?

          1. Oh sorry Jinx, that’s me making up new words rooted in my own tongue.
            Wolf /Wölfe = wolf/wolves; wolfies is a made up mix/new word for Ollie the werewolf as he stuck in my memory after reading the samples.

          2. Ach so! I get it now, Dodo. And here was me thinking you might be thinking of some specific variety of cookie. Maybe with toasted coconut on the surface?

          3. Oi, Jinx, I can’t remember to have ever tried or seen cookies with toasted coconutbon top. But I love coconut… so such a cookie sounds tempting!

    2. I forgot, I too DNF’d the Dixon Rule. I hate bratty heroines specially when they act upon unfairly acquired prejudices about the MMC. It makes them sound less-than-smart and unpleasant. It was when I started feeling sorry for the MMC that I put that one down.
      I too thought maybe it’s an age thing, but I still enjoy The Deal and that series — same age group.

      1. Thanks, Christina, bratty is the perfect description.

        And yes, The Deal is evidence that FMCs can be appealing. But to be honest, I sort of connect more easily with EK’s male protagonists.
        When browsing through pinterest for some “casting game” I had similar problems: the girls all look so samey. Like the real WAGs often do (regardless of their real personalities), like fresh out of the 3D-printer (is the saying at my home): petite yet curvy, with (mostly) long blond hair slightly curled by obviously a curling iron. Always perfectly coiffed and made up.

        I wonder if my kid 2 (female) will come back from North America like that after 10 months. Peer pressure is a thing. Her school is so very nice in having a very diverse vibe – individuality rules. Always appealed to me greatly.

        1. i.e. her school here at home is like that.
          A friend of hers goes to another school that “produces” girls more like the 3D-printer type girls.

    3. I do better with Young Adult vs New Adult because most YA authors manage to create believable teenagers, yet most NA authors I’ve read – especially in F/M – create twentysomething college students who act like they’re 12 years old. I cannot.

  6. I read Abby Jimenez ‘s The Friend Zone. It wasn’t as hilarious as the first one of hers i read. There are some hard things that happen. It does take a while, but the two MCs do get together despite the continuing insistence of one MC that marriage and commitment would ruin the other MCs life.

    As for Working Wednesday I actually ssid out loud to myself that i could “whip this project together in an afternoon” which is almost an invitation to problems. But i was successful – I even located my glue gun so I was able to put together the final touch of the tassel. It is a large roomy tote bag made from cork. It is very light.

    https://www.instagram.com/p/C8rLNlhubXR/?igsh=OWxpNTZzb2p5NGZv

    I had some progress on a mystery quilt my group is doing. We are on step 9 of I don’t know how many steps. Still no clue as to what the quilt will look like.

    And I was intrigued by the idea of crocheting a cat cave. I found a pattern on line so decided to try it. I probably won’t make another, because holding four strands of yarn and working them together was hard on my hands. But it is done. No cat has entered it yet, but it has been peered into.

    1. Made from cork? Now I am intrigued. Not that I need any more projects in the lineup. No, indeed.

    2. The bag looks great! I have some cork and purse patterns that I bought at AQS years ago. Someday, I might actually try to make it. 😉

      Also, Stanley is a cutie!

    3. The cork seems to be backed with a low loft fabric. I had bought the kit several years ago, and it has travelled with me to retreats as I contemplated making it. This week was finally its turn.

  7. I started Ali Hazelwood’s Bride and have picked it up and put it down a couple of times. No particular reason, other than the opening feels like YA/ romantasy to me and that is not usually my cup of tea. So I am mostly rereading. I don’t seem to have the emotional bandwidth for anything else. I’m still holding off on the new Patricia Briggs, until I am in a better mood.

      1. I figured. I think that I read so much vampire/werewolf romance in my misguided youth that I am a little burned out on the tropes. It’s odd to me that Hazelwood went to it now as her jump from contemporary m/f. I thought as a genre that it was kind of passed from the public consciousness.

        1. I’ve probably read fewer v/ww romances, but enough that I recognize the tropes. I thought The Bride was well executed, showed some originality, and kept me reading.

          1. My problem with The Bride was not the v/ww tropes, but the YA. I did finally bond with the MCs, but it took me much longer than with her earlier titles. This was exacerbated by the fact that another author I’ve enjoyed also switched to for her latest title and the whole thing left me feeling abandoned. I felt as though everyone was switching to YA because it was a growing market rather than a real desire to stay in the genre.

        2. Actually, Romantasy is HUGE right now. Hayhouse/Bloom Books just partnered to an online conference that was live last night. And there are tons of conferences and signings popping up around it. I don’t read or write it, but I kind of wish I did ;-).

    1. You know, I read that, and now I can’t remember it. Oh, wait, it’s coming back to me. It was all right.

    2. Okay, my comment below on YA re:The Bride didn’t make a lot of sense because I was thinking of Check and Mate (also by Ali Hazelwood), not The Bride. Check and Mate was the one marketed as YA and had a lot less sex than The Bride.

  8. I read AJ Demas’ Red Balconies. Yes, it’s a slow burn but I loved the characters – the engineer trying to build an aqueduct in the face of politics and bureaucracy and the professional companion who lives next door to him in the tea house he rents in. I even liked the lazy and gormless governor, and the nasty landlady. Lovely, lazy and sweet.

    I’ve also been reading KL Noone’s sword and sorcerer series that starts with the Snails of Dun Nas – four swashbuckling novellas about the muscular swordsman and the magically talented, half-fairy shapeshifter who travels with him. So fun.

    I also a new-to-me Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling In Love series, the Dr. Maxwell Thornton Murder Mysteries, and although it was okay I don’t think I’ll pursue it – a little too simplistic in both writing and the actual case. I am spoiled by Josh Lanyon and Charlie Adhara, the two nonpareils in this genre.

    And I DNF’d another hockey author, Victoria Denault. For those who are watching, Taylor Fitzpatrick’s long-awaited final in the Between the Teeth series is coming out Tuesday and we can get our happy ending.

      1. I preordered Between the Teeth (€4.64) but probably should reread the first two before getting into it as I read them in November and don’t remember much (except that I loved them)!

        I saw that Ari Baran Home Ice Advantage is now available for pre-order and I’m excited to read it but it will cost €11.18. The first two in the series now cost that too. They were €5.67 when I got them in November. I know authors have to make a living but I think €11.18 is very expensive for a kindle book (I don’t even know how much the author gets of that). Anything above €6 (maybe €7) makes me think seriously.

        Not sure if price affects other people too but it does have an impact on my reading decisions.

        1. I justify it to myself by comparing it to the cost of an expensive coffee-type drink, like a Frappuccino (which I haven’t drunk in many years.) When I consider all the hard work that goes into a book and how I might even reread it, then I find I can easily justify the cost to myself. I call it the Frappuccino rule: “After all, it costs less than a Frappuccino”. 🙂
          If it costs more, then it goes on the get-from-the-library list…

          1. Unless it’s Jenny and Bob, or Taylor Fitzpatrick, of course! But my auto-buy list gets shorter these days.

          2. I agree when I compare it to other things. I’d spend that much going to the cinema, more going out to dinner, and I know the author puts a huge amount of work into the book, so I feel bad complaining about the price.

            But if I’m reading ten or fifteen books month it can get expensive.

          3. I should also say I find some books crazily under priced. Anything below €3 is nuts for a decent book. Unless the author has one they want you to try out so you’ll buy others.

        2. I add expensive ebooks to my wish list, and occasionally treat myself – or sometimes they come down in price when they’ve been out for a while.

        3. It affects me. My top price for a Kindle book is about $6.99 unless it’s somebody I really want to read (the next Aaronovitch or Murderbot, say). We did the Liz/Vince series at $4.99 because I wanted people to be able to afford them, but we can do that because we’re self-pubbing. Trad publishers have horrendous overheads and can’t.

          The Rocky Start series is coming out at $5.99, and I feel kind of guilty about that.

          1. $5.99 is a pretty modest price — and still less than a Frappuccino. Doesn’t seem enough for all the blood sweat and tears that goes into each book…

        4. Price does make a difference for me. I recently saw a ebook I’d like to read but it was $19.50. What the hey??? I’d have a hard time paying that price for a hard cover, much less a ebook. So I definitely won’t be buying that ebook at that price, thankyouverymuch! I constantly surf the ebook sales because it’s the only way I can afford my high volume reading addiction. And yet I still spend too much on books, lol. At least my book habit keeps me off the streets and out of trouble, and helps to support my drug deal… er … my favorite writers.

          1. Same here.
            Non- fiction books are often extremely pricey even as ebooks, so of I really want or need it, I was pay a tad more for a “real” book.
            My cap is usually at 5 euro, 6 at max.
            As Frozen Pond says, it adds up fast. Which is why I still have KU: I share the books with kid 2, so it’s worth it and the occasional meh book(s) don’t really hurt.
            If I really loved a book, I purchase it, often with whispersync option. Or get the audio on top.
            Sometimes I even splurge and get the translated cpoy (like with Boyfriend Material) to help sales and the German publisher. But I will always have an eye for when a book is on sale for less. The stretch between the budget and the wish to get sales for the author.

    1. Ah, another author who won’t come between me and Charlie Adhara, then 🙂
      Too little hockey? Writing style not fit for even tier 4?

      I tried a sample of JJ Mulder again yesterday. Not for me, sadly.

    2. Tammy not quite on topic but have you tried any of Avon Gale’s non hockey books? If so, did you like them? Worth trying?

      1. I’ve read all her books and some work and some don’t. Let the Wrong Light In is terrific. Eden is okay. And she then made a jump to writing fantasy novels with a partner as Iris Foxglove where everyone is biologically designated sub/dom (which sounds silly but they do some great world-building) called the Starian Cycle starting with Traitor’s Mercy and that’s an awesome series and a regular re-read for me (except for book six).

  9. I’m almost done with The Library of Borrowed Hearts by Lucy Gilmore. (She wrote mysteries as Tamara Berry, this is a romance.) I like it a lot, although not quite as much as her two previous books. Probably because there are portions of the books that go back to 1960. I almost always hate time hopping, even though I can see why she did it in this book, and it does work for the story. But it slows me down and I always feel like I have to regroup and figure out where/when I am and who is talking. So that takes my enjoyment of an otherwise good book down a notch. Still worth reading, though.

    Up next is probably the new Patricia Briggs book, if I can handle it.

    Nothing to report on work, except extremely slow progress on research for the new nonfiction. Tuesday night I was supposed to have an overnight sleep test at the local hospital’s sleep lab, which screwed my day somewhat. Reported there by 7:30 pm, had to bug out at 9:30 before ever getting hooked up, due to a massive allergic reaction to something (I think whatever they washed the bedding with, because I was fine sitting in the room for an hour, and only started coughing when I got into bed). Worst asthma attack I’ve had in more years than I can remember. I have an inhaler, but the last time I refilled it was when I had bronchitis the year after my first bout with Covid–my lungs have always been a weak spot, and they never fully recovered–and it was sitting in my bedroom cabinet, having expired last January. The very nice tech and I agreed that there was no way to do a test under those circumstances, so now we have to try and reschedule the thing, and maybe have me lug along all my own bedding. I still felt horrible yesterday, so lost any real productivity for the day. Bah. Chemical sensitivities are no joke.

    1. Oof! I have some chemical sensitivities. So so sorry! Hope you are able to redo the test without the allergies.

    2. Ugh, that’s awful! My mom just started having asthma symptoms again after years of not. She discovered one of her rescue inhalers expired before my daughter was born—my daughter is 22. My mom’s GP said, “oh, those things never go bad.” She firmly insisted she would like a new one, please.

      1. Then her GP obviously hasn’t used any, I’ve had inhalers a year out of date and I can tell the difference to the medicine. When the power stops being as effective, you can feel it, especially when you can’t breathe and it isn’t giving you any relief

    3. Is your sleep test not one of the ones they now have at-home versions of? My allergist finally browbeat me into having a sleep apnea test at home, which involved very little actual sleep (as I expected), but seems to have produced some results even so.

      1. It was a lot more involved than that, but now we’re looking at doing the home one instead, which will just diagnose the sleep apnea, if I have it.

        1. Mine didn’t work —came undone half way through —but the partial results were bad enough they wanted me in that day for an in office test

    4. About time-hopping. I don’t usually have a problem with it, but I am a multi-tasking reader who picks up a book and expects the first few words to remind me of what book I’m reading, and the same effect works for changing time lines in the same book. I have a vague idea that you are a serial reader, finishing one before starting another?

      1. I am, and I’m not. I always have two books going at once–my print book I read with breakfast, and something on the Kindle that I read in bed at night. I sometimes get confused going back and forth.

  10. While waiting for a friend I read a few minutes of Death’s Collector by Bill McCurry (random find on my Kindle; I don’t even remember ordering it). Too soon to tell.

    It’s the last say of school today, so as of tomorrow I can work 8-5 instead of 9-6 (because I’m not dropping off K2 for an 830 start), and because both kids are off to HS next year, these aren’t just summer hours! I am sooooo very excited! I can work 8-5 from now on!

    I am looking forward to that extra hour in the evenings to have time to work on non work stuff!

  11. First, for Working Wednesday, the link to the Romancing the Vote auction for browsing purposes initially, auction starting Monday: https://www.32auctions.com/romancingthevote2024

    Second, cataract surgery went smoothly, and I can already see colors so much more clearly. White things are truly white instead of a dingy beige! While I recuperate (just taking it easy for a day or two, per doctor’s instructions), I’m re-reading (audiobook) the Lady Sherlock book before the one that came out this week, and then I’ll read the new one (also in audio)!

    1. Glad surgery went well! Before my cataract surgery I insisted to my husband that we needed new TVs. After surgery, I realized it was me not the TV. LOL!

    2. Yay for the surgery! Thanks for the link. I saw your beautiful quilts, but not Jenny and Bob’s offering. I wonder if they’re still putting things up.

    3. Happy the surgery went well!

      I browsed the Romancing the Vote site. I was wondering if you knew if they held some things back to populate later in the voting. I know you have more quiltlets than I found and I didn’t see Jenny & Bob’s critique (not that I have a book for them to critique, but I was expecting it to be there.)

      1. They’re still working on uploading some of the auction submissions (and they’re open for more items until Friday), and they hold back some (most?) of the buy-it-now items (like my quiltlets) to be a surprise to encourage people to come back frequently.

        I uploaded the quiltlets in two batches of 14 each, partly to give them organizers options for offering them, and also partly to make it easier for when I have to figure out who gets which quiltlet! I asked that buyers prioritize three of them that they’d be happy to receive, rather than having their hearts set on just one, but of course I’m having nightmares that all 14 buyers in each batch choose the same three. But people’s color/design preferences vary enough that I’m somewhat hopeful I’ll be able to satisfy everyone.

          1. ‘Screamlet’ from ‘To Say Nothing of the Dog’ is even better.

            ‘“Look at the darling cupids! And the Sacrifice of Isaac! O! O!” She uttered a series of screamlets.’

          2. You’re right, Lian, that is good too! In fact, I think I let out a little screamlet when I read it.

        1. I filled out the form to donate a set of the two reissued Baba Yaga books and also a tarot reading via Zoom. Don’t know if anyone will want that or not.

    4. Congratulations on the good surgery results! Enjoy your return to a technicolor world.

  12. Two good ones this week.

    ‘Honeymoon for one’ Keira Andrews (MM). Sweet, slow burn, likeable characters and setting (mostly Australia). This is nice but fairly standard. The thing I liked a lot about it was the depiction of hearing loss and its impacts, it was consistent and realistic. The author didn’t forget about it when it wasn’t convenient.

    ‘The Last Day of Summer’ JF Smith, (MM baseball). Really liked this and will look for more from the author. It has a different tone and style to most current sport romances. It is a bit hard to categorise, slow paced (which I liked) wasn’t particularly angsty but was at times quite intense, good minor characters. I’ll reread sometime, cos I liked it and also to try and work out what makes it different to others in the genre. Maybe it is just because it is a bit older (2013) It is also longer than usual which was good because I was enjoying it.

    On audio have nearly finished Alexis Hall ’10 Things That Never Happened’ which is definitely a rec, with great reader and lots of humour . I’ve only an hour to go, I’ve been rationing it.

    1. I’m off to get “The Last Day of Summer”. Thanks for the rec. I’m always on the lookout for good baseball stories!

    2. A thanks from me, too re Last Day of Summer! Will check it out as soon as I’m at home and can get into reading!

      Also very glad that you like 10 Things – I loved, loved, loved the narrator (who got an award for his work recently) and the last hour has some eye-opening stuff. Loved it.

  13. Working Wednesday I worked on a scene that I need to prepare for next critique group and made little progress. I needed more commonsense and more grit to get it done. Both were lacking. Better luck today? Also working on a panel designed to help free-motion quilting. Practice which is humbling but less traumatic than failing at writing.

    On the good book front, I just reread two favorites. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase because I regularly do and The Queen of Attolia because I just recommended it to a friend which meant I needed to reread it for myself. Love it.

      1. The Thief, book 1 in the Whalen Turner series, is like a YA book, but the books get progressively more “adult” (not in an “adult movie” way). Great, intelligent read.

          1. The style took me some getting used to Mary Ann, and I pnly kept reading because a dear book friend had recommended it. She had also insisted on me trying Bujold and Loretta Chase, so I knew to trust her opinion.
            But you could also try book 2, I found it easier to get into in spite of the gruesome start.

          2. There is a surprise at the end of the first book that tells you a LOT about the character of Eugenides who is at the heart of the whole series even in the books he doesn’t appear much in. You might try it again before reading the next book: or the next book might inspire you to go back to try the thief again.
            It’s a fabulous series

          3. The first one is very different in tone from the rest. Honestly, one of my top three fantasy series and re-reads.

          4. I felt cheated by the twist at the end of the first one. I think it works better when you reread it and know where it is going.

  14. It was a week of DNFs here. I DNF’d Jay Hogan’s First Impression (Book 1 of Auckland Med) M/M romance between a doctor and a cop. It started okay but sadly it didn’t live up to the decent start. I am a big believer in Jenny’s writing policy of leaving some space for the reader to imagine stuff. No space allowed in this book and there was no subtlety at all: the reader is told CONSTANTLY (on practically every page) that the horny doctor finds the cop really hot. Even when he (the doc) has been beaten up to within an inch of his life he is having lustful thoughts about the cop (with physical reaction.) Come on. That was when I stopped. Too bad cause initially I liked the pairing. I probably won’t try this author again. I hate being beaten over the head by the 2×4 of repetition.

    I found that I had LA Witt’s “Aftermath” in my tbr collection so I tried that but it didn’t really work for me and I bounced off it after 30%. Not for any particular reason, I just wasn’t feeling it. Others have loved this book so it’s probably me being too difficult at the moment.

    A lot of my reading since Monday has been in-depth hockey reporting — it is helping me process the Oilers’ loss. I was ready for it (from the beginning game 7 felt a bit like games 1,2 and 3,) but I felt so sad for McDavid. The saving grace is that he is still young and will surely get another chance. Yesterday’s NYT article was very helpful for putting things into perspective. It will be very interesting to watch the Oilers next season. And in the meantime there will probably be some contract drama as well.

    I am now re-re-reading Taylor Firtzpatrick’s Between the Teeth in preparation for the release NEXT WEEK of book 3! Finally! This really is an excellent hockey M/M romance between two players on separate teams. Has lots of hockey, lots of team dynamics and the romance is lovely and subtle.

    1. Christine, the new Taylor Fitzpatrick is not as grim as the first one that everyone loves? I am a decared wuss, so kept away from this author. But I’d very much like to try the book you described above. When you say it’s lovely, it’s possible for a wuss to read it?

      Sad that Jay Hogan’s First Impression left such a bad aftertaste for you: I liked it just fine (apart from the rushed last quarter), but one reason might have been that I listened to the audio and liked both narrators a lot. And I tend to overlook (cannot say overhear…) a lot of details, so I might have had a similar reaction to the written book as you had.

      Re: Oilers. DD was crushed when she told me about the result.
      I had to stay away from Social Media for a couple of days but will likely do some similar reading.
      Until I am strong enough for that I follow what’s going on trade wise. Hate to see Linus Ullmark be shipped off to Ottawa (certainly a very nice town but his chances to compete for the Cup decreased strongly I’d assume) and the bromance between Sway and him be interrupted. But it hasn’t been a surprise.

      1. I don’t recall the Taylor Fitzpatrick’s being grim, and the one you refer to is sad (and well I suppose a bit grim) but probably nothing you haven’t read in other hockey.

        I think you’d like her. They really are good. But maybe don’t read them when you need cheering up

      2. Dodo, I assume the “grim” Taylor Fitzpatrick book you are referring to is “Thrown Off the Ice” which indeed is a love story, not a romance, and does not have a happy ending. Though it is one of my favorite books, I would say that for you it was a good decision not to read it.
        Her “Between the Teeth” series is nothing like “Thrown Off the Ice”. In fact neither is “You Could Make a Life” which is sweet and definitely “wuss safe”. If you liked Catherine Cloud and Rachel Reid, you might really like that one too. And if you find that you like “You Could Make a Life”, you would probably like the Between the Teeth series as well.
        It is a meandering story about the relationship between two players on different teams. It is told through the eyes of one of the players who is a very unreliable narrator (the book is NOT written in the first person though) who is still figuring things out. I won’t put in any spoilers, but the first two books in the series were addictive — some angst but not too much — lots of team dynamics and the daily life of hockey players as well. I was left feeling bereft when I got to the end of book 2 only to find book 3 was scheduled for sometime in the distant future. Hence the delight at the news that it is finally coming out!

        1. Thanks a lot, Frozen Pond and Christine!!
          Will check out TF, you had me at daily life of a hockey team!
          Give me that ovef sex shenanigans any time!!

          1. I wouldn’t quite call either of those books sweet…there’s a lot of angst to get through. But you fall in love with the characters for sure.

          2. Yes. The “sweet” label was intended for You Could Make a Life. Not Between the Teeth!

          3. Oh yes I knew what you meant – still wouldn’t hit my sweet tooth! Lots of angst throughout You Could Make a Life and the Between the Teeth series. But HEAs in both.

          4. I’m now rereading “You Could Make a Life” to see if my memory of it being relatively light on the angst was simply due to the fact that after “Thrown Off the Ice” anything seemed sweet! 🙂 I totally would go with Tammy’s assessment over mine on this!

          5. Tammy and Christina,

            you’re both the best 🙂
            And sold the book /trilogy to me anyway with “lots of hockey”.
            Angst is okay, devastation like I deducted Thrown off the Ice delivered is less my thing. A HEA and even HFN more so.

            Have downloaded the sample for both. Still listening to The New Guy though. Re-reading/listening is soothing after a stressful time and a heatwave with lots of humidity. What I find interesting is the angle player/athletic trainer (why are those not called physiotherapists?).
            Tammy, you might know if there are more books with more medical input?
            One of the puckboy titles has an athletic trainer as MC, too, but the medical side doesn’t come onto the pages at all.
            And don’t get me started on Pucking Around (MMMF – so not my trope) where the heroine is meant to be a medical professional. Oh well.

            Re medical stuff: understandable only after the playoffs some info leaks out about the injuries the players play through. The jockey’s in Dick Francis# books are similarly tough as nails, but playing with broken ribs and fingers? Or some of the Panthers l playing in spite of a broken foot, dislocated shoulder, broken sternum ast year (no wonder they couldn’t fight off the Knights in the end). Yep, stupid to risk one’s health that way, but sort of impressive nevertheless (says the wimpy female).

          6. I’ve read a few hockey books where one of the MC‘s is a trainer or a massage therapist but the only one I know of where the actual team doctor is involved is a few snippets by Taylor Fitzpatrick that she hasn’t actually developed very fully at all, although apparently she might later.

          7. Tammy, Trainer and therapists are fine, doctors are usually not as close, I’d guess.

            And dentusts wozld be too gruesome a reminder of ghe danger to the MCs teeth.

          8. I believe that the ballet dancer Jacques D’Amboise learned from an X-ray that he had a few old healed breaks in his feet he had danced through. Ballet dancers are tough too.

    2. “ the horny doctor finds the cop really hot.”

      Oof! This! I had about 4-5 short books that I skim-read because of this. The last had a fun plot, but the illogical and unhelpful “hot” references just made me skip to the end to get it out of my cue.

  15. On working Wednesday, I had my last staff meeting of the (academic) year. It seemed fitting!

    In book news, I have been rereading my favourite Kate Canterbary books. It seems I was in the mood for angsty adults finding their HEA. I did skim some of the sex scenes but I couldn’t skip them entirely because they were fairly essential.

    I also read AJ Demas’ latest and like Tammy I enjoyed it. It is a light read but I do love the aqueduct engineer. Demas always comes up with interesting characters.

    1. I’ve never tried Canterbury. Which is a good one to start with? I’m all about angsty adults finding their HEA…

      1. Auto-correct did not like this author’s spelling of her last name! Canterbary. 🙂

      2. I would start with The Walsh series. I Hot architects with a terrible childhood. I like some more than others but all her books are interconnected so it’s best to start with those. I’ll be interested to see what you think of them.

  16. I combined one of my novels and two related novellas into one edition this week and got it up on a handful of non-Amazon platforms for practice. I tried getting all those accounts set up a year or so ago and gave up. I’m digging into a rewrite based on my critique partner’s feedback starting today—should be soul-rending!

    Let’s see… I finished White Trash Warlock this week and started the second book in the series. I thought the first book was kind of wobbly but ultimately came through and delivered some fresh takes on urban fantasy. Good characterization. Also read A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking—liked it overall, LOVED Bob the carnivorous sourdough starter. And I read the latest in Connie Berry’s cozy mystery series, A Collection of Lies. Solid entry in an overall good series.

    1. “Bob the carnivorous sourdough starter” is enough to make me want to read it! How fun. ☺️

      1. It’s a very good book with a quite unique take on magic. Not a romance and a quite bittersweet ending but very good.

      2. It’s a wonderful book. Maybe considered YA or NA—I’m not good on these categories —but anyone from about 10 to 100 could love it.

        The live gingerbread men are also great.

      3. Update: I read the first two chapters to kiddo. We LOVE it! If there are adult parts, I’ll skip them, but it’s very fun.

    2. fwiw I was just toying with the notion of doing Smashwords when they merged with D2D. I found the D2D platform extremely user-friendly compared with Amazon KDP and in consequence put all my self-pubbed backlist up there for wide distribution. It’s been about a year now and I’d say my tiny AMZ royalties have been doubled through D2D. 🙂

      1. I ended up using D2D for Apple and Hoopla. I think trying to upload to Apple is what broke me last time! Everything else was super easy, including D2D…

  17. The kiddo was sick most of June. Pediatrician says it is a virus. 7 days of high fever, 7 days of a bad cough, and now just the rattling finish of said cough. Poor thing. It messed up our sleep schedule, so I am trying to get back to waking up at a normal time. It’s great that we have the summer free, but it wrecked June. Sigh. At least he’s better, and I am grateful for that!

    My difficult boss dropped the bombshell that he’s moving my classroom and adding one (or two) grades to my teaching assignment. He waited until mid-June to tell me. I am definitely searching for a new job sooner rather than later, so that is taking up more time. My friends that work (or worked) there keep reminding me that he is who he is, and he will never be comfortable with smart women. Sigh! At least it is summer, but I had an exit plan that gave me 6 months. This moves up my timeline by a lot.

    And… we are moving to a new apartment in a week. Therefore, June is busy, but there is a lot to be thankful for (like summers and time with kiddo and time to job search). I often resist change, so this is at least motivating.

    Since most of June was spent sleepless, I read the following:

    Fourth Wing books 1 and 2 by Rebecca Yaaros – It’s a good read Romantasy. Not as fun as A Court of Thorns and Roses, but almost. The military scenes are compelling, and I loved the characters and the world.

    Fallen Lady by Elizabeth Kingston – A regency romance that handles the aftermath of sexual assault in a realistic way. It’s angsty and the characters are believable. Her work is a bit intense, so I do not read to skim or for fluffy fun. However, she’s a solid writer who delivers believable conflicts and three-dimensional characters. The steam level is pretty high.

    A Duke in Shining Armor by Loretta Chase – Thanks for the recommendation! Delightful regency romance about a runaway bride and the honorable best man who tries to help watch over her. It was wonderful, and I plan to read more of her work.

    Listen to the Moon by Rose Lerner – A very racy Regency age-gap romance about the below stairs characters. It is beyond steamy but the characters were complex. It’s a butler and maid marriage of convenience, and their love feels earned. I’s a dense read, so not zippy or fast, and the heat-level will make it a no-go for sweeter Regency fans.

    A Lady’s Formula for Love: The Secret Scientists of London, Book 1 by Elizabeth Everette – I am only halfway, but it’s a fun Victorian bodyguard romance about a group of lady scientists who are in danger. Smart heroine and grumpy-shine feel with the professional and distant bodyguard. So far, lots of fun, and I love the science and the cast of wacky characters.

    In non-fiction, I am reading:

    Day Trading Attention by Gary Vaynerchuk – Not finished, but he’s a bit of a wonderkind, and this is his new prediction for marketing in the next five years.

    Read, Write, Own by Chris Dixon – It’s his take on Web3, and it is technical and dry. He’s also a bit of a Web3 zealot. However, he is a well-known voice in the field, so I want to finish it.

      1. Thanks! I keep telling myself that at least it is summer, but it is SUPPOSED our summer, i.e. our downtime. Sigh! Expectations are not always a good idea.

        1. Summer is never down time for me. Too much to do, see, eat, get ready for. I am trying to learn to love true winter, after the holidays are over. January through March can be very bleak and dreary, but it’s the only real down time that I have. Of course, I am also very, very bad at resting.

  18. I finished the third book in Christie Craig’s Texas Justice series, Don’t Look Back, and enjoyed it. I’m just finishing Lord Perfect by Loretta Chase and loving it. I will probably have a book hangover afterwards so I don’t know what will be next.

    In non-fiction I’m reading The Crash Detectives by Christine Negroni.

    1. The rest of that Loretta chase series should be next, including Last Nignts scandal with the two children grown up.

  19. Re work, I’m fuming about our problems with AT&T Wireless. I’d like to drive off into the sunset and never come back to real life…

    OTOH, a very sick German Shepherd puppy tottered into our yard last week. We (various family members) got rid of its fleas and loved it and fed it, and it ate and ate and started to play, and now it is with a friend who fosters dogs and has two full grown shepherds of her own (as well as five other dogs). She sent us a pic last night of the puppy and one of the grown dogs lying happily together.

    Re reading: I’m partway through The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams and am loving it. It’s about (among other things) the making of the Oxford Dictionary. I’m a total word freak and always have been (in fact, if I had wanted a career, it would have been to work for the dictionary), so I’m loving that. Also, having lived in Oxford for a year as a child, many of the places mentioned are familiar to me.

    So maybe I’ll go back to bed and read it as an antidote to the poison of dealing with AT&T.

    1. A T & T is a poisonous corporation, supporting a plethora of anti-woman candidates and bills.

  20. I read a novel in which every character had some major trauma; no humor, no animals. I finished it, but only b/c a friend had enjoyed it, and I was waiting for some redemption. Not much. Then I read a modern romance, set in Ohio, which is always fun for me, but it went on too long. I am getting crabbier in my old age. So I’ve gone back to Heyer mysteries and am happy.

  21. I came to the end of my complete Discworld reread this week. Just two Tiffany Aching books, plus a lump in my throat.

    Uh, spoilers ahead, if anyone hasn’t read The Shepherd’s Crown.

    In I Shall Wear Midnight, Tiffany is back home on the Chalk and almost immediately has to deal with situations involving violent domestic abuse, attempted suicide, and an existential threat to her Feegle friends. She’s also exhausted throughout most of the book, and soon gets accused of murder & comes face-to-eyeless-face with the Cunning Man – a personification of the variety of evil that drives mob violence or leads to the election of fascists.

    Like the Fairy Queen, the Hiver, and the Wintersmith, the Cunning Man is something that Tiffany has to overcome by herself. Unlike them, he’s less a creature of myth & magic than a manifestation of a particularly human kind of evil. The Cunning Man pollutes minds, but only those that are susceptible to wanting to scapegoat a group of ‘others.’ Tiffany experiences him as a distant form running toward her, or a dark shape trying to climb out of books, but in truth, he’s there in her neighbors, in the people who let the old woman die in the cold, or who looked the other way when Mr. Petty’s wife & daughter kept having all those bruises.

    He’s there in Tiffany a little bit too, at least until she sorts out her thinking. Because Tiffany starts out the book in an unhappy place too. She’s embarrassed and angry that Roland has gotten engaged to someone else, not because she wanted to marry him herself, but because it makes her feel alone (and afraid of always being so). The unaddressed conflict between her and Roland’s new fiancee, Letitia, leads to Letitia accidentally summoning the Cunning Man…because Letitia, of course, has a talent for witchery and, like everyone in these books, needs Tiffany.

    Everybody needs something from Tiffany, but she needs people too. Reading these two books, I was struck by the way Pratchett has reimagined witches as overburdened social workers. Tiffany’s most important job involves making house calls to people who are lonely, sick, or dying. Not only does she not get a lot of glory for this, in I Shall Wear Midnight, people start resenting her. Happily, Tiffany has the mentorship of the Lancre witches, the protection of the Feegles, and the beginnings of a new coven on the Chalk.

    The very last book, The Shepherd’s Crown was published posthumously. As the afterword describes: it has a beginning, middle, and end, but it’s not a finished novel. Some subplots hang unfinished, some writing is clunky, large chunks of plot are lifted (almost verbatim, in some instances) from Lords and Ladies, we’re left wondering about many things. But also, there are a few beautiful sections of writing, we learn new things about Tiffany, we are given the gift of tears, and even a parting moment of joy.

    Pratchett gives us two deaths in these last two books. When the Baron dies in ISWM, Tiffany can’t stop his death, nor can she take away the grief of those who love him, as she has to explain several times over. But she can take away his pain, and doing so gives him a gentle, dignified exit, with a clear head and a transcendent memory from his childhood. Death has been a part of the Discworld since the very early books, and we’ve seen precisely this kind of death before (in Reaper Man, if not even earlier). In Pratchett’s world, there’s no denial of Death, but there is a repeated insistence on the value of dying with dignity and proper care. And the value of living well too, of course.

    The other death is quieter and lonelier. Granny Weatherwax cleans her house (and privy, twice), talks to her bees, says goodbye to her garden & woods, lies down, and has one final conversation with Death. She is accepting, but annoyed about the inconvenience. Death tells her that she left the world much better than she found it, and that “nobody could do any better than that.” I doubt anyone reading escaped the thought that Pratchett was writing his own epitaph. It is wrenching on many levels.

    And then the world changes and the book unrolls. Nanny Ogg cries and organizes a party, Tiffany is busier than ever as she grieves and has to face up to being Granny’s heir, there’s a new character who wants to be a witch (but is a boy, in a reworked echo of the very first Granny Weatherwax book).

    There are a lot of things to say about Pratchett as a writer. For me, I suspect that the reason I’ve returned to him over the past 35 years has a lot to do with his humanism. There is a basic kindness and warmth in the way he relates to his characters, his world, and his readers that feels good to return to. Writing a book about the Discworld dancing on, people coming together to fight off the elves again, and Tiffany building herself a new home under the vast and beautiful sky was a very kind thing to do.

    And so I am done. Now I get to read new-to-me books…although in few years, or maybe some evening this winter, I may pick up Small Gods, Maskerade, or Thief of Time and spend just a little more time revisiting places, people, and writing that I love.

    Thanks everyone!

    1. I have read every book by Terry Pratchet except for the last one and I find I can’t read it because once I do, I will never have another new book from Pratchett to read.

      1. This is such a poignant sentiment, Ha. It really resonates with me.
        How our mind works to protect us from loss/grief in its varied guises is always so interesting.

  22. I just finished Everytime I Go on Vacation, Someone Dies by Catherine Mack. It’s a fast-paced, first-person, present tense narrative about authors on a book tour in Italy where someone is trying to murder one or more of them. There are footnotes, and the author/narrator breaks the fourth wall to talk directly to the reader in these footnotes. It reminded me a lot of Everyone on This Train Is a Suspect, also a murder mystery set on an author tour, this time in Australia. Benjamin Stevenson’s first person narrator also talks directly to the reader, but not in footnotes. Both have elements of Murder on the Orient Express and also Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston’s Netflix Murder Mystery movies. Hard to put down either of them.

  23. Eh, Working Wednesday. I have really only been working on getting a kid over a virus (not covid) and herding cats.

    Good Books: I’ve been glomming the Perfectly Imperfect dark mafia rom series by Neva Altaj and wow are they fun. (I did skip over Asya’s book on my read through because that one is not humorous like the others but the subsequent books assured me it all works out fine for her so I’m going back to it) If crazy people, crazy love and crazy plots are your jam, this may be for you. I especially loved the 3 former black ops heroes’ books. Plots and characters connected, best read in order.

    Billionaire romance: I read LM Dalgleish’s Empty Kingdom books Coldhearted King and Reckless King, LOVED Reckless and hope there’s a third book coming sometime soon. Same genre, Lyra Parish’s Billionaire Situation duology The Wife Situation made me pre-order The Friend Situation (the twin brother’s book) before I even got through the first 20%. Also Black Tie Billionaires by Kat Singleton, 3 books.

    Somewhere between billionaire and mafia romance, Kylie Kent’s Her List. This contains characters in the Valentino and Merged books, I love how she writes love insanity and a truly crazy extended family.

    I am clearly due to get back to hockey romance now.

    1. Sorry about the kid virus. It is literally everywhere this summer. My pediatrician feels like it is a mutation of Covid perhaps? Definitely new ick.

      1. Yeah, whatever it is is bad but we have a nebulizer and she’s bouncing back fast.

  24. My Wednesday was spent on continued Day Job cleanup after a week away, and on drafting a letter to the IRS, which went looking for estimated tax payments (which it wouldn’t find because DH & I are filing separately this year) and failed to notice my taxes withheld from wages. Got that whole response package polished & assembled today, must hand off to DH to mail it in. Yes, mail is the only avenue; the IRS still exists in 1999.

    As to reading, I am now up to 199 numbered entries in my 2024 reading journal. This week I have several Pride Month nonfiction recs.

    1. ‘Leading Lady’ by Charles Busch, memoir by a Tony-nominated playwright & ‘male actress’ who went from nowhere to Broadway via ‘Vampire Lesbians of Sodom.’ 5 enthusiastic stars.

    2. ‘The Deviant’s War’ by Eric Cervini, historical biography of Harvard Ph.D. astronomer Frank Kameny, a WWII vet who was denied postwar employment by the feds – despite their desperate need for his skills during the space race – because he was gay, and spent the rest of his life as an activist. He was finally granted security clearance in the 2000s. 5 infuriated stars.

    3. ‘Hola Papi: How to Come Out in a Walmart Parking Lot and Other Life Lessons’ by John Paul Brammer, who started writing a satirical advice column for a Grindr-associated site and ended up writing from the heart. 5 empathetically heartbroken stars.

    Then on to fiction.

    4. [re-read] my own M/M novel ‘Exposure,’ the one about a former Broadway dancer and a ten-years-younger closeted actor who fall in love.

    5. ‘Peter Darling’ by Austin Chant, a 5-star re-imagining of the Barrie classic with an emotionally sound back story for both Peter and Hook. Peter is at first a bitter pill to swallow, but as the story develops and his history comes to light everything gels perfectly. Full disclosure, Peter is trans and Hook is gay, so if the original staging is dear to you, you may hate this. I loved it despite some editing glitches.

    DNF at 5%, which doesn’t qualify as reading a book at all, or even giving it a fair chance. Someday I might come back to it, but I was definitely not in the mood for and bounced hard off of ‘A Fragile Enchantment’ by Alison Saft. Needlessly mean MMC (I’m guessing?) and personality-free FMC in a world where real Regency-ish shittery is amplified by magical shittery.

    1. I looked up Alison Saft in my book list. I DNFd one of hers in 2022 and another in 2023. No notes as to why, or how far in.

    2. I do so enjoy your reviews, chacha1. Thank you so much. Will definitely have to read your number 2 & 3 recommendations based on both your overviews & the ratings of ‘5 infuriated stars’ & ‘5 emphatetically broken hearted stars’. You have such a wonderfully succinct way with words that promotes powerful images & emotions.

  25. Working Wed: I managed to finish quilting 2 customer quilts and returned them to their people.

    GBT: Nothing. I read email mostly. I have been watching Great Pottery Throwdown via Max. I’m on season/series 5. It’s quite excellent and I cry nearly every time Keith does even if I don’t get why he finds the piece so wonderful.

  26. Working Wednesday:  Since last week I had two medical appointments, plus a questionnaire requiring hours to fill out (partly because of looking things up).  The good news is that the most alarming possibility has been screened out and the ultimate outlook looks good.  The bad news is that I’m in for a lot of treatment.  The less bad news is that the staff may have failed to do something on my visit yesterday, and I was distracted enough not to query at the time.  Alternatively,  I  may have been given wrong information earlier.  Still waiting for a callback.  Evidently not that much is at issue.

    It being too hot for much cooking, I did boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the slow cooker.  In fact, I think I may have made and eaten (over time) one batch (with veg) and cooked another since Wednesday of last week.  I still haven’t perfected my optimal slow-cooker recipe for them, but the results were edible and can be consumed cold.  I also laid in lettuce and other veg and have been eating large salads on some days.  Between cooking, medical, hobbies, and the weather, not enough cleanup got done.  I plan to make at least a start today, plus a little mundane deskwork.

      1. Further update: I tried bbq sauce rather than yesterday’s reduced-cal mayo on my cold chicken sandwich from the latest slow-cooker batch. It seemed to work much better. (If it had been just the chicken, the mayo would have worked. The other stuff that I added flavored it in a way unfavorable to mayo.)

  27. My reading has been trying to figure out why I cannot connect to my library’s on line site, which I have used for years. I keep getting “bad gateway”. I suspect it must have been hacked. I have tried a new download, clearing my history, going to one of my library’s other online sites. Nada.

    1. Possibly the library server is down either for maintenance or because of a crash? (When that happens to me, often the error messages give no hint that that is what’s going on.) If it doesn’t come back in a reasonable time, if it were me, I’d contact the library and see if the problem is on their end.

  28. Working Wednesday: it was actually Wednesday when I got enough weeding done to find most of the brick edging of one of the front flower beds. Triumph. In the last twenty-four hours, however, I got an inch of rain, so the weeds will probably win again.

    GBT: I DNFd an awful lot of seemingly promising books. I am getting impatient. Get the story on the page, people!
    I finished the first two of Emma Jameson’s Lord and Lady Hetheridge series, and am in the middle of the third one. This is the only series of hers the library has, and they are enjoyable, but not going to make it as constant rereads, so I won’t be spending money on the ones the library does not have. I will nudge them to buy some more, though.
    I read the only Josh Lanyon the library has, Requiem for Mr. Busybody, and enjoyed it, but again, not enough to spend money.
    I am rereading Martha Wells’ Element of Air after a quick dive through Murderbot, and wondering again why the Raksura books don’t suck me in this way. I enjoyed them the first time.

    1. If you ever figure out about the Raksura books, let me know! I love everything else Wells has written, and I read the first two Raksura books, but never felt the need to read subsequent ones, and it probably took me a year or more after release just to read the second one. And yet, I know some readers love that world. It’s not that I DISlike them, just that they didn’t really make much impression on me, and the other series did.

      1. I loved all the Raksura books on the first read, and the collections of short stories, too, but when I try to read them again I get about two chapters in and get bored. This obviously doesn’t happen with Murderbot, and not with Ile-Rien, either, or the Witch King, whatever world it belongs to. I continue puzzled.

        1. Yeah I’m with you. My theory is that it’s because they are plot based books, not character driven.

          1. Good insight. I can never remember who’s who. Yet I remember so much of the worldbuilding.

  29. Start on GBTh:  The Lake House (film, 2006). Time romance.  I like watching Sandra Bullock on screen, but I can’t always (or perhaps even usually) agree with her choice of films to act in.  Less relevantly for me, Keanu Reeves’s appeal entirely escapes me.  This is one of the films from the cinematic era when characters tend to mumble, which may work in theater conditions, but not so well along with normal household noises such as fans.  I didn’t like the film well enough to turn on the subtitles and start over.  The bi-temporal romance could have worked, with a better script.  It makes no logical sense as depicted, but if better written and directed,  it could have made me suspend disbelief even so.

    (As far as I can see, the two logically consistent ways to handle time travel [or, as here, time communication], are either to posit that the act creates a branched-off alternate universe or that everything turns out to have been baked into the timeline from the beginning [metatemporally speaking]. For romance, branching timeline is going to leave one character with an unhappy alternate counterpart version unless the lovers get on the same clock time first through actual time travel by one of them. Baked in from the beginning can work in romances, as when a time traveler decides to stay in the past and marry their sweetheart, and back in the future it is revealed that it happened this way all along—a permanent time loop. With communication, for a logical script similar to The Lake House, we’d eliminate things like the suddenly appearing tree. Heroine would save hero from getting run over by warning him across time, and the suspense would come from mistaken identity as to the victim in heroine’s time, not from timey-wimey shenanigans.)

    A post on actual novels should follow later today.

    1. I can’t account for Keanu Reeves’ appeal to others, but for me it’s in his physicality. I mean, I think he’s beautiful to look at, the shape of him is my personal catnip, and the way he moves can be poetry. So it’s mostly aesthetic. That said, I think he’s had terrific chemistry with a few of his co-stars, and while I would never argue that he’s a Great Actor, he has a sort of low-key humorous hardworking integrity. I’ve never had the sense that he’s cynical about a role or a story.

      But yeah. Pretty. 😉

  30. Not up for anything new, so I listened to Pratchett’s Carpe Jugulum, (the new recording, very good), Memory, but McMaster Bujold, and finishing up an early Donna Andrews, Swan for the Money. Just not up for bold choices in the heat, I guess, but it’s great to have the old reliables!

  31. No finished books this week. I started Madly, Deeply, The Alan Rickman Diaries , and that man never slowed down! He attended plays and movies, acted, and had dinner and lunch with lots of people. Much of it is cryptic comments. I will read on. There is actually some snark in there.

  32. Last week, I listened to Katherine Center’s The Rom-Commers. Nicely narrated. I so very much wanted to love it but, for me, the romance wasn’t all that convincing. And there was an undercurrent expressed about self-sacrifice and the resulting resentment that needed a more mature handling in my opinion. While Center is quite the writer, I’m not sure all her exotic health dramas are are good casual reading for me.

    I read the latest Lord Julian mystery by Grace Burrowes, A Gentleman in Search of a Wife and it is the best so far. The more Hyperia, the better. A good bit of 21st century sensibilities are included, so if you prefer something truer to the time period, Grace Burrowes is probably not for you.

    I just started Double Blast, a Davis Way Crime Caper by Gretchen Archer. This series is decidedly caper instead of mystery. Fun but can go over the top sometimes. I am interested to see if this installment jumps the shark once and for all.

  33. I actually did finish three novels:  The Vampire and the Case of the Wayward Werewolf (2024) by Heather G. Harris and Jilleen Dolbeare, plus the two sequels already out; (next is due on June 28).  (Mild spoilers below!)   Portlock, Alaska, a real-world ghost town, is, in this series, behind an illusion screen, a town for magical beings, whether from Alaska natives, others born and raised in the area, including a few trusted nonmagical humans, or those magicals relocating there because they do not fit in elsewhere.  Our heroine Bunny is a British city girl who (in a prequel that I have not read) hurriedly relocates to small Portlock after being unwillingly turned into a vampire and declining to serve the vampire King of Europe.  Out of desperation for new staff, the tiny local police force hires her on as a sort of apprentice—she lacks training but has vampire strength and good instincts.  The usual vampire-were triangle at least so far is heavily favoring the vamp. 

    Harris and Dolbeare have each published separately.  Harris is in fact a Brit herself. Bunny therefore correctly uses a lot of Briticisms to describe American things, such as “car park” for parking lot.  Unfortunately, she supposedly has perfect recall, so why does she occasionally put Briticisms into the speech by Americans that she is recounting?  Presumably these are bits missed in editing by coauthor Dolbeare.  I can’t offhand find biographical information on the latter, but she seems to be American and has published many fantasies set in Alaska. I would guess that she lives or once lived there.  Anyway, I found these novels very readable, with new-to-me Alaska local color and snark and humor from the perspective of a Londoner trying to fit in, both as a city girl and as a newly formed vampire.  One disappointment with the first book is that the mystery plot had seemed to be fair-play, but turns out not to be.  It still works on other levels, but I dislike being misled about the conventions with which I’m working. 

    A running joke is that everyone who meets Bunny asks her where she got her nickname and she makes up a new answer every time.  I used to work with a Bunny, and was sometimes along when she met new people at conferences and such.  Neither I nor anyone in my presence ever asked about her nickname.  I never saw it as remarkable.

    I think someone here recommended the series,  and I second that.

  34. I did some re-reads this week, mostly Amanda Quick and Georgette Heyer. My favorite of those was The Unknown Ajax – a pure delight of a book.
    Of the new reads, I loved A.J. Demas’s latest, The House of the Red Balconies. It was a gentle and quiet m/m romance, set in the author’s signature imaginary world based on ancient Greece. I have already read several of her novels set in the same world and I enjoyed most of them. This book was no exception, although not much happened in this particular story. Two men meet by circumstance. Both have painful pasts. Both are vulnerable. Both have been hurt before. Their relationship grows gradually, as they learn to trust each other and themselves. A lovely book.

    1. The Unknown Ajax is so good just because the hero is such a good man with such a good sense of humor. Well, and there’s a romance.

  35. Having fun with the Thursday Murder Club Mystery series by Richard Osman. I love characters who are older than 50 & these stories are delightfully engaging.

    1. At the library yesterday, I noticed that they had multiple copies available of the print books (the ebooks have or recently had queues), and made a stab at finishing the original book. Unfortunately, all copies of that one are borrowed. There must be some local book club doing it, since it was the only one of the series lacking available print copies. Alas, it’s where I want to start, or restart. I’ll put a hold in when I clear out my current in-progress bools.

      1. Bools?! Autocorrect lets it go, so perhaps that typo is a real word. … On looking it up, I find that bool is a real word with various technical and dialect meanings. Who knew? But *now* autocorrect wants to change it. Very odd.

    2. Speaking of characters over 50, Amazon Prime has the most delightful Australian mystery series called Darby and Joan.
      It’s about a woman whose husband of 40 years tells her he is in Spain on business and then mysteriously dies in the Australian Outback. She goes to find out why and meets up with a retired police inspector.

      Great actors, beautiful scenery, and fun mysteries to solve each week (with the overarching mystery of her husband unfolding over Season 1). Love the characters and their outlook on life. So rare to see this age group as leads. Very fun!

      1. Ooh your recommendation for Darby and Joan comes just in time! My husband and I have been searching for something just like this. We’ll definitely give it a try. Thanks!

      2. Seconding this recommendation. I thought the mysteries themselves were only okay, but the community and characters are outstanding! And there’s going to be a second season soon!

    3. Oops! My reply to you got stacked under Patrick’s post. It is below. ☺️

      1. Or not, lol! I see now that it was in the right spot. (Note to self: No posting after midnight!)

  36. I enjoyed Jayne Castle’s People in Glass Houses which sent me on a fun reread of several more of her Harmony/dust bunny books. Nice way to spend a too hot weekend.

    Also read Lexi Blake’s Bayou Sweetheart, #5 in a series of pleasantly fluffy novels.

    Currently reading Rebecca Yarros’ Fourth Wing and loving it.

    1. I just finished book 2! It was even better than book 1. Love the characters. Can’t wait for the next one in Jan.

  37. I read “Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Fairies” by Heather Fawcett and it was okay. I’m not sure how I really feel about it. It’s a story about an asexual researcher of mythological flora and fauna who goes to the Far North to look into some unknown Hidden Ones. The fairies in this world are very powerful and there is absolutely no way for human beings to fight them. I think I prefer the fairies in Patricia Briggs where humans do have SOME weapons against fairies.

    I finished “Mystery On the Menu: A Three-Course Collection of Cozy Mysteries” by Nicole Kimberling which continue the story of the chef and cop from Kimberling’s story in “Footsteps In The Dark”. I really like this pair.

    I also read “Skeleton Crew” which is the latest PsyCop book from Jordan Castillo Price. It’s a M/M romance/crime series about 2 FBI officers who are in the Spook Squad which deal with psychic crimes and criminals and ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. I really like this series, especially how the characters change and grow throughout the series.

  38. I read Winter Lost by Patricia Briggs. I was worried since I hadn’t fully enjoyed the last few books in the series, but I really liked this one. It was lots of Mercy and Adam, away from the pack, solving a cool mystery and being a unit.

  39. After a bunch of meh, read “To the Hilt” by Dick Francis, which had me staying up way past my bedtime. Compelling protagonist, solid suspense. Thanks to Gary Hayenga and others for the recc!

    Then read “The Belle of Belgrave Square” by Mimi Matthews which was unsatisfying but in a promising way. I really liked the set-up in the first half, but the second half fell apart for me. Other readers seem to have a problem with the MMC, my problem was the FMC breaking the agreement she made when she married to respect her husband’s privacy. And my problem with the MMC’s secrets was something the author didn’t even cover! OTH reminded me of one of the best Bluebeard riffs, I’ve read “Bluebeard’s Wife” by T Kingfisher, so went and re-read that (https://firesidefiction.com/bluebeards-wife).

    Best thing I read this week was “A Lady of True Distinction” by Grace Burrowes. I liked the MCs’ competence and kindness and the FMC’s herbalism and perfumery. Nice solid comfort read.

  40. I read Personal Finance for Dummies . Well, scanned it. I wanted a good plain vanilla no scams guide for my three young adults but especially for foster daughter who has struggled with money management and fallen for bad advice. I hate the name but it’s a good basic guide and I offered to buy it for all three kids and she took me up on it . Not sure if that counts as WW or GBT. It definitely counts as a win.

    I managed to do a fair bit of gardening despite the heat. I hemmed two skirts and a dress for DD. My sewing skills are just about up to that.

    I checked off a number of smaller projects on the day job, but sadly due to interruptions the top two items on todays to do list rolled to tomorrow. Discouraging …

    I finished Bill Bryson’s Shakespeare the world as stage which I liked and DNFd two books by Jonathan Bate on Shakespeare. Bryson is so meticulous about what we know and don’t know about Shakespeare that Bate assumptions are glaring by comparison . We have no idea for example of whether Shakespeare fought in a war but Bate confidently states that he didn’t. After reading Bryson that jumps out at you.

    I dfn a couple of books by authors that I used to like but right now have no interest in. The books were competently written so I think it’s my mood or something.

    And then I bopped around reading bits of old favorites.

    1. Excellent, it is always a good idea to get kids to learn about financial basics, good habits will help them a great deal in later life.

  41. Nothing new to report for Working Wednesday. Good Book Thursday finds me still enjoying Emma Jameson, but putting Bones and the Hetheridges aside for the new Simone St. James, MURDER ROAD. It’s been on my library hold list for what seems like forever. Today it was my turn, and I’ve already dived in. 😀

      1. Correction: in this one ebook folder, 56 books wait to be read. And then there are the physical books …

  42. Working Wednesday – I finished another room – my bedroom – in my march through the house -cleaning purging & reorganizing. Feels good.

    GBT – I finished the reread of Amana Quick standalones. I made myself a guide sort of. Title of book with MCs & something I will remember. Sometimes I want to find a particular book with a particular scene but I can’t remember the book.

    Still haven’t had enough of AQ so I started on her Vanza series. Currently reading With This Ring. Very enjoyable.

    Also – I sent a request in to Smart Bitches Trashy Books – the Help A Bitch Out thing they do – asking them if anyone recalls the book where there is a madam / mistress hoping to retire & attempting to finance it by blackmailing all of her formers with the threat of exposing them in print if they don’t pay.
    The FMC does not want the MC name in the paper so she challenges the madam / mistress to a dual.
    They say it can take 2 or 3 months because they have so many requests but I really want to read that book again.

    1. It’s Amanda Quick’s Seduction; and the inspiration for the courtesan publishing her memoirs is the real-life Harriette Wilson.

    2. Well look at that, Judy! You didn’t need anything other than a request to the Argh-nation!

        1. Abebooks used to have a section for that, it is why I started posting on forums, I knew the answer and it was killing me. (my sister owned the picture book)

        1. I’m thinking that it is the drifters Christmas song, but if we are taking votes… Maybe Earl Had to Die by the Dixie Chicks?

  43. That was just an observation since I want to consolidate my knowledge about the much-larger-than-I-realized-collection of Commenting Crusie fans. Actually I wanted to comment that I controlled myself last night from throwing a very frustrating book against a wall of my bedroom, because at the last minute I realized it was a library book, and that would be wrong.

    I won’t name the book or the writer, since I don’t want to offend someone who might be a reader, but suffice it to say it turned out to be one of those irritating pseudo-Regency books where the setting is early nineteenth century Britain, but the thoughts, reactions, actions and and attitudes of the female (& virginal) lead character are basically those of a 21st-century Liberated Modern Gal. She receives her First Kiss Ever, and she’s fascinated to realize that his kiss involves his exploring tongue, so she responds in kind, and she decides to pursue him by forcing him to bow to her sexual wiles so she can Get What She Wants from him.

    This is the kind of book that just makes me feel used by the author. She has written best-selling romances. She/s published between 10 and 20 best-sellers, all in this same genre. She has a Rita award on her resume.

    The only good thing that came out of this experience was realizing that in future, I can identify other authors to avoid by checking the list of “If you liked THIS book, try XYZ author’s books!” that accompanies her Amazon listing. So I can avoid X, Y and Z while avoiding the perpetrator of THIS book as well.

    1. I agree with you, it’s annoying unless it is happening in some alternate historical universe with magic or steampunkery, etc. Those with modern sensibilities just don’t feel like historical romances to my reader’s brain.

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