This is a Good Book Thursday, July 11, 2024

I read Rocky Start for what I hope is the last time, although I still have to go through it for pull quotes. Like this one:

What did you read this week?

224 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 11, 2024

  1. This week I read stuff that was ok and one quite dire book. Nothing that’s worthy of being recommended. It happens…
    I am really looking forward to seeing what Arghers recommend today … there are always good ones.

  2. I finally moved on from Amanda Quick rereads to Jayne Castle rereads. Still in Jayne Anne Krentz land.
    I am rereading The St Helen’s trilogy. I finished Amaryllis and Zinnia and I just started Orchid.
    Shooting comfort reads for me.

  3. I read the first Dr Bones mystery and really enjoyed it, so I’ll acquire the rest in the next few days. Thank you to everyone who recommended it!

    I’m currently reading Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra, which is a modern day retelling of Little Women. Have any other Arghers read it? Something’s not quite working for me and I cant quite put my finger on what, so I’d be interested to hear other opinions.

    1. If it’s the same Virginia Kantra who writes paranormal romance, she never worked for me either. It’s been so long since I tried her that I can’t remember why. I just know that I don’t read her work.

      1. It looks like it might be the same author. I’m going to persevere in the hope that either the book gets better, or I can work out what’s bugging me.

    2. I haven’t read Meg & Jo, but Kantra’s paranormals always felt a bit sad to me, even if the individual couples had HEAs.

      I liked her contemporary Dare Island books much better, particularly “Carolina Blues” and “Carolina Man”. Really must re-read at some point.

      Will be interested what you think of “Meg & Jo” when you’re finished – its hiding somewhere in my tbr mountain.

    3. I love Kantra’s Dare Island series (Carolina Home, Carolina Man, etc) but couldn’t get into her women’s fiction which I believe is what those retellings are. A friend of mine had the same experience.

    4. I checked my Goodreads and it looks like I enjoyed her Dare Island books back in the day, but others were a miss for me. I noted that characters were over-identified with their jobs/roles (“flyboy” and “doctor”) and the metaphors were driving me crazy.

  4. I had my heart ripped out and stomped on by CM Nascota’s Invitations. Plus a cliffhanger, which I am still pretty bitter about. I hope that Reunions will redeem her for me as a favorite comfort author, but that doesn’t come out until the fall.

    Luckily I turned to Josh Lanyon for comfort and listened to the I Spy series, which I thoroughly enjoyed. More relationship stuff than mystery, which is what I am showing up for anyway.

    After that I started Faking It, because I am feeling a little lost and uninspired with my art.

    And I started Fox of Fox Hall by R Cooper. Already I can tell that it is going to be sweet, which is exactly what I am in the mood for. I am enjoying the unique world building and the somewhat problematic scenario. Nothing but good times ahead.

    1. Lupe, I am going to now walk up to your heart lying stomped on the ground and lightly step on it – although Nascosta offers at the end of Invitations the consolation that she’s following up with the final book in the fall…I took a look on Amazon to make sure it was properly situated on my wishlist and…it’s not until February 2025. Don’t shoot the messenger!

    2. Thanks for the warning! I’m planning to start binge reading her stuff soon and I hate cliffhangers! Sorry you took one for the team though!

      1. Then I should mention that Two for Tea and Hollow both end “happy for now.” There is more coming for both stories. Hollow is more melancholy. The rest are pretty safe and she is very good at putting anything potentially problematic in her trigger warnings. Run Run Rabbit, for instance, has some stuff. I still enjoyed it, but it is not for everyone.

  5. I went on a Sarina Bowen/Elle Kennedy marathon:
    First I finished the Him/Us/Epic series. I loved all of them, but Us specifically (I loved the grumpy Jamie, the MC who’s “only” an assistant coach, thus earns less, is less in the spotlight, deals with all the boring household stuff, has to wait up for the seemingly more successful MC Wes) since I guess that rang a bell 🙂

    Then went to continue with the WAGs spin-off. Sadly, Good Boy is being re-published in August, so wasn’t available now.
    So I went on to read WAGs title 2 Stay and loved this story as well inspite of some threads being left hanging loose (one team member who was set up as MC of the next book that was never written) and some details that felt rushed. One of the few FM stories lately that had a FMC I could root for: down-to-earth, competent, no girlie airhead, a hockey (Toronto). I particularly liked that when coming face to face with the customer she dealt (and even chat-flirted) with some time who turns out to be her fav player on the team, turns into a bit of a mess (stuttering etc.). I can relate to reacting star-struck! The s*x scenes were very nice 🙂 and Matt, the MMC, was quite nice, too.

    A detail that threw me was that Toronto’s colours here were red, but I guess that was their bit of keeping it separate from the real life Leafs.

    Then I re-listened to Sarina Bowen’s Hockey Guys series. I love one of the narrators (Jacob Morgan) and it was nice to fall in love with the stories more so than on the first read. Yes, I’m easy to please: re-connecting with a world and community is just so pleasing imo. That’s my favourite feature of Bowen’s writing: the interconnectedness of her titles without this being too oppressive for me (with other authors it can feel a bit too much), maybe because she’s alternating FM with MM and that feels more realistic for me.

    And learning that book 3 (Last Guy on Earth) is announced for February 18 2025 is fun, especially since I had the correct guess about who the story will be.

    Right now I’ve got the luxury problem that a couple of anticipated books came out /will come out soon. Got started on Fixer Upper by Hannah Henry on Monday but gaming is so not my topic, I don’t know ANYTHING about it. Alpha Tau title 4 by Lisa Henry came out yesterday, which promises to be a escapist fluffy fun read. The new Fearne Hill is out today (Oyster) and by next week the long awaited new Ari Baran and KJ Charles.

    Ah, I also started the older Lisa Henry trilogy “Not until…” since ebook and audio of book 1 were on sale and the audio is desperately needed for my insomniac streaks.

    And I still have the Charlie Adhara and Taylor Fitzpatrick to start on…

    Good reading times ahead!

    1. Agree with you about Us! I thought they did Jamie’s perspective very well and I identified with it too 😉 Loved the series.

  6. I also read Invitations by Nascosta and groaned at the cliffhanger but enjoyed it more than Lupe – I occasionally want my heart stomped on to validate for myself that it’s in good shape.

    I also read Latakia by JF Smith, thank you Frozen Pond. I enjoyed the story a lot and the characters. What’s with the fade to black sex though? Grumble grumble.

    KL Noone had a follow-up to her regency M/M/M novella with Marked Out With Greater Brightness – Chacha1, this mini series seems like one you’d like.

    Lupe also introduced me to the Olympus gods series by Katee Robert and I started with the second one which was the M/F tale of Psyche and Eros, all set in a modern context, more cell phone action than magic in fact, and lots of politicking which I always enjoy. I will get back to the first some time but I’m now onto the third which is M/M/F with Achilles, Patroclus and Helen. I do smile at how she rearranges the characters.

    I also read Fixer Upper, the second in Hannah Henry’s Side by Side series. Chacha1 you will want to avoid this because there is absolutely no fixing up and you wanted more in the first book! The Fixer Upper is a game played by one of the MC’s who is an online gaming streamer for a living – honestly, this introduced me to a whole new concept of monetizing game streaming and took me down a side rabbit hole in the internet, ASMR streaming – which mostly involves people whispering and brushing hair hypnotically. Honestly, the mind boggles. Anyway, I enjoyed this book as I always do with Henry.

    I listened to 99 Stories by Wayne Gretzky, thank you Christina. It’s actually a non-linear history of the NHL, peppered with anecdotes and Wayne’s own history in the game. Quite fascinating and really accessible although I could have without his naming every hockey player who ever put on skates. But that’s a testimony to his generosity as a writer and a person; it’s really a humble book and he gives many accolades to many players and very few criticisms.

    1. Tammy, my son informed me that Pat Lafontaine, former hockey player and hall of famer, is doing a great ASMR thingy. Kiddo hasn’t sent me the link yet, so don’t know much more, but I found it interesting that the hockey bug is slowly spreading through my family, with my kiddo reciting me all the important career points of PL yesterday on the tube on our trip home.
      And his mate Theo wants to recruit us /make us get season tickets so he can enter the lottery and win a brunch-meet-up with *my* fav defenseman on our team, lol.

      1. Good lord – it hadn’t even occurred to me that the ASMR weird thing could be combined with hockey, even tangentially.

    2. Christina,
      the 99 stories are on my tbr pile, too. I found the book second hand for a reasonable prize and it didn’t take to long to travel across the ocean.
      Hubby also took a liking to it – with the school holidays looming, who knows which family member will manage to read it first.

      1. You know, it’s funny all the Hockey Talk that goes on here in Jenny Crusie’s community. You wouldn’t think there would be such a strong & active subgroup who is living part of their reading lives around sports — Jenny’s a woman, writing mostly in a genre most would think of as a Woman’s genre. But there’s a group of her fans that is keeping daily track of team performance, authors of sports books, infecting family members with a love for sports teams/books, etc.

        Reminds me of a topic for discussion somewhere on Goodreads (btw, I find the structure & layout of Goodreads so confusing that I seldom even drop by that site) about men vs. women who read romance/chicklit blogs. A very small minority of posts seemed to be from men, who sort of hint that it’s the sex talk that draws them. So….

        Has men’s writing/reading preferences vs. women’s preferences ever been a topic here? Is the difference basically been relationship focus vs. danger/conflict focus? Or something else?

        1. Jinx, I’m very sorry ghat I can so poorly contain my newish passion.
          I tend to burn for strange topics and here I found compassionate weirdos 😉
          I could dive into other strange topics and could start a monologue about medieval medicine or Roman military doctors but there’s no nhl app or hockey webb to daily feed my passion lol.
          A discussion on male vs female reading preferences would interest me, too. But when looking at hubby and ds, they rarely find the time to read, and if they find the time, they tend to read non-fiction or thriller, definitely not romance. Gho hubby greatly enjoyed it when back kn the day I made him read Jenny’s books with me.
          The smart men here in the group know what the others miss out on.
          It’s definitely easier zo hook my men on hockey than on reading romance!!

        2. Not sure about preferences, but I do know that I read almost exclusively female authors. I think that is because women tend to focus more on character based stories whereas male authors are more plot/action based. I am showing up for how everyone feels about what happens, not what actually happens, so character stories suit me best.

        3. As one of the other instigators of the hockey romance reading, I also find it fascinating that we’ve ended up talking about this shared interest here. Another way this blog continues to contribute to my life. My husband also finds it hilarious although he for sure doesn’t read any of the books I’ve discovered here except for Murderbot.

          1. Kevin loves to make mock of my affinity for tentacles, minotaurs and the like. As he hasn’t tried them, or even Murderbot, I don’t take him very seriously. He can take his little joys where he finds them. Ha.

          2. Whereas I at least read a book about my husband’s fave activity: World of Warcraft. I even consulted with the leader of the Healer Team about her performance reviews (!) for each individual team member.

          3. God bless you. Kevin only reads nonfiction at this point and that is a bridge too far for our marriage to ask me to read it.

          4. It’s a loop: the books fueled the interest, the interest in turn leads to more reading, and the search for more books on the topic leads to great conversations here, etc. I agree with you totally Tammy: it is indeed another way this blog continues to contribute to my life.
            My husband doesn’t read any of the books either (he doesn’t read fiction at all — something that I do NOT understand!) but is very amused by my obsession with hockey. Combine that with a long-standing love of baseball and suddenly sport-talk radio is in my life as well. This confounds our kids. 🙂

          5. I told a friend last week that I’m now a hockey fan and he said: “I didn’t see that coming.”

        4. It has come up from time to time over the years, but considering how greatly the women outnumber the men here. the discussions tend to not be repeated that often. But even among the women, who are already preselected by our common regard for JC as a person and a writer, I find a fairly broad range of tastes. So I think that generalizations over such large groups of the population are doomed to failure. Even here we will find lamentations about too much sex instead of emotion (eg Dodo) and disillusionment about fade to black sex scenes (maybe Tammy?) on the same page.

          1. Well said, aunt snack!
            Yep, I don’t much like gratuitous sex scenes, but otoh I LOVE Heated Rivalry wher thise scenes are essential, yet not gratuitous.
            I’m complicated.

            And Tammy, what a surprise – I took you for a longstanding hockey fan!!

          2. Totally agree. Plus I think its all in the expectations – I have men friends who *definitely* don’t read romance – except if there are werewolves, because that’s fantasy. Or others who say they women authors don’t work for them – until you point out half the classic (and not so classic) sci-fi authors they love were women writing under male pseudonyms. It’s getting better but slowly.

            It works the other way too with female friends protesting that such and such an author can’t be male because they write women too well.

            I think just in sales terms, if you’re a male author writing romance you will probably do better commercially with a female or androgynous pseudonym, and same for a female author writing, say, military sci-fi. So thus the gender stereotypes are reinforced.

          3. Dodo I’m Canadian so legally and morally obligated to be a hockey fan. But no, it was the virtuous loop that Christina refers to – I got interested in the books which made me interested in the sport which made me more interested in the books and …ad infinitum.

        1. Actually, I am glad to hear that you weren’t as bothered as I was. It give me hope that I will mellow and be able to come back to it and enjoy it better later.

          I blew through the wedding scene because I was so worried about the other storylines. Lurielle and Khash aren’t my favorite, and weddings aren’t my favorite, but I do feel like they were done something of a disservice by having their happy ending slotted in that way.

          Also, I am mad that the businesses that Tate put so much love and care into may suffer. I feel like the least his friends could do is keep them going and cared for, in case he comes back. Grumble grumble.

          1. Oh, and I enjoyed the cameos from other characters. Grace is the main character in Summer Berries, and it was nice to see her again.

          2. I’m looking forward to that one – didn’t realize Grace was the main character in it. And I’m hoping Fox Hall will be easier on you. I read it again from a different perspective, and now I think I have to read it again…

    3. Glad you enjoyed Latakia! And all the JF Smith sex scenes fade to black… really like his stuff though. I’ve only one left to read which is a sci fi fantasy rather than romance I think.

    4. I’m so glad you enjoyed Gretzky’s “99 Stories”. Such a great overview of some truly interesting events. And as you say, told with really pleasing humility. I love watching YouTube interviews with him too.

      I had missed Lupe’s rec re the Olympus Gods series. I’m so glad you mentioned that series cause that is so totally my jam! I have downloaded book 1 and it’s near the top of the queue (JF Smith baseball book is next.)

      1. Book one, Neon Idol is fine. I told Tammy that it was your typical Hades/Persephone retelling, which she thought was funny. I read a lot of them in my YA phase. Oh, and there are some bdsm and kink elements to that one. It’s book two, Electric Gods, where the series really starts getting good, in my opinion. I really love Eros as a character. Sometimes it’s hit or miss after that, but overall I find Katee Robert to be better than your stereotypical smut/monster romance author. Like Nascosta, she has real life stuff in there hiding under the fun settings and extra appendages. I recommended Dragon’s Bride to a friend and she was pleasantly surprised by all the plot in with the smut.

        Not an auto-buy author for me, but someone I come back to when I am in the mood. Plus, she is popular enough that she has a lot available through my library sources.

    5. I’m planning to read Noone’s M/M/M Regency follow-up sometime, am hoping she does more with it than just another of her D/s hurt/comfort sex scenes.

  7. Congrats on being at the finish line!!! And great quote 🙂

    Read a bunch of almost good romances with a last minute Big Mis which spoiled them just at the end.

    Finished Charlie Jane Anders’ Unstoppable YA sci-fi trilogy. Really happy the finale was nominated for the Lodestar because I probably would have stopped at book one and books two and three were much stronger and more nuanced IMHO. Lots of tough choices and kindness.

    Also finished Örjan Westin’s 2023 MicroSFF collection. He writes stories in the length of a tweet and some of them are wonderful and all are worth the minute it takes to read them. https://microsff.com/

    Best thing I read was from one of KJ Charles’ year’s best list, the epic crime thriller “Journey Under the Midnight Sun” by Keigo Higashino, trans. Alexander O Smith. Takes a while to get the rhythm of it but becomes engrossing. Definitely not cosy.

  8. I re-read Rachel Gibbon’s Tangled Up in You and Susan Elizabeth Phillip’s What I Did for Love. Both are favourite authors and both books were published at the same time. Interesting, there were elements in both books that irritated me this time that I probably didn’t notice during my first reading (about 15 years ago). In the Rachel Gibbon’s book, the FMC was always described as eating or drinking a “low-cal” food or beverage. I noticed in recent years that if a FMC in a romance novel is not slim, she’s described as “curvy” and her weight /body often becomes part of the story (sometimes it’s in the title). I have my own complicated relationship with food but I wish romance authors would let their FMC eat normally and not draw attention to their weight.

    The SEP’s book had two problematic, albeit secondary story lines. The FMC had s an actress whose first husband leaves her for another actress he meets while filming a movie. This couple is obviously based on Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Not only is there a physical resemblance but they are also involved in humanitarian causes. The AJ character is portrayed as a man-stealing villain which is how she was portrayed in the media when Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston broke up. As we now know, BP and AJ had a complicated relationship and he may not be the nice guy he wants the public to believe. SEP describes the actor ex-husband as tofu, which seems like a good description of lots of handsome actors.

    The other plot line that bothered me was the active bullying of the FMC’s overweight male assistant to lose weight by another female character. She takes his junk food away from him and serves him salads instead of sandwiches, etc. She’s the cook so controls the food in the household. He does eventually lose weight which is seen as a positive accomplishment, despite his acknowledged competency at his job. This was icky and not necessary to advance the main storyline. If SEP wrote the same book today, I wonder if she would include it. Not sure if society’s views of overweight people has evolved that much in 15 years.

    I also read Dirtbag Massachusetts for my book club. Issac Fitzgerald is an insightful writer and there are some beautifully written paragraphs. Not my favourite book club read but expect we’ll have an interesting discussion.

    1. SusanM,
      I remember getting the SEP book when I had the chance to see her in person, must be those 15+ years ago. I have yet to find the book again in my boxes post-move.
      Would love to see how the book has stood the test of time.

      I remember being fascinated by the MMC’s approach to fighting his alcohol addiction. I don’t remember the bit about the assistant, but then I fear I’d be more like Georgie and push the salads, too, due to preference.

      What baffles me is that in books and media there doesn’t seem to be a middle ground between slim and “curvy” (read: VERY curvy/overweight). Where are the women and FMCs that resemble my reality?
      Most women in my professional and private circles (colleagues, neighbours, friends, moms of my kids’ classmates) are neither nor – but of the inbetween sizes (I’d say most might wear US sizes between 8 to 14). The more curvy ones are still the exception not the norm. I’d love to read more books with heroines that reflect this, not have to try and identify with the very slim ones nor the curvy ones.
      I do remember the satisfying feeling to get a heroine like Min – I could totally identify with her (even her insecurities when it came to body issues).

      1. I totally agree with you. I’d like more representation of different body types I. romance novels in general. I appreciate a good looking MMC but they don’t all need 6 packs and biceps like bowling balls.

          1. It’s one more thing that I like about M/M. I can remember at least one story where one of the main characters was self conscious about being pudgy. I can’t remember which one it was now, but there is much more diversity in body type in that genre.

          2. Most probably. I listened to that one fairly recently. Of course Fox is described as plump too and he considers it a strength.

        1. I always thought the abs and biceps obsession was very American.
          I have noticed however recently a big trend among my students (in the UK) for a much more ripped physique. Honestly, it worries me a bit.
          Personally, I always prefer my romance hero to be described as « lean ». That works for me 🙂

          1. Yes, LN, agreed on both accounts!!
            Most of ds’s friends go and train at the gym. I personally prefer the lean ones, too.
            And all thise hockey/sports books have one thing in common: they get physically fit for a soecific purpose, not to look a certain way. A fit body a la “form follows function” is usually very asthetically pleasing.
            Totally different than e.g. body builder types.

  9. I’ve been reading Prince of Secrets, the second of the Stariel series. I’m at the climactic scene, but I couldn’t read any more last night, so I don’t now how it ends. There are concerns about how the MCs can maintain their morality.

  10. I finished Divorced, Desperate and Delicious by Christie Craig. I enjoyed it but not sure if it’s worth a reread. But I did order her Mayhem, Murder and Mama to add to my TBR. I also ordered two Patricia Briggs books, The Thief and Heyer’s The Quiet Gentlemen after recommendations from here.

    I also read Storm Front by Jim Butcher. Not sure what took me so long to finally read a Dresden Files book but I enjoyed it and will look for more in the series. I also watched some episodes of the short-lived TV series.

    I’m currently reading and enjoying When a Scot Ties the Knot by Tessa Dare.

    1. Dresden Files are great! You’ve a lot of good stuff to look forward to. There is really good plotting across books. Sometimes he only picks up plotlines 3 or 4 books later. That is something I would find it very difficult to keep track of, so I always enjoy seeing it well done.

        1. Jim Butcher took a VERY LONG hiatus around thst number I think. Life happened, other books were written that dudn’t interested me that much. I’ve lost reading momentum for Harry Dresden around that time, too.
          Might pick the series up wgen/if the series is completed. The waiting in between books is killing otherwise.

    2. I liked Divorced, Desperate, and Delicious, v and then didn’t love the rest of series as much. Sometimes Craig is trying so hard to be funny that the jokes don’t land right for me. But I do like her books, though it’s been a while since I read any of them. Maybe I should try a reread!

      1. I’m a fan of Christie Craig – even though she once asked for help naming a character in a newsletter and she chose my offering and then never acknowledged it in the book!

        My favourites are the Hotter in Texas trilogy and The Cop Who Stole Christmas (which I re-read each Christmas).

        She has changed her style though and now writes with far less humour but really good mysteries.

    3. The tv show led me to the books, which I love (especially in audio, narrated by James Marsters). I tried to re-watch the tv show … I dunno, about a year ago, I think, and they were just so much less than the books that I couldn’t get past an episode or two.

  11. I’ve been rereading and/or browse rereading a bunch of Georgette Heyer. I have to admit, when rereading the Talisman Ring, I always start where Sarah Thane and Sir Tristan meet. From then on, the book has so many moments that sparkle, both their banter and the side relationships. Sir Hugh: ‘I see what it is: you’ve been flirting again.” Makes me laugh out loud.

    1. The Talisman Ring is in my top five of Heyer’s books. Sarah and Tristan are such a delight! My personal highlight is when Sarah and Eustacie are going to Basil’s house to look for the secret passageway, and Tristan has filled Sarah’s sketchbook with pictures of ‘wholly imaginary horses’ because Sarah can’t draw for toffee. That part makes me snort with laughter every time.

    2. I adore the Talisman Ring. My favourite part goes something like this (too lazy to look up):
      Sir Hugh: “Balmy breezes? There’s been a demmed north February wind blowing all day!”
      Sir Tristan intoned soulfully: “All breezes are balmy to Persons in Love.”
      “Oh stop,” Sarah begged.

    3. The Talisman Ring has now headed to the top of my Heyer rereading list! I don’t remember it so well, in fact I think I keep confusing it with The Reluctant Widow which I wasn’t such a fan of (but might like more now?)

      1. The Reluctant Widow is my least favorite and I keep trying again every 10 years or so to see if I’ve changed my mind. I never have.

        1. Isn’t the reluctant widow, the one where the heroine keeps getting conked on the head and the hero is quite cavalier about it? I wasn’t keen on that.

          1. Reluctant Widow and Talisman Ring are two of my favorites. I like the fact that the heroine in the Reluctant Widow tells off the hero — which no one else will. The other heroine and hero like that are in Sylvester or the Wicked Uncle. Another favorite.

        2. Me too, I personally don’t trust people who force you into the untenable position of marrying a dying person with an impoverished estate, without even a promise of benefits. And then he brushes off the whole being injured and leaves you in potential danger risking your health and sanity. I’m picky that way

      2. I confuse The Reluctant Widow with the Toll Gate .
        I’m not fond of the hero in TRW but I do like the younger brother. The hero n TTG is very competent but it doesn’t have the humor of her best books and the heroine doesn’t get to do much.
        The Talisman Ring is one of my favorites, in part because the heroine gets to play a real role in the action—she is the hero’s equal in competence and a great deal funnier.

        1. I love the Toll Gate, the heroine is in such bad position and her future is potentially grim, because she is an honourable person. Fortunately her Grandfather loves her and cuts straight to the heart of the problem

    4. The Talisman Ring is one of my favorites, too — it was one of the first Heyers I read (when I was maybe 12 or 13). (I wonder, though, if readers nowadays would put up with a heroine as ditzy as Eustacie. Although Ludovic is pretty wacky, too, so they’re a good match.) Sarah and Tristram are of course wonderful.

      My mother was particularly fond of The Reluctant Widow — she even made notes in her copy.

      1. I’m currently listening to Cotillion, but now I must find a copy of the Talisman Ring. I don’t remember it at all, I think I was confusing it with the Toll Gate in my head.

  12. I finished Winter Lost by Patricia Briggs and found it very satisfying. The ending, in particular, was much more upbeat than many of her more recent books. It was a relief to read a book in this series that wasn’t quite as grim as her latest ones, and it reminded me of why I like her writing so much.

    In a complete change of pace, I’m now in the middle of Finding Mr. Write, by Kelley Armstrong. Sweet and smart contemporary romance, and I’m really liking it. And not just because the female protagonist is an author, which always amuses me.

  13. Definitely lol for that quote!

    I’m re-reading Christie Craig’s Divorced, Desperate series! It’s always a hoot!

  14. I just want to tell you all that Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt is on sale on Kindle for $2.99. It was on my wish list, which I check often, and it was reduced drastically.

  15. I discovered an interesting and readable new-to-me author, and the heat wave encouraged a binge of light reading.

    David Collins, The Wrong Button, 2024.  Our hero is a future astronaut ferrying back to Earth what seems to be the escape pod from the ancient wreck on Ceres of an alien starship.  After an accident wrecks his own ship, in desperation or hero powers up the still-operational alien pod and pushes a blinking button.   Rather than just providing him with atmosphere or taking him to Earth, it puts him into suspended animation and attempts to return him to the alien home port, and then, after systems start to fail, sets him down on a survivable planet with a humanoid civilization at about early 19th century technology.  The pod, however, does not abandon him, but instead starts self-repair and expansion while remaining in touch.  Multiple complications ensue.  The novel reminds me of early James Hogan—intriguing ideas embedded in not-great plotting, style, and characterization.  Collins, it turns out, has already indy-published many novels, so gives little promise of future improvement.  Still, a fun read.  I’ll look for sequels and try some of his earlier work.

    Olan Thorensen, A Many-Threaded Tapestry, 2024.  The latest in the Destiny’s Crucible series, which is best started from the beginning with Cast Under an Alien Sun.  This series started off as one contemporary American being transported by aliens to an exoplanet to which humans had been moved millenia ago by unknown different aliens.  After various adventures it turns out in later novels that other Americans from the same doomed jetliner have been cast away on different parts of the same planet, generally with at most one American per novel uniting with our hero, who has established the most hospitable circumstances of any of them.  Reminiscent in some ways of the 1632 series, in that there is plausible, if probably over-optimistic, progress in industrialization and military science, and danger of the whole series ramifying beyond any hope of satisfactory resolution within the lifetime of its author.  Still, I’m enjoying it and plan on reading further sequels.

    David Collins, The Wrong Number, 2023, 2024.  Because a contemporary alien dialed a wrong number on a teleportation artifact from an elder race, a bit as in the TV show Stargate, a random human near the mostly buried teleporter on Earth makes contact with a reasonably benign Galactic civilization.   By the aliens’ rules, that makes the human the ambassador from Earth.  Complications ensue.  Hooks are inserted that could make this start of a series, but it works as a stand-alone, which so far it is.  Same faults and virtues as in The Wrong Button.  One particularly annoying bit is that one character is allowed to say, without contradiction or much balance elsewhere in the novel, “All the major human religions preach how humanity is the chosen people and how humanity is the pinnacle of beings.”  In fact, no major religion teaches that, and the fact that Collins feels free to say so through his character displays, to put it kindly, stupifying ignorance.

    David Collins, Prelude to Fate, 2022, 2023, 2024.  The multiple copyrights reflect revisions.  A human is teleported from Earth to a relatively small multispecies community on another planet.  He learns that this results from a malfunctioning transporter on a wrecked starship that periodically pulls in new artifacts and being from several worlds, but that because of the ship’s automatic defenses no one has figured out how to turn the teleporter off.  Everyone (fortunately all from species tolerating the same environment)  is stuck there and must make the best of it.  The novel deals mostly with the orientation and language course he is put through,  and with making friends with the alien fellow students.  Complications and a Big Reveal ensue.  The Reveal is not new, but is a fairly infrequent plot twist.

    David Collins, Wars Without End series, books 1 2 and 3 (of 4, so far).  More clichéd elements than in the others by Collins that I’ve tried, as the title suggests.  The first novel of this sequence includes a Big Reveal that is rather shopworn by now from use by other authors, and some elements resemble the Bob’s Saucer Repair series that I have mentioned here before.  But the Collins series still shows more originality than many others that I could name.  In fact, most of the “wars” are either very short or are minor clashes, although massive off-screen killing lies in the series background.

    I still haven’t written up one unrelated nonfiction book, but don’t think I’ll manage in time today, so that one is a holdover.

    1. I forgot to check the pub dates for the Wars Without End series. They’re all 2023.

      On reading the posted version of my reviews I saw a few more typos. I’ll think they’re obvious. Sorry about that.

    2. All the David Collins sounds interesting, but I’m not sure I have the patience for his flaws. I will see what the library has.

        1. There also are clearly multiple authors named David Collins on Kindle. I haven’t gone far enough down to get them sorted out yet. I think there may even be multiple David Collinses writing sf/f and with similar biographies.

          1. There are times when I wish authors had to abide by SAG like rules – if someone already has your name, pick another one. And no an initial in the middle does not make it substantively different!

  16. Thank you all for such wonderful suggestions! My towering TBR pile is groaning already in anticipation.

    Question for Jennifer: Will Rocky Start be released in paperback anytime soon? I WILL read Kindle but prefer a ‘real’ book. If it won’t, I’ll break down and pre-order the Kindle.

  17. My triumph this week was working out how to transfer books downloaded from AO3 to my Kindle. I failed at first, so read one novel in my iPad, but this was so much less enjoyable, especially when I wanted to read in the garden in the sun, that I had another couple of goes until I got there. It’s actually really easy, although the old Mobi file format and Send to Kindle seem to be obsolete. (Download the ePub version, select it in Files on the iPad, choose Share/Kindle App, type in the title and author in place of the original file name & enable ‘Add to your library’. It will then magically materialize on your Kindle as well as in the Kindle App.)

    So I then gorged The Undiagnosable’s original stories – they’re really moreish. My favourites were Irish Exit & Here Be Dragons. I also checked my Amazon wish list and found several titles had come down to a reasonable price, so I’m about to check them out.

    1. You can also email any document to Kindle, using your personalized Kindle email address. That’s how I do it because so simple.

      1. I did try that – I’m sure it’s what I’ve done in the past – but it didn’t work this time. I do think the new method is simpler, though.

        1. The email method doesn’t like some types of ebook that it used to accept. I use “epub” now for stuff from AO3 and it works fine.

        2. You can also transfer from your computer directly to your kindle via the cable. The kindle will appear as a drive which you select.

  18. I reread Tremaine’s True Love, by Grace Burrowes this week. This series is very satisfying and the characters feel real and human. This is the first book in the series. A Scottish/French sheep dealer comes to visit and bid on a flock of Merino sheep. He is attracted to the eldest daughter of the family, who is the community healer. There is a Great Misunderstanding at the end that is not as contrived as some, and it is resolved in a very sensible way. No deus ex machina. I like it. After I read it the first time, I became well acquainted with Merino wool, and now I understand why those sheep were so valuable. Their wool does not make me itch, and it is quite comfortable to wear. It’s the only wool I will wear.

    1. As someone who always runs cold, I adore wool and cashmere and silk. I do despair at the care needed to keep them pristine, though.

      And linen. But I hate ironing.

      1. I like linen, and I can usually get it looking respectable by hanging it up after taking it out of the washer, and spraying water on it, and letting it dry. I used to wear a lot of silk, but my source for less expensive garments dried up.

        1. I hang my linen in the shower with me the night before I want to wear it, when I remember. I don’t have dryer. And I thrift for a hobby/supplemental income, so that is where I source it from. Still, some days I can’t be bothered and go with the wrinkle-proof polyester.

          1. I don’t even have an iron but I for sure have a small steamer. Totally swear by it – so fast to heat up, under a minute, and psst – steam!

          2. I have one of those too! Very handy, especially for weddings and craft shows and such.

      1. Me too! And I’m a knitter, and all the gorgeous yarns are wool, and I can’t work with it, even if I’m giving the item away, rather than wearing it.

    2. They are also quite impressive to see. Some years ago there was a sheep in New Zealand who couldn’t be found when the ranchers brought the sheep down from the hills for the winter. When finally found, this Merino ram had been unshorn for 4 years and the before and after pictures were very dramatic.

  19. I enjoyed ‘Into the North’ by Amber Huxley. It is a historic (early history?) romance between a barbarian and a Roman captured as a slave. There was good setting, which was believable without being over the top in terms of detail, strong characters and enough tension and consideration of power and freedom as well as good minor characters. Good action and tension too (as well as, not surprisingly for the time and plot, violence). Definitely worth a read if that is your kind of thing.

    I also enjoyed Blueprint (SE Harmon, MM) which is a sweet, sometimes amusing friends to lovers romance with an NFL player (but not much football)

    Then I read ‘The Foxhole Court’ by Nora Sakavic (All for the Game series). I thought I was going to be reading a sports romance, albeit with a made up sport called Exy and a very dysfunctional team. Exy is supposed to be a cross between lacrosse and ice hockey and the only thing I know about lacrosse is that it was played in Enid Blyton’s girls borading school stories! Half way through I realised I had made wrong assumptions as there was little sport and no rom. By the end they had played a match and the made up sport works fine but I am now half way through the second book and still don’t know for definite who will be in the romance! Clearly a very slow burn. I am kind of ambivalent about this, I was intrigued enough to start the second, but there is a lot complex gang politics as well as violence and I am not sure it is keeping my interest. I’ll stick with A Raven’s Court a bit longer, but may bale before the end. Any Arghers have thoughts on this series?

    Finally on audio I whizzed though ‘Glitterland’ by Alexis Hall, had a few long drives, and then couldn’t stop listening when I got home. It wasn’t the same laugh out loud Alexis Hall I’ve listened to before, themes are much more serious. The reader (Nicholas Boulton) is fantastic. Special credit to him for an excellent low key Irish accent. It is not easy to do well. I loved this book so much.

    1. I love Glitterland, although I read it and the phonetic spelling of the accent threw me. Might be time to invest in the audio.

    2. I agree Nicholas Boulton did a terrific job with Glitterland. In fact he is one of only a small handful of narrators whose name I know and remember.
      I too loved Glitterland. I’ve reread it a number of times and find something new in it each time. I think his “Spires” books are his best work. I greatly enjoyed Boyfriend Material and his “lighter” stuff (not particularly crazy about the regency romps though) but the ones that get the most consistent rereads and re-listens are the Spires book.

    3. Alexis Hall is interesting in that he’s consciously playing with tropes and sub-genres. So if one doesn’t work for you, the next one might and vice versa because they’re all so different. Most of his stuff has worked for me – but the first one I read of his was steampunk and I loved that. Glitterland was next, although I haven’t read the revised version yet.

      1. The steampunk one was my first too! Also my first M/F/M, which blew my mind a little bit. His mermaid one is also good, but poignant and sad.

    4. Frozen Pond, now I have far too many books in my most current tbr pipeline!
      Got both Blueprint and Into the North ’cause thankfully they are both on KU.

      Started ItN already and told myself to read it as a AU novel: the author hints at time and location but if you don’t know your history, it’s more fun.
      The devastating defeat that land Marcus in Agnar’s hands is clearly inspired by the defeat of the 3 Roman legions led by Varus in the area of the Teutoburger Forest. Reigning emperor = Augustus.
      The incident that shaped the further policy of Augustus up in the North is a FASCINATING feat and findings not too long ago have made it possible to get more insights into what happened and led to new discoveries plus to locate the place of the “battle” – they still found human remains and equipment pieces after 2000 years.
      The superior Roman military were cleverly outmanouvered by the German tribes (for once united, which did not hold long) led by Arminius, a former hostage of one of the tribes raised in Rome and trained in the army before he managed to change sides again. 🙂
      Arminius knew that the Romans in usual battle formation could not be faced, so the tribes used the terrain of the Teutoburg Forest/more exactly Kalkriese to trick them into opening up and forcing them into a long marching line through the dense and rough foresty area. There, the “barbaric” opponents could attack them from the side, take them on one by one, prohibit them from using the defensive formations etc. In short: they annihilated the 3 legions, a very large number of Romans in this early Guerilla attack.
      BTW, the archeologists and historians found that the Germanic tribes seemed to have a custom to keep the skulls of the opponents nailed to their lodgings/in their villages.
      Augustus’ reaction to this brutal loss – the cry “Varus, give me back my legions”/”Quintili Vare, legiones redde!” (Suetonius) – was vividely recorded by historians.
      There’s also been a recent documentary by History Hit (certainly on Youtub) though I haven’t seen it, and also a Netflix series “Barbarians”, only this took liberties with the history but was quite interesting as the had the Romans really talk Latin (there’s a fine youtube clip on the quality of the Latin spoken by Luke Ranieri/Scorpio Martianus see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7uBUCZgpw8). And following the finding, a new museum was set up where the battle was fought (in Kalkriese).

      This is not referred to in Into the North, so the author is not hemmed in by having to stick too closely to the real events.
      In which case e.g. the Barbarians can be tall and well-muscled and strong.
      The may have used saddles, Marcus may be able to be that fluent in the Germanic language they use, he may be able to draw a map.
      Nothing of those bits is faulty, but we immediately tend to fill in modern conceptions of human frames/bodies, saddles, languages, maps:
      Physique: I’m not an expert but from what I read about archeological findings of people in Northern Europe in Ancient times, the climate and imminent threat of poor harvests did act as an impediment to develop such impressive physiques.
      Language: The Germanic tribes are likely to have spoken various dialects, it would have made it difficult for Marcus to really fluent in this foreign tongue.
      He said, he’d learnt it from mercenaries. It’s more likely that he came in contact with it dealing with auxilliary troups. Only Rome was clever enough to more likely employ those troops not in their own region but somewhere else in the Imperium Romanum as it made fraternization less likely (at least in the first years of employment). So auxilliary troops from e.g. what is France today would be stationed along the Limes (frontier wall between the Barbaric North and the Roman conquered South of what is today’s Germany, similar to Hadrian’s Wall; Limes’ construction started in the 1st century AD
      been more likely dialects. Also, saddles were a later inventions, so Agnar might have used more a covering, but hey, it’s not described, so it may well be some sort of saddle like thingy.
      Saddle: the saddles as we know them are a later invention, but hey, no description is given, so Agnar might well have used the ancient equivalent.
      Maps: the concept of maps was much different in the ancient and MA times, and the evolution and development of maps is fascinating: the Romans did have maps, they just looked completely different from what we picture them today). Yet again, the fault lies with me as the description is loose enough that Marcus may have drawn a typically Roman map.

      I’m about 15% in, the story seems solid and I assume I’ll like it, but what I find most fascinating so far is that the connection to real Roman history is loose enough that I notice the “mistakes” without them being proper mistakes but a question of correct or false perception on the side of me, the reader.

      Sorry for my ramblings again.
      At least this time I didn’t bore with hockey but with history musings…

      1. Dodo, As a former student of Classics and Classical History, your “ramblings” — thank you by the way, I really enjoyed reading that! — have totally sold me on Into the North in a way the romance side of the story probably wouldn’t. It is all far enough in my past that I might not have known what historical event it was based on. I love knowing that stuff as I read. Thanks for the input! Into the North is now on my Everest-sized TBR pile!

        1. You’re welcome, Christina 😀.

          Only don’t expect a historically accurat story lol.
          However, it re-awakened my curiosity for ancient Roman history.
          Including attending the bi-annually Roman 3-day-long Abusina festival, yay!

  20. Don’t mind me, I’m just over here wiggling in my chair with happiness that a new Bob and Jenny book series is coming!!!

    Oh yeah, I read a good book this week, but it’s not fiction. Feel Good Productivity by Ali Abdaal. Got a couple of decent tips out of it, too. 🙂

    Love,
    Chelle

  21. I needed order, competence, and a supportive community, so I’ve been reading a bunch of Donna Andrew’s Meg Langslow series in order. It’s hitting the spot.

    1. One disquieting side effect of doing that, at least if you have my kind of mind, is that it makes the internal inconsistencies in the series more noticeable. I’ve already mentioned that the fairly remarkable fact that Meg’s husband, of European ancestry, speaks fluent Vietnamese has not come up once since the first book. And Meg’s grandfather must be AT LEAST in his 90s by now, but sure doesn’t show it. Some mystery series freeze everyone’s ages and ignore the changing social setting, while others freeze the year and set everything in the receding past. Andrews seems to have everyone age except the grandfather and others of his generation, so they can hang around as characters.

        1. Soap opera rules, the animals don’t age… It was heartbreaking enough when that hawk killed one the town clerk’s and it was the one that liked to sit on his shoulder and comb his hair with her beak

      1. Not for nothing, but my dad just turned 90 and still plays tennis 5 days a week, has a motorcycle and a sports car. So I don’t find the grandfather’s activity level that unbelievable. LOL

        1. Past a certain point its health, not the age number that makes a difference I find. Probably true when younger too but its not as obvious.

  22. This week I finished Cherie Priest’s CINDERWITCH and am currently galloping through Simone St. James’ THE OTHER SIDE OF MIDNIGHT, which I somehow missed when it was released in 2015. The best reading news, however, is looking forward to another Cherie Priest and ROCKY START this very month. 😀

  23. Good Books: Jagger Cole’s Monstrous Urges came out and I made the mistake of reading just a chapter or two before bed. Found myself pre-ordering the next book at 2 a.m. because I have to know what happens NEXT. (The next book features Fumi’s Yakuza brother, for those familiar with the Cole-verse)

    Via Bookbub one of the Hyde books by Layla Frost was a deal, I realized at some point I’d picked up another in the series but hadn’t read it yet and figured it was A Sign so I started reading. And kept on going until I ran out of Hyde and started in on spinoff books (Frost’s Until Mayhem, Force of Nature by Brynne Asher). Holy crap this stuff is fabulous. Sorry I slept on it for so long. Heroes who fall hard and pretty much instantly, will do anything for love, found family, great lines like “puts the romance in necromancy”.

  24. I just read Sim Kern’s queer trans solarpunk novel The Free People’s Village which had me sobbing with love and rage and joy and reaching back out to activist buddies. I read Jules Gill-Peterson’s EXCELLENT popular history book A Brief History of Trans Misogyny, which I am now working on building some programming for students around. I reread Charlie All Night when I needed something sweet while chronic illness stuff was flaring up at 3am and I tore through Olivia Dade’s newest romance that I can’t remember the name of but which features a rad fat woman protagonist and a dude who loves her body and brain and soul, which she always writes well. I found out a friend of mine who bonded with me over gay slash fiction and queer and trans activism in the South ten years ago died so I reread a couple novel-length Stucky works on AO3 that he loved, I finished a listen-through of Talia Hibbert’s Brown Sisters romance novels again and I’m just now starting the audiobook of Annalee Newitz’s recent novel The Terraformers since I have found their scifi writing both challenging and fun.

    1. Imagine, the library actually has four Sim Kern novels and the sample I read has me hooked. Thanks!

    2. Warmfuzzydyke – I don’t think I’ve ever read one of your posts before! Love what you’re putting down here. Is there a Stucky from A03 you’d recommend?

  25. For those looking for a good contemporary to read, I saw that Nan Reinhardt’s Meant to Be is on sale for free. If you haven’t read her yet, now’s your chance to try her out. I really love her books. Real adult romances with intertwined families and friends throughout a number of series, but each book can be read on its own. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07S7FW8BR

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I had a book of hers in my tbr pile and didn’t realize it. It will be moved up the queue!

  26. So I am re-reading K.F. Breene Leveling Up. It’s Paranormal Midlife Fiction – There’s romance and good sex (she has much spicier books). Great stuff. Highly recommend. I have read all of Jenny’s books and am looking for similar reads. With the humor and quirky characters and fun. Fun is the most important. I keep finding myself on slogs and I hate to have to slog through a book.

    1. Welcome to the club. There are no other books like Jenny’s! There are some with snark, and some with sly humor, and some with great plots and character development, but it’s very rare to find all of that in one book.

      1. While there are no other books like Jennie’s you might enjoy the Paladin series by T Kingfisher. Or Swordheart. There is a certain perspective that is similar even though the books are I guess fantasy and even the humor is different.
        And if you haven’t read Lois McMaster Bujold’s A Civil Campaign I would try it .

        1. I love A Civil Campaign but tried to read it as an entry to Bujold’s work and bounced off it. Once I’d read the others and knew the characters it was much more fun.

  27. I re-read Mhairi Mcfarlane’s Just Last Night because it was on my bookshelf and I needed something at hand to get me through a bout of stomach illness.

    It hit so many satisfying notes, even though I understand a few reviewers’ feelings that some characters were underdeveloped. To them I say, no book is perfect but a lot of books deliver on emotion and humour and novelty nonetheless, and this one did.

  28. This week I have completed Emma Jameson’s Lord and Lady Hetheridge series, regretting that the library doesn’t have the Bones series. I enjoyed them greatly but although I may reread them they aren’t going to become constant rereads so they don’t meet the requirements for my limited book-buying budget.

    I read a couple of Kristan Higgins that were nice but unremarkable, so unremarkable that I was halfway through one when I realized I had read it before (consulting my book list tells me that was in 2018.)

    I finally got T. Kingfisher’s What Feasts at Night from the library. I didn’t put a hold on it because my hold queue fills up fast, but I spotted it as Available yesterday and grabbed it and enjoyed it a lot. I’m not a horror person, but I find it hard to see hers as fitting in horror when they’re so funny. Isn’t horror supposed to be scary?

    1. I only read funny horror, so I’m probably not the person to ask, but I found T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones genuinely terrifying and funny, in different parts, and I thought going back and forth between those two tones reinforced each other, the way it does in the scary parts of Jenny and Bob’s books. (I use humor as a coping mechanism, can you tell?) Lish McBride’s YA Hold Me Closer, Necromancer series and her Firebug series also do funny horror really well, in my opinion.

      1. I have hopes of reading Hold Me Closer Necromancer sometime soon. I was 458th when I first put a hold on it and now I’m less than a hundred.

  29. I read Dog Day Afternoon by David Rosenfelt. It’s the *29th* book in the Andy Carpenter mystery series, and I’m still enjoying them. And that doesn’t include the K-Team spinoff series (3 books?). In this one Marcus comes to Andy to defend a friend of his accused of murder. Andy doesn’t usually defend clients he thinks are guilty, or any at all if he can help it, and this one sure looks guilty of mass murder, but it’s Marcus asking so he takes the case. And as they continue investigating the more it looks like the bizarre story his client is telling is looking more likely.

    I also read Penric and the Bandit, still fun.

    1. I just read the Libby sample on Dog Day. It looked interesting, and as if this was the kind of series where one doesn’t have to start at the beginning, 29 books ago. But I tagged it rather than getting in the hold queue, since that and my other to-be-reads are already quite a (virtual) pile. Later.

  30. I started reading All Rhodes Lead Here by Mariana Zapata and paused about halfway through. Frustrating as the author has the main female character put herself twice into the same life threatening situation that requires the main male character to rescue her. Ugh. I may not finish though it does have merits. YMMV.

    Now I’m reading The Excitements by CJ Wray, a story of WWII veteran sisters. The sisters are feisty and fun. The flashbacks have the limitations that flashbacks do. But I am enjoying it.

    I am listening to Manhunting as I need comfort from real life.

    1. I’m about halfway through All Rhodes as well. I don’t have high hopes as she is still calling him Mr. Rhodes and he’s barely spoken to her.

  31. (Whoops, I got excited and included a link in my first try, which was a no go — trying again, and hopefully this doesn’t post twice, sorry!)

    After a reading break (ugh, covid!), I’ve had some great reads!

    — A Ruse of Shadows by Sherry Thomas (Lady Sherlock series): I enjoyed seeing Charlotte go from a reactive mystery or thriller structure (figure out what happened / how to stop it) to a heist structure (make things happen behind the scenes.) Sure, it’s trickier to keep track of the timeline jumps, but I love the ruses these characters pull off and Charlotte coming into her own as a mastermind, so I think a heist-type structure works great here.

    — A Little Too Familiar by Lish McBride: the first of two funny-with-layers paranormal romances for adults, about a magical vet tech who accidentally bonds a werewolf as her familiar. I love how Lish writes community and families of choice, her offbeat humor and magic, how she handled consent, and how her werewolf expresses his alpha nature by aggressively packing his roommates’ lunches, making sure everyone’s taken care of, etc.

    — Bitter Waters by Vivian Shaw (novella, Dr. Helsing series): stories about what it means to be a person are one of my favorite tropes (Murderbot, Hellboy, the Athena Club, etc), so yay for a new small-scale story in this series about a community of “monsters” who take care of each other and their human doctor! TW: child turned vampire.

    — “Alive” by Tillie Walden: I remembered this two-page story in graphic panels (comics format) about happily living alone in space, and finally found it again! I’m in awe of how the narrative combines with the visuals and how short yet complete it is, and I almost never see happily for now stories about being alone. It’s collected in Walden’s Alive in Space, and also as two prints in her inPrint shop, which I’m buying for my studio.

    1. If it was a link you wanted to include, ONE link should not be a problem. Two in the same comment put you in moderation. (Based on my experience. )

      1. Huh, maybe I did something else wrong then? It’s fine without the link, you all know how to search for things you’re interested in!

    2. A Little Too Familiar is the title I keep blanking on when I want to recommend it to coworkers at the vet clinic! Every detail is perfect. I think I nearly died laughing.

      1. I agree! So pleased you enjoyed it too. I’m excited for Will and Van’s book next! (Rough Around the Hedges)

    3. The werewolf aggressively feeding their people sounds perfect to me! Thanks for the rec, I will add it to my list.

  32. They are also quite impressive to see. Some years ago there was a sheep in New Zealand who couldn’t be found when the ranchers brought the sheep down from the hills for the winter. When finally found, this Merino ram had been unshorn for 4 years and the before and after pictures were very dramatic.

  33. Re-read T. Kingfisher’s Swordheart and enjoyed it. I first read it years ago and didn’t remember any details, so the book read like new. I have to admit I liked her Paladin stories better, but this one was a good read nonetheless and hilarious in places. The protagonist Halla’s pretend-silly monologues were priceless.
    Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest, Penric and the Bandit was a new book this week. It was one of the simplest of Penric stories. No philosophy, no soul-searching, just a straightforward fantasy adventure crafted by a master. A quick and absorbing read.
    Other new books: I breezed through Grace Burrowes’s installments #1, #2, and #3 of her Lord Julian’s Mystery series. All three – A Gentleman Fallen on Hard Times, A Gentleman of Dubious Reputation, and A Gentleman in Challenging Circumstances – were quite good. And a pleasant surprise too. I’ve read a couple of this author’s romances before, but they didn’t work for me. I don’t even know why I decided to pick up these books. Maybe because they are mysteries, and I wanted to see if she is any better with a different genre. Maybe because the first book was advertised on BookBub. Still I was skeptical, but I loved them from the beginning.
    Most of my regard for these novels – historical/mystery/romance – was reserved for their hero, Lord Julian. He is courageous, intelligent, vulnerable, and kind. His dry wit is refreshing, his honesty gratifying, and his compassion warmed my heart. An all-around wonderful protagonist, and he makes for a lovely series.
    What made it even better: the mysteries were not murders. Lately, every mystery I stumble on (admittedly I don’t read many of them) concerned murders. Murders have become a staple of the cozy mystery genre. I like it that Burrowes deviated from that trope. It makes this series unique.

    1. Interesting that you particularly enjoyed a not-murder mystery. One of my secret projects involves a theft, rather than a murder (although the fate of the world sort of depends on solving the theft), and I’d been wondering if the mystery being not-murder would be a problem for readers, especially where I’m crossing genres (combining cozy fantasy and cozy/traditional mystery).

      1. Having a murder as starting point for a mystery is the reason for me (usually) NOT to read mysteries. A life (even fictional) has to end to get a story. Otoh I love procedurals and prefer the behind the scenes/interactions within the team more than actually solving a gruesome murder. So yeah, a theft would totally sell me on your mystery.

    2. I’m thoroughly enjoying the Lord Julian series and I think the most recent, #5, is the best so far. His interactions with Hyperia are exceptionally good.

  34. I’m on the last Jayne Castle re-reads, then on to the newest book ,People In Glass Houses I’ve been watching allot of Wimbledon,so I haven’t read as much as usual.

  35. Last week I was so busy commenting on other arghers’ reading and adding to my tbr pile that I forgot to post my own! So this week is actually two weeks worth of reading.

    My favorite read was Taylor Fitzpatrick’s 3rd volume of Between the Teeth. It was simply wonderful in its own right and it was a really terrific conclusion for the trilogy. It wound down pretty quickly and I would have loved it to go on a bit longer, but I can’t recommend this series enough. M/M Hockey players, lots of hockey-world day to day stuff that doesn’t get boring at all because of the way she conveys (by showing not telling) MMC’s emotions. Her style of writing is like no one else and I love it. The problem with reading her work is that I am always left with a severe book hangover. In this instance though, I have the unedited AO3 version and now that I’ve read the “polished” conclusion I will read the rougher draft. Such a great series! (Have I mentioned that? 😁) Before going there however, I reread Taylor Fitzpatrick’s Thrown Off the Ice. Not sure why I keep gravitating back to that wonderful but very sad love story. It has the same impact every time — tears and yet another book hangover.

    I read Avon Gale’s “Let the Wrong Light In” which I loved. M/M romance between architects who work together. There’s an element of submission/domination that works well and is thoughtfully handled. And it ended on just the right note. Could well reread this one. Again, many thanks for the rec, Tammy!

    I listened to Ali Hazelwood’s “Not in Love” which I enjoyed but didn’t love. Per her usual, it is an M/F romance with a women-in-STEM theme. It’s not her best but I still liked it well enough. That said, I think it worked cause I was listening vs reading. Had I been reading I imagine that the frequency of the MCs’ internal lustful thoughts would have become a bit tedious, but as I was multi-tasking it worked for me. I’m a big Ali Hazlewood fan so she gets the benefit of the doubt with me but this one will not go on the reread pile.

    Finally I listened to Funny Story by Emily Henry. F/M romance between a librarian and a bar tender all-around-nice- guy both on the rebound. I know many people loved this story but it really didn’t work for me. I found it repetitive and the heroine just seemed so whiny. At times it felt like the MCs’ emotional age was way younger than their chronological age (30s) — surely they had thought about their individual angsts before they met? There was a misunderstanding near the end which could have been cleared up with a couple of words and that just annoyed me to pieces. I finished it but ended up feeling a bit irritated and unconvinced by the HEA.

    I also DNF’d Birding with Benefits by Sarah Dubb which sounded like it would be right down my alley: birdwatching (one of my favorite things) romance, etc. Unfortunately the meet cute involves the FMC tripping (cutely?) and almost spilling donuts and coffee all over the MMC. And that is followed by a ludicrous miscommunication which sets up the story. Unfortunately, these were all things that just turned me off from the start and combined with some rather clumsy writing, I just gave up. I almost stay on when a Lucy Warbler was mentioned (I’m going on a trip soon specifically to see that bird!) but I just couldn’t… Did anyone really like this book? Did I give up too soon?

    1. I re-read Thrown Off the Ice all the time! So I’m right with you. And I’m glad you enjoyed the Avon Gale.

      1. Whereas I have never read another Taylor Fitzpatrick after reading that as my first. It’s a beautiful love story, but my god the heartbreak. I just can’t go through that again.

  36. My reading this week is a book I won in a free giveaway called A Murder Most French by Colleen Cambridge.. It is set in Paris in 1950 and features a heroine who lives across the street from Julia and Paul Child. She goes to a cooking demonstration with Julia and is given a bottle of wine to deliver by an urchin on her way into the demonstration kitchen. The chef is delighted because it is a very fine vintage thought to be entirely lost to the Germans during the war. He takes one sip and dies almost immediately from cyanide poisoning.

    Tabitha, the FMC,has already been witness to one murder, is a devoted reader of Nancy Drew mysteries and decides that this time she will observe very carefully and try to assist the police as much as she can. This may be a result of a growing attraction she feels for the police inspecteur she met during the previous investigation and leads her to make excuses to go over to the police station to leave messages for him. During the course of this she discovers that the inspecteur is engaged and has some interaction with his subordinate.

    During the investigation, she and Julia become involved with a number of the vendors ot the open air market, hear about attacks to them and are introduced to the catacombs below the Paris streets. All of this is interesting and propels the trail to the killer, but some of the scenes with Julia just don’t ring true. She calls her neighbor “Tabs” and I always found that discordant, even if it was meant to remind the reader that both these women were American. And she always had time to pop across the street to cook for Tabitha’s family as well as her own.
    However, the murderer is caught, Tabitha’s relatives are removed from danger and the handsome inspecteur starts treating Tabitha more warmly (even if he does think that she actually knows how to cook.) It definitely felt like a sequel will follw.

  37. Wasn’t up to adult fiction and ran out of newish JAK’s to comfort read. I managed to finish The train to impossible places by PG Bell, fun children’s book about troll mail delivery. Also Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. they have a graphic novel version that is interesting.

  38. I have two weeks worth as well.
    My favorite of the bunch was Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club- Thanks to y’all for recommending it. I loved these characters.

    Also read Lindsey Davis’ The Ides of April. I read a pile of her Falco series novels in the past but stopped for some reason. It was a good read.

    Emma Jameson’s Ice Blue. Again, thanks for the recommendation.

    Ellen Crosby’s The Merlot Murders.

    Reread Jayne Ann Krentz’s Running Hot.

  39. I reread Dave Barrack’s TAMER: ENHANCER0 books 1 and 2. Here’s Mr. Barrack’s description as posted on his GRRL POWER webcomic page:

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with Grrl Power. It’s actually Tamer fanfic. Hopefully that’s obvious from the cover there.

    I’ve never written a book before, so I decided to see if I could. I’ve dabbled in prose before, like a lot of you, I’m sure, but never actually finished anything. I figured that using an established universe would make the process a bit easier. Actually I found writing quite enjoyable, editing is the hard part.

    Please let me know what you think! Pacing, wordsmithing, characters, all that good stuff. I’m amenable to all constructive feedback. Feel free to leave comments here, but please be mindful of spoilers if you do. You can also email me at grrlpowercomic@gmail.

    FYI – There are sex scenes in the book (spoilers, I guess.) Not a lot, but they don’t fade to black. Well, some are more terse than others. I would describe them as explicit, but not gratuitous, but those are obviously relative terms. If you’ve survived MSE sex scenes you’ll be fine.

    Tamer: King of Dinosaurs is by Michael-Scott Earle. I’ve linked it several times in the past. The first book is free if you’ve never checked it out, but you don’t need to be familiar with Tamer to read my story.

    Obviously, “Tamer: King of Dinosaurs” is Michael-Scott Earle’s IP and my fan work is by a fan for fans, and certainly not intended to infringe in any way.

    The characters from “Enhancer” include a sexy alien dolphin-woman romance writer, an invisible woman from a planet where everyone wears burkas but otherwise culturally much like Japan, and a zexy teal alien librarian. Book 2 adds more alien women to “Sam’s Harem.” Sam? Before the aliens abducted him to dump him on the dinosaur planet, he was in solitary confinement in a federal prison for mass-murdering Mexican drug cartel members in retaliation for the torture and murder of his DEA sister.

    I reread Bujold’s newest PENRIC AND THE BANDIT addition to the Penric and Desdemona series. It was okay.

    Michael Dalton, BIKINI NIGHTS: AN UNCONVENTIONAL ROMANCE (Bikini Days Book 2). Very unconventional, verging on porn.

    The VARIATION ON A THEME serial is up to Book 5, Chapter 68. Over halfway through freshman year at Texas A&M. Go Aggies!

  40. This week’s reading was in categories – dancing, figure skating, and YA.

    1. ‘Not Strictly Ballroom’ by Jem Wendel is a M/M re-imagining of the movie ‘Strictly Ballroom,’ which obviously I HAD to read, since I did ballroom for 20 years and have seen that movie 20 times (approx.). It’s pretty good, though the dancing was sketchy and the structure of competitions seemed fishy – can’t really judge since the story’s been transferred to Sheffield, England, and I don’t know all the ins and outs of British Dance Sport. Also the ‘Scott’ character here is both demi and a virgin, the friends-to-lovers romance has some heavy lifting to do.

    2. ‘Dance With Me’ by Heidi Cullinan is a very different M/M romance, much angstier, with the dancer character lying low following a professional scandal and the other a depressed office worker in denial about a serious football injury. Lots of dance on the page, big emotions, thoughtful and complete characterizations.

    3. ‘The Complete Book of Figure Skating’ by Carole Shulman, research.
    4. ‘A Different Kind of Edge’ by Jessica Rensch, research.
    5. ‘Like Water and Ice’ by Tamar Anolic, novel about a struggling Olympic figure skating contender with an undermining coach. There’s meant to be a romance here (M/F) but it’s entirely without heat. The POV character is 26; the book reads as if it’s written for 12 year olds. A couple of cartoonish villains, some notable inaccuracies about the skating, inconsistent characterizations. I’d recommend ‘The Silver Medalist’ or any of Keira Andrews’ skating romances instead.
    6. ‘Welcome to My World’ by Johnny Weir, research & entertainment, has all the emotion & energy the previous book lacked.
    7. ‘Beautiful on the Outside’ by Adam Rippon, research & entertainment. His editor should’ve been a little harder on it, but a great resource and impressive chronicle of resilience. Not an easy life.

    8. ‘Kings of B’More’ by R. Eric Thomas, a wonderful YA novel about the four emotion-packed days before two 16-yr-old Baltimore BFFs are parted by one’s move to Charleston. Not a romance but most definitely a love story, packed with great characters, humor, and big feels.

    9. ‘Snow Boys’ by Simon Doyle, another very good YA novel, this one M/M romance, kissing & cuddling only. Set in Cork, Ireland. One family is a disaster, the other is supportive; both 16-yr-old MCs are closeted and one of them being outed becomes a school scandal. The other comes out voluntarily to his parents soon after, at the same time the other boy is coping with his father’s attempted suicide. This sounds very heavy but Doyle has a deft hand and things improve all around after that event. These two books made a great double feature – honest, mature, and warm.

    10+ my own novella ‘Screw Your Courage’ and novelette ‘Star of Wonder’ plus K.L. Noone’s new fantasy short ‘The Isle of Skiy.’ Which is a nice bedtime story in which very little happens, great for winding down.

  41. I read a m/m hockey romance that consistently gets mentioned here and elsewhere and….I thought there was a lot of boinking and very little character/relationship development.

    So I’ve been rereading some of the Widdershins books instead of continuing in that series. On this read through, which I started several months ago, I only got as far as whichever is before Hoarfrost, so I picked up there. Sometimes the horror element is too much for me, but I do love the characters.

    I’m currently reading Sarina Bowen’s latest, Golden Touch, and it’s ok, but not hitting the sweet spot for me.

    Maybe I’m just grumpy, coming off stomach bug that started about 3 days after COVID cleared up, which started when I returned from two weeks in Ohio for my mom’s surgery. It’s been a weird month!

  42. I finally felt well enough to read an actual Kindle book and finished up Deb Blake’s wickedly wonderful. Which Was very enjoyable.
    Today I started the new Christina Dodd, but I’m not sure how far I’m gonna get with this one.. it’s called a daughter of fair Verona and it’s about Romeo and Juliet’s daughter. I’m hanging in there, but I’m not sure how far I’ll be able to go.

    1. I read the Daughter of Fair Verona which started promisingly but the end really ticked me off. Please let me know what you think if you make it that far.

  43. I enjoyed the new Penric novella (the Bandit) after not really getting into the previous one (the orphan), so that made me happy.

    I also finished a new-ish Lindsay Buroker fantasy series-starter that I had high hopes for, but she seems to have started out as a fantasy-with-some-romance, author and morphed over time to romance with some fantasy, and while presumably the bulk of her readers are happy with that, I prefer the earlier mix. Nothing wrong with the book, just not my cuppa’. I may have to go back and reread Emperor’s Edge, since I’m still waiting for my library to get the new Patricia Briggs release, and nothing else is on my radar. I keep looking for the sequel to the Wizard’s Butler, but the author is having trouble finishing it, and I’m looking forward to the Nightingale backstory novella by Aaronovitch that I think is coming out in the fall, but it doesn’t seem to have a US release date yet.

    1. The Aaronovitch US release date for Masquerades of Spring is September 3, the same as the UK release. It’s being published in the US by a small press Subterranean Press, so you may need to go directly to their website to order it. Or wait for the mass market.

      1. Have you heard if there will be a ebook version published? Because I am quite sure I won’t spend $42 for a hard cover version of a 192 page novella, as much as I love this series. And Amazon is listing their release date as Nov 1.

        1. Subterranean’s niche seems to be marketing well made but stiffly priced first US editions to collectors. I presume they sometimes offer deals to libraries, since I’ve seen a few Bujold books there and I presume a public library would not pay their usual price. As far as I can tell, editions for normal readers from other publishers generally follow, but sometimes it’s a long wait.

        2. It’s a lot of money for a novella I agree. FWIW, the books are signed and numbered and nicely illustrated. They usually offer an ebook too but I don’t see it on the website. Maybe there’ll be one on offer closer to Sep 3. BTW, Subterranean is offering a free e-story from Travis Baldree if anyone is interested in that.

          1. One difference from the Subterranean library copies that I’ve seen, then. Those weren’t signed (which I’m sure I would have noticed) and possibly were not numbered either.

  44. I read Happy Medium by Sarah Adler. It’s sort of a romcom about a fake medium who, at the request of her best client, goes to a goat farm to help the farmer exorcise his ghosts so he can sell the farm. The farmer is not a believer, but it turns out he really does have a ghost, and the fake medium is the only one who can see the ghost. The usual hijinks ensue.

  45. I just re-read the entire Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series because every time she releases a new book, I have to re-read them all. New book was good. It wasn’t a 5-star read for me, but a solid 4.5.

    Then I read the newest Portlock Paranormal Detective Series book, which combines urban fantasy with mysteries. It’s light but fun.

    Now I’ve started re-reading the Hidden Legacy series by Ilona Andrews. I love their books and hadn’t read this one in a few years.

  46. Best book by far this week was Abby Jiminez’s Just for the Summer, an MF rom-com where both protagonists are ‘cursed’, to the extent that whoever they break up with immediately goes on to find their soulmate. So they decide to date, then break up, so that they too can find their soulmates. There were genuine barriers to the relationship, both psychological and physical, and I loved it.

    Also Anne Leckie’s book of short stories, Lake of Souls. I really like her writing, and the stories are good, but I always find short stories unsatisfying. I’m just starting to get involved when they finish.

    1. Lian, the Jimenez book sounds like a nice read – just listened in at amazon and one of my fav narrators is reading it. So Justin instantly was elevated to have-to-read-his-story MC 🙂
      It’s nice that the book is just 0,99 Euro at the moment, too.

  47. My stand out reads this week were:

    Olivia Dade’s At First Spite, thank you for the recommendation. It was laugh out-loud funny in places but also featured a pretty good description of what clinical depression feels like (or did for me). Liked the complicated relationship between the F/M.

    Tessa Dare’s Romancing the Duke (Castles Ever After 1) – again thank you for the recommendation. Enjoyed Isolde’s resolve and Ransom’s rehabilitation from a rake to a really good guy (done in an unusual way). The ending felt a bit rushed and incomplete because it is part of a series – made me want to read the rest of the series so it worked.

    Read several others (or started and DF) but they were not worth the mention.

    I began this year saying I wanted to have a pause on buying books (to read and re-read what I have got and what is on my reading list for the library – they let me create one). However, Argher’s have put paid to that – if I can’t get it out of the library I end up buying it – can’t remember a year when I have bought more books! Found some delicious new authors so not a complaint 🙂

    1. I loved Romancing the Duke too and have just finished When a Scot Ties the Knot and the characters from the Romancing the Duke aren’t mentioned.

      Ha! I know see that the Scot book is #3. LOL! I will need to go back and read #2.

  48. No books this week as I was cleaning up from Beryl coming through in Houston. Luckily, I didn’t lose power for days, but keep people here in your thoughts. The heat is intense.

    I’m listing the house this weekend and the realtor suggested I turn all my books around. Apparently, buyers have strong opinions on the books on a shelf!

    I pre-ordered Rocky Start a while back so excited for that one. B&N has their semi-regular sale on for pre-orders if anyone is looking ahead for a book or two.

    1. Not coincidentally, Target is having a buy 2 get 1 book free sale, including preorders. Good till tomorrow.

    2. Cassandra, Yes, real estate agents think reversing books looks cool.

      I strongly disagree with real estate agents. I love seeing what people are reading, especially if I’m thinking of buying their house. Could some books turn off potential buyers? Yes, but any intelligent seller would remove titles that could offend strangers.

      That said, good staging can make a huge difference in how attractive a house is. You’ll probably come up with an effective plan. The plan won’t necessarily require turning the books around. Hint: We were advised to get new light fixtures here and there, repaint dreary areas, and that sort of thing. The staging advice was terrific. The house sold almost before it hit the market.

      1. I second this. Estate agents tend to want everything to be bland, but that would put me off as a buyer. This house was sugar pink throughout with beige plastic floors – definitely not my taste, but it had obviously been loved and had a good feeling.

        1. Yes, I think you can sense when a house has been loved and loved in by people.

          I can see past those superficial things to the feel and flow of the house, but I think too many Americans like those home improvement houses where all character is stripped away.

          You are in an older part of the world where houses are still permitted to be interesting 🙂

      2. I left up my philosophy and history books (removed the WW2 books tho). Turned around all my gen fiction, sci-fi fantasy, and romance. Allowed Tolkien (I’ve got some gorgeous editions) and Austen (also beautiful books).

        The staging helps, I would buy this house! And I’m exhausted from doing all the painting and decluttering. But, it does look like no one really lives here.

        Back in the long ago dating days I would check out a potential’s shelves, but I just want a potential for the house and then never have to do this again.

    3. Cassandra, maybe you can add sticky notes to your favorite books on the shelves so that potential buyers can take your recommendations!

  49. Oh, and Lois McMaster Bujold just dropped a new Penric and Desdemona book today. I love how she just writes what she wants and puts it out there on her schedule. Kinda like Jenny and Bob too.

    1. I love that, too. Lois says she is “semi-retired.” I looked for a quote for what she means, but going on memory, it means she doesn’t travel or attend cons or signings and no longer works to a publisher’s deadlines. Since nine of the thirteen Penric and Desdemona stories have been republished by Baen Books in three trilogies, I’m hoping and frankly expecting them to contract for a fourth trilogy, or a tetralogy.

  50. I reread the last two Penrics so that I was up to speed when I read Penric and the bandit, which was fun but not her most thought provoking . However I do like Knot of Shadows.

    Then I went back and started at the beginning of the Penric novellas and it’s been interesting realizing how far this series has come.

    My son sent me the following review of Agatha Christie’s Third Girl so now I’m reading it (warning spoiler):

    Agatha Christie whyyyyyyyy
    She had such a good mystery novel going
    Was spectacular all the way to the end
    And then
    The worst marriage pairing of all time
    Adult, mature man and teenage girl. He is doctor, she was his patient. Only known each other for 10 days. She was drugged the entire time.
    All announced on literally the last page of the book
    It was going so well
    Whyyyyyyyyyy

    So far 20% of way in it lives up to his review.

      1. Yes, I hated that doctor/ patient pairing. Also, she’d just been drugged and brainwashed. Way to take advantage of a vulnerable person.

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