This is a Good Book Thursday, July 4, 2024

For those of you in the US, happy Fourth of July. For those of you not in the US, be grateful. We’ll have more idiots setting themselves on fire today than any other day of the year. Plus loud noises. Because loud noises are very patriotic. Just look at Trump. You know what would be a good way to celebrate American independence? Sane legislators and justices. I loved Australia and New Zealand when I was there. Maybe it’s not too late to move. That might explain why, instead of reading anything other than the three books we’re writing, I’ve been rewatching the Brokenwood Mysteries. Very comforting.

So what did you read this week?

217 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, July 4, 2024

  1. My favourite read this week was Taylor Fitzpatrick’s Between the Teeth third book. It is a beautiful conclusion to the trilogy and the author’s note is also beautiful (it needs to be read after, as explained at the start of it). David’s journey is beautiful and it is as much about friendship, if not more, as it is about romance.

    Taylor Fitzpatrick’s style of writing really works for me. You spend the 3 books alongside that sad beautiful boy as he learns to become happy thanks to learning to form connections with other people.

    Have I used « beautiful » too many times, in this review? Probably, but I think it is warranted.

    1. Taylor Fitzpatrick’s style is really unique and the Between the Teeth experience is just wonderful — I agree that the word “beautiful” is definitely warranted and I haven’t even read the final installment yet. I’m so glad to hear it lives up to the first two.

    2. After my moaning about price last week I got a message it was no longer available on I see it is now available again at a better price (€4.67) and the others are back to their original price too, so there must have been some error. I have bought it but think I should reread the first two before reading this, and it might be a while before I get to do that.

      1. IIRC, Rachel Neumeier said that one of her newest books was (erroneously) showing up listed in Kindle for $699! So maybe there is something going around!

  2. We would happily adopt you if you came to Tasmania, Jenny.

    Books this week: SJ Bennett’s A Death in Diamonds, which is her first book since the queen died. In this one, Elizabeth II is a young woman, fairly newly married and new to the throne. The problem for me was that the queen was not a particularly interesting character, and there was a lot of rather stilted dialogue/thoughts about real life events. Joan, who does the detective work for her, was the really interesting one – I would have liked the book a lot better if the whole thing had been about her with the queen just putting in an occasional guest appearance.

    Here There Be Dragons by theundiagnosable. MM hockey. This was quite ridiculously and improbably sweet, but I enjoyed it a lot.

    Laurie King’s Back to the Garden, a standalone crime novel. Great characters, but the dual storyline didn’t work for me. The modern investigation was the one I was interested in, not the past revelation of what really happened.

    Now I’m reading Olivia Dade’s At First Spite. It’s not bad, the thing I’m enjoying most is that there are people in it who are definitely tentacle friends, and there are lots of references to sasquatch sex, arachnid sex, mothman sex, etc, all via a book written by ‘Sadie Brazen’.

    1. You had me at sasquatch sex.

      And yes, isn’t Here There Be Dragons ridiculously good? I just reread their House of Straw last night – warning: real live hockey players featured, one of whom, ahem, may have won the Conn Smythe trophy in the playoffs recently.

          1. When I looked theundiagnosable up today, there were only listed the stories featuring real players in the overview. Very strange.
            I shy away from those with real people, my imagination does not suffice to separate the fictional from the real person.

          2. Ha! Despite my doubts I went to look as well and could only find one work of their’s. Strange!

          3. I had the same problem with AO3 but then once I logged in with password, etc all the rest of theundiagnosable’s stuff showed up again. 🤷‍♀️

      1. I liked Here there be Dragons a lot too (and Irish Exit even more). I am really not sure I could read one with a real player. I might just find it too weird/creepy.

        1. When I first read it, I had no idea they were real so that helped a lot. Now yes, it’s a little weird. But I love it anyway.

        2. I am going to skip the ones with the real people. I read a baseball story where the characters were real players (both of whom are very high profile and famous) and now I cannot “unread” it! I told my family about this “reading trauma” it and the jokes keep coming fast and furiously every time either of those guys are mentioned — which is often. 🙂 A bit too creepy for me.

          1. Yeah, Lupe, you have to fly in on a magical dragon who’s mother cross bred with a tentacled covered alien. The tentacles are what hold you in place on the dragon’s back.

          2. Tammy, we actually try to keep the bit about the dragon’s mother a closely guarded secret. And here’s you spreading it across the internet!

          3. Shh, don’t mention the dragons out loud! They’re the only things keeping my airline aloft!

    2. Here There Be Dragons was very entertaining and sweet. I’ve really enjoyed most of Theundiagnosable’s stories that I’ve read so far. Not sure I’m up to reading about real players though (specially my Conn-Smythe-winning hero…) I read a couple of stories (not by theundiagnosable, true) with real players and that aspect of it just did not work for me.

    3. Liann, how many of us would you be willing to adopt? 😬
      I read two vast.y different books this week: The Situation Room by George Stephanopolus (excellent, learned so much about how things operate in that room) and Wolfsong by TJ Klune. Gay werewolf sex, family, friendship and suspense.

    4. I too reading Olivia Dade’s At First Spite and really enjoying it. Athena lives in Harlot’s Bay, and her new boss plays erotic audio books in the bakery while baking and they are all by ‘Sadie Brazen’ as Lian says. I love that, where I have got to, she is now joining the “Nasty Wenches” book group in the library that only read erotic fiction. It is fun and interesting to me, as is the frenemy romance bubbling away.

      Deliberately didn’t read SJ Bennet’s latest because I kinda knew it wouldn’t work for me – I liked the stories about the old Queen and her “helpers” but wasn’t born when she was a young Queen so doubted I would be able to relate. Thanks for letting me know I was right Lian!

      1. Christine, I can see why SJ Bennett did it, it would have been really hard to have kept writing about the old Queen after her death. But it just doesn’t work for me.

        The erotic audiobooks in the bakery however are hilarious.

  3. After listening to The New Guy by Sarina Bowen (and liking it far more thanks to the narration than when I first read it), I wanted to continue to listen. So I dove into HIM by Bowen/Kennedy (because I already had it in my tbr pile) also reading/listening and liked it a lot.
    So of course I had to continue with US which I loved (this one I had to buy plus the audio), following up with Epic which was far too short but a nice coda nevertheless.

    I know that others commented that Him and Us feel a bit dated compared to newer hockey titles, but for me they worked perfectly. Not much happens in Him apart from old best friends figuring out their relationship over one summer when the reconnect.
    Similarly in Us, the main topic is those two, Jamie and Wes, figuring out how to live as a couple and how to deal with the stress of living in the closet for Wes’ rookie year.
    I liked that it was more realistically dealing with the topic of homophobia in hockey. Although – spoiler alert surely not needed – the team was very nonchalant when they were outed.
    In US I absolutely loved the cranky mood of the MC who went into coaching instead of going pro – his feelings were sooo relatable: earning less, being stuck with household chores, feeling the weaker one (here due to a severe health scare that knocked him out for considerable time), and on top living like the “dirty little secret” – 3 of 4 feelings too many female readers will be able to relate to.
    I loved how they struggled with communicating as a couple even though they never had this problem as friends.
    And in Epic it was so nice to see how far they’d come in getting the other one’s quirks and in talking things out.
    There’s a spin-off with the WAG duology about Jamie’s sister and Wes’ friend on the team, and another team member who suffered through a divorce finding his HEA.
    Sadly, the first one is not available right now, to be re-published at a later date and with a much higher price (almost 8 Euro?). Which for me is too costly for an ebook, so I ponder getting the paperback instead.
    Am I the only one who has less qualm dishing out more Euro for a real book but shy away from spending the same or similar amount for an ebook?
    Since WAG 2 is still available but already announced as to be re-published, I got the older (=cheaper) version – ebook and whispersync for the same amount as the new ebook.

    As a refresher in between, I almost gulped down Dianna Roman’s new title (out on Tuesday July 2), the Idiot. A lovely little story (slightly too long) about two apple farmers and best friends since forever who both didn’t realize what they felt for each other. The gay one FINALLY comes out to his best pal and soon after flees by going on a Gaytoberfest cruise vacation (I really don’t get the fascination with Oktoberfest, but then we have to live through beer excess each year here in Munich). Of course, the seemingly straight idiot of a friend follows to be his wing man, but this sort-of forced proximity makes them grow much, much closer still.
    The premise is a bit silly, and you have to ignore the lack of realistic representation of a farmer’s work load (how can Murphy do all this on his own?). But the conflict – their lack of communication due to fear of losing a friendship – is relatable. And this not-talking-important-stuff-out seems fairly typical of male friends. Both MCs are nice guys (and rather normal, which is a nice change from ripped and toned athletes ;-))
    The Idiot reminds me a bit of the Irresistable Puckboy (gay goalie and his straight clingy best friend) for which I have a VERY soft spot – also two idiots and also one not-quite-straight guy totally fixated on his bff.

    Sorry, yet again rambling on too long.

    1. I loved HIM and US, and EPIC was really fun as it evened things up a bit. I didn’t find them dated. I also read the WAGS ones, the first was fun but I was less keen on the second.

      I feel the same as you about price for an e book vs a physical book. There is a lot of diffence in cost of production, and in owning soemthing physical. I don’t know if there is any diffence in how much the author gets for an e book vs an actual book.

      1. I agree. I looked at my wish list yesterday on Amazon, and there are several high-priced ebooks on there that will stay there, unless, and until, the price goes down. For some, an actual book is cheaper than the ebook!

    2. I prefer paper because you get to keep it vs a DRM ebook which is dependent on the continuing existence and cooperation of Amazon and B&N and so forth.

      1. You make a very good point, which I debated before buying a Kindle. I have too many books taking up space, though, and it saves trees to buy ebooks.

        1. I save my paper book buying for keepers (like Jenny’s) that I plan to reread. One-time reads I either get on Kindle or borrow from the library if I can.

        2. Needing to save the space was a big reason for me to get a Kindle. I have a few titles in both formats for the apocalypse. Which may not be much of a joke anymore.

          1. In preparing for the zombie apocalypse I have downloaded all my ebook “keepers” to my old kindle (I upgraded at one point) and keep it on airplane mode so they cannot be “subtracted” by Amazon or B&N, etc. Of course, I also have hard copies of the absolute best: Heyers, Cruises, etc.

      2. Jeanine, I’d love to stick with paper books but the next move is not the horizon and I know that I am not allowed to collect much more books but have to cull my library. Sounds gruesome, but has an element of ease, too.
        Also, I never adapted to my bifocals properly but after many decades with glasses have switched to now using them at home unless necessary. Reading on the screen is somehow easier.

        1. Don’t get me wrong. I prefer paper but I have a lot of ebooks. I think ebooks are great for a lot of reasons, like being able to carry 3,000 books with me wherever I go, or being able to check an ebook out of the library instantly at 2 in the morning instead of having to wait till the library opens, or adjusting the settings to make it more readable, or because ereaders are easier to hold for some, or to save space at home (that’s a big one for me, lol), or for any number of good reasons. I’m just very conscious that they can easily be taken away in the blink of an eye. Plus I just like the artistry and the feel and the possession of a physical book. Which is all to say that it’s whatever works for you!

  4. I broke my rereading streak by listening to Snowball in Hell by Josh Lanyon, which I enjoyed a lot. Then I started The Curse of the Blue Scarab by the same, but it’s not holding me. Too much mystery, not enough romance.

    And CM Nascota’s newest installment of her Girls Weekend series came out. Invitations. It’s already made me cry once. Good cry, but it’s going to be a much heavier book than her norm, I think.

    1. Yes, I’m finding the new Nascosta heavier than usual but totally not in a bad way. I think those girls need to be getting a little serious now. Also enjoying the occasional peeks at the upcoming Hemming wedding.

      1. I agree. I think that this is a good and natural progression for the story. I really like that she is addressing the life span difference so baldly. I feel like a lot of authors avoid it or magically fix it. But I will still probably cry some more before it’s over. Good cry, though.

        1. And are you getting some rest today? Or have you decided to dig up the garden and replant everything? No judgement of course.

          1. There was some family drama that needed sorted. I spent some time this morning picking blueberries and then lying in bed looking at the ceiling. I read some too.

          2. I’m picturing you staring at the ceiling with an uneven blue circle around your mouth. Maybe muttering to yourself.

          3. You’re a quick study in some aspects. Plus: married to an anxious introvert.

    2. Lupe, the library finally came thru with Morning Glory Milking Farm audiobook. The voices were good and the universe was fun! But I had a lot of trouble warming to the idea of Minotaurs (hooves and horns, plus bulls are scary 🫣). I was also not warming to the artwork on the cover, very cow-looking.I even googled Minotaurs in art thru the ages. Still, I was very touched by Roark’s careful wooing. When I finished I immediately looked for the next in the series. It was a mothman. I worried that the antennae and feelers would put me off but I saw A Blue Ribbon Romance which is the first story from Roark’s POV. I really loved it (still didn’t warm to hooves)! Fortunately the cover art showed him more like those cute Highland cows which I could picture better. It’s definitely a story I’d reread. Thanks for the suggestion!

      1. This is so exciting! I love this book a d recommend it all the time, but I think the concept puts people off. I have been reading alien and fantasy romance forever and am somewhat immune to weird extra parts…

        Anyway, I am so happy it worked for you! Nascota is a sid comfort reread author for me now. Summer Berries isn’t one of my favorites, too sweet maybe. But I liked it better the last time I listened to it last month.

          1. It’s pretty much cinnamon rolls having a lot of sex. I like grumpy grumps, morally grey heros or redeemable villains with my smut 😜

          2. Nice people? If I’d wanted to hang around nice people I wouldn’t have gone into HR.

    3. I agree re the Curse of the Blue Scarab. It was an experiment of hers which I’m glad she didn’t repeat cause it lacks that Lanyon romance magic. One of her (rare) fails for me too.

      1. Good to know. I think that I am going to DNF it. I am not even to the 50 percent mark and I am annoyed with everyone.

  5. My favourite read of the week was R Cooper’s Fox Hall, which takes place in a medieval kind of setting where everyone has tails and pointy ears. Lots of smutty sex but more importantly, a relationship between a musician and a knight that develops based on their ever increasing understanding of each other. I love that so much better than the blatant misunderstanding trope which always annoys me.

    I read Josh Lanyon’s Jefferson Blythe, Esquire – best part were the parallel quotations from the 1960’s guidebook as our hapless hero makes his way around Europe, pursued by a bear.

    I also read Best Corpse for the Job by Charlie Cochrane, in the Two Guys Solving Cases and Falling in Love genre. It was okay but I won’t be pursuing the series. I need more than okay these days – had a bunch of dnf’s this weekend.

    And those dnf’s led me back to TA Moore’s Prodigal. She’s so reliable as a writer and I always love her edgy bad boys, redeemed by the love of a good man by the end.

          1. I just ran into a rif in Nascosta book I’m reading right now on “annoying” so thought I’d provide it here: “It had been one of those annoying days, when annoying people came to her with their annoying problems, invariably problems of their own making, as if she could pull out a magic wand and make their annoying incompetence magically disappear.”

          2. Or they ring HR (the department now known by any other name) & say this person is very annoying can you sort them out/fix them ….

    1. Ooh. I impulse bought the R. Cooper last week in my depression spending spree. That may have to be next for me.

  6. Catching up a couple of weeks’ worth here.
    Read the newest Kristan Higgins – Look on the Bright Side. Not her very best (that was If You Only Knew, IMHO), but certainly one of the better ones. Nice interesting characters and messy situations. [ Possible spoiler here: I believe she signaled a future book for Lorenzo. Did you catch how he and Winnie connected just briefly there at the family party?]
    Funny Story I found to be really something special. Great slow burn on the attraction between the two MCs. After they consummate their relationship it quickly gets to too much sex for my taste, but the book is worth it. Both MCs are very interesting people and many of the minor ones are fully formed, such that I want to hear more about them. The only detraction was right near the end where I found the big-misunderstanding-keeping-MC apart a bit overdone and dragged out. A few words would have saved all this pain. But over all very much worth it and I will try more books by this author, Emily Henry. All the Michigan stuff was fun for us Michiganders and all the librarian stuff because our mother (Jennifer Nennifer’s and mine), was a children’s librarian.
    Someone in Funny Story (or, oh drat, was it Look on the Bright Side?) mentioned not the book, but the concept “the heart is a lonely hunter”. Made me realize I never read that book of the same name by Carson McCullers. Brilliantly written by a 26 year old! Astonishing maturity. It is not a happy book. Worth reading but it’s too much like real life in that bad things happen, people misunderstand and judge each other, stuff happens and then it stops. No happy ending here. It is literature without a doubt. I’m glad to have read it.
    Needed something fun after that so I read the second in Alexis Hall’s billionaire series of 3 books, How to Blow it with a Billionaire. It is firmly in his BDSM genre but I love the MC and the general story of it and this book made me laugh out loud more than any other book I have read. He does exquisite absurdity with a deft touch. He surprises you with delight. Well, me anyway. Can’t help keeping on recommending almost all of his books as I go along. (Didn’t like Something Fabulous – too silly.) I keep re-ranking my list of favorites of his books as I read more. OK and then on to book three, How to Belong with a Billionaire. Also excellent. This one made me cry. But in a good way. I would have liked a showdown with the arch villain of this set of books, but it is there by implication. We are so done with him. Often when reading his books I am already looking forward to reading them again.

    Happy 4th of July to those to whom this is relevant.

      1. Kelly, Possibly you already know this, but Jim Hines’s Libriomancer series is about the adventures of a librarian living in Michigan.

        1. I just finished two books by a new author — Freya Sampson. The first was “The Lost Ticket” and the second was “The Last Chance Library.”

          I kept getting lost in the first, which was about various people crossing paths on a London bus route. Each of the three main characters became linked with one another and with one another’s friends. There was some time-period jumping, and the viewpoint character didn’t quite know what she was or wasn’t doing with her life, so I think the book could have used a bit more careful editing.

          But I very much liked the second one, because (1) I just love books set in or around libraries and (2) the theme was based on a very introverted young woman, daughter of a deceased librarian, working as a library assistant facing a threat to the continuation of the small town library where both her mother and she had spent most of their lives. I kind of like wallflower protagonists in books — especially if during the course of the book they come into their own. Enjoy reading that much more than the strong successful Winner!! main characters, who I always find lack depth or interest.

          1. I’ve come across several “Let’s Save the Library” novels this year, but I liked this one better than most of them.

    1. I was sort of holding out hope for a short story or another book to cap Hall’s last billionaire book. Looks like it is not to be, but I really love that series too.

      1. We can always hope. I wanted one to be called Father Material to follow Boyfriend and Husband. Now I see he has one of that very name as a possible future book on his website. Fingers crossed!

  7. Jenny, I love The Brokenwood Mysteries!! I have watched the series through twice now. I love the recurring characters and how the ones sent to prison return after serving their sentences.

    I also love My Life Is Murder with Lucy Lawless. The first season (or 2) was in Australia but the newer ones are NZ.

    This week I read and enjoyed Romancing The Duke by Tessa Dare and reread Venetia, a favorite Heyer. Couldn’t stop thinking about the characters after I finished.

    Not sure what’s next. I picked up Divorced, Desperate and Delicious (I see that they didn’t use the Oxford comma in the title) by Christie Craig and that’s probably next.

  8. I’m reading the new Patricia Briggs book, Winter Lost. I’m really enjoying it, and was very relieved to discover that it wasn’t as unrelentingly grim as the last few in the series. I do wish she didn’t hop back and forth between characters quite as much, but overall, it’s good enough that if I had more time, I’d definitely be reading it fast.

    1. Agree with you, Deb. There is definitely some grimness from Europe lurking on the horizon (not looking forward to that future book) but overall this was a lighter book and I enjoyed it.

  9. According to my dogs, today is officially the Worst Day of the Year. I am prepped with trazadone, treats, thundershirts, and a solid plan for getting them through another scary holiday, but feeling rather at odds with the world. Eh…what else is new.

    This week, I very much enjoyed Claire Oshetsky’s Poor Deer. Not entirely light reading, but beautiful and interesting. I am not planning on reading anything tonight (it’s hard to hold a book while serving as a kind of security mattress for two large & anxious dogs!), but am looking forward to finding something new at the library this weekend. Libraries give me such joy.

    Increased my recurring monthly donation to the National Network of Abortion Funds this morning. While my approach to July 4th is more about endurance than celebration, participation in the contemporary fight for liberation seems meaningful on any day.

    Stay safe out there everyone, and enjoy your good books!

      1. Some idiot in my condo development could not even wait for the 4th and was setting off fireworks last night. Experience suggests there will be more amateur noise tonight. The official fireworks are audible from here but possibly not loud enough to bother pets.

        1. They started last weekend in my neighborhood, and based on past experience, will continue through not just the coming weekend but the one after that. I’m just lucky that it doesn’t particularly bother my cats, so at least they’ll be okay.

        2. In 1981, I lived in apartments abutting Fort Griswold Park in Groton, CT. September 6 of that year was the 200th anniversary of Battle of/Massacre of Fort Griswold. The town spent a bagillion bucks arranging for fireworks of international flavors. I have not seen a better display since, not anywhere nor for any occasion.

          I do enjoy watching and listening, provided I need not suffer long drives nor discomfort. Our vantage for the display I described was a hundred yard walk out the back door. The works were launched from barges in the Thames River, just a few hundred yards downhill from us.

          1. Some years ago, pre-Covid, we spent a week at the Bodensee (on the border of Germany, Austria, Switzerland) around the time of the then-annual fireworks arranged by the two neighbouring cities Konstanz and Kreuzlingen (around August 15, a big catholic holiday). The Swiss and the German sides competed in having the best fireworks and it went on for a long time. Surely not as long as the fireworks you describe, Gary, but still an impressive spectacle. The downside: the incredible pollution caused by the fireworks.

            The next year, the region had decided to host the last fireworks to cut down this same pollution (and probably also expenses). The goodbye fireworks were nowhere near as impressive.

            I’m torn – fireworks are awesome but otoh the streets always look really bad on Jan 1st since nobody seems to care take the leftovers with them and the men from rubbish collection must work overtime. And every year there’re bad accidents with people building their own fireworks and risking life and limbs.
            At least here, there’s only a specific very short stretch of time where we’re allowed to arrange for fireworks ourselves. For all the other fireworks one needs specific permission.

          2. Some states in the US ban private fireworks . Like so many things it’s state by state .

      2. Someone in the neighborhood let off fireworks last night about 11:30 on the beach and with that we had a guest in our bed until 4 A.M.

    1. I have an orange tabby who is generally fearless but once the neighbors start shooting off fire works, he shakes, runs, and hides. The other cat who is usually afraid of everything isn’t fazed by them. I tried calming treats but both cats spit them out.

      1. Carrie I bought a Flower Essence blend to put in my pets’ water this year, and it seems to have helped. I got it from Freedom Flowers, online. She has some great blends! I have used the one for sleep a lot, and other single flower essences, too.

        1. Jan, thank you for reminding me of Flower Essences!!
          I’m nt a dog or a cat and nor am I afraid of fireworks, but my recent insomnia is annoying to say the least!

  10. Happy Independence Day to those in the US.

    As I’d liked ‘The Last Day of Summer’ I read more JF Smith this week even though I’d been planning to read other books.

    First up was ‘Falling Off the Face of the Earth’ which was excellent. Some of the same characters as ‘Last Day’ but not much cross over. A very slow burn romance, and the romance element is only a part of it. Strong themes of friendship, small town, and a failed dream as the MC has returned home after his life in New York imploded.

    Next up I read Latakia, which is JF Smith’s most popular book. I was ambivalent. It has a military setting (Navy Seals), some action which I didn’t always find believable, killings along with very homophobic and misogynistic language (from one character). Again, the characters were very good, with interesting development so I kept with it and I think it is one that will stay in my head. More of a traditional romance (MM) than the others and with some reservations it was good, I just didn’t like it as much as the rest.

    Finally, I find it hard to believe I read a book with a prison setting ‘The Fence and then the Trees’ (JF Smith). I mostly avoid violence in books and in cinema I am cautious about anything with a 16 rating in case it is too violent, but I thought this was a great book. Good characters again, complex interactions and again while slow paced it was engrossing. The violence (and there is all you would expect in a prison setting, and it is frequent) was written in a low key, matter of fact style which is probably why I was able to read it. I would hesitate to recommend this because of the violence, but it is a really good book which again will stay in mind.

    I also read a few Cat Sebastian epilogues which were nice. Particularly loved the Peter Cabot one, and the one for ‘We could be so good’. Lovely to be back with those characters.

    1. I will have to try Latakia. Totally agree with you on those two Cat Sebastian epilogues – my favourites and have also hit my re-read list.

    2. Have added even more to-be-sampled and probably also read titles to my list…
      JF Smith sounds intriguing.

  11. Jenny, I have had a similar thought before, and after, many elections in the U.S. in this century! Canada seemed nice, but it does get pretty cold there, and it’s not easy to emigrate. Mexico is scary, in many places. That’s as far as I’d go from my family.

    It’s a beautiful day! It’s pleasant out, I got 3 1/2 inches of rain in the gauge last night, I got eight hours of sleep, despite thunderstorms, and I had a 21 bun salute along my walk this morning! 🐇

    Concentrating enough to read a book is not in the cards, right now. Too much going on! Maybe later.

    1. Hey as long as you stay in southern Ontario, we’re only about as cold and snowy as the northern US. In fact, much less snowy than Buffalo and not as cold – because not as far north – as Montana.

      1. Jenny, Ryan O’Reilly’s house in Ontario is up for sale, or so Instagram told me… just under $ 8 Mio. and it’s lovely. You’d have a large estate, which includes features such as a hockey shooting room, a full-sized gym, and beach volleyball courts, a small golf course and certainly enough space for book shelves on end. see

        For the same price I could buy a flat of about 250 – 300 sqm in a nice area of Munich’s city centre (ca. 6-7,5 Mio. Euro).

        I’d much prefer O’Reilly’s mansion in Canada…

        1. So not my kind of place. Two bedroom cottage, lots of trees, water of some kind (I really like rivers). That is all.

          1. LOL, I understand. Smaller places don’t need an army to keep it up. And it’s easier to feel cosy. And I would need to get used to driving again. Yuk.
            But what intrigued me was that for the same price of an apartment (albeit a rather big one) here, I’d get a huge property elsewhere. sigh.

        1. Absolutely. Do you have expertise in organizational change management consulting? I thought you were retired. No matter. Do you have expertise in dealing with annoying people. See above post.

      1. I’ll send my kid no.2 there for 10 months in about 2 months time, Olga.
        My fear is that she will want to stay afterwards…

      2. Vancouverites usually love their weather. You have to be a fan of rain versus snow/cold. I’m not but many people are. I want my water frozen.

        1. I rather hated all the work involved in moving snow and getting to work, etc, but now that it has seemingly stopped snowing in Pa in the winters, I miss it. The dreariness of grey skies, dead grass and mud for months can really get to me. And ice. I hate ice. At least snow is pretty?

          1. Only for the first day. When I visited my brother in Bellingham, Washington, the amount of rain didn’t seem unbearable to me. But that was in February, when home (Wisconsin) was still covered in snow and ice. By the end of the 2 years he lived there, my brother was ready to kill for a blue sky. Also, we went to Vancouver for the weekend, and that was lots of fun and without rain.

    2. The British Columbia coast is very temperate. It’s getting warmer all year round in all regions of Canada. Similar to the US and other countries, there’s a rise in severe weather incidents I’m a proud Canadian and think it’s a great country. Full disclosure – our next PM could be much more right wing than we’ve seen at the federal level.

  12. I finished listening to a Great Courses lecture series on “How to Boost Your Physical and Mental Energy.” Unfortunately, it was all basic practical advice. Wake up at the same time daily, get sunshine, reduce stress by spending time in green spaces, doing yoga, and breathing exercises, get exercise (ideally in the morning in the sunshine in a green space), eat healthily, and get consistent and plentiful sleep. And keep caffeine to a minimum and only in the morning. So, basically, it didn’t help.

    I’m 100 pages from finishing Kasey Michaels “Stuck in Shangri-la.” I’m enjoying it, primarily for the conversations between the cat, Lucky, and the ghost of Uncle Horry. He dies in the prologue while having sex with the housekeeper. She’s pissed. The whole book is sort of a big misunderstanding because the niece, Darcie, tells her ex-fiance, Cam, that they need to get to know each other better and talk to each other. Then they proceed to avoid each other. Basically, they need to talk more. Cam is living with her for a month at Shangri-la and working to keep Lucky alive, so Darcie can inherit the estate & fortune from her uncle. For the first month, Lucky is the owner of it all and he doesn’t like it because it put a target on him. Lucky is a very smart cat. So, it’s part romance, part paranormal, part mystery, part farce.

    As for moving to New Zealand, I read an article that stated they’ve had a change in officials in their government and it has shifted to a “destroy the environment for the sake of money” mindset.

    1. “basic practical advice” The kind that, if you could do it, you would be doing it already. The part about getting enough sleep always enrages me. If I could get to sleep when I wanted to, and stay asleep all night, I certainly would! And no, getting up at the same time every day does not appeal to me, since on work days I have to be up at four-thirty!

      1. Yep, annoying advice for ideal settings.
        I’d love to get a huge amount of sleep, but there are minor aspects like at what time I have to get up (Mary Anne, 4:30 is BRUTAL), noisy (snoring person) surroundings, noise-or hormone induced insomnia – whatever.
        Who, for f*k sake, writes those “help courses”, thinking they do help?

        1. 😉 Four-thirty is the price I pay for living in the country and working in the city. Worth it.

        2. When I was a baker at a hospital, my shift started, 2 days a week, every other week at 4am. Because the bus left at 3am and I couldn’t make myself move very fast at that hour, I had to set my alarm for 2:15 am. I used to run into the drunks staggering out of the bars on my way to the bus stop. “Get more sleep” was physically impossible that year.

    2. I would love to fall asleep immediately every night when I go to bed and stay asleep for eight hours. Those books make it sound like it’s my fault I have trouble sleeping.

    3. When I saw the cardiologist this week, I received a list of things that would help my problem, and I had already done them, years ago. If you’re trying to live a healthy life, and still not sleeping, it’s usually not your fault. There are so many reasons not to feel restful, these days.

  13. Thank you Jenny for it has been a tough week after S. Court ruling. I read Sonia Sotomayor’s response and cried.
    While I celebrate freedom, I will probably be in the basement with my grandpuppy, to reduce hid shaking and overall anxiety because of fireworks. The fireworks started a week ago.
    I read Grown Woman talk by Dr. Sharon Malone. Not a romance but a compelling story about how to navigate health care in the United States as a woman of color.
    I read Kristan Higgins’ Look on the bright side and really enjoyed the characters she created. Specially the Italian Nona and her preferred grandson. She has such a gift for writing.
    Simply the best by Susan Elizabeth Phillips was wonderful. I am a fan of her writing.

    I read/ listened to Funny Story, had to put i down and pick it up again. It’s good but not great for me.

    1. Note:
      Dr. Malone’s book full title is:
      Grown Woman Talk, a guide to getting and staying healthy .
      She gives the best advice and adds comfortable humor and transparency.

  14. I have read a lot this week, and I haven’t DNFd a thing, but none of it was worth commenting on.

    I have not been troubled by fireworks so far, and hope not to be tonight (since I have to get up at four-thirty tomorrow) because we are having a spell of thunderstorms. Also I won’t have to water the garden, another thing to enjoy.

  15. I devoured the latest Countess of Harleigh mystery by Dianne Freeman, An Art Lover’s Guide to Paris and Murder. It’s set during the Paris Exposition of 1900, and is book #7 in the series. The series set-up is that Frances is one of the American heiresses whose family sought to marry a British title. The lord her mother picked for her was an abusive, cheat who spent her inheritance and left her isolated in the country. In book #1 she’s suspected of his murder and, while proving her innocence, discovers a talent for investigation–along with a well-connected former suitor. The romance proceeds through the series as various family and friends require the assistance of Frances and George. Frances is smart and independent, and nobody’s fool. If you like Downton Abbey vibes with your mystery, you would like this series.

  16. No fireworks here on July 4th, but we have cake and candles anyway, because it’s my dh’s birthday.
    His nephew was also born on July 4th, his other nephew on July 14th – France’s big day.

    I do hope though that today’s fireworks do not kill anybody (like Latvian goalie Mattis Kivlenieks).

      1. The son tried a new recipe and ended with far more filling for the cheese cake than probable. The he realized he might not have made the right recipe but some mushroom cloud cake/pie but without the mushrooms of course since he believed to make cheese cake.
        In short, it will be an adventure… The candle less so.

  17. I read “Not quite a lady” by Loretta Chase. The characters were engaging, and the solution to the problem at the end seemed reasonable to modern folks, but may not have been quite so neat in the period. But I enjoyed it.

    I also took a box of books to the used book store. They bought 16 of them, and I was able to pick up a couple of others from the shelves, for a net loss of linear shelf space (and some great credit waiting to be used.)

  18. I DNFed a few things this week and finished a couple that were fine but not worth recommending. I did like Jordan Castillo Price’s Skeleton Crew. Mostly I’m revising my WIP based on my beta reader’s feedback. SO MANY ellipses to eliminate! I think they’re an artifact from my post-Covid aphasia. I couldn’t think of words, so my characters couldn’t, either. Lots of other weirdness—my poor brain.

    1. I love it when my editor inserts a comment that says “A joke would go great here.” I always want to say, you give me one and I’ll include it.

      If my characters can’t come up with anything sometimes they’ll say “I got nothing.” And once I forgot to go back and fix hero’s dialogue that said “I’m saying something clever here.” LOL! Editor’s note said “Fix this!”

      1. My beta reader keeps insisting I replace snarky one-liners with actual content—like how the character feels, what they’re really thinking, what’s happening with their body… Bestie, snark is all I’ve got!

  19. Smashwords is having their annual sale. I picked up some Joah Lanyon and Victoria Goddard. As for reading, it’s been mostly rereads. I get a kick out of Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune series every time I read them. Thinking about a Donna Andrews reread next. Sending everyone good reading vibes!

  20. Finished the last Bones mystery by Emma Jameson. (There are only four? Why aren’t there more? Why? Why? Why? LOL) Big thanks to all the Argh-ers for the recc. I’m really enjoying her work. For a palate cleanser before I dive back into Lord and Lady Hetheridge, I’m reading A DARKNESS IN SEVEN DIALS by Ashley Gardner, one of my favorite historical mystery writers. The pre-order landed in my Kindle when I was on deadline, and I’d all but forgotten about it until I went looking. After that, there’s a hard copy of CINDERWITCH by Cherie Priest staring at me from the TBR pile. Books are my emotional defense against weeks like this. Yeah, I live in the US too and I’m so damn tired, horrified, grief-stricken, and infuriated by the six black-robed criminals in the Supreme Court I can barely form words.

  21. Been bummed or not feeling well or busy, so haven’t read anything.

    But — just googled “Trump Putin bumper sticker.” Great stuff! Have cheered up lots.

    1. I looked,, but it didn’t cheer me up too much! How can so many Americans be so stupid? (Probably an unfortunately distributed minority rather than a majority, but still.)

      1. I saw a bit of a news video, showing members of a crowd being asked what politician they admired, and it included one teenage girl who said she admired Donald Trump because he never ever lied. She was quite serious, and the interviewer shocked and baffled. She should get some of those bumper stickers. Maybe Putin never lies either!

        1. My #2 brother used to inform me, “I’m always right and I never lie,” knowing that I would quickly figure out that he was proving that the statement was false. If I was taught to see the gaping holes in such proclamations at an early age, why do we need truth-o-meters after each political speech?

          1. ETA: I do, however, enjoy the fact that the worst rating on the fact checker scale is Pants on Fire.

  22. The Vampire and the Case of the Cursed Canine (2024) by Heather G. Harris and Jilleen Dolbeare

    This is the 5th book in the Portluck series, not counting a work that seems to be a novella and is much shorter than the others.  Oddly enough, the short work is called a prequel even though it has a 2023 publication date and the other 5 were released in 2024. (This non-standard use of “prequel” for a work published earlier than its sequel, rather than one published later but coming earlier by internal chronology, is recorded in online dictionaries,  but rare.)  I haven’t read that one yet—it details how Bunny ended up in magical Portlock, Alaska, background that is summarized in the main series. 

    I enjoyed the book but don’t have much to say about it beyond what I said of earlier books in the series. The Big Reveal at 60% was something I had guessed from early in the book, although it was not something I had thought of before this installment. This volume wraps up the first plot arc. The authors say it has been successful enough that they plan to write more installments, but those should appear only in 2025.

    I’m feeling lazy today, and will hold over for next time at least one other book.

  23. I have just realised that I never mentioned in my earlier post that I read Penric and the Bandit yesterday. It came out on 1st July. It’s a low key, low stakes adventure, except one man gets saved and that is enough to make it worthwhile. I’d love it if we see what happens to him later.

  24. Happy 4th of July for those who celebrate, and even for me though I’m not from the USA: I just discovered there’s another new Penric story available!
    *Penric and the bandit* was released on June 30th for Kindle. I just bought it so haven’t read it yet, but IIRC there are more Penric readers here who might want to get it soon.

  25. I have been re-reading T. Kingfisher’s Paladin novels. They are even better on the second read. I don’t like all she writes – horror is not my thing – but these novels are delightful. I hope she writes more of them. At least two more are needed, as there are two loose ends still dangling in the overall arch of the story. Possibly three. After all, there are seven paladins and only four novels so far.
    Of the new books – I read K.L Noone’s The Snails of Dun Nas and In the Pass of Ghosts. I know some of you like this author, but I wasn’t impressed. It was nice but … primitive. Reminded me of Conan the barbarian. I read this writer before and I’ll probably read her again, but she is nothing special. If you compare books to food, then Kingfisher’s Paladin stories would be sumptuous meals, while these short novellas would be popcorn.

  26. Rachel Neumeier’s newest book Rihasi is out on Kindle and in PoD.
    It’s a thriller and a slow-burn romance, so I think some of the people here would like it.
    It’s set in the Tuyo world, in the Lau country for those already familiar with that series, but it features two new protagonists and would work as an entry point for people new to this world, who like thrillers and slow-burn romance and don’t mind a few fantastical worldbuilding details.

    Very competent, practical, determined (and despite the situation, honorable) main characters, one of which appears to be somewhere on the Aspergers end of the autism spectrum, hence the slow burn. They’re basically attempting to take on the Mafia in their country, travelling a long way overland to reach a special high judge who might be able to deal with this.
    The story is tense because of the situation, the protagonists are pursued and in danger everywhere; but not too much for my low stress tolerance, mostly because I trust this author to bring off a good ending. And she does; the solution is great!

    She’s become one of my favorite authors of the last years, specifically for this series and other semi-standalone books, to the point where I’ll help proofread for her self-published books because I love them.

    Here’s the link:

  27. I just started a book that takes place in my neck of the woods. Feels Like Summer by Wendy Francis. So far, I’m not feeling it. Maybe it is the oldest sister. To me she is making a big mistake. The story revolves around three sisters each with their own story to tell. But I will give you the jist. Beside that there is a character that I would like to know better. Robin is a Lt. of the Hull Police Department who has been put in charge while the Chief is on vacation. Anyway, the author Wendy Francis takes the reader step by step and inch by inch up the tiny peninsula of Hull from George Washington Blvd to Hull Gut at the end of Pemberton. That’s seven miles of business names, street names and sections of town. She certainly did her homework. Shelby is a realtor in town who is having an affair with a married man (like nobody in a small town will ever find out). Kate discovered her husband with another woman and comes back to town. And Bree an artist who has broken up with her girlfriend is back in town while recovering from dental surgery. This all leads up to a missing person from a boat during the Memorial Day weekend.

  28. I finished everything I started reading this week. Atypical for me as I usually DNF half the books I start in a week (I’m easily bored and I gave a short attention span)

    I read the 2 most recent instalments in Marie Force’s First Family series ( handsome US VP takes office after death of POTUS and his wife keeps her job as a Washington, DC homicide dectective). think the series has run out of steam, story-wise, as the plots are getting more outlandish. The author has also started switching the perspective back and forth between various characters, rather than FMC, which doesn’t work for me. However, I’ll probably keep reading this series for the same reason I stay with Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books (potato chips in book form – comforting but no nutritional value).

    I read The RomComers by Catherine Center. It was fine but I liked the Bodyguard more. Both the MC’s in the new book were a bit too angsty for me and the story arc was very linear. However, the author has included a short essay about why she writes romance novels and what she feels they bring to our lives. It’s very heartfelt and worth reading.

    Next up was The Best Life Book Club by Sheila Robert. liked the idea of 4 female neighbours of different ages forming a book club and how some of their book choices impact their lives. It’s a bit Pollyannish but well written and enjoyable.

    Finally, I read The Phoenix Crown by Kate Quinn and Janie Chang. Definitely my favourite of the week. Kate Quinn is one of my favourite authors. The authors provide a lengthy overview of their writing process, including character development (lots of spread sheets). I appreciate that the authors told the story of an historic event (1906 earthquake and subsequent fire in San Fransisco) from a female perspective and included MCs of different races and ages. One of the MCs is Alice Eastwood who was a real-life botanist who saved a large number of specimen samples from being destroyed in the fire that overtook SF after the quake. It was compelling and interesting. Both authors have new books out which I’m adding to my Kindle list today.

  29. I reread Amanda Quicks 4 book series of Vanza books. It’s been a while since I read them & I had forgotten how much I liked them. Snarkier than the standalones which I also like.

    Happy 4th of July everyone (for whom it is appropriate).

  30. I can’t even daydream about emigrating to somewhere that’s still a democracy, because the rare-disorder treatment I need isn’t available to adults in much of the world outside the US.

    And on the book front, I was disappointed by the latest Lady Sherlock book, which had too many characters that I couldn’t keep straight (something that’s happened in other books, and wouldn’t have been a deal-breaker), and a lot of jumping across timelines (again, not necessarily a dealbreaker), but then the plot pretty much ended about 5 chapters before the end, only to be followed by 5 chapters of infodump about what had been going on behind the scenes. The author has done variations on all those techniques in the past, but seemed to have taken them to extremes in this one. And in the past, the interesting behind-the-scenes stuff was shown in a scene, even if out of order, but here it’s all just infodumped with one character explaining it all to another one. Perhaps ironically, that ending-with-infodump is true to the original stories that inspired the series, but in my opinion, it’s a storytelling technique that deserved to fade into disuse.

    So now I’m hoping to have a better experience with the new Penric mentioned above (didn’t know it was out yet) and the new Patricia Briggs, so I can forget about the Lady Sherlock disappointment.

    1. I’m very disappointed to hear about the most recent Lady Sherlock. I will read it anyway just to keep up with the series but now I’m not looking forward to that so much. Anyway, thank you for forwarning me.

      1. I hope you have a better experience than I did. There are some good bits, and maybe if my expectations weren’t so high, I wouldn’t have been so disappointed.

    2. I just finished reading it. It kept me engaged. Admittedly, it did hop around in time a bit which was a skosh confusing sometimes. But the end of the book made it clear the author was ……. SPOILER ALERT, don’t read further if you don’tlike spoilers! …….. trying to disguise the fact that almost everything that happened was part of Sherlock and Co’s elaborate plan. I’m trying to figure out how the author could have written it differently and still maintained the suspense. Of course that doesn’t solve the info dump issue. But it was still a worthwhile read.

  31. I finished Alexandra Rowland’s Running Close to the Wind. Loved the trickster character and the lighter tone of he previous ones in that world. The ending, as pointed out by a few people, was abrupt. I didn’t want it to end so quickly!

    Now reading Miles Camerons’s Artic Space, recommended here. Really enjoying it. I’m about 3/4 through and have gladly given up the news for it.

    Really upset that 6 members of our highest court changed our republic to an oligarchy with their latest decisions. And annoyed that people don’t see that our monarch president is under their power. The SCOTUS majority are the deciders.

    1. I read the Rowland and thought it was over the top campy, maybe too over the top campy for some. I was a little irritated by one of the MCs because no one is that clueless IRL. But overall I was amused. And impressed by the author’s plotting skills. As for Cameron, the entire series was fun. Looking forward to more from both Rowland and Cameron.

  32. Not up to reading yet. When I am, I’ll finish Deb Blake’s book.
    Today I joined Audible so that I could listen to Jim Dales read of Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s Stone
    Happy fourth I don’t believe We will all have to immigrate. I don’t think much of any of the press at the moment. But I’m going to believe that America will come through this at the polls. I may watch 1776 tonight.

  33. Being somewhat cynical by nature and a historian by training, I would bet that the next 10-12 years in the US will be progressively worse, until all of the current neo-fascist white supremacist fuckery works its way through our constipated system. (You may have noticed that fascism is on the upswing almost everywhere.) And until the people who are 18-30 today have fully experienced the consequences of their solipsism. And until the people who think a three-month economic cycle is a good basis for judging a 4-year government cycle have fully experienced the consequences of their willful ignorance. After that, the neo-fascists will likely be thrown out en masse. However, there’s a solid chance that the federal republic won’t survive in its present form. This is in the category of things I cannot change, so my solution is to glance up, say “still shitty? okay, what’s the next book” and read / write some more.

    This week’s reading:

    1. ‘I Shudder: And Other Reactions to Life, Death, and New Jersey,’ by Paul Rudnick. Autobiographical essays commingled with a series of rather strange fictional memoirs. I like his writing.

    2. ‘Coffee Boy’ by Austin Chant, a trans M/bi M novella with age gap featuring election workers, liked this one.

    3. ‘Their Troublesome Crush’ by Xan West, a trans M/F poly kink romance-ish novel that does a good job of elucidating the complex intersectionality of its characters but a less good job of engaging this reader.

    4. [re-read] ‘Colour Scheme’ by Ngaio Marsh, the one set in New Zealand during WWII in which someone gets shoved into a boiling mud pot. Ick. Good story though, with a whiff of romance, and Alleyn undercover.

    5. [re-read] my own novella ‘Third Time Lucky’ and novelette ‘Reinvented.’

    6. [re-read] my own novel ‘Liberty.’

    7. ‘The Boyfriend Comeback’ by Lauren Blakely. Round up to 5 for this solid football romance in which the MCs are quarterbacks of rival San Francisco-based teams. The world of it is too warm & fuzzy to be credible – there’s only one asshole – but it makes for a pleasantly low-angst story despite the intrinsic obstacles. Also very good mental health rep as one character has pretty severe anxiety and is shown getting appropriate help for it, plus his love interest is respectful and helpful about it.

    8. ‘Figure Skating for Dummies’ by Kristi Yamaguchi et al, a bit dated but an excellent source (novel research).

    9. ‘The Woodcarver’s Model’ by Peter E. Fenton. M/M set in Canada, his first novel, round up to 4 as worth keeping an eye on / trying another by this author. The book doesn’t quite know if it wants to be a thriller (there is much action / intrigue and some serious violence including a dog getting shot & killed) or a hurt/comfort romance. There are very few excusable story reasons for violence against animals in a book, and this one doesn’t pass the test. I wish he’d left it out so I could have liked the book more, because some of the writing was lovely.

    1. Chachal, I don’t think fascism is a phase we have to go through. It is more like a noxious weed that springs up and spreads. It must be uprooted before it takes over everything. My fantasy is, if the fascist wins and begins his pogroms, persecutions, incarcerations, and deportations, that Germany, France, and some of the other countries the U.S. helped liberate in WWII will come and liberate us from the orange menace. I hope people think it over and vote him out, but that is my fantasy, if they don’t. It looks like Britain is going to give the boot to the Conservatives, finally, this election. So maybe THAT’S the trend, not fascism, but turning away from the over-the-top-conservatives.

      1. Jan,
        don’t get your hopes up that Europe is that much smarter. France has LePen and she’s successful, Italy has voted Meloni into power. We’ve got our own neo-fascists rising again, the only hope is that AfD’s stupid war cry to get rid of all non-Germans made so many of us take to the streets in demonstrations. Our society would crumble and the land nearly empty if you thing through their logic.
        It’s beyond my imagination why anyone can fall for the neo fascists propaganda unless they WANT to shut down their brain cells.
        When it comes to the Orange Menace my believe is that we here tend to be amazed that someone so obviously narcisistic, egotistical, criminal and misanthropic can have so many admirers and followers who see the opposite of what he is proven to be.
        But the US is a large country, still powerful and could and should be our ally.
        Europe will not fare well between Scylla and Charibdys.

        So by now I have come to believe in human kind’s endless stupidity to be endured, but at what cost and also I fear for my kids and their future.

        1. Shutting down one’s brain cells is the chief draw of fascism. When things aren’t going well, it is so comforting to see a big strong man or woman claiming that they have the answer and if we only demonize some “other”, all our problems will go away. I used to comfort myself that women were less susceptible to that line of garbage, but the rise of Meloni and Marine LePen have disabused me of that notion.

    2. I love Paul Rudnick. I taught a course called “Love in Literature” at OSU, and the last assignment was “Jeffrey.” This was many years ago and there were a couple who were not happy about reading a gay love story/play, but Rudnick is so good, I didn’t care.

      1. I saw the movie adaptation of ‘Jeffrey’ and was frankly amazed that it got made when it did. Especially when held against ‘In & Out’ which is, while well acted and funny, so terrified of sex. Haven’t read ‘Jeffrey’ the play yet but it’s on my list. 🙂

    3. When I was in New Zealand, my friend took me to this place ( I think it was near Rotorua) where they had boiling mud pools. You wouldn’t need a pot, just a step off the wooden walkway. Of course, I don’t think they were marketing it as a tourist attraction in those days.

      1. I remember that place vividly, Aunt Snack! Plenty of dangerous areas, stinky, colourful, fabulous!
        It’s been more than 25 years since hubby and I visited New Zealand and we still rave about it.

        1. When I went to Denmark I stayed with some friends of my brother who showed slides of their vacation in New Zealand. Little did I know that one of my closest friends would move there and years later I would be lucky enough to visit her there twice. The natural beauty there is truly amazing. And they have some really strange oddities, too.

    4. I plan to make as much trouble for neo-fascists as I can. I am old (and mean and cynical) and have no near relatives to be tarred with the brush of my activism.

      1. I plan to make a lot of trouble because I have two kids and a foster daughter and I can’t leave them a world run by trump

  34. “A Princess for Christmas” and “Duke, Actually” by Jenny Holiday–books that she describes as Hallmark movie novels, except with sex and swearing. (*Lots* of sex in “Princess,” a little less in “Duke.”) Both were fun reads; I especially liked “Duke.” Just requested the third in the series from the library.

  35. Have I ever mentioned that I am a fan of alternate history stories? I have? That many times? Please accept an apology – I’m about to do it again.

    Usually, I’m praising one of the several lines of the Assiti Shards Universe. The largest is the Ring of Fire universe (aka the 1632 series), followed by the Alexander Inheritance series (aka Queen of the Sea series) and the Time Spike series. Two one-offs are The Crossing and An Angel Called Peterbilt. Eric Flint was responsible for all five branches.

    Not related to Assitti Shards, Eric and David Drake wrote the Belisarius series, which takes place when Justinian ruled Rome, which was ruled from Constantinople. Again, much alteration of history for six books.

    I lament that Flint’s passing prevented the completion of his Rivers of War series.

    Eric Flint was far from the only author of alternate history. There was also Harry Turtledove. He has his own entry in the Wikis. It is his novel, GUNS OF THE SOUTH that I am interrupting to read Bujold’s PENRIC AND THE BANDIT.

    GUNS OF THE SOUTH is simple. White supremacists from South Africa in the year 2014 capture a time machine and take over a town in North Carolina to be their base for supplying AK-47 Assault Rifles to the Confederate Armies. You might imagine the altered history from there. You’d be wrong. 🙂

    The other book I have open is herself and Bob’s WILD RIDE. I don’t know for certain where I got this copy. It looks like a bad scanning of a paper text, full of typos. I have it in my Audible library but not my Kindle library. I think I bought it from Fictionwise in MS Reader format. I still love the story, despite the typos.

    1. A search on Amazon for WILD RIDE revealed “You purchased this edition on June 11, 2013. ” Now I’m reading the copy in my Kindle library using their on-line app. No typos. The messed-up copy was in my Mobipocket Reader library.

    2. Guns of the South is the novel that gave Turtledove’s career a Boston into the big time, although he had already been publishing for a while. He discovered long afterward that Harry Harrison had independently thought of much the same gimmick and published earlier (A Rebel in Time, 1983) to no particular acclaim. As I said earlier (I think said that here, not on another site), it’s more about the execution than the idea.

  36. I want to thank the Argher who suggested Bettany Hughes Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, which I really enjoyed and learned a lot. That was last week’s non-fiction.

    Fiction included Solitude Creak by Jeffrey Deaver which was an excellent thriller.

    Re-read of When All the Girls Have Gone by JAK, and am now waiting to work on the others in this series.

    The Perfect Find by Tia Williams which was wonderful. A 40 year old woman on her uppers and a much younger man. It is set in a fashion industry setting and I really enjoyed this book. It was on my list for a while because I loved Seven Days in Summer by the same author.

    Also read the Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory which was good, but not great or enough for me to want to read the next in the series.

    Lastly Mary Stewart’s The Hollow Hills which is the second of the Merlin trilogy and I am definitely reading the third!

  37. I finished Winter Lost by Patricia Briggs and felt the series was improved by getting Adam and Mercy off on an adventure of their own. Well-thought-out mythology and folklore, too, in this one.

    I’ve started The Ministry of Time by Kaliane Bradley and so far so good. I also have The Book of Doors by Gareth Brown and a number of ARCs that I really need to do justice to. The Spellshop is the one I’ll probably tackle first.

    Getting the house decluttered, repairs and renovations done, and the gardening to prepare to list next week is cutting into my reading time. Plus, teaching work of course! I envy those in retirement who can read more!

  38. To everyone here who donated by various means to Romancing the Vote, thank you very much! I hope you know that you are making a difference in ways large and small.

  39. I just read the last Penric, Knot of Shadows, since I felt I should read it before the new one.
    It’s more religious than I think much of her work is, which I realize is weird since her books have five gods …
    I’m having a hard time focusing on books and doing a lot of rereading again. A couple of books which I started but haven’t gotten far into—don’t think they will be DNF. But who knows.

      1. There’s a new one out just last week, ‘Penric and the bandit’, which comes after ‘Demon’s daughter’.

        I just read it and found it a bit easier – a smaller adventure story with Penric off by himself, with less theology but a good outcome.

        I also just finished reading Patricia Briggs’ newest ‘Winter lost’ and it too felt a bit less heavy, bleak, dark, harsh etc.than the previous books – it’s still an exciting adventure, but the tone is more positive somehow. I liked it, enjoyed seeing Mercy and Adam off on their own, and the pack competently managing their own troubles without leaning on their leaders.

        1. I haven’t finished Demon’s Daughter yet (bored), but I downloaded — or tried to download — Penric and the Bandit. We’ll see if it eventually shows up on my computer.

          1. Yes I was reading them in preparation for Penric and the Bandit which was a lot lighter in mood. I may go back and read the first one, to see how far Penric has come.

          2. I saw news reports yesterday that Amazon was having trouble with many Kindle downloads (I’m okay so far myself, knock wood). Server trouble or some such.

  40. My name is Holly Jones and I’m fifteen. I’m very intelligent but it doesn’t show, because I look like an underdone angel. Insipid.

    That’s the first paragraph of one of my favorite Heinlein stories. In my opinion, it’s his only romance, although there are romantic elements in some of his works. It’s such a good short story romance that it is almost incidental that it takes place on the moon. Luna City.

    There is a collection of the same name – THE MENACE FROM EARTH – but I stumbled into this one in THE WORLD TURNED UPSIDE DOWN, an anthology edited by David Drake, Eric Flint, and Jim Baen, all since deceased.

    1. The romance angle is certainly the plot driver, but since it’s a teen romance, it doesn’t unambiguously end in a permanent relationship, just a maybe. I think the setting and the flying gimmick are intended to be just as important. Sf, after all, is partly about the notorious Sense of Wonder.
      Romance and a permanent relationship are, if not the main plot drivers, certainly important elements in many other Heinleins, especially from the late forties to early fifties. Puppet Masters, If This Goes On, Gulf, and others.

      I first read The Menace from Earth in a Heinlein collection, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read the anthology The World Turned Upside Down. I just looked up the contents. A lot of classics there.

      1. I was going to add that, as the Wikipedia notes, Heinlein wrote several non-sf stories aimed at teen girls. If memory serves, the second two both deal with Maureen’s relationship with her boyfriend Cliff and probably qualify as teen romance. I’ve read them all, but don’t recall where. The Wikipedia asserts they’ve not all been published in any one place, except, I presume, the Virginia Edition of all (most?) of RAH’s works, and I haven’t read that except for some of the online free sample.

        Article Heinlein Juveniles says, “Upon delivery of one of his early juveniles, his editor at Scribner’s wished someone would write stories for girls. Heinlein took this as a challenge and wrote a short story for girls. The story, a first-person tale featuring Maureen “Puddin'”, appeared under the byline “R. A. Heinlein” in Calling All Girls magazine. He wrote two more, and planned four additional stories with the goal of publishing a collection titled Men Are Exasperating, but he never wrote any more and the Puddin’ stories have never been collected in one volume.”

  41. Several days late, but I actually have books to add for once!

    Funny Story by Emily Henry was a perfect summer read for me. It had a lot of the same elements as Beach Read (grieving girl explores small town with the hot damaged bad boy who lives next to her — in this case they share an apartment) but all of it felt like it was handled with a lighter touch, so I got to sink in and enjoy the story.

    Do Your Worst by Rosie Danan is also good. Starts light, entertaining, and predictable, but earns some genuine emotion by the end. It’s about a professional curse-breaker and an incredibly skeptical disgraced archeologist who are both trying to drive the other away from a crumbling castle in Scotland. It hovers somewhere between “fate is real and believes in messing with you” and “cozy, gentle, paranormal.” I’ll probably re-read it in the fall.

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