This is a Good Book Thursday, March 26, 2020

I can highly recommend If I’d Never Met You, by Mhairi McFarlane. It’s a let’s-pretend-we’re-a-couple romance but it’s also a whole lot more, the story of a woman rethinking her whole life, with great friendships and so much life and texture and depth that you’ll have to reread it. Just terrific.

What did you read this week?

69 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, March 26, 2020

  1. Message for Jane:

    Re your island, just saw this on Twitter:
    Now is a very good time to pitch natural history books to me. Photographic or illustrated – authors, artists and photographers all welcome. Take a punt and drop me a line!
    From @jimspim His bio says: Jim Martin. Publisher at Bloomsbury – pop science, natural history.
    Gonzo editor etc.
    I’ve seen your photos on insta, they’re lovely.

    1. Sorry, Jenny, for using your blog like a message board, just realised I could have PMed Jane through Insta. Doh.

    2. Thanks, Allanah! I’d have to brainstorm this, but Bloomsbury are a good firm. Of course, I did promise myself I’d get going on my novel; which has been delayed by multiple freelance jobs. But I really appreciate your thinking of me.

      1. Jane,

        Think of you often. And smile when I see your photo. You are one of the nicest persons I’ve yet to meet, you and Nan and so many more.


        1. That’s lovely, Carol: thank you.

          I added my photo because I realized I felt more connected to the people here whose faces I could see, like MJ and Deb.

  2. I’m reading Light on Yoga and Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health by BKS Iyengar. I just got Yoga: A Gem for Women by Geeta Iyengar. I got a lot of homework to do!

    I read Jade City by Fonda Lee and frankly while it’s a good read, there was nothing much about any of the characters that made me care about reading the rest of the series. Only finished it because I’m a finisher by nature.

    In comparison I highly recommend The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso. She writes in a way that elicits empathy for her characters. I ached to finish that series!

    I’m rereading a bit of Marie London’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying because it’s the last push of dehoarding for me.

    I’m determined to engage in actual self-care including yoga, home-made foot soaks, anti-aging face massage, Debbie Allen’s Instagram dance classes.

    The latter I keep missing because I mess up the time zones 😭. I need to be able to say I trained under Debbie Allen! 😁😜

    Our lockdown starts tonight. I’m ok with it. I just hope our most vulnerable people will be safe.

  3. I’m going to finish Book 19 of Danger Cove mysteries. I finished book 3 of Goodlett and Huff’s star wings series – The Rat Rebellion. The dotter asked me to turn down the volume to book 3 of Bujold’s Sharing Knife saga, so I’ve switched from audiobook to ebook. And now I’ve added If I’d Never Met You.

  4. I read Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe, a collection of letters Nina wrote to her sister while she was working as a nanny in London in the mid eighties. (1980’s) It was light but the transcribed bits of conversation were funny, taking pleasure in words and their meaning.

  5. Books: I have Venetia & The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer loaded up along with The Sun Down Motel by Simone St James.

    I need a reading vacation. Things are just so intense out there. Fiction is self-care more than ever. Happy reading ARGHers.

    1. I have the Simone St James book from my library (since they are closed I can keep it with no fines until they re-open) but haven’t started it yet. How did you like it? It got good reviews so I may start it net.

      I have been struggling with reading “A Very Stable Genius”. It just makes me so mad at what I fool the POTUS is

      There are now 313 Covid-19 cases in Montco/PA and 3 deaths – and now there is a 19 year old in my tiny borough with it.

      1. I started Sun Down and wowsa, sucks you right in. If you need distracting, it should do it! Ajax is more subtle and thinky so I’m going to stick with Sun Down for now.

        I know what you mean, I’m in WA so, um, interesting times. We’re at least having beautiful weather so that’ll help with cabin fever.

    2. Have fun with Venetia. Although I haven’t read it in years (more than 20?) I can still remember the words Damerel (the rake) used to convince Venetia to accept his proposal. I think I need to order myself a copy to keep.

      1. I read Smoke-Bitten but it didn’t have the charm for me that others of her books do. Then again nothing has much charm for me lately. What I’m really reading is policy analysis of the big epidemic bill, coverage of the epidemic, and plans to retool census outreach because epidemic.
        With a side of how do we stop nonprofits from closing their doors in the coming recession—especially when they can’t hold in person fundraisers.

        I cannot honestly recommend any of it although someone could write a good book about how Congress put together the biggest bill it ever passed in 8 days and did a decent job largely because of 1) thoughtful teamwork among Democrats and 2) clever leveraging of power by Pelosi and I think Schumer even though they have only one veto or one and a half to the Republicans two.

        Also why aren’t Nancy Pelosi and Anthony Fauci wearing protective gear every time they leave their homes?

  6. My number finally came up on the holds list and I read Anne Cleeland’s Murder in Thrall and liked it so much I moved right on to Murder in Retribution.

    Then I read Ben Aaronovitch’s False Value. Thank you to whoever warned me that he jumped back and forth in time. It saved it from being mildly annoying to being enjoyable.

    Natasha Pulley’s The Bedlam Stacks was a reread for me. It was still excellent.

    There were a few that I tried to read which did not resonate with me so I abandoned them.

  7. “If I Never Met You” is 99p on Kindle Amazon UK right now 🙂

    I’m reading “Bringing Down the Duke” by Evie Dunmore. Historical romance. Debut novel. Suffragette blue-stocking meets political powerhouse aristocrat in 1879 and tries to persuade him women should have the vote.

  8. I’ve only been reading blogs, fanfiction, and comics. Now that the lockdown is indefinite, I’ve been holding off on reading the books I have.

    But also, opera is eating up a good chunk of the time I might use on books, lol. Die Walkure (The Valkyrie) clocked in at 4 friggin’ hours! Odin continues to be The Worst. He slept around, fathering a bunch of children that were not with his wife. Two of his human kids (twins) got separated, and then fell in love, but are utterly unbothered by the twincest when they discover their sibling status. Odin’s wife, of course, is less thrilled by this, and so demands that the dude twin pay for it. Odin’s Valkyrie daughter tries to sneakily do what Odin actually wanted (to help his son), but Odin made a promise to his wife, so now he has to treat his Valkyrie daughter as a traitor. She is cursed to sleep until the next man comes along and rapes her. Hooray.
    The Valkyrie is like this blows, so at least set up a ring of fire so that only the child of the twincest (and so maintaining demigod courage) can make it through. Because I guess aunt-nephew isn’t incest? The End.

    Classic mythology is very questionable.

    1. Zeus came to Danae in a golden shower.
      The paintings often shows that as coins. I have my doubts.

      And then there’s Leda and that damn swan.

      1. Swans have vicious beaks and sharp claws on those big webbed feet. That pairing doesn’t sound at all pleasant.

        1. And there’s the Minotaur, of course, which raises many questions on how the centaurs came to exist.

          At least with Sleipnir, it’s presumed that Loki was shapeshifted into a horse at the time.

      2. In the Percy Jackson Olympians books, I think the Greek gods make a pact to stop mating with human females. No surprise that Zeus is the first to break the pact, LOL

    2. Stephen Fry’s book about Greek mythology is glorious – it’s a beautifully gossipy take on the myths.

      1. There are a few “Iliad by way of Mean Girls” online projects floating around, and they’re all pretty delightful.

        1. I was surprised how much I enjoyed Circe, although I can’t remember the author’s name. Madeleine something?

  9. On top of everything else, I have no wifi and am using my cellular data to say that I read the sequel to Witchmark, Stormsong, by CL Polk and it was fantastic. It picks up right after Witchmark ties up lots of the story but leads into book 3 which is not out yet.

  10. In that odd way where something you’ve never seen/heard of before keeps popping up, I have “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Mhairi McFarlane (who I’ve never heard of before and just borrowed on a whim) next on my TBR pile (in my e-reader).

    Currently I am re-reading “To Say Nothing of the Dog.” And for the first time thought to google “Three Men in a Boat” and was delighted to discover it is real! I’ve downloaded the epub from Project Gutenberg. 🙂

    1. I’m pretty sure ‘Three Men in a Boat’ has that great quote about work – ‘I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours.’

    2. Oh, I should re-read “To Say Nothing of the Dog”. I could use that silliness now.

      Yes !! Found it in my Kindle library.

  11. Okay, this is an old book, but last night I stumbled on my old copy of Wifey by Judy Blume and started reading it again. I first read it decades ago and hardly remember the story so it’s like new to me.

    Not sure yet if I’ll finish it if the story starts to come back to me or if it qualifies as a comfort read, but not bad distraction at bedtime. And right now distraction is good:)

  12. I read Breaking and Entering 101, the fourth in The Casefiles of Henri Davenforth by Honor Raconteur. Henri and Jamie get called in to consult on a couple of baffling cases.

    I also read Smoke Bitten by Mercedes Lackey.

  13. After three duds in a row, I’m enjoying ‘Snowspelled’ by Stephanie Burgis – romcom in an alternate Regency world where women govern and men are magicians. It’s the voice and the characters that I’m enjoying most (the world’s a bit distracting; I’m not convinced by it).

  14. My old friend who kept forgetting the names of the protagonists (in Sharing Knife Vol. 1) called me after she finished Vol. 4 to say she was really angry that there wasn’t another volume, because she wanted to find out exactly how the arrival of a new family member went, and whether the hero ever went back to his boyhood home to talk with this one and that one, and what the master healer felt about the new town, etc. etc. etc.

    I was feeling kind of miffed that the story wasn’t being appreciated enough at the first call, but at the second? Vindicated. 🙂

    1. Knife ChildrenLakewalker Barr Foxbrush [I don’t recall his tent name being mentioned in Volumes 1-4] returns from two years of patrolling the bitter wilds of Luthlia against the enigmatic, destructive entities called malices, only to find that the secret daughter he’d left behind in the hinterland of Oleana has disappeared from her home after a terrible accusation. The search for her will call on more of Barr’s mind and heart than just his mage powers, as he tries to balance his mistakes of the past and his most personal duties to the future. A stand-alone story set in the world of The Sharing Knife.

      Four books were not enough. 🙂

  15. The books I want to read are wait-listed until forever at my library so I raided my (now teen-aged boys) closet and found Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy sitting there. I don’t know how it is I never read those (the hubby read them to the boys), so looks like it’s my turn! Just finished Golden Compass and am starting Subtle Knife tonight.

    1. I hear you about being wait listed at my library (which is closed) and am very tempted to pay way too much for Deanna Raybourn’s newest ” A Murderous Rebellion” but can’t justify paying that much for an e-book.

  16. Read several lovely books last week. Nothing outstanding, but good entertainment.
    Tanya Huff’s Demon’s Den was a book of short stories about a herald of Valdemar. Most stories have been published in anthologies before, but it was nice to read them all together.
    Mimi Matthews’ The Matrimonial Advertisement was a charming historical romance. It was the first of this writer for me, but I’m going to read more of her.
    T. Kingfisher’s Paladin’s Grace – frankly, I expected better from this author. I enjoyed many of her other books. This one was a good book too, with sympathetic heroes, but my main objection was that after all the suffering and struggling the heroes did, they still couldn’t fix any of their problems. They were still deep in a ditch by the end, when someone else came on the scene and solved all their problems for them. A classical deus ex machine. I felt cheated.

  17. Starting first of three books in the China Bayles mystery series by Susan Wittig Albert which I got out of the library just before it closed indefinitely. Anyone have any thoughts on that series?

    1. I really enjoyed the first 7 or 8 China Bayles mysteries. I felt they got a little repetitive after that for the next 4 books or so and then I stopped reading them.

  18. Re-read Lani’s “Ex and the Single Girl” which was even better than I remembered. Kindles are wonderful.

  19. Drinking French by David Lebovitz. Come for the recipes – hot chocolate, lemonade, tisanes, aperitifs, liqueurs, infusions, cocktails and easy snacks – and stay for the charming stories and grand photographs. Perhaps Lebovitz’ best book. Maybe you’ll be converted to read his blog posts. He was one of the first bloggers and definitely has figured out how to make it a compelling stop for even non-cooks and bakers. The one blog I count on in addition to Argh Ink, and I cherish both in these rough times.

    The Bodies in the Library by Marty Wingate (Listen up, Deborah Blake.) A contemporary cozy mystery set in Bath. Credible job by I believe a first-time author, with more to come in the series. I enjoyed it enough to look for the second when it comes out. Took my time reading because only so many alternatives for distraction.

    1. My French heritage is quivering with anticipation to order his book. I’ve checked out his recipes. My bake last night did not go well. They would have kicked me out of the tent. Paul Hollywood would have noted it was under baked.

      Going to try David’s recipe and measure the butter to the exact. My French ancestors are rolling their eyes.

      Thanks, Thea.

  20. I read the new Ben Aaronovitch. I enjoyed it once he stopped skipping around in time.
    I also read a new(ish) series from Charlaine Harris. The first book was An Easy Death. I liked them but you have to start from book one because she does not explain the world at all in book 2.

  21. Read Mimi Matthew’s The Matrimonial Advertisement. Enjoyed it and the next two in the series.

    Going to try Three Men in a Boat and Say Nothing to the Dog.

    Weather is changing. Barometric pressure changing. Headache, bad sleep last night. Covid is too close for comfort. Son’s friend’s mom is doing very poorly. Neighbour’s sister and brother in law are waiting test results. The sister was at a small function. A woman who also attended, had it and did not know. Of course, that meant sister and brother in law didn’t find out until almost two weeks later. He is in hospital with double pneumonia and possibly the virus. We’ve been staying home except for grocery shop. Going to switch to delivery.
    Stay safe.

  22. The House In The Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune was a lovely kind fantasy with a very gentle m/m romance. His other stuff is usually swearier and steamier but is very good if you click with his humor and like m/m (just as a heads up if you read this and expect the others to be the same).

    I also enjoyed Paladin’s Grace by T Kingfisher.

  23. Completely off-topic, but didn’t there used to be a bunch of Leverage posts? I’m in the middle of a rewatch because I need a world where bad people lose right now, and I keep remembering snippets of discussions of plot and family and character development.

    Back on topic, I’m getting ready to read Buzz Saw, the story of the Nationals road to the World Series. It’s Opening Day, after all!

    1. Yes. I’ll have them back up by tonight. (Took a lot of stuff down when the blog got hacked.)

  24. I finished the Sam Clair mysteries — A BED OF SCORPIONS, A CAST OF VULTURES, A HOWL OF WOLVES, laughing all the way. Also working my way through Hubert Footner’s MADAME STOREY mysteries, a Golden Age series. Watched MISS FISHER AND THE CRYPT OF TEARS, in case I didn’t say. The film was lighthearted, but be warned, Screen Phryne is not the same as Book Phryne. I also listened, and whooped through, a podcast from Behind the Bastards titled Soldier of Fortune: The Deadliest Magazine Ever — wow! All assisted by cats.

    Other than that, trying to get my annual ROTC medal presentations organized. It’s easier than usual since it looks as if none of the ceremonies will require my actual presence — all done by mail. It’s a pity, since the cadets deserve the recognition.

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