This is a Good Book Thursday, April 2, 2020

I’ve been re-reading Rex Stout as a comfort read–he wrote his last book at 88 and it was good, so that helps, too–but I’m gearing up to read about Vikings, starting with a basic children’s book which is supposed to arrive Saturday. Maybe the next scene will be Viking-centric. (I have no idea what the next scene will be.). The book has pictures. That’s about where I am right now.

Where are you with your reading?

99 thoughts on “This is a Good Book Thursday, April 2, 2020

  1. I read “Dreaming of the Bones” by Deborah Crombie cozy(ish) British mystery written in 1997 so both contemporary and not, if you know what I mean. Very relaxing. No social media. No Donald Trump. No coronavirus. There were some things that were a bit cringy and dated, but nothing that I found too egregious. The author is an American writing about the UK, so there may be mistakes I didn’t pick up on. There were a lot of beautiful gardens. Scones were consumed more than once. (Now I want scones). There was description of the colleges at Cambridge and Grantchester.

    Plus, it has one of my favorite type of mystery plots. The current mystery was tied into a mystery in the past and watching the layers slowly unpeel was satisfying. It’s fairly early in the series and not too bad a place to jump in. I’ve found the series uneven overall, but I liked this one. I feel like Deborah Crombie is a bit like Elizabeth George before her books got too longwinded and depressing for me.

    1. Oh my word, didn’t Elizabeth George go down the depressing path??? Every author gets to write what they need to write, but I’ve found her later books heavy going and am way less enthusiastic about her than I used to be.

  2. I am alternating between “A Civil Campaign” and the Expanse series of books. Both are great.

  3. Finished Sun Down Motel which was so good I have no words. My attention span is currently terrible but I’ve started Tanya Huff’s Summon the Keeper and I love the talking cat.

    1. I started it and then got side tracked to Crusie/Mayer “Don’t Look Down”.

      I also started Rebecca Zanetti “Mercury Rising” but didn’t finish as it is about a plague that takes over the country. Just a little too real.🤐

      1. The Art of Ancient Egypt. Let’s hear it for three thousand years and tons of color pictures! I made my foster mother’s banana bread. Next up: banana bread with chocolate and ginger, now that I found semisweet chocolate chips.

  4. I’ve been reading fanfiction on AO3. The story of Harry Potter being Loki’s son (On Punching Gods and Absentee Fathers) is winding down now, so if anyone wants a mostly complete, really funny story, I highly recommend.

    I’m still going to work. My husband is working from home and dealing with the kids.

    My daughter has discovered Erin Hunter’s Warriors series and is burning thru them. She’ll be getting a box set for Easter, assuming I can get them ordered and delivered in time.

  5. I finally read the first of JD Robb/Nora Roberts’ In Death series. I had mixed feelings but I couldn’t put it down. 😂 I figured now was a good time to try out a series with 50 books in it….. Especially since the library has them all to loan digitally.

    I’ve also been reading Tamora Pierce’s Alanna series to my son who’s almost five. I thought it might be a stretch but he’s really enjoyed it so far. The only problem is that it’s a little too exciting for a bedtime book–we have to read some of the chapters during toddler naptime instead since otherwise they just wind him up instead of tithing him to sleep. The court intrigue chapters, on the other hand… 😹

    What I SHOULD be reading is student work, since my high school students are back “in school” (virtually) on Monday and I need to get those grades in… But it’s very hard to concentrate with the whole family at home! Usually I leave to focus on work–part of my mental firewall–so I’m going to have to develop some sort of “home office,” I guess.

    1. I purchased noise reducing headphone, fairly good blue tooth ones, and I pipe music through them. Very very helpful. My workstation faces a wall, so I see only that, my chair is reasonably comfortable. I don’t have kids, but I sit beside someone (my dad) who often sniffs every 5 seconds. So, noise reducing headphones it is.

    2. J D Robb is great, though pace yourself and mix in with some other books, I love Alanna and her Circle of Magic is a favourite

      1. Love circle of magic, plus it’s a bit of a slower pace. Maybe better for bedtime?

  6. An Eyewitness Guide! I remember the company-wide brainstorming to come up with that name when I worked at DK in the eighties. Had fun a couple of years later, back there as a freelance, researching the one on Exploration and Discovery, which involved visits to the British Museum’s Map Room and the Royal Geographical Society.

    I’ve been reading Stephanie Burgis – Snowspelled, Spellswept and Thornbound. Which was too many in a row, really, but I couldn’t cope with entering a different world. Before that I reread Heyer’s The Unknown Ajax; still fun, but not quite as much as it has been on other reads. I’ve got last year’s Katie Fforde, A Rose Petal Summer, as a library ebook on my iPad, but am feeling I should have stuck to my resolution of not reading anything more by her. I keep hoping she’ll do something more than a first draft: I loved her first books, especially ‘Living Dangerously’.

    Couldn’t sleep last night, so have started an old favourite: Jayne Ann Krentz’s ‘Grand Passion’.

    1. I’m currently reading her”In too Deep” I enjoy her books whatever name she writes under. I haven’t read the last few though.

  7. JAK is a comfort read for me too. I haven’t re-read Grand Passion in ages. I’ll have to see if my e-library carries it.

  8. I rarely read non-fiction, but when I do I enjoy biographies and “histories of” type books. For example, in the past I’ve read about the history of the English language and the history of cancer and found them fascinating.

    I am currently in the middle of “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind” by Yuval Noah Harari and finding it similarly engrossing. It is an easy read, and actually quite humorous, but I am learning a lot about how why we are the way we are. Enjoying it very much!

  9. Well, it pays to look at my Keeper Shelf, which is good because my e-library doesn’t have it.

  10. I’ve been having trouble getting into a book these last few weeks, but I just devoured the new Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson book. I love Mercy so much. It was a good distraction.

    1. I particularly liked that the latest Mercy Thompson wasn’t quite as dark as I remember the previous one being. I mean, it’s still Mercy Thompson, so there’s a lot of death and dismemberment, but for some reason it didn’t seem quite as horrific, while still being a solid adventure.

      1. Yes, I agree. I thought that the previous one was especially dark. It was not one of my favorites of the series, and won’t make the re-read pile.

      2. Oh, that’s a relief. I have the new Mercy on my TBR pile (signed by the author, even) but I was afraid to start it because I thought it might be too dark for me right now.

    2. I just finished it last night! And yes, I am glad that the last few have lightened up. I always liked her Alpha and Omega series better, because I love Charles and because they are mostly lighter feeling.

  11. I went through women’s fiction and picked out a few from my favorite themes. The first one, a road trip but not any road trip, is The Women in Pants: Sidesaddles No More by Stan Himes. A story about a rancher’s wife and daughter who undertake the moving of cattle from Texas to Kansas in the 1870’s. Her husband has been injured, the cowboys have gone off to the silver minefields and no one is left to save the ranch from being taken over by the bank. Mary (I like that name) enlists the help of women from the town and a nearby ranch to help. Mary keeps them all in line because you know women are women and they all have their own agenda. The men in the story are of the good, bad and ugly variety and I’ll borrow a word from Jill Q in that one is “cringy”. I read it, I liked it and went ahead and put the next one on my list to read later, In Pursuit: The Women in Pants Ride Again.

    Another book from the library’s e-book is The Book Woman from Troublesome Creek by Kim Richardson about the pack horse librarians of Kentucky. This one has something I never heard of in that the librarian is a woman with a blueish skin tone. Looking forward to find out what that’s all about.

    The last to be read is The Lost One A Russian Legacy by Penelope Haines ok the picture of the Faberge Egg on the cover intrigued me. Three generations and a mystery.

  12. Just finished The Starless Sea last week, and it was so good, so visual, and so satisfying, that I seem to be unconvinced by anything else I try. It’s descriptions reminded me of One Hundred Years of Solitude, so I tried to find that, but alas, it is not available on kindle except in Spanish. So for this week, Spanish lessons and Netflix. Sigh.

  13. I can’t really read anything that isn’t the Internet these days. I’m rereading Red White and Royal Blue, but I can’t get through more than about three pages in one go any more.

    I did pre-order The Last Emperox and the next Murderbot book from my local bookstore when those come out, though.

  14. I’ve alternated Jenny Crusie and Julia Quinn, but have run out of them both. Began two different Regency novels, but neither grabbed me. Now I’m reading these delicious short stories, 30 of them by Cecilia Ahern’s Roar. All the chapters begin “The Woman Who…” and these women do such interesting things. They plant seeds of doubt, they fall through the floor, they forget their names, they are bitten by guilt. All in less than 10 pages.

  15. I’m still listening to October Man and over the weekend I read Alice Payne Arrives by Katie Heartfield, which I really enjoyed.

  16. I just started re-reading Heyer’s A Civil Contract, which feels very apposite to our current situation. It feels like Heyer’s most clearheaded look at individuals outside the aristocracy, and in the background there’s the possibility of a dreadful world-threatening event (renewed war with France), lots of politics, unexpected deaths resulting in suddenly changed circumstances, and a daring bet on an unlikely outcome in the context of a financial crash. The heroine is so loyal, and so practical, and it’s great to be reading about someone who isn’t beautiful or charming or an accomplished flirt (for a change). It’s very comforting.

  17. I read the first book in Patricia Rice’s new series, called Lessons in Enchantment. A Victorian romance, they have telegraphs and bicycles, in which the impoverished daughter of an earl has been living in an Edinburgh slum, because that’s where her ancestral home is and she still lives in one of the rooms even though it had been sold many years before to someone who turned it into a tenement, but did not maintain it. The facade of the centuries old building collapses leaving her homeless. Her aunts, who run a school, recommend she take on the position as governess to the nieces and nephew of a wealthy inventor because the children are “gifted” and need someone who can understand their gifts. The 6 year old can levitate things and the 4 year old twins talk to dead people. Lady Phoebe Malcolm Duncan is also gifted and can talk to animals. The children are in their uncle’s care because their mother recently died and their father appears to be trying to drink himself to death, but then someone seems to be excessively interested in the children and questions begin to arise about wether the mother’s death was really an accident after all.

  18. My concentration is still too shot to read (sick cat emergency on top of everything else, but she’s getting better, so I hope I’ll soon adjust to the new normal), so I’ve been watching the Death in Paradise mysteries on Britbox. Mostly light enough and clever enough to distract me from the chaos around me.

    1. Oh I’m really sorry, fingers crossed for a speedy cat recovery. Death in paradise is mostly so light and frothy and gloriously colourful (there is some dark stuff in a season that you might want to brace for).

  19. I finished the first of the Expanse books, Leviathian Awakes. I don’t know if I’ll read more because I kept wanting to smack one of the lead characters. Never a good sign.
    I am currently reading an Amanda Quick novel.

    The highlight was the latest adaptation of “And Then There were None” from the BBC. We got so caught up in it, we watched all three episodes in one night.

  20. I read the graphic novels Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson, and the first volume of Rat Queens.

  21. This is a Surprise Lilly reading comment. Several medievalists have put together a website for teaching the middle ages during the coronavirus. I’ve only looked at a couple of things in it — not sure whether there are Vikings — but it might be useful.

      1. Oops, I’m sorry I sent the link. I played with it last night and couldn’t find things. The DK book is probably far better for what you’re looking for. Oh, well.

  22. My attention is all over the place these days. Apart from reading for work (glad to still have it) and obsessively checking the BBC & NPR news sites, I did manage to read Still Life with Shape-Shifter by Sharon Shinn and I enjoyed it.

  23. Lot’s of re-reads last week. Of the new books, just started Rachel Aaron’s Minimum Wage Magic. It seems OK so far. I have a hankering for fantasy, and it qualifies.

  24. “My attention is all over the place these days,” Sue said. Mine, too. Like Carol Mc, I read If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane. I enjoyed it very much, too. I think I mentioned finishing and enjoying the first twenty Danger Cove Mysteries. I bought the next four, too. Those are, I think, the only complete books. I’ve read a lot of partials, too.

    I just finished Agnes and the Hitman, starting about when Taylor comes back to Agnes and Agnes finally realizes that her therapist’s voice in her head is her own subconscious. I also did Knife Children by Bujold, starting from when Barr and Lily arrive at Pearl Riffle camp.

    Then there is The Pursuit of the Pankera by Robert Anson Heinlein (RAH) (1907-1988), a Dean of American Science Fiction. Pankera is a NEW book from a previously unknown manuscript. It is also an alternate middle and ending from The Number of the Beast (1980), taking an entirely different path after an identical first 15 chapters.

    The early works of RAH are masterworks of their genre, especially the ones labeled “juveniles.” Later works, beginning with Stranger in a Strange Land… not so much. One critic claimed you could tell in those books when he got tired of writing and just finished it any-old which-way, not to mention a fascination with incest.

    No matter. Pankera is not one of the crazy books. But it has too much tell over show, and I can’t complete more than a chapter before taking a break. It’s a Heinlein; I’ll finish it.

    All y’all be well!

  25. I’m re-reading False Value. I don’t have to be able to concentrate to listen to the story.

    At the moment I’m trying to cook chicken breasts in the oven. The recipe said 15 to 18 minutes and I’m going on thirty and nothing is getting hotter than 150 – and that’s the tiniest of them all.

    This is why I don’t cook. Nothing is as easy as the recipe says. “So Easy!” “It’s a breeze!” “Even a beginner can do it.” An hour later my kitchen looks like a bomb went off and I have something brown and inedible. I can bake, that’s about it. But not meat. Only sweet things I shouldn’t be eating.


    1. In my kitchen – 600 Watt microwave, minimal toaster oven, single eye hotplate, toaster, 5-cup coffee maker – ALL recipe books are works of fiction. Settings must be hotter, times longer. I’ve learned to make allowances. I’ve learned that recipes are only for ingredients and proportions. Good luck with your appliances’ foibles.

    2. When we remodeled the kitchen, I got a new oven and microwave, very high end. But I spent 15 years previously with an oven that was too cool when I cooked things below 400 F. and iffy when I went above. My new oven – well 3 years now- does everything except comb the cat and the temperature is right on. I have started baking and roasting and trying new recipes again. The only problem is that when a recipe flops I know it was me and not the oven.

      1. When I moved in here, the place was derelict and I was on a budget, so I bought a $200 stove until I could get to a place where I could get a real stove. That was eight years ago. The oven takes about two days to heat to 400, and I have to set it to 450 to get that (oven thermometer is helpful), but it bakes.

    3. If the chicken breasts are boneless and it is taking that long, either your thermometer is broken or the oven’s thermostat is. An oven thermometer could solve the question.

      1. Or do them on the stove top where you have more control. And use thighs instead.
        What most of my recipes say is to sear them on both sides, then take them off the heat and make the pan sauce, then put them back in the sauce until the reach the right temp. Also if you’re determined to use breasts, put them in a plastic bag and pound them flat with a pan so that they’re all one thickness. They’ll cook fast that way, plus you’ll get rid of a lot of tension with the pounding.

    4. Chicken breasts are impossible unless you brine them first and who wants to mess with that.
      Chicken thighs, Kate, stick with chicken thighs.

      1. Okay. Next time I buy, it’s thighs. I found these breasts in the freezer – I think I was going to make something with them when the kids were home. I usually do ground turkey or chicken, because that I CAN cook. Unless I forget I’m cooking. That happens sometimes too.

        1. You know, the freezer could have dried them out, too. Chicken breasts are such divas.

    5. I’ve found the step by step pictures on the budget bytes website really helpful in terms of breaking down the steps

    6. A couple of weeks ago my oven would not come up to temp so after checking everything he could my husband (recent heart patient) pulled the stove away from the wall and discovered connection was loose. I wish he had waited for one of the boys but all was well. Oven ok, too.

  26. Re-read Binchey and Kerry Greenwood, moving on to the the Brothers Sinister series next I think. Though Gary’s mention of “The Children of the Knife” may side track me briefly. Or a Georgette – after all the mentioned above.

  27. Today I am happy. I have been suffering library withdrawal, and today it looks like I finally managed to get onto my library’s ebook site. I have reserved Red, White and Royal Blue and will look for some others later. I can’t buy any new books right now since I am self-employed. That means I’m still working, just not getting paid. This seems a trifle unfair, but at least I am suffering in the comfort of my home, and now – hurray! – I can read library books.

  28. I just finished a Murderbot reread, and felt a good deal of solidarity with them and their choices for self-soothing. I realized I had the newest of Elizabeth Moon’s Ky Vatta books, but when I started it I couldn’t remember what had gone before, so I back up a volume and am reading Cold Welcome, which comes before Into the Fire, and there might even be a newer one out after that!

  29. A couple of years ago, a friend gifted me with several novels by Spanish author Arturo Perez-Reverte in translation, my Spanish is not good enough to read novels!), and they promptly went into my immense tbr pile. With the house clearing, they popped up, and I started The Flanders Panel today. Reader, it is fabulous. Modern-day art restorer tries to solve a mystery contained in a 15th century painting, and hijinks ensue. I think I have 4 more after this, and I can only hope they are as good.

  30. Read Kristen Callihan’s new one Dear Enemy which was good. Listening to The Flatshare on audio. Not sure what I’ll read next….

  31. Rereading Katie Fforde for comfort and because they don’t require me to be able to concentrate much. I like being transported to another country, and I love her settings and the fact that all the protagonists are young.

    Has the blog changed for anyone else? Instead of the hearts to like a comment, now there is a thumbs up–which is fine, but every time I like something I get a pop up that says, “Thanks! You liked this!” and it is making me twitch.

  32. Like many others I’m easily distracted at the moment so rereading seems the way to go. Just started Sharon Shinn’s Mystic and Rider series again which was a recommendation from here some time ago. Love this series, great characters and a terrific evolving story. Oh I did read a new one. Honor Raconteur’s Breaking and Entering 101. A continuation of her Shinigami Detective series. Her characters are very good, although the editing has been a bit hit and miss in the past you stay with it because of the characters. The editing for this one is a lot better.

  33. I just finished Barbara Kingsolver’s The Bean Tree and Pigs In Heaven, between disinfecting counters, doorknobs, light switches and anything else in my path. My poor Australian Labradoodle, who has no concept of social distancing, does depart the scene when the clorox wipes come out. All the rest of the time he is delighted to have a captive audience with my husband and me home 24/7.

    I just started rereading Jennifer Crusie’s Fast Women. It took me awhile to get the book out of the cloud as it was being a tad testy about downloading. It finally landed in my iPad and I’m off on a fun adventure away from all the political nashing and Covid-19. I loved all the suggested reads and will check them out.

  34. I’ve been reading JELLIES AND THEIR MOULDS, and ALL THE KING’S COOKS: The Tudor Kitchens of King Henry VIII at Hampton Court Palace, both by Peter Brears. He does reenactment cooking at Hampton Court, and the second book turns what I thought I knew about palace provisioning on its head. The jellies are also fascinating.

      1. Wait…. chocolate KITCHEN? This was/is a kitchen dedicated to cooking with chocolate? Or am I just imposing my daydreaming on your color descriptions?

        1. Yes. A separate kitchen for preparing chocolate. They’d projected a video on to the wall, to give you the gist. It was a real palaver, preparing chocolate from cocoa beans. Hours of roasting and pounding, etc. Unfortunately, they weren’t actually making it – I would love to know what C18 chocolate tasted like. But I was impressed that the Georgians had dedicated a whole room just to preparing chocolate. Those monarchs had the right idea.

          1. I just saw the BBC is going to repeat The Sweet Makers, so if you can get BBC2, it starts on Monday morning 9:00 GMT.

  35. I read Deanna Raybourn’s Lady grey mysteries. I like the hero more and more and the heroine less and less as the series progressed. I just felt she just wasn’t doing any growing up.
    I have now just started reading Ashley Weaver’s Amory Ames series and I like the heroine much more so far than the hero but I have only read one book. In between I read the Magpie lord books by KJ Charles which were excellent. I am reading a bit too much at the moment but I can pretend it’s because of Covid 19.

  36. I went to buy the latest Rivers of London book and decided I need to reread the rest first. They’re making a good escape from reality, which is definitely overrated.

  37. Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars trilogy. I want something big (and I read Tolkien a couple of months ago) and far removed from today’s trials and tribulations.

  38. I remember this mental state from immediately post earthquake, my brain is mush so I’m doing a Shelly Laurenston reread before listening to her latest badger book.

    Seriously everyone out there, if you’re not performing 100% it’s ok and it’s normal and it is likely to get better. Be kind to yourselves!

  39. Ok – this is slightly off topic, but I have been following Patrick Stewart on Instagram where he is reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets every day.

  40. “Daily Painting” by Carol Marine, because I can open to almost any page and be inspired.

    “How to Find Love in a Bookshop” by Veronica Henry. Very Binchy-like, with some heartbreak, lots of charm, many characters, and of course books. A decent comfort read.

    Meanwhile, I am determinedly *not* reading “The Haunting of Hill House.” With the library closed, it’s not due til May, and I’m having enough nightmares as it is (Trying to drive a car from the back seat. In reverse. Going through a tunnel. With a train speeding toward me.). So it’s buried in my TBR pile, pulsing, pulsing…

    1. Ha, I have that trying to drive a car from the back seat dream. Sometimes forwards, sometimes in reverse. It’s a bastard of a dream. Presumably some sort of anxiety.

  41. I am going back to my old favourites, I read my Crusies last week so now Manning Coles (spy stories) and George MacDonald Fraser s McAuslan books. They will keep me occupied (and take me back) AND my DH enjoys them too.
    Thank you Jenny for Lily, she is distracting, amusing and entertaining

    Keep Safe Everyone.

  42. Eyewitness series is quality.

    Finished The Resistance Man, a Bruno, Police Chief series set in a village in the Dordogne. Handles different times, cultures and relationships. Can’t get enough of the food porn. We’re in the hands of a damn fine writer, Martin Walker.

    Reading Wild Ride, liking it much better this second time. Noticing the craft and characterizations. We’re in the hands of damn fine writers, Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer.

    1. Who almost killed each other writing it. There’s blood on those pages, folks.

      (Thank you, Thea.)

  43. In my view, the final Rex Stout is on of the best with a killer ending that still reverberates with me. Wonder if William Barr has ever read it … nah.

    1. It really is just excellent. And that last line as both the last line of the story and the last line of his career . . . He was 88 when he wrote that. Damn fine writer.

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