Joanna here with a round up of the great reads that got us through a blustery cold February.
My own wonderful read was Deborah Harkness' A Discovery of Witches, Book One in the All Soul's Trilogy. The elements of this story -- withces and vampires living among us, ancient manuscripts, conspiracies, ancient secrets -- are familiar. They seem almost hackneyed. What lifts this book above the ordinary is Harkness' beautiful writing.
And ... well ... the first book of the trilogy is set mostly in Oxford. I'm a sucker for Oxford.
I've already acquired Book Two in the trilogy, Shadow of Night, and look forward to settling down in a comfy chair with it. Maybe when we get this next wave of snow that's coming in.
I’m very interested in the Edwardian era, so when I read the great reviews for The Heir Apparent, Jane Ridley’s new biography of “Bertie,” King Edward VII, I immediately grabbed it.
It’s an absolutely fascinating read. Ridley had access to extensive Royal archives and private family correspondence—and the picture painted of Queen Victoria, Albert and their extensive brood and relatives is . . .well, I’m not quite sure of the adjective to use. Chilling might be one of them. Talk about a dysfunctional family! It’s a wonder poor Bertie wasn’t committed to Bedlam. He actually comes off as a very sympathetic character, far brighter and more interested in the welfare of his country than he is given credit for.
On the other hand, the Queen and her consort come across as cold, manipulative people who had absolutely no emotional interest in their children. It also gives a wonderful look at the social whirl of the Victorian age, with descriptions of the house parties, the foreign travel, the royalty of Europe. I highly recommend it for anyone interested in the time period.
On a lighter note, I’m reading an ARC of our own Anne Gracie’s upcoming book, The Winter Bride.
Damaris must overcome a dark secret from her past to find any way of finding happiness with the rakish Freddy Monkton-Coombes . . . where I live we’ve been hit with freezing cold and heavy snowstorms, so I’ll simply say that reading their story brought a spark of warmth and light to my winter.
I’m bogged down in edits and revisions and haven’t had time to do much reading. But I’ve been fortunate to acquire ARCs from the wenches and elsewhere, so in my few spare minutes, I’ve eagerly read Anne Gracie’s The Winter Bride, started on Cara Elliott’s Passionately Yours, and finished Leah Cutter’s Popcorn Thief.
The Winter Bride a lovable laughing rake hiding a broken heart and a very proper minister’s daughter as the tortured heroine.
(Cara Elliott chimes in to say, "No surprise that I’m loving it! Anne crafts such interestingly original and complex characters, and with this second story about the Chance “sisters”, she’s woven yet another lovely tale that shows family is a bond made not just of blood, but of love. And love is always at the heart of Anne’s stories.)
Back to Pat -- Passionately Yours is another of Cara’s delightful Regencies based on the eccentric Sloane sisters, or the Hellions of High Street.
And Leah’s Popcorn Thief is a wonderful rural Southern magic story with a hero who loves popcorn better than anything.
There’s a sweet romance threading through the magical suspense as a complete change of pace.
Mostly I've been reading books for the RWA RITA competition, which of course I can't discuss, and in between I've done a bit of rereading of old favorites, like Jayne Ann Krentz's Arcane Society stories.
One of those was Susan Elizabeth Phillips's Lady be Good, which I enjoyed enormously.
Who will claim the throne of Mars?
Spain as well as bits and pieces of research. However, in Spain I enjoyed the
audio book of one of my favourite novels, Dorothy Dunnett's The Game of Kings.
I've had this for a while, but couldn't get into it because of the accent the
reader gave Lymond, the central character; I never hear him with a Scottish
accent when I'm reading. But I persisted in small bites and eventually the
story gripped me as it always does and I enjoyed it tremendously.
I have to give the reader credit for coming up with mostly distinctive voices
for a huge range of characters from very young to old, but the choices for
Lymond and his brother were odd. Richard is the solid, conventional one, well
rooted in Scotland, and yet he got the more English, and therefore in context
more cosmopolitan voice, whilst Lymond, the sophisticated polyglot wanderer got
the Scots. Ah well.
So, what have you been reading this month that amused you, excited you, surprised you, delighted you ...?