Joanna here, and it's What We're Reading time.
What are the Wenches enthusiastic about this month?
Looks like mystery, suspense, and magic abound.
These mysteries are so perfect for me. They're gritty, exciting stories, full of intrigue, and set in my favorite historical period. This latest book — set in London — winds in and out of the downfall of the French Monarchy and the politics of Napoleonic France.
All these books are full of intricate, intricate plots and indirections. Complex characters. Sneaky stuff. Love stories.
I'm also enjoying Lilith's Cave: Jewish Tales of the Supernatural by Howard Schwartz. What we got here is a collection of traditional folk stories of magic and mystery. Old stories, told with a little humor, of marriage with demons, wandering spirits, werewolves, and the occasional possession by dybbuks. Nice stuff to read at bedtime.
Set in late Victorian England, the books beautifully capture the ambiance of upper crust society—and yet the protagonist, Lady Emily and her dashingly attractive husband Colin, are anything but conventional aristocrats.
Colin investigates sensitive situations for the government, many of which involve murder. Lady Emily, a classics scholar, is also very good at sleuthing, and together they form a formidable team.
In this book, someone posing as a famously eccentric female explorer and world traveler crashes the Duke of Devonshire’s costume ball, only to be recognized by one of Lady Emily’s friends as an imposter. She manages to flee the party but when she’s found murdered, it’s up to Lady Emily and Colin to delve into the mystery and untangle the twisted threads . . . well-written, with great characters and great descriptions of London and Paris, it’s a fun read.
I also love quirky historical non-fiction books, and Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed World History by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson is a delightfully offbeat journey through chemistry (don’t shriek—it’s done in a very fun way) showing how 17 basic molecules have shaped civilization. (think glucose, as in sugar, and piperine as in pepper and the spice trade) It’s a fascinating perspective on how expected forces have shaped our world, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
This month I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. As I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I’ll just quote the blurb from Amazon:
“Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.”
This was a pretty tense book and I did enjoy it but I guessed fairly early on who the villain of the piece was going to be. I also felt the book was a bit long-winded and repetitious but as it’s a number 1 bestseller and has loads of rave reviews I’m probably in a minority! I far preferred the other thriller I read, Sister by Rosamund Lupton. This was a fabulous read about the lengths a woman would go to find her missing sister and it was clever and beautifully written.
In my crimefest I didn’t totally forget historical romance, though. I was lucky enough to be given an advance copy of Bronwen Evans’ next book in her Disgraced Lords series, A Touch of Passion, and it is a fast-paced, sexy and romantic adventure I enjoyed a lot.
After being in a bit of a reading slump for a while, where nothing seemed to catch my interest, I picked up the first book in a fantasy series (that I think someone here had recommended) and ended up eagerly glomming the whole series (5 books), finding myself so impatient for the next book and the next that I bought them on instant download.
It's the Tairen Soul series, by C.L. Wilson. It's fantasy and romance and adventure and a battle between good and evil — with the lines often deliciously blurred. The heroine is wonderful — Ellie, the woodcarver's adopted daughter — who finds she is the "truemate" of the beautiful, tortured, magnificent faerie king, Rain Tairen Soul -- a man who can change into a Tairen - sort of a cat/dragon.
He's used to commanding worlds, but Ellie makes up her own mind about things and has a lovely stubborn streak that often frustrates Rain. I won't describe the plot, but as well as a wonderful love story, there is a page-turning adventure plot and a truly evil villain -- actually, several villains of different magnitude, as well as a wonderful cast of minor characters.
Pat Rice says:
While gearing up the courage to scan some of my earliest books into the computer, I’ve been taking time to just read. If I can find enough good material, maybe I’ll give up the foolish idea of editing thirty-year-old books!
One of my favorite new series by an author I’ve just discovered is Books of the Kindling by Donna June Cooper. I just finished Making Magic, and this third in the series is still as strong as the first book. Of course, she’s writing about people with otherworldly gifts and a magic mountain, while embracing environmental responsibility, so she’s pretty well nailed my interests!
And ever since I picked up a few of their books at RT, I’ve sought out contemporary romances from UK publisher Choc Lit. So far, I haven’t read a bad one. My most recent encounter was Jane Lovering’s How I Wonder What You Are. Again, I was enticed by the hint of UFOs and mysteries of the universe, but this really is a book about love and overcoming fears and insecurities, which also appeals to my need for great characters. If you like contemporary Brit romance, poke around on www.choc-lit.com and see if you don’t see a few things you’ll enjoy.
And Mary Jo, just back from vacation, joins us with:
I've mostly been reading research books and RITA entries, but Pat Rice said that she enjoyed the contemporary romance Imperfect Chemistry by Mary Frame, so I decided to give it a try. I'm glad I did.
I thoroughly enjoyed the story of Lucy London, a 20 year old prodigy who has a PhD in microbiology but is totally clueless at reading people or understanding emotions. However, she jolly well has to learn those things if she is to write a proposal so she can secure a grant and her place at the university. Working as a campus peer counselor isn't helping since her advice tends to send students fleeing from the room in order to register complaints about her.
Ever logical, Lucy decides to ask her hottie next door neighbor, Jensen, if she can study him and his social life to help her develop her grant proposal. The idea rather freaks him out, but eventually she wears him down, and her study develops in--unexpected ways. I found the story smart, fun, and original. There's a second book now available in her Imperfect series, and it's already downloaded into my e-reader. <G>
And Jo Beverley says:
It's been stimulating. I remember once deciding to read from my public library starting with the first book in general fiction beginning with A. I didn't stick with it for long, but it was interesting. I'm wondering if any Wench readers go out of their way to find a random read.
So, what are you reading this month that has you pleased and excited, or intrigued and enlightened? What are your favorite books of the month?