We’ve been busy these past few weeks, but there’s always time for reading!
For this month’s WWR, we have a great array of reads and recommendations to further topple your TBR pile. Browse through our picks, and please let us know what you’ve read and enjoyed recently.
The big reading news for November was the release of Sharon Shinn’s Whispering Wood, fifth in her Elemental Blessings fantasy series. Sharon is a master of worldbuilding and characterization and those qualities are fully on display. The people of her fictional country of Welce all have affinities for one of the five elements: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Wood. Each book concentrated on a protagonist with an affinity for one of the elements, starting with Book I, Troubled Waters. Whispering Wood is centered on hunti, the fifth element which is affiliated with wood. The heroine Valentina Serlast is a dedicated hunti introvert who wants to be left alone on the country estate. But her older brother, Darien, is about to be crowned king of Welce, so she’s forced to come to the capital city for the coronation. She starts out hating pretty much everyone <G>, but during her enforced stay she starts making friends, expanding her world, and reconnecting with Sebastian, the red headed rogue who has been her best friend since childhood. By the end of the story, she demonstrates the strength and tenacity that is the essence of her hunti heritage. Though the book stands alone pretty well, it’s best to start with Troubled Waters, the first in the series so you can watch the characters grow and change. It’s a rich, rich world!
For something completely different, I loved Emilie Richards’ women’s fiction book, When We Were Sisters. The story rotates between three points of view: Cecilia and Robin bonded as sisters when both were in foster care. They fought to stay together and helped each other survive and have stayed the closest of friends even as Cecilia becomes a pop star so famous she’s known by her first name. Robin gives up a promising career as a photojournalist to marry and have children. The third character is Robin’s husband Kris, a workaholic lawyer who was raised in poverty and is determined that his family will never have to struggle as he did. When Cecilia teams with a well respected documentary maker to produce a series about foster care, she asks Robin to be the still photographer for the production. When Robin accepts, her husband Kris has to figure out how to run a household and raise his two kids. The filming takes Cecilia and Robin through the challenges of the past and darkest secrets of that time. All three of the characters grow and change in a story I found compelling and positive. Emilie Richards is a terrific writer, and When We Were Sisters is one of the best women’s fiction novels I’ve ever read.
THE WHISPERED WORD (Secret, Book, and Scone Society Series #2), Ellery Adams
I’m a wee bit bored with all the cozy mysteries about bookshops, but this one is slightly different. The owner of the store, Nora, is an ex-librarian badly scarred from an incident that she caused herself. She provides what she calls bibliotherapy to her friends and customers. The town of Miracle Springs is a hot springs and health spa tourist area, so she sees many people who need help. The book starts off slow, but a malnourished, mistreated runaway held my interest until all the various action wheels began to turn. The characterization is a bit superficial because there are so many characters, but each one is easily defined after the first few chapters. The story itself is a humdinger, involving book lovers and long-lost secrets and con artists. By the end, the wicked are served justice and Nora and the runaway are in a much better place. And yes, there’s a quite romance as well. If you’re looking for something really cozy and quiet, give this one a try.
TEA AND EMPATHY: Tales of Rydding Village #1, Shanna Swendson
The queen of romantic fantasy is back! Shanna Swendson has a new series. In this first book, a runaway healer discovers a nearly abandoned village and hopes to hide by becoming the owner of a tea shop. But it’s impossible to hide her abilities, and when she finds a knight who obviously isn’t a knight in her garden, she knows the world will intrude too soon. But her knight in broken armor has no memory of who he is, and she hopes to stay a while longer in the community that needs her. I can’t tell more without giving away the story. Just know that this is lovely fantasy, with an interesting community of characters, and justice prevails. The romance isn’t complete. It’s a series, after all, and there’s this abandoned castle on the hill… So I expect many more delightful tales to come. Hurry, please!
This month has mostly been crime season for me. I read The Last Remains, by Elly Griffiths, the final book in her Ruth Galloway mystery series. As always, an intriguing crime story was mixed in with fascinating archaeology and that touch of the supernatural which always adds an extra layer to the mix. But as with all good books, it’s the relationships that make it so fascinating and this was a very satisfying ending to the series and to the relationship between Ruth and Nelson that has underpinned all the books. Still on a crime theme, I also enjoyed The Twist of a Knife by Antony Horowitz, an excellent “locked room” mystery in classic Agatha-Christie type style. Now I’m reading my way through all the LJ Ross DCI Ryan books in order…