What We’re Reading in January!

The vanishingNicola here, introducing this month’s What We’re Reading. As usual we’ve got an interesting mix, and we’re really looking forward to hearing about your latest reads as well. Looking at my Kindle, all the most recent books on there are recommendations I’ve picked up from the other Wenches and these posts.

Having read every single one of the Jayne Castle Harmony and Rainshadow series, with attendant dust bunnies, I turned to the Arcane series and now to the Fogg Lake series, which is a contemporary romantic suspense trilogy with paranormal elements. There’s a Midwich Cuckoos vibe going on here. Years ago, the small town of Fogg Lake experienced something called The Incident, a mysterious explosion in the cave system beneath the town. The residents were knocked unconscious and when they recovered, they found they had new psychic powers.

Book 1 in the series is The Vanishing,written under her Jayne Ann Krentz name. Catalina Lark and her friend Olivia St Clair witness a murder when they are teens but no one believes them as it took place in the caves of their hometown Fogg Lake, and people think they were hallucinating. Years later, Olivia disappears and it becomes clear that someone is hunting the witnesses to the murder. Catalina sets out to find her friend with the help of Slater Arganbright, a mysterious operative from a shadowy law enforcement agency called The Foundation.

There are lots of parallels with the futuristic books in terms of the special powers that the protagonists possess, the strong heroines and the very hot heroes and even hotter romance. But – no dust bunnies!

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What We’re Reading in December

AuthenticityNicola here, welcoming you to the Word Wench "What We’re Reading" feature for December. It’s a bumper edition, including both Christmas-themed and other books, so jump right in and check out our choices, and let us know what you recommend this month!

Anne here, and as usual I've read quite a bit in the last month and have several recommendations. The first is The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. Elderly artist, Julian Jessop is lonely and unhappy and, claiming that authenticity is the only possible solution for changing his life, he writes down how he feels in a small exercise book, and leaves it in a local cafe. The owner of the cafe finds it, and inspired by his words of wisdom, writes down her own secret dreams and fears. And leaves the book in a nearby park. And so it goes from person to person. Of course, all their paths begin to cross, and various stories begin to unfold. Quirky and fun — I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

In crime, I’ve just finished the latest JD Kirk — A Snowball's Chance in Hell. This is  the 9th book in JD Kirk's excellent Scottish crime series. I've mentioned his books before. Crime, good characterization, humor, tension and a compelling mystery. I put his books on pre-order the minute they appear. They develop, so start with the first book in the series.

I'm also rereading E F Benson's "Lucia" novels, which I haven't read for years. They're delightful MApp and Lucia novels — very funny and gently satirical, about the intense rivalry, pretensions and ruthless one-upmanship (one upwomanship?) that takes place in the upper middle class society of a small English village in the 1930s. The series builds — for my money the pick of the crop is the middle book, Mapp and Lucia, where two strong-minded ladies battle it out for queen (or top of the pecking order) of their little society.

As the moment you can buy all six of the books in one collection for the ridiculous price of $2 (with a slight variation according to country.) But they're all good. If you have any doubts about whether you'd enjoy the books, read the first few pages of Mapp and Lucia (by clicking on the "look inside" feature on Amazon.)

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Meet Historical Honey!

HH Logo for emailNicola here. Today I am thrilled to welcome Historical
Honey to the Word Wench blog! I first came across the Historical Honey website
a few months ago and was very taken with their eclectic mix of historical
articles, interviews and reviews, from quizzes to discover which of Henry
VIII’s wives you would be to details of costume exhibitions and suggestions for
great places to visit. It’s a box of historical delights!

1. Annabelle,
Jenna and Polly, thank you for joining us today. Where did the idea for the
Historical Honey site first come from?

It all started as a bit of joke, that
we would be historical superheroes, or the ‘historical honeys’ who would bring
history to the masses. Anyway, we soon got serious, dropped the ‘S’, and
Historical Honey was born!

2. Historical Honey’s mission is to
make history more accessible for all. Why is this important to you and how are
you doing it? 

As much as we started off a bit silly,
the premise of the site has always been the same. Whether you are an industry
professional, a student or someone who dips in from time to time, we are
genuinely passionate about creating a platform where people from all walks of
life can share their interests. History is universal, and should be accessible
to everybody, not just people who can understand the archaeological journal. We
like to say it’s ‘history without the cobwebs’.

We know it’s controversial to say, but
the majority of historical sites out there are dull, and even
August newsletter header though the
content can be fascinating, the delivery isn’t accessible and the majority of
people are put off by history for this very reason. Annabelle and Polly are archaeologists, and there are
publications/TV shows (which shall not be named) which in theory they should
read and watch religiously…but they don’t. Why? Because they are boring.

We want to present history in a fun and
engaging way. We actively encourage people to contribute and write 500 word
articles on a subject of their choosing. In the beginning we thought we would
get dozens of articles on popular subjects such as Rome or Egypt. To our
surprise we haven’t received one yet! It’s an amazing insight into how varied
peoples interests are, and there truly is something for everyone.

Whether you visit us just once or
religiously every day, we hope you will learn something, have a giggle and
maybe pass on a little trivia to a friend.

3. The site features all kinds of
quirky articles on history, from badass history boys to how to have sex like
Socrates. How do you decide what sort of articles fit the image of the
Historical Honey site? What are you looking for from potential

We can best describe Historical Honey
as a pick n’ mix of historical content. Sometimes we can be silly, sometimes
naughty, but it’s all what makes us human, right? Folks from history were
certainly no different!

There really are no set rules when it
comes to contributor articles; if someone can bring passion to a subject, it
can’t help but be interesting. It really is passion that is a fundamental
driver behind the whole concept of Historical Honey, and all of our
contributors have passion in abundance!

Alongside articles written by
contributors we also write our own, in-house; ranging from general topics, book
reviews, quizzes, interviews… the great thing about working for Historical
Honey is that we get to write about whatever takes our interest (as long as its

4. What are your own historical
interests and passions, heroes and heroines? 

Annabelle: I am a massive medieval
fan. I dream about life at the Tudor court and chat to Jenna daily
Jenna annabelle polly v2 about Henry
VIII and Anne Boleyn (face to face, via text, Whatsapp…seriously, one day we
should think about publishing our inane conversations about our Henners and
Annie B!) It’s such an obvious one to choose but Anne really is my
heroine.  We will never know what made her tick, and that’s just what
holds our fascination. She had a tragic end, but her strength is something
every woman can relate to.

Jenna: My parents and friends have
always regarded me as a bit of a history geek. As the only member of the HH
team without a background in history or heritage, I can safely say I am your
‘Average Joe’ who loves to learn about the past! Aside from my love for the
Tudor and Victorian periods, my historical interests are limitless. I love to
read about anything morbid; asylums, graveyards, witchcraft and bodysnatching.
I am particularly passionate about fashion throughout history, and the Honey
team are renowned for dressing up in historical garb! As for historical
heroines, that is a hard one, as I am quite changeable! Probably Jane Austen or
John Lennon; both great writers who have changed the world through their work.
Both timeless artists.

Polly: I recently completed a
masters in forensic archaeology and anthropology so I do love a good skelly! I
love how just a few small bones can provide a window into someone's life and
times – even if they lived thousands of years ago. I have a big honey crush on
Charles Darwin, I love Leonardo Da Vinci (especially his anatomical drawings) but
my No.1 hero has to be Agatha Christie. She was an archaeologist before
women were called archaeologists, and wrote many of her stories whilst
travelling around the world – what a life! 

5. If you could back in time to a
moment in history, when would you choose?

Annabelle: There are too many, I
couldn’t possibly choose!

Jenna: Versailles at the time of
Marie Antoinette. I want to know what she was really like.
Second to that, I would love to be a fly on the wall and find out what actually
happened to the Princes in The Tower.

Polly: The roaring 20s – for the
dresses and the cocktails!

6. Historical Honey also reviews
historical fiction. What do you look for in a good historical novel? 

Annabelle: I am sucker for books
which allow me get inside the head of the characters; allowing me to travel
along with them on their journey. Oh and obviously, a little romance never goes

Jenna: I love to get lost in time,
so descriptions of surroundings, dress, smells and food are all important in
building the image in my mind of where the action is taking place. And,
anything a little bit sexy.

Polly: The little details that
show that an author has really read up and done a lot of research about a topic
really makes a historical novel. You need to be able to trust that the author
knows what they are talking about before you can trust in the story.
Topic-wise, I love a good mystery or anything set during the early 20th

7. Can you give us a sneak peek of
what’s coming up next in the Hive? 

Something that has always been really
important to us is helping young people get on the career ladder in the
cultural sector. The HH team have all personally struggled, so we are currently
building a space where all industry jobs and internships from across the
country will be posted. We are also in the process of recruiting industry
professionals to act as mentors for young people, as and when they need it.
Working in this sector is a dream for many people, but with a bit of drive and
a lot of passion it can become a reality.

SECRETBOOKCLUBFORNEWSLETTERAdditionally, we have recently launched
the exciting ‘#SecretBookClub’. Members will receive a free historical novel,
at random, to read. The only catch is they have to send us a short review. As
the majority of us are stuck in a rut when it comes to choosing a book to read,
the #SecretBookClub will allow contributors to read something completely out of
their comfort zone, hopefully providing a more honest review. Whether they love
or hate it, we want to hear about it!

A big thank you to Annabelle, Jenna and
Polly for visiting Word Wenches today and sharing some of the secrets of the
hive. If you would like to find out more about Historical Honey you can find
them here:

Website: www.historicalhoney.com 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@Historicalhoney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HHHive

If you have any questions for Historical Honey
please go ahead and ask! Their question to you is which
historical character would you like to exchange places with for a day and how
do you think that person would cope with your life? One commenter gets
the choice of one of my books as the prize.