What We’re Reading in August

Joanna here:  Season of Mists and Yellow Fruitfulness it may be, but I'm not getting ANY reading done.  You will have heard this excuse before many times. I think I may be the least readingest of all the Wenches. I'm rereading the Lymond Chronicles of Dorothy Dunnett. I'm embarked on the Game of Kings just at the moment. Rereading it is very different from reading it for the first time which was full of "Wow. I want to write that," but also a good bit of "What?" "Huh?" Also beginning and not yet very far into The Natural History of Dragons, of which you have heard other Wenches speak. I'm enjoying it.

 

Here's what Nicola has to say:

Www here's to usI came back from the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference buzzing with ideas and weighed down with a pile of fabulous books I am now reading my way through. First was Here’s To Us by Elin Hilderbrand. I hadn’t come across her books before; here in the UK they aren’t as well-known as in the US but I am so glad I have found her because I didn’t want to put the book down. I loved the exploration of complicated family relationships, the twists, the tensions and the resolutions. I loved the characters and the way that they interacted and found the writing style so crisp and clear. Even more I loved her descriptions of Nantucket which were so rich and vivid that I felt as though I was there! I’m on the hunt for her otWww2 midsummerher books now.

Next I picked up Midsummer Dreams by Alison May. It’s a clever re-imagining of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a contemporary setting. I’m only part of the way through but I am really enjoying the way that Alison has created characters who feel real and warm and alive. It’s funny and poignant and she really pins down the emotional conflicts. As it’s one of a series inspired by Shakespeare I can see myself reading the whole lot!

 

 

 

Anne says:Www3 paris

MY LITTLE PARIS BOOKSHOP, by Nina George

The story is about a man, Jean Perdu, who runs a bookshop— or what he calls 'a literary apothecary' in a lovely old restored barge on the Seine River in Paris. Jean has a gift for finding just the right book for each customer, a balm for what ails you. He can heal anyone except himself—he's locked in a frozen past (Perdu is French for 'lost')—until a new person arrives in his apartment complex and Jean's frozen present begins to develop cracks. What follows is an adventure of the heart — but be aware, this not genre romance. 

I savored it and, having read a lot of books, enjoyed recognizing the various titles Jean offered his customers. I loved the setting and the layered intrigue of the characters. It's an international best-seller.  I bought it as an e-book, but I'm buying the paper version, as it's a keeper. As Library Journal (who gave it one of their coveted starred reviews) said "if ever a book was meant to be read over and over, this gem is it.

 

Www7 trsut

You get two covers for the price of one, because different

Www 4 trust

 TRUST by Kylie Scott

Kylie Scott is famous for her gritty rock star series, but this is a new area for her — YA (Young Adult.) TRUST has only been out for a week or two, but it already has several hundred reviews. I devoured it in a night.

Kylie Scott has a gift for putting two fairly ordinary young people in an extraordinary situation, and then showing them learn to cope, and grow stronger from the experience. She has a deep understanding of the pressures and conflict that young people today have to deal with. TRUST is a coming-of-age story, and also a romance. Highly recommended.

  

THE CHILBURY LADIES' CHOIR by Jennifer Ryan

I think I picked this up from a wenchly recommendation. Life in a small English village during WW2, when normal village life is challenged and disrupted and people discover new talents and strengths in themselves. I enjoyed it very much.

 

Andrea/Cara has two books for us, one by a fellow Wench:

I was so happy to receive my copy of Nicola’s The Phantom Tree from Book Depository recently. (It’s not yet out in the U.S. but Book Www5 phantomDepository has free shipping worldwide so you to can snatch it up—which I highly recommend!) It’s a riveting time slip story, with the action moving back and forth between Elizabethan England and the present day. The plot revolves around the heroine seeing a small portrait in a modern-day antique shop that's just created a news buzz by being identified as a lost-lost painting of Anne Boleyn. But the heroine knows that’s wrong . . .
 
I’m not all that familiar with Tudor times, so I loved learning about the intricate politics and family connections as well as aspects of everyday life. The writing is beautifully evocative—the manor homes like Wolf Hall and the surrounding countryside come brilliantly alive. And the characterizations are richly nuanced, both with the actual historical figures and how they entwine with the fictional ones. Nicola creates a wonderfully provocative “what-if” story for Mary Seymour, who in real life was presumed to have died in childhood. I don’t want to give away too much of the mystery twists . . . But add to the plot the heroine’s former flame, a dishy modern historian who has his own hit TV show, and things heat up as they delve deeper into the mystery of the portrait—which brings about some other surprising revelations! It’s a wonderfully layered and engaging story, and I was up until the wee hours of the morning finishing it because I just couldn’t put it down!
 
Www6 bobOn a very different note, I also enjoyed My Life With Bob, whose subtitle is: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues. It’s part memoir, part musing on books by by Pamela Paul, the editor of the New York Times Book Review. As a shy, introverted high school student, she started to keep a notebook of every book she read, and over the last 28 years, she's kept it up, hauling the tattered volume around the world with her as she goes on life’s journeys, both physically and metaphorically. I like the way the official blurb describes it: "It’s about the deep and powerful relationship between book and reader . . . It’s about why we read what we read and how those choices make us who we are. It’s about how we make our own stories.” There are times when she gets a little too self-consciously precious, but on the whole, it’s a fun, provocative read about how books shape our lives, providing solace, inspiration, escape, and often a prod to be better than we think we can be. And really, who among our Wench family here can resist a book about books!

 

So, what are you reading lately that delights, surprises, moves or intrigues you?

 

 

What We’re Reading in February

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.

Www kings confressNow me, I'm reading CS Harris' Why Kings Confess, the latest in the Sebastian St. Cyr historical murder mysteries. (The first in the series is What Angels Fear. That's where I'd start.)

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.

Cara/Andrea says,
 
I’m a big fan of historical mysteries, and there are several series I particularly enjoy, and Tasha Www counterfeit heiressAlexander’s Lady Emily series is one of them. So it was with great pleasure that I finally had the time to pick up her latest, The Counterfeit Heiress, and dive in.

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.

 

Www napoleon 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!

 
 
Nicola here. This month was all about thriller/suspense novels for me.
 
Ever since I read Gone, Girl a while ago I have had a taste for what’s being called domestic thrillers, books about relationships, with an element of psychological drama. I don’t find them comfortable reads. There are almost always aspects of the stories that disturb me but I do enjoy studying how the authors construct the suspense element and I like being kept on the edge of my seat.

This month I read The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. As I don’t want to give away any spoilers, I’ll Www The Girl on the Trainjust 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 theWww touch of passion 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. 

Anne here.

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. Www tieran soul lotfl_190X3001

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:

Www MakingMagic72webWhile 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! Www HIW-Web-non-ebook1-275x370

 

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:

Www Imperfect ChemistryI'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:

BookreadingcatThis month I've been reading for an award. It's always interesting to have my reading chosen for me, including books I might not have picked up otherwise.

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?