What We’re Reading for November

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Howdy folks. Joanna here.
Hope all those who celebrated Thanksgiving yesterday had a good one.

It's been a good month for reading, it being fall weather and brisk enough that the dog doesn't beg for a walk so much.

 

Andrea brings us a YA and a biography:Wench washington

It was a strange reading month. I started and didn’t finish a couple of books, which is very rare for me. But they just didn’t catch my fancy. However, having enjoyed the Ron Chernow biography of Alexander Hamilton so much, I snatched up Washington: A Life,  his bio on George Washington, when it recently appeared on BookBub. (It won the Pulitzer Prize some years back) I’m only about a quarter of the way through it, but am really enjoying it.
 
Chernow has a wonderful knack of making his subjects come so alive. Washington’s early life is fascinating, and he comes across as a very different character from the solemn, stately president that the history books present. We see a full range of his humanity—he was a man of passions and pragmatism—and really paints a viid portrait of his many nuances. I’m very much looking forward to glomming through the rest of it in next little while.

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The HNSA Conference 

A few weeks ago I attended the HNSA Conference — (HNSA = Historical Novel Society of Australasia) in Sydney. It was quite different from Romance Writers' conferences, which tend to be mostly about the craft of writing and business and publishing. The HNSA Conference was more about ideas — issues to do with research, fine lines to walk when writing about real people's lives, research challenges across eras, truth and lies in crime fiction, historical fiction screenwriting, sources of inspiration, and much more. You can link to the full program from here. JackieFrench1

I loved the interview with Jackie French, a wonderfully prolific Australian author, who writes for children and adults and everyone in between, and whose historical novels I recommended on Word Wenches earlier this year. I was lucky enough to meet her in the green room, and she was as warm and charming as her books. She gave a marvelous speech about the importance of writing and representing people and telling the truth, and at the end I wanted to stand up and cheer. I restrained myself and clapped really hard instead. Her website is here.

It was both refreshing and inspiring, listening to people talk about historical writing from such varied points of view. As well, so many of the speakers and panelists were natural storytellers, and were so interesting I wanted to hear more, and so of course, bought their books. I learned things about history — mostly Australian history, but also South African and NZ and other times and places — that I knew very little about.

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Juliet Marillier

Anne here introducing our latest guest, Juliet Marillier, whose name might be familiar to you, either from your own reading or because I've recommended her novels in a number of posts. I'm a huge fan, and I'm not alone: here's her goodreads page. JM-with-Harry_sq

Juliet writes historical fantasy— her stories weave folklore/fairy tales into history in, for example, places like ancient Ireland at the time just before Christianity makes its first appearance. She's an internationally bestselling, award-winning author. She's won the American Library Association’s Alex Award, the Aurealis Award (numerous times), the Sir Julius Vogel Award and the Prix Imaginales, among other awards. She's also a passionate dog-lover with a small tribe of rescue dogs. This is Juliet with one of her dogs, Harry.

TOT US final correctedToday I'm interviewing her about her latest book, the second in the Blackthorn and Grim series. I haven't yet read it (it's still in transit), but I opened Dreamers Pool (the first book) the other day — meaning only to glance through it and refresh my memory. Instead I found myself rereading it from cover to cover again, and being transported, moved, and entranced just as much the second time around.

Anne:  Welcome to the Word Wenches, Juliet. Most of your books involve the re-imagining or re-exploring of fairy tales, woven into an ancient Celtic background, with an added touch of magic. Why do fairy tales appeal so strongly?

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What We’re Reading in August

Joanna here with a look at What the Wenches are Reading this recent little time here.

Me — I’ve gotWenches for the king a couple of books toI recommend.  First off is the non-fiction Jane Austen’s Guide to Good Manners by Josephine Ross.  While it’s one of many books that look at Regency customs and manners through the lens of Jane Austen’s works, this one is particularly readable and correct.  

Second book up for a recomment is Catherine DeLors’ For the King. Historical Fiction, here, rather than Historical Romance. It’s an atmospheric novel set in 1800 based upon an attempt on Napoleon’s life. Fun even for those not fascinated by the period.

And, finally, a bit of an outlier.  I’m reading a new-to-me paranormal author, Wenches midnight riotBen Aaronovitch. (You will probably find him in the upper left hand corner of the bookshop shelves.)  The work is titled Midnight Riot which seems to have nothing to do with the plot at all.  This is a police procedural set in Modern day London when part of police work is dealing with murderous magic.  Very funny voice. Well done.

Andrea says:

I’m finally settling back into a normal routine after all the upheaval of moving earlier this summer. And as usual, I’m doing my ying and yang style of reading. For fiction, I’ve gone back to a book I set aside the first time I tried it—the backstory on that is I recently spent the day with my roommates from college, and as we’re all avid readers, the book recommendations were flying fast and furious (As were our fingers! Everyone was busy typing TBR lists on their Wenches Wolf Halli-phones!) Wolf Hall was mentioned, and I said I had given up on it, whereupon I was implored to give it another go, and assured that I would end up loving it. So I am. I want to love it—and I’m warming up to it, but the style/voice is still hard going for me. But I vow to stick it out. (How did everyone else feel about it?)

For non-fiction, I’m reading a very entertaining history of Wenches broadsides the Age of Fighting Sail entitled Broadsides, by Nathan Miller, which covers the time period between the American Revolution and the end of the Napoleonic Wars. It’s very well-written, and along with detailed descriptions of the battles, it highlights the personalities of the captains and admirals, and gives a fascinating picture of life aboard a British warship.

From Nicola we have:  

Wenches silkwormThis month I have been reading The Silkworm, JK Rowling’s second crime novel under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. I enjoy a good old-fashioned whodunit and the first two books in the Cormoran Strike series have been great – intricately plotted, clever, and with some well drawn characters. I am enjoying the way that the relationship between Cormoran, the rather eccentric PI and Robin, his feisty sidekick, is developing and the hints of romance between the two of them. The Silkworm is particularly fun as it’s set in the writing world and contains some very sharp observations about authors, agents and publishers!
 
In contrast I’ve also been reading Prince Rupert, The Last Cavalier, a Wenches rupertbiography of Prince Rupert of the Rhine by Charles Spencer. It’s background reading for my current book and although I’ve read it before I’m finding it equally interesting the second time around. Charles Spencer paints a vivid picture of a fascinat
ing man.

Pat says:

Argh, I’m reading old manuscripts, attempting to ready them for e-book production. I think all that editing late in the evening has jaded my reading for pleasure. I picked up Susanna Kearsley’s The Winter Sea, a fabulously written book with meticulous historical detail, set in Scotland in both contemporary time and early 1700s. But once I saw where the history was headed, I skipped to the end because there was only one way that story was going to unfold. Apparently Wenches winter seaI’ve lost the ability to lose myself in the story.

So now I’m reading a Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line mystery by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham. If you’ve never seen the TV show— it’s about a teen struggling with some serious angst while helping her father in his private detective work. I wish we had more shows where the sex and violence is minimal, and the characters and stories are so well developed. The book starts ten years after the TV story, after Veronica has earned a law degree. It sounds just like the show, catches us up on old characters, and is a good strong mystery. Now I need to hunt another distraction that I won’t be editing in my head …

Anne here:
First up for me is Eloisa James's  Three Weeks with Lady X. I think it's now my favorite of all her books, just beating When Beauty Tamed the Beast.  The banter between the hero and heroine is witty and delightful, with some laugh out loud chuckles along the way, and the sizzle builds beautifully to a delicious climax. My only problem with the book is that I bought it as an e-book and now I'll have to get it in hard copy as I know it's one I want on my keeper shelf. Wenches Raven-Flight

Another historical I enjoyed recently was Mary Balogh's A Secret Affair. On the plane home I devoured Juliet Marillier's Raven Flight, the second in her YA fantasy series that started with Shadowfell. I  can't wait for the third in this series. After that I read Kristan Higgins's Waiting For You, a lovely, fun, contemporary small town romance.

Susan here:  Like Nicola, I'm also reading The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka JKR), and very much enjoying it. The first one, The Cuckoo's Calling, was a great read, and turned me into a Cormoran Strike fan. I love the flaws in this British gumshoe, his honest if chaotic lifestyle, his laid-back wit and depth of intelligence, and the novels have many interesting layers of character and story. Wenches the moor

I'm also reading The Moor, another in the Mary Russell/Sherlock Holmes series by Laurie R. King. I'm way behind in reading this series, and I've only just started this one so don't have much to say, except that I liked the first three Russell-Holmes books (Beekeeper's Apprentice, A Monstrous Regiment and A Letter from Mary) so much that I am continuing. While that's hardly unusual for some, it's highly unusual for me. I am not much for keeping up with a series – but so far, so good! King likes King. What can I say. 😉

 

So that's the reading round-up for this month. 

What are you reading? What are you excited about in the world of literature.

One reader drawn from the comment thread will win any one of my books they desire, (including the not-yet-released Rogue Spy … though you'll have to wait six weeks or so till they send me my copies.)