August What We’re Reading

Collected by Mary Jo

Rookie MoveChristina Courtenay Contributes:

Following a Wench recommendation, I have spent this month immersed in the world of the Brooklyn Bruisers, a series by Sarina Bowen. Starting with Rookie Move, it follows the members of a new ice hockey team based in Brooklyn, each of whom falls in love in spectacular fashion. As a huge fan of ice hockey, I’ve really enjoyed this series and am now working my way through various spin-offs as well. I’ll probably also read all the other books by this author as soon as I can.

Rookie Move features Leo, a player who has spent the last six years trying to succeed in the NHL and also get over the girl who broke his heart in high school. Unfortunately for him, when he’s taken on by the Bruisers he finds that the team’s publicist is his former girlfriend Georgia, and the coach is her father, who hates him with a vengeance. As for Georgia, she had suffered her own trauma and the last thing she wants is to work with Leo. Keeping their relationship strictly professional is never going to be easy …

 

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WWR — What we read in October

Anne here, hosting our monthly "what we're reading" post, and have we got some great recommendations for you, from contemporary magic realism, to English women's fiction/rom com, medieval historical romance, rock romance, crime fiction of various sorts, and fantasy romance. Read on — and then add your own recommendations in the comment stream.

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We begin with Pat: For fans of magical realism and Barbara Samuel—MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACK BIRD CAFÉ by Heather Webber is a lovely, heartwarming, “wrap up in a cozy blanket and dream pleasant dreams” story. There is enormous heartbreak and death, but the book is not just about learning to cope, but to overcome and become stronger through forgiveness and love.

For tragic reasons, Anna Kay has never lived in the town her mother called home, until her grandmother dies and leaves her a café. Anna has no intention of staying. She’s on her way to medical school. But the will requires that she stay and run the café for two months before she can sell it, and she desperately needs the funds. Over those months, she learns about the rare blackbirds inhabiting her backyard, the mulberries that bring magical dreams, and about the father she never knew. And while Anna is changing, the whole town is changing with her. Every character shines like a polished gem, and I wanted to root for all of them to have their happy endings. Definitely a feel good story for a dreary evening!

CountryEscapeChristina says: Jane Lovering writes the quirkiest rom coms I’ve ever read – and I mean that in the best possible way! – so when I noticed that she had a new book out, I downloaded it immediately. In The Country Escape, heroine Katie has moved herself and her teenage daughter to a ramshackle cottage in deepest Dorset following her recent divorce because it’s all she can afford. Her ex-husband was French, rich and selfish, so the change in circumstances is particularly noticeable. With jobs harder to come by than she’d thought (she is a French teacher), their prospects for the coming winter look bleak until a couple of chance encounters. One with a pony, who turns up in her orchard one morning (together with an abandoned gypsy caravan), and the other with a man called Gabriel. Jane Lovering’s heroes are always unusual and unique, and Gabriel is no exception. Despite being very handsome, he’s not your average alpha hero, and he has been scarred by things that happened when he was young. But although Katie tries to resist, she can’t help but be drawn to him. Quietly witty and resourceful, as well as self-deprecating, Katie is the kind of heroine you can’t help but root for, and she is hiding some secrets of her own.

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What We’re Reading in February

White horse booksNicola here, introducing the Wenchly reading recommendations in the month of February. As ever we have a big mix of books for you and look forward to hearing what you've been reading too! the picture on the left is the rather gorgeous old bookshop in Marlborough, a town just down the road from me, where I love to browse. Sometimes you might even meet the resident bookshop ghost, which seems appropriate for Pat's first recommendation today!

Pat writes:

SEANCES ARE FOR SUCKERS by Tamara Berry

Ellie Wilde is a cynic, for good reason. As the youngest of triplets, she’s paying to keep her comatose sister in the best nursing home available by using her limited skill set—tricking people. To be fair, she also gives them comfort—by ridding their homes of ghosts she doesn’t believe in. People might call her a psychic medium, but in reality, she’s a great problem-solver and people reader. She has to be, or her sister will be out on the street. Her brother is a gym teacher and can’t possibly afford the cost of nursing care, so it’s up to Ellie. When she’s offered a small fortune and the opportunity to fly to England and live in a mansion while she rids the house of its resident ghost, she happily takes the job.

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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.

 

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

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 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 July

Woman readingNicola here, introducing the July What We're Reading. We all love this feature as we get so many wonderful book recommendations as a result. We hope you enjoy it too. If, like me, you're going away in a few weeks time and are looking for the next read to take with you, or if you have already been indulging in some holiday reading, this is the place to share!

Joanna:

Only one book to recommend this month. It's been a busy time altogether. The RWA National Conference was a mad, lovely, exciting week. The rest of July was spent madly writing.

Still, I did get to read Robin McKinley's, The Hero Hero and crown
 and the Crown
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 It's a YA that won the Newberry Medal a few years back. A princess despised and distrusted by her people steps outside their expectations and becomes a strong and magical warrior who saves the kingdom. The book is about choices and strength and what these cost.

McKinley has been a favorite of mine since I read Sunshine, her YA-vampire-not-quite-a-romance. A lovely book.

Pat:

I’ve been cruising the high seas and spending more time in the moment than reading, apparently. And I watched movies on the plane! But here’s a couple of books I can recall.

Axeman’s Jazz, Julie Smith—a mystery rich with gritty New Orleans atmosphere. The heroine is a very good, very determined cop which gives a nice spin on the usual types of humor found in hapless female detective stories. The story includes lovely layers of satire on New Orleans society— the killer is picking off attendants of 12-step programs, which to the detective’s dismay means that half the city is a potential victim.

1395707162001-Fool-Me-TwiceMeredith Duran, Fool Me Twice—I went into this thinking “yawn, another book about a tortured, privileged duke.”  I have a real hard time being sympathetic to dukes who have everything and still manage to whine. But Duran pulls out ALL the stops. She beats this once-decent guy into a puling lump, then torments her innocent heroine beyond reason. Even though I was fully prepared to laugh at the preposterous setup, Duran made me root for both of them. Her emotional and descriptive writing twists the heart and keeps the pages turning.

Off the Reservation, Glen Merzer—if you want a novel that literally goes off the deep end on satirizing politics, try this one. The protag is a Congressman who grabs attention by saying just what he pleases and turns his lunacy into a campaign platform, while claiming over-population is the root of all problems and that there are no solutions. The way to bring honesty back to politics!

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