WWR—What We’ve Read in November

Anne here, and this month we have a bumper crop of recommended reads for you, from YA to timeslip, to Christmas treats, romance, literary fiction, crime and more.

The Christmas Escape

We'll start with Christina: This month I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of books recommended by fellow Wenches. First and foremost, The Christmas Escape by Sarah Morgan which was exactly as wonderful as I had hoped. The fact that it is set in snowy Lapland in the north of Sweden was just the icing on the cake! I now long to go there to take sleigh rides through the forests and see the aurora borealis in all its glory.

Then there was Boyfriend by Sarina Bowen, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I was very happy to find that it was the first in a series penned by different authors, all connected through the fictional US college Moo U in Vermont. The second book in the series, Blindsided by Victoria Denault, was just brilliant! As well as keeping up with hockey practice and his studies, hockey star Tate Adler is trying to save his family’s farm by doing an illicit side job. Their neighbours the Todds have their own problems. They are sworn enemies so when fellow student Maggie Todd finds out what Tate is doing, she doesn’t hesitate to blackmail him. But whenever they meet, sparks fly and their chemistry is off the charts. Can they risk a relationship or will the feud remain forever? This love story was just explosive and I loved every minute of it. I’m now reading my way through the rest of the series.

Pretty Reckless

A friend also recommended a brilliant YA series by L.J. Shen, starting with Pretty Reckless. It’s raw and angsty with a lot of misunderstandings, but I’m thoroughly enjoying these stories too. Penn Scully is from the wrong end of town with a drug addict mother and a deadbeat step-father, while Daria Followhill is a rich and spoiled princess. He believes she took away the only thing he ever loved and is out for revenge. When Penn’s mother dies, Daria’s parents decide to take him in as a foster son and he can set his plans in motion. As for Daria, she’s tired of always coming second in her mother’s eyes and wants to lash out at everyone and everything. But things don’t go to plan for either of them …

Next comes Pat, who says: If you’re in a literary mood, Anne Tyler is always a good bet.

Redheadbysideofroad

In REDHEAD BY THE SIDE OF THE ROAD, Micah Mortimer, is a 40-something computer tech. He’s the youngest of a large, messy family, and in consequence, he’s a tad obsessive about keeping his personal life contained, so contained that he has a bad habit of shutting doors on the world. The story follows Micah through a series of events that opens his eyes to what he’s been missing all his life. There’s no violence, no sex, just a lovely journey of discovery told by a fabulously talented writer. It’s wonderful to settle in for the evening in safe hands—I didn’t skim a single page!  

Read more

The Many Delights of What We’re Reading –June

Joanna here with our monthly round up. What have the Word Wenches been reading in June? What wonderful books have we discovered?

We have particularly exciting books this month.Wench glass

First up, Anne.
[Warning: cookbook ahead]

Anne here. As usual, I've read a lot of books in the last month. I've always been a prolific reader and it doesn't matter how busy my life gets, reading is a necessary part of my life. 
 
I caught up on my Louise Penny reading, with GLASS HOUSES, a book I bought a year ago and discovered I hadn't read. Absorbing and entertaining, as always, this is #13  in her Chief Inspector Gamache crime series. 
 
Sharon SWench shinnhinn — Mary Jo put me onto Sharon Shinn's fantasies first, and after her recent post I discovered that some more of Shinn's books were now available to me on kindle. I read and enjoyed the first two in the series — TROUBLED WATERS and ROYAL AIRS then discovered that book 3 and 4 are not available to me on kindle. Sigh. So frustrating to know that they are on kindle but not if you live where I do. I really HATE geographical restrictions.
rump grump grump.
 
Finally I read a biography, which I don't often do. It was Writing at the Kitchen Table: The Authorized Biography of Elizabeth David. She was a food writer,  famous before I was born, but who taught me a lot about cooking when I was a student living in a share house, and using an old penguin paperback of hers, FRENCH PROVINCIAL COOKING. I think it was as much the quality of her lyrical, evocative  prose and the little stories and anecdotes that prefaced some of the recipes that enticed me most. I bought all her books I could find, some from used book stores, and am happy to say they're all back in print.
 
I blogged about Elizabeth David some time back — you can read it here — and I found her biography fascinating, not least for the portrait of the difficult and unconventional woman behind the elegant and evocative writing, but also because of the difficulties she had with her various publishers. 
 

Pat brings us magic and what I'd call a "comfort read."
 
Pat here–I'm desperately seeking escape of any sort and a good getaway is hard to find. But here's a couple I've read in recent months that fit the bill.

Wench libraryTHE LIBRARY, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDER,  Mindy Klasky

Mindy writes fun paranormal chicklit, and one of her best characters is Jane Madison, a librarian who discovers she’s a witch. In Jane’s books, she has a magical warder assigned to keep her from creating magical disasters. David Montrose, that powerful DC warder, has his own series now, and we get to see all the problems he’s facing behind the scenes. Not only are his personal problems mounting, but magical DC is on the brink of warfare because of his best friend’s actions, while Jane’s talent is blossoming. He’s juggling more than fire balls to solve everything at once, without being demoted again. It’s a fun fantasy ride!

THE SEVEN YEAR SWITCH, Claire Cook

Lovely women’s fiction with a protagonist who was deserted by her adventure-seeking husband and left to survive on her own. She buried herself in raising their child, giving up the travel and hope of family she’d always wanted—until her husband comes home and wants back in her life again. She has to learn to live and trust and develop new relationships. There’s a lot of fun travel tidbits since she acts as a home-bound travel agent. I would have liked to see her learn enough to actually achieve some of her goals instead of just a potential new love, but it was a pleasant journey worth taking for the fun.

Mary Jo with what sounds like a fun read.

Mary Jo here. I had a delightful time reading the latest Trisha Ashley book, The House of Hopes and DreamsHer books Wenches house are usually about creative heroines in their thirties who are rebuilding their lives (probably in Lancashire), and in the process they find a great eccentric guy who is just right for them.  In HHD, the heroine, Angelique Arrowsmith, known as Angel, is a passionate and talented stained glass artist whose life has just fallen apart. 

Angel's lifelong best friend is Carey Revells, whose enthusiasm and skills as a home renovator have made him a reality TV star on a cottage makeover show, but he and Angel haven't met much in person since they left art school and she went north to work with her older lover, a famous stained glass artist.  The book begins with Carey recovering from an accident that left him bedridden for months and cost him his TV show and his girlfriend.  Then a solicitor informs him he has inherited a large, historic, and rundown house from an uncle he never knew he had. 

Wenches xmasThe house needs lots of work, and it happens to have a stained glass workshop created by Carey's great-grandmother, a noted glass artist.  So very shortly, Angel is living in the house, helping Carey, fixing up the glass shop, and coping with an alien looking black Chihuahua mix that likes biting male ankles.  Soon the house is flowing with friends, workmen, a film crew–and plenty of hopes and dreams fulfilled as well as an old mystery unraveled.  If you like friends-to-lovers stories, this is for you! 

The House of Hopes and Dreams is right up there with my very favorite Trisha Ashley, The Twelve Days of ChristmasWhich, by happy chance, is only $2.99 in the US Kindle store.  So if you haven't read it, here's your chance for a Christmas in July.  It will make you happy and hungry. <G>

 

Andrea brings us some frank words about a favorite author,
and dives into Sharpe's Rifles. Wench punish

Andrea says:  I’ve been a fan of Elizabeth George’s long-running Thomas Lynley detective series for ages. But after she shook up her readers by killing off a major character, I , like many, had a hard time getting back into it, feeling some of the books that followed lost the the sort of subtle psychological insights and interplay that made the books so interesting. I decided to give the last one a try and was heartened to feel George was getting back her mojo. I recently read her latest one, The Punishment She Deserves, and was happy to feel that George is back in top form. 

The plot begins with the apparent suicide of a well-respected churchman in a sleepy English college town. He ’s been picked on an anonymous tip accusing him of abusing children. Lynley’s sidekick, Barbara Havers is part of the two-person police team from Scotland Yard sent to do a routine investigation as the suspect supposedly hanged himself while in local police custody. Her superior is anxious to do a drive-by check up, but feisty Barbara can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t quite right . . .
 
And so begins a probing to college binge drinking, protective parents and an intricate weaving together of mother-daughter relationships from a variety of backgrounds, probing into parental expectations/yearning for their children’s future, and what a parent will do to protect a child. I found it a complex, nuanced and sensitive story that deal with many modern day issues. Watching Lynley and Havers work through some of Wench waterlootheir own personal issues was also interesting to, as I like them both very much. It’s good to see them back in fine fettle and moving on with their lives! 
 
This month I also re-read Bernard Cornwell’s Waterloo, one of the swashbuckling Richard Sharpe books set in the Napoleonic Wars. My current Lady Arianna WIP is set in Brussels and the battle, and I had read that the book is used in many military colleges because it’s such an accurate description of the battle. Cornell is a masterful storyteller, and the non-stop action is riveting—and heartbreaking because of the carnage. I’ve made some notes for my own story about battle locations and timing (don’t worry—there won’t be so much blood and gore!) and reminded me of how much I enjoyed the entire series. If you haven’t read it yet, get Sharpe’s Tiger, the first book, which is set in India . . . you’ll be in for a rollicking ride! Wench brass
 
As for me, I was reading S.A.Chakraborty's The City of Brass. This is the first in a fantasy trilogy based on a Middle Eastern mythos. It's a road trip through magical lands — unfriendly lands full of demons. Much adventure. If I say Djinns and flying carpets it doesn't come close to describing the intricate worldbuilding.
 
There's Revolution and palace intrigue among the magical. So satisfying.
 
City of Brass is Book One of Three so the ending is problematic It's not quite a cliffhanger, but close. And it's good enough to have me looking forward to Book Two.
 
So that June in the Wench Reading Year.  A good 30 days. How's it been with you?

More Thanksgiving What We’re Reading

Joanna, back again with more What Wenches are Reading for November.

Who was it who said, "I hold the buying of more books than one can peradventure read, as nothing less than the soul's reaching towards infinity; which is the only thing that raises us above the beasts that perish?" Whoever it was, I agree with him.  

A. Edward Newton

 

Anne here.Wench kearsley

I've had three stand-out reads this month — Susanna Kearsley's The Firebird, Deborah Smith's Crossroads Cafe, and a new-to-me Irish writer called Ciara Geraghty, of which more to come.

Susanna Kearsley's stories weave the past and present together in a magical, intriguing way that I always enjoy and admire. The Firebird was a wonderful read, about a young woman with a gift she's been taught to keep hidden, and a man who shares her abilities. It starts in England, with a small Russian firebird, and the journey takes us to St Petersburg, past and present. It's romantic, but it's also an adventure. Highly recommended.

Deborah Smith is a writer I've mentioned here before — I discovered her books this year and have been slowly reading my way Lifesaving-for-beginnersthrough her backlist — slowly because I want to savor the treat. The Crossroads Cafe is another excellent story, set mainly in a small Appalachian village. The tale of an actress who has everything, then loses it—or so she thinks. A story full of heart and pain, rediscovery and joy.

I read Ciara Geraghty on the recommendation of a friend, starting with Becoming Scarlett, which I really enjoyed. Then I read Lifesaving for Beginners and was blown away.  Told from the point of view of two characters, one a ten-year-old boy, one a woman hiding from her own history, it's funny, dark, romantic and honest. Fabulous book. I'm so pleased to have discovered a new, wonderful writer. I've ordered the rest of her backlist.

 

And Mary Jo brings us:

Wench shinn mystic riderI began November reading Sharon Shinn's new book, Royal Airs, second in her Elemental Blessings fantasy series.  As always, I loved her voice so much that I had to read more.  So I reread the first book in that series, Troubled Waters.

Then I started in on a great wallowing re-read of Shinn's wonderful earlier series, The Twelve Houses.  Sharon is a terrific world-builder, and great storyteller, and she does very romantic romances.  Her country of Gillengaria has "mystics"–people with different magical abilities, like controlling fire or shapeshifting or healing.  The bad guy forces of greed and hate are whipping up lethal animosity toward mystics so they can grab power for themselves, and the first four books of the series are set against that arc of action.

Wench shinn royal airsBut each book is a strong story in its own right, with a powerful romance at the core.  In the first, Mystic and Rider, six people are sent by the benevolent king to learn how much danger there is to the kingdom, and we follow the group through the four books.  Each of the main characters falls in love with the most improbable, impossible person imaginable.  It's great fun. <G>  Wenches lucky dog

 I've finish rereading Mystic and Rider, The Thirteenth House, and I'm halfway through the third book, Dark Moon DefenderThe fourth book, Reader and Raelynx, is my very favorite of the series, and there's a fifth book, Fortune and Fate, which is set in the aftermath of the war.  Sigh.  Then I'll have to wait a while before I can reread them. 

I've also been enjoying light, humorous women's fiction, including Beth Kendrick's The Lucky Dog Matchmaking Service and Trisha Ashley's Magic of Christmas.  I'll probably reread her Twelve Days of Christmas as well.  Ashley's books are English chicklit set in villages in Lancashire, and they feature slightly frazzled heroines who are food writers, or gardeners or wedding cake makers or some such.  They are surrounded by charming eccentrics, and in the course of the books, they fall in love.  Works for me. <G>

 

Several Futuristic and Paranormal reads this month.  Is this something you enjoy?  Who are you reading in this field?