What We’re Reading

Our Word Wench WWR posts are always popular, and our July reads start with Nicola Cornick:

Shrines of GaietyNicola here. My favourite read this month was Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson, which is set in London in the 1920s in the glittering and criminal world of the Soho clubs. I picked it up because the story, about the Croker family and their entertainment empire was inspired by that of the infamous nightclub owner Kate Meyrick, several of whose daughters married into the aristocracy, including the Craven family. The book perfectly captures the complicated and glamorous world of 1920s society. The character of Nellie Coker, the matriarch, is compelling, as is the plot in which the police on one side and Nellie’s enemies in the criminal fraternity on the other, are all aiming to bring her down. Her eldest son, Niven, is a great romantic hero. My major grumble was that the romance strand was left hanging, which was very frustrating for those of us who like happy endings! I’ve enjoyed some Kate Atkinson books more than others but this was one of my favourites.

US link here: UK line here.

I also picked up The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware and thoroughly enjoyed that too. Mrs WestawayHarriet Westaway, struggling to make ends meet and even to survive in Brighton after her mother’s death, receives a letter that seems to answer all her prayers. The Cornish grandmother she never knew has left her a fortune. But Harriet’s grandparents died 20 years before… didn’t they? Desperate for the money, she decides to chance it and see if she can get away with the fraud, which brings her into the Westaway family circle and a whole host of secrets waiting to be revealed. This is a gothic thriller with all the trappings – a creepy old house, an equally creepy old family retainer and various weird relatives hiding all sorts of secrets. I found it a page-turner and went on to read another of Ruth Ware’s books, The It Girl, straight after.

US link UK link

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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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June What We’re Reading!

Blood of a GladiatorMary Jo here…

…with the Wenches' ever popular "What we're reading" blog.  Dig out your credit cards, we're going for a joy ride!

I've always known that Jennifer Ashley is a very talented, prolific author who writes historical romances, paranormals, and historical mysteries, but I hadn't found her Leonidas the Gladiator series, written under her Ashley Gardner pseudonym.  So far there are only two novels and a novella, but more are coming.  The first book is Blood of a Gladiator.

Leonidas is the premier gladiator in Rome, a rock star fighter who is recognized in the streets, but he has reached the point where he can't face any more killing.  That is the moment when he receives his freedom from slavery and can finally quit being a gladiator and make his own life–if he can figure out how.

He has no financial resources, but an unknown benefactor gives him a modest apartment and a slave of his own: Cassia, who is a scribe.  Illiterate Leonidas doesn't know what to do with  a slave who does doesn't cook or do housework, but she can help him find jobs and is very good at negotiating contracts and making sure they get paid. 

Initially Cassia is afraid of him, but he's a good guy and doesn't ravish her and gradually they develop a bond of trust.  And have to deal with unexpected murders.  Ashley Gardner creates a wonderful sense of place and what it would be like to live in Rome during the reign of Nero.  But the best part is the characters and their slowing developing relationship. 


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What We’re Reading in January

Rainy Day Sisters (Pat0by Mary Jo

Here is the monthly round up of books Word Wenches have enjoyed recently.  I hope you find some new reads you'd enjoy!

Pat Rice here:

Rainy Day Sisters by Kate Hewitt is women’s fiction of the philosophical, emotional sort, except a lot more original than most. There’s a couple of up-and-down romances to keep the stakes high, but the real focus is on the development of a relationship between half-sisters who barely know each other. The younger grew up in the US, the older in the UK, and their only common ground really is their fury at their narcissistic mother. I enjoyed watching their lives grow as their relationship grows. There were a lot of loose threads at the end, obviously leaving room for more stories in the series. This is a well-written, quieter novel you can sink into, enjoy getting to know the people of the small Cumbrian town, and watch the sisters open up and become stronger.

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What We’re Reading–September 2020

Pat here, hosting our monthly wench book review event. We have way too much fun behind the scenes reading each other's recommendations and adding to our TBR piles! We have some great ones this month. And just to keep the bookstores (or libraries) busy, we welcome all reader recommendations in the comments below.


The Sea Gate - Jane JohnsonI haven’t been reading much this month, but I couldn’t resist picking up The Sea Gate by Jane Johnson because the cover really appealed to me and I love stories set in Cornwall. This is a gripping and engrossing dual time story, alternating between the present and World War II. And although I don’t normally read much from this period, The Sea Gate gave a whole new perspective on things as the story takes place in a small fishing village on the coast. Here, the war seems far away, but it has a way of finding the protagonists all the same. For 16-year old Olivia, it changes her life in numerous ways, and has repercussions that resonate throughout her long life. In the present, we meet her again as an irascible old lady in her nineties, and I absolutely loved her character! She is refreshingly direct and downright rude, and the sheer strength of her will is remarkable. The story in the present mainly centres on a young relative, however, Rebecca, who has been through the wringer in more ways than one. Lacking in self-confidence and suffering from anxiety and depression, coming to Cornwall to help the elderly Olivia is the making of her. I so enjoyed watching her going from doormat to roaring lion – a favourite trope of mine – and was cheering her on, hoping for a happy resolution to all her problems. I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves dual time stories and/or tales of World War II – it’s wonderful!

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