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

Lizzieand dantePat here with the Word Wenches monthly reads!

My contribution is Lizzie and Dante by Mary Bly (Eloisa James)

I imagine most of you recognize Eloisa James as a wonderful historical romance writer. This first contemporary under her real name is a romance, but also heartbreakingly uplifting, original women’s fiction. Lizzie is a Shakespeare professor with cancer who agrees to take an all-expenses paid trip to Elba with her gay best friend, a horror writer, and his still-in-the-closet famous superhero actor lover. I suppose everyone in the book needs to be rich and famous and talented to make up for the fact that the protagonist is dying. She is preparing for death throughout the story. What she isn’t prepared for is the rich life  she discovers dealing with her friend’s frustration, a twelve-year-old looking for a mother, a brash breast cancer survivor, and the man of Lizzie’s dreams, a brilliant cook who creates food she hates but who pours his joy into living. As this family of friends forms around her, Lizzie is faced with actual life-and-death decisions. And this is still the most romantic, tear-jerking, lovely story you may have ever read.

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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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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 September

September is a grand month for reading. We've come up with some great suggestions.

 
Wench shamelessAnne here: I've been really enjoying some NA (New Adult) college stories. I've mentioned Sarina Bowen in this column several times and now I'll add Elle Kennedy to the list — they've written a few book together, which is how I discovered Elle Kennedy. Both these authors are writing fresh, fun, yet realistic stories that deal with some very serious issues faced by young people at that age, while still remaining very sexy and romantic. 
 
The Shameless Hour – Sarina Bowen
Bella gets around — she's a bright, positive, lusty girl. Rafe is a hunky Hispanic boy who has been raised to respect women — which is why he's still a virgin at 20. When the double standard smacks Bella down in the nastiest way, Rafe steps in. A gorgeous story, both realistic and romantic and positive.
 
The Deal  Elle Kennedy
Another NA story set on a college campus. Hannah Wells has a crush on one guy, but an annoyingly persistent jock is after her to tutor him. They do a deal to help each other achieve their goals.
I couldn't put it down. Really enjoyed it.
 
Pat Rice brings us:
 
Wenches NeanderthalNeanderthal Seeks Human: A Smart Romance, is the first book written by Penny Reid. I love the brain-heavy, neurotic heroine—who has every right to be neurotic given her dysfunctional family. It’s totally a contemporary fantasy but the author’s voice is so hilarious that I kept reading anyway. Sure, it could use a lot of trimming, but who would want to trim material that contains (and I’ve seriously edited here) lines like this: “I think my alcohol-saturated forebrain lost the ability of conscious thought, but my lower brain—the Id…may have slipped my forebrain some benzodiazeprines…. I will call that part of my brain Ida.”

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