I just finished Hubble Bubble by Jane Lovering, published by an interesting English firm called ChocLit. Hubble is an intelligent combination of chicklit, women’s fiction, and romance, and I’m hoping this is a new trend because I love all three, and together, they’re powerful. In this book, the heroine is quite happy with her life for a lovely change. Yeah, there are a few flaws in the picture, but when her friend suggests they answer an ad to learn how to make wishes come true, our heroine doesn’t have anything she wants to wish for. She goes along because she’s a good friend. I have no idea why a strong, stable heroine appeals to me, but it does.
The hero, on the other hand, is a bit of a mess. Of course, he’s beyond sexy and successful, but he’s fully aware he’s a POS. He has demons in his past that eat at him. What we end up with is a heady brew of friendship and family that combust in lovely and powerful ways. I’m eager to try more books by this author and publisher.
Anne here. I've been discovering some of the older style romances I hadn't ever read. I came to romance novels late, and many simply weren't available here— though Mary Stewart certainly was, and I've been re-reading her over the last few months. She died recently, aged 98, and leaves a wonderful legacy. Vale Mary Stewart.
A mention by Jo some time back, of Maggie Osborne's The Promise of Jenny Jones, caused me to go looking for it. I bought it, read it and loved it. So fresh and different and good. I love western historicals, and Maggie Osborne does them so well. So in the last little while I've been hunting down her backlist, and so far I've read I Do, I Do, I Do, Silver Linings, Shotgun Wedding and The Bride of Willow Creek. I have more in the TBR pile.
In March Mary Jo mentioned Patricia Briggs's "Mercy Thompson series" and an endorsement by Pat inspired me to buy the first book in the series, Moon Called. Since then, I've glommed the whole series.
Nicola here. I've mostly been reading crime and thrillers this month. A book that was recommended to me by a friend was The Last Queen of England by Steve Robinson. The title intrigued me, as did the fact that the protagonist, Jefferson Tayte, was a genealogical investigator. I loved that idea! The plot premise was also brilliant - (SPOILER) – that Queen Anne of England had a surviving child whose descendents were the rightful heirs to the throne. The body count was high, the pages kept turning and I was hooked. Then the ending left me high and dry! Judging by the reviews on Amazon this is a matter of personal taste. It just didn't work for me. But hundreds of people love the book and if you enjoy genealogy it might be worth checking out.
I'm also working my way through Deborah Crombie's Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James series, which was recommended to me by a number of my fellow wenches. I've just finished In A Dark House which I think was the best one yet. I found it totally compelling and a multi-layered study of relationships as well as a crime novel. Brilliant.
I spent some time recently reading Thomas Bamford's Passages in the Life of a Radical . I was reading it as research for my MIP, Too Dangerous for a Lady, but it gives many fascinating insights into life in the later Regency, one of which I
blogged about on Wednesday.
I'm currently half way through Thankless in Death by JD Robb. This is part of Nora Roberts' near-future crime drama series. I enjoy these books for the world created, which is close enough to now to be familiar, but with enough future differences to be interesting. There is also just enough character interest for me. Too many mysteries have sleuths mired in angst, depression, and addiction.
I'm coming to realize that "world" is a big part of why I enjoy a series of books, especially mystery books, but if enough of the world elements are annoying that's a powerful a deterrent. I simply don't want to meet those people again, no matter how good other elements are. Anyone else find that?
I've been reading the usual mélange. I went on a Patricia Briggs tear and reread all the Mercy Thompson novels, which is always time well spent. Inspired by Cara/Andrea's post, I reread Mary Stewart's Madame, Will You Talk? and it's still a great read, though I noticed that they all smoked like fiends. Like Pat Rice, I thoroughly enjoyed Jane Lovering's Hubble Bubble after getting a free copy in the Romantic Times goody room, and I'm now on a hunt for more of her smart, funny books.
But I wanted to talk at more length about Judith Arnold's women's fiction novel, Goodbye to All That. Sixtyish Ruth Bendel is wife to a cardiologist, mother to three grown children, doting grandmother of four–and one day she just walks away from her comfortable life. As the blurb says, she loves her family but hates her life. She's tired of taking care of people and wants to be on her own. So she rents a small apartment, gets a minimum wage job at a convenience store, and revels in privacy, playing Corelli CDs, and new experiences.
But what really makes the story interesting is how everyone unravels when the family dynamics change so drastically. There is considerable humor but much wry perception in watching how her husband yearns for her to come home, but can't understand why he should have to change any of his annoying habits. Each of the offspring must grow and reassess now that the bedrock certainty of their lives is shifting. I haven't finished reading the book yet so I don't know exactly how it all ends–but I'm pretty sure the main characters are going to be better for having been kicked out of their ruts!
The last month has been a little crazy as I’ve been working on putting my house up for sale. So I’ve barely had time to take a deep breath, not to speak of curling up with a good book. But then, what better way to sooth the stress of mold inspections, balky windows and patching woodpecker holes in the attic window molding than reading just a little at bedtime. I confess, last month’s Mary Stewart blog and the Grand Dame’s recent passing has me re-reading a number of her works—am in the middle of My Brother Michael—and am about to book a ticket to Delphi!
As both a cerebral and intellectual distraction, I’ve also been reading a delightfully fascinating design book about the graphic depiction of information. Envisioning Information, by Edward R. Tufte traces the history of ideas from a broad range of fields, from mathematics and astronomy to music and dance, and how to “escape flatland” and show complex, three and four dimensional concepts in two dimensions. The writing is clever and whimsical, and the ideas are really thought-provoking. I know it’s not a normal Wench recommendation, as we usually share fiction or history books written in a narrative form. But this is different, fun and very visual. I think a lot of our readers might find it very interesting change of pace.
and last but not least, Susan checks in:
The first page of Kevin Hearne's Hounded drew me in with humor – and the wry, resourceful and intriguing protagonist, Atticus O'Sullivan, an ancient Druid living in the guise of a new-age shopkeeper in Arizona, kept me turning pages. Atticus stays alive by virtue of his contemporary disguise as he and his trusty wolfhound take on the Celtic pantheon–Brighid and Aenghus Og and more motley crew–who are after a mystical ancient sword in his possession. It's clever, quick and inventive, and I enjoyed it so much that I bought the next few books in the series. My sons are hooked too, and so a couple of the books have disappeared – I'm somewhere in the reading queue. Meanwhile, I've shifted gears and I'm now reading Alice Hoffman's The Dovekeepers, which tells the story of the rebels of Masada through the lives of four women. It's deep and poetic, exquisitely written, heartbreaking too, and I'm being drawn through the story by Hoffman's deft skill as a writer and a storyteller.
Pat back again….
We've shared our fun reads for the month. What have you been reading?