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.
Nicola offers us a fine mix:
I’ve been mixing romance and crime in my reading this month. I started with My Sister the Serial Killer, which was recommended here last month. The title in itself is enough to rouse the curiosity! It’s about Korede, whose gorgeous sister Ayoola is the serial killer of the title. Korede has been covering up for and tidying up after Ayoola for years but she’s about to reach breaking point when her sister takes a shine to the man Korede is in love with… A lot of the reviews describe this book as hilarious.
I didn’t actually find it very funny because it was pretty dark, but I did find it compulsive and the writing was very, very good. I always feel it’s hard to say I enjoyed a book like this because I found it disturbing but it was a very interesting reading experience.
Next up was The Word is Murder by Antony Horowitz. I really enjoyed the last book of his I read, The Magpie Murders, and this was just as good. It’s a modern take on the old-fashioned murder mystery, full of red herrings, misdirection, a fascinating cast of characters and a maverick detective.
Romance was provided by a timeslip novel by Melinda Hammond, called Casting Samson. Linda is an award-winning author of Regency romance (she also writes under the name Sarah Mallory) but I’ve read and enjoyed her timeslip writing before (Moonshadows) so I was really looking forward to Casting Samson.
The two time periods are contemporary and the era of the Crusades and the Knights Templar, which was a fascinating and unusual period of history to read about. The historical and modern days sections were woven together beautifully and there were two very satisfying love stories in the contemporary story. There was also a hilarious scene at a village fete which had me laughing aloud. Anyone who enjoys romances set in English villages should like this – it has a lovely and vivid cast of characters, three very attractive heroes, history and mystery! Casting Samson was previously published by HQ Digital and Melinda will be republishing it very soon – watch this space! In the meantime, here’s the link to Moonshadows.
Pat's here with a New York City story:
Elizabeth Gilbert is a fabulous writer who can draw the reader in with her effortless prose alone. The reviews of City of Girls caught my interest with promises of New York City theater history in the 1940s. The opening chapter was a bit of a literary conceit, but I tolerated that. It gave the author the opportunity to write a chatty monologue, presumably to some woman she’d only met once, explaining how the narrator's relationship with the unknown woman’s father. That sounded promising.
I knew it wasn’t romance and the narrator wouldn’t end up with the father, but I was happy to go along for the ride—until midbook when the narcissistic shallow protagonist had yet to mention said gentleman but talked only of herself.
There were a lot of entertaining characters along the way, and I kept waiting for the story to coalesce into a beginning, middle, and end. Instead, I got lots of enchanting vignettes of 1940s New York that never went anywhere. So I skipped to the end, and the father showed up maybe forty pages from the end. I’ll leave it to you whether he was worth the effort. So if you don’t mind just going along for the ride with no destination in mind, read this for the history and the prose.
Murder at the Cat Show by Marian Babson
I've been in the mood for light reading, and when I saw a cozy mystery by Marian Babson on BookBub, I snapped it up because I read and enjoyed it years ago. While I remember the general plot, I'd forgotten most of the details, so I enjoyed it all over again. The story is narrated by Doug Perkins, who runs a small public relations firm with his friend Gerry Tate. They’re hired to publicize a London cat show.
Doug has no opinions about cats one way or the other, but he soon gets sucked into discovering celebrity working cat and their doting owners. There's a murder, Doug gets enslaved by a peremptory young Siamese, and much fun is had all around. <G> Very enjoyable, especially if you like cats.
A Holiday by Gaslight by Mimi Matthews
This is an enjoyable Victorian Christmas novella, a nice light bite at a busy season. As of this writing, it's 99 cents, though I don't know how long that will last. Here's the blurb:
Sophie Appersett is quite willing to marry outside of her class to ensure the survival of her family. But the darkly handsome Mr. Edward Sharpe is no run-of-the-mill London merchant. He's grim and silent. A man of little emotion–or perhaps no emotion at all. After two months of courtship, she's ready to put an end to things.
But severing ties with her taciturn suitor isn't as straightforward as Sophie envisioned. Her parents are outraged. And then there's Charles Darwin, Prince Albert, and that dratted gaslight. What's a girl to do except invite Mr. Sharpe to Appersett House for Christmas and give him one last chance to win her? Only this time there'll be no false formality. This time they'll get to know each other for who they really are!
I don't read a lot of story collections, but I picked up a couple in November, doing the mind-broadening thing.
One struck me in particular. It's Small Magics by the writing team of Ilona Andrews. This is five or six stories set in the her fictive universe. You got yer magic, yer warrior women,yer shape shifters, post-Apocalypse world, folks fighting with swords and adventure in general. They give us a couple YA stories and a couple love stories. All of them are lovely.
Can I call the stories warm and funny when they’re full of monsters and bloodshed?
Anyway, I enjoyed this lot and it might be just what you need if you don’t have time to sit down and concentrate for a long stretch.
So. what are you reading lately that you think other folks might like hearing about?