Nicola here. It’s the end of September and as usual we’re doing our round up of Wench reading for the month and asking you to recommend some more books for our towering TBR piles! One of the things I love about the What We’re Reading feature is that the recommendations always inspire and enthuse me. It’s lovely to hear people sharing their suggestions with such pleasure! As the nights grow longer here in the UK and the evenings are cool it’s the most perfect time to curl up in front of the woodburning stove. Maybe that’s why the first book I’m talking about this month is called Into the Fire. It’s a dual time story set in the present and the fifteenth century, involving the story of Joan of Arc. Into the Fire is a thriller and I found I was equally engaged with the modern parts of the story as I was with the engrossing mystery surrounding Joan. This book is really compelling. I could not put it down.
The other book I’m reading at the moment is Shadow on the Highway by Deborah Swift. I absolutely love it! It’s based on a real story; that of Katherine Fanshawe, who was an heiress turned highwaywoman during the English Civil War. It’s a Young Adult book that also appeals to adults – well, to this adult certainly, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. Deborah Swift writes so beautifully and conjures up the period brilliantly well.
Susan: These past few weeks I've caught up a bit on the to-be-reads, the reads-for-research, and some wonderful listening while driving. Paula Hawkins' The Girl On the Train has been mentioned before, I believe by Nicola, and I finally got around to it myself–a very compelling read, with characters and plot twists that kept me guessing, and pacing that had me reading one more chapter, just one more…a very interesting story! While researching, I read Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk, which Andrea mentioned a while back, and it's been teetering in my TBR stack for months; I'm glad I took the time to sit down and focus on this fascinating story of Macdonald's experience taming a goshawk. Years ago I read T.H. White's The Goshawk and loved it, and Macdonald uses White's book as a touchpoint throughout her beautifully written tale of falconry and life.
And for a different sort of "book"–I finally had the time to listen to the CD set of the musical Hamilton, and I absolutely loved it. Exuberant, poignant, joyful, heartbreaking and unforgettable–it brilliantly tells the story of Alexander Hamilton and the founding fathers in a freewheeling, style with a contemporary edge with yet a very firm grasp of history and its implications. I listened to it twice through, and can't wait to get back to it again. I so loved it that I have already started in on Ron Chernow's Alexander Hamilton, the book that inspired the musical.
Andrea: I have a towering TBR pile, and lots of new books I’m dying to get at. But there are times when I’m just in the mood to go back to old favorites, and this month has been one of those moments. I was madly scrambling to finish a WIP and get it in on deadline, and after I hit send, I found myself looking up at my bookshelves and suddenly my gaze fell on the row of Harry Potter books. I took down one of the later ones—The Half Blood Prince . . .well, at 2 in the morning I finally couldn’t keep my eyes open. I glommed through it and immediately went back to the shelves and grabbed The Deathly Hallows to finish the epic tale.
I found the stories just as magical has I did when I first read them, and marveled yet again at Rowling’s gift of writing in such a powerful way about friendship, love, doubts, fear—all the things that make us human. That her message of hope and the ability of the human spirit to triumph over darkness is done in such a way that it resonates with all ages makes the books even more special. She reminded me yet again of what why storytelling has always been such an elemental part of our collective psyche. (Next month I shall be back to the TBRs!)
Anne here, and my recommendation for this month is THE HATING GAME, a debut book that has gone viral, by an aussie girl, Sally Thorne. It's a classic office romance that's funny, fresh and wildly original. Two small but very different publishing companies have merged and our hero and heroine are the assistants to the two CEOs. They share an office and are fiercely competitive — in a silent, we're-all-professionals-here kind of way. They're polar opposites; he's big, coldly efficient, reserved and neat, she's short, messy, warm-hearted and popular. It's a very funny rom com — some real laugh out loud moments — and also some very touching moments.
I gather that the author, Sally Thorne, didn't know any romance writers in Australia, but was friends with two US writers. They read her draft, sent it to their US agent and lo! A deal was struck and THE HATING GAME is now everywhere. It even showed up as a recommendation in Eloisa James's latest newsletter ( I'd already read it.)
Pat recommends My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb.
Women’s fiction. I’d like to say this is about a blocked romance writer who returns home to Scotland to rediscover the place she left behind, but it’s also a hilarious look into a past she’s forgotten and a way of life. It’s a romance and a beautiful story of love and friendship lost and found. It’s impossible to even summarize the story without giving too much away, but take a look at the excerpt to give you an idea of the wonderful voice. The characterization is beyond delightful. I doubt that I’ve laughed and cried over a book as much as I did this one in years. It’s also wordy. Good words but repetitive, so I did a lot of skimming. The people are brave and kind and outrageously courageous and sometimes the story is horribly cruel. But the ending is both happy and bittersweet and well worth the effort!
So there you have our recommendations for the month of September. You'll notice that some Wenches are keeping books up their sleeves for next month! In the meantime, please do share – what are you reading?